3 July 2020

1) The aircraft manufacturer Boeing Aircraft is discontinuing production of it’s iconic 747 jumbo jet after a fifty year run. The last 747-8 will be completed in two years. This marks the end of an era of giant airliners with Airbus also discontinuing its A380 production. The number of routes in the world which requires a jumbo jet are few, with airline companies preferring the twin engine aircraft for long range flights. The 747 made its debut in 1970, and went on to rack up 1,571 orders over its production life, a record seconded only by the wide body 777. Boeing has lost 40$ million dollars for each 747 since 2016, with production down to just 6 units a year. The last 747 for passenger service was Air Force One. With air travel curtailed by the Covid-19 crisis, air carriers don’t expect air travel to recover fully until the mid decade, so airlines are culling out aging jetliners and four engine jumbos from their fleets to limit spending.

2) With interest rates near zero, the most used tool for the Feds to stimulate a sagging economy is becoming ineffective in reversing the pandemic induced recession. Therefore, the Feds are considering using quantitative easing or large scale assets purchases. This is where the U.S. central bank buys hundreds of billions of dollars in assets, most of which are U.S. Treasury and mortgage backed securities. By taking bonds (mostly 2 and 10 year Treasuries) off the market it replaces them with cash in the system, meaning there is now more cash available for lending to consumers, businesses and municipalities.

3) The Senate is considering a bill which would punish retailers for refusing cash payments. Retailers have been pushing for electronic payments to reduce the risk of virus contamination from contact of paying cash. The objective of the bill is to prevent disenfranchise of minorities who have limited to no banking access.

4) Stock market closings for – 2 JUL 20:

Dow 25,827.36 up 92.39
Nasdaq 10,207.63 up 53.00
S&P 500 3,130.01 up 14.15

10 Year Yield: down at 0.67%

Oil: up at $40.32

17 June 2020

1) As restaurants start to reopen, they are finding a serious problem- it takes cash to reopen again, cash that many don’t have in the bank. The cost of food, staff, cleaning and training for new sanitary protocols is proving daunting, with one independent owner calculating he needs $80,000 cash to reopen. The suppliers are facing a similar problem since many of their restaurant customers still own them money, but need supplies on credit to reopen, so many suppliers are threatened with bankruptcy too. And if that’s not enough, restaurants that had opened in some major cities are threatened with another shutdown as the virus pandemic re-emerges again, and so not only face another loss of sales revenue, just when they need the money the most, but also have additional cash outlays for reopening. The closing of restaurants has shed more than 8 million jobs.

2) In a month filled with economic bad news, retail sales have posted their largest monthly jump upwards ever. With the cornonavirus lockdown coming to an end, consumers are out shopping again making a 17.7% headline gain including food sales, which beat the previous record of October 2001. Clothing and accessories were the biggest gains of 188%. This gain reverses the 16.4% plunged from a month ago. While very encouraging, the economy still has a lot to regain.

3) There is a faster than expected turnaround in home buyer demand, after a sharp drop-off at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index jumped 21 points in June to 58, where above 50 indicates a positive market. In April, the index dropped a record 42 points to 30. Builders report increase demand for families seeking single family homes in inner and outer suburbs featuring lower density neighborhoods.

4) Stock market closings for – 16 JUN 20:

Dow 26,289.98 up 526.82
Nasdaq 9,895.87 up 169.84
S&P 500 3,124.74 up 58.15

10 Year Yield: up at 0.76%

Oil: up at $37.76

15 June 2020

1) The Independent Restaurant Coalition estimates that 85% of the independent restaurants may go bust by the end of 2020. The independent restaurants comprise 70% of all the restaurants in America. These restaurants rely more heavily on dine-in revenue, which the franchise chains don’t because of their drive up and take out business is well established, while also having a corporate safety net or support system to fall back on. It will be a long time before dine-in revenue returns to pre-pandemic levels because independents depend on densely packed dinning rooms to generate sufficient revenue to meet expenses, something that social distancing prevents. Most owners just don’t have the cash reserves to survive.

2) J.C. Penny stores will begin their ‘going out of business’ sales having just received bankruptcy court approval to begin liquidation sales at those stores closing permanently. There are 242 stores closing leaving about 600 stores to continue. Sales could start as early as this weekend. J.C. Penny is the largest company to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy since the pandemic started. Penny faces a crucial deadline of 15 July for a business plan, which without one, the company is expected to pursue a sale instead, which could mean total liquidation.

