We've all known the type: they always want to pick a fight. Hot tempered, always willing to "settle the score." this kind gives you that shove with the elbow as you're walking by just to let you know they're ready.
Our current President, the Scranton Scrapper, Joe Biden, is like that. If you watched the few time he came out on the campaign trail, you saw the anger flash. Most of the time, we're not allowed to see that side of him. But it is there.
From the moment he walked into the Oval Office, he's started one fight or another. The first fight he chose was with the Oil companies. The Oil Patch was doing just fine, production at record highs. And the US was the largest oil producer on the planet. Gasoline prices were low, about $2.40 a gallon, and energy was plentiful.
"Put 'em up!" said the Washington Wrangler, let's fight. And off he went, fists flying, he went after big oil as no one had done before. He was canceling leases and pipelines, telling all the world that he would do away with fossil fuels.
It's been quite a fight. I'm not sure who's winning, but I know that the losers are you and me.
Next, he came upon the signature accomplishment of his predecessor Donald Trump, the southern border wall. "I'll fight anything that gets in the way of aliens entering this country." He stopped the wall and opened the border. The battle raged. Thousands, no make that millions came across carrying drugs, guns, and an appetite for crime—another TKO for the Brawler.
Afghanistan was another fight that Biden took on. For decades Afghanistan had been in an uneasy state of quiet. A major military fortification for the US, as this country provided stability to the war-torn region.
Be gone! Came the orders from the nation's Brawler in Chief. I'll have none of this. And although he would have to fight most of Washington, Biden ordered the retreat. Thousands were stranded, military bases and equipment abandoned, and the poor people of Afghanistan left to the wolves. But chalk up another victory for the Beltway battler. He'd got his way!
Next came Ukraine. It presented a unique arena to do battle. For Biden, it has been a long-time battle. Lining up on the other side is his old nemesis Vladimir Putin and the Soviet Union, er he means Russian Federation.
But Ukraine is a special place for Battling Biden. It's almost like home. For years Joe and Hunter have hung out in Kyiv and Odesa. They're on a first-name basis with most leaders, to say nothing of the Bankers and Brokers. Can you say: Burisma Holdings, anyone?
And what a weapon he chose. To make Russia squirm, Fisticuffs Biden elected to shut off all Russian oil and gas to the US. So what if Americans had to pay $5 a gallon? Putin has a black eye now!
Finally, we come to this week. When Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, elected to fly to Taiwan. A move signaling to the Chinese that this Administration was ready to go to any length to ensure an American Political Junket. To date, there has been no other rationale for her trip other than to gain some travel miles for Nancy.
But no matter, the Pugilist from Pennsylvania Avenue has yet another opportunity to fight. And isn't that what it's all about?
Let's hope he doesn't get us in one of those big, worldwide fights that come with a roman numeral behind.
Exciting news out of the Labor Department, job openings fell dramatically. By over 600K. It was the most significant drop in 9 months. Now we don't know whether these jobs found someone to work. I suspect that employers canceled the open positions. And one factor led me to think that more than half the reduction in available jobs was in the retail sector. Retail is one of the most susceptible sectors in the economy. They are very much aware of any changes in demand. And I think this may reflect some of the retail weaknesses we see lately.
Speaking of retail, we see some weakness in European Retail Sales. France just noted a decline of 1.2% in their retail sales for the month, as did the European Area. The most significant drop in Retail sales this year. And an indication that things are getting tight for the average European consumer. Like their American counterparts, the high fuel cost is starting to really cut into discretionary spending.
Here in the US, we'll get another look at those Purchasing Managers, this time in the Service Sector. We expect little change here and for the Services PMI to remain solidly positive.
The street is looking for a significant drawdown of gas supplies as the summer driving season is underway. Then the latest in gasoline supplies will come a little later in the day. The expected supply constraint may put pressure on gas prices once again.
In earnings so far this morning, the big news is the results reported by Moderna, one of the big 3 Vax makers. Moderna stock is trading higher currently on what are no doubt positive earnings from their widely distributed gene therapy.
Also reporting this morning has been CVS Health and Enterprise Products, a gas distribution company. Later this afternoon, we will get reports from travel company Bookings Holdings and Met Life insurance company.