Ralph Nader: Activist or Sexist?; $40 billion Profits? Bank on it; No Bling in Tiffany Earnings

Oh no he didn’t! 


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She may be considered dovish by investors and economists but when Janet Yellen fires back, you better watch out. Case in point: Ralph Nader, whose main claim to fame is his failed presidential bid. The would-be activist criticized Janet Yellen and the Federal Reserve back in October when he wrote an open letter that was published in The Huffington Post. Nader was trying to drive home the point that Americans haven’t been earning any interest despite their best judicious saving habits because the Fed has been keeping rates near zero. Too bad, he couldn’t just stick to that point. His criticisms were anything but constructive as he advised Chairwoman Yellen “to sit down with your Nobel Prize winning husband, economist George Akerlof, who is known to be consumer-sensitive.” Oh yes he did. He also suggested that she speak to her (male) colleague from UC Berkeley, Professor Robert Reich, to get a better handle on the Feds monetary and regulatory policies. But Janet Yellen prepared her own letter for Nader where she offered to help him “review a few basic facts.” Boom. She eloquently explained that her moves kept employment levels from rising, kept home prices from falling any lower and kept bankruptcy and foreclosures at bay. Double boom. Are you still sad he’s not in the Oval Office?



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Is there even a hint of irony when banks report making  money? I guess, to some, it’s no surprise that those hallowed financial institutions hit $40.4 billion in profits, just in the third quarter. That was over a 5% increase from last year and much of that profit and increase stems from the fact that banks didn’t have to spend as much money on lawyers like they did last year. Many financial institutions have finally settled a litany of cases and can now sit back and relax until the next wave of lawsuits comes their way  – once again affecting their profit margins. Bank loan portfolios also increased however, there’s also been an increase in high-risk lending which the offending banks might want to stop doing. Like now! Flashback to 2008, anyone? The FDIC gathered this riveting information from 6,270 firms who shared all this as part of the FDIC’s report on industry earnings. And while it’s entertainment factor has nothing on “How to Get Away With Murder”, the findings are still worth reading. For instance, 59% of banks had growth, which probably came as no shock to…anyone. The fact that 5% of the reporting banks were unprofitable might, however, come as a bit of a shock, especially to those who bank at those particular establishments. There are 203 banks who are on the FDIC’s list of banks that are in danger of failing. Alarming? Sure. But consider that in 2011 there were 888 of them on that very same list. One bank actually did fail this quarter which is also alarming. Yet, once again, nothing compared to 2009 when 2-3 banks failed in any single week. It’s all a matter of perspective, no?

Bling it off…


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Tiffany’s is dreaming of a green Christmas, no doubt hoping to erase the lackluster earnings it pulled in for its third quarter. Revenue for the luxe jeweler was less than…sparkly, dropping out at $938 million when estimates had been for $971.3 million. Profits came in at $91 million, a big jump from last year’s 3Q profit of $38.3 million. While that may seem impressive it’s not, since that big jump stems from Tiffany’s having gotten rid of some debt. Tiffany & Co. did add 70 cent per share but analysts were expecting 75 cents so that was yet one more chink in the armor. Yet it only gets worse as not only is Tiffany & Co. down 28% for the year, but it also announced one of the most dreaded things you could announce on Wall Street…that it’s reducing its full-year forecast between 5% – 10%. Yikes. Tiffany & Co. is squaring the blame on the strong dollar which has been keeping tourist spending at bay. That and also economic issues in certain regions, as if that isn’t the case…everywhere. However, as much as we’d like to, we can’t solely blame the tourists – and those vague economic issues in certain regions, because even overseas consumers aren’t buying Tiffany’s pricey bling since the dollar is strong there also and making the merchandise even more expensive than usual. Tiffany & Co. did have one bright spot…Japan. Indeed, all the way in that part of the world, the Japanese have been showing Tiffany & Co. some major fiscal love as evidenced by the 24% increase in comparable sales – a far cry from the projected 11.7% increase. Dōmo arigatōgozaimashita! (I think it means thank you in Japanese.)


