The one thing no one really has to worry about right now as Americans celebrate the “Labor Day” holiday is, well, the labor market itself.
Job openings are plentiful. Incomes are rising. And layoffs and unemployment are near a 50-year low.
The strong labor market has become the bedrock of a U.S. economic expansion that recently entered its 11th year. It’s also the glue holding the economy together as a series of recent convulsions try to tug it apart: A worsening trade war with China, a spreading manufacturing malaise, weaker U.S. exports and faltering global growth.
Yet after a decade of economic expansion that’s created tens of millions of new jobs, hiring was bound to slow. The number of jobs created each month this year has dwindled to an average of 165,000 from 223,000 in 2018 — and even those numbers might be exaggerated.
Last week the Labor Department said about 500,000 fewer new jobs were created as of last March compared to the government’s earlier estimates. The agency drew its conclusion after examining the latest tax records. Updated employment figures will be unveiled early next year.
Whatever the case, the pace of hiring each month is unlikely to mimic the 200,000-plus gains that prevailed from 2013 to 2018. It’s not just all the rising economic headwinds, either. Companies simply can’t find enough skilled workers to fill all the open jobs the already have.
In August, Wall Street forecasts a 163,000 increase in new jobs, similar to the gain in July. The unemployment rate is likely to hold at 3.7%, just a tick above a half-century low. And wage growth is expected to continue to run above 3% a year — good but not great.
“Look for a 160,000 increase in August, with strength led by the services sector, while manufacturing acts as a caboose,” economists at BMO Capital Markets wrote to clients.
In short, no big cracks in the bedrock of the economy.
Take manufacturing. A closely followed survey of senior industry executives compiled by ISM has fallen for four straight months to a three-year low. Don’t expect much improvement in the ISM’s August survey, either.
“Industrial production continues to flounder amidst the dour global trade environment,” said senior economist Andrew Grantham of CIBC World Markets.
The trade deficit, meanwhile, is forecast to decline in July, but make no mistake. The trade gap is sky-high and will remain so for the foreseeable future regardless of how the spat with China turns out.
Since the U.S. economy is stronger than most other major economies, Americans can afford to buy more imported goods. At the same time, a strong dollar and a weaker global economy have crimped U.S. exports.
The direction of a more insular American economy less dependent on trade, however, is still mostly determined by what goes on in America itself.
So long as businesses maintain current employment levels and labor to avoid layoffs, the U.S. economy is likely to skirt the dangers of recession.
Working with Mr. Wonderful sounds pretty terrible — if you’re someone who values setting boundaries between your professional and personal life, anyway.
“Shark Tank” personality Kevin O’Leary told the CNBC site Make It that he works while on vacation, and he expects all of his employees to do the same. “I work every day. Every day is a vacation for me. I just happen to work all day long, because I like to work,” he said. “I don’t have a division anymore between vacation time and work. It’s always both.”
And he demands the same commitment from his workers.
‘Do I expect my employees to respond to me when they’re on vacation? 100%.’
“Do I expect my employees to respond to me when they’re on vacation? 100%,” he asked-and-answered. “My employees are all over the country and sometimes all over the world. They’re working 24/7, or they’re not, but they’re getting the job done, and that’s the way the economy is going to roll. You don’t have to 9-to-5 anything anymore. You have to get the job done.”
Of course, the O’Leary Funds and SoftKey founder built a broadcast studio in his 9,800-square-foot main cottage on Lake Joseph in Muskoka, Ontario, so he can accommodate his frequent TV appearances while spending more than half the week at the lake in July and August. “I can do the hit, walk out and get on my boat,” O’Leary told the Wall Street Journal in 2016.
But O’Leary is not alone in his employee expectations. As technology has blurred the lines between work and home, plenty of workers feel pressured to either not take their vacation days, or to use that time “off” to get ahead at work.
And high-profile billionaires and CEOs are also signaling that being available 24/7 is key to getting ahead.
CEO Elon Musk has said working anything less than 120-hour weeks is “not an option” if he wants his company to succeed. So it’s not surprising that almost two-thirds of workers in a recent LinkedIn survey admitted to checking in with the office while they are away, and 82% of Gen Z members in particular wrote emails or took calls while on vacation.
But while O’Leary does get points for giving his workers plenty of flexibility — saying that he doesn’t care when they come to the office, or if they come in at all, so long as they get their work done — a growing body of research shows that expecting them to be on call even when they’re supposed to be off is counterproductive.
Taking time to fully unplug from work is key to recharging, reducing stress and avoiding burnout, which improves workplace performance. A 2017 internal study by auditor Ernst & Young found that for every 10 hours of vacation time its employees enjoyed, there was an 8% boost in their annual performance rankings.
