19 November 2020

1) A crew of three astronauts went into space aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster. Not since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011 has America launched humans into orbit from American, to docked with the International Space Station. The Crew Dragon carried an international assembly of astronauts, three Americans and one Japanese, who are expected to spend the next six months in the station. The launch is another milestone in the commercialization of space. Previously, NASA was purchasing flights on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft but with SpaceX, NASA will save about $25 million per seat.

2) There are growing fears that tourism may not fully recover in New York city until 2025, another result of the coronavirus pandemic. New York city may only get one-third as many visitors as it did last year, a city that is one of the world’s most popular destinations. Forecasters predict that tourism will not fully rebound for at least four years, where in recent years tourism has been a vital part of the city’s economy, that supports hundreds of thousands of workers from hotels to restaurants to Broadway. New York had a record 66.6 million visitors in 2019 and drew $46 billion dollars in annual spending. The collapse of tourism has been a key reason that New York’s economy has been hit harder than most other major American cities. The city’s unemployment rate is 14.1 percent, more than double the national rate.

3) Experts predict that Boeing’s 737 MAX debacle could be the most expensive corporate blunder ever. The 20-month grounding of the 737 MAX could end very soon, but Boeing’s mounting costs have soared to tens of billions of dollars, which may rank among the most expensive corporate mistakes in history. Financially, Boeing continues to pay a high cost to ensure the safety of future 737 MAX passengers, with about $20 billion dollars in direct costs from the grounding, then $8.6 billion dollars in compensation to customers, $5 billion for costs of production, and $6.3 billion for increased costs of the 737 MAX program. Also, Boeing is spending $600 million for jet storage, pilot training and software updates that are not included in the company’s overall cost estimate. Finally, the company has established a $100 million dollar victim compensation fund, which also is not included in Boeing’s $20 billion dollars in estimated costs. Not included is the cost of legal liability which may add another $500 million. Boeing has had to borrow billions of dollars at a roughly 5% interest rate adding more money to be paid out over the 737 MAX. There is also the cost of opportunity lost from the lost of sales with 448 canceled orders for the MAX this year, compared with only nine for its other models. In addition Boeing has dropped another 782 orders from its backlog of orders believed to be no longer certain enough to rely on. In at least some cases those uncertain plane orders are jets airline customers have said they no longer want.

4) Stock market closings for – 18 NOV 20:

Dow 29,438.42 down by 344.93
Nasdaq 11,801.60 down by 97.74
S&P 500 3,567.79 down by 41.74

10 Year Yield: up at 0.88%

Oil: up at $41.62

16 November 2020

1) Experts predict the growth of jobs will slow during a Biden presidency, simply because the easy gains are almost gone. So the easy part of job recovery will be history by the time President-elect Joe Biden moves into the White House, leaving a particularly difficult environment for an administration seeking to right the economy. The job growth rate has decline every month since June, and this will be even worst with the resurgence of the coronavirus putting economic growth into reverse. One cause of this is companies who laid off workers at the start of the pandemic, have since gone out of business, leaving nothing for laid-off workers to return to. Over a million workers are still being laid off or fired each month, with about 3.7 million additional workers who have quit working or looking for work entirely since February. Furthermore, it takes longer for skilled workers to return to work simply because there are few jobs available to choose from.

2) Massachusetts was one of the hardest hit states by the virus last spring, and this summer was seen as a model for infection control, but now, the number of Covid-19 cases are climbing once again with confirmed deaths surpassing 10,000. So Massachusetts is having to return to restrictions approaching another shutdown. And Massachusetts isn’t the only state seeing a strong resurgence in the coronavirus. California becomes the second state to top one million cases, with Texas closely following, who hit the grim milestone earlier this week. Just five states account for about one third of new cases. Nationwide, the pandemic has killed more than 240,000 forcing states to impose measures as cases surge. Many officials attribute raising number of cases to complacency in travel and social settings such as bars and house parties.

3) Canada welcomes Hong Kong refugees amid China crackdown by easing immigration requirements for them. Canada plans to target young, educated Hong Kongers. Their plan includes the creation of a new three-year open work permit for recent graduates and shortening eligibility for permanent residency to one year. This comes at a low point in Canada-China relations, after the 2018 arrest of a top Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. executive. Hong Kongers already in Canada will now be eligible to apply for permanent residency sooner, provided they meet language and education requirements and have worked for a year in Canada.

