25 March 2021

1) There is a large backup of freighters parked in the San Francisco Bay and in Long Beach, which are awaiting an opening at the Port of Oakland. This is because of a trade bottleneck, a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, thereby leaving U.S. businesses anxiously awaiting goods from Asia. The pandemic has wreaked havoc with the supply chain since early 2020, because it forced the closure of factories throughout China. The problem arose last March, when Americans stayed home, thus dramatically changing their buying habits. Instead of clothes, they bought electronics, fitness equipment and home improvement products. In turn U.S. companies responded by flooding the reopened Asian factories with orders, which then lead to a chain reaction of congestion at ports and freight hubs as the goods began arriving. Ships with as many as 14,000 containers have sat offshore, some of them for over a week, with as many as 40 ships waiting.

2) The manufacturing crisis with automakers continues to grow, with the auto industry bracing for more chip shortages after a fire at a plant owned by Japanese chipmaker Renesas. The company makes chips for Toyota, Nissan and Honda, and expects production at one of the buildings at its Naka Factory in Hitachinaka to be halted for a month. Renesas said the fire started when some equipment overheated and ignited, though it isn’t known what caused it to overheat. Renesas said two-thirds of the products made in the building could be produced elsewhere, although due to the recent increase in demand for semiconductors, the situation does not allow for all products to be immediately produced alternatively. This further reduction in semiconductor production will further reduce production of automobiles worldwide.

3) North Korea tells China they should team up as ‘Hostile Forces’. North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un reportedly praised his country’s close ties with neighboring China, looking to boost their ties to counter the hostile policies of the United States. China and North Korea’s close ties date back to the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949, then the outbreak of the Korean War a year later. In the war, Chinese troops supported North Korean forces with the backing of the Soviet Union, against South Korea and a U.S. led United Nations coalition. However, the fighting ended in a stalemate with an armistice but no official peace, which continues to this day. The North Korea considers that the world is now undergoing transformations rarely seen in a century, which is also overlapped by the ‘once in a century’ pandemic. What this portents for China and North Korea’s future actions . . . only time will tell.

4) Stock market closings for – 24 MAR 21:

Dow Jones 32,420 down by 3.09
NASDAQ 12,962 down by 265.81
S&P 500 3,889 down by 21.38

10 Year Yields: 1.6280

Oil: up at 64.41

15 March 2021

1) Canoo of Los Angeles is offering a battery-powered truck, with a skateboard-style EV platform, having a highly modular, cab-forward, for a blisteringly quick utility vehicle. Similar to Ford’s F-150, it comes in about the height and two inches narrower, and with a wheelbase 10 inches shorter. Without a conventional drive train, its extended cab is far forward, thus giving it a larger bed than the Ford. With its battery and electric motor, it can generate 600 horsepower and 550 foot-pound of torque even down at zero rpm. These should make the Canoo a respectable tow rig, not to mention a capable crawler, what with its short wheelbase, skid plates front and rear, and integral tow hooks.

2) America has now administered over 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine (101.1 million). That equates to more than 35 million Americans fully vaccinated or 10.5% of the total U.S. population. Nearly 66 million, or almost 20% of the total population, have gotten at least one dose, while one-third of Americans age 65 and older are fully vaccinated. The first shot was given on December 14, and more doses have been administered in the U.S. than any other country in the world, although several smaller nations have vaccinated a higher proportion of their populations. The U.S. should have enough COVID-19 vaccine to immunize the nation’s entire adult population by this summer, with enough left over for some 172 million more people. The nationwide pace of vaccinations has quickened to an average of over 2 million doses a day. The majority of states have already vaccinated many of their front line essential workers and residents over 75 years old.

3) Rare earth elements are produced in various parts of the world, but primarily in China, who has been holding the U.S. and some other countries hostage under threat of a trade war by using these ‘must have’ minerals. But that is about to change with Noranda Alumina of Gramercy, Louisiana, who is proposing developing an $800-million dollar high tech refining center for extracting rare earth minerals from over 35-million tons of residual bauxite stored in Louisiana. Investing nearly a billion dollars on the new plant, it will create 2,000 construction jobs. Once in operation, the facility will employ 200 full time high paying jobs along with nearly 600 indirect jobs. This opportunity enables America to domestically produce these rare earth elements that go into a lot of green earth technologies, plus by recycling the residual bauxite, the extraction plant will be carbon neutral.

