16 March 2020

1) Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft is stepping down from the company’s board of directors, which makes it the biggest boardroom departure in the tech industry, since the death of Apple’s Steve Jobs. Additionally, Mr. Gates is vacating his board seat at Berkshire Hathaway Inc., intending to devote his time to his philanthropic efforts. He will continue serving as a technical advisor to Microsoft.

2) Oil prices climbed up 5% on the announcement by President Trump that the Department of Energy would purchase crude for the nations’ strategic petroleum reserve. The objective is to boost oil prices to keep shale producers in business, because oil needs to be $40 or more a barrel to break even, depending on the particulars of an oil field. The shale oil companies are further in trouble because they are carrying a high debt level. Shale oil production is very capital intensive and therefore very sensitive to oil prices if companies aren’t to go bankrupt. Some suggest that the Russians engineered the rupture of the Saudi Arabia – Russian agreement to limit production levels as a means to cripple the U.S. shale oil production and thereby make America dependent on foreign oil again.

3) President Trump and the Congress have agreed on several provisions of a package, but have been far apart on others. Their discussions center on ways to minimize the economic impact of the coronavirus fears. One point is to ensure that every American can receive a virus test without consideration of money.

4) Stock market closings for – 13 MAR 20:

Dow 23,185.62 up 1985.00
Nasdaq 7,874.88 up 673.07
S&P 500 2,711.02 up 230.38
10 Year Yield: up at 0.95%
Oil: up at $32.93

The New Electric Cars and Automotive Repairing by Future Auto Mechanics

Another opportunity to watch a career field being unintentionally reduced by a new technological advance.

James Lyman BSAE, BSEE, MSSM

When people speak of the technology displacement of jobs, they speak in terms of someone designing a machine from the onset, to replace workers. However, often as not, it’s technology developed for other purposes that inadvertently causes job displacement. That means there isn’t some individual or small group who are striving to replace workers with machines, rather it’s just an unforseen consequence. We’re seeing an example of that today . . . right before our eyes. If you haven’t noticed, all the major automobile manufactures are rushing to design and build electric cars for us, the consumer. General Motors, Ford, Toyota have ongoing programs to manufacture and market both electric cars and small trucks for our personal transportation needs.

However, the UAW (United Auto Workers) is concerned that EVs (Electric Vehicles) will hurt the union because they require less manpower to assemble. In other words, fewer jobs! EVs are simpler machines having fewer mechanical parts, that are also smaller, lighter, but more importantly, they don’t have reciprocating motion. Parts are not going back and forth, up and down at high speeds, the kind of motion that creates lots of wear and tear on machines. The petroleum fueled engines (internal combustion reciprocating engines) used in our modern cars, have a high failure rate compared to electric motors. Those engines also have a number of accessories attached, such as carburetors, fuel pump, oil pump, starter motor, water pump and distributor . . . all of which can fail and need replacing by an automotive mechanic. The engine itself can have hundreds of moving parts, each being worn down by the engine motion while running, each a possible source of failure. Same with the transmission that couples the engine’s power to the wheels thereby pushing the car forward.

A whole industry has been created to repair automobiles, from supplying repair parts to actually fixing a broken car. I dare say, there is virtually no car owner that hasn’t taken their car in for repairs. It’s just part of living in a high technology society, and no one thinks anything of it, they just accept it as a fact of life. The more complex a machine, the more often it fails and needs repairs. But if electric cars are simpler than gas powered cars, requiring fewer people to manufacture, it stands to reason EVs will break down less often, now doesn’t it? Of course! As EVs become more prevalent, with automakers like Ford and General Motors now intent on making them prevalent, then auto mechanics can expect less work and therefore less money.

Lets face it- an electric car is a big battery, four electric motors and some electronic box to control those motors. You can’t get much simpler than that! The conventional car engine/transmission/power train has a mirid of moving parts, all subject to wear and tear, and therefore breaking and failing. That’s why everyone, over their lifetime, will periodically take their cars in for repairs. It’s self evident that the more complex a machine, the more things that can go wrong (break), and conversely, the simpler the machine- the less repair required. True, one of those electric motors will fail, but since its motion isn’t reciprocating, they will last longer. Furthermore, the motor is a modular component that will be replaced . . . just pull the wheel off, change the motor out, put the wheel back on and you’re done. Indeed, it’s likely to be a job most home mechanics can and will do.

Bottom line- the electric cars will put a lot of automobile mechanics out of work simply because there won’t be the need for the number of mechanics America now has. And the thing is, no one intended to eliminate those mechanic jobs, it will just be the consequence of addressing the unrelated problems of energy and pollution. Jobs will also be lost in the supplying and selling of auto parts, all those auto parts stores you see along major streets.

