19 February 2021

1) U.S. retail sales surged in January, the most in seven months, beating all estimates. This suggests fresh stimulus checks helped spur a rebound in household demand following a weak fourth quarter. The value of overall sales increased 5.3% from the prior month after a 1% decline in December, and was the first monthly gain since September with all major categories showing sharp advances. The jump in retail sales could further embolden Republican opposition to President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, which the GOP considers too big. Even so, the Democrats can most likely pass the package without Republican votes, while the data might be evidence of how critical relief payments are to the economy and jobs.

2) The IRS has sent out all $600 stimulus payments, delivering more than 147 million second round stimulus checks, worth over $142 billion dollars. Some payments may still be in the mail, but otherwise, eligible Americans who did not receive the first or second payment can claim a Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2020 tax returns, which will be on line 30 of the 2020 Form 1040 or 1040-SR. The agency also noted that its ‘Get My Payment’ tool, which updated taxpayers on the status of their stimulus checks or deposits, was updated in January and will not be refreshed again for the second check.

3) The automaker Kia seems to be in quite a predicament. The automaker’s online services appear to have been severed from the outside world, with customers unable to start their cars remotely via Kia’s apps or even log into the company’s financing website to pay their bills. All signs pointed to a potential cyber attack against Kia, a ransom ware attack most likely, which is exactly what a new report is claiming. A report by information security news site Bleeping Computer seems to solidify that theory, as the publication shared a screenshot of an alleged ransom note asking Kia for the hefty tune of $20,000,000 to decrypt its files. The infection is believed to be the work of a group called DoppelPaymer by Crowdstrike researchers in 2019. Such threat actors routinely hunt big game for large pay outs, according to a security bulletin released by the FBI late last year. The note left behind mentions that the malware not only encrypted live data, but also the company’s backups, which more sophisticated attacks of this sort often prevent an easy restoration.

4) Stock market closings for – 18 FEB 21:

Dow 31,493.34 down by 119.68
Nasdaq 13,865.36 down by 100.14
S&P 500 3,913.97 down by 17.36

10 Year Yield: down at 1.29%

Oil: down at $59.79

#EFRPodcast Ep. #38 feat. Professor Helmut Norpoth: Model Gone Wrong!!!!

By: Economic & Finance Report

www.yotube.com/Economic&FinanceReportEFRTV

www.soundcloud.com/Economic-FinanceReport

29 January 2021

1) As President Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion dollar stimulus bill is debated by law makers and the press, Biden says he’s no longer afraid to spend big on economic relief. It’s not just smart fiscal investments, including deficit spending, it’s the return on investments in jobs, in racial equity that will prevent long-term economic damage with the benefits far surpassing the costs. But the national debt has soar by more than $7 trillion dollars during the last four years, and for the last quarter, the federal budget deficit was $572 billion, which is up more than 60% from the same period a year earlier. Fears are growing over the now massive national debt, a debt larger than at the end of World War II (as percent GDP), plus many other western and even third world nations have similar huge debts. There are real fears that if one of those nations economy collapses, then other economies will be dragged down, including Americas. Biden supporters counter that the low interest rates make it more palatable to borrow, with the rate on the 10-year Treasury bond hovering around 1.1%.

2) A new way to manipulate the stock market made the news, that uses modern computer technology and the internet to drive stock prices up and down. Called a “pump and dump” scam, it has pitted the professional stock traders of Wall Street against amateurs trading on the internet (also known as non-professional individual investors) with apps like Robinhood and Reddit. The scammers buy up the shares cheap, then spread rumors that drive the stock price higher while encouraging other investors to get in on the supposed windfall. When the stock hits a high point, the scammers dump their shares, leaving unsuspecting investors holding the bag. In addition to other stocks, the stock for GameStop is the main name in stories this week. The stock started at $4 a share six months ago, rising to $483. Short traders had determined that GameStop was a failing company that would not survive, and so were buying up the stock planning to sell short, which they had bought up on credit. The amateurs, using the internet and social apps started talking up how great the stock was as they also bought up stock, both driving up the price. As the stock price became excessively high, the short sellers were force to actually buy the stock at a price above the short price, resulting in huge losses for the Wall Streeters. The amateurs then sold off their stocks to the unsuspecting, causing the stock to tumble down.

