Stocks are up again this morning … and reached yet another intraday record. While fun to point out higher levels every day (as an investor), I realize that if someone told me at the end of February 2020 that we would be wearing masks 18 months later (and growingly dependent on a vaccine that some refuse to take), I would never have guessed stocks would be more than 50% higher since that time.
No how, no way … but here I am … nervously celebrating the accomplishment on what seems to be a daily basis.
Quite a few are looking, of course, past the pandemic and while the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows a spike in rural areas, hospitalizations are down … leading some to conclude we either have reached a peak … or are close to one.
Still, it might be quite some time before we reach pre-pandemic numbers in many areas … and you need to wonder how accurate a Bloomberg Survey is regarding its finding that CEOs (learning what people can accomplish by staying local) may cut travel budgets in the future by as much as 30%! How that will affect airlines and restaurants remains to be seen.
Regardless, leisure and hospitality hiring appears to be strong right now … and Evercore ISI reports that the average supermarket and restaurant worker pay is in excess of $15/hour for the first time.
This does not mean that all is clear on the employment front at all … as OECD feels the U.S. won’t be back to pre-virus employment levels until the end of 2023. Yikes!
But stimulus might be pulled back a bit as the pandemic subsides. The Tax Foundation gave a staggering report that “many struggling families could receive nearly $70,000 in Coronavirus relief” … leading some to ask if instead of paying people not to work, we might change the equation and be better served by the government paying people more to actually go out and take one of the many available jobs.
A problem we pointed out yesterday is that social security, for the first time, is paying out more on an annual basis than it takes in … and the time before it “runs out of money” has been shortened.
Sadly, the government might not be of help. In fact, CBO Baseline numbers for the 2021 Federal Budget shows (please sit down for this), government spending is at $6.8 Trillion while money coming in is at $3.8 Trillion. You don’t need a calculator to see the difference and wonder just how long this can continue (alongside the curiosity as to why politicians are not talking about it more).
Sorry, but thinking about the budget puts me in an irritable mood.
One other problem I have is that I am starting a low-carb diet and really crave some of the foods I love. Losing weight (if it works) … and giving up ice cream … will make the sacrifice well worth it.
The problem is I recently tried seaweed salad and feel I have become addicted.
But don’t worry.
I am seeking kelp.
Have a great day,
Joseph G. Witthohn, CFA
Emerald Asset Management PA, LLC
610 Freedom Business Center Drive
King of Prussia, PA 19406
Direct: (610) 285-9905
cell: (856) 625-7915
As of 11:46 AM today …
Quick Look at the News
In sports news yesterday a baseball executive will quit, rather than take the vaccine. If employees also refuse, what steps can an organization take? (DNYUZ)https://dnyuz.com/2021/09/02/what-can-employers-do-if-workers-avoid-covid-19-vaccines/
… though it is not only the virus affecting people’s health … the high air pollution in some parts of India lowered the life expectancy there (CNN)https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/02/india/india-air-pollution-life-expectancy-intl-hnk/index.html
It is quite interesting to read report of kids making lots of money mining crypto … but the resources behind them are vast … and actual electricity cost not even addressed (CNBC)https://www.cnbc.com/2021/08/31/kid-siblings-earn-thousands-per-month-mining-crypto-like-bitcoin-eth.html
… but let’s hope these kids do well … for it seems that social security is forever up-in-the-air, especially when it comes to planning surrounding both you and a spouse (CNBC)https://www.cnbc.com/2021/09/02/how-claiming-social-security-early-affects-your-spousal-benefits.html
We have long heard about aspirin reducing heart attacks … and now coffee is seen as having a strong health benefit. Three cups? Some mornings, I have that before noon (USAToday)https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2021/09/02/how-much-coffee-healthy-three-cups-reduce-heart-attack-risk/5668047001/
With the reduction of indoor dining, those heavily invested needed to find a way to meet ends meet. A solution? Ghost kitchens … making good use of the equipment (HospitalityInsights)https://hospitalityinsights.ehl.edu/what-is-a-ghost-kitchen
… but it is not only the kitchens trying to find a way to succeed … for the food has to come from somewhere and vertical farms could be quite important in the years ahead (TheFuturist)https://www.thefuturist.co/how-verticalfarmscould-change-our-future/