29 June 2020

1) Microsoft is permanently closing almost all of its stores across the nation and world. Just like other retail outlets, Microsoft had to shutter all its stores due to the coronavirus pandemic. There are 83 stores worldwide of which 72 are in the U.S., however only four will remain open in the world. The stores allowed people to try out software and hardware offered by Microsoft including laptop computers. No news if there will be any layoffs or how many, the stores are moving to the digital realm, which will absorb many of the store employees. The physical stores generated negligible retail revenue for Microsoft.

2) As oil prices reach the magic $40 a barrel, shale fracking is starting to reawaken to pump oil. The number of fracking crews had bottomed out at 45 last month, but is now back up to 78 this last week. There had been roughly 400 fracking crews before the decline in oil prices started. The drilling of new oil wells remains on hold with a 70% slump, making for the lowest number of active drilling rigs since 2011.

3) Nike is warning its employees of coming layoffs, but these layoffs will not effect store employees. The layoffs are expected to come in two waves, the first this July followed in the fall with a the second wave. These layoffs come amid reports of poor earnings, with sales down 38% giving a net loss of $790 million dollars when the Convid-19 virus forced closing of most of its stores. This compares with nearly a billion dollars in earnings for the same time last year. Nike has 76,700 employees, but it’s not know yet how many will lose their jobs. All wasn’t bad for Nike, with their online sales skyrocketing 75%, with e-sales accounting for 30% of Nike’s total business.

4) Stock market closings for – 26 JUN 20:

Dow 25,015.55 down 730.05
Nasdaq 9,757.22 down 259.78
S&P 500 3,009.05 down 74.71

10 Year Yield: down at 0.64%

Oil: down at $38.16

3 June 2020

1) The economic activity for the second quarter is down, while more than half the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is now showing a 52.8% drop. Consequently, the personal consumption expenditures is expected to fall 58.1%, which makes up 68% of the nation’s GDP. The current recession is unique in that it was lead by the services sector instead of the traditional manufacturing or construction sectors.

2) Because of the Convid-19 shutdown, the retail industry has a mountain of apparel stock piling up in stores, distribution centers, warehouses and shipping containers. Those retailers now face the difficult decisions of what is best to do with this overstock and choked supple chain. Their options are to keep it in storage, hold sales, offload to ‘off price’ retailers who then sell at deep discounts or move it to online resale sites. None of these options are ideal, but they do limit the damage to company’s bottom line. For apparel that isn’t so fashion sensitive, such as underwear, t-shirts and chinos, warehousing for a short time to wait for demand to return is a viable option. But storing inventory cost money. The opposite strategy is to hold sales and sell stock to the off-price retailers. The ‘in store’ sales is usually better because dumping in bulk to the discounters usually brings only pennies on the dollar for retailers. This amounts to huge losses for the retailer. The most lucrative option is moving merchandise to online re-sellers who take a commission on sales, however this is largely only open for high end brands. No matter what options a retailer takes, it all spells out large losses for them because of the pandemic.

3) Southwest Airlines is offering buyout packages and temporary paid leaves to employees in an attempt to ensure survival, in anticipation of a slow recovery. The airline company has not imposed any layoffs or furloughs in its 49 year history, and while overstaffing isn’t tied to 100% capacity levels, it has never faced the drastic drop in passenger service as now seen with the pandemic. Therefore, Southwest if seeking to voluntarily reduce workforce as softly as possible.

4) Stock market closings for – 2 JUN 20:

Dow 25,742.65 up 267.63
Nasdaq 9,608.38 up 56.33
S&P 500 3,080.82 up 25.09

10 Year Yield: up at 0.68%

Oil: up at $36.90

5 May 2020

1) Apparel retailer J. Crew is filing for bankruptcy, with other struggling retailers expected to succumb this year too, big retailer names like Sears and J.C. Penny. J Crew is considered to be the first retail casualty of the pandemic with others expected to quickly follow. The pandemic has caused numerous stores to be closed, laying off hundreds of thousands of employees and losing most of their sales. The big retail stores were struggling before the virus hit, with people backing away from consumerism and now after the coronavirus shutdown, people are spending little other than for groceries and daily essentials. With further declining retail revenues, more stores will close with more layoffs. Furthermore, Americans’ appetite and ability to shop continues to decline, so it looks very dismal for a major segment of the American economy, which in turn will be a burden on other segments of the economy continually pulling the rest down.

2) The service sector of the economy is also experiencing troubles in what appears to be an emerging new economy for America. Gold’s Gym International is seeking bankruptcy protection as it struggles with debt after the prolong shutdown from the virus. With the shrinking of people’s disposable income, that is the money they have left after essential spending like food, housing and transportation, the non essential businesses of the service economy are finding it harder to survive.

