15 October 2020

1) The much feared Diablo winds, along with its low humidity, will bring critical fire weather to Northern California through Friday, increasing the risks of wild fires. There are widespread red flag fire warnings for Northen California above San Francisco because of extremely dry, gusty, north to northeast winds which will bring critical fire conditions. With the relative humidity down into the single digits and teens, winds could reach about 45 mph, with gust up to 55 mph, both conditions very conducive to rapidly spread wild fires. The Diablo winds are much like the Santa Ana winds so familiar to Southern Californians.
2) Boeing’s troubles continue with no new orders for jets and more 737 MAX cancellations as the companies crisis continues. There were more orders for the 373 MAX canceled in September with delivery of only 11 total aircraft to customers, which is less than half the number from the same month a year ago. Furthermore, the quality flaws on the 787 Dreamliner continue to hamper efforts to develop an alternative cash cow to the 737 MAX. The major source of Boeing’s problems is the coronavirus pandemic, which continues to hurt the demand for jets, for Boeing as well as its rival Airbus, and this is a factor that neither aircraft manufacture has any control over.
3) The prices for crude oil are rising with the dollar’s decline, which in turn is boosting appeal of commodities priced in dollars. There are signs of oil demand increasing in Asia, which is helping lift the overall outlook for oil consumption. The company Rogsheng Petrochemical of Singapore is buying up oil futures to run its expanded refinery operation in Zhejiang this quarter. The outlook for refineries output remain precarious, with refining margins severely depressed for this time of the year. Refineries typically need a spread of more than $10 a barrel to make it profitable to process crude oil.
4) Stock market closings for – 14 OCT 20:
Dow 28,514.00 down 165.81
Nasdaq 11,768.73 down 95.17
S&P 500 3,488.67 down 23.26
10 Year Yield: unchanged at 0.72%
Oil: up at $41.22

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

5 October 2020

1) Economic watchers were disappointed with the job reports for last month, with just 661,000 jobs added and the unemployment rate down to 7.9% from 8.4% in August. But this is because the labor force shrank by about 700,000. The job report is the last before the November elections and it shows a slowing recovery, thereby raising the specter of a gap that could take several years to close. The Nation has recovered a little over half the 22.1 million jobs lost at the start of the virus crisis. The job numbers fell short of the economic forecast of 850,000 new jobs and was the first month since April with a net job growth dropping below 1 million. September is the seventh month of the pandemic and the resulting crisis in American labor.
2) Some good news for California and its plague of wild fires- two of the largest fires are now fully contained. But still, several others threaten life and property, with weather forecast into next week not providing much hope from the threat of fires. The heat is expected to continue in Southern California with strong winds and dry conditions making for elevated fire conditions. The two, now contained wild fires, have burned for more than six weeks charring an area about the size of Rhode Island. Mega fires have become the norm in California with today 10 fires that are 100,000 acres plus in size and one that is over 850,000 acres. Northen California, with its wine country, continues to struggle with large fires, with the Glass Fire in Napa County being only about 5% contained and the Zogg Fire in Shasta County at 26% contained. All of California is fighting 24 major fires burning in California.
3) There is growing evidence that nearly 4 million American jobs have vanished forever because of the pandemic. This means that many initially lost jobs, which were hoped to be furloughs or temporary job losses, are becoming permanent as businesses shut down and cut costs. Technology displacement plays a major part in permanently shedding jobs by allowing combining job functions or outright replacement of people with machines. Each week, more companies announce thousands of layoffs as they struggle to survive in an ever changing business world and hostile economic environment. Those able to integrate technology and AI (Artificial Intelligence) into their operations are the ones most likely to survive, and that translates into permanently lost jobs.
4) Stock market closings for – 2 OCT 20:
Dow 27,682.81 down 134.09
Nasdaq 11,075.02 down 251.49
S&P 500 3,348.44 down 32.36
10 Year Yield: up at 0.70%
Oil: down at $37.01

