3 September 2020

1) Major American companies are extending their ‘work from home’ policy, such as Google, Uber and Airbnb, until the summer of next year. The companies Zillow, Twitter, Facebook and Square have announce that employees can work from home indefinitely. Some companies are also offering stipends to employees for home office equipment as well as a $500 quarterly credit to use specifically on Airbnbs. This at home work policy remains in effect even after offices start reopening. The work at home is even spreading across the international scene with electronic giant Hitachi having 70% of its employees work permanently from home. Nationwide Insurance plans to downsize from 20 physical offices to just four with the majority of its employees continuing to work permanently from home. It’s looking more and more like working at home is becoming the norm for the future in America.

2) In a bid to counter the competition of e-commerce, the traditional department store giant Macy’s has started opening new, smaller stores away from the malls, reflecting a growing trend in the retail industry. The retail giant will test small-format Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores outside of underperforming malls, joining a growing trend in retail. The test stores will begin operation the fourth quarter of 2021 in Dallas, Atlanta and Washington DC. Many other major retailers are turning away from the mall format of retailing, leaving many malls withering on the vine, with foot traffic on the decline even before the Convid-19 crisis. This is another indication of a shift in American culture and society.

3) Fashion retailer Old Navy has announced they will pay their employees to work at polling stations comes election day. Each employee will be paid a full days wages for their poll work. Furthermore, store employees will have up to three hours of paid time-off on election day to vote. Old Navy joins other retailers such as Patagonia, PayPal and Levi Strauss & Co. to help in the national elections.

4) Stock market closings for – 2 SEP 20:

Dow 29,100.50 up 454.84
Nasdaq 12,056.44 up 116.78
S&P 500 3,580.84 up 54.19

10 Year Yield: down at 0.65%

Oil: down at $41.78

31 August 2020

1) The dreaded coronavirus seems to be on the rise again in Europe, with some European countries experiencing an increase of new cases, but this time with fewer deaths. This resurgence of recent weeks, has not forced as many people into medical wards as last spring. However, the increase of Convid-19 is widespread, unsettling people who hoped the worst was behind them. So far, the rise in cases is in France, Germany and Spain, with Spain hit particularly hard. Europe had just started their schools for the new academic year.

2) The E-commerce giant Amazon has just opened its first ‘shop-in-person’ grocery store under its own name. The new store in the Los Angeles suburb of Woodland Hills, is a traditional physical store open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. PST. But the store has lots of high-tech touches such as a new feature called Dash Cart which allows you to use Alexa. This allows the customer to create a shopping list in advance then be guided around the store to those items on the list. The store uses cashierless checkout, so there isn’t any line to wait in. The customer has the option of using their Amazon account and Prime membership to order and get free delivery. Amazon is soon opening additional stores in other cities.

3) One of the most powerful storms to ever hit the US Gulf Coast, Hurricane Laura has left the usual damage and destruction, but having missed the Houston and New Orleans areas, caused far less damage than it could have. The death toll was six people and monetary damages are estimated to be between $8 billion and $12 billion dollars, most of the loss in Louisiana with only about $500 million dollars in Texas. The total economic cost from damaged structures and closed businesses is estimated to be about $20 billion dollars.

4) Stock market closings for – 28 AUG 20:

Dow 28,653.87 up 161.60
Nasdaq 11,695.63 up 70.30
S&P 500 3,508.01 up 23.46

10 Year Yield: down at 0.73%

Oil: down at $42.93

27 August 2020

1) Large hurricanes bring economic damage on a large scale when they make landfall. This season’s biggie is Hurricane Laura now expected to make landfall as a category 4 storm this Wednesday evening or early Thursday morning. The National Hurricane Center rates the storm as having an “un-survivable storm surge” with large and destructive waves causing catastrophic damage along the coast of eastern Texas to the eastern part of Louisiana. The surge could penetrate up to 30 miles inland from the coast. Add to this, the catastrophic wind damage, and Laura promises to carry a large price tag economically as the storm continues first up into Arkansas then across the United States for the Atlantic with rains and flooding. This year is forecast to be a very active hurricane season so more economic damage may be in the play book.

