1) There is a large backup of freighters parked in the San Francisco Bay and in Long Beach, which are awaiting an opening at the Port of Oakland. This is because of a trade bottleneck, a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, thereby leaving U.S. businesses anxiously awaiting goods from Asia. The pandemic has wreaked havoc with the supply chain since early 2020, because it forced the closure of factories throughout China. The problem arose last March, when Americans stayed home, thus dramatically changing their buying habits. Instead of clothes, they bought electronics, fitness equipment and home improvement products. In turn U.S. companies responded by flooding the reopened Asian factories with orders, which then lead to a chain reaction of congestion at ports and freight hubs as the goods began arriving. Ships with as many as 14,000 containers have sat offshore, some of them for over a week, with as many as 40 ships waiting.
2) The manufacturing crisis with automakers continues to grow, with the auto industry bracing for more chip shortages after a fire at a plant owned by Japanese chipmaker Renesas. The company makes chips for Toyota, Nissan and Honda, and expects production at one of the buildings at its Naka Factory in Hitachinaka to be halted for a month. Renesas said the fire started when some equipment overheated and ignited, though it isn’t known what caused it to overheat. Renesas said two-thirds of the products made in the building could be produced elsewhere, although due to the recent increase in demand for semiconductors, the situation does not allow for all products to be immediately produced alternatively. This further reduction in semiconductor production will further reduce production of automobiles worldwide.
3) North Korea tells China they should team up as ‘Hostile Forces’. North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un reportedly praised his country’s close ties with neighboring China, looking to boost their ties to counter the hostile policies of the United States. China and North Korea’s close ties date back to the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949, then the outbreak of the Korean War a year later. In the war, Chinese troops supported North Korean forces with the backing of the Soviet Union, against South Korea and a U.S. led United Nations coalition. However, the fighting ended in a stalemate with an armistice but no official peace, which continues to this day. The North Korea considers that the world is now undergoing transformations rarely seen in a century, which is also overlapped by the ‘once in a century’ pandemic. What this portents for China and North Korea’s future actions . . . only time will tell.
4) Stock market closings for – 24 MAR 21:
Dow Jones 32,420 down by 3.09 NASDAQ 12,962 down by 265.81 S&P 500 3,889 down by 21.38
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) 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) PMI readings released for America, Japan and the Eurozone indicate a slowing down. This is a result of international tensions, with America having a one in four chance of a slowdown.
2) Honda announced it is pulling out of England, with a loss of 3,500 jobs. Honda claimed their decision wasn’t a result of Brexit, but Britain is considered to be a business friendly country and therefore a portal into the European Union, but with Brexit that will now be going away. Presently, about half the cars in Britain are Japanese models, and Honda’s withdrawal is raising fears that the other Japanese automakers will decide to also withdraw.
3) Fears deepen that the sharp rise of the yen may hurt Japan’s economy. Japan is plagued by low growth, tepid consumer purchases, fast falling of exports and an aging population, all which contribute to Japan’s economic woes.
4) 19 FEB 19 Stock market closings:
Dow 25,891.32 up 8.07 Nasdaq 7,486.77 up 14.36 S&P 500 2,779.76 up 4.16