3 April 2019 FT — Articles to Read

3 April 2019


Question: According to MSN: Money, what is the biggest concern about personal finances in America?


Walgreens slashes earnings forecast and lifts cost-cutting target to $1.5bn – Pg. 1

–          Like other US drugstore chains, Walgreens’ margins are being hit by pressure to cut prescription drug prices and cheaper generic drugs.  While prescription sales in its US stores rose 9.8% in the second quarter, gross profit fell 3.2%

–          Sales of general products such as toothbrushes and make-up are also under pressure from online rivals such as Amazon


IMF Lagarde highlights risks to global economy – Pg. 2

–          …most countries would be unable to offset a downturn with lower interest rates and would instead need to make “smarter use” of fiscal policies in future

–          …high public debt and low interest rates have left limited room to act when the next downturn comes….

–          The fiscal policy response the IMIF is recommending is to fix deficits and debt now so that governments have the ability to take a more active approach to tax cuts or public spending increases to combat recessionary forces


WTO warns of ‘strong headwinds’ amid trade tensions – Pg. 2

–          …”strong headwinds” over the next two years as it reported that commercial tensions, a slowdown in major economies and financial volatility triggered a sharp drop in trade growth last year

–          …global trade grew 3% in 2018 – compared with a forecast of 3.9% last September

–          The pace of growth of world trade was as high as 4.6% in 2017 – but that may have been the high-water mark


Pelosi gives guarded support to Biden over touching claims – Pg. 3

–          The Speaker also gave a veiled critique of Mr Biden’s apologies, suggesting he should say sorry for invading any accuser’s personal space rather than the fact that his accuser took offence (Prof Note: That is just idiot!  Never blame the alleged victim when guilt of the act is NOT in question!)

–          The reaction to the new allegations against him has exposed a generational divide within the party.  Many older Democrats have come to Mr Biden’s defence, even as others called out his behavior as inappropriate, a sign of the new standard for male behavior after the advent of the #MeToo movement (Prof Note: Why is there a need to touch people in professional settings?!  I cannot stand when salespeople touch me in, what I consider, a “leading” way to make a sale or curry favour.  Touching, in a professional setting, in any form, breaks a seal and greys the line of forward acceptance.)


Manhattan apartment sales fall while average price rises – Pg. 3

–          The number of sales was down 11%….

–          The median price of apartments in Manhattan, depending on the report, ranged from down 2% to up 3.2% from a year earlier

–          The number of sales of apartments in new developments fell 39.4%, …

–          The average sales price of new developers rose 89.4% to $7.6m, but that reflected Mr Griffin’s purchase of an apartment overlooking Central Park, adding to this extensive portfolio of prime properties in the US and Europe

–          President Donald Trump’s tax reform law, which reduced the amount of mortgage interest buyers could deduct, also had a negative effect on property sales

–          A new mansion tax, which introduces a one-time levy on purchases of New York City apartments that sell for at least $1m, could stymie the market further


Curve Ball Yield projections are losing their predictive power – Pg. 11

–          The US yield curve has long been seen as a reliable indicator of trouble ahead.  If long-term government bond yields fall to the point where they are below much shorter-term instruments – the classic “inverted curve” – people reason that growth is grinding to a halt and a recession must be around the corner


US shopping centre vacancies at eight-year high – Pg. 12

–          Vacancies at US shopping centres have hit the highest level in eight years as the ecommerce revolution and recent collapse of debt-laden private equity-backed chains begin to ripple through the commercial property market

–          …9.3% of units in shopping malls lay empty at the end of March – …

–          Landlords are still demanding 8% higher rents in regional malls than they were five years ago

–          US retailers have set out plans to close 5,480 stores…almost as many as the 5,730 announced in all of 2018


Answer: Not having enough $$$ to get by