22 October 2020

1) Many consider the next economic crisis to be the growing profusion of empty retail space, as tenants stop paying rent and reduce their offices, leaving commercial real estate in a pinch. Commercial real estate is in trouble, the $15 trillion dollar market is threatened with decline, and the longer the pandemic persists the more ill effects on hotels, retailers and office buildings, therefore the more difficult it is for property owners to meet their mortgage payments. The widespread downgrades, defaults and eventual foreclosures, coming from companies like J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus and Pier 1 filing for bankruptcy, has retail properties losing major tenants with nothing to replace them. Motels and hotels are running below 50 percent occupancy, with the stimulus bill having no provisions to prop them up, the government hoping the commercial mortgages will just heal by themself.

2) The Justice Department is accusing the internet giant Google of illegally protecting its monopoly over search and advertising. The company is accused of building an illegal monopoly over parts of the internet. The Justice Department accused Google of building a monopoly over central parts of the internet. The main concern is Google working with other major internet companies to channel the internet to Google’s search engine, as the default search engine, by Google providing the engine to include in other company’s products through exclusive business contracts and agreements. The government contends that Google has used anti-competitive tactics to maintain and extend its monopolies in the markets for general search services, search advertising and general search text advertising which is the cornerstones of its empire. It is considered this will be a major test of the antitrust law. A victory for the government could remake one of America’s most recognizable companies and the internet economy.

3) NASA OSIRIS-REx spacecraft mission has successfully touched down on the asteroid Bennu to bring a rock-soil sample back to earth for analysis. The van-size spacecraft briefly touched down on a landing site the width of a few parking spaces. It collected a sample between 2 ounces and 2 kilograms, then the spacecraft backed away to safety. Bennu is a boulder-studded “rubble pile” asteroid shaped like a spinning top and is as tall as the Empire State Building. If everything runs smoothly, the spacecraft and its prized sample will begin the long journey back to Earth next year and land the sample on Earth in 2023.

4) Stock market closings for – 21 OCT 20:

Dow 28,210.82 down 97.97
Nasdaq 11,484.69 down 31.80
S&P 500 3,435.56 down 7.56

10 Year Yield: up at 0.82%

Oil: down at $40.00

12 October 2020

1) With the recession from the Covid-19 came predictions of waves of bankruptcy filings as businesses, large and small, failed. But that wave of bankruptcy has not materialized, and so far, there’s no sign that it will, indeed bankruptcies are down a little from last year. This is a good sign that companies and households are not as stressed as many economist feared. However, bankruptcy filings aren’t a perfect measure of hardship, with many companies barely hanging on, so bankruptcies may still be coming. Many small businesses and households go bust without ever formally filing for bankruptcy.

2) The four massive high tech companies, Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook are under investigation at Federal and State levels for antitrust. These investigations are spurred by concerns that competition is being stifled by the domination of these companies, but there are concerns that the big tech is trying to also stifle conservative voices. Google is facing a relatively narrow complaint from the Justice Department that it seeks to disadvantage rivals in search and advertising. The focus on Apple is their apps store with accusations that Apple introduces new products and then put out apps that compete with them. Facebook has raised concerns over how they treat some of their app developers on its platform and therefore engaged in unlawful monopolistic practices. Amazon is suspected of conflict of interest in competition with small sellers on its marketplace platform.

3) Silicon Valley companies are thinking about the future of work taking actions from pay cuts to permanent work-from-home as they strive to cope with the coronavirus crisis. The big tech companies have formed various plans for the future of work. Some companies, (Twitter and Slack), said their employees never need to return to the office, while others, such as Microsoft, are adopting a hybrid model where employees report to the office only a few days a week. Amazon and Salesforce are adopting new benefits to help out working parents, such as subsidized back-up childcare and extended paid leave, while Facebook, employees may work from home permanently. However, if they leave the Bay Area for a less expensive city, they’ll may face a pay cut. Silicon Valley may bear little resemblance to the thriving hub before the pandemic. Tech companies have largely shut down their sprawling campuses and asked employees to work from home — in some cases, forever. When those offices reopen office life is unlikely to resemble the past. Companies may change their real estate plans, opting instead for a new type of office, or none at all.

