22 September 2020

1) Bad news from the conronavirus continuing to pile in with a just-released report that 60% of the small businesses that have closed because of the virus, and will never open again. Of nearly 163,700 businesses that have closed since March 1, about 98,000 say they’ve shut their doors for good. This is a 23% increase from July. About 32,100 of these businesses are restaurants, with close to 19,600, or about 61%, closing permanently. The National Restaurant Association says 100,000 restaurants have closed, either permanently or long-term, with a lose of $240 billion in sales this year. Restaurants operate on razor-thin margins even in the best of times, and so are less likely to make it through the disruption. Consumers are spending less on dining-out, while the disposable income for Americans is shrinking. Retail stores are also struggling with about 30,400 shopping and retail establishments closing since March 1, and of these 17,500, or 58% of them are permanent.

2) Many of the workers now working at home, are engaged in day trading to counter boredom for both entertainment and profits, but with growing fears that this trend could end badly. Most of these individual investors do not have the wealth, time or temperament to make money and sustain losses for any period of time. Major companies can have big rallies on the market, only to suddenly turn around with big losses. These casual investors are competing with large investors who have technology that allows them to trade on information before most people have time to read about it. In the long run, small investors, with about 30 stocks, have only a 40% chance of doing as well as the overall market.

3) The incredibly low interest rates have caused a rush of home sales in 2020 as people take advantage of the low interest rate, and in turn all these new mortgages have flooded the bond market as investors scoop them up. But it’s not just home sales, because 69% of the new mortgages are refinances of old mortgages. Many of these mortgages are then sold to government sponsored agencies such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae, who then repackage the loans into mortgage backed bonds or securities. These bonds often have higher returns than traditional Treasurys. Additionally, the bonds are often backed by government guarantees meaning there is little risk to the investors.

4) Stock market closings for – 21 SEP 20:
Dow 27,147.70 down 509.72
Nasdaq 10,778.80 down 14.48
S&P 500 3,281.06 down 38.41
10 Year Yield: down at 0.67%
Oil: down at $39.72

17 JUL 2020

1) Looming in the wings of the pandemic crisis is another major crisis . . . and epidemic of evictions. With the unemployment rate still more than 10% and eviction protections lapsing across America, housing experts expect millions of Americans to lose their homes in the coming months. For millions of Americans, the housing situation was already precarious before the pandemic. Many are paying large percentages of their monthly incomes toward rent, but don’t have enough to cover an unexpected expense of just a few hundred dollars. With insufficient money from unemployment, people are facing living on the streets during 100 degree plus temperatures, hurricane season and possibly freezing weather if the problem continues. This would also mean increased exposure to the Convid-19 virus.

2) A bright spot in the economy is that retail sales rose again for the second straight month as shoppers slowly trickle back into stores. But with conronavirus cases on the rise, this could be short lived. Sales increased 7.5% for June, from May, better than the 5% estimated by economists. Sales were driven by clothing, electronics and appliances as well as home furnishing. Still, foot traffic through stores is way down, people coming in with specific items to consider buying instead of just browsing. So far this year, 4,000 stores are closing permanently with as many as 25,000 expected by the end of the year. Last year, there were 9,302 store closing.

3) The traditional investing axiom of 60/40 portfolios is coming into question. This is the mix of 60% stocks and 40% bonds, which is generally considered the best risk minimizing strategy for individuals to use in building their fortune. But with Treasury yields now hovering around zero, and expected to stay there for years, those gains are in doubt. For decades, this strategy has given the best returns with the least risk in times of volatile markets. Consequently, investors are scrutinizing the strategy as maybe out of date in a changing economy.

4) Stock market closings for – 16 JUL 20:

Dow 26,734.71 down 135.39
Nasdaq 10,473.83 down 76.66
S&P 500 3,215.57 down 10.99

10 Year Yield: down at 0.61%

Oil: down at $40.80

23 June 2020

1) Speculation abounds over what the next stimulus package will have, such as extended income support for the unemployed and underemployed. New temporary subsidies for low wage workers. Cheap loans for small and medium size businesses with additional support for state and local governments. Cost estimates for a second stimulus program range from one to two trillion dollars. But like the first stimulus package, no one is offering ideas how this money will be paid off, especially if economic expansion doesn’t materialize.

