3 March 2021

1) In Petaluma, California the local city council unanimously voted to ban new gas stations, building on a two-year moratorium passed in early 2019. Petaluma is just 15 square miles in size, with a population of 61,000 and has 16 gas stations with another one recently approved. City officials consider that’s more than enough for all current and future residents. This decision is part of the city’s climate plan to get to zero emissions by 2030. There are multiple gas stations located within a five minute drive of every existing residence. The legislation also streamlines the process for stations to add electric vehicle chargers and potential hydrogen fuel cell stations in the future.

2) Millions of families in Texas were struggling in freezing temperatures without heat or running water. Losing these essential services can be life threatening, however that situation is all too familiar to millions of low income families across the nation, who are struggling to pay their utility bills. By the end of December, low income families owe more than $27 billion dollars for their gas and electric utilities, and with the combined rent and utilities their debt exceeds $70 billion. By the end of March, when the winter heating season is over, the numbers will be even higher.

3) Brazos Electric Power Cooperative Inc. is based in Waco, and provides power to many communities near Fort Worth. The electric cooperative with 1.5 million customers has filed for bankruptcy protection, saying it wants to protect customers from huge energy bills sent by ERCOT after last month’s historical winter storm. The CO-OP was a financially robust, stable company with perpetually strong credit ratings until the February 13-19 cold snap that essentially shut down Texas and caused widespread power outages. As a result of the catastrophic failures due to the storm, Brazos Electric received excessively high invoices by ERCOT for collateral and for purported cost of electric service, payment of which was required within days. The cooperative costs are passed through to its members, but Brazos Electric determined that it cannot and will not foist this catastrophic financial event on its members and those consumers. Brazos Electric supplies wholesale power to 16 member owner distribution cooperatives in 68 Texas counties.

4) Stock market closings for – 2 MAR 21:

Dow 1,391.52 down by 143.99
Nasdaq 13,358.79 down by 230.04
S&P 500 3,870.29 down by 31.53

10 Year Yield: down at 1.42%

Oil: down at $59.56

25 February 2021

1) Nikola Corp. announced that its long-range fuel-cell semi truck gets as much as 900 miles on a tank of hydrogen gas, and is due to come out in 2024. The Nikola Two fuel-cell vehicle would go at least 750 miles on a tank of hydrogen, while its Tre shorter-range fuel-cell truck, can run 500 miles, and remains on schedule to start production in the second half of 2023. Nikola said that their first Tre FCEV prototypes are scheduled to begin assembly in Arizona and Ulm, Germany, in the second quarter of this year and that testing and validation would continue into 2022. The Nikola 900-mile truck will have a sleeping cabin for drivers and a new chassis designed for North American highways.

2) From California to Indiana, aerospace to appliance manufacturers, American factories are struggling to procure cold-rolled steel. Manufactures are getting hit by a fresh round of disruption in the U.S. steel industry. Steel is in short supply and prices are surging. Unfilled orders for steel in the last quarter were at the highest level in five years, while inventories were near a 3-1/2-year low. The benchmark price for hot-rolled steel hit $1,176 per ton this month, its highest level in at least 13 years. Domestic steel prices have risen more than 160% since last August, leaving steel consumers in a quandary whether to absorb or pass along the increased cost. U.S. steel prices are 68% higher than the global market price and almost double China’s, even with prices in both China and Europe up over 80% from their pandemic-induced lows. But the price gap is so wide that even with a 25% tariff, it would be cheaper to import than buy from domestic mills. The United States imported 18% of its steel needs last year.

3) The global semiconductor shortage will slash earnings of General Motors and Ford Motor Co. by about one-third this year, as supply constraints hamper production and profits. The chip shortage will materially erode margins and could lower expected earnings before interest and taxes by as much as $2 billion for GM and $2.5 billion for Ford. GM’s EBITA margin could fall to 3.4%, while Ford’s could dip as low as 1.8%. Rising demand for the chips needed to build technologically advanced and connected vehicles has introduced a new set of challenges for the North American auto industry, with shortages triggering production cuts and temporary plant closures. Demand from consumer-electronic companies exacerbated the supply shortages amid the coronavirus pandemic.

