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Wednesday 05.10.2017

US has 5.7 million job openings, near record high

Looking for a job? America has 5.7 million openings. That's close to the record number of job openings reported by the Labor Department since it started tracking them in 2000. The US had an all-time high of 5.9 million openings last July. The numbers bear a mix of good and bad news.

Good news: Employers are hiring and workers are starting to feel more confident about leaving a job for another one. It's reflects a much improved situation from the Great Recession.

Bad news: Not all employers can find the skilled workers they need. Experts say that such a high number of job openings is due partially to a gap between the job skills employers demand and the skills job seekers have.

Many professions -- such as electricians, carpenters, waste management collectors -- are in short supply. With limited workers, employers are forced to hike up wages for those positions to retain or recruit new employees.

Taco Bell to hire 3,500 new workers

Taco Bell aims to create 3,500 new jobs this summer, as it looks to reach 8,000 U.S. locations by the end of 2022. The chain expects to open approximately 80 restaurants in the summer.

“Last year, we announced our commitment to hire 100,000 new team members in our system by 2020,” said Brian Niccol, Taco Bell CEO. “We are now taking that commitment to the next level with recruiting and employment programs to help us and our franchisees invest in our employees and their experience in significant ways.”

The newly created positions will be geared towards short-term and seasonal work, or people searching for their first job. Although the openings are appropriate for those seeking temporary work, Bjorn Erland, Taco Bell vice president of human resources, said there is opportunity for more permanent roles.

“When we’re creating these jobs with new development, they aren’t actually temporary jobs,” Erland said, noting that entry-level employees will have the chance to eventually earn leadership roles. “But we need people on the ground to run [the restaurants].”

President Donald Trump Fires FBI Director James Comey

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced that FBI Director James Comey had been fired, via a press release on Tuesday evening. “The FBI is one of our Nation’s most cherished and respected institutions and today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement,” President Trump said in the statement. Comey has been informed, according to Spicer. Trump made the decision based on recommendations from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. They have begun a search for a new FBI director.

Trump sent a letter to Comey on Tuesday, which reaffirms that he received Sessions' and Rosenstein's letters recommending the dismissal. "I have accepted their recommendation and you are hereby terminated and removed from office, effective immediately," Trump said.

"While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau. It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission," he wrote. "I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors."

In Sessions' recommendation to Trump, he wrote that "the Director of the FBI must be someone who follows faithfully the rules and principles of the Department of Justice and who sets the right example for our law enforcement officials and others in the Department."

Jamie Dimon: Trump's economic agenda is the right agenda

Credit Suisse to add 1,200 jobs in Raleigh, North Carolina

Credit Suisse plans to add around 1,200 jobs in North Carolina, partly by moving positions from New York City, the Swiss bank said on Tuesday, as it tries to cut costs following back-to-back annual losses.

The jobs will be added "over the next few years" at its corporate center in Raleigh, Credit Suisse, Switzerland's second-biggest bank, said in a statement. "We plan to expand our existing capabilities – finance, technology and operations – to include all key corporate and business support functions for our U.S. businesses," the Zurich-based bank said.

The 1,200 roles will be a combination of people relocating from Credit Suisse's other U.S. offices, mainly New York, and new hires from the local area, a bank spokeswoman said. Credit Suisse expects cost savings from lower property and staff costs but did not disclose a figure.

Credit Suisse exited the U.S. private banking market in late-2015 but still has U.S. operations through its two investment banking divisions. The bank will invest $70.5 million as part of the Raleigh expansion, the office of Governor Roy Cooper said in a separate statement, adding Credit Suisse is also eligible for $40.2 million in total reimbursements through a government grant program.

Retail Meltdown Demolishes Mall Investors

The closure of thousands of retail chain stores last year and this year, with many more to come – from big anchor tenants such as Macy’s to smaller stores such as Payless Shoes – and the bankruptcies and debt restructurings ricocheting through the industry are having an impact on retail malls. And mall investors – that may include your retirement account – are getting crushed.

The commercial real estate industry has been claiming that these shuttered retail spaces are being converted into restaurants or fitness centers or smaller shops or whatever. And zombie malls are leasing out their parking lots to car dealers to store their excess new vehicle inventory, and that everything is going to be fine.

