15 March 2021

1) Canoo of Los Angeles is offering a battery-powered truck, with a skateboard-style EV platform, having a highly modular, cab-forward, for a blisteringly quick utility vehicle. Similar to Ford’s F-150, it comes in about the height and two inches narrower, and with a wheelbase 10 inches shorter. Without a conventional drive train, its extended cab is far forward, thus giving it a larger bed than the Ford. With its battery and electric motor, it can generate 600 horsepower and 550 foot-pound of torque even down at zero rpm. These should make the Canoo a respectable tow rig, not to mention a capable crawler, what with its short wheelbase, skid plates front and rear, and integral tow hooks.

2) America has now administered over 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine (101.1 million). That equates to more than 35 million Americans fully vaccinated or 10.5% of the total U.S. population. Nearly 66 million, or almost 20% of the total population, have gotten at least one dose, while one-third of Americans age 65 and older are fully vaccinated. The first shot was given on December 14, and more doses have been administered in the U.S. than any other country in the world, although several smaller nations have vaccinated a higher proportion of their populations. The U.S. should have enough COVID-19 vaccine to immunize the nation’s entire adult population by this summer, with enough left over for some 172 million more people. The nationwide pace of vaccinations has quickened to an average of over 2 million doses a day. The majority of states have already vaccinated many of their front line essential workers and residents over 75 years old.

3) Rare earth elements are produced in various parts of the world, but primarily in China, who has been holding the U.S. and some other countries hostage under threat of a trade war by using these ‘must have’ minerals. But that is about to change with Noranda Alumina of Gramercy, Louisiana, who is proposing developing an $800-million dollar high tech refining center for extracting rare earth minerals from over 35-million tons of residual bauxite stored in Louisiana. Investing nearly a billion dollars on the new plant, it will create 2,000 construction jobs. Once in operation, the facility will employ 200 full time high paying jobs along with nearly 600 indirect jobs. This opportunity enables America to domestically produce these rare earth elements that go into a lot of green earth technologies, plus by recycling the residual bauxite, the extraction plant will be carbon neutral.

4) Stock market closings for – 12 MAR 21:

Dow 32,778.64 up by 293.05
Nasdaq 13,319.86 down by 78.81
S&P 500 3,943.34 up by 4.00

10 Year Yield: up at 1.64%

Oil: down at $65.56

8 February 2021

1) Ford Motor Company reports quarterly loss of $2.8 billion dollars, amid increases in investment in electric vehicles. This is a larger than expected quarterly loss, but Ford’s stock traded higher as Wall Street focused on the auto maker’s renewed push toward autonomous and electric vehicles. Their sales fell to $36 billion from $39.7 billion a year ago. Ford increased its commitment to invest in growth, with plans to spend more than $22 billion dollars in electric vehicles and $7 billion in autonomous vehicles. This investment in EVs is nearly double an earlier allocation. In the fourth quarter, Ford began U.S. sales of its all-electric Mustang, the Bronco Sport and 2021 F-150 pickup. These vehicles, alongside the return of the Ford Bronco this summer, are expected to be significant contributors to 2021.

2) Another looming uncertainty for the world automotive industry is the global shortage of automotive microprocessors. Subaru has already suspended operations for two days because of shortages. The company expects to lose 48,000 units of production in this fiscal year to March 31 because of the electronic shortages. The semiconductor shortage is bad! Subaru said that they don’t know how long this impact will last. Also Fiat Chrysler and Jeep are also limiting production because of the chip shortage and weak demand. German car makers (Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler and Volkswagen’s Porsche) are considering building up semiconductor stockpiles, to prevent a repeat of the crippling chip shortages that brought assembly lines to a standstill and stalled the production of hundreds of thousands of vehicles worldwide. A few weeks after a German official sent the Taiwanese government a letter asking for help on the semiconductor issues, Taiwan claims to have not received it.

