TYLER MATHISEN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: No clear path. Lawmakers
return to Washington and the focus is on health care. But the focus is
fuzzy with more questions than answers.
SUE HERERA, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Swing oil producer. Is the
U.S. potentially even more powerful than OPEC?
MATHISEN: Economic puzzle. Why hiring is picking up but wages for
American workers are not.
Those stories and more tonight on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for Monday, July
HERERA: Good evening, everyone, and welcome.
Health care is the focus in Washington and on Wall Street. Lawmakers
returned to Capitol Hill and Senate Republicans appeared determined to move
forward with a reform bill. There were reports that a revised plan could
be released later this week, and a vote held next week.
But the legislation faces an uncertain future. Over the weekend, Senator
John McCain said the bill was likely, quote, dead. Others have talked
about working with Democrats to pass a short-term bill to help stabilize
the individual insurance market. And some conservative members of the
Republican Party want to see a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
John Harwood is following the story for us from Washington tonight.
John, good to see you.
So, what`s the status of the Senate health care bill?
JOHN HARWOOD, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: It`s not quite dead,
but it is in very difficult condition right now, Sue. The Republicans
found themselves before the break — they initially hoped to pass it by the
Fourth of July. They found themselves at least 10 votes short. You`ve got
critics both on the left and the right. There are ways that they can tweak
the bill that Mitch McConnell laid out the week before the Fourth of July,
but going in either direction risks losing senators at the other end of the
MATHISEN: So, what are those changes that Republicans or the leadership,
at least, are considering?
HARWOOD: For moderates, they`re talking about more money. That money
would go to kick fewer people off of Medicaid. Also, to increase funding
for treatment of opioid addiction, which is a huge problem for many of
these Republican senators.
For the right, they`re talking about cutting regulations further. The
problem there is that if you cut some of the regulations, that endangers
the protection of people with pre-existing conditions, which is one of the
things that everyone agrees that they have to take. So, it`s a very
difficult needle that Mitch McConnell is trying to thread.
HERERA: And what if they can`t thread it, what if they can`t get the votes
HARWOOD: He was actually explicit about that over the break, Sue. Mitch
McConnell said if we can`t get the votes for our bill, and one of his
associates told me that the chances are about one in five, he said we`re
going to have to make a deal with Democrats.
Now, that`s not what Republicans have wanted. They said they were going to
repeal and replace Obamacare, but interestingly, it might be something that
would improve the popularity of Republicans in Congress and President
Trump, because the Senate bill right now is extremely unpopular if you look
at the polls.
HERERA: All right. Thank you, John, as always.
HARWOOD: You bet.
HERERA: John Harwood in Washington.
MATHISEN: On Wall Street, there were small moves today. The health care
sector fell slightly, while technology shares inched higher and investors
looked ahead to the start of earnings season. The Dow Jones Industrial
Average fell five points to 21408. Nasdaq was up 23. The S&P 500 added
Price of oil today rose slightly after last week`s sharp losses on concerns
over a supply glut.
HERERA: And the CEO of Saudi Aramco has a different take on the oil
market. He says the world might be heading for a shortage of oil because
of steep drops in investments and lack of conventional discoveries. He
made the comments at the World Petroleum Congress in Istanbul where energy
industry leaders are meeting and that is where Steve Sedgwick is for us
STEVE SEDGWICK, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Here at the World
Petroleum Congress in Istanbul, it`s a very different picture from the last
WPC meeting in Russia in 2014. Then, we had oil prices around $108 a
barrel. All was fine for producers.
Now, we have concerns about oversupply and low profitability for both the
NOCs and international oil companies with prices in the mid-40s. What are
they going to do about it? Well, of course, you have this big OPEC/non-
OPEC strategy going on to take 1.8 million barrels a day off the table.
And I spoke to the Russian oil minister, Alexander Novak, who said, if
necessary, he and his allies in OPEC would possibly go longer on cuts and
go deeper on cuts as well, but not specifying as and when they would take
such a drastic step.
