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
1) The credit worthiness of automakers has been lowered by Moody’s Investors Service, downgrading about $130 billion dollars in global automakers’ debt. Nine out of 22 global car makers have had their ratings lowered. General Motors Co. has a Baa3 rating for unsecured notes, the lowest investment grade rating and has a negative outlook. Ford Motor Co.’s senior unsecured debt is rated at Ba2, which it two notches below investment grade and also has a negative outlook. Thirteen of the automakers were not downgraded because of their better operating profiles and liquidity, but 75% have a negative outlook. World automakers were having troubles before the pandemic, but now are facing more declining auto sales and low prospects for near term improvement.
2) China has adopted a national security law that allows Beijing to override Hong Kong’s judicial system. The intent of China is to strangle and suppress political opponents in Hong Kong and subjugate the freedom of its citizens. This is another example of the re-emergence of Red China as a totalitarian state, and therefore represents a threat to surrounding nations. It strips the territory of autonomy promised under the handover agreement with Britain, with possible retaliation from America. The move by China has resulted in visa restrictions on officials from both sides, and a threat of future retaliation measures coming.
3) Fears of another virus pandemic have surface with the discovery of a new swine flu virus in Chinese pigs. The new strain, called G4 H1N1 has many of the same characteristics of H1N1 that caused the 2009 global pandemic, and can bind to, infect and replicated in tissue cells located in human airways. While not an immediate threat, the virus bears watching, but on top of the Covid-19 pandemic, the problem of controlling either outbreaks would be multiplied, especially with the now overstretched health care and hospital systems.
4) Stock market closings for – 30 JUN 20:
Dow 25,812.88 up 217.08 Nasdaq 10,058.76 up 184.61 S&P 500 3,100.29 up 47.05
1) General Motors is eliminating 700 factory jobs in Tennessee as a result of low sales, which they are blaming on the Convid-19 crisis. This is the third shift at their Spring Hill assembly plant, leaving 3,000 workers still employed. This plant makes Cadillac XT5 and XT6 SUVs plus the GMC Acadia. This is another sign of the weakness in auto demand, a result of record job loss coupled with people working at home and therefore putting less wear on their old cars. The GM plant for building truck engines remains unchanged, since they were working just two shifts to start with.
2) The nation wide retailer Macy’s is cutting nearly 4,000 corporate jobs, about 3% of its overall workforce. The pandemic has taken a toll on the department store chain, just like so many other traditional chain retailers. This move will save the company about $630 million dollars per year, amid a quarterly net loss of $652 million dollars. Macy’s was struggling long before the pandemic because of competition from lower priced retailers such as Walmart, T.J. Maxx and Target.
3) The U.S. GDP (Gross Domestic Product) shrank by 5% for the first quarter, compared to an increase in the previous quarter of 2.1%, prior to the coronavirus pandemic onset. This drop is attributed to a decrease in personal consumption expenditures (PCE) because people are spending less. The real gross domestic income decreased 4.4% as compared to a 3.1% increase in the fourth quarter of last year.
4) Stock market closings for – 25 JUN 20:
Dow 25,745.60 up 299.66 Nasdaq 10,017.00 up 107.84 S&P 500 3,083.76 up 33.43
1) The present unemployment rate is thought to be higher than anytime during the Great Depression, raising the question if the present day recession will last as long as the Depression, which was almost ten years. While some sever recessions have been short lived, usually they are long affairs. Lowering the interest rates is a traditional tool used by the government to counter a recession and stimulate the economy, but interest rates are already near zero when the coronavirus hit, so the government didn’t have its primary tool. Many economist are considering the strategy ‘America is back open for business’ as unlikely to create a huge surge in growth. There are three other major factors to consider- 1) the other world economies are continually pulling America’s down 2) the big mess that oil is in and 3) predictions from several different experts that in the next 15 to 25 years as much as 50% of the jobs will disappear to technology. It will be difficult for employment to return to pre-coronavirus levels if jobs are continually disappearing faster than people are being rehired. One interesting point, a financial analyst is predicting that Disney World, Disneyland and their overseas parks will not be able to reopen until January 2021, and if such a cash rich company is having so much difficulty reopening, how about the multitude of smaller companies with much more limited resources?