3) General Electric is eliminating as many as 13,000 jobs in its jet engine business, another casualty of the coronavirus devastation to the aviation segment of the economy. With airline manufactures, such as Boeing building fewer airliners, there is less demand for new jet engines. This means a 25% reduction on GE’s aviation work force with little near future likelihood of those jobs returning, indeed if the recession deepens, more jobs may be lost. Like Boeing, GE aviation was having troubles before the virus hit.

4) Stock market closings for – 4 MAY 20:

Dow 23,749.76 up 26.07
Nasdaq 8,710.72 up 105.77
S&P 500 2,842.74 up 12.03

10 Year Yield: down at 0.64%

Oil: up at $21.33

2 January 2020

1) The ride sharing business Uber has filed a lawsuit against California, in response to a landmark gig worker law as being unconstitutional. The new law is designed to upend gig economy companies such as Uber and Lyft. Uber claims the new law unfairly targets workers and companies in the on-demand economy, treating them differently than traditional companies. The law forces on-demand companies to reclassify their independent contractors as employees, which would break up their businesses. With Uber actively researching auto-driving cars, this point may soon become mute.

2) In the wake of continual losses despite rising postal rates, America’s postal system, as a public government run entity, may be coming to a end as early as this year. New leadership is being brought into the USPS tasked with creating a package of large structural changes intent on privatizing and selling pieces of the public service off. One proposal is that the postal service stops delivering packages, since there are already several successful businesses who are already doing that.

3) Department stores and apparel retailers continue to shrink as customers continue their migration to Amazon. For the last several years, retailers such as Sears, Macy’s and the Gap have struggled to survive and prosper by closing their retail outlets with even more closures are forecast for this next year. One additional loss of retail revenues is the lost of store credit cards.

4) Stock market closings for – 31 DEC 19:

Dow                28,538.44    up    76.30
Nasdaq            8,972.60    up     26.61
S&P 500           3,230.78    up        9.49

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.92%

Oil:    down   at     $61.21

20 December 2019

1) Timothy Litzenburg, a Virginia lawyer involved in litigation over the health risks of Monsanto’s roundup weed killer product, has been arrested. He is charged with interstate intentions to extort an unnamed company into a $200 million dollar consulting fee for his firm. Litzenburg threatened to find people who he would advise to sue companies for exposing them to the chemical, but that he would cease searching for potential plaintiffs in exchange for a multi million dollar consulting agreement.

2) Freddie Mac has offered early retirement to about 25% of its staff in a drive to overhaul its workforce, as a result of the Trump administration’s reforming the housing finance giant. There are 1,650 eligible employees being offer the early out, with about one quarter expected to take the buyout. This will be about 6% of Freddie Mac’s workforce.

3) The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits dropped from more than a two year high, decreasing 18,000 to 234,000. This points to a sustained labor market strength, another sign of a strong American economy. Despite trade tensions and slowing global growth with a weighing down on manufacturing, the economy is on a moderate growth path.

4) Stock market closings for – 19 DEC 19:

Dow                    28,376.96    up   at    137.68
Nasdaq                 8,887.22    up   at      59.48
S&P 500                3,205.37    up   at       14.23

10 Year Yield:     down   at    1.91%

Oil:    up   at    $61.03

25 November 2019

1) American retailers, such as Home Depot are facing a new crime wave driven by drugs and fueled by the opioid crisis. Known as organized retail crime, people steal for crime rings in exchange for cash they can buy drugs with. The stolen merchandise is then resold at pawnshops, online or directly to a buyer. Worst yet, the thieves are using violence against store employees who try to stop the open theft, even using guns and knifes. The store is left to just stand and watch as thieves roll shopping carts of merchandise out the door to sell for drugs.

2) The tuna supplier Bumble Bee Foods announced they are filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to be purchased by its largest creditor FCF Fishery, for $925 million dollars. Bumble Bee’s debt burden has forced the bankruptcy, which in turn was caused by a $25 million dollar fine for forming a cartel with Chicken of the Sea and Starkist to fix prices. The fine was levied by the Department of Justice. Additionally, the popularity of packaged tuna has been declining with a 42% per capita drop over the last 30 years.

3) There are growing fears that phase one of the China-American trade deal may not get signed before the additional tariffs take effect in mid-December. Phase one would not eliminate tariffs on either side, instead would address issues of intellectual property and financial services access including sizeable purchases by China of American agricultural products. Phase one is considered a starting point for resolving trade differences.

4) Stock market closings for – 22 NOV 19:

Dow          27,875.62    up    109.33
Nasdaq       8,519.88    up      13.67
S&P 500      3,110.29    up         6.75

10 Year Yield:    unchanged   at    1.77%

Oil:    up   at    $57.93

6 November 2019

1) The money-markets have about $3.4 trillion dollars invested, and the large pile of cash could push the already soaring markets higher. The money-markets have grown by $1 trillion dollars over the last three years because of higher money-market rates, concerns of the ten year economic expansion and the ageing of the bull market. But despite the double digit gains this year, that cash remains in the money-markets amid concerns of an economic slowdown, investors wanting the safe bet of having a large cash reserve. Many fear the markets are at an unstable high and a reversal could occur at any time.

