Record Summer Travel Signals Economic Optimism: EcoPulse – Bloomberg 09-04-14

Salient to Investors:

  • Jan Freitag at STR said from May through July, the most hotel room nights were sold since they began tracking the data in 1987, while reservations for Saturday nights, at almost 83% occupancy in July, is an indication of the healthy return of leisure travel. STR predicts revpar will increase 6.9% in 2014 and 5.2% in 2015. Freitag said the limited stock of new rooms in the US until at least 2016 along with rising demand enables hotels to boost prices.
  • AAA said the most Americans since 2008 took trips of 50 miles or more from their homes during the Labor Day weekend.
  • Russell Price at Ameriprise Financial said AAA’s forecasts are consistent with other measures of discretionary spending that also have improved, including new auto sales, while broader hiring has gained along with a higher level of comfort in Americans’ personal financial situations from stock gains. Price said increased leisure-hotel demand is fueled primarily by middle- and upper-income Americans, who are disproportionately helped by the stock market’s positive wealth effect.
  • Bill Crow at Raymond James said consumer travel makes up 30% of total US hotel bookings and economic growth in other countries has been a tremendous benefit to the industry, and hoteliers have been able to raise prices by 4% this year.  Crow does not see a material slowdown from healthy levels this year or next as consumers have been undaunted by geopolitical headlines or other economic challenges.
  • John Hach at TravelClick said bookings for Q3 and Q4 are accelerating, putting 2014 on track to be the strongest year since 2007, while recent gains have been buoyed in part by group travel which had been slow to rebound as the industry recovered from the recession.  Hach cautions that unforeseen events, such as continuing conflicts worldwide, could cause momentum to contract rather quickly. Hach said  tighter supply means hoteliers can be more opportunistic and optimistic than in the past.
  • Most FRB districts are optimistic, with Boston, Richmond and San Francisco seeing strong advance hotel bookings through the fall.

Read the full article at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-09-04/record-summer-travel-signals-economic-optimism-ecopulse.html

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Fareed Zakaria GPS – CNN 08-31-14

Salient to Investors:

Fareed Zakaria said:

  • Defeating ISIS would require a large and sustained strategic effort from the US but without significant numbers of US ground troops.
  • ISIS videos of executions are designed to sow terror in the minds of opponents who when facing ISIS fighters now reportedly flee rather than fight.

Zbigniew Brzezinski at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said:

  • What is happening in Ukraine is a Russian invasion but also a major blow to Putin’s personal and international ambitions, namely to recreate something like the Soviet Union.
  • The West has been very slow in convincing Putin that he cannot go all the way.
  • Increasingly all the major partners in NATO and the EU.
  • Putin clearly has indicated that if he succeeds in Ukraine, he’ll do the same to the Baltic states.
  • Nato members are very glad to have American protection in NATO but not all of them are prepared to carry their burden, to stand together.
  • China is worried that if Putin’s adventurism produces a major conflict, that would be a very serious threat to global well-being and a fundamental disaster to China.
  • China must tell Putin that using force to change borders nowadays is not the way to deal with international problems.
  • ISIS is not a state but a bunch of decentralized brigands united by extremist views managed from a single leadership but not very effectively. It will have to be dealt with in different ways in different areas but cannot be led by America.

Americans take much less vacation and work longer work weeks than most of their counterparts in advanced industrial countries. The US is the only advanced economy where workers are not guaranteed paid vacation time. European workers are guaranteed at least 20 paid vacation days a year.

South Koreans worked nearly the longest hours of any OECD country but were less productive than the average OECD worker. Asian workers have historically been less productive than Americans though the gap is narrowing. Germans work 600 hours less every year than Greeks but their productivity is 70 percent higher.

Ernst and Young found that for every additional 10 hours of vacation an employee took, the company saw an 8% improvement in performance ratings.

The US Travel Association said that if Americans used all of their allotted time off, there would be an additional $160 billion in sales across several sectors, generating an additional $52 billion in earned income and 1.2 million additional jobs.

By 2025, 58% of the world’s population will be living in cities.

China has the most financially literate teens, followed by Belgium and Estonia. The US was on a par with the OECD average.

Watch the video at http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/category/gps-episodes/ or read the full transcript

at http://edition.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1408/31/fzgps.01.html