In: Tax Inversions, Out: Pres Obama’s Opinion on Them; Tyson’s Earnings Nothing to Cluck at; Wal-Mart is Shaking Up the Calendar

Invert this…


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Pfizer and Allergan are thisclose to becoming the world’s largest pharmaceutical company through a $160 billion merger. Even though Pfizer is substantially bigger, with a $200 billion market cap to Allergan’s $122 billion market cap, Pfizer wants Allergan to “buy” it, in a structured reverse merger all in the name of a tax inversion. It’s a practice that President Obama, unironically, calls unpatriotic and the Treasury Department has even set rules to make it difficult to execute them. Yet, the corporate tax rate in the United States is the highest in the industrialized world so that no matter how difficult the Treasury Department tries to make the practice, big corporations have too much incentive to overcome the obstacles and move their entities overseas, in this case Ireland. Pfizer CEO Ian Read argues that the U.S. corporate tax rate leaves U.S companies competing with overseas companies “to fight with one hand tied behind our back.” Once the merger is finalized, the newly formed company can expect to pay a corporate tax rate of 17% – 18% in the first year. That rate will go up to about 20%. But even at 20%, that rate is nothing compared to the 25% rate it would have to pay in the United States. It’s expected to be a savings of  billions of dollars that would go into research and development of drugs instead of the governments coffers. Of course, shareholders still need to weigh in with their votes but given the billions at stake, it’ll most likely pass.

Who you callin’ chicken?


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It’s the largest meat processor in the U.S., so why shouldn’t it see its highest intra-day jump in 22 months. And that’s exactly what happened when Tyson Foods Inc. announced its earnings and beefed up its projected forecast for the year. The company now expects to earn $3.50 – $3.65 per share, even more than what analysts had predicted. Those numbers were helped a lot by poultry, chicken especially. Beef? Eh. Not so much, as that division took a $33 million operating loss compared with an operating income this time last year of $153 million. Apparently, there’s a lot more demand for chicken lately. But Tyson’s earnings were also helped by the fact that the food the chickens eat, very uncreatively called feed, has gone down in price. (In case you were wondering, chicken feed is made up of corn and soybean.) Even though, Tyson missed profits by a nickel, coming in at 83 cents per share, it beat sales estimates posting $10.5 billion, a 4% increase over last year and $300 million more than what was projected for the quarter.

Cyber showdown…


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Forget Cyber Monday. Wal-Mart’s wants you to start your cyber-holiday shopping on Sunday night instead, which is just so…2014. Wal-Mart doesn’t feel its necessary to limit Cyber Monday to just Monday. According to Wal-Mart Chief Executive Fernando Madeira, “now everyone has internet.” As in, the high-speed kind. Consumers now have access to high speed internet and no longer need to wait until the official “Black Monday” to use their employers high-speed connections. So why, Wal-Mart argues, wait until then to take advantage of all those smoldering deals, right? To make your cyber Wal-Mart shopping experience more enticing, the world’s largest retailer will attempt to lure you in with bargains including a Microsoft Surface Pro for $599, and a 48” Samsung 4K TV for $598. But those are just a few of the expected 2,000 deals (last year there were only a paltry 500 deals) that are expected to start rolling out online beginning at 8pm on November 29. Expect to see three times as many Star Wars toys, lots of drones and 3D printers to make a nice showing. Besides, the retailer needs to up its “A” game on e-commerce giant Amazon. Last year, $2 billion was spent just on Cyber Monday. But with 21 million visitors expected, Cyber Monday sales could hit $3 billion. So why not start the experience the sooner the better?

Angie’s List Swipes Left on IAC; Homerun Earnings for Home Depot; Dick’s Sporting Goods on a Losing Streak

Nobody puts Angie’s List in a corner…


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If boardroom walls could talk, I wonder what they would say about Angie’s List putting the kibosh on Barry Diller’s IAC proposal to buy the home services directory. IAC offered up $8.75 a share, totaling $512 million, to add Angie’s List to its growing portfolio of online companies. IAC argues that its offer – which was unsolicited, btw – is a 50% premium on Angie’s List share price. However, Angie’s List begs to differ and says that the  unsolicited proposal, was a paltry 10% premium on its share price. So what gives? Well, that depends on which day we are discussing, I suppose. One month before IAC’s unsolicited offer, shares of Angie’s List closed at $5.78. In which case the $512 million offer would indeed represent a 50% premium on the share price. However, shares of Angie’s List closed at $7.84 on November 10, which means that a $512 million offer would then represent a paltry 10% premium. In any case, the deal’s not going to happen for several reasons and one of them, as Angie’s List CEO Scott Durchlag explains, is because the benefits are one-sided. And not the side Angie’s List is on. His board of directors unanimously agreed with him. IAC already owns Angie’s List competitor Home Advisor and last week picked up Tinder, together with its parent company, Match Group.

