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Monday
Aug192019

One-third of economists predict US recession in 2021

D-Keine/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Among 226 economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics, 34% said a recession would hit the U.S. in 2021, an increase from 25% who believed so in February.

The new survey, released Monday by the Washington-based organization, also revealed that fewer economists expected a recession to begin this year -- only 2%, down from 10% who said so in February.

Additionally, 38% of the economists are predicting a recession will begin in 2020, down from 42% in February. The number who believe a recession could hit later than 2021 increased to 14% from 11%.

President Donald Trump has made the U.S. economy a cornerstone of his reelection campaign, and he told reporters on Sunday, "I don't see a recession."

"I'm prepared for everything," Trump added. "I don't think we're having a recession. We're doing tremendously well. Our consumers are rich. I gave a tremendous tax cut. And they're loaded up with money."

Peter Navarro, a White House trade adviser, said Sunday on ABC News' This Week that the U.S. economy would be strong through 2020.

"One of the things the president does beautifully," Navarro said during the interview, "is engage with the business community, labor leaders and everybody in between."

The NABE was formed in 1959 and, according to the organization's website, is "the premier professional association for business economists and others who use economics in the workplace." Past NABE presidents include Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chair.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Aug192019

'All the single ladies': Money tips for the unmarried

Rawpixel/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Daniele Schreir has a full-time job and a side hustle as a blogger, but still her biggest anxiety is money, which she attributes to being single.

"As a single woman, especially at my age, I not only think of finances often but I worry about them often as well," Schreir, 36, of Tampa, Florida, told ABC News' Good Morning America. "Being solely responsible for my life, expenses and health is daunting."

Schreir is part of a fast-growing population in the U.S. of unmarried women. More adults in the U.S. than ever before are single, and the majority, 53%, are women, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Schreir's blog, Fabulously Single Life, is devoted to singlehood, and money is a hot topic among her mostly female audience.

"The main concerns I hear from women are about trying to save for retirement, not only on a single income but also saving enough to insure that they are cared for," she said. "Another big concern is needing to fully understand finances, and trying to get out of debt as a single person is also more difficult."

Women who are single rely solely on their own income and carry the burden of household expenses, which often means they're left with less money for saving and investing.

They also don't experience the wealth bump that their married counterparts do. A 2005 study that tracked the net worth of individuals through their 20s, 30s and early 40s found that "married respondents experience per-person net worth increases of 77% over single respondents."

Single women, like all women, are also up against a gender pay gap that sees them earning about 80 cents for every $1 paid to a man, and a gender savings gap, in which women traditionally invest and save less than men.

With those facts in mind, here are five money tips from experts designed specifically for single women:

1. Establish an emergency fund

A top financial priority for single women is to create an emergency savings fund that has enough money to cover six months of essentials, according to Bola Sokunbi, a certified financial education instructor and the founder of Clever Girl Finance, a personal finance website for women.

While the typical recommendation for couples is a three-month emergency fund, women on their own should save double, Sokunbi said.

"Look at your life today and the things that are critical for you to live your life day to day, things like housing, food and transportation," she said. "Take that number and multiply it by six."

Sokunbi recommends keeping an emergency fund in a savings account at a different bank.

2. Get real about your budget

Keep track of all your expenses -- from bills to Starbucks treats -- diligently for one month so you have a firm grasp on how much money you're spending and where it's going, recommends Kate Ryan, a New York City-based wealth management adviser with TIAA, a financial services organization

"A budget allows you to figure out what you're spending the most on and where you can spend less to start saving for the future," she said. "I've never had a case where people were spending less than they thought."

You can track your expenses via an old-fashioned Excel doc or through an app -- whichever method ensures you'll do it, according to Ryan.

3. Stop everything and save for retirement

"I find people tend to wait for a milestone, but women need to start saving immediately," Ryan said. "Saving establishes good habits and it gives women more confidence."

Ryan used the example of compound interest to show that it matters, especially for women, to start saving now -- at whatever point they are in their lives.

"Let's look at Jane and Andy, both saving and investing for retirement. Jane starts saving at age 25 and stops at 44. Andy starts at 45 and stops at 64," she said. "Each saves $30,000 over 20 years -- $1,000 annually for the first 10 years and $2,000 annually for the second 10 years, with contributions made at year-end. Each achieves about a 6% annual investment return."