4) Stock market closings for – 12 MAR 21:

Dow 32,778.64 up by 293.05
Nasdaq 13,319.86 down by 78.81
S&P 500 3,943.34 up by 4.00

10 Year Yield: up at 1.64%

Oil: down at $65.56

11 March 2021

1) The Interior Department moved one step closer to allowing the construction of the country’s first commercial scale offshore wind project with the release of a Final Environmental Impact Statement. This is the last step before issuing a decision on whether it will approve or deny the request to build the 800-megawatt project, the amount of energy used by more than 400,000 homes, and is 12 miles from Martha’s Vineyard. But the environmental assessment notes the project is expected to negatively impact commercial fishing, a $630 million industry in Massachusetts. If approved the Vineyard Wind 1 project is expected to be completed in 2023.

2) Japan’s new supercomputer Fugaku is the fastest supercomputer in the world and now is finally in fully operational status. Now, after undergoing nearly a year of testing on projects aimed at combating the COVID-19 pandemic by using analytics, modeling and policy making to prevent similar disasters, the computer is operational. Fugaku has been at the top of the list of fastest supercomputers since mid-2020, and it continues to hold that spot in the most recent Top 500 list. With three times the computing power of the runner-up IBM Summit, Fugaku is likely to remain the supercomputer to beat until Finland’s LUMI is completed. Fugaku is powered by ARM A64FX chips, of which it has 7,630,848 cores. When tested against the HPL supercomputing benchmark, it set a world record of 442 petaflops. And against the ‘high-performance computing artificial intelligence’ workload (HPC-AI) benchmark it maxed out at 2.0 exaflops, beating the previous record (also held by Fugaku) of 1.4 exaflops set in June 2020. According to Top 500, Fugaku’s HPC-AI benchmark was the first benchmark measurements above one exaflop for any precision on any type of hardware. In terms of the type of research Fugaku will be working on, some projects have already returned results such as simulating tsunami waves to forecast flooding in Japan. Seventy-four additional projects have been selected for implementation starting in April 2021.

3) Worries continue to grow that interest rates and inflation will rise as a result of greater government borrowing- a.k.a. the just passed $1.9 trillion stimulus package. Washington doesn’t want to talk about how to pay for it, and now they’re wanting to do an infrastructure bill. The negative effects on the economy will include higher mortgage rates and car payments. There are growing fears that coming next is a massive tax increase.

4) Stock market closings for – 10 MAR 21:

Dow 32,297.02 up by 464.28
Nasdaq 13,068.83 down by 4.99
S&P 500 3,898.81 up by 23.37

10 Year Yield: down at 1.52%

Oil: up at $64.69

1 March 2021

1) The superstore Fry’s Electronics suddenly closed all of its stores overnight, ending a nearly four-decade run in business. Fry, which had 31 stores across nine states, said that it made the difficult decision to shut down its operations and close its business permanently because of changing consumer shopping habits and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The Silicon Valley retail electronics store provided a ‘one stop shopping’ environment for the hi-tech professional market. The retailer didn’t implement and expand its online operations as rapidly as larger rivals. Best Buy, for example, recently reported its best quarter in 25 years as home bound customers snapped up laptops, home theater systems and kitchen appliances. The electronic retailer had been in business for 36 years.

2) Communications giant AT&T is spinning off its DirecTV into a new company for a fraction of the $48.5 billion dollars it paid for the satellite TV service in 2015. DirecTV has lost millions of customers. The value in the deal is just $16.25 billion, including its debt. The private equity firm TPG will own 30% of the business, while AT&T holds the rest. The telecom company will receive $7.8 billion in cash, including $1.8 billion from TPG and and $5.8 billion from the new DirecTV firm, which is borrowing that sum. The new DirecTV will also take on $200 million in debt from AT&T. AT&T launched its streaming service HBO Max last year and is focused on building that business. It also owns TV networks like CNN and TBS along with the Warner Bros. movie studio in addition to its huge wireless and internet business. The new DirecTV company will include AT&T TV, a streaming version of cable TV, and U-verse, AT&T’s older cable service. AT&T will retain its Latin America DirecTV business. AT&T said it expects few to no changes for subscribers.

