7 October 2020

1) Ikea, the big Swedish world wide modular furniture manufacture, has experienced a surge in sales from the pandemic as people turned homes into offices and schools. Their online sales are up 45% over the last 12 months to August, with 4 billion visits to their website. Outdoor furniture is the fastest growing category, followed by office furniture. While many of their stores were forced to close from the virus, their online sales remain high even as stores reopen. The furniture retailer has added 6,000 new employees world wide to make a total work force of 217,000. Online sales account for about one fifth of total sales.

2) Job openings in America fell in August for the first time in four months, indicating a moderation in hiring as the crisis continues. Available positions slipped down to 6.49 million from July’s 6.7 million. These numbers do not include recalls from layoffs or positions that are offered only internally. However, layoffs and discharges are at a low for August, although there are still 13.6 million Americans unemployed, which means there are about 2 unemployed competing for each job opening. There are fewer vacancies in construction, retail and health care industries, while vacancies increased for manufacturing, food service and government.

3) Federal reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says America is on the long road to economic recovery from the pandemic induced recession, but still there are other problems on the horizon. There are fears of the economy shifting into reverse once again, especially if a resurgence of the virus comes with cold weather . . . the flue season. Such a resurgence could significantly limit economic activity leaving many unemployed stranded with no jobs for many more months. Powell is calling for the passing of the second stimulus bill presently being debated in the Congress. He considers the risk of pouring too much money into the economy far lower than the risk of not spending enough, despite the already sky high federal budget. While he considers the debt is on an unsustainable path, and has been for some time, but this is not the time to address it.

4) Stock market closings for – 6 OCT 20:

Dow 27,772.76 down 375.88
Nasdaq 11,154.60 down 177.88
S&P 500 3,360.95 down 47.68

10 Year Yield: down at 0.74%

Oil: up at $39.83

16 April 2020

1) With many of the big box stores under siege from store closings and bankruptcies, the U.S. retail sales has suffered a record drop in March. In turn, factory outputs have declined by the most since 1946, as part of the coronavirus economic contraction in the first quarter. The drop is the sharpest rate in decades despite the measures taken to prop up the economy. People are now making comparisons to the Great Depression of 1930’s, considering this recession will be as deep if not deeper than that depression. People are losing jobs by the millions, and one question is how many of those jobs will return and how many will be taken by technology displacement. Last month, retail sales plunged 8.7%, the biggest decline since 1992 when government began taking numbers. Restaurants and bars are included in the retail decline with a drop of 26.6% last month, although grocery and health care rose. Consumer spending has dropped sharply with forecast of a 41% decline for second quarter. Consumer spending accounts for more than two thirds of the U.S. economic activity.

2) The price of oil has fallen below $20 per barrel because of predictions of a record slump in world demand. In April, global oil demand is expected to fall by 29 million barrels a day from last year. This is oil demand levels that was last seen in 1995. The U.S. had been oil independent for several years now, because of its domestic shale oil production, but for this oil to be profitable to extract, oil prices must be above $40 a barrel. With oil prices forecast to be low for the foreseeable future, the shale oil industry is in dire straights.

3) Time when companies are under stress, such as during a recession, provides impudence for them to reorganize and streamline their operations. By adapting to a new environment through restructuring of a company, they are able to reduce operating cost, thereby being better able to survive. Recession brings layoffs and furloughs, so companies seek to get work done with fewer people, usually by using new technologies. Consequently, those jobs are gone, never to return, when the economy returns to health.

4) Stock market closings for – 15 APR 20:

Dow 23,504.35 down 445.41
Nasdaq 8,393.18 down 122.56
S&P 500 2,783.36 down 62.70

10 Year Yield: down at 0.64%

Oil: down at $20.15

15 January 2020

1) J. P. Morgan Chase posted profit and revenue far in excess to analysts’ expectation at the end of 2019. Fourth quarter profit was up 21% to $2.57 a share compared with $2.35 estimates of analysts. The investment bank produced record revenue for the fourth quarter. Citigroup also beat estimates for profit and revenue, their fixed income trading revenue gaining 49%.

2) Consumer prices rose at the fastest pace in eight years, in 2019. The increase was driven by higher gasoline, health care and rent prices in addition to the biggest annual advance in inflation since 2011. The consumer price index rose 0.2% in December, while economist had forecast 0.3%. The cost of living in 2019 rose 2.3% from 2.1%. Price increase for food was mild, while prices fell for used vehicles and airline fares.

3) Three of China’s automakers are considering expanding into Mexico with factories. Car makers Changan, BYD (electric cars) and Anhui Jianghuai or JAC, who already has manufacturing facilities in Mexico, but is considering expanding. The companies are considering expansion sometime this next year. No comments on if and where cars will be exported to.

4) Stock market closings for – 14 JAN 20:

Dow                   28,939.67         up    32.62
Nasdaq                9,251.33    down    22.60
S&P 500               3,283.15    down      4.98

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.82%

Oil:    up   at    $58.14

30 September 2019

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

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.68%

Oil:    $56.18

18 September 2019

1) World oil prices dropped sharply with Saudi Arabian source saying that their oil production could be fully back on line within weeks. This is far sooner than was initially assumed by world markets. Production may be back up in as little as two to three weeks. The attacks resulted in the largest single supply disruption in half a century.

2) Economists say the GM (General Motors) strike no longer has the economic impact that they once did. They assert it will take a lengthy shutdown to make a national impact. This is a result of GM’s market share shrinking while its work force is now smaller, in part because of automation. A prolonged strike could impact the economy by disrupting the supply chain effecting other industries. GM has shifted workers health care cost to the UAW (United Auto Workers) union, increasing pressure on the union for a quick settlement.

3) There are expectations that the Federal Reserve will lower interest rates on Wednesday for the second time in two months with another likely cut later this year. The consensus is the feds will drop the interest rate by about a quarter percent in an attempt to starve off the world economic slowdown from reaching America. Job growth has slowed and the index of manufacturing activity shows contraction, increasing fears that a recession will happen in the near future.

4) Stock market closings for – 17 SEP 19:

Dow                 27,110.80    up    33.98
Nasdaq             8,186.02    up    32.47
S&P 500            3,005.70    up      7.74

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.81%

Oil:    down   at    $58.81

31 May 2019

1) Cattle producers are now using DNA testing to develop higher prime herds that produce a higher quality of beef. DNA testing allows predicting which bulls and cows have the characteristics that will improve herds to produce higher quality meat products. Where once there was only the ‘practiced eye’ of the stockman to judge which cattle would produce the product with breeding, the DNA techniques has vastly accelerated the process, with the expectation that the vast majority of U.S. herds will become high quality beef in just a few years.

2) The nation wide bus coach service Greyhound is up for sale. The holding company FirstGroup is facing demands for strategic changes by investors for a return on their investment. Greyhound is the only remaining nation wide intercity bus carrier, which carries about seventeen million passengers a year.

3) An executive order being issued by President Trump will require greater price transparency in the health-care industry, is encountering stiff industry opposition. One point of contention is a provision to slow the consolidation of medical facilities thereby maintaining competition resulting in lower cost. Health insurers and hospitals don’t want to publicly share the rates they have agree to amongst themselves.

4) 30 MAY 19 Stock market closings:

Dow           25,169.88    up    43.47
Nasdaq        7,567.72    up    20.41
S&P 500       2,788.86    up      5.84

10 Year Yield:    down   at    2.23%

Oil:    down   at    $56.51

6 March 2019

1) The Green New Deal is bringing out proposals for financing the single payer health care proposals. There is a big problem with providing enough health care people such as doctors and nurses to care for the increase numbers of people. Suggestions for finance is an overhaul of present payroll tax combining social security, unemployment and medicare into one flat tax for all of a person’s income. However, apparently there has been no modeling of this strategy to determine its viability.

2) President Trump proposes to drop the preferential trade treatment for India. Presently, there are $5.6 billion dollars worth of Indian goods imported each year into America duty free, while India is imposing high tariffs on US goods imported into India.

3)  As Brexit nears, British people and companies are stockpiling goods at an increasing rate, fearful of shortages if a ‘no-deal’ exit occurs. Both business and households are fearful of shortages especially food items first, then things like toilet paper and medicine.

4) 5 MAR 19 Stock market closings:

Dow           25,806.63     down     13.02
Nasdaq        7,576.36     down       1.21
S&P 500       2,789.65     down       3.16

10 Year Yield:    unchanged   at    2.72%

Oil:    down   at    $56.28