Morning Report: Walmart raises wages 1/11/18

Stocks are higher this morning on no real news. Bonds and MBS are up.

Inflation came in weaker than expected at the wholesale level, with the producer price index falling 0.1% MOM and increasing 2.6% YOY. The core index (which strips out food, energy, and trade services) rose 0.1% and is up 2.3% YOY.

Bonds were trying to break through support yesterday, however a decent 10-year auction pushed rates lower. The 10 year yield dropped 2 basis points on the result and is holding those levels this morning after the weaker than expected PPI. The Chinese government said that yesterday’s Bloomberg story of a potential slowdown or suspension of Treasury purchases could be fake news.

Initial Jobless Claims rose to 261k in a holiday-shortened week. I would bet most of this is being driven by post-holiday retail layoffs.

Wal-Mart is raising its starting wage to $11 an hour and handing out bonuses to employees. They are just the latest in a string of companies that announced raises and bonuses recently. We’ll see if this moves the needle in the official wage inflation numbers out of BLS. It is interesting that most of the wage inflation seems to be occurring at the bottom end of the scale.

Mortgage Credit Availability decreased in December, according to the MBA. Government programs (FHA/VA) especially at lower FICO and higher LTVs were the biggest decliners. Note that GNMA servicing values did get hit in 2017 as prepay speeds were generally higher than the benchmark TBAs were forecasting. That said, we saw a tightening of credit in all products, including jumbo. Despite the monthly drop, credit availability is still up substantially from a year ago.

The Kansas City Fed is out with their housing outlook for 2018, and it predicts continued price increases as pent-up demand remains unsatisfied. Household formation remains below the benchmark forecast done in 2000 based on demographics. Part of this is a continuation of the decades-long trend of Americans marrying and having kids later than previous generations. Student loan debt is also a factor. That said, the shortfall is astounding – about 3.5 million households. That is almost 3 years’ worth of housing starts at current levels! Housing starts would need to double to satisfy that demand. If we get 2 million plus housing starts, we are looking at the strongest growth since the 90s. Lack of workers, available land, and land use regulations remain the bottlenecks.

Last year, the Fed paid $80 billion in profits to Treasury. Long-term rates fell slightly during the year and that number was lower than 2016. For those keeping score at home, that works out to be a 1.8% ROA, which is pretty punchy for a bank. The big question is what happens if rates move up faster than the Fed anticipates?

The Trump Administration is reviewing the Community Reinvestment Act, to make compliance easier and more transparent.

69 Responses

  1. Wal-Mart is raising its starting wage to $11 an hour and handing out bonuses to employees

    how dare they

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting, a Sam’s Club close to my house closed today, it’s less than a year old. Two other Houston Sam’s also closed, both of them were usually busy. A number of Sam’s nationally have closed today as well.

    #Amazon

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The amount of propaganda being thrown against the tax cut is impressive:

    “Workers must use IRS tool to ensure paychecks’ accuracy under new tax rules
    By Damian Paletta
    January 11 at 2:13 PM

    In the rush for Americans to see bigger paychecks, the Treasury Department is asking companies to rely on outdated forms to determine withholdings. That could put millions of workers at risk of overpaying or underpaying their taxes unless they double-check their paychecks using a new Internal Revenue Service tool.”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/new-tax-guidelines-rely-on-workers-to-double-check-their-paychecks/2018/01/11/234088c4-f700-11e7-b34a-b85626af34ef_story.html

    Like

    • just a little self-control and Trump could get a coalition that gets him 51% and more than 270 EVs. because the opposition is just batshit crazy. they’re ignoring rule 1: don’t give the clown a circus.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am not buying the D sweep 2018 polls either… I think the media is lying like a rug, trying to pull out all the stops to prevent Literally. Hitler. from turning the US into a totalitarian dystopia…

        Liked by 1 person

        • Who do they poll? I haven’t been contacted by a pollster since I lived in an apartment 25 years ago.

          I think most of the polling is unreliable. They don’t try to improve it because the results are within their expectations.