4) Stock market closings for – 13 NOV 20:

Dow 29,479.81 up by 399.64
Nasdaq 11,829.29 up by 119.70
S&P 500 3,585.15 up by 48.14

10 Year Yield: up at 0.89%

Oil: down at $40.12

11 November 2020

1) President Trump’s administration is readying new sanctions against Iran as the clock runs out before Joe Biden’s inauguration, who has said he wants to return the U.S. to the 2015 nuclear deal. These planned sanctions are being worked out in conjunction with Israeli high government officials. These sanctions make it more difficult to return to the 2015 nuclear agreement. Reportedly, these sanctions are separate from the Iranian nuclear program, instead they are linked to its ballistic missile program, assistance to terror organizations and human rights violations. Joe Biden said he would rejoin the deal if Iran returns to holding up its end of the deal following Tehran’s departure from the agreement rules after Trump pulled out and instituted sanctions on the country.

2) Some are forecasting the US economy could be set for a significant surge in growth as consumers start to spend the money they saved during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the past, when the personal-savings rate has been this high, economic growth has surged. There is more than $2.5 trillion dollars of sidelined savings that is the fuel for explosive growth. The savings rate spiked to 35% earlier this year, as the economy went into a recession, and now sits at 15%, which is above the historic average. The surge in housing has led to a shortage of common consumer goods, so inventories are the lowest ever. Therefore, the economic recovery won’t be entirely reliant on another round of fiscal stimulus. It only takes a bit more confidence to produce a healthy advance in the economy.

3) Biden’s victory could end up reshaping the U.S. energy sector in years to come, although the president-elect may have limited room to maneuver given that the control of the Senate remains unclear. The president-elect has pledged to spend trillions of dollars to speed up the transition from fossil fuels, slash emissions and curb climate change. Biden has also promised to ban new fracking on federal lands, which he may try to achieve via an executive order. Such a move would limit shale companies’ operations in several states. Biden is expected to block new drilling permits on federal lands, something he could do via an executive order. Moved to clamp down on the oil industry’s emissions by reversing Trump’s relaxation of environmental regulation, which most likely increases the cost of producing, transporting and processing hydrocarbons. America’s energy future may mean less LNG exports, increase emphasis on renewables, decline of coal usage, impact on USMCA, use of fuel ethanol, and the goal to eliminate carbon emissions from the power sector by 2035.

4) Stock market closings for – 10 NOV 20:
Dow 29,420.92 up by 62.95
Nasdaq 11,553.86 down by 159.93
S&P 500 3,545.53 down by 4.97
10 Year Yield: up at 0.97%
Oil: up at $41.86

6 November 2020

1) This year’s elections are revealing some interesting things about the new young voters and the society they want. Voters are backing legalized drugs, higher wages and voting restrictions. In Oregon, they have eliminated all criminal penalties for possession of hard drugs. Four other states legalized recreational marijuana. Voters continue to support higher wages with minimum wage settings in states, with Florida raising their minimum to $15 an hour. Abortion encountered more restrictions on the state level. Several states adopted measures, including constitutional amendments, to limit voting rights to U.S. citizens only.

2) The White House task force is warning that new cases of Covid-19 are increasing ‘exponentially’ despite President Trump’s claims that the pandemic would vanish on November 4. Rising case numbers, hospitalizations, and deaths nationwide are causing the task force to sound dire warnings. Recommendations are 1) Do not gather without a mask with individuals living outside of your household, 2) Always wear a mask in public places and, 3) Stop gatherings beyond immediate household until number of cases and positive tests have decrease significantly. The task force is warning states and universities/colleges of the risks during the up coming holiday season and the increase risk of spreading of the virus. States with the highest number of new cases per 100,000 are North Dakota followed by South Dakota, Wisconsin, Montana, Wyoming, Iowa, Alaska, Nebraska, Utah, and Idaho. Vermont remains the state with the lowest number of new cases.

