Boots & Sabers

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Category: Economy

Australian Central Bank Promises to Print More Money After COVID Losses

This is not good.

Australia’s central bank has revealed that it has lost A$44.9bn ($30bn; £26.3bn) on the bonds it bought as part of its efforts to support the country’s economy during the pandemic.

The Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) deputy governor says that wiped out the bank’s profit for the 2021-22 year, leaving a net loss of A$36.7bn.

 

The bonds were accumulated under a A$300bn emergency stimulus programme.

 

However, the bank says the loss will not affect its normal operations.

 

“If any commercial entity had negative equity, assets would be insufficient to meet liabilities and therefore the company would not be a going concern,” RBA deputy governor Michele Bullock said.

“Since it has the ability to create money, the Bank can continue to meet its obligations as they become due,” she added.

Hackers Hit IHG

Given the damage that hackers do, I do think that the criminal penalties should be much, much higher.

Hackers have told the BBC they carried out a destructive cyber-attack against Holiday Inn owner Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) “for fun”.

Describing themselves as a couple from Vietnam, they say they first tried a ransomware attack, then deleted large amounts of data when they were foiled.

 

They accessed the FTSE 100 firm’s databases thanks to an easily found and weak password, Qwerty1234.

An expert says the case highlights the vindictive side of criminal hackers.

 

[…]

“Our attack was originally planned to be a ransomware but the company’s IT team kept isolating servers before we had a chance to deploy it, so we thought to have some funny [sic]. We did a wiper attack instead,” one of the hackers said.

Raging Inflation Pervades Economy

It’s not just that the core inflation rate remains very high. It’s that the inflation is spreading far and wide through the economy. As predicted by everyone with a brain, the early inflation in energy due to disastrous policies combined with the trillions of dollars spraying out of Washington combined to inflate the underlying cost structure of the entire economy. That isn’t going away any time soon.

For the better part of a year, the inflation narrative among many economists and policymakers was that it was essentially a food and fuel problem. Once supply chains eased and gas prices abated, the thinking went, that would help lower food costs and in turn ease price pressures across the economy.

 

August’s consumer price index numbers, however, tested that narrative severely, with broadening increases indicating now that inflation could be more persistent and entrenched than previously thought.

 

[…]

 

Rather than fuel, it was food, shelter and medical services that drove costs higher in August, slapping a costly tax on those least able to afford it and raising important questions about where inflation goes from here.

 

“The core inflation numbers were hot across the board. The breadth of the strong price increases, from new vehicles to medical care services to rent growth, everything was up strongly,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “That was the most disconcerting aspect of the report.”

New York Times Workers Refuse to Return to Office

Heh.

More than a thousand New York Times staffers are refusing to return to the office and are threatening a strike if the company does not meet demands from an employee union.

 

On Monday, the Times Guild said it had delivered a letter to the news organization’s corporate leadership with the names of nearly 1,300 NewsGuild member employees who have signed a pledge to continue to work remotely this week, the first week the company wants its journalists back in the office.

As someone who has worked remotely for 15 years or more, I can’t fathom having to go to an office every day. I get it. At the same time, if my employer required it, I’d just leave. Employers can set workplace standards.

Credit Cards to Start Tracking Gun Purchases

We continue to see the expansion of corporate/government collusion to implement an invasive surveillance and coercion state. I will be making my purchases with cash.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) approved creation of the merchant code on Friday following pressure from gun-control activists who say it will help track suspicious weapons purchases.

“Following ISO’s decision to establish a new merchant category code, Visa will proceed with next steps, while ensuring we protect all legal commerce on the Visa network in accordance with our long-standing rules,” Visa said in a statement.

Mastercard said on Friday that following ISO’s approval, “we now turn our focus to how it will be implemented by merchants and their banks as we continue to support lawful purchases on our network while protecting the privacy and decisions of individual cardholders.”

American Express said when ISO develops a new code, the company will work with third-party processors and partners on implementation.

The code will show where an individual spends money but not what items were purchased.

It is worth point out, again, that this is yet another anti-2nd Amendment effort that will no stem crime. Crooks don’t buy their guns with a credit card.

Profits From Abortions Plummet

Follow the money.

Abortions accounted for 40% of the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia revenue, Quinonez said, adding that there would be no easy way to replace such a large a chunk of the clinic’s $1.6 million annual budget. (At least for now, the clinic can again provide abortions, since a lawsuit brought by the clinic days after the Dobbs decision has paused enforcement of the ban.)

“Being unable to provide abortion care absolutely puts us in a precarious financial position,” Quinonez said. “Our ability to keep our doors open very much depends on revenue from the services we provide, as well as grants and donations.”

