Opinion The Big Crunch


  Monday, 20 Mar 2017 | 9:10 AM ET

If the US wants high-end manufacturing jobs, the US needs imports

Posted ByNick Wells

President Donald Trump was swept into office on promises of shaking up the U.S. economy, but one of his hallmark plans may run into a harsh economic reality, according to a CNBC analysis.

Two of Trump's main economic talking points are increasing the number of well-paid manufacturing jobs and cutting back on imports. But many of the highest-paying manufacturing jobs — and those most important to the economy — rely most heavily on imported materials.

Take a look at the chart below. It's based on an analysis by economists at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a nonpartisan think tank.

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  Friday, 17 Mar 2017 | 2:55 PM ET

Comparing Trump's budget changes to previous presidents'

An employee arranges copies of President Donald Trump's fiscal 2018 budget request, "America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again," at the Government Printing Office library in Washington on Thursday, March 16, 2017.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
An employee arranges copies of President Donald Trump's fiscal 2018 budget request, "America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again," at the Government Printing Office library in Washington on Thursday, March 16, 2017.

President Donald Trump released a budget plan this week that would take funding from most federal agencies to bolster the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security.

The slim document highlights Trump's plans for discretionary spending, but does not address the administration's entitlement or tax plans, which will be shared later.

"Our Budget Blueprint insists on $54 billion in reductions to non-Defense programs," wrote Trump in his budget message. "These cuts are sensible and rational."

It's not unusual for an incoming president to make sweeping changes to the distribution of funds across federal departments in his first budget proposal, but Trump's budget cuts much deeper than those proposed by either of his two most recent predecessors.

In his proposal for fiscal 2002, George W. Bush trimmed $8 billion across many departments including Transportation, Justice and Agriculture and increased spending for departments like Defense, Health and Human Services, and Education by $34 billion. Barack Obama cut $3 billion while increasing funding by $75 billion for fiscal 2010.

As in the past, it's likely that some of the changes proposed by the Trump budget will be tossed out by Congress.

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  Friday, 17 Mar 2017 | 10:46 AM ET

Here's the reason snow storms make people shop LESS online

Posted ByEric Chemi
People walk across a snow-covered Manhattan street on an unseasonably cold day on March 15, 2017 in New York City.
Getty Images
People walk across a snow-covered Manhattan street on an unseasonably cold day on March 15, 2017 in New York City.

America's northeast is digging itself out from a major winter snowstorm that kept a lot of people at home on Tuesday. Soon to come will be many of the nation's public companies pointing to the snowstorm as a reason for why their earnings are bad.

One industry might not seem to have a proper excuse for winter storms hurting sales: e-commerce.

Earlier this week, we reported on company executives complaining about weather in their earnings conference calls. You'd imagine online shopping can happen from anywhere, so what difference does it make if people are at home versus at school or at work? On face value, it seems like there should be no effect at all.

But several data points prove that to not be true. The main reason really is that people are buying online much more when they are at work, rather than when they are at home. The impact of a storm means people can't go into the office to sit at their desk, login to their computer, and begin adding items to their cart.

Another issue: Winter storms create power outages, which obviously hurt online shopping. And when people are snowed in, they have to spend time shoveling themselves out. That's time that could have gone into 1-click buying.

Data from both Adobe Analytics and purchase analytics firm Cardlytics point to this effect.

Adobe Analytics says online shopping spend drops 5 to 6 percent on days in states where a storm hits, controlling for other factors like the size of the state, seasonal trends, weekday/weekend, etc.

In the case of a January 2016 winter storm affecting the U.S. Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, Adobe's data found a nice rule of thumb: For every inch of snow, there's a 0.1 percent reduction in online shopping revenue.

Cardlytics data points to a similar directional move. In cities that get affected by blizzards, the growth in online retail spend for the entire week is 4 to 5 percentage points lower than it could have been. Think of it this way: In the past couple years, a normal city without a blizzard would typically see 14 to 15 percent year-over-year growth in weekly online shopping revenue. But a city with a blizzard sees only 10 percent growth. That 4 to 5 percentage point difference is the effect of the storm. The numbers match up nicely with the Adobe data.

So when this earnings season comes around, and you hear online-heavy retailers blame the storm for their woes, don't immediately assume it's a bogus excuse. This one has real merit.

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  Wednesday, 15 Mar 2017 | 1:48 PM ET

Trump checked the box on his tax returns to support public campaign finance

This may come as a surprise, but President Donald Trump isn't a typical Republican.

This week, two pages from a single Trump tax return from 2005 was leaked by mail to a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, possibly by the president himself. For over a year, the media have been asking Trump for his tax returns, which candidates typically turn over prior to an election.

The document held few surprises. Trump made more than $150 million in 2005 and paid about 25 percent in taxes largely due to the alternative minimum tax. But one minor detail is interesting: On this return, Trump supported public financing of elections by checking the often-overlooked box on his 1040 form.

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  Tuesday, 14 Mar 2017 | 9:26 AM ET

Here's how the big winter storm will play out in corporate earnings

A man walks along a street covered by snow during a winter storm in Washington.
Carlos Barria | Reuters
A man walks along a street covered by snow during a winter storm in Washington.

As a major winter storm barrels through the northeastern United States, publicly traded companies may be looking at their first-quarter profits.

The snow may melt by spring, but we'll be hearing about the storm for months to come as corporate executives blame it for missed earnings and praise it as a boon to their businesses.

Weather has become a boilerplate excuse for executives looking to explain dismal year-over-year growth. It makes sense: A winter storm that paralyzes a major metropolitan area over a weekend can have a big effect on a company's revenue for a quarter.

At the same time, many businesses can benefit from a foot of snow: A home improvement retailer may sell more snow shovels, and cold weather means people crank up the thermostats, which means good things for utilities.

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  Tuesday, 14 Mar 2017 | 9:59 AM ET

We asked March Madness broadcasters for their tournament picks

The chances of picking a perfect bracket are virtually impossible. You have a 1 in 9.2 quintillion chance of the perfect bracket, according to Forbes. To put that in perspective, you have greater odds of becoming president of the United States than picking a perfect bracket. But that hasn't stopped an estimated 70 million people from trying.

If you haven't figured out your Final Four picks, we've got some tips. CNBC sat down with experts at CBS Sports and Turner for help. Everyone from legendary announcers Verne Lundquist, Ernie Johnson and Bill Raftery to CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus. Even former stars Charles Barkley and Wally Szczerbiak, they all revealed their picks to win it all.

The video below features their bracket picks:

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