Taking time off could even give you more time. A 2018 study found that men who took three weeks or less of vacation each year had a 37% greater chance of dying compared with those who took more than three weeks off.
Arianna Huffington made headlines in 2017 for creating a tool that deletes all incoming email messages while an employee is away, with senders being told to re-send the note at a later time if it is indeed urgent. “Being better at our jobs means being better at vacation,” she wrote in the Harvard Business Review at the time.
LeBron James has made $272 million so far in his career, and is set to make another $117 million by the time his current contract with the Los Angeles Lakers ends in 2022. And he has delivered, winning three NBA championships and four NBA MVP awards, among many other accolades. He’s also capitalized on his success as much as any other athlete today, realizing that with his fame and wealth he could do more than just invest in others.
In the recently published biography of James, LeBron, Inc.: The Making of a Billion-Dollar Athlete, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, who has covered James since he was a high-school freshman, outlines the biggest financial wins of LeBron James’s career.
By making timely investments and leveraging his influence, James, 34, has become one of the wealthiest athletes in the world. According to Forbes, James was the world’s 8th highest-paid athlete last year, when he made $89 million — $36 million from salary and $53 million from endorsements. And he’s estimated to have a net worth of $450 million.
Here are James’s four most successful investments.
Choosing Nike over Reebok
As the most hyped young basketball player in decades, James was drafted first overall In the 2003 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers straight from high school. Shoe companies were eager to ink James to one of the biggest endorsement contracts ever.
at $87 million and Reebok at a whopping $115 million, per Brian Windhorst.
In 2002, Nike was the leading shoe brand in the NBA coming off a lucrative partnership with Michael Jordan. James had dreams of wearing the swoosh, but to do so meant passing up an extra $28 million.
Reebok wanted to add James to its collection of star athletes that included Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson and Venus Williams. After a long period of pitch meetings and private jet rides for him and his friends, James chose to accept the lower offer from Nike. Brian Windhorst wrote that James sided with who he thought would be a better long-term partner in Nike over a higher initial offer from Reebok.
And James clearly made the right decision. His most recent contract with Nike (while the exact terms are not fully known) is reportedly a lifetime deal that could exceed $1 billion. Meanwhile, as of 2019, Reebok doesn’t currently sponsor any NBA players.
Asking for an ownership stake in Beats by Dre
In 2006, music mogul Jimmy Iovine and his friend Andre Young, more commonly known by his rapper name Dr. Dre, started a headphones company called “Beats by Dre.” Iovine and Dre wanted to partner with James in an effort to boost sales. But Beats had a hard time gaining momentum in the mid 2000s.
James, a hip-hop junkie, was interested in working with the brand, according to Windhorst. But instead of just securing a typical sponsorship deal with Beats where he could be seen wearing the headphones in public, James and his team went another route.
James and his business manager Maverick Carter secured a partnership that included elements of a traditional deal (commercials, etc), but also included an ownership stake in the company. This would become a common thread of James’s business dealings over the years.
Carter, who never graduated from college but frequently claims he got a degree at the “University of Nike” after an internship at the company, didn’t see James as just a basketball player, but as a brand.
Windhorst details that through James’s influence, Carter was able to befriend high-profile businessmen like Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway
who only added to Carter’s already savvy business acumen.
Carter and James didn’t just want to be used by large corporations to promote products. They wanted to be partners — and they wanted ownership. James knew his brand was so strong that leveraging his influence for an ownership stake would see the most returns. James eventually agreed to a deal where he would promote Beats in exchange for a small piece of ownership.
One major factor in the ascension of Beats was the 2008 Beijing Olympics. While Beats was not an official sponsor of the Olympics, Carter and James deployed a one-of-a-kind marketing campaign in China.
Windhorst writes that Carter was acutely aware that athletes, especially basketball players, had a virtual fashion runway when they moved in and our of venues, not unlike Hollywood celebrities. Knowing the Team USA basketball team were the biggest celebrities in Bejing, Windhorst claims it was Carter who told James to gift each of his teammates a pair of Beats headphones.
For the entirety of the Olympic games, these fifteen extremely tall and famous men strolled around Olympic village and parts of China with the headphones around their neck.
James too had been in a number of McDonald’s commercials — he was their top athlete for many years. According to Windhorst, when his latest McDonald’s contract was set to expire in 2017, James declined a lucrative $15 million extension to fully commit to his 2012 investment in pizza chain start-up Blaze Pizza.
