1) One part of the U.S. infrastructure that America can invest in now is the recycling infrastructure. The recycling infrastructure and related new technologies hasn’t been updated for roughly 20 years, in particular the massive growing plastics waste problem. Several years ago, China’s National Sword policy ended its role as a recipient of western waste, leaving the west with a seriously growing waste problem. Some consider the up coming bill on infrastructure upgrade will present an opportunity to leap ahead of the plastic problem with money for developing new technologies.
2) As if the American economy hasn’t suffered enough with the pandemic and record snow storms across the land, one more massive snow and ice storm system is sweeping across the nation again. Not only is there heavy snow, torrential rain and severe weather, but also there were 14 reported tornadoes, and additionally, wind gusts reaching as high as 87 mph in the Texas Panhandle with the region experiencing baseball-sized hail. Over 6 inches of rain has been reported in southern Missouri and over 4 inches of rain reported in Kansas and Nebraska, with all three states seeing flooding due to the storm. Snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour in Colorado and Wyoming, with up to 4 inches per hour locally in the foothills and mountains, closing highways and freeways. Totals of 1 to 4 feet of snow is expected in parts of the Rockies from this storm with 6 to 12 inches from Denver to Rapid City.
3) The microchip shortage continues with GM forced to shut down its Chevy Camaro Production. The global microchip shortage will force some automakers to prioritize the production of only their most important models. For GM, this means that Chevrolet Camaro and Cadillac CT4 and CT5 production must be temporarily paused. Whatever microchips GM has access to, will be diverted to those factories remaining in production, leaving other lines to fight for what’s left. This problem comes just when automakers are trying to climb out of the financial disaster from the pandemic, when makers are needing to make every auto sale they can get, to bring in much needed revenues. Many automakers are now delaying or pausing their development programs, the debut and on-sale dates receding, thereby further aggravating long range revenues. The microchip shortage was caused by semiconductor production stoppages early in the COVID-19 pandemic. Automakers underestimated the rate at which sales would recover, and so, it left them behind all the other companies that rely on microchips. It’s unclear when the shortage will end. Many major automakers, from Honda to Mercedes-Benz have had to either pause or cut production over these shortages, so GM isn’t unique here.
4) Stock market closings for – 16 MAR 21:
Dow 32,825.95 down by 127.51 Nasdaq 13,471.57 up by 11.86 S&P 500 3,962.71 down by 6.23
1) Walt Disney Co. will close at least 60 Disney stores in North America this year, which amounts to about one-third of their stores. Like so many other retailers, Disney has found that shopping has changed because of the coronavirus pandemic- and so has Disney’s entire business with its theme parks closed to some extent. But Disney+ streaming service has blossomed to 94.9 million subscribers. Disney’s revenue in the October to December quarter fell 22% to $16.25 billion from $20.88 billion in the previous year but still beat Wall Street expectations.
2) General Motors said it’s exploring the possibility of a second battery production site in the country, the first is its facility in Lordstown, Ohio, a site it will operate with partner LG Chem. Reports are that GM is interested in a second site in Tennessee, as a venture with Korea’s LG. The Ohio operation is set to open next year with enough capacity to build hundreds of thousands of batteries per year. The automaker is keen to quickly capitalize on a shift to electric vehicles and said it aspires to only sell zero-emissions, light-duty vehicles by 2035, including light-duty pickup trucks. The Ohio plant may be a down payment on this EV future, in which the automaker has invested $2.3 billion.
3) Lumber prices have skyrocketed 140% over the last year, although the economy might not be able to handle further increases in 2021, nevertheless lumber is the best performing commodity. Analyst predict lumber prices could gain another 35% in the next year. Rising lumber prices are from the pandemic induced housing boom, fueled by record low mortgage rates and a mass exodus to the suburbs. It’s a sign that the economy is recovering, but if prices of lumber and other commodities continue to rise quickly, the economy might falter, as prices move higher driven by demand, while supply will continue to shrink. Worker wage increases haven’t been keeping pace with the dramatic spike in all the commodities at this point in time. With interest rates going up and all these inflationary commodities advancing in price, there are growing fears of people being self-sustaining when wages remain static.
4) Stock market closings for – 5 MAR 21:
Dow 31,496.30 up by 572.16 Nasdaq 2,920.15 up by 196.68 S&P 500 3,841.94 up by 73.47
1) Nikola Corp. announced that its long-range fuel-cell semi truck gets as much as 900 miles on a tank of hydrogen gas, and is due to come out in 2024. The Nikola Two fuel-cell vehicle would go at least 750 miles on a tank of hydrogen, while its Tre shorter-range fuel-cell truck, can run 500 miles, and remains on schedule to start production in the second half of 2023. Nikola said that their first Tre FCEV prototypes are scheduled to begin assembly in Arizona and Ulm, Germany, in the second quarter of this year and that testing and validation would continue into 2022. The Nikola 900-mile truck will have a sleeping cabin for drivers and a new chassis designed for North American highways.
