18 January 2021

1) One Chinese province, Heilongjiang, with more than 37 million, has declared an emergency state to snuff out a handful of Covid-19 cases, as China moves decisively to contain infections. China had largely brought the coronavirus under control since its emergence in Wuhan late in 2019, however in recent weeks China has seen smatterings of cases, prompting localize lock downs, immediate travel restrictions and widespread testing of tens of millions of people. China is trying to squash the virus ahead of next month’s Lunar New Year festival, when hundreds of millions of people are due to travel across the country. Those highly anticipated annual journeys are often the only time for many migrant workers to see their families.

2) Biden has promised to extend the pause on student loan payments during his first day in office. Here are other steps the new administration could take for student debt relief. Forgiving $10,000 in student loan debt for each person, but it’s unclear of the time frame to do so. Also, it is unclear on whether Biden can use executive powers to cancel student debt or if only the Congress can do it. On day one Biden will direct the Department of Education to extend the student loan forbearance program, the first promise the president-elect has made in combating the $1.6 trillion student debt crisis. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is pushing for $50,000 to be forgiven.

3) Scientist warns that civilization is on the precipice of a ‘ghastly future’ that humanity has gravely underestimated the effects of biodiversity decline, climate change, and pollution. A review of over 150 studies finds the central problems we face are economic and political systems centered around unsustainable human consumption and population growth at the expense of all else. Biodiversity loss started some 11,000 years with the start of agriculture, which has vastly accelerated in recent centuries due to ever-worsening pressures placed on natural ecosystems. With a world population of 7.5 billion, which is expected to peak at 10 billion, that is worsening existing food insecurity, soil degradation, biodiversity decline, pollution, social inequality, and regional conflicts. Food production is sustained with the increasing use of fossil fuels and petrochemicals. Humanity is running an ecological Ponzi scheme in which society robs nature and future generations to pay for boosting incomes in the short term, all supported with petrochemicals. Half the large mammals in the world are humans, the other half are the domestic animals providing humanity with subsistence. All the other large mammals fit into just a 5% sliver.

4) Stock market closings for – 15 JAN 21:

Dow 30,814.26 down by 177.26
Nasdaq 12,998.50 down by 114.14
S&P 500 3,768.25 down by 27.29

10 Year Yield: down at 1.10%

Oil: down at $52.04

7 January 2021

1) Chinese stocks listed in the U.S., including China Telecom Corp. and Pinduoduo Inc., fell on the prospect of further American sanctions. This decline was led by a group of Chinese telecommunications stocks after the New York Stock Exchange said it will delist three companies to comply with a U.S. executive order. While the companies are mostly traded in Asia, their stocks are also traded domestically. But an order from President Trump barred American investments in China-based firms that are affiliated with the military. However, there is now talk of the order being modified or even rescinded.

2) Reportedly, Chinese cities are going dark as the country faces shortages of coal, which is a major Australian export, as authorities limit power usage, citing the shortage of coal. Analysts said prices of the commodity in the country have shot up due to the reported crunch with some tying the shortages and blackouts to the unofficial ban on Australian coal. In turn, prices of the commodity have shot up due to the reported crunch. The reports also follow rising trade tensions between Beijing and Canberra, leading some analysts to tie the coal shortages and blackouts to the unofficial ban on Australian coal. Relations between the two nations have soured since last year because Australia supported an international inquiry into China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Coal is just one in a growing list of Australian goods that China is targeting. China is the world’s largest coal consumer and its greatest source of coal imports was Australia.

3) Shale oil needs more than $50 a barrel to be profitable, something that is now a possibility because of Saudi Arabia’s pledge for a big supply cut in their oil production. But Joe Biden wants to ban new fracking in New Mexico, an area that has emerged as the ‘go-to’ spot for drillers desperate to squeeze as much crude from the ground without bleeding cash. The price was above $50 before the pandemic sent oil markets crashing, forcing over 40 explorers into bankrupt. It will take at least three months for shale producers to ramp up production, because that would involve decisions on new drilling and getting well-completion crews together, which puts their operations well into the new Biden administration.

4) Stock market closings for – 6 JAN 21:
Dow 30,829.40 up by 437.80
Nasdaq 12,740.79 down by 78.17
S&P 500 3,748.14 up by 21.28
10 Year Yield: up at 1.04%
Oil: up at $50.48

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

25 November 2020

1) Apple Inc is trying to limit the impact of a bill aimed at fighting child labor in China, having had meetings with government representatives in an attempt to water down the bill. Under the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, U.S. companies are required to ensure that their products are not made by forced labor in the region of Xinjiang. Many American companies, including Apple, have manufacturing sites that would be effected by this legislation, which would obligate public companies to report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and could lead to prosecutions over violations. A report by an Australian government body published in March claims that around 1,000-2,000 workers from the Chinese region were involved in Apple’s camera production.

