16 March 2021

1) The technology known as carbon capture and storage, a concept that has been around for at least a quarter century to reduce the climate damaging emissions from factories, is being pursued by major international oil companies. The idea sounds deceptively simple, just divert pollutants before they can escape into the air, and bury them deep in the ground where they are harmless. But the technology has proved to be hugely expensive, and so has not caught on as quickly as advocates hoped. Exxon Mobil, BP and Royal Dutch Shell plus lesser known Norway’s Equinor, France’s Total, and Italy’s Eni are investors in capture and storage projects.

2) Reports are, that amid all the trillion dollar spending, the White House is now starting to consider how to pay for the programs meant to bolster long term economic growth with investments in infrastructure, clean energy and education. The challenges are twofold: 1) how much of the bill is paid for with tax increases and 2) which policies to finance with more borrowing. The administration hasn’t decided whether to pursue a wealth tax. With interest rates so low, U.S. borrowing costs are manageable right now. The federal government currently collects the biggest chunk of its revenue, about half in 2019, from individual income taxes, which now tops out at 37% of income above $518,000 per year. For now, there are few signs of inflationary spiral or fiscal crisis that policy makers thought would accompany debt levels like today’s. The Congressional Budget Office this month projected that the national debt would double as a proportion of gross domestic product over the next 30 years. But the cost of borrowing is rising for the government and across the economy so the large debt could mean trouble in the future.

3) India’s foreign-exchange reserves has surpassed Russia’s to become the world’s fourth largest, as India central bank continues to hoard dollars to cushion the economy against any sudden outflows. Reserves for both countries have mostly flattened this year after months of rapid increase. India’s reserves, enough to cover roughly 18 months of imports, have been bolstered by a rare current-account surplus, raising inflows into the local stock market and foreign direct investment. India’s foreign currency holdings fell by $4.3 billion to $580.3 billion as of March 5, edging out Russia’s $580.1 billion pile. China has the largest reserves, followed by Japan and Switzerland on the International Monetary Fund table.

4) Stock market closings for – 15 MAR 21:

Dow 32,953.46 up by 174.82
Nasdaq 3,459.71 up by 139.84
S&P 500 3,968.94 up by 25.60

10 Year Yield: down at 1.61%

Oil: down at $65.29

11 March 2021

1) The Interior Department moved one step closer to allowing the construction of the country’s first commercial scale offshore wind project with the release of a Final Environmental Impact Statement. This is the last step before issuing a decision on whether it will approve or deny the request to build the 800-megawatt project, the amount of energy used by more than 400,000 homes, and is 12 miles from Martha’s Vineyard. But the environmental assessment notes the project is expected to negatively impact commercial fishing, a $630 million industry in Massachusetts. If approved the Vineyard Wind 1 project is expected to be completed in 2023.

2) Japan’s new supercomputer Fugaku is the fastest supercomputer in the world and now is finally in fully operational status. Now, after undergoing nearly a year of testing on projects aimed at combating the COVID-19 pandemic by using analytics, modeling and policy making to prevent similar disasters, the computer is operational. Fugaku has been at the top of the list of fastest supercomputers since mid-2020, and it continues to hold that spot in the most recent Top 500 list. With three times the computing power of the runner-up IBM Summit, Fugaku is likely to remain the supercomputer to beat until Finland’s LUMI is completed. Fugaku is powered by ARM A64FX chips, of which it has 7,630,848 cores. When tested against the HPL supercomputing benchmark, it set a world record of 442 petaflops. And against the ‘high-performance computing artificial intelligence’ workload (HPC-AI) benchmark it maxed out at 2.0 exaflops, beating the previous record (also held by Fugaku) of 1.4 exaflops set in June 2020. According to Top 500, Fugaku’s HPC-AI benchmark was the first benchmark measurements above one exaflop for any precision on any type of hardware. In terms of the type of research Fugaku will be working on, some projects have already returned results such as simulating tsunami waves to forecast flooding in Japan. Seventy-four additional projects have been selected for implementation starting in April 2021.

3) Worries continue to grow that interest rates and inflation will rise as a result of greater government borrowing- a.k.a. the just passed $1.9 trillion stimulus package. Washington doesn’t want to talk about how to pay for it, and now they’re wanting to do an infrastructure bill. The negative effects on the economy will include higher mortgage rates and car payments. There are growing fears that coming next is a massive tax increase.