2) From California to Indiana, aerospace to appliance manufacturers, American factories are struggling to procure cold-rolled steel. Manufactures are getting hit by a fresh round of disruption in the U.S. steel industry. Steel is in short supply and prices are surging. Unfilled orders for steel in the last quarter were at the highest level in five years, while inventories were near a 3-1/2-year low. The benchmark price for hot-rolled steel hit $1,176 per ton this month, its highest level in at least 13 years. Domestic steel prices have risen more than 160% since last August, leaving steel consumers in a quandary whether to absorb or pass along the increased cost. U.S. steel prices are 68% higher than the global market price and almost double China’s, even with prices in both China and Europe up over 80% from their pandemic-induced lows. But the price gap is so wide that even with a 25% tariff, it would be cheaper to import than buy from domestic mills. The United States imported 18% of its steel needs last year.
3) The global semiconductor shortage will slash earnings of General Motors and Ford Motor Co. by about one-third this year, as supply constraints hamper production and profits. The chip shortage will materially erode margins and could lower expected earnings before interest and taxes by as much as $2 billion for GM and $2.5 billion for Ford. GM’s EBITA margin could fall to 3.4%, while Ford’s could dip as low as 1.8%. Rising demand for the chips needed to build technologically advanced and connected vehicles has introduced a new set of challenges for the North American auto industry, with shortages triggering production cuts and temporary plant closures. Demand from consumer-electronic companies exacerbated the supply shortages amid the coronavirus pandemic.
4) Stock market closings for – 24 FEB 21:
Dow 31,961.86 up by 424.51 Nasdaq 13,597.97 up by 132.77 S&P 500 3,925.43 up by 44.06
1) Fear in American society is apparent with the soaring gun sales for this last year. Measuring, by using the Federal background checks, there have been 4.3 million checks for 2021 vs. 2.7 million for 2020. About 60% of these buyers are new buyers of guns, and about 40% are women. Sales have been so heavy that gun shops are closing because they don’t have any inventory, with people buying two and three guns at a time. The high sales are driven by fear of social unrest, rioting in major cities across the country lasting weeks on end, and fears of suppression of gun ownership by the new administration. Also, people don’t feel they can rely or trust the police to protect them anymore. Additionally, ammunition of all types has been sold out across the land.
2) The global microchip shortage for automobiles continues to spread with the next victim being Ford’s most profitable truck, the F-150 pickup. Many companies have scaled back car production because of the computer chip shortage. Ford is temporarily cutting the number of shifts in its truck production plants in half. Microchip shortages has Volkswagen production limited, and Honda and GM have also had to cut back. Nissan and Toyota have had to slow their truck production lines as well. Ford has already limited production of other models, the Escapes and Lincoln Corsairs. Modern cars have computer systems for almost every component these days, from digital speedometers to vital vehicle functions like controlling emissions and emergency brake systems. The microchip shortages isn’t confined to automobiles with manufactures of telephones, computers, appliances and home entertainment systems feeling the pinch too.
3) Unemployment agencies across the country were flooded with so many claims during the pandemic that many struggled to distinguish the correct from the criminal. Some Americans are receiving tax forms saying they owe money on unemployment benefits they never received. This is an indication of the extent of identity theft in the nation’s state run unemployment systems. Unemployment benefits are taxable, so government agencies must send a tax form to people who received them, and some Americans are receiving tax forms saying they owe money on unemployment benefits they never received. State run unemployment offices are lucrative targets for fraud particularly when the agencies are swamped with applications and not having the time and resources to check. This signals that someone has likely stole personal information and used it to claim benefits, but that data may later be used to steal an identity for more fraud. Nearly 26 million people requested unemployment aid in the initial months after states began ordering shutdowns due to the pandemic.
4) Stock market closings for – 9 DEB 21:
Dow 31,375.83 down by 9.93 Nasdaq 14,007.70 up by 20.06 S&P 500 3,911.23 down by 4.36
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
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) The telecommunications giant AT&T is making its belated entry into the streaming video business to compete with Netflix, Apple and Disney. AT&T plans to reach about 80 million subscribers globally, 50 million in the United States by 2025. HBO Max is expanding its customer base into the streaming market through AT&T wireless. AT&T also owns the satellite service DirecTV.
