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George Chamberlin's Money in the Morning

Stock prices fell yesterday, the first sizeable decline so far in October, dropping 157 points on the Dow industrials. About a third of the decline is directly linked to the 10 percent drop in shares of Wal-Mart, one of the 30 stocks in the Dow industrials. The loss happened after the CEO said earnings in 2016 would be negatively effected by ongoing programs to enhance sales and profits. Some analysts think the recovery could take well more than just one year.


Two economic reports deserve top headlines today. The Commerce Department said the consumer price index fell 0.2 percent in September, the result of a 9 percent decline in gasoline prices.

The drop in inflation will result in bad news for retirees and others receiving government benefits. Based on the calculation used to determine so-called "cost of living adjustments" there will be no increase in benefits in 2016. This also happened in 2010 and 2011. Increases in the last four years have average about 1.5 percent. This is especially bad news for about a third of all Social Security recipients who rely totally on the benefits.

Another report today showed the number of people filing for unemployment benefits fell to a 42-year low last week. Initial claims fell by 7,000 to 255,000. You have to go back to 1973 to find a time when claims were that low. At the same time, the Labor Department reports the number of people receiving unemployment benefits on an ongoing basis fell by 50,000 in the past week to 2.16 million. Sure, a lot of people question these numbers but they are what they are.

If you are a frequent visitor to the drive-thru window at Starbucks you may be aware of one difference with other drive-thru lanes at places like Jack in the Box and McDonald's. Those restaurants have a screen at the drive-thru where you can see your order and the amount you need to pay. At Starbucks all you do is talk with a barista without seeing your order confirmed on a screen. That is changing. Bloomberg reports screens will be installed at 2,400 Starbucks with a drive-thru. Better yet, they will include cameras, allowing you to see the barista and for them to see you. Smile.

Dodger fans are hoping the home-field advantage that helped the Royals and Blue Jays win their series yesterday rubs off on them tonight. It will be game five of the series with the dreaded New York Mets who are trying to make it to the World Series for the first time since 1908. Dodger Stadium, or as I still call it, Chavez Ravine, will be rocking when Zack Greinke starts for the Boys in Blue against Mets ace Jacob deGrom.

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