Amazon’s ‘Christmas in July’ Forces the Retail World to Respond

Amazon’s self-created “Christmas in July” sales holiday is coming. The retail juggernaut launches its fifth annual “Amazon Prime Day” at 12 a.m. PDT July 15, which runs until 11:59 p.m. PDT July 16. Amazon boasts that this 48-hour sale bonanza will offer Amazon Prime customers a variety of deals on products—from tech items such as Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Alexa, smartwatches and headphones, to kitchen appliances and bedding.

But that doesn’t mean that its competitors such as eBay, Target, Walmart, Kohls and Bed, Bath & Beyond are taking this sitting down. These rival retail giants are firing back with deals of their own.

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Fed Puts Fewer Interest Rate Hikes in Wall Street’s Stocking

The stock market rallied strongly on Nov. 28 as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell made a dovish comment. Powell said that rates are “just below” the Fed’s targeted neutral level, which most Fed watchers consider to be 3%. This came after Powell called rates a “long way from neutral” on Oct. 3, provoking a major reaction in the financial markets.

Wall Street read his latest remark as a signal that the once-a-quarter rate hikes will stop sooner than expected. The Fed plan was to raise rates four more times. We expect hikes for sure in December and March, and likely in June. But the September 2019 hike looks to be off the table. Continue reading “Fed Puts Fewer Interest Rate Hikes in Wall Street’s Stocking”

Florida tourism will bounce back from Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma punched Florida hard, but she failed to deliver a knockout blow to the state’s top industry – tourism.

The Sunshine State’s most popular tourist destinations, including Orlando-area theme parks and coastal beaches, are fine, as are most hotels and resorts. The mega storm hit during one of Florida’s slowest tourism periods, buying precious time to rebuild ahead of the busy winter season. Continue reading “Florida tourism will bounce back from Hurricane Irma”

The Economic Toll of Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey will ding third quarter GDP but boost the fourth quarter. Much of the Texas coast, including Houston — the nation’s fifth-largest metro area — was shut down for over a week because of the storm. As business resumes after Labor Day, it will be operating at about 80% of normal staffing levels for a while. That is likely to knock 0.3 percentage points off of U.S. GDP growth in the third quarter, resulting in a pace of about 2.5%. However, as more folks return to work, the economy will likely see a boost to GDP in the fourth quarter. Likewise, the national employment report for September is likely to come in weak, with a gain of fewer than 100,000 jobs, but the following months will show larger than average gains. Continue reading “The Economic Toll of Hurricane Harvey”

Hurricane-Proofing a City: How Houston Should Prepare for the Next Big Storm

Houston is still reeling from Hurricane Harvey, a record-breaking tropical storm that has drenched the Texas coast with an estimated 21 trillion gallons of water since Aug. 25 and inflicted untold damage on both lives and property.

As with previous hurricanes, many people are asking: What could have been done differently this time to mitigate the damage? And what can be done to prepare for the next storm?

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How Will Political Gridlock Affect the Economy?

Consumer and business confidence soared after the presidential election because of the belief that President Trump’s policies on spending, tax cuts, health care and regulatory reform would give the economy a boost. So, what will be the impact on the economy if political gridlock prevents or delays Trump from delivering what he promised?

For starters, let’s assume a government shutdown is avoided. Congress will need to pass a bill known as a continuing resolution by April 28 in order to keep federal agencies funded and operating. If they fail, the reduction in federal spending would ding second-quarter growth and inhibit the economy’s ability to recover from a weak first quarter. Continue reading “How Will Political Gridlock Affect the Economy?”

Highlights From “How Your Business Will be Affected by the Trump Administration”

In case you missed our recent webinar discussing how the incoming Trump administration will affect businesses, here are some detailed highlights of the discussion, which covered everything from the future of Obamacare to taxes and environmental regulations.

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Even Without Tax Cuts, Consumers Will Boost Economy

Consumers will shoulder the burden of keeping the economy on track in 2017 while waiting for Donald Trump’s tax cuts to be passed. Low unemployment, job and wage growth will keep money in consumers’ pockets, while the rise in the stock market since the election will provide a bit of an extra bump up to spending.

Consumer spending should rise by about 2.8% in 2017, up from 2.6% in 2016. 2017 will be the fourth straight year that consumer spending growth will have been markedly higher than overall GDP growth, indicating how much this spending is carrying the economy. Continue reading “Even Without Tax Cuts, Consumers Will Boost Economy”

Coming: GOP Infighting over Federal Spending

It’s a good bet that federal spending and the annual budget deficits will increase during the Trump administration, despite opposition from many members of his own party who will hold firm on reining in government outlays.

But the Republican-controlled Congress isn’t about to give President-elect Donald Trump a blank check. The credit rating service Moody’s forecasts that if he were to get everything on his spending wish list, the deficit as a share of GDP would likely top 10% by the end of his four-year term, compared with 3% now. That’s not going to happen.

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