Thursday, November 19, 2015

Gone Christmas Shopping

Going to grab myself a meal while I'm out there, too:

"Holiday shoppers expected to spend more this year" by Taryn Luna Globe Correspondent   October 20, 2015

The elements for a strong holiday shopping season seem to be in place: rising incomes, falling unemployment, and growing consumer confidence. All that’s lacking, retail analysts say, are new, interesting products to buy.

I'll keep that in mind as I enter the stores.

That missing ingredient is expected to tamp down spending and lead to another year of modest sales growth during the most wonderful time of the year for retailers.

What is with the mixed me$$age during this time of economic recovery and growth?

The latest consumer shopping survey from the National Retail Federation found that the average shopper will spend $805.65 on holiday gifts, food, and decorations in November and December, up just $3.20 from 2014.

“This is a copy cat Christmas to last year,” said Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst with the NPD Group in New York. “When you think about it, what do you want for Christmas this year? There’s not a lot of new stuff out there to buy besides replacing things that you already have.”

And that mode of con$umeri$m is failing since the .01% have sucked up all the wealth.

Without blockbuster products to lure customers, retailers will likely have to offer discounts to get them into stores and online, analysts said. Chris G. Christopher Jr., an economist with the Lexington forecasting firm IHS, said those discounts will hold down the dollar value of sales and force retailers to sell in higher volumes to top 2014.


Apple’s sales forecast indicates another record holiday quarter
Apple TV is slick, but....
P-to-P cash — can Apple make it pay?

I just turned it off. 

"ESPN plans to lay off about 300 employees as it reacts to shifts in the ways sports news is consumed. “The demand for sports remains undiminished,” president John Skipper wrote to employees, “though the landscape we operate in has never been more complex.” ESPN, which has about 8,000 employees, cut 300 to 400 jobs two years ago. Several prominent employees have left recently, including columnist Bill Simmons, television host Keith Olbermann, and Jason Whitlock, editor in chief of a yet-to-be-launched website focused on race and sports. The company is trying to deal with various trends in broadcasting, like cord-cutting, in which people cancel television subscriptions in favor of Web-based streaming. According to Nielsen, ESPN’s subscriber base has fallen to 91.8 million, from 98.9 million in October 2013."

That's what happens to Deflategate liars.

Indeed, 73.1 percent of shoppers in the National Retail Federation survey said that price discounts are an important factor to determine where they shop during the holidays. More shoppers said they plan to visit discount stores than any other type of retail outlet this year.

“This holiday season will not be as good as last year in most regions of the country [in terms of growth], “ Christopher said, “but there will still be a respectable showing.”


Retail trade associations, economists, and industry analysts say the modest increases in holiday spending will be supported by falling unemployment, rising consumer confidence, increasing home values, and lower gas prices, which leave consumers with more discretionary income. US unemployment, at 5.1 percent in September, is at postrecession lows, and gasoline prices, hovering at about $2.25 a gallon, are at their lowest since the recession, according to government statistics.

They are delu$ional, believing their own lies!

Disposable personal income is up 3.6 percent over the past year, according to the Commerce Department, and consumer confidence last month reached the highest level since January, according to the Conference Board, a nonprofit research group in New York. Inc., the nation’s biggest e-tailer, is also optimistic. On Tuesday, the Seattle company said it would hire 100,000 seasonal workers during the holidays, up from 80,000 last year. The National Retail Federation survey found that average shoppers will conduct 46 percent of their shopping online, up from 44 percent last year.


Amazon posts a surprise profit
Amazon opens standalone bookstore in Seattle
Amazon boosts holiday hiring, signaling shift in retail jobs
Amazon sues more than 1,000 people over bogus reviews

At least they are employing some lawyers.

All told, the industry group predicts that total holiday spending will increase 3.7 percent to $630.5 billion, a slower growth rate than the 4.1 percent projected in 2014. IHS offered weaker estimates of 3.5 percent sales growth, while NPD expects sales to increase between 2.8 and 3.2 percent.

The Retailers Association of Massachusetts will conduct its own survey in November and said it expects local sales growth rates to be in line with the national predictions.

SeeRetail group predicts strong sales in the state


September real estate sales highest in a decade in Mass.
Massachusetts economy slows, but still tops US rate
Mass. economy booms, but the effect is uneven
Job training system in Mass. falls short, study says

State facing lack of labor, they say -- like in Brazil

Are you sick of the $elf-$erving excuses from the .01% pre$$ yet? 

I'm already full up and we haven't even eaten yet.

Cohen said shoppers should prepare for retailers to roll out holiday discounts and promotions even earlier than last year, when many introduced doorbusters in the first weeks of November. Walmart started its holiday layaway program on Aug. 28, two weeks earlier than last year.

But the early onset of the holiday shopping calendar doesn’t necessarily mean bigger holiday sales, said Cohen. Instead, consumers are likely to just spread purchases over a longer period of time. 

Or not buy at all.

After the early start, Cohen predicted, retailers will have to offer steep discounts to get customers back into stores during the Black Friday weekend, and even more discounts as shopping fatigue sets in during the extended season.

I'm told this after we are told the American con$umer is chomping at the bit.

