4 September 2020

1) For first time since World War II the U.S. government’s debt will nearly equal the size of the entire American economy. By the end of 2020, the amount of debt owed by the United States will be about 98% of the nation’s gross domestic product with a debt that is about three times the 2019 level. The huge surge in debt is a result of the Congress spending an additional $3 trillion dollars in emergency funding since March, a result of the economic downturn from the coronavirus crisis. This is why some members of Congress and the White House have balked at approving an additional $2 trillion dollars in spending in view of the weak economy coupled with having little promise of improving soon. Few experts believe the Congress is likely to do something to reduce the deficit in the short term, all the while unemployment remains near 10 percent. Interest rates are low, which makes it less costly for the federal government to borrow. In addition to increase emergency spending, tax revenues fell as business slowed and many people lost their jobs.

2) After a steady increase in the markets, setting new records for highs, the stock markets took a sudden nose dive. This was caused by a massive and sudden sell off of the technology sector. The tech stocks had been on a ten day winning streak then a sudden overnight change which caught everyone by surprise. The Nasdaq dropped almost 600 points while the Dow was down 800 points. Market experts are left wondering what will come next, especially with the next jobs report for August coming out.

3) The pace of rehiring is expected to slow in August, so the economy will likely add fewer jobs than in July, while workers continue to be laid off. Because of the pandemic, America lost about 22 million jobs in March and April. In May through July, about 9.3 million jobs came back, so we are still short about 12 to 13 million jobs. Part of this is a result of so many small businesses having gone bust, so it will take a long time to replace those businesses and therefore replace the jobs they had. Economic turmoil is when technology displacement is prevalent as business seek the means to survive by reducing labor cost (eliminating jobs).

4) Stock market closings for – 3 SEP 20:

Dow 28,292.73 down 807.77
Nasdaq 11,458.10 down 598.34
S&P 500 3,455.06 down 125.78

10 Year Yield: down at 0.62%

Oil: down at $41.03

18 August 2020

1) A good sign for the U.S. economy, the American shale oil companies plan to restore nearly all oil production by the end of the third quarter. This will return production to nearly what it was when the shut down came resulting in the oil crash. As oil prices raised to $30 to $40 per barrel range, oil production started to rise. By September, nearly all of the production is expected to be restored. There were fears that shutting down shale oil wells prematurely could hamper future production, but nearly all of the restarted wells are producing normally because of a buildup of pressure. Most companies report a smooth return of operations.

2) Pizza Hut is closing up to 300 locations as part of a deal between the pizza chain and its largest franchisee, NPC International, who is filing for bankruptcy. These will be under performing restaurants, mostly with dine in facilities. The franchisee will put its remaining 927 Pizza Hut locations up for sale. NPC also operates nearly 400 Wendy’s restaurants, but has had to file for chapter 11 protection because of its $1 billion dollar debt. In recent years, Pizza Hut has drawn away from the dine-in business and concentrated more on delivery and takeout. Final determinations has not been made as to which locations will close or when.

3) In an indication of just how quickly the virus can pop up, the Oklahoma State sorority Pi Beta Phi has had 23 members test positive for the coronavirus, resulting in the entire sorority being put in quarantine. So far, none of the girls have been hospitalized and any who are ill are experiencing minor effects from the virus. The sorority members moved into the sorority house (off campus) between August 2 and 6, with all testing negative for the Covid-19. Then on 11 August, a small group of members who reside outside the house joined the chapter for a short informal gathering at the house. Within just a few days, the members in the sorority house tested positive. There has been a major spike in the pandemic, with the number of cases surpassing the previous peak levels on 31 of May, with 78% of new cases in the Sun Belt states.

4) Stock market closings for – 17 AUG 20:

Dow 27,844.91 down 86.11
Nasdaq 11,129.72 up 110.42
S&P 500 3,381.99 up 9.14

10 Year Yield: down at 0.68%

Oil: up at $42.77

27 July 2020

1) Another indication of the contraction of the oil business is the oil services company Schlumberger who cut 21,000 jobs or about one fifth of its 105,000 global employees. This is a direct result of an expected 25% drop in the number of oil wells drilled worldwide. Revenues fell 58% from last year for north American operations. The world wide cornavirus crisis caused a massive drop in oil demand, which collapsed the price of oil.

