16 June 2020

1) The markets sank Monday, down by 762 points, when the news of the Feds bond-buying plan became known, reversing the selling to buying which raised the Dow up 150 points. The downward slide was from fears of a second round of the Convid-19 virus with the possibility of more economic damage. The plan is for the Federal Reserve to buy individual corporate bonds, on top of the exchange traded funds it is already buying. This is a move to ease credit conditions to further stimulate the economy. The program can buy up to $750 billion dollars worth of corporate credit, which the Feds can buy on the secondary market, individual bonds that have maturities of five or less years. Bonds is how corporations typically fund their operations and expansion using debt, and this program will ease debt for corporations allowing them to grow more and provide jobs.

2) The oil giant BP (British Petroleum) has signaled to investors that the economic shock of the pandemic will reverberate for years. This in turn means less gas and oil needed by the world in the future. The company is expected to write down $17.5 Billion dollars of its oil and gas holdings this next quarter, meaning they are worth less in the future than what they are worth today. The coronavirus pandemic has caused steep declines in demand for gas and oil worldwide, and this is expected to last for a number of years. This write down is in the approximate class of the Deepwater horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, which was $32 billion dollars.

3) Britain’s Brexit, the planned exit of Britain from the European Union, has been overshadowed by the world wide pandemic, but nevertheless Brexit trade talks have continued. But the talks have reached an impasse. Britain left the union at the end of January, but had not reached agreements on traded with the other European countries. Although Britain left the union, the two economies have continued operating as before Brexit, so there has been little changed in trading. But this is only to the end of the year, and with Britain a major trader of goods with Europe, it’s important to reach agreements before that time comes. One major point of contention is how future disagreements will be adjudicated or arbitrated.

4) Stock market closings for – 15 JUN 20:

Dow 25,763.16 up 157.62
Nasdaq 9,726.02 up 137.21
S&P 500 3,066.59 up 25.28

10 Year Yield: unchanged at 0.70%

Oil: up at $37.07

4 June 2020

1) The stock market continues to climb, with some saying this signals the end of the recession. The S&P 500 has a return of 37.7% over the past 50 trading days, which is the largest 50 day rally in history. This rally is attributed to the quick response of the Federal Reserve, with a record $2 trillion dollar federal stimulus package. Another factor is the unlimited asset purchases by the Federal Reserve. While the shutdown depressed retail and airlines businesses, other parts of the economy saw a boost, such as Netflix, Amazon and Facebook. But there is still the record high of over 40 million workers idled by the pandemic, while the weakening in the Chinese’s economy coupled with the tensions between China and America could have a telling effect to the economic recovery.

2) There are fears of another round of layoffs in the later part of 2020, amid questions of where the economy will go in the next six to twelve months. Businesses are now reluctant to expand and hire new people, and may decide to contract thus being better able to weather economic hard times. There is also the unspoken problem of continued automation taking jobs as AI (Artificial Intelligence) and automation that experts predict will continual to sap jobs for the next decade. Automation gives companies an added advantage in surviving when the economy slows down, but a second wave of layoffs may trigger that slowdown.

3) The giant movie theater chain AMC has announced they doubt they can remain in business after the effects of the coronavirus shutdown. The company has problems with their liquidity, their ability to generate revenue and the timeline for reopening its theaters. The chain expects to lose $2.1 to $2.4 billion dollars for the first quarter, with the second quarter to be even worst. With all its theaters closed down, AMC is generating zero revenues. The major problem in reopening is having enough cash for operations until cash starts coming in again, and there is still questions of when theaters will be able to open again, especially if there are flare-ups of the virus.

4) Stock market closings for – 3 JUN 20:

Dow 26,269.89 up 527.24
Nasdaq 9,682.91 up 74.54
S&P 500 3,122.87 up 42.05

10 Year Yield: up at 0.76%

Oil: down at $36.75

19 May 2020

1) The managing director Kristalina Georgieva of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) says the Fund is likely to revise downward its forecast of a 3% contraction of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) for 2020. In turn, this will most likely cause a revision of the IMF’s forecast for a partial recovery of 5.8% in 2021. This means a longer time for a full economic recovery from the virus crisis. The IMF had forecasted that the business closures to slow the virus would throw the world into the deepest recession since the 1930’s Great Depression.