3) China’s unconventional weapons are reportedly winning the Middle East. China has mastered the art of slowly and meticulously shaping the conditions for its interactions with the United States, gaining an advantage. From a military perspective, the Chinese have diagnosed America’s strategic reliance on conventional overmatch in order to deter major conflict. Instead, they have sought to achieve their objectives through unorthodox approaches that limit the effectiveness of our preferred conventional toolkit.

4) Stock market closings for – 5 FEB 21:

Dow 31,148.24 up by 92.38
Nasdaq 13,856.30 up by 78.55
S&P 500 3,886.83 up by 15.09

10 Year Yield: up at 1.17%

Oil: up at $57.07

1 October 2020

1) After two previous recalls for Mustangs and Super Duty pickups, Ford has announced a third recall of nearly every new vehicle it sells today, a total of about 620,246 vehicles for dysfunctional (blank picture) backup cameras. All 2020 models are being recalled, the Ford Explorer, F-150 pickups, Mustang, Transit, Super Duty pickups, Expedition, Escape, Range and Edge. The only exception is the Ecosport. All have defective back up camera systems that can go dark or have a flickering image. Backup cameras are federally mandated, and therefore Ford vehicles don’t comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and therefore must be repaired.
2) Disney has announced it is laying off 28,000 employees in the U.S., a direct result of the pandemic’s effects on its theme parks. The laid-off employees comprise 67% of their part time workers and will affect Disney’s Parks, Experiences and Products unit. The parks and resorts division has more than 100,000 U.S. employees. On shutting down its theme parks globally this spring, Disney’s profits dropped a whopping 91% for the first three months of 2020. The theme parks have been impacted, a result of the limited capacity from physical distancing requirements and the continued uncertainty of the duration of the pandemic.
3) Nigeria is overhauling its State Oil Company and may sell a stake in the company. Nigeria is Africa’s biggest crude oil producer so the sale of shares is a big deal. The Nigerian government seeks to establish a commercially oriented and profit driven national petroleum company, which generates about half of the government’s revenue and more than 90% of its export earnings. The company has for years been a tool for political patronage to cronies, with its closed operations fueling corruption. Being a publicly traded company sheds the cloak of secrecy by opening the books for inspection thereby making corruption more difficult and likely to be detected.
4) Stock market closings for – 30 SEP 20:
Dow 27,781.70 up 329.04
Nasdaq 11,167.51 up 82.26
S&P 500 3,363.00 up 27.53
10 Year Yield: 0.68% up 0.03
Oil: up at $39.86

21 July 2020

1) Another major U.S. airline, Southwest Airlines, is facing reduction in staff as the airline business continues to contract with little expectation of returning to its pre-corona days of business. About 24% of Southwest pilots and 33% of flight attendants have agreed to early retirement or long term leaves of absence. This accounts for about 4,400 employees who have decided to leave permanently with another 12,500 for extended emergency time off. Southwest is trying to avoid its first involuntary job cuts in its 49 year history. The company says that passenger numbers will have to triple by year end to eliminate the need for layoffs. There is growing evidence that the airline business is fundamentally changing.

2) The freight truck company TuSimple is building the world’s first network of self driving delivery trucks by 2024. The autonomous semi truck-trailers will operate across the America. TuSimple has partnered with UPS, Penske Truck Leasing, US Xpress and McLane for this autonomous freight network project. TuSimple is creating digital routes, terminals and a monitoring system in three phases that tracks its truck. Phase I is until end of 2021 to bring autonomous trucking services to Phoenix and Tucson in Arizona, plus El Paso, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio in Texas. Phase II, from 2022 till 2023, will expand the network coast to coast with a line from Los Angeles to Jacksonville in Florida. Finally, phase III between 2023 and 2024, will expand service nation wide to 48 states.

3) Both automakers GM and Ford have lost 27% of their market value this year, while electric car maker Tesla continues its unbelievable rise in the market. The reasons for the decline are different for the two companies. Ford sales relied too heavily on the F-150. While GM continues to sell more cars in the U.S. and worldwide, it’s hammered by the pandemic and failure in China, the world’s largest car market.