The EV is a perfect example of how emergence of one technology, can inadvertently eliminate jobs in a related field, even though not intended to and often no one even thought of. There is no intent in eliminating auto mechanic jobs, no individual or small groups working to ‘deep six’ the auto mechanic. Very few people have even considered the impact on jobs that the EV will have. Even though the electric car won’t displace all mechanics, it will create a surplus of qualified people, and that will cause their pay to drop so those working will find it harder to make a living.
This indirect job displacement is a growing phenomena, which will increasingly threaten the livelihood of both millennials and generation-Z as time marches on. Even more important is where several unrelated technologies come together to eliminate a job. As technology continues to grow exponentially, this form of displacement is becoming increasingly common. So much of the displacement of people is in fact, unintentional. The thing to know and remember is:

Today, no one is immune from technology displacement.

The electric car isn’t the only technology that auto mechanics face. Since the nineties, cars have had integral computers designed into them, especially the engine and transmission. As those computers became more sophisticated and more involved in the operation of the car, they have been programmed to also diagnose automotive systems. Now when a customer comes into a repair shop, the mechanic plugs a small hand held computer into the car’s computer, which allows the car to TELL the mechanic what is wrong. This means the repairman spends less time troubleshooting what is wrong, and so he can do the correct repair job right off. But any time you reduce the skill/intellectual levels required to do a job, you reduce the cost of labor because now there are more people who can do the job.

That’s job displacement!

13 March 2020

1) The popular theme parks Disneyland and Disney World have been closed until April because of the threat of coronavirus. The closure commences on 14 March, but the hotel resort will remaining open until 16 March to allow guess to make travel arrangements for returning home. Walt Disney Co. will continue to pay cast members during the closure. Disney Cruise Line will suspend all new departures beginning Saturday until the end of the month. At this time, it is uncertain how adversely this will financially effect Walt Disney Co.

2) A global recession, driven by the coronavirus pandemic, may result because of the flow of goods, services and people becoming more restricted. In the past day, President Trump has restricted travel from Europe, Italy has closed almost every shop, India suspended most visas and Ireland partially shut down. Many sporting events have been closed to public spectators with major lost of revenues. Many nations fear a contraction, with China the first in decades, thus ending the 11 year expansion. The Federal Reserve’s emergency interest rate cut of March 3 failed to boost investor’s confidence.

3) The Federal Reserve has announced its plan to ease market strain and halt its downward spiral. The Feds will offer a huge injection of liquidity to the Treasury market to counter market dysfunction. Government bonds are liquid assets making them the easiest thing to sell in turbulent times when investors need to raise cash. The New York Feds have been buying Treasury bills in what is called repurchase agreements or repos. This added liquidity is intended to bring stability to the markets and arrest the downward movements.

4) Stock market closings for – 12 MAR 20: The markets continue their drastic downward spiral.

Dow 21,200.62 down 2,352.60
Nasdaq 7,201.80 down 750.25
S&P 500 2,480.64 down 260.74

10 Year Yield: up at 0.85%

Oil: down at $30.88

12 March 2020

1) The WHO (World Heath Organization) has declared the coronavirus to be a pandemic, which in turn has cause the markets to make another plunge after its apparent recovery on Tuesday. The number of coronavirus cases world wide is now in excess of 100,000 with more than 1,000 in the U.S. The central banks in other western nations are cutting their interest rates in an attempt to minimize the effects of the virus and avoid a world wide economic slowdown. At present, there doesn’t seem to be an end to the markets volatility.

2) The United Kingdom is levying an additional 2% tax on big high tech companies starting the first of April. Call the ‘digital services tax’, it will levy a tax on the revenues from search engines, social media services and online marketplaces used by British citizens, but it only applies to companies making more than $650 million dollars and derive more than $35 million dollars revenue from UK users. This will encompass companies like Amazon, Apple, facebook and Google. The EU (European Union) is considering a similar tax, but with a 3% rate.

3) Oil production in the U.S. is expected to drop as a result of the dramatic collapse in oil prices. This would be the first decline in output since 2016 as drillers are cutting back on capital spending. Oil prices are below $35 a barrel, well below the breakeven price for most American shale fields. Oil prices have been pushed down by the economic impact of the coronavirus plus Saudi Arabia and Russian failing to agree on limited oil production.

4) Stock market closings for – 11 MAR 20 Stocks down 20% from their high.

Dow 23,553.22 down 1464.94
Nasdaq 7,952.05 down 392.20
S&P 500 2,741.38 down 140.85

10 Year Yield: up at 0.82%

Oil: down at $33.12

11 March 2020

1) Fully 70% of the American economy is consumer spending. Even through wages and incomes have been stagnant for many households, the consumer has continued to spend. It is not new investment by corporations, tax cuts or big new federal spending programs that stimulate the economy, but rather it’s consumer spending. However, fears of the coronavirus is dampening that spending by curtailing business trips, personal travel, sports and other outings. With the interest rate near zero, the major tool used to combat a recession is now impotent.

