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

31 December 2020

1) President Donald Trump’s efforts for a $2,000 Covid-19 relief check for each American has run into a road block, which the Senate Republicans have made unsurmountable, even as pressure builds to approve the bigger checks. A growing number of Republicans oppose more spending, despite bucking Trump. The showdown over the $2,000 checks has thrown Congress into a chaotic year-end session which is preventing action on overturning Trump’s veto on a sweeping defense bill. McConnell is trying to provide an off ramp for GOP senators to avoid a tough vote. Republicans are split between those who align with Trump’s populist instincts and those who adhere to what had been more traditional conservative views against government spending. New legislation is proposing linking the president’s demand for bigger checks with repealing law suit protections for tech companies like Facebook or Twitter , as well as establishment of a bipartisan commission to review the 2020 presidential election for possible fraud.

2) There is another casualty of the coronavirus pandemic . . . the ringing in of the new year at Times Square in New York, which in the past draws millions of visitors to Midtown, but not this year. This year, the visitors are out, the traditional dropping of the crystal orb will be viewed only on television. There will still be the night performances, with disco diva Gloria Gaynor singing her “I Will Survive”, a rather appropriate anthem for 2020. Other cities across the globe are also curbing their traditional celebrations of the new year.

3) The new strain of Covid-19 virus has been discovered in Colorado and California which alarms scientists because it is a more contagious Covid-19 strain. It is expected that the new strain will quickly spread to other states. In San Diego County a 30-year-old man in the county, with no travel history, has tested positive for the new strain on Tuesday. Because there is no travel history, this is not an isolated case in San Diego County. Furthermore, on Tuesday, Southern California’s Intensive Care Unit availability is now at zero percent. Meanwhile, Colorado reported its first known case of the variant on Tuesday too, and was investigating a second possible case Wednesday. Both of the cases are National Guard soldiers who were deployed to support staffing at a nursing home in Simla, Colorado, outside Denver. While the new variant continues to spread fast in the UK, it is more contagious than previously identified strains but not more severe. The English virus spreads at a rate of 70% compared with other variants in the U.K.

4) Stock market closings for – 30 DEC 20:
Dow 30,409.56 up by 73.89
Nasdaq 12,870.00 up by 19.78
S&P 500 3,732.04 up by 5.00
10 Year Yield: down at 0.93%
Oil: up at $48.30

30 December 2020

1) With President Trump signing the COVID-19 relief bill into law, millions of Americans will again have pandemic-related benefits. The COVID-19 relief bill gives those who depend on unemployment benefits some amount of relief. In addition to enhancing unemployment benefits, there is also a $600 check for every adult making less than $75,000 a year.

2) To add to the economic woes of many Americans this year, for a second consecutive week, a massive winter storm is sweeping across the north and east. A new storm system brought heavy rain, gusty winds and thunderstorms to Southern California and will move across the country this week. The new storm system will move across the US during New Year’s Eve leaving heavy snow, winds, severe thunderstorms.

3) With President Trump’s veto of the annual military bill, the House voted to override President Trump’s veto, mustering bipartisan support to enact the legislation over the president’s objections and handing him a rare legislative rebuke in the final days of his presidency. The defense bill also takes steps to slow or block President Trump’s draw down of American troops from Afghanistan. The 322 to 87 vote is the first time a chamber of Congress has overridden one of Trump’s vetoes. The bill also authorizes a pay raise for the nation’s troops. However, the Senate, which must also get a two-thirds vote of its chamber to override vetoes, will take up the legislation later in the week. But the vote is complicated by another separate bill that would increase the size of individual stimulus checks to $2,000. For 60 years, lawmakers have used the annual military bill to bring home wins to their constituents. So far, the Congress has failed to over ride any of President Trump’s vetoes. But for the Senate to gain the two thirds vote to over ride, twelve Republicans must cross over. Other provisions of the bill are new benefits for tens of thousands of Vietnam-era veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange, a 3% increase in pay for service members and a boost in hazardous duty incentive pay. The bill also requires all federal officers enforcing crowd control at protests and demonstrations to identify themselves and their agencies, as well as directing the Pentagon to rename military bases which are named after Confederate leaders.

4) Stock market closings for – 29 DEC 20:

Dow 30,335.67 down by 68.30
Nasdaq 12,850.22 down by 49.20
S&P 500 3,727.04 down by 8.32

10 Year Yield: unchanged at 0.93%

Oil: up at $48.25

28 December 2020

1) Rich Americans are rushing to make large transactions before the end of the month and year, intending to get ahead of expected raising of taxes or closing of loopholes. The year-end frenzy come as a surprise to many advisers, because Republicans did better than many expected in congressional races. This suggests Biden may have a difficult time fulfilling campaign promises to raise trillions of dollars in new revenue from the wealthy. The new Biden administration could close the many loopholes that make the U.S. estate and gift tax easy to avoid.