3) Some are proposing negative interest rates for U.S. bonds as some European countries are doing. The rational for negative interest rates is they spur economic growth, which is controversial among economist with evidence that it really works being mixed. Lowering interest rates encourages businesses and individuals to invest and spend more, which helps the economy grow. The doubts about negative interest rates is companies and individuals would rather hold cash which cost nothing rather than pay to park their money in the bank. This encourages the money to be loan out rather than be parked, which often means riskier loans. While there are studies made of how effective negative interest rates are, so far the results are mixed.

4) Stock market closings for – 12 JUN 20:

Dow 25,605.54 up 477.37
Nasdaq 9,588.81 up 96.08
S&P 500 3,041.31 up 39.21

10 Year Yield: up at 0.70%

Oil: up at $36.56

18 May 2020

1) The federal government has warned that the financial sector faces significant vulnerabilities because of the coronavirus pandemic. Both businesses and households are struggling with fragile finances and will be for the foreseeable future. So far, the banking system has withstood the initial downturn, but there are significant risk if the virus crisis proves to be lengthy and/or more sever than hoped for. The financial stress will continue to build if the crisis persists from households and businesses being deprived of wages and revenues. No sectors would be immune from the risk they face from default on debt, being forced to sell off assets, bankruptcy or having value of assets dwindled. Forceful early interventions have been effective in resolving liquidity stresses. There are fears that what might start out as a cash crunch could spiral into something worse, that few if any parts of the economy are safe.

2) The retail industry has been devastated by the coronavirus crisis with April sales diving down 16.4% (Manufacturing is also down by 13.7%) with major retailers such as J.C. Penny, J Crew and Neiman Marcus filing for bankruptcy recently. However, discount retail chains such as Dollar General and Aldi seem to be thriving as consumers cut back on discretionary spending while continuing to spend on food and household essentials. The Dollar style stores are gaining because of their low prices and close proximity to customers, with people buying things they have run out of between their larger routine shopping trips. In recent years, the Dollar style stores have significantly increased their number of stores thereby enabling them to capture more retail sales from the traditional retailers.

3) Some are predicting that the pandemic has permanently changed the auto industry, with some automakers made stronger while others are left too weak to survive. The pressure from the electric automobiles will become stronger with fewer conventional automakers able to make the transition. There are fears that people have discovered they need to travel much less, that they can get a surprisingly amount done from home. This translates into lower demand for automobiles. Demand for new cars was expected to be low before the pandemic, now things are expected to get very brutal for survival of some automakers.

4) Stock market closings for – 15 MAY 20:

Dow 23,685.42 up 60.08
Nasdaq 9,014.56 up 70.84
S&P 500 2,863.70 up 11.20

10 Year Yield: up at 0.64%

Oil: up at $29.78

7 April 2020

1) Ten million people have rushed to file unemployment claims only to find a system swamped to the point of being nonfunctional. State websites are buckling, their phone lines jammed with backlogs mounting from jobless people seeking benefits, needing help. To make matters worst, the federal government has not dispersed all the necessary monies to states so there isn’t enough money for benefits. While the coronavirus is concentrated in a few areas of the country, the economic havoc has been nation wide.

2) Wells Fargo bank is bowing out of the new federal program aimed at helping small businesses retain workers and pay bills. The bank is no longer accepting new loan applications under the Paycheck Protection Program, which is part of the $2.2 trillion dollar economic relief package. The bank had committed $10 billion dollars to the loan program, but has already reached more than that amount in applications. Last year, Wells Fargo arranged more small business loans than any other lender. The Paycheck Protection Program offers 1% interest loans to business with fewer than 500 workers, and if borrowers don’t lay off workers in the next eight weeks, they will have their loans and interest forgiven. The program allots $350 billion dollars, but as of Friday only 17,000 loans have been approved for a total of $5.4 billion dollars.

3) Jamie Dimon, CEO for JP Morgan Chase, predicts a ‘bad recession’ as a result of the coronavirus, where the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) could plunge as much as 35% annual rate in the second quarter with a down turn lasting the rest of the year. Furthermore, the unemployment rate could spike as high as 14% during this recession. Because of the extension of new credit, a major recession means we are exposing the bank to billions of dollars of additional credit losses in helping businesses through this setback.

