1) Reports are that Biden will unveil plans to spend trillions of dollars in pandemic and economic relief money this next week. Biden is introducing several members of his economic team, after data shows the U.S. economy has lost jobs for the first time in eight months as a resurgent COVID-19 pandemic has again shuttered restaurants and other businesses. Biden is calling for raising the minimum wage to $15, and for sending out $2,000 in direct cash payments. Biden claims that economic research confirms that with today’s crisis, especially with such low interest rates, taking immediate action, even with deficit financing , is going to help the economy. Biden also say they are looking into other economic relief actions that can be taken unilaterally, including extending a pause on repayments of federal student loans.
2) US naval aircraft carrier groups still rule the seas, but both Russia and China have plans to change that as they strive to expand their blue water navies, by developing new weapons that could threaten America’s dominance. For instance, it is reported that China launched two ballistic missiles that hit a moving target ship in the South China Sea thousands of miles from their launch sites. The Russian navy conducted its third test launch of it’s hypersonic anti-ship cruise missile that was launched from a frigate. The missile reached a speed of Mach 8 before hitting a target more than 200 miles away. These tests are the latest indication that American aircraft carriers, long viewed as kings of the seas, may soon face a real threat to their existence.
3) Iran has told South Korea not to politicize the seizure of their vessel, while demanding the release of $7 billion dollars in funds frozen amid U.S. sanctions. Additionally, Iran has denied all allegations that the seizing of South Korea’s tanker and its 20-member crew amounted to hostage taking, claiming instead it was Seoul who was holding Iran’s funds hostage. The vessel was seized based on an Iranian court order for ‘environmental pollution’, however, the ship’s Busan-based operator, said there was nothing to indicate that before the seizure of the vessel that Iranian authorities were probing possible violations of environmental rules.
4) Stock market closings for – 12 JAN 21:
Dow 31,068.69 up by 60.00 Nasdaq 13,072.43 up by 36.00 S&P 500 3,801.19 up by 1.58
1) The cryptocurrency Bitcoin plummets the most since March as a stronger dollar and investor nerves strip off nearly $140 billion in the cryptocurrency market cap, renewing fears that Bitcoin may be a bubble waiting to burst. But Bitcoin is still up roughly 89% over the past month. Other cryptocurrency coins, such as XRP and Litecoin, have shed about 18% each. Bitcoin hit a record high last week above $41,000, driven by the combination a weaker dollar, economic optimism, and a wave of bullish sentiment toward cryptocurrencies as big-name investors and investment banks touted a potential for huge gains this year, with the stronger dollar and higher bond yields triggering a plunge in Bitcoin and gold prices.
2) Trump has been permanently barred from the platform Twitter, resulting in$5 billion dollars in losses in market value, with Twitter stock dropping after the barring of the President. Twitter stated they permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence. Trump, who had about 88 million followers, generated enormous publicity for the platform with his controversial and incendiary tweets over the past six years. As a result, Twitter’s stock fell as much as 12% on Monday thus the decline of $5 billion dollars from Twitter’s market capitalization. Investors are worried that the Trump ban will erode interest in the platform and lead to boycotts among those who see the decision as politically motivated and a way to silence a major conservative voice.
3) Fears are growing that a bigger stimulus may be seen as the ‘peak of this bubble’ resulting in a market correction or worst. Some think that with the Democrats set to take control of both the House and Senate, perhaps President-elect Joe Biden will be less likely to spook markets with tax ambitions. Biden has promised $2,000 stimulus checks if the Senate turned blue, so now the question is what will happen? For millions of Americans, it’s been a painful waiting game already, they having subsisted with minimum money since losing their jobs from the pandemic. Joe Biden made the promise that if Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock turned the senate blue that would end the block in Washington and allow the $2,000 stimulus checks to immediately go out the door to people who are in real trouble.
4) Stock market closings for – 11 JAN 21:
Dow 31,008.69 down by 89.28 Nasdaq 13,036.43 down by 165.54 S&P 500 3,799.61 down by 25.07
1) With President Trump signing the COVID-19 relief bill into law, millions of Americans will again have pandemic-related benefits. The COVID-19 relief bill gives those who depend on unemployment benefits some amount of relief. In addition to enhancing unemployment benefits, there is also a $600 check for every adult making less than $75,000 a year.
