We chose National Cocoa Day for our subtitle this week to spread awareness that cocoa farmers are having a tough time of it and, therefore, the cost of chocolate is increasing. If something doesn’t change soon, we’ll have a tough time of it.
Today is, also, 12/13/14. Sequential dates have hit the calendar every year since January 2, 2003. The next time we’ll have sequential dates is January 2, 2103, or 89 years from now. We’ll be dead by then, so that’s interesting to know.
The first report of the week was the Federal Reserves’ occasionally published Labor Market Conditions Index (LMCI) for November. It showed a softening in the labor market to 2.9 points from October’s upwardly revised 3.9 points. This is because of an increase in left-handers entering the labor market. No, the drag seems to be the “labor force participation rate” and “part-time due to economic reasons” components. Move along, nothing to see here.
The LMCI is a comprehensive index based on 19 different labor market indicators. It’s more of a research number and less an official indicator, which is why it’s only occasionally published. It does suggest that the Fed may maintain low interest rates longer than expected.
On Tuesday, the National Federation of Independent Businesses published its November Small Business Optimism Index, which increased by two points to 98.1 from October’s 96.1. This gain was led by the future expectations component of the index and is a good sign for small businesses and the overall economy heading into the holiday season.
Small Business Saturday works, but you can shop them 364 other days a year.
Then the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its October Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). JOLTS showed there were 4.834 million job openings on the last business day of October, up slightly from 4.735 million job openings on the last day of September. Most of the components that comprise JOLTS remained unchanged and are less interesting to read about than the furry convention that was shutdown in Chicago last weekend.
Nothing worth reporting was released on Wednesday.
On Thursday, the Commerce Department said November Retail Sales rose 0.7 percent, over October’s 0.5 percent rise. Auto-sales, with their convenient and debilitating loans, led the way with a 1.7 percent increase. This follows October 0.8 percent increase and bodes well for the final fourth quarter Gross Domestic Product estimate.
On Friday, the Reuters/University of Michigan’s preliminary December Consumer Sentiment was released and surprised us more than Scott Stapp’s CIA directive to assassinate the president. It showed consumer confidence is higher than in November, by 5 points, and is at the highest level since January 2007. December’s reading came in at 93.8 points over November’s reading of 88.8 points. The current conditions component of the index was the highest since February 2007.
Like Rihanna conducting her own orchestra, the consumer sector is again leading the overall economic recovery with confidence and spending up. This is all well and good except that, unlike the government and business, the consumer is still recovering from 2008 and will suffer more if things go south anytime soon.
If you’re spending more, don’t spend more than you’re making. Don’t add to your debt. If you have extra cash because gas prices are down or because wages and hours worked are slightly up, put it in savings. Savings are accessible if things do go south anytime soon. If you’re confident in the economy and your personal financial situation, put extra cash into investments.
That’s what you need to know to be #moneyconscious. Come back every week for our take on all the economic.
Finally, don’t forget to sign up for our semi-monthly newsletter, so you don’t miss anything from the Debt Free Guys. Our December issue will be sent this coming Monday. An added perk is that you’ll receive a free copy of Do You Know How To Be #MoneyConscious? What better present could one want?