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
1) The business community of America is facing a national coin shortage, making it even more difficult for the retail sector to function. Across the country, restaurants, grocery stores, and retail outlets are posting signs near their cash registers and drive thru windows asking people to pay with credit cards or exact change. This shortage is a result of the spreading coronavirus closing businesses that crippled economic activity in the U.S., so the circulation of coins dropped off significantly. Furthermore, the U.S. Mint who manufactures the nation’s coinage supply, has decreased staffing because of the pandemic, thus reducing the availability of coins.
2) New research has directly connected the explosive growth of passive investing to deteriorating corporate performance over the long haul. Companies with higher passive ownership spent more on stock repurchases, but saw worse financial outcomes. Passive investment can allow opportunistic management behavior with negative effects of future company performance. Companies with high passive ownership are less monitored, therefore allowing management to act unhindered in their own best interest. Passive ownership is a result of investing by mutual and ETF funds who track indexes instead of actively manage counterparts.
3) The government has placed orders for up to 600 million doses of Covid vaccine to Pfizer and BioNTech. The U.S. health officials have agreed to pay $1.95 billion dollars for 100 million doses of a vaccine. Nations around the world have begun ordering vaccines that are still being tested in an effort to halt the spread of the virus. To date, the coronavirus has killed 600,000 people around the world. It is planned the vaccine will be free to U.S. citizens.
4) Stock market closings for – 22 JUL 20:
Dow 27,005.84 up 165.44 Nasdaq 10,706.13 up 25.76 S&P 500 3,276.02 up 18.72
1) General Motors is eliminating 700 factory jobs in Tennessee as a result of low sales, which they are blaming on the Convid-19 crisis. This is the third shift at their Spring Hill assembly plant, leaving 3,000 workers still employed. This plant makes Cadillac XT5 and XT6 SUVs plus the GMC Acadia. This is another sign of the weakness in auto demand, a result of record job loss coupled with people working at home and therefore putting less wear on their old cars. The GM plant for building truck engines remains unchanged, since they were working just two shifts to start with.
2) The nation wide retailer Macy’s is cutting nearly 4,000 corporate jobs, about 3% of its overall workforce. The pandemic has taken a toll on the department store chain, just like so many other traditional chain retailers. This move will save the company about $630 million dollars per year, amid a quarterly net loss of $652 million dollars. Macy’s was struggling long before the pandemic because of competition from lower priced retailers such as Walmart, T.J. Maxx and Target.
3) The U.S. GDP (Gross Domestic Product) shrank by 5% for the first quarter, compared to an increase in the previous quarter of 2.1%, prior to the coronavirus pandemic onset. This drop is attributed to a decrease in personal consumption expenditures (PCE) because people are spending less. The real gross domestic income decreased 4.4% as compared to a 3.1% increase in the fourth quarter of last year.
4) Stock market closings for – 25 JUN 20:
Dow 25,745.60 up 299.66 Nasdaq 10,017.00 up 107.84 S&P 500 3,083.76 up 33.43
1) Retail giant Target has announced it is raising the minimum wage they pay to store and warehouse workers to $15 an hour, a $2 increase. Target had 350,000 workers employed in 1,900 stores across America. The company is also extending the benefits it started offering during the pandemic, including a new one of free visits to a virtual doctor. All this increases Target’s operating cost by more than $1 billion dollars a year. The company’s margins have been under pressure from pandemic related expenses, in addition to selling fewer high margin items such as apparel and accessories, as well as customers shifting to online shopping. Rival Walmart has announced they are testing a totally cashierless store as a way of limiting human contact because of the Convid-19 threat, but a cashierless store also means reduce labor cost, a goal long sought after by retailers.
2) There is a spike in mortgage demand driven by the record low interest rates. There is a 21% increase in mortgage applications from this time last year. The easing of the pandemic is releasing the pent up demand caused by the shutdown. A 30 year mortgage with 20% down fixed rate has an interest rate now of 3.3%. Refinancing continues to play a significant part in the home mortgage market.
3) Hilton Hotels is laying off 22% of its corporate workforce of 2,100 employees as a result of the coronavirus, while also extending furloughs for many of its corporate staff for an additional 90 days. The virus crisis has brought the hotel business to a near complete halt. The industry has lost about 7.7 million jobs, although occupancy has started to increase, signaling the worst may be coming to an end.