2) Walmart is suspending its InHome delivery service, which offered the convenience of having people’s groceries delivered and unpacked by the delivery person in the customer’s kitchens. But because of the Convid-19 crisis and the need for contactless service, Walmart is discontinuing the service in favor of its Doorstep Delivery service, where groceries are delivered to consumers but now is left on the door step. With its other two delivery service, Walmart is becoming a strong contender in the e-commerce business.

3) Two long established regional grocery chains have filed for bankruptcy, another sign of the shifting of retail business in America, as traditional retailers fail to adapt to the new economic world. Balducci’s and Kings Food Markets of the north eastern coast were having financial struggles before the pandemic set in, but even thought both had a boost in sales from the pandemic, it wasn’t enough to save them. All stores will remain open as their holding company seeks a buyer. The two grocery chains date back to the first half of the twentieth century and they prospered through the decades before e-commerce.

4) Stock market closings for – 26 AUG 20:

Dow 28,331.92 up 83.48
Nasdaq 11,665.06 up 198.59
S&P 500 3,478.73 up 35.11

10 Year Yield: unchanged at 0.69

Oil: unchanged at $43.43

26 August 2020

1) The American Airlines Group Inc. will layoff 19,000 workers once the federal payroll act expires on the first of October, making for a 30% reduction in its workforce since the Convid-19 crisis. This will result in 17,500 workers furloughed and about 1,500 cuts to management staff. These cuts are forced by a 70% drop in passenger numbers. This will bring the airlines pandemic cuts to 40,000 positions since the coronavirus outbreak. Presently, American plans to fly less than 50% of its normal schedule in the fourth quarter, while their long haul international flights will be just 25% of 2019. The airlines will have 100,000 employees compared with 140,000 in March of this year.

2) Real estate investors, including some of the largest investment groups, are skipping loan payments while raising billions of dollars for new investments. While the pandemic has devalued some real estate, it has also created new targets for investors loaded with cash. It’s the age-old strategy of abandoning ‘loser investments’ to buy winners, the losers being commercial properties with businesses that don’t need as much space as before the pandemic. Property owners are more likely to walkaway when their equity has been wiped out by lower values. Restaurants and hotels properties are especially vulnerable.

3) Reverse mortgages have new appeal for older Americans because of the super low interest rates, which means more of the equity is available to the home owners since less is going towards the interest. Essentially, a reverse mortgage is like a loan, where the owner sells his property for cash, but continues living in it. This makes retirement more comfortable or even possible with the homeowner having access to his house equity without having to actually sell his home.

4) Stock market closings for – 25 AUG 20:

Dow 28,248.44 down 60.02
Nasdaq 11,466.47 up 86.75
S&P 500 3,443.62 up 12.34

10 Year Yield: up at 0.68%

Oil: up at $43.43 this will

25 August 2020

1) With the two storms in the Gulf of Mexico, off shore oil production rigs have been forced to suspend operations and evacuate their crews until the bad weather passes. This curtailment in oil production has caused oil futures to rise as much as 1.3%. The shutdown has closed 58% of crude oil output, or more than 1 million barrels a day. Additionally, oil refineries along the Gulf coast have shut down their operations until the oil returns. But still, the storms are anticipated to have little real damage to onshore and offshore oil production facilities, and so a quick recovery in the markets is anticipated.

2) About one third of companies are anticipating having half or more of their employees work remotely after the Convid-19 crisis ends. While previously, 1 in 30 companies had anticipated continuing work at home after the crisis passed, surveys now show it’s 1 in 3. The pandemic has forced companies across the world to rethink how they do business, with 72% saying they offer flexibility around hours and work scheduling. While 49% have implemented flexible policies on how work is done and what technology is used.