Similar to his agreement with Beats, James was interested in an ownership stake. James was able to buy into the company at a heavily discounted rate in exchange for his influence, per Windhorst. James’s initial investment amount is unknown, but Windhorst writes that James was also given ownership of two franchise locations. According to Forbes, he now owns 21 franchises.
In 2011, James acquired a minority stake in Liverpool F.C., an English Premier League soccer club. James ‘acquired’ his 2% stake in the soccer club rather than ‘purchased’ it because James was able to work out a deal with the club majority owners (Fenway Sports Group) where he didn’t actually have to risk any money.
Fenway Sports Group (FSG) and James made a deal where the NBA star agreed to be added to their official client list that they used to recruit new clients. James also agreed to allow FSG to pitch him other business deals where they would earn a commission. In exchange, James and his business partner Maverick Carter were given a 2% stake in Liverpool.
FSG wanted so badly to be in the LeBron James business, they gave up equity in their team for what amounted to commission checks on partnerships they got for James that included Dunkin’ Donuts and the Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet, according to Windhorst.
Since the agreement, Liverpool F.C won the UEFA Champions League tournament and is now worth upwards of $1.9 billion, four times what FSG paid for it. James and Carter’s stake in the club is valued at over $30 million.
After the deal with Liverpool was reached, James traveled to England to watch a Liverpool match. James met with all of the players and gifted them a pair of special edition Beats headphones.
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., during an American Workforce Policy Advisory board meeting in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 6, 2019.
Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images
If you need a new television, you might want to consider buying it sooner rather than later.
The U.S.-China trade war will enter into a new phase starting this Sunday that will start hitting consumers’ wallets. The Trump administration will raise tariffs on billions of dollars of imports from China starting Sunday, according to an official announcement in the Federal Register.
That means that when an electronics company imports a TV, or a smart speaker, or a drone from China starting September 1, it will have to pay a 15% tax to the U.S. government.
Eventually, this will end up raising prices on gadgets and other products for people in the United States, said Bronwyn Flores, a spokeswoman for the Consumer Tech Association (CTA), a trade group that represents 2,000 different companies in the electronics industry, including brands like Apple and LG and retailers like Walmart and Best Buy.
“You’re not likely to see price increases for consumers starting Sunday,” Flores told CNBC. “But you might start to see it in November for Black Friday, so if you want a new TV for the Super Bowl, you might want get it soon.”
“You’re going to start to see these price increases this holiday season,” she continued.
While previous batches of tariffs already in effect have affected electronics, costing the industry $10 billion since July 2018, they were mainly focused on parts and components, according to CTA. Now the tariffs are affecting more finished goods.
“List 4a,” which is what trade experts call this round of tariffs going into effect on Sunday, will place an additional import tax on smartwatches, fitness trackers, desktop computers, digital cameras and lithium batteries. That amounts to $52 billion dollars worth of consumer goods will be affected starting Sunday, according to CTA.
The poster child
Even leading American companies aren’t safe from the tariffs. Apple’s fight to keep its products unaffected by tariffs illuminates what many electronics companies are facing and how they navigate the process.
Like most electronics companies, Apple does most of its final assembly in China, leaving it vulnerable to the tariffs.
It’s important to Apple: Both AirPods and Apple Watch are likely to be hit by a 15% tariff on Sunday, and both fall under a category that is one of the fastest growing product categories at Apple. Other major products likely to be affected include the HomePod speaker and iMac desktops. Apple declined to comment.
Although the tariffs are a challenge facing all electronics makers and importers, Apple has become the “poster child” for the trade conflict, Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said in an email to CNBC. Apple stock frequently drops when President Trump tweets or makes a comment about tariffs.
“Apple has bet the farm on China with its flagship Foxconn factory and employs 1.4 million Chinese at peak through the supply chain,” Ives said. “The lifeblood of Apple’s supply chain is in China as well as much of its demand and speaks to why this trade scuffle is a $20-$25 overhang on the stock in our opinion.”
So Apple has done a lot to prevent the tariffs from affecting its products. In June, Apple said in a letter to the government that List 4 (which includes 4a and a second batch scheduled for December 15) would cover “all of Apple’s major products, including iPhone, iPad, Mac, AirPods, and Apple TV” and that “U.S. tariffs on Apple’s products would result in a reduction of Apple’s U.S. economic contribution.”
Analysts from J.P. Morgan say that Apple is more likely to absorb the cost of tariffs rather than raise the price of its products. That could cost Apple $500 million.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has also spoken directly to Trump to explain the company’s position. Trump said earlier this month that Cook made a good case and that he would “help him out short-term. “
So far, 19 Apple products currently face tariffs, according to Reuters, but none of them have seen price increases, and most of them are minor products, such as accessories like computer mice or phone cases.
