Category Archives: Uncategorized

Walmart’s Q2 2018 Results – Comments

I found various notable items in Walmart’s Q2 2018 management call transcript (pdf) dated August 17, 2017.  (as well, there is Walmart’s press release of the Q2 results and related presentation materials)

I view Walmart’s results and comments as particularly noteworthy given their retail prominence and focus on low prices.  I have previously commented on their quarterly management call comments; these previous posts are found under the “paycheck to paycheck” tag.

Here are various excerpts that I find most notable:

comments from Doug McMillon, President and CEO, page 4, wrt Walmart U.S.: 

We had a strong quarter with comp-sales growth of 1.8 percent and
comp-traffic growth of 1.3 percent. It’s exciting that sales growth is coming
from across the business– including stores, e-commerce and a
combination of both.

comments from Brett Biggs, EVP & CFO, page 8:

Walmart U.S. eCommerce again performed very well on the topline
as GMV grew 67 percent and sales increased 60 percent, including
acquisitions. The majority of this growth was organic through
Walmart.com, including Online Grocery, which is growing quickly. We’re
delivering growth through an improved customer value proposition that
includes free two-day shipping on millions of items and Easy Reorder, as
well as an expanded assortment, now with more than 67 million SKUs – an
increase of more than 30 percent from the first quarter. With Easy
Reorder, we’re integrating both in-store and online purchases to provide
customers with a single spot to view and repurchase the items they buy
most frequently. Initiatives like these, along with everyday low prices, are
the reasons why customers are choosing Walmart in greater numbers. As
a reminder, we’ll begin to lap the Jet.com acquisition in the third quarter.

comments from Brett Biggs, EVP & CFO, page 9, wrt Walmart U.S.: 

Gross margin rate declined 5 basis points in the quarter. Savings
from procuring merchandise benefited the margin rate but was more than
offset by the mix effects from our growing e-commerce business, as well as
continued investments in price.

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The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2468.11 as this post is written

10-Year Treasury Yields – Two Long-Term Charts As Of August 16, 2017

I have written extensively about U.S. interest rates and their importance.  Rising interest rates have substantial ramifications for many aspects of the current-day economy.  My commentaries with regard to interest rates and the bond bubble are largely found under the “bond bubble” tag.   From an intervention perspective commentary is found under the “Intervention” category.

As reference, here is a long-term chart of the 10-Year Treasury yield since 1980, depicted on a monthly basis, LOG scale:

(click on charts to enlarge images)(charts courtesy of StockCharts.com; chart creation and annotation by the author)

10-Year Treasury Yield since 1980

Here is a long-term chart of the 10-Year Treasury yield since 2008, depicted on a daily basis, LOG scale:

U.S. Treasury 10-Year Yield chart

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The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2467.86 as this post is written

Average Hourly Earnings Trends

I have written many blog posts concerning the worrisome trends in income and earnings.

Along these lines, one of the measures showing disconcerting trends is that of hourly earnings.

While the concept of hourly earnings can be defined and measured in a variety of ways, below are a few charts that I believe broadly illustrate problematic trends.

The first chart depicts Average Hourly Earnings Of All Employees: Total Private (FRED series CES0500000003)(current value = $26.36):

(click on chart to enlarge image)(chart last updated 8-4-17)

CES0500000003

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis: Average Hourly Earnings of All Employees:  Total Private [CES0500000003] ; U.S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics; accessed August 4, 2017:

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/CES0500000003

This next chart depicts this same measure on a “Percentage Change From A Year Ago” basis.   While not totally surprising, I find the decline from 2009 and subsequent trend to be disconcerting:

(click on chart to enlarge image)(chart last updated 8-4-17)

CES0500000003

There are slightly different measures available from a longer-term perspective. Pictured below is another measure, the Average Hourly Earnings of Production and Nonsupervisory Employees – Total Private (FRED series AHETPI)(current value = $22.10):

(click on chart to enlarge image)(chart last updated 8-4-17)

AHETPI

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis: Average Hourly Earnings of Production and Nonsupervisory Employees:  Total Private [AHETPI] ; U.S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics;  accessed August 4, 2017:

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/AHETPI

Pictured below is this AHETPI measure on a “Percentage Change From A Year Ago” basis.   While not totally surprising, I find the decline from 2009 and subsequent trend to be disconcerting:

(click on chart to enlarge image)(chart last updated 8-4-17)

AHETPI Percent Change From Year Ago

I will continue to actively monitor these trends, especially given the post-2009 dynamics.

