This Week in the US Economy
Not all that much happening this week but what is happening could be quite important. On Tuesday we have the Case Shiller 20 real estate index. The key index and a barometer for the housing market as a whole has been rising at the slowest rate since the last housing bust, up only 0.33% since March. On Wednesday we have the 30Y mortgage rate again. The average rate fell 13 basis points last week amid the rush into “safety” in the debt markets. We are now at 4.84%, still the highest level in 7 years. On Thursday, the big Personal Consumption Expenditures index hits the wire, so we’ll see where we are at in terms of the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation. We also have weekly jobless claims coming in Thursday, which have also been edging up slightly in a sign of slight weakening in the US economy.
EU Head Honchos Signs Off On Brexit Deal, UK Still Not So Sure
A summit of 27 heads of state in the European Union has concluded with all of them giving their collective “OK, sure” to the Brexit deal signed between the United Kingdom and Brussels, the seat of European Union power. The official endorsement of the deal was followed by a whole bunch of pouting by EU politicians about how sad and depressed they all are because they don’t want to see the UK leave their wonderful union, how nobody won, how everybody loses, and how this is the best possible deal that the UK is going to get with a thinly-veiled threat that if the House of Commons rejects it, all kinds of Armageddon will break lose without a doubt and it’ll be all the UK’s fault and nothing could possibly be done at all in that event except watch the chaos unfold. On that note, everybody in the House of Commons is upset about something and it is not at all certain that the deal will be ratified in the UK itself. (NYSEARAC:EWU) (NYSEARCA:FXB)
Prepare for Disappointing Black Friday Brick and Mortar Sales Stats
All indications are that people this holiday season are wising up and rather than scale the brick and mortar walls of a Big Box retailer and fight the rabid crowds at risk of great injury and even in some extreme cases, death, they’ll just sit at home and order stuff online. Retailers with a strong online presence may not be affected that much, which of course includes Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) but also Walmart (NYSE:WMT), though firms that were depending on a strong holiday season for their survival like Macy’s (NYSE:M) could be in for a rude awakening, a rude death, as the case may be.
Overstock Unfazed By Bitcoin Collapse, Going All In on Blockchain
Overstock (NYSE:OSTK) doesn’t seem to be too disturbed by the epic collapse of cryptocurrency prices, being that its CEO Pat Byrne had earlier committed to selling of the entire retail business of his company to focus exclusively on blockchain initiatives, and this by February of next year. Now he’s not so sure about the exact timing, moving it back to December of next year. I believe that the right thing to do for shareholders is to separate the value of the retail and blockchain companies (particularly tZERO), and I believe I can do that through a tax free spin off of tZERO in 13 months (which is to say, December, 2019) at the outside.” tZERO is the blockchain arm of Overstock. Overstock stock has collapsed along with the price of bitcoin (BTC-USD) but was up over 20% at the close last week on excitement over the potential sale of the retail business.