14 October 2020

1) Cuba’s economic minister urged calm as the government prepares to unify its dual currency system and multiple exchange rates in hopes of improving economic performance. The nation is undergoing a crisis caused by new U.S. sanctions on top of decades-old embargos, the pandemic and its inefficient Soviet-style command economy. The country could not overcome the crisis without unification which included wage, pension and other measures to protect the population. The monetary reform will eliminate the convertible peso while leaving a devalued peso, the officially exchanged rate since the 1959 Revolution is one peso to the dollar. The country would end up with a single currency and exchange rate with the dollar, but it’s unknown what the rate might be or the date devaluation would happen. Economists forecast this will cause triple digit inflation and bankruptcies while at the same time stimulating domestic economic efficiency and exports over imports.
2) Two more arms sales to Taiwan is reported to be moving forward. America is seeking to sell sophisticated military equipment, the MQ-9 drone aircraft and a coastal defensive missile system putting the island nation in a better position to repulse invasion by Red China, who claims Taiwan is a wayward province. China has stated she will reunite the province to the mainland, by force if necessary. Presently, there are as many as seven major weapon systems making their way through the U.S. export process, as the administration ramps up pressure on China. All arm sales to Taiwan must be approved by the Senate.
3) California’s PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electric) company is warning of up coming power outages in Northen California because of increased fire risk. Two dangerous wind events are expected this Wednesday and Thursday and into Friday. High winds pose a fire danger from sparking of power lines into vegetation, thus starting fires in dry areas already ravaged by fires. Power outages are anticipated in 34 California counties. Cutting off the electrical power is presently the only means to ensure against sparking wild fires in windy conditions, and has become standard operation procedure.
4) Stock market closings for – 13 OCT 20:
Dow 28,679.81 unchanged
Nasdaq 11,863.90 unchanged
S&P 500 3,511.93 unchanged
10 Year Yield: down at 0.73%
Oil: up at $40.18

16 April 2020

1) With many of the big box stores under siege from store closings and bankruptcies, the U.S. retail sales has suffered a record drop in March. In turn, factory outputs have declined by the most since 1946, as part of the coronavirus economic contraction in the first quarter. The drop is the sharpest rate in decades despite the measures taken to prop up the economy. People are now making comparisons to the Great Depression of 1930’s, considering this recession will be as deep if not deeper than that depression. People are losing jobs by the millions, and one question is how many of those jobs will return and how many will be taken by technology displacement. Last month, retail sales plunged 8.7%, the biggest decline since 1992 when government began taking numbers. Restaurants and bars are included in the retail decline with a drop of 26.6% last month, although grocery and health care rose. Consumer spending has dropped sharply with forecast of a 41% decline for second quarter. Consumer spending accounts for more than two thirds of the U.S. economic activity.

2) The price of oil has fallen below $20 per barrel because of predictions of a record slump in world demand. In April, global oil demand is expected to fall by 29 million barrels a day from last year. This is oil demand levels that was last seen in 1995. The U.S. had been oil independent for several years now, because of its domestic shale oil production, but for this oil to be profitable to extract, oil prices must be above $40 a barrel. With oil prices forecast to be low for the foreseeable future, the shale oil industry is in dire straights.

3) Time when companies are under stress, such as during a recession, provides impudence for them to reorganize and streamline their operations. By adapting to a new environment through restructuring of a company, they are able to reduce operating cost, thereby being better able to survive. Recession brings layoffs and furloughs, so companies seek to get work done with fewer people, usually by using new technologies. Consequently, those jobs are gone, never to return, when the economy returns to health.

4) Stock market closings for – 15 APR 20:

Dow 23,504.35 down 445.41
Nasdaq 8,393.18 down 122.56
S&P 500 2,783.36 down 62.70

10 Year Yield: down at 0.64%

Oil: down at $20.15

12 December 2019

1) The U.S. Federal Reserve elected not to raise interest rates, thereby signaling borrowing cost will most likely remain unchanged, and they expect moderate economic growth and low unemployment to continue into the presidential election year. The Feds left the benchmark overnight lending rate at its current range of 1.5% to 1.75% with 13 of the 17 fed policymakers supporting no change.

2) American consumer prices rose more than expected in November, giving credence to the Fed’s decision not to raise interest rates. The consumer price index increased 0.3% last month, in part from households paying more for gas. In the twelve months through November, the CPI (Consumer Price Index) increased 2.3% after a similar gain in October. Gasoline prices rose 1.1% after rebounding 3.7% in October.

3) China is accused of dumping cheap mattresses which is disrupting the U.S. bedding industry, in an attempt to gain a foothold in American markets. In recent years dozens of Chinese companies have been flooding the market with super low priced mattresses, selling them to retailers for as little as $18 each. In turn, the mattresses are sold under a wide range of labels at national chains, online businesses, local retailers and mattress stores. In recent years the industry has been troubled by disruption including thousands of job losses, multiple bankruptcies and hundreds of store closures. In 2018, about five million mattresses were shipped to the U.S. from China.

4) Stock market closings for – 11 DEC 19:

Dow           27,911.30    up    29.58
Nasdaq       8,654.05    up     37.87
S&P 500      3,141.63    up       9.11

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.79%

Oil:    down   at    $58.80