2) U.S. automakers are taking the first steps to bring workers back and start manufacturing operations again, but are finding it easier said than done. There are negotiations with the United Auto Workers union, for the manufactures to provide protective gear, frequently sanitize equipment and take worker temperatures to prevent infection of the virus to the union members. As much as workers want to return to a paycheck, there are real fears of catching the virus. Fiat Chrysler has announced May 4 as the gradual restart date, with General Motors and Ford expected to quickly follow.
3) Reports are building that the coronavirus may cause lasting damage to some organs such as the kidneys. There are fears from reports that the virus may cause damage to the heart, lungs and possibly the liver. Furthermore, the blood from Covid-19 patients is having unprecedented blood clotting, evident by blood clots forming while trying to insert IVs or taking blood samples. Internal blood clots can be life threatening, and autopsies are finding such internal blood clots.
4) Stock market closings for – 22 APR 20:
Dow 23,475.82 up 456.94 Nasdaq 8,495.38 up 232.15 S&P 500 2,799.31 up 62.75
1) The coronavirus crisis has also crippled the sales of automobiles with March sales down by an expected 35.5% and 15.3% decline expected for 2020. The decline poses the largest threat to the auto industry since the Great Recession which resulted in the bankruptcy of General Motors and Chrysler. Globally, auto sales are expected to drop by 12%, which is greater than the 8% of the Great Recession. Most dealers are keeping their doors open, although some are only allowed to keep their service centers open during the shutdown order.
2) The coronavirus crisis has brought negative rates to the U.S., the first time for negative yields on government debt. The yields on both one-month and three-month Treasury bills have dipped below zero on Wednesday. Negative yields have been a part of European markets for months now, with many expecting the same to come to America.
3) Many entertainment facilities and events have been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic with the closing of Disneyland and Disney World being the first world renowned closures. A long list of political events, theme parks, sporting events and leagues, cultural and concerns closures has been joined by the announcement that the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo has been postpone for a year. The economic losses, both direct and indirect, are near incalculable to make. This will add to the total economic downturn of the world with innumerable support and supply businesses suffering.
4) Stock market closings for – 25 MAR 20:
Dow 21,200.55 up 495.64 Nasdaq 7,384.30 down 33.56 S&P 500 2,475.56 up 28.23
1) The devastation that the coronavirus fears has wrought on Europe’s tourist industry is brought into glaring focus in front of the famous Mona Lisa painting in Paris. Where there would normally be a continuous surge of admiring people to view the art classic, now just vacant space. The same at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the normally long lines of waiting people to get in, are also gone. The drop in tourism is costing the EU (European Union) $1.1 billion dollars a month, just when the high season is getting under way. Expectations are that it will only get worst as the year progresses.
2) General Motors is making an all out effort to dominate the EV (Electric Vehicle) market and in the process beat Tesla at its own game. GM has developed new battery modules called Ultium that is said to reduce the cost of batteries and therefore make more affordable EVs. Plans are to offer 20 new EVs by 2023, both in America and China, with marketing plans to sell one million electric cars in the next five years. However, the UAW is concerned that EVs will hurt the union because they require less manpower to assemble. Presently, GM holds over 3,000 patents on electric automobile design.
3) Seattle area school district has closed down its 33 schools of more than 23 thousand kids for up to two weeks due to the coronavirus threat. These students will use online teaching during this time through Google Apps for Education. Students needing a device or internet connection will be provided with one. Teaching staff have been provided with a one day instruction on using the apps and how to monitor the progress of their students. ATS (Automated Teaching Systems) has been on the cusp of revolutionizing American schools, and the coronavirus may provide the impetus to open the market to wide spread commercialization.
4) Stock market closings for – 5 MAR 20: The instability of the markets continue with wild swings of the trading indexes.
