2 July 2020

1) The airline industry is one of the hardest hit segments of the economy from the pandemic, with an estimated 36% drop in traffic this year. But the International Air Transport Association is warning that it could worsen with a 53% drop if boarder curbs on emerging market countries and the U.S. remain in place. The U.S. – EU (European Union) air travel market generates $29 billion dollars a year is threaten by the ban on non essential flights from the U.S. as the EU attempts to avoid an resurgence of the virus. Air travel was down over 90% for April and May, with little prospects for improvement in the near future, leaving the future of air carriers in doubt too.

2) The maker of electric automobiles Tesla has become the world’s most valuable automaker, surpassing Toyota’s for the first time on record. Tesla’s valuation is roughly $206.5 billion dollars compared with Toyota’s valuation of about $202 billion dollars. This underscores the vast investor enthusiasm for the automaker, which has yet to turn a profit on an annual basis. While it’s valuation exceeds Toyota, its car production of 103,000 cars lags far behind Toyota’s production of 2.4 million vehicles. The valuation comes from the stock in the company, with investors piling money in since there aren’t any other electric vehicles investments available, with Tesla stock soaring to $1,135 per share.

3) Electricity bills are set to surge this summer because of millions of Americans sheltering in place. This added demand will mean higher electricity costs for months to come. This will mean an additional $30 to $40 per month on electric bills in cities like New York and Philadelphia. Increases are anticipated to be highest for the northeast area of the country, decreasing when going westward. This comes when people’s finances are already stretched tight because of the coronavirus crisis.

4) Stock market closings for – 1 JUL 20:

Dow 25,734.97 down 77.91
Nasdaq 10,154.63 up 95.86
S&P 500 3,115.86 up 15.57

10 Year Yield: up at 0.68%

Oil: down at $39.71

24 June 2020

1) Economists are concerned about four major factors bearing down on a recovery of the economy. These are 1) the household fiscal cliff, 2) a great business die-off, 3) state and local budget shortfalls, and 4) the lingering health crisis. The pandemic shutdown cost the jobs of 40 million Americans, 40% of them low wage workers. This has left many households short of money, having little to no savings to meet their fiscal obligations such as rent and utilities. Add to this, there has been a steep decline in consumer spending leaving large numbers of businesses to face bankruptcy, thereby making a contraction of the economy. But businesses are not the only one facing revenue shortfalls, for governments are also facing shortages of money needed for their operations and paying employees, as in more layoffs. Finally, the cost of controlling the Convid-19 virus, especially if a major second wave does emerge, for both preventive treatment and caring for the sick. All four of these factors may very well be pushing America’s economy towards another Great Recession, which could last for many years.

2) The New York eviction moratorium ended this weekend, raising fears that tens of thousands of residents will soon face evictions which will flood the courts. This problem is a reflection of a problem across all of America as those 40 million laid-off workers have been unable to pay rent or mortgage payments and now face losing their residence. But it isn’t one sided, for landlords and lenders are also facing money shortages to meet their obligations too, which can lead to their fiscal demise. Most of the tenants and home owners have limited monies beyond their income, so paying back rent and mortgage is going to be near impossible.

3) China is warning of the risk of a naval incident with the US. Claiming that the U.S. military is deploying in unprecedented numbers to the Asia-Pacific region, which makes for a rising risk of an incident with China’s navy. The United States freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea has angered the Chinese, who is trying to establish dominance in the area and hence control of the territory. The Chinese claim that 60% of America’s warships and 375,000 soldiers are deployed in the Indo-Pacific region, including three aircraft carriers. So far, the U.S. Navy has conducted 28 freedom of navigation operations by sailing through the area where China has built islands, and therefore claiming the area as theirs.

4) Stock market closings for – 23 JUN 20:

Dow 26,156.10 up 131.14
Nasdaq 10,131.37 up 74.89
S&P 500 3,131.29 up 13.43

10 Year Yield: unchanged at 0.71%

Oil: up at $40.02

22 June 2020

1) Oil has passed$40 a barrel, continuing a slow but steady recovery. This could be signaling a reawakening of the U.S. shale oil production. This rally allows the oil industry some breathing room with its high debt burden as the shale oil industry seeks to rebuild after the worst price collapse in a generation. This is far different than earlier this year when oil producers were paying to have their oil taken away. OPEC+ continues efforts to re-balance the global oil market, now abundantly clear that everyone loses in a price war.