2) Boeing aircraft is facing another trouble, this time with their older Boeing 737 jets. The FAA was warned of corrosion which could cause dual-engine failure, and has ordered inspections. The corrosion problem is a result of hundreds of aircraft now in storage that have been idled because of the drop in air travel from the virus. The order requires aircraft that have not been operated for a week or more must be inspected which will impact about 2,000 aircraft. The corrosion is in engine valves, which has caused single-engine shutdowns which resulted from engine bleed air valves being stuck open.

3) Junk bonds are back again, but are packaged in a format met to appeal to investors, avoiding their seamy 1980s era reputation. Low interest rates driven by the Federal reserve is encouraging companies to borrow, which has lead to a record $51.5 billion dollars worth of junk bonds issued in June. Junk bonds are bonds with high yields (interest rates) but having a lot higher risk. The high risk comes from companies fiscal ability to pay out the bond on maturity or dividends. In a recessionary environment awash in cheap money, a troubled company can collapse under the weight of their debt. But extensive use of junk bonds pose the same dangers of the mortgage backed securities in 2008 with massive failing of businesses pulling the already fragile economy down.

4) Stock market closings for – 24 JUL 20:

Dow 26,469.89 down 182.44
Nasdaq 10,363.18 down 98.24
S&P 500 3,215.63 down 20.03

10 Year Yield: up at 0.59%

Oil: up at $41.34

24 July 2020

1) The parent company of Ann Taylor and Lane Bryant clothing chains, the Ascena Retail Group Inc., will close more than half its stores, a total of more than 1,000 stores. The troubled retailer was struggling like many other retailers to remain afloat, but the Covid-19 crisis tipped the scales into bankruptcy. Ascena has about 40,000 employees and there’s the expectation of cutting its 2,800 stores down to just 1,200 with significant losses of jobs. The chapter 11 will erase about $1 billion dollars in debt from its $12.5 billion dollars of liabilities, which includes $1.6 billion dollars of funded debt. Retailers have been among the hardest hit by Covid-19 lockdowns coupled with online shopping, which drained revenues and pushed so many retailers into bankruptcy.

2) Almost 16,000 restaurants have closed permanently from the Covid-19 pandemic, an indication of just how deeply the virus has affected the food industry, especially the restaurants. So far, about 60% of the restaurant closures have been permanent, with the number increasing with time. Restaurants now surpass the retail industry in the highest total business closures since the start of the pandemic. Bars and the night life industry has met the same fate, with 5,454 total business closures of which 2,429 are considered permanent closures, or 44% lost.

3) There is mounting evidence that America’s fragile economic recovery is faltering even as the pandemic seems to be leveling out. Reservations for restaurants are waning, air traffic is leveling off and foot traffic at stores is dwindling again. With rising infections in California, Texas and Florida, there is a growing sense that the recovery is fading. Small businesses have suffered the worst, having limited cash reserves and ability to obtain loans, and therefore are failing at record numbers. To compound the problem, there is weaker spending by consumers. Hopes for a real recovery depend more and more on an effective vaccine being created and available. Until there is one, there appears little hope that the economic will make any real lasting progress towards recovery.

4) Stock market closings for – 23 JUL 20:

Dow 26,652.33 down 353.51
Nasdaq 10,461.42 down 244.71
S&P 500 3,235.66 down 40.36

10 Year Yield: down at 0.58%

Oil: down at $41.21

1 July 2020

1) The credit worthiness of automakers has been lowered by Moody’s Investors Service, downgrading about $130 billion dollars in global automakers’ debt. Nine out of 22 global car makers have had their ratings lowered. General Motors Co. has a Baa3 rating for unsecured notes, the lowest investment grade rating and has a negative outlook. Ford Motor Co.’s senior unsecured debt is rated at Ba2, which it two notches below investment grade and also has a negative outlook. Thirteen of the automakers were not downgraded because of their better operating profiles and liquidity, but 75% have a negative outlook. World automakers were having troubles before the pandemic, but now are facing more declining auto sales and low prospects for near term improvement.

