Morning in Arizona

Morning in Arizona
Rainbows over Canyonlands - Dave Stoker

The Headline Animator

Friday, June 19, 2015

Greece Is The Word, Martha Hangs Up Her Apron, JOBS Act Goes To Work And Nasdaq Zooms

Financial Review

Reg A On

DOW – 101 = 18,014
SPX – 11 = 2109
NAS – 15 = 5117
10 YR YLD – 08 = 2.27%
OIL – .98 = 59.47
GOLD – 1.70 = 1201.30
SILV – .07 = 16.18

For the week, the Dow was up about 0.9% and the S&P 500 gained 1%. The Nasdaq jumped 1.4% as it hit new all-time highs yesterday.

Eurozone leaders will try to find a bailout deal for Greece at an emergency summit Monday.  News reports said a European Central Bank official warned Eurozone finance ministers that the Greek banks might not be able to open come Monday. The big risk now is that a report about the fear of a bank run will serve to spur a bank run. Greeks pulled more than €1-billion euro out of their banks today. European Central Bank policymakers have agreed to supply extra emergency cash to avert a bank run.

The Associated Press reports Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has traveled to Russia, likely looking for loans. Russia and Greece signed a deal today to build an extension of a prospective gas pipeline that would carry Russian gas to Europe through Turkey. Russia promised Greece hundreds of millions of dollars in transit payments yearly if it agreed to build the pipeline. Construction of the pipeline is expected to start next year and be completed in 2019. Putin’s spokesman said it was too early to comment on possible loans. Russia has its own economic problems: a recession, a costly invasion of Ukraine, and economic sanctions.

Speaking in St. Petersburg today, Tsipras said the Euro Union should return to its founding principles of “solidarity, democracy and social justice, but the obsession with austerity and policies which rupture social cohesion make it impossible.” What’s at stake is “whether Europe will give space to policies of cohesion rather than the imposition of meaningless and failed programs.”

So, the new emergency meeting is Monday; the deadline for default is the end of the month; bankers are worried about a run on the banks; and the most probable outcome is – nothing. That’s an educated guess, not a guarantee. The Greek crisis could implode at any moment, and it could get very ugly. And for that reason, the most probable outcome is that nothing will happen; the Greeks will probably get an extension of the current bailout until year-end. Another delay is tempting for Eurozone leaders; nobody wants to pull the trigger on the gun that kills Greece and possibly the Eurozone.

Remember the PIIGS? The 5 Eurozone countries that have had economic problems: Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain. Nowadays we only hear about the problems in Greece. What happened to the other countries? The NYT decided to survey what people in the other Eurozone crisis countries think about the situation in Greece. The survey looked at Ireland, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. The general theme appears to be that we toughed it out, now Greece should too. It would have been useful to include a bit of data on where these countries stand now. Per capita income and employment are all well below their pre-crisis level in all four countries mentioned. By following the path of austerity, unemployment is worse now than in 2007; in Italy it is 3.1% worse, Ireland 8.9% worse, Portugal 11.5% worse, and Spain 14% worse. And GDP in these 4 crisis countries has slipped by 4.4% to 11.5%.

China’s benchmark share indexes dropped again today, taking losses since their early-June peak to more than 10% and putting the market into correction territory. The Shanghai Composite finished the session down 6.4%, its biggest weekly decline since October 2008, after more than doubling over the past 12 months. Shenzhen -6%. ChiNext -5.4%.

Although it must go back to the Senate for another vote, the U.S. House of Representatives has approved a bill granting President Obama “fast-track” trade authority. The move will likely see the swift completion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is central to Obama’s focus on strengthening ties with Asia.

The first Friday of each month brings the nationwide jobs report from the Labor Department. Two weeks later we get a look at the labor market on a state by state basis. Twenty-five states had unemployment rate increases from April (mainly because more people entered the labor pool – which is a good thing), 9 states and the District of Columbia had decreases, and 16 states had no change.