3) Lockheed Martin is preparing to close its Middle River facility, in Maryland, which supports small combatants and ship systems programs, including the MK 41 Vertical Launching System (VLS), next generation launching systems, ship controls and automation and Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) engineering and sustainment. The company will reportedly relocate the business that is located in Middle River, Maryland to other Rotary and Mission Systems facilities. In an ongoing effort to drive down costs for customers and increase efficiency and value, Lockheed Martin consolidating some operations in their Rotary and Mission Systems business to better align employees, technology and facilities to meet customer needs. The majority of employees will be offered the opportunity to relocate or, if possible, telework. Lockheed Martin currently employs more than 3,150 people in Maryland, with 32 facilities and 569 suppliers, supporting nearly 100 small businesses across the state.

4) Stock market closings for – 26 FEB 21:

Dow 30,932.37 down by 469.64
Nasdaq 13,192.34 up by 72.91
S&P 500 3,811.15 down by 18.19

10 Year Yield: down at 1.46%

Oil: down at $61.66

26 February 2021

1) The pandemic has been especially hard on small business, who don’t have the cash reserves of large corporations. They face a number of challenges they need to meet in order to survive. Here is a brief list of challenges they face- 1) The Ability to Transition to a Digital First World 2) Lack of In-Person Networking Events 3) Forward Planning is Difficult 4) Leaving Brick and Mortar Stores. 5) Lacking Work Life Balance 6) Increased Shipping Costs 7) Lacking Creativity 8) Blips in Production 9) Pressure to Perform 10) Long Term vs. Short Term Content

2) More than 4 million barrels of daily oil output, which is almost 40% of the nation’s crude production, is now offline because of the deep freeze weather. One of the world’s biggest oil refining centers has seen its output drastically cut back. Experts say the market is underestimating the amount of oil production lost in Texas due to the bad weather. Crude oil briefly surged above $65 a barrel, a level not seen since last January. Supply tightness has also soared, where just ten months ago, the price slumped below $16 because of a demand shock caused by Covid-19. Estimates for how long the outages may last have gotten progressively longer as analysts try to figure out the time span involved in thawing out infrastructure, especially in those areas where freezing weather isn’t the norm. That means ever more barrels are being removed from the global market, resulting in a surge in price of crude in other parts of the world.

3) Another long time retailer chain has filed for bankruptcy, as the Covid-19 pandemic makes the retail industry the site of regular closures and financial woes. Now, regional department store Belk, the nation’s largest privately owned department store, can be added to the ‘dead’ list, with the closing of all its stores. The bankruptcy filing for the 133 year old retailer comes about half a decade after the founding Belk family sold the company to its current owners for $3 billion dollars. The pandemic directly resulted in the drastic declines in the retailer’s sales, revenue, and liquidity. Unfortunately, Belk is far from the only shopping mainstay to struggle under the pressures of the pandemic. The company’s bankruptcy plan was filed in a Houston courtroom on Feb. 23, which relieves Belk of $450 million worth of debt and create an infusion of capital for the business.

4) Stock market closings for – 25 FEB 21:

Dow 31,402.01 down by 559.85
Nasdaq 13,119.43 down by 478.53
S&P 500 3,829.34 down by 96.09

10 Year Yield: up at 1.52%

Oil: down at $63.31

23 February 2021

1) IBM and Delta have expanded a multi-year services agreement to migrate the airline’s applications to the cloud. Delta will move to a hybrid cloud architecture built on Red Hat OpenShift, and has been retooling during the COVID-19 pandemic with the aim of rebounding in 2021 and 2022 as travel picks up. Like other businesses, Delta has had to accelerate its digital transformation plans, by utilizing IBM’s services, hybrid cloud architecture and roadmaps to migrate its applications. In addition, Delta will also leverage IBM software such as CloudPaks and co-create applications.

2) The relentless rise in lumber prices shows no signs of subsiding as the pandemic keeps people at home, thereby spurring a home renovation boom. Prices have climbed almost 40% this year, fueling concerns for home builders. Surge in lumber prices is adding thousands of dollars to the cost of a new home and causing some builders to abruptly halt projects at a time when inventories are down. This demand has handicapped producers’ abilities to restock inventories quickly, further pushing prices up. There are fears that the rise in lumber will spark inflation bleeding into the home-buying market.

