1) The drought in the western U.S. is the biggest in years and is predicted to worsen during the coming winter months. The drought is a major reason for the record wildfires in California and Colorado. Further damage can come from depleted rivers, the stifling of crops and diminished water supplies. Elevated temperatures have dried out the soil, exacerbating the drought and making fire weather conditions sever. New Mexico is also in extreme drought conditions with rivers running dramatically low, which feed the aquifers, and neighboring Arizona is also in a deep drought. The drought is extending into Wyoming, Idaho and Montana with little relief in sight for most. Human caused climate change is increasing the likelihood of precipitation extremes on both ends of the scale, including droughts as well as heavy rainfall events and resulting floods. A study in the journal ‘Science’ found that the Southwest may already be in the midst of the first human-caused megadrought in at least 1,200 years, which began in the year 2000.
2) The Federal government has indicted six Russian military officers for massive worldwide cyber attacks. The six Russian military intelligence officers have been involved in high-profile cyberattacks on the electric power grid in Ukraine, the 2017 French elections and the 2018 Pyeong Chang Winter Olympics. The 50-page indictment details the computer intrusions and malware attacks mounted over the past five years by Unit 74455 of the GRU, the Russian military intelligence agency. No other country has weaponized cyber capabilities as maliciously or irresponsibly as Russia, deploying destructive malware from November 2015 through October 2019 in efforts to undermine or retaliate against foreign nations and organizations around the world.
3) American workers are being laid off a second time as the Covid-19 again ripples through the economy. As the second wave engulfs the economy, eight months after the first hit to the economy, Americans are still being laid off en masse by companies like Disney, the U.S. airlines, retailers and MGM Resorts. Even companies such as Allstate insurance is laying off people, 4,000 getting their pink slips. But for some workers, a second layoff so soon leaves them with no benefits, while the Paycheck Protection Program has run out. The hospitality and food-service jobs were unstable before the pandemic, but with many of those jobs now gone, many face a bleak future.
4) Stock market closings for – 20 OCT 20:
Dow 28,308.79 up 113.37 Nasdaq 1,516.49 up 37.61 S&P 500 3,443.12 up 16.20
1) The airlines around the world are expected to lose $77 billion dollars in the second half of 2020 as Covid-19 continues to crush air travel demand. There are desperate efforts to cut cost by cutting jobs, grounding aircraft and consolidating work, but all their efforts are not enough. The first half of 2020 has been brutal for airline business and the rest of the year isn’t looking much better despite modest increase in air travel. This translates into losing $13 billion dollars a month or $300,000 a minute. At the start, U.S. airlines were burning about $100 million per day, which they reduced to about $30 to $40 million at the end of the third quarter. The airlines hope to reach zero ‘cash burn’ by year’s end using workforce reductions and operational consolidation. Air travel in America is down roughly 70% from 2019.
2) As another hurricane is approaching through the Gulf of Mexico, oil workers are evacuating oil rigs in the gulf ahead of Hurricane Delta, in turn causing oil prices to rise in anticipation of lower available oil. Oil prices had been falling Wednesday, but started rising as the storm came into the Gulf and the off shore evacuations began. So far, 183 offshore oil facilities have been evacuated which has halted nearly 1.5 million barrels per day of oil output. In July, the Gulf of Mexico produced oil at 1.65 million barrels per day, which is 17% of U.S. crude oil output. The demand for oil at refineries is 13.2% lower than a year earlier, a result of the virus crisis.
3) Electric car maker Elon Musk is pushing his company to boost production to build half a million cars in one year. That means producing 170,000 cars in the fourth quarter, a 17% increase from the third quarter. A half a million cars would be a milestone for Musk’s company, a first in the history of Tesla. So far, Tesla has produced 330,000 cars while also posting profits for its fourth consecutive quarter. Additionally, Tesla is pushing production numbers up by adding more production capacity.
4) Stock market closings for – 8 OCT 20:
Dow 28,425.51 up 122.05 Nasdaq 11,420.98 up 56.38 S&P 500 3,446.83 up 27.38
1) With the government support ending the first of October, American and United airlines are cutting 32,000 jobs. The airlines received $50 billion dollars under the CARES Act to boost liquidity and support payroll in exchange for not laying off employees through the 30th of September. Their revenue down by more than 80% and a full recovery still years off, the industry needs to shrink, so American airlines furloughed 19,000 workers with United airlines to furlough 13,000 people. However, both airlines said they are ready to reverse their course if a new support bill is passed.
2) Red China has announce its program to go to the moon. Its new launch vehicle was unveiled on September 18th, which is designed to send a 27.6 ton spacecraft into trans-lunar injections. At liftoff, it will weight about 4.85 million pounds, which is about three times China’s present largest rocket, the ‘Long March 6′. Made up of three 16.4 foot diameter cores or stages, it is similar to America’s ‘Delta IV Heavy’ and ‘Falcon Heavy’. The new three stage rocket will be 285 feet long, but China has not announced a time frame to start testing.
