4 March 2021

1) Kelley Aerospace has officially launched the world’s first supersonic unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), called the ‘Arrow’. The drone is designed with a single shell of lightweight carbon fiber that allows it to reach speeds up to Mach 2.1. The UCAV has reduced radar cross-section and infra-red signatures, and is designed for multiple combat or reconnaissance roles. Kelley has 100 pre-orders for the war machine, which costs between $9 to $16 million dollars each. It’s designed to complement manned aircraft making it a force multiplier in the aerial battlefield. A manned combat aircraft would control multiple Arrow UAVs, tasking each with a different missions.

2) There are about a thousand restaurant closures a month in Texas, a result of the coronavirus pandemic. About 11,000 restaurants have closed in Texas since the start of the pandemic. This is about a fifth of all Texas restaurants with about 150,000 Texans who have lost their jobs. Nine out of 10 of these restaurants are small businesses employing less than 50 people. Restaurants in downtown city centers have been hit particularly hard because business lunches and conventions were suspended almost immediately. Surprisingly, the more expensive restaurants have not fared as well as family dining locations.

3) The American Petroleum Institute is considering throwing its weight behind a government imposed price on carbon dioxide emissions as a way to slow global warming, making for a major policy shift by the oil industry’s top trade group. Supporters of a tax argue that a carbon tax increases the cost of energy derived from oil, natural gas and coal so it would be more effective than regulations at paring U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Exxon Mobil Corp., ConocoPhillips, BP and Royal Dutch Shell already support a carbon tax-and-rebate plan. The tax has gained momentum as international energy companies make investment decisions based on the assumption that emission limits will be imposed by regulation, tax or other mechanisms. The companies are seeking regulatory certainty on the issue, instead of environmental policies that whipsaw with every presidential election. A carbon tax could benefit producers of natural gas over coal and spur investment in renewables and nuclear power. Some environmentalists who oppose fossil-fuel development criticized the possible move, calling it little more than a public relations ploy by letting producers buy their way out of climate accountability. Several utilities have lobbied Biden administration officials to support a nationwide carbon price.

4) Stock market closings for – 3 MAR 21:

Dow 31,270.09 down by 121.43
Nasdaq 12,997.75 down by 361.03
S&P 500 3,819.72 down by 50.57

10 Year Yield: up at 1.47%

Oil: up at $61.06

2 March 2021

1) The electronics giant Best Buy, has laid off 5,000 full time staff in a move the electronic retailer says was caused by changing consumer patterns because of the coronavirus, and the result of online sales growth in the Amazon race. Driven by the pandemic, their online sales has grown by almost 90 percent in the fourth quarter compared with the previous year. With many Americans stuck at home, there has been a surge in demand for items ranging from computers, gaming consoles to kitchen appliances. But the retailer said that owing to a spike in online sales, which have more than doubled so far in 2021 compared with the same time last year, the retailer needs fewer full-time staff and so plans to add 2,000 part-time workers to their staff.

2) Newport News Shipbuilding, the largest industrial employer in Virginia, has announced the layoffs for 314 employees. In addition, they are moving about 120 managers to lower-level positions. These changes are necessary cost controls to help ensure the shipyard’s future and the afford ability of the ships it builds, while also reducing the number of management layers. The Newport News Shipbuilding company designs, builds and refuels nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and designs and builds nuclear-powered submarines, while employing roughly 26,000 workers.

3) The badly mauled U.S. shale industry is finding a resurgence in one of the most unlikely places . . . private operators that most investors have never heard of. For instance, the case of little known and closely held DoublePoint Energy. It is now running more rigs in the Permian Basin than the giant Chevron Corp. The family owned Mewbourne Oil Co. has about the same number of rigs as Exxon Mobil Corp does. Once minor players, private drillers hold half the horizontal rig count as of December. It’s the first time in the modern shale era that they have risen to the level of the supermajors. This is the result from the big guys starting to show restraint. They’ve dialed back drilling after the pandemic sent oil prices into collapse. Now that the market is on the rise again, the majors and publicly-traded counterparts are mostly sticking to the mantra of discipline, all but ending shale’s decade-long assault on OPEC for market share. But if private drillers keep expanding at their current pace, it could eventually mean that U.S. production ends up on the higher end of analyst forecasts. And that, of course, could weigh on prices. Oil’s dizzying collapse last year is still fresh in the minds of many, and shareholders are quick to punish the producers they think are getting too aggressive.