“The biggest difference for the holiday season,” he said, “is that it’s going to start earlier, the highs are going to be higher and earlier, the lows are going to be longer, and the rush is going to be stronger at the end.”

(Blog editor rolls eyes at the mixed me$$age of a price tag!)


Let me check my wallet first:

"Stocks mustered a slight gain in the final moments of trading, capping a day of listless action. A slide in oil prices hammered energy stocks, including Chevron and Exxon Mobil. Other commodities also fell, hurt by a strengthening dollar. Traders had their eyes on company earnings from New York’s Morgan Stanley and Rhode Island’s Hasbro as both companies tumbled after results left investors less than impressed. Still, Monday’s sluggish trading suggests many investors were holding off on any big moves until they see a broader slice of third-quarter earnings over the next few days, said one observer."

"Stocks snapped a three-day winning streak as weak earnings weighed on the market. Major indexes wavered between small gains and losses before settling slightly lower in the last 15 minutes. The slide in crude oil prices deepened. Tuesday’s tentative trading suggests investors are not sure what to make of the earnings season, said Chris Gaffney, at EverBank World Markets. ‘‘We went into this earnings season with lowered expectations and even in spite of that we’re seeing some misses,’’ he said."

Early rally fades in earnings
Tech stocks lead a rally; S&P 500 turns positive for year
Stimulus, earnings lift equities, and S&P 500 stays on a roll
Stock rebounded from a two-day slump,

"Stocks edged lower Monday as investors began another big week of company earnings and looked ahead to the Fed’s policy meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday. Companies from Apple to Xerox are reporting earnings this week. About one-third the way through the quarterly earnings season, the results so far have been ‘‘nothing spectacular,’’ said strategist Kristina Hooper at Allianz Global. But more troubling, she said, is that many companies are failing to meet analysts’ forecasts for revenue."

Energy stocks slip as oil price falls
Stocks end higher as investors watch the Fed Good day for Apple and the war-profiteers!
Weak GDP holds back stocks

"Stocks slipped but finished October with their biggest monthly gain in four years. US government economic data released Friday and earlier this week suggests the economy is still sluggish, stuck in a pattern of gradual, uneven growth it has followed since the Great Recession. But the outlook for future growth improved and fears waned that a slowing Chinese economy would send the US economy into a tailspin. Strong earnings in some sectors, like health care and telecommunications, also helped propel the market. The Commerce Department said consumer spending inched up 0.1 percent in September, partly because consumers were spending less on gasoline as energy prices fell. The gain was the smallest in eight months. The department said Thursday economic growth slowed in the summer." 

Contradicting what we were told earlier by government and their mouthpieces.

Dow returns to positive ground
Dec. rate-hike talk restrains stocks

"Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen said Wednesday an interest rate hike in December would be a ‘‘live possibility’’ if the economy stays on track. Yellen described the US economy as ‘‘performing well,’’ with solid growth in domestic spending. At a meeting last week, policy makers believed that the threat of global headwinds had ebbed, Yellen said." 

Yeah, if you are in the .01%.

Stocks end nearly flat in quiet session

"Stocks erased earlier declines in the final hour of trading. Banks rallied as investors bet rising rates will help boost profit. One of the Fed’s preconditions for raising rates is further improvement in the labor market, and the latest report showed the number of Americans working part time because of a weak economy fell to the lowest since 2008. Beyond the jobs data, the quarterly earnings season is drawing to a close. About 74 percent of S&P 500 companies have beaten earnings estimates."

I'm not going to make a fuss over it.

"The stock market stumbled as investors worried the global economy could be slowing, just as last week’s blockbuster US jobs report — the unemployment rate fell to 5 percent — appeared to clear the way for the Fed’s first rate hike in nearly a decade. The Dow slipped back into negative territory for the year. The possibility of higher interest rates continued to push investors to reposition their portfolios. Stocks worldwide were also reacting to news out of China, where customs data showed the country’s imports plunged 18.8 percent in October from a year earlier, damping hopes for a Chinese economic rebound this quarter."

Stocks end four days of losses
Stocks waver, but then end lower
The commodities slump deepens

Boston Fed chief says interest rate hike could come in December
Fed’s Rosengren sees risks in low rates
Fed minutes hint at December rate hike

"Federal Reserve officials suggested they wanted to move slowly and cautiously because the economy remains unusually weak. William C. Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said the economy finally appears ready for higher rates. “The fundamentals supporting domestic demand look quite sturdy,” he said. “Also, the international outlook appears less problematic than it did just a few months ago.” He noted that job growth rebounded in October, allaying concerns about a downward trend, and that labor market slack had clearly diminished." 

A $elf-$erving report!

"US manufacturing output rose in October for the first time in three months as factories cranked out more steel, cars, and computers. The rise suggests that manufacturers may be overcoming several headwinds they have faced for most of this year. Many retailers and wholesalers have been cutting back on their stockpiles after ordering too many goods this winter. That has weighed on output."

Factory activity grows at slowest pace in 2½ years
Rally fades, and stocks end flat
Stocks have best day in weeks

Now I'm going to start fussing!

