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Archive for the ‘economy’ Category

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So far it’s good news for 70 percent of the companies in the S&P 500 that have reported their quarterly results. Nearly three quarters of them have beat analysts’ earnings estimates. Compared to a year ago, profits for the S&P 500 were up 37 percent. In addition, sales were up 9 percent on average across all sector expect for the banking industry. Although this sounds like good news, CEOs are not celebrating yet.

“Sales are simply not keeping up with rising material costs,” Barry James, portfolio manager of James Advantage Funds, told CNNMoney. “They can’t pass off the costs to consumers yet, so profit margins are going to have to take a hit.”

Read more on CNNMoney.com.

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Steven Kroll, managing director at Monness Crespi Hardt & Co., talks about the U.S. deficit and economy. Kroll also speaks about the tax-cut agreement President Obama reached with Republicans, the performance of U.S. stock and bond markets, and his investment strategy. He talks with Matt Miller and Carol Massar on Bloomberg Television’s “Street Smart.” Dan Deming of Stutland Equities LLC also speaks. (Source: Bloomberg)

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The Fed unveiled a new plan to buy $600 billion of U.S. Treasurys over the next eight months, hoping to spur growth in a disappointingly slow U.S. economy. Source: The Wall Street Journal

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Laura Tyson and Glenn Hubbard, former chairmen of the Council of Economic Advisors under U.S.Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush respectively, debate about the need for a second stimulus. What do you think? (Source: Reuters)

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Craig Barrett, chairman of Irish Technology Leadership Group, talks about the U.S. educational system, corporate outsourcing and tax rates. Barrett, the former chief executive officer of Intel Corp., speaks with Margaret Brennan on Bloomberg Television’s “InBusiness.”  (Source: Bloomberg)

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How’s Business?

By Jeff Pett, Fleetwood Group

That used to be such an innocent question.  “How’s business?” was an almost automatic follow up to any introduction between people in the business community.  These days you’re not quite sure if you should go there.

On the other hand, people have gotten a whole lot more open with their personal financial lives, haven’t they?  Who would have talked so openly a few years ago about their financial woes?  I have family and friends who are remarkably candid when it comes to talking about these difficulties.  Misery really does love company.

So how IS your business?  The busiest time of the year is now in the rear view mirror, and for us the April through August time-frame had a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde feel to it.  Our sales took off in April through the first half of June with incoming orders nicely outpacing 2009.  Then they withered about halfway through June and July before going completely anemic in August.  Two weeks into September we are bumping along at about the same pace as last September… which is nothing to write home about.

With midterm elections just seven weeks away, the country isn’t exactly exuding confidence about the future.  Since we all work in a world where money doesn’t get spent on things like new or renovated schools until the public feels good about their ability to pay taxes, it doesn’t look too good for the upcoming “selling season” and laying a good foundation for next summer.  Nor does it look too good for the party in power.  Let’s hope we see something substantial come out of Washington this winter, after the election, that settles down the pace of change, rolls back some of the planned spending surge, and gives people some confidence that our future actually COULD be better than today.

Until that happens, we can expect the answer to the question, “How’s business?” to be: “Pretty anemic.”  Voting matters!

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