4) Stock market closings for – 1 MAR 21:

Dow 31,535.51 up by 603.14
Nasdaq 13,588.83 up by 396.48
S&P 500 3,901.82 up by 90.67

10 Year Yield: down at 1.45%

Oil: down at $60.34

25 February 2021

1) Nikola Corp. announced that its long-range fuel-cell semi truck gets as much as 900 miles on a tank of hydrogen gas, and is due to come out in 2024. The Nikola Two fuel-cell vehicle would go at least 750 miles on a tank of hydrogen, while its Tre shorter-range fuel-cell truck, can run 500 miles, and remains on schedule to start production in the second half of 2023. Nikola said that their first Tre FCEV prototypes are scheduled to begin assembly in Arizona and Ulm, Germany, in the second quarter of this year and that testing and validation would continue into 2022. The Nikola 900-mile truck will have a sleeping cabin for drivers and a new chassis designed for North American highways.

2) From California to Indiana, aerospace to appliance manufacturers, American factories are struggling to procure cold-rolled steel. Manufactures are getting hit by a fresh round of disruption in the U.S. steel industry. Steel is in short supply and prices are surging. Unfilled orders for steel in the last quarter were at the highest level in five years, while inventories were near a 3-1/2-year low. The benchmark price for hot-rolled steel hit $1,176 per ton this month, its highest level in at least 13 years. Domestic steel prices have risen more than 160% since last August, leaving steel consumers in a quandary whether to absorb or pass along the increased cost. U.S. steel prices are 68% higher than the global market price and almost double China’s, even with prices in both China and Europe up over 80% from their pandemic-induced lows. But the price gap is so wide that even with a 25% tariff, it would be cheaper to import than buy from domestic mills. The United States imported 18% of its steel needs last year.

3) The global semiconductor shortage will slash earnings of General Motors and Ford Motor Co. by about one-third this year, as supply constraints hamper production and profits. The chip shortage will materially erode margins and could lower expected earnings before interest and taxes by as much as $2 billion for GM and $2.5 billion for Ford. GM’s EBITA margin could fall to 3.4%, while Ford’s could dip as low as 1.8%. Rising demand for the chips needed to build technologically advanced and connected vehicles has introduced a new set of challenges for the North American auto industry, with shortages triggering production cuts and temporary plant closures. Demand from consumer-electronic companies exacerbated the supply shortages amid the coronavirus pandemic.

4) Stock market closings for – 24 FEB 21:

Dow 31,961.86 up by 424.51
Nasdaq 13,597.97 up by 132.77
S&P 500 3,925.43 up by 44.06

10 Year Yield: up at 1.39%

Oil: up at $63.36

24 February 2021

1) The employees at Boeing Commercial Airplanes headquarters have been told to clear out their belongings as the coronavirus pandemic has increased the viability of working remotely. The aerospace giant has its Commercial Airplanes headquarters there and has hinted it could sell the facility as a cost cutting measure, although the company hasn’t unveiled its plans publicly. Boeing continually assesses the company’s entire portfolio of real estate property assets and adjusts the company’s footprint as the business environment evolves. Boeing Commercial Airplanes leadership will remain in the Puget Sound region. As Boeing adapt to new market realities and position for the future, they are taking action across the company in five key categories: infrastructure; overhead and organizational structure; portfolio and investment mix; supply chain health; and operational excellence. That involves a look at the costs of maintaining some office space. Boeing can offer more flexibility for their teammates with a combination of virtual and on-site workspace, while also ensuring that leaders and teams are closer to where the work is being done to support customers.

2) In late December, the activist investment firm Engine No. 1 announced that it had the support of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System for the firm’s slate of four candidates for election to the board of directors of Exxon Mobil Corp. Engine No. 1’s stake is less than 0.02%. Like many other oil producers, Exxon cites the role of carbon capture in reducing carbon emissions by the end of the century. Exxon’s stated goal of an 11% to 13% reduction in emissions by 2025 is misleading, according to the firm. That goal does not include what are called Scope 3 emissions, the carbon emitted from burning the oil and gas products a company sells. The investment firm claims that Scope 3 emissions account for about 83% of Exxon’s total emissions.

3) American made solar panels cannot compete with Chinese prices as the demand for green energy increases under the Biden administration. American companies must compete on quality, so must make sure that everything done here is up to a higher standard than anywhere else. Two thirds of all of the world’s solar panels are produced in China, with only a few companies that manufactures panels in the U.S. As it stands now, with America attempts to be self sufficient with energy, we are dependent on to China to supply the bulk of solar panels.