2) Gold markets have risen to their highest in more than seven years, a result of the Federal Reserve saying stocks and asset prices could suffer a significant decline as a result of the coronavirus crisis. The economic recovery could go to the end of 2021, depending on the arrival of an effective vaccine. Owning gold is considered to be a safe haven in times of economic turmoil, able to retain its value when other assets are sinking in value. Other precious metals such as silver, platinum and palladium are also experiencing a swing upward in price, but since these are commodities, their value may drop in a slower economy and reduced industrial demand.

3) The price of oil is above $30 a barrel for the first time in two months as U.S. and other country producers continue to cut production in order to restore the balance of the oil market. The world wide shut downs from the virus has drastically reduced the demand for oil world wide, with the world’s storage capacity quickly filling to maximum capacity, and for a time, producers having to pay to have their oil production removed. While the price of oil is still too low to salvage the shale oil (fracking) business in America, it still bodes well for the U.S. and world economies. Nevertheless, expectations are it will be well into the next year for the oil markets to be fully restored. Oil futures contracts that are due in June, show few signs of a resulting plunge in oil prices as when the May contracts came due and investors had to pay others to take their oil away.

4) Stock market closings for – 18 MAY 20:

Dow 24,597.37 up 911.95
Nasdaq 9,234.83 up 220.27
S&P 500 2,953.91 up 90.21

10 Year Yield: up at 0.74%

Oil: up at $32.21

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

20 March 2020

1) Today, more coronavirus concerns have surfaced that most airlines will go bankrupt soon without government bailouts. The virus has shut global aviation down because of virus outbreaks as well as travel restrictions that are intended to contain the virus. Within weeks, many airlines will need government help to avoid bankruptcy. Major U.S. airlines are seeking $50 billion dollars in financial assistance because of the steep falloff in U.S. travel demand. Estimates are for $25 billion dollars in grants, $25 billion dollars in loans and significant tax relief to survive.

2) Monday markets opened with another sharp downfall of all three major markets despite the Federal Reserve embarking on a massive monetary stimulus campaign to curb the slowing economic growth from the coronavirus. Shortly after opening, trading was halted for fifteen minutes from a ‘circuit breaker’ triggered by the S & P 500. The U.S. central bank has launched a massive $700 billion dollar quantitative easing program designed to help cushion the economic downside from the virus. The Dow was down 11% while both the Nasdaq and S & P fell more than 10%.

3) As fears grow of a world economic downturn, which will put economic stress on the U.S. economy, people are becoming concerned about their jobs. American workers may lose their jobs by the millions as the effects of the virus ripple through the financial system, the impact being devastating. The disease has spread rapidly around the world with whole nations shutting down as well as major cities. It’s unknown just what the impact will be for the world economy, when major economic areas isolate themselves from the system, even for a few weeks. Many segments of the economy are reporting significant problems which can lead to further problems across the U.S. and world economy. All this translates into layoffs, at a time when the young people of America have limited opportunities.

4) Stock market closings for – 19 MAR 20:

Dow 20,087.19 up 88.27
Nasdaq 7,150.58 up 160.73
S&P 500 2,409.39 up 11.29

10 Year Yield: down at 1.12%

Oil: up at $25.08

10 March 2020

1) Monday markets opened in a steep downward spiral from sell offs, driven by the coronavirus fears, followed by the sharp drop in oil prices. The Dow dropped 2,000 points, with a massive sell off of both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq, which triggered a key market circuit breaker that halted trading for fifteen minutes. There are widespread fears over the economic impact of low oil prices, with some experts fearing oil prices down to $20 a barrel. Gold prices crossed the $1,700 dollar an ounce, hitting the highest since December 2012. The banks are hard pressed as the interest continues to sink, cutting into their margins.

2) Experts speculate that the Feds will cut the interest rate to zero in the next few months in an effort to forestall a downturn of the economy. The entire U.S. yield curve fell below 1% for the first time in history on expectations that the Federal Reserve will cut rates to zero in the next few months. Some speculate the Feds may adopt a negative rate just as some European countries have, such as Germany’s -1%.

3) While checkout-free with cashless supermarkets is now a novelty, Amazon expects this technology to spread to other retailers. Amazon has announced it plans to license its automated checkout technology to other retailers, telling of several other companies that have already signed up for the technology. The technology has been proven with cashless convenience stores across America and with Amazon’s new Go-supermarkets. The technology represents another significant step in retail automation.

