Soldier to Soldier Hawaii

Economist warns this move can be a problem for small businesses, low-skilled workers

BIG YEAR, ACTUALLY, FOR THE MARKETS. ALL RIGHT, WE GOT AN EARLY LOOK AT A HOLIDAY SALES NUMBERS, AND THEY ARE A BIT OF A LETDOWN, JUST A BIT. MASTERCARD REPORTING RETAIL SALES OVERALL ROSE JUST 3.1% COMPARED TO LAST YEAR, WELL BELOW THE PREDICTED 3.7% AND LESS THAN HALF OF LAST YEAR’S 7.

6% JUMP. IT APPEARS AS THOUGH INFLATION CUTTING INTO HOLIDAY SPENDING AS SHOPPERS FOCUSED ON THE BIG DEALS AND AVOIDED BIG TICKET, LUXURY ITEMS. THAT’S E WHAT WE GET OUT OF THAT. NOT ONLY DID HOLIDAY SALES LAG THIS YEAR, BUT RETAILERS PREPARING FOR RECORD OR RETURNS. AT REPORT REVEALS THEY EXPECT 14.

5% OF ALL HOLIDAY PURCHASES TO BE RETURNED. TAKE ‘EM BACK. STEPHEN MOORE JOINS ME NOW. STEVE, GREAT TO SEE YOU. OKAY, SLOW SALES, RECORD RETURNS.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE ECONOMY? >> WELL, ASHLEY, REMEMBER THAT THOSE SALES NUMBERS THAT YOU COMPARED LAST YEAR WITH THIS YEAR DON’T TAKE ACCOUNT OF THE FACT THAT LAST YEAR WE HAD 9% INFLATION AND THIS YEAR WE’VE HAD, YOU KNOW, CLOSER TO 4% INFLATION. SO ACTUALLY THOSE RETAIL NUMBERS MAY ACTUALLY BE BETTER THAN THOSE NUMBERS THAT YOU’RE REPORTING. LOOK, THE ECONOMY RIGHT NOW IS CERTAINLY IMPROVED OVER WHERE IT WAS LAST YEAR.

INFLATION HAS COME DOWN, NO QUESTION ABOUT IT.

AND THE JOBS MARKET IS STILL PRETTY STRONG. WHAT WORRIES ME IS THAT THE PRICES TODAY, ASHLEY, ARE STILL 20% HIGHER THAN THEY WERE 3 YEARS AGO WHEN BIDEN CAME INTO OFFICE, AND THAT’S WHY I THINK YOU’RE FEELING, YOU’RE SEEING SO MANY AMERICANS FEELING FINANCIAL STRESS. INCIDENTALLY, YOU’VE REPORTED THIS BUT IT’S WORTH REPEATING, ASHLEY, $1.1 TRILLION CREDIT CARD DEBT OUT THERE. AT SOME POINT THOSE BILLS HAVE TO BE REPAID.

[LAUGHTER] ASHLEY: YEAH. YOU HAVE TO PAY THE PIPER. WITH INTEREST. NEXT ONE, STEVE, I WANT TO GET INTO THIS, NEARLY 10 MILLION AMERICANS WILL SEE A BOOST IN THEIR PAY IN THE NEW YEAR BECAUSE 22 STATES WILL BE RAISING THEIR MINIMUM WAGE.

WHAT’S THE IMPACT ON THE WORKER, THE ECONOMY?

WHAT ABOUT SMALL BUSINESS? CAN THEY AFFORD IT? >> YEAH. SMALL BUSINESSES ARE THE ONES THAT GET HIT HARDEST BY THE MINIMUM WAGE INCREASES. I’VE BEEN, YOU KNOW, I THINK WE SHOULD HAVE, YOU KNOW, A FAIR MINIMUM WAGE, BUT YOU GOT SOME STATES, ASHLEY, AS YOU GUYS HAVE REPORTED 12, 15 AND.

>> SOME CASES $20 THE AN HOUR, AND THAT’S GOING TO PRICE A LOT OF LOWER SKILLED WORKERS OUT OF THE JOB MARKET.

I THINK IT’S A PROBLEM FOR SMALL BUSINESSES AND ALSO THE LEAST SKILLED WORKERS. INCIDENTALLY, THE AVERAGE WORKER IN AMERICA IS ONLY SIX MONTHS ON A MINIMUM WAGE, YOU KNOW, CONTRACT. AFTER SIX MONTHS THEY EITHER LOSE THEIR JOB OR GET A PAY RAISE. SO IT’S REALLY JUST A STARTER WAGE, AND I DON’T WANT TO BLOCK PEOPLE’S ENTRY IF INTO THE WORK FORCE.