2) The collapse of the long standing deal between Saudi Arabia and Russia, to limit oil production, fell through this weekend sending oil prices crashing from oil supplies surplus. The coronavirus has caused China to limit economic activity and therefore reduced China’s oil consumption leading to further oil surpluses. China’s purchase of oil is down 20%. The low oil prices has made the world economy very unstable and therefore volatile. For America, independent oil companies have gone deeply into debt to pay for the shale oil extraction process, who are now threaten by low oil prices making it impossible to pay that debt. Failure of these oil companies could ripple through the American economy to pull other segments down.

3) Airlines across the world continue to sink deeper into crisis from the worsening coronavirus epidemic reducing the number of passengers, who are foregoing travel fearing the virus. The situation is made worst by not being able to predict how long the crisis will likely last and therefore unable to make accommodating plans. The lockdown of Italy has further aggravated world air travel, especially with the interruption of tourism just as the tourist season would be ramping up.

4) Stock market closings for – 10 MAR 20

Dow 25,018.16 up 1,167.14
Nasdaq 8,344.25 up 393.577

S&P 500 2,882.23 up 135.67

10 Year Yield: up at 0.748%

Oil: up at $34.62

10 March 2020

1) Monday markets opened in a steep downward spiral from sell offs, driven by the coronavirus fears, followed by the sharp drop in oil prices. The Dow dropped 2,000 points, with a massive sell off of both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq, which triggered a key market circuit breaker that halted trading for fifteen minutes. There are widespread fears over the economic impact of low oil prices, with some experts fearing oil prices down to $20 a barrel. Gold prices crossed the $1,700 dollar an ounce, hitting the highest since December 2012. The banks are hard pressed as the interest continues to sink, cutting into their margins.

2) Experts speculate that the Feds will cut the interest rate to zero in the next few months in an effort to forestall a downturn of the economy. The entire U.S. yield curve fell below 1% for the first time in history on expectations that the Federal Reserve will cut rates to zero in the next few months. Some speculate the Feds may adopt a negative rate just as some European countries have, such as Germany’s -1%.

3) While checkout-free with cashless supermarkets is now a novelty, Amazon expects this technology to spread to other retailers. Amazon has announced it plans to license its automated checkout technology to other retailers, telling of several other companies that have already signed up for the technology. The technology has been proven with cashless convenience stores across America and with Amazon’s new Go-supermarkets. The technology represents another significant step in retail automation.

4) Stock market closings for – 9 MAR 20: The stock market is like a rectal thermometer- it’s rude and crude, but surprisingly effective in showing a sick economy.

Dow 23,851.02 down 2013.76
Nasdaq 7,950.68 down 624.94
S&P 500 2,746.56 down 225.81

10 Year Yield: down at 0.50%

Oil: down at $30.24

9 March 2020

1) The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) will vote later this month on rules requiring all providers of phone service to implement automatic call blocking. This automatic technology will block illegal robocalls, that is, the automatic calling of people with a prerecorded message or to connect the person to a salesman. This will give phone and cable companies until June 20, 2021 to implement. This blocking technology is called STIR/SHAKEN protocol that authenticates the origin of a call and can automatically block it if it’s from an illegal robocaller.

2) The U.S. credit markets of bonds are suffering their worst day in a decade as fears increase over the spreading coronavirus and it’s possible effects on corporate income as well as their ability to repay debt. Bonds of American Airlines Group Inc. dropped to near distressed levels as companies worldwide canceled business travel. Other travel related bonds, such as rental car and cruise line companies, as well as energy companies, their bonds and loans fell further towards distressed levels. The selling off of bonds triggered a surge in derivative indexes that investors use to hedge against losses. The week has seen the most cash in at least ten years being withdrawn from funds buying corporate bonds and loans.

3) There are fears that the unraveling of the Saudi-Russia alliance will cause the biggest plunge of oil prices since 2015. Talks between members of the OPEC+ collapsed in Vienna, with members free to pump oil without any restrictions starting next month. The collapses is a result of Russia’s refusal to accept Saudi Arabia’s proposal for output cuts aimed at offsetting the coronavirus crisis’s impact on demand. Oil futures have plunged about 9% in New York and London.

4) Stock market closings for – 6 MAR 20:

Dow 25,864.78 down 256.50
Nasdaq 8,575.62 down 162.98
S&P 500 2,972.37 down 51.57

10 Year Yield: down at 0.71%

Oil: down at $41.57

#THECAST Ep. 12 feat Jonathan Land LOL Edition:

The Cast Ep. #12 LOL feat Jonathan Land

#TheCastPodcast is back like never before, new episode as always. Sammy BE @ecofiretv, Luisa L. @luisamodels, and on the engineering consoles Jon “Da Don” Sterling @thedramablock.