3) General Motors announces its goal to eliminate selling all their gas and diesel vehicle models by 2035 and be completely carbon neutral by 2040. California had announced that it will no longer allow the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035.

4) Stock market closings for – 28 JAN 21:

Dow 30,603.36 up by 300.19
Nasdaq 13,337.16 up by 66.56
S&P 500 3,787.38 up by 36.61

10 Year Yield: up at 1.06%

Oil: down at $52.18

27 January 2021

1) There are growing fears that the long running bull market is about to crumble and collapse. The biggest sign is there are fewer stocks helping to drag benchmarks toward fresh records. When the underlying momentum wanes then we see weaknesses developing under the surface, which is what’s happening now. Fewer stocks are managing to end above their short-term moving averages even as indexes show record closing highs and yet fewer than 45% of their stocks managed to close above their 10-day moving averages.

2) China is working to overtake America by leading the global recovery from the pandemic thereby becoming more influential on the world stage than ever before. And China just might have the momentum and confidence to pull it off. As the world’s second largest economy shrugs off much of the Covid-19 pandemic this last year, China’s economy continues growing while the world crashes into recession. This could mean China’s GDP will exceed the United States later this decade, which will be years earlier than expected. China has outpaced the United States in attracting foreign direct investment for the first time, signing a trade agreement with the European Union giving European companies greater access to China’s1.4 billion consumers. Furthermore, China’s starts the new year without one of its most aggressive political adversaries, the former President Trump. China has sent help to other countries and in the process left many third world countries deeply in debt to China, claiming they are injecting more momentum into growth. But a host of geopolitical challenges, including the clashes over Hong Kong and alleged human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang region, taking control of islands in the South China Sea and threats to Taiwan have all exacerbated tensions with the West and may stymie efforts to foster multilateral cooperation. These actions are unacceptable to the democratic nations, who are pulling away from China despite its attractiveness as a market.

3) There are fears that Biden’s executive order will aggravate America’s food crisis, by signing an executive order that addresses America’s most pressing economic needs. This order includes measures to blunt the meteoric rise in food insecurity during the pandemic. The order calls on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to expand three key food assistance programs, which are the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT), SNAP, and the Thrifty Food Plan.

4) Stock market closings for – 26 JAN 21:
Dow 30,937.04 down by 22.96
Nasdaq 13,626.06 down by 9.93
S&P 500 3,849.62 down by 5.74
10 Year Yield: unchanged at 1.04%
Oil: down at $52.75

26 January 2021

1) Amid rising doubts, both with the Republicans and Democrats, of passing President Biden’s $1.9 trillion dollar coronavirus relief package, some economists call the bill a good step that will help America’s struggling economy and warning that if not passed, then the nation would likely reverted to a recession in early 2021. The $1.9 trillion dollar coronavirus stimulus proposal is designed to jump-start the nation’s sputtering economy as well as accelerate vaccine distribution to control the deadly pandemic. Presently, the plan calls for a one-time $1,400 direct payment to eligible Americans, which would be in addition to the $600 check sent out this month, making a total payment of $2,000. Additionally, there is a supplemental unemployment benefit of $400 a week, up from the present $300 a week.

2) It’s considered that President Biden’s early actions in office will have effects on oil’s outlook, both short and long term. The first actions were revoking approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and rejoined the Paris climate agreement. Biden administration’s aim is to reduce long-term oil demand as the move away from fossil fuels accelerates. But if all the promises made by the President this first year are kept, oil demand in 2021 is expected to get a 350,000 barrel-per-day boost. The cancelling of the Keystone pipeline is likely to be muted as other world markets take up the production, because Iran and Venezuela have removed about three million barrels per day production from the current market, with other middle east producers are also cutting back on their production.