2) China has adopted a national security law that allows Beijing to override Hong Kong’s judicial system. The intent of China is to strangle and suppress political opponents in Hong Kong and subjugate the freedom of its citizens. This is another example of the re-emergence of Red China as a totalitarian state, and therefore represents a threat to surrounding nations. It strips the territory of autonomy promised under the handover agreement with Britain, with possible retaliation from America. The move by China has resulted in visa restrictions on officials from both sides, and a threat of future retaliation measures coming.

3) Fears of another virus pandemic have surface with the discovery of a new swine flu virus in Chinese pigs. The new strain, called G4 H1N1 has many of the same characteristics of H1N1 that caused the 2009 global pandemic, and can bind to, infect and replicated in tissue cells located in human airways. While not an immediate threat, the virus bears watching, but on top of the Covid-19 pandemic, the problem of controlling either outbreaks would be multiplied, especially with the now overstretched health care and hospital systems.

4) Stock market closings for – 30 JUN 20:

Dow 25,812.88 up 217.08
Nasdaq 10,058.76 up 184.61
S&P 500 3,100.29 up 47.05

10 Year Yield: up at 0.65%

Oil: up at $39.86

22 June 2020

1) Oil has passed$40 a barrel, continuing a slow but steady recovery. This could be signaling a reawakening of the U.S. shale oil production. This rally allows the oil industry some breathing room with its high debt burden as the shale oil industry seeks to rebuild after the worst price collapse in a generation. This is far different than earlier this year when oil producers were paying to have their oil taken away. OPEC+ continues efforts to re-balance the global oil market, now abundantly clear that everyone loses in a price war.

2) More encouraging economic news with Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler returning to pre-coronavirus pandemic production schedules in their American plants. Ford plans to fully return to production levels by July 6 while also ramping up their production facilities in Mexico. Although not given any firm dates, Fiat Chrysler is also returning to former production levels as rapidly as possible.

3) Experts are predicting the restaurant business, as we know it, is coming to an end because of the Convid-19 crisis. The industry generates $900 billion dollars a year, employs 15 million people, which is 15 times more than the airline business, which many are so concerned about now. Estimates vary widely of 20 to 80% of the privately own restaurants succumbing to the pandemic. The big franchise restaurant chains are expected to mostly survive and continue, but the independents are expected to fade out. One factor is change, which is coming too fast for small operations to adapt and keep pace with. The general consensus is that the business was in trouble long before the pandemic, struggling with poor working conditions, very thin profit margins, low wages and increasing competition. But it’s not just the restaurants themselves, for behind them is farming, distribution, suppliers and commercial real estate. It’s apparent that the demise of a significant number of independent restaurants will spell a significant change to the American business environment.

4) Stock market closings for – 19 JUN 20:

Dow 25,871.46 down 208.64
Nasdaq 9,946.12 up 3.07
S&P 500 3,097.74 down 17.60

10 Year Yield: unchanged 0.70%

Oil: up at $39.43

10 June 2020

1) President Trump is slipping in the polls, and this may pose a risk to the markets. Even though the wild swings of the markets have subsided and then surged upwards, with the Democrat Joe Biden gaining in the polls, there is concerns that the markets will take a down turn as Biden becomes stronger. The President is facing criticism over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the protest from the killing of George Floyd by the police. A victory by Joe Biden and a Democratic sweep are considered more ‘market unfriendly’ outcomes. Taxes are one major area of contrast between the candidates, with taxes a major concern for American businesses. These fears are fueled by the Dow sliding downwards for the first time this month as the rally pauses.

2) Borrowing by the British government to pay for the coronavirus shutdown is soaring to levels not seen since World War II. This is on top of the financial problems from Brexit with Britain’s debt jumping five-fold to a 300 billion pound deficit ($380 billion dollars) . This could leave Britain with a 2.2 trillion pound debt and the need to raise taxes with an impact on economic growth. Britain is funding this expenditure with sales of bonds, but have fears of a Greece style loss of confidence among investors. The government is hoping for a fast recovery after restrictions are lifted, allowing the debt to quickly be paid down.

3) There are fears that the U.S. dollar is entering a bear market so may no longer be the safe haven for investors. This bear market could go for five to ten years. This would occur if the global economy really is bottoming out and thereby rebound again, while U.S. interest rates are at zero, with potential growth lower than the merging markets. The U.S. dollar is depreciating against many international peer currencies these last few days.

