24 June 2020

1) Economists are concerned about four major factors bearing down on a recovery of the economy. These are 1) the household fiscal cliff, 2) a great business die-off, 3) state and local budget shortfalls, and 4) the lingering health crisis. The pandemic shutdown cost the jobs of 40 million Americans, 40% of them low wage workers. This has left many households short of money, having little to no savings to meet their fiscal obligations such as rent and utilities. Add to this, there has been a steep decline in consumer spending leaving large numbers of businesses to face bankruptcy, thereby making a contraction of the economy. But businesses are not the only one facing revenue shortfalls, for governments are also facing shortages of money needed for their operations and paying employees, as in more layoffs. Finally, the cost of controlling the Convid-19 virus, especially if a major second wave does emerge, for both preventive treatment and caring for the sick. All four of these factors may very well be pushing America’s economy towards another Great Recession, which could last for many years.

2) The New York eviction moratorium ended this weekend, raising fears that tens of thousands of residents will soon face evictions which will flood the courts. This problem is a reflection of a problem across all of America as those 40 million laid-off workers have been unable to pay rent or mortgage payments and now face losing their residence. But it isn’t one sided, for landlords and lenders are also facing money shortages to meet their obligations too, which can lead to their fiscal demise. Most of the tenants and home owners have limited monies beyond their income, so paying back rent and mortgage is going to be near impossible.

3) China is warning of the risk of a naval incident with the US. Claiming that the U.S. military is deploying in unprecedented numbers to the Asia-Pacific region, which makes for a rising risk of an incident with China’s navy. The United States freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea has angered the Chinese, who is trying to establish dominance in the area and hence control of the territory. The Chinese claim that 60% of America’s warships and 375,000 soldiers are deployed in the Indo-Pacific region, including three aircraft carriers. So far, the U.S. Navy has conducted 28 freedom of navigation operations by sailing through the area where China has built islands, and therefore claiming the area as theirs.

4) Stock market closings for – 23 JUN 20:

Dow 26,156.10 up 131.14
Nasdaq 10,131.37 up 74.89
S&P 500 3,131.29 up 13.43

10 Year Yield: unchanged at 0.71%

Oil: up at $40.02

11 June 2020

1) This last April, the government offered $349 billion dollars to small businesses, in their stimulates package called the Paycheck Protection Program or PPP, as a way of limiting the economic damaged from the shutdown orders and pandemic. This money was gone in just 13 days, so Congress approved a second round of $310 billion dollars, but so far there is $130 billion dollars left with more monies being returned than borrowed. Thousands of companies sent loan money back because loan terms were too restrictive, or the criteria for loan forgiveness was too murky. There has been about $3 billion dollars in loans that have been canceled or returned. Congress has moved to loosen the program’s rules giving businesses more flexibility in spending their aid. Nevertheless, many small businesses are facing closure amid the uncertainty of the economy and what the future holds.

2) America is on track for another 2008 class financial crisis with threats of financial collapse. The 2008 crisis forced banks to rethink their risk taking, and new regulations were put through designed to limit the risk that banks take in making loans. Already facing a prolong recession, the balance sheets of big banks could precipitate a collapsed of the financial sector, as almost happened in 2008. The last crisis was caused by CDO (Collateralized Debt Obligations) where sub-prime home mortgages were packaged and given ratings of high quality mortgages. When these over-rated CDOs began to default, the banks were on the verge of collapse, but the feds stepped in and saved the day . . . just barely. The banks have fallen back into their old habits now by using CLO (Collateralized Loan Obligations) which are like CDOs, however they are for businesses instead of home mortgages, but still having the high risk. With the threat of many small businesses failing from the coronavirus crisis, these CLOs could default causing the big banks to collapse, bringing the American economy down.

3) A record number of retail stores are expected to permanently close this year as consumer demand for discretionary items stalls and people shift to online shopping. As many as 25,000 retail stores could fold up, with more than 4,000 having all ready given up the ghost. It is anticipated the closures will snowball from the recession, adding to the effects of unsustainable debt levels. The retailers were struggling to stay afloat before the pandemic struck.