          Like

        • The thing is that polls are easy and cheap to create. Good (accurate) polls are expensive… Push-polls are a dime a dozen, and the media is going to flood the zone with them until November…

          Like

  4. This is kind of wild.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am probably the only person here who thinks there is an actual place for bipartisanship on defense, FP, and national security issues. Lankford and Klobuchar have been working together. Gives me hope.

    http://www.pbs.org/video/across-the-aisle-1515629713/

    Liked by 1 person

    • If the plan is to slash defense spending by, say 25-30%, I’m on board.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It depends on what they are cooperating on! I’m all for bipartisanship in principle. In practice it’s sometimes just politicians cooperating on expanding their power base.

      Like

    • Mark:

      I am probably the only person here who thinks there is an actual place for bipartisanship on defense, FP, and national security issues.

      I think there is an actual place for bipartisanship on every issue, as long as the right policy is being pursued. For example, if the D’s nominated judges committed to the Constitution instead of implementing progressive social policy via the bench, I would be all for bipartisan approval of those judges.

      Like

  6. I, for one, loved the honesty of the “shithole” country’s comment. Of course, that’s why my family left to come here. and they wouldn’t’ get defensive about it. proud of our ethnicity and culture, but not so proud to come here and bend the knee.

    Like

    • Substitute “third world” and there’s no outrage fodder.

      But as you noted earlier:

      “just a little self-control and Trump could get a coalition that gets him 51%”

      He lacks that self-control. At this point, he should be well aware that a large chunk of the people in his administration will leak anything and everything to a hostile press corps to undermine him. He needs to stop feeding it.

      On a more serious note, there are repercussions for this for Americans traveling abroad. Gratuitously insulting entire countries for no good reason does have actual consequences when it generates outrage among the populace of those countries.

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      • the blowback for travelers is a fair point and not one that i considered

        Like

        • It’s not like Americans have a great reputation to begin with. Trump personifies the ugly American stereotype.

          Like

      • jnc:

        On a more serious note, there are repercussions for this for Americans traveling abroad. Gratuitously insulting entire countries for no good reason does have actual consequences when it generates outrage among the populace of those countries.

        Why would an American want to travel to a shithole country anyway? /s

        Like

        • Because Trump is wrong and they aren’t universally shit holes.

          I had a good experience scuba diving in Honduras.

          It’s tempting to dismiss the actual damage Trump is causing due to the usual hysterical progressive over reaction to it, but you shouldn’t do that.

          Like

        • All Presidents cause damage in international relations, Bush/Middle East, Obama/Central America and Middle East Is Trump’s “shithole” comments more damaging? My perception is that, in terms of Western Europe, Republican presidencies in general are damaging, Euroweenies hate Republicans.

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        • jnc:

          Because Trump is wrong and they aren’t universally shit holes.

          Sorry for the confusion. I was being snarky, hence the /s at the end.

          Like

        • “Is Trump’s “shithole” comments more damaging?”

          Thre’s a cumulative effect with Trump. On a person to person level, I’d say he’s more damaging than the previous ones due to his inflammatory approach.

          Now, if you don’t care about that, then that’s one thing. But I don’t think it’s honest to pretend it’s not there.

          It’s also stupidly gratuitous insults. Substitute Third World for shithole, and it’s a non story.

          Like

        • I’m going to sound nit-picky here, but you honestly think it’s worse than Bush’s Iraq invasion/occupation, Obama’s Honduran election intervention, Libya / Khadafi toppling and Syria adventures?

          Liked by 1 person

        • “Substitute Third World ”
          disagree. then it’s a dog whistle.

          Liked by 1 person

        • nova:

          disagree. then it’s a dog whistle.

          I agree with you. I think jnc is right that Trump can be unnecessarily and gratuitously inflammatory, but the fact is that with regard to the left, it really doesn’t matter what he actually says. They will treat it as an outrage regardless.

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        • My mom wants to put a pin on ever place on the map. So she’s been to some shitholes. Me? I ain’t ever going to no shitholes. Not that interested.

          Like

        • How common do you think this kind of comment/language was back in the days when private meetings in DC usually stayed private, and your enemies didn’t immediately call a press conference to talk about all the things they remember you saying.

          I dont think this is any better for Trump’s critics. It might be worse. And they are to blame as much as Trump. If not moreso.

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        • KW:

          I dont think this is any better for Trump’s critics. It might be worse. And they are to blame as much as Trump. If not moreso.

          I think that is a fair point.