But investors in publicly traded Real Estate Investment Trusts that were for years among the stars in the S&P 500 are voting with their feet. It’s not that these REITs are doing all that badly on an operational basis. They’re hanging in there. But many of the announced store closings and bankruptcies haven’t worked their way through the pipeline.

Shares of these REITs all peaked together at the very end of July 2016 and have since then plunged in unison. Kimco Realty Corp (KIM) says it’s “one of North America’s largest publicly traded owners and operators of open-air shopping centers,” with “interests” in 517 shopping centers with 84 million square feet of retail space in 34 states and Puerto Rico. Shares fell 2.6% to $19.42 on Monday and 13% over the past month.

Marsh Supermarkets to close remaining 44 stores if buyer isn’t found - 2,788 jobs at stake

Marsh Supermarkets will close its remaining 44 stores if the company does not find a buyer within 60 days. The company says 2,788 employees would be impacted by the closures. Marsh says 19 stores will close no matter what. Nine of those closures were announced last week and 10 in April.

The company has hired investment banking firm Peter J Solomon Company to assist them in finding a buyer. The announcement comes after the company sent a WARN notice to the state identifying 16 of those stores that could shut down. The notice said Marsh Supermarkets “recently experienced a period of unexpected difficulties and increased competition resulting in poor sales performance.”

Marsh wrote that if it is “unsuccessful in its efforts, the Company will be forced to permanently close the locations” and “terminate employees at those locations in 60 days of this notice or sooner.” The notice was dated Monday, May 8.

“We would have preferred to provide this notice sooner, but the unexpected turn of events above precluded us from providing more advance notice,” the company wrote. “We deeply regret and understand the uncertainty this action will cause our valued employees and the community.”

Why You Need To Pay Attention In May

Whether or not the old adage of “Sell in May and go away” means anything for traders over the decades is one thing. What it may portend for business owners and others looking over the past decade might be quite another.

It’s hard to turn on any business/financial media outlet as to try to make sense of what is currently taking place in the economy and try to match up its implications as represented in the “markets.” It’s now a fool’s errand. For the markets no longer represent anything of what was looked upon as “a gauge of business health” as they were only a decade ago.

All you’ll hear currently is nothing more than cheerleading i.e., “New all time highs!” is once again the daily clarion call. When it comes to why? The analysis more often than not is nothing more than further cheerleading via some next-in-rotation fund manager trying desperately to argue why “Stocks are not expensive compared to blah, blah, blah.”

It’s now far past annoying and borders on deranged in my book. However, with the above said business people must somehow extrapolate what their gut tells them, then try to filter it the best they can with what they consider the best information possible. Even if that information isn’t what they might deem as the most reliable.

Keiser Report: Never-ending Greek bailout

Warning for baby boomers: Your Generation X kids are coming back home (for good)

Remove the door knockers. Pull down the shutters. Pretend no one’s home. Your adult children are coming back — for good. One-in-nine baby boomer parents said their adult children returned home within the last year, according to a new report from financial services firm Fidelity Investments and Stanford Center on Longevity, which surveyed 9,000 employees.The adult children save money on rent and household goods, but their parents are the ones who appear to be suffering: 68% said they were more stressed, 53% said they were less happy and another 53% said they had less leisure time after the return of their “boomerang kids.” More than three-quarters (76%) said they took on higher expenses, too.

Even people who are now in their 40s and 50s are considering mom and dad an option. Older millennials are 2.7 times more likely to live in their parents’ home than people under 55 years old than in 1999, while Generation-Xers, who are now in their mid-30s to early 50s, were 2.2 times as likely to live with their parents, according to separate data released last week by real estate site Trulia. “No parent is going to want to say no to a child who needs help, but certainly being realistic about the financial situation is important,” said Katie Taylor, vice president of thought leadership at Fidelity.

More American adults are living with their parents and grandparents than ever before — 19% of the U.S. population (or nearly 61 million people) lived in a multigenerational household, up from 17% (42 million) in 2009 and 12% (27.5 million) in 1980, according to the Pew Research Center, nonprofit think tank based in Washington, D.C.

