retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The University of Michigan's monthly economic sentiment index is out, with a final June reading of 73.2, described as the lowest level since last December and down from 79.3 in May, with the most pessimistic attitudes being expressed by households making more than $75,000 a year. To put the number in context, the year before the recession the index averaged 87.

• Interesting piece in the New York Times this morning about small farmers, noting that "a looming shortage of migrant workers, with fewer Mexicans coming north in recent years, could create a kind of rural-urban divide if it continues, with mass-production farms that depend on cheap labor losing some of their price advantages over locally grown food, which tends to be more expensive. From the vineyards of California to the cherry orchards of Oregon, big agriculture has struggled this year to find willing hands. Local farm sales are becoming more stable, predictable and measurable." The result, the story says, could be a "a vibrant new economic laboratory for American agriculture."
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