iPhone sales distort September retail sales numbers
Economists are forecasting that September retail sales forecasts to be released on Monday will show that sales rose 0.7 percent from August. That would be a deceleration from August’s 0.9 percent growth, according to the Wall Street Journal. But the numbers may be even more confusing due to the debut of the iPhone 5 on September 21. It may have skewed the month’s numbers in two ways. The sale of five million units in the first weekend alone is likely to impact overall sales results. It will also be magnified by seasonal adjustment factors that make the numbers larger. Generally, September is a slow month for technology sales and therefore a spike will be weighted more heavily. It is likely that the iPhone sales diverted some revenue from other retailers. Department stores reported lagging growth. Therefore, expect some skepticism regarding September retail sales. The Dow was up 2.46 points on Friday, closing at 13,323. Asian markets were mixed on Monday while European markets are mostly positive.
Defense Secretary Panetta calls bank cyber attacks “unprecedented”
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says that the recent string of cyber attacks on some of the largest US banks may foreshadow more destructive digital assaults on the nation’s critical infrastructure in the future. The American Banker reports that at least nine banks have seen their online banking services stall intermittently since September as a result of attackers. Capital One, SunTrust and Regents have been the most recent targets. Bank of America, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, PNC and US Bancorp have also been targets. Panetta is urging Congress to tackle legislation to find ways to prevent against cyber attacks. The banking industry is urging the government to work jointly with the banks.
Despite increased US oil production, prices remain high at the pumps
The Wall Street Journal reports that US crude production is expected to rise 12 percent this year and 8 percent in 2013 when it will hit the highest level since 1993. But global prices continue to drive crude oil prices and those costs have increased 7 percent in 2012. Part of the challenge is that oil being pumped out of North Dakota is landlocked and the pipelines and infrastructure still needs to be built. While eventually the ability to effectively distribute the oil may help lower prices, currently only those in the Midwest are seeing any benefit from the new oil production.
Feds close to filing antitrust lawsuit against Google
Federal regulators are close to suing Google over allegations that the company abuses its dominance of internet search to stifle competition and drive up online advertising prices, according to USAToday. A majority of five FTC commissioners would have to approve the lawsuit before it could be filed. The probe was triggered by complaints that Google features its peripheral services closer to the top in search results and relegates offerings from rivals lower on pages. The FTC is also investigating whether Google rigs search results to make some websites pay higher fees. Google stock fell more than $6 per share on Friday.
Many small community banks could be in trouble
The American Banker reports that hundreds of community banks are in danger of falling short of the stricter capital requirements under the proposed Basel III standards. In a recent stress test performed of banks with $1 billion of assets or less, 700 banks failed the test. Many were in hot spots of recent bank failures including Florida, Illinois and Georgia. The test was performed by a private organization and the names of the banks that failed were not released. This test should make capital planning a top priority for smaller banks.
Shortage of skilled workers not severe
Last summer a survey by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute indicated that there was a deficit of skilled workers at about 600, 000. USA Today cites a new report by Boston Consulting Group that indicates the shortage of skilled workers is much less severe at about 80,000 to 100,000. The greatest shortage is in welders, machinists, and mechanics. The BCG report indicates that the larger issue is that manufacturers simply are more selective than usual and aren’t willing to pay a competitive wage. Fifty eight percent of manufacturing and engineering jobs remain open three to six months. Manufacturers simply are not in a hurry to fill positions due to the weak economy.
Amphibious vehicles to go on sale in US
The Quadski, a one person all terrain vehicle that doubles as a personal watercraft, will be the first high speed commercially available amphibious vehicle to go on sale in the US. According to the Associated Press, the vehicle will go on sale by the end of this year for $40,000. The Quadski can go up to 45 mph on land and more than 10 mph on water. The New Zealand based Gibb Sports Amphibians spent more than $200 million and nine prototypes to develop the vehicle. The Quadski comes in five colors.
Catherine S. McBreen is President of Millionaire Corner. McBreen plans and develops content for Millionaire Corner. Catherine balances editorial content to meet the informational needs of both new and seasoned investors. She designs special monthly surveys on topical issues affecting the economic environment.
McBreen has a B.S. in speech communications from Northwestern University and a J.D. from DePail University College of Law. She is a member of the American Bar Association, the Illinois Bar Association, and the Chicago Bar Association.
Well-known for her expertise in the affluent and retirement arenas, McBreen is a frequent speaker at industry conferences. She has been quoted widely by the financial media, including The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Research, Private Asset Management, On Wall Street, Reuters, Bloomberg News, The Dow Jones Newswires and Worth. Cathy has appeared as a guest on CNBC Closing Bell, First Business Morning News, Neal Cavuto at Fox Business News, ABC and CBS radio.
McBreen is co-author with Spectrem President George H. Walper, Jr. of the book "Get Rich, Stay Rich, Pass It On: The Wealth-Accumulation Secrets of America's Richest Families" (Portfolio, January 2008)
Catherine is the mother of four and is involved in many school and community events.