4) Stock market closings for – 24 FEB 21:

Dow 31,961.86 up by 424.51
Nasdaq 13,597.97 up by 132.77
S&P 500 3,925.43 up by 44.06

10 Year Yield: up at 1.39%

Oil: up at $63.36

22 February 2021

1) There have been many reports about the crumbling weakness of American infrastructure, something that became apparent to many people with the recent hard freeze across the country. Example- in two hours Texas’s electric grid almost came crashing down. Electric demand for heat was soaring, then three coal plants followed quickly by a gas plant dropped out. If insufficient power came in, the grid wouldn’t be able to support the energy demand from customers and the other power plants that supply them, causing a cycle of dysfunction. As many as 5 million homes and businesses were abruptly thrust into frigid darkness for nearly four straight days as the crisis continued, ensnaring more than a dozen other states as far as away as California. Wind power was the first to go, as dense fog settled over turbine fleets, freezing on contact. Their blades iced over, so wind farms completely ceased. Then gas generation began declining. As the cold deepened, demand climbed sharply, hitting and then exceeding the state’s all-time winter peak. Gas well shut-ins in West Texas caused gas supplies to dip, reducing pressure at gas plants and forcing them offline, so virtually all of the generation falling off the grid came from coal or gas plants. In the span of 30 minutes, 2.6 gigawatts of capacity had disappeared from Texas’s power grid, enough to power half a million homes. Demand kept climbing, and plants kept falling offline. To stem the plunge, operators started shedding load. Operators removed 10 gigawatts of demand, essentially cutting power to 2 million homes in one fell swoop. As blackouts spread across the state, power was cut not only to homes and businesses but to the compressor stations that drive natural gas pipelines further cutting off the flow of gas supplies to power plants.

2) Now Maersk , the world’s largest shipping line, is taking a historic step toward not using fossil fuels for propulsion. About half of Maersk’s 200 biggest customers have set science-based or zero-carbon targets for their supply chains, or are in the process of doing so. The firm wants to have net-zero emissions from its operations by 2050, and helped found a research center focused on decarbonizing the industry. Getting hold of enough carbon-neutral fuel will be Maersk’s biggest challenge, given the current lack of availability.

3) Some experts are predicting that because of the rare convergence of three economic triggers, we are about to see a massive buying frenzy into the technology sector of the stock market. No details were shared.

4) Stock market closings for – 19 FEB 21:

Dow 31,494.32 up by 0.98
Nasdaq 13,874.46 up by 9.11
S&P 500 3,906.71 down by 7.26

10 Year Yield: up at 1.34%

Oil: down at $59.01

18 February 2021

1) Demand for natural gas is currently at an unprecedented level according to Atmos Energy, because of freezing rain, snow, ice and dangerous travel conditions. Atmos Energy is asking all of its customers and businesses to conserve as much energy as possible. The Dallas-based natural-gas-only company is one of the nation’s largest distributors, serving about three million customers in more than 1,400 communities in nine states. This request comes after a new Winter Storm Warning was issued for all of North Texas while millions in the state remain without power. Atmos Energy has offered their customers a number of suggestions on how they can limit their energy usage.

2) Texas produces more energy than any other state, yet in the midst of the arctic freeze gripping the central U.S., Texas is faced with insufficient energy for its citizens. The arctic freeze gripping the central U.S. is raising the specter of power outages in Texas. The deep freeze this week in the Lone Star state, is causing power demand to skyrocket. The people of Texas relies on electricity to heat many homes, while at the same time, natural gas, coal, wind and nuclear facilities in Texas have been knocked offline by the unthinkably low temperatures. This situation could have wide-reaching implications as the US power industry attempts to slash carbon emissions in response to the climate crisis and move away from fossil fuels. Texas has been hit with life-threatening blackouts. More than 4 million people in the state were without power early Tuesday. Authorities defended the controlled outages, called rolling blackouts, which kept the grid from collapsing. The situation raises the question that if a state like Texas is now having trouble meeting its energy requirements, then how will the other states fare as America moves to a green energy environment.

3) Motorola Solutions has consolidated its video security and AI video analytics production into a newly renovated manufacturing facility in Richardson Texas, with plans to expand staffing in the coming year. The new facility opened in January housing 250 employees, with plans to expand by at least another 50 this year. Motorola acquired the camera and analytics company Avigilon, for a reported $1 billion in February 2018 and the Fort Worth based license plate recognition camera and software maker Vigilant Solutions in January for $445 million. In March 2019, it bought voice-over IP dispatch console maker Avtec, then Watchguard, which designs and sells in-car video systems and police body cameras to law enforcement agencies. Two additional California-based companies Pelco and Scotland-based IndigoVision were also added to Motorola’s growing security abilities.

