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Monday 01.30.2017

Starbucks pledges to hire 10,000 refugees

Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz outlined the company's plan in a memo sent to employees Sunday in response to President Trump's executive order banning travel from seven Muslim majority countries.

"We are living in an unprecedented time," Schultz wrote in the memo, which listed several actions the company says it is taking to "reinforce our belief in our partners around the world." The refugee hiring proposal, Schultz wrote, will begin with a focus on people who have served with U.S. troops as interpreters and support personnel.

Schultz also reiterated Starbucks' (SBUX) support for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which helps undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children get driver's licenses, enroll in college and secure jobs. The program was created by President Obama through an executive order in 2012.

And Schultz said the company is "ready to help and support our Mexican customers, partners and their families" should any proposed trade sanctions, immigration restrictions and taxes affect their businesses. "We are in business to inspire and nurture the human spirit, one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time," Schultz wrote. "That will not change. You have my word on that."

UBS asked 2,000 Americans if their loan applications were 'completely accurate and factual,' and the results are worrying

Every few months, UBS asks a group of about 2,100 consumers in the US about the state of their finances. The survey includes questions about consumers' level of financial stress and how likely they are to default on a loan. And, in the first three weeks of December, it asked a new question: How honest are your loan applications?

"We asked respondents who had taken out mortgage and consumer (student, auto or credit card) loans about the factual accuracy of their loan applications," Matthew Mish and Stephen Caprio said in a note.

The findings are slightly worrying. Here's Mish and Caprio again: "Across all consumers we find 80% and 78% of mortgage and consumer borrowers, respectively, indicated their information was completely accurate and factual. For comparison, 66% of consumers more likely to default stated their application was completely accurate and factual. For mortgage loan inaccuracies specifically, inflated assets (32%), underreported debt (24%), underreported expenses (21%) and inflated income (19%) were cited."

Put another way, 20% of all mortgage borrowers said their loan information wasn't completely accurate and factual or said they'd rather not say, with this number increasing to a third of those most likely to default.

John Williams-Dollar Faces Death Knell

Every Year, Regulations Cost Small Business Manufacturers Over $30K Per Employee: JPMorgan

Hours after President Donald Trump’s inauguration Jan. 20, the White House imposed a moratorium on new federal regulations and ordered heads of federal agencies and departments to identify “job-killing regulations that should be repealed.” Some media have dismissed the move as a routine part of presidential transitions but it is possible even investors may have underestimated its impact.

That’s what Michael Cembalest, chairman of market and investment strategy at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, believes. In the Eye on the Market newsletter, issued Jan. 23, wrote:

“At this point, markets may be over-estimating the magnitude of some Trump initiatives, or under-estimating the time it will take to enact them (corporate and personal tax reform, infrastructure spending); under-estimating the risks of trade disputes and tariffs; but also under-estimating the benefits of deregulation,” he wrote.

Cembalest believes Trump’s deregulation – or even a slower pace of government regulation – would benefit the corporate sector over the medium term after heightened oversight under President Obama. With nearly 500 new regulations, the regulatory pace of the last eight years substantially exceeded that of Obama’s two predecessors. The SEC, EPA, and the Department of Energy among sectors with impact of over $100 million each.

Are Starbucks 15,000 American Stores Too Few?

Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX), according to its 10-K had 15,607 owned and licensed stores in what its calls “Americas” against a total worldwide of 25,085 as of October 2, 2016. Based on recent comments about delays in service due to store traffic, that count may be too low, at least in terms of customers service and store traffic.

Starbucks has opened stores in the Americas region at a brisk pace. According to its most recent earnings statement:

Net revenues for the Americas segment were $4.0 billion in Q1 FY17, an increase of 7% over Q1 FY16. The increase was driven by incremental revenues from 884 net new store openings over the past 12 months and 3% growth in comparable store sales.

Despite this grow, overall earnings for the company were considered inadequate particularly for its most recent fiscal quarter, which ended January 1.

Dow Companies Report Worst Revenues since 2010, Dow Rises to 20,000

Wall Street hocus-pocus has done an awesome job. The Dow-20,000 hats have come out of the drawer after an agonizingly long wait that had commenced in early December with the Dow Jones Industrial Average tantalizingly close to the sacred number before the selling started all over again

What a ride it has been. From the beginning of 2011 through January 27, 2017, so a little more than six years, the DJIA has soared 73%, from 11,577 to 20,094. Glorious!!

But when it comes to revenues of the 30 Dow component companies – a reality that is harder to doctor than ex-bad-items adjusted earnings-per-share hyped by Wall Street – the picture turns morose.

