Category Archives: Gold News

More Americans drink coffee daily than invest in stocks

With stocks at highs, are you invested?

More American adults drink coffee daily than have money invested in the stock market.

Less than half, or 48%, of American adults have money in stocks, according to Bankrate’s Money Pulse survey. Compared to that, about 61% of adults have at least a cup of coffee daily, according to the latest National Coffee Drinking Trends.

The stock-owning Americans include anyone that has money invested in pension funds, 401(k) retirement plans, IRAs, mutual funds, ETFs or those owning individual stocks like Apple (AAPL, Tech30), Ford (F) and Tesla (TSLA).

The low number is an alarming trend for America’s financial future.

Daily coffee consumption has been growing in recent years, while stock ownership peaked in 2007 — just before the worst of the financial crisis and Great Recession, according to data from the Federal Reserve.

Related: Who’s getting rich off the stock market?

Missing out on the bull market: Americans who have kept their money on the sidelines are likely regretting it.

The U.S. stock market is in the midst of one of its longest surges in history. The popular S&P 500 Index, which tracks the 500 biggest and most well known publicly traded America companies, has risen over 200% since it bottomed out in March of 2009.

To put it another way, if you took roughly the $ 1,200 a year spent on buying a daily Starbucks (SBUX) grande caffe latte and put it in the stock market in March 2009, you would have $ 3,600 today.

stocks vs coffee

“Despite the market hitting record highs, retail investors have dramatically increased their allocation to cash,” says Suzanne Duncan, global head of research at State Street’s Center for Applied Research.

The stock market gains are only making the rich richer, exacerbating the nation’s inequality problems.

Related: Apple stock is making regular Americans rich

Why people don’t invest: The Bankrate survey identified a number of factors that keeps people from investing. The biggest problem by far is that people don’t have enough money to invest.

As CNNMoney has reported, median household income in America isn’t much higher than where it was in 1995. Many families simply aren’t seeing their finances improve enough to feel comfortable investing in stocks.

Related: Half of Americans are saving next to nothing

It’s particularly problematic among young adults. Just over a quarter of adults under 30 reported having any money in stocks or in funds that invested in stocks, according to the Bankrate survey. Young people have the most to gain by investing in stocks since research shows that they the market is likely to rise a lot in the decades before they retire.

The next largest barriers are that people don’t feel educated enough about the stock market, they don’t trust stock brokers, and they think it’s too risky to be in equities.

Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives at Schwab’s Center for Financial Research gets a lot of inquiries from fearful investors who aren’t sure they want to get into stocks or get back in.

“People often call and ask me: ‘What about the flash crash?'” Federick told CNNMoney. “I tell them that’s only happened once and the market came back. Let’s focus on the other 99% of the time.”

Related: Check your finances with CNNMoney’s retirement calculator

Related: The best advice for new investors

Related: The millennial investor raking in a 250% return

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Jamie Dimon: New crisis coming, regs will make it worse

Jamie Dimon in 85 seconds

Jamie Dimon is warning that government regulations could make it harder for banks to respond in the next financial crisis.

“Some things never change,” the CEO of JP Morgan writes in a 39-page annual letter to shareholders on Wednesday. “There will be another crisis, and its impact will be felt by the financial markets.”

Dimon describes how investors typically react in a crisis, rushing to sell problem assets and stocking up on safe havens, such as U.S. Treasuries. It’s the classic “run-on-the-market phenomenon,” he adds.

In what he calls a “thought exercise,” Dimon speculates about how new banking rules put in place after the 2008 crisis might play out when there’s a run on the market.

Related: Finally, Jamie Dimon gets his cash bonus

While he says the financial system is much stronger than it was in the past, Dimon suggests that higher capital and liquidity requirements could have unintended consequences.

Essentially, he argues that banks would be less nimble in a crisis because they have to hold more cash in reserve and are unable to take certain risks.

For example, he says healthy banks like JP Morgan (JPM) may be reluctant to accept deposits during a crisis because they would be considered short-term in nature and would cost banks valuable capital under new leverage rules.