On the horizon
There’s a batch of tariffs on the horizon which is poised to have an even bigger impact on the consumer electronics industry.
The list scheduled for December (List 4b) will affect $115 billion of consumer technology products, including big ticket items, according to the CTA. Categories include smartphones, laptops, tablets and video game consoles.
This batch of goods was originally scheduled to be part of the September 1 tariffs, but the USTR delayed many goods to December. Trump later said he delayed the tariffs over the Christmas shopping season, “just in case some of the tariffs would have an impact on U.S. customers.”
There is one more chance for Apple and other electronics companies to avoid a tariff: applying for an exclusion.
The US Trade Representative’s office said earlier this month that it will conduct an “exclusion process for products subject to additional tariff.”
That means that Apple and other technology companies have another chance to save their products from the tariffs. Apple is likely to apply for exemptions for its products, given that it has applied and received exemptions in the past, but the exemption process for List 4 hasn’t opened up yet, according to the CTA.
Collin Castore started selling beer out of coolers in parking lots at Grateful Dead concerts.
It was the mid-1990s and craft beer was a small niche market. While most people were drinking big labels like Budweiser and Miller, Grateful Dead fans had a taste for independent labels like Sierra Nevada and Samuel Adams.
“Deadheads were always ahead of the curve in terms of quality,” Castore said.
Castore developed a love for beer at those concerts. Over the next decade, he turned that passion from a parking lot hustle into one of the first craft beer bars in Columbus, Ohio.
Castore eventually sold his bar to focus on brewing and co-founded Seventh Son Brewing Co. in 2013. There were about seven breweries in the Columbus area when Seventh Son opened, Castore said. Today, there are 55 in central Ohio. Nationwide, the industry has exploded from about 1,500 craft breweries in 2000 to 7,450 in 2018.
“We got a hockey-stick growth to brewing industry right now,” said Bill Nootenboom, president of Stout Tanks and Kettles in Portland, Oregon. “The way people are consuming beer is changing — they’re doing it in neighborhood taverns.”
But independent craft brewers are increasingly concerned about headwinds as President Donald Trump’s tariffs increase prices on everything from aluminum cans to brewing equipment.
“There’s really likelihood that fewer brewers can open,” said John Watt, founder of Stout Tanks and Kettles. “These are start-ups that a lot of the time are borrowing money from an uncle or parents. Darn near everything they need to buy is going to be impacted.”
‘We can’t just keep eating it’
The problems started for craft brewers more than a year ago, when Trump imposed a 25% tariff on steel and a 10% tariff on aluminum in March 2018.
Castore says the price he pays for an aluminum can has increased from about 15 to 18 cents to about 19 to 24 — depending on how the can is treated.
Between Seventh Son and his other brewery, Antiques on High, Castore’s business produces about 7,000 barrels and sells 800,000 cans of beer a year throughout Ohio. He estimates increased can prices are costing him about $16,000 a year. For now, Castore hasn’t passed that on to consumers, but that will change if aluminum can prices continue to increase.
“If it goes up another 20% we’ll have to figure something out — we can’t just keep eating it,” he said.
Castore isn’t alone. Rob Burns, co-founder and president of Night Shift Brewing in Everett, Massachusetts, says aluminum can prices have increased 16% since 2016 or about 2 cents.
Founded in 2012 by Burns and two buddies with about $125,000 borrowed from family and friends, Night Shift expects to brew 40,000 barrels this year or about 13.2 million cans of beer. Overall, Burns says his costs will go up by about $264,000 this year due to the increase in aluminum can prices alone.
“We’re a small independently owned family business so every penny matters,” Burns said. “Not having a quarter of a million dollars is pretty significant. That’s an opportunity to create two or three jobs; that’s an opportunity to buy equipment and grow and generate revenue.”
Night Shift Brewing co-founders Mike O’Mara, Rob Burns and Michael Oxton
Source: Night Shift Brewing
‘It’s an unjustified tax’
The business environment for craft brewers, particularly those just starting out, is about to get more challenging. The Trump administration is imposing 15% tariffs on $112 billion of goods imported from China starting Sept. 1, including brewery equipment. Last year, the U.S. imported $35 million of brewery equipment from China.
Watt has helped more than 1,000 smaller-sized breweries get up and running across the U.S. since he founded Stout Tanks and Kettles a decade ago. Watt has hands-on experience on the supply and brewing sides of the industry. Before Stout, he founded Sonoran Brewing Co. in Phoenix, which he operated for about a decade before selling it and moving back to Oregon, his home state.