3) Renowned investor Warren Buffett’s (Berkshire Hathaway CEO) favorite market indicator nears record high, signaling stocks are overvalued and riskier than ever for investing. His indicator takes the total market capitalization of a country’s stocks and divides it by quarterly GDP in order to compare the stock market’s valuation to the size of the economy. Currently that’s 168% which signals a record disconnect between asset prices and the economy, and a warning to investors to exercise a great deal of caution towards equities as an asset class. The stock market has never been as expensive as it is today, and not only does this mean that forward returns will likely be exceptionally poor, it means that downside risk has also never been greater than it is today. This indicator also soared before the dot-com bubble burst and surged in the months leading up to the 2008 financial crisis.

4) Stock market closings for – 5 NOV 20:

Dow 28,390.18 up by 542.52
Nasdaq 11,890.93 up by 300.15
S&P 500 3,510.45 up by 67.01

10 Year Yield: up at 0.78%

Oil: down at $38.51

2 November 2020

1) America’s economy is expanding at a record pace after a historic decline from the Covid-19 crisis. The economy grew at an unprecedented 7.4% pace from the second to the third quarter, which on an annualized basis, would be a growth rate of 33.1%. This would be the highest annualized growth rate on record. While this is undoubtedly positive, it comes with lots of caveats, for the U.S. economy is still in a deep hole with the gross domestic product still about 3.5% below the level recorded in the fourth quarter of 2019. Second, the economy is slowing. Third, there are about 11 million fewer people on payrolls than before the pandemic hit, plus layoffs persist. Finally, the report is a political football with politicians framing the numbers to best serve their individual’s objectives.

2) Cruise ships can begin a phased return to operations starting Nov. 1 under new health protocols. There has been 74 recommendations made for a potential safe return to cruising, including a new focus on “air management”, lower ship capacities, shorter sailing times, required testing and masks, and enhanced cleaning and medical staff on voyages. There are four phases to return to cruising, beginning with cruise ships establishing coronavirus testing of all crew. Phase 2 will be simulated voyages to test the ability to mitigate Covid-19 on cruise ships. Phase 3 is certification by the CDC, and the final phase is a return to passenger voyages.

3) One question this fall is America’s energy future of whether, and to what extent, we should transition from reliable fossil fuels, such as oil and natural gas, to more intermittent sources of energy such as wind and solar power. But arbitrarily halting oil and natural gas development would do serious harm to our economy, and thereby jeopardize post-pandemic recovery. Businesses need reliable, low-cost energy to reopen and return to normal operations, and presently fossil fuels currently accounts for 80 percent of overall American energy production. At the start of this year, the oil and gas industry was responsible for 12.3 million American jobs, while also generating $1.6 trillion dollars in federal and state tax revenue. So if the oil and gas revenue dries up, major public services will be reduced or even cut. The simple fact is that the United States cannot continue on the path of recovery without a thriving oil and natural gas industry because it supports jobs, lowers energy costs for families and businesses, and strengthens our energy and national security.

4) Stock market closings for – 30 OCT 20:

Dow 26,659.11 up 139.16
Nasdaq 11,185.59 up 180.73
S&P 500 3,310.11 up 39.08

10 Year Yield: up at 0.84%

Oil: unchanged at $36.10

21 October 2020

1) The drought in the western U.S. is the biggest in years and is predicted to worsen during the coming winter months. The drought is a major reason for the record wildfires in California and Colorado. Further damage can come from depleted rivers, the stifling of crops and diminished water supplies. Elevated temperatures have dried out the soil, exacerbating the drought and making fire weather conditions sever. New Mexico is also in extreme drought conditions with rivers running dramatically low, which feed the aquifers, and neighboring Arizona is also in a deep drought. The drought is extending into Wyoming, Idaho and Montana with little relief in sight for most. Human caused climate change is increasing the likelihood of precipitation extremes on both ends of the scale, including droughts as well as heavy rainfall events and resulting floods. A study in the journal ‘Science’ found that the Southwest may already be in the midst of the first human-caused megadrought in at least 1,200 years, which began in the year 2000.

2) The Federal government has indicted six Russian military officers for massive worldwide cyber attacks. The six Russian military intelligence officers have been involved in high-profile cyberattacks on the electric power grid in Ukraine, the 2017 French elections and the 2018 Pyeong Chang Winter Olympics. The 50-page indictment details the computer intrusions and malware attacks mounted over the past five years by Unit 74455 of the GRU, the Russian military intelligence agency. No other country has weaponized cyber capabilities as maliciously or irresponsibly as Russia, deploying destructive malware from November 2015 through October 2019 in efforts to undermine or retaliate against foreign nations and organizations around the world.