4) Stock market closings for – 9 MAR 20: The stock market is like a rectal thermometer- it’s rude and crude, but surprisingly effective in showing a sick economy.

Dow 23,851.02 down 2013.76
Nasdaq 7,950.68 down 624.94
S&P 500 2,746.56 down 225.81

10 Year Yield: down at 0.50%

Oil: down at $30.24

4 March 2020

1) In an emergency move the Federal Reserve has cut the interest rates by half a percent, in a effort to stem slower economic growth as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. This action was two weeks before the Fed’s scheduled meeting where business was expecting a reduction of the rate anyway, but because of the volatile stock market, it was decided to move more quickly. The announcement sent the markets into wild gyrations over fears the state of the economy is worst than feared.

2) Walmart, the retailing giant, is experimenting with a new health center. People can receive routine checkups and ongoing treatment of chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease at discount prices, with or without insurance. Services include lab work, x-rays, dental care, behavioral health counseling and eye and hearing exams. A checkup for an adult is $30, eye exam is $45 and dental exams for $25. Healthcare is 15% of the economy, and if the two test facilities prove successful, then Walmart is expected to expand the service to other stores. This service would also bring increased foot traffic to boost in-store sales.

3) The trading smartphone app Robinhood is experiencing a system wide outage on both its website and its app. Users are reporting issues on the platform, logging in and even trading. Equities, cryptocurrency and options trading are among some of the functionalities experiencing a major outage. Some users are demanding compensation for their losses during down times.

4) Stock market closings for – 3 MAR 20:

Dow 25,917.41 down 785.91
Nasdaq 8,684.09 down 268.08
S&P 500 3,003.37 down 86.86

10 Year Yield: down at 1.01%

Oil: down at $47.10

30 January 2020

1) The Federal Reserve has left the interest rates unchanged, which was widely expected as the U.S. economy continues to grow at a slow and steady pace. So the interest rate will remain in the range of 1.5% to 1.75% , thereby encouraging more lending and home buying. Presently, those in the government don’t anticipate any changes, up or down, to the interest rate this year.

2) Founded in 1893, Sears was once the world’s largest retailer with billions of dollars in profits. Ten years ago, the giant retailer had 3,500 stores, but now Sears’ and Kmart combined have just 182 locations. Sears became the first major retailer to have an IPO (Initial Public Offering) in 1906 at $97.50 a share. Originally a mail order retailer, Sears opened its first department store in Chicago in 1928.

3) The budget deficient for the Federal government is forecast to past $1 trillion dollars in 2020 from contentious spending exceeding government income. Federal borrowing is likely to continue climbing dramatically over the next decade, reaching an un-precedent $31 trillion dollars by 2030. Some say this is a poor refection on the fiscal health of the nation.

4) Stock market closings for – 29 JAN 20:

Dow           28,734.45         up    11.60
Nasdaq        9,275.16         up      5.48
S&P 500       3,273.40    down      2.84

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.59%

Oil:    down   at    $53.15

28 January 2020

1) The threat of coronavirus spreading has caused stock markets to sharply fall over fears of the virus’ impact on the world economy. The death toll in China has risen to 81, and a fifth case has occurred in America. With China the biggest driver of global growth, the virus started in the place where it could have the biggest impact. There are worries that this virus caused market dip could spark a major correction in the markets.

2) General Motors plans to go all electric at its Detroit Hamtramck plant starting next year. GM is committing a $2.2 billion dollar investment in the factory to include $800 million dollars on tooling and projects related to trucks. The plant will be GM’s second builder of plugin models of cars. Only Tesla has sold electric cars in significant volume so far. The Hamtramck plant will employ 2,200 workers.

3) With the Federal Reserve’s bond portfolio swelling at a pace not seen since the 2010s, the Feds are faced with the tricky maneuver of turning the tap off soon. A misstep could have painful consequences, with the risk of what happens when the Feds stops increasing their balance sheet. Questions arise over what will happen to the stock markets when that liquidity spigot closes. This is part of the process called quantitative easing.

4) Stock market closings for – 27 JAN 20: The spread of coronavirus pushes markets down.

Dow               28,535.80    down    453.93
Nasdaq            9,139.31    down    175.60
S&P 500           3,243.63    down      51.84

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.60%

Oil:    down   at    $52.83