He also notes that during a crisis many people tap lines of credit to have cash on hand just in case. Under new rules, this would make it appear that the bank is holding more risky assets and could “force banks to hoard capital.”

Related: JPMorgan’s Dimon says bank is ‘under assault’ by regulators

In the next crisis, he says healthy banks won’t be able to buy and hold securities or loans because of limitations on the amount of risk they can take on. And banks won’t be able to underwrite stock offerings during a crisis because it would use capital they need to hold under new rules.

Dimon also suggests that the new rules make it more likely that “non-bank lenders” will step in to lend money “at exorbitant prices that take advantage of the crisis situation.”

Of course, Dimon has some advice for regulators on how they could improve the situation.

He says they could allow banks to provide liquidity cash on a “graduated basis” and accept more forms of collateral.

“That is, they can give themselves both gas and brakes; i.e., change liquidity rules to fit the environment,” Dimon concludes.

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Investors are lining up to get into Iran

Iran’s economy has huge promise

An hour after news broke of the Iran nuclear deal “framework,” people started calling Mahdi Yazdizadeh.

Yazdizadeh is one of the partners in Pasargad, an Iran-based investment fund.

At the moment, international sanctions make it nearly impossible for anyone outside of Iran to invest there. Even those in other Middle Eastern countries have largely stayed away. But all that could change if the nuclear deal is approved and sanctions are removed.

Iranians are certainly optimistic. The Tehran Stock Exchange has surged nearly 8% since the deal was announced on Thursday.

Related: Iran deal could unlock huge economic potential

Interest in doing business in Iran started long before last week. Everyone from investors to banking institutions to auditors have been analyzing the possibilities. The country has large natural resources and, equally as important, a well-educated workforce.

Investing in Iran: Yazdizadeh has been flying around the world in recent months explaining possibilities to potential investors. He’s seen the most interest from Iranians living abroad, including in the U.S., and people in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and even Saudi Arabia.

“A lot of them have already done their homework,” he said. “No check has been issued yet from foreign investors, but they have started traveling [to Iran].”

The framework calls for sanctions to be removed once the International Atomic Energy Agency “has verified that Iran has taken all of its key nuclear-related steps,” according to an explainer from the White House.

While there has been a lot of Republican opposition to the plan, political insiders think it will be hard to defeat.

“I think this is winnable for Obama,” says Greg Valliere, chief political strategist at Potomac Research Group.

Only Congress can lift sanctions, but almost all the sanctions laws give the president some authority to waive or suspend them, according to an analysis from the Rand Corporation.

Related: What the Iran deal could mean for oil

Hope in Iran: Yazdizadeh, a 34-year-old who was educated at Oxford University, spent several years working in London before returning to his homeland. Like many young Iranians, he sees these talks as a “binary situation” — either the talks fail and Iran goes into a sort of dark age, or the plan goes through and a whole new world of economic possibilities arrives.

“I have my whole life gambled on this,” Yazdizadeh said. “This is why I moved to Iran.”

It won’t be a quick process. Even if a deal is reached by June, the sanctions probably won’t come off until the end of 2015, if not later.

“Removing the sanctions will take time. But what will take much more time is creating an efficient business environment with rule of law and transparent regulations,” says Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Yazdiazdeh agrees. He notes the banking system in Iran simply isn’t up to international standards yet.

Related: The hottest stock market in the world

Investment opportunities: There’s been a lot of emphasis on Iran’s oil assets. Even with the sanctions in place, Iran is still one of the world’s top oil producing nations.

But the investing opportunities go beyond energy. Yazdizadeh’s fund is focusing more on the hospitality, retail and service sectors.

There’s an expectation that more people will travel to Iran once sanctions lift and the government isn’t viewed as so hardline conservative. There’s also reason to believe that Iran’s middle and upper classes will also begin to spend more on travel, leisure and luxury.

