Is It Worth The Price We Pay?

Grind for February 16th, 2019
“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.”

– Dolly Parton


The Headline

Expect to pay more for household goods in 2019

The Grind

Several consumer-goods companies will be increasing prices this year to make up for higher costs of transportation and raw materials as well as damaging foreign-currency swings.

The increases are possible thanks to today’s tight labor market – which includes higher wages and more jobs.

Companies planning to increase prices include:

— Church & Dwight

— Procter & Gamble

— Clorox

— Colgate-Palmolive

— Kimberly Clark

Many of these companies also increased prices in 2018.

The Details

The price increases mark a shift from previous years, when companies were hesitant to raise prices amid the economic recovery. Traditional brands have also been reluctant to raise prices amid competition from store-branded products, online upstarts, and retailers like Amazon and Walmart.

After failing to combat these rivals by lowering prices, Procter & Gamble last summer announced it would start charging more for several of its brands.

Other companies were quick to follow suit.

“The good news is that competitors are raising [prices] in those categories as we speak,” says Matthew Farrell, CEO of Church & Dwight (which owns OxiClean and Arm & Hammer).

For the consumer, this means higher prices for toilet paper, baking soda, cat litter, household cleaners, paper towels, diapers, and personal care products.

The End Is Near

The Headline

Syria: US-backed forces launch “final push” against ISIS

The Grind

US-backed Syrian and Kurdish forces on Saturday launched the “final push” against an ISIS enclave in the Deir el-Zour province along the Iraqi border.

Nearly 20,000 people were safely evacuated before the fighting began, but hundreds more are still trapped inside.

SDF ground forces are forced to advance slowly due to ISIS-planted mines.

The Implication

The weekend assault in Deir el-Zour comes ahead of President Trump’s controversial plans to withdraw all US troops from Syria.

As analysts and military officials have pointed out, a full pullout could facilitate the reemergence of ISIS and expose the Kurds (our allies) to an attack from Turkey.

“The fight against ISIS and violent extremists is not over and our mission has not changed,” says Gen. Joseph Votel, head of US Central Command. “The coalition’s hard-won battlefield gains can only be secured by maintaining a vigilant offensive against the now-largely dispersed and disaggregated ISIS that retains leaders, fighters, facilitators, resources, and the profane ideology that fuels their efforts.”

The Background

The Syrian Civil War (2011-present) created the perfect conditions for ISIS to flourish, and the group declared a “caliphate” in the region in 2014. The tide turned in 2017, when US-backed forces reclaimed Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria. Today, the group holds only a small area south of Damascus.

Did you know… There are no ants in Iceland, Antarctica, and Greenland.