2) The bill for the pandemic relief is 5,600 pages long containing more than one million words, which makes it slightly longer than “A Dance to the Music of Time”, Anthony Powell’s classic 12-volume work, which is considered the longest novel in the English language, taking more than 100 hours to read aloud. But while the bill doesn’t provide the relief of the first one, it will create two new Smithsonian museums and a Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library in North Dakota. There is legislation for copyright holders to pursue increasingly frivolous claims against YouTube users. Economic sanctions and other penalties to any Chinese national who attempts to interfere in the process by which the 15th Dalai Lama is chosen. It will ban a now-defunct activist group from receiving federal funding. In short, much of the bill provides no help for Americans struggling to survive this economic calamity. Therefore, the stimulus bill is the worst of both worlds of Democrats and Republicans.

3) Communist China is adding to its military aggressiveness by developing amphibious assault ships to enhance its blue water navy and dominate the seas. The 40,000-ton assault warship is the key to Beijing’s ambition of dominating the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea, where frequent encounters with the United States Navy have occurred this year. A total of eight Type 075 amphibious assault ships have been ordered by the PLA, with the third one currently under construction and expected to be delivered in early 2021. The landing helicopter dock carries 30 attack helicopters and 900 troops. The assault ships gives China the ability to conduct vertical deployment in military operations on islands and reefs, the Chinese Communist citing self-governing Taiwan and the South China Sea as examples.

4) Stock market closings for – 24 DEC 20:

Dow 30,199.87 up by 70.04
Nasdaq 12,804.73 up by 33.62
S&P 500 3,703.06 up by 13.05

10 Year Yield: down at 0.93%

Oil: up at $48.23

22 December 2020

1) Taiwan is building a state-of-the-art fleet of submarines as a means to counter any potential Chinese plans to invade the island or conduct a naval blockade. Construction of the first of eight submarines began last month the first expected to begin sea trials in 2025. This is just another sign of nations in the pacific realm with growing fears of China’s power. China claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, despite the fact that the two countries have had separate governments for more than seven decades. For several months, China’s People’s Liberation Army has been increasing military pressure on the island, but any PLA invasion flotilla must cross the Taiwan Strait, the relatively narrow body of water separating Taiwan from the mainland. Taiwan’s new submarine fleet could make a big difference in repulsing such a move.

2) Congressional leaders are nearing completion of end-of-the-year stimulus package to provide another round of checks to middle-class Americans and extend unemployment. The $900 billion dollar deal now has provision for a $600 payment to individuals, with checks promised to be sent out within a week of the bill being signed. On top of that, states, schools and local governments are clamoring for a federal bailout, facing massive budget gaps in 2021, but reports are, there are no such provisions in the 5,500 page bill.

3) The company Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp., which is China’s largest chipmaker, is included on a U.S. blacklist calculated to have a major adverse impact on the development of advanced technology. The research and development of 10-nanometer chips and more sophisticated technologies will be affected, however the blacklist isn’t expected to have significant impact on SMIC’s operations and finances in the short term. The blacklists has more than 60 Chinese firms, in addition to SMIC included, because of national security and human rights violations, while China threatens countermeasures against these U.S. sanctions. SMIC joins the likes of Huawei Technologies Co. where the list denies them access to U.S. technology from software to circuitry.

4) Stock market closings for – 21 DEC 20:

Dow 30,216.45 up by 37.40
Nasdaq 12,742.52 down by 13.12
S&P 500 3,694.92 down by 14.49

10 Year Yield: down at .94%

Oil: down at $47.86

21 December 2020

1) There is a move in congress, lead by Rep. Ayanna Pressley, urging President-elect Joe Biden to cancel up to $50,000 per person in federal student debt. Supporters of the move consider the student debt crisis as a racial and economic justice issue encompasses the kind of bold, high-impact policy that the broad and diverse coalition, which elected Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are expecting them to deliver. The mounting student debt problem has 45 million Americans owing a total of about $1.6 trillion dollars in student loans, with one in 10 loans in delinquency or default. The typical monthly payment is between $200 and $299, with minorities experiencing the most difficulties with student debt.

2) A massive heavy snow storm continues to cross the Northeast as the season’s first major winter storm slowly moves off the East Coast, leaving as much as 4 feet of snow. There has been hundreds of vehicle crashes with some of them being deadly. The storm has left more than 50,000 customers without electricity mainly in Virginia and New York state. The interior of Pennsylvania and New York state took the brunt of the storm, the storm setting a new two-day snowfall record in Binghamton. The previous record was recorded March 2017 with 35.3 inches of snow. Airlines have canceled more than 600 flights because of the snow.

3) President Trump has issued an executive order prohibiting Americans from investing in companies tied to China’s military complex. U.S. investors are bared from buying into 35 Chinese companies the Pentagon has classified as aiding China’s defense, intelligence and security apparatus. The executive order has sparked sell offs of Chinese stocks and bonds, forced index firms to drop companies from marquee benchmarks, and pushed Wall Street to reassess risks from investing in China. There are questions at the state department whether the blacklist should include subsidiaries of the companies, or if affiliates should be included. Asset managers are now reaching out to the Biden transition team to glean how the new administration will interpret the executive order. Starting on January 11, U.S. investors are barred from the purchase or investment in stocks, with investors having until November 2021 to get rid of their Chinese securities.