29 September 2020

1) A railroad link between Alaska and Canada has been a dream for generations, because such a rail link would reduce Alaska’s costs for goods and services. It would also give Canada’s land locked oil-sands access to ports in Alaska, therefore making for more domestic oil reserves, but such a railroad line faces numerous steep challenges. President Donald Trump has endorsed such a proposal, but several regulatory agencies in both America and Canada must first approve such an undertaking before the first shovel full of dirt can be moved, and this is expected to take years to get permits. The Alaska-Alberta railway Development Corporation (A2A Rail) project would be privately funded costing about $17 billion dollars and would run about 1,600 miles.

2) The plague of wild fires continues in California with several new fires in Northen California consuming thousands of acres a day. The fires are consuming vineyards and destroying the wine business, including grape vineyards that have produced for over a hundred years. The heat wave continues to bring dry air into the conflagration, thus drying out vegetation to make ideal fuel for fires, while strong winds are fanning and spreading the flames. Fires are around the San Francisco area, the Napa-Sonoma wine region and Shasta County which are consuming land at a prodigious rate. Two major fires are the Zogg Fire, which has burned through 15,000 acres and the Glass Fire burning through 11,000 acres. The damage is being created so fast that estimates of dollar losses can not be reliably made.

3) The Congress continues to struggle with a second stimulus bill, the Democrats looking to score at the polls if passed before the election. The big question and holdup is the personal stimulus check to individuals and how much it will be this time. It now appears that $1,200 will be the maximum for individuals, but this time there will be restrictions which will lower the amount for many people based on how much their income is. After nearly two months of relative inactivity, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have agreed to resume negotiations.

4) Stock market closings for – 28 SEP 20:

Dow 27,584.06 up 410.10
Nasdaq 11,117.52 up 203.96
S&P 500 3,351.60 up 53.14 %

10 Year Yield: unchanged at 0.66%

Oil: up at $40.57

25 September 2020

1) Tim Kendall, former Facebook director of monetization, says that Facebook “took a page from Big Tobacco’s play book, working to make our offering addictive at the outset.” The greater the usage of Facebook by people, the greater Facebook’s revenues, so it behooves the company to make its service as addictive at possible, as soon as possible with new people. But this drive to maximize engagements entails building algorithms that facilitate the spread of misinformation, encourages divisive rhetoric thereby laying the groundwork for a mental health crisis. While met to be a device for entertainment, Facebook is in fact tearing people apart with alarming speed and intensity. He fears that American’s are pushing ourselves to the brink of civil war. Presently, Section 230 is a law that makes social media platforms immune to legal liability for the content of users’ posts. But there are growing number of people calling for reforms.
2) California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed an executive order that bans the sale of all but electric and fuel cell cars by 2035. But legal experts say the order is ‘borderline worthless’, that there isn’t anyway to enforce it. The objective is to do away with the internal combustion engine in California by mandating an increasingly larger percentage of new car sales must be zero emissions machines starting with 2% for 1998, 5% by 2001, 10% for 2003 and etcetera. California auto dealers challenged the order in court and got it somewhat diluted. Nevertheless, it’s another step in the race to electrify California’s cars.
3) Half the people who lost their jobs from the pandemic are still unemployed, while 60% who did return to work have taken a cut in pay. As of 12 September, 12.6 million Americans are receiving unemployment benefits, with an unemployment rate at 8.4%. The lower income workers are more likely to still be unemployed. The bottom line, the virus crisis lead to a unprecedented loss of jobs and six months later, America is still a long ways from recovery. The crisis has caused a split in America’s labor force, the higher earners are going one direction while the lower paid ones are going another.
4) Stock market closings for – 24 SEP 20:
Dow 26,815.44 up 52.31
Nasdaq 10,672.27 up 39.28
S&P 500 3,246.59 up 9.67
10 Year Yield: down at 0.67%
Oil: up at $40.28

