Post 253

A snapshot of what’s going on in the world’s economy.  Financial Ructions and book reviews can be a bit more technical so feel free to skip them.  See disclaimer at the end of this note.

Summary

  • The hotel industry in the US is slowing down.
    • Particularly for lower priced hotels.
  • Marriott International owns a lot of hotel brands: a bit of history.
    • Its share price performance has been excellent.
  • A breakdown of concert tickets and fees: who gets what.
  • Some strange choices for best albums of all time.
    • Dark Side of the Moon doesn’t even make the top 20.
  • Turbulence is scary but not dangerous, if you are wearing your seatbelt.
  • Walmart sales are up, Target sales are down.
    • Both are reducing prices.
  • The amount of stuff UK shoppers are buying is falling.
    • And is lower than pre-COVID.
  • Home buying intentions in Ontario are falling.
  • In Financial Ructions:
    • Japan: GDP per capita in USD has been falling.
    • Wage inflation in Europe is strong and rising.

News

Hotels Cooling

According CoStar

  • Hotel occupancy in the US has fallen for twelve straight months.
  • Revenue per available room (RevPAR) fell in March for the first time since COVID: -2.2%
  • The percentage change in occupancy is correlated to the class of hotel.  The following are approximate numbers:
    • Luxury: +1%
    • Upper Upscale: +0.5%
    • Upscale: -1%
    • Upper Midscale: -2.5%
    • Midscale: -3.5%
    • Economy: -5%
  • The trend has been falling for all classes of hotels except for Luxury.
  • All classes including luxury saw declines over weekends.
  • Part of the problem is constant price increases although they are slowing.
    • Up just 0.4% in March.

Marriott International

Marriott International owns a number of hotel brands including:

  • Marriott
  • Sheraton
  • Westin
  • Ritz-Carlton
  • Le Meridien
  • St. Regis
  • Delta
  • Courtyard
  • Residence Inn
  • Fairfield

They have:

  • 8,900 properties
  • 1.6 million rooms
  • 3,400 properties under development with nearly 547,000 rooms.

A short history:

  • 1927: Started as an A&W franchise in Washington DC
    • They opened a nine-seat root beer stand called Hot Shoppes.
  • 1928: Founded by J. Willard Marriott and his wife Alice.
    • Opened the first drive-through restaurant on the East Coast.
  • 1937: Started offering catering services to airlines.
  • 1957: Opened their first hotel: Twin Bridges Motor Hotel in Arlington, Virginia.
  • 1968: Opened a roast beef sandwich fast food chain with Roy Rogers.
    • Sold it in 1990 to the owner of Hardee’s
    • There are still 37 Roy Rogers restaurants with most of them in Maryland.
  • 1969: Opened the Paraiso in Acapulco Bay.
  • 1981: 100th hotel opened: Maui
  • 1983: Courtyard (business travellers)
  • 1984: The first JW Marriott Hotel opens: Washington, DC.
  • 1987: Buys the hotel chain Residence Inn (extended stay)
  • 1987: Starts Fairfield Inn (economy lodging)
  • 1995: Buys 49% of Ritz-Carlton (and 98% by 1998)
  • 2015: Buys Canada’s Delta Hotels and Resorts.
  • 2016: Buys Starwood Hotels & Resorts:
    • Westin
    • Sheraton
    • Le Meridien
    • St. Regis
    • W Hotels

1Q/2024 Results

  • RevPAR (actual dollars): +3.9%
    • US/Canada: +1.5%
    • International: +9.8%
  • Expenses are rising faster than sales:
    • Operating profit: -8%
  • RevPAR in US/Canada by quarter:
    • 2Q/2022: +66.1%
    • 3Q/2022: +28.5%
    • 4Q/2022: +23.6%
    • 1Q/2023: +25.6%
    • 2Q/2023: +6.0%
    • 3Q/2023: +4.3%
    • 4Q/2023: +3.3%
    • 1Q/2024: +1.5%
    • The term the hotel industry likes to use for this trend is “normalisation.”
  • Their share price performance:
    • Since pre-COVID: up 58% or 12.2% per year.
    • Since 1995: up 2,854% or 12.4% per year

Concert Tickets

According to the WSJ here is the breakdown of the costs of going to see a concert and who receives the money for a $100 concert ticket:

  • Ticket price: $100
    • Artist: $90
      • So, for a show with 18,000 people, the artist would receive $1.6 million.
      • But of course, most shows cost a lot more than $100 these days.
    • Promotor: $10
  • Fee: $25
    • Venue hosting the event: $20
    • Ticketer e.g. Ticketmaster: $5
  • The venue earns most of its money from:
    • Food and alcohol: $100
    • Parking and merchandise sales: $30

Top Albums of All Time

According to Apple Music (wiki):

  1. Lauryn Hill: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
  2. Michael Jackson: Thriller
  3. The Beatles: Abbey Road
  4. Prince and the Revolution: Purple Rain
  5. Frank Ocean: Blonde
  6. Stevie Wonder: Songs in the Key of Life
  7. Kendrick Lamar: good kid, m.A.A.d city
  8. Amy Winehouse: Back to Black
  9. Nirvana: Nevermind
  10. Beyonce: Lemonade

