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Five Things You Need to Know: "Dire Equities Warning"; Retail Sales; Surviving the Boom; All Malled Out?; Our Friend, The Comma


What you need to know (and what it means)!


Minyanville's daily Five Things You Need to Know to stay ahead of the pack on Wall Street:

1. "Dire Equities Warning"

According to this morning's Financial Times; Ken Murray, a UK fund manager and founder of Blue Planet Investment Management, says he believes a U.S. recession is poised to erase more than 20% from global equities markets.

  • It's a relatively slow financial news and economic data day so this is really making the rounds this morning.
  • Blue Planet specializes in the financial sector with $350 million of assets under management.
  • The firm operated three of the four best performing financial funds in the UK last year, according to figures from Bloomberg.
  • Its Worldwide Financials fund was the best performing investment trust in the UK and the world over the last three years, the Financial Times said.
  • Around 25% of Blue Planet's portfolios are now in cash.
  • Murray, who the FT says began the share sales two weeks ago, said a consumer spending slowdown was already underway in the US.
  • And that brings us to today's Number Two.

2. Retail Sales

Sales at U.S. retailers rose 0.3% over the past week, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers.

  • On a year-over-year basis sales surged 4.9% last week, after rising 4.6% (y-o-y) the week before.
  • The ICSC credited warmer weather and an early Easter for the jump in March sales, and predicted total sales for the month will come in as much as 5% higher than last year, though most likely at the expense of April sales.
  • In a separate report the Redbook same-store sales survey found sales rose 4.7% last week, according to Bloomberg.
  • The ICSC tracks sales at about 60 retail chain stores, representing about 10% of total sales nationwide.
  • The Redbook same-store sales survey tracks general merchandisers representing about 9,000 locations.

3. Surviving the Boom

Every retail sales datapoint these days brings out what we consider THE bullish refrain of this century: Consumer Resiliency.

  • That's all well and good until we think for a moment what the word "resilience" really means.

    Resilience (re·sil·ience) [ri-zil-yuhns, -zil-ee-uhns] - noun
    1. The ability to cope successfully in the face of significant adversity or risk.
    2. Ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.
  • So consumers are valiantly resilient. Sweet.
  • We are, after all, Americans.
  • And isn't this resilience exactly what we should expect after consumers have been forced to endure a 20-year secular bull market, the longest economic expansion in U.S. history and now a sixth year of expanding economic growth with low unemployment, near-record low interest rates, low inflation and a housing boom?
  • Hmm, that doesn't sound like a recipe from which resilience rises now does it?
  • Or perhaps the consumer really is resilient; resilient in the face of an "expanding economy" that is ironically the result of more than 35 years of systemic wealth confiscation and an invisible collapse of purchasing power?
  • The invisibility of this confiscation explains why we all feel so good about having "survived the boom."

4. All Malled Out?

Are were getting all "malled out"?

  • While visiting the ICSC site we stumbled upon this list of large shopping center (AKA: malls) openings from 2005 to present.
  • In 2005 there were 7,034,000 square feet of malls opened.
  • In 2006 this number fell by 50%.
  • This year's scheduled openings have rebounded slightly to 4,040,000, but are still well below the 2005 number.
  • Only 1,200,000 GLA sf are so far scheduled to open in 2008.

5. Our Friend, The Comma

Today, in honor of International Comma Day, we celebrate our friend, the comma.

  • The comma was the first punctuation mark used in language.
  • Aristophanes of Byzantium (not the playwright) is credited with creating the system of accents in the Ancient Greek language which provided the basis for the comma we know today.
  • But it was Aldus Manutius, an Italian printer and creator of the italic typeface, who is widely credited with creating the modern comma.
  • The rules for comma use in the English language are fairly straightforward.
  • Use commas before coordinating conjunctions that join independent clauses, after an introductory adverb clause and most introductory phrases, to separate items in a series and to set off non-restrictive elements and other parenthetical elements.
  • However, usage of the comma is as much a matter of personal style as hard and fast grammatical rules.
  • Commas are helpful in establishing rhythm and are easier for most readers to follow than dashes (--), parentheses (()), or, especially, the comma's weird nephew, the semi-colon (;).
  • Nevertheless, we can fully understand and appreciate that not everyone loves the comma as much as we do.
  • Therefore we have created a comma-free Five Things for the enjoyment of those who dislike the comma.
  • Click here for a totally comma-free Five Things You Need to Know.
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