Costco and WalMart reported decent retail results
, everything else rotted - and that's being polite. Teen-and-fun oriented retail is on life support (gee, you think when Miss Priss needs to preen a bit but Mom and Dad are strapped she might get the boot on that demand for another $100 pair of jeans? Oh the horror!) Never mind JC Penny, Saks and Kohls, all of which looked really bad; Gap and Abercrombie were off double digits (!) Target down more than 4% - nasty.
WalMart, however, stripped of fuel, wasn't up nearly as much as you might have thought - 0.7%.
So when you're broke you go to WalMart. Surprised? Not me! Believe me, if WallyWorld gets into actual trouble we're not in a recession - its an all-on economic collapse.
ICSC came in at -0.5% .vs. the up 0.9% expected.
The BOE cut by a quarter as expected with no significant effect on the overnight market.
Oh, China's currency continues to appreciate. There are those who have been screaming for this, but the nasty is that this will of course push our import prices from them higher. Hmmmm....
Now let's add another nasty into the mix - trade deficit. It was much
larger than estimated at $62.3 billion .vs. $57.1 expected. Add in the appreciation of the yuan and you've got a serious situation brewing here; US consumption slowing, consumers squeezed, consumer confidence in the tank and both Chinese imports and energy rising in price - all at once.
Welcome to what happens when the "virtuous" cycle of "offshoring" our production turns vicious.
Jobless claims came in at 357,000 which was a bit of a surprise on the downside (better), but the continuing claims didn't move, with the 4 week MA moving up a bit.
Trichet continues to say
that their policy obligation is towards price stability and that inflation pressures remain uncomfortably high. Oh Ben, how's that vise feeling about right now on your "package"? Looks like Trichet gave the handle another twist this morning eh? Mmmmmm... dominatrix games in central bankerland - I like it. Will there be a video available at the local "dirty picture" store soon?
The "credit crunch", in particular, the Auction Rate Security Mess, is now hitting students
"The 18-year-old planned to obtain a government-backed loan of about $10,000 from a New Hampshire nonprofit group to pay the $32,000 tuition and expenses not covered by financial aid and a music scholarship, just like last year. That option evaporated when the New Hampshire Higher Education Assistance Foundation stopped making such loans in March."
Let me see if I get this right - $32,000 a year for tuition and expenses for college? To study political science? Are you kidding me? Well, obviously not, and what is also obvious is that the bubble hasn't been confined to houses. One of the "dirty secrets" is that the "college benefit" has been pumped to unreasonable levels and the "easy money" rubric has in turn spread to college costs, driving them to the sky. Employers of course have piled in with "demands" that you have that sheepskin, or else you work flipping burgers.
So now we have more complicity in forcing the ever-expanding debt bubble down people's throats, hoping it won't explode? What happened to the ivory tower being the place of open expression and critical thought?
Well, it got swept up in useless "research" and "publication", advanced degrees got watered down to the point that regurgitation passes in a thesis defense, and budgets swelled while return-on-investment wilted.
My advice to would-be-matriculators? Take a cold, hard look at the economics before you pack up. Consider community college for the first two years.