15 September 2020

1) The old, almost extinct vinyl record album technology for music has surpassed the newer high technology CD music media this year, by selling $129.9 million compared to $232.1 million dollars for vinyl records. This is the first time vinyl has outsold CDs since the 1980’s. About 8.8 million records were sold with 10.2 million CDs, so number wise CD’s are still ahead. Overall, the music industry now is center on digital downloads, digital subscription and streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube with revenues up 12% overall. The recorded music for the first six months of 2020 was $5.6 billion dollars so combined vinyl and CD’s are just a small fraction of the total business.

2) Amazon is hiring again expecting to fill 100,000 part time and full time openings across the U.S. and Canada. This is in addition to 33,000 technology and corporate jobs announced just a week ago, many paying six figure salaries. The 100,000 labor jobs pay at least $15 an hour with a $1,000 sign up bonuses in some cities. Amazon is opening 100 new buildings this month because of the pandemic fueled sales surge with increase home delivery, as shopping habits shift to e-commerce. Market value for Amazon is now at $1.6 trillion dollars and continues climbing.

3) Oil giant BP (British Petroleum) says the demand for oil may have peaked last year, that global market for crude oil might never recover from the coronavirus pandemic. The company considers there are three scenarios for energy demand, all of which forecast a decline in demand for oil over the next thirty years. 1) ‘Business as usual’ oil demand increases slightly after the pandemic crisis passes, then plateaus around 2025 finally it declines after 2030. 2) Governments take more aggressive steps to curb carbon emissions, 3) there are significant shifts in societal behavior, both leading to a decline in oil demand. All point to a shift in the world economic system with a significant decline in growth for many countries.

4) Stock market closings for – 14 SEP 20:

Dow 27,993.33 up 327.69
Nasdaq 11,056.65 up 203.11
S&P 500 3,383.54 up 42.57

10 Year Yield: unchanged at 0.67%

Oil: down at $37.38

8 June 2020

1) The oil cartel OPEC+ and Russia address extending record oil production cuts with the intent to force noncompliant members to also comply with the curbs in production. The cartel had previously agreed to a 9.7 million barrels per day cut during May and June in an effort to prop up oil prices which collapsed because of the coronavirus crisis. Those cuts are due to tapper to 7.7 million barrels from July to December. But sources say that Saudi Arabia and Russia have agreed to extend the deeper cuts until the end of July and possibly until August. The cost of oil is a prime factor in determining the health of a country’s economy, and therefore the world economy.

2) A surprise to everyone was the U.S. jobless rate dropped in May as hiring rebounded. This signals that the economy is picking up faster than expected from the damage of the coronavirus pandemic. The jobless rate fell from 14.7% to 13.3% in May, while economist had expected the rate to rise to 19%. Canada is also experiencing a reversal in joblessness too. This is with a possible resurgence of Covid-19 with a second wave of infections, and a resulting second crash of the economy and businesses. However, the unemployment rate is the highest since the Great Depression.

3) After the federal government made assurances on March 23, that it would make borrowing easier for American corporations, the food service giant Sysco Corp sold $4 billion dollars of debt. But then not long after, the company laid off one third of its workforce, or about 20,000 people, while their stock holders continued to receive dividends. As the virus spread in April and May, the federal promise spurred sale of corporate bonds with borrowing by top rated companies for a record $1.1 trillion dollars for the year, twice the previous year. Companies like Sysco, Toyota , Omnicom Group and Cinemark Holdings borrowed billions of dollars then fired workers. This calls into question of how the promise to purchase corporate debt helped preserve American jobs. While the feds have yet to buy a single corporate bond, their promise threw the bond marked into a frenzy to buy bonds.

4) Stock market closings for – 5 JUN 20: Job report sent markets skyrocketing.

Dow 27,110.98 up 829.16
Nasdaq 9,814.08 up 198.27
S&P 500 3,193.93 up 81.58

10 Year Yield: up at 0.90%

Oil: up at $38.97$2,531.81

26 May 2020

1) Sales of homes in the U.S. have dropped their biggest drop in nearly 10 years, because of the coronavirus crisis in April. The upending of the labor market and the broader economy has undercut demand for housing. Sales of existing homes have plunged 17.8% with existing home sales making up about 90% of U.S. home sales. In addition, April showed a record collapse in homebuilding and permits. With unemployment up past 38 million people and still climbing, it’s expected the home sale market will remain depressed for long after the pandemic crisis is over. The problem is further exasperated by a four month inventory of homes where a six to seven month supply is considered a healthy balance between supply and demand.

