26 March 2021

1) The U.S. Supreme Court, in a unanimous 8-0 ruling in a civil procedure case, has made corporations suffer a huge loss by making it easier to sue over defective and dangerous products. The basic thrust of the controversies is actually fairly simple in the case of Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court. The state court held that it had jurisdiction over Ford Motor Company in a product liability suit stemming from a car accident, since the accident happened in the state where suit was brought, and the victim was one of the state’s residents. Furthermore Ford did substantial business in the state with advertising, selling, and servicing the model of vehicle the suit claims is defective. Ford contends that jurisdiction is improper because the particular car involved in the crash was not sold in the state where Ford was sued, nor was it designed or manufactured there. The Supreme Court has essentially staked out two methods for bringing lawsuits against huge corporations: 1) general jurisdiction, and 2) specific jurisdiction. When minimum contacts are found to be sufficiently related to the cause of action, a given court may exercise jurisdiction over such claims.

2) Taiwan and the U.S. plan to deepen maritime security ties in view of China’s escalating ‘gray-zone’ threats. The Chinese government has made vast maritime claims in the South China Sea and also claims sovereignty over the Japanese controlled Senkaku Islands, which it calls Diaoyu. Until Beijing enacted its new coast guard law last month, the country relied on its myriad of armed fishing militia to harass the vessels of other regional claimants. However, China’s neighbors have raised concerns about the revised maritime police legislation, which allows coast guard ships to fire upon foreign vessels deemed to be intruding in Chinese territorial waters. Manila and Tokyo, both who are U.S. defense treaty allies with the U.S., have expressed concern at the potential consequences of the law.

3) Google’s systems infrastructure group calls their new Systems on Chip (SoC) the motherboard on a chip. The cloud computing giant, who is always in need of more computing power for its servers, until now relies on the motherboard as an integration point, where CPUs, networking, storage devices, custom accelerators and memory all come together. To gain higher performance and to use less power, workloads demand even deeper integration into the underlying hardware. With the SoC, the latency and bandwidth between different components can be orders of magnitude better, with reduced power and cost compared to traditional motherboards.

4) Stock market closings for – 25 MAR 21:

Dow Jones 32,619 up by 199.42
NASDAQ 12,978 up by 15.79
S&P 500 3,910 up by 20.38

10 Year Yields: up at 1.635

Oil: down at 61.84

19 March 2021

1) American military officials are warning that, in the next few years, China could invade Taiwan. The island nation has long been a sore subject of U.S.-China relations. China’s rapid military build-up, are recent indications that Taiwan could unilaterally declare its independence from the mainland. An invasion could throw the whole region into chaos and potentially culminate in a shooting war between China and the United States, who is treaty bound to help Taiwan defend itself against Beijing. The Chinese army’s capabilities have matured to such a degree that this is no longer a dilemma we can afford to brush off. The Biden administration must signal its willingness to ‘go to the mat’ for Taiwan and help ensure the island can defend itself, but without further spooking Beijing. China has commissioned 25 advanced new ships, including cruisers, destroyers and ballistic missile submarines, with capabilities designed to keep America and its allies, who might interfere on Taiwan’s behalf, at bay. Meanwhile, China is integrating its new equipment into an increasingly sophisticated force

2) Production at U.S. manufacturers unexpectedly declined in February, representing a pause in recent momentum as factories were beset by severe winter weather and supply-chain challenges. The 3.1% decrease in output was the first since April, following an upwardly revised 1.2% gain in January. Total industrial output reflected a 7.4% surge at utilities, that was the largest advance since March 2017, also driven by increased demand for heating. Manufacturers continue to battle supply shortages and shipping challenges, but lean business inventories, steady demand from consumers and solid capital spending should push manufacturing back up.

3) A Tesla Model Y electric car, with its Autopilot engaged, crashed into a Michigan police car that had pulled over with its lights on. The driver was using Tesla’s Autopilot system when he crashed into the police vehicle, but there were no injuries, according to police. The 22-year-old driver was issued citations for failure to move over and driving with a suspended license. Tesla’s Autopilot system allows the car to brake, accelerate, and steer automatically. The electric car maker also sells its full self-driving software as a $10,000 one-off add-on and plans to release it as a subscription model this summer.

4) Stock market closings for – 18 MAR 21:

Dow 32,862.30 down by 153.07
Nasdaq 13,116.17 down by 409.03
S&P 500 3,915.46 down by 58.66

10 Year Yield: 1.73%

Oil: down at $59.53

28 December 2020

1) Rich Americans are rushing to make large transactions before the end of the month and year, intending to get ahead of expected raising of taxes or closing of loopholes. The year-end frenzy come as a surprise to many advisers, because Republicans did better than many expected in congressional races. This suggests Biden may have a difficult time fulfilling campaign promises to raise trillions of dollars in new revenue from the wealthy. The new Biden administration could close the many loopholes that make the U.S. estate and gift tax easy to avoid.