Further down their list:

28. Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon

38. Carole King: Tapestry

49. U2: Joshua Tree

58. Oasis: (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?

78. Elton John: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

91. George Michael: Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1

According to Rolling Stone:

  1. Marving Gaye: What’s Going On
  2. The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds
  3. Joni Mitchell: Blue
  4. Stevie Wonder: Songs in the Key of Life
  5. The Beatles: Abbey Road
  6. Nirvana: Nevermind
  7. Fleetwood Mac: Rumours
  8. Prince and the Revolution: Purple Rain
  9. Bob Dylan: Blood on the Tracks
  10. Lauryn Hill: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.

Turbulence

  • According to an article in the FT, there are two types of turbulence (PM: Other articles list other types of turbulence) that an airplane can encounter.
  • The first type is caused by storms and can be detected on radar and thus avoided, to some extent.
  • The other type is known as “clear air turbulence” and comes without a warning.
    • This is the type of extreme turbulence that recently led to the death of a passenger on a Singapore Airlines flight.
  • PM: No one likes turbulence and “extreme” turbulence is very rare.
    • According to a number of experts, there have been no airplane crashes from severe turbulence in the 21st century.
    • There were a couple back in the 1960s.
      • But plane technology has come a long way since then
      • According to the FT article, the wing of a plane can bend almost 90 degrees.
    • All of the articles stress the importance of wearing your seat belt.
      • Those who were wearing their seat belts on the Singapore Airlines flight were uninjured.

Target

1Q/2025 Results

  • Comparable sales: -3.7%
    • Number of transactions: -1.9%
    • Average transaction amount: -1.9%
  • Discretionary items continue to suffer the greatest sales declines.
  • Shrink (theft) continues to rise, but they hope that it will “plateau” this year.

Walmart

1Q/2025 Results

  • Comparable US sales: +3.8% (7.4% last year)
    • Transactions: +3.8%
    • Average transaction amount: 0%
  • Walmart is gaining market share with upper income households.
  • Food prices are rising in the low-single digit range
  • General merchandise prices are falling in the mid-single digit range.

PM: Both Target and Walmart are dropping prices.

UK Inflation: Waning a Bit

Inflation:

  • Mar: 3.8%
  • Apr: 3.0%
    • However, the monthly rate has accelerated over the last three months.
  • Big movers up:
    • Alcohol: +8.0%
    • Health: +6.8%
    • Restaurants and hotels: +6.1%
  • Moving down:
    • Furniture and household goods: -0.9%
    • Transport: -0.1%

Inflation excluding housing costs:

  • Mar: 3.2%
  • Apr: 2.3%

Core inflation excluding food, energy and alcohol/tobacco:

  • Mar: 4.7%   
  • Apr: 4.4%
    • Goods: -0.8%
    • Services: +6.0%

Shopping Fatigue

UK Retail Sales ‘here

  • Volume (amount of stuff):
    • March: -0.2%
    • April: -2.3%
      • The biggest drop was in household goods: -5.4%.
  • In fact, the amount of stuff people have been buying in the UK has been falling since Apr 2021
    • And is down over 12% since then.
    • And lower than pre-COVID.

Delaying The Dream

Home-Buying Intentions In Ontario according to a survey from Tarion:

  • The number of people:
    • Planning on buying a home: Down 25%
    • Planning on buying a newly built home: Down 34%

Financial Ructions

Note: ‘Financial Ructions’ is optional-to-read for those who are interested in taking a bit of a deeper dive…

Japan

  • The 10yr Japan government bond reached the staggering level of 1.0%.
    • The last time the bond was yielding this much was 2011.
    • This was a year before the implementation of Kamikazenomics Abenomics:
      • This took a page out of the Fed’s playbook by targeting asset prices at the expense of the economy.
      • Part of the plan involved the Bank of Japan printing money to buy Nikkei ETFs.
        • It owns 80% of those ETFs
          • 7% of the total stock market
            • $461 billion worth.
      • Meanwhile GDP per capita in $US:
        • 2012: $49,145
        • 2022: $34,017
          • Down: 31%
            • And lower than it was in 1993
    • These are the costs of printing money and outlandish levels of government debt/spending.
  • Related is the rapidly depreciating Yen:
    • Feb 2020: 108.14
    • May 2024: 156.94
      • Imported goods into Japan from the US cost 45% more.
      • Meanwhile, Japanese goods are 31% cheaper for Americans.

Wage Inflation

  • Eurozone:
    • 4Q/2023: 4.5%
    • 1Q/2024: 4.7%
  • Germany:
    • 4Q: 3.6%
    • 1Q: 6.2%

Disclaimer: Note that Paulitical Economy™ should not be considered as investment advice, and I have not verified all of the sources of information.  It is meant for general interest purposes only.  Please consult an advisor if you plan on putting any of your hard-earned capital to work during these turbulent times.

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