Category Archives: business news

Wait for the next set of job-growth numbers

The way I figure it, the first Friday in April is going to be a doozy.

That is when the U.S. Department of Labor is scheduled to release its non-farm jobs report for March, which happens to be the first full month of the coronavirus pandemic that has sent jolting shockwaves throughout the nation’s economy.

The March figures likely won’t be nearly as rosy as the monthly reports have been for he past, oh, decade or so.

We’ve been adding millions of jobs annually since around 2010. Donald Trump, of course, pooh-poohed the Labor Department numbers prior to the time he became president. He called them “cooked up” figures; he said there was no way we were adding to payrolls so dramatically during the Obama administration.

It all changed when he took office in January 2017. Then the numbers became like The Gospels to him.

What will might happen on April 3 when the Labor Department releases its next set of numbers? They might reveal a net loss of jobs in March. Why? The reason is obvious: Businesses have been forced to shutter themselves as states, counties and cities issue directives limiting crowd sizes. The federal government response to date has been spotty … and that’s the kindest description I can use.

How might the president react to crappy jobs numbers in March? I am guessing he’s going to find a way to blame it all on President Obama. Or on China. Or on the Deep State. Or perhaps on Martians who landed on Earth and kidnapped employees and flew them into outer space.

I am guessing, too, that Donald Trump will go ballistic. He’ll suffer a form of apoplexy not seen since, oh, when he learned that his inaugural crowd was nowhere near the size of the one that cheered the inauguration of Barack Obama.

These are troubling times. We in for more pain before it gets better. As for the president, he’ll have to deal with the bad news that is sure to arrive.

Just wondering: Would a Bloomberg nominee release his taxes?

Let’s play a game of “what if?” for just a moment.

What if somehow Michael Bloomberg manages to win the Democratic Party presidential nomination? What if he gets the call to run against Donald John Trump, the self-proclaimed “very stable genius” and the current president of the United States?

Trump at first promised to release his taxes per the custom set beginning with the 1976 election. Then he has backed away. He is fighting efforts to obtain those records.

What if Bloomberg gets the nomination and then releases everything, per what previous nominees of both major parties have done … until Trump came along?

Bloomberg is reportedly the world’s ninth richest person. Trump reportedly is worth, well, a whole lot less than Bloomberg.

Why hasn’t Trump done what he promised to do initially and then reneged on the promise? I have a number of theories.

One is that he ain’t nearly as wealthy as he claims to be. Another is that he doesn’t give hardly anything to charity. Still another is that he has business dealings in Russia that far exceed what he’s admitted to already. A fourth might be that he has paid damn little in taxes. May I try a fifth notion? It could be that he has done a whole bunch of shady deals that could be revealed in a full public scrutiny of his taxes.

Bloomberg is far from a sure thing in the still-developing Democratic primary contest. He’s getting beaten up by his primary rivals, not to mention Trump, who’s already hung a disparaging nickname on the former New York City mayor.

If he gets the party nomination, my hope is that he releases his taxes, as other nominees have done. It won’t shame Trump into doing the right thing. However, it would stand in stark relief against the game of fiscal hide-and-seek that Trump is playing.

Voters then can make their own judgment on who appears to be keeping some important information from public view.

Businesses will come and they will go

I am sensing a touch of community and social media hand-wringing over the closure of a jazz club that opened in downtown Amarillo a couple of years ago.

The Esquire Jazz Club opened a couple of years ago with considerable fanfare as the city’s downtown revival picked up an impressive head of steam. Its owner is Amarillo lawyer and jazz musician Pat Swindell, whose band played at the club regularly, as I understand it.

OK, the club didn’t make it. It is shuttered. Is this the end of downtown’s revival? Does this mean the efforts to transform Polk Street into a new form of entertainment district won’t work?

Please. Let’s get real.

Businesses come and go. It would have been great to see the Esquire Jazz Club flourish, providing a joyful entertainment option for residents of Amarillo.

However, I feel the need to remind the worriers that there remains a virtually endless supply of businesses opportunities for the city to explore. Indeed, the downtown progress to date has been impressive.

The city has welcomed the opening of a new ballpark that officials hope will be host to many events other than AA minor-league baseball; new hotels are coming on line to join the Embassy Suites complex across the street from City Hall; Polk Street has welcomed new commercial businesses; Potter County’s Courthouse has been renovated and restored; West Texas A&M University has opened a downtown campus.

Will there be hiccups along the way? Yes! Of course!

I am not going to worry about Amarillo’s economic future. It still looks bright to my eyes.

