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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
It's a strange Trumpian irony that the president is so upset with the Federal Reserve, because he picked many of its current members.
Why it matters: If officially nominated and confirmed, pundit Stephen Moore and former CEO and presidential candidate Herman Cain would put 6 Trump nominees out of 12 voting members on the Federal Open Market Committee. But his previous nominees haven't been like Moore and Cain.
"Trump so far has picked a moderate as Fed chair, and the rest of his nominees include two hawks, one unknown, and one moderate dove," Adam Ozimek, an economist at Moody's wrote last year when Trump first began making the case for lower rates. "If you wanted rates to stay lower for longer, why would your nominees look like this?"
The big picture: All of them are well-respected economic professionals, and normally that would be enough.
So, why the change? I suspect it's because Trump doesn't understand monetary policy but realizes the economy isn't going to grow the way he promised on the campaign trail and may even fall into recession, so he's setting the Fed up as a scapegoat.
Axios' Jonathan Swan tells me via email that it's much simpler: "People close to the president say Trump is pissed at Powell and views the Powell-led Fed as the biggest threat to markets and the economy. So he’s throwing some bombs into the building."
The March jobs report showed that nationwide, wage growth is settling in right above 3%, but it has been growing much faster for retail workers. Unlike most segments of the economy, retail workers' wages are now growing faster than they were during the boom years of the early 2000s.
The big picture: The outperformance is being driven by a combination of state-by-state legislation and a shrinking talent pool.
Target, which employs more than 300,000 workers and operates 1,845 stores in the U.S., announced last week that it was raising its minimum wage to $13 an hour. It raised it to $12 an hour, from $11, just last year. Pressure is now going on Walmart, the world's largest retailer, to likewise increase its $11 hourly minimum wage.
Companies like Amazon and Costco are paying workers a $15 an hour minimum.
The impact: Retail wages stand apart from the crowd, but data shows that broadly low-wage workers are beginning to see higher wage gains, on a percentage basis, than high-wage workers.
Conor Sen, a portfolio manager for New River Investments, writes for Bloomberg that the trend looks likely to continue.
The Dow gained nearly 500 points last week to close at 26,424. It's now just "1.5% shy of its all-time high of 26,828.39, set on Oct. 3, 2018," Barron's notes. The S&P 500 is just 1.3% from its record close, and the Nasdaq is just 2.1% away from a record high.
Why it matters: U.S. stocks have shaken off almost all of their December sell-off, yet banks continue to report that investors are selling, not buying, equities.
"The persistent outflows despite the strong equity rally are unusual but as we noted last week, have been driven by investors chasing falling yields," Deutsche analysts added.
Yes, but: Data from Lipper also shows money moving out of equities (-$11 billion) and into not just bonds but safe-haven money market funds, which took in $31.6 billion in net new money at the end of March, according to the most recently released report.
The bottom line: Aside from hedge funds, real money has largely been on the sidelines during the equity market's run, a theme that has been in place all year. What seems to really be pushing the stock market higher is corporate buybacks, which are on pace to surpass last year's record total.
The latest report from the CFTC shows net shorts on bitcoin Cboe futures rose to 1,343 contracts, from 1,244 the previous week, after the cryptocurrency's recent surge.
Driving the news: Bitcoin jumped 20% to its highest level since November last week, moving briefly above the $5,000 mark. A Reuters report credited the surge largely to "an order worth about $100 million spread across U.S.-based exchanges Coinbase and Kraken and Luxembourg’s Bitstamp."
What they're saying: Bitcoin bull Yves Lamoureux, president and chief behavioral strategist of research firm Lamoureux & Co., believes bitcoin is primed for a spike.
Short sellers will certainly have more trouble betting against bitcoin going forward. Cboe Global Markets said last month it plans to phase out bitcoin futures contracts. However, CME Group, which has seen higher trading volumes than Cboe, told CoinDesk it has "no changes" to announce about bitcoin futures contracts.
Bonus: Also in last week's CFTC data: "Long positioning in the dollar jumped this week to a 3-year high as Euro shorts rose to the highest since Dec 2016."
Photo: p_saranya/Getty Images
The cannabis market is quickly maturing, and as it gets legal footing nationally in Canada, many of the bigger players are starting to take bigger chunks of the market through mergers and acquisitions.
Details: Consumer spending on legal cannabis is expected to rise to $16.9 billion this year after reaching an estimated $12.2 billion in 2018, according to a report from industry proponents Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics.
Last week, Cresco Labs announced it would acquire CannaRoyalty, "the largest acquisition of a public company operating in the American cannabis industry to date," Brochstein wrote.
Watch this space: The most recent U.S. Farm Bill also is driving much of the industry's growth as American companies can now sell and market hemp products.