But not all millennials are as “lazy” or “entitled,” as they are often accused of being. About one in four 25- to 34-year-olds who live at home and are not working or going to school do so because of a health-related reason or because they are acting as caregivers to their family members.

US Incomes, Wealth Increased Most Among the Wealthy

Median family income rose 2.9% for American households in 2014. For households in the 95th percentile, the increase was double that at 5.8%. Median wealth rose 12%, and wealth increased by 17% at the 95th percentile. While income and wealth are rising, they are rising fastest for those Americans at the top of the income and wealth distributions.

The data were reported Tuesday by the University of Michigan’s Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), a longitudinal study begun in 1968 that tracks employment, income, wealth, health, childbearing and development, and education, among other data points. The PSID data were collected in 2015 and covers the period between 2012 and 2015.

According to the PSID, average spending in 2015 was $43,400, up 2.6% since 2013. Some 41% of spending is directed toward housing.

Since 1967, the 95th percentile of the income distribution has seen much larger increases than the median or the 10th percentile. The data are based on aggregated income, which includes no adjustment for inflation or taxes.

What’s really going on between Goldman Sachs and the federal government?

Just for laughs, let’s start out with this idea — that Goldman Sachs acts as an agent of the federal government. Let’s see if I can persuade you. For starters, it wasn’t too long ago that then-President-elect Donald Trump vowed to drain the swamp — before he went ahead and hired six Goldman executives to clog up the drains.

Last week, The Post’s Kevin Dugan broke the fascinating story that the Justice Department’s investigation into possible rigging of US Treasury Department securities offerings was focusing on Goldman — which, sources told Dugan, had won an astonishing percentage of government bond auctions from 2007 to 2011.

“They don’t lose many,” one person who has seen the bid data told Dugan, who wrote that the prices Goldman offered for Treasury bonds would be slightly higher than offers from other banks and would typically be submitted “at the end of the auction.”

OK, was Goldman just getting lucky? And was it making these last-minute bids, which would drive interest rates lower and set the tone for the whole bond market, simply to generate a profit?

Nothing courageous about hiding health care costs

Feds Shut Down Guaranty Bank, Closing Branches In Walmart, Kroger Stores

Last week, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency shut down Guaranty Bank, which also did business as BestBank. While the shutdown and transfer process is supposed to be relatively simple for bank customers, they’re facing long lines at the remaining banks.

The bank had branches in Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, with the banks in Georgia and Michigan doing business as BestBank. The issue for customers is that the majority of its branches were inside Walmart stores and Kroger-owned supermarkets, but the only branches that will reopen as First Citizens Bank & Trust are the free-standing ones.

“When did banks start failing again?” you might ask. “Should we start the Recession Watch back up?” No, banks fail more often than we realize. Guaranty is the fifth bank to fail so far in 2017.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that the bank was still dealing with after-effects of bad loans made during last decade’s housing crisis. The government closed the bank late on Friday, with the OCC saying in a statement that “the bank had experienced substantial dissipation of assets or earnings due to unsafe or unsound practices,” and that Guaranty “was significantly undercapitalized and failed to submit a capital restoration plan acceptable to the OCC.”

CEO pay still dwarfing pay of U.S. workers: union report

A wide and longstanding gap between the earnings of U.S. CEOs and workers shows no signs of narrowing, according to a labor group analysis released on Tuesday.

Chief executives of S&P 500 companies surveyed were paid on average $13.1 million last year, 347 times the pay of the average U.S. worker, according to the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of U.S. labor unions. That gap was up from 335 times worker pay in 2015, reflecting a widening income inequality, said the labor group, which posted the latest figure on its website.

The AFL-CIO used the survey release to highlight slow U.S. wage growth and the outsourcing of jobs to countries with lower wages. Corporate directors were at fault for enabling top executives’ pay, even when investor returns lag, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said.

“The system is rigged,” he said in an interview with CNBC. “We think shareholders ought to become more active and lower those (executive pay raises), and that workers ought to get a bigger share of the wealth they produce.” The labor group’s annual study often draws notice as a measure of how U.S. workers are largely not sharing the economic gains of those at the top of the income scale, even as official unemployment remains low. Dissatisfaction among those workers was one reason many backed Donald Trump in last year’s U.S. presidential election.