24 September 2020

1) California’s annual bout of fires has just added a new dimension to the state’s history. The Creek Fire has become the state’s single most massive wildfire in history by burning 286,519 acres in Fresno and Madera counties. Ignited on September the fourth, it has so far destroyed 855 structures and damaged 71 others. There are now 50 major fires across the West coast this week, so far claiming 26 fatalities, while consuming 2.2 million acres. There are forty crews with 3,100 personnel who are fighting the fires, but only about 32% of the Creek fire blaze has been contained. No estimates yet of just how much monetary damages the state has suffered.
2) As the remnants of Sally continue moving across the southeastern United States, the first estimates are in for the damages. Sally made landfall as a category 2 storm near Gulf Shores, Alabama bringing a storm surge that caused major flooding in places like Pensacola with several feet of water. Damages are expected to cost upwards of $2 billion dollars. NOAA’s aerial imagery is being evaluated to more accurately determine the extent of flooding and damages in Florida and Alabama. Major beach erosion is also apparent too.
3) Tesla’s much touted Battery Day appears to have disappointed most of the average people, with Tesla (TSLA) stock tumbling down 8.6% in midday trading, on track for its lowest close in two weeks. Investors fear that promised new batteries will take years to fully develop and be available for automobiles. Tesla unveiled a new battery design that is 56% cheaper and more efficient for use in automobiles, which should be a big step towards the viability of fully electric cars. Additionally, the company announced a future robot car for $25,000 that will be fully autonomous, and available in the next three years. The new battery technology will enable sleeker affordable cars that can travel much longer distances on a single charge. Investors had expected announcements of two big innovations, the first one is a ‘million mile’ battery that would be good for ten years or more, as well as a cost reduction, a target specified as dollars per kilowatt-hour, which would finally drop the price of an electric vehicle below that of a gasoline car.
4) Stock market closings for – 23 SEP 20:
Dow 26,763.13 down 525.05
Nasdaq 10,632.98 down 330.65
S&P 500 3,236.92 down 78.65
10 Year Yield: up at 0.68%
Oil: up at $39.59

21 August 2020

1) A controversy has arisen on the national political scene about removal of mail sorting machines in the USPS (United States Postal Service), some charging this is an attempt to interfere in the up coming national elections. Having already removed hundreds of machines, the USPS is poised to decommission 671 of the massive sorting machines, which is roughly 10% of its inventory. This represents the sorting ability of 21.4 million pieces of paper mail per hour. Presently, the USPS processes up to 500 million items each day. The removal is part of a long range plan, in response to American’s diminishing use of traditional letters.

2) The ride sharing services Uber and Lyft are preparing to shut down in California because of a new law that reclassifies their drivers from contract workers to employees. Under an order issued ten days ago for their drivers to be employees with state mandated pay, benefits and taxes, the two service providers have threaten to suspend services if the order is not resended until an up coming referendum in November to exempt them is held. This is a major case for the growing on-demand economy and what its future in America’s economy will be. Being forced to use employee drives would fundamentally change their business, making them far less competitive with traditional taxi services.

3) The woes of America’s airline industry continues with the announcement that American Airlines is suspending service to 15 U.S. cities this fall. The move comes in response to declining demand and as a federal requirement to service those locations comes to an end. This is the latest step taken by American Airlines to cut costs amid airlines racking up billions in losses during the pandemic. The company will slash 30% of its management and administrative jobs with about 25,000 of their workers furloughed by October. They have reached a deal with their pilots union to offer more leaves and early-retirement packages. Estimates are that domestic airlines will lose more than $20 billion dollars in revenue this year, while globally the industry could lose up to $84 billion dollars this year.