4) Stock market closings for – 17 FEB 21:

Dow 31,613.02 up by 90.27
Nasdaq 13,965.50 down by 82.00
S&P 500 3,931.33 down by 1.26

10 Year Yield: unchanged at 1.30%

Oil: up at $61.66

29 January 2021

1) As President Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion dollar stimulus bill is debated by law makers and the press, Biden says he’s no longer afraid to spend big on economic relief. It’s not just smart fiscal investments, including deficit spending, it’s the return on investments in jobs, in racial equity that will prevent long-term economic damage with the benefits far surpassing the costs. But the national debt has soar by more than $7 trillion dollars during the last four years, and for the last quarter, the federal budget deficit was $572 billion, which is up more than 60% from the same period a year earlier. Fears are growing over the now massive national debt, a debt larger than at the end of World War II (as percent GDP), plus many other western and even third world nations have similar huge debts. There are real fears that if one of those nations economy collapses, then other economies will be dragged down, including Americas. Biden supporters counter that the low interest rates make it more palatable to borrow, with the rate on the 10-year Treasury bond hovering around 1.1%.

2) A new way to manipulate the stock market made the news, that uses modern computer technology and the internet to drive stock prices up and down. Called a “pump and dump” scam, it has pitted the professional stock traders of Wall Street against amateurs trading on the internet (also known as non-professional individual investors) with apps like Robinhood and Reddit. The scammers buy up the shares cheap, then spread rumors that drive the stock price higher while encouraging other investors to get in on the supposed windfall. When the stock hits a high point, the scammers dump their shares, leaving unsuspecting investors holding the bag. In addition to other stocks, the stock for GameStop is the main name in stories this week. The stock started at $4 a share six months ago, rising to $483. Short traders had determined that GameStop was a failing company that would not survive, and so were buying up the stock planning to sell short, which they had bought up on credit. The amateurs, using the internet and social apps started talking up how great the stock was as they also bought up stock, both driving up the price. As the stock price became excessively high, the short sellers were force to actually buy the stock at a price above the short price, resulting in huge losses for the Wall Streeters. The amateurs then sold off their stocks to the unsuspecting, causing the stock to tumble down.

3) General Motors announces its goal to eliminate selling all their gas and diesel vehicle models by 2035 and be completely carbon neutral by 2040. California had announced that it will no longer allow the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035.

4) Stock market closings for – 28 JAN 21:

Dow 30,603.36 up by 300.19
Nasdaq 13,337.16 up by 66.56
S&P 500 3,787.38 up by 36.61

10 Year Yield: up at 1.06%

Oil: down at $52.18

31 December 2020

1) President Donald Trump’s efforts for a $2,000 Covid-19 relief check for each American has run into a road block, which the Senate Republicans have made unsurmountable, even as pressure builds to approve the bigger checks. A growing number of Republicans oppose more spending, despite bucking Trump. The showdown over the $2,000 checks has thrown Congress into a chaotic year-end session which is preventing action on overturning Trump’s veto on a sweeping defense bill. McConnell is trying to provide an off ramp for GOP senators to avoid a tough vote. Republicans are split between those who align with Trump’s populist instincts and those who adhere to what had been more traditional conservative views against government spending. New legislation is proposing linking the president’s demand for bigger checks with repealing law suit protections for tech companies like Facebook or Twitter , as well as establishment of a bipartisan commission to review the 2020 presidential election for possible fraud.

2) There is another casualty of the coronavirus pandemic . . . the ringing in of the new year at Times Square in New York, which in the past draws millions of visitors to Midtown, but not this year. This year, the visitors are out, the traditional dropping of the crystal orb will be viewed only on television. There will still be the night performances, with disco diva Gloria Gaynor singing her “I Will Survive”, a rather appropriate anthem for 2020. Other cities across the globe are also curbing their traditional celebrations of the new year.

3) The new strain of Covid-19 virus has been discovered in Colorado and California which alarms scientists because it is a more contagious Covid-19 strain. It is expected that the new strain will quickly spread to other states. In San Diego County a 30-year-old man in the county, with no travel history, has tested positive for the new strain on Tuesday. Because there is no travel history, this is not an isolated case in San Diego County. Furthermore, on Tuesday, Southern California’s Intensive Care Unit availability is now at zero percent. Meanwhile, Colorado reported its first known case of the variant on Tuesday too, and was investigating a second possible case Wednesday. Both of the cases are National Guard soldiers who were deployed to support staffing at a nursing home in Simla, Colorado, outside Denver. While the new variant continues to spread fast in the UK, it is more contagious than previously identified strains but not more severe. The English virus spreads at a rate of 70% compared with other variants in the U.K.