Given the lack of sophistication in the country’s markets and businesses, Yazdizadeh plans to have management control of any companies his firm invests in, similar to a private equity model.

“The rewards in Iran are potentially huge, but so are the risks,” Sadjadpour says.

Related: Everyone wants to go to Cuba now. Too bad for the rest of the Caribbean

Related: Warren Buffett doesn’t see a bubble in the stock market

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Stocks: 4 things to know before the open

premarket stocks trading Click chart for in-depth premarket data.

Welcome back from the long weekend! Now, get ready for an eventful day.

Here are the four things you need to know before the opening bell rings in New York:

1. Stocks set to slide: U.S. stock futures are firmly in negative territory as investors get ready to react to the disappointing U.S. jobs report, which was released on Friday when markets were closed.

The monthly jobs report showed only 126,000 jobs were added in March, the lowest since December 2013 and well below the 244,000 new jobs expected by economists.

The unemployment rate remained stable at 5.5%.

Related: This week in the markets could get ugly

2. Show me the money!: Despite continual talk about its difficult financial situation, Greece said it has enough money to make a crucial debt payment this week to the International Monetary Fund.

Greece needs to pay the IMF about 460 million euros ($ 505 million) this week, but some were concerned the country wouldn’t come up with the money.

European traders are expected to react to this latest Greek development on Tuesday when markets reopen after the long weekend.

Greece needs to repay its loans or risks stumbling out of the eurozone.

3. Crude recovery: Oil futures are climbing ahead of the open, recovering from a dip last week as traders worried about Iran soon ramping up its oil production.

Crude is rising by about 3% to trade around $ 50.50 per barrel.

The U.S. and other world powers reached a tentative agreement last week that would see Iran scale back its nuclear capabilities, which would lead to a lifting of international sanctions. These sanctions have kept Iran from pumping and exporting its vast oil reserves.

Related: Fear & Greed Index

4. Thursday market recap: All major U.S. indexes finished last week with small gains ahead of the long Easter weekend.

The Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 both edged up by 0.4%. The Nasdaq notched a 0.1% gain.

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Good news: More workers are quitting

Here’s why you should ask for a raise in 2015

Many Americans are stuck with stagnant wages, but Ben Baxter has scored a 31% pay hike since the end of 2011.

No, the 28-year-old Alabama resident didn’t hypnotize his employer into giving him a raise. He didn’t master a secret salary negotiating strategy either.

Baxter just felt confident enough about the economy to jump from job to job in order to boost his salary. He’s quit six different engineering jobs since February 2013, including two positions since last summer.

“I tend to change jobs about every six to twelve months. It’s the best way to increase salary,” Baxter told CNNMoney.

The calculation is simple: It comes down to staying and getting a 1% raise or leaving and receiving a 10% boost, he said.

“Always have an out in your back pocket,” said Baxter, who currently works as a quality engineer at an auto parts supplier.

Related: The 100 best jobs in America

Baxter jobs quitting Ben Baxter, 28, has quit six different engineering jobs since February 2013. He’s currently a quality engineer at an auto parts supplier.

More quits = better economy: Baxter is part a growing trend of workers who are walking into their manager’s office and saying, “I quit.”

Nearly 2.8 million employees voluntarily quit their jobs in January, up 17% from the year before, according to the latest government statistics. The quit rate, which measures the number of quits as a percent of total employment, ticked up to 2% from 1.7%.

All regions of the country have experienced increased quits over the past year. Sectors seeing more voluntary terminations include professional and business services and the accommodation and food services industries.

Quitting stats provide a glimpse into workers’ willingness and ability to leave their jobs and find better employment elsewhere. Hiring continues to pick up. Last year was the best for American job growth since 1999.

“If people are leaving, they are more confident and it signals a stronger jobs market,” said Kevin Cummins, U.S. economist at UBS.

Share your story: Have you ever received bad financial advice?

‘Big jump’ in salary: Mark Bivens is also feeling more confident about the market for his talents. The 29-year-old has quit three jobs over the past two years, including two in the last 12 months.