4) Stock market closings for – 20 JUL 20:

Dow 26,680.87 up 8.92 %
Nasdaq 10,767.09 up 263.90
S&P 500 3,251.84 up 27.11

10 Year Yield: down at 0.62%

Oil: up at $40.70

25 June 2020

1) There are ten companies that may not make it through the summer. These are high brand names of Hertz, J.C. Penney, Pier 1 Imports, Tuesday Morning, J. Crew, Neiman Marcus, Gold’s Gym, Tailored Brands (Men’s Warehouse and Jos. A. Banks) and Diamond Offshore Drilling, which are all in bankruptcy now. The high number of retailers shows the ongoing retail apocalypse with the retail sector, which had already hit before the pandemic by falling sales, lower costumer traffic and too many stores. Retail was near the edge of collapsed with last years Christmas holiday shopping doing little to boost business, especially those located in malls. Last year, 9,500 retail stores closed, with estimates of 15,000 stores closing for good in 2020. This may indicated a fundamental shift in America’s economy, a shift away from hyper-consumerism to something else besides a service based economy. Shopper visits to stores are about half of last year’s numbers, and that’s with businesses reopening after more than two months on lockdown.

2) Fears continue to grow that we are not finished with the Convid-19 crisis yet, as the number of new cases continues to increase. This is happening with states and cities easing their shutdown measures to reopen the economy to start a recovery. The seven day average of new virus cases has swung up 30% from a week ago. It was hoped the warm weather would suppress the virus spread as it does with the flu, but if the virus is resurrecting, then the shutdown may need to returned with the resulting economic impact.

3) The Ford Motor Co., who is in the process of its global restructuring plan and paying off debt related to the coronavirus pandemic, is betting its future on its new line of pickups. Ford is offering its popular F-150 model in traditional internal combustion engines, new hybrids and all electric versions. The Ford F-150 has been the country’s top selling truck for more than 40 years, the best selling for the last consecutive 38 years. Their F-150 is a key part in Ford’s plans to profitably grow their business, to help in the $11 billion restructuring cost and pay off the $20 billion dollars in new debt.

4) Stock market closings for – 24 JUN 20:

Dow 25,445.94 down 710.16
Nasdaq 9,909.17 down 222.20
S&P 500 3,050.33 down 0.96

10 Year Yield: down at 0.68%

Oil: down at $38.07

24 September 2019

1) Saudi Arabia has restored 75% of its crude oil output and will have restored full production by next week. The September 14 attacks had reduced crude production to half, but promises that production will be fully restored by the end of September. The Saudis have managed to avoid a world wide oil crisis by drawing upon their stockpiles to continue supplying their customers at near pre-attack levels of crude.

2) The retailer giant Amazon plans to purchase 100,000 electric delivery vans from the company Rivian as part of its carbon neutral plan. Furthermore, Amazon announced plans to up its present 40% renewable energy to 100% by 2030. Rivian will design a custom electric delivery van for Amazon to be delivered between 2021 and 2024, who also has an agreement with Ford to develop an electric F-150 pickup truck. Amazon is also working to halt its support of the fossil fuel industry, stopping donations to climate denying politicians and think tanks, and stopping the oppression of climate refugees.

3) The British travel firm Thomas Cook has collapsed with bankruptcy, leaving about 600,000 customers stranded. The 178 year old group, which is debt plagued and struggling against fierce online competition for some time, is blaming Brexit uncertainty for the recent drop in bookings, and thus its inability to secure $250 million dollar loan to prevent collapse. This also leaves 22,000 staff members unemployed, with the British government chartering airlines to fly stranded passengers home.

4) Stock market closings for – 23 SEP 19:

Dow             26,949.99         up   14.92
Nasdaq          8,112.46    down     5.21
S&P 500         2,991.78    down     0.29

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.71%

Oil:    $58.49