4) Stock market closings for – 30 DEC 20:
Dow 30,409.56 up by 73.89
Nasdaq 12,870.00 up by 19.78
S&P 500 3,732.04 up by 5.00
10 Year Yield: down at 0.93%
Oil: up at $48.30

30 December 2020

1) With President Trump signing the COVID-19 relief bill into law, millions of Americans will again have pandemic-related benefits. The COVID-19 relief bill gives those who depend on unemployment benefits some amount of relief. In addition to enhancing unemployment benefits, there is also a $600 check for every adult making less than $75,000 a year.

2) To add to the economic woes of many Americans this year, for a second consecutive week, a massive winter storm is sweeping across the north and east. A new storm system brought heavy rain, gusty winds and thunderstorms to Southern California and will move across the country this week. The new storm system will move across the US during New Year’s Eve leaving heavy snow, winds, severe thunderstorms.

3) With President Trump’s veto of the annual military bill, the House voted to override President Trump’s veto, mustering bipartisan support to enact the legislation over the president’s objections and handing him a rare legislative rebuke in the final days of his presidency. The defense bill also takes steps to slow or block President Trump’s draw down of American troops from Afghanistan. The 322 to 87 vote is the first time a chamber of Congress has overridden one of Trump’s vetoes. The bill also authorizes a pay raise for the nation’s troops. However, the Senate, which must also get a two-thirds vote of its chamber to override vetoes, will take up the legislation later in the week. But the vote is complicated by another separate bill that would increase the size of individual stimulus checks to $2,000. For 60 years, lawmakers have used the annual military bill to bring home wins to their constituents. So far, the Congress has failed to over ride any of President Trump’s vetoes. But for the Senate to gain the two thirds vote to over ride, twelve Republicans must cross over. Other provisions of the bill are new benefits for tens of thousands of Vietnam-era veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange, a 3% increase in pay for service members and a boost in hazardous duty incentive pay. The bill also requires all federal officers enforcing crowd control at protests and demonstrations to identify themselves and their agencies, as well as directing the Pentagon to rename military bases which are named after Confederate leaders.

4) Stock market closings for – 29 DEC 20:

Dow 30,335.67 down by 68.30
Nasdaq 12,850.22 down by 49.20
S&P 500 3,727.04 down by 8.32

10 Year Yield: unchanged at 0.93%

Oil: up at $48.25

14 December 2020

1) Database-software giant Oracle is moving its headquarters out of California (Silicon Valley) to Austin Texas making Oracle the latest tech giant to flee California. The software company had been based in Silicon Valley since it was founded in 1977. High technology industries have a long history in Austin, with IBM, Dell Technologies, and Samsung setting up shop in the city. Depending on their job, many of Oracle employees can choose their office location, as well as continue working from home part- time or full time. This is yet another account of technology talent packing up and leaving the famous tech capital of Silicon Valley for Texas, with Austin, in particular, being a popular destination for relocation. Other tech companies like Hewlett Packard Enterprise, are moving to other cities in Texas, who is relocating their headquarters from San Jose, California to Houston.

2) The Senate has unanimously passed a stopgap funding measure Friday, to avoid a government shutdown for one week, while lawmakers work to close a deal on government funding. Friday evening President Trump then signed the spending bill into law, which keeps the government open at current funding levels. The longest government shut down was for 35 days in 2018, which was the longest-ever shutdown in modern U.S. history. The nonpartisan CBO (Congressional Budget Office) estimates tax revenue is down $2 billion in 2019 because the IRS had halted some operations during the 2018 shutdown.

3) The $908 billion dollar coronavirus relief proposal is going to be split into two packages by lawmakers. The plan will have a $160 billion dollar part that ties together the two most controversial elements, which is more money for state and local governments and protections against coronavirus-related lawsuits. The second part is $748 billion dollars including another round of Paycheck Protection Program funding for small businesses, unemployment benefits, and more money for vaccine distribution, testing and schools. Splitting off the two most controversial items makes it easier to at least pass a smaller coronavirus agreement as part of a government funding deal. Congress is quickly running out of time to cut a big deal on coronavirus relief, the bipartisan group having been negotiating for weeks, to try to finalize its bill after announcing a framework earlier this month.