After working at PayPal for four years, he was recruited to join Edward Jones in March 2013 for a job with a substantial increase in salary.

He quit for a job with a slight decrease in pay a year later at Lincoln Financial. However, Bivens then scored another “big jump” in pay a few months later when he was recruited through LinkedIn (LNKD, Tech30) to join Vendorin, an online electronic payment service for businesses.

“If there is something out there that I can find with more money and more responsibility, it makes sense to look around,” said Bivens, who grew up in Alabama and currently works in Omaha, Nebraska.

Bivens jobs quitting Mark Bivens has landed big pay increases in part by accepting three different job offers over the past two years

Related: McDonald’s is giving 90,000 workers a raise

Resume risks? People who work at more established companies like Edward Jones are not as open-minded about job hopping as those who work at younger companies like PayPal, Bivens said.

“At Edward Jones I was in the minority of people who kept their eyes open to look around,” he said.

Of course, Bivens doesn’t want a resume riddled with fleeting jobs that could scare off potential employers.

“I’m at the point at Vendorin where it would take a lot to take me away from there. I’m in a good place,” Bivens said.

Related: Why Wall Street isn’t cheering wage hikes yet

Wage hikes coming? Other workers might benefit from the job-hopping stories of Baxter and Bivens. Even if you aren’t ready to leave a job yourself, the fact that more people are voluntarily quitting serves as a wake-up call to employers.

When the quit rate starts to rise, wage growth tends to follow.

It makes sense: If companies are losing talented employees to competitors who are willing to pay more, they will be forced to increase salaries of current workers. That would be a very positive development for the economy.

“It’s definitely been the missing ingredient,” Cummins said.

Related: America’s best paying jobs

Related: Looking for a job? Follow the money

no raise i quit

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The world’s hottest stock market is in China

Blankfein: China ‘deserves’ to be largest economy

Forget the S&P — markets in China are on an insane tear this year and show no signs of slowing.

The Shenzhen Composite has surged a whopping 45% so far — easily making it the world’s hottest market in 2015. China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite has also jumped a staggering 19%.

These giant market leaps are at odds with the broader Chinese economy — GDP growth is clocking a slower pace and recent economic data points have been disappointing.

But experts say that Chinese investors are betting the central government will be forced to take stimulus action to revive the sluggish economy — a move that is expected to keep lifting stocks.

“The equity market clearly believes the Chinese government will continue to take policy action to achieve its growth target, and poor growth statistics will lead to greater policy easing,” wrote BNP Paribas equity strategist Manishi Raychaudhuri in a research note.

The country’s banks have also been told they can keep less cash in reserve, and benchmark interest rates have already been cut twice this year. Both moves have boosted stocks, according to Michael Liang of Foundation Asset Management. Economists predict the central bank will cut interest rates even further.

shanghai composite

Shenzhen, in particular, has been helped by its mix of listed companies — the index is full of young tech, media and telecom firms. In Shanghai, large state-owned firms are the main attraction.

Experts say China’s equities boom has also been fueled by renewed interest from retail investors.

Back in 2013, investors fled in droves after a series of fat-finger trading errors damaged confidence and raised questions over poor market regulation.

Related: Chinese investors trade way more often than Americans

Now, many individual investors are taking their money out of alternative investments — such as the flailing property sector — and putting it back into stocks.

About 170,000 new stock trading accounts are opened per business day in China, more than 10 times the average for last year, according to BNP.

China’s massive stock rise is only lining the pockets of domestic investors — foreign investment into Chinese stocks is still largely restricted. Trading volume through a program that launched last year allowing foreigners to invest in Shanghai has contributed a negligible fraction of daily turnover, Raychaudhuri said.

But for Chinese investors, “the wall of money seems destined to continue flowing, at least in the near term,” said Raychaudhuri.

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Buy me some peanuts and Pepsi stock

Take me out to the stock market

It’s almost Opening Day for America’s pastime! And who doesn’t love baseball?

Traders and economists clearly do.