2) More encouraging economic news with Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler returning to pre-coronavirus pandemic production schedules in their American plants. Ford plans to fully return to production levels by July 6 while also ramping up their production facilities in Mexico. Although not given any firm dates, Fiat Chrysler is also returning to former production levels as rapidly as possible.

3) Experts are predicting the restaurant business, as we know it, is coming to an end because of the Convid-19 crisis. The industry generates $900 billion dollars a year, employs 15 million people, which is 15 times more than the airline business, which many are so concerned about now. Estimates vary widely of 20 to 80% of the privately own restaurants succumbing to the pandemic. The big franchise restaurant chains are expected to mostly survive and continue, but the independents are expected to fade out. One factor is change, which is coming too fast for small operations to adapt and keep pace with. The general consensus is that the business was in trouble long before the pandemic, struggling with poor working conditions, very thin profit margins, low wages and increasing competition. But it’s not just the restaurants themselves, for behind them is farming, distribution, suppliers and commercial real estate. It’s apparent that the demise of a significant number of independent restaurants will spell a significant change to the American business environment.

4) Stock market closings for – 19 JUN 20:

Dow 25,871.46 down 208.64
Nasdaq 9,946.12 up 3.07
S&P 500 3,097.74 down 17.60

10 Year Yield: unchanged 0.70%

Oil: up at $39.43

19 June 2020

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

10 Year Yield: down at 0.69%

Oil: up at $38.84

10 June 2020

1) President Trump is slipping in the polls, and this may pose a risk to the markets. Even though the wild swings of the markets have subsided and then surged upwards, with the Democrat Joe Biden gaining in the polls, there is concerns that the markets will take a down turn as Biden becomes stronger. The President is facing criticism over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the protest from the killing of George Floyd by the police. A victory by Joe Biden and a Democratic sweep are considered more ‘market unfriendly’ outcomes. Taxes are one major area of contrast between the candidates, with taxes a major concern for American businesses. These fears are fueled by the Dow sliding downwards for the first time this month as the rally pauses.

2) Borrowing by the British government to pay for the coronavirus shutdown is soaring to levels not seen since World War II. This is on top of the financial problems from Brexit with Britain’s debt jumping five-fold to a 300 billion pound deficit ($380 billion dollars) . This could leave Britain with a 2.2 trillion pound debt and the need to raise taxes with an impact on economic growth. Britain is funding this expenditure with sales of bonds, but have fears of a Greece style loss of confidence among investors. The government is hoping for a fast recovery after restrictions are lifted, allowing the debt to quickly be paid down.

3) There are fears that the U.S. dollar is entering a bear market so may no longer be the safe haven for investors. This bear market could go for five to ten years. This would occur if the global economy really is bottoming out and thereby rebound again, while U.S. interest rates are at zero, with potential growth lower than the merging markets. The U.S. dollar is depreciating against many international peer currencies these last few days.

4) Stock market closings for – 9 JUN 20:

Dow 27,272.30 down 300.14
Nasdaq 9,953.75 up 29.01
S&P 500 3,207.18 down 25.21

10 Year Yield: down at 0.83%

Oil: down at $38.39

8 June 2020

1) The oil cartel OPEC+ and Russia address extending record oil production cuts with the intent to force noncompliant members to also comply with the curbs in production. The cartel had previously agreed to a 9.7 million barrels per day cut during May and June in an effort to prop up oil prices which collapsed because of the coronavirus crisis. Those cuts are due to tapper to 7.7 million barrels from July to December. But sources say that Saudi Arabia and Russia have agreed to extend the deeper cuts until the end of July and possibly until August. The cost of oil is a prime factor in determining the health of a country’s economy, and therefore the world economy.

2) A surprise to everyone was the U.S. jobless rate dropped in May as hiring rebounded. This signals that the economy is picking up faster than expected from the damage of the coronavirus pandemic. The jobless rate fell from 14.7% to 13.3% in May, while economist had expected the rate to rise to 19%. Canada is also experiencing a reversal in joblessness too. This is with a possible resurgence of Covid-19 with a second wave of infections, and a resulting second crash of the economy and businesses. However, the unemployment rate is the highest since the Great Depression.