3) It appears that robots will soon have a big role in the construction industry, but until these machines can automatically prioritize tasks, project managers will still need to manually assess and appraise how the project is progressing. The construction industry’s productivity has trailed that of other economic sectors for decades, and there is a $1.6 trillion dollar opportunity to close the gap. AI and deep learning can make robotics useful across the construction industry. Now, AI startup Buildots has been taking its first steps to make this happen. Buildots attaches 360-degree cameras onto project managers’ hardhats to collect footage inside the construction site and analyze the image-data. On a typical site, there are tens of thousands of different construction activities. Tasks can be as small as installing a door handle, or as big as laying a brick wall. The Buildots platform automatically captures data using the cameras, and compares it to the designs and project schedule. It analyzes every electrical outlet, wall, or window, separately to determine its exact state relative to that expected on the plans. Deep learning models and algorithms such as the AI-based image stabilization engine, person data removal which removes people, phone/tablet screens, and paper notes and status classification can transform the visual data into insights. The AI system is able to assess if each item is completed or behind schedule and notify managers of what needs to be done.

4) Stock market closings for – 22 FEB 21:

Dow 31,521.69 up by 27.37
Nasdaq 13,533.05 down by 341.41
S&P 500 3,876.50 down by 30.21

10 Year Yield: up at 1.37%

Oil: up at $62.19

25 January 2021

1) Janet Yellen, the Secretary of the Treasury nominee, has given up her hawkishness on budgets, arguing there’s sufficient wiggle room to keep running fiscal deficits. Therefore, she’s committed to working to pass Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion dollar bill. Yellen reaffirmed the commitment to flexible exchange rates, that the value of the U.S. dollar and other currencies should be determined by markets. The dollar weakness reflects the success of policy-makers in flooding domestic and foreign markets with liquidity during the COVID-19 panic. The large chunk of foreign firms that borrows and invoices in dollars is benefitting from the current dollar downturn, and the pandemic should reinforce the Fed’s impressive capacity to act as the global lender of last resort. But even with reserve-currency status, the dollar can weaken. And a weak dollar will make it harder to run current-account deficits year-in, year-out.

2) Regulators fear a new and potentially larger wave of defaults that could send banks scrambling to cover losses, where weaker ones might need government help to survive. The European Central Bank has warned that bad loans in the eurozone could soar to 1.4 trillion euros, more than during the aftermath of the financial crisis, especially if the economy contracts more than expected. The oversize exposure of banks by small businesses is part of Europe’s economic fabric. Companies with fewer than 250 employees account for 99.8% of all firms and two-thirds of all private-sector jobs in Europe. Small businesses in the U.S. also have economic weight, but they tend to be bigger. About half of Europe’s workforce is employed by firms with less than 50 people, compared with about a 25 in America.

3) There are reports that the Air Force has secretly designed, built, and flown a brand-new fighter jet. Furthermore, the mysterious new plane is already breaking records, but virtually nothing is known about the new plane … other than it exists. Experts did not expect a new fighter for another decade. The Air Force must now consider how it will buy the new fighter as it struggles to acquire everything from intercontinental ballistic missiles to bombers. The Air Force built the new fighter under its Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program. More amazingly, the Air Force developed the new fighter in about a year, which is a staggeringly short time by modern standards, a process that took 10 years with the F-35.

4) Stock market closings for – 22 JAN 21:
Dow 30,996.98 down by 179.03
Nasdaq 13,543.06 up by 12.15
S&P 500 3,841.47 down by 11.60
10 Year Yield: down at 1.09%
Oil: down at $51.98

22 January 2021

1) President Biden is asking Congress for $1,400 stimulus checks, but economists advise caution before spending, because economists who have looked at what happens when people have time to mull over a financial windfall, found that they spend less of the money, rather they save more of it. With less spending, there is less stimulus to the economy, therefor the stimulus fails to do the intended purpose. For the first stimulus checks in April people generally spent between one-quarter and one-third of the check in the first 10 days. Bottom line, the longer payment delays make it more likely that households will save their stimulus checks, which undermines the goal of stimulating the economy by boosting consumption.

2) The Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen will be part of the Senate Finance Committee process of vetting President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion dollar Covid-19 relief plan. She will say that low borrowing costs means it’s time to act big. The new package includes a minimum-wage hike and substantial expansion in family and medical leave, social safety-network of programs that have already triggered Republican opposition. There are still almost 11 million unemployed Americans in an economy still being battered by the pandemic. Declines in both payrolls and retail sales in December left the nation’s economy limping into the new year. Additionally, more than 17 million people say they have little to no confidence in their ability to pay their rent next month. However, Yellen will also be asked what the safe debt limit is, since it is already on the verge of surpassing 100% of the GDP. There is also the question of the pros and cons of strengthening the dollar among fears that a stronger dollar will weaken the U.S. economy.

