Retail spending held steady in September compared to August, but fell adjusted to inflation as consumers spent more on essentials, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
Despite the fact that consumers spent roughly the same as they did in August, $684 billion, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, these results are not adjusted for inflation, which rose 0.4% on a monthly basis in September, indicating that consumers were getting less value from their spending, according to CNBC. For example, spending at bars and restaurants grew by 0.5% in September, but prices at the same establishments increased by 0.9%, the WSJ reported. Read More
About 115,000 Michiganders should receive payments totaling more than $3.5 million from Intuit, the owner of TurboTax, for deceiving consumers into paying for tax services that should have been free.
As part of a multi-state agreement, Attorney General Dana Nessel said Intuit will pay $141 million in restitution nationally to millions of consumers it unfairly charged for a free service. Read More
Newly compiled data from the Federal Reserve shows that inflation is hurting businesses, costing consumers, and likely not going away anytime soon.
The Federal Reserve released its “Beige Book,” a report that compiles reports from “Bank and Branch directors and interviews with key business contacts, economists, market experts, and other sources” from the 12 Fed districts around the country. Read More
American energy providers are planning to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in green energy, even as such projects lead to skyrocketing costs for consumers.
Energy companies are projected to spend $140 billion in both 2022 and 2023, upgrading grid infrastructure, building renewable energy projects and preparing for electric-vehicle-fueled demand, the Edison Electric Institute told The Wall Street Journal, marking the largest yearly totals since the industry group began tracking the figure more than two decades ago. Read More
Americans are seeing the real costs of inflation in their daily lives as they pay record high gas prices, significantly increased grocery costs, and suffer sticker shock at restaurants, hair salons and other places.
Restaurants are charging more, with some posting notices on their doors. Increased prices, they say, are necessary to stay open simply to cover their increased costs for cooking oil and other goods. Some restaurants post signs accompanying empty containers to show that while they’re not increasing prices, their portion sizes are smaller. Read More
The stock market dropped during early trading Monday after the U.S. benchmark oil index briefly touched its highest level since the Great Recession.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average, an index measuring 30 major U.S. corporations, dropped 0.94% as of early Monday. The S&P index, which measures 500 of the largest publicly-traded companies, fell more than 0.93% while the NASDAQ, an index largely comprised of technology firms, declined 0.98%.
Late Sunday, the benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures hit more than $130 per barrel for the first time since July 2008. The index remained high on Monday, hovering above $118 per barrel, up more than 3%. Read More
The third time was a charm for a small-business relief provision of Senate Bill 85, which was signed Monday by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
A House version of the bill, House Bill 4047, was proposed by Rep. Timothy Beson, R-Bangor Twp., last March, and signed by the governor. However, Whitmer exercised a line-item veto of the afflicted business relief. Another version of a small-business relief subsequently was passed by the legislature with bipartisan support. Whitmer again exercised her veto authority to squelch it.
SB 85 was introduced by Sen. Ken Horn, R-Frankenmuth. Read More
Under former President Donald J. Trump, for the first time in decades, the United States became a net exporter of natural gas and oil. That helped to keep global energy prices relatively low. It also gave the United States leverage over the international system in ways it had not enjoyed since before the 1970s.
Alas, the propagation of the novel coronavirus from Wuhan, China, along with the ceaseless lies of the Western “mainstream” media made such a prosperous and secure future under Trump an impossibility.
In the eight months since assuming office under a cloud of controversy, Joe Biden has done more to harm America’s inherent strategic advantages in the global energy market than any U.S. rival could have imagined. Under Biden, the United States has gone from being a net exporter of global energy to begging the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to produce more oil for the world to consume. Read More
A bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general launched a probe into Instagram on Thursday to examine whether the company violated state-level consumer protection laws.
The states are investigating whether Meta (formerly known as Facebook), which owns Instagram, promoted the image-sharing platform “to children and young adults” despite being aware of its negative effects, according to statements from the attorneys general. The probe cites internal Facebook communications and research leaked by former Facebook employee Frances Haugen and published by The Wall Street Journal showing Meta was aware that use of Instagram could contribute to body image and mental health issues among teens.