4) Stock market closings for – 9 OCT 20:

Dow 28,586.90 up 61.39
Nasdaq 11,579.94 up 158.96
S&P 500 3,477.13 up 30.30

10 Year Yield: up at 0.78%

Oil: down at $40.52

8 October 2020

1) Despite the economic failure of the first supersonic airliner, the French-British Concorde, there are now attempts to revitalize the supersonic airline service. Boom Supersonic has unveiled its first demonstrator aircraft called the X-B1, which is scheduled to start flight testing next year. The demonstrator is planned as a commercial stepping stone to an actual commercial supersonic airliner to transverse the Atlantic ocean in about three and a half hours- about half the present flight time. Plans called for supersonic jets that are quieter and more fuel efficient than the Concorde. Some might consider a supersonic airliner to be an optimistic endeavor considering the concerns over the airline’s industry future over the next several years.

2) Like other restaurant chains in decline, Ruby Tuesday’s decline was several years in the making, accelerated by the pandemic. Amidst speculation by industry insiders, the renowned Ruby Tuesday has filed for bankruptcy. By April, Ruby Tuesday had closed about 30% of its 470 restaurants, and with the virus crisis, restaurants continued closing. It has closed 300 restaurants in the last three years, 186 this year alone, while amassing a $43 million dollar debt plus $19 million dollars owed to landlords and vendors. The company is filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy and will continue operating about 230 restaurants in its bid to survive. Ruby Tuesday’s decline in sales was due to a major shift in consumer attention from casual dine-in to fast food and fast casual options.

3) The troubled aircraft manufacture Boeing Aircraft cuts their forecast for airplane demand due to the pandemic. Over the next decade, Boeing now expects deliveries of 18,350 commercial aircraft, which is down from its previous forecast by 10.7%. The coronavirus crisis is expected to create minimal demand for new jets during the next few years. Boeing still expects to deliver 43,110 commercial aircraft over the next 20 years, a forecast down only slightly from its previous forecast of 44,040 and so will be able to make up for lost sales in the years after the next decade.

4) Stock market closings for – 7 OCT 20:

Dow 28,303.46 up 530.70
Nasdaq 11,364.60 up +210.00
S&P 500 3,419.45 up 58.50

10 Year Yield: up at 0.78%

Oil: up at $40.06

27 August 2020

1) Large hurricanes bring economic damage on a large scale when they make landfall. This season’s biggie is Hurricane Laura now expected to make landfall as a category 4 storm this Wednesday evening or early Thursday morning. The National Hurricane Center rates the storm as having an “un-survivable storm surge” with large and destructive waves causing catastrophic damage along the coast of eastern Texas to the eastern part of Louisiana. The surge could penetrate up to 30 miles inland from the coast. Add to this, the catastrophic wind damage, and Laura promises to carry a large price tag economically as the storm continues first up into Arkansas then across the United States for the Atlantic with rains and flooding. This year is forecast to be a very active hurricane season so more economic damage may be in the play book.

2) Walmart is suspending its InHome delivery service, which offered the convenience of having people’s groceries delivered and unpacked by the delivery person in the customer’s kitchens. But because of the Convid-19 crisis and the need for contactless service, Walmart is discontinuing the service in favor of its Doorstep Delivery service, where groceries are delivered to consumers but now is left on the door step. With its other two delivery service, Walmart is becoming a strong contender in the e-commerce business.

