"... America has followed the Soviet Union down the path of re-engineering its ideological culture... shifting towards a new socialist middle ground where centralization has woven the macro economic system tighter around a supra-sovereign statehood... They will say no one saw it coming... The sad reality is that the disorganized masses will remain ignorant to the whole process as they become consumed with television news drama that hides the structural truth behind the engineered cultural implosion of the American identity."
One of the perks of being a president: having your own personal, taxpayer-funded chef. And in the case of Barack Obama, this means an instrumental player in the development of Michelle Obama's controversial "school lunch program", one who also happens to be "Executive Director of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative, the first-ever White House Senior Policy Advisor on Nutrition, and personal chef to the First Family." He name is, or rather his name was Sam Kass, because alongside pretty much everyone else close to Obama in recent few years, Chef Kass is done feeding the First Stomach and is also getting the hell out of Dodge the White House.
For those, who are leery of seasonally-adjusted government data (showing soaring low-wage jobs offset by crashing employment in the energy sector and M&A synergies which mysteriously are never captured), or sentiment surveys and confidence polls (of Wall Street executives and government workers), here is the latest data from McDonalds. Showing the worst US comp store sales in nearly 12 years at -4.6%, one does wonder if following America's inability to even pay for sub-$1 meals, mass starvation will follow?
October was a historic month for McDonalds. While the investing public was already well aware that things are bad and getting worse when it comes to demand for the iconic hamburger following MCD's 30% plunge in Q3 profit, moments ago the troubled fast-food chain reported that in the first month of the fourth quarter it celebrated a tragic anniversary: one year of US comp store sales without a single increase, following a 1% drop in US October sales! This is the first time in history when MCD has anniversaried negative same store sales in the US.
Moments ago, McDonalds not only released earnings and revenues, both of which missed - something which was largely expected since the backward looking data had been telegraphed by MCD's recent global selling collapse - blanketed by atrocious commentary, but it disclosed its September global retail sales which were for lack of a better word, a disaster, after reporting global sales which dropped 3.8%, below the 3.2% expected, and the worst global month since at least 2003. The pain was everywhere, with Europe plunging 4.2% (est -0.9%), Asia down 7.5%, and the US down a whopping 4.1%, far below the 2.8% expected, and also the worst month in over a decade.
Latest Central Bank Sticksave Halts Futures Slide, Sends E-Mini Soaring After ECB Said "Looking To Buy Bonds"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/21/2014 06:41 -0400
To summarize: the S&P 500 is now almost 100 points higher from last Tuesday as the global central bank plunge protection team of first Williams and Bullard hinting at QE4, then ECB's Coeure "ECB buying to start in a few days", then China's latest $30 billion "targeted stimulus", then the Japanese GPIF hinting at a 25% stock rebalancing in the pension fund, and finally again the ECB, this time "buying of corporate bonds on secondary markets", rolls on and manages to send stocks into overdrive. Even as absolutely nothing has been fixed, as Europe is still tumbling into a triple-drip recession, as Emerging Markets are being slammed by a global growth slowdown and the US corporate earnings picture is as bleak as it gets. Because "fundamentals."
Since Russia's first began rattling its retaliatory anti-Western-fast-food sabre at McDonalds in April, things have escalated. It started in Crimea, spread to Moscow, and now as Yopolis notes, has spread across much of Russia as more and more McDonalds stores are shuttered by Russia's Food Safety Commission (Rospotrebnadzorom)...
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.