26 March 2021

1) The U.S. Supreme Court, in a unanimous 8-0 ruling in a civil procedure case, has made corporations suffer a huge loss by making it easier to sue over defective and dangerous products. The basic thrust of the controversies is actually fairly simple in the case of Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court. The state court held that it had jurisdiction over Ford Motor Company in a product liability suit stemming from a car accident, since the accident happened in the state where suit was brought, and the victim was one of the state’s residents. Furthermore Ford did substantial business in the state with advertising, selling, and servicing the model of vehicle the suit claims is defective. Ford contends that jurisdiction is improper because the particular car involved in the crash was not sold in the state where Ford was sued, nor was it designed or manufactured there. The Supreme Court has essentially staked out two methods for bringing lawsuits against huge corporations: 1) general jurisdiction, and 2) specific jurisdiction. When minimum contacts are found to be sufficiently related to the cause of action, a given court may exercise jurisdiction over such claims.

2) Taiwan and the U.S. plan to deepen maritime security ties in view of China’s escalating ‘gray-zone’ threats. The Chinese government has made vast maritime claims in the South China Sea and also claims sovereignty over the Japanese controlled Senkaku Islands, which it calls Diaoyu. Until Beijing enacted its new coast guard law last month, the country relied on its myriad of armed fishing militia to harass the vessels of other regional claimants. However, China’s neighbors have raised concerns about the revised maritime police legislation, which allows coast guard ships to fire upon foreign vessels deemed to be intruding in Chinese territorial waters. Manila and Tokyo, both who are U.S. defense treaty allies with the U.S., have expressed concern at the potential consequences of the law.

3) Google’s systems infrastructure group calls their new Systems on Chip (SoC) the motherboard on a chip. The cloud computing giant, who is always in need of more computing power for its servers, until now relies on the motherboard as an integration point, where CPUs, networking, storage devices, custom accelerators and memory all come together. To gain higher performance and to use less power, workloads demand even deeper integration into the underlying hardware. With the SoC, the latency and bandwidth between different components can be orders of magnitude better, with reduced power and cost compared to traditional motherboards.

4) Stock market closings for – 25 MAR 21:

Dow Jones 32,619 up by 199.42
NASDAQ 12,978 up by 15.79
S&P 500 3,910 up by 20.38

10 Year Yields: up at 1.635

Oil: down at 61.84

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

CONGRESS FINALLY REACHES $900 BILLION STIMULUS DEAL BEFORE HOLIDAYS!!!!!!!!!!

By: Economic & Finance Report

Eureka!!!!!! Finally a resolution for the stimulus package to be garnered to the American people and American struggling small businesses; in the United States. The stimulus package reached by the Republican & Democrat Senate & House leadership; will have a full vote by the US Senate & House of Reps on Monday, December 21, 2020.

The $900 billion price tag leaves out state aid, that governors and mayors across party lines have indicated they desperately need, to revive their local economies. Local officials will have to figure out ways to attribute their fiscal budget without the aid support being provided by the federal government.

The stimulus deal was reached late Sunday night December 20, 2020 by both Republicans and Democrats. It had been in negotiations for months, as Democrats and Republicans had been jostling for superiority on what should be included for the second wave of stimulus checks to the American people and American small businesses. The package aid was desperately needed because of the collapse of the economy, caused by the coronavirus pandemic. -SB

Image Credit: Forbes.com

14 December 2020

1) Database-software giant Oracle is moving its headquarters out of California (Silicon Valley) to Austin Texas making Oracle the latest tech giant to flee California. The software company had been based in Silicon Valley since it was founded in 1977. High technology industries have a long history in Austin, with IBM, Dell Technologies, and Samsung setting up shop in the city. Depending on their job, many of Oracle employees can choose their office location, as well as continue working from home part- time or full time. This is yet another account of technology talent packing up and leaving the famous tech capital of Silicon Valley for Texas, with Austin, in particular, being a popular destination for relocation. Other tech companies like Hewlett Packard Enterprise, are moving to other cities in Texas, who is relocating their headquarters from San Jose, California to Houston.

2) The Senate has unanimously passed a stopgap funding measure Friday, to avoid a government shutdown for one week, while lawmakers work to close a deal on government funding. Friday evening President Trump then signed the spending bill into law, which keeps the government open at current funding levels. The longest government shut down was for 35 days in 2018, which was the longest-ever shutdown in modern U.S. history. The nonpartisan CBO (Congressional Budget Office) estimates tax revenue is down $2 billion in 2019 because the IRS had halted some operations during the 2018 shutdown.