Fire a CEO and replace him with … the boss? Huh?

There’s something about this story that doesn’t compute with me. Follow me for a brief moment.

Boeing Corp. has fired its chief executive officer, David Muilenberg, over the crisis that has grounded the once-highly touted 737 MAX jetliner, which was involved in two crashes that killed nearly 350 passengers and crew members. Boeing didn’t like the way Muilenberg handled the matter.

The company wants to restore confidence in the management, not to mention in the aircraft, the production of which Boeing has suspended.

So, who is brought in to replace Muilenberg? His boss, the chairman of the Boeing board of directors, David Calhoun, who takes over as CEO effective immediately.

I don’t know about you, but I always have presumed that a company in search of a way to rebuild shattered confidence and restoring its reputation would look outside its management structure for a fresh outlook, a new way of doing things, someone who can kick some a**.

The 737 MAX isn’t flying any time soon. The company isn’t building any new aircraft until it can fix the engineering the issues that reportedly caused the fatal crashes. The impact of this grounding has been significant right here, at Dallas Love Field, home base of Southwest Airlines, which operates a huge fleet of 737s.

Firing the CEO and then replacing him with the guy to whom he reported, it seems to me, doesn’t instill much confidence in me that the company has found the right formula to fix what has gone so terribly wrong.

What do you know? Dems and Repubs can work together!

The atmosphere in Washington, D.C. has gotten beyond toxic, with the impeachment of the president on the horizon. Democrats and Republicans can’t say anything nice to or about each other these days.

But wait! Amid all that impeachment rancor, exacerbated I should say by Donald Trump’s incessant and relentless Twitter barrage, we see the parties working together to craft a new North American trade agreement.

It’s called the USMCA, which is shorthand for a trade agreement among the United States, Mexico and Canada. It replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement that was hammered out by the Clinton administration.

Donald Trump vowed to scrap NAFTA and replace it with something else. He vowed to craft the best deal in human history. The president hasn’t quite delivered the goods all by himself. It turns out he needed some legislative help not just from his Republican allies, but also from his Democratic foes, er, enemies.

I haven’t yet studied the USMCA, but I understand it’s supposed to benefit Texas business interests, given our lengthy border with Mexico. It also contains some environmental protections that progressives wanted in a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada.

However, the good news amid all the toxicity that infects everything in D.C. these days is that both political parties can lay claim to a victory … that isn’t at the other party’s expense.

That’s not a bad outcome.

Another ’boutique hotel’ sprouting in downtown Amarillo? Wow!

Now it’s the Rule Building, another long-vacant office structure, that’s getting new life as what they call a “boutique hotel.”

Who in the world knew?

According to www.newschannel10.com: “It was a natural progression for us to look at another opportunity. Especially with the growth and revitalization of Downtown Amarillo, we’re really hitting full stride right now, and it was an easy decision for us,” said Todd Harmon, vice president of development for DJ Investment Realty.

OK, before we pop the champagne corks and start a whole round of back-slapping, I want to offer a word of caution.

Even though I do not know Todd Harmon, I am aware of some hiccups that have occurred on projects he has sought to bring to fruition in downtown Amarillo. The Barfield Building is the most prominent of them. Harmon sought investors for the Barfield, but couldn’t make it happen. The building eventually was sold to another party and — voila! — it, too, is being turned into a boutique hotel slated to open in the spring.

I wish Harmon well. I hope he can turn the Rule Building into something beautiful. I want nothing but the very best for the downtown district in Amarillo, where my wife and I lived for more than 20 years before we relocated to the D/FW Metroplex.

As KFDA reports: As of right now, the structure plan consists of eight floors, 110 rooms, a 10,000 square foot banquet space, and a couple of restaurant and dining areas.

Don’t misunderstand me. I hope Harmon pulls this together. I want the project to succeed. I am hopeful that Amarillo’s future is still hurtling toward renewed prosperity. The city’s downtown district has made huge strides in the past half-dozen years.

I am going to offer cautious optimism that the Rule Building is part of that shiny new future.

266,000, 3.5 percent: Numbers are great, Mr. POTUS, however …

You bet that those numbers released this morning from the U.S. Labor Department are pretty darn stellar.

We added 266,000 jobs to our private payrolls in November; unemployment ticked down to 3.5 percent, retaining a full-employment ratio in the work force.

Those are impressive figures, as Donald Trump will tell us. “It’s the economy, stupid,” he tweeted this morning, using a phrase made famous by Bill Clinton campaign guru James Carville in 1992.

