24 June 2020

1) Economists are concerned about four major factors bearing down on a recovery of the economy. These are 1) the household fiscal cliff, 2) a great business die-off, 3) state and local budget shortfalls, and 4) the lingering health crisis. The pandemic shutdown cost the jobs of 40 million Americans, 40% of them low wage workers. This has left many households short of money, having little to no savings to meet their fiscal obligations such as rent and utilities. Add to this, there has been a steep decline in consumer spending leaving large numbers of businesses to face bankruptcy, thereby making a contraction of the economy. But businesses are not the only one facing revenue shortfalls, for governments are also facing shortages of money needed for their operations and paying employees, as in more layoffs. Finally, the cost of controlling the Convid-19 virus, especially if a major second wave does emerge, for both preventive treatment and caring for the sick. All four of these factors may very well be pushing America’s economy towards another Great Recession, which could last for many years.

2) The New York eviction moratorium ended this weekend, raising fears that tens of thousands of residents will soon face evictions which will flood the courts. This problem is a reflection of a problem across all of America as those 40 million laid-off workers have been unable to pay rent or mortgage payments and now face losing their residence. But it isn’t one sided, for landlords and lenders are also facing money shortages to meet their obligations too, which can lead to their fiscal demise. Most of the tenants and home owners have limited monies beyond their income, so paying back rent and mortgage is going to be near impossible.

3) China is warning of the risk of a naval incident with the US. Claiming that the U.S. military is deploying in unprecedented numbers to the Asia-Pacific region, which makes for a rising risk of an incident with China’s navy. The United States freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea has angered the Chinese, who is trying to establish dominance in the area and hence control of the territory. The Chinese claim that 60% of America’s warships and 375,000 soldiers are deployed in the Indo-Pacific region, including three aircraft carriers. So far, the U.S. Navy has conducted 28 freedom of navigation operations by sailing through the area where China has built islands, and therefore claiming the area as theirs.

4) Stock market closings for – 23 JUN 20:

Dow 26,156.10 up 131.14
Nasdaq 10,131.37 up 74.89
S&P 500 3,131.29 up 13.43

10 Year Yield: unchanged at 0.71%

Oil: up at $40.02

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

14 May 2020

1) Jerome Powell, the Federal reserve Chairman, has warned of a possible prolonged recession caused by the economic damaged from the coronavirus crisis. Widespread bankruptcies among small businesses and extended unemployment for many people remain a serious problem for the economy. Furthermore, he considers the proposed $3 trillion dollar aid package to be worthwhile if it averts long term economic damage thereby giving a strong recovery. Almost $3 trillion dollars has already been spent on economic assistance, with the interest rate cut down to near zero. Cutting the interest rate has been the traditional tool used to counter recessions and economic slow downs, but with interest rates almost zero, the feds no longer have this tool. Nothing is being said about the massive increase to the already very large federal debt, nor the impact on the long term economy if it fails to return to healthy growth to pay off that debt. Otherwise, it could become a boat anchor around America’s neck making swimming in the ‘economic lake’ very difficult, or maybe impossible later on. The markets responded to Powell’s remarks with a down turn.

2) Unemployment continues to subside with initial reports of another 2.5 million lost jobs compared to 3.2 million for the previous week. This brings the total unemployed for the past eight weeks to a staggering 36 million people without work. Percent wise, the unemployed numbers are worst than the Great Depression of the 1930’s. Economist anticipate a further, although smaller increase in unemployed people for the next few weeks before the curve bottoms out and employment starts increasing as businesses opens up to resume operations.

3) Automakers are preparing to restart manufacturing with plants in Mexico, which are due to open as soon as Monday. U.S. assembly plants rely heavily on Mexican auto plants for parts and subassemblies used in building cars, and there were fears of U.S. manufacturing being hindered by part shortages. Approximately 39% of auto parts for car manufacturing comes from Mexico.

4) Stock market closings for – 13 MAY 20:

Dow 23,247.97 down 516.81
Nasdaq 8,863.17 down 139.38
S&P 500 2,820.00 down 50.12

10 Year Yield: down at 0.65%

Oil: up at $26.23

13 May 2020

1) The U.S. consumer prices has declined for the second straight month as the shutdown continues with people spending less. Prices have fallen 0.8% on a seasonally adjusted basis in April, which makes it the largest drop since December 2008. The prices are being forced down by the falling cost of gasoline and energy prices. While falling prices might at first seem like a good thing, economist say that deflation, the opposite of inflation, would be very bad news. This starts a chain reaction spurred by people not buying things, which means manufactures and producers often can’t charge enough to make the product they are trying to sell, so then they stop making products and layoff people. But food prices are climbing, with the biggest increase since February 1976 by 2.6%. The Federal Reserve tries to keep inflation at around 2%, which is considered ideal, but core inflation is likely to be below 1% for the coming year. Normally, it’s expected that a large release of money into the economy, such as the recent stimulus program, would cause inflation to increase.