Stout Tanks and Kettles works with start-up breweries to design equipment to their custom specifications. Stout sources its tanks from two factories on China’s east coast close to the ports. The smaller tanks that microbreweries use are labor intensive to fabricate, Watt said, and manufacturing the same equipment in the U.S. would be cost prohibitive for start-up businesses that are often family owned.
“You could never afford to open a business if you had to pay double for same equipment,” he said.
With the 15% tariffs looming, Watt said he will have to increase prices and that means it is going to be more expensive for his customers to get into the brewing business.
“We don’t have really big margins so the bottom line is we have to raise our prices,” Watt said.
Adrian Sawczuk is already running into this problem. He and his wife Dara have had plans to open a brewery in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for about two years now. Tidal Creek Brewhouse is slated as a 10-barrel operation that will make craft beverages in house. They’ve leased property and are going through the permitting and contracting process, but the tariffs have forced them to alter some of their plans.
Collin Castore, co-founder Seventh Son Brewing Co.
Source: Seventh Son Brewing Co.
Sawczuk planned to order $300,000 of brewery equipment from China. Now, he is scaling back his plans by reducing the number of fermentation tanks. He says this will reduce production from 3,000 barrels to 1,000 barrels of beer, or 66%. The brewery’s opening has also been delayed until the first quarter of 2020 and Sawczuk says he’ll likely hire fewer people.
“That money in my mind is just an unjustified tax,” Sawczuk said of the tariffs.
Castore and Burns, for their part, don’t expect to take a hit right away because they operate established breweries that already made major capital investments. But Seventh Son and Night Shift do have plans to buy more equipment to keep up with demand as they continue to grow.
Night Shift, for example, has big plans to open a new facility in Philadelphia in 2020 that will have a 30,000 barrel capacity from day one and can scale up to 200,000 barrels.
“It definitely factors into purchasing decisions,” Burns said of the tariffs. “We bought Chinese equipment in the past because it’s good quality and usually the fastest available equipment and often at the lowest price.”
Castore said Seventh Son is already putting off some purchases, such as higher-end lab equipment, as the company tightens its belt in response to the tariffs. “As we grow it will definitely affect us,” he said.
For Sawczuk, the abrupt increases in the tariff rates have created uncertainty that makes planning difficult.
“It was 10%, now it’s 15% — tomorrow it could be 20%, then it could be zero,” he said. “Uncertainty is never good.”
Wow, it’s your lucky day. You got a call from Publisher’s Clearing House (PCH), where an excited man or woman says you’ve just won $5,000 a month for the rest of your life. Congrats! All you have to do is wire them a one-time fee of $500 to handle the processing, or give them your bank account info, so they can deposit your first installment of cash. Five grand a month! What are you going to do with all that money, they ask. What’s the first trip you’re going to take? Now you’re all excited, aren’t you?
Just one problem: It’s a big fat scam.
“This is the scam that just won’t quit,” warns Amy Nofziger, the director of Fraud Victim Support for AARP. She should know: She’s been focusing on consumer scams like this for nearly two decades. “These scams remain prevalent because they’re successful.”
It’s important to remember that Publisher’s Clearing House does NOT notify contest winners by phone. On its website, it emphasizes: “At PCH the winning is always free and you NEVER have to pay to claim a prize award. Recognizing the difference between legitimate sweepstakes and other types of offers that may not be legitimate will help you protect yourself and your family.”
Unfortunately, one woman in Florida didn’t know this and lost a staggering $800,000, after believing that she had won the real PCH sweepstakes. Scammers, befriending her, took her into their confidence, won her trust, roped her in—and then began cleaning her out.
“They told her they needed her tax forms, or money for shipping and handling fees, and so forth, and she continually sent money,” Nofziger says.
Losing the lion’s share of a million dollars is obviously an extreme case, but Nofziger warns that people get ripped off every day thinking they’ve won the lottery or a sweepstakes. The crooks behind these scams are clever, devious, shameless, and will stop at nothing to rob you blind. And thanks to technology, they’ve got more ways than ever to get to you.
for instance, you’re connected with friends and family—people you trust and choose to follow. This means you’re more likely to believe something that one of your connections sends you. Crooks take advantage of this by hacking say, your best friend, Bob, and then sending you a message. You obviously think it’s from Bob. And you like and trust Bob.
Nofziger says “It might begin ‘Hey, Amy! I just won this lottery! You should try to win it too. Click on this link.’” It seems legitimate, because it’s coming from your friend. You take the bait and before you know it, you’re handing over cash or the data they need to steal from you.