"Although Jane and Andy both save the same total amount and earn 6% return on their savings, Jane ends up with over $110,000 more in retirement savings than Andy because her money enjoys 40 years of growth from compounding, compared to up to 20 years for Andy's money," she explained.

When it comes to saving for retirement in a 401(k), Ryan recommends women contribute at least what their company will match, and more if able.

4. Protect yourself with disability insurance

Schreir carries both an accident insurance policy and a short-term disability policy because, she said, "I can't afford not to. If something happens, I am on my own."

Sokunbi said Schreir is right on track as all single women should invest in disability insurance, which pays a portion of your income if you can't work for an extended period of time because of injury or illness.

In addition to disability insurance, other types of insurance like renters, homeowners, life and auto are very important to a single women's financial planning, according to Sokunbi.

"You want insurance that protects you so if something were to happen it wouldn't throw off your financial plans," she said.

5. Do daily, annual money check-ins

Sokunbi recommends taking time at least once per year to do what she calls a "deep dive" of your finances.

That includes looking at your budget and looking at your goals and objectives, like moving or having a baby, and adjusting your financial plan accordingly, whether on your own or with a financial planner.

On top of that, Sokunbi advises her clients to carve out five minutes a day to think about their money.

You don't need to understand all the fancy words you hear on TV. You just need to understand the basics -- what is investing? How risky is it? How much is it going to cost me?

"Once you have everything set up, all it takes is a five-minute check in every day to make sure bills were paid and deposits and withdrawals are correct, just checking on your accounts," she said. "It's really important to have a firm handle on finances if you're single so you don't have to worry."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Aug172019

UPS joins race for future of delivery services by investing in self-driving trucks

iStock(NEW YORK) -- The self-driving tractor-trailer of the future is one step closer, with UPS in tow.

UPS announced an investment in TuSimple, an autonomous truck startup, on Thursday in an effort to cut costs and time in the ever-increasing race for more-efficient ground deliveries. UPS has already contracted TuSimple to deliver packages between Phoenix and Tucson since May, UPS revealed in the announcement.

"Throughout the ongoing tests, UPS has been providing truckloads of goods for TuSimple to carry on a North American Freight Forwarding route between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. The company initiated self-driving service in May, 2019, with a driver and engineer in the vehicle. TuSimple and UPS monitor distance and time the trucks travel autonomously, safety data and transport time," according to the statement from UPS.

Neither company commented on the size of the investment.

In May, the United States Postal Service (USPS) contracted with TuSimple to drive five round trips between distribution centers in Phoenix and Dallas.

Like all self-driving vehicles currently operating, TuSimple trucks require a driver at all times. There's also an engineer on board the trips. Eventually, TuSimple is betting its fleet can reduce shipping costs by 30%, according to the statement.

Driver pay is the largest cost for trucking companies, accounting for as much as 43% of operational costs, according to the American Transportation Research Institute.

A spokesperson for the Teamsters Union, which represents truck drivers, told ABC News that these driverless trucks do not affect their members who drive for UPS, because these trailers are used in air freight logistics, and are not package delivery drivers, who are union members.

"We have been and continue to monitor technological developments as it pertains to automation in trucking," the Teamsters Union spokesperson said.

"While fully autonomous, driverless vehicles still have development and regulatory work ahead, we are excited by the advances in braking and other technologies that companies like TuSimple are mastering," UPS' Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer Scott Price said in a statement. "All of these technologies offer significant safety and other benefits that will be realized long before the full vision of autonomous vehicles is brought to fruition -- and UPS will be there, as a leader implementing these new technologies in our fleet."

The 4-year-old San Diego company also claims that its trucks will "increase road safety,” founder Xiaodi Hou said.

When the company announced its pilot program with the U.S. Postal Service, its safety pitch addressed the difficulty of recruiting drivers to overnight shifts, which Hou said usually requires two drivers.

"Driving teams are challenging to recruit due to overnight driving requirements, the need to share close quarters with another person and a significant truck driver shortage," he said.

As the e-commerce market booms, so does the competition to deliver packages while embracing more efficient tracking systems and moving toward autonomous vehicles and robots.

In January, Amazon debuted a delivery robot named Scout, with a human walker, for that last "retail mile" of deliveries. Earlier this month the company announced it was extending the Scout trial program to Irvine, California.

The online retailer announced in June it plans to start drone delivery "within months."

