Yes, today our nation commemorates the warning of cuckoos. What that really means, I don’t know. This comes after the day the stock market experienced quadruple witching. No, neither of these are a term I use to refer (in public) to the last four bosses I had over my last two years at my previous employer. I can hear one of them now, “John, you must be ruthless with your writing.” Done!
Apparently, no one knows how National Cuckoo Warning Day became a thing. Legend has it, however, that if you hear a cuckoo on National Cuckoo Day, which happens to coincide with the first day of summer, you’ll have a wet summer. As for quadruple witching, it’s an actual investing term that refers to an occurrence when various stock index futures, stock index options, stock options and single stock futures all expire on the same day.
If I seem extra giddy this week, it could be because of this week’s mostly positive economic news. Aside from housing, which isn’t necessarily keeping up with the rest of the economy like no one’s Keeping Up with the Kardashians, this week’s economic news was decent.
The “Little” New York Fed led the way when it announced on Monday that June’s Empire State Manufacturing Survey came in at 19.28, up from May’s 19.01. The underlying details show that the workweek index increased while the number-of-employees index decreased and each kinda flattened the other out. Also, the “Big” Federal Fed announced that industrial production and manufacturing output for May each rose 0.6 percent, after an April decline of 0.3 percent and 0.1 percent respectively. Finally, on Monday, the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Index rose to 49.0 in June, up from 45.0 in May.
Tuesday could’ve been called Fat Tuesday, as five reports were announced. Tuesday was kicked off with two indicators that suggest consumers have returned to the mall. Tiffany, “I think we’re alone now.” First out was the ICSG-Goldman Sachs Weekly Chain Store Sales Snapshot that showed mid-level to upper-crust retail store sales for the week ended June 14th was up 0.4 percent from the previous week. Not to be outdone, the U.S. Johnson Redbook Retail Sales Index, which is measures the Wal-Marts to your Targets, was up 3.5 percent from the prior week. It seems the rich and the not-so-rich both showed love to Dad.
Then, came the first housing report of the week. The Commerce Department announced that May U.S. housing starts and building permits fell 6.5 percent and 6.4 percent respectively. There was snow in Chicago on May 16th that may be culpable for squelching the national housing market. There’s a Democrat in the White House, so that’s the only logical explanation.
Later on Tuesday, the Labor Department confirmed what grocery shoppers already knew when it announced that its May U.S. Consumer Price Index increased 0.4 percent, led in large part by food prices. It’s mostly the meat, people. We have radioactive tuna, dehydrated cows and pigs with diarrhea. It’s, also, gas (the stuff in the ground!) as “pain-at-the-pump” has returned to remind us of the good ol’ W years. Hmmm . . . so have problems in Iraq. The Energy Information Administration announced that the price for a gallon of gas increased 1.2 cents from the previous week. Pay attention to gas prices as Iraq, Part III commences.
On Wednesday, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) announced that refinance applications fell 13 percent and new mortgage applications fell 5 percent from the previous week, after interest rates increased fractions of fractions. We’re talking barely enough to make you stop going to Starbucks for your daily fix kind of rate increase, but neon tuna’s are expensive. Also on Tuesday, the Commerce Department announced that the U.S. is kicking the arse of other countries in deficits when it said U.S. exports and lower income from overseas in the first quarter of the year gave us our largest deficit in 18 months. Winter is over, though, so have no fear.
On Thursday, the Labor Department announced that initial jobless claims for the week ended June 14th fell like a one-time box office blockbuster star by 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 312,000. The four-week-moving average of jobless claims also fell 3,750 to 311,750. Less people filing initial jobless claims mean less stress on government programs if not necessarily less people becoming unemployed. Then, the Conference Board announced that its Index of Leading Indicators, which collates leading indicators, rose by 0.5 percent in May after a 0.3 percent increase in April. This is the fourth increase in as many months. Consumers seem to agree with the index of indices, as Bloomberg announced its Consumer Comfort Index for June rose to 48.5, up from April’s 42.5.
Later on Thursday Philly announced that it sees what The Empire State sees when it announced its June business activity index increased to 17.8, up from May’s 15.4 and the highest since September.
No economic news was reported yesterday, which is good as I’m already at 831 words.
This week I coined “the Frontiering of taxes”. The Frontiering of taxes refers to the hidden taxes that are nickel and diming Americans just as airlines are now nickel and diming their customers. While some claim their taxes are low, they may not know all the taxes they pay as our tax system is opaque by design.
Of course, taxes are a necessary evil, but we question if the taxes we currently pay are used for the best interest of all the citizens of the country. The national spend is probably only benefiting a select few. A week after the International Monetary Fund (IMG) cut 2014 U.S. growth estimates from 2.8 percent to 2.0 percent, the Business Roundtable Survey of leading CEOs cut 2014 U.S. growth estimates from 2.4 percent to 2.3 percent.
This should sound a wake-up call for America to get our financial house in order. The powers that be either can’t or won’t use their power for the common good, so we are on our own. It is possible for the average Joe to become financially independent. It requires using strategies such as strategic grocery shopping, weighing the pros and cons of what you pay for and becoming educated on investing, investing tool and staying on track. We can’t take a cue from our government and take on more debt to get by. Analyze your investing and spending decisions and learn from your mistakes. This is what you must do for financial independent.
That’s all the economic and personal finance news that’s worth your time this week. We hope you enjoyed our first Saturday edition of the Debt Free Guys’ #MoneyConscious Mash Up. Come back every Saturday to see our humorous take on all things money. Also, please come back every Friday for our new series that we call Money Master in which we spotlight other personal finance bloggers that we think are worth your time.