The Federal Reserve probably didn’t cause the stock rally of the last three months, but if it hadn’t acted, the market would almost certainly be lower, possibly disastrously so.
Below, some of the best analysis and insight from WSJ writers and columnists, the Dow Jones Newswires team and occasionally beyond, on investing, the wealth-management business and more.
PLANNING & INVESTING
Hedge Funds Could Make One Potential Fed Repo-Market Fix Hard to Stomach: Federal Reserve officials are considering a new tool to ease stresses in the repo market.
From Dow Jones Newswires
Consumers continue to increase their use of credit cards, and banks had a booming holiday period thanks to it. JPMorgan reported that consumers spent 10% more on their cards in the fourth quarter than the prior year and Citigroup said consumers spent 5% more. Both banks also said the consumer balances were higher, JPMorgan’s up 8% and Citi’s up 3%. “The consumer was strong and confident throughout the season,” JPMorgan CFO Jennifer Piepszak said on a conference call with reporters. She said more than half of the balance increase was from existing customers, signalling people are taking more debt, but that the bank was comfortable with the quality of those loans. Its total consumer credit provisions were down. ([email protected]; @DaveCBenoit)
Spain’s new government is jeopardizing the country’s price competitiveness and thus the attractiveness of the country as an investment location, says Commerzbank’s economist Ralph Solveen about plans to reduce companies’ flexibility regarding workers’ rights and pay. “The consequences of this would be much more serious than the substantial additional social expenditures also planned,” Solveen says. The additional expenditure is supposed to be financed at least in part by higher taxes on private households earning more than EUR130,000, large fortunes and big companies. Solveen says the implementation of the government’s plans could also put a burden on government finances, jeopardizing the planned reduction in the budget deficit. “A higher deficit would not be a good sign given the Spanish public debt ratio [of] just below 100%,” Solveen says. ([email protected])
BUSINESS & PRACTICE
Electronic Trading Surges to 34% of Corporate Bond Market: Almost half of corporate bond traders say they spent less of their workday on the telephone last year, as computers supplant the main way the debt has traded for decades.
BlackRock to Hold Companies and Itself to Higher Standards on Climate Risk: BlackRock said it would take a tougher stance against corporations that aren’t providing a full accounting of environmental risks, part of a slew of moves by the investment giant to show it is doing more to address investment challenges posed by climate change.
Robots, Mood Enhancers and Scooters: Top Consumer Trends for 2020: Ten predictions for how we’ll behave this year.
TRAVEL & LIFESTYLE
Heart Disease Strikes Back Across the U.S., Even in Healthy Places: Middle-aged people are increasingly dying from heart disease in cities across the country — including exercise-mad Colorado.
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