In February, FedEx unveiled the "FedEx SameDay Bot," for same-day orders within a 3-mile distance from a store. The program was slated to roll out this summer in Memphis, Tennessee, with Autozone, Pizza Hut, Target and Walmart signed up as partners.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug162019

Tyson Foods recalls 39,000 pounds of frozen chicken patties possibly contaminated with 'foreign matter'

Tyson Foods, Inc.(NEW YORK) -- Tyson Foods, Inc. is voluntarily recalling approximately 39,078 pounds of frozen chicken patties over concerns the products were possibly contaminated with "extraneous materials," according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The impacted products were distributed in Missouri, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia, according to Tyson Foods.

The recall affects 26-ounce re-sealable bags of Weaver brand frozen fully cooked chicken patties with rib meat produced on Jan. 31, 2019, with a "use by" date of Jan. 31, 2020, the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service said in a statement.

Each bag bears the plant code "P-13456" printed on the back of the re-sealable bag and has the lot codes 0319PBF0617, 0319PBF0618, 0319PBF0619, 0319PBF0620, 0319PBF0621, 0319PBF0622, 0319PBF0623 or 0319PBF0600 printed on the label.

Tyson Foods said in a statement that "some consumers reported finding pieces of extraneous material in the product. Even though these reports are limited, out of an abundance of caution, Tyson Foods is recalling the product. Tyson Foods has received no reports of injuries or illnesses associated with the potentially affected product."

The FSIS said it was notified of a potential contamination after consumers complained. The agency advised customers to throw out or return products with these codes and use-by dates.

Consumers with questions about the recall can call or text Tyson Foods’ Consumer Relations hotline at (855) 382-3101.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug162019

Beware of asking your smart device to look up a phone number, Better Business Bureau warns

CoinUp/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The Better Business Bureau issued a new warning on Friday cautioning consumers to not ask voice assistant-enabled smart devices to find and call phone numbers for companies because it could lead you to a scam.

According to the nonprofit BBB, when some customers ask devices such as Google Home, Amazon's Alexa or Apple's Siri to call companies, the devices may dial numbers that scammers have created and bumped up to the top of search results, often by paying for ads. As a result, you may be connected to fake customer service representatives who try to solicit payments by wire transfer or prepaid debit cards. The smart devices may have trouble recognizing phony numbers for real companies.

One victim told the Better Business Bureau that she thought she was talking to the customer service department of a major airline when she tried to change her seat on a flight. Instead, she says, a scammer tried to trick her into paying $400 -- using pre-paid gift cards -- after the "representative" said the airline was running a promotion.

“We work hard to fight against spammers and protect people from scams," a spokesperson for Google told ABC News. "When these fake numbers are reported, we remove them."

Apple declined ABC News' request for comment. Amazon did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

The Better Business Bureau released three main tips to help people avoid this scam:

1. Use caution when searching for support numbers.

The Better Business Bureau recommends using the contact information directly from the business's website after double checking the URL is correct, finding contact information on your bill, or in a confirmation email. Be wary about doing a quick online search or letting your smart device pull up a number.

2. Look out for fake ads.

Many scammers will make phony ads with wrong customer service phone numbers. Moreover, it can be hard for a voice-assisted smart device to tell the fake ad from the real one, so be extra cautious about getting contact information from advertisements.

3. Pay with your credit card.

If you do get scammed, it is a lot easier to dispute a credit card payment and get your money back. A major red flag is when representative asks for payment by wire transfer or a pre-paid debit card -- and there is almost nothing you can do in these cases to get your money back, according to the Better Business Bureau.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug162019

Walmart says it sells 20 percent of ammunition in US, defends gun sales after mass shootings

Andrei Stanescu/iStock(BENTONVILLE, Ark.) -- Since 22 people were killed in a mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, earlier this month, and another shooting at a Mississippi Walmart in July left two people dead, the megastore -- which estimates it sells one out of every 50 guns sold, and one out of every 5 bullets -- has come under renewed pressure to help limit the number of guns in America.

In comments that were part of the company's quarterly financial disclosure on Thursday, Walmart's CEO Doug McMillon noted the "common-sense changes" the company has made in recent years -- including requiring that gun buyers are 21 or older -- and said that he welcomed a broader discussion about background checks.

But McMillon gave no indication the company plans to remove firearms from its shelves.

“As we’ve shared previously, we will strive to use these experiences to identify additional actions we can take to strengthen our processes, improve our technology and create an even safer environment in our stores,” McMillon said in the disclosure statement. "We’re also thinking through the broader issues related to gun violence and things we should do to help create safer communities.”