If you build it, they will come…


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According to the National Association of Home Builders, sentiments are not just up, they are at record highs. Those sentiments are all part of the the joy we call a housing recovery which is extremely good news. Especially for Home Depot, who just announced its earnings much to the fiscal glee of investors. The company announced better than expected sales and even expects its full-year earnings to fall at the top end of its forecasts at around $15.36. Which is especially awesome since so many companies lately have been reducing their’s (see below). Not only did shares of the home improvement chain rise today, but its shares are up 15% for the year too. Sales at Home Depot rose 6.4% coming at $21.82 billion, missing predictions by a $10 million smidgeon. But does that really matter when profits rose 12%, hitting $1.73 billion and adding $1.36 per share? Well…it’s not my place to say. But still, analysts only expected $1.32. You see, it all evens out in the end. Sort of. Even online sales are up  25%, though they only account for 5% of all sales. But hey, money is money.  Apparently these great earnings are courtesy of builders and amateurs alike, who are scrambling to Home Depot stores lately given the rise in housing turnover, with prices of homes on the rise. That may not bode well if you’re in the market for a new place to rest your head, but if you’re selling, this could be your lucky quarter.

Striking out…


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You know whose shares aren’t up? Dick’s Sporting Goods. In fact, its shares have hit a four year low and are down about 18% for the year. To make matter worse, the company has had to reduce its full-year earnings forecast. Nothing says fiscal disaster quite like reducing forecasts. Now, instead of hoping to add between  $3.13 – $3.21 per share, the company is hoping (and praying, no doubt) that it pulls down $2.85 – $3.00 per share. Even analysts had initially expected that company to earn $3.18 per share for the year. And what or whom, you might be wondering, is Dick’s Sporting Goods blaming – other than itself –  for their abysmal earnings? If you guessed mother nature and her unusually warm autumn , then you are absolutely correct. Apparently, Dick’s seasonal items didn’t fly of the shelves as hoped, just like at Macy’s and other retailers, since the weather was warmer and consumers didn’t feel compelled to get toasty. Incidentally, Dick’s clothing and shoes fared a bit better with sales creeping up 0.4%. Hey, Dick’s will take what it can get. But the company did admit to having too much inventory – 13% more than last year – and are looking to get rid of it. Good luck with that. Dick’s pulled down $1.64 billion in revenue  when analysts predicted numbers closer to $1.67 billion. The company also scored a profit of $4.72 million, adding 45 cent per share, which was a 4% drop over this time last year. Analysts, by the way, would have preferred to see another penny added to those shares. Oh well.

Using Wallets to Fight Terrorism; Marriott Hotels Gains More Hospitality; Urban Outfitters Now Satisfies Pizza Cravings

Insult to injury…

Image courtesy of basketman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of basketman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Because terrorists are pure evil on so many levels, they’ve likely calculated that besides causing devastating loss of life, they can also harm an economy as well. And thus, as the holiday season is upon us, while the French are still in the midst of mourning the tragedy that befell its people just days ago, they are likely to endure yet more damage and fallout as businesses, both big and small, see less traffic and sales in the days ahead. In fact, hospitality chains and airlines have been seeing little activity in major markets and indexes, and several shops, cafes and markets remain closed. American performers Papa Roach and Marilyn Manson had to cancel shows this week and artist Prince canceled performances scheduled for December. As the sixth largest economy in the world, and the second in the eurozone, these losses could have a ripple effect on several other economies as well. However, economists and investors all tend to agree that the economic fallout will be minor and brief. Already today, European indexes either remained flat or rebounded from the dips they took before the markets opened. Unfortunately, tourism might not be as fortunate. Back in 2013, France saw almost 85 million tourists who brought in 42 billion euros in revenue with them. With almost 8% of France’s gross domestic product coming from the tourism industry, it might be the one area to suffer most, as major tourist destinations like the Eiffel Tower and Louvre lost two days of business and other places, like EuroDisney, still have their doors closed.  But as President George W. Bush urged American following the September 11, 2001 attacks “go out shopping more.” And if that’s one way to defeat those terrorist, then I’m happy to travel to Paris to do so.