4) Stock market closings for – 23 FEB 21:

Dow 31,537.35 up by 15.66
Nasdaq 13,465.20 down by 67.85
S&P 500 3,881.37 up by 4.87

10 Year Yield: down at 1.36%

Oil: up at $61.32

22 February 2021

1) There have been many reports about the crumbling weakness of American infrastructure, something that became apparent to many people with the recent hard freeze across the country. Example- in two hours Texas’s electric grid almost came crashing down. Electric demand for heat was soaring, then three coal plants followed quickly by a gas plant dropped out. If insufficient power came in, the grid wouldn’t be able to support the energy demand from customers and the other power plants that supply them, causing a cycle of dysfunction. As many as 5 million homes and businesses were abruptly thrust into frigid darkness for nearly four straight days as the crisis continued, ensnaring more than a dozen other states as far as away as California. Wind power was the first to go, as dense fog settled over turbine fleets, freezing on contact. Their blades iced over, so wind farms completely ceased. Then gas generation began declining. As the cold deepened, demand climbed sharply, hitting and then exceeding the state’s all-time winter peak. Gas well shut-ins in West Texas caused gas supplies to dip, reducing pressure at gas plants and forcing them offline, so virtually all of the generation falling off the grid came from coal or gas plants. In the span of 30 minutes, 2.6 gigawatts of capacity had disappeared from Texas’s power grid, enough to power half a million homes. Demand kept climbing, and plants kept falling offline. To stem the plunge, operators started shedding load. Operators removed 10 gigawatts of demand, essentially cutting power to 2 million homes in one fell swoop. As blackouts spread across the state, power was cut not only to homes and businesses but to the compressor stations that drive natural gas pipelines further cutting off the flow of gas supplies to power plants.

2) Now Maersk , the world’s largest shipping line, is taking a historic step toward not using fossil fuels for propulsion. About half of Maersk’s 200 biggest customers have set science-based or zero-carbon targets for their supply chains, or are in the process of doing so. The firm wants to have net-zero emissions from its operations by 2050, and helped found a research center focused on decarbonizing the industry. Getting hold of enough carbon-neutral fuel will be Maersk’s biggest challenge, given the current lack of availability.

3) Some experts are predicting that because of the rare convergence of three economic triggers, we are about to see a massive buying frenzy into the technology sector of the stock market. No details were shared.

4) Stock market closings for – 19 FEB 21:

Dow 31,494.32 up by 0.98
Nasdaq 13,874.46 up by 9.11
S&P 500 3,906.71 down by 7.26

10 Year Yield: up at 1.34%

Oil: down at $59.01

10 February 2021

1) Fear in American society is apparent with the soaring gun sales for this last year. Measuring, by using the Federal background checks, there have been 4.3 million checks for 2021 vs. 2.7 million for 2020. About 60% of these buyers are new buyers of guns, and about 40% are women. Sales have been so heavy that gun shops are closing because they don’t have any inventory, with people buying two and three guns at a time. The high sales are driven by fear of social unrest, rioting in major cities across the country lasting weeks on end, and fears of suppression of gun ownership by the new administration. Also, people don’t feel they can rely or trust the police to protect them anymore. Additionally, ammunition of all types has been sold out across the land.

2) The global microchip shortage for automobiles continues to spread with the next victim being Ford’s most profitable truck, the F-150 pickup. Many companies have scaled back car production because of the computer chip shortage. Ford is temporarily cutting the number of shifts in its truck production plants in half. Microchip shortages has Volkswagen production limited, and Honda and GM have also had to cut back. Nissan and Toyota have had to slow their truck production lines as well. Ford has already limited production of other models, the Escapes and Lincoln Corsairs. Modern cars have computer systems for almost every component these days, from digital speedometers to vital vehicle functions like controlling emissions and emergency brake systems. The microchip shortages isn’t confined to automobiles with manufactures of telephones, computers, appliances and home entertainment systems feeling the pinch too.

3) Unemployment agencies across the country were flooded with so many claims during the pandemic that many struggled to distinguish the correct from the criminal. Some Americans are receiving tax forms saying they owe money on unemployment benefits they never received. This is an indication of the extent of identity theft in the nation’s state run unemployment systems. Unemployment benefits are taxable, so government agencies must send a tax form to people who received them, and some Americans are receiving tax forms saying they owe money on unemployment benefits they never received. State run unemployment offices are lucrative targets for fraud particularly when the agencies are swamped with applications and not having the time and resources to check. This signals that someone has likely stole personal information and used it to claim benefits, but that data may later be used to steal an identity for more fraud. Nearly 26 million people requested unemployment aid in the initial months after states began ordering shutdowns due to the pandemic.