3) Boeing Aircraft has built some 460 of their 737 MAX jets, whose delivery has been frozen since March of 2019. This is a $16 billion dollar inventory, that with the 737 MAX’s certification to fly approaching, needs to be sold for Boeing to stay viable. Many of these aircraft were built for clients that have since canceled their orders, or worst yet have gone out of business, and are now called ‘White Tails’ from a lack of an airline livery painting. Boeing is now looking for new customers to buy these aircraft, in particular Delta airline which is the only major U.S. carrier without any 737 MAX aircraft in their inventory. But Delta’s relations with Boeing has been poor in recent years, while they have also parked many of their jets because of the slowdown from the pandemic, so with Delta intent on not spending cash on aircraft, this makes for a hard sale.
4) Stock market closings for – 1 OCT 20:
Dow 27,816.90 up 35.20 Nasdaq 11,326.51 up 159.00 S&P 500 3,380.80 up 17.80
1) The international British Airways has announced they are retiring their entire fleet of Boeing 747 jets, a direct result of the Convid-19 crisis. Once one of the biggest airlines using the iconic jumbo jet, the contraction of the airline industry and the likelihood that air travel will not return to its previous size is forcing all airlines to abandon their jumbo jets early. They are going to the more modern fuel efficient Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 in their place. British Airways now has 31 Boeing 747s, about 10% of its total fleet, with an average age of 23 years.
2) What appears to be a massive attempt to embezzle monies from the general public has come to light with the social media Twitter confirming that 130 accounts were targeted in a hack. The accounts of a handful of prominent users were compromised that allowed criminals to gain access to prominent users such as Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Kanye West to post solicitations for money. The attackers were able to gain control of accounts then send Tweets from those accounts asking to send money via Bitcoin to commit cryptocurrency fraud. Wire fraud is a federal felony crime, so the FBI immediately began an investigation of who and how the fraud was perpetrated.
3) Delta Airlines is proposing a 15% cut to minimum pay for pilots to avoid furloughs for a year. This would have to come after the first of October when federal aid terms expire. This is in view that a quick recovery in air travel is becoming increasingly remote because of the rise in new coronavirus cases. More than 60,000 airline employees across several carriers have been warned that their jobs are at risk, including more than 2,500 of Delta’s 14,000 pilots. As financial losses pile up, employees are urge to take early retirements, buyouts and other forms of leave in a attempt to slash cost as financial losses pile up. So far, more than 1,700 pilots have signed up for early retirements. This is just another indicator how the air travel business is probably fundamentally changing.
4) Stock market closings for – 17 JUL 20:
Dow 26,671.95 down 62.76 Nasdaq 10,503.19 up 29.36 S&P 500 3,224.73 up 9.16
1) Kroger, the largest supermarket chain in the U.S., has been surprised by a 92% gain in its e-commerce sales. The giant has lagged behind its competitors like Walmart, Amazon and Target with e-commerce, but the coronavirus has provided the motivation for people to use the service to stay at home and do their cooking during the pandemic. The grocer has been working hard to expand into the electronic marketing area, including working with a robotics company for automated ‘stores’ to fill orders for delivery. With the pandemic changing shopping habits of Americans, now is the time for Kroger to establish its position for the future. The question now is can Kroger maintain this increased sales of e-commerce as the virus crisis subsides. Kroger had $41.55 billion dollar revenues compared with $37 million a year ago.
2) Looking back at the 100 days of the Convid-19 crisis and shutdown, we find the American economy has endured an extraordinary upheaval. Americans have endured over 2.1 million people suffering with Covid-19 which resulted in 117,000 deaths. The closing of non essential businesses sent the economy crashing into a deep recession, with record numbers of layoffs and a skyrocketing unemployment rate. This in turn made for record drops in household spending and manufacturing. Businesses such as automobile manufacturing, the airlines and hotels came to a near complete standstill. Small businesses such as restaurants were stopped dead in their tracks with fears than a large portion would not survive. The feds cut the interest rates to near zero, while pumping in trillions of dollars to stabilize the economy and support businesses until recovery starts.
3) Unemployment claims for last week were 1.5 million more people, up from the expected 1.3 million. This is the thirteenth straight week that claims were above one million. The elevated claims continue even as the country starts to open up and resume business. The real question is how many of those jobs will return and how many will be replaced by technology. Times of economic stress is when automation makes significant inroads as companies look for ways to cut cost to survive.
4) Stock market closings for – 18 JUN 20:
Dow 26,080.10 down 39.51 Nasdaq 9,943.05 up 32.52 S&P 500 3,115.34 up 1.85
1) The bankers are suggesting to America’s debt laden companies- raise money now, because things could get a lot worse! Although there is plentiful optimism across the county for a quick economic recovery, there are some real concerns for the near and far future, such as a new wave of coronavirus in the fall, an extended period of double-digit unemployment, spike in defaults and a slower than expected economic recovery as business adapt to prolonged social distancing. These all translate into reduced revenues for many months or even years. This is particularly hard on companies carrying a heavy debt load. Hard times means companies need to have as much cash reserve as possible to weather any fiscal storm over the horizon. Even companies like Uber Technologies, Inc are selling bonds, in this case $1 billion dollars of bonds last month even with a first quarter giving $8 billion dollars of cash. The mantra for businesses this day and age is ‘Cash is survival’.