The 30 Dow component companies represent the leaders of their industries. They’re among the largest, most valuable, most iconic American companies. And they’re periodically booted out to accommodate a changed world.

Things Just Got Serious in Europe’s War on Cash

The central authorities in Europe just launched their most important offensive to date in their multiyear War on Cash. The new move comes directly from the European Union’s executive branch, the European Commission, which just announced its intention to “explore the relevance of potential upper limits to cash payments,” with a view to implementing cross-regional measures in 2018.

Maximum limits on cash transactions already exist in most European countries, and the general trend is downward. Last year, Spain joined France in placing a €1,000 maximum on cash payments. Greece went one better, dropping its cap for cash transactions from €1,500 to €500. In simple terms, any legal purchase of a good or service over €500 will need to be done with plastic or mobile money.

In some countries, the maximum cash limit is significantly higher. For example, in Europe’s biggest economy, Germany, recent attempts by the government to set a threshold of €5,000 triggered a fierce public backlash. The German tabloid Bild published a scathing open letter titled “Hands Off Our Cash,” while a broad spectrum of political parties condemned the proposed measures as an attack on data protection and privacy.

“Cash allows us to remain anonymous during day-to-day transactions. In a constitutional democracy, that is a freedom that has to be defended,” tweeted the Green MP Konstantin von Notz. Even Bunderbank President Jens Weidmann criticized the government’s proposals, telling Bild (emphasis added): “It would be fatal if citizens got the impression that cash is being gradually taken away from them.”

Kmart Lays Off More Employees, Turns Sales Floor Into Big Pile Of Boxes

The apparent inescapable death spiral of Sears continued last week when the retailer laid off an unspecified number of full-time employees from its Kmart stores.

Business Insider confirmed the layoffs, noting that the ousted employees were full-time managers or department heads in charge of driving, backrooms, and customer-facing services at stores across the country.

A spokesman for the company, who declined to say how many people were affected by the layoff, tells Business Insider that not all Kmart stores were affected by the cuts.

“Eliminating positions is never an easy decision to make, and we don’t take it lightly as we recognize the valuable contributions affected associates make to the company,” spokesman Howard Riefs said. Citing two anonymous Kmart workers, Business Insider reports that nearly 800 stores were affected by the cuts.

President Trump's 'extreme vetting' efforts face backlash

Anti-Trump protesters are refusing to use Uber

Disgusted Uber customers are deleting the ride-sharing app in droves after learning that the company defied Saturday’s taxi strike at JFK Airport, which was aimed at protesting Trump’s newest controversial immigration policy.

The New York Taxi Workers Alliance had asked drivers to protest Trump’s agenda — effectively a ban on Muslims entering the U.S.– by not picking up fares at the airport Saturday night.

Yet Uber continued to not only send its drivers, it turned off its surge pricing in a attempt to drum up more business. “Taxis striking at JFK against Muslim ban. Uber, whose CEO advises Trump, breaking the strike, supporting the ban. Delete delete delete,’’ Meredith Whittaker tweeted last night, referencing Uber head honcho Travis Kalanick, who sits on Trump’s board.

“Just deleted #uber. Going 2 be using #Lyft, since I like their integrity,” Twitter user Rapunzel chimed in Sunday morning. “If you take Trump’s money, u support the fascist pig. #deleteuber.” The livery app Lyft also remained operational during the period.

Baltimore City schools Prepared To Lay Off 1,000 Employees

As a way to close a $130 million budget gap, Baltimore City schools are gearing up to lay off more than 1,000 employees, according to a report from The Baltimore Sun.

Baltimore City schools are bleeding money and historic cuts are coming. Possibly more than 100,000 layoffs. The City schools’ CEO says that includes teachers. Teachers’ Union President Marietta English tells WJZ it’s all news to her.

“There was never a mention of layoffs or furloughs or any of that until yesterday,” says English. “We don’t need to lose one person to a layoff. It doesn’t do anything to help the city. It’s not going to help our children at all.”

Other threatened cuts are school closures, program cuts–like art and career preparation and dramatic increases in class sizes. Some city taxpayers are outraged. “That is a horrible idea that kids in City schools are already strapped for actual good education,” says Tezhina Bradely.

New Puerto Rico governor signs fiscal emergency law

Puerto Rico's governor signed a law on Sunday that allows him to define essential government services and set aside money to pay for them, setting the vision of how to prioritize a mountain of obligations the struggling U.S. territory cannot afford.