2) The worlds fastest super computer is now Japan’s Fugaku supercomputer developed by Riken and Fujitsu with backing from the Japanese government. It has a speed of roughly 415.53 petaflops, which is 2.8 times faster than the US Summit supercomputers at 148.6 petaflops. The Fugaku was under development for six years and will start full time operation by April 2021, although it has been pressed into service in the coronavirus crisis, running simulations on how droplets would spread in office spaces with partitions. Previously, the fastest supercomputers have belong to America and China.

3) The sales of existing homes has dropped in May, a result of the coronavirus impact on the economy. The sales of existing homes in May fell 9.7% compared with April, which makes for an annual decline of 26.6%. This is the largest decline since 1982 when interest rates were 18%. There remains a shortage of housing which is helping to uplift the market, and therefore the economy as soon as the crisis has subsided.

4) Stock market closings for – 22 JUN 20:

Dow 26,024.96 up 153.50
Nasdaq 10,056.48 up 110.35
S&P 500 3,117.86 up 20.12

10 Year Yield: up at 0.70%

Oil: up at $41.13

27 April 2020

1) People are tantalized by the incredibly low oil prices, thinking only of lower gas prices. But economically, there is much more to oil and its low price. First, there is the destruction of America’s shale oil (fracking) industry, which has made us independent of foreign oil. There are fears that if oil doesn’t pick up, then the world could see a major shift in global power. The economies of several nations are very dependent on oil sales, the revenue being the bulk of their GDP. For instance, Saudi Arabia’s oil revenues account for 60 percent of its GDP (Gross Domestic Product), two-thirds of its budget, and nearly three-quarters of its exports. For Russia, one-third of its GDP is petroleum, half its budget, and two-thirds of its exports. The turbulent Middle East has states with greater dependence on oil: including Iran, Iraq, Qatar, and Kuwait. For America, oil accounts for only 8% of our GDP. The coronavirus pandemic has drastically reduce oil consumption world wide, and if it’s slow in returning to pre-pandemic levels, some countries could find themselves in serious financial and geopolitical trouble, with their influence waning and other nations displacing them in the world pecking order. It’s anyone guess how things could settle out and in whose favor.

2) Amazon has been using data about independent sellers on its platform to develop competing products, which their stated policies forbid. Such practices would give the online retailer tremendous advantage in competing against similar products, but is using proprietary information. Information includes total sales, vendor cost for Amazon’s marketing and shipping, and how much Amazon made on each sale, and other non-public information.

3) President Trump stated he would veto an emergency loan for the U.S. Postal Service if the USPS didn’t immediately raise its prices for package delivery. The President considers package delivery prices need to be four times the present charges. He has been critical of the USPS for years, considering the postal service problems are a result of mismanagement.

4) Stock market closings for – 24 APR 20:

Dow 23,775.27 up 260.01
Nasdaq 8,634.52 up 139.77
S&P 500 2,836.74 up 38.94

10 Year Yield: down at 0.60%

Oil: up at $17.18

22 January 2020

1) The massive internet retailer Amazon has just been granted a patent for robots that drop off bunches of items on delivery routes. The robot has storage compartments where the customer comes out to the sidewalk, taps in the required security code on their smartphones that opens the door to a compartment so the person can get his package. The robot addresses the last mile or final fifty feet of package deliver. Such a robot also address the problem of porch pirates.

2) The mortgage companies seem to be reverting back to their old ways that triggered the financial crisis in 2008. This is the practice of giving large loans with small down payments to those with low FICO scores. FICO scores as low as 640 are getting mortgages of up to $2 million dollars, scores which were considered sub-prime prior to the 2008 economic near collapse.

3) The stock markets have pulled back from record high levels after the Center for Disease Control announced the first case of conronavirus in America. The highly contagious disease was discovered in a traveler coming from China. Particularly hit were stocks in casino and hotel companies, as well as airline companies and other companies involved with international travel. The Asian markets have also suffered a sudden drop which is blamed on the spreading virus.

4) Stock market closings for – 21 JAN 20:

Dow              29,196.04    down    152.06
Nasdaq          9,370.81    down      18.14
S&P 500         3,320.79    down        8.83

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.77%

Oil:    down   at    $58.37