2) More contraction of consumerism with more retailers announcing closing of stores. The retailers Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works will be permanently closing about 300 stores in America and Canada. With the young people of America having fewer good job opportunities and less disposable income, the hyper-consumerism economy born in the seventies is finding it harder to sustain itself, raising questions of what economic model might replace the present one . . . and what the job future would be for the young.

3) Companies have been borrowing at a rampant pace to shore up their liquidity during the pandemic. The wireless carrier AT&T is joining in with a new bond sale of $12.5 billion dollars of unsecured bonds in five parts. The intent is to take advantage of a global rally in credit to refinance their outstanding debt. Their 40 year security has a yield 250 basic points over the Treasuries. In the last few years, AT&T has been reducing its debt of nearly $200 billion dollars now down to $164 billion dollars, most of the debt coming from its acquisitions of Time Warner Inc and DirectTV.

4) Stock market closings for – 22 MAY 20:

Dow 24,465.16 down 8.96
Nasdaq 9,324.59 up 39.71
S&P 500 2,955.45 up 6.94

10 Year Yield: down at 0.66%

Oil: down at $33.56

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

12 August 2019

1) The electric car company Tesla Inc is being sued claiming the company limited battery range of its older vehicles using software updates. The alleged intent was for Tesla to avoid costly fixes to defective batteries. The lawsuit is seeking class action status for thousands of Model S and X owners. The suit claims that older generation batteries had their range curtailed by an automatic software update. As a result of a battery fire, Tesla claims they are revising charge and thermal management settings via the software to further protect the battery and improve battery longevity.

2) The Chinese-American trade war hasn’t been bad for all nations, other nations are experiencing increase trade as a result of the war. Australia is the biggest beneficiary with exports to China of natural resources. Second is Switzerland, the third is Mexico which has replaced China as U.S. largest exporter. Fourth is Brazil who is benefitting from agricultural export to China and the fifth is Canada.

3) Malaysia is expanding its efforts to prosecute seventeen Goldman Sachs executives, who were allegedly involved in misleading investors in a $6.5 billion dollar bond sale. The bonds were for the state investment fund, 1 Malaysia Development Bhd or 1MDB. Charges include executives knowing that funds would be siphon off so Malaysia is also seeking to recoup funds and fees.

4) Stock market closings for – 9 AUG 19:

Dow             26,287.44    down    90.75
Nasdaq          7,959.14    down    80.02
S&P 500         2,918.65    down    19.44

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.73%

Oil:    down   at    $54.27

9 August 2019

1) Mexico has become America’s largest trading partner as a result of the U.S. – China trade war. For the first half of 2019, trade between America and Mexico was $309 billion dollars worth of goods, just over 15% of all U.S. trade. In comparison, trade with Canada was $306 billion dollars and China at $271 billion dollars. Trade with Mexico has been steadily rising for several decades, while trade with Canada has historically been high it’s always been flat.

2) A battle may be developing between Amazon and FedEx over handling packages, because of surging e-commerce shipments. With their ground delivery deal ending, FedEx is deepening its pullback from Amazon. The ending of two delivery contracts with Amazon means FedEx will have to seek out new major customers for lost sales while Amazon will now depend more on the U.S. Postal Service and UPS. FedEx is seeking to serve major e-commerce companies such as WalMart as the one-day delivery service for e-commerce heats up.

3) Lift, the internet based ride sharing rival to Uber may become profitable sooner than anyone had predicted. It’s growth is accelerating faster than anticipated, which clears the path to profitability. Some are speculating that 2019 might be Lift’s ‘peak loss’ year with losses being less than 2018. Wall Street is acting positive over the news with Lift’s stock rising from an overnight boost of 4%.

4) Stock market closings for – 9 AUG 19:

Dow                26,378.19    up    371.12
Nasdaq              8,039.16    up    176.33
S&P 500             2,938.09    up      54.11

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.72%

Oil:    up   at    $52.81

1 August 2019

1) General Electric suffered a loss last quarter despite two previous profitable quarters, a result of the restructuring cost of its electric power division and the grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX. GE provides the jet engines used on the 737, which Boeing has reduced production of. The grounding of Boeing has drained off more cash than expected, but General Electric forecast a profitable year for 2019.