The trio is back with another one as we enter the spring season 2020. You guys and gals know what it is, more heat rock content for your dome.

It was a pleasure to have as our guest a man who is creating noise and alarms in the comedy game, he has been a featured stand up comic on Late Night With Seth Myers, and also has been on the NYC comedy circuit, lacing the circuit with great comedy. He goes by the name of Jonathan Land.

Jon came on the #TheCast to discuss comedy, entertainment, his come up story and more. This is an episode you must tune in to #TheCast.

“WE ALL HAVE A VOICE & A OPINION. IT’S JUST HOW U USE YOURS”…..

As always, Be Bless, Stay Bless, God Bless

THE PLATFORMS BELOW:

1) www.instagram.com/EcoFireTV (Sammy BE)
www.twitter.com/EcoFireTV

2) www.instagram.com/LuisaModels (Luisa L.)
www.twitter.com/LuisaModels

3) www.EconomicandFinanceReport.com (Economic & Finance Blog)

4)@Economic-FinanceReport (Podcast/Online Show)

5)www.youtube.com/channel/UCWZo5bug…Nlb2VRfDCQ/videos (EFR.Tv Youtube)

6)www.SammyBuysHomes.com (Real Estate Investment)

7) www.TraderSoul.com (Financial Trading Website)

6 March 2020

1) The devastation that the coronavirus fears has wrought on Europe’s tourist industry is brought into glaring focus in front of the famous Mona Lisa painting in Paris. Where there would normally be a continuous surge of admiring people to view the art classic, now just vacant space. The same at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the normally long lines of waiting people to get in, are also gone. The drop in tourism is costing the EU (European Union) $1.1 billion dollars a month, just when the high season is getting under way. Expectations are that it will only get worst as the year progresses.

2) General Motors is making an all out effort to dominate the EV (Electric Vehicle) market and in the process beat Tesla at its own game. GM has developed new battery modules called Ultium that is said to reduce the cost of batteries and therefore make more affordable EVs. Plans are to offer 20 new EVs by 2023, both in America and China, with marketing plans to sell one million electric cars in the next five years. However, the UAW is concerned that EVs will hurt the union because they require less manpower to assemble. Presently, GM holds over 3,000 patents on electric automobile design.

3) Seattle area school district has closed down its 33 schools of more than 23 thousand kids for up to two weeks due to the coronavirus threat. These students will use online teaching during this time through Google Apps for Education. Students needing a device or internet connection will be provided with one. Teaching staff have been provided with a one day instruction on using the apps and how to monitor the progress of their students. ATS (Automated Teaching Systems) has been on the cusp of revolutionizing American schools, and the coronavirus may provide the impetus to open the market to wide spread commercialization.

4) Stock market closings for – 5 MAR 20: The instability of the markets continue with wild swings of the trading indexes.

Dow 26,121.28 down 969.58
Nasdaq 8,738.60 down 279.49
S&P 500 3,023.94 down 106.18

10 Year Yield: down at 0.93%

Oil: down at $46.13

5 March 2020

1) The newest supercomputer called El Capitan, which will become operational in 2023, is being built in Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory at a cost of $600 million dollars. The new computer will perform 2 exaflops or 2,000,000,000,000,000,000 floating point calculations per second. If the world population was to perform one such calculation per second it would take everybody eight years to do what El Capitan does in one second. The computer will be used to do simulations of nuclear explosions, genetics research, astrophysical modeling, aircraft/automotive design and climate change. It’s the size of two tennis courts, and will use 30 megawatts of power, enough for 12,000 homes.

2) The long time publishing giant Simon & Schuster, founded in1924, is up for sale by its present owner ViacomCBS. In the last few decades, the traditional publishers have been devastated by technologies and the internet, in particular publishing on demand services. Although Simon & Schuster is not losing money, the publishing industry is no longer a growth industry. The company will most likely be sold to another publisher seeking to reduce cost by merging assets.

3) Oil prices have plunged in response to demand caused by flight cancellations, factory shutdowns and slowdowns in passenger traffic, all caused by fears of the coronavirus crisis. Natural gas prices are also down at a near four year low. The oil and gas companies, who have piled on debt to capitalize on the shale boom, are facing serious fiscal problems and may not survive. The markets for energy have dropped seriously, both stocks and bonds, which in the past, have had a detrimental ripple effect on the rest of the economy.

4) Stock market closings for – 4 MAR 20: The Dow jumped more than 1,000 points after Biden Victories.

Dow 27,090.86 up 1173.45
Nasdaq 9,018.09 up 334.00
S&P 500 3,130.12 up 126.75

10 Year Yield: down at 0.99%

Oil: up at $47.20