          Liked by 1 person

        • “I’m going to sound nit-picky here, but you honestly think it’s worse than Bush’s Iraq invasion/occupation, Obama’s Honduran election intervention, Libya / Khadafi toppling and Syria adventures?”

          I think the negative backlash from those events was pretty much limited to the countries in question (at least at the average person on the street level), and blow back from American interventions is already baked into the existing negative impression going back to Vietnam at least. Trump’s combined that with a personal loathing that’s wasn’t present previously.

          He’s now the face of America for anyone traveling abroad.

          Like

        • And it’s worse than when Bush was POTUS and had invaded Iraq?

          Like

        • “novahockey, on January 12, 2018 at 10:49 am said:

          “Substitute Third World ”
          disagree. then it’s a dog whistle.”

          Sure, but probably not front page news. At least make them work to make the case, don’t just hand it to them.

          Thiessen actually had a good point in his ill timed column:

          “The president is now at a crossroads. It was he who let the media stay in the room for the meeting, and it worked. So, what does he do next? Does he build on this success by delivering a substantive bipartisan State of the Union address, and use the power and trappings of the presidency to expand his base of support? Or does he go back to the tactics that made those questioning his fitness for office seem even remotely credible?

          His opponents have overreached and given him an opening. The question is: Will he seize it or squander it?”

          https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/in-one-key-meeting-trump-destroyed-his-critics-credibility/2018/01/12/13f3c1f4-f6f8-11e7-a9e3-ab18ce41436a_story.html

          He squandered it.

          Like

        • “but the fact is that with regard to the left, it really doesn’t matter what he actually says.”

          Yes, but he’s alienating people beyond that who were previously mostly politically apathetic.

          Like

        • jnc:

          Yes, but he’s alienating people beyond that who were previously mostly politically apathetic.

          Outside the US, sure. But inside the US? I’m skeptical. I think that pretty much everyone recognizes that some places in the world really are shit holes, and unless you have a particular affection for one of those places, why would you care if someone calls it a shit hole?

          Like

        • “Let the mutherfuker burn!, on January 12, 2018 at 12:28 pm said:

          And it’s worse than when Bush was POTUS and had invaded Iraq?”

          I’d say yes, at the person to person level. Again, regular people not active political participants on the left.

          Like

    • What is a bigger shithole? Haiti or Newark?

      Like

      • Probably Haiti, but I haven’t been there. Having traveled in Central American and South America, I can say that there’s a noticeable difference between the two (South America being better), but I’d still prefer the US or Europe.

        Two points:

        1. The left is the one that most often holds up Europe as the model to be emulated here, so it’s ironic that they object to Trump rating Norway as superior to Central America.

        2. The extent of their rebuttal is to call Trump a racist (just like with everything else). The idea that they may need to make a positive case for immigration from poorer countries (which can be made) appears to be beneath them.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I get why a president shouldn’t be saying it, in theory, although it really doesn’t bother me. Trump is crass. But he’s not wrong.

      Also, Trump denies saying it, but he lies like a carpet. However I don’t trust Dick Durbin any more than I trust Trump.

      “Why do we want all these people from ‘shithole countries’ coming here?”

      Frankly, I think the Democrats and media are reading the general public reaction to this incorrectly. They think the best strategy is to attack Trump for asking why we want people from shithole countries coming here. It’s not, because that’s a question a lot of people want honestly answered.

      I think the assumption will be since he’s being attacked for how he asked the question, and no real answers are forthcoming, that that’s the problem: not that he asked the question.

      I want a merit based system of immigration and people who will help take our country to the next level. I want safety and security for our people. I want to stop the massive inflow of drugs. I want to fund our military, not do a Dem defund….

      This stuff speaks to a lot of people. Not in DC, of course, but outside of DC? Yeah.

      I have yet to see the Democrats make a real argument as to why the people who voted for Trump in 2016 shouldn’t do so in 2020.

      Like

  7. It’s hard not to love this.

    Fucking limey’s, not listening to their betters!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • and that, right there, is progressive thought distilled. Why aren’t these people acting like they’re supposed to!

      Liked by 1 person

    • But blames business/consumers for failing to understand the full implications of leaving the EU. So companies kept on investing, people spending.

      God. The press is full of afactual fantasists making up whatever they want about things, rather than engaging in data-gathering, analysis, or historical comparison. Or just the employment of Occam’s razor.