I also spoke to the CEO of Saudi Aramco telling me that, yes, the partial
IPO which would value the company as much as $2 trillion was still on track
for 2018. And, of course, some in the market had cast doubts on that given
the fact that we`re trading up much lower oil prices than Saudi Aramco,
and, of course, the Saudi state would like to see the selling off of part
of one of its key assets.
This is Steve Sedgwick for NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT at the World Petroleum
Congress in Istanbul.
MATHISEN: The other wildcard for the energy market is U.S. oil production
which has been increasing adding to supply and pressuring prices.
And as Jackie DeAngelis reports, the trend could very well continue.
JACKIE DEANGELIS, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Now that the
Fourth or the peak of the summer driving season has come and gone, the
expectations is oil prices will start to fall. That`s because there are
still concerns that swelling U.S. production will increase oil supply. Not
just moves by big oil but from the Trump administration that are likely to
Late last week, the U.S. interior secretary signed an order to halt more
lease sales and to speed up permitting for oil and gas exploration on
federal lands. It`s estimated that there`s a backlog, more than 2,000
permit applications submitted under the Obama administration. And the
Trump administration wants to clear the way.
The critics are saying Trump is basically giving away the nation`s public
lands to benefit the oil and gas industry since lease agreements from the
government are estimated to be cheaper than on private lands. The
administration would argue it`s streamlining an antiquated process in the
interest of the America-first energy plan outlined at the beginning of the
Either way, it`s emblematic of more oil coming online, and the Trump
administration isn`t backing down based on the daily fluctuation of crude
prices. In fact, it`s furthering the strategy that puts business first,
promotes a survival of the fittest mentality, and basically gets the U.S.
to compete on the global playing field in the energy industry. Analysts
who were once bullish are now changing their tune. Some seeing another leg
lower for oil.
TOM KLOZA, OIL PRICE INFORMATION SERVICE: The problem comes with the fall
fizzle. You run refineries less, you`re going to have more of the oil
that`s coming on and the premium from all those rig count increases in the
wintertime and there`s a real problem. We think that oil will be lower in
the first quarter of 2018 compared to the third quarter here in 2017.
DEANGELIS: If oil does head back into the 30s, it`s significant. It
confirms that the U.S. is the swing producer in this market, and its moves
are more powerful, potentially, than even OPEC.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Jackie DeAngelis.
HERERA: American consumers increased their borrowing in May at the fastest
pace in six months. According to the Federal Reserve, total consumer
borrowing rose by $18 billion in May, much of that reflected a greater use
of credit cards. Consumer borrowing is closely watched because it can
offer insights into consumer spending patterns, a key component of economic
MATHISEN: The job market is also a critical part of the economy, needless
to say. And as we reported Friday, hiring has accelerated but wage growth
stalled out. And now, many Americans want to know why.
Steve Liesman went in search of answers.
STEVE LIESMAN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: It`s been an
enduring economic mystery. Job growth is booming but wage growth is lame.
When labor`s scarce, employers usually have to pay up to keep their workers
and attract new ones. Wages are only rising a little more than 2 percent
on a yearly basis, well below the 3.5 percent to 4 percent you could expect
with such a tight labor market.
A look at who is making the most gains in the job market could solve the
mystery. The unemployment rate for all Americans without a high school
degree has fallen sharply. There`s also been a big jump for those with
just high school degrees. Add to that, a sharp decline in teen
unemployment to an almost 17-year low and it`s clear that those with less
skills and education are a big part of the new hires.
And education matters a lot for wages. Less educated and younger workers,
they make less than the overall workforce.
LINDSEY PIEGZA, STIFEL FIXED INCOME: What we`re seeing is that the vast
majority of the modest wage growth that we are seeing is very segmented in
the economy. Meaning, these are particular areas that are looking for
specific skills, so skills that are in high demand and very low supply.
