1) One part of the U.S. infrastructure that America can invest in now is the recycling infrastructure. The recycling infrastructure and related new technologies hasn’t been updated for roughly 20 years, in particular the massive growing plastics waste problem. Several years ago, China’s National Sword policy ended its role as a recipient of western waste, leaving the west with a seriously growing waste problem. Some consider the up coming bill on infrastructure upgrade will present an opportunity to leap ahead of the plastic problem with money for developing new technologies.
2) As if the American economy hasn’t suffered enough with the pandemic and record snow storms across the land, one more massive snow and ice storm system is sweeping across the nation again. Not only is there heavy snow, torrential rain and severe weather, but also there were 14 reported tornadoes, and additionally, wind gusts reaching as high as 87 mph in the Texas Panhandle with the region experiencing baseball-sized hail. Over 6 inches of rain has been reported in southern Missouri and over 4 inches of rain reported in Kansas and Nebraska, with all three states seeing flooding due to the storm. Snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour in Colorado and Wyoming, with up to 4 inches per hour locally in the foothills and mountains, closing highways and freeways. Totals of 1 to 4 feet of snow is expected in parts of the Rockies from this storm with 6 to 12 inches from Denver to Rapid City.
3) The microchip shortage continues with GM forced to shut down its Chevy Camaro Production. The global microchip shortage will force some automakers to prioritize the production of only their most important models. For GM, this means that Chevrolet Camaro and Cadillac CT4 and CT5 production must be temporarily paused. Whatever microchips GM has access to, will be diverted to those factories remaining in production, leaving other lines to fight for what’s left. This problem comes just when automakers are trying to climb out of the financial disaster from the pandemic, when makers are needing to make every auto sale they can get, to bring in much needed revenues. Many automakers are now delaying or pausing their development programs, the debut and on-sale dates receding, thereby further aggravating long range revenues. The microchip shortage was caused by semiconductor production stoppages early in the COVID-19 pandemic. Automakers underestimated the rate at which sales would recover, and so, it left them behind all the other companies that rely on microchips. It’s unclear when the shortage will end. Many major automakers, from Honda to Mercedes-Benz have had to either pause or cut production over these shortages, so GM isn’t unique here.
4) Stock market closings for – 16 MAR 21:
Dow 32,825.95 down by 127.51 Nasdaq 13,471.57 up by 11.86 S&P 500 3,962.71 down by 6.23
1) The 141 year old Chevron Corp. has built a $170 billion dollar fossil fuels empire that has made it synonymous with the oil and gas industry. Chevron, and many other petrochemical companies, may not be ‘oil-first’ companies in 2040. The climate crisis is forcing oil companies, large and small, to rethink their once reliable business models. Facing political and shareholder pressure, BP (British Petroleum), Shell and other European oil majors see the writing on the wall, announcing plans to gradually retreat from fossil fuels. Recently BP released a report forecasting that recoverable oil reserves will be as little as one fifth of today’s levels by 2050. Oil companies are embracing clean energy including electric vehicle charging and renewable energy. But Chevron is not banking on solar and wind energy.
2) The era of gasoline powered automobiles is coming to an end faster than anyone expected. One of the questions that has long plagued automobile executives was whether motorists would be willing to switch to electric vehicles that typically require hours to charge. Automakers are forging ahead with plans to convert the majority of new car and light truck sales to electric by the 2030s. Batteries for power are so much more efficient, and there’s so many less moving parts, that there is less maintenance and repairs of cars. The only thing that holds it back is people are afraid they can’t take long road trips. But once they’ve shorten the charge to minutes and not hours, that’s a game changer. The production costs of electric vehicles are close to those of gasoline powered vehicles, and could go even lower. However, the fast chargers can cost $100,000 each. In addition, upgrading the power grid to handle the increased demand from electric vehicles is likely to be costly.
3) Technological investments has propelled Mexico in another direction giving the country a boost to being a most promising tech scene in Latin America. In turn, the US technology industry is taking advantage of this landscape to solve its shortage of qualified technological labor. Mexico has built a ‘tech hub’ of three cities- Guadalajara, Monterrey, and Mexico City, each having its own specialties and advantages that makes them unique. Mexico has several top tech universities, which is the keystone to being a tech hub. There are a lot of advantages to hiring remote workers in Mexico in addition to the savings U.S. companies will see.