Here’s a thought: How about actually calling Bob and asking if this is true? The crooks are gambling that your inclination to be trustful—and perhaps your laziness—will keep you from doing so.
If you are targeted by scammers, there are two places you can and should report it. One is the Federal Trade Commission—FTC.gov. On the right side of the home page you’ll see options like “File A Consumer Complaint.” If it’s an email or social media scam, the FBI may get involved. Go to https://www.ic3.gov (the ic3 is short for “internet crime complaint center).
Don’t think this can’t happen to you. No matter how smart you think you are, no matter how successful you’ve been, you’re vulnerable. We all have wishes, dreams and desires—in other words soft spots that can be exploited—and scammers are really good at figuring out what yours are. “Everyone is vulnerable at anytime,” Nofziger warns, “regardless of our education or status.” That means you.
That’s if you allow the crooks to figure out those vulnerabilities. Check with a friend before clicking on a link. Screen calls and don’t answer unless you’re absolutely sure you know who’s calling. Sometimes scammers, twisting technology to their benefit, can make the number they’re calling from look like one that may be familiar to you; if you happen to answer and then realize it’s a stranger, Nofziger has some good advice here: Have a prepared script and keep it by the phone.
The script should have one line: “I don’t do business over the phone.”
And then, she says, hang up.
That’s always my advice, too. Just hang up. I know we’re not conditioned to be rude. But you have my permission: Be rude. Do not engage, do not answer any questions, do not get sucked into a conversation, no matter how friendly the man or woman sounds.
Just hang up.
If you have been the victim of a scam or have tips on how to prevent it from happening, I want to hear your story. Please contact me: RetireBetterMarketWatch@gmail.com.
On Labor Day, it’s a tradition to try to sum up conditions for the American worker — and in a year before a presidential campaign, this is often done with the incumbent’s re-election prospects in mind.
So what about this year?
Donald Trump’s economic record, as of this Labor Day, is a mixed bag, albeit a bright spot in the administration’s otherwise-unblemished record of tarnishing race relations, the environment — and, indeed, most of what it touches. The unemployment rate is 3.7%, average job growth since he arrived in the White House is 183,500 per month, and median household incomes are up around 12% since he took office, even as faster gains (and bigger tax cuts) at the top exacerbate inequality.
30% gain since Jan. 3, 2017 (splitting the difference between those who think Trump should get credit for a post-election rally before he took office and those who don’t), compares to a 31% jump for the same stretch under his predecessor, who inherited a crashing stock market. (From March 2009’s bottom, the market rose 82% through this date in 2011.)
Here’s how Trump is doing by some major indicators to judge the state of workers, and presidents:
The 3.7% unemployment rate is the lowest since 1969. As Trump notes, unemployment among African-Americans, at 6%, is the lowest reading among data that go back to 1972. But Trump deserves little credit, because unemployment had dropped from 10%, and nearly 17% among blacks, to 4.7% and 7.7% by the time he was sworn in.
Grade: B+. You can’t fault the level, but the effort lacks the originality of an A paper. It simply sustained most of what was already happening.
Job growth under Trump is slower than Barack Obama’s second-term average of 208,000 a month. But this isn’t bad. In mature expansions, job growth should slow as the economy nears full employment. In fact, I predicted in early 2016 that it would slow to about 160,000 a month, so 183,500 isn’t disappointing.
Grade: B. This is the opposite of Trump’s grade for the unemployment rate. There, he lost an A because he didn’t contribute much to the good result. Here, he’s spared a C+ because mediocre growth has an extenuating explanation.
Beyond brave talk about work’s meaning, its real purpose is to bring in cash. Something has to put Labor Day burgers on the grill, and few can count on Trump’s $400 million in tax-curated gifts and inheritances from Dad to do the job.
Real median household income has risen about $7,000 under Trump to $65,000-plus, extending a run that began in 2014 after a seven-year decline, according to Sentier Research. It’s actually rising faster than in late Obama times, though the sharp upward movement began in 2014.
At the heart of Trump’s America-in-decline story was his boast that only he could fix manufacturing, which lost 4.5 million jobs under President George W. Bush and another 1.1 million in Obama’s first year.
By raw employment numbers, Trump beats Obama’s second term but trails the 2010-13 recovery in manufacturing. His 496,000 new manufacturing jobs compares to 385,000 in Obama’s second term and 530,000 from the February 2010 low to January 2013. Hourly pay for line workers is up 8%, too, matching Obama’s second term.
