Posts by Aaron Task
The most recent data out of China, including PMI and industrial profits, were consistent with the broader truth: The world's second-largest economy has clearly downshifted but isn't heading for a 'hard landing' -- at least not anytime soon.
Dan Gross, editor and columnist at The Daily Beast, recently returned from a trip to China and joined me in the accompanying video to explain why hardcore China bears are likely to remain frustrated.
"They have a lot of problems," he says, citing suffocating air pollution, a burgeoning credit bubble and "bubblicious activity" in cities like Wuhan, where Gross describes seeing "row upon row of apartment buildings and office buildings you could see through."
But "the idea of collapse is far-fetched," he continues, citing several macro trends.
If it feels like the rich are getting richer and the majority of Americans are falling behind, well...that's because it's true! A new study published by the Russell Sage foundation found that wealth inequality in America roughly doubled between 2003 and 2013. In 2003, the top 20% Americans had 13 times more wealth than the median household. By 2013, this gap nearly doubled to 24 times. Yes, that's right, the inequality gap doubled in 10 years! Double the pleasure! Double the fun...especially for the wealthy!
Breaking news!! There's an upside to the rich getting richer: charitable giving hit a record $335.17 billion last year, up 4.4% from 2012 and about 8% above the pre-crisis peak of $311 billion.
According to the annual report from Giving USA Foundation and the Indiana University Lilly Family School, the record-setting giving was driven by donations from individuals, which rose 4.2% to $230.91 billion.
Individual giving looks even more impressive compared with the stinginess of the corporate sector, where giving dropped 1.9% in 2013 to a (relatively) paltry $18.22 billion. This despite record profits for the S&P 500. If corporations really are people too, this puts them deep into Ebenezer Scrooge territory.
Still, congratulations to those wealthy Americans who've given until it helps.
Then there's Deeb Salem, a former Goldman Sachs trader who is suing the Wall Street firm because his 2010 bonus wasn't big enough.
Shares of Coca-Cola (KO) jumped Tuesday, at least briefly, after David Winters, CEO of Wintergreen Advisers, told Fox Business that Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and Brazil's 3G Capital might take the company private, just as they did last year with Heinz.
Winters also wrote a letter to three independent directors of Coke's board in which he expressed "grave concerns...regarding potential conflicts of interests at Coca-Cola."
At the Excess Files, we aim to take a satirical look at the lives of the rich -- and the super rich. Honestly, it's an effort to laugh to keep from crying...because it often seems like the concentration of wealth has become an unstoppable force, threatening to overwhelm our democracy.
Indeed, a recent study by Martin Gilens of Princeton University and Benjamin I. Page of Northwestern University found “the general public has little or no independent influence” on policymaking due to the “quite substantial and highly significant" impact of "economic elites" and corporate lobbyists.
It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it.
That's what I was thinking when Ray Isle, executive wine editor at Food & Wine, stopped by our studio to talk about the whiskey boom that's taken America by storm.
"Suddenly brown spirits, particularly whiskey -- which includes bourbon, scotch and Irish whiskey -- have become cool," Isle says. "It's been pushed by the whole cocktail movement, which has a little Mad Men effort behind it. And I think people are getting a little tired of the vodka boom; they're thinking 'there's got to be something else out there to try'." And try they have, as these stats from a recent USA Today article suggest:
Isle says rumblings that increased demand could lead to a whiskey "shortage" may not be so far-fetched.
In his new book The Bigs , Wall Street veteran and CRT Capital Group vice chair Ben Carpentertells job seekers and young professionals how to choose a career, be a leader, manage their money and more. Carpenter's advice includes a counterpoint to the conventional wisdom to "follow your passion," as embodied by the 2011 best-seller: Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow . Instead, Carpenter advises young professional to think about what they have to offer potential employers: “Instead of asking yourself what you love to do, ask yourself what someone will be willing to hire you to do,” he writes. Carpenter recommends younger workers should "focus on what they can do well versus what they want to do. You need to be focused in on how you can help a company succeed. That's why they're going to want to hire you; that's why they're going to want to promote you."
The stock market has been on a tear lately, with the Dow and S&P 500 hitting a series of records. And while the market has been described as “boring” as volume and volatility recede, every major asset class — stocks, bonds, commodities, emerging and frontier markets — was up year-to-date as of Tuesday, making this certainly a unique and interesting moment.
Related: Why bond yields are tanking
Komal Sri-Kumar, president of the investment firm Sri-Kumar Global Strategies, says a dangerous conglomeration of factors is conspiring to threaten the rally. "My concern now is we're in the sixth year of monetary easing, going into the seventh, and still don't have economic growth pickup to a sustainable pace," he says. "We've done [easing] for a long period of time and there's still no improvement for the growth picture." Related: Stocks rally but this bull sees more pain ahead