3) The $908 billion dollar coronavirus relief proposal is going to be split into two packages by lawmakers. The plan will have a $160 billion dollar part that ties together the two most controversial elements, which is more money for state and local governments and protections against coronavirus-related lawsuits. The second part is $748 billion dollars including another round of Paycheck Protection Program funding for small businesses, unemployment benefits, and more money for vaccine distribution, testing and schools. Splitting off the two most controversial items makes it easier to at least pass a smaller coronavirus agreement as part of a government funding deal. Congress is quickly running out of time to cut a big deal on coronavirus relief, the bipartisan group having been negotiating for weeks, to try to finalize its bill after announcing a framework earlier this month.

4) Stock market closings for – 11 DEC 20:

Dow 30,046.37 up by 47.11
Nasdaq 12,377.87 down by 27.94
S&P 500 3,663.46 down by 4.64

10 Year Yield: down at 0.89%

Oil: down at $46.56

7 December 2020

1) Denmark has announced it will stop offering new oil and gas licenses in the North Sea and will phase out oil production all together in 2050 as part of the country’s goal to become fossil free. The Social Democrat government reached a deal with a majority in parliament to drop Denmark’s 8th licensing round plus any future exploration plans. Conditions for the oil and gas companies currently operating in Danish waters will remain unchanged until production stops in 2050. The decision will cost the country about $2.1 billion dollars a year. Production for 2020 is 83,000 barrels of oil plus natural gas equivalent of 21,000 barrels. With Denmark being the European Union’s largest oil producer, this decision will resonate around the world.

2) Reports are that a $908 billion dollar stimulus plan has gained the support of top congressional Democrats and several senior senate Republicans, that combines many of the central priorities of congressional leaders of each party, as well as those of President-elect Joe Biden. There is funding for health officials to help with the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine, as well as aid for hospitals, the hungry, and the U.S. Postal Service. The most expensive item in the bipartisan plan is $288 billion in assistance for U.S. businesses, with lawmakers insisting that funding is geared primarily toward assisting small firms, including continuation of the Paycheck Protection Plan. There is also a range of funding for smaller measures aimed at meeting other critical needs facing the country such as schools and education funding, transportation systems, agriculture, housing and rental assistance, the vaccine program, and the U.S. Postal Service.

3) Employment picture is darkening, with the U.S. economy adding in November the fewest workers in six months, hindered by a resurgence in new COVID-19 cases that, together with a lack of more government relief money, threatens the recovery from the pandemic recession. The Labor Department reported the addition of 245,000 jobs in November, much less than the 440,000 expected, and far less than the 610,000 in October. The unemployment rate slipped from 6.9% down to 6.7%, but that was because fewer people were looking for work. With bipartisan consensus, there is hope of the $908 billion dollar aid package passing before Congress breaks for the holidays.

4) Stock market closings for – 4 DEC 20:

Dow 30,218.26 up by 248.74
Nasdaq 12,464.23 up by 87.05
S&P 500 3,699.12 up by 32.40

10 Year Yield: up at 0.97%

Oil: up at $46.09

4 December 2020

1) Exxon has announced that it will dramatically mark down the value of its natural gas properties, a result of the slow oil price recovery. The plan is to take a non-cash charge of $17 to $20 billion dollars, which is a massive hit for a company who has long opposed to taking writedowns. Exxon erred when it acquired XTO Energy, a natural gas giant, for $41 billion dollars in late 2009. Now, about half of that purchasing value has now been erased. The natural gas market is depressed with the price of gas now less than half of what it was when Exxon purchased XTO Energy. Other oil companies such as Chevron, BP and Shell have also taken massive write downs. This write down also means that Exxon will limit its near term capital spending in gas

2) Failed talks have exposed a dangerous fissure at OPEC’s core, which its partners are quietly working to repair. Diplomatic efforts center around Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on how much crude oil to pump in the coming new year. OPEC rescued the oil market this year, after an unprecedented slump in oil prices, by slashing production to compensate for the demand decline because of the pandemic. But with oil prices down for so long, many OPEC member countries life blood revenues are down which impairs operations of those governments. This puts a lot of pressure on individual countries to break away and pump without any restrictions or quotas to get the monies they need. Privately, some OPEC members are talking about even leaving the cartel and going their own way with oil.

3) During the Thanksgiving holiday week, fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits, thereby reversing an uptick in jobless claims over the previous two weeks. But still unemployment claims remain historically high, indicating many companies are continuing to lay off workers, despite the economy recovering from the impact of the coronavirus. Some 712,000 people applied for unemployment benefits, a drop of 75,000 from the week before. Another 288,000 applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a special program for self-employed and gig workers, as well as others who don’t qualify for regular state unemployment. In addition, millions are struggling to find work during the pandemic. All told, about 20 million people are now receiving some type of jobless aid, with 12 million set to lose their benefits the day after Christmas unless Congress agrees to extend funding.