3) The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift to e-commerce by five years. In many ways, the pandemic has reshaped our world, with our shopping habits being one of the prime ways. The fears of contracting the virus is forcing more people to shop online in the safety of their homes instead of going out into crowds of people to the traditional brick and mortar stores. This is causing the department stores to accelerate their decline. Sales of stores have declined by 25% in the first quarter of 2020, which grew to a 75% decline in the second quarter. Department stores are expected to decline by over 60% for the full year, while e-commerce is expected to grow by nearly 20%.

4) Stock market closings for – 24 AUG 20:

Dow 28,308.46 up 378.13
Nasdaq 11,379.72 up 67.92
S&P 500 3,431.28 up 34.12

10 Year Yield: up at 0.65%

Oil: down at$42.39

20 August 2020

1) Boeing Aircraft has received its first 737 MAX orders since 2019, from Enter Air, a Polish charter airline that exclusively uses only Boeing airplanes. They have ordered two 737 MAX with an option to order two more. With the option, this would bring its MAX fleet to ten aircraft. Frzegorz Polaniecki, the general director and board member of Enter Air, said he’s convinced the 737 MAX will be the best aircraft in the world for many years to come. This order for two aircraft pales in comparison to Boeing’s July net negative order of 836 aircraft, but it’s a start in the right direction. Cancellation of Boeing aircraft sales have far outpaced new orders this year because of the pandemic. The last six months, Boeing has faced a combination of problems specific to Boeing and the pandemic.

2) The Federal Reserve is lowering their estimate for economic growth over the second half of the year. The Reserve presents its forecast at the central bank’s eight interest rate committee meetings in a year. The reduced forecast is because they expect the rate of recovery in the Gross Domestic Product and the rate for reducing unemployment to be slower than previously expected. Reduction of the unemployment depends on the reopening of businesses, which in turn is depended on the pandemic.

3) According to Bank of America, moving manufacturing out of China could cost U.S. and European companies $1 trillion dollars over five years. Companies in over 80% of global sectors have experienced supply chain disruptions during the pandemic, so many are widening the scope of their reshoring plans. The shift to return manufacturing back to home countries has been spurred on by the Convid-19 crisis. Supporting companies will also benefit with the increase of economic activity by having manufacturing return.

4) Stock market closings for – 19 AUG 20:

Dow 27,692.88 down 85.19
Nasdaq 11,146.46 down 64.38
S&P 500 3,374.85 down 14.93

10 Year Yield: up at 0.68%

Oil: up at $42.79

20 July 2020

1) The international British Airways has announced they are retiring their entire fleet of Boeing 747 jets, a direct result of the Convid-19 crisis. Once one of the biggest airlines using the iconic jumbo jet, the contraction of the airline industry and the likelihood that air travel will not return to its previous size is forcing all airlines to abandon their jumbo jets early. They are going to the more modern fuel efficient Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 in their place. British Airways now has 31 Boeing 747s, about 10% of its total fleet, with an average age of 23 years.

2) What appears to be a massive attempt to embezzle monies from the general public has come to light with the social media Twitter confirming that 130 accounts were targeted in a hack. The accounts of a handful of prominent users were compromised that allowed criminals to gain access to prominent users such as Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Kanye West to post solicitations for money. The attackers were able to gain control of accounts then send Tweets from those accounts asking to send money via Bitcoin to commit cryptocurrency fraud. Wire fraud is a federal felony crime, so the FBI immediately began an investigation of who and how the fraud was perpetrated.

3) Delta Airlines is proposing a 15% cut to minimum pay for pilots to avoid furloughs for a year. This would have to come after the first of October when federal aid terms expire. This is in view that a quick recovery in air travel is becoming increasingly remote because of the rise in new coronavirus cases. More than 60,000 airline employees across several carriers have been warned that their jobs are at risk, including more than 2,500 of Delta’s 14,000 pilots. As financial losses pile up, employees are urge to take early retirements, buyouts and other forms of leave in a attempt to slash cost as financial losses pile up. So far, more than 1,700 pilots have signed up for early retirements. This is just another indicator how the air travel business is probably fundamentally changing.

