Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Starbucks Has Jacked Up Prices Again…Just In Time For The Holidays

[11/22/16]  Starbucks (SBUX) may have just given its legion of caffeine addicts a nice early holiday gift — another price increase.
It’s not too hard to figure out why Starbucks may have lifted prices again. For starters, sales growth has slowed in the U.S., so a price increase would go a long way to pumping up sales.
According to receipts for a venti red eye coffee with one shot of expresso from several New York City Starbucks locations starting on Nov. 17, we paid $5.17, a 6.8% increase from the week prior. As late as Nov. 14, the same drink cost $4.84. “Prices on all the coffee, frappuccinos, everything went up after Election Day,” said a barista TheStreet spoke with about the higher price for our morning java.
A Starbucks spokeswoman confirmed to TheStreet a price increase on select cold beverages such as cold brew and certain bakery items of 10 cents to 30 cents went into effect at most stores on Nov. 10, adding that Starbucks expects the average customer ticket to increase by about 0.5% as a result of its beverage adjustments.
Approximately 90% of the beverages have not changed price, for example hot brewed coffee, espresso, tea or prepared items. Cold brew coffee had been the same price since it was introduced two years ago, the spokeswoman said.
Starbucks already hiked drink prices at many of its U.S. stores by as much as 30 cents in July, citing higher coffee costs and rising operating expenses. Customers were forced to pay 10 cents to 20 cents more for certain sizes of brewed coffee, and 10 cents to 30 cents more on espresso beverages and tea lattes. Prior to what looks to be a post-Election Day price increase, Starbucks has typically raised prices on select beverages between 5 cents and 20 cents a year.

Patagonia Will Donate 100% Of Its Black Friday Sales

[11/22/16]  Patagonia typically brings in millions of dollars in sales on Black Friday. But this year, the outdoor clothing retailer is giving away everything it makes that day.
The company announced on Monday it will donate 100% of its Black Friday sales — estimated to be well over $2 million — to grassroots environmental groups. The organizations fight to protect vital natural resources like water, air and soil.
The donations will come from sales at both its 80 global stores and on Black Friday.
The move isn’t entirely out of character for the brand. Patagonia already donates 1% of its daily global sales to environmental organizations — which amounted to $7.1 million in its latest fiscal year.
“This was a pledge the company made in 1985,” said Corley Kenna, director of global communications with Patagonia.
But the latest commitment tied to Black Friday was inspired by current events.

When Americans Shall Say ‘Peace And Safety’…

earthquake-apocalypse-public-domainMillions of Americans are expecting a new “golden age” for America under Donald Trump, but is that what they are going to get?  There is always optimism when a new president is elected, but I don’t know if I have ever seen anything like the euphoria that many Trump supporters are expressing right now.  Look, I voted for Donald Trump and I want him to be as successful as possible.  But when Donald Trump becomes our next president on January 20th, that does not mean that all of the great problems that our nation is facing will somehow magically disappear.  If you listen to some people, they make it sound like America is going to experience nothing but peace, prosperity and blessing for decades to come.  I would love it if that was indeed going to be the case, but unfortunately that is simply not the truth.
We are currently on a path that leads to national suicide, and unless we change our ways it isn’t going to matter who is in the White House.
I keep hearing about how our new president is going to “unify” the nation, but that is going to be extremely difficult to do considering the fact that we are now more divided than ever.  In fact, a brand new Gallup survey found that an all-time record high 77 percent of all Americans believe that we are “greatly divided when it comes to the most important values”.
I keep hearing about how we are now entering a golden age of peace and prosperity, but how is that supposed to happen while we are still butchering millions of innocent children in our abortion mills?
I keep hearing about how the economy is about to take off like a rocket, but how is that possible when we have already been on the greatest debt binge in world history?  The only way we have been able to maintain our massively inflated debt-fueled standard of living is by piling up debt at a faster pace than any generation in history.  Today we have accumulated 12 trillion dollars in consumer debt, corporate debt has doubled since the last financial crisis, and the national debt is rapidly approaching 20 trillion dollars.  How can Trump possibly pump up our standard of living with debt more than Obama has already done?
I keep hearing about how we are “going to make America great again”, but how can we be great when we are producing more pornography than the rest of the world combined?
I keep hearing about how “law and order is going to restored”, but meanwhile chaos has already been erupting in cities all over the nation and the far left is planning to turn Inauguration Day into a major riot.

