The Market Ticker
Commentary on The Capital Markets- Category [Consumer]

Oh here we go again...

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) declined 0.7 percent in January on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index decreased 0.1 percent before seasonal adjustment.

The energy index fell 9.7 percent as the gasoline index fell 18.7 percent in January, the sharpest in a series of seven consecutive declines. The gasoline decrease was overwhelmingly the cause of the decline in the all items index, which would have risen 0.1 percent had the gasoline index been unchanged. The fuel oil index also fell sharply, and the index for natural gas turned down, although the electricity index rose. The food index was unchanged in January, with the food at home index falling for the first time since May 2013.

The market didn't like this report very much.

But the real news is inside, as it usually is.

The so-called "food at home" index is allegedly only up 0.3% over the last year.  Uh huh.

Well, if that's true I should be able to find some very large negative numbers in the subset components, because there are some really big positive ones in the sub-table that details various sorts of uncooked foods.  Specifically, these annual change figures:

 by tickerguy

So where are all the big negative numbers -- with large weightings -- to balance those out?

"Food at home" is listed as being 8.4% of your spending to start with -- that's it's "weight" in the total tables and IMHO is laughable for lower and lower-middle income families.  Meat, poultry, fish and eggs are 2% of the total (or close to a quarter of your food spending.)  In order for all "Food at home" to be up only 0.3% annually, well.... you do the math when meats are listed as about 15% of your basket and are up 12.6% annualized.

The lies found in the headline claims are often disclosed in the detailed data that follows, if you bother to read it. smiley

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This is outrageous, and details exactly how far down the rabbit hole we've gone -- and how far you have let it go.

That means when you search for “cold sores,” for instance, and click the highly ranked “Cold Sores Topic Overview WebMD” link, the website is passing your request for information about the disease along to one or more (and often many, many more) other corporations.

If you think it's just being used for advertising, you're dead wrong.

Among the places your search string, the IP address you're coming from, and quite-possibly (in fact, likely if you use social media) a tracking ID that is probably able to uniquely identify you are sent include data brokers -- such as Experian.

Yes, the same Experian that handles credit reporting.

What's even worse is that non-profit government entities like the CDC are linking this sort of information as well!

I took a quick look around WebMD.  I didn't find a direct link back to Experian, but I did find a whole host of analytic and advertising callbacks -- including some that have no direct home page and thus I cannot determine exactly what they claim to be doing with the information sent to them.  I suspect that a bit more digging would find the nastygram.

If you think this is isn't a problem you're not very bright.  Once this data is sent out it never goes away, and since it belongs to the site that acquires it they're free to sell it -- after all, you intentionally and willfully gave it up!

Welcome to the United States of Scamerica.

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2015-02-23 12:05 by Karl Denninger
in Consumer , 1614 references

There has been no "recovery."

According to a survey released Monday by of more than 1,000 adults, 37% of Americans have credit card debt that equals or exceeds their emergency savings. “These numbers mean that three out of every eight Americans are teetering on the edge of financial disaster” — thanks to the fact that many of these folks might be hard-pressed to pay for an emergency should one arise, says Greg McBride,’s chief financial analyst. 


I've pointed this out many times.  A huge percentage of the population has revolving debt that they cannot get rid of should the need arise, and revolving credit lines are subject to being reduced to the outstanding balance at any time without warning, shutting down further credit access.

This means that one financial emergency, even a relatively-minor one, can lead to instantaneous disaster.

These events happen all the time; most people have something of this general nature happen about once a year!

Unexpected car repairs are utterly common.  I just had one, in fact -- my truck blew a tire and the wear was such that the proper thing to do was to replace all four.  Now I knew these tires were not in great shape, but nonetheless I didn't get to choose when I bought them.

I had the cash.  Do you?

Similarly, I have a family member that just had their washing machine blow up.  $400 later all is well, but.... do you have it?

Credit cards that are not paid off every single month in full are financial poison.