3) Two long established regional grocery chains have filed for bankruptcy, another sign of the shifting of retail business in America, as traditional retailers fail to adapt to the new economic world. Balducci’s and Kings Food Markets of the north eastern coast were having financial struggles before the pandemic set in, but even thought both had a boost in sales from the pandemic, it wasn’t enough to save them. All stores will remain open as their holding company seeks a buyer. The two grocery chains date back to the first half of the twentieth century and they prospered through the decades before e-commerce.

4) Stock market closings for – 26 AUG 20:

Dow 28,331.92 up 83.48
Nasdaq 11,665.06 up 198.59
S&P 500 3,478.73 up 35.11

10 Year Yield: unchanged at 0.69

Oil: unchanged at $43.43

18 August 2020

1) A good sign for the U.S. economy, the American shale oil companies plan to restore nearly all oil production by the end of the third quarter. This will return production to nearly what it was when the shut down came resulting in the oil crash. As oil prices raised to $30 to $40 per barrel range, oil production started to rise. By September, nearly all of the production is expected to be restored. There were fears that shutting down shale oil wells prematurely could hamper future production, but nearly all of the restarted wells are producing normally because of a buildup of pressure. Most companies report a smooth return of operations.

2) Pizza Hut is closing up to 300 locations as part of a deal between the pizza chain and its largest franchisee, NPC International, who is filing for bankruptcy. These will be under performing restaurants, mostly with dine in facilities. The franchisee will put its remaining 927 Pizza Hut locations up for sale. NPC also operates nearly 400 Wendy’s restaurants, but has had to file for chapter 11 protection because of its $1 billion dollar debt. In recent years, Pizza Hut has drawn away from the dine-in business and concentrated more on delivery and takeout. Final determinations has not been made as to which locations will close or when.

3) In an indication of just how quickly the virus can pop up, the Oklahoma State sorority Pi Beta Phi has had 23 members test positive for the coronavirus, resulting in the entire sorority being put in quarantine. So far, none of the girls have been hospitalized and any who are ill are experiencing minor effects from the virus. The sorority members moved into the sorority house (off campus) between August 2 and 6, with all testing negative for the Covid-19. Then on 11 August, a small group of members who reside outside the house joined the chapter for a short informal gathering at the house. Within just a few days, the members in the sorority house tested positive. There has been a major spike in the pandemic, with the number of cases surpassing the previous peak levels on 31 of May, with 78% of new cases in the Sun Belt states.

4) Stock market closings for – 17 AUG 20:

Dow 27,844.91 down 86.11
Nasdaq 11,129.72 up 110.42
S&P 500 3,381.99 up 9.14

10 Year Yield: down at 0.68%

Oil: up at $42.77

13 August 2020

1) Another national retail outlet, Stein Mart, is going the way of the brick and mortar retail system announcing they are closing all their stores in bankruptcy amid Covid-19 pandemic. Based in Jacksonville, Florida the company operates 281 stores in 30 states with 9,000 employees. Stein Mart ‘going out of business’ sale is expected to begin in August 14 or 15 with complete liquidation of inventory, with the anticipation of all stores closed by the fourth quarter of 2020. The retailer joins a long list of businesses to file for bankruptcy protection amid the coronavirus crisis.

2) With all the money being pumped into the economy by the government, there were fears of fueling inflation. Those fears were increased with the July consumer price data showing that prices are indeed on the rise. But some are saying these price increases are a result of supply and demand dynamics from the pandemic, and will fall once the supply system becomes stable with production reaching equilibrium again. It’s just a matter of time.

3) Amid suspicion of a rigged election by authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko, Germany and Lithuania is calling for renewed sanctions on Belarus. Claiming a landslide victory in his presidential election, Lukashenko has cracked down on protesters and demonstrators. The EU (European Union) has call an extraordinary meeting of foreign ministers to discuss the situation, considering the election was neither free nor fair, and efforts to suppress demonstrations as unacceptable. The EU is considering reinstating sanctions. The protest have been violent with about 1,000 people arrested to add to the 5,000 already being held, and injuries to both protesters and police.

