Welcome to the first edition of "Signs the Economy is Bad" for 2017. With the end of year in 2016, I just did not feel like doing this feature for a while. However, I have a few stories that caught my eye, and I have enough to do a post this week. In these Hard Times, there are moments when I think things cannot get more ridiculous, and they do. Let's see what's been going on.
- Christians in the U.S. are often easily offended, as seen in recent threats of theirs to boycott Starbucks over the color of their coffee cups for instance (here is one example). However, apparently they are not much into shopping in their own businesses neither given the Family Christian Bookstores are finally closing and going out of business. I say finally because the chain has faced bankruptcy before; this is basically the final bullet to put them out of their misery. The account of their fall does read like quite a drama. Story via Christianity Today.
- Another retailer that is on the ropes is JC Penney, which announced they are closing up to 140 stores. Story via The Washington Post. I have warm memories of Penney since I remember their days when they had a diner in their stores. The one in Plaza Las Americas, the big mall in Puerto Rico had that diner, and our family would go there every so often.
- Meanwhile, Sears and K-Mart, who are pretty much on life support, are dropping Ivanka Trump's merchandise from their shelves. Political statement? Could be, but the more likely answer is just basic capitalism: her stuff is not selling. Story via Jezebel.
- In other news, Millennials are moving less according to the Pew Research Center. I guess things like stagnant to worsening wages, limited job opportunities, exorbitant college tuition, and other obstacles caused in large part by their parents and grandparents who had things like full wages, good solid job opportunities, and better breaks for education, could be a problem.
- Speaking of higher education, the student debt total hit $1 trillion. Yes, that is trillion with a "t." The days the elders all pine about when you could work summers to pay for your college are all long gone, and they actually had a part in doing that. By the way, the student debt is not just Millennials. Plenty of Gen Y and even Gen X are still paying off college in one form or another. Story via Inside Higher Ed.
- Finally for this week, are you a college professor in medicine or a pharma-related field, and your salary is not enough? You can become a pharma shill for big bucks and help the industry lobby against things like health care reform. Story via Pro Publica.