2) The U.S. trade deficit for September has falling to its lowest level in five months with imports dropping more sharply than exports. America has a rare surplus of petroleum, which has traditionally been a major source of imports. The import-export difference shrank 4.7% to $52.5 billion dollars, down from the August deficit of $55 billion dollars, with the deficit with China creeping down 0.6% to $31.6 billion dollars.

3) The Bank of America announced it will pay a $20 dollar minimum wage in 2020, a year earlier than planned. This will raise wages for more than 208,000 of its U.S. employees. The higher pay for retail bankers is becoming crucial with the increasingly competitive job market. Other main street banks have also raised their minimum wage, such as Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase. Other major companies including Amazon, Walmart, Target and McDonald’s have also increased their minimum pay.

4) Stock market closings for – 5 NOV 19:

Dow              27,492.63         up    30.52
Nasdaq           8,434.68         up      1.48
S&P 500          3,074.62    down      3.65

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.87%

Oil:    up   at    $57.27

18 October 2019

1) New home construction has dropped from a twelve year high in September, although single home construction rose for a fourth straight month. This indicates the housing market remains supported by lower mortgage rates even as economy slows. Housing starts declined 9.4% last month as construction in the volatile multi-family housing segment dropped.

2) The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom announced a great new Brexit deal. The proposed exit plan goes before the U.K. parliament this Saturday, the EU (European Union) claimed the deal was a fair and balance one. Parliament must vote approval before the deal can be accepted, however, this time the Conservative party is now committed to this deal and not a ‘no-deal’ and so will campaign for a majority support.

3) The employees for the bank Goldman Sachs will receive the lowest pay in the last ten years. This is a result of software systems doing more and more of the company’s business, another example of technology displacement. The bank set aside 35% of its revenues for staff compensation and benefits this year, the lowest rate since 2009, with an average employee earning of $246,000 less than half of the $527,000 from last year.

4) Stock market closings for – 17 OCT 19:

Dow           27,025.88    up    23.90
Nasdaq        8,156.85    up    32.67
S&P 500       2,997.95    up      8.26

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.76%

Oil:    up   at    $54.05

26 July 2019

1) Tesla, the manufacture of all-electric automobiles, has suffered a worse than expected loss. Additionally, there has been another major management shakeup, all of which is casting doubts on the future of the unique automaker. While Tesla delivered a record number of cars in its second quarter, its stock dropped 14% with a loss of $1.12 per share. Nevertheless, Tesla has opened twenty-five new stores and service centers.

2) Concerns grow that the trade tensions may be pushing U.S. economic growth downwards. Fears that the gross domestic product figures due out this Friday will show business investment has weakened. Additional factors stem from slow global growth and falling oil prices. The gains in jobs and wages are preventing growth from sinking. It’s anticipated that the Federal Reserve will lower interest rates by a quarter point to check softening of the economy.

3) Nissan, the world automobile manufacture, has announced the layoff of 12,500 employees worldwide, or about 10% of its work force. Nissan is striving to rein in the costs increases incurred during the former CEO Carlos Ghosn tenure and alleged financial misconduct. Japan’s number two automaker has suffered a collapse in its quarterly profits, a result of sluggish sales and rising cost. This is another indication of the world’s depressed auto market with other renowned automakers like Ford suffering similar major financial problems.

4) Stock market closings for – 25 JUL 19:

Dow             27,140.98    down    128.99
Nasdaq          8,238.54    down      82.96
S&P 500         3,003.67    down      15.89

10 Year Yield:    up   at    2.07%

Oil:    down   at    $55.91

IS THERE A GAP BETWEEN JOBS & JOB SEEKERS? STUDY SAYS THERE IS…….

Image Credit: DiscoveryJobNetwork.org

By: Economic & Finance Report

Certain studies have indicated there seems to be disparities between hourly wage jobs and workers who work on the clock hourly. Certain contributions can be urban development in metropolis cities, need for more experienced workers in certain job fields, and growth in urban environments.

In a study by Urban Institute and reported by Yahoo Finance. Affordable housing is hard to come by to hourly wage workers, and gentrification in major metropolis urban areas such as NYC, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, are making it harder for hourly workers to make any sort of living, the Urban Institute provides.

Housing development in major cities tend to be way more in rentals, then in smaller cities or rural areas but conflicting accounts tend to point any one direction? As in regards to the root of the problem. Noone has figured it out yet, whether it’s local politicians to the the developers themselves… Answers have not been provided to address the problem as whole. So this “everybody for themselves mentality” is dictated for survival to many who work hourly wages. -SB

Credit: Urban Institute Study: https://www.urban.org/features/too-far-jobs-spatial-mismatch-and-hourly-workers

Credit: Yahoo Finance News: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/nyc-san-francisco-housing-crisis-impacting-job-market-190940308.html