When the CEO of the world's biggest company doubts the veracity of US economic data, you know you have a problem. After quarters of disappointing growth in the face of miraculous equity market performance; Wal-Mart CEO Bill Simon warns that shoppers aren’t returning at the pace one might expect years after the recession peaked, despite mainstream media interpretation of the data showing unequivocal growth. Simply put, he exclaims, "the unemployment numbers particularly have been difficult to read with the number of people dropping out of the work force," adding that if we see a further drop in the participation rate it would fit with the fact that "middle-class and lower-class are still economically challenged, only spending during holidays and for family occasions," adding that traction has only come at the top-end.
CNBC: "The US unemployment rate fell 6.1%. but walmart sales and traffic has been pretty sluggish. what's going on? where's the disconnect?"
Wal-Mart CEO: "I think the economic numbers - unemployment numbers particularly have been difficult to read with the number of people dropping out of the work force - and I think it's going to take a while - six months or a year - for those numbers to balance out. You'll see drop in the rate, and then - as more people come back into the workforce - that might change again. Hopefully after six years we start to gain traction in the US. That traction is coming at the top end but I think the middle down is pretty challenged.
CNBC "Is that the problem with sales, your consumers don't have as much disposable income to spend?"
Wal-Mart CEO: "Yes - Retail in general has not been robust in the last six years, in the last year particularly."
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“This is obviously an economic problem,” said Gina Sanchez, founder of Chantico Global. “Wal-Mart is a big bellwether, so it’s worth looking at to understand what’s happening.”
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This is not a tin-foil-hat-wearing blogger or ranting Chicagoan (or former GE chairman) - this is the current CEO of the world's largest revenue-producing firm casting doubt on the reality of the jobs picture the government is painting and furthermore confirming things are anything but back to normal...