21 October 2020

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

10 Year Yield: 0.80%

Oil: up at $41.31

22 September 2020

1) Bad news from the conronavirus continuing to pile in with a just-released report that 60% of the small businesses that have closed because of the virus, and will never open again. Of nearly 163,700 businesses that have closed since March 1, about 98,000 say they’ve shut their doors for good. This is a 23% increase from July. About 32,100 of these businesses are restaurants, with close to 19,600, or about 61%, closing permanently. The National Restaurant Association says 100,000 restaurants have closed, either permanently or long-term, with a lose of $240 billion in sales this year. Restaurants operate on razor-thin margins even in the best of times, and so are less likely to make it through the disruption. Consumers are spending less on dining-out, while the disposable income for Americans is shrinking. Retail stores are also struggling with about 30,400 shopping and retail establishments closing since March 1, and of these 17,500, or 58% of them are permanent.

2) Many of the workers now working at home, are engaged in day trading to counter boredom for both entertainment and profits, but with growing fears that this trend could end badly. Most of these individual investors do not have the wealth, time or temperament to make money and sustain losses for any period of time. Major companies can have big rallies on the market, only to suddenly turn around with big losses. These casual investors are competing with large investors who have technology that allows them to trade on information before most people have time to read about it. In the long run, small investors, with about 30 stocks, have only a 40% chance of doing as well as the overall market.

3) The incredibly low interest rates have caused a rush of home sales in 2020 as people take advantage of the low interest rate, and in turn all these new mortgages have flooded the bond market as investors scoop them up. But it’s not just home sales, because 69% of the new mortgages are refinances of old mortgages. Many of these mortgages are then sold to government sponsored agencies such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae, who then repackage the loans into mortgage backed bonds or securities. These bonds often have higher returns than traditional Treasurys. Additionally, the bonds are often backed by government guarantees meaning there is little risk to the investors.

4) Stock market closings for – 21 SEP 20:
Dow 27,147.70 down 509.72
Nasdaq 10,778.80 down 14.48
S&P 500 3,281.06 down 38.41
10 Year Yield: down at 0.67%
Oil: down at $39.72

26 August 2020

1) The American Airlines Group Inc. will layoff 19,000 workers once the federal payroll act expires on the first of October, making for a 30% reduction in its workforce since the Convid-19 crisis. This will result in 17,500 workers furloughed and about 1,500 cuts to management staff. These cuts are forced by a 70% drop in passenger numbers. This will bring the airlines pandemic cuts to 40,000 positions since the coronavirus outbreak. Presently, American plans to fly less than 50% of its normal schedule in the fourth quarter, while their long haul international flights will be just 25% of 2019. The airlines will have 100,000 employees compared with 140,000 in March of this year.

2) Real estate investors, including some of the largest investment groups, are skipping loan payments while raising billions of dollars for new investments. While the pandemic has devalued some real estate, it has also created new targets for investors loaded with cash. It’s the age-old strategy of abandoning ‘loser investments’ to buy winners, the losers being commercial properties with businesses that don’t need as much space as before the pandemic. Property owners are more likely to walkaway when their equity has been wiped out by lower values. Restaurants and hotels properties are especially vulnerable.

3) Reverse mortgages have new appeal for older Americans because of the super low interest rates, which means more of the equity is available to the home owners since less is going towards the interest. Essentially, a reverse mortgage is like a loan, where the owner sells his property for cash, but continues living in it. This makes retirement more comfortable or even possible with the homeowner having access to his house equity without having to actually sell his home.

4) Stock market closings for – 25 AUG 20:

Dow 28,248.44 down 60.02
Nasdaq 11,466.47 up 86.75
S&P 500 3,443.62 up 12.34

10 Year Yield: up at 0.68%

Oil: up at $43.43 this will

10 August 2020

1) With the expiration of the stimulus bill, there are now 40 million Americans who are at risk of eviction unless the new stimulus bill is passed. This means the threat of eviction by the end of this year. Forty-three percent of renter households are facing eviction. This will result in homelessness and negative health outcomes, greater unemployment, educational decline and long term harm for renters, property owners and communities. Renters in the southern part of the country face the highest risk of eviction, with Mississippi the highest at 58% followed by Louisiana at 56%.

2) The sheltering in place, because of the pandemic, has brought a boom to the home remodeling market. Now unable to go out people are looking to make improvements to their homes, both inside and out, to make them more comfortable. Home improvements have shot up 58% since the stay at home orders started, with the outdoors improvement the most. New swimming pools and spas are now three times as many as they were last year. With most people now cooking at home, demand for decks, patios and barbeques are also in high demand.

3) Restaurant Brands International, the holding company for Burger King, Tim Hortons and Popeyes restaurants is planning to close hundreds of locations this year. These are restaurants deemed to be underperforming, and closing outlets is a measure usually taken to curb cash outflow. No words on which restaurants might be close or even what country they are in. The closings will balance out the new openings for this year, for a net zero count of closures. RBI is still the process of researching which restaurants are unprofitable and need to be closed with the aim of making the company stronger financially, but closures are expected to start in the second half of 2020.