4) Stock market closings for – 17 JUN 20:
Dow 26,119.61 down 170.37 Nasdaq 9,910.53 up 14.66 S&P 500 3,113.49 down 11.25
1) The Independent Restaurant Coalition estimates that 85% of the independent restaurants may go bust by the end of 2020. The independent restaurants comprise 70% of all the restaurants in America. These restaurants rely more heavily on dine-in revenue, which the franchise chains don’t because of their drive up and take out business is well established, while also having a corporate safety net or support system to fall back on. It will be a long time before dine-in revenue returns to pre-pandemic levels because independents depend on densely packed dinning rooms to generate sufficient revenue to meet expenses, something that social distancing prevents. Most owners just don’t have the cash reserves to survive.
2) J.C. Penny stores will begin their ‘going out of business’ sales having just received bankruptcy court approval to begin liquidation sales at those stores closing permanently. There are 242 stores closing leaving about 600 stores to continue. Sales could start as early as this weekend. J.C. Penny is the largest company to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy since the pandemic started. Penny faces a crucial deadline of 15 July for a business plan, which without one, the company is expected to pursue a sale instead, which could mean total liquidation.
3) Some are proposing negative interest rates for U.S. bonds as some European countries are doing. The rational for negative interest rates is they spur economic growth, which is controversial among economist with evidence that it really works being mixed. Lowering interest rates encourages businesses and individuals to invest and spend more, which helps the economy grow. The doubts about negative interest rates is companies and individuals would rather hold cash which cost nothing rather than pay to park their money in the bank. This encourages the money to be loan out rather than be parked, which often means riskier loans. While there are studies made of how effective negative interest rates are, so far the results are mixed.
4) Stock market closings for – 12 JUN 20:
Dow 25,605.54 up 477.37 Nasdaq 9,588.81 up 96.08 S&P 500 3,041.31 up 39.21
1) A second round of layoffs is starting, the first being workers at restaurants, malls and hotels, most of them lower skill levels, but now it’s higher skilled jobs threatened. Those higher skilled jobs had seemed secure, however the ‘work at home’ people are seeing layoffs and furloughs to add to the unemployed numbers. Jobs such as corporate lawyers, government workers and managers are seeing the pink slip with a threat of a prolonged labor downturn in 2007-09 recession. Economist anticipated that 14.4 million jobs will be lost in coming months, raising the unemployment rate to 13% for June. Already, 17 million Americans have been laid off, with estimates of 27.9 million jobs to be lost. The information businesses are being hit, with revenues not sufficient to pay electric bills for servers and computers to host web sites. Even large law firms catering to the corporate world are having significant layoffs. State and local governments employ 20 million people, but as tax revenues drop, they too are faced with reducing employees. Analysts consider it will take 5 1/2 years for the labor market to recover.
2) Boeing, the airline manufacture, is further suffering business setbacks with the cancellation of orders for 150 jets in March. This is a result of a near total halt in demand for air travel because of the coronavirus pandemic. There are now nearly 14,000 jets parked by airlines around the world. Boeing did report new orders for 31 aircraft in March. While Boeing still has a backlog of orders for about 5,000 jets, there are fears that delivery will be deferred which will further add to Boeing’s financial woes.
3) The IMF (International Monetary Fund) is predicting that the Great Lockdown recession will be the worst in almost a century, warning the world economy’s contraction and recovery will be worst than anticipated. The IMF estimates the global gross domestic product will shrink 3% this year, compared to a 3.3% growth in January. This will dwarf the 0.1% contraction in the 2009 financial crisis. These forecast dashing any hopes for a V-shaped economic rebound after the virus subsides, with a commutative loss of global GDP of this and next year, of about $9 trillion dollars. Economic damage is driven by how long the virus remains a major threat.