2) The bill for the pandemic relief is 5,600 pages long containing more than one million words, which makes it slightly longer than “A Dance to the Music of Time”, Anthony Powell’s classic 12-volume work, which is considered the longest novel in the English language, taking more than 100 hours to read aloud. But while the bill doesn’t provide the relief of the first one, it will create two new Smithsonian museums and a Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library in North Dakota. There is legislation for copyright holders to pursue increasingly frivolous claims against YouTube users. Economic sanctions and other penalties to any Chinese national who attempts to interfere in the process by which the 15th Dalai Lama is chosen. It will ban a now-defunct activist group from receiving federal funding. In short, much of the bill provides no help for Americans struggling to survive this economic calamity. Therefore, the stimulus bill is the worst of both worlds of Democrats and Republicans.

3) Communist China is adding to its military aggressiveness by developing amphibious assault ships to enhance its blue water navy and dominate the seas. The 40,000-ton assault warship is the key to Beijing’s ambition of dominating the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea, where frequent encounters with the United States Navy have occurred this year. A total of eight Type 075 amphibious assault ships have been ordered by the PLA, with the third one currently under construction and expected to be delivered in early 2021. The landing helicopter dock carries 30 attack helicopters and 900 troops. The assault ships gives China the ability to conduct vertical deployment in military operations on islands and reefs, the Chinese Communist citing self-governing Taiwan and the South China Sea as examples.

4) Stock market closings for – 24 DEC 20:

Dow 30,199.87 up by 70.04
Nasdaq 12,804.73 up by 33.62
S&P 500 3,703.06 up by 13.05

10 Year Yield: down at 0.93%

Oil: up at $48.23

23 December 2020

1) The sailing of a Chinese aircraft carrier group, led by the country’s newest carrier, through the sensitive Taiwan Strait, caused Taiwan’s navy and air force to deploy. While this isn’t the first time China’s carriers have passed close to Taiwan, it comes at a time of heightened tension between Taipei and Beijing, which claims the democratically-ruled island as its territory. China says such trips by carriers through the strait are routine, often on their way to exercises in the disputed South China Sea. Taiwan said it sent six warships and eight military aircraft to monitor the Chinese ships’ movements. China has little experience with naval air operations compared to the United States, which has operated integrated carrier battle groups with multiple vessels for decades.

2) Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary, said that millions of Americans could begin seeing stimulus payments as soon as next week. The stimulus measure is combined with other bills into a giant piece of legislation to include money to fund the government through September 2021 as well as the extension of various tax cuts. The stimulus has $600 direct payments to people as part of the bill, plus $300 in weekly unemployment benefits for 11 weeks.

3) The Justice Department has filed suit against Walmart, alleging they unlawfully dispensed controlled substances through their pharmacies thereby fueling the nation’s opioid crisis. Claims are Walmart pressured its pharmacists to fill opioid prescriptions quickly, thus denying pharmacists the ability to refuse invalid prescriptions. Therefore those pharmacists were knowingly filled thousands of prescriptions that came from ‘pill mills’. The government charges Walmart with failing to detect and report suspicious prescriptions to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, as the law requires, so for years Walmart has reported virtually no suspicious orders at all. Walmart has more than 5,000 pharmacies around the country, but Walmart contends that bad doctors are to blame. Therefore, Walmart filed its own preemptive suit against the Justice Department, Attorney General William Barr and the Drug Enforcement Administration saying the Justice Department’s investigation has identified hundreds of doctors who wrote problematic prescriptions. The company is asking a federal judge to declare that the government has no basis to seek civil damages.

4) Stock market closings for – 22 DEC 20:

Dow 30,015.51 down by 200.94
Nasdaq 12,807.92 up by 65.40
S&P 500 3,687.26 down by 7.66

10 Year Yield: down at 0.92%

Oil: down at $46.80

23 November 20

1) When Joe Biden takes the presidential oath of office next year, he will need to address the question of his son and brother’s business arrangements with entities of foreign governments. A five-page report, with 65 pages of evidence, confirms the connections between the Biden family and the communist Chinese government, as well as the links between Hunter Biden’s business associates and the Russian government. Bidens’ global web of “consulting” and influence-mongering has created some unsavory question about conflicts of interest. Even if every past, present, or future business arrangement by Hunter and Jim Biden is technically legal, which is still an open question, plenty of difficulties can arise from financial pressure to do the bidding of those adversaries. To maintain public trust in his new administration’s diplomacy, the new president must force his son and brother to divest from many aspects of Biden family business.

2) Earlier this year, Australia was among the first countries to call for an official investigation into the coronavirus origins. China responded angrily which accusations that Australia’s highly irresponsible acts could disrupt international cooperation in fighting the pandemic. In recent months, China has imposed trade tariffs on Australia, targeted Australian journalists, and issued angry missives regarding Australia’s dealings with other regional powers. Chinese diplomats have distributed a document to Australian media listing Beijing’s grievances with Australia. These include unfairly blocking Chinese investment, spreading disinformation about China’s coronavirus response, falsely accusing Beijing of hacking, and engaging in incessant wanton interference in Xinjiang, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Yet while there may be legitimate concerns about China in a number of countries, such as the role of telecoms manufacturer Huawei in 5G networks, Australia has become more hawkish than most, but Australia could look foolish if Biden opens up partnerships with China on climate and pandemic management leaving Australia standing alone.