_________

I post various economic indicators and indices because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this site are aware, I do not necessarily agree with what they depict or imply.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2474.82 this post is written

August 1, 2017 Gallup Poll Results On Economic Confidence – Notable Excerpts

On August 1, 2017 Gallup released the poll results titled “Americans’ Confidence in Economy Positive but Near 2017 Low.”

Notable excerpts include:

Americans’ confidence in the economy was steady last month, with Gallup’s U.S. Economic Confidence Index averaging +4 in July. This score is nearly identical to the 2017 low of +3 registered in May and June. Still, July marked the ninth consecutive month that Americans rated the economy more positively than negatively — the longest such streak since Gallup began tracking economic confidence in 2008.

also:

Gallup’s U.S. Economic Confidence Index is the average of two components: how Americans rate current economic conditions and whether they believe the economy is improving or getting worse. The index has a theoretical maximum of +100 if all Americans were to say the economy is doing well and improving, and a theoretical minimum of -100 if all were to say the economy is doing poorly and getting worse.

also:

Last month, Americans continued to see current economic conditions positively, with 33% describing the economy as “excellent” or “good,” compared with 22% describing it as “poor.” This leaves the current conditions component at +11 for the month — nearly identical to its performance in June (+10).

In July, the greater share of Americans continued to see the economy as “getting worse” (49%) rather than “getting better” (45%), as has been the case since May. As a result, the economic outlook component equaled -4 last month, on par with May (-5) and June (-4).

Here is an accompanying chart of the two components of the Gallup Economic Confidence Index, discussed above:

Gallup U.S. Economic Confidence Index Components

Here is an accompanying chart of the Gallup Economic Confidence Index:

Gallup U.S. Economic Confidence Monthly Averages

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2476.35 as this post is written

Velocity Of Money – Charts Updated Through July 28, 2017

Here are three charts from the St. Louis Fed depicting the velocity of money in terms of the MZM, M1 and M2 money supply measures.

All charts reflect quarterly data through the 2nd quarter of 2017, and were last updated as of July 28, 2017.  As one can see, two of the three measures are at an all-time low for the periods depicted:

Velocity of MZM Money Stock, current value = 1.293:

MZMV_7-28-17

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed July 29, 2017:

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/MZMV

Velocity of M1 Money Stock, current value = 5.528:

M1V_7-28-17 5.528

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed July 29, 2017:

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/M1V

Velocity of M2 Money Stock, current value = 1.425:

M2V_7-28-17

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed July 29, 2017:

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/M2V

_________

I post various indicators and indices because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this site are aware, I do not necessarily agree with what they depict or imply.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2472.10 as this post is written

Consumer Confidence Surveys – As Of July 28, 2017

Doug Short had a blog post of July 28, 2017 (“Michigan Consumer Sentiment:  July Final Continues to Slip“) in which he presents the latest Conference Board Consumer Confidence and Thomson/Reuters University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index charts.  They are presented below:

(click on charts to enlarge images)

Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index

University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index

There are a few aspects of the above charts that I find highly noteworthy.  Of course, until the sudden upswing in 2014, the continued subdued absolute levels of these two surveys was disconcerting.

Also, I find the “behavior” of these readings to be quite disparate as compared to the other post-recession periods, as shown in the charts between the gray shaded areas (the gray areas denote recessions as defined by the NBER.)

While I don’t believe that confidence surveys should be overemphasized, I find these readings to be very problematical, especially in light of a variety of other highly disconcerting measures highlighted throughout this site.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2466.03 as this post is written

Employment Cost Index (ECI) – Second Quarter 2017

While the concept of Americans’ incomes can be defined in a number of ways, many prominent measures continue to show disconcerting trends.

One prominent measure is the Employment Cost Index (ECI).

Here is a description from the BLS document titled “The Employment Cost Index:  what is it?“:

The Employment Cost Index (ECI) is a quarterly measure of the change in the price of labor, defined as compensation per employee hour worked. Closely watched by many economists, the ECI is an indicator of cost pressures within companies that could lead to price inflation for finished goods and services. The index measures changes in the cost of compensation not only for wages and salaries, but also for an extensive list of benefits. As a fixed-weight, or Laspeyres, index, the ECI controls for changes occurring over time in the industrial-occupational composition of employment.