4) Stock market closings for – 18 DEC 20:

Dow 30,179.05 down by 124.32
Nasdaq 12,755.64 down by 9.11
S&P 500 3,709.41 down by 13.07

10 Year Yield: up at 0.95%

Oil: up at $49.08

18 December 2020

1) American drivers are facing the highest gasoline prices in two months, a result of the rising cost of crude oil used to make the gas. Presently, retail gasoline prices average $2.19 a gallon, up about 5 cents so far this month. Benchmark futures in the U.S. are the most expensive in months, following a rally, fueled in part by optimism around the impending circulation of Covid-19 vaccines, with the price of oil possibly rising further, and so pushing up gas prices. The crude oil needed to produce gasoline is climbing because of availability of the vaccination and anticipation that distribution will be more widely available in 2021.

2) Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D. Mich.) has proposed that the U.S. funding for another round of $1,200 stimulus checks for Americans can be had by reversing President Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax cuts passed in 2017. A point of contention in the negotiations has been another round of stimulus checks. The bipartisan $908 billion dollar proposal unveiled on Dec. 9 and then split into two parts, but did not include stimulus payments. Tlaib has criticized Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos and wants him and other billionaire CEOs to pay more in taxes by reversing Trump’s signature tax cuts. Amazon paid no U.S. federal income taxes in 2017 and 2018 despite incomes of $3.03 billion and $10.07 billion dollars.

3) The U.S. dollar fell sharply relative to other major currencies, spurred by the Federal Reserve’s reassurance that it won’t be reducing its bond purchases, which is a green light to sell American currency. The Fed has vowed not to change its policy even if the outlook for the U.S. economy brightens as is now expected. The dollar weakening also comes from rising expectations that Washington lawmakers will finally agree on an economic rescue package that’s seen as necessary to shore up a sagging recovery. A falling dollar is typically seen as positive for American and global equities as well as the world economy. Other central banks are also employing extraordinary measures aimed at supporting their economies. And while a weaker dollar is viewed generally as positive for the U.S. and the global economy, it’s been a source of consternation for some rivals, including the European Central Bank.

4) Stock market closings for – 17 DEC 20:
Dow 30,303.37 148.83 up by 0.49%
Nasdaq 12,764.74 106.56 up by 0.84%
S&P 500 3,722.48 21.31 up by 0.58%
10 Year Yield: up at 0.93%
Oil: up at $48.40

11 December 2020

1) The minerals called ‘rare earths’, is used in a wide range of products central to the American economy, and therefore is a disaster waiting to happen. Already, voices in China and the Chinese Communist Party are suggesting that supplies of rare earths to America should be curtailed to gain diplomatic and economic leverage. In 2010, China made a similar threat to Japan, then temporarily cutting off supplies over a minor diplomatic dispute. China holds 35 percent of the world’s entire rare earth supply, but has been turbocharging production, and so now accounts for 70 percent of global production. Furthermore, China supplies 80 percent of the U.S.’s rare earth imports. The rare earth minerals are a class of 17 different mineable natural elements, which can be extracted from the earth’s crust. These minerals make up crucial components of many modern technological innovations, from electric cars and solar panels to fighter jets and satellites. The permitting process in the U.S. is ridiculously long, taking up to three decades where Australia and Canada’s only require two years, thus precluding much-needed investment from taking place.

2) Entrepreneur Elon Musk has announced his intention to relocate his business center to Texas. He joins the massive migration of Californians to Texas, with 687,000 California citizens having moved to Texas in the last decade, and in addition, Texas is the number one state for corporate moves. Other major technology companies have also abandon their ‘mother state’, leaving California for Texas. Major companies such as Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. have left. Toyota moved its North American headquarters, and about 4,000 jobs, from California to Plano Texas in 2017. Musk has also moved some major operations, picking Austin as the site for Tesla’s largest U.S. assembly plant, a $1.1 billion dollar investment that’ll employ at least 5,000 workers.

3) There are suggestions that the FCC has massively overstated the availability of gigabit coverage of internet service in the U.S. The FCC reported that gigabit internet was available to 84% of Americans, but independent numbers show it’s closer to 56% and possibly even less. This discrepancy is a result of the method used by FCC research, by counting all houses as having the gigabit service in an area when only some number of houses actually have the service. The larger issue is limited access to high-speed broadband internet for those households located in rural areas and low-income urban areas.

4) Stock market closings for – 10 DEC 20:
Dow 29,999.26 down by 69.55
Nasdaq 12,405.81 up by 66.86
S&P 500 3,668.10 down by 4.72
10 Year Yield: down at 0.91%
Oil: up at $46.97