I keep hearing about how “things are going to go back to the way they used to be”, but as I discussed in a previous article, “sexually-transmitted diseases are spreading at the fastest pace in decades, the percentage of births out of wedlock is more than 10 times higher than in 1940, and approximately two out of every three Christian men watch pornography on a regular basis.”
I keep hearing about how we are going “to drain the swamp”, and yet there are no plans to even reform the Federal Reserve system which is at the very heart of our financial problems as a nation.
I keep hearing about how good judges are going to be put on the Supreme Court, but how can we trust that when our new president just said that he is “fine with” the Supreme Court decision that forced all 50 states to redefine the institution of marriage?
I keep hearing about how we are going to be “an example” for the rest of the world, but how can we be “an example” when just about every form of evil imaginable is exploding in popularity inside our own country?
I keep hearing about how our government is going to be “blessed”, but how can a government that gives hundreds of millions of dollars a year to Planned Parenthood be “blessed”?  Now that the Republicans have control of the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives, this is their golden opportunity to defund Planned Parenthood.  If it doesn’t happen now, it probably will never happen, and it will show what a complete and utter failure the Republican Party has become.  Remember, Planned Parenthood is an organization that has been caught on camera admitting that they harvest organs from the babies that they kill and that they sell those organs off to the highest bidder.
Some would argue that America is already “great” at a lot of things.  After all, the United States is number one in the world in television watching, legal drug use and illegal drug use.
We lead the world in plastic surgery, eating disorder deaths, teen pregnancy and lawyers per capita.
We have the highest STD infection rate in the industrialized world, the highest divorce rate in the industrialized world, and the largest prison population on the entire planet.
We also have the most complicated tax system in the entire world, the largest trade deficit in the entire world, and the largest national debt in the entire world.
So if we want to make America great again, we sure have a lot of work to do.
The complacency that I am seeing out there right now really alarms me.  So many people seem to think that the battle is won because Donald Trump was victorious on election night.  But that is not even close to reality.
If we do not fundamentally change course as a nation we will not survive.  Tinkering with tax rates, regulations and trade agreements is not going to get the job done.  So many people are acting as if we just have a few cuts and scratches, when the reality is what our country really needs is major heart surgery.
Donald Trump is not some sort of a messiah, and even if he is able to accomplish every single thing that he is promising right now it will not nearly be enough.
But for the moment millions of Americans are proclaiming “peace and safety” now that Donald Trump has won the election, and we shall see how it all turns out…

The Biggest Threat Facing Donald Trump

BALTIMORE – Today, we look at the biggest threat to Mr. Trump’s presidency.
So far, we have been delighted with the election of Mr. Trump. Not because we have any confidence in, or affection for, the man.
But he claims to be a disrupter. And this is an economy that badly needs disrupting. We want to see what happens.

Curtailing Cash

So, let’s begin by looking halfway around the world, where a dear reader updates us on India’s recent attempt to curtail cash:
My daughter is in India for a wedding and has personally been impacted by the lack of cash. ATM lines for five to six hours to get out the equivalent of about $20. No taxis because no one has any money. Hotels don’t have money either. Things have ground to a complete halt.
Not interested in India?
But this story is a warning to us. There is not enough physical cash in the system. We rely on bank credit to fill the gap. And that means the credit system must not fail… credit must not contract… ATMs must work… credit cards must be honored…
…the whole system has to work… or it will collapse into an awful mess.
Ours is a system that runs – since 1971 – on credit, not cash. And credit is subject to the credit cycle. It expands. And it contracts.
But a credit contraction in a global economy with $63 trillion in debt is a big deal. That’s why the feds fight so hard to stop it. Economists, politicians, Deep Staters – everyone wants to avoid a correction in the credit market. At all costs.
The pattern began after the great stock market crash of 1987, when newly arrived Fed chief Alan Greenspan rushed to support stock prices with aggressive rate cuts.
It was the debut of the “Greenspan put” – the Fed policy of cutting rates to put a floor under prices if the stock market tried to correct.
After that, each time the market sneezed, the feds were there to wipe its nose.

The recession of the early 1990s (which George H.W. Bush blamed for his election loss to Bill Clinton)… the 1997 Asian financial crisis and the collapse of the hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management… the mini recession following the 9/11 attacks… and finally the 2008 crisis.
Each time, the Fed (aided and abetted by the same Wall Street insiders who are now joining the Trump team) made credit available on easier terms.
And now, by our estimate, we have about $35 trillion in excess debt. It’s a “debt bomb” that will probably blow up in Mr. Trump’s face.

Unlimited Buying

But the Fed was not leading…
It was following the example set by the Bank of Japan, which has been fighting a credit contraction for more than a quarter-century.
It was the BoJ that was a pioneer of Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP), Quantitative Easing (QE)… and Negative Interest Rate Policy (NIRP).
And now, the BoJ leads the way again. Reuters:
The Bank of Japan on Thursday fired a warning shot to markets by offering to buy unlimited bonds for the first time under a revamped policy framework, as domestic debt yields surged in the wake of Donald Trump’s upset U.S. election victory.
Whoa! Unlimited?
Yes, that’s what it says. The Japanese have finally gone “full retard” in their fight to stave off a correction.
They can win battles in this war against the markets, but they can’t win the war. Markets can be held off. They can be deceived. They can make mistakes. But they can never be stopped.
This week, we are preparing another open letter to Mr. Trump. (You can catch up on our first here.)
We will advise him to “disrupt sooner rather than later.” It will be painful. So, take the pain now… and make it hurt.
Oh, yes… and put the blame on the people who most deserve it: Clinton, Bush, and Obama… Greenspan, Bernanke, and Yellen.
Go on TV. Address the nation. Tell them that you have been left a $35 Trillion Debt Bomb. Disrupt the system. Let it explode… just like Reagan backed Paul Volcker at the Fed and let the inflation bomb explode.

