They Steal, You Pay

“You couldn’t even buy a pack of batteries without asking a clerk to open the door,” Byron King reports from a recent shopping trip.

He was surprised to see how much of the merchandise was locked up.

But this wasn’t inside a well-trafficked store in his hometown of Pittsburgh. 

In fact, Bryon was in one of the last places you’d expect to be affected by America’s growing shoplifting crisis.

His story says a lot about what’s happening with U.S. retailers… U.S. consumers… and the United States in general.

It could have a big impact on your wallet, too.

We’ll dive into it in a minute.

First, though, let’s take our usual look at the Top Stories and Reader Forum.

Your Top Stories & Analysis of the Week:

  • “The Hype’s Demise… Farewell Meme Stocks” (Daily Reckoning, Greg Guenthner): Bitcoin isn’t the only Wall Street fad that is quickly running out of steam. “Meme” stocks are also losing their speculative luster. To figure out why, Greg looks at the birth of these bubbles in the wake of the COVID pandemic. As he explains, their slow demise says something bigger about the overall state of the markets…
  • "Choose Your AI (Choose Yourself 2.0)" (Altucher Confidential, James Altucher): James’ bestselling book, Choose Yourself, was all about how to make yourself stand out in a crowded world. Now, with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), you have another avenue for becoming your own boss. In fact, James tells you how you can set up a business with a small amount of upfront work… then sit back and collect revenue.

Remember, we publish tens to HUNDREDS of stories. The write-ups above are our TOP ones for the week. If you want to stay ahead of the pack, make sure you’re caught up now. 

And if you’d like to nominate any of our stories for next week’s “Top 3,” just let me know at concierge@paradigmpressgroup.com.

The Reader Forum:

First from the mailbag today, Myra P. wants me to know: 

I am 79 years old and struggle to keep up with my services a lot of the time… [R]ecently I was having some issues with receiving the alerts. Kurt took care of everything for me. He was so professional throughout the call, and he is really a keeper!”

Myra, thank you for taking the time to write in. We take great pride in treating all of our members with professionalism and respect — so I’d argue that all of our agents are keepers.

But I won't let Kurt get away anytime soon. I look forward to sharing this with him. 

Next, member Chris W. tells us in a 5-star Google review: 

Nobody nails it like these guys when it comes to financial market insights! 

Wow, that’s quite a compliment, Chris! 

Paradigm has some of the best and brightest minds in the financial publishing industry, and we’re happy to hear that you agree. You can bet I’ll be sharing this with our entire team.

Finally for today, while we’re encouraged by compliments, I’m also here to answer your questions and consider your suggestions.

This week, Mark B. tells us:

Your alerts tell us to purchase up to a limit. You should use that limit as your starting price instead of where you guys get in, which is ALWAYS better than the price your readers get in. This would show your results at a more comparable level to how we are faring. Can you do that?

Thanks for the question, Mark.

As you say, most of our team’s recommendations come with buy limit instructions — the maximum price you should pay for the position. 

But those buy limits are based on a number of factors. It could be technical — like when the charts say that price offers the best risk / reward. Maybe it’s tactical — chosen to ensure you don’t pay too much.

So the suggested limit price could be a few cents away from where the stock or option is currently trading… or it could be a few dollars away.

Of course, we want our accounting to be as consistent as possible. And using the limit price as the official starting price each time would create all sorts of problems.

Let’s say one of our experts recommends buying a stock up to a limit of $100, and it’s selling for $95 when the alert goes out. 

What happens if it takes a week for the share price to top $100? Do we wait a week before declaring the position officially open? Or do we say we opened the position for $100 when the alert went out, even though the chart clearly shows it was trading for $95 at the time?

It’s a can of worms we’d rather not open. Instead, we record the price our recommendations are trading at shortly after the alerts go out. (Also keep in mind that, except for a few specific services, our experts don’t trade what they’re recommending.) 

Readers who act on an alert as soon as possible may get in at a better price. Readers who don’t might see a higher price. But we think our method captures a spot close to the middle of the extremes.

Also, keep in mind that many of our services offer text alerts to let you know when new trades go out. Signing up can help you get into our recommendations near our recorded price. You should find instructions at the bottom of your trade alerts. 

I hope that helps!

And remember, I’m always standing by for your emails at concierge@paradigmpressgroup.com.

Questions? I’ll get answers! Comments? Let me hear them! Problems? I’ll try to solve them! 

This is YOUR forum! 

(As always, for customer service issues, please use our contact page.)

Now, here’s what’s happening around the water cooler this week…

The Water Cooler — Upcoming Events and More

If you’ve been to your local convenience or drug store lately, there’s a good chance you’ve noticed some changes.

Editorial Director Chris Harris visited a Walgreens in New York City. “Everything was under lock and key except for the greeting cards,” he says.

The CVS near our Baltimore headquarters is the same way these days.

And the phenomenon isn’t limited to East Coast cities.

Byron spent a few days checking oil wells in Utah and mines in Colorado. Along the way, he stopped at a Walmart outside of the city of Pueblo.

He was so shocked by all the locked cabinets that he asked a clerk what was going on.

“There’s a homeless camp down the road,” was the reply. “They come in here with shopping carts, fill them up, then walk right out.”

In other words, a tiny city surrounded by desert is suffering the same shoplifting epidemic we’re seeing in major metropolitan areas.

Retailers have always had to deal with theft, of course. They call the loss of inventory “shrinkage” in their earnings reports.

Recently, stores as varied as Target… Nordstrom… Dollar General… Dick’s Sporting Goods… Macy’s… Lowes… and more have all warned about the toll shoplifting is having on their bottom lines.

There’s no shortage of blame, either. Many reports suggest the thefts are organized crime — shoplifters steal en masse, then sell their purloined goods on websites like eBay or Amazon.

Let’s look at the bigger picture, though.

There’s no question that we’ve created a generation of people who believe they are owed something for nothing. The past few years have also seen a huge uptick in a lack of respect for law enforcement.

At the same time, prices for food, clothes and more are still very high — and getting more and more out of reach as people empty their savings and reach their credit limits.

Even if someone doesn’t get despondent enough to turn to outright theft, they may happily buy what they need online — and not ask where it came from.

The only solutions to the problem are to make things even more inconvenient for shoppers. If retailers don’t spring for expensive security tech, they’ll need more employees wandering the aisles with keys to the merchandise.

Either way, it will increase costs and cut back on people’s impulse shopping — if not push them to buy what they need online (possibly from criminals).

“These are not the signs of a healthy economy,” our Dan Amoss says. “You can get excited by artificial intelligence and other tech, but the end users are the same companies that are struggling with challenges like theft.”

Consider it another indication that we’re on track for a recession… despite the relative optimism we still see on Wall Street.

In the meantime, you might want to check on any retailers in your portfolio. Shrinkage will likely get worse before it gets any better… so it could be a good idea to sell any stocks that are struggling with rampant theft.

Then let me know what kind of extra security measures you’re seeing when you go shopping — and what you think can be done about it.

Hit me up at concierge@paradigmpressgroup.com.

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