4) Stock market closings for – 3 DEC 20:

Dow 29,969.52 up by 85.73
Nasdaq 12,377.18 up by 27.82
S&P 500 3,666.72 down by 2.29

10 Year Yield: down at 0.92%

Oil: up at $45.64

3 December 2020

1) China has landed its Xinhua robotic spacecraft on the moon to spend two days gathering rocks and dirt from the lunar surface, then return those moon samples back to Earth. This is the third successful non-crewed lunar landing made by China, the first being the 2013 Chang’e-3 and its Yutu rover. Then in 2019, Chang’e-4 landed on the moon’s far side, the first spacecraft from Earth to ever do that. China will be the third nation to bring lunar samples back to earth, with first the Apollo moon landings then the Soviet Union’s Luna robotic landers. After China’s spacecraft entered orbit around the moon, Chang’e-5 was split into two vehicles, the lander went down onto the surface then other an orbiter that awaits its return. Moon samples will then be transferred to the orbiter for the journey back to Earth.

2) Further increasing the tensions in the Asian Pacific arena, while also showing its increasing militancy, Russia deploys missiles to Pacific islands, which are claimed by Japan. The deployed missiles are state-of-the-art air defense missile system designed to bring down flying aircraft. The S-300V4 air defense missile systems have entered combat duty on the Kuril Islands, adding punch to the shorter range Tor M2 missile systems deployed there earlier. This is the latest move in a continuous Russian military buildup on the islands, which has included stationing advanced fighter jets and anti-ship missiles there. The Soviet Union took the islands in the final days of World War II, and the dispute over ownership has kept the countries from signing a peace treaty ending their hostilities.

3) Negotiations for a new coronavirus stimulus package is in progress but a deal remains unclear. Plans are for Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to meet, to discuss both the effort to avert a government shutdown next week and the long-stalled stimulus package. It is reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will accept a plan that is just under $1 trillion dollars, which removes a major roadblock, but this bill would not include another $1,200 check for individuals.

4) Stock market closings for – 2 DEC 20:
Dow 29,883.79 up by 59.87
Nasdaq 12,349.37 down by 5.74
S&P 500 3,669.01 up by 6.56

10 Year Yield: up at 0.95%

Oil: up at $44.96

30 November 2020

1) Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warns that Americans should ‘double down’ on COVID-19 precautions as we reach the final stretch before the first vaccines. Over the past two weeks, Pfizer, BioNTech, and Moderna have released promising results from their phase 3 testing of Covid-19 vaccine candidates, so now there is the light at the end of the tunnel. Test show the vaccines are 90 to 95% effective against the Covid-19 virus. But while trials give reason for hope, case numbers and deaths from this week have been more sobering with 166,272 new cases per day plus an average of about 1,200 deaths per day. Dr. Fauci warns that across the globe, people were feeling ‘covid fatigue,’, and after months of quarantine, they are becoming tired of social distancing and other public health measures.

2) An internal government analysis warns that the U.S. government stands to lose more than $400 billion dollars from the federal student loan program, approaching the size of losses incurred by banks during the subprime-mortgage crisis. The Education Department, looked at $1.37 trillion dollars in student loans held by the government at the start of the year, then concluded that students will pay back $935 billion dollars in principal and interest, but this will still leave the American taxpayers stuck for $435 billion dollars. The losses are far steeper than prior government projections. Last year the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the student-loan program would cost taxpayers $31.5 billion dollars, including administrative costs. After decades of ‘no questions asked lending’, the government has piled up a toxic debt. By comparison, private lenders lost $535 billion dollars from subprime-mortgages of the 2008 financial crisis.

3) Metals stocks are rising with shares of United States Steel leading the sector with a 21.3% gain and steelmaker Cleveland-Cliffs up 10.1%, while Aluminum Corporation of China is up 11.3%. The rise is driven by an expected resurgence of car demand in the U.S. causing a global steel price surge at the same time as the U.S. steel market is enduring acute shortages in supply. Aluminum is a metal that automakers have been known to employ as an alternative and hence why Aluminum makers are also on the rise. Currently neither U.S. Steel nor Cleveland-Cliffs are a cash-generating enterprise, while Aluminum Corporation of China has generated a cool $1 billion dollars in real cash profit over the past year.