2) To add to the economic woes of many Americans this year, for a second consecutive week, a massive winter storm is sweeping across the north and east. A new storm system brought heavy rain, gusty winds and thunderstorms to Southern California and will move across the country this week. The new storm system will move across the US during New Year’s Eve leaving heavy snow, winds, severe thunderstorms.
3) With President Trump’s veto of the annual military bill, the House voted to override President Trump’s veto, mustering bipartisan support to enact the legislation over the president’s objections and handing him a rare legislative rebuke in the final days of his presidency. The defense bill also takes steps to slow or block President Trump’s draw down of American troops from Afghanistan. The 322 to 87 vote is the first time a chamber of Congress has overridden one of Trump’s vetoes. The bill also authorizes a pay raise for the nation’s troops. However, the Senate, which must also get a two-thirds vote of its chamber to override vetoes, will take up the legislation later in the week. But the vote is complicated by another separate bill that would increase the size of individual stimulus checks to $2,000. For 60 years, lawmakers have used the annual military bill to bring home wins to their constituents. So far, the Congress has failed to over ride any of President Trump’s vetoes. But for the Senate to gain the two thirds vote to over ride, twelve Republicans must cross over. Other provisions of the bill are new benefits for tens of thousands of Vietnam-era veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange, a 3% increase in pay for service members and a boost in hazardous duty incentive pay. The bill also requires all federal officers enforcing crowd control at protests and demonstrations to identify themselves and their agencies, as well as directing the Pentagon to rename military bases which are named after Confederate leaders.
4) Stock market closings for – 29 DEC 20:
Dow 30,335.67 down by 68.30 Nasdaq 12,850.22 down by 49.20 S&P 500 3,727.04 down by 8.32
1) Rich Americans are rushing to make large transactions before the end of the month and year, intending to get ahead of expected raising of taxes or closing of loopholes. The year-end frenzy come as a surprise to many advisers, because Republicans did better than many expected in congressional races. This suggests Biden may have a difficult time fulfilling campaign promises to raise trillions of dollars in new revenue from the wealthy. The new Biden administration could close the many loopholes that make the U.S. estate and gift tax easy to avoid.
2) The bill for the pandemic relief is 5,600 pages long containing more than one million words, which makes it slightly longer than “A Dance to the Music of Time”, Anthony Powell’s classic 12-volume work, which is considered the longest novel in the English language, taking more than 100 hours to read aloud. But while the bill doesn’t provide the relief of the first one, it will create two new Smithsonian museums and a Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library in North Dakota. There is legislation for copyright holders to pursue increasingly frivolous claims against YouTube users. Economic sanctions and other penalties to any Chinese national who attempts to interfere in the process by which the 15th Dalai Lama is chosen. It will ban a now-defunct activist group from receiving federal funding. In short, much of the bill provides no help for Americans struggling to survive this economic calamity. Therefore, the stimulus bill is the worst of both worlds of Democrats and Republicans.
3) Communist China is adding to its military aggressiveness by developing amphibious assault ships to enhance its blue water navy and dominate the seas. The 40,000-ton assault warship is the key to Beijing’s ambition of dominating the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea, where frequent encounters with the United States Navy have occurred this year. A total of eight Type 075 amphibious assault ships have been ordered by the PLA, with the third one currently under construction and expected to be delivered in early 2021. The landing helicopter dock carries 30 attack helicopters and 900 troops. The assault ships gives China the ability to conduct vertical deployment in military operations on islands and reefs, the Chinese Communist citing self-governing Taiwan and the South China Sea as examples.
4) Stock market closings for – 24 DEC 20:
Dow 30,199.87 up by 70.04 Nasdaq 12,804.73 up by 33.62 S&P 500 3,703.06 up by 13.05
1) Just went everyone thought the second stimulus was a done deal, President Trump has made vague threats not to pass it. The President is asking Congress to amend the bill that has passed both chambers, with Trump decrying the bill’s $600 payments and its failure to properly support small businesses. He is now urging lawmakers to boost the $600 check to $2,000 for every American earning less than $75,000 per year. Furthermore, a veto would leave the threat of a government shutdown and expiring Covid-19 protections looming over the holiday season. The President said the bill contains too many provisions unrelated to the pandemic.