Grade: B/Incomplete. So far, Trump hasn’t made much of a difference. But his trade policies have recently hammered manufacturers’ profits, notably at General Motors
Even in the market for company-paid health insurance, the biggest source of Americans’ coverage, he has flopped, failing to control annual premiums and out-of-pocket costs for family coverage, which hit $22,885 last year. As the Kaiser Family Foundation’s president, Drew Altman, pointed out, health insurance now exceeds the cost of buying a new car every year. That’s up $2,000 in just the first two years of Trump’s term (excluding this year), about double the increase in Obama’s later years.
The minimum wage of $7.25 per hour is nearly 40% lower than in the 1970s, adjusted for inflation — and Trump has done nothing to lift it. Boosting it to $15, as most Democratic politicians want to do, would raise pay for 33 million Americans, according to the liberal Economic Policy Institute. Trump is also moving to strip unions representing federal workers of bargaining power, while appointing management-side labor lawyer Eugene Scalia as secretary of labor.
The rubber will hit the road on Trump’s economic record when the economy, or manufacturing, slips into recession before the election — or does not.
The question for voters will be whether Trump’s trade war was worth its cost.
Come to think of it, that’s the question about Trump himself.
The Lotus Evija, meaning “the living one” or “the first in existence,” is one of the most beautiful cars I’ve ever seen. It’s the first British hypercar and the first electric vehicle (EV) built by Lotus of Hethel, England.
Evija, pronounced “eh-vai-jah,” is unlike any other car. Its curves and “porous” design make not only for interesting visuals, but also for an outstanding aerodynamic profile. Instead of slicing the air as it speeds, as other cars do, the Evija was designed to encourage air flow through openings in its chassis.
That increases the car’s efficiency and stability while being propelled by four electric motors pushing almost 2,000 horsepower combined, enabling it to reach a top speed of 217 miles per hour. Lotus hasn’t tested this number yet, but according to the company, the car can accelerate from 0-60 mph in less than 3 seconds. That alone could give Tesla’s
Model S a run for its money when the numbers come in. (Tesla claims its upcoming new Roadster goes 0-60 in 1.9 seconds. Remember, also, that Tesla’s first car, the original Roadster, was a heavily modified Lotus Elise.) Lotus claims the Evija can reach 186 mph in less than 9 seconds, which is “better than any other direct competitor,” the company says.
Lotus’ hypercar should be able to reach 250 miles before its 70 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery runs out of juice. Recharging up to 80% of the battery’s capacity at an 800-volt, 350 kW, Level 3 fast charger will take 12 minutes, while you’d need to wait additional six minutes for a full charge. Impressive, but still not the world’s fastest-charging battery pack despite the company’s claim — the Porsche Taycan’s battery charges from 0-100% in only 15 minutes. It’s powerful, nevertheless, when we take into account enormous power-hungry motors and electronics.
While the exterior is incredible looking, the interior is equally beautiful. The main console is clean and high-tech-looking, almost resembling a futuristic fighter jet. From the hexagonal, honeycomb-like structure of the dashboard buttons, to the fully digital central console perched above the racing-style wheel, every element seems to be carefully thought out and put together. Holes and curved, open spaces between surfaces go well together with the overall porous theme of the car, and its elegance is emphasized by Alcantara-lined seats and steering wheel.
The Evija offers technical amenities and novelties one would expect from vehicles in its price range, and these are only a few: Instead of classic “mirror-based” headlights, the car features laser lights to light up the road. Mirrors are replaced by pop-up cameras that display images taken at various angles behind the car. Evija is equipped with dihedral doors lacking handles — they open only via a key fob. Finally, a companion app can be used to display the information about the car and access its many features.
After a decade-plus hiatus, the Lotus Evija was introduced not only as a British hypercar flagship, but also as a statement: The company is still alive and kicking. The same could not have been said only a few years ago; since the layoff of Lotus’ CEO in 2012, the road had been rocky for the British car company until it was acquired by Geely, a privately held global automotive group based in China. Already owners of Volvo, Geely took hold of Lotus in 2017, and judging by the Evija, things are looking up.
This car isn’t for everyone, though, and the British manufacturer wanted to make sure of that. Lotus plans to produce only 130 of these beauties, making the Evija one of the scarcest cars on the planet. If quantity wasn’t prohibitive enough, the price most likely will be: The model goes for a little over $2.1 million. If you want to secure yours, make sure to put in a $300,000 deposit, and the vehicle will be yours in 2020.
Read other electric-vehicle features on MarketWatch:
In normal times, the U.S. Treasury market could be described as “stable,” “reliable” or even “boring.” August, however, was not normal.