Dow 26,121.28 down 969.58 Nasdaq 8,738.60 down 279.49 S&P 500 3,023.94 down 106.18
1) In order to help contain the Chinese coronavirus outbreak, China’s central bank has started deep cleaning and destroying potentially infected cash. The virus appears able to survive on surfaces for many hours which is why buildings in affected areas are regularly disinfecting elevator buttons, door handles and other commonly touched surfaces. Since cash money changes hands multiple times in a day, it too is a potential media to transmit the virus. The cash is disinfected with ultraviolet light and high temperatures, then stored for seven to fourteen days before returning to circulation.
2) The price of wine is expected to drop to its lowest levels in five years, in part because of a surplus of grapes in California. Additionally, there is a decreased demand for wine, with the lower prices lasting up to three years. Vineyards began planting thousands of acres of new vines in 2016, plus more efficient harvesting methods have combined to increase the supply of grapes.
3) GM (General Motors) has decided to pull out of Australia, New Zealand and Thailand as part of their strategy to exit markets that don’t produce adequate returns on investments. The car maker has 828 employees in Australia and New Zealand and another 1,500 in Thailand which will be eliminated.
4) Stock market closings for – 17 FEB 20:
Dow 29,398.08 down 25.23 Nasdaq 9,731.18 up 19.21 S&P 500 3,380.16 up 6.22
1) For the first time in six years, the U.S. trade deficit fell as the White House’s trade war with China curbed imports. The trade deficit dropped 1.7% to $616.8 billion dollars last year with steep decline in industrial materials and supplies, consumer goods and other goods. The trade deficit for goods with Mexico jumped to a record high of $101.8 billion dollars last year, with the European Union reaching an all time high of $177.9 billion dollars.
2) The Ford Motor Company is posting a$1.7 billion dollar loss and anticipates a weak forecast for 2020. General Motors is also reporting poor performance for 2019 and anticipates flat profits for 2020. Both Ford and GM’s troubles are in part from slaking sales in China, in particular with the economic slowdown in China from the coronavirus pandemic. The major competitor to the duet auto makers, Tesla, is suffering from the coronavirus closing of its Shanghai factory which builds its Model 3 sedans.
3) Macy’s, another major world renowned retailer, is experiencing the brick-and-mortar decline of other major traditional retailers. The chain is closing 125 of its stores, in addition to the 100 stores it has already closed, and cutting about 2,000 corporate jobs. Their strategy is to exit weaker shopping malls and focus towards opening smaller format stores in strip centers. But even with these changes, the future of Macy’s is abysmal. The company has lost market share in core categories such as apparel, as fewer shoppers take trips to malls, preferring on line shopping.
4) Stock market closings for – 5 FEB 20:
Dow 29,290.85 up 483.22 Nasdaq 9,508.68 up 40.71 S&P 500 3,334.69 up 37.10
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
1) Ford Motor Company’s sales in China has declined for the third straight year, falling by 26.1%. The company has been trying to revive sales in China after the decline started in 2017 and plans to introduce thirty new models in the next three years, with a third being electric models. General Motors has also experienced a decline in sales of 15% this last year.
2) One of the largest suppliers of parts to Boeing’s 737 MAX, Spirit AeroSystems, is laying off 2,800 workers. Based in Wichita Kansas, will eliminate 20% of its workforce. Smaller layoffs will happen at its facilities in Tulsa and McAlester, with half its annual sales from parts for the 737 MAX. Since last February, Spirit’s stock has fell from a high of $100 a share to $71.50 on news of the layoffs.
3) Expectations are that the U.S. will remove China from its list of currency manipulators two days before the signing of initial U.S. – China trade agreement. Part of the agreement is that both nations will not devalue its currency to gain a competitive advantages of exports. Labeling China a currency manipulator was viewed largely as a symbolic action.
4) Stock market closings for – 13 JAN 20: Stocks are up 495% in the past decade.
Dow 28,907.05 up 83.28 Nasdaq 9,273.93 up 95.07 S&P 500 3,288.13 up 22.78