Soros reportedly pulls $490.1m from Bill Gross Fund
What financiers do — and what needs to change

"Neel T. Kashkari (left), a Treasury official in the George W. Bush administration who administered the government’s bailout of the banking industry during the financial crisis, was named Tuesday as the next president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Kashkari, 42, will replace Minneapolis Fed president Narayana R. Kocherlakota in January. He will also take Kocherlakota’s place as the youngest member of the Fed’s policymaking committee, the Federal Open Market Committee. Kashkari is the third new president of a regional reserve bank named this year, and all three of the men previously worked at Goldman Sachs." 

It is literally a Wall Street government.

"Turbulence in global markets hit Morgan Stanley’s business particularly hard in the third quarter, sending its earnings down 42 percent. The investment bank and wealth advisory firm earned $939 million after payments to preferred shareholders, versus $1.63 billion a year earlier. Per share, the bank earned 48 cents, compared with 84 cents a year earlier. The institutional securities division, which includes Morgan Stanley’s investment banking and trading operations, had net income of $688 million, down by nearly half from $1.2 billion a year earlier. Most of that drop could be attributed to bond-trading operations. A place of stability was the wealth management business, which includes the Smith Barney franchise; it had net income of $824 million, versus $800 million a year earlier. Overall, Morgan Stanley’s revenue was $7.8 billion, down from $8.9 billion."

"Wells Fargo Bank has agreed to pay $81.6 million to settle claims that it failed to notify homeowners in bankruptcy of changes in their mortgage payments. The Department of Justice said Thursday that the lender’s failure to give borrowers timely notice of payment hikes or reductions violated a federal bankruptcy rule aimed at ensuring proper accounting of consumers’ costs in bankruptcy. Under the rule, which took effect in December 2011, mortgage lenders are required to give borrowers in Chapter 13 bankruptcy 21 days’ notice before making an adjustment to their monthly payment. Wells Fargo acknowledged it failed to file more than 100,000 payment-change notices on a timely basis." 

They kicked you out of your home, then kicked back a fine to the government that works for them.

"Two British ex-bankers were convicted Thursday of conspiring to manipulate the primary benchmark for global short-term interest rates so that their bank and fellow traders could earn higher profits. Anthony Allen, 44, was convicted in Manhattan federal court on conspiracy to conduct wire fraud and bank fraud and 18 other charges carrying potential penalties of decades in prison. His co-defendant, Anthony Conti, 46, was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud and eight other charges stemming from a Justice Department inquiry into what Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell described as a ‘‘global fraud scheme.’’ 

Part of the LIBOR scandal, one which made the MBS swindle look like chump change.

"Royal Bank of Scotland PLC, Britain’s largest taxpayer-owned lender, offered to buy back as much as $6.4 billion of bonds to reduce funding costs as it shrinks global operations. The buyback covers debt denominated in sterling, euros, and dollars, according to two separate statements on Tuesday. The purchase prices will be set next week and they will “reflect a yield to maturity” to compensate bondholders for cashing out now, the Edinburgh-based lender said. RBS has less need for financing because chief executive Ross McEwan is divesting assets and eliminating thousands of jobs in a bid to end a run of seven straight annual losses. The bank is focusing on buying back notes sold in 2009 to 2011, when borrowing costs were inflated by the fallout from the global financial crisis."

RBS sells remaining stake in Citizens Financial

They bought it back later.

Mass. banks given low marks for customer service

Two women tapped for SEC

Indicating the ‘too-big-to-fail’ banking era may soon be ending (except it was overtaken by what happened in Paris).

So what stores you wanna hit?

"Toys are staging a comeback. The US toy industry is expected to have its strongest year in at least a decade after several years of kids choosing video games and mobile apps over Barbie and stuffed bears. Annual toy sales are projected to rise 6.2 percent to $19.9 billion in 2015, according to The NPD Group Inc., a market research firm that tracks about 80 percent of the US toy market. That’s up from a 4 percent increase last year, and the biggest increase in at least 10 years since the group has tracked toys using its current system. The growth is being fueled by increasing popularity of collectibles, toys based on Hollywood blockbuster films, and better technology that allows toys to do things like talk back to children."

Gimme a break!

Where to next?

"Macy’s stock plunges after slumping retailer cuts profit forecast" by Lindsey Rupp Bloomberg News  November 12, 2015

NEW YORK — Shares of Macy’s Inc., the largest US department-store company, plunged the most in seven years after the chain missed third-quarter sales estimates and cut its annual profit forecast.

Revenue fell 5.2 percent to $5.87 billion in the quarter ended Oct. 31, the Cincinnati-based company said in a statement on Wednesday. That trailed analysts’ $6.1 billion average projection and marked the steepest decline since the second quarter of 2010.

That's some food for thought.

Macy’s was the first of four major department-store chains to report earnings this week, and the results cast a pall on the rest of the industry. Shares of J.C. Penney Co., Kohl’s Corp., and Nordstrom Inc. — all of which will deliver their results in the coming days — also fell on Wednesday. The slowdown is renewing concerns that consumers are shifting from mall shopping in favor of spending on cars, homes, and technology.

Especially with the terror threat all around us.