4) Stock market closings for – 12 AUG 20:

Dow 27,976.84 up 289.93
Nasdaq 11,012.24 up 229.42
S&P 500 3,380.35 up 46.66

10 Year Yield: up at 0.67%

Oil: up at $42.56 +0.01

29 July 2020

1) The fast food mega-giant McDonald’s is reporting a bigger than expected drop in global restaurant sales across the world. This is a result of the pandemic restricting sales of their drive thru and delivery operations, and in some cases shutting restaurants down completely. With second quarter sales down by 30%, McDonald’s is facing a bumpy and expensive recovery. The franchise chain has 39,000 restaurants worldwide, of which 96% are now open, verses 75% at the start of the second quarter. Store sales were down 39% in April but by June was down only 12%. Net income is down by 68% for $483.8 million dollars. McDonald’s is permanently closing 200 locations in the U.S. amid those losses, more than half located in Walmart stores.

2) The Federal Reserve has announced that its lending programs will be extended until the end of the year. This indicates the feds don’t think the U.S. economy is weathering the pandemic storm very well and needs continued help. The program lends to small and medium sized businesses and was due to expire at the end of September. Continuing the program will provide a critical backstop to help the economy recover. This Thursday will bring the first look at the second quarter gross domestic product, which is the broadest measure of the economy, but it’s expected to show an ailing economy.

3) For the second time, the renowned gun maker Remington Arms is filing for bankruptcy. This is the second time in two years that Remington has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Chronic low sales is blamed for Remington’s decline, despite the overall increase in sales of guns in America because of the pandemic. One by one, American gun manufactures have succumb to imports. Remington reports assets of $100 million dollars compared to $500 million dollars in liabilities.

4) Stock market closings for – 28 JUL 20:

Dow 26,379.28 down 205.49
Nasdaq 10,402.09 down 134.17
S&P 500 3,218.44 down 20.97

10 Year Yield: down at 0.58%

Oil: down at $41.07

24 July 2020

1) The parent company of Ann Taylor and Lane Bryant clothing chains, the Ascena Retail Group Inc., will close more than half its stores, a total of more than 1,000 stores. The troubled retailer was struggling like many other retailers to remain afloat, but the Covid-19 crisis tipped the scales into bankruptcy. Ascena has about 40,000 employees and there’s the expectation of cutting its 2,800 stores down to just 1,200 with significant losses of jobs. The chapter 11 will erase about $1 billion dollars in debt from its $12.5 billion dollars of liabilities, which includes $1.6 billion dollars of funded debt. Retailers have been among the hardest hit by Covid-19 lockdowns coupled with online shopping, which drained revenues and pushed so many retailers into bankruptcy.

2) Almost 16,000 restaurants have closed permanently from the Covid-19 pandemic, an indication of just how deeply the virus has affected the food industry, especially the restaurants. So far, about 60% of the restaurant closures have been permanent, with the number increasing with time. Restaurants now surpass the retail industry in the highest total business closures since the start of the pandemic. Bars and the night life industry has met the same fate, with 5,454 total business closures of which 2,429 are considered permanent closures, or 44% lost.

3) There is mounting evidence that America’s fragile economic recovery is faltering even as the pandemic seems to be leveling out. Reservations for restaurants are waning, air traffic is leveling off and foot traffic at stores is dwindling again. With rising infections in California, Texas and Florida, there is a growing sense that the recovery is fading. Small businesses have suffered the worst, having limited cash reserves and ability to obtain loans, and therefore are failing at record numbers. To compound the problem, there is weaker spending by consumers. Hopes for a real recovery depend more and more on an effective vaccine being created and available. Until there is one, there appears little hope that the economic will make any real lasting progress towards recovery.