4) Stock market closings for – 7 AUG 20:

Dow 27,433.48 up 46.50
Nasdaq 11,010.98 down 97.09
S&P 500 3,351.28 up

10 Year Yield: up at 0.56%

Oil: down at $41.60

28 July 2020

1) Economist are warning that the economy needs help now to avoid faltering. As the President and Congress struggle to create another economic aid package, evidence is growing that the U.S. economy is headed for trouble, especially if the government doesn’t take steps to support hiring and economic growth. Experts say the economy is in a pretty fragile state again and needs another shot in the arm. Unemployment is still at a high 11.1% and hiring seems to be slowing in July, so the economy is likely to weaken further. Few economist consider that the recovery will be a V-shaped path, that is, the sharp recession will be followed by a quick rebound. In addition to helping the millions of unemployed Americans, the governments needs to help businesses from going bust.

2) There are five trends which indicate the U.S. economy is not rebounding as hope. The first is ‘Direction Requests’ on smart phones for walking and driving directions, have gone flat over the last few weeks indicating people are staying at home. The second is ‘Restaurant Bookings’ which show a 60% drop from last year. Third trend is ‘Hotel Occupancy’ which has stagnated with occupancy at 47%. ‘Air Travel’ was slowly increasing, but has also stagnated this last month with air travel down 70% from last year. Finally, ‘Home Purchases’ is increasing at a slow rate, a reflection of peoples uncertainty and changing employment status of potential buyers.

3) Price of gold continues to climb, as investors seek the safety of the yellow metal amidst economic fears of the future. Gold has historically been a refuge for money in times of economic uncertainty, a panic investment. Bullion has climbed to a record high of $1,946 per ounce. The real interest rates (less inflation) is driving investors to gold, as well as the tumbling dollar. Silver bullion is also increasing in price as another safe heaven for investing.

4) Stock market closings for – 27 JUL 20:

Dow 26,584.77 up 114.88
Nasdaq 10,536.27 up 173.09
S&P 500 3,239.41 up 23.78

10 Year Yield: up at 0.61%

Oil: up at $41.66

12 June 2020

1) The markets took a sharp drop over fears of another shutdown as the number of Convid-19 cases began rising from states starting to opening up for business. The Dow Jones dropped over 1,800 points, closing on the worst day sell-off since March. It appears that this pandemic is going to linger longer than was anticipated. Texas has reported three consecutive days of record breaking Covid-19 hospitalizations. Nine counties in California are reporting spikes in hospital admissions from the virus. The U.S. now has topped 2 million cases in this pandemic. Also, oil prices have taken a sharp downward slide.

2) Inventories of unsold diamonds are increasing, with the five largest diamond producers having stockpiled excess inventories of about $3.5 billion dollars and could go as high as $4.5 billion dollars. World wide demand for diamonds has plummeted, with the renowned diamond supplier De Beers reporting diamond sales in May of about $35 million dollars, compared to last year’s $400 million dollars. The world wide lock down has closed jewelry stores across the world thereby reducing sales to a small fraction of normal. The diamond market resembles the diamond slump of the 2008 financial crisis.

3) More than 1.5 million Americans filed new jobless claims for the first week of June, again decreasing from the previous week of 1.9 million. This is in contrast to the 6.9 million claims in April, with a stead decline each week since then. There was 2.5 million jobs added to the American economy, largely due to 2.7 million workers returning from furloughs. Still, more than 40 million Americans have lost their jobs because of the pandemic forcing shutdowns of so many businesses across America. But the gradual improvement of employment is boosting hopes for a quick economic recovery, however, there remains the problem of technology displacement of jobs. In times of economic stress, businesses are seeking ways and means to cut operating cost, and that gives a niche for entry of new technologies that eliminate the human. Experts in Artificial Intelligence estimate that as much as 50% of the jobs will disappear in 15 to 25 years.

4) Stock market closings for – 11 JUN 20: The stock market is like a rectal thermometer- it’s rude and crude but surprisingly effective at showing sickness.

Dow 25,128.17 down 1861.82
Nasdaq 9,492.73 down 527.62
S&P 500 3,002.10 down 188.04

10 Year Yield: down at 0.65%

Oil: down at $36.17

27 March 2020

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

10 Year Yield: down at 0.81%

Oil: down at $23.18

4 October 2019

1) MGM Resorts has reached agreement with families of victims who were killed in the October 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas. The settlement for the 2,500 family victims will be almost $800 million dollars with the agreement that all pending litigation against MGM will be dismissed. The shooting left 58 dead while wounding hundreds of others.

2) Soon to be implemented, tariffs will make imports more expensive for Americans, such as Scotch and Irish whiskies, Parmesan cheese and French wine. The tariffs will be on $7.5 billion dollars of European imports. Further tariffs are threaten over aircraft subsidies by the European Union, coming at a time when economies have been hurt by the US-China trade war. The World Trade Organization has ruled America can impose tariffs because the European Union has failed to abide by earlier ruling of Airbus subsidies.