4) Stock market closings for – 8 FEB 21:
Dow 31,385.76 up by 237.52 Nasdaq 13,987.64 up by 131.35 S&P 500 3,915.59 up by 28.76
1) The credit worthiness of automakers has been lowered by Moody’s Investors Service, downgrading about $130 billion dollars in global automakers’ debt. Nine out of 22 global car makers have had their ratings lowered. General Motors Co. has a Baa3 rating for unsecured notes, the lowest investment grade rating and has a negative outlook. Ford Motor Co.’s senior unsecured debt is rated at Ba2, which it two notches below investment grade and also has a negative outlook. Thirteen of the automakers were not downgraded because of their better operating profiles and liquidity, but 75% have a negative outlook. World automakers were having troubles before the pandemic, but now are facing more declining auto sales and low prospects for near term improvement.
2) China has adopted a national security law that allows Beijing to override Hong Kong’s judicial system. The intent of China is to strangle and suppress political opponents in Hong Kong and subjugate the freedom of its citizens. This is another example of the re-emergence of Red China as a totalitarian state, and therefore represents a threat to surrounding nations. It strips the territory of autonomy promised under the handover agreement with Britain, with possible retaliation from America. The move by China has resulted in visa restrictions on officials from both sides, and a threat of future retaliation measures coming.
3) Fears of another virus pandemic have surface with the discovery of a new swine flu virus in Chinese pigs. The new strain, called G4 H1N1 has many of the same characteristics of H1N1 that caused the 2009 global pandemic, and can bind to, infect and replicated in tissue cells located in human airways. While not an immediate threat, the virus bears watching, but on top of the Covid-19 pandemic, the problem of controlling either outbreaks would be multiplied, especially with the now overstretched health care and hospital systems.
4) Stock market closings for – 30 JUN 20:
Dow 25,812.88 up 217.08 Nasdaq 10,058.76 up 184.61 S&P 500 3,100.29 up 47.05
1) Jerome Powell, the Federal reserve Chairman, has warned of a possible prolonged recession caused by the economic damaged from the coronavirus crisis. Widespread bankruptcies among small businesses and extended unemployment for many people remain a serious problem for the economy. Furthermore, he considers the proposed $3 trillion dollar aid package to be worthwhile if it averts long term economic damage thereby giving a strong recovery. Almost $3 trillion dollars has already been spent on economic assistance, with the interest rate cut down to near zero. Cutting the interest rate has been the traditional tool used to counter recessions and economic slow downs, but with interest rates almost zero, the feds no longer have this tool. Nothing is being said about the massive increase to the already very large federal debt, nor the impact on the long term economy if it fails to return to healthy growth to pay off that debt. Otherwise, it could become a boat anchor around America’s neck making swimming in the ‘economic lake’ very difficult, or maybe impossible later on. The markets responded to Powell’s remarks with a down turn.
2) Unemployment continues to subside with initial reports of another 2.5 million lost jobs compared to 3.2 million for the previous week. This brings the total unemployed for the past eight weeks to a staggering 36 million people without work. Percent wise, the unemployed numbers are worst than the Great Depression of the 1930’s. Economist anticipate a further, although smaller increase in unemployed people for the next few weeks before the curve bottoms out and employment starts increasing as businesses opens up to resume operations.
3) Automakers are preparing to restart manufacturing with plants in Mexico, which are due to open as soon as Monday. U.S. assembly plants rely heavily on Mexican auto plants for parts and subassemblies used in building cars, and there were fears of U.S. manufacturing being hindered by part shortages. Approximately 39% of auto parts for car manufacturing comes from Mexico.
4) Stock market closings for – 13 MAY 20:
Dow 23,247.97 down 516.81 Nasdaq 8,863.17 down 139.38 S&P 500 2,820.00 down 50.12
1) The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has warned of astronomical oil prices if tensions escalate in the Persian Gulf. In a ‘60 Minute’ interview, the Prince called for strong and firm action to deter Iran and lessen the threat to world interests, so as to avoid disruptions of oil exports. The attacks on Saudi oil production facilities caused Brent crude to jump 19.5%, the biggest jump on record. The Middle East provides about 30% of the world’s energy supplies constituting about 4% of world GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
2) In order to avoid a quarterly decline in U.S. retail sales, automakers are offering big discounts to maintain sales growth. For the last three months, auto sales have flattened with average incentive spending rising 6% to more than $4,110 per vehicle, which is a third quarter record.
3) The fashion retailer Forever 21 Inc. has filed for bankruptcy protection and is the latest big fashion merchant who, like many other retailer chains, is unable to cope with high rents and heavy competition from e-commerce. The chain has 800 stores across the world, selling affordable but eye-catching designs, but has falling out of favor with the generation-Z consumers who turn to e-commerce. The bankruptcy will allow the company to reorganize and gain additional capital for operations.
4) Stock market closings for – 30 SEP 19:
Dow 26,916.83 up 96.58 Nasdaq 7,999.34 up 59.71 S&P 500 2,976.74 up 14.95