4) Stock market closings for – 17 JUL 20:

Dow 26,671.95 down 62.76
Nasdaq 10,503.19 up 29.36
S&P 500 3,224.73 up 9.16

Year Yield: up at 0.63%

Oil: down at $40.57

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

30 June 2020

1) The Boeing Aircraft Co. has started it re-certification process for the 737 MAX with the take off of a test aircraft for the first flight. An FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) pilot was on board as test flights begin, to determine if the aircraft is safe for flying with passengers. The first flight test is to fly maneuvers for about three hours, the test craft being fitted with a number of instruments and monitoring equipment to test and record how the aircraft performs. Test include the ‘wind-up turn’ which is a steep turn that essentially approaches a stall, with wings almost at 90 degrees of bank. This maneuver should trigger the Boeing software system that played a role in both crashes, which caused the aircraft design to be grounded. The software caused the aircraft’s nose to be repeatedly pointed downward at the ground until pilots lost control. These certification flights are expected to take approximately three days, and while they are an important milestone, there remains a number of key tasks to be completed.

2) According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 47.2% of American adults are now jobless, almost half the adult population. This is a direct result of losing 30 million jobs because of the coronavirus crisis. While there was an unexpected snap back in May, there are now signs of a slowdown in the labor market improvement because of fears of a Convid-19 resurgence increased these last few weeks. The massive loss of jobs is what is now dragging the economy down. Both Texas and Florida have paused plans for further reopening because of a record spike in coronavirus cases.

3) Lending institutions are pulling back sharply on their lending to U.S. consumers during the pandemic, because they can’t tell who is creditworthy anymore. There are millions of Americans out of work and behind on their debts, but many of these missed payments aren’t reflected in credit scores. This is a result of the government’s stimulus package which allows borrowers to defer their debt payments, but credit companies can’t report these late payments to credit reporting companies. For May, there were more than 100 million accounts with deferred debt payments. This is a sign of widespread financial distress.

4) Stock market closings for – 29 JUN 20:

Dow 25,595.80 up 580.25
Nasdaq 9,874.15 up 116.93
S&P 500 3,053.24 up 44.19

10 Year Yield: unchanged at 0.64%

Oil: up at $39.55

29 June 2020

1) Microsoft is permanently closing almost all of its stores across the nation and world. Just like other retail outlets, Microsoft had to shutter all its stores due to the coronavirus pandemic. There are 83 stores worldwide of which 72 are in the U.S., however only four will remain open in the world. The stores allowed people to try out software and hardware offered by Microsoft including laptop computers. No news if there will be any layoffs or how many, the stores are moving to the digital realm, which will absorb many of the store employees. The physical stores generated negligible retail revenue for Microsoft.

2) As oil prices reach the magic $40 a barrel, shale fracking is starting to reawaken to pump oil. The number of fracking crews had bottomed out at 45 last month, but is now back up to 78 this last week. There had been roughly 400 fracking crews before the decline in oil prices started. The drilling of new oil wells remains on hold with a 70% slump, making for the lowest number of active drilling rigs since 2011.

3) Nike is warning its employees of coming layoffs, but these layoffs will not effect store employees. The layoffs are expected to come in two waves, the first this July followed in the fall with a the second wave. These layoffs come amid reports of poor earnings, with sales down 38% giving a net loss of $790 million dollars when the Convid-19 virus forced closing of most of its stores. This compares with nearly a billion dollars in earnings for the same time last year. Nike has 76,700 employees, but it’s not know yet how many will lose their jobs. All wasn’t bad for Nike, with their online sales skyrocketing 75%, with e-sales accounting for 30% of Nike’s total business.

4) Stock market closings for – 26 JUN 20:

Dow 25,015.55 down 730.05
Nasdaq 9,757.22 down 259.78
S&P 500 3,009.05 down 74.71

10 Year Yield: down at 0.64%

Oil: down at $38.16