3) The service-sector activity in the U.S. slowed to its weakest pace in three years this September. This is another sign that the U.S. economy may be weakening where the services sector accounts for more than two thirds of economic activity. The non-manufacturing index fell to 52.6 last month, which was the lowest reading since August 2016 and far below the 55.3 expectations.

4) Stock market closings for – 3 OCT 19:

Dow                 26,201.04    up    122.42
Nasdaq              7,872.26    up      87.02
S&P 500             2,910.63    up      23.02

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.54%

Oil:    down   at    $52.34

FUTURE of HYPER CONSUMERISM!!!!!!!!!!!

The Real Value to Society for the Youth of America is as Consumers, But What Becomes of Them if Hyper-Consumerism Declines.

By: James Lyman BSAE, BSEE, MSSM

Economic & Finance Report

I’m old enough to remember the first oil crisis of 1973, when the Arab nations tried to punish America for her support of Israel in the Seventy-Two war by cutting off oil shipments. American manufacturing was already in decline when the economic shock of oil shortages ripped through society. Suddenly, American manufacturing started crumbling away as factory after factory closed with American business losing all interest in making their money by manufacturing. The Rust Belt was born. Confronted with a growing problem of spreading unemployment and diminishing opportunity for people, the government had to come up with a new way of doing things, a new kind of economy.

The solution was deemed to be the service economy, the hyper-consumerism where people’s value in the economy and to society was as consumers working to support other consumers, who in turn worked to support more consumers. Instead of producing real material wealth as was formally done with a manufacturing based economy, America would depend almost exclusively on the multiplying effect of money being exchanged from one person to another, a basic principle taught in any introduction course of economics.

Not long ago I wrote another article titled, “Tiny House – Tiny Future” about how the millenniums were turning away from the traditional living in large houses and instead going to homes that are one tenth the traditional size, and consequently foregoing the purchasing common to the hyper-consumerism society simply because they no longer have the room to keep stuff. This I proposed was maybe a sign that hyper-consumerism was coming to an end, that it was not sustainable. With diminishing opportunities for the young, they don’t have the monies to participate in hyper-consumerism the buying of things just to be buying and having things.

Then while checking my email, I glimpsed a banner for a news story about how some of the top ten retailers where closing stores, which instantly caught my attention. Could this be another sign that hyper-consumerism was on the decline, that the much vaunted service economy we depend on is now crumbing just as manufacturing with the rust belt did? Will the millenniums and Z Generation be less able to make substantive contributions to society? I decided to check into this and here’s a parcel list of those retailers who are contracting by closing stores:

Sears & Kmart: 43 additional stores

J.C. Penney: 138 stores

Macy’s: 68 stores

Payless ShoeSource:  512 stores and counting

Radio Shack:  1,000 stores with only 70 remaining

Staples:  70 stores

CVS: 70 stores

Neiman Marcus: number not stated

Furthermore, some of the top American retailers may be declaring bankruptcy this year. No doubt, you’ve heard the recent story of how Alfred Angelo Bridal, the national bridal gown retailer, suddenly closed their doors in bankruptcy leaving hundreds of soon to be brides with nothing to wear to their nuptials but what was already in their closets. Not only that, but they would get just a fraction of their money back  and then months or years from now at that!

So what if this is portents of things to come? So what if the youth of America doesn’t have the hyper-consumerism based economy of their parents and grandparents? Well the real question is, what do they have instead? What is in line to replace it? The answer is nothing! No one in the government is working on some alternative, just like 1973 when American manufacturing was fading. It wasn’t until the shock of the oil crisis that our government gave the situation any consideration, and then it was a quicky decision with little to no real consideration (in other words talking points), and certainly no modeling of the consequences from that decision. That time, they sort of lucked out and it’s worked for several decades, but can they luck out again?

And how do I know that no consideration is being given to a possible demise of hyper-consumerism? Because you hear virtually nothing about the obsolete people problem with the displacement of workers by technology. This is a very integral part of today’s economic problems for the millenniums, in that anytime you can reduce the intellectual-skill levels required for a job, you reduce your labor cost. Displacement by technology means that millenniums are less able to make money because machines are doing the better paying work. Without money, their value as consumers diminishes so they are less able to support a hyper-consumerism based economy. Like the washing away of sand under the foundation of a house, there just comes a time when the house can no longer stand.

Without hyper-consumerism  what will become of so many of America’s youth.

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY TO THOSE WHO RISK & RISKED THEIR LIVES 4 US…ALL (USA)

By: Economic & Finance Report

Special day in the United States. Memorial Day is a day of rememberence, recognition and reflection, for those who have sacrificed and who continue to sacrifice their service and lives for our country’s sovereignty, liberty, and unconditional freedoms…

I salute and commend our servicemen and servicewomen, who tend to the challenges daily, that face this great nation….

*Salute & God’s Many Blessings*… Happy Memorial Day -SB