PS: How much federal debt is there? And how much tax income does the government get every year?  Yeah, there is that too.... wake up Boobus Americanus; the nation is bankrupt and spending yourself into bankruptcy does not help either you or the country, nor is continuing to demand from government that which you won't pay for a useful or productive enterprise.

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2015-02-12 09:12 by Karl Denninger
in Consumer , 413 references

Ok, now this is a pretty nasty report...

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for January, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $439.8 billion, a decrease of 0.8 percent (±0.5%) from the previous month, but up 3.3 percent (±0.9%) above January 2014. Total sales for the November 2014 through January 2015 period were up 3.8 percent (±0.7%) from the same period a year ago. The November to December 2014 percent change was unrevised from -0.9 percent (±0.3%).


What's worse is the unadjusted numbers.  Keep in mind that there's this holiday called Christmas in December, but....

Retail, total, was down about 21% unadjusted.  But what's worse is the lie in the above caption -- previous-year comparisons.  The unadjusted January figures were up only 2.85% from January 2014, and if you exclude cars it was only up 1.41%.  Incidentally, ex-autos sales were down 24% sequentially.

You don't need a seasonal adjustment for the same month in different years!

There was one bright light -- gasoline, which was down big (24%).  But the claim that this drop in gas price would translate inexorably to other purchases appears to be flat-out wrong.  Instead, consumers are paying down debt and reducing their leverage -- except on cars.

One final interesting point -- non-store retailers were only up 2.57% from last January.  It appears that the "internet shopping craze" has finished its large growth numbers; this has an interesting set of implications for everyone selling and marketing on the Internet, particularly Spamazon.

PS: People are getting drunk more -- to the tune of 13.1% more over last January.  Gee, I wonder if the lies are finally getting to ordinary folks......

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Here comes (much) higher auto insurance rates... and this should result in heavy consumer-protection related prosecuting aimed at carmakers -- but it won't.

If you own a new car, there's a good chance that it features some form of keyless security. Whether it helps unlock your car or lets you start it with the push of a button, it makes driving all that bit easier. That's unless it's the reason your car gets stolen. Police forces all over the UK are reporting a rise in keyless car thefts, but a new report released by the Metropolitan Police today suggests that it now accounts for over a quarter of all vehicle thefts across London.

How are they getting in the door?

The claim is that they're breaking in physically and then accessing the ECU via the OBD port, allowing cloning of the key.  I'm not sure I'm buying that, although with some vehicles it is probably possible.

Specifically, it is known that certain older VWAG vehicles can have their cluster broken into via a piece of software that is available from various places in China.  This results in returning the "secret key" necessary to program new keys into the cluster, and then Bob's Your Uncle.

I think it's reasonable to assume that our "friends" with "most-favored nation" status over in China have this software for other makes as well.  In fact, I'd bet on it.

But the simplest way to steal a car with so-called "advanced keys", that is those that you don't have to press a button on a fob to unlock the doors and which has keyless start, is as trivial a paired set of radios and a confederate that gets close enough to you (5' or so) to be able to excite your key in your pocket while his "buddy" stands outside your car's door and pulls the handle.  The car thinks the key is next to it and the key thinks the car is next to it; they transmit their coded handshake and voila!

Next said thief sits in the car and hits START.  Same thing -- the key talks to the car, the car starts.  So long as you don't turn it off you can drive it.

The ugly part of this is that the frequencies aren't secret -- nor can they be, since the fobs and the cars are both intentional transmitters and thus have to operate on specific authorized frequencies.  The coding can be secret but that doesn't matter since you don't need to break the code -- just make the key think it's next to the car and vice-versa.

I'll lay odds this is how they're being stolen and it's why when I bought mine I was ok with keyless start but not with a fob that didn't require a press of the button to unlock the doors.

If you have to bust the glass to get in, or use an airbag or other conspicuous tool, it gets a lot harder and greatly increases the amount of time that the confederate has to be near me while the other guy works my car over before he can start it and drive off.

This is what your "convenience" has gotten you folks -- a car that is trivial to rip off for anyone with a modicum of technical ability.


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