Posts by Rick Newman
- Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance20 hrs ago
You might think the typical workplace is pretty Orwellian these days. You ain’t seen nuthin’, Winston.
Consulting firm PwC recently published its outlook for work in 2022, based on interviews with 500 human resources experts and 10,000 others in the United States and several other countries. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that big companies could end up so powerful and influential they morph into “ministates” that fill the void when government is unable to provide essential services. Companies will also use sensors and other gizmos to monitor employees around the clock. And workers will mostly acquiesce to this digital leash, in exchange for job security, decent pay and important benefits.
- Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance1 day ago
Don’t cry for the millennials, the 80 million Americans born, more or less, between 1980 and 2000. They’re getting a slow start as consumers, but it’s starting to look as if they’ll become irrepressible spenders, just like their parents.
A new Gallup poll shows millennials, in some ways, have become the most optimistic subset of U.S. consumers. In the poll, 51% of 18-to-34-year-olds say they’re spending more this year than last; this is the largest portion out of four different age groups. They’re shelling out more for necessities such as housing and utilities, but also for nice-to-have things including trendy new clothes and leisure activities. "Millennials' increased spending on discretionary items bucks the overall trend of increased spending on essential items at the expense of discretionary spending,” Gallup notes. Millennials are also “more freewheeling and impulsive” than older folks, which, after all, is what young consumers are supposed to be.
- Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance5 days ago
Starbucks (SBUX), one of the nation’s better corporate citizens, got a jolt recently from a New York Times article describing the harrowing schedule one of its part-time baristas must work. Jannette Navarro, a 22-year-old single mom in San Diego, works an erratic schedule generated by software, with only a few days’ notice given each week. The unpredictable and irregular hours cause chaos as Navarro tries to arrange childcare for her 4-year-old son, maintain a romantic relationship and invest time in things she deems necessary to get ahead.
- Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance5 days ago
President Obama continues to push for a hike in the minimum wage, but two other ideas for helping low-wage workers may have a better chance of passing Congress. And if such a bill were to land on Obama’s desk, he might have little choice but to sign it.
Congressional Republicans — often derided as the “party of no” — have stood firmly against Obama’s proposal to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10. That has left Obama with just the option of raising the minimum wage for federal contractors, which he can do on his own authority.
- Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance6 days ago
We’ve got problems. There’s no doubt about that. But America seems like a breakout economy compared with the woes our European counterparts are dealing with.
The euro zone, which comprises the 18 countries that use the euro as their currency, just reported GDP growth of 0% for the second quarter. That comes after 0.2% growth in the first quarter. The U.S. economy had a terrible first quarter, too, with output falling by 2.1%. But that was followed by robust second-quarter growth of 4% and lots of other evidence of an economy getting stronger, not weaker.
Europe is in the midst of a looooong slump and, once again, things may get worse before they get better. The U.S. and Europe typically struggle and prosper in tandem, but that connection seems to have been severed. Here’s how the two economies stack up:
GDP. These two charts tell the story:
U.S. real GDP:
Euro zone real GDP:
The shiniest automaker in the business has a few fresh dings to polish over.
Consumer Reports, which has gushed over Tesla’s Model S sedan, issued a new report on several problems encountered with the car during 18 months’ worth of ownership. “Over the last 15,743 miles,” CR reported, “our test car has developed many minor problems that merit some reflection.”
It’s fairly normal for new models to have imperfections, which tend to get worked out in the first year or so of production. Still, the problems CR has experienced with its Model S seem excessive. Among them: retracting door handles that got stuck, an unresponsive release for the front trunk lid, a creaky roof pillar, a broken seat buckle, a splintered power adapter and a control console that went dark, effectively disabling the car.
The recession officially ended more than five years ago and ought to be a distant memory. These should be boom times with widespread optimism and robust spending. Yet consumers are gloomy and the economy is limping along at subpar levels of growth.
It’s becoming clear why: While jobs have returned, incomes have not. The latest evidence is a study by the U.S. Conference of Mayors that highlights stark disparities between the jobs lost during the recession and jobs gained since. The types of jobs lost paid nearly $62,000 per year, on average. The jobs gained during the past six years pay only about $47,000. That 23% shortfall adds up to about $93 billion in lost wages per year — money not being spent because it vanished from the economy.
The technology revolution has already put a lot of travel agents, bank tellers, print journalists and assembly-line workers out of a job. But there may be much more disruption to come.
The Pew Research Center recently canvassed more than 1,800 technology experts to ascertain how the digital revolution is likely to change the job market during the next decade. The experts are split on the key question of whether new technology, on the whole, will destroy more jobs than it creates. But it seems clear there will be continued turmoil in the workplace as software, robots and other types of machines are increasingly able to do jobs currently done by humans.
- Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance12 days ago
When the Islamic militants known as ISIS first began to conquer territory in northern Iraq in June, oil prices spiked by nearly $10 to about $108 per barrel for West Texas crude.
ISIS has since gained even more turf and become such a menace the United States has begun bombing its positions. Yet oil prices are back down to around $98 a barrel, with the whole “fear premium” erased. And financial markets as a whole seem to be shrugging off geopolitical worries such as an escalation of sanctions between Russia and the west over Ukraine, renewed skirmishing between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip and an African ebola outbreak. U.S. stocks, on a losing streak since late July, rose modestly following news of renewed U.S. bombing in Iraq.
- Rick Newman at Yahoo Finance13 days ago
Americans ought to be feeling better these days. Companies are hiring again. Layoffs are uncommon. Congress has left town for more than a month!
Yet we seem to be gloomier than ever, even amid tangible signs of improvement in the economy. The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 76% of adults lack confidence that their children's generation will end up better off than their own. When pollsters asked the same question in 2007, just 60% answered that way. Beyond that, 71% think the country is on the wrong track, while 60% say America is in a state of decline. “Americans are registering record levels of anxiety,” the Journal declared.