4) Stock market closings for – 9 DEB 21:

Dow 31,375.83 down by 9.93
Nasdaq 14,007.70 up by 20.06
S&P 500 3,911.23 down by 4.36

10 Year Yield: down at 1.16%

Oil: up at $58.39

4 February 2021

1) Two companies, AmSty and Agilyx, have announced the certified circular recycling pathway for polystyrene for recycling has been cleared. Polystyrene waste is currently being transformed from solid form to its liquid feedstock called recycled styrene monomer (RSM) at their joint venture facility, to produce circular recycled products. These products can now be put back into the marketplace with original quality. This is the major advancement in recycling polystyrene waste in a world being overrun by plastic waste.

2) QuantumScape, the solid-state battery company, debuted its stock which soared up 256% in less than a month, but then plunged 60% from the high. The solid-state battery is lighter, has greater energy density, therefore more range, lower cost and faster recharge times. But solid-state battery packs for cars are far from ready. They do away with the liquid electrolyte that makes conventional lithium-ion batteries heavy, as well as being dangerous at high temperatures. Getting solid-state batteries to the market is difficult and will take some time, so battery packs for cars are far from ready. Two things sent the company stock down. First is a January 4 report saying that QuantumScape’s batteries are small and unproven, smaller than an iWatch battery and never tested outside a lab. A few days later, the law firm Gainey McKenna and Egleston announced a class-action lawsuit against QuantumScape on behalf of investors, noting a 40 percent drop in the stock price after the story ran. QuantumScape has made clear the batteries are still in the development stage, with results from testing small prototypes instead of full power packs. Other companies, such as Toyota, General Motors, Samsung, Ford and Hyundai are working and investing in the new battery technology. The solid-state space energy storage field has been dormant for many years but now it is heating up.

3) It’s reported that China has stolen personal data from 80% of Americans using their Chinese hackers. On the news show 60 Minutes on CBS the former director of the US National Counterintelligence and Security Center disclosed that 80% of American adults have had some amount of their personally identifiable information stolen by the Communist Party of China. Furthermore, there are concerns that the Chinese regime is taking all that information about Americans, such as what we eat, how we live, when we exercise and sleep, and combining it with our DNA data. With information about heredity and environment, suddenly they know more about us than we know about ourselves.

4) Stock market closings for – 3 FEB 21:

Dow 30,723.60 up by 36.12
Nasdaq 13,610.54 down by 2.23
S&P 500 3,830.17 up by 3.86

10 Year Yield: up at 1.13%

Oil: down at $55.95

14 January 2021

1) Bitcoin, the digital currency, hit an all time high of $41,000 per coin, but Bitcoin as well as the other cryptocurrencies, has a history of volatility and is unregulated. After hitting a record high in December of 2017, Bitcoin plunged 50% the first month of 2018. There are now warnings that Bitcoin is a massive bubble waiting to collapse in the near future. There are upsides to cryptocurrencies, such as the need to not deal with a bank, but it also makes the currency’s future uncertain. The biggest risk to owning Bitcoin is the possibility of being banned, and this has already been done with other cryptocurrencies. The IRS considers Bitcoin property, not currency, which means there are tax consequences. If you hold the bitcoin for a year or less, any trading profits are taxed as short-term gains, at the same rates as ordinary income. But if you hold it for more than a year, your profits are taxed as long-term capital gains, at rates of 0% to 20% in 2021 depending on your income level. The IRS has more recently been going after cryptocurrency holders who aren’t reporting their digital currencies.

2) Fears of a Bitcoin bubble bursting increased as Bitcoin fell with $170 billion dollars wiped out in 24 hours as Bitcoin pulls back by over 11% from a day earlier to $35,828.06. The sell off of cryptocurrencies comes after a huge rally and perhaps signaling some profit-taking from investors. The $40,000 mark could have been a trigger for profit-taking.

3) Americans are asking what really happens when there’s a 50-50 split in the senate? With the vice president a democrat, the democrats hold the narrowest possible majority which leaves some major obstacles and mine fields for the party. The senate cloture rule requires 60 members to end debate and vote on most topics, which in practice will allow the republican to filibuster much of the democrats’ legislative agenda. This is how the 50-50 split is likely to work in real life, the first hurdle is the organizing resolution, which determines everything from committee membership and staff budgets, to who gets the best office space. But in these hyper-partisan times, agreeing on even the rules of the road may be tricky. In theory, senate democrats could change the cloture rule and abandon the need for 60 votes, which would kill the filibuster. There will be further problems when the votes are not along party lines, and senators vote their minds.