Let’s wait, though, for yet another suggestion from the president that will declare, “You cannot impeach me. Look at the job I’m doing to boost the economy! The economy is going too well for you to impeach me!” 

Mr. President, the pending impeachment by the House of Representatives has nothing — zero, zilch — to do with the economy. Indeed, presidents don’t get impeached based on how they are handling the nation’s economic health, unless they commit some sort of “high crime and misdemeanor.” Near as I can tell, Donald Trump’s trouble has nothing to do with the economy.

It has everything to do with other matters relating to how he has abused the power of his office to solicit a foreign government to help him win re-election. The articles of impeachment that will come from the House will speak to that abuse of power, perhaps to obstruction of justice or to obstruction of Congress.

The economy? It won’t be mentioned anywhere in those articles.

So, Mr. President, you may stop referencing the economy in the context of impeachment. It’s a non-starter.

I am not going to take it any longer!

We’ve all had this experience.

You walk into a dining establishment. You place your order. The individual who takes it from you is scowling. He or she would rather be doing anything else other than doing business with you. You pay for your meal. The individual who takes your money then declines to say “thank you,” let alone “thank you for your business.”

You pick up your order and leave. You get into your car to drive away and then you get angry over the so-called “service” you just received.

I didn’t have far to drive home. However, by the time I pulled into my driveway just about a mile or so from the dining establishment that had just taken my money I was, to say the least, really steamed.

This happened to me the other day in Princeton. I went to a fast-food joint to pick up a quickie meal for my wife and me. The young woman at the counter needed a crash course in customer relations.

I looked at my receipt when I got home and saw a website address I could look up to file a “customer satisfaction survey.” Suffice to say that this “customer” was far from “satisfied.”

I got to the question about the friendliness of the staff. I scored them “extremely dissatisfied.” Then I got to the part of the survey where I could explain my dissatisfaction. I let ’em have it. With both barrels!

I felt like sharing this with you just as a cautionary tale and a word to the wise. These businesses that employ individuals who don’t have the common courtesy to smile — even if it’s a fake smile — and welcome you do not deserve our business.

Maybe the individual got into a fight with a loved one; maybe she had a headache; perhaps she scored poorly on an exam at school. None of it matters, man! In other words, I don’t give a rip what your problems are. You are on the clock for one purpose only, which is to ensure that your customers’ experience is a pleasant one.

I told the business establishment that I do not expect to be greeted with “Ruffles and Flourishes” when I walk in. I do expect to be treated like the valuable customer I am.

This is my way of saying that I ain’t gonna take it any longer.

Nothing to hide? Turn the tax returns over, Mr. POTUS

Donald J. Trump tells us he has “nothing to hide.” He brags about his wealth. He tells us he has the “best mind” that has resulted in unparalleled business acumen.

He once promised to release his tax returns. He said they were under a “routine audit” which prevented him from releasing them for public review. Now he is digging in. He is fighting the release of those returns. Oh, but wait! He has “nothing to hide.”

A federal appeals court has ruled that Trump must release his returns to the Manhattan (N.Y.) district attorney’s office, which is examining Trump’s hush money payment to porn queen Stormy Daniels, who alleges she got 130 grand from Trump to keep quiet about a fling she says she had with the future president … who said the event never occurred. Go figure, you know.

The president is going to fight it. He’s going to take it to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is populated by a slim conservative majority among its nine members. Will they side with him? Will they even hear the case?

I just keep wondering why someone with “nothing to hide” is working so damn hard to keep these returns away from public view.

I know I am just one American. However, I don’t think I’m alone in believing that Donald Trump should reveal those returns in the interest of full transparency. I mean, didn’t he promise that, too, when he got elected president of the United States?

If you’ve got “nothing to hide,” then turn the returns over to the DA who is well within his legal authority to demand them.

POTUS, a lifelong New Yorker moves to Florida

What do you know about this? Donald Trump, a native of New York City, the guy who built his business there, who has called Trump Tower in Manhattan his official residence since 1983, now has changed his residence to Florida.

What gives? I wonder if it has something to do with Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s subpoena demanding eight years worth of Trump’s tax returns relating to the DA’s investigation into that $130,000 hush money payment to Stormy Daniels, the porn queen with whom Trump (allegedly) had a one-night fling in 2006.

Do ya think? Well … I do.

I’m not sure if Trump’s declaring Florida as his official residence makes it more difficult to obtain those returns. Still, it sure looks to me as if the president is trying to keep something out of someone’s hands.