April 15, 2019
Our office will be closed on Friday, April 19th in observance of Good Friday.
WHAT’S HAPPENING AROUND HERE
Huntsville Blooms at The Botanical Gardens – The garden’s beautiful outdoor spaces take center stage during March and April. Spring-blooming trees, shrubs and perennials are highlighted by colorful bulbs and special flowering displays. The Bush Azalea Trail, with over 3,000 varieties of azaleas, is a must-see. Admission charged.
Walking Tour of Historic Downtown Madison – Enjoy a free, guided historic walking tour through historic Downtown Madison, Alabama on Saturday, April 20th from 10am-1pm. Hear stories about the area’s history and architectural styles. The tour departs from the Little Roundhouse Gazebo in downtown Madison.
THIS WEEK’S ECONOMIC DATA
- The Consumer Price Index jumped in line with estimates, marking the biggest increase in 14 months.
- Weekly jobless claims fell to 196,000 after the second week in April. This is the first time weekly claims have fallen below 200,000 since 1969.
ECONOMY AND EQUITY MARKETS
White House economist Kevin Hassett repeatedly refused to endorse President Donald Trump’s pleas for the U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) to slash interest rates to juice growth. Hassett, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), struck a far different tone than Vice President Mike Pence and economic adviser Larry Kudlow, each of whom urged the Fed to lower rates. Last week, Trump blasted the Fed, accusing the central bank of undermining the American economy. “They really slowed us,” Trump told reporters. He added that growth would rise like a “rocket ship” if the Fed cuts rates. The Fed raised interest rates four times last year, tapping the brakes after the economy accelerated in response to massive corporate tax cuts and a surge of government spending. But the Fed, responding to recession fears and market turmoil, did a dramatic reversal in recent months.
INSIDE THE LOOP
Innovation and Transformation – Speaking on Wednesday, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde pointed to the changing business models of commercial banks as evidence that innovations like cryptocurrencies are having a clear impact on financial sector incumbents. “I think the role of the disruptors and anything that is using distributed ledger technology, whether you call it crypto, assets, currencies, or whatever … that is clearly shaking the system,” she said. The IMF boss warned that such financial industry changes must be accompanied by regulation. Facebook is reportedly developing its own cryptocurrency and Apple released its own credit card in partnership with Goldman Sachs last month.
Great American Companies – Amid all the hype surrounding this year’s biggest consumer IPOs like Lyft, Pinterest and Uber, investors seem most excited about the debut of a company that sells video-conferencing software to businesses — Zoom. That’s because Zoom has the unusual distinction of being profitable while also growing at more than 100% annually. It’s a formula that public investors don’t see often from cash-burning Silicon Valley.
A Healthy Bonus – A new tally showed that 62 health-care CEOs were paid a combined $1.1 billion in 2018. At the top: R. Milton Johnson of HCA Healthcare, whose compensation, including stock gains, totaled $109 million. One CEO got a $3.3 million bonus though his hospital chain lost $788 million.
Fraudulent Entrepreneurship – Two college students in Oregon defrauded Apple out of $895,800 by filing 3,069 warranty claims and sending in counterfeit phones. Apple approved more than half the claims, mailing back new phones that the students resold overseas.
Wednesday: Trade Deficit
Thursday: Weekly Jobless Claims, Retail Sales
Friday: Housing Starts
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“The taxpayer: That’s someone who works for the federal government but doesn’t have to take the civil service examination.” Ronald Reagan
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*Economy and Equity Markets…(Source: CNN Business)
*Innovation and Transformation…(Source: CNBC)
*Great American Companies…(Source: CNBC)
*A Healthy Bonus…(Source: Axios.com)
*Fraudulent Entrepreneurship…(Source: The New York Times)