Barack Obama 'to pocket 2.5 million pounds for sold-out speech in Milan

The former President, who has already earned hundreds of thousands of dollars for private speeches since leaving the White House, will make his highest-paying appearance yet at the Global Food Innovation Summit today.

President Obama flew into Italy’s business capital yesterday, and according to local media headed straight for the extravagant Park Hyatt hotel, which can cost up to £7,100 (€8,400) a night.

After bringing the city to a standstill with a convoy of 14 cars, a helicopter and a 300-strong police escort, President Obama’s entourage reportedly took over two floors of the hotel. The former Commander-in-Chief also took a private tour of the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana museum, and the city’s cathedral.

President Obama has enjoyed weeks of holidaying since leaving Washington on January 20, including kite-surging lessons with Richard Branson. In a move that was highly criticised even by former colleagues, he picked up £310,0000 ($400,000) last week for a speech to Wall Street bankers – which he accepted in September while he was still President.

India finding it hard to end love affair with cash

Fat wads of bank notes move across counters in Old Delhi's gold and diamond district in one of many challenges to six months of Indian government efforts to suffocate the black market.

Cash has been king in the musty narrow streets of Chandni Chowk since the jewellery market was set up by Emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century. The owners now largely shrug off "demonetisation" by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In a shock move on November 8 last year, PM Modi cancelled all 1,000 ($15) and 500 rupee notes in circulation, rendering about 86 percent of India's currency void.

Amid street protests, the decision triggered massive queues outside banks as the authorities struggled to print enough new notes. Chandni Chowk is not alone in resisting the digital economy. At least 80 percent of business in India is estimated to be conducted in cash, much of it avoiding tax as well as fuelling corruption.

"I'm sticking to cash," one gold and diamond dealer, Kapil, who declined to give his last name, told AFP at his store in the backstreets. "There have been many raids on the shops here so I don't keep as much stock of ready jewellery as I used to, but I don't take any cheques or cards," he said. "Only cash."

Ron Paul on the GOP tax reform plan

Yelp stock crashes 30% after earnings

Great idea and very convenient, but too many botched deliveries. Review: One star.

That, in a nutshell, sums up investors' sentiments on Yelp (YELP) right now. The company's stock fell as much as 30% in after hours trading Tuesday after the company posted disappointing sales results. That drop effectively erases all Yelp's stock gains from the last year.

Yelp reported sales of $197.3 million for the first quarter, falling short of Wall Street estimates. Its guidance for the upcoming quarter and full year also fell short of analyst estimates. On a conference call with analysts, Yelp's top execs blamed the sales miss on a struggle to hold on to local advertising accounts that had signed up a year earlier.

Jeremy Stoppelman, Yelp's CEO, said there were "emerging businesses that had trouble competing in the ad system" and jumped ship. Yelp noticed greater churn "halfway through the quarter," according to Stoppelman. "It was all hands on deck at that point," he added. "We put a team in place to focus on that particular cohort."

Fannie-Freddie Look to Provide Financing for Manufactured Homes

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may soon begin to provide financing for buyers of manufactured homes, according to draft plans released on Monday. The move is part of an effort by the mortgage-finance giants to ease burdens on low-income borrowers, many of whom turn to factory-built housing as a inexpensive alternative to traditional residences. At the same time, it could also bring criticism from people concerned about the riskiness of lending for the mobile homes, which often sit on leased land and can depreciate quickly in value.

The proposals were outlined by Fannie and Freddie as part of broader plans to address affordable housing challenges. The U.S.-controlled companies need to get sign-off for the pilot programs from their regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

The 2008 law that authorized the bailouts of Fannie and Freddie also required them to develop plans to serve three target areas: manufactured housing, rural housing and affordable housing preservation. The FHFA didn’t begin the extended process of implementing the requirement until 2015. The draft plans released Monday will be open to public comment and subject to review by the FHFA before taking effect in January.

Mobile-home builders and some affordable-housing advocates have long called on Fannie and Freddie to support the industry, arguing that such residences are a primary way some low-income borrowers get into the real estate market. According to the U.S. Census, about 12.3 million Americans owned a manufactured home in 2015, while another 5.4 million rented one.

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