Long-term government debt yields in August posted one of their most dramatic downswings in recent memory as a surge in global demand for bonds forced prices up and rates down.
The benchmark 10-year Treasury note yield, for example, fell about 50 basis points for the month from highs above 2% to its current level around 1.5%. The last time the 10-year yield posted a fall of at least 50 basis in a single calendar month was January 2015, representing one of the single-largest monthly declines in the post-crisis era.
The 30-year Treasury bond yield fell to an all-time low 1.91% on Wednesday, tracking a similar swoon in rates overseas. The Japanese 10-year yield fell to a new negative three-year low this week while the German and French 10-year yield both hit record lows and the Italian rate dropped below 1% for the first time ever.
“I have to believe that the bond market – the long end – is responding to the expectations about where the economy’s going to go,” said Bill Poole, former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. “And it’s got this interplay of economics: The way in which firms are responding to the trade issues and expectations about what Trump’s going to do.”
Long-term rates fell so much that yields on the 3-month and 2-year notes exceeded longer-term rates in a phenomenon known as curve inversion, a sign many investors believe to portend eventual recession.
The Chinese response drew Trump’s ire on Twitter, where he said on Aug. 23 that he was ordering U.S. companies to “immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA.”
The heated back-and-forth roiled the markets as investors lost faith in a longstanding belief colloquially known as the “Trump Put,” a bet that the president wouldn’t take the trade war so far as to put the U.S. economy in jeopardy.
Poole added that the fall in long-term rates was both warranted and understandable given the growing impact the trade war will take on real GDP growth.
The fall in long-term rates is “a consequence of the fact that Trump’s trade policy has increased the probability of a recession,” the former Fed leader said. “I don’t think you’ll get anybody to say that the trade policy has not changed the probability of recession. I don’t know how big that probability is, but it’s certainly higher than it was 18 months ago.”
“And there’s also now this extraordinary uncertainty about what Trump will do next,” Poole warned.
Fixed on income
Those uncertainties manifested themselves in the U.S. bond market and shape of the yield curve, which as of Friday afternoon showed the yield on the 2-year Treasury note still above that of the 10-year rate.
When investors believe the economy is set for growth, bonds of longer maturities yield more than those of, say, one or two years. Though the credit of the U.S. government isn’t likely to change between two year and five years, bondholders are compensated more for loaning to Uncle Sam for a longer duration.
This normal, upward relationship between bond maturity and yield can change, however, if investors start to worry about a slowdown in GDP growth. Some pessimistic investors hoped that the Fed would have eased monetary policy beyond its quarter-point cut in July both as a way to lower short-term rates as well as assure Wall Street that the central bank would be quick if the economic outlook deteriorated.
“I read price action all year up until August as the market saying [the Fed] will put this midcycle adjustment in and it’ll work. Or that things aren’t bad enough, but the Fed will some insurance in,” said Priya Misra, head of global rates strategy at TD Securities.
Instead, what Fed Chair Jerome Powell categorized a merely a “mid-cycle adjustment” both failed to abate GDP growth fears and did little to delay the flattening of the yield curve. His speech from the Fed’s annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, offered little clarity as Powell reiterated the central bank’s inexperience in dealing with the shocks trade disputes can have on the U.S. economy.
That makes upcoming industry data — as well as the FOMC’s meeting on Sept. 17 — all the more important, Misra said, pointing to upcoming manufacturing reports on the state of the U.S. and China’s goods output.
“If you get very good data — and I don’t just mean payrolls, that’s been good for a while … if you’re finding sentiment’s turning and payrolls remaining good, then maybe we go back to the 2016 scenario, which was the short manufacturing slowdown then everything became OK,” she said.
But if the data disappoints, and the weakness in Europe start to weigh on U.S. figures, “rates are going much lower,” she warned. “It’s not as if we can give back this entire move. A little bit of Pandora’s Box has been opened through August.”
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s account on the social network was compromised on Friday afternoon and began sending out erratic tweets.
Dorsey’s account sent several tweets, including some with racial slurs and others that defended Nazi Germany, just before 4 p.m.
A Twitter spokesperson said the company was aware Dorsey’s account was compromised and the company was investigating what happened. The company deleted the tweets around 4:10 p.m.
The company announced that Dorsey’s account had been secured and there was no indication that its systems had been compromised in a tweet sent around 5:20 p.m.
The takeover of Dorsey’s account comes soon after similar hacks of the accounts of YouTube stars James Charles and Shane Dawson. A group on the chat app Discord that refers to itself as the Chuckling Squad claimed to be behind the takeover of Dorsey’s account.