4) Stock market closings for – 20 AUG 20:

Dow 27,739.73 up 46.85
Nasdaq 11,264.95 up +118.49
S&P 500 3,385.51 up +10.66

10 Year Yield: down at 0.64%

Oil: down at $42.78

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

12 June 2020

1) The markets took a sharp drop over fears of another shutdown as the number of Convid-19 cases began rising from states starting to opening up for business. The Dow Jones dropped over 1,800 points, closing on the worst day sell-off since March. It appears that this pandemic is going to linger longer than was anticipated. Texas has reported three consecutive days of record breaking Covid-19 hospitalizations. Nine counties in California are reporting spikes in hospital admissions from the virus. The U.S. now has topped 2 million cases in this pandemic. Also, oil prices have taken a sharp downward slide.

2) Inventories of unsold diamonds are increasing, with the five largest diamond producers having stockpiled excess inventories of about $3.5 billion dollars and could go as high as $4.5 billion dollars. World wide demand for diamonds has plummeted, with the renowned diamond supplier De Beers reporting diamond sales in May of about $35 million dollars, compared to last year’s $400 million dollars. The world wide lock down has closed jewelry stores across the world thereby reducing sales to a small fraction of normal. The diamond market resembles the diamond slump of the 2008 financial crisis.

3) More than 1.5 million Americans filed new jobless claims for the first week of June, again decreasing from the previous week of 1.9 million. This is in contrast to the 6.9 million claims in April, with a stead decline each week since then. There was 2.5 million jobs added to the American economy, largely due to 2.7 million workers returning from furloughs. Still, more than 40 million Americans have lost their jobs because of the pandemic forcing shutdowns of so many businesses across America. But the gradual improvement of employment is boosting hopes for a quick economic recovery, however, there remains the problem of technology displacement of jobs. In times of economic stress, businesses are seeking ways and means to cut operating cost, and that gives a niche for entry of new technologies that eliminate the human. Experts in Artificial Intelligence estimate that as much as 50% of the jobs will disappear in 15 to 25 years.

4) Stock market closings for – 11 JUN 20: The stock market is like a rectal thermometer- it’s rude and crude but surprisingly effective at showing sickness.

Dow 25,128.17 down 1861.82
Nasdaq 9,492.73 down 527.62
S&P 500 3,002.10 down 188.04

10 Year Yield: down at 0.65%

Oil: down at $36.17

12 May 20:

1) Economic advisers are urging the reopening of the economy as quickly as possible to reduce unemployment rates, which they fear are already above 20%. But despite the risk of permanent economic damage, public health experts warn that reopening nonessential businesses could lead to a flare up of the pandemic. This could mean unemployment worst than the 1930’s great depression with a true unemployment rate reaching 25%. However, there are early reports that China is experiencing a recurrence of the coronavirus after they’ve started their reopening process, so the warnings of health experts isn’t to be taken lightly. While some officials state that 80% of the unemployment is from furloughs and expect very rapid re-employment with the ending of the shutdown, there remains the very real problem of how fast they can be rehired. With a large portion of businesses now strapped for cash, they will have to restart slowly as money permits. No doubt, many will have gone bust during the shutdown, having already run out of money, while many more will be cash starved for weeks, months or even years, teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

2) Toyota Motor company plans to cut North American production by about a third before October, with expectations that it will be some time before production is restored to present levels. The company will build about 800,000 vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico, a number which is down 29% from the same time last year.

3) The electric automaker Tesla, controlled by Elon Musk, has filed a federal lawsuit Saturday against Alameda County in California to reverse the closing of the auto plant. The Tesla’s plant in Fremont, California was closed by health orders from the county and remain closed for social distancing reasons. Additionally, Musk is threatening to move the manufacturing plant to a more business friendly state such as Texas or Nevada, considering the regulation to be the last straw. In the last few years, California has faced a ‘business drain’ as significant number of businesses and skilled/educated workers move out of California for states offering more opportunity.

4) Stock market closings for – 11 MAY 20:

Dow 24,221.99 down 109.33
Nasdaq 9,192.34 up 71.02
S&P 500 2,930.32 up 0.52

10 Year Yield: up at 0.73%

Oil: at up at $25.38