4) Stock market closings for – 11 DEC 20:

Dow 30,046.37 up by 47.11
Nasdaq 12,377.87 down by 27.94
S&P 500 3,663.46 down by 4.64

10 Year Yield: down at 0.89%

Oil: down at $46.56

11 December 2020

1) The minerals called ‘rare earths’, is used in a wide range of products central to the American economy, and therefore is a disaster waiting to happen. Already, voices in China and the Chinese Communist Party are suggesting that supplies of rare earths to America should be curtailed to gain diplomatic and economic leverage. In 2010, China made a similar threat to Japan, then temporarily cutting off supplies over a minor diplomatic dispute. China holds 35 percent of the world’s entire rare earth supply, but has been turbocharging production, and so now accounts for 70 percent of global production. Furthermore, China supplies 80 percent of the U.S.’s rare earth imports. The rare earth minerals are a class of 17 different mineable natural elements, which can be extracted from the earth’s crust. These minerals make up crucial components of many modern technological innovations, from electric cars and solar panels to fighter jets and satellites. The permitting process in the U.S. is ridiculously long, taking up to three decades where Australia and Canada’s only require two years, thus precluding much-needed investment from taking place.

2) Entrepreneur Elon Musk has announced his intention to relocate his business center to Texas. He joins the massive migration of Californians to Texas, with 687,000 California citizens having moved to Texas in the last decade, and in addition, Texas is the number one state for corporate moves. Other major technology companies have also abandon their ‘mother state’, leaving California for Texas. Major companies such as Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. have left. Toyota moved its North American headquarters, and about 4,000 jobs, from California to Plano Texas in 2017. Musk has also moved some major operations, picking Austin as the site for Tesla’s largest U.S. assembly plant, a $1.1 billion dollar investment that’ll employ at least 5,000 workers.

3) There are suggestions that the FCC has massively overstated the availability of gigabit coverage of internet service in the U.S. The FCC reported that gigabit internet was available to 84% of Americans, but independent numbers show it’s closer to 56% and possibly even less. This discrepancy is a result of the method used by FCC research, by counting all houses as having the gigabit service in an area when only some number of houses actually have the service. The larger issue is limited access to high-speed broadband internet for those households located in rural areas and low-income urban areas.

4) Stock market closings for – 10 DEC 20:
Dow 29,999.26 down by 69.55
Nasdaq 12,405.81 up by 66.86
S&P 500 3,668.10 down by 4.72
10 Year Yield: down at 0.91%
Oil: up at $46.97

16 November 2020

1) Experts predict the growth of jobs will slow during a Biden presidency, simply because the easy gains are almost gone. So the easy part of job recovery will be history by the time President-elect Joe Biden moves into the White House, leaving a particularly difficult environment for an administration seeking to right the economy. The job growth rate has decline every month since June, and this will be even worst with the resurgence of the coronavirus putting economic growth into reverse. One cause of this is companies who laid off workers at the start of the pandemic, have since gone out of business, leaving nothing for laid-off workers to return to. Over a million workers are still being laid off or fired each month, with about 3.7 million additional workers who have quit working or looking for work entirely since February. Furthermore, it takes longer for skilled workers to return to work simply because there are few jobs available to choose from.

2) Massachusetts was one of the hardest hit states by the virus last spring, and this summer was seen as a model for infection control, but now, the number of Covid-19 cases are climbing once again with confirmed deaths surpassing 10,000. So Massachusetts is having to return to restrictions approaching another shutdown. And Massachusetts isn’t the only state seeing a strong resurgence in the coronavirus. California becomes the second state to top one million cases, with Texas closely following, who hit the grim milestone earlier this week. Just five states account for about one third of new cases. Nationwide, the pandemic has killed more than 240,000 forcing states to impose measures as cases surge. Many officials attribute raising number of cases to complacency in travel and social settings such as bars and house parties.

3) Canada welcomes Hong Kong refugees amid China crackdown by easing immigration requirements for them. Canada plans to target young, educated Hong Kongers. Their plan includes the creation of a new three-year open work permit for recent graduates and shortening eligibility for permanent residency to one year. This comes at a low point in Canada-China relations, after the 2018 arrest of a top Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. executive. Hong Kongers already in Canada will now be eligible to apply for permanent residency sooner, provided they meet language and education requirements and have worked for a year in Canada.

4) Stock market closings for – 13 NOV 20:

Dow 29,479.81 up by 399.64
Nasdaq 11,829.29 up by 119.70
S&P 500 3,585.15 up by 48.14

10 Year Yield: up at 0.89%

Oil: down at $40.12