2) President Trump has fulfilled his campaign promise to lower drug prices by creating a pathway to allow Americans to legally and safely import lower cost prescription drugs from Canada. This reverses the opposition from federal health authorities, despite the public outcry over high prices for drugs in America. It’s uncertain when imports can start as the plan has to go through the time consuming regulatory approval and possible court challenges from drug makers. The opening of the door for cheaper drugs and keeping it open still faces an up hill battle with the political organizations of the pharmaceutical industry.

3) In an effort to keep the American economy on track, the Federal Reserve has reduced the benchmark interest rate by a quarter point to about 2.25%. This is a modest and widely expected move intended to keep the economy healthy in face of the trade war with China and the slowing economic growth overseas. In addition, the feds signaled that the cental bank is ready to make more cuts to stimulate the economy if necessary. A higher interest rate makes for a stronger dollar, a disadvantage for international trade. Wall Street anticipates as many as three more cuts this year, while in addition to the rate reduction, the feds will stop selling off assets this August, two months earlier than expected.

4) Stock market closings for – 31 JUL 19:

Dow             26,864.27    down    333.75
Nasdaq           8,175.42    down      98.19
S&P 500          2,980.38    down      32.80

10 Year Yield:    down   at    2.02%

Oil:    down   at    $57.90

29 July 2019

1) Newly released reports says that raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025 will raise the wages for 22.2% of American workers. They claim that 33.5 million workers would experience a $92.5 billion dollar increase in pay or $2,800 per worker. Currently, the minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, but it’s not expected such legislation to increase the federal minimum wage can pass through congress and not be vetoed.

2) China is looking for new markets to sell to. Presently, it has too many factories making too many goods because the trade war has diminished sales to its biggest customer America. China is seeking to create free-trade zones across the Asia-Pacific region in the hopes of opening new markets. Additionally, China is talking with Japan and South Korea to lower trade barriers. The problem is no country can absorb the volume of goods that China sells to America.

3) High tech companies are taking business to Canada and her supple of technology skilled immigrants. Canada has more relaxed controls over entry for workers having the education and skills sought by high tech companies, and therefore provides a base for such companies to expand into. Canada processes work visas for such workers in weeks, while the U.S. is noted for its long delays to grant the needed visas.

4) Stock market closings for – 26 JUL 19:

Dow             27,192.45    up    51.47
Nasdaq          8,330.21    up    91.67
S&P 500         3,025.86    up    22.19

10 Year Yield:    up   at    2.08%

Oil:    down   at    $56.16

3 May 2019

1) The Canadian book retailing chain Indigo is expanding into the United States with its new model for brick and mortar bookstores at a time when online book selling is squeezing out traditional American bookstores. Indigo’s success is credited by selling signature gift items along with their books, such as beach mats, bento lunch boxes, herb growing kits, scented candles and crystal pillars.

2) The drug giant CVS Health is closing 46 of its stores as they become more involved in health care services. Nevertheless, CVS remains a solidly profitable business, but like so many other retailers, is worried about Amazon’s entry into the prescription drug business. Amazon has acquired the online drug retailer PillPack, which could serve as a bases for Amazon’s launch into the drug retailing business.

3) The millennials and generation-Z are not the only Americans facing massive college student loans to pay off. Senior citizens are struggling to pay off their student loans. More than three million people, who are over sixty, are still paying for college loans, owing more than $86 billion dollars.

4) 2 MAY 19 Stock market closings:

  Dow            26,307.79    down    122.35
Nasdaq           8,036.77    down      12.87
S&P 500          2,917.52    down        6.21

10 Year Yield:    up   at    2.55%

Oil:    down   at    $61.54

6 February 2019

1) The executive and CEO of Quadriga, Canada’s largest crypto exchange, dies with $145 million dollars of customer money electronically locked away. Only the CEO knew the pass words needed to unlock the money.

2) EU economic slow down, with EU experiencing its weakest growth since 2013, amidst manufacturing slowdown. The German economy is accelerating while Frances is slowing down.

3) Tech companies Slack, Airbnb and Uber are making their IPOs this year, but several other tech companies are pulling their plans for IPO because of the uncertain world economic.

4) 5 FEB 19 Stock market closings:

Dow             25,411.52    up    172.15
Nasdaq          7,402.08    up      54.55
S&P 500         2,737.70    up      12.83

10 Year Yield:    down   at    2.70%

Oil:     up   at    $53.81