3) After the federal government made assurances on March 23, that it would make borrowing easier for American corporations, the food service giant Sysco Corp sold $4 billion dollars of debt. But then not long after, the company laid off one third of its workforce, or about 20,000 people, while their stock holders continued to receive dividends. As the virus spread in April and May, the federal promise spurred sale of corporate bonds with borrowing by top rated companies for a record $1.1 trillion dollars for the year, twice the previous year. Companies like Sysco, Toyota , Omnicom Group and Cinemark Holdings borrowed billions of dollars then fired workers. This calls into question of how the promise to purchase corporate debt helped preserve American jobs. While the feds have yet to buy a single corporate bond, their promise threw the bond marked into a frenzy to buy bonds.

4) Stock market closings for – 5 JUN 20: Job report sent markets skyrocketing.

Dow 27,110.98 up 829.16
Nasdaq 9,814.08 up 198.27
S&P 500 3,193.93 up 81.58

10 Year Yield: up at 0.90%

Oil: up at $38.97$2,531.81

29 May 2020

1) Another 2.1 million Americans are unemployed as the economy begins its reopening with restriction on economic activity easing in some parts of the country. One bright spot is the number of continued claims (people remaining on unemployment) dropped slightly from people returning to work. While the number of new claims continues to drop each week, it still remains at a record high, with the drop in new claims remaining higher than anticipated. The continued elevated number of claims isn’t a good sign, showing that we are not through the business shutdowns and possible closures yet, with some furloughs shifting over to permanent layoffs. The unemployment in America is now at 40.7 million workers.

2) Boeing aircraft manufacturer may be starting its recovery announcing the resumption of limited production of its 737 MAX after a five month halt. The 737 MAX has been grounded since March of 2018 because of software problems resulting in two airliners crashing. While the FAA has not cleared the airplane for return to passenger service, Boeing expects the 737 MAX to fly again in mid 2020.

3) The millennials and generation-Z are worst off economically than any previous generation, they are experiencing slower economic growth since entering the workforce than any other generation in U.S. history. It’s not just that it’s a bad recession, or that it’s hitting young people more, but rather that it’s hitting people who have already been hit by the Great Recession. Millennials have experienced slower economic growth since entering the workforce than any other generation in U.S. history, and they will bear these economic scars throughout their lives, with lower earnings, lower wealth and delayed milestones, such as home ownership. The old adage of ‘just work harder, sink or swim by your own effort’ no longer applies, because many millennials are now having to swim upstream against a much stronger current . . . from the forces of automation and technology displacement.

4) Stock market closings for – 28 MAY 20:

Dow 25,400.64 down 147.63
Nasdaq 9,368.99 down 43.37
S&P 500 3,029.73 down 6.40

10 Year Yield: up at 0.70%

Oil: down at $33.68

8 May 2020

1) The shutdown orders are being lifted in many states, which also includes the shopping malls, but those malls remain eerily quite, almost void of humans, where once mobs crowded and surged in the hallways. People are electing to do a minimum of shopping or to shop online instead. The change is in part from fears of the virus and in part because of the high unemployment and fears of the economy floundering. There are questions of how much the American shopping ethos will return, or if consumerism is experiencing a fundamental change. The big department stores and big box stores were already suffering from changes in shopping habits and the virus may have accelerated that trend, plus many malls across America had already closed up before the pandemic. With consumerism accounting for half the economy, the future of shopping is a serious question.

2) A second major retailer has filed for bankruptcy during the coronavirus crisis. The 113 year old chain Neiman Marcus Group, which has been struggling with a $5 billion dollar debt much of it from leveraged buyouts in 2005 and 2013. With having to close 43 of its stores and laying off most of its 14,000 worker, the pandemic forced reduction of revenues that made the debt unsustainable. And that’s what broke their financial back. More than 263,000 stores in America have had to closeup leaving them with little to no revenues while their monthly fix cost remained unchanged, so questions abound of how many others will follow in the next few months, particularly if jobs don’t quickly return. On the positive note, restaurants doing takeout service, like Papa John’s Pizza, have done quite well.

3) The number of jobless Americans reached 33 million with the addition of another 3.2 million filings for unemployment benefits. This is over a seven week period, while previously 200,000 a week had once been the norm. There just doesn’t seem to be any letup in unemployment in sight from the virus crisis, with deepening fears a recession could be a long affair. On a positive note, this is the fifth week where the jobless claims have fallen, but still there are worries that the total number may go over 40 million before returning back to normal.

