Stifel Bits

December 7, 2022

The Appetizer

“… December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy …”

  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt in one of the most famous speeches given by any American president, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, which officially drew the U.S. into World War II.

Now, on to the numbers. Drum roll, please …

  • 14.14%: The S&P 500’s return during over the past two months … still in a bear market though.
  • 35%-40%: The percentage of casual restaurant gift card redemptions that happen in the first quarter of the year.
  • $11.3 billion: How much Cyber Monday brought in for retailers, up 5.8% from last year.
  • 19.9 million: The total number of TV/streaming viewers across FOX Sports and Telemundo Deportes for the U.S.-England World Cup game.
  • 1,740%: The increase in searches for Merriam-Webster’s word of the year, “gaslighting.”

Dig In
Freight Movement

With railroad unions threatening a strike on December 9, Congress stepped in to head off a potential supply chain disaster. The Railway Labor Act grants Congress the authority to intervene in railroad disputes that threaten to disrupt the economy – something the legislature has done 18 times since 1960.

The $80 billion railroad industry is vital to the U.S. economy, transporting nearly 40% of all long-haul freight on 140,000 miles of rails. The industry estimates a strike could cost the economy $2 billion per day, potentially affecting the supply – and prices – of everything from food and new cars to electricity and gas. In fact, 95% of the ethanol used for gas ships by rail.

Unlike passenger travel, freight shipping rebounded quickly during the pandemic. According to government figures, trucks handle most of those goods (46.2%), followed by rail (27.4%), pipeline (17.6%), water (10.3%), and air (0.4%). In recent months, more water shippers turned to other modes due to low river levels limiting barge traffic.

Lucky for us, stores already have their holiday inventory and Congress prevented more supply chain trouble. Whew!

Weekly Specials

While the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book reported the economy has slowed down, last Friday’s strong jobs report suggests there’s still more work to do. The economy added 263,000 jobs in November, and many expect a 0.50% December rate hike. We’ll see what happens, but Chair Jerome Powell’s comments indicated the Federal Reserve’s openness to a more measured approach to future rate hikes.

Many of us remember learning about the food pyramid as a guide to healthy eating. Any idea what replaced it? Didn’t think so. The Agriculture Department introduced MyPlate, a dinner plate-shaped diagram emphasizing fruits and veggies, more than a decade ago. According to the National Center of Health Statistics, only 25% of adults know about it.

Why do Americans call it “soccer” when the rest of the world calls it “football?” Well, turns out the British are to blame, according to a professor of sports economics at the University of Michigan. The word is thought to be an abbreviation of ‘asoccer’ which stems from “association football.” The British stopped using it in the early 20th century, but the U.S., along with Canada, Australia, and South Africa still call it soccer.

Corporate Lunch

When one door closes, another one opens. Netflix may be approaching the end of its DVD-by-mail service, but it is now taking an experimental approach to theatrical releases with the movies “Glass Onion” and “Matilda the Musical.”

Lamborghini and “off-roading” don’t normally belong in the same sentence, but their new supercar will now carry you across “loose or dirt surfaces.” That counts, right?

After just reopening less than a week ago, Disneyland in Shanghai closed temporarily due to the city’s pandemic prevention requirements.

Nestle may sell its peanut allergy treatment unit to help meet new profit and margin goals, raising its organic sales guidance between 8% and 8.5%.

Ford said that is has achieved its goal of becoming the second best-selling automaker of electric vehicles in the U.S. Will the company now aim for the number one spot?

Amazon is shutting down its wholesale distribution to small neighborhoods in India. Some are speculating Amazon is slowly scaling back operations in the South Asian market.

A Florida woman is suing Kraft for $5 million, saying Velveeta microwave mac and cheese takes longer to make than advertised. Perhaps this can be settled if Velveeta buys her a better microwave?

drawing of a table setting

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