Business Sales Boost Ahead 0.4% for May

Manufacturers lag in sales growth, but inventories expansions hint at high expectations for the coming months.

Jul 15, 2014 at 3:28PM

Business sales and inventories were both up for May, according to a Commerce Department report (link opens as PDF) released today.

Seasonally adjusted sales increased 0.4% to $1,343 billion for May. Retailers and merchant wholesalers both contributed to the gain, with sales up 0.4% and 0.7%, respectively. Manufacturers lagged, recording a slight 0.1% bump for the same period. A similar pattern holds true for the past 12 months. While manufacturers have managed a 2.9% increase in sales, retailers notched 4.5% growth, and merchant wholesalers laid claim to a sizable 6.6% boost. 

As sales headed higher for May, so did inventories, expanding a seasonally adjusted 0.5% to $1,737 billion. With inventories, at least, manufacturers seem to be expecting solid sales ahead. Manufacturer inventories expanded 0.8%, more than both retailers (0.2%) and merchant wholesalers (0.5%). In the last year, overall inventories are up 5.6%.

To understand the rate at which goods are being made and sold, economists compute an inventories/sales ratio. Since sales and inventories both expanded at relatively similar rates, the inventories/sales ratio remained steady at 1.29. In May 2013, the ratio stood at a slightly smaller 1.28. 



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A Financial Plan on an Index Card

Keeping it simple.

Aug 7, 2015 at 11:26AM

Two years ago, University of Chicago professor Harold Pollack wrote his entire financial plan on an index card.

It blew up. People loved the idea. Financial advice is often intentionally complicated. Obscurity lets advisors charge higher fees. But the most important parts are painfully simple. Here's how Pollack put it:

The card came out of chat I had regarding what I view as the financial industry's basic dilemma: The best investment advice fits on an index card. A commenter asked for the actual index card. Although I was originally speaking in metaphor, I grabbed a pen and one of my daughter's note cards, scribbled this out in maybe three minutes, snapped a picture with my iPhone, and the rest was history.

More advisors and investors caught onto the idea and started writing their own financial plans on a single index card.

I love the exercise, because it makes you think about what's important and forces you to be succinct.

So, here's my index-card financial plan:


Everything else is details. 

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