That's our job as investors and even you traders out there try to spot trends with your little charts (so cute!). Investors tend to focus more on the data and yesterday, both Fed Chairman Powell and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin warned Congress that their continued failure to act and pass a stimulus bill is hurting an already weak economy. We can see that in the data trends this week:
- Chicago PMI – 58.2, weaker than expected by leading Economorons
- Pending Home Sales – Down 1.1% vs +1.5% expected
- Auto Sales – Slowing
- ISM Manufacturing – 57.5%, weaker than expected
- Construction Spending – Up 1.3%, better than expected
- Morgage Applications – Down 0.6%, much worse than expected
That's our data so far and we'll get the Fed's Beige Book this afternoon but of course it's going to be gloomy, you could hear the panic in Powell's voice talking to Congress, BEGGING them to DO SOMETHING as the Fed seems to be out of tricks at this point, with rates already at 0.25%. We need MORE FREE MONEY and we need it NOW!
As we expected, Black Friday was a bust but you wouldn't know it reading the front page of the Wall Street Journal though there is an article about it here. It's titled "Shoppers Spent Less Over Black Friday Weekend" but I'd say they are underselling it just a little as in-store shopping traffic was down 37% and the people who did shop spent 14% less than last year. I know math is frowned up by Conservatives but I'm one of those annoying liberals who believes in facts, so it seems to me that if a retailer sold $100,000 last year and 37% less people shopped this year, that would be $67,000 but then if they spent 14% less on top of that, that then becomes $57,000.
So the headline could have read "Black Friday Sales Down 43% from Last Year" or "OH MY GOD, This is Terrible" but the WSJ went way our of their way to make it sound not so bad, knowing that their average reader doesn't believe in math… or facts…
The New York Time called it "Bleak Friday" quoting: "This wasn’t a Black Friday, it was a bleak Friday in stores,” said David Bassuk, global co-head of the retail practice at AlixPartners, a consulting firm. “It is such a stark contrast to past years. The stores were really ghost towns.”
Cyber Monday certainly didn't make up for it, with on-line sales up just 15% from last year, which would have been disappointing in a normal year anyway. And (again, sorry about the math), that's up 15% to $10.8Bn compared to the $48Bn that was spent in stores or, more importantly, the $41Bn that was NOT spent this year.
As Powell said yesterday, things are NOT back to normal. Less than 20% of the workers have returned to their offices so far and that's down from almost 30% in October as that turned out to be a mistake (we told you so) as pretending the pandemic is over didn't actually make it be over – this was shocking news to Conservatives, of course, who think you just have to believe something is true to make it true.
We are not going to wish our way to an economic recovery and we are not going to wish our way to stopping the pandemic – it's going to take hard work and sacrifice on all of our parts but, hopefully, the new year will bring real leadership that will inspire us to pull together and make those sacrifices to rebuild our country – not just sit around waiting for a miracle cure.
They sold me a dream of Christmas
They sold me a Silent Night
They told me a fairy story
'Till I believed in the Israelite
And I believed in Father Christmas
And I looked to the Sky with excited eyes
'Till I woke with a yawn in the first Light of dawn
And I saw him and through his disguise
I wish you a hopeful Christmas
I wish you a brave New Year
All anguish pain and sadness
Leave your Heart and let your road be clear
They said there'll be snow at Christmas
They said there'll be peace on Earth
Hallelujah, Noel, be it Heaven or hell
The Christmas we get we deserve – Greg Lake