4) Stock market closings for – 14 APR 20:
Dow 23,949.76 up 558.99 Nasdaq 8,515.74 up 323.32 S&P 500 2,846.06 up 84.43
1) Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve Chair, said the U.S. economy is in an emergency, which is deteriorating with alarming speed. His remark comes after unveiling over $2 trillion dollars in new loans to keep the economy afloat, a result of the coronavirus shutdown. America is moving from the lowest unemployment in fifty years to a very high unemployment in just weeks. Claims for unemployment aid is now up to 17 million and still climbing as more businesses fight to survive. It is expected the U.S. economy may shrink by more than 30% between April and the end of June. The Fed will soon begin purchasing up to $750 billion dollars in corporate loans from big businesses who have a low investment grade, in the hopes of preventing their bankruptcy bringing further damage to the American economy. The Feds are making a wide range of loans to various size businesses which it doesn’t expect to get paid for. No one is making estimates on how extensive this will ultimately be to the American economy.
2) Although Saudi Arabia and Russia have reached an agreement on limiting oil production, it’s not yet known just how large those reductions are going to be, so oil prices had turned negative while awaiting details of OPEC+ cuts in oil production. The general consensus is each nation will cut production by 10 million barrels a day, but with world oil consumption way down because of the pandemic, it’s not certain if the OPEC+ cuts will have much effect, especially for U.S. domestic oil production (shale oil).
3) The Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin considers it may be possible for the U.S. to be open and back to business next month, considering it’s just a matter of medical considerations. The administration is doing everything possible for business to resume as soon as the ‘all clear’ is sounded and they have the necessary liquidity to operate. The president is forming a second taskforce charged with addressing the economic devastation which the virus has wrought and take measure to resume economic activity as soon as possible.
4) Stock market closings for – 9 APR 20:
Dow 23,719.37 up 285.80 Nasdaq 8,153.58 up 62.67 S&P 500 2,789.82 up 39.84
1) For 80 years Boeing Aircraft has operated as an ‘association of engineers’, but this changed in 2001 when the upper management who came from MacDonnel Douglas (a failed company), elected to move Boeing’s corporate headquarters to Chicago. The rational was upper management shouldn’t be close to a principal business, because the corporate center is inevitably drawn into day to day business operations. With this, Boeing became a financially driven business instead of engineering driven, with decision based on cost cutting instead of safety. This has resulted in the 737 MAX fiasco now being played out.
2) Apple has started construction of its $1 billion dollar campus in Austin Texas, which is beside its new MacBook Pro laptop manufacturing facility. The 3 million square foot campus will have 5,000 employees with capacity to grow to 15,000. Currently, Apply employs 7,000 people in Austin. This is seen as another move by Apple to limit its manufacturing in China.
3) Walmart is redesigning its grocery department in order to counter impending competition to traditional brick-and-mortar from online giant Amazon. Already the country’s largest grocer, Walmart will widen aisles, add low profile displays in the produce departments, an organic shop and update signage throughout its stores. These changes are expected to be improvements for the customers and workers.
4) Stock market closings for – 20 NOV 19:
Dow 27,821.09 down 112.93 Nasdaq 8,526.73 down 43.93 S&P 500 3,108.46 down 11.72
1) There are fears that the deepening China and American trade war may severely effect the fragile oil market. The tariffs increases has already send oil prices spiraling down over concerns of a sever global economic slowdown or recession. But China could use oil as an economic weapon by purchasing vast quantities of oil from Iran thus driving oil prices down from $60 to as low as $40 while also undermining President Trump’s foreign policy.
2) Gold, always a panic investment from economic fears, is again attracting investors with its prices pushing upward. With the devaluation of the Chinese money and threats that the U.S. might follow suit, investors are worried about the value of other monies sliding down. Fears of what will happen to the Euro and British Pound with a ‘no deal’ exit, coupled with European government bonds rates that are so low, is further attracting investors to gold. Hence, investors are migrating to the traditional safe heaven of gold.
3) In an attempt to further push into the Nordic markets, payment processor Mastercard Inc will buy the majority of the corporate services businesses of Scandinavian payments group Nets. The financial technology sector is consolidating fast as more people switch from cash to digital payments, both on line and on the street. The $3.19 billion dollar deal gives Mastercard further clearing and instant payment services plus e-billing solutions.
4) Stock market closings for – 6 AUG 19:
Dow 26,029.52 up 311.78 Nasdaq 7,833.26 up 107.23 S&P 500 2,881.77 up 37.03