AS YOU KNOW, WE HAVE 5 MILLION AMERICANS WHO ARE MISSING FROM THE LABOR FORCE AND MAYBE SOME OF THE REASON FOR THAT A IS THE MINIMUM WAGE PRICES THEM OUT. ASHLEY: WELL, BUT DOES THE RAISE IN MINIMUM WAGE HELP WORKERS CATCH UP WITH INFLATION? WHAT DOES IT DO? >> WELL, THAT’S A GREAT POINT, IS THAT THE MINIMUM WAGE IS, HAS FALLEN BEHIND INFLATION BECAUSE WHEN YOU HAVE A 20% INCREASE IN INFLATION 3 YEARS, WORKERS FALL IF FURTHER BEHIND.

YOU KNOW, WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE IS RATHER THAN RAISING THE MINIMUM WAGE, LET’S BRING THAT INFLATION RATE DOWN BACK TO 20% WHERE IT BELONGS.

WE’RE STILL — BACK TO 2% WHERE IT BELONGS. THE FED STILL HAS SOME WORK TO DO, AND AMERICANS KNOW IT. MY GOSH, DON’T FORGET, THE PRICE OF GAS TODAY IS EVEN THOUGH IT’S COME DOWN A BIT IS STILL $1.25 A GALLON HIGHER THAN IT WAS WHEN TRUMP LEFT OFFICE.

ASHLEY: YEAH.

PEOPLE FORGET THAT. ALSO DO YOU THINK WE’RE GOING TO GET TO THAT MAGIC 2% MARK FOR THE FED IN THE COMING YEAR OR NOT? >> YOU MEAN WHAT THEY’RE GOING TO DO IN. ASHLEY: WELL, ARE THEY GOING TO GET IT DOWN TO THE 22% IF — 2 MARK IN 2024? >> I THINK THEY MAY.

IF YOU LOOK AT WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH THE TIPS SPREAD, IF YOU LOOK AT THE 10-YEAR TREASURY, I THINK WE COULD BE HEADED TO 2.5% INFLATION.

THAT’S STILL ABOVE THEIR TARGET BUT, BOY, IS THAT A LOT BETTER THAN 9.3%. BUT IT ALSO DEPENDS ON CONGRESS STOPPING THE SPENDING SPREE IN WASHINGTON.

THERE’S GOING TO BE A BIG FIGHT IN THE NEXT TWO WEEKS OVER THE BUDGET WITH. WE MAY SEE A GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN. I’M HERE TO TELL YOU, I THINK THE ODDS ARE BETTER THAN 50-50 RIGHT NOW THERE’S GOING TO BE A GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN IN JANUARY OR FEBRUARY. ASHLEY: WASHINGTON DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO STOP SPENDING. I WANT TO GET TO THIS LAST ONE, STEVE.

[LAUGHTER] >> OKAY. ASHLEY: IT’S A LOOK AT THE OP-ED THERE FROM MSNBC. IT READS: TAYLOR SWIFT COULD SAVE JOE BIDEN IN 2024. NO, SERIOUSLY, THAT’S WHAT THE HEADLINE SAYS. THE OP-ED CLAIMS THAT SWIFT COULD USE HER MONSTER INFLUENCE TO SHIFT THE POLITICAL TIDE.

WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THAT? >> I, LOOK, I THINK TAYLOR SWIFT WAS ONE OF THE GREATEST STIMULUS TO THE ECONOMY IN 2023 — ASHLEY: YES.

>> — THAT WE SAW IS. SHE WAS AN INSPIRED CHOICE FOR THE “TIME” PERSON OF THE YEAR. SHE’S AN INCREDIBLE BUSINESSWOMAN.

SHE’S INCREDIBLY TALENTED. YOU KNOW WHAT WE REALLY NEED, WE NEED, LIKE, A THOUSAND TAYLOR SWIFTS. I DON’T KNOW IF YOU WENT TO THE MOVIE OR HER CONCERTS BUT, BOY, WHAT A PHENOMENON. SHE’S AN AMAZING, AMAZING ENTERTAINER AND BUSINESSWOMAN. SHE IS SHREWD.

SHE KNOWS HOW TO MARKET. ASHLEY: SHE DOES. AND I THINK, YOU KNOW, SHE WAS AN ECONOMY, I THINK SHE’S BEATING AT LEAST 50 COUNTRIES JUST TO PUT IT IN PERSPECTIVE. [LAUGHTER] IT’S REMARKABLE. >> YEAH, I THINK THE ESTIMATES ARE THAT SHE ADDED $4 BILLION TO THE U.

S. ECONOMY WHEN SHE DID HER CON SORT TOUR. [LAUGHTER] CONCERT TOUR. ASHLEY: REMARKABLE AND CONGRATULATIONS TO HER. ALL RIGHT.

STEPHEN MOORE, GREAT STUFF, AS ALWAYS, STEPHEN. THANK YOU SO MUCH. APPRECIATE YOUR TIME..

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