You’ll often hear people talking about swinging for the fences to find home run stocks and discussing the economic recovery in terms of innings.

Former Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke even promised in his first tweet earlier this week that his new blog will focus on “economics, finance, and sometimes baseball.”

With this in mind, we’ve come up with a list of publicly traded companies with ties to the diamond. It’s a roster of stocks that diehard Yankees and Red Sox fans should be able to support.

If you made an exchange-traded fund for them, the ticker symbol could be BASE. Here’s a look at the lineup card.

Amer Sports (AGPDY): The Finnish company already owns baseball and glove maker Wilson. It just announced a deal to buy the king of bats: Louisville Slugger.

Related: Wilson buys Louisville Slugger

Mizuno: The Japanese sports equipment giant — listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange — may be most famous for its golf irons. But it also makes gloves, cleats, catcher’s masks and other baseball products.

Jarden (JAH): You may not recognize the name of this consumer goods conglomerate. But you know its brands — such as mop maker Quickie, Yankee Candle and Crock-Pot. It also owns baseball glove king Rawlings.

And you could argue that Jarden has another baseball brand with Mr. Coffee. After all, Yankees great Joe DiMaggio was a long-time celebrity spokesman.

Aramark (ARMK): Beer here! This food services company operates concession stands for several major league stadiums, including Red Sox home Fenway Park, Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Citi Field in New York (the Mets) and Coors Field in Colorado.

Related: Minor league ballpark to sell Krispy Kreme bacon donut hot dog

Berkshire Hathaway (BRKB): It shouldn’t be that big of a surprise that Warren Buffett is a fan of baseball — and the business of sports.

The Oracle of Omaha has a great minor league team to root for after all: The Storm Chasers (part of the Kansas City Royals farm system) are the two-time defending Triple-A champs. Berkshire owns athletic apparel company Russell and ball manufacturer Spalding.

Pepsi (PEP): A trip to the ballpark is never complete without that iconic box of caramel popcorn and peanuts. Cracker Jack is part of Pepsi’s Frito-Lay food empire.

If you decide to buy any of these stocks, here’s hoping you don’t strike out with any of them. Happy investing. And play ball!

Related: Iconic Yankee Stadium sign up for auction

Related: IRS selling Darryl Strawberry’s retirement annuity

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Elizabeth Warren tells Wall Street: ‘Bring it on’

Elizabeth Warren in 85 seconds

Elizabeth Warren has a clear message for Wall Street: “Bring it on.”

The senator from Massachusetts said Monday that she will continue to call for financial reforms and for big Wall Street banks to be broken up, despite potential retaliation against Democratic candidates.

Last week, Reuters reported that Citigroup (C), Bank of America (BAC), Goldman Sachs (GS) and J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM) might withhold campaign contributions to Senate Democrats because of Warren’s negative portrayal of Wall Street.

“You bet I believe it’s a serious threat,” Warren told a packed room at a Barnes & Noble in New York City’s Union Square — a few miles north of Wall Street.

“It is so brazen. If they think they can say in public, ‘I don’t like your tone, I don’t like the way you talk about financial regulation’ … I got news for them: bring it on,” the Democrat said.

Related: Elizabeth Warren says the market is broken

Warren stressed that she only wants two things from Wall Street: banks shouldn’t be able to cheat people, and no financial institution should be able to risk destroying the economy because it’s too big to fail.

“If they want to fight on either one of those, I’m ready,” she said to much applause.

Warren says no to presidential run: Several members of the audience held up “Elizabeth Warren for President” signs and chanted “Run, Liz, Run” during the event.

“No, I am not running for president,” Warren said. “I am not going to run for president.”

Elizabeth Warren event March 30 Moumita Ahmed, left, and Emiljana Ulaj hold signs urging Elizabeth Warren to run for president at an event on March 30, 2015 where the senator spoke.

Instead, she called herself a “nerd” who loves her Senate job. Her top priorities at the moment are reducing the interest rate on student loans, increasing funding for the National Institutes of Health and raising the federal minimum wage above $ 7.25 an hour.