4) Stock market closings for – 27 Nov 20:
Dow 29,910.37 up by 37.90
Nasdaq 12,205.85 up by 111.44
S&P 500 3,638.35 up by 8.70
10 Year Yield: down at 0.84%
Oil: down at $45.29

17 November 2020

1) Because of the worldwide pandemic, Asia has been vastly overstocked with oil distillates this year. In response, China’s biggest refiner is eyeing a creative strategy to ease the persistent diesel glut by using brand new supertankers usually reserved for crude oil. While supertankers are built to transport dirty fuels such as crude oil, they can carry cleaner products like gasoline and diesel on their maiden voyage. Therefore, China’s largest oil refiner has hired a newly-built very large crude carrier to load low-sulfur diesel in Asia for delivery to Europe. China intends to charter brand new vessels on a regular basis to transport more diesel to Europe, thereby clearing out bloated fuel stockpiles in Asia. Oil prices settle lower after a surprise climb in U.S. crude supplies.

2) An adults-only luxury resort in the Maldives is offering guests (two people max) a year’s worth of unlimited stays in 2021 for $30,000. Called the “Unlimited Stays in Paradise” package, which includes an over water bungalow, free breakfast services, discounts on dining experiences at the resort and spa services. The 5-star adult-only resort has multiple restaurants and private dining experiences, an option for private movie screenings, a spa, and offers fun excursions. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, many destinations, Bermuda and Barbados for instance, are taking advantage of people wanting to opt-out of quarantining in their homes for an isolated vacation overseas. Three Hawaiian islands, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island, considered allowing tourists to vacation in a Resort Bubble, which will allow visitors to safely roam.

3) China’s Ruler Xi Jinping has halted Ant’s record-breaking $37 billion IPO after the company’s boss Jack Ma snubbed government leaders. Jack Ma, Ant’s founder, criticized Chinese government leaders, when a week before the Chinese fintech was set to go public, Ma made incendiary comments that didn’t go down well with the president or other government officials. This is another example of how President Xi deals with any threat to his authority, such as Hong Kong, including a low tolerance for big private businesses that accumulate wealth and power. Ma also criticized the regulators who enforce a set of international banking rules as an old people’s club. The fintech had already secured over $3 trillion in orders from individual investors across its dual listings in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

4) Stock market closings for – 16 NOV 20:
Dow 29,950.44 up by 470.63
Nasdaq 11,924.13 up by 94.84
S&P 500 3,626.91 up by 41.76
10 Year Yield: up at 0.91%
Oil: up at $41.47

11 November 2020

1) President Trump’s administration is readying new sanctions against Iran as the clock runs out before Joe Biden’s inauguration, who has said he wants to return the U.S. to the 2015 nuclear deal. These planned sanctions are being worked out in conjunction with Israeli high government officials. These sanctions make it more difficult to return to the 2015 nuclear agreement. Reportedly, these sanctions are separate from the Iranian nuclear program, instead they are linked to its ballistic missile program, assistance to terror organizations and human rights violations. Joe Biden said he would rejoin the deal if Iran returns to holding up its end of the deal following Tehran’s departure from the agreement rules after Trump pulled out and instituted sanctions on the country.

2) Some are forecasting the US economy could be set for a significant surge in growth as consumers start to spend the money they saved during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the past, when the personal-savings rate has been this high, economic growth has surged. There is more than $2.5 trillion dollars of sidelined savings that is the fuel for explosive growth. The savings rate spiked to 35% earlier this year, as the economy went into a recession, and now sits at 15%, which is above the historic average. The surge in housing has led to a shortage of common consumer goods, so inventories are the lowest ever. Therefore, the economic recovery won’t be entirely reliant on another round of fiscal stimulus. It only takes a bit more confidence to produce a healthy advance in the economy.

3) Biden’s victory could end up reshaping the U.S. energy sector in years to come, although the president-elect may have limited room to maneuver given that the control of the Senate remains unclear. The president-elect has pledged to spend trillions of dollars to speed up the transition from fossil fuels, slash emissions and curb climate change. Biden has also promised to ban new fracking on federal lands, which he may try to achieve via an executive order. Such a move would limit shale companies’ operations in several states. Biden is expected to block new drilling permits on federal lands, something he could do via an executive order. Moved to clamp down on the oil industry’s emissions by reversing Trump’s relaxation of environmental regulation, which most likely increases the cost of producing, transporting and processing hydrocarbons. America’s energy future may mean less LNG exports, increase emphasis on renewables, decline of coal usage, impact on USMCA, use of fuel ethanol, and the goal to eliminate carbon emissions from the power sector by 2035.

4) Stock market closings for – 10 NOV 20:
Dow 29,420.92 up by 62.95
Nasdaq 11,553.86 down by 159.93
S&P 500 3,545.53 down by 4.97
10 Year Yield: up at 0.97%
Oil: up at $41.86