On July 28, 2017, the ECI for the second quarter was released.  Here are two excerpts from the BLS release titled “Employment Cost Index – June 2017“:

Compensation costs for civilian workers increased 0.5 percent, seasonally adjusted, for the 3-month period ending in June 2017, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Wages and salaries (which make up about 70 percent of compensation costs) increased 0.5 percent, and benefits (which make up the remaining 30 percent of compensation) increased 0.6 percent. (See chart 1 and tables A,1, 2, and 3.)

also:

Compensation costs for civilian workers increased 2.4 percent for the 12-month period ending in June 2017. In June 2016, compensation costs increased 2.3 percent. Wages and salaries increased 2.3 percent for the current 12-month period and increased 2.5 percent for the 12-month period ending in June 2016. Benefit costs increased 2.5 percent for the 12-month period ending in June 2017. In June 2016, the increase was 2.0 percent. (See chart 2 and tables A, 4, 8, and 12.)

Below are three charts, updated on July 28, 2017 that depict various aspects of the ECI, which is seasonally adjusted (SA):

The first depicts the ECI, with a value of 129.7:

ECIALLCIV_7-28-17

source: US. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Cost Index: Total compensation: All Civilian[ECIALLCIV], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, accessed July 28, 2017:

https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/ECIALLCIV/

The second chart depicts the ECI on a “Percent Change from Year Ago” basis:

ECIALLCIV Percent Change From Year Ago

The third chart depicts the ECI on a “Percent Change” (from last quarter) basis:

ECIALLCIV Percent Change

_________

I post various indicators and indices because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this site are aware, I do not necessarily agree with what they depict or imply.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2468.71 as this post is written

Real GDP Chart Since 1947 With Trendline – 2nd Quarter 2017

For reference purposes, below is a chart from Doug Short’s “Q2 GDP Advance Estimate: Real GDP at 2.6%” post of July 28, 2017, depicting Real GDP, with a trendline, as depicted.  This chart reflects the Gross Domestic Product Q2 2017 Advance Estimate (pdf) of July 28, 2017:

U.S. Real GDP chart

_________

I post various indicators and indices because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this site are aware, I do not necessarily agree with what they depict or imply.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2475.42 as this post is written

Durable Goods New Orders – Long-Term Charts Through June 2017

Many people place emphasis on Durable Goods New Orders as a prominent economic indicator and/or leading economic indicator.

For reference, below are two charts depicting this measure.

First, from the St. Louis Fed site (FRED), a chart through June 2017, updated on July 27, 2017. This value is $245,568 ($ Millions):

(click on charts to enlarge images)

DGORDER

Second, here is the chart depicting this measure on a “Percentage Change from a Year Ago” basis:

DGORDER Percent Change From Year Ago

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis: Manufacturers’ New Orders:  Durable Goods [DGORDER]; U.S. Department of Commerce: Census Bureau; accessed July 27, 2017;

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/DGORDER

_________

I post various indicators and indices because I believe they should be carefully monitored.  However, as those familiar with this site are aware, I do not necessarily agree with what they depict or imply.

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2480.85 as this post is written

Money Supply Charts Through June 2017

For reference purposes, below are two sets of charts depicting growth in the money supply.

The first shows the MZM (Money Zero Maturity), defined in FRED as the following:

M2 less small-denomination time deposits plus institutional money funds.
Money Zero Maturity is calculated by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Here is the “MZM Money Stock” (seasonally adjusted) chart, updated on July 14, 2017 depicting data through June 2017, with a value of $14,908.6 Billion:

MZM money supply

Here is the “MZM Money Stock” chart on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis, with a current value of 4.6%:

MZM percent change from year ago

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed July 20, 2017:

https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/MZMSL

The second set shows M2, defined in FRED as the following:

M2 includes a broader set of financial assets held principally by households. M2 consists of M1 plus: (1) savings deposits (which include money market deposit accounts, or MMDAs); (2) small-denomination time deposits (time deposits in amounts of less than $100,000); and (3) balances in retail money market mutual funds (MMMFs). Seasonally adjusted M2 is computed by summing savings deposits, small-denomination time deposits, and retail MMMFs, each seasonally adjusted separately, and adding this result to seasonally adjusted M1.

Here is the “M2 Money Stock” (seasonally adjusted) chart, updated on July 13, 2017, depicting data through June 2017, with a value of $13,519.3 Billion:

M2 money supply

Here is the “M2 Money Stock” chart on a “Percent Change From Year Ago” basis, with a current value of 5.5%:

M2 money supply

Data Source: FRED, Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; accessed July 20, 2017:

https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/M2SL

_____

The Special Note summarizes my overall thoughts about our economic situation

SPX at 2475.70 as this post is written