Strong Hiring

Obama had the “jobless recovery.” Will Biden have the “job-full recession?” Anyway, good news.

Nonfarm payrolls rose 528,000 for the month and the unemployment rate was 3.5%, easily topping the Dow Jones estimates of 258,000 and 3.6%, respectively.

Wage growth also surged higher, as average hourly earnings jumped 0.5% for the month and 5.2% from the same time a year ago. Those numbers add fuel to an inflation picture that already has consumer prices rising at their fastest rate since the early 1980s. The Dow Jones estimate was for a 0.3% monthly gain and 4.9% annual increase.

Home Ownership Increasingly Out of Reach

Home ownership is how most of the middle class builds net worth and stability. It is critical to a thriving middle class. It is also what anchors families to communities and induces them to invest their time and money in their communities.

New data is showing that homeownership is slipping out of reach for many Americans.

 

Rising home prices and mortgage rates above 5 percent are making houses less affordable in nearly every county in the country, according to real estate data company ATTOM.

 

The report said the last time affordability metrics were this low was in 2007, just prior to the crash of the housing market in 2008. The crash was driven by the failure of the mortgage-backed securities market, which itself was part of broader predatory lending practices enabled by Wall Street.

Delta CEO Explains Experience Gap

Interesting.

Nowhere is this clearer than the gap between staffing and air travel capacity: Bastian reported that Delta had recovered to 95% of the staffing level from 2019 pre-pandemic levels, but the airline was only operating at 82% of air travel capacity. In other words, a nearly fully staffed Delta is operating close to 20% below its peak level. To understand why, you have to go back to the brief pandemic recession of 2020, when Delta was one of several airlines to lay off staff—and accept government bailout money.

 

[…]

 

In June 2020, a little over two years ago, 2,000 Delta pilots opted to take early retirement as the airline sought to reduce headcount in the earliest days of the pandemic when the number of global flights plummeted roughly 80%. In April 2020, Delta had received $5.4 billion, including a $1.6 billion loan, from a taxpayer-funded airline bailout.

 

As spending and travel resumed, at first slowly in 2021 and then dramatically in 2022, Delta has still dealt with the fallout of a pandemic-era labor shortage, so even as companies staff back up to 2019 levels, it’s just not so easy for its new staff to perform at that level.

 

Much of the training backlog is intentional, according to Bastian, because overall airline industry capacity still hasn’t returned to 2019 levels—his estimate is it’s currently between 90% to 95%—and he foresees continued pent-up demand for air travel as consumers become comfortable flying.

What I read is that Delta took bailout money to let go older, more expensive staff, and is replacing them with younger, les experienced staff. The taxpayers funded a labor force turnover to reduce costs.

9.1% Inflation Eats into Paychecks and Retirement Savings

This is the result of intention policy choices by the Biden Administration and Democratic Congress.

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are falling on Wall Street after a highly anticipated report on inflation turned out to be even worse than expected. The S&P 500 was 0.8% lower in early trading Wednesday, and Treasury yields jumped as expectations built for the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates drastically at its meeting later this month in an effort to slow skyrocketing inflation. The Dow was down 0.6%. Technology stocks and other winners of the early days of the pandemic were again among the biggest losers. The Nasdaq was 1.1% lower, and its loss of 29% for the year is nearly double the Dow’s.

 

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

 

NEW YORK (AP) — Early gains on Wall Street were doused Wednesday after the government reported that surging prices for gas, food and rent catapulted U.S. inflation to a new four-decade peak in June, likely sealing the case for another large interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve.

 

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500, which were pointed toward gains just minutes before the release of the report, pivoted sharply lower after the Labor Department’s report showed that consumer prices soared 9.1% compared with a year earlier.

Americans Unhappy With Direction of Country

This isn’t surprising.

Eighty-five percent of U.S. adults say the country is on the wrong track, and 79 percent describe the economy as poor, according to a new survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

 

[…]

 

Even among Democrats, 67 percent call economic conditions poor.

What is surprising, or perhaps not, is how steadfast the Biden Administration is despite these kinds of polls. I think that Obama would have changed course by now, or, at least, pretended to change course. Clinton definitely would have changed. But Biden is still aggressively pursuing the same policies and using the same rhetoric to sell it. He hasn’t moved an inch despite overwhelming evidence that his policies are failing and the people hate it. It says something about a man who has spent his entire adult life as a Washington animal from a safe district.

Workers Alter Behavior to Adjust for High Gas Prices

Remember that many leftists are cheering that people are changing their behavior in this way. This intent is to inflict enough pain to change how people live their lives.