4) Stock market closings for – 23 JUL 20:

Dow 26,652.33 down 353.51
Nasdaq 10,461.42 down 244.71
S&P 500 3,235.66 down 40.36

10 Year Yield: down at 0.58%

Oil: down at $41.21

7 July 2020

1) Research by the Wall Street firm UBS, predicts that as many as 100,000 brick and mortar retail stores in the U.S. will close by 2025. Because of the pandemic, retailers are closing store locations permanently at an un-precedent rate. But this closure was going on before the coronavirus shutdown, with shoppers embracing other ways to buy such as e-commerce and picking up products at stores purchased online. This is in addition to large traditional retailers going into bankruptcy. This prediction is in keeping with the 9,800 stores already closed this year, with 25,000 stores predicted to close by the end of 2020. The retail sector has already lost 1.2 million jobs between March and June. This opens questions if the present hyper-consumerism economy can continue.

2) With the continued threat of the pandemic and a slowdown of reopening of economies in states, evictions are likely to skyrocket as jobs remain scarce. This is because a backlog of eviction cases is beginning to move through the court system. Millions of people had been counting on federal aid and eviction moratoriums to remain in their homes, but now fear of being thrown out is mounting. This situation is further aggravated as the enhanced unemployment benefits run out at the end of July. The enhanced unemployment and $1,200 stimulus payment had been supporting households this spring. There are 110 million people living in rental households with 20% at risk of eviction by the end of September.

3) The food delivery service Uber has acquired rival Postmates, despite Uber not having become a profitable enterprise yet. This should make Uber a stronger competitor to its main rival Doordash. The food delivery sector is undergoing a major consolidation this year, people jumping from service to service to find the best deal. With this acquisition, Uber gets a bigger share of the market with 31% of the business with DoorDash the largest at 44%.

4) Stock market closings for – 6 JUL 20:

Dow 26,287.03 up
Nasdaq 10,433.65 up
S&P 500 3,179.72 up

10 Year Yield: 0.68%

Oil: up at $40.59

25 June 2020

1) There are ten companies that may not make it through the summer. These are high brand names of Hertz, J.C. Penney, Pier 1 Imports, Tuesday Morning, J. Crew, Neiman Marcus, Gold’s Gym, Tailored Brands (Men’s Warehouse and Jos. A. Banks) and Diamond Offshore Drilling, which are all in bankruptcy now. The high number of retailers shows the ongoing retail apocalypse with the retail sector, which had already hit before the pandemic by falling sales, lower costumer traffic and too many stores. Retail was near the edge of collapsed with last years Christmas holiday shopping doing little to boost business, especially those located in malls. Last year, 9,500 retail stores closed, with estimates of 15,000 stores closing for good in 2020. This may indicated a fundamental shift in America’s economy, a shift away from hyper-consumerism to something else besides a service based economy. Shopper visits to stores are about half of last year’s numbers, and that’s with businesses reopening after more than two months on lockdown.

2) Fears continue to grow that we are not finished with the Convid-19 crisis yet, as the number of new cases continues to increase. This is happening with states and cities easing their shutdown measures to reopen the economy to start a recovery. The seven day average of new virus cases has swung up 30% from a week ago. It was hoped the warm weather would suppress the virus spread as it does with the flu, but if the virus is resurrecting, then the shutdown may need to returned with the resulting economic impact.

3) The Ford Motor Co., who is in the process of its global restructuring plan and paying off debt related to the coronavirus pandemic, is betting its future on its new line of pickups. Ford is offering its popular F-150 model in traditional internal combustion engines, new hybrids and all electric versions. The Ford F-150 has been the country’s top selling truck for more than 40 years, the best selling for the last consecutive 38 years. Their F-150 is a key part in Ford’s plans to profitably grow their business, to help in the $11 billion restructuring cost and pay off the $20 billion dollars in new debt.

4) Stock market closings for – 24 JUN 20:

Dow 25,445.94 down 710.16
Nasdaq 9,909.17 down 222.20
S&P 500 3,050.33 down 0.96

10 Year Yield: down at 0.68%

Oil: down at $38.07