2) Royal Dutch Shell has closed its Convent refinery in Louisiana. Convent is far from obsolete, indeed it is fairly big by U.S. standards and sophisticated. While Convent’s 700 workers are out of a job, the Convent replacement complex in northeast China is starting up. China has at least four projects underway in the country, totaling 1.2 million barrels a day of crude-processing capacity. This is just one example of a seismic shift in the global refining industry as demand for plastics and fuels grows in China and the rest of Asia. America has been the top refiner since the start of the oil age in the mid-nineteenth century, but China will dethrone the U.S. as early as next year. Oil exporters are selling more crude to Asia and less to long-standing customers in North America and Europe. China’s refiners are becoming a growing force in international markets for gasoline, diesel and other fuels.

3) The United States has officially exited the Open Skies Treaty on Sunday, six months after the Trump administration signaled it would. The reason is repeated Russian Federation violations of the treaty designed to allow unarmed aerial surveillance flights by the treaty participants in Europe, Russia, and the U.S. The treaty was negotiated in 1992 and entered into in 2002, and now has 34 participant states after the U.S. exit. Russia has consistently acted as if free to turn its obligations on and off at will by unlawfully denying or restricting Open Skies observation flights whenever it desires. For more than 20 years, Open Skies has been one of the most wide-ranging international arms control efforts to promote openness and transparency in military forces and activities. But Russia has denied flights within 6.2 miles of the Georgia-Russia border, and denying a previously approved flight over a major Russian military exercise. America’s European allies, however, value the treaty as it gives them the ability to collect aerial reconnaissance information, when lacking sophisticated satellite capabilities, that they would not have access to outside of the treaty.

4) Stock market closings for – 24 NOV 20:

Dow 30,046.24 up by 454.97
Nasdaq 12,036.78 up by 156.15
S&P 500 3,635.41 up by 57.82

10 Year Yield: up at 0.88%

Oil: up at $44.81

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

29 October 2020

1) One major factor in the spread of Covid-19 virus, is the portability of societies, the degree which people are moving about and interacting with each other with ease. This is a major cause of the spread of infectious disease. Now with the surge of coronavirus in Europe, Germany and France, they are planning to restrict movement of people for at least a month, coming close to the stringent lockdowns of the spring as European leaders seek to rein in a resurgent pandemic outbreak. Spain, Italy, the U.K., Greece and Portugal reported record numbers of new cases on Wednesday. Asia, Singapore and Hong Kong could start a planned ‘travel bubble’ as soon as next month. This also means restrictions of travel for migrant workers, which in turn means restricting their ability to make money, where much is sent back home to families to support their subsistence.

2) Boeing Aircraft company, a major manufacture of airliners, will cut 7,000 more jobs amid the pandemic, almost doubling its planned job cuts. The coronavirus pandemic has prolonged the grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max jet, thus dimming prospects for financial recovery. Executives are abandoning their forecast that Boeing will stop burning cash next year and so they are now forced to eliminate an additional 7,000 jobs. That will bring the expected losses from layoffs, retirements and attrition to 30,000 people, or 19% of the pre-pandemic workforce, by the end of 2021.

3) Taiwan’s microcircuit manufacture United Microelectronics Corp. has pledged its assistance to the U.S. in a high-profile trade-secrets prosecution of Chinese chipmaker Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co. UMC has pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court as part of a deal with U.S. prosecutors. Prosecutors agreed to drop serious charges of economic espionage and conspiracy for theft of proprietary information from Idaho-based Micron Technology Inc. UMC instead admitted to trade-secret theft and agreed to pay a $60 million dollar fine. Prosecutors haven’t publicly detailed the cooperation they are seeking from UMC against Fujian

4) Stock market closings for – 28 OCT 20:
Dow 26,519.95 down 943.24
Nasdaq 11,004.87 down 426.48
S&P 500 3,271.03 down 119.65

10 Year Yield: unchanged at 0.78%

Oil: down at $37.69

11 September 2020

1) The new jobless numbers indicate the U.S. job losses persist with claims higher than was forecasts. Jobless claims were unchanged at 884,000 for last week, with the total number of people on unemployment rising by 93,000 to a total of 13.4 million people. Prior to the pandemic, new claims were about 212,000 a week with 1.7 million people on unemployment. What is concerning is the pace of layoffs has not slowed with the economy opening up, adding to fears of a second round of Convid-19 outbreaks. It appears that millions of Americans are heading for long term unemployment with most running out of unemployment benefits after 26 weeks.

2) Quantafuel AS, a Norwegian company established in 2014, who makes diesel fuel from plastic waste, is a success having tripled its value, which is now at $1 billion dollars. This is a time when the world is struggling over what to do with the monumental qualitites of plastic waste that continues to grow at an alarming rate. Even more welcomed is Quantafuel addressing the demand for fuel oils. Their process is more environmentally friendly than incineration of plastic. The company is increasing the production of its present plant and has plans to build additional plants with the goal of boosting production 100 fold in the next decade. No doubt, the Chinese will be showing great interest in this process because of their very limited oil resources.