As mass shootings have increased in frequency, Walmart has removed handguns from most of its stores, and the company stopped selling military-style rifles like the AR-15 in 2015, three years after that weapon was used in the mass killing of 20 elementary school students in Newtown, Conn.

Also, while federal law allows a person to buy a firearm three days after submitting to a background check -- even if the check has not been completed -- Walmart goes a step further and requires that buyers successfully pass the check.

Last week, after facing intense pressure from mostly Democratic lawmakers to act, Walmart instructed its employees to remove video game displays with violent imagery from its stores and to shut off hunting videos in the vicinity of where guns are sold.

But a growing chorus of lawmakers and gun control advocates says that Walmart can do much more.

This weekend, Guns Down America, a coalition of groups that includes the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), MoveOn and March For Our Lives -- a student-run organization formed in the aftermath of the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida -- is planning rallies at Walmart stores across the country to demand they stop selling guns until "we can dramatically raise the standard for gun ownership nationwide," the coalition says.

"While we wait for our lawmakers to act, all of us must do our part to help build a future with fewer guns and safer communities. That includes Walmart -- a company with tremendous market leverage and clout," Randi Weingarten, the AFT president, said in a letter to McMillon.

Last week, Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts pointed to the 2014 decision by pharmacy chain CVS to stop selling tobacco products, and called for Walmart to take firearms off its shelves.

"Sometimes, companies recognize that they have an obligation to the lives, health, and safety of their communities," she said on Twitter. "Do the right thing -- stop selling guns."

Five other Democrats running for president -- Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kamala Harris of California, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Julián Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio -- made similar calls soon after.

Many of the Democratic 2020 contenders have also called on the Republican-led U.S. Senate to pass legislation approved months ago by the Democrat-controlled House to require universal background checks. President Donald Trump said last week he thinks "very meaningful background checks" can pass Congress.

On Aug. 3, a gunman walked into a Walmart in El Paso -- close to the U.S.-Mexico border -- and unleashed a rampage on a store packed with back-to-school shoppers, allegedly targeting Mexicans who make the short trip from El Paso's sister city of Ciudad Juárez to shop. The attack came four days after two Walmart employees were gunned down -- allegedly by a disgruntled co-worker -- at a Walmart in Southaven, Miss., about 13 miles south of Memphis.

"Our hearts continue to be with our associates in El Paso and Southaven and we are focused on the safety of our associates and customers in all our stores and clubs," the statement from McMillon said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug162019

New York City hosts first dog restaurant week

ablokhin/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Starting this Sunday, New York City is going to the dogs.

Dog lovers can dine out with their four-legged friends from Aug. 18 to Aug. 25 at a variety of local dog-friendly outdoor patios across Manhattan and Brooklyn for Dog Restaurant Week.

The first of its kind in New York City, the event is the brainchild of Sonali Nigam and Leah Wang, founders of Petminded, a startup that helps pet owners travel with their pets. Petminded has a curated network of experts with backgrounds in travel, dog training and pet wellness.

"When I was traveling to LA with my dog it was so easy to find places where we could dine together," Nigam told ABC News' Good Morning America. "That’s not always my experience in NYC and I’ve heard the same from other dog parents as well so we thought it would be fun to do something like this here in New York."

While dining al fresco with your dog, not only will you be sharing a meal together, you’ll also be making a difference in another pet’s life. Customers who dine with their dogs can make a donation to one of two local dog rescue organizations, Foster Dogs Inc and Muddy Paws Rescue.

In addition, Bar Primi, one of the participating restaurants, will offer a $5 donation to Bideawee, a rescue organization in NYC, for every dog "dining" with them.

The concept is new for New Yorkers, but it’s not the first event of its kind across the country. Similar events have taken place in Austin, Texas; Nashville, Tennessee; Santé Fe, New Mexico; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Louisville, Kentucky, although there is no affiliation with the New York mission.

"Given how many dog owners there are and great restaurants in NYC, it’s a little surprising that something like this hasn’t been done before here," said Wang.

Nigam said the responses have been amazing and they are already planning to make it an annual event.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Aug152019

What is an inverted yield curve? It's a recession's canary in a coal mine

shipov/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered its worst day of 2019 on Wednesday, and economists offered an obscure culprit: an inverted yield curve.