“When social media platforms treat our children as mere commodities to manipulate for longer screen time engagement and data extraction, it becomes imperative for state attorneys general to engage our investigative authority under our consumer protection laws,” Republican Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson said in a statement. Read More
Back in August, New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait blessed the strategy of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to withhold their votes for the Senate’s bipartisan physical infrastructure plan until that bill was effectively linked to a bigger, broader, and surely partisan, measure investing in a range of items from climate protection to universal preschool. He argued that “ransoming the infrastructure bill” would turn the tables on the party’s moderates:
Historically, most partisan bills are shaped by the preferences of the members of Congress closest to the middle, and their colleagues on the political extreme simply have to go along with it. … This time, the left has real power. Progressives can credibly threaten to sink a priority that moderates care about more than they do.
Twice in the past two months, most recently last Thursday, the House progressives successfully executed this strategy, blocking attempts by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to pass the bipartisan infrastructure legislation before an agreement is reached on the larger “Build Back Better” bill. Read More
U.S. consumer spending growth slowed in September, and income dropped due to high COVID-19 cases, supply shortages, rising inflation, and ending unemployment benefits.
Consumer spending increased 0.6% in September, down from a 1% jump in August, the Commerce Department announced Friday. Personal income fell 1% in September, driven by a 72% drop in unemployment insurance benefits that offset a 0.7% spike in wages and benefits, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Economists polled by Reuters projected a 0.5% in consumer spending. Delta variant cases peaked in the middle of September, and the continued supply chain backups have caused shortages and rising prices, making it harder for consumers to purchase their desired goods, the WSJ reported. Read More
Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg announced Thursday the tech giant was changing its name to “Meta.”
Zuckerberg announced the name change at the Facebook Connect 2021 conference. The new name reflects Zuckerberg’s goal to reorient his social media company to a technology conglomerate with several different products beyond the Facebook social network, focusing on “metaverse” technology.
The “metaverse” is a virtual environment in which individuals can interact with one another through avatars and across multiple platforms and devices. Facebook called it a “new phase of interconnected virtual experiences using technologies like virtual and augmented reality” in which people interacting online can become much closer to the experience of interacting in person.” Read More
Bowing to pressure from banks and taxpayers concerned about a proposal to require financial institutions to report to the IRS gross inflows and outflows for just about every account in the country, Democrats have attempted to quell concerns by raising the threshold. Unfortunately, even the raised threshold is still laughably low to accomplish Democrats’ stated purpose of cracking down on wealthy tax cheats.
The original proposal would have required financial institutions to report on any account (be it a checking account, savings account, stock portfolio, etc.) which handled more than $600 in inflows and outflows in a given year. Obviously, that’s just about every account.
But the new proposal isn’t much better. This time, the threshold would be set at $10,000, and exempt payroll deposits. In other words, if a given taxpayer received $20,000 in payroll deposits, they would only exceed the threshold were other deposits and spending, taken together, to exceed $30,000. Read More
Policy and politics often collide at the intersection of geography and demographics. The non-urban, non-college-educated white voter causing concern among Democrats these days, the suburban voter of 2018, and the heartland voter of 2016 are all profiles built on the common interests of certain people in certain types of places.
After 18 months of domestic migration prompted by a pandemic, another interest in addition to where people live has emerged in this equation: where people wish they lived.
Americans of all stripes, including young people, have long preferred suburban to urban living despite the prevailing (mis)conception in the media, but the twin crises of Covid and urban unrest in 2020 have clearly accentuated Americans’ desire to leave denser places. Not only have Americans continued apace in their usual migration from cities to suburbs, they also now aspire to live in towns and hinterlands more than one might expect. Read More
A trade association representing all of the major cargo companies in the United States is warning that if Joe Biden actively purses more vaccine mandates, it could further disrupt an already-weakened supply chain, according to Politico.
Stephen Alterman, president of the Cargo Airline Association (CAA) sent a letter to the Biden Administration expressing concern over an upcoming December 8th deadline.
“We have significant concerns with the employer mandates announced on September 9th, 2021,” Alterman said, “and the ability of industry members to implement the required employee vaccinations by December 8th, 2021.” Read More
Google and YouTube announced a new policy Thursday demonetizing all content that denies the scientific consensus on climate change.
Google will no longer allow ads for “content that contradicts well-established scientific consensus around the existence and causes of climate change,” the company announced in a support page added to its website Thursday. The policy, which Google will start enforcing next month, covers YouTube videos and websites that treat climate change as a “hoax or a scam,” content “denying that long-term trends show the global climate is warming” and content “denying that greenhouse gas emissions or human activity contribute to climate change.”
