In January we noted 'Smart Restaurant' - the burger-flipping robot - and just last month we reported on China's robotification of the fast-food business; but, as The Washington Post reports, the greatest enemy to the minimum-wage-demanding fast-food worker has arrived: you can now order your own quarter-pound bacon cheeseburger from a welcoming, non-judging machine. With McDonalds sales the worst in almost a decade, it appears their need to maintain profits has stoked a move towards dehumanization. One wonder how long before tabltes are also declared 'unpatriotic'.
When you see the headlines touting strong retail sales, you need to consider what you are actually seeing in the real world. RadioShack will be filing for bankruptcy within months. Wet Seal will follow. Sears is about two years from a bankruptcy filing. JC Penney’s turnaround is a sham. They continue to lose hundreds of millions every quarter and will be filing for bankruptcy within the next couple years. Target and Wal-Mart continue to post awful sales results and have stopped expanding. And as you drive around in your leased BMW, you see more Space Available signs than operating outlets in every strip center in America.
Whether because eaters around the world and in the US would rather eat even fattier, more expensive, more calorific equivalents such as MCD-spinoff Chipotle, or because the global consumer/eater can not even afford the cheapest form of a dollar meal, is unknown, but what is quite clear is that the company which was once the bellwether of the US commodity eater, McDonalds, just reported global comp store sales which saw a decline of -3.7% from a year ago, its worst monthly print in a decade!
It's lights-out for the world-renowned Dennis Gartman...
"Get up! Get down! Fast-food workers run this town!" were the chants from fast-food workers in over 100 cities across America today, as empowered by President Obama's explanation of 'fairness', they demanded a $15-per-hour minimum wage amid strikes, rallies, and acts of civil disobedience. Many fast-food chains and independent restaurants have said that a $15 hourly wage would lead to big price increases on their menus or make it impossible to eke out a profit, adding that they "believe that any minimum wage increase should be implemented over time so that the impact on owners of small and medium-sized businesses." Police arrested 19 workers in NYC and several dozen were placed in handcuffs in Detroit and organizers strongly denied unconfirmed fast-food industry accusations that some workers were being paid $250 to $500 by the union to strike. While the economic reasoning for a minimum-wage hike has been dead-and-buried, we try one more time to explain the hidden costs of the minimum wage.
Don’t be surprised to lose if you don’t make an effort at being competitive. And if you go out of your way to make yourself less competitive, expect to lose. If that sounds like simple common sense, that’s because it is. But it’s also exactly what the US has been doing for years...
With all eyes and ears firmly focused Janet Yellen's opening oratory this morning (due at 10ET), the contents of the rest of the conference appear to have been forgotten (and yet in the past have been among the most crucial to comprehend central banks' actions after the fact - forward guidance and QE for 2). As Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports, robots don’t steal jobs, the U.S. labor market is less flexible than it was, and workers haven’t suffered unprecedented periods out of work (and rehiring odds are the same as always), are among the conclusions of key papers being presented at the symposium, along with (unsurprisingly) findings that policymakers would benefit from a better understanding of labor market dynamics. The following is a brief review of their contents...
Following Russia's closure on several McDonalds in Moscow, the CEO of the American Chamber of Commerce is worried: "The question on my mind is: Is this going to be a knock on the door, or is this going to be the beginning of a campaign?" As Reuters reports, businessmen from both West and East are increasingly frustrated with the tit-for-tat sanctions (and their apparent lack of efficacy at anything but slowing global growth). Russian and Ukrainian CEOs joined Richard Branson to write "We, as business leaders from Russia, Ukraine and the rest of the world, urge our governments to work together to ensure we do not regress into the Cold War misery of the past." As we noted previously, Europe has suffered most, and the following European companies remain the most exposed to escalation.
Sanctions blowback? Russian food safety watchdog Rospotrebnadzor has ordered the closure of four McDonalds restaurants in Moscow, according to Reuters, due to "numerous sanitary breaches."
