4 January 2021

1) The prospects of approving the $2,000 stimulus checks have dimmed further. The legislation was scrambled in the final days of the 116th Congress. Democrats rapidly passed a bill with some Republican support and attempted to approve it in the GOP-led Senate. But the Senate Majority Leader blocked a vote on the checks, by eliminating Section 230 liability protections for social-media companies and reviewing purported voter fraud in the 2020 election. These contentious measures cut off Democratic support for the bill and avoided holding a vote directly on the larger checks. While a half dozen Senate Republicans have expressed support for larger checks, most have opposed additional spending on top of the $900 billion in aid.

2) There are eleven GOP senators who plan to object to certification of the election results, with Vice President Pence welcoming their move on January 6. So far, every state has certified their election results. The senators’ opposition to official certification is considered to only stall Congress by a matter of hours in finalizing the results. Nearly one-quarter of the Senate Republicans have broken with GOP leaders to join the effort to invalidate Biden’s win. Meanwhile, in the House, over half of the Republican members have said that they will vote on January 6 to block certification of the election results.

3) Nancy Pelosi has been reelected speaker of the house despite a narrow majority, for a fourth non-consecutive term, to lead the House of Representatives, despite suffering a handful of defections in a narrow vote. After serving for 17 years in charge of the House Democrats, Pelosi ran unopposed in her election. The Democrats’ had their smallest majority in decades and a pandemic that has hindered attendance. Some in her caucus have agitated for new leadership, and Republicans were unified against her. She received 216 votes, compared to House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy 209 votes.

4) Stock market closings for – 31 DEC 20:

Dow 30,606.48 up by 196.92
Nasdaq 12,888.28 up by 18.28
S&P 500 3,756.07 up by 24.03

10 Year Yield: down at 0.92%

Oil: up at $48.42

31 December 2020

1) President Donald Trump’s efforts for a $2,000 Covid-19 relief check for each American has run into a road block, which the Senate Republicans have made unsurmountable, even as pressure builds to approve the bigger checks. A growing number of Republicans oppose more spending, despite bucking Trump. The showdown over the $2,000 checks has thrown Congress into a chaotic year-end session which is preventing action on overturning Trump’s veto on a sweeping defense bill. McConnell is trying to provide an off ramp for GOP senators to avoid a tough vote. Republicans are split between those who align with Trump’s populist instincts and those who adhere to what had been more traditional conservative views against government spending. New legislation is proposing linking the president’s demand for bigger checks with repealing law suit protections for tech companies like Facebook or Twitter , as well as establishment of a bipartisan commission to review the 2020 presidential election for possible fraud.

2) There is another casualty of the coronavirus pandemic . . . the ringing in of the new year at Times Square in New York, which in the past draws millions of visitors to Midtown, but not this year. This year, the visitors are out, the traditional dropping of the crystal orb will be viewed only on television. There will still be the night performances, with disco diva Gloria Gaynor singing her “I Will Survive”, a rather appropriate anthem for 2020. Other cities across the globe are also curbing their traditional celebrations of the new year.

3) The new strain of Covid-19 virus has been discovered in Colorado and California which alarms scientists because it is a more contagious Covid-19 strain. It is expected that the new strain will quickly spread to other states. In San Diego County a 30-year-old man in the county, with no travel history, has tested positive for the new strain on Tuesday. Because there is no travel history, this is not an isolated case in San Diego County. Furthermore, on Tuesday, Southern California’s Intensive Care Unit availability is now at zero percent. Meanwhile, Colorado reported its first known case of the variant on Tuesday too, and was investigating a second possible case Wednesday. Both of the cases are National Guard soldiers who were deployed to support staffing at a nursing home in Simla, Colorado, outside Denver. While the new variant continues to spread fast in the UK, it is more contagious than previously identified strains but not more severe. The English virus spreads at a rate of 70% compared with other variants in the U.K.

4) Stock market closings for – 30 DEC 20:
Dow 30,409.56 up by 73.89
Nasdaq 12,870.00 up by 19.78
S&P 500 3,732.04 up by 5.00
10 Year Yield: down at 0.93%
Oil: up at $48.30