Stocks up, wages up, unemployment down. How could the Midterms be close?

As a financial writer in real life, I find it odd that the economy is not being ballyhooed by the Republicans more during this Midterm election. Or should I say not mentioned in the media more.

Stocks, as measured by the Dow Jones industrial average, are up 25% since President Trump was elected.

No the only focus the stock markets get nowadays is the recent gyrations in October, which also overshadowed the latest wage data showing a pay raise of more than 3% according toLabor Department data released Wednesday. The wage gains make sense since there is now a decades-low unemployment rate.

An argument could be made that the recent stock pullback story has much to do with a concern that the Democrats could possibly win the House of Representatives.

Certainly Wall Street has a growing concern that Rep. Maxine Waters could take over the leadership of the House Banking Committee. The same Maxine Waters who told protestors to go after Administration members of Republican members of Congress if you see them in a restaurant or the movie theater.

It’s not a question of impeachment, because that will never be in the cards, since the Democrats will never have enough votes to get charges brought and passed onto the Senate. No the real question is what do the Democrats stand for economically?

There’s very little evidence of any economic platform or any platform except being anti-Trump. But no one calls them out on this.

A perfect example of this is in San Francisco, where the Democratic Mayor and city council want to raise real estate and business taxes to stem the tide of growing homeless people defecating in the streets among other quality-of-life issues.

Left-leaning Silicon Valley firms like Google and Amazon among others are squawking over having to pay more taxes. Threatening to move out of the city if they are forced to pony up cash to alleviate a problem they caused by moving in and distorting the cost of housing in the Bay Area.

So where is the left’s economic thought? Clearly tax and spend doesn’t resonate with its biggest boosters — California tech companies.

And I would say it does not sit well with many institutional investors as well.

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Markets searching for a shred of news

The news lull of August is in full swing. I have been looking for two hours for a shred of meaningful news to opine about.

A quick look at the financial headlines tells you everything you need to know about global markets. Currency devaluations in Turkey and China are making markets jittery for lack of any real news.

Now don’t get me wrong, China cutting the value of the yuan as a response to President Trump’s tariff threats has meaning to the backwater currency trading markets, but to make global markets move on the scale they have this morning is a bit of overkill and a result of lack of news on other fronts.

The same with the Turkish lira devaluation taking down the emerging markets. This is less than a blip on the screen any other time of the year. Today it’s leading the WSJ.com website.

So now we have big moves in currencies and sovereign bonds — two markets that most investors know very little about — driving overall stock markets.

Well perhaps later today we can get back to real market-driving news like Tesla’s Elon Musk on Twitter showing the check he received from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos to take the electric automaker private.

If this continues tomorrow, I think I’ll give you an update on my honey bees and the honey I harvested. It’s a helluva more interesting than currencies and sovereign bonds.

Starbucks customers find social change to be a grind

Starbucks ran headlong into the great divide of the US.

The over-priced coffee shop came out over the weekend saying that it would allow people to use its spaces — including restrooms — without making a purchase.

This policy change was spurred by Starbucks “partners” calling police in Philadelphia last month on two black men sitting in a shop waiting on a friend.

The majority of customers in Starbucks are under 35-years old and that’s where it ran into trouble by trying to placate this base by saying it would open up its stores to everyone. In NYC this would include the homeless and mentally deficient.

The blowback on social media was fast and furious as people posted protests to the policy change. It’s bad enough to pay upwards of $3 for a coffee followed by three adjectives, but to then have to worry about safety had Twitter going nuts.

Well, come Monday, Starbucks had to walk back this “space race” by saying it wants its outlets to be safe for all customers and that it would draw the line somewhere between paying customers and others using its stores.

This is what happens when a retailer attempts to impose social change on its customers, which many may believe in, but some do not.

Personally, if I was charging these prices for coffee and getting away with it, there is no way I would do anything to get my customers perturb.

This issue goes back to the post I did recently on Starbucks and Amazon not wishing to pay additional corporate tax to the city of Seattle to fight homelessness in the area where both have their headquarters.

I called those moves hypocrisy and I can say with all honesty that Starbucks should focus on returning value to its shareholders and not be so concern about changing the world because they already have.

Who else could get away with charging these prices for something I can buy from a street cart in Midtown Manhattan right outside one of its outlets for 50 cents in a traditional blue and white cup.

Bezos, Schultz and their pure hypocrisy in Seattle

The hypocrisy of Jeff Bezos and Howard Schultz is so absolutely delicious.

The blowback Amazon and Starbucks are giving the city of Seattle over a new tax being levied on employers to help fund homelessness programs in the city is classic “do what I say, not what I do”. Continue reading