3) As the demand for fossil fuels is being limited, people are wondering if the electric car’s moment has arrived at last? While rapid advancement in electric cars and batteries is evident, a shortage of electric car chargers is one of the hurdles EVs face to displace the gas-powered vehicles. Presently, transportation accounts for more than a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Still, the popularity of EVs and hybrid vehicles is already surging. Yet, despite an avalanche of promising news, the shift away from gas-fueled cars remains stubbornly marginal with green vehicles being just 2 percent of the cars sold in the United States. There are electric Hummers, an electric Mustang, and an electric Harley-Davidson motorcycle, with car manufacturers planning to triple the number of non-gas-powered models by 2024 to 203. Ford Motor Co. plans an electric version of its popular F150 pickup. Still roughly 1.5 billion gas-powered cars and trucks are still in operation.

4) Stock market closings for – 25 JAN 21:

Dow 30,960.00 down by 36.98
Nasdaq 13,635.99 up by 92.93
S&P 500 3,855.36 up by 13.89

10 Year Yield: down at 1.04%

Oil: up at $52.88

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

21 January 2021

1) More automation is entering the American economy in an unexpected segment of business- the recycling sorting of trash . . . a dirty, low-paying, mind-numbing job that is hard to fill simply because so few people are willing to do that kind of work. The 300-pound robot sorts through an unending line of trash. It uses artificial intelligence and computer vision to detect recyclables, and is able to pluck a hunk of plastic off a conveyor belt, then place those bits into sorting bins using a vacuum gripper. The robot sorts glass, plastic and paper into the appropriate bins, leaving metal on a conveyor. It is designed and built by AMP Robotics. There are 600-plus recycling facilities in America, which process some 67 million tons of waste, which is a labor intensive, and therefore costly endeavor, but the $300,000 robot, which can work 24/7, will lower cost by eliminating the human sorters. The Louisville, Colorado based company has sold or leased a100 of its robots since 2017 to more than 40 recycling facilities in North America, Europe and Japan.

2) The civilian space transportation company, SpaceX has purchased two floating deepwater oil rigs to convert into floating launchpads for its Starship rocket. Each were purchased for just $3.5 million dollars. These two rigs have been renamed Deimos and Phobos, presumably in homage to the Martian moons. The Starship is the enormous rocket that SpaceX is developing to meet the goal of launching cargo and as many as 100 people at a time on missions to the moon and Mars. SpaceX has been publicly hiring for offshore operations positions since last year, when the company posted that it was building a team of engineers and technicians to design and build an operational offshore rocket launch facility.

3) The Israeli company StoreDot has announced a new design for an electric-car battery that can be charged as fast as filling up your gas tank. This faster-charging capability will make EVs more accessible to the general public. The new battery is a lithium-ion battery that will be manufactured by Eve Energy in China. The company has produced 1,000 sample batteries compliant with Li-ion battery certifications. Current electric-car batteries can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 12 hours to charge, with a typical EV taking about 8 hours to charge from empty to full.

4) Stock market closings for – 20 JAN 21:

Dow 31,188.38 up by 257.86
Nasdaq 13,457.25 up by 260.07
S&P 500 3,851.85 up by 52.94

10 Year Yield: down at 1.09%

Oil: down at $52.96

15 January 2021

1) As Joe Biden approaches taking office, the question of a third stimulus check is already open, but one point is the amount, either $2,000 or $1,400. With $600 checks already being dispersed, the question expands to having the second and third payments combined to total of up to $2,600. In turn , Biden may propose a third stimulus check for $1,400 per eligible adult, for a total of $2,000 between the two payments. But America isn’t the only nation amassing huge national debts with cash back programs to its citizens. From small third world nations to the most advance western nations, a large number of nations have stimulus payments in an attempt to salvage their economies, several paying more per person than America. There has been little to no concern of how these national debts will be paid back, leaving a growing instability of the world economic system. If one of these indebted nations should start collapsing, the other economies could then be pulled down and collapse too. Like a gaggle of standing dominos, one falls, knocks down more, who in turn knocks down more until the whole comes tumbling down resulting in disaster.