2) The UAW (United Auto Workers) has approved a new contract with GM (General Motors) which ends the six week strike. GM is calling back technicians to prepare the plants to resume production, with production resuming as early as Monday at some plants. The new contract gives workers a series of wage increases and a path for temporary workers to become permanent employees. Permanent workers can earn as much as $32 an hour.
3) The U.S. government has ended its 2019 fiscal year with the largest deficit since 2012. Gains in tax receipts were offset by higher spending and growing debt service payments. The budget deficit has widened to $984 billion dollars, which was 4.6% of the nation’s gross domestic product. Last years deficit was $779 billion dollars and 3.8% of the GDP. Defense, healthcare and social security programs are a major source for driving the deficit, with worries that these expenditures will not be sustainable.
4) Stock market closings for – 25 OCT 19:
Dow 26,958.06 up 152.53 Nasdaq 8,243.12 up 57.32 S&P 500 3,022.55 up 12.26
1) There are fears that the manufacturing segment is in trouble and may contract for the third straight month. This in turn could drag down the U.S. GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in the third and fourth quarters. Three factors are causing this down turn- the trade war with China, the GM (General Motors) strike and Boeing’s 737 MAX problems stopping deliveries and slowing production.
2) In the recent past, the online retailer giant Amazon has been unable to compete with traditional retailers when selling single items costing less than a few dollars, because the shipping cost is more than the single item cost such as toothpaste, deodorant or a simple brush. Customers had to buy these items as add-ons to make the $25 minimum for free shipping. But these items are now available for free shipping with Amazon’s Prime shipping. This could make for a significant challenge to other retailers such as Walmart, Target and CVS.
3) GM is attempting to end the month long strike of the UAW (United Auto Workers) by making direct appeal to the workers. The company has lost more than a $1 billion dollars so far, and is making several promises to the workers trying to circumvent the union’s leadership. The UAW has increased strike pay from $250 to $275 per week with union members allowed to hold other jobs as long as it doesn’t interfere with their picket duty.
4) Stock market closings for – 14 OCT 19:
Dow 26,787.36 down 29.23 Nasdaq 8,048.65 down 8.39 S&P 500 2,966.15 down 4.12
1) The White House is considering putting limits on U.S. investment in China, which would aggravate the protracted trade dispute between the two largest economies in the world. Advisers are discussing ways to limit U.S. investors’ portfolio flows into China, including limiting all U.S. investment in China. One possible method being considered is to delist Chinese companies on the U.S. stock exchanges thereby limiting American’s exposure to the Chinese market.
2) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortex, the New York Representative, announced a comprehensive anti-poverty bill that would provide new protections for tenants, children, immigrants and other Americans who are increasingly vulnerable to the high cost of inequality. One part of the bill is a tenant rights bill which would significantly expand federal housing policy. This would include a cap on annual rent increases or rent control.
3) General Motors has reversed itself and reinstated health care benefits to its striking workers, as a result of sever criticism from politicians and social media. Normal procedure in strikes is for the cost of health care to shift from the company to the union. The strike of 49,000 GM workers has shut down 30 GM plants across the nation for nearly two weeks. The GM plant in Mexico has been forced to close due to parts shortages as a result of the strike.
4) Stock market closings for – 27 SEP 19:
Dow 26,820.25 down 70.87 Nasdaq 7,939.63 down 91.03 S&P 500 2,961.79 down 15.83
1) The retailing mammoth Amazon has spawned a rival called ‘Free and Fair Markets Initiative’ (FFMI), who have launched a nation wide campaign to criticize Amazon’s business practices. They claim that Amazon stifles competition and innovations, inhibiting consumer choice, gorging on government subsidies, endangering its warehouse workers and exposing consumer data to privacy breaches. The group claims to have grass-roots support, but haven’t disclosed they are receiving backing from some of Amazon’s major corporate rivals such as Walmart.
2) An additional 4,500 Canadian auto workers have been furloughed as a result of UAW (United Auto Workers) strike on GM (General Motors), which is now in its fifth day. This is a result of the strike disrupting operations and supplies of auto parts and assemblies needed for Canada’s plant to manufacture automobiles.
3) The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, the largest public pension system in Ohio, is moving to reduce cost of living benefits for current and future retirees. This requires legislative changes, which the board of directors have voted to ask lawmakers for. Like so many retirements, public and private, the public pension system is striving to straighten out its finances. The fund has $24 billion dollars in unfunded liabilities to contend with and this proposed action will wipe out $3.44 billion dollars of that liability. .
4) Stock market closings for – 20 SEP 19:
Dow 26,935.07 down 159.72 Nasdaq 8,117.67 down 65.20 S&P 500 2,992.07 down 14.72