American retailers already announced 6,000 store closures this year. That's more than all of last year
By Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN Business
Updated 1:27 PM ET, Tue April 16, 2019
New York (CNN Business)America has too many stores.
This year, US retailers have announced that 5,994 stores will close. That number already exceeds last year's total of 5,864 closure announcements, according to a recent report from Coresight Research.
Bankruptcies in the retail sector are piling up and chains have aggressively closed under-performing stores. That has led to an uptick in store closures this year.
Payless, Gymboree, Charlotte Russe and Shopko have all filed for bankruptcy this year and will close a combined 3,720 stores, according to the report. The majority of those are because of Payless, which filed for its second bankruptcy in February and said at the time it would shutter 2,100 stores in the United States.
Other retailers, such as Family Dollar, GNC (GNC), Walgreens (WBA), Signet Jewelers (SIG), Victoria's Secret and JCPenney (JCP), are struggling and are shrinking their store footprints to save money.
Family Dollar will close 359 stores this year, while Signet Jewelers, the parent company of mall stalwarts Kay, Jared and Zales, will close 159.
Even thriving retailers such as Target (TGT)and Walmart (WMT) are quietly closing a handful of their stores — although those companies are opening some, too. And department stores such as Nordstrom (JWN), Kohl's (KSS) and Macy's (M) are shuttering a few stores each.
Thousands more store closings could be on the way in the coming years as online shopping replaces purchases at physical stores.
"The flood of store closures will likely continue for quite some time," said Coresight Research CEO Deborah Weinswig.
Hundreds of old Sears stores are empty. Amazon and Whole Foods might move in
Online sales make up around 16% of retail sales today, but they will rise to 25% by 2026, UBS analysts estimated in a research report last week.
That could force up to 75,000 stores to close by 2026, including more than 20,000 clothing stores and about 10,000 consumer electronics stores, UBS estimates. Thousands of home furnishings and sporting goods stores will also need to close as online shopping grows rapidly.
Some retailers are opening stores, though. The Coresight report noted that this year, retailers have announced they will open 2,641 stores. The discount sector in particular is growing: Dollar General announced it will open 975 stores this year.
Meanwhile, eccentric discount chains like Ollie's Bargain Outlet (OLLI) and Five Below (FIVE) are expanding. Discount grocers Aldi and Lidl also plan to open hundreds of stores in the United States to reach customers who are shopping for cheap groceries.
Worried a recession is coming, U.S. online lenders reduce risk
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. online lenders such as LendingClub Corp, Kabbage Inc and Avant LLC are scrutinizing loan quality, securing long-term financing and cutting costs, as executives prepare for what they fear could be the sector’s first economic downturn. A recession could bring escalating credit losses, liquidity crunch and higher funding costs, testing business models in a relatively nascent industry.
Peer-to-peer and other digital lenders sprouted up largely after the Great Recession of 2008. Unlike banks, which tend to have lower-cost and more stable deposits, online lenders rely on market funding that can be harder to come by in times of stress.
Their underwriting methods also often include analysis of non-traditional data, such as education level of borrowers. While platforms see that as a strength, it has yet to be tested in times of crisis.
“This is very top of mind for us,” LendingClub Chief Executive Officer Scott Sanborn said in an interview, referring to the possibility of a recession. “It’s not a question of ‘if,’ it’s ‘when,’ and it’s not five years away.”
Sanborn and executives at some half a dozen other online lenders who spoke to Reuters said worsening economic indicators and forecasts have made them more cautious. Their worries are the latest sign that fears a U.S. downturn is nigh are growing. Economists polled by Reuters in March saw a 25 percent chance of U.S. recession over the next 12 months. More recently, some executives said, a Federal Reserve decision to halt interest rate hikes reinforced those fears.
A downturn is also far from certain. On Friday, JPMorgan Chase & Co, the country’s largest bank by assets, eased fears of a recession after it posted better-than-expected quarterly profits driven by what it described as solid U.S. economic growth.
In February, LendingClub, one of the pioneers of peer-to-peer lending, offered growth projections for 2019 that fell short of Wall Street expectations, partly a sign of growing caution. LendingClub does not provide loans directly to consumers but earns fees by connecting borrowers and investors on its online marketplace.
Sanborn said the company has gotten more stringent about credit standards for borrowers on its platform and is attracting investors with broader risk appetites in case the more cautious participants pull back.
It is also outsourcing more of its back-office operations and relocating some staff to Utah from San Francisco to reduce expenses, he said.
SoFI, an online lender that refinances student loans and then securitizes them, has been focusing on making its portfolio more profitable, even if that may mean lower origination volumes, CEO Anthony Noto told reporters in late-February.
“We have been waiting for the next recession to happen for the past five years,” said Kathryn Petralia, co-founder and president of the Atlanta based Kabbage. “More people feel confident that it’s imminent.”
Imminent Recession Risk "Doubled" - 3 Signals Sounding The Alarm
ZeroHedge.com Sat, 04/13/2019 - 13:15
Authored by Alt-Market's Brandon Smith, originally published at Birch Gold Group,
It’s been more than 10 years since the last economic recession. Since the U.S. economy generally operates in cycles, it looks like the time is drawing near for another. In fact, late last year the Dow Jones took a dive, but that was likely just an appetizer for the course to come…
A recent piece from Bloomberg reported the risk of a recession has “more than doubled this year as leading economic indicators deteriorate, the yield curve inverts and monetary policy tightens,” referencing a note by Guggenheim Partners.
