February 24, 2024


Supportive Business Potential

The busiest economic week of the summer is over: Here’s everything we learned

The busiest economic week of the summer is over: Here’s everything we learned

The impact of these past seven days will reverberate for the next several weeks around the abandoned halls of Wall Street and Washington DC as politicos and investors retreat to the Hamptons or Martha’s Vineyard or wherever they summer
Are we in a recession? It’s hard to say, but hopefully by September the knowledge we gleaned during this treacherous week will be fully absorbed, and our understanding of the US economy will be more clear. 

So what are we working with here? Let’s recap.

  • The Federal Reserve raised interest rates by another 75 basis points. The market expected this move but it was still a historically large hike. The Fed’s actions increased the rate that banks charge each other for overnight borrowing to a range of between 2.25% and 2.50%, the highest since December 2018. 
  • Key inflation gauges showed prices remain elevated. The personal consumption expenditures price index rose 6.8% in June — that’s the biggest 12-month move since January 1982.
  • Consumer spending was higher, which is typically a sign that the economy remains strong. This time, however, the increase is likely due to rising prices, not thickening wallets. Personal consumption expenditures increased 1.1% for the month, above the 0.9% estimate. 
  • The economy shrank for the second quarter in a row. GDP contracted at an annual rate of 0.9%. That decline marks a key symbolic threshold for the most commonly used — albeit unofficial — definition of a recession as two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth.
  • Americans grew more pessimistic about the economy. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index decreased in July for the third straight month. About 43% of 3,000 respondents said they think there’s a greater than 50% chance that the US will fall into a recession in the next 12 months, while just 13% said that in April.
  • Home price growth slowed for the second straight month. Prices in May were still robust, clocking in 19.7% higher compared with the same month last year, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index. But the market is cooling because of higher mortgage rates and concerns about inflation. In April, they grew by 20.6%. 
  • Congress passed a $280 billion package to bolster the domestic chipmaking industry. The bill will increase the production of essential computer chips in the US to prevent future supply chain issues and increase competition with China.
  • Senators Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin reached a $700 billion deal on a sweeping climate, tax and health care bill. The plan includes $370 billion in energy and climate spending, about $300 billion in deficit reduction, subsidies for Affordable Care Act premiums and tax changes.  
  • 170 companies reported second-quarter results including Microsoft (MSFT), Alphabet (GOOG), Meta Platforms (FB), Apple (AAPL), and Amazon (AMZN). Results were mixed, with many companies warning about inflation and slowing growth in the future. Still, markets managed to end the week and month higher. 
That’s a lot to digest. Especially in a very persistent heat wave.

Unfortunately, we do have another data-heavy week before we get a break.

Earnings continue next week with Starbucks (SBUX), Uber (UBER) and Airbnb reporting.

We also expect the release of some important economic data: JOLTs (job openings) unemployment rates, and PMI, a key indicator of US economic activity, are all headed our way. 

So hold off on the swimsuits and SPF for now. Or don’t, and bring the beach to your desk. Vacation is a state of mind right?

Ducati takes on the world

My CNN colleague Jonathan Hawkins recently had the opportunity to sit down with Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali in Misano, Italy, where World Ducati Week drew roughly 80,000 avid fans and owners across three days.

The company, which is owned by Volkswagen, announced Friday that it brought in record revenue of €542 million ($552 million) in the first half of 2022 and boosted operating profits by about 15%.

But the chief of Ducati described a difficult mix of business conditions that have made it harder to meet a surge in demand for bikes.

Supply chain issues since the pandemic have been a “complete nightmare,” Domenicali said.

“It’s been a very complicated mix of everything,” he said, noting that the time it takes to get a container from Asia to Europe has doubled, while closures in China have made it tough to secure necessary parts.

Yet he pushed back on the idea that supply chains should become more localized, noting the pitfalls of reversing decades of globalization.

“When you do business for the whole world, you stay more connected,” Domenicali said.

Amid the uncertainty, the company does have an advantage. The cheap euro, which fell to parity with the US dollar in July for the first time in two decades, benefits exporters like Ducati, since it makes their goods cheaper for foreign customers.

“It’s a help,” Domenicali said, not a problem.

And he said the company, one of Italy’s best-known brands, hasn’t been shaken by the collapse of Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government. Ducati has gotten used to executing its long-term plans without counting on the government, according to Domenicali.

Up next

Monday: ISM Manufacturing PMI (July). 

Tuesday: JOLTs (June); Starbucks, Airbnb & Uber report earnings.

Wednesday: ISM Non-Manufacturing PMI (July). 

Thursday: Weekly initial jobless claims.

Friday: Unemployment rate (June); Berkshire Hathaway reports earnings.