3) The U.S. government has approved routes for a system of pipelines that will move carbon dioxide across Wyoming for disposal. The greenhouse gas is captured from coal-fired power plants, to keep it out of the atmosphere where it causes global warming. The captured CO2 is then pumped underground to add pressure to and boost production of oil fields. The pipeline is about 1,100 miles of federal land through the Wyoming Pipeline Corridor Initiative. This project is a way to boost the state’s struggling coal mining industry.

4) Stock market closings for – 21 JAN 21:

Dow 31,176.01 down by 12.37
Nasdaq 13,530.92 up by 73.67
S&P 500 3,853.07 up by 1.22

10 Year Yield: up at 1.11%

Oil: up at $53.03

20 January 2021

1) There are growing fears of another stimulus package as the national debt grows. One measure of unemployment suggests Biden’s $1.9 trillion dollar stimulus plan may do more harm than good. The U-6 unemployment rate, a less popular reading than the commonly cited U-3, suggests additional fiscal support could be unnecessary. The gauge (which includes those only partially participating in the labor force) currently is at 11.7%. Five of the past six recessions saw higher readings. The coronavirus pandemic initially pushed the U-6 rate to a record-high of 22.9% in April, but easy monetary conditions and the $2.2 trillion dollar stimulus package brought the rate down in a matter of months. Still, there are serious questions about the long term stability of the world economics as nations struggle to pay off these huge national debts.

2) A new Covid-19 variant has been discovered in Brazil adding to the two newly emerged variants from the United Kingdom and South Africa. Brazil is one of the worst affected countries by the virus, where more people have died of the virus than anywhere else outside the United States. An urgent COVID warning says the worst months are still ahead, and is expected to get more people sicker faster. Infections and deaths are expected to continue increasing.

3) President-elect Joe Biden has an ambitious environmental agenda, with a principle goal of transitioning away from using fossil fuels. There are many questions just how this climate plan could affect the oil and gas industry in America. The new requirements include disclosure of climate risks from public companies, a commitment to end new drilling permits for federal lands, and to eliminate tax subsidies for the oil and gas industry. Tougher methane regulations to give incentives for Americans to buy cars that do not run on gasoline. It’s not just the big oil companies which can be hurt, for there are thousands and thousands of small companies making up the supply chain businesses, as well as the small independent wildcatters who are producing oil. But while oil is slowly recovering with prices above $50 a barrel, it is all in jeopardy if these proposals go into effect. Biden’s proposals could face stiff challenges from Texas officials and the oil and gas industry itself.

4) Stock market closings for – 19 JAN 21:

Dow 30,930.52 up by 116.26
Nasdaq 13,197.18 up by 198.68
S&P 500 3,798.91 up by 30.66

10 Year Yield: down at 1.09%

Oil: up at $53.17

19 January 2021

1) President Trump and several of his key aids are preparing to move en masse to Florida this Wednesday just prior to the swearing in of Joe Biden as President. Trump plans to make his resident at his Mar-a-Lago estate. Staff members moving with the President are said to be White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and White House legislative aide Cassidy Hutchinson. Other aides who may work for Trump include Nick Luna, the director of Oval Office Operations and Molly Michael, a deputy assistant to Trump. Additionally, Luna’s wife, Cassidy Luna, a deputy assistant to the president, may work for the President’s son in law, Mr. Kushner.

2) There are fears that more than 90,000 Americans could die of Covid-19 in the next three weeks, with more than 38,000 Americans having died in the first two weeks of the new year from the pandemic. Presently, more than 130,000 people are hospitalized with the virus, with hospitals across the nation at or near the maximum capacity of their intensive care abilities. The US has added more than three million new infections since the start of the month. Mass vaccination centers are being opened. More than 30.6 million vaccine doses have been distributed, but only 11.1 million Americans have received their first dose, leading to out of date vaccine having to be thrown away. There are plans to press the large pharmacies chains into service to also give vaccinations.

3) Major labor unions are urging Speaker Nancy Pelosi and incoming Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer to provide $1 trillion dollars in emergency funding for states, cities, towns and schools. All of these entities have heavy union representation whose members stand to benefit from the increased monies. It is unclear how spending of this money is suppose to stimulate the economy.

4) Stock market closings for – 18 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: up at $52.19