4) Stock market closings for – 10 JUN 10:

Dow 26,989.99 down 282.31
Nasdaq 10,020.35 up 66.59
S&P 500 3,190.14 down 17.04

10 Year Yield: down at 0.75%

Oil: up at $38.78

1 June 2020

1) For the last few years, a number of retailers have been downsizing by closing a number of their stores across the country, something that the coronavirus pandemic has greatly accelerated. But the restaurant chains have also been downsizing as well, closing branches all across the county. Such popular names as Jack in the Box, Luby’s, Pizza Hut, Ruby Tuesday, Steak’nShake , Subway, Burger King, TGI Fridays and Applebee’s just to name a few, who are closing restaurants across the country. Each have been struggling for the last several years. This is another sign that the American consumer market is in the process of fundamentally changing.

2) The U.S. consumer spending plunged in April by the most on record because of the nation wide lock down. Spending fell 13.6% from the prior month, making for the sharpest drop in six decades. A rise in income temporarily masks the fact that people are in a fragile economic position, because the rise was a result of the one time stimulus checks. The virus crisis halted all but the most essential purchases, with economists expecting it will take a year or more before spending recovers.

3) It’s anticipated that the national debt will increase to more than 100% of the national GDP (Gross Domestic Product) by the end of the year. This will exceed the record set after World War II. The $25 trillion dollar national debt equates to $76,665 dollars per citizen or $203,712 dollars per taxpayer. The federal deficit is over $1.9 trillion dollars through April, and is expected to rise to $3.7 trillion dollars by the end of September, which is the end of the fiscal year. Such debt could draw investors to demand higher interest rates, as the federal government’s position becomes increasingly precarious. This is like an individual piling on credit card debt without consideration for the short or long term consequences to their financial position. For America, those consequences could be deep depression coupled with inflation of the dollar leaving money far less valuable than today.

4) Stock market closings for – 29 MAY 20:

Dow 25,383.11 down 17.53
Nasdaq 9,489.87 up 120.88
S&P 500 3,044.31 up 14.58

10 Year Yield: down at 0.65%

Oil: up at $35.32

16 April 2020

1) With many of the big box stores under siege from store closings and bankruptcies, the U.S. retail sales has suffered a record drop in March. In turn, factory outputs have declined by the most since 1946, as part of the coronavirus economic contraction in the first quarter. The drop is the sharpest rate in decades despite the measures taken to prop up the economy. People are now making comparisons to the Great Depression of 1930’s, considering this recession will be as deep if not deeper than that depression. People are losing jobs by the millions, and one question is how many of those jobs will return and how many will be taken by technology displacement. Last month, retail sales plunged 8.7%, the biggest decline since 1992 when government began taking numbers. Restaurants and bars are included in the retail decline with a drop of 26.6% last month, although grocery and health care rose. Consumer spending has dropped sharply with forecast of a 41% decline for second quarter. Consumer spending accounts for more than two thirds of the U.S. economic activity.

2) The price of oil has fallen below $20 per barrel because of predictions of a record slump in world demand. In April, global oil demand is expected to fall by 29 million barrels a day from last year. This is oil demand levels that was last seen in 1995. The U.S. had been oil independent for several years now, because of its domestic shale oil production, but for this oil to be profitable to extract, oil prices must be above $40 a barrel. With oil prices forecast to be low for the foreseeable future, the shale oil industry is in dire straights.

3) Time when companies are under stress, such as during a recession, provides impudence for them to reorganize and streamline their operations. By adapting to a new environment through restructuring of a company, they are able to reduce operating cost, thereby being better able to survive. Recession brings layoffs and furloughs, so companies seek to get work done with fewer people, usually by using new technologies. Consequently, those jobs are gone, never to return, when the economy returns to health.

