Weekend News and Commentary — January 17, 2016
Per the New York Times, bad news symptomatic of low returns this winter continues to pour in on the retail front. Joining Macy’s, JC Penney, and Sears, Walmart announced on Friday that it will be closing 269 stores, 154 of which are in the United States (102 of these are Walmart Express stores). As many as 10,000 domestic employees and 6,000 empoyees abroad could lose their jobs. Weak holiday sales are not just attributable to warmer weather but also a notable shift in the way consumers prefer to shop – Amazon and other online merchants continue to enjoy substantial sales even despite the warm weather. The stores are scheduled to shut down by the end of January.
The NYT reports that Morgan Stanley is pushing forward with its plan to lay off hundreds of employees from its fixed-income division (bond and commodity desks). On Thursday, the firm announced that it will be making changes to the division’s managemant ranks. Since 2010, the firm has run through four different leadership teams in the division with little success.
The Wall Street Journal’s Robert Litan adds to the conversation about wage insurance inspired by Obama’s brief reference to the idea in his State of the Union address. In his view, such a safety net system has potential to attract bipartisan support – Democrats worried about falling incomes triggered by unemployment would view this as an effective way to subsidize those cornered into taking jobs that pay less than their previous positions while Republicans would appreciate the resultant decrease in unemployment costs (wage insurance would only kick in when those who are unemployed obtain another job).
Boston.com highlights General Electric’s announcement that it will be relocating its headquarters from Fairfield, Connecticut to Boston, Massachusetts, bringing about 800 employees with it. GE is currently looking to fill about 33 open positions in Boston (mostly software engineering and product management).