Related: Elizabeth Warren is worth millions

Emiljana Ulaj was one of the people holding a sign at the bookstore and urging Warren to run. An immigrant from Albania, she has a full-time job but believes the American Dream is at risk.

“I hope she’s just deliberating about running and didn’t chose this moment to announce,” Ulaj, 28, told CNNMoney. She was pleased to hear Warren stand up to the banks, “That’s when you know you’re making change.”

What’s ahead: The stakes for Warren may be higher if Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat from New York with close ties to business, becomes the Senate Democratic leader after Sen. Harry Reid retires in 2016. Schumer is widely viewed as the top candidate for the leadership post.

Schumer and Warren would likely clash on financial regulation, and he might push her to soften her tone in order to help fundraising. If the banks didn’t contribute, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee could lose up to $ 15,000 per bank a year — and possibly more if individual bankers stopped donating as well. Warren is already trying to fight back by asking supporters for donations in a blog post Friday.

Related: Wall Street welcomes expected Chuck Schumer promotion

Warren is currently promoting her book, “A Fighting Chance.” She read from a passage about her fight against the big banks to create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which she says has forced banks to return $ 5 billion “to consumers they cheated.”

Elizabeth Warren: 8 ways to restore the middle class

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The U.S. economy is showing cracks

Is it time for a correction?

America’s economy is starting to see cracks after closing out 2014 with Superman strength.

The U.S. job market had its best year of gains last year since 1999, and economic activity hit a whopping 5% in the third quarter — the best quarter since 2003.

Three months later, the U.S. economy is looking a little tired. It’s losing momentum in puzzling ways. Hiring is still strong, but experts are starting to scale back their growth forecasts.

Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen summed it up well in a speech Friday: “If underlying conditions had truly returned to normal, the economy should be booming.”

Economists say there are two main problems: Workers’ wages aren’t growing much, if at all. As a result, Americans aren’t going out and spending much. On top of that, many foreign economies are slowing down, which puts pressure on the U.S.

The question going forward is whether we’re just in a blip or a bigger shift is taking place.

“The consumer really hasn’t kicked in at full speed ahead,” says Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital. “We’re going through a soft patch.”

With March’s jobs report out on Friday, this economic head-scratcher will be in full focus this week.

Related: Good news: Unemployment at lowest in 7 years

Still strong on jobs: The U.S. added over half a millions jobs in the first two months of this year alone. That’s a 50% increase from the same two-month stretch a year ago when the Polar Vortex had much of America in a funk.

Job gains have come across the board: health care, construction, the service sector and retail businesses have all seen strong pick up. The unemployment rate is down to 5.5%, its lowest mark in seven years.

It would be a full-steam story on jobs except for one thing: wage growth.

Hourly wages only grew 2% in February. That’s a marginal bump up, but it’s too little for most Americans to notice the recovery’s progress. It’s also well below the Federal Reserve’s roughly 3.5% goal.

lookahead us economy cracks

Wages are typically the economy’s last yardstick to move in the right direction. Some economists say there’s a six month “drag” on wage growth compared to the unemployment rate. In other words, the wage growth we see now reflects the unemployment rate in in September (when it was 5.9%).

“If you grow at 2% — that’s growth — but that’s certainly not growth that’s going to expedite a change in wages,” says Cardillo.

Pay attention to wage growth Friday as an equally important measure. It’s beginning to be as important a number as the unemployment rate because it’s a good indicator of consumer confidence.

Related: Bad news: Stock likely to fall further

Signs of slippage: People don’t go out and spend unless they feel confident about the future. There was hope that cheap gas would spur people to feel better about the economy and their pocketbooks. A gallon of gas was $ 3.53 a year ago. Now it’s $ 2.42, according to AAA.

But a lot of people are still holding onto that savings. Retail sales and construction on new homes both fell in February, missing estimates. The latest numbers on manufacturing are also weaker than hoped for. All this could just be a winter slowdown, but it’s raising red flags.