4) Stock market closings for – 7 MAY 20:

Dow 23,875.89 up 211.25
Nasdaq 8,979.66 up 125.27
S&P 500 2,881.19 up 32.77

10 Year Yield: down at 0.63%

Oil: down at $23.81

7 May 2020

1) The bust in the Texas oil fields is the worst in memory, says the billionaire Russell Gordy. The coronavirus pandemic has triggered an unbelievable collapse in crude oil prices that is sinking fortunes across Texas, with no clear way out visible in the near future. Texas accounts for 9% of the nations GDP (Gross Domestic Product), so as oil pulls Texas’ economy down, it will undoubtably pull the nations down too. In the past, declining energy prices have helped the U.S. economy, but this time its likely to cut into investment and employment. Texas may lose 1.3 million jobs by June, as the virus puts an end to the U.S. shale oil revolution, which may spill into a broader downturn for Texas, that will also drag the rest of the country down too. Furthermore, Americans are driving and flying much less, which has reduced the demand for oil, bringing on a crisis in storage for the oil surplus. There are expectations that home prices will decline during the remainder of this year and into the next. This in turn will impact the construction industry.

2) As a result of the pandemic, the mortgage industry is implementing reforms that will be long lasting in terms of how lenders operate and how consumers obtain financing. It’s anticipated that digital mortgage processing will become more prevalent as people seek to minimize contact with others. Relators are seeing as much as a 500% increase in home video tours. Reports are that many people are seeing involuntary credit reductions and even terminations of their credit cards as banks seek to reduce their exposure to risk in a troubled economy where jobs are at risk of elimination. This means a further reduction on consumer spending.

3) Disney has seen a 91% plunged of it profits last quarter, a direct result of the coronavirus crisis. The operating profits in Disney’s parks lost about $1 billion dollars to add to a total loss of $1.4 billion dollars in total operating income. Disney has had to close its Walt Disney World and Disneyland theme parks, plus its Disney Stores and the suspension of its cruises and disruptions of its supply chain . However, its new video streaming service Disney Plus grew 26% to 33.5 million subscribers last quarter with revenues up 260%

4) Stock market closings for – 6 MAY 20:

Dow 23,664.64 down 218.45
Nasdaq 8,854.39 up 45.27
S&P 500 2,848.42 down 20.02

10 Year Yield: up at 0.71%

Oil: down at $24.35

24 April 2020

1) The American unemployed continue to climb with an additional 4.4 million for last week. This brings the five week total of more than 26 million workers now unemployed in America, or about 16% of the labor force. Nearly one in six workers have lost their jobs in the last few weeks. But because of lags in the reporting system, these numbers don’t fully show the extent of the problem. With people needing money to pay rents, mortgage, buy food and pay utilities, state governments are facing increasing pressure to retract the ‘shelter at home’ orders and forced closing of businesses, despite dangers of virus flare-ups. Experts warn such moves could undo all the containment that’s been accomplished at the economic cost of the last five weeks. To make things worst, layoffs are expected to continue, that we have not reached the unemployed plateau yet. State, county and city workers may form the next wave of layoffs as tax revenues needed to pay salaries plunge from the pandemic.

2) The clothing retailer Gap, has warned that its existing cash reserves may not be enough to continue operations, something that mirrors the predicament of so many American businesses, especially small businesses. The company says it must take further actions to find liquidity over the next twelve months, including job cuts and new debt financing. The chain has stopped paying rent for its stores, thereby amassing an additional debt of $115 million dollars. Its stock has fallen nearly 60% this year.

3) The coronavirus pandemic is spawning another economic consequence- lawsuits! Carnival Corp. is facing suits from several passengers who claimed they weren’t warned of the high risk from virus onboard ships. Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and US Bancorp are being sued by small businesses who missed out on coronavirus rescue loans. Even universities are threaten with lawsuits for reimbursements of tuition, fees and housing. Judging from past disasters, it’s expected that more lawsuits will emerge in waves, as people seek someone to blame for their misfortunes while opportunistic attorneys capitalize on the crisis.

4) Stock market closings for – 23 APR 20:

Dow 23,515.26 up 39.44
Nasdaq 8,494.75 down 0.63
S&P 500 2,797.80 down 1.51

10 Year Yield: down at 0.61%

Oil: up at $16.72