And, according to CIO Scott Minerd, it appears the next recession could last longer than the previous one (emphasis ours):
The next recession will not be as severe as the last one, but it could be more prolonged than usual because policymakers at home and abroad have limited tools to fight the downturn…
Guggenheim oversees $200 billion as an investment banking firm. They issued this dire warning along with major concerns about corporate debt, a severe stock market drop, and uncertainty about the Fed.
Debt, Yield Curve Inversion & QE Signaling Recession Risk
We’ve previously reported that U.S. National, corporate, and consumer debt are at all-time highs. This dangerous “debt trifecta” has even gotten the attention of several billionaires.
Rising national debt currently tops $22 trillion. Corporate debt topped $6 trillion at the end of 2018. And the “ATM” of consumer debt has hit $4 trillion. Americans are tapped out. Combined together, this signal alone should sound recession alarms.
But this is just one of multiple major warning signs…
The yield curve is dangerously close to inverting at only 16 basis points between 2- and 10-year treasuries. What’s even more troubling is yield curve inversion has preceded every major recession over the last 50 years.
The third big warning sign comes from the Federal Reserve. They used Quantitative Easing (QE) to help bring the economy out of the depths of the last recession. But right now that process is going in reverse. In other words, they are sucking hundreds of billions of dollars out of the banking system in a process called Quantitative Tightening.
The Fed said they would stop unwinding QE in September. But for now, Wolf Richter reports this unwinding process is still on “autopilot” at $535 billion and counting.
So let’s review our recession risk:
Diversify Your Risk So It Doesn’t “Double”
These economic indicators will continue to develop, and it’s safe to assume it will result in plenty of uncertainty in the markets.
You don’t have to let a volatile market hit your retirement the way it did to so many people in our last recession. You can start taking action now to protect your savings.
Having a diversified portfolio with assets known for their protection during uncertain times is a strategic way to protect your retirement. Holding assets such as physical gold and silver could prevent your retirement savings from suffering the consequences of being overexposed to the risk of the markets.
GAO: Current Federal Fiscal Situation Is 'Unsustainable'
America will face "serious economic, security, and social challenges" if the national debt keeps growing at this rate.
Eric Boehm Reason.com Apr. 11, 2019 11:55 am
Just hours after Congress postponed a budget vote because lawmakers wanted even more spending, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a 67-page report warning of the "serious economic, security, and social challenges" that will face this country unless immediate action is taken to bring the national debt under control.
The share of debt held by the public currently stands at about 78 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), a shorthand measure of a country's economic output in a single year. The GAO estimates that it is on track to surpass the all-time high of 106 percent of GDP within the next 13 to 20 years. (The numbers are actually worse than that, because "debt held by the public" accounts for only $15.8 trillion of the $21 trillion national debt. The rest is held by parts of the federal government, such as the Social Security trust fund.)
Government Accountability Office
Tax revenue increased by $14 billion during fiscal year 2018, which ended on September 30. But that increase was buried beneath a $127 billion jump in spending.
Federal policy makers "face a federal government highly leveraged in debt by historical norms and on an unsustainable long-term fiscal path caused by an imbalance between revenue and spending that is built into current law and policy," the GAO says in a letter to President Donald Trump and congressional leaders that accompanied the new report. "Decisions in the near term to enhance economic growth and address national priorities need to be accompanied by a long-term fiscal plan to put the federal government on a sustainable long-term path. This is essential to ensure that the United States remains in a strong economic position to meet its security and social needs, as well as to preserve flexibility to address unforeseen events."
The White House produced a budget plan earlier this year that called for hiking Pentagon spending while cutting non-military discretionary spending by 9 percent. Even with overly rosy assumptions about future economic growth, this budget would effectively lock in trillion-dollar deficits for the next several years and would not balance until the mid-2030s, long after Trump will be out of office. And that's only if you believe the White House is serious about cutting spending. Given how quickly the president flip-flopped on his own administration's plan to cut the feds' miniscule contribution to the Special Olympics, that requires a leap of faith.
But what else would you expect from a president who has said that he doesn't have to worry about the debt and deficit because things won't get really bad until after he's out of office?
Congress is no better at the moment. Republicans might have once been counted on to hold the line on spending, but under Trump they've abandoned even the pretense of fiscal responsibility. Democrats, meanwhile, want to spend trillions more on programs like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.
Even if those big ideas don't come to pass, spending is likely to increase. A budget bill that was supposed to get a vote in the House this week would have increased discretionary spending caps by $358 billion over the next two years—a total cost of more than $2 trillion in a decade, according to an analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. The planned vote never happened, because rank-and-file Democrats revolted and pushed for more spending.
It seems like the only way Congress might prevent America's fiscal situation from getting worse is by failing to agree on how much worse to make it.
But time and tides and interest calculations wait for no one. "Over the long term, the imbalance between spending and revenue that is built into current law and policy is projected to lead to continued growth of the deficit and debt held by the public as a share of GDP," the GAO warns. "This situation—in which debt grows faster than GDP—means the current federal fiscal path is unsustainable."