The search giant said it was implementing the policy due to pressure from advertisers, who didn’t want their products associated with content promoting climate denial. Read More
A key economic index used by the Federal Reserve to measure inflation surged to another 30-year high in August as Americans continued to experience sticker shock.
The personal consumption expenditures (PCE) index increased 4.3% over the 12-month period ending in August, according to a Department of Commerce report published Friday. The figure represented the index’s highest increase since January 1991 when it surged at an annual rate of 4.5%, government data showed.
Minus energy and food prices, which are notoriously more volatile than other sectors, the PCE index increased at an annual rate of 3.6% in August, the Commerce Department reported. That is also the highest increase in more than 30 years. Read More
As congressional Democrats push a $3.5 trillion social spending package, everyone is wondering: “How are we going to pay for that?” To President Joe Biden, the answer is simple: raise taxes.
Included in Biden’s proposed tax plans — erroneously named the American Families Plan — are hikes in personal income tax and capital gains tax rates. The plan would raise the top marginal income tax rate from 37 percent to 39.6 percent and reclassify long-term capital gains and qualified dividends as ordinary income for those with taxable income above $1 million, resulting in a top marginal tax rate of 43.4 percent, according to the Tax Foundation.
Despite the frustration (or excitement) that Americans have towards Biden’s income and wealth tax proposals in the midst of an economic recovery, Americans should be paying closer attention to his other proposals, the American Jobs Plan and the Made in America Tax Plan. Read More
A judge ruled Friday that Apple engaged in anticompetitive conduct in its App Store, concluding a lawsuit filed by game developers alleging the tech giant was an illegal monopolist.
Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled Friday that Apple’s policy of preventing app developers from linking to third-party payment systems within their apps was anticompetitive, forcing the iPhone maker to change its app store guidelines. However, Rogers ruled in favor of Apple on several other allegations, finding the tech giant did not illegally maintain a monopoly.
“While the Court finds that Apple enjoys considerable market share of over 55% and extraordinarily high profit margins, these factors alone do not show antitrust conduct,” Rogers wrote. “Success is not illegal.” Read More
The global chip shortage is beginning to impact consumers, driving up prices of smartphones, vehicles and personal electronics as manufacturers struggle to keep up with rising demand.
“We’re seeing 5% to 10% price increases right now,” Glen O’Donnell, vice president and research director at Forrester, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “They will increase more as this issue drags on.”
Semiconductors, the internal components essential to the functioning of almost every electronic device, have been in short supply since early 2020 due to high consumer demand of mobile electronics cloud services, and other products that require computer chips, according to O’Donnell. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the problem by stalling semiconductor production and disrupting supply chains, with demand for consumer electronics only skyrocketing due to more people working from home. Read More
An index measuring inflation surged at an annual rate of 4.2% last month, reaching its highest level since 1991, according to the Department of Commerce.
The personal consumption expenditures (PCE) index, which measures prices, increased 4.2% in the 12-month period between August 2020 and July 2021, according to a Department of Commerce report published Friday. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, the index spiked 3.6%, the report showed.
The last time consumer prices increased this much in one year was more than three decades ago in January 1991, CNBC reported. The figure reported Friday is in line with what economists expected. Read More
State attorneys general of 36 states and the District of Columbia filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google on Wednesday alleging the company engaged in anticompetitive practices in its Play Store for Android.
The complaint argues Google holds and unlawfully maintains a monopoly in the market of “Android app distribution,” using anticompetitive tactics such as blocking competitors from accessing the Play Store, discouraging the creation of competing app stores, and acquiring smaller app developers. The complaint also alleges Google charges app developers up to a 30% commission when customers purchase their products through the Google Play Store.
“Google has taken steps to close the ecosystem from competition and insert itself as the middleman between app developers and consumers,” the plaintiffs argue. Read More
Lumber futures plunged further this week, seeing a price drop that hit 20% in a sign that the lumber market may finally reverse course from its dizzying price spike that occurred over the last few months.
The reversal was likely driven in part by a drop in homebuilding, which was down nearly 10% last month; general home repair also saw a similar decline.
Lumber manufacturers over the past several months have also been producing record levels of supply in response to the price surge. Read More
Hospitals have begun publishing their actual costs of services, including discounted cash and negotiated rates as a result of a rule change implemented by former President Donald Trump. The rule was challenged by the American Hospital Association and others, who lost in federal district court.
An appeal to the court ruling has not yet been filed. While the association says it is calling on the new administration to adjust the rule, hospitals in the meantime must publish prices for the majority of the services and medications they provide. Read More