“Most of it was due to the inclement weather we had…I think that kept a lot of shoppers at home,” says Bernard Baumohl, chief economist at the Economic Outlook Group, a research firm.

Baumohl sees the economy rebounding in the second quarter — much as it did last year. But shoppers — and investors — are in a “wait and see” mode right now. Businesses are also sitting on record levels of cash, an indication they might not be feeling confident enough to spend big, either.

Analysts forecast that first quarter earnings for S&P 500 companies could be down 4.6% from the same quarter last year, according to FactSet Research. That would be the first earnings pullback in about two years. It has investors on edge, which is why the Dow is negative for the year and S&P 500 is flat.

Related: 19 stocks to buy now

Still slow around the globe: If the U.S. is the hare, everyone else around the world seems like the tortoise right now.

Europe is just starting to move its economy in the right direction after years of going at a glacial pace. Japan continues to be mired in deflation as concerns mount that its stimulus plan isn’t working. Oh yeah, Greece is still a problem and Yemen faces a grave crisis.

But the worst developments for an economic perspective are China’s slowdown and the strong dollar. China’s economic growth was basically breaking the sound barrier the last few years. Now it’s just cruising at a lower altitude, which means there’s less demand for U.S. exports to China.

The U.S. dollar is on its fastest rise in 40 years, making U.S. goods more expensive than foreign ones. That’s great for U.S. travelers, but it hurts major U.S. employers like Microsoft (MSFT, Tech30) and Caterpillar (CAT).

All the foreign volatility is rocking the U.S. stock market. Add on the dollar dilemma, sluggish consumer outlook and, not to mention, Fed rate hike fears and this year is quickly shaping up to be a rocky rollercoaster ride.

“We still have a long way to go,” says Laurence Ball, an economics professor at Johns Hopkins University.

Related: Janet Yellen: U.S. economy not good enough yet

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Janet Yellen: U.S. economy not good enough yet

Janet Yellen in 83 Seconds

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen thinks the economy is improving … but that it should be doing much better.

In a speech Friday afternoon in San Francisco, Yellen was more blunt than usual in her assessment of the economy.

“If underlying conditions had truly returned to normal, the economy should be booming,” she said.

Her more sobering tone will likely please Wall Street. Investors are anxious about the Fed raising interest rates later this year for the first time in about a decade.

But Yellen continues to strongly hint that the Fed won’t push interest rates significantly higher anytime soon.

Related: Fed is preparing to raise rates later this year

Here are some of her most telling comments Friday:

1. The job market needs improvement: Although Yellen said the job market recovery “has been substantial,” she added that there is “some way to go” before the economy reached maximum employment.

The unemployment rate is now 5.5%. Yellen said that Fed wants to see it fall to about 5%. She also noted that there are still too many people working part-time jobs and that ” wage growth continues to be quite subdued.”

2. “Not all sectors of the economy are doing well.” Yellen mentioned three specific concerns:

The strong dollar is hurting exports.
Lower oil prices have led to a pullback in drilling.
The recovery in housing construction, like wage growth, is “subdued.”

3. Can the economy thrive without low interest rates? She said the economy is still “quite weak by historical standards” and that the increases in hiring have been achieved mainly due to the Fed’s easy money, or accommodative, monetary policies since the Great Recession ended.

The Fed cut interest rates to near zero after the financial crisis to try to jump start a recovery.

This might be the most interesting observation … and some may interpret it as a sign that Yellen realizes the Fed has to keep interest rates pretty low for a long time. Last week, the Fed opened the door to raising rates as early as June, but some now question if that’s too soon.

Related: Thank you, Janet Yellen! Stocks surge

Yellen gets that this recovery is an odd one. It’s been strong for investors, but not for average middle-class Americans struggling to keep up.

The economy is a heck of a lot better now than it was six years ago. But it is definitely not booming.

Related: What an interest rate hike means for real people

Related: Bond king tells Fed to not be a ‘blockhead’


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