3) American workers are being laid off a second time as the Covid-19 again ripples through the economy. As the second wave engulfs the economy, eight months after the first hit to the economy, Americans are still being laid off en masse by companies like Disney, the U.S. airlines, retailers and MGM Resorts. Even companies such as Allstate insurance is laying off people, 4,000 getting their pink slips. But for some workers, a second layoff so soon leaves them with no benefits, while the Paycheck Protection Program has run out. The hospitality and food-service jobs were unstable before the pandemic, but with many of those jobs now gone, many face a bleak future.

4) Stock market closings for – 20 OCT 20:

Dow 28,308.79 up 113.37
Nasdaq 1,516.49 up 37.61
S&P 500 3,443.12 up 16.20

10 Year Yield: 0.80%

Oil: up at $41.31

16 October 2020

1) Peloton, the exercise machine maker, has recalled pedals on 27,000 of their bikes which have caused some injuries. The 27,000 bikes were manufactured between July 2013 and May 2016. The company has received 120 reports of the pedals breaking resulting in 16 injuries to users, with 5 people requiring medical care including stitches. Peloton is one of the few companies who have benefitted from the coronavirus crisis because with people staying at home for long periods, they are purchasing home exercise machines. Their stock is up 380% a year to date, while their fitness subscribers is up 113% from a year ago.

2) The investment firm BlackRock considers China’s domestic bond market to be a good investment, offering a level of returns that may be difficult to find elsewhere in the current world economy. Economic data and continued monetary policy support, point to a sustained economic recovery, with foreign investors remaining under-invested in Chinese bonds. These investors account for only about 2% of the $16 trillion dollar market. Using diversified and resilient portfolio allows investors to avoid being exposed to risk specific for a company or sector. While there are some troubling signs, such as China Evergrande Group seeking government help in meeting its debt, looking across the whole spectrum, a fairly diversified portfolio can be built to yield a reasonable income.

3) General Motors will start operating robot cars in San Francisco without any human backups in the cars by the end of this year. The company Cruise has received a permit from California’s Department of Motor Vehicles to allow them to operate robot cars, without humans, on public highways. Other companies have gotten permits for autonomous automobile operation without humans, including Waymo, but none have set a date for autonomous ride-hailing services. Cruise will start ride-hailing service first in the surround neighborhoods, one at a time, slowly working their way into the heart of San Francisco with it’s dense traffic challenges. Progress towards fully autonomous ride-hailing services was retarded in 2018 when an Uber autonomous test car ran down a pedestrian in Temple Arizona.

4) Stock market closings for – 15 OCT 20:

Dow 28,494.20 down 19.80
Nasdaq 11,713.87 down 54.86
S&P 500 3,483.34 down 5.33

10 Year Yield: up at 0.73%

Oil: down at $40.89

7 October 2020

1) Ikea, the big Swedish world wide modular furniture manufacture, has experienced a surge in sales from the pandemic as people turned homes into offices and schools. Their online sales are up 45% over the last 12 months to August, with 4 billion visits to their website. Outdoor furniture is the fastest growing category, followed by office furniture. While many of their stores were forced to close from the virus, their online sales remain high even as stores reopen. The furniture retailer has added 6,000 new employees world wide to make a total work force of 217,000. Online sales account for about one fifth of total sales.

2) Job openings in America fell in August for the first time in four months, indicating a moderation in hiring as the crisis continues. Available positions slipped down to 6.49 million from July’s 6.7 million. These numbers do not include recalls from layoffs or positions that are offered only internally. However, layoffs and discharges are at a low for August, although there are still 13.6 million Americans unemployed, which means there are about 2 unemployed competing for each job opening. There are fewer vacancies in construction, retail and health care industries, while vacancies increased for manufacturing, food service and government.