So, we`re talking about engineering skills, accounting skills, I.T. skills.
And in this case, employers are willing to bid up wages in order to entice
LIESMAN: In addition, the unemployment rate for African-Americans and
Hispanics also have both dropped in the past six months. These two groups
typically have lower education levels than whites, but also earn less than
whites regardless of their education level, according to several studies.
That could also be keeping a lid on wage growth. But the situation may not
last long. Bigger wage increases for Americans could be around the corner.
JIM O`SULLIVAN, HIGH FREQUENCY ECONOMICS: The weight of evidence is that
wages are starting to accelerate. Average early earnings doesn`t capture
everything, and — I mean, I would say even hourly average earnings will
show more signs of acceleration.
LIESMAN: So, mystery solved at least partially, to the extent that lower
skilled, less educated, and minority workers are the new hires in today`s
tight markets, that would tend to drive down overall wages, even while job
growth is strong.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Steve Liesman.
HERERA: Michael Feroli joins us now to talk more about stalled wage growth
and what he sees ahead on that sector. He is chief U.S. economist at J.P.
Good to see you, Michael. Welcome back.
MICHAEL FEROLI, CHIEF U.S. ECONOMIST, J.P. MORGAN: Thanks. Good to be
HERERA: You heard Steve`s piece. Do you generally agree with the — what
we put forward? And do you think that we will see some upward pressure on
FEROLI: So, I agree with a lot of what Steve said. And I think it can be
summarized simply by the fact that all those things put together mean we
have very slow productivity growth. And without a lot of labor
productivity growth, it becomes harder for firms to increase wages in a way
that doesn`t push up their entire cost structure that they have to pass on
So, until we see productivity growth accelerate in a big way, that`s going
to keep a lid on overall wage growth. Now, that being said, let me just
add that even if an environment of slow productivity growth, if we have a
cyclically very tight labor market, that should, over time, put upward
pressure on wages.
Now, you know, we`re not really sees that at least in a broad-based way
across some of the measures you mentioned, but, you know, we really only
got to a tight labor market within the past year and I think if we continue
to have a tight labor market and it`d get even tighter, then I do think
that we could see wages start to accelerate even more than they have.
MATHISEN: This could be a 20 — it`s a five-second question, maybe a 20-
minute answer. But I know you`ll do it quicker than that. For people who
aren`t familiar, what is productivity, and why has it remained so peskily
low in the United States over the last decade or so? What is it, why so
FEROLI: Right. So, productivity is how much stuff we produce. So, we
generally measure it in terms of productivity per hour, output per hour.
So, generally, when we`re producing more for the same amount of work, that
means that you can pay people more for the same amount of work.
Now, why it has been low I think is a huge and hotly debated question in
economics. I think we all agree that it partly stems back to the fact that
capital spending has been slower than it had been in the 2000s and the
`90s. Beyond that, I think there are a lot of remaining mysteries as to
why productivity growth has slowed down.
HERERA: You made a very good point that we`ve only gotten to a tight job
market probably in the past year or so, but does this — any of this really
matter to the Fed? Do you think that it changes their approach towards
their tightening cycle at all or not?
FEROLI: Well, the fact that wages haven`t accelerated in a, you know,
really rapid way gives them the freedom to move interest rates up at a
pretty gradual lackadaisical manner as they have over the past year or two.
So, that gives them a little scope to be gentle here in terms of
You know, we kind of bemoan slow wage growth, but I think if we saw that
pick up in the next few months, you might see — and that`s a good thing,
don`t get me wrong, but you might see the Fed have to really tight — you
know, quicken up the pace as which they`re increasing interest rates as
MATHISEN: So, wage growth had actually slowed a little bit over the last
year. It`s like 2.6 percent. I may be wrong on that.
FEROLI: Yes, it`s 2.5.
MATHISEN: Where do you see it for the rest of this year?