      Will businesses stop hiring because of Brexit, even if they need to hire people? No. Will they lay off good workers because Brussel’s is no longer determining how the UKs toilets must be built and how much energy their appliances can use? No.

      Will immigrants stop trying to immigrate because the process and difficulty level becomes somewhat altered? No. Will consumers stop buying things they need because of Brexit? No.

      Will certain sectors of the economy potentially expand when no longer micromanaged by Brussels? Yes.

      The left often makes arguments like “It’s worth the government wasting a trillion dollars if it improves the life of just one child”, or some variation on that, saying money has no value compared to some emotional ejaculation of theirs.

      Beginning to feel that way about Trump and the press. The Trump presidency was worth it if just one American (or World Citizen) finally realized how full of shit the media is, here and abroad. And how worthless the media has become.

      Like

      • ” emotional ejaculation ”
        nice

        Liked by 1 person

      • I love the inherent arrogance of a bunch of Millennial journalists and academics who have probably never made a business decision in their lives and wouldn’t have the first clue even how to analyze one all seem to get what all of these stooges who have been doing something for 30+ years don’t.

        Like

    • Christ. This is our media. F*ck them.

      Also, Trump denied making the comments. Has there been any independent confirmation the comments were made? I assume they were, but before reporters start crying about what Trump said, they should have solid, verifiable evidence *that he actually said it*. Unless I’m missing something.

      Like

      • For what it’s worth, I saw a clip with Rich Lowry at national review where he said he’d heard that Trump said “shithouse” not “shithole”. Also, Trump is denying he called Haiti anything derogatory.

        Like

        • I honestly don’t care if he did. But the immediate reportage to the world at large . . . I dunno, smart move or dumb move, I’m 100% convinced Trump is playing them.

          And, compared to the US, that’s a fair shorthand description of a lot of the places we’re getting migrants from. It’s not universally true of all places or even any one place, but generally a lot of migrants don’t have their productive impact on the US foremost in their minds when immigrating. Why we’re letting them in is a legitimate question, and the Democrats need a satisfactory answer for middle America if they’re really gonna get that 2018 sweep in congress they’re counting on.

          Like

      • I believe the original WaPo story was “two people who had been briefed on the situation.” In other words, hearsay..

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        • good enough for today’s daily outrage!

          Like

        • And it’s perfectly credible. But the explosion of “news” over “hearsay” is just one of the many things I despise about the media. And I don’t think I’m alone.

          That being said, even if 100% true, I also don’t think Trump said anything (other than the use of a too-honest profanity) that alienates him from ANY of his voters or supporters. This isn’t “grab them by the pussy”, which lots of people can find offensive for a variety of reasons. This is “plain talk” asking the sort of question a lot of Americans have about immigration: why are we letting these people in? Is it a good idea?

          Trump’s spin seems really on point. Just another “deathblow” to the Trump admin that seems anything but, to me. And there’s plenty I don’t like about Trump but this particular incident is not an example of it. Not for me, anyway.

          Like

        • Leftist Twitter was commiserating that Trump’s comments will be met with nods with a large portion of the country…

          Like

        • “This is “plain talk” asking the sort of question a lot of Americans have about immigration: why are we letting these people in? Is it a good idea?”

          And the progressive response is to call him and anyone who agrees with him racist, rather than actually spell out why there may be an advantage for the country in accepting immigrants from poorer countries.

          It’s an interesting shift from when right thinking people were worried that the US accepted too many immigrants from poorer countries thus causing a brain drain, inhibiting those countries progress, etc.

          Regardless, I’m not sure of just yelling “racist” as a response will be as persuasive as progressives think it will be.

          Like

        • if you ever ask — who doesn’t get in an why — they never, ever have a non-snarky response to that.

          Like

        • Like everything else, immigration quotas should be allocated based on the hierarchy of victimhood.

          Like

        • Tranny Muzzies to the front of the line!

          Like

    • “Has there been any independent confirmation the comments were made? ”

      Durbin said on the record that he said them. I think a few other meeting participants confirmed that off the record as well. I find the charge itself to be completely credible. Trump talks like a New Yorker.

      Like

  8. This is amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “The record-crushing cold that rang in 2018 was like a blast from the past that will become increasingly rare.”

      Says the same people who said it was never going to happen again. And if it goes this way again next year, then what do they say?

      Like

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