4) Stock market closings for – 15 APR 20:

Dow 23,504.35 down 445.41
Nasdaq 8,393.18 down 122.56
S&P 500 2,783.36 down 62.70

10 Year Yield: down at 0.64%

Oil: down at $20.15

30 March 2020

1) A second virus shock wave is already hitting China’s factories as European factories are delaying orders and asking for delays in payments as the coronavirus sweeps across Europe closing their factories. These are cutting off orders to Chinese factories just as they were beginning to come back to life, a double hammer blow to China’s economy. Estimated April to May sales are expected to be down as much as 40% from last year. This is raising grave doubts about the world’s second largest economy being able to repair damage and return to its pre-virus station.

2) The Index of Consumer Sentiment dropped to 89.1 in March, the lowest level since October 2016, a three year low. It is the fourth largest in nearly 50 years. Further declines is dependent on the success of curtailing the spread of the virus and how soon households receive funds from the government stimulus. To date, there are 540,000 cases of coronavirus with America overtaking China and Italy with the most cases having a total of 85,000.

3) The Department of Justice is investigating the credit scoring firm FICO for possible antitrust violations. There are three other major credit companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. FICO is the only scoring model accredited by mortgage loan companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The DOJ investigation comes after TransUnion’s antitrust countercase against FICO. The lenders determine which credit scoring system is utilized on a loan application, not the consumer or loan applicant.

4) Stock market closings for – 27 MAR 20:

Dow 21,636.78 down 915.39
Nasdaq 7,502.38 down 295.16
S&P 500 2,541.47 down 88.60

10 Year Yield: down at 0.75%

Oil: down at $21.84

11 March 2020

1) Fully 70% of the American economy is consumer spending. Even through wages and incomes have been stagnant for many households, the consumer has continued to spend. It is not new investment by corporations, tax cuts or big new federal spending programs that stimulate the economy, but rather it’s consumer spending. However, fears of the coronavirus is dampening that spending by curtailing business trips, personal travel, sports and other outings. With the interest rate near zero, the major tool used to combat a recession is now impotent.

2) The collapse of the long standing deal between Saudi Arabia and Russia, to limit oil production, fell through this weekend sending oil prices crashing from oil supplies surplus. The coronavirus has caused China to limit economic activity and therefore reduced China’s oil consumption leading to further oil surpluses. China’s purchase of oil is down 20%. The low oil prices has made the world economy very unstable and therefore volatile. For America, independent oil companies have gone deeply into debt to pay for the shale oil extraction process, who are now threaten by low oil prices making it impossible to pay that debt. Failure of these oil companies could ripple through the American economy to pull other segments down.

3) Airlines across the world continue to sink deeper into crisis from the worsening coronavirus epidemic reducing the number of passengers, who are foregoing travel fearing the virus. The situation is made worst by not being able to predict how long the crisis will likely last and therefore unable to make accommodating plans. The lockdown of Italy has further aggravated world air travel, especially with the interruption of tourism just as the tourist season would be ramping up.

4) Stock market closings for – 10 MAR 20

Dow 25,018.16 up 1,167.14
Nasdaq 8,344.25 up 393.577

S&P 500 2,882.23 up 135.67

10 Year Yield: up at 0.748%

Oil: up at $34.62

3 March 2020

1) Consumer electronics giant Samsung has started building a $220 million dollar research and development center in Hanoi, Vietnam. The center is to be completed by the end of 2022 and will employ between 2,200 to 3,000 people, and will be the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia. It will do research on subjects like artificial intelligence, internet technology, big data and 5G. Samsung is the single largest foreign investor in Vietnam, with investments totaling $17 billion dollars.

2) Huawei technologies, the controversial 5G supplier, is circumventing the barring of doing business with U.S. suppliers of critically needed electronic chips, by turning to manufacturing their own versions. The strategy appears to be working with Huawie selling more than 50,000 next generation base stations free of U.S. technology in their last quarter. The company is quickly ramping up its HiSilicon division to make more America component free devices, amide accusations that Huawei is stealing the intellectual property in making their own chips.

3) History shows that stocks often rebound quickly from a disease outbreak. Within six months, stocks are usually on the mend from drops caused by disease outbreaks. After the disastrous drops of last week, the markets started surging upward again, giving validity to this hypophysis- ‘Invest with a plan, instead of trying to predict trends.’