The Central Banks Indicated Their Next Move, Ban Cash, Raise Rates, Crash It All

According the Chicago Fed, the economy is not robust and growing. The US government fakes the retail sales numbers. Former CEO of UBS says the central banks are at a point of no return. The global ban on cash is not over, the central bank is pushing for an interest rate hike which signals the beginning of the crash of the economy. The TPP is dead and China is making deals with nations looking for a trade deal.

The greedy 1% strikes again! They own almost 1/4 of all UK wealth

The gap between the privileged elite and the poverty-stricken has never been wider.
A report by The Independent newspaper has revealed that 2.2 million millionaires now own almost one quarter of all wealth in the UK.
According to the annual global wealth report conducted by the Credit Suisse Research Institute. the wealthiest 5% of Brits own 44% of wealth.
Sally Copley from Oxfam said:
“The wealthiest one percent of the population – who own nearly a quarter of all the country’s wealth – continue to do well whilst so many people in Britain are just about managing to stay above the poverty line.
“Tomorrow’s Autumn Statement presents a real opportunity for the government to show how they are going to make the economy work for everyone and not just those at the very top.
“Globally, the richest one percent own more wealth than the rest of the world put together. This huge gap between rich and poor is undermining economies, destabilising societies and holding back the fight against poverty.”

Chart Of The Day: Wealth Of the Top 0.1% Now Equals Bottom 90%

Trump Already Keeping Jobs in the U.S., The TPP Is Falling Apart, Should He Dump the Fed?

Food-Stamp Growth May Be Behind the Midwest's Flip to Trump

We found that, thanks to many years of accelerated growth in the program under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, 1 in 7 Americans now participate in the food stamp program. 
There are, however, very large differences from state to state in how much the food stamp program has expanded. If we look at growth in the program from the year 2000 to 2015, we find growth varying from 641 percent growth in Nevada, to 54 percent growth in Wyoming:
Regionally, the areas of the country with the most growth are the South and West:
We can't draw an easy conclusions from this map, however, since food stamp usage can often increase with population growth. That is, it is probably not a coincidence that many of the states with the the most growth in food state usage also happens to be states with some of the highest rates of population growth1:
There are some states, however, where there was very weak population growth during this time period, but food stamp usage increased considerable. In these areas, we are led to conclude that the economy worsened. For example, in Nevada during the 2000-2015 period, the population increased 44 percent, but food stamp usage increased 641 percent. In other words, food stamp usage increased 14 times more than population. By contrast, in North Dakota, food-stamp usage increased by less than five times as much as population. 
As explored in this article, median income growth has varied considerably from state to state. In many cases, the states most heavily impacted by declining median incomes were states in the Great Lakes region, including Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan. 
If we look at food stamp growth compared to population growth, we get the following scatter graph: 
From 2000-2015, all states experienced at least some population growth, except Michigan. Not surprisingly, Nevada, which experienced the highest rate of population growth, also experienced the highest rate of food stamp growth. 
However, Nevada's growth in food stamps was much higher than we'd expect, given the food-stamp growth rates in other states. 
We can get a sense of whether or not food-stamp growth was typical or atypical if we insert a trend line.2 Given the population growth for each state, those states that fall above the trend line experienced a larger-than-expected growth in food stamps, while those states below the trend line experienced less growth in food stamps that would be expected. 
The reasons for a state having an especially large growth rate in food stamps can include any number of things. However, many of the states that were found to have dropping median incomes over this period also show up as having higher-than-expected growth in food stamps. This is especially noticeable with Wisconsin and Nevada. Also included in this group are Florida and Michigan, while Pennsylvania and Ohio are both slightly above the trend line. 
And, it may also not be a coincidence that Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, Wisconsin, and Ohio were all states that flipped in the electoral college from Obama to Trump in the 2016 election. Indeed, as Yahoo News reported today, black voters in Milwaukee, many of whom are suffering economically, may have been an important factor in Hillary Clinton's defeat in Wisconsin. 
By itself, food stamp usage predicts nothing in terms of elections, of course, since ideology, demographics, and other factors matter as well. Nevertheless, we do see here additional information that lends itself to the idea that the so-called "flyover states" continue to be overlooked in terms of national economic analysis. 
While the national economic news may continue to show growth and relatively low unemployment numbers, there continues to be many areas of the United States where economic growth and income growth are behaving contrary to the trends found in the nation at large. 
  • 1.Population growth data comes from the 2000 Census and the 2015 totals come from statewide estimates:
  • 2.For those who are interested: the equation for the trend line is: y = 5.3281x + 130.47 and R² = 0.2415