27 August 2020

1) Large hurricanes bring economic damage on a large scale when they make landfall. This season’s biggie is Hurricane Laura now expected to make landfall as a category 4 storm this Wednesday evening or early Thursday morning. The National Hurricane Center rates the storm as having an “un-survivable storm surge” with large and destructive waves causing catastrophic damage along the coast of eastern Texas to the eastern part of Louisiana. The surge could penetrate up to 30 miles inland from the coast. Add to this, the catastrophic wind damage, and Laura promises to carry a large price tag economically as the storm continues first up into Arkansas then across the United States for the Atlantic with rains and flooding. This year is forecast to be a very active hurricane season so more economic damage may be in the play book.

2) Walmart is suspending its InHome delivery service, which offered the convenience of having people’s groceries delivered and unpacked by the delivery person in the customer’s kitchens. But because of the Convid-19 crisis and the need for contactless service, Walmart is discontinuing the service in favor of its Doorstep Delivery service, where groceries are delivered to consumers but now is left on the door step. With its other two delivery service, Walmart is becoming a strong contender in the e-commerce business.

3) Two long established regional grocery chains have filed for bankruptcy, another sign of the shifting of retail business in America, as traditional retailers fail to adapt to the new economic world. Balducci’s and Kings Food Markets of the north eastern coast were having financial struggles before the pandemic set in, but even thought both had a boost in sales from the pandemic, it wasn’t enough to save them. All stores will remain open as their holding company seeks a buyer. The two grocery chains date back to the first half of the twentieth century and they prospered through the decades before e-commerce.

4) Stock market closings for – 26 AUG 20:

Dow 28,331.92 up 83.48
Nasdaq 11,665.06 up 198.59
S&P 500 3,478.73 up 35.11

10 Year Yield: unchanged at 0.69

Oil: unchanged at $43.43

14 August 2020

1) This year’s hurricane season was already forecast to be a very active season, but now is going from bad to worst because of La Nina. The hurricane season was already on a record making pace, with the peak of the season coming in just a few more weeks. The possibility of the pacific having a La Nina, a state where the sea surface temperature becomes cooler than usual, is increasing in probability. This change in pacific weather patterns decreases the hurricane killing wind shear across the Atlantic, thus allowing more storms to form and strengthen. The Atlantic has already had 10 storms, which is the earliest number to occur by this date. Predictions are for as many as 25 storms forming, compared with the 2005 record of 28 storms including Hurricane Katrine. Additionally, a La Nina can spell cooler temperatures and storms across the north, with drier weather in the southern U.S., all having significant economic impact on America.

2) Again, the first time jobless claims have dropped, this time it’s the first time below 1 million since last March. Last week, 963,000 people filed for first time unemployment benefits, the first time in five months claims were below 1 million. Although the decline is a positive sign, the economic job situation still remains critical with 15.5 million people still unemployed, but still people are returning back to work. The employment problem still remains worst than for the Great Recession just a decade ago, which had lower jobless claims. It took nearly five years for the peak in 2009 until 2014 to return to what they were before the Great Recession.

3) Oil prices dropped as a result of IEA’s (International Energy Agency) forecasts for global oil demand. This reduction is in part a result of the slowdown in air travel. Price of oil has been creeping up coming to a five month high on Wednesday, but then fell as much as 1.3%, from the forecast of a drop in consumption for every quarter to the end of the year. The forecast also signals a shift in the recovery toward a stalling of economic growth. There remains an inventory overhang that persists, which the oil industry continues to work down.

4) Stock market closings for – 13 AUG 20:

Dow 27,896.72 down 80.12
Nasdaq 11,042.50 up 30.27
S&P 500 3,373.43 down 6.92

10 Year Yield: up at 0.72%

Oil: down at $42.34

17 JUL 2020

1) Looming in the wings of the pandemic crisis is another major crisis . . . and epidemic of evictions. With the unemployment rate still more than 10% and eviction protections lapsing across America, housing experts expect millions of Americans to lose their homes in the coming months. For millions of Americans, the housing situation was already precarious before the pandemic. Many are paying large percentages of their monthly incomes toward rent, but don’t have enough to cover an unexpected expense of just a few hundred dollars. With insufficient money from unemployment, people are facing living on the streets during 100 degree plus temperatures, hurricane season and possibly freezing weather if the problem continues. This would also mean increased exposure to the Convid-19 virus.

2) A bright spot in the economy is that retail sales rose again for the second straight month as shoppers slowly trickle back into stores. But with conronavirus cases on the rise, this could be short lived. Sales increased 7.5% for June, from May, better than the 5% estimated by economists. Sales were driven by clothing, electronics and appliances as well as home furnishing. Still, foot traffic through stores is way down, people coming in with specific items to consider buying instead of just browsing. So far this year, 4,000 stores are closing permanently with as many as 25,000 expected by the end of the year. Last year, there were 9,302 store closing.

3) The traditional investing axiom of 60/40 portfolios is coming into question. This is the mix of 60% stocks and 40% bonds, which is generally considered the best risk minimizing strategy for individuals to use in building their fortune. But with Treasury yields now hovering around zero, and expected to stay there for years, those gains are in doubt. For decades, this strategy has given the best returns with the least risk in times of volatile markets. Consequently, investors are scrutinizing the strategy as maybe out of date in a changing economy.

4) Stock market closings for – 16 JUL 20:

Dow 26,734.71 down 135.39
Nasdaq 10,473.83 down 76.66
S&P 500 3,215.57 down 10.99

10 Year Yield: down at 0.61%

Oil: down at $40.80