4) Stock market closings for – 2 MAR 20: Single greatest-gain in one day ever.

Dow 26,703.32 up 1293.96
Nasdaq 8,952.16 up 384.80
S&P 500 3,090.23 up 136.01

10 Year Yield: down at 1.09%

Oil: up at $47.52

15 January 2020

1) J. P. Morgan Chase posted profit and revenue far in excess to analysts’ expectation at the end of 2019. Fourth quarter profit was up 21% to $2.57 a share compared with $2.35 estimates of analysts. The investment bank produced record revenue for the fourth quarter. Citigroup also beat estimates for profit and revenue, their fixed income trading revenue gaining 49%.

2) Consumer prices rose at the fastest pace in eight years, in 2019. The increase was driven by higher gasoline, health care and rent prices in addition to the biggest annual advance in inflation since 2011. The consumer price index rose 0.2% in December, while economist had forecast 0.3%. The cost of living in 2019 rose 2.3% from 2.1%. Price increase for food was mild, while prices fell for used vehicles and airline fares.

3) Three of China’s automakers are considering expanding into Mexico with factories. Car makers Changan, BYD (electric cars) and Anhui Jianghuai or JAC, who already has manufacturing facilities in Mexico, but is considering expanding. The companies are considering expansion sometime this next year. No comments on if and where cars will be exported to.

4) Stock market closings for – 14 JAN 20:

Dow                   28,939.67         up    32.62
Nasdaq                9,251.33    down    22.60
S&P 500               3,283.15    down      4.98

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.82%

Oil:    up   at    $58.14

20 November 2019

1) There are fewer international students coming to America, which is hurting American universities and the economy. International student enrollment has been declining since the fall of 2016 which is estimated to cost the economy $11.8 billion dollars and more than 65,000 jobs. There is a perception among students that getting a visa for the United States is more difficult and it’s increasingly unsafe in the U.S.

2) National retailer Kohl’s posted quarterly sales that was lower than analysts’ projections, and has fallen the most in almost three years. This raises further concerns about the future of department stores, a market segment that has been struggling to adapt to broad changes in consumer habits. Kohl’s shares fell as much as 18%, the biggest one day tumble since January of 2017. Other department store chains such as Macy’s and Nordstrom have seen declines too.

3) Home Depot shares fell after reporting a third quarter earnings below Wall Street expectations, and the company cut its full year outlook for the rest of 2019. Like so many other traditional retailers, Home Depot is struggling to adapt to the online market place. While they are spending a lot of money to become a bigger online player, the company hasn’t seen the results they expected. The home improvement retail landscape is getting tougher.

4) Stock market closings for – 19 NOV 19:

Dow                27,934.02   down   102.20
Nasdaq            8,570.66          up     20.72
S&P 500           3,120.18    down        1.85

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.79%

Oil:     down   at    $55.15

7 October 2019

1) As part of its restructuring plan, HP announced they will cut about 7,000 to 9,000 jobs, resulting in an estimated savings of about $1 billion dollars. While HP expects to incur labor and non-labor cost of about $1 billion dollars, they expect to generate at lease $3 billion dollars of free cash flow. As of 31 October 2018, HP had world wide employment of about 55,000 workers.

2) Consumer spending has been the bright spot in an economy showing signs of weakening on multiple fronts, in particular manufacturing. Economists worry if consumer spending will continue to prop up the economy, saying that the up coming Christmas season will be a test. Issues such as trade, interest rates, global risk factors and political rhetoric are where confidence can be eroded by deterioration of these items.

3) The new Costco in Shanghai China reports membership of more than 200,000 as compared to an American average of 68,000 per store. Costco will open a second Shanghai location in early 2021. The first day opening, the store was so swamped with customers, that the doors had to be closed for four hours to limit the number of people inside to safe limits.

4) Stock market closings for – 4 OCT 19:

Dow                  26,573.72    up    372.68
Nasdaq               7,982.47    up    110.21
S&P 500              2,952.01    up      41.38

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.52%

Oil:    up   at    $53.01