What Do Consumers Want?

For manufacturers and marketers of products and/or services, this, along with how to reach them, would seem to be key questions.  This is not a new issue, but with the advent of Covid-19, considerably more complex. More than 100 years ago, John Wanamaker reportedly said, ” half of your ad money is wasted”.  More recently, … Continued

Sigma Signals

Week of May 8, 2023 Monetary policy and fiscal policy should work in tandem, with actions to spur economic growth when conditions are recessionary and inflation pressures are moderate, and doing the opposite when the economy is overheating. The upcoming budget negotiations between Speaker of the House McCarthy and President Biden should proceed with these … Continued

Big Brother and Your Big Mac

In the fall of 2022, California passed what shortens to the FAST bill, (Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act), which would require fast-food restaurants to pay a minimum wage of $22 an hour with annual increases of 3.5%.  Following considerable pushback, a referendum vote has been scheduled for November 2024 and implementation is blocked … Continued

Sigma Signals

Week of May 1, 2023 Last week saw a bevy of corporate earnings reports and, for the most part, expectations were exceeded. This caused a general lift in equity prices, broadly speaking. Budget/debt negotiations between Speaker of the House McCarthy and President Biden are moving to center stage. Our Signals remained unchanged. Bob Bilkie, CFA

The Taiwan Strait

The Taiwan Strait is one of the world’s busiest waterways and the main passage for cargo moving between Southeast Asia and Japan, South Korea and Northern China.  The strait, while approximately 200 miles wide, is only navigable by modern ships through a stretch of some 15 miles.  China claims it has sovereignty and jurisdiction over … Continued

Sigma Signals

Week of April 24, 2023 Bed Bath & Beyond, an icon of the baby boomer/household formation generation, just declared bankruptcy. While some may lament the passing of this era, others will applaud US economic dynamism, the same dynamism that gave rise to entities like Costco, Amazon, and TJ Maxx that shot their arrows through the … Continued

Sigma Signals

Week of April 17, 2023 The New York Times columnist David French references Yeats in his April 16 essay, noting that the “…center can hold….” In particular, he highlights the current trend in academia towards the support of free speech and free expression. While this may seem a trite microcosm, it does reflect on the … Continued

Are We Becoming More Gullible?

At first glance, with an almost constant stream of media reports of large losses attributable to fraud, highly speculative trading and questionable advice/promotions by well-known, highly visible personalities, it may seem so.  These incidents gained more attention because of social media, but that doesn’t mean that they’re happening more often.  Moreover, easy access to a … Continued

Sigma Signals

Week of April 10, 2023 The Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index is currently perched almost exactly halfway between its cyclical high reached in January of 2022 and its recent low notched in October, 2022. One might call this a stalemate of sorts. Attendant are other notable stalemates: the inflation outlook; the Russian/Ukraine war; Fed … Continued

Sigma Signals

Week of April 3, 2023 Joe Manchin D – West Virginia wrote an op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal last week highlighting the contortions that bureaucrats in Washington were exercising in implementing the Inflation Reduction Act, for which Manchin played a pivotal role in shaping and getting its passage. His criticism was pointed and may … Continued

The Pension Dilemma

As people live longer, the population grows older, and the ratio of workers to retirees decreases, pension systems are in danger of running out of money. This problem is widespread, particularly in developed countries, and is leading to increasingly acrimonious disputes between elected officials and beneficiaries.   For example, in response to French President Emmanuel Macron’s … Continued

Sigma Signals

Week of March 27, 2023 Signs of disinflation are beginning to appear. Home prices fell in February for the first time in 11 years, according to the Wall Street Journal. Commodity prices, especially energy, have plummeted of late. In conjunction with the recent spate of bank failures, the Fed appears ready to moderate its stance … Continued