4) Stock market closings for – 9 JUN 20:

Dow 27,272.30 down 300.14
Nasdaq 9,953.75 up 29.01
S&P 500 3,207.18 down 25.21

10 Year Yield: down at 0.83%

Oil: down at $38.39

5 June 2020

1) The bankers are suggesting to America’s debt laden companies- raise money now, because things could get a lot worse! Although there is plentiful optimism across the county for a quick economic recovery, there are some real concerns for the near and far future, such as a new wave of coronavirus in the fall, an extended period of double-digit unemployment, spike in defaults and a slower than expected economic recovery as business adapt to prolonged social distancing. These all translate into reduced revenues for many months or even years. This is particularly hard on companies carrying a heavy debt load. Hard times means companies need to have as much cash reserve as possible to weather any fiscal storm over the horizon. Even companies like Uber Technologies, Inc are selling bonds, in this case $1 billion dollars of bonds last month even with a first quarter giving $8 billion dollars of cash. The mantra for businesses this day and age is ‘Cash is survival’.

2) Airlines in America are adding summer flights as passengers slowly return to traveling. The air carrier American Airlines plans to fly 55% of its domestic schedule in July, up dramatically from just 20% in May. Slowly, the airline business is coming back to life as more flights are being added to schedules in anticipation of a recovery across the country. While increased passengers is encouraging, passenger levels in the U.S. remain extremely depressed from the pandemic. The question is, are air carriers getting ahead of themselves in bring back service too fast, because if service grows faster than the number of passengers, airline companies could lose money by flying airplanes with too few paying people.

3) The job loss from the coronavirus may not be over with yet. About 6 million white collar workers, higher paid workers, could lose their jobs as the pandemic’s fallout slams other sectors of the economy. These are people who are supervisors at restaurants and hotels, real-estate and finance services. A second wave of layoffs is coming despite states starting to reopen their economies, but this time it’s the well paid workers and not the low wage workers as before who are losing their jobs.

4) Stock market closings for – 4 JUN 20:

Dow 26,281.82 up 11.93
Nasdaq 9,615.81 down 67.10
S&P 500 3,112.35 down 10.52

10 Year Yield:up at 0.82%

Oil: up at $37.35

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

18 May 2020

1) The federal government has warned that the financial sector faces significant vulnerabilities because of the coronavirus pandemic. Both businesses and households are struggling with fragile finances and will be for the foreseeable future. So far, the banking system has withstood the initial downturn, but there are significant risk if the virus crisis proves to be lengthy and/or more sever than hoped for. The financial stress will continue to build if the crisis persists from households and businesses being deprived of wages and revenues. No sectors would be immune from the risk they face from default on debt, being forced to sell off assets, bankruptcy or having value of assets dwindled. Forceful early interventions have been effective in resolving liquidity stresses. There are fears that what might start out as a cash crunch could spiral into something worse, that few if any parts of the economy are safe.

2) The retail industry has been devastated by the coronavirus crisis with April sales diving down 16.4% (Manufacturing is also down by 13.7%) with major retailers such as J.C. Penny, J Crew and Neiman Marcus filing for bankruptcy recently. However, discount retail chains such as Dollar General and Aldi seem to be thriving as consumers cut back on discretionary spending while continuing to spend on food and household essentials. The Dollar style stores are gaining because of their low prices and close proximity to customers, with people buying things they have run out of between their larger routine shopping trips. In recent years, the Dollar style stores have significantly increased their number of stores thereby enabling them to capture more retail sales from the traditional retailers.

3) Some are predicting that the pandemic has permanently changed the auto industry, with some automakers made stronger while others are left too weak to survive. The pressure from the electric automobiles will become stronger with fewer conventional automakers able to make the transition. There are fears that people have discovered they need to travel much less, that they can get a surprisingly amount done from home. This translates into lower demand for automobiles. Demand for new cars was expected to be low before the pandemic, now things are expected to get very brutal for survival of some automakers.

4) Stock market closings for – 15 MAY 20:

Dow 23,685.42 up 60.08
Nasdaq 9,014.56 up 70.84
S&P 500 2,863.70 up 11.20

10 Year Yield: up at 0.64%

Oil: up at $29.78