2) Tim Hortons of Restaurant Brands International, says the food service industry needs to change for the near future, and possibly forever. The company is increasing its digital ordering capabilities by adding to restaurants smartphone apps with enhancements to its drive-thrus and curb service. Restaurant brands using delivery services such as pizza have seen an increase in revenues during the shutdown. The delivery service industries such as GrubHub were growing before the virus crisis, but have been given a real boost which will most likely be sustained when restrictions are lifted. Some restaurant chains are even experimenting with ‘kitchen only’ restaurants with multiple brands under the same roof providing delivery only. This could be an answer to the ‘living wage’ problem with restaurant systems using less labor thereby making a greater surplus of labor which keeps wages low.

3) The economic damage to the economy may not be over with yet, indeed there are fears that the economic crisis could still get worst. The provisions from Congress has done a fair job of sheltering the most vulnerable citizens, whose provisions will run out at the end of July. It’s unlikely that the labor market will be restored by July, so if the Congress doesn’t act, the economy could slide downward even more.

4) Stock market closings for – 12 MAY 20:

Dow 23,764.78 down 457.21
Nasdaq 9,002.55 down 189.79
S&P 500 2,870.12 down 60.20

10 Year Yield: down at 0.68%

Oil: up at $25.83

30 April 2020

1) Experts are speculating on the interest rates going negative in the near future, something that President Trump wants. Negative interest rates have been a reality in the EU (European Union), with studies showing that investors do not significantly increase their equity holdings as interest rates decline. But when the rates go negative, they start increasing their equity holdings significantly. This in turn is a big boost to the stock market. Interest rates are an excellent predictor of long range growth potential, today’s level reflecting the markets expectation of sustained low future growth.

2) Larry Kudlow, the top White House economist, is calling for stimulate measures before a slowdown of the economy. Measures include tax breaks such as payroll tax holiday and deregulation of small businesses. This is in anticipation of growth in the second quarter worse than in the first, which shrank 4.8%. Additionally, he supports a second stimulus package to create incentives to grow in the medium and long term. Also more investment in infrastructure should be included.

3) After posting a massive first quarter loss, Boeing has announced they will slash staff and production of about 16,000 people or about 10% of its personnel. Demand for air travel evaporated because of the coronavirus, so Boeing is drastically scaling back production of the two widebody passenger jets, its 787 Dreamliner and the 777. Boeing lost $1.7 billion dollars, while shutting down its factories, because of the pandemic, added another $137 million dollar lost.

4) Stock market closings for – 29 APR 20:

Dow 24,633.86 up 532.31
Nasdaq 8,914.71 up 306.98
S&P 500 2,939.51 up 76.12

10 Year Yield: up at 0.63%

Oil: up at $15.35

15 April 2020

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

10 Year Yield: unchanged at 0.75%

Oil: down at $20.82

14 April 2020

1) The auto industry, already reeling from the new car shutdown and depressed demand, is now concerned about a possible used car price collapse, which could have far reaching effects across the economy. The used vehicle auctions are now virtually paralyzed, the same as the rest of the country, with vehicles piling up at places where buyers and sellers bid on cars and trucks, a situation which cannot go on for months. This is creating a huge level of wholesale supply in the market as inventories continue to expand. This will cause fiscal problems for in-house lending divisions, lease contracts and car rental companies from falling car values. Used car sales fell 64% in the last week of March with prices falling an estimated 10%. The auto makers credit companies are taking huge losses and looking for ways to take advantage of asset backed securities market. With car rentals way down, rental companies are fearful of having to raise cash by selling off inventory when prices are way down.

2) Mr. Neel Kashkari, the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, was on ‘Face the Nation’ television show last Sunday, considers the U.S. may be facing an 18 month shutdown based on what is happening in other countries. Fearing flare-ups, America may face shutdowns until an effective vaccine or therapy is found.

3) Economists fear poor recovery, with high unemployment through 2021, despite the trillions of dollars in cash and loans from the Federal Reserve. Nevertheless, the massive effort is likely to leave millions of additional Americans unemployed for an extended time with unemployment not just spiking, but remaining for the next year. Unemployment may jump up to 20% in the coming months then coming down into the single digit range. It’s expected that a lot of people will not be getting their jobs back as the economy shifts and reforms itself. The more specialized a design, the more brittle it is.