FEROLI: I would — you know, look, going into the end of last year, and
we`re talking about the average hourly earning measure, got up to 2.9
percent. It`s almost 3 percent. I could see that returning to somewhere
like that by the end of this year. And let`s keep in mind as another one
of your guests pointed out, there are a number of measures of wages. Each
have the strength and weaknesses.
I think if you kind of average them all out, they are all drifting higher
but just not at a very rapid pace. So, some of the benefits that aren`t
captured in average hourly earnings are increasing, but it`s — I don`t
think anyone would say it`s a rapid acceleration and total compensation.
HERERA: OK. Michael, we`ll leave it there. Thank you so much for joining
FEROLI: My pleasure.
HERERA: Michael Feroli with J.P. Morgan.
MATHISEN: And still ahead, we`re going to money to find out where
investors are putting their hard earned cash.
HERERA: Financial companies can no longer block customers from joining
together to sue over wrongdoing. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
released a rule that would bar some firms from acquiring that customers
agree to settle any disputes in arbitration as a condition of opening an
account. The agency says that arbitration clauses and contracts make it
nearly impossible for people to take companies to court when things go
MATHISEN: Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) customers who had unauthorized accounts
opened in their names are one step closer now to receiving compensation. A
California judge has granted approval of the bank`s roughly $140 million
settlement. The deal expected to compensate customers nationwide who were
hit with fees and had their credit scores hurt by those fake accounts.
HERERA: Auto imports from Mexico are climbing. This despite threats from
the president to penalize automakers who import cars and trucks from that
country. New data from the Mexican Automobile Industry Association show
the country exported more than 1 million vehicles to the U.S. in the first
half of this year, an increase of roughly 15 percent from just a year ago.
MATHISEN: Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE:ANF) is no longer for sale, and that`s
where we begin tonight`s “Market Focus.”
After announcing in May it was in talks with several suitors regarding a
potential buyout, the apparel chain said today it has ended all
discussions. Instead, the company says it`s going to take sound,
aggressive action to deliver improved results and long-term shareholder
value. Wall Street wasn`t buying it, sending shares down 21 percent to
The golf and country club operator, ClubCorp, will be bought by a private
equity firm, Apollo Global Management, for more than a billion. Apollo,
which is gaining a membership base now of more than 400,000 people, said it
will use its resources to continue growing the business. Investors
celebrated like they hit a hole in one, sending shares up 30 percent to
Cincinnati Bell (NYSE:CBB) will buy Hawaiian (NASDAQ:HA) Telecom for $650
million, as the company looks to expand its fiber network in preparation
for a 5G network. Under the deal, Cincinnati bell said it will get access
to the Hawaiian (NASDAQ:HA) market with opportunities to expand beyond
that. Cincinnati Bell (NYSE:CBB) shares fell 7 percent to $18 even, while
Shares of Hawaiian (NASDAQ:HA) telecom up 18 percent to $28.87.
HERERA: Valeant Pharmaceuticals paid down more than $800 million of its
senior loans using net proceeds from the sale of its Dendreon (NASDAQ:DNDN)
unit, keeping it on tracks with its goals to reduce debt. Valeant had cut
more than $4 billion in debt since the beginning of 2016. The shares rose
nearly 3 percent to $16.66.
New product launches and strong demand overseas helped consumer goods maker
Helen of Troy (NASDAQ:HELE) grow its sales. The owners of brands such as
Honeywell and Revlon (NYSE:REV) topped revenue and profit expectations.
Helen of Troy (NASDAQ:HELE) shares were up just about half a percent to
And an ongoing drought in the Midwest has raised concerns about corn
production. Corn is used to make fertilizer and it saw prices hit a 13-
month high today. That move helped lift shares of several fertilizer
makers which would benefit from more expensive corn prices. Shares of CF
Industries (NYSE:CF), The Mosaic (NYSE:MOS) Company and Potash Corporation
were all higher.
