Thursday, March 31, 2011

Walmart CEO sees big inflation coming in June

U.S. consumers face "serious" inflation in the months ahead for clothing, food and other products, the head of Wal-Mart's U.S. operations warned Wednesday.
The world's largest retailer is working with suppliers to minimize the effect of cost increases and believes its low-cost business model will position it better than its competitors.
Still, inflation is "going to be serious," Wal-Mart U.S. CEO Bill Simon said during a meeting with USA TODAY's editorial board. "We're seeing cost increases starting to come through at a pretty rapid rate."
Along with steep increases in raw material costs, John Long, a retail strategist at Kurt Salmon, says labor costs in China and fuel costs for transportation are weighing heavily on retailers. He predicts prices will start increasing at all retailers in June.
"Every single retailer has and is paying more for the items they sell, and retailers will be passing some of these costs along," Long says. "Except for fuel costs, U.S. consumers haven't seen much in the way of inflation for almost a decade, so a broad-based increase in prices will be unprecedented in recent memory."
Consumer prices — or the consumer price index — rose 0.5% in February, the most since mid-2009, largely because of surging food and gasoline prices. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, rose a more modest 0.2%, though that still exceeded estimates.
The scenario hits Wal-Mart as it is trying to return to the low across-the-board prices it became famous for. Some prices rose as the company paid for costly store renovations.
"We're in a position to use scale to hold prices lower longer ... even in an inflationary environment," Simon says. "We will have the lowest prices in the market."
Major retailers such as Wal-Mart are the best positioned to mitigate some cost increases, Long says. Wal-Mart, for example, could have "access to any factory in any country around the globe" to mitigate the effect of inflation in the U.S., Long says.
Still, "it's certainly going to have an impact," Long says. "No retailer is going to be able to wish this new cost reality away. They're not going to be able to insulate the consumer 100%."

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

German Economists Recommend National Jubilees

The idea of Jubilee is common sense beyond doubt.  By cancelling debt loads, economies can recover.   The overwhelming approval of the German economics professors confirms it.  
On the larger issue: the idea that sovereign nations need to take out debt is odious.  It is just a trick, a hidden income transfer from the workers of the nation to the banking parasites. 
Nationalization of credit is a sovereign power.  Unfortunately, it has been abdicated in our modern world to the international banking class.   In effect, national governments exist to fund the banking class.  The "floating debt" is a permanent tax paid by the people to the banking elites, who do NOTHING whatsoever of economic value for the country in turn. 
Here is the article:
Almost 200 German economics professors have signed a declaration rejecting current proposals to resolve the eurozone debt crisis, instead calling for a way for distressed countries to declare bankruptcy.

Instead of the collective support mechanism set up last year that could be made permanent in a modified form from 2013, the economists argued it would be better to let countries restructure their debts.

"Restructuring allows the countries concerned to reduce their debt and start over," said the economists.