2) Threats of a second stimulus bill veto was reinforced with Trump’s veto of the defense bill, in part because of the requirement for renaming bases honoring Confederates and restrictions on the executive’s ability to bring troops home from overseas. Both the House and the Senate are already making plans for a post-Christmas session during which lawmakers plan to override the veto. Congress has until noon on January 3 to do so.
3) There are emerging new signs of economic distress. With the fate of a federal aid package suddenly thrown into doubt by President Trump, economic data on Wednesday shows why the help is so desperately needed. Personal income fell in November for the second straight month, and consumer spending declined for the first time since April, with a worsening pandemic continuing to take a toll on the U.S. economy. Applications for unemployment benefits remained high last week and have risen since early November. Experts know that things are going to get worse, the question is how much more worse. Many economists view direct payments to people as among the least effective measures, because much of the money goes to households that don’t need it. Spending on restaurants and hotels fell with transportation, clothing and gasoline also in declined. The decline in spending is spilling over into the labor market, with about 869,000 people filing new claims for state jobless benefits last week. The relief bill is smaller than many economists say is needed to carry the economy through the pandemic and ensure a robust recovery.
4) Stock market closings for – 23 DEC 20:
Dow 30,129.83 up by 114.32 Nasdaq 12,771.11 down by 36.80 S&P 500 3,690.01 up by 2.75
1) There is a move in congress, lead by Rep. Ayanna Pressley, urging President-elect Joe Biden to cancel up to $50,000 per person in federal student debt. Supporters of the move consider the student debt crisis as a racial and economic justice issue encompasses the kind of bold, high-impact policy that the broad and diverse coalition, which elected Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are expecting them to deliver. The mounting student debt problem has 45 million Americans owing a total of about $1.6 trillion dollars in student loans, with one in 10 loans in delinquency or default. The typical monthly payment is between $200 and $299, with minorities experiencing the most difficulties with student debt.
2) A massive heavy snow storm continues to cross the Northeast as the season’s first major winter storm slowly moves off the East Coast, leaving as much as 4 feet of snow. There has been hundreds of vehicle crashes with some of them being deadly. The storm has left more than 50,000 customers without electricity mainly in Virginia and New York state. The interior of Pennsylvania and New York state took the brunt of the storm, the storm setting a new two-day snowfall record in Binghamton. The previous record was recorded March 2017 with 35.3 inches of snow. Airlines have canceled more than 600 flights because of the snow.
3) President Trump has issued an executive order prohibiting Americans from investing in companies tied to China’s military complex. U.S. investors are bared from buying into 35 Chinese companies the Pentagon has classified as aiding China’s defense, intelligence and security apparatus. The executive order has sparked sell offs of Chinese stocks and bonds, forced index firms to drop companies from marquee benchmarks, and pushed Wall Street to reassess risks from investing in China. There are questions at the state department whether the blacklist should include subsidiaries of the companies, or if affiliates should be included. Asset managers are now reaching out to the Biden transition team to glean how the new administration will interpret the executive order. Starting on January 11, U.S. investors are barred from the purchase or investment in stocks, with investors having until November 2021 to get rid of their Chinese securities.
4) Stock market closings for – 18 DEC 20:
Dow 30,179.05 down by 124.32 Nasdaq 12,755.64 down by 9.11 S&P 500 3,709.41 down by 13.07
1) The East Coast is bracing for a very heavy snow storm which is forecast to blanket Massachuset, New York and Pennsylvania. The storm system started on the West Coast over the weekend and is moving east, with some of the most intense snow and rainfall the region has seen in years. More than 63 million people are under some sort of winter storm watch this week. The winter storm is expected to strengthen as moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic clashes with cold air in the north to give the ingredients for a major snowstorm on Wednesday and Thursday. Forecasts are for 3-6 inches of snow from central Virginia up through Maine, with a swath of 6-12 inches or more, and higher amounts locally. Some isolated locations at higher elevations could potentially see up to 2 feet of snow and wind gusts that could exceed 40-50 mph. Such storms always wrought economic havoc.