MATHISEN: Well, it`s no secret that money has flooded into stock index
mutual funds and exchange traded funds in recent years. Meantime, actively
managed stock funds have faced chronic and enormous withdrawals. That fact
gives rise to a serious question, is there a systemic risk when so much
money goes into one type of investment product?
Here to discuss is Brian Reid, chief economist at the Investment Company
Brian, welcome. Good to have you with us.
You know, simply put, Brian, some people fear that by the very fact that so
much equity index and ETF money is getting put into the stock market, that
the stock market, overall, is higher than it deserves to be and certainly
that individual companies are higher than they deserve to be simply because
that index money has to get put to work.
Should I be worried about this? Is my whole premise true or false?
BRIAN REID, CHIEF ECONOMIST, INVESTMENT COMPANY INSTITUTE: I think what is
being missed is that as you mentioned before, as much money that`s going
into ETFs, we`re seeing that much money coming out of regular mutual funds,
actively managed. And so, they almost completely offset those flows this
year. And so, the net amount going into the stock market hasn`t been very
I think on top of that, we have to keep in mind, those index products are
so varied and have such different objectives that they`re basically buying
the same stocks that those actively managed funds are selling.
MATHISEN: So, the net effect is probably negligible.
REID: It`s probably very negligible. That`s right. And most of the
assets are still in actively managed funds, either mutual funds or some
other type of product that`s out there. Most of the money is still
actively managed out there.
HERERA: But where is it going? Where`s the money going these days? Is it
going back into mutual funds? Where are you tracking it?
REID: It`s going into ETFs and index funds. A large part of it,
particularly for the domestic market, but we`re also seeing a lot of money
going into stock funds that invest overseas. Both ETFs and for mutual
funds, we`re seeing a lot of money. Nearly $190 billion has gone into bond
funds this year.
HERERA: And can you identify who`s doing the buying and selling or not?
REID: Well, in many ways it`s really financial advisers who are helping
people make decisions or maybe even your fund. If you`re in a 401(k) like
a target date fund, it`s automatically putting that money to work for you.
And so, it`s — there`s — it`s not the individual investor running after
these trends so much as someone helping create a portfolio and directing
MATHISEN: So, it`s not so much the individuals who are jumping in at what
later may turn out to be a top. You just let something drop in there
that`s very interesting. Bond funds, lots of inflows.
MATHISEN: Why is that at a time when interest rates seem to be going up,
is it that same sort of mechanistic investing, the target date fund that
says, OK, well, 40 percent has to go into a bond fund?
REID: There`s some of that, but there`s also a lot of money that`s rolling
out of 401(k)s on the part of baby boomers who are retiring, maybe changing
jobs. They`re going into a financial adviser who`s creating this strategy
for them and some of that is going to be put into bond funds because they
want income and they want stability. And part of this is just
HERERA: The last time we had you on, the hot debate was the fiduciary rule
and what was going to happen to that fiduciary rule given the fact that we
had an election coming. So, what is the status? What`s changed or maybe
what has not changed?
REID: Well, the fiduciary rule has gone into effect, the first phase of
it. So, your financial adviser who`s helping you with your individual
retirement account has to be working in your best interest. There`s
another phase that kicks in in January.
But the Department of Labor also has put out three comment requests looking
for input to help possibly revise this rule. So, I think a lot is in flux.
We`re ultimately going to have some kind of standard where your financial
adviser has to work in your best interest. And so, the question is the
details around that.
MATHISEN: All right. Brian, great as always to see you.
REID: Thank you for having me on.
MATHISEN: Thank you very much. Brian Reid with the Investment Company
HERERA: Coming up, ready for takeoff.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN BRENNAN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: I`m Morgan Brennan
in Seattle, Washington. In just a few short hours, more than 25,000
packages like these will be loaded onto this Boeing (NYSE:BA) 767 cargo
plane. Meet Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) Prime Air. We`re going to tell you all
about it on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HERERA: The newspaper industry is banding together to take on Google
(NASDAQ:GOOG) and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). “The Washington Post (NYSE:WPO),”
“The Wall Street Journal,” “The New York Times (NYSE:NYT)” among others
will appeal to federal lawmakers to let them negotiate collectively against
the tech companies which currently command more than 70 percent of the
digital ad industry in the U.S. Current antitrust laws traditionally
prevent companies from forming such an alliance.