Do not disturb…

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The “Deal of the Day” award goes to Marriott International, as in the hotel chain that has over 5,500 properties and 1.1.million rooms, which just scooped up its rival, Starwood, to the handsome sum of $12.2 billion. The deal, in which Marriott will pay approximately $72.08 per share, means it becomes the world’s biggest hotel chain, leaving the second largest chain, Hilton Worldwide and its 4,500 properties, in the dust. This deal also gives Marriott some nice new brands, including the push-posh St. Regis. And who doesn’t like a little pish-posh? According to research firm STR, 67% of available hotel rooms were filled in the first nine months of the year by occupants who shelled out an average of $120.35 a night. However, there are many watching, from investors to travelers alike, to see how this merger is going to affect the various partnerships on both sides. Marriott has partnerships with Chase and United Airlines, while Starwood has deals with American Express, Delta and Über. Wall Street seems to think this is the start of a new trend of hotel chain mergers, as companies like Airbnb, have been eating up a chunk of the industry. Sit tight and you might just see another deal coming ’round the Wall Street bend.


Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Because nothing says trendy like tomatoes and cheese, Urban Outfitters is getting into the pizza business. I’m serious. The company, whose apparel tends to attract millennials, is plunking down an undisclosed sum to buy the Vetri Family Group of restaurants, which includes the Pizzeria Vetri chain. You’re not the only one who finds this acquisition…strange. Investors think so too and sent the stock down 10%. But it’s not like Urban Outfitters has anything to lose. The retail sector has been hitting the fiscal skids with companies like Nordstrom and Macy’s reporting sales that are nothing short of disappointing. It’s also got many wondering if the brick and mortar model is passé. Urban Outfitters has 240 locations, in addition to the Anthropologie and Free People brands (and more than a couple of them already have food establishments in them). And while other retail companies are looking to amp up their e-commerce and tweak their brands in an attempt to improve those sales, Urban Outfitters is taking an entirely different approach by acquiring a business in an industry that is making tons of money at the moment. Marc Vetri of the Vetri Family Group likes the deal and calls it “a perfect match.” It means his company gets to focus more on the food it serves, while Urban Outfitters has to figure out how to help those restaurants expand. Now if only Urban Outfitters can figure out how to grow and expand its own business instead of losing money…

Gem – Truly Outrageous Auction Price; Macy’s Needs a Miracle on 34th Street and on Wall Street; Rolls Royce Profits Sputter

Just brilliant…

Image courtesy of Sicha Pongjivanich/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Sicha Pongjivanich/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One Hong Kong billionaire went shopping recently and dropped $77 million…on just two items…for his seven year old daughter. Is your head still attached? Just checking. Joseph Lau, scooped up two large stones at a Geneva auction which was probably way more fun than sitting in a Macau prison where the billionaire is appealing a conviction for corruption and money-laundering. One of the gems Lau bought for $48.5 million is a 12.03 carat “Blue Moon” – as in once in a Blue Moon does a gem like this come around – which set a record for the amount of money paid per carat in a gem. If you do the math, that comes out to approximately $4 million per one brilliant carat. But Lau can afford it since his net worth is estimated to be about $10 billion. Besides, he coincidentally set a second record  – in less than 24 hours – when his company sold a Hong Kong office tower for $1.6 billion. It set a record because it was double the amount of the previous record commercial real estate sale. Some guys – and seven year old girls – have all the luck I tell you.

Let it snow, now!

