When I think breakfast, I think eggs, bacon, coffee loaded with cream and sugar, toast slathered with butter and jelly ... hey, can you wait a sec while I get my wheelbarrow of cash to pay for that scrumptious spread?
Just kidding -- inflation isn't that bad. However, the alarming increase in the prices of necessities such as food and gasoline is absolutely real. (Whoa, rice rationing? I'll bet Kellogg's pals Snap, Crackle, and Pop have never felt so loved.) There's plenty of concern that worsening inflation is on the menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
That's why the Federal Reserve's move this afternoon warrants particular attention. Many economists seem to believe that Ben Bernanke will deliver another quarter-point rate cut, with hints that the Fed will pause after that. The dollar's been showing signs of strength on such expectations, which is good -- it's been as weak as a newborn kitten.
Whether you've got Bernanke's back or you think Bernanke should just stop with the rate cuts already -- or maybe you're in the camp that believes we've had a whole flippin' village of idiots to contend with, with plenty of blame to go around -- let's just hope Bernanke doesn't make us lose our lunch.
News to go
Tax rebates: a temporary fix for some, a boon for others, and a source of arguments overall about whether they're a significant potential boost to the ailing economy. If you're slated to get one, and you're still deciding whether to shop till you drop or save for a rainy day, here are some Foolish ideas on what to do with your rebate. For example, if you must spend, companies such as Kroger (NYSE: KR ) and Sears Holdings (Nasdaq: SHLD ) plan to kick in a little extra cash if you bring your check to them. Sweet.
In an increasingly frequent move for banks (and an increasingly dilutive one for shareholders), Citigroup (NYSE: C ) announced plans to raise $3 billion more in capital through a secondary stock offering. It might make one wonder whether the pain's really over for Citi and its industry peers.
Love and credit may not mix, but apparently, some people still love their credit cards, judging by MasterCard's (NYSE: MA ) quarter. While credit card use abroad was a big focus, MasterCard's U.S. business seems increasingly dubious in these difficult times. Rival Visa (NYSE: V ) reported great numbers but warned that domestic growth will probably slow in the near future.
Today's slate of news also includes General Motors' (NYSE: GM ) quarterly loss of $3.3 billion. Yikes! However, excluding one-time charges, GM "only" lost $350 million, or $0.62 per share ... better than the $1.60-per-share loss analysts were expecting. Ah, the morning glory of low expectations!
Disney (NYSE: DIS ) has had a hard time with its squeaky-clean image lately. Last fall, it was Vanessa Hudgens, and this time, the controversy surrounds 15-year-old Miley Cyrus. A slightly suggestive Vanity Fair photo shoot for the Hannah Montana star by Annie Leibovitz has sparked an outrage. Although the uproar is understandable -- little kids look up to such stars, after all -- despite all of the howling, this isn't exactly something new. My generation saw a 12-year-old Brooke Shields star as a child prostitute in Pretty Baby, and then a few years later, we heard her proclaim -- on TV, no less-- that nothing came between her and her Calvins. Regardless, Disney's recent track record with real-life young actresses may start making its old-school animated "stars" look refreshingly predictable. They're cartoons, for Pete's sake.
However, I've noticed that the scandal seems to have given a lot of people something to rant about other than high food and gas prices, plunging house values, and rocketing foreclosures.
Thanks for joining me for breakfast! Have a great and Foolish day!
More warmups for today's Fed announcement: