World Vegan Day is meant to promote the benefits of veganism with the altruistic hope of stopping the eating of other (possible) sentient beings. How do vegans feel about the recent study that shows plants know when they’re being eaten?
Speaking of eating your own, the mid-term election is next Tuesday and should stem market volatility come Wednesday.
The National Association of Realtors released its September Pending Home Sales report on Monday, which increased 0.3 percent after August’s 0.1 percent decline. Year-over-year pending home sales are up 1 percent. This is the first time since September 2013 that the year-over-year number has been positive. As we said last week, recent housing data suggests a market upswing and buyers shouldn’t pull a Jose Canseco.
The first report released on Tuesday was S&P Case-Shiller’s August Home Price Index, which showed a contraction for the fourth month in a row with the most contraction in the mid-west, unlike our mid-sections this candy eating holiday. Month-over-month the index decreased 0.1 percent. Year-over-year the index increased 5.6 percent, down from 6.7 and 8.0 percent the previous two months. This, again, suggests that housing is currently like candy in an ice dispenser to home buyers.
On Tuesday, the Conference Board made us feel like we won the World Series with its October Consumer Confidence Index. It showed a significant increase to 94.5 points from September’s upwardly revised 89.0 points. Not since October 2007 has consumer confidence been as high as a Trick-or-Treater in Colorado. Similar to September, the expectations component of the index led the increase, while somewhat dissimilar than September; the present situation component showed a marginal increase. Increased labor gains and decreased gas expenses helped the index. Most notably, the percentage of respondents who said jobs were hard to find fell to 29.1, the lowest reading since May 2008.
On Wednesday, the Fed surprised us more than Tim Cook coming out of the closet when it confirmed the ending of QE3 as planned, wrapping up its $85 billion per month bond buying program. The Fed said improved labor market conditions were a positive sign and suggests quantitative easing is no longer necessary. Of course, the stock market was pissed as any addict would be. As you may note, the unwinding of QE3 has been one of our three, now 3.25, economic concerns.
The first estimate of third quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) came from the Commerce Department on Thursday. The estimate suggests third quarter GDP was 3.5 percent; after second quarter’s final GDP came in at 4.6 percent. This does suggest a slowdown from second to third quarter, but 3.5 percent economic growth is still good and says we’re getting as fat as today’s crash test dummies (actual crash test dummies not The Crash Test Dummies). The increase was driven in large part by increased exports and federal, mostly defense, spending. Notably negative components of third quarter GDP are inventories and consumer spending. Of concern to the stock market is whether two quarters of consistent GDP growth will cause the Fed to increase interest rates sooner than expected.
Friday’s first report was September’s Personal Incomes and Outlays Index released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. It showed that month-over-month personal incomes increased 0.2 percent, after August’s 0.3 percent increase, and was the smallest increase since December 2013. Month-over-month consumer spending dropped like Kim Kardashian’s vocal fry (negative 0.2 percent) after August’s 0.5 percent increase. This is the income/spending trend we’ve wanted to see. The increased incomes were modest. The decrease in spending was driven by a drop in auto-sales and low gas prices. The Bureau of Labor Statistics third-quarter Employment Cost Index was our biggest scare of the day, as it increased 0.7 percent for the second quarter in a row. The wages and salaries component saw the most upward pressure at 0.8 percent. The benefits component rose 0.6 percent. The rise in employment costs increases concerns of inflation and employer expenses, the latter of which is easily controlled by slowing hiring. The last report of the week was the final Reuters/University of Michigan Consumer Confidence Index estimate, which came in at 86.9 points. This is the largest gain since July of 2007 and is attributed to decreased gas prices and increased employment.
While the above data suggests overall economic improvements, other data, such as current inventories, durable goods orders and manufacturing, shows headwinds. We’ll now see the full affect of QE3’s unwinding. Jobs are becoming less and less of a concern, but Europe 2014 seems hell bent on being Japan 1998. Nothing is solid, so we continue to suggest decreased spending, increased savings, investments and cash positions.
Quite often, the best way to fix your financial situation is to simplify your life. Behaviors such as hoarding, on any scale, and lacking routine increase stress that can manifest themselves in negative financial ways. Hoarding doesn’t always look like a garage full of unused things, such as that new elliptical machine, your 30 year old wedding dress or your son’s outdated college text books. Hoarding can look like a lot of unnecessary or unused space.
At one time, owning your own home was the American dream. By 2008, owning the largest home was the American dream. Since the housing market burst in 2008, the McMansion movement has waned and the tiny house movement has picked up steam. We’ve said it publicly many times and privately many more that the purchase of our 1,000 square foot condo worth one years’ combined income has made all the difference in our financial life and, consequently, a huge difference in our personal life.
What can, also, inhibit our success is the mental addiction of unhappiness. Happiness, and consequently success, is often a choice we make. Everyone deals with obstacles. We just all deal with them differently. Here are thirteen things successful people, who have overcome obstacles, avoid. Our favorite is number 12. For more on the secret sauce of success, here are the best pieces of advice 40 successful executives have to share.
That’s what we think you must know from this week to be #moneyconscious. If you want to take your #moneyconsciousness to the next level, build yourself a financial plan with our #MoneyConscious Financial Planning Guide: 12 Steps to a Richer You. Get yourself started on a solid plan to ensure financial success. Not being concerned about money is a great thing.