4) Stock market closings for – 13 JAN 21:

Dow 31,060.47 down by 8.22
Nasdaq 13,128.95 up by 56.52
S&P 500 3,809.84 up by 8.65

10 Year Yield: down at 1.09%

Oil: down at $52.87

13 January 2021

1) Reports are that Biden will unveil plans to spend trillions of dollars in pandemic and economic relief money this next week. Biden is introducing several members of his economic team, after data shows the U.S. economy has lost jobs for the first time in eight months as a resurgent COVID-19 pandemic has again shuttered restaurants and other businesses. Biden is calling for raising the minimum wage to $15, and for sending out $2,000 in direct cash payments. Biden claims that economic research confirms that with today’s crisis, especially with such low interest rates, taking immediate action, even with deficit financing , is going to help the economy. Biden also say they are looking into other economic relief actions that can be taken unilaterally, including extending a pause on repayments of federal student loans.

2) US naval aircraft carrier groups still rule the seas, but both Russia and China have plans to change that as they strive to expand their blue water navies, by developing new weapons that could threaten America’s dominance. For instance, it is reported that China launched two ballistic missiles that hit a moving target ship in the South China Sea thousands of miles from their launch sites. The Russian navy conducted its third test launch of it’s hypersonic anti-ship cruise missile that was launched from a frigate. The missile reached a speed of Mach 8 before hitting a target more than 200 miles away. These tests are the latest indication that American aircraft carriers, long viewed as kings of the seas, may soon face a real threat to their existence.

3) Iran has told South Korea not to politicize the seizure of their vessel, while demanding the release of $7 billion dollars in funds frozen amid U.S. sanctions. Additionally, Iran has denied all allegations that the seizing of South Korea’s tanker and its 20-member crew amounted to hostage taking, claiming instead it was Seoul who was holding Iran’s funds hostage. The vessel was seized based on an Iranian court order for ‘environmental pollution’, however, the ship’s Busan-based operator, said there was nothing to indicate that before the seizure of the vessel that Iranian authorities were probing possible violations of environmental rules.

4) Stock market closings for – 12 JAN 21:

Dow 31,068.69 up by 60.00
Nasdaq 13,072.43 up by 36.00
S&P 500 3,801.19 up by 1.58

10 Year Yield: up at 1.14%

Oil: up at $53.38

12 January 2021

1) The cryptocurrency Bitcoin plummets the most since March as a stronger dollar and investor nerves strip off nearly $140 billion in the cryptocurrency market cap, renewing fears that Bitcoin may be a bubble waiting to burst. But Bitcoin is still up roughly 89% over the past month. Other cryptocurrency coins, such as XRP and Litecoin, have shed about 18% each. Bitcoin hit a record high last week above $41,000, driven by the combination a weaker dollar, economic optimism, and a wave of bullish sentiment toward cryptocurrencies as big-name investors and investment banks touted a potential for huge gains this year, with the stronger dollar and higher bond yields triggering a plunge in Bitcoin and gold prices.

2) Trump has been permanently barred from the platform Twitter, resulting in$5 billion dollars in losses in market value, with Twitter stock dropping after the barring of the President. Twitter stated they permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence. Trump, who had about 88 million followers, generated enormous publicity for the platform with his controversial and incendiary tweets over the past six years. As a result, Twitter’s stock fell as much as 12% on Monday thus the decline of $5 billion dollars from Twitter’s market capitalization. Investors are worried that the Trump ban will erode interest in the platform and lead to boycotts among those who see the decision as politically motivated and a way to silence a major conservative voice.

3) Fears are growing that a bigger stimulus may be seen as the ‘peak of this bubble’ resulting in a market correction or worst. Some think that with the Democrats set to take control of both the House and Senate, perhaps President-elect Joe Biden will be less likely to spook markets with tax ambitions. Biden has promised $2,000 stimulus checks if the Senate turned blue, so now the question is what will happen? For millions of Americans, it’s been a painful waiting game already, they having subsisted with minimum money since losing their jobs from the pandemic. Joe Biden made the promise that if Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock turned the senate blue that would end the block in Washington and allow the $2,000 stimulus checks to immediately go out the door to people who are in real trouble.

4) Stock market closings for – 11 JAN 21:

Dow 31,008.69 down by 89.28
Nasdaq 13,036.43 down by 165.54
S&P 500 3,799.61 down by 25.07

10 Year Yield: up at 1.13%

Oil: down at $52.18