Governor Ricardo Rossello, sworn in this month, signed the Puerto Rico Financial Emergency and Fiscal Responsibility Law, replacing a moratorium on debt payments by ex-Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla that had been unpopular with many bondholders.

The new law allows Rossello to define which services are essential to health, safety and welfare, and set aside money in a "lockbox" to ensure their payment. Under the law, the island will try to pay as much of its $70 billion in debt as possible after payment of services.

The law itself does not create policy, but authorizes Rossello to make decisions through executive orders expected in the coming weeks, as the island tries to pull itself out of an economic crisis. In addition to its debt, Puerto Rico faces a 45 percent poverty rate, near-insolvent public health and pension systems, and unemployment more than twice the U.S. average.

Why Is America So Rich?

Why the American working class is more conservative than the rest of the world

One of the great unsolved mysteries of politics that routinely perplexes pseudo-intellectuals and academics is why has the American working class refused to embrace socialism to the same extent as their European and Latin American brethren?

In the typical fashion of the ivory tower intelligentsia, scapegoats were conceived. They claim the proletariat revolution never spread to these shores not because of the economic and political destitution of socialism, but because the American working class bought into the great and evil capitalist lie.

What is this lie? Well, it can be best explained by American author and alleged communist sympathizer, John Steinbeck, who said, "Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires."

This is the patronizing progressive mindset that in modern parlance characterizes working class voters as "too stupid to know what's good for them" and, thus, its members must be told what to think and believe. For generations, the Left has paraded this line of thought as an excuse for their own failure to win over the hearts and minds of the American public. Modern Pelosi-Democrats carried on this great tradition in the aftermath of Donald Trump's upset victory in the presidential election. But this contemptuous attitude was not born overnight.

These are the largest employers in the U.S. — state by state

If you are in the market for a job and you don’t know where to start, this map might come in handy.

Olivet Nazarene University earlier this month published an infographic that showed who employed the most people in each state. Their data showed that retailers, universities and healthcare companies were among the biggest employers.

“Here in the United States of America, many of us are told that we can be whatever we want to be. But do you ever wonder what most of us end up becoming? Where do most Americans work — in business, healthcare, manufacturing or retail? And for whom?” the university said in a report.

The Bourbonnais, Illinois-based university set out to answer those questions and concluded that there are distinct regional trends. The West Coast and the Northwest were more diverse, with the largest employers varying from the University of California in California to MGM Grand MGM,in Nevada and Boeing Co. BA, in Washington. On the East Coast, healthcare dominated in Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The military was also a big employer in several states, including Hawaii and Alask

‘Abandoned’ Texas Walmart to reopen as shelter for illegal minors

According to a Southwest Key Program spokesperson, an abandoned Walmart building located in Brownsville Texas will be the home for children under the age of 18 who have entered the country via the southern border unaccompanied by a guardian.

The Office of Refugees Resettlement (ORR) is funding the program which helps reunite illegal minors with a relative or sponsor inside the United States.

The shelter marks the fourth of its kind in Brownsville and the seventh in the county as the numbers of unaccompanied children entering the U.S. have skyrocketed over the past few years and according to numbers posted on the ORR’s official website, since early 2003 the “ORR has cared for more than 175,000 children” in total.

The ORR maintains that “unaccompanied children apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) immigration officials are transferred to the care and custody of ORR” and claims that the “ORR promptly places an unaccompanied child in the least restrictive setting that is in the best interests of the child, taking into consideration danger to self, danger to the community, and risk of flight.”

Sheriff blasts mayors who vow to harbor illegal immigrants

California files Petition to Secede from USA – CALEXIT

A proposal for California to secede from the United States was actually submitted to the Secretary of State’s Office this week. The proposed “CALEXIT” proposition plans to ask voters to repeal part of the state constitution that declares California an inseparable part of the USA. Recent polls found that one in three California residents want to separate from the USA because they are opposed to Trump.

If the proposal qualifies for the ballot, then Californians will get to vote to leave. It is very clear that Trump DID WIN THE POPULAR VOTE outside of California where Hillary was nearly 4.3 million more votes over Trump. That means CNN had Hillary Clinton winning a popular vote margin over Donald Trump with totals of 65,788,583 to 62,955,363 respectively, a margin of approximately 2.8 million votes.

Biased reports admit this is true, but they then twist it and say that is irrelevant since that is not how it works. One site says it wouldn’t be an issue if she hadn’t also amassed enough votes all the other states to make that outcome possible.

That is really clouding the issue. If the election were decided by popular vote, then taking out California changes everything. Those who say Trump is not a legitimate president because of the popular vote counting California, are also way off the mark. The simple point is California moves to a different beat.

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