2) Even with majorities in the house and senate, the new president Biden faces a hard time getting his Covid relief bill passed. This could further be hindered if the Senate becomes embroiled in an impeachment trial of President Trump and the confirmation of Biden’s Cabinet in the early days of his administration. Typically, a new president has his first hundred days, the honeymoon time, when the Congress is most willing to support and pass the legislation the new president proposes. But continuing actions and debates against Trump will eat into that honeymoon, plus distracting by the press away from the president, leaving Biden ‘holding the bag – possibly empty’.

3) China joins the rush to driverless cars, with the Chinese startup company WeRide raising $310 million dollars in funding as the race to robot cars heats up. This funding and new investors will give the company the strategic resources to commercialize self-driving technology. The company says it will launch trial operations for their Mini Robobuses immediately. WeRide valuation is estimated to top $5 billion. Other companies including search giant Baidu, start-up AutoX and ride-hailing firm Didi, who are competing in the same space.

4) Stock market closings for – 14 JAN 21:
Dow 30,991.52 down by 68.95
Nasdaq 13,112.64 down by 16.31
S&P 500 3,795.54 down by 14.30
10 Year Yield: up at 1.13%
Oil: up at $53.80

13 January 2021

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

10 Year Yield: up at 1.14%

Oil: up at $53.38

6 January 2021

1) With the ravages of the new coronavirus, Los Angeles County has been so overwhelmed it is running out of oxygen. Arizona now has the nation’s highest rate of coronavirus hospitalizations. In the Atlanta area, nearly every major hospital is almost full, prompting state officials to reopen a field hospital for the third time. This last week, new deaths and cases have increased by more than 20 percent, for a total of more than 355,000 fatalities and 21 million infections. But the toll on hospitals is more critical. Southern California is running low on ICU beds, ventilators and morgue space. But the greatest shortage is oxygen. The sheer number of patients has placed such a strain on oxygen systems that some hospitals are struggling to provide adequate air pressure and flow into patients’ lungs. But expanding the oxygen supply doesn’t solve the problems, because of the volume being pumped, some of the pipes start to freeze up. Also you start running out of oxygen tanks that patients need to be discharged and sent home. As cases increase ICU beds get full, ER gets backed up, ambulances have nowhere to take patients. There’s severe, chronic staffing shortages, while elective surgeries get canceled so the ability to care simply degrades.

2) It is being reported that President Trump privately admits his defeat, but he wants to continue brawling for attention, so Trump has kept up a flurry of activities to pressure other Republicans to aid his effort to block Biden’s presidency. But one factor political pundits are overlooking is the state of the economy that Biden will inherit. Many are expecting the economy to make a strong quick recovery, but with the whole western economies going into massive deep debt, the likelihood of sever economic problems, that are worst than the 2008 downturn, looms large. The chances of Bidens new administration turning things around for America are very, very slim. And when there are economic problems, the President gets blamed even if it’s not his fault, so the new President will soon be in trouble with the people turning against him. Whether by design or accident, the charges of election fraud will most likely become an ‘albatross’ tied around Biden’s neck. For while the people now want to ignored the questions of voter fraud and corruption, as public opinion diminishes, that ‘albatross’ will hang heavy pulling his presidency down.

3) Communist China continues its backslide into a repressive totalitarian regime with the arrest of dozens of Hong Kong democracy activists and opposition politicians for violating the city’s controversial national security law, in what appears to be the largest roundup yet under the China imposed legislation. The Chinese justify the law which bands subversion, terrorism, secession and collusion with foreign forces, but the law has mainly been used against non-violent political opponents and dissidents.

4) Stock market closings for – 5 JAN 21

Dow 30,391.60 up by 167.71
Nasdaq 12,818.96 up by 120.51
S&P 500 3,726.86 up by 26.21

10 Year Yield: up at 0.96%

Oil: up at $49.81