Arizona’s unemployment rate in May was 5.8%; slightly above the national 5.5%, but still down 0.7% in the last 3 months. Total employment in Arizona in May was 2,613,800. The bad news is that Arizona still has not regained all the jobs lost in the economic downturn. We would need to add 65,000 more jobs just to get back to the level of December 2007. Fourteen other states have not recovered all the jobs lost in the recession. Part of the problem is that Arizona was particularly hard hit, part of the problem is that Arizona was poorly positioned for a downturn.

As economic conditions continue to improve, state lawmakers should be making investments in physical (infrastructure) and human capital (education, workforce development) that will spur job creation in the short term and create sustainable growth in the long term.

The EPA today proposed new standards for big trucks aimed at lowering fuel costs and cutting carbon emissions. The new standards would apply to big vehicles ranging from garbage trucks to 18-wheelers to vans and buses to heavy-duty pickup trucks. The basic idea will require that a truck built in 2021 and beyond will be up to 24% more fuel efficient and emit up to 24% fewer carbon emissions than an equivalent truck built in 2018.

America is producing more oil than it has in decades, but the nation no longer guzzles it up like there’s no tomorrow. Starting around 2003, the amount of petroleum consumed in the U.S. began to grow far more slowly than government forecasters had expected. Oil consumption then fell during Great Recession and now it’s projected to remain roughly flat for the next decade. Improved fuel standards are a big reason behind lower consumption. Another factor is that there are fewer cars on the road. The Federal Highway Administration reports the registration of passenger cars fell nearly 19% from 2008 to 2012. That trend is starting to change. Meanwhile, there are more busses than before.

We have a few earnings reports today. KB Home posted better than expected results. Choclate maker Hershey reduced its sales outlook and announced job cuts. CarMax posted first quarter sales that narrowly missed expectations, but profit matched estimates. Gun maker Smith & Wesson beat estimates but lowered guidance.

Bankers say the return of IPOs over the past few weeks reflects the continued demand for stocks, even as investors anxiously eye global concerns. (or maybe just a case of “get it while you can”.) US listings in 2014 came at the fastest pace since 2000, with 293 offerings raising $96 billion, although they slowed toward the beginning of this year due to uncertainty of oil prices and a Fed rate hike. But activity has quietly picked up. There were 20 deals last month, just three fewer than in May 2014, and June is expected to bring forth 32 deals, just one less than the prior year. Upcoming IPOs: Fogo de Chao, Mindbody, TransUnion and

Regulation A+ of the 2012 Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, or JOBS Act, went into effect today, allowing startups to raise up to $50 million from non-accredited investors. The provision is a step toward allowing more non-accredited investors to participate in private-company investing and further expand the concept of equity crowdfunding. But as companies await a final ruling on crowdfunding itself, the provision comes with a lot of legwork for companies. Accredited investors are defined as those who have an annual income above $200,000, or a net worth of more than $1 million, not including their primary residence.

Companies are still waiting for final rules on Title III of the JOBS Act, which would allow companies to solicit and take investments from as many non-accredited investors as they desire, with a few provisions. Regulation A+, effective Friday, has two tiers. Tier I allows companies to raise up to $20 million in a 12-month period from accredited or non-accredited investors, but the company has to comply with the law of every state in which it has an investor.  However, state laws differ on such issues as compliance and filing requirements and some may demand large fees. Tier II allows companies to raise up to $50 million in a 12-month period and is generally exempt from state laws. But it also requires companies to file audited financial statements and event reports. If a company isn’t listed on a stock exchange, non-accredited investors are limited in the amount they can invest.  In Tier I, companies still have to report financials, but they can be unaudited

It looks like Martha Stewart might be planning a retirement party. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia is close to selling itself to Sequential Brands Group. A deal between Sequential Brands and Martha Stewart Living could be announced in the coming days.

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