What is it, and why did it spook investors?

On Aug. 14, the yield on 10-year Treasury bonds briefly fell below that of two-year bonds. That inversion, last seen in 2007, is viewed by several economists as an indicator of a coming recession.

“If you lock your money up for a longer period of time, you almost always get a higher interest rate," Duke University finance professor Campbell Harvey told ABC News. "However, today, things are backwards – 10-year interest rates are far below short-term rates. This is known as an ‘inverted yield curve.’ In the past 50 years, we have seen seven inverted interest rate curves. Each one was followed by a recession.”

Harvey's 1986 dissertation showed that the yield curve inverted before four recessions. Since then, it has inverted three times, he said, each one before a recession.

Michael Matousek, head trader at U.S. Global Investors told ABC News that it's currently "more expensive for the government to borrow money for the shorter term than longer term."

"This stops companies from borrowing and taking out loans because the cost of capital is more expensive," he said. "It’s more expensive to borrow money."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Aug152019

Dow closes flat, holding most of Wednesday's steep losses

narvikk/iStock(NEW YORK) -- U.S. stock markets traded mostly flat on Thursday, in essence holding most of Wednesday's steep losses.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded 0.39% or 100 points higher to end the day at 25,578.39, holding most of the largest losses of the year from Wednesday on recession cues from the bond market.

Similarly, the tech-heavy NASDAQ edged slightly lower, ending the day down 0.09% to 7,766.62. The S&P 500 crept barely positive to close 0.25% higher at 2,847.60.

On Wednesday, the yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes dipped below the yield of two-year U.S. notes, resulting in an "inverted yield curve."

"Right now, it's more expensive for the government to borrow money for the shorter term than longer term," Michael Matousek, head trader at U.S. Global Investors told ABC News.

Traders pointed to new rhetoric from China that could be interpreted as optimistic for trade talks. Walmart released strong earnings, which led support to the markets as investors noted a bullish slate of retail earnings.

"China holds a consistent and clear position on China-U.S. trade talks," China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying's said in a statement early Thursday. "We hope the U.S. can work in concert with China to implement the two Presidents' consensus that was reached in Osaka, and to work out a mutually acceptable solution through equal-footed dialogue and consultation with mutual respect."

However, traders kept a close on the bond market. The 30-year Treasury yield dipped below 2% for the first time on record early Thursday, Matousek said, igniting pessimism about the market.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Aug152019

What you can do now to protect your finances in the event of a recession

D-Keine/iStock(NEW YORK) -- With growing fears of a recession after the worst trading day of 2019 on Wall Street, here's what you need to know about how to protect your money.

ABC News Chief Business, Technology and Economics Correspondent Rebecca Jarvis shares advice and best practices for people looking to protect their finances should a recession hit.

What does this mean for consumers?

The market is reacting to a number of things, one of which is fears of a recession, which would slow consumer spending and economic growth.

While a recession is difficult to predict, Jarvis said the trade war with China and impending tariffs could make a number of goods more expensive, with consumers, producers -- or both -- absorbing costs. In many cases, consumers would absorb the additional cost on goods coming from China on products including apparel and electronics.

What should people do?

Don't panic.

It's still hard to know if a recession will occur, and experts have advised against any drastic moves. Focus, instead, on your financial well-being.

That means paying off credit cards and other high-interest debt and making sure you have a cash cushion of savings.

What does this mean for someone's 401(k)?

The S&P 500, which is what most retirement accounts are invested in, either through mutual funds or ETFs, is still up about 13% this year. Which means your 401(k) is likely still higher for the year.

Important things to consider

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted more than 800 points on Wednesday after a series of concerning economic indicators from Germany and China.

The S&P 500 also fell by more than 85 points, and the Nasdaq slid more than 240 points.

New data from China indicated on Wednesday that the country's factory output of goods, retail spending and investment weakened in July.

Other potentially bad news that fueled the drop in U.S. markets was that Germany's economy shrank 0.1% in the second quarter as exports declined.

On Aug. 5, the Dow closed down 760 points, or about 3%. The tumble came after China's central bank allowed its currency, the yuan, to fall to its lowest level against the U.S. dollar in more than 10 years.

The growing trade war between China and the U.S. has intensified in recent weeks after President Donald Trump accused China of manipulating its currency.

His comments came just days after he threatened to levy tariffs on about $300 billion of Chinese goods, extending existing tariffs.

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