4) Stock market closings for – 13 APR 20:

Dow 23,390.77 down 328.60
Nasdaq 8,192.42 up 38.85
S&P 500 2,761.63 down 28.19

10 Year Yield: down at 0.75%

Oil: down at $22.71

13 April 2020

1) As the administration considers efforts to restart the economy, economist are considering what a recovery will look like. Although there are widely differing opinions, most consider it will be a long slow process. While it was a great shock with the sudden stopping of businesses followed by the sudden massive unemployment, few consider that there will be a quick ‘snap back’ like with a light switch being snapped back on. The shutdown is causing fundamental shifts in the social-economic system. People’s shopping and ‘going-out’ habits such as restaurants, movies and sporting events is changing, which is also a change in spending habits. People are more reluctant to travel in high density such as airliners or cruise ships. Many small businesses will not survive this recession, and with half the businesses in America classed as small, there will be a significant change in the business environment, plus it will be a long time to reabsorb the massive unemployed, since automation will move in to fill the void. Finally, America’s economy is subject to being pulled down by the world economies, which few are expecting a strong comeback from, since so many were already weak before the coronavirus.

2) Consumer prices fell 0.4% in March, the largest monthly decline in five years. This is from the cost of things like traveling, gasoline, airfares and hotel rooms plunging. Energy cost is down 5.8% with gasoline prices down 10.5%. Food prices did continue rising. There are fears that the GDP will drop 30% or more adding to the economic bad news.

3) The wild gyrations of the stock market is leaving investors confused over what is happening. Stocks are going up when the future is filled with doubts and uncertainty, not a time when investors buy equities. The unemployment is quickly approaching, and may surpass 15% amidst fears of a huge economic contraction with a long term recession- a time when normally only fools would buy into the markets.

4) Stock market closings for – 10 APR 20:

Markets closed for Good Friday

27 March 2020

1) The $2 trillion dollar coronavirus relief bill has been passed and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the people should receive cash payments within three weeks. The IRS has been tasked with distributing the monies, but the agency is hobbled by obsolete technologies such as 1960’s era computers, limited staff and a small budget. So there are questions if the agency can get the job done in a timely manner, let alone in three weeks. Experts say its more like a matter of months rather than weeks for Americans to receive their check.

2) Almost 3.3 million Americans have applied for unemployment benefits this last week, more than quadruple the previous record set in 1982. This is a result of the wide spread economic shutdown from the coronavirus pandemic. This rate of layoffs is expected to accelerate as the U.S. economy sinks into a recession with the collapse of revenues for a wide range of businesses. Economist predict the nation’s unemployment rate could approach 13% by May.

3) Gold has traditionally been a panic investment which people and nations buy to protect the value of their money. The worldwide panic over the coronavirus coupled with a flood of stimulus by central banks has ignited demand for gold to store wealth. But the gold market is running into difficulties in buying. Stored in high security vaults, government mandated shut downs have left access iffy. Also, refiners of gold have been forced to close because of the virus. Transporting gold is done via airlines, but the sharp drop in air service has also made transport of the metal difficult. All these factors have put a squeeze on gold futures.

4) Stock market closings for – 26 MAR 20:

Dow 22,552.17 up 1351.62
Nasdaq 7,797.54 up 413.24
S&P 500 2,630.07 up 154.51

10 Year Yield: down at 0.81%

Oil: down at $23.18

4 November 2019

1) In their Friday report the U.S. economy added 128,000 jobs in October, a report considered to be very strong when many economist expected a gain of 75,000 jobs. Furthermore, job growth for September was revised upwards to 180,000 from 136,000 and August jobs up from 168,000 to 219,000 new jobs. The good news has spurred the stock markets up.

2) Alphabet, the parent company for Google, is acquiring Fitbit in an attempt to strengthen the search giant’s lineup of hardware and move further into the health market. The $2.1 billion dollar sale will strengthen Fitbit to complete against Apple. Fitbit has slowed since Apple introduced its smartwatch.

3) The U.S. dollar may be weakening with Citi latest projections that the dollar index could fall to as low as 85 as the Federal Reserve increases its balance sheet by purchasing more bond assets. The dollar usually weakens when bond yields fall. If the dollar index were to weaken to 85, the euro could strengthen to 1.21 which helps emerging market equities. Additionally, capital could flow to the Hong Kong market if the dollar weakens, making a lot of stocks very attractive.

4) Stock market closings for – 1 NOV 19:

Dow             27,347.36    up    301.13
Nasdaq          8,386.40    up      94.04
S&P 500         3,066.91    up      29.35

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.73%

Oil:    up   at    $56.23