“It’s obviously troubling,” Macy’s chief executive Terry Lund-gren said in an interview. “My sense is, if they want to spend, they can. And once they’ve finished buying their cars and finished remodeling their houses, there’s room for them to spend in our categories as time goes on.”

Related: "Home Depot Inc. posted third-quarter profit that topped analysts’ estimates, showing that consumers are still willing to spend on big-ticket items like their houses even while they pull back on purchases elsewhere."

Lundgren has worked to reduce costs and add lower-priced outlets, aiming to coax consumers back into stores. He was dealt a setback when unseasonably warm weather hurt sales of fall goods. That forced the chain to cut prices to eliminate stock.


Last year they blamed the record cold and snowy winter for the first quarter contraction!!!

The company also is grappling with unfavorable currency fluctuations and pressure from activist investor Starboard Value, which wants it to extract more value from its property holdings.

“Warm weather combined with already weak traffic trends likely led to a shortfall in sales, and we expect inventory to appear elevated across the sector,” Paul Lejuez, an analyst at Citigroup Inc., said in a note this week.

The bankers always have some excuse.

Macy’s said profit this year will be $4.20 to $4.30 a share, excluding some items, down from its previous estimate of as much as $4.80 a share. The retailer also sees full-year revenue falling 2.7 percent to 3.1 percent, more than the 1 percent decline it forecast in August.

“I’m most concerned with the state of the consumer,” said Laurent Vasilescu, an analyst at Macquarie Capital in New York. With inventories up and revenue down, “it’s a problem.”

Finally, someone concerned about me!

One bright spot: Earnings topped estimates last quarter. Excluding some items, profit was 56 cents a share. Analysts estimated 54 cents, on average.

That's all that matters.

The retailer also said Wednesday it won’t form a real estate investment trust, a move Starboard has said would boost the stock price. Macy’s said it will continue to pursue selected real estate dispositions and it’s exploring joint ventures and other deal structures with third parties to redevelop Macy’s flagship real estate assets in Manhattan, San Francisco, Chicago, and Minneapolis.

In a separate statement, Macy’s announced an agreement with Luxottica Group SpA to bring LensCrafters shops to as many as 500 Macy’s department stores in the United States over the next three years.

This while Macy's is closing stores in the United States. 


"J.C. Penney settles suit calling its ‘discount’ prices a scam" by Hiroko Tabuchi New York Times  November 12, 2015

The J.C. Penney Co. Wednesday announced settlement of a class-action lawsuit that had accused the retailer of marking up prices on apparel and accessories before putting them on sale in order to deceive shoppers into thinking they were getting heavy discounts. 

That has been an open $ecret for years, and everybody does it.

Under the terms of the proposed settlement, the retailer will pay $50 million to settle the claims made by California shoppers in federal court. Class members will have the option of selecting a cash payment or store credit, and the amount that each shopper will receive will depend on the total amount purchased by each class member in the period specified in the lawsuit, J.C. Penney said.

Gue$$ what I would be taking.

In their complaint, the shoppers accused J.C. Penney of running a “massive, yearslong, pervasive campaign” to trick shoppers into believing that they were getting big discounts on private-label brands and on brands carried exclusively by retailers such as Liz Claiborne.

Cynthia Spann, the lead plaintiff, said she believed she had clinched a 40 percent discount when she bought three blouses, originally marked as $30 each, for $18 each.

But she said she later learned that the blouses had never been sold for more than $18 in the previous three months.

The suit accused J.C. Penney, based in Plano, Texas, of violating California consumer protection laws.

J.C. Penney said it continued to deny the allegations but was entering into a settlement “to eliminate the uncertainties, burden, and expense of further protracted litigation.” 

Bad publicity.

“While we are confident of our position, resolving this litigation removes any uncertainty and risk, which we believe is in the best interest of our shareholders,” Marvin Ellison, the retailer’s chief executive, said in a prepared statement.

Still, as part of the settlement, J.C. Penney agreed to improve its pricing and advertising policies.

The lawsuit involved shoppers who bought certain private-label or exclusive items from J.C. Penney in California from Nov. 5, 2010, to Jan. 31, 2012, at discounts of 30 percent or more.

The Federal Trade Commission has said retailers must sell items at original prices for a “reasonable length of time” before they can advertise markdowns.

In 2012, J.C. Penney’s then-chief executive, Ron Johnson, shifted the retailer away from heavy discounting, instead adopting what he said was “fair and square” everyday low prices. But sales slumped, and the retailer has since returned to discounting.

Kohls, as well as a unit of Men’s Wearhouse, are fighting similar lawsuits.


The plaintiffs could not immediately be reached for comment.


We shouldn't have gone in there, and can't go in here:

"Stoughton Ikea’s warehouse crew pickets over demand to unionize" by Katie Johnston Globe Staff  November 16, 2015

Overnight warehouse workers at the Ikea in Stoughton picketed at the store early Monday in an effort to demand union recognition, a work stoppage that prevented deliveries from being unloaded and shelves from being restocked in the hours before the store opened. 

Let's turn around. I never cross picket lines.

The Stoughton workers’ union efforts are a first for retail workers at a US Ikea store and could have ripple effects, some speculated.