3) As Congress breaks for Thanksgiving, 12 million Americans may lose their jobless benefits on December 26 unless Congress can agree on a new stimulus deal in the next few weeks. More than half of the 21 million people currently collecting unemployment benefits can be effected. If lawmakers head home for Thanksgiving soon, it is even less likely they will reach a deal before they break for the year in December. As they do, millions of Americans could potentially lose their own residences when the nationwide eviction moratorium also expires at the end of the year. Tens of millions more cannot afford enough food to eat. Additionally, long-term unemployment is on the rise with the share of jobless workers out of work for 27 weeks or more, shot up from 19.1% to 32.5% in October, because there are simply not enough jobs being created to support all of the workers running out of aid before the end of 2020.

4) Stock market closings for – 20 NOV 20:

Dow 29,263.48 down by 219.75
Nasdaq 11,854.97 down by 49.74
S&P 500 3,557.54 down by 24.33

10 Year Yield: down at 0.83%

Oil: up at $42.47

30 October 2020

1) The Boeing Aircraft Co. is selling new bonds to help repay its nearly $3 billion dollars of debt. Boeing announced the sale just minutes after a downgrade to the company’s credit rating. Fitch Ratings put out a report reducing Boeing’s credit rating down to BBB-, the lowest investment-grade rating, with a negative outlook. The company has burned through about $22 billion dollars of its free cash since March 2019, when the company’s best-selling jet, the 737 MAX, was grounded. It is anticipated that it will take two years until Boeing’s financial metrics return to that of a credit rating one level higher.

2) The Philippines has removed a major hurdle in advancing oil exploration with Beijing in the South China Sea, but the two nations will have to navigate their overlapping claims in the area to reach a deal. The island nation has lifted a six-year ban on oil exploration to stop activities that might annoy China. The Philippines has recently toughened its stance against China and is leaning back towards the U.S. It is estimated that 4 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves, that’s worth billions of dollars, could be found in South China Sea areas that is claimed by the Philippines and disputed by China. However an international arbitration court has ruled in favor of the Philippines in 2016. The two nations could set aside the ownership issue and proceed with joint development.

3) Exxon announces additional job cuts, that it intends to reduce its U.S. staff by around 1,900 employees. These reductions will be both voluntary and involuntary, a result of COVID-19 on the demand for oil aimed at improving efficiency and reducing costs. Amid declining oil prices, energy companies are taking drastic measures to improve their balance sheets, including reducing staff and in some cases suspending dividends, with the company’s fourth quarter dividend at 87 cents per share, although this is the first time since 1982 that it didn’t raise its dividend.

4) Stock market closings for – 29 OCT 20:

Dow 26,659.11 up 139.16
Nasdaq 11,185.59 up 180.73
S&P 500 3,310.11 up 39.08

10 Year Yield: up at 0.84%

Oil: down at $36.10

20 October 2020

1) China has warned the U.S. that it may start detaining Americans. Repeated warnings have been made to U.S. government representatives and through multiple channels, including the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. The Chinese have warned that the U.S. should drop prosecutions of the Chinese scholars in American courts, otherwise Americans in China might find themselves in violation of Chinese law. The U.S. began arresting Chinese scientists, who were visiting American universities to conduct research, and charged them with concealing their active duty status with the People’s Liberation Army from U.S. immigration authorities. This tactic is referred to as ‘hostage diplomacy’, which China has used on other countries, such as Canada, Australia and Sweden on what officials from those governments have said are bogus allegations. In September the State Department issued a travel advisory, recommending Americans avoid China travel for a number of reasons, including a warning that the Chinese government detains other countries’ citizens “to gain bargaining leverage over foreign governments”.

2) The oil giant ConocoPhillips is doubling down on crude oil with a major acquisition. Conoco is taking over Concho Resources, a fracker in the Permian Basic with a $9.7 billion dollar ‘all-stock’ takeover. This will make Conoco the largest independent oil-and-gas company in the U.S., with daily production of more than 1.5 million barrels of oil. This will also leave Conoco more exposed to the same forces that have swiftly moved against fossil fuels, and therefore the results of next months elections. Because of the volatility , many investors refrain from the oil market, which met Conoco didn’t have to spend much on the deal. Concho is being acquired at just $10,700 per acre in the Permian Basin, much less than the $40,000 previously paid for the shale oilfield.

3) The private space company SpaceX has launched another 60 Starlink internet relay satellites into orbit, with another set due to launch in a few days. There are now 835 Starlinks in orbit for the rapidly expanding global network, which will eventually number thousands, for high speed internet to any point on the earth. Present plans are to launch at least 120 new Starlinks every month.

4) Stock market closings for – 19 OCT 20:

Dow 28,195.42 down 410.89
Nasdaq 11,478.88 down 192.67
S&P 500 3,426.92 down 56.89

10 Year Yield: up at 0.76%

Oil: down at $40.68

1 July 2020

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

10 Year Yield: up at 0.65%

Oil: up at $39.86