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Macy’s could use a miracle right about now. Except this time on Wall Street where shares of the company took a 14% hit as it experienced its biggest one day fall in seven years. The company announced that it would be cutting its annual profit forecast as sales and traffic have been anything but miraculous, with quarterly sales that took a 5.2% hit. Revenue dropped to $5.87 billion when analysts thought Macy’s would pull in $6.15 billion. Macy’s profit dropped 45%, falling to $118 million, coming in at 56 cents per share. Analysts thought that would be just 54 cents per share.  First, Macy’s brass blamed the weather. Only this time it was blamed for being too hot instead of too cold explaining why shoppers haven’t been rushing into stores to buy warm-weather apparel. Then Macy’s blamed tourists for not spending enough money in its stores. Macy’s is also pointing the finger at off-price, aka discount, stores like Marshall’s and Nordstrom Rack. Those types of retailers have seen a 44% increase between 2009 and 2014 and have been taking away a big chunk of sales from Macy’s. Together with slow growth and weaker demand for some of Macy’s biggest brands and you get…a big hot fiscal mess. That’s on top of the fact that Macy’s already announced it would be closing 35 – 40 underperforming stores back in September. Too bad the numbers make it seem like all the stores are under-performing. Then investors were bummed that Macy’s nixed the idea of making a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) out of its properties. Investors like REIT’s for their liquidity, special tax incentives and the big dividends they yield. Macy’s has got about $21 billion worth of property that could have the potential to trade at a much better value. Instead the retailer will start offering some major discount action in an attempt to get shoppers into its stores just in time for the holiday season.

Not revved up…

Image courtesy of Sharron Goodyear/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Sharron Goodyear/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

While visions of Rolls Royce might have you thinking about royalty and James Bond, the heart of its business is in its engines, especially those used for aircraft, ships and industrial use. Unfortunately, the heart of the business is currently undergoing some fiscal coronary issues as new-ish CEO Warren East issued yet another profit warning for Rolls Royce today. Then things got ugly. Shares of Rolls Royce took a 20% beating after Mr. East said that  profits will be 30% lower than what even the analysts were predicting for the famous engine company. To add insult to injury, shares of Rolls Royce suffered their biggest single day drop in fifteen years. The 131 year old, British-based company also reported weak demand for spare parts and services for its existing engines. Now, its executive board is considering scrapping the company’s dividend. Stay tuned…

Singular Sensation for Alibaba; Don’t Bet On It: Online Daily Fantasy Sports Gone in a New York Minute; In: Higher Minimum Wage. Out: Tipping

Singled out…

Image courtesy of  bplanet/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of bplanet/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Did Alibaba just throw down the gauntlet to Black Friday? China’s biggest e-commerce site knocked it out of the fiscal park on November 11, aka Singles Day, shattering last year’s $9.3 billion record for the auspicious shopping event. In fact, just by midday the company had already hit $9 billion in sales. Some of the top sellers were Nikes and baby-related products. CEO Jack Ma kicked off the Singles Day shopping festivities by launching the event Tuesday evening with James Bond actor Daniel Craig and House of Cards Star Kevin Spacey. After all nothing says Chinese e-commerce like British and American actors, right? The earth-shatterting sales left many wondering what many are worried about a flagging Chinese economy and its October report that the country hit a particularly slow pace in the third quarter. What didn’t hit a slow pace i was mobile sales for Alibaba’s Singles Day, where 68% of the day’s transactions occurred.

You bet-or not…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman just might be the least popular person on the planet right now. The AG sent “cease and desist” letters to fantasy sports companies FanDuel and DraftKings, ordering them not to accept bets from New Yorkers anymore. The AG called the companies a “new version of online gambling” and said the contests are “neither harmless nor victimless” because they lure in people who are predisposed to gambling addiction. AG Schneiderman went on to say that the companies are basically perpetrating “a massive, multi-billion-dollar scheme intended to evade the law and fleece sports fans across the country.” Ouch. FanDuel and DraftKings, however, argue that what they offer is “a game of skill.” There are currently 34 lawsuits in 13 states pending against the daily fantasy sports companies accusing its proprietors of unfair and/or illegal activity. DraftKings and FanDuel actually stopped doing business in Nevada after the state’s attorney there ruled that the business models meet the state’s definition of gambling and would therefore have to pay for a license.  Both companies are valued at about $1 billion each. Major League Baseball has a stake in FanDuel while the NBA has its own stake in DraftKings. FanDuel also has big money ad deals in place with both the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Jets. At least the AG isn’ t looking to get back any proceeds from New Yorkers who placed bets and actually won. Well, for now anyway.