A majority of Ikea’s 33 warehouse workers have signed union authorization cards and a public petition to join the United Food and Commercial Workers union, but management has not moved to negotiate a contract, said union spokeswoman Moira Bulloch.

In all, the store employs 279 workers, but only the warehouse crew is seeking to unionize.

Ikea spokeswoman Mona Liss said it will not recognize the union until the department holds a secret ballot election administered by the National Labor Relations Board. Workers at four of Ikea’s five US distribution centers are represented by unions, authenticated by a secret ballot vote, she said.

“When union representation is selected by Ikea co-workers through the secret ballot process, Ikea is committed to building and maintaining a constructive and cooperative relationship with the union, built upon a foundation of mutual respect,” Liss said in a statement.

Like many unions, the UFCW opposes secret ballot elections because it gives the company time to discourage workers from voting in favor.

The union’s complaint last year against Ikea with the labor board was settled this year when Ikea agreed to post notices explaining workers have the right to unionize, Bulloch said.

Ikea, based in Sweden, is known as a fairly progressive employer. 

Damn ungratefuls!!!!!!!

The average minimum hourly wage among the 12,000 retail workers in the United States, will increase to $11.87 an hour on Jan. 1. That represents a 10 percent raise. The company also offers its workers 401(k) plans, profit sharing, and pre-tax benefits for same-sex married couples no matter where they live.

And they are complaining?

One of the issues that drove the overnight warehouse workers in Stoughton to form a union is a new attendance policy, said forklift driver Shawn Morrison, 28. The policy tracks each time a worker can’t make it to work or shows up late, even by a few minutes, Morrison said, and these “occurrences” can lead to disciplinary action, including termination.

Welcome to the 21st-century surveillance state. Where ya' been?

“Most of our workers get about four hours of sleep a night, if they’re lucky,” he said. “You can just imagine how those occurrences can happen when you get absolutely no sleep, you’ve got kids in school.”

And he is driving a lift? Stay far away from him.

The actions in Stoughton follow major demonstrations around the country last week by fast-food employees and other low-wage workers, who are demanding $15 an hour and the right to unionize. The prominence of Ikea makes it a prime target for the movement, said Tom Juravich, a professor of labor studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and if the union succeeds in Stoughton, it could have a ripple effect. “There’s a lot of momentum around this right now,” he said. If unions succeed in getting a foothold in retail, he added, “it actually has pretty large implications.”

SeeKohler workers picket manufacturer over pay, health care costs

The ripple effect.

The Ikea workers’ actions also drew national attention from Democratic presidential candidates.

“In my view, companies which fight workers who wish to bargain collectively are culpable in exacerbating the gap between rich and poor in America,” Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders wrote in a letter to US Ikea president Lars Petersson last week.

Haven't seen much about Bernie in the Globe lately.

Fellow Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley also wrote to Petersson urging him to recognize the Stoughton union.


RelatedHillary Clinton, the Democrats’ Dick Cheney

She didn't endorse the worker's actions.

"Carol Meyrowitz, the outgoing chief executive of retail giant the TJX Cos. of Framingham, is poised to leave the company on an even higher note than before. TJX beat stock analysts’ earnings expectations for a fourth straight quarter Tuesday. The strong earnings report caps a nine-year tenure for Meyrowitz. "

No, let's not go in there, reader.

Buyout firm weighing options for J.Jill’s future 

Gotta get something for the little lady:

"The Hollywood Reporter has ended its annual power rankings of women in Hollywood. President and chief creative officer Janice Min (left) wrote in a posting Wednesday that, 23 years after the list began, ‘‘the moment feels wrong to host a female cage match.’’ Citing prevailing gender imbalance in Hollywood, Min said the much sought-after list was contributing to the problem. Conceived as a way to celebrate and rank the most influential female executives, filmmakers, and stars in an industry long dominated by men, the list had come to appear, Min said, like a ‘‘beauty pageant of brains where only one woman gets crowned.’’ The Hollywood Reporter will instead do a power ranking of men and women. The trade’s sister publication, Billboard, will also combine genders for its ranking of music executives."

"The percentage of young women living at home with parents or relatives has risen to its highest level since 1940 as more millennial women put off marriage, attend college, and face high living expenses. It is a very different world for women now, though, despite the ‘‘return to the past, statistically speaking,’’ said Richard Fry, a senior economist at Pew. Fry said young women are staying home now because they are half as likely to be married as they were in 1940 and much more likely to be college-educated. Other economic forces, such as increasing student debt, higher living costs, and economic uncertainty, are also playing a role. Young men have historically lived with parents at higher rates than young women, and similar economic and cultural forces are keeping an increasing number of men at home too in recent years. The percentage of young men and women living with family fell after the 1940s as more women joined the workforce, the overall workforce expanded, and marriage rates increased, but while marriage was once the life event that triggered a move out of the family home, it is now coming later with each generation, if it comes at all."

Need a date first: 

"The owner of Tinder,, and OkCupid hopes to raise up to $466.2 million in an initial public offering, which would put the value of the dating site company in the neighborhood of $3 billion."


Baystate Health to cut 40 jobs, trim services at Ware hospital

Study links poverty, self-induced abortion

2 newborns found dead near Philadelphia car lot

"A trial is set to begin in a Connecticut wrongful death lawsuit that has raised the question of when a fetus can be considered a person for legal purposes."

