What a difference a tranche makes, amiright?! That is, fresh data has informed the data-based Federal Reserve about inflation, interest rate hikes and the labor market.
Back in December, the macroeconomy showed a bit of softening when it comes to consumer spending and hiring – both are huge legs on our economic stool. (We’ll get to the other legs on that stool in a bit.)
Well, January and February reversed those soft numbers when labor and spending came in hot. Like … way hot. Fed Chair Jay Powell took to Capitol Hill for his legally required, semi-annual testimony where he parses actual fact from wannabe policy or other political bloviating.
The other happening this week for the end-user consumer and macroeconomics is the now-stalled Jet Blue/Spirit Airlines merger. The Biden administration is stepping up its legal maneuvering when it comes to mergers and acquisitions, with an increase of such legal work about 120 percent more than last year. Regulation to protect consumers is a plank for the administration – as well as President Biden’s reelection efforts.
The airline industry and the (wait for it …) grocery industry have striking similarities: slim profit margins; high overhead costs; labor union considerations; heavy price competition. That means the already filed legalities around Kroger and Albertson’s merging will stay on the mind of consumers, investors and corporate board members for a while.
For Southern Californians, the cost of natural gas remains a concern for small businesses, as well as household-budget arbiters. The public hearings for SoCal Gas’ rate increase (which is irrespective of the huge spike in costs due to winter weather) are ongoing. That said … the likelihood of the $8.23/mo increase, on average, for every house with a natural gas line is likely to pass.
Turning attention to the back burner of policy potentials is Social Security. There’s a bipartisan proposal to not only encourage people to belay their taking of benefits, but to also make this push a paper-based, tree-killing affair. Granted, recipients of a certain age may be more accustomed to mailings and physical paper but, really?
Perhaps a few extra notifications via USPS makes sense, but there’s a reason the economy is based not only on consumer activity, but that most of that activity is also based in the digital world. Like, just a stab: email?
As for policy: is everyone paying their fair share into the cumulative, popularly funded trust fund that actually is Social Security?
Next week we will evaluate the fallout from the epic fail of Silicon Valley Bank. Even if you don’t know where Silicon Valley is, the ripples from this failure will resound in banking, economics and politics – worldwide.
Finally, some other reference links: