27 May 2020

1) The local economies of oil country are being hit hard by the shale oil bust as royalties from oil pumped have shrank to near insignificance. While the oil bust has erased tens of thousands of jobs, while drying up local tax revenues, it has also greatly reduced the inflow of money to local economies from the royalties being paid out. There are about 12 million U.S. mineral owners collecting royalties for oil and gas extracted from their land. Royalties range from 12.5% to 25% of the value of gas and oil pumped, with the average oil land owner collecting about $500 dollars a month.

2) The coronavirus pandemic is causing more economic troubles with increased prices at supermarkets. The virus caused unprecedented demand, the shutdown of some food manufacturing facilities and the need for more labor to assemble orders for pickup and delivery are adding to costs of the grocery business. Since supermarket’s get all their money from the checkout lanes, this translates into higher grocery prices. Some say the grocery business will never be the same again. Furthermore, with demand driven so high by the pandemic, stores have no need to offer incentives and sales. This demand has been felt up the supply chain further increasing cost. One note, the pickup and delivery business of groceries has been catapulted ahead bringing automation to the grocery business closer.

3) The New York Stock Exchange has started a phased reopening of its trading floor, having been closed for two months because of the pandemic crisis. The NYSE has been limited to all electronic trading since March 23 in a measure to prevent the spread of the virus. But there will be fewer floor brokers, and they will wear face masks and do social distancing. Nevertheless, many brokers will continue to do their jobs remotely with electronics, and stay away from the trading floor. Another example of how American business has been changed by the need to keep people spaced apart, even isolated in order to halt the spread of the virus.

4) Stock market closings for – 26 MAY 20:

Dow 24,995.11 up 529.95
Nasdaq 9,340.22 up 15.63
S&P 500 2,991.77 up 36.32

10 Year Yield: up at 0.70%

Oil: up at $34.18

26 February 2020

1) Global trade experiences its first full-year drop since the financial crisis, with weaker world growth and a manufacturing recession taking their toll. The spread of the coronavirus, with its impact on businesses and households, is increasingly pulling world economics down. While the decline isn’t huge, it is the first since 2009 and follows growth of more than 3% in 2018. The virus has shut off huge areas of China causing the closing of factories and now is spreading internationally.

2) The markets continue to follow the Dow’s thousand point drop with more large loses. To add to the financial worries, bond yields are slipping down, raising concerns that the global economy is slowing significantly because of the spreading coronavirus. There is heavy buying of treasuries in order to shelter money, with the ten year Treasury yield traded at 1.32%, an all time low, with the thirty year bond yield also reaching a record low. Analysts are already cutting their earnings estimates for the first quarter, further dampening hopes for better near term growth.

3) Retail giant Amazon has opened its first Go Grocery store in Seattle. The automated store is cashierless where customers walk in, and get what they want, and on walking out, computer and sensors electronically charging their purchases. The store is over 10,000 square feet and has about 5,000 items including fresh produce, meats and alcohol. This is just another example of the grocery retailers efforts to automate their operations and reduce labor costs.

4) Stock market closings for – 25 FEB 20: Dow is down 1900 points in two days and some experts fear the markets are 500 points away from being a correction.

Dow 27,081.36 down 879.44
Nasdaq 8,965.61 down 255.67
S&P 500 3,128.21 down 97.68

10 Year Yield: down at 1.33%

Oil: down at $50.10

31 January 2020

1) Hallmark Greeting Cards is suffering a downturn in the brick-and-mortar retail industry, closing sixteen of its retail outlets across America. Social media is crushing the card business, so it’s no longer a viable business. People use to buy and send cards all the time, but now it’s all online. This is just another indicator of how the retail business is changing, more people doing their shopping on line.

2) Franchise businesses remain a popular strategy for people to start their own business, giving them the benefit of an established brand. About two-thirds of Americans say they want to start a small business, but fears of failure stop most, with good reason. About half the small business startups fail within five years, and two-thirds within ten years. Most businesses do not fail because they don’t make a profit, but rather because of insufficient cash flow problems.

3) Independent grocery stores and regional supermarket chains, who are already facing brutal competition and shrinking profits, now face losing a valuable source of sales- the food stamp recipients. New rules for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) could eliminate 700,000 people from eligibility. Loss of sales could result in reduce orders from suppliers, reducing labor in stores or the closing of stores. Grocery stores have a profit margin of only about 1 % to 2% leaving little room for changes in their sales volume.

4) Stock market closings for – 30 JAN 20:

Dow              28,859.44    up    124.99
Nasdaq          9,298.93    up      23.77
S&P 500         3,283.66    up      10.26

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.56%

Oil:    down   at    $52.87

21 November 2019

1) For 80 years Boeing Aircraft has operated as an ‘association of engineers’, but this changed in 2001 when the upper management who came from MacDonnel Douglas (a failed company), elected to move Boeing’s corporate headquarters to Chicago. The rational was upper management shouldn’t be close to a principal business, because the corporate center is inevitably drawn into day to day business operations. With this, Boeing became a financially driven business instead of engineering driven, with decision based on cost cutting instead of safety. This has resulted in the 737 MAX fiasco now being played out.

2) Apple has started construction of its $1 billion dollar campus in Austin Texas, which is beside its new MacBook Pro laptop manufacturing facility. The 3 million square foot campus will have 5,000 employees with capacity to grow to 15,000. Currently, Apply employs 7,000 people in Austin. This is seen as another move by Apple to limit its manufacturing in China.

3) Walmart is redesigning its grocery department in order to counter impending competition to traditional brick-and-mortar from online giant Amazon. Already the country’s largest grocer, Walmart will widen aisles, add low profile displays in the produce departments, an organic shop and update signage throughout its stores. These changes are expected to be improvements for the customers and workers.

4) Stock market closings for – 20 NOV 19:

Dow               27,821.09    down    112.93
Nasdaq           8,526.73    down      43.93
S&P 500          3,108.46    down       11.72

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.74%

Oil:    up   at    $57.09

30 October 2019

1) Humana, the health insurance giant, is laying off more than 800 people. These layoffs are from its operations in several states, their intent is to trim payroll by 2%, starting this week. Humana is taking a series of measures in 2020 aimed at improving productivity and position the company for long term sustainable success. This need to cut expenses is driven by the anticipated $1 billion dollar non-deductible health insurance fee or HIF, which Humana must pay in 2020.

2) The retail mammoth Amazon is making further inroads into the grocery retailing business by offering free delivery of groceries to its Prime members. These will include services like Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market using time portals of one and two hour delivery windows. Fresh grocery delivery service is expanding into new cities. This new delivery strategy is expected to circumvent other retailers such as Walmart.

3) The ride sharing company Lyft is introducing Lyft Pink, a monthly membership for riders that gives a 15% discount as well as other perks. Unlike previous discount programs which only applied for a certain number of rides, this discount will have no limits. While Lyft Pink will launch later this year, you can sign up for the service now.

4) Stock market closings for – 29 OCT 19:

Dow              27,071.42    down    19.30
Nasdaq           8,276.85    down    49.14
S&P 500          3,036.89    down      2.53

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.84%

Oil:    down   at    $55.52

2 October 2019

1) The retailer giant Amazon is expanding into the grocery business by leasing retail space across the Los Angeles area, signing leases for more than twelve locations. This is the first step of plans to open grocery stories across the nation. Amazon job postings are looking for people to work in retail concepts for a multiple customer experiences under one roof. Stores are reportedly to be about 35,000 square feet and intended to compete with big box stores such as Walmart, Target and Kroger.

2) The Institute for Supply Management says its manufacturing index dropped to 47.8 last month, the lowest since June 2009, below the forecast 49.1. Indexes below 50 indicate a contraction in manufacturing. Manufacturing accounts for 12% of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product), so a slowdown could effect other parts of the economy. Other indicators have shown output increased over last month.

3) Oil prices record its weakest quarter since late last year as fears over a global economic slowdown overshadowed the attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil production facilities. Brent futures are down 8.7% since the end of June, despite the peak after the attacks. The price of oil is considered an economic indicator, since demand goes down as economies slow down, making more oil available, thus causing oil prices to decline.

4) Stock market closings for – 1 OCT 19:

Dow               26,573.04    down    343.79
Nasdaq            7,908.68    down      90.65
S&P 500           2,940.25    down      36.49

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.64%

Oil:    down   at    $53.98