Not tipsy…

Image courtesy of maya picture/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of maya picture/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

No more bragging rights for big tippers at Joe’s Crab Shack. Well, at least in 18 of the chain’s 131 locales. Parent company Ignite Restaurant Group has decided to do away with the “tip” model and the idea behind it is quite simple: The restaurant scraps tipping and then increases the minimum wage of its employees to $14 per hour.  It means that for some servers, it makes up for lost tip wages. “I personally believe tipping is an antiquated model,” CEO Ray Blanchette said investors at a recent meeting. That’s lovely and all but he also believes it helps improve service and reduces employee turnover. Besides, servers will get paid the same whether they work a busy shift or a slow one with fewer diners. Of course, that tip model means menu prices are heading north from anywhere between 12% to 15%. But considering that most tippers tip around 18%, there’s no great loss there. While Joe’s Crab Shack is the first national restaurant chain to try this out, restaurateur Danny Meyers Union Hospitality Group also put this model into place in New York. Joe’s started doing this back in August and incidentally, or not, its restaurant that adopted this no tipping model the longest has gained the most traction. Which is good since overall sales for Joe’s Crab Shack in the third quarter went down 6.6%. Ironically, the National Restaurant Association does not care much for the model because the “median hourly earnings for servers range from $16 – $22.” Do the math and you realize that could actually mean a nasty pay cut for plenty of restaurant employees.

Busted! Data-Breaching Cyber-Crooks Indicted; Trump Dumps on China; Campbell’s Soup Aims for Comeback,

So not cool…

Image courtesy of chanpipat/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of chanpipat/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Prosecutors announced charges today against four very greedy men who hold the notorious distinction of having perpetrated one of the largest data breaches. Ever. They’ll have plenty of time to celebrate that odious achievement in what will presumably be a significant stretch of time spent in an prison cell sans internet. The alleged perps ran their illicit actives from 2012 until mid 2015, where they used their tech skills in the worst way for online casinos, hacking, stock manipulation and an assortment of other cyber-crimes. In the exceptionally unflattering indictment, are the four men are accused of targeting financial institutions, publishers, online stock brokers and software firms. Among some of particularly odious crimes, the alleged perps engaged in perennially classic money laundering, not to mention running an unlawful bitcoin exchange. JP Morgan Chase was one of the 15 unfortunate victims of the online schemes that generated hundreds of millions of ill-gotten dollars and stole data from more than 100 million customers. JP Morgan’s 2014 hack earned the financial institution the dubious distinction of suffering the “largest theft of customer data from a U.S. financial institution in history.” Lucky them.

And here’s where it starts to make sense…or get weird…

Image courtesy of Keattikorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Keattikorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Now that SNL is over, Presidential candidate Donald Trump has decided to take on China today in an op-ed piece for “The Wall Street Journal” where he accuses China of “robbing Americans of billions of dollars of capital and millions of jobs.”  He made a pledge that if he is elected, one of his first actions would be to get the U.S. Treasury department to declare China as a currency manipulator. The man is on a mission to put the kibosh on Chinese piracy and counterfeiting of American goods, not to mention stealing U.S. trade secrets. Don’t be so quick to judge. Or laugh. The Donald wants to get China to the negotiating table to establish trade with them that is more, shall we say,…fair. It’s a sentiment echoed by plenty of lawmakers and domestic corporations alike, not to mention millions of Americans who fell victim to competition from Chinese manufacturing. It’s not just Trump who says that China depresses its own currency in order to make Chinese imports cheaper than domestic made products. Economists also say China’s yuan currency is undervalued with estimates ranging from 15% to 40%. It wouldn’t exactly be the first time China received that designation either. They earned that dubious distinction back in July 1994.

Soup-y sales…

Image courtesy of  vectorolie/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of vectorolie/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Campbell’s soup is embarking on a new chapter of its condensed-soup life, revamping its classic chicken soup recipe by scrapping ten out of thirty ingredients found in it. Say good-bye to the alleged migraine-inducer, monosodium glutamate, aka MSG, along with some other ingredients that are just as annoying to say and even harder to spell. Basically, nothing you’d necessarily miss. Campbell Chief Executive Denise M. Morrison explains, “We’re closing the gap between the kitchen and our plants.”  A truly touching statement indeed. But there’s a bigger reason for wanting to close that gap: money. The condensed soup company has been losing plenty of it because of shifting consumer tastes that involve the desire for ingredients that are made by mother nature, as opposed to advancements in science. In its last three quarters, Campbell’s saw a 5% drop in unit sales, besides the fact that sales peaked way back in 2012 at $16.2 billion, with sales dropping steadily ever since. If you can’t wait to test drive the new, presumably healthier version, look for the limited edition cans featuring Star Wars characters. Bon Appetit.