4) Stock market closings for – 6 APR 20:

Dow 22,679.99 up 1627.46
Nasdaq 7,913.24 up 540.16
S&P 500 2,663.68 up 175.03

10 Year Yield: up at 0.68%

Oil: down at $26.73

24 January 2020

1) After two friendly attempts to merge with HP, Xerox is launching a hostile takeover bid. Xerox will nominate eleven new directors to replace all of HP board members, thus leaving Xerox in control of the company. HP claims that Xerox’s proposal significantly undervalues HP and creates risk for the HP shareholders, while Xerox claims combining the similar companies will create significant cost savings.

2) The number of claims for unemployment benefits for mid January rose slightly, but layoffs remain near a fifty year low. There are no signs of the strongest U.S. labor market in decades deteriorating. The number of people actually collecting unemployment benefits has fallen by a small amount. The U.S. economy is still growing but at a slower rate.

3) Fair Isaac Corp. announced changes on their scoring of consumer credit, the making of their FICO score. Soon, they will start scoring consumers with rising debt levels and those who fall behind on loan payments with lower scores. The changes will create a bigger gap between consumers considered good and bad credit risks. Also, scores are considering bank account balances and utilities payments. The new FICO changes reflect a shift in U.S. lenders’ confidence in the economy.

4) Stock market closings for – 23 JAN 20:

Dow              29,160.09    down    26.18
Nasdaq           9,402.48          up    18.71
S&P 500          3,325.54          up      3.79

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.74%

Oil:    down   at    $55.66

29 October 2019

1) Despite more than two centuries in New York, JP Morgan is quietly shrinking its workforce there. The bank has been relocating several thousand New York based employees out of the area to reduce operating cost incase of an economic downturn. JP Morgan is considering moving the hub from New York to other lower cost hubs such as Plano, Texas or Columbus, Ohio or Wilmington, Delaware.

2) The world famous jeweler Tiffany has been offered $14.5 billion dollars from LVMH, which would be the largest take over by LVMH. The goal of the acquisition is to extend the reach of Louis Vuitton into the U.S. markets. Jewelry is one of the few segments of the luxury market where LVMH is not the leader, but having Tiffany would make it a stronger competitor under the ownership of LVMH.

3) The subprime auto giant Santander Consumer USA Holdings has defaulting loans at a faster rate since 2008. Many of these loans are packaged into bonds. The growing number of borrowers defaulting indicates that many of the borrowers may be getting loans based on fraudulent application information. Delinquent auto loans have reached their highest levels this year since 2011. The weakening performance in managed portfolio signals elevated risks and is an overall negative development.

4) Stock market closings for – 28 OCT 19:

Dow              27,090.72    up    132.66
Nasdaq           8,325.99    up      82.87
S&P 500          3,039.42    up      16.87

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.85%

Oil:    down   at    $55.74

30 July 2019

1) The once high flying German Deutsche Bank has run aground rapidly slashing jobs and losing a ton of money. Stock for Germany’s biggest lender is trading at a near all time low. This is a result of poor management and failing to fully clean up its crisis era balance sheet. The banks restructuring efforts have fell short coupled with countless legal black eyes that have all contributed to the bank’s financial woes.

2) The pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Mylan have announced they are combining to create a global powerhouse in the low price drug market. Pfizer will gain most control of the company with 57% ownership, with Mylan shareholders owning the rest. Both companies lost exclusive manufacture rights from patent expirations, that were big money makers for the companies. Mylan, is the manufacturer of the emergency treatment for allergic reactions, the EpiPen. Mylan has recently been in the news for raising the price of EpiPens by 400%.

3) J.C. Penney, the 117 year old department store chain, is at risk of being de-listed from the New York Stock Exchange. To counter its downward spiral, the company has hired advisers to explore debt restructuring. Penney has $4 billion dollars in debt coming due in the next few years, while its revenues are increasingly being lost to sales on the internet and niche brands. Revenue has fallen over the last three years. The retail giant Sears has suffered similar troubles.

4) Stock market closings for – 29 JUL 19:

Dow                 27,221.35        up   28.90
Nasdaq               8,293.33   down   36.88
S&P 500              3,020.97   down     4.89

10 Year Yield:    down   at    2.06%

Oil:    up   at    $57.13