Supreme Court won’t hear case over N.H. Planned Parenthood documents

Maybe you will get a bette greeting here:

"Profit sinks, but Walmart remains upbeat" by Sarah Halzack Washington Post   November 17, 2015

WASHINGTON — Walmart said Tuesday that its profit sank 8.8 percent in the most recent quarter as the big-box behemoth shoulders the cost of a wage increase for its workers and investments in boosting its e-commerce business.

The world’s largest retailer said revenue was down 1.3 percent to $117.4 billion, even as it managed to lure more shoppers to its US stores.

Not good, and hardly the sign of an economic recovery.

The lackluster results add to evidence that Walmart Stores Inc. won’t be heading into its most crucial season of the year from a position of particular strength. For the previous two quarters, the retailer saw essentially flat sales and sagging profits. Last month, the company slashed its profit outlook for next year. 

And the Globe back-paged it.

While the holidays are a high-stakes time for every retailer to meet customer expectations, Walmart has the added burden of trying to restore the confidence of investors who have driven its stock down 33 percent this year. It issued an updated outlook Tuesday that appeared to help with that, as it nudged up the lower end of its earnings guidance for the year.

Some of Walmart’s success will hang on whether customers respond to its efforts to hurdle into a more digital future, such as with its in-store pick-up program for online orders and its tactics to make shopping more pleasant.


Why wouldn't it be?

The retailer is also doubling down on measures that will be less visible but maybe more crucial — in particular, it is trying to ensure it doesn’t frustrate shoppers by being out of stock.


Walmart is hopeful these strategies will be enough to beat back competition from major rivals who are rolling into the season with more momentum: scored big with its Black Friday-like Prime Day this summer, and investors have cheered its recent streak of profitability. And Target, its chief big-box rival, has been riding higher lately thanks to improved sales.

The hack is long forgotten, 'eh?

For months, Walmart executives have been touting their goal to be ‘‘clean, fast, and friendly’’ by the holidays. That’s company shorthand for a strategic plan that includes making its stores tidier, easier to navigate, and better-stocked, as well as trying to ensure that customers encounter more engaging service.

That flies in the face of all the television advertisements. So Walmarts are basically dumps, huh?

During the holiday season, the retailer is aiming to further bolster the customer experience, including by adding in-store Santas in many outposts, something it has not consistently done over the years.

It also is spinning holiday tunes this year....

Let's get outta here.

Retailers, banks clash over chip credit cards
Prepaid cards under new scrutiny after RushCard outage

But it's the only card I have!


You hungry?

Urban Outfitters making move into restaurant ownership

Whole Foods shares fall after missing quarterly estimates  They will eliminate about 1,500 jobs as organic food becomes mainstream.

Hope you didn't lose your appetite.

"It’s the Dollar Menu, take two. McDonald’s hopes it has a catchy, new deal that will be as hugely popular as its Dollar Menu. Early next year, the fast-food chain will launch the ‘‘McPick 2’’ menu, which will let customers pick two of the following items for $2: a McDouble, a McChicken, small fries, and mozzarella sticks. The offering has gained the necessary votes from franchisees to make it onto the national menu, and will be available in US restaurants for a five-week run starting Jan. 4. After that, McDonald’s said it may change the details of the offering, but that it plans to stick with the ‘‘McPick’’ concept and name. It’s just the latest effort by McDonald’s to revive slumping sales with bigger moves, such as making breakfast items like Egg McMuffins available all day." 

Not always, and are those healthy choices?

McDonald’s US sales rise for the first time in two years

The result of a higher average check, which offset a decline in traffic.

And to drink with that?

Dunkin’ beats forecast for quarter
Dunkin’ Donuts adding delivery, on-the-go ordering
Coca-Cola revenue falls 4.6 percent

Let me check my messages and then we will head home, 'kay?

Walmart fires East Greenbush employee for redeeming $5.10 of cans left in parking lot

Intel to lay off 175 from Hudson chip factory
P&G struggles to lift sales as it refocuses on core
J. Crew ends on-call scheduling for workers in US stores
US workers let 500 million vacation days a year lapse

"It is hard to have a Southern overseer; it is worse to have a Northern one; but worst of all when you are yourself the slave-driver." -- Henry D. Thoreau

Raytheon boosts sales forecast
Google profit, sales top estimates
Yahoo teams with rival Google as earnings fall
Google Express sued over employee-contractor distinction
Time Warner cuts ‘16 forecast The move set off another round of panic across an industry already plagued by fears about the role of traditional media in a digital world.
Twitter’s losses mount, stock plunges
Twitter eliminates the ‘favorite,’ replacing it with ‘likes’

Related: Twitter is Elite Talk 

It's even phantom manufacturing sometimes.

Facebook revenues surge in 3d quarter
Fidelity writes down value of Snapchat holdings The latest evidence that private technology companies are losing some of their luster.

I was about to give notice.

Staples reports lower profit as it awaits word on merger
Alibaba’s Singles’ Day nets $14.3b in sales
North End hardware store, a neighborhood fixture, is closing
Without stores, there’s no Main Street
A master craftsman, part of Harvard Square’s fabric, to close

He no longer fits?