2) Speaker Nancy Pelosi has invited congressional leaders to a meeting in a bid to break the months long stalemate over coronavirus relief negotiations, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. There has been major movement in recent weeks toward a potential deal, including the bipartisan proposal finally unveiled by centrist senators. But still, chances of another coronavirus stimulus bill passing are far from certain. A recently introduced $908 billion dollar compromise plan has been broken up into two parts. The goal of this is to produce a small-scale bill that can get broad support by separating out controversial provisions.
3) The mega-retailer Walmart will start testing driverless delivery trucks in Arkansas next year. Since 2019, Walmart has been working with a company called Gatik to test autonomous delivery trucks from its store in Bentonville, Arkansas. After logging more than 70,000 miles with a human driver-observer to guard that nothing went wrong, Walmart and Gatik say they’re ready to operate without any human drivers in the trucks. This makes Gatik one of the first companies to operate a fully autonomous route in this way. These delivery truck’s strategy is to use a simplified approach of using autonomous vehicles on specific routes. This limits the type of factors that can paralyze robots with indecision. Walmart has been a very active developer of the driverless delivery vehicles.
4) Stock market closings for – 15 DEC 20:
Dow 30,199.31 up by 337.76 Nasdaq 12,595.06 up by 155.02 S&P 500 3,694.62 up by 47.13
1) The renewable energy industry is possibly getting a boost from New York’s East River, which is set to become the testing ground for a technology that generates electricity from the tides by using tiny turbines. Verdant Power, a New York based marine energy technology company, is installing three small underwater turbines in the river that will generate electricity from the actions of the tide. The test system will feed power to Consolidated Edison Inc.’s grid. For years there has been other attempts to draw power from marine energy, but its adoption has been stymied by high costs and mechanical issues. The turbines use 16 foot diameter rotors which are expected to have 35 kilowatts of capacity each, about four times more than a typical U.S. residential rooftop solar system. The key to success is reducing the cost, but at 10 cents a kilowatt-hour, it’s still more than twice the cost of wind and solar power.
2) The oil giant Exxon Mobil, is still reeling from the massive oil bust, and so is now having to lay off workers after all. When the rounds of layoffs in the oil industry started last May, Exxon had no plans to lay off employees. But economic realities have force a reversal of that position, because other measures to control operating cost have not been sufficient to weather the downturn. Exxon’s market value has dropped by 66 percent from $418 billion dollars and has recently been removed from the Dow Jones Industrial index, a group of 30 key stocks that serves as a benchmark indicator of the U.S. stock market. Fears that the oil and gas industry will never recover fully from the pandemic are dismissed, the company saying that developing countries around the world will continue to rely on affordable and abundant fossil fuels for decades to power their economies. It’s projected that oil and gas will make up about 50 percent of the global energy mix by 2040, down from around 60 percent today.
3) China shows increasing aggressiveness with threats of retaliation, if U.S. arms sale to Taiwan proceed, sales worth more than a billion dollars. Failure to do so would “compel the Chinese side to fight back resolutely,” a Chinese statement said. America is selling 135 precision land attack missiles, plus associated equipment and training to Taiwan to improve its defense capabilities. Taiwan isn’t the only pacific neighbor fearing China’s belligerent stance, for Japan is planning to build a missile defense system at sea despite facing mounting costs. Japan’s Aegis Ashore systems is meant to intercept missile strikes from westward. Japanese officials are considering several proposals, including putting Aegis on platforms resembling oil rigs, or on converted merchant ships or naval vessels because of safety issues for civilians. Japan has also launched its first high technology submarine, one of a coming fleet, to protect Japan from China’s aggressive threats.
4) Stock market closings for – 23 OCT 20:
Dow 28,335.57 down 28.09 Nasdaq 11,548.28 down 42.28 S&P 500 3,465.39 down 11.90