MATHISEN: That mighty river called Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is looming now
once again over Best Buy (NYSE:BBY). Shares of the electronics retailer
fell on reports that Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) plans to launch its own geeks.
Its own service to help customers set up and troubleshoot gadgets. That
would be similar to Best Buy`s popular geek squad service. According to
Re/Code, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is willing to send an army of in-house geeks,
an army of them, to offer free Alexa consultations as well as product
installations for a free — for a fee. Not free.
HERERA: Not free.
MATHISEN: The shares of Best Buy (NYSE:BBY), down 6 percent. Amazon
HERERA: Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) fears are also hanging over Costco
(NASDAQ:COST). The company was downgraded by BMO capital markets even
after posting strong sales figures last week. But the analyst says strong
fundamentals like that don`t matter because of Amazon`s growing grocery
business. Shares of Costco (NASDAQ:COST) fell 2 percent today and since
Amazon`s purchase of Whole Foods was announced in mid-June, the stock is
off more than 16 percent.
MATHISEN: And continuing with our Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) nightly report,
Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) kicks off its third annual prime day tonight at 9:00
Eastern. Last year, the event marked the e-commerce company`s biggest
sales day ever, even more than the Christmas holidays. This year, Amazon
(NASDAQ:AMZN) also using it to mark the debut of its new fleet of cargo
Morgan Brennan in Seattle.
BRENNAN (voice-over): As Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) gears up for its third
annual prime day, it`s adding a new piece to the shipping puzzle:
airplanes. For the first time, Amazon`s Prime Air fleet will help move eco
devices, televisions and other goods that must be delivered within a 48-
hour timeframe. It`s the latest step in the e-commerce giant`s strategy to
build its own transportation network. One that includes thousands of
tractor trailers, container shipping, dozens of automated warehouses and,
of course, drones.
Steve Clark, Amazon`s head of worldwide operations and transportation, says
the billions of dollars in investments are necessary to keep pace with
prime membership growth.
DAVE CLARK, SVP. WORLDWIDE OPS AND CUSTOMER SERVICE, AMAZON: First and
foremost, it`s innovation for customers. So, whether it`d be planes
enabling us to do later cutoffs for two-day deliveries or Flex which
enables to do one-hour delivery, and things like our Prime Now business,
creating new delivery services for customers is a big deal for us.
BRENNAN: But Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is also losing money on shipping. And
adding its own services is expected to help drive down those costs. There
will be 40 of the freight-outfitted Boeing (NYSE:BA) 767s by next year,
leased from Air Transport Services Group (NASDAQ:ATSG) and Atlas Air
(on camera): Clark says Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) needs planes like this one in
addition to UPS, FedEx (NYSE:FDX) and the U.S. Postal Service, to move
goods cross-country without the need to stop at cargo hubs along the way.
Meaning flights can take off later in the night and still save on fuel and
time, shaving upwards of 12 hours off of a package`s journey.
(voice-over): Analysts expect the onslaught of prime day deals to benefit
all the shippers even as many suspect the Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) fleet will
CLARK: We have long-term contracts with most of those partners, and I
think those things are still going well. Our delivery networks are all
about supplementing the capacity and allowing us to do more innovation in
that space and we feel good about our current arrangement.
BRENNAN: But planes won`t be the only way Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) will take
to the skies to enable delivery. After conducting the first public test on
U.S. soil earlier this year, Amazon`s also working with regulators to
develop its drones. A delivery method Clark expects to become reality
within the coming years.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Morgan Brennan in Seattle.
HERERA: And that is NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT tonight. I`m Sue Herera.
MATHISEN: I`m Tyler Mathisen. Thanks for joining us. We`ll see you
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