"Why optimism about strength of the US economy has dimmed" by Christopher S. Rugaber Associated Press  October 20, 2015

WASHINGTON — Consumers, fueled by job growth, cheaper gas, and higher home values, would drive the US economy through a global slump.

That was the widespread hope just months ago. Now, doubts are growing that the United States can withstand economic pressures flowing from overseas. Economies in China, Canada, Brazil, and Europe are struggling. Canada, the largest US trading partner, is in recession.

Americans have been holding back on spending even though lower gas prices have put more cash in their pockets. Employers have slowed hiring and held down pay. Home sales have flattened. And the US economy has been hobbled by a stronger dollar, which makes US goods costlier overseas and is depressing corporate profits.

They looked like they were coming in pretty good, and once again I'm getting contradictory and mixed me$$ages.

‘‘There’s no question that the economy is losing momentum,’’ said Mark Vitner, an economist at Wells Fargo. ‘‘The question is whether it is temporary . . . or is it something that will prove more lasting?’’

As recently as early August, economists had sketched a bright picture for the rest of the year.

The U-turn in sentiment happened fast. It occurred soon after China made a clumsy attempt last summer to prop up its stock prices and then devalued its currency. Financial markets plunged on fears that China’s once-sizzling growth was shakier than anyone had thought and would slow economies elsewhere.

Of course, when the Fed does that here it's fine, right, and ju$t.


China’s growth slows to 6-year low
China move shows global reliance on low rates to lift growth
China sets goals for annual growth

I've got some goals of my own.

As China’s appetite for oil, copper, iron ore, and other commodities has fallen, so have prices for those goods. One consequence is that US energy companies, squeezed by lower oil prices, are buying fewer factory goods. At Ahaus Tool & Engineering in Richmond, Ind., orders for components it sells to drilling equipment makers have dropped.

Gas drillers ‘‘are cutting their costs, which means they’re slowing down on buying new components,’’ said Kevin Ahaus, the company president. ‘‘We’re not seeing much business there.’’

Thanks for the confirmation.

US factories cut production for a second straight month in September. Manufacturers are being hurt by a declining appetite for goods overseas and by cheaper foreign-made products. US exports are down compared with 2014, the first year-over-year fall since the Great Recession officially ended in 2009.

That flies in the face of what brief was reported above.

Falling demand for US goods hurts even companies that don’t themselves export products. CSX Corp., for example, said its revenue from transporting coal fell 19 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier in part because of reduced coal exports. 

So now evil coal.... cough, cough, cough!

The higher-valued dollar is squeezing US corporations’ sales in another way, too: Their revenue in foreign currencies is worth less once it’s converted back to dollars. Wal-Mart, for example, says it expects flat sales this year, partly because of such currency effects. Johnson & Johnson and Monsanto have also said currency exchange rates are depressing revenue.

Are you sure it isn't and wasn't that Fed printing pre$$ running night and day?

At the same time, US consumers appear to be pulling back.

Which we wouldn't be if there was a true recovery and not only one for the cru$t.

Sales at retail stores and restaurants dipped in September after a flat reading in August. Though Americans are snapping up cars at a solid pace, retail sales excluding autos have fallen for two months. 

See: Hot Wheels

Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James, said ‘‘middle and lower-end consumers are still struggling a lot.’’

With apartment rents rising rapidly and pay growth anemic, ‘‘it’s still tough for many households to make ends meet,’’ he said.

Several economists noted Apple’s launch of its latest iPhone failed to boost overall sales at stores, in contrast to previous iPhone releases.

But Apple is optimistic anyway!

Many companies have been stuck with warehouses of unsold goods, built up on optimistic expectations for demand. Now, the excess supply has led businesses to reduce new orders. The paring of inventories could slash economic growth in the July-September quarter by up to 2 percentage points, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta....

Does that look like a recovery to you?


Related‘Disruptive innovation’ theory comes under scrutiny

The economic model is failing, that's all.

"A chronic shortage of air-traffic controllers has reached a crisis that will lead to widespread flight delays if left unchecked, officials for the union that represents the controllers said Tuesday. The shortage has meant controllers at some of the nation’s busiest air-traffic facilities have been working six-day work weeks for years, union officials said. They said safety isn’t at risk, but controllers’ work schedules are causing chronic fatigue."

Must be the unmanned towers or the prostitutes.

"United Airlines names general counsel acting CEO" by David Koenig Associated Press  October 20, 2015

DALLAS — United Airlines named an acting CEO Monday night to replace its chief executive who suffered a heart attack about a month into the job.

The company said that general counsel Brett J. Hart had taken over for Oscar Munoz, who went on medical leave.

United confirmed that Munoz suffered a heart attack Thursday. The company said it was too soon to know how long he would need to recover.

Munoz, 56, became chief executive in early September after Jeff Smisek abruptly stepped down amid a federal investigation.

The announcement of an acting chief executive came after four days of speculation about leadership at the world’s second-largest airline. Until Monday night, the company had refused meaningful comment on the situation, issuing two brief statements that said Munoz was in the hospital but giving no details about his condition or who was running the airline. United cited privacy concerns for Munoz and his family.