Millions of Americans who rely on their cars for work are changing their habits, signing up for carpools or even ditching their cars for bicycles as gas prices recently hit $5 per gallon for the first time ever. This week, it’s averaging $4.95 per gallon nationwide, up from $3.06 per gallon a year ago, according to AAA.

And the prices are having a huge ripple effect in our economy.

“This is an unwelcome development for those companies that are trying to get people back to the office,” Lewis said. “It is one more reasonable reason why those employees are pushing back.”

 

Lewis has around 100 employees in Norwalk. Before COVID, 85% of them were in the office at least two days a week. Now, maybe 25% of them are. Lewis — and many of his clients — would like to see employees in the office more but say gas prices are a huge barrier.

 

“If you are the company that requires everyone to come in all the time, you’re a pariah,” he said.

Oh, but Biden may send you $100 of your own money in the form of a gas card. That’ll fix it.

Biden’s Thinking About Gas Gimmicks

Our president is trying to replace a coherent American energy policy with gimmicks to ease the political damage to himself. It is also worth noting that he is speaking to reporters about Americans’ pain at the pumps from… the beach. Again.

“I hope to have a decision based on the data I’m looking for by the end the week,” Biden told reporters by the seaside in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, when asked whether he was considering backing a gas tax holiday.

Such a pause in the 18.3-cent-per-gallon federal tax would require Congress to act, and there has been little traction among lawmakers on the idea so far. But the administration is eager to find areas of relief for American consumers contending with skyrocketing gas prices as the summer begins. Monday’s nationwide average for gas was just under $5 per gallon.

Biden said he is also weighing whether to back sending Americans gas rebate cards: “That’s part of what we’re considering, that’s part of the whole operation,” he said.

Biden Threatens Oil Companies with Government Interference

Even if one supported the federal government forcing private companies to produce a product, Biden’s record of complete failure in everything he touches should scare the hell out of you.

Biden is also threatening to use his ’emergency power’ if oil companies do not take action to lower prices for a gallon of gas.

 

‘Government tools and emergency authorities to increase refinery capacity and output in the near term, and to ensure that every region of this country is appropriately supplied,’ he wrote. ‘Already, I have invoked emergency powers to execute the largest Strategic Petroleum Reserve release in history, expand access to E15 (gasoline with 15% ethanol), and authorize the use of the Defense Production Act to provide reliable inputs into energy production.’

 

‘I am prepared to use all tools at my disposal, as appropriate, to address barriers to providing Americans affordable, secure energy supply,’ he added.

Government Spending is Driving U.S. Inflation

You have to go to the foreign media to wade through the spin. Of course, this used to be common knowledge… printing a lot of money and dumping it into the economy drives up inflation. It happens every time.

Last year, businesses around the world started raising prices at a pace not seen in decades. Among major economies, one country was hit the worst – the United States.

Prices jumped at an annual rate of 4.7% last year – faster than any other country in the Group of Seven (G7) advanced economies, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In the UK, for example, inflation was just 2.5%.

 

Last month, inflation in the US hit 8.6%, one of the highest rates in the world.

 

Many of the forces driving inflation last year – such as supply disruptions from Covid and higher food prices after severe storms and drought hurt harvests – were not unique to the US.

 

The reason the US fared worse? In two words – high demand.

That was driven by the massive $5tn (£4.1tn) in spending the US government approved to shield households and businesses from the economic shock of the pandemic.

 

A recent study by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco concluded that pandemic relief packages probably contributed to 3 percentage points of the rise in inflation until the end of 2021 – a factor that goes a long way to explaining why US inflation outpaced the rest of the world.

 

Oscar Jorda, senior policy adviser at the bank and one of the people who worked on the study, cautioned against reading too much into the exact percentages, but said the overall picture is clear.

 

“These programmes… were a considerable infusion of liquidity into consumers’ pockets at a time when perhaps industry wasn’t quite ready to respond to an increase in demand,” he said in an interview in May. They “signified a big push of what I would call demand push inflation”.

White House Praises Biden’s Economic Record

So… this is what Biden considers a good economy? I’d hate to see what he think a bad one looks like.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre argued President Biden actually made historic economic gains, which would help the American people go through these economic ‘challenges.’

 

She blamed inflation – prices in May were 8.6% higher than a year earlier – the greatest increase since 1981 – on the covid pandemic and on Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s war in the Ukraine.

 

‘You know, with this price, high inflation coming, coming out every once in a generation, global pandemic, all of those things play a factor,’ Jean-Pierre said.