3) One side effect of the coronavirus pandemic is limiting efforts to root out slavery across the world, because companies and investors are unable to visit factory floors in many countries. Even before the pandemic started, there was an estimated 40 million people working in slave like conditions, with the economic shock of the virus making people more vulnerable to exploitation. Companies are facing increasing legal obligations to ensure their supply chain doesn’t include slave labor.

4) Stock market closings for – 10 SEP 20:

Dow 27,534.58 down 405.89
Nasdaq 10,919.59 down 221.97
S&P 500 3,339.19 down 59.77

10 Year Yield: down at 0.68%

Oil: down at $37.00

13 July 2020

1) Robert De Niro, the world famous actor, has had his personal finance’s badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic. He’s been forced to cut the credit limit of his ex-wife from $100,000 to $50,000 a month because of his cash flow problems. His restaurant and hotel chain, the Nobu and The Greenwich Hotel, have had huge losses over the past few months. Additionally, his earnings from the movie “The Irishman” have almost dried up. It’s reported that the actor will be lucky to make $7.5 million this year. Both the restaurant chain and hotel have been closed or partially closed for months with next to no income. The Nobu lost $3 million in April and $1.87 million in May, with De Niro forced to borrow money to pay investors $500,000 on a capital call.

2) The online retailer giant Amazon is requiring employees to remove the Tik Tok application from their phones if their device accesses Amazon email because of security concerns. Tik Tok is a video sharing app which has become the most popular social media apps in the world. But government officials and business leaders are becoming wary of the Chinese owned company. The U.S. military has already banned using Tik Tok because of threat of spying by the Chinese. A new privacy feature in iOS 14 revealed Tik Tok was accessing users’ clipboard content despite promises by the Chinese to discontinue the practice last year.

3) An underwater or upside-down mortgage occurs when the home value is lower than the mortgage. While not common, this occurs when home values decline leading to owing more than the current house value and therefore having negative equity. Factors which cause home values to rise and fall are interest rates, high rates of foreclosures and short sales in your area, and natural disasters. Underwater mortgages usually occur during an economic downturn where home values fall off. One way to become up-side down is when secondary financing (home equality loan) equals more than 100% of the home value.

4) Stock market closings for – 10 JUL 20:

Dow 26,075.30 up 369.21
Nasdaq 10,617.44 up 69.69
S&P 500 3,185.04 up 32.99

10 Year Yield: up at 0.63%

Oil: up at $40.62

20 April 2020

1) The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent ‘sheltering in place’ is changing the American supermarkets. Online shopping of groceries had been somewhat of an awkward luxury service, that was growing ever so slowly, despite efforts of retailers to promote the new service. But the lockdown, stay at home orders have catapulted the service forward by up to a fifty times (not percent) increase in usage. Stores have been left struggling to meet the demand with many unable to keep up with that demand. When the pandemic ends, it will have forever changed the supermarket for many Americans, for once customers have used and got use to the service, then they will most likely continue using online grocery shopping, at least in part. But online shopping eliminates one of the big mainstays of modern supermarkets, the psychology of shopping with the browsing and impulse buying. The counter to this is automation which reduces the staff and labor cost of traditional retail stores, just as Amazon has done with dry goods.

2) The Chinese maker of driverless cars, Pony.ai, has launched a delivery service in Irvine California using its robot cars to deliver to people stuck at home from the virus. Teaming up with the e-commerce site Yamibuy, orders from Yamibuy get delivered to the customers homes. Each car can deliver between 500 to 700 packages a day. A year ago the company launched a robo-taxi service in Irvine, but with the ‘shelter in place’ order, their taxis were repurposed for deliveries.

3) Everyone is baffled over how the stock market continues to hold, even climbing, with what is happening today. For example-
a) Unemployment is now at 22 million and still climbing
b) Threat of large numbers of businesses going bankrupt
c) Recession starting, which most expect will last at least 12 months
d) Automation expected to eliminate up to 50% of jobs in 15 to 25 years
e) Global coronavirus cases surpass 1.5 million and continue growing
At a time when the markets would normally be crashing down from all the uncertainty, what is holding them up? Experts think because of the quick reaction of the government in passing the $2.2 trillion dollar economic stimulus waylaid market fears by showing something is being done. Also, Warren Buffett’s axiom, “Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy only when others are fearful.” Finally, the ‘social distancing’ measures seems to be controlling the virus, thereby lessening its economic effects in the long run.

4) Stock market closings for – 17 APR 20:

Dow 24,242.49 up 704.81
Nasdaq 8,650.14 up 117.78
S&P 500 2,874.56 up 75.01

10 Year Yield: up at 0.65%

Oil: down at $18.12