3) Federal reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says America is on the long road to economic recovery from the pandemic induced recession, but still there are other problems on the horizon. There are fears of the economy shifting into reverse once again, especially if a resurgence of the virus comes with cold weather . . . the flue season. Such a resurgence could significantly limit economic activity leaving many unemployed stranded with no jobs for many more months. Powell is calling for the passing of the second stimulus bill presently being debated in the Congress. He considers the risk of pouring too much money into the economy far lower than the risk of not spending enough, despite the already sky high federal budget. While he considers the debt is on an unsustainable path, and has been for some time, but this is not the time to address it.

4) Stock market closings for – 6 OCT 20:

Dow 27,772.76 down 375.88
Nasdaq 11,154.60 down 177.88
S&P 500 3,360.95 down 47.68

10 Year Yield: down at 0.74%

Oil: up at $39.83

28 September 2020

1) Another round of protest against the police was spurred by the grand jury in Kentucky deciding to indict only one of the three officers in the case of the 26 year old medical technician. The case of Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot by police inside her apartment during a no-knock drug raid on 13 March 2020, is a closely watched case across the nation. The protests which started almost four months ago, seem to be getting more violent with one policemen in Seattle attacked by a protester and struck from behind with a metal baseball bat that cracked the policeman’s helmet. The officer sustained only minor injuries and was checked at the scene by the Seattle Fire Department. A video of the incident instantly went viral.

2) The U.S. Navy is considering expanding the naval force to a maximum of 534 ships by the year 2045, with many of the ships unmanned designs. Currently, the fleet has 355 ships, so this would mean a major construction undertaking that in turn would be a stimulus to the economy for years to come. The plan is to build a new fleet of lightly manned ships that over time can be unmanned. The goal for the unmanned ships is to allow the independently operated robot navigation systems to provide ammunition reloads to attacking vessels. Right now, the Navy is researching and developing the means to deploy the automated systems.

3) Florida is reopening from the coronavirus with Governor Ron DeSantis lifting restrictions on capacity of restaurants and other businesses, vowing not to turn back. This is despite the state reporting hundreds of Covid-19 deaths a week. Furthermore, the Governor is making it harder for local governments to institute their own restrictions that go above and beyond the state’s rules. There is still uncertainty about the consequences of schools reopening and other more relaxed measures. Presently, Florida is experiencing about 700 Covid-19 deaths a week.

4) Stock market closings for – 25 SEP 20:

Dow 27,173.96 up 358.52
Nasdaq 10,913.56 up 241.30
S&P 500 3,298.46 up 51.87

10 Year Yield: down at 0.66%

Oil: down at $40.04

21 September 2020

1) Michael Farr of CNBC claims the problem with the U.S. economy is there are too many poor people, that the poor and middle class don’t have enough money. His contention is that until employment and wages increase, the U.S. economy will remain bogged down or worst . . . digging a deeper hole. The American economy is the world’s largest with nearly 70% driven by consumer spending. With the vast majority of consumers in the lower middle class and poor, it stands to reason that with more money in their hands, it would make for a more viable economy. He contends that until their lot is improved by having more money, the economy will remain sluggish. But as is often the case, he ignores the ‘obsolete people’ problem of machines with technology displacing those workers. The pay of people reflects the value of people to society, and as technology continues to lower their real value it makes it hard to increase their wages.

2) Wayfair, the giant on-line home furnishings retailer, has announced they are launching two new credit cards while retiring their Comenity Bank card. There will now be the Wayfair Mastercard and the new Wayfair Credit Card. These cards will have no annual fee and offer the choice of earning rewards on spending or receiving no-interest financing for up to 24 months. Wayfair is partnering with Citi Retail Services for the two credit cards.

3) Facebook, the social media giant, is searching for a director of remote work as part of its plan for a more permanent shift of working from home. The company has been making a major shift towards permanent remote work and now needs management dedicated to permanently establishing this method of work in the corporate structure. Facebook is expecting as much as half of its 48,000 workforce to be working at home in the next ten years. Several other large companies are exploring the work-at-home strategy as a way of reducing cost of labor as well as allowing a larger pool of workers to draw upon, since home workers can be thousands of miles away from the home office. There are many consequences to the economy from a large work force working at home, the first is reducing spending on automobiles and service, plus sales of clothing.

4) Stock market closings for – 18 SEP 20:

Dow 27,657.42 down 244.56
Nasdaq 10,793.28 down 117.00
S&P 500 3,319.47 down 37.54

10 Year Yield: up at 0.69%

Oil: up at $40.98