*MOSCOW TEMPORARILY CLOSES SEVERAL MCDONALD'S RESTAURANTS
This was not entirely a surprise since Russia had previously raised concerns over McDonalds cheese and was angered when the fast-food restaurant ceased operations in Crimea. This also comes on the heels of McDonalds problems in China and Japan over food supply issues. It appears the "tangible losses" Putin promised, are beginning.
Ferguson Riots Again: Police, Looters Exchange Teargas , Rubber Bullets, Molotov Cocktails: Live WebcastSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/17/2014 23:08 -0400
UPDATE: Shots fired... Multiple gun shots heard - police: "leave or be arrested."
After more than a week of violent confrontations, tensions continues in Ferguson (following the death of Mike Brown - shot at least 6 times, twice in the head). The second night of quasi-martial-law in the Missouri town has once again erupted into riots (the third night in a row) as militarized police response just hours ahead of the midnight curfew. Protesters have looted stores and restaurants (including a McDonalds) and the once again heavily-armed police forces have responded in force with tear-gas and rubber bullets (to which protesters are responding with Molotov cocktails and returning gas canisters). This shows no signs of de-escalation at all as crowds chant "who polices the cops?" CNN reports at least one protester hit by rubber bullets and multiple injuries.
The global monetary system is diverging and fraying. Central bank post-crisis quasi-coordination has broken down. Initially, foreign central banks unhappily followed the Fed in cutting rates toward zero; or else risked an appreciating currency affecting competitiveness. As domestic challenges developed and the Fed initiated ‘tapering’, many central banks pushed rates back up. Developed world economies have grown from around 30% of global GDP 20 years ago to 50% today. This improvement has helped motivate the unfolding of a new international economic order between developed and developing world economies.
The "Recovery" In One Chart: When Americans Can't Even Afford To Buy McDonalds For 9 Months In A RowSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/08/2014 08:14 -0400
There is endless propaganda... and then there are McDonalds sales.
We warned last week that the scandal over Chinese meat supplier OSI was spreading (and Asians were increasingly shunning western fast-food restaurants) and now, as The FT reports, McDonald’s Japan has pulled its full-year profit guidance on the back of falling sales. It had previously forecast sales of $2.45bn for the year to December but warned it could not commit to new targets as it was too soon to estimate the scandal’s full impact. McDonald's is hardly ready to cope with this as sales are slumping and Russia is banning certain products.
Think only the US can engage in the farce known as "sanctions" (why theater, because until Obama sanctions Gazprom, yeah right... crickets... it is nothing but populist theater)? Think again. Overnight Russia's consumer protection agency, filed a lawsuit in a Moscow court - which clearly has nothing to do with recent geopolitical bickering between the former Cold War enemies - seeking to ban some of McDonald's Corp's burgers along with its milk shakes and ice cream, a court spokeswoman said on Friday. The reason for the ban: as Reuters reports, a regional branch of the consumer protection agency Rospotrebnadzor asked the court to declare production and sales of some products illegal due to "inappropriate physical-chemical parameters." The lawsuit's list of contested products named the fast-food chain's Royal Cheeseburger, Filet-o-Fish, Cheeseburger and Chicken Burger but not its Big Mac burger.
Two-Thirds Of Chinese Consumers No Longer Trust Western Fast-Food As "Meat Scandal" Spreads Across AsiaSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/23/2014 11:12 -0400
As if the Chinese meat scandal was not a big enough concern for Western fast-food firms, The WSJ reports that the crisis is spreading across Asia as Yum Brands and McDonalds sever links with US-owned Shanghai Husi Food Company, which is accused of selling expired beef and chicken, pulling supplies of chicken from restaurants in Japan. Perhaps even more worrisome for American fast-food companies who have expanded aggressively and over-hyped the growth opportunities in China, a second Sina survey started yesterday, featuring 25,000 respondents, found 77% believed the restaurant brands affected had been aware of Husi’s faulty practices, while 69% said they would no longer dine at the restaurants run by the Western companies.