Hart joined United in 2010 after holding a similar position at Sara Lee. He previously was a law firm partner and a lawyer for the Treasury Department.


Companies have tilted toward more disclosure ever since Apple Inc. was criticized for failing to give shareholders a complete picture about the health of chief executive Steve Jobs, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2011. Last month, Goldman Sachs chief Lloyd Blankfein disclosed he had lymphoma, and last year JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon revealed that he had been diagnosed with throat cancer.

God's work.

United’s stance had drawn criticism. Vicki Bryan, an analyst for bond research firm Gimme Credit, said earlier Monday that United’s previous statement about Munoz’s health was surprisingly sparse and raised more concerns than it answered. She said that United needed to be more open, ‘‘particularly in light of United’s substantial management upheaval in recent months.’’ United had said that operations were continuing normally in Munoz’s absence. The Chicago company is scheduled to report third-quarter financial results Thursday.

United has been plagued by technology challenges since its 2010 merger with Continental. More recently, federal prosecutors began investigating whether under Smisek the airline gave preferential treatment to a former chairman of the agency that operates the New York-area airports.


Also see:

United Airlines boss plans to return early next year
US tries to block deal on takeoff, landing slots
Planes one step closer to being tracked by satellites

Time to go through security:

"Time to close the TSA" by Jeff Jacoby Globe Columnist  November 10, 2015

WHEN THE Transportation Security Administration dispatched undercover investigators last spring to test the effectiveness of airport checkpoints, the results were deplorable. Agents posing as passengers were able to smuggle weapons and mock explosives through 67 out of 70 TSA checkpoints — a failure rate of 95 percent.

Following that debacle, the TSA’s acting administrator was given the boot, and the Department of Homeland Security announced that it had “immediately directed TSA to implement a series of actions, several of which are now in place, to address the issues raised in the report.”

That was in June. In July, a new TSA chief pledged to lawmakers that within 60 days “we will have trained the failure out of the front line” of airport screening personnel. So how do things stand four months later?

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing on that question last week, with Homeland Security Inspector General John Roth as the key witness. Roth reported the findings of a new round of undercover testing at US airports, and he didn’t beat about the bush.

“The test results were disappointing and troubling,” he said. “The results were consistent across every airport. . . . The failures included failures in the technology, failures in TSA procedures, and human error. We found layers of security simply missing.’’

In short, yet another fiasco. And the government’s response? Yet another directive from Homeland Security that “an immediate plan of action be created to correct deficiencies uncovered by our testing.”

Fourteen years after the creation of the TSA, there is still no indication that the agency has ever caught a terrorist, or foiled a 9/11-type plot in the offing. Conversely, there are reams of reports documenting the inability of TSA screeners to spot hidden guns, knives, bomb components, and other dangerous contraband as they pass through airport checkpoints. It’s doubtful that anyone is still capable of being surprised by a fresh confirmation of the TSA’s incompetence — even if members of Congress do sometimes feign alarm for the sake of the folks back home.

Let’s face it: The Transportation Security Administration, which annually costs taxpayers more than $7 billion, should never have been created. The responsibility for airport security should never have been federalized, let alone entrusted to a bloated, inflexible workforce. Former TSA administrator Kip Hawley calls it “a national embarrassment that our airport security system remains so hopelessly bureaucratic” and warns that “the relationship between the public and the TSA has become too poisonous to be sustained.” More tests and more failures won’t fix that. Scrapping the TSA would.

Fearmongers might howl, but abolishing the agency wouldn’t make air travel less secure. Given the TSA’s 95 percent failure rate, it would likely make it more secure. The airlines themselves should bear the chief responsibility for protecting planes and passengers at airports. After all, they have powerful financial incentives to ensure that flights are free of danger, while at the same time minimizing the indignities to which customers are subjected. Their bottom line would be at stake. The TSA feels no such spur.

Effective defense against airline terrorism doesn’t require patting down grandmothers or confiscating eyedrops. It requires sophisticated counterterror intelligence (which is what stopped the 2006 liquid bomb plot), and it calls for passengers to be vigilant (which is what ultimately foiled the underwear and shoe bombers). The TSA supplies neither, and its enormous budget could be put to far better use.

It has frequently been observed that the rigmarole at US airports provides not security, but security theater — a show designed to make travelers feel safer without actually enhancing their safety. At $7 billion a year, that makes the TSA the most extravagant theatrical production in history. Isn’t it time to bring the show to a close? 

I don't know about that; there is lots of competition lately.


Paris changed all that.

Maybe you should take a train instead, or better yet drive yourself home for Thanksgiving

And the day after:

Black Friday opt-out taps into REI’s strengths
Britain cutting back on Black Friday
Salem rejects Walmart request for early Black Friday opening

Walmart just went online then, and there is always Cyber Monday

Well, that's it, folks. I know I've said this before, but this time I mean it. I will be taking the rest of the year off and I wish you a Healthy Life this holiday season with all my love and hope for the New Year. 

I even have a gift for you, but DO NOT OPEN IT UNTIL CHRISTMAS!

See you in 2016, readers. Maybe.