 

But, she argued, that America would bounce back under Biden.

 

‘The American people are well positioned to face these challenges because of the economic historic gains that we have made under this president in the last six months,’ she noted.

Biden can’t seem to figure out a message and shifts from day to day. First, the economy is bad and it’s Trump’s fault. Then it’s Putin. Then it’s the pandemic. Then it’s corporate greed. Then the economy is actually great. Then the economy is bad, but Biden can’t do anything about it. Then the economy is good again and it’s because of Biden.

Which is it?

Averagen Gas Prices Surge to $5.10 per Gallon

But… but… Putin or something.

CAMARILLO, Calif. — The average U.S. price of regular-grade gasoline spiked 39 cents over the past three weeks to $5.10 per gallon.

 

Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey said Sunday that the price jump comes amid higher crude oil costs and tight gasoline supplies.

 

The average price at the pump is $1.97 higher than it was one year ago.

When can we all admit that Democrats’ policies are crushing our economy? The only real question left is whether their policies are rooted in malice or stupidity.

Inflation Continues to Worsen

Our economy is collapsing and families are hurting as the politicians and media put on a theater production in D.C.

Inflation accelerated further in May, with prices rising 8.6% from a year ago for the fastest increase since December 1981, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

 

The consumer price index, a wide-ranging measure of goods and services prices, increased even more than the 8.3% Dow Jones estimate. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, so-called core CPI was up 6%, slightly higher than the 5.9% estimate.

On a monthly basis, headline CPI was up 1% while core rose 0.6%, compared to respective estimates of 0.7% and 0.5%.

 

Surging shelter, gasoline and food prices all contributed to the increase.

 

Energy prices broadly rose 3.9% from a month ago, bringing the annual gain to 34.6%. Within the category, fuel oil posted a 16.9% monthly gain, pushing the 12-month surge to 106.7%.

 

Shelter costs, which account for about a one-third weighting on the CPI, rose 0.6% for the month and now are 5.5% higher from a year ago.

 

Finally, food costs climbed another 1.2% in May, bringing the year-over-year gain to 10.1%.

Musk’s Companies Go Back to the Office

I, for one, appreciate this.

Tesla boss Elon Musk has ordered staff to return to the office full-time, declaring that working remotely is no longer acceptable.

 

The new policy was shared in emails that were leaked to social media.

 

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment on the messages, one of which appeared to be addressed to executives.

 

People who are unwilling to abide by the new rules can “pretend to work somewhere else” Mr Musk said on Twitter, when asked about the policy.

 

“Everyone at Tesla is required to spend a minimum of 40 hours in the office per week,” he wrote in one of the emails. “If you don’t show up, we will assume you have resigned.”

Don’t get me wrong.. I am not making a statement on the policy. I have been a remote worker for 15+ years and don’t think I would ever go back to work in an office unless 1) I had to, or 2) they paid me a LOT of money. I think remote workers can be very effective, but it is not appropriate for all job roles. It is also not appropriate for all people. It takes some self-discipline.

It is also perfectly acceptable for a company to want workers in the office for the inherent benefits the company gets in terms of culture and collaboration. Musk believes that working in an office is better for his business’ outcomes and is not going to coddle employees who won’t accept that condition of employment. Good for him. And if that stance costs him great employees, then that’s a consequence he will have to manage. We need to get back to having workplaces that are mutually beneficial for all parties. If it isn’t working for one of the parties, then they are free to make adult decisions about their future.

Home Sales Down in SE Wisconsin

Ignore the positive talk from the Realtors. 3.4% decrease in inventory with a 8.2% decrease in sales means that the housing market is slowing. High prices and rising mortgage costs are having an impact and the market is correcting. It needs to happen.

The data released Wednesday by the GMAR says that sales of homes decreased by 8.2% in April compared to April 2021. All four metro Milwaukee counties were hit with Washington County seeing the most significant decrease of 28.3% in April, compared to one year prior. Waukesha County had a decline of 11.9%, followed by Ozaukee County at 11.5%. Of the four counties, Ozaukee County had the smallest decline at 2.8%.

“But no one should panic, because looking at the first four months of the year there were 5,658 units sold, the second most on record. Second only to 2021’s 5,730,” reads the report by Ruzicka. “In fact, much of 2022 will probably appear to be down compared to last year, because 2021 was an exceptionally wild year for residential real estate.”

What has been a major concern for the past few years is the number of home listings. Again, the first period of 2022 showed fewer properties listed for sale. GMAR reported that there were 7,342 listings during the first four months of 2022, which is a 3.4% decrease compared to the first quarter of 2021.

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