2) Airlines in America are adding summer flights as passengers slowly return to traveling. The air carrier American Airlines plans to fly 55% of its domestic schedule in July, up dramatically from just 20% in May. Slowly, the airline business is coming back to life as more flights are being added to schedules in anticipation of a recovery across the country. While increased passengers is encouraging, passenger levels in the U.S. remain extremely depressed from the pandemic. The question is, are air carriers getting ahead of themselves in bring back service too fast, because if service grows faster than the number of passengers, airline companies could lose money by flying airplanes with too few paying people.
3) The job loss from the coronavirus may not be over with yet. About 6 million white collar workers, higher paid workers, could lose their jobs as the pandemic’s fallout slams other sectors of the economy. These are people who are supervisors at restaurants and hotels, real-estate and finance services. A second wave of layoffs is coming despite states starting to reopen their economies, but this time it’s the well paid workers and not the low wage workers as before who are losing their jobs.
4) Stock market closings for – 4 JUN 20:
Dow 26,281.82 up 11.93 Nasdaq 9,615.81 down 67.10 S&P 500 3,112.35 down 10.52
Vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, Charlie Munger has indicated that the recession that has been displayed because of the Coronavirus; has had drastic effect on the US and global economy as a whole.
Vice chair Munger has indicated executives from top S&P 500 companies are not seeking a government bailout aka “government intervention”, because in his opinion they are “too frozen” to do so. He has spoken that the airline industry has done very little to bring increase scrutiny on where they lie ahead of their financial stats and balance sheets. -SB
1) The $2 trillion dollar coronavirus relief bill has been passed and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the people should receive cash payments within three weeks. The IRS has been tasked with distributing the monies, but the agency is hobbled by obsolete technologies such as 1960’s era computers, limited staff and a small budget. So there are questions if the agency can get the job done in a timely manner, let alone in three weeks. Experts say its more like a matter of months rather than weeks for Americans to receive their check.
2) Almost 3.3 million Americans have applied for unemployment benefits this last week, more than quadruple the previous record set in 1982. This is a result of the wide spread economic shutdown from the coronavirus pandemic. This rate of layoffs is expected to accelerate as the U.S. economy sinks into a recession with the collapse of revenues for a wide range of businesses. Economist predict the nation’s unemployment rate could approach 13% by May.
3) Gold has traditionally been a panic investment which people and nations buy to protect the value of their money. The worldwide panic over the coronavirus coupled with a flood of stimulus by central banks has ignited demand for gold to store wealth. But the gold market is running into difficulties in buying. Stored in high security vaults, government mandated shut downs have left access iffy. Also, refiners of gold have been forced to close because of the virus. Transporting gold is done via airlines, but the sharp drop in air service has also made transport of the metal difficult. All these factors have put a squeeze on gold futures.
4) Stock market closings for – 26 MAR 20:
Dow 22,552.17 up 1351.62 Nasdaq 7,797.54 up 413.24 S&P 500 2,630.07 up 154.51
1) Today, more coronavirus concerns have surfaced that most airlines will go bankrupt soon without government bailouts. The virus has shut global aviation down because of virus outbreaks as well as travel restrictions that are intended to contain the virus. Within weeks, many airlines will need government help to avoid bankruptcy. Major U.S. airlines are seeking $50 billion dollars in financial assistance because of the steep falloff in U.S. travel demand. Estimates are for $25 billion dollars in grants, $25 billion dollars in loans and significant tax relief to survive.
2) Monday markets opened with another sharp downfall of all three major markets despite the Federal Reserve embarking on a massive monetary stimulus campaign to curb the slowing economic growth from the coronavirus. Shortly after opening, trading was halted for fifteen minutes from a ‘circuit breaker’ triggered by the S & P 500. The U.S. central bank has launched a massive $700 billion dollar quantitative easing program designed to help cushion the economic downside from the virus. The Dow was down 11% while both the Nasdaq and S & P fell more than 10%.
3) As fears grow of a world economic downturn, which will put economic stress on the U.S. economy, people are becoming concerned about their jobs. American workers may lose their jobs by the millions as the effects of the virus ripple through the financial system, the impact being devastating. The disease has spread rapidly around the world with whole nations shutting down as well as major cities. It’s unknown just what the impact will be for the world economy, when major economic areas isolate themselves from the system, even for a few weeks. Many segments of the economy are reporting significant problems which can lead to further problems across the U.S. and world economy. All this translates into layoffs, at a time when the young people of America have limited opportunities.
4) Stock market closings for – 19 MAR 20:
Dow 20,087.19 up 88.27 Nasdaq 7,150.58 up 160.73 S&P 500 2,409.39 up 11.29
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