4) Stock market closings for – 10 MAR 21:

Dow 32,297.02 up by 464.28
Nasdaq 13,068.83 down by 4.99
S&P 500 3,898.81 up by 23.37

10 Year Yield: down at 1.52%

Oil: up at $64.69

23 February 2021

1) IBM and Delta have expanded a multi-year services agreement to migrate the airline’s applications to the cloud. Delta will move to a hybrid cloud architecture built on Red Hat OpenShift, and has been retooling during the COVID-19 pandemic with the aim of rebounding in 2021 and 2022 as travel picks up. Like other businesses, Delta has had to accelerate its digital transformation plans, by utilizing IBM’s services, hybrid cloud architecture and roadmaps to migrate its applications. In addition, Delta will also leverage IBM software such as CloudPaks and co-create applications.

2) The relentless rise in lumber prices shows no signs of subsiding as the pandemic keeps people at home, thereby spurring a home renovation boom. Prices have climbed almost 40% this year, fueling concerns for home builders. Surge in lumber prices is adding thousands of dollars to the cost of a new home and causing some builders to abruptly halt projects at a time when inventories are down. This demand has handicapped producers’ abilities to restock inventories quickly, further pushing prices up. There are fears that the rise in lumber will spark inflation bleeding into the home-buying market.

3) It appears that robots will soon have a big role in the construction industry, but until these machines can automatically prioritize tasks, project managers will still need to manually assess and appraise how the project is progressing. The construction industry’s productivity has trailed that of other economic sectors for decades, and there is a $1.6 trillion dollar opportunity to close the gap. AI and deep learning can make robotics useful across the construction industry. Now, AI startup Buildots has been taking its first steps to make this happen. Buildots attaches 360-degree cameras onto project managers’ hardhats to collect footage inside the construction site and analyze the image-data. On a typical site, there are tens of thousands of different construction activities. Tasks can be as small as installing a door handle, or as big as laying a brick wall. The Buildots platform automatically captures data using the cameras, and compares it to the designs and project schedule. It analyzes every electrical outlet, wall, or window, separately to determine its exact state relative to that expected on the plans. Deep learning models and algorithms such as the AI-based image stabilization engine, person data removal which removes people, phone/tablet screens, and paper notes and status classification can transform the visual data into insights. The AI system is able to assess if each item is completed or behind schedule and notify managers of what needs to be done.

4) Stock market closings for – 22 FEB 21:

Dow 31,521.69 up by 27.37
Nasdaq 13,533.05 down by 341.41
S&P 500 3,876.50 down by 30.21

10 Year Yield: up at 1.37%

Oil: up at $62.19

11 January 2021

1) Boeing Aircraft Co. has reached a $2.5 billion dollar agreement to settle the criminal charge that it defrauded the U.S. government by concealing information about the troubled 737 MAX. This is the ill-fated jet airliner involved in two fatal crashes that killed 346 people. The airline manufacturer entered into a deferred prosecution agreement and in turn, the Justice Department will dismiss the charge against Boeing. This settlement caps a two-year criminal investigation into the two MAX crashes. This settlement will have no bearing on any pending civil litigation. In addition, Boeing will pay a $243.6 million criminal penalty. With the penalty and the fund for relatives, Boeing says it expects to pay an additional $743.6 million dollars for the fourth quarter of 2020.

2) The cryptocurrency Bitcoin is at an all-time high in 2021, one coin now worth $36,000. It has doubled its value in 30 days. Bitcoin is the first and biggest cryptocurrency, which started up in January 2009, and eleven years after its invention, the total value of all Bitcoins in the world is around $359 billion. The Bitcoins are long, unbreakable codes stored in clouds or computers. Bitcoins were invented at the height of the 2008-9 financial crisis. The idea is a type of money that didn’t depend on the traditional banking systems. Cryptocurrency is popular in countries with inflation.

3) Venture capital backed companies in the United States raised nearly $130 billion dollars last year, setting a record despite the COVID-19 pandemic, up 14% from 2019, while the number of deals is down 9% to 6,022. The so-called mega-rounds, which are deals that are $100 million dollars or higher, also hit a record amount and number, with $63 billion dollars raised in 318 deals. However, there is a big drop in the very early stage investment called the seed money stage. The trend of big investments doesn’t look like it will slow in 2021 as there is a lot of capital chasing investments. It’s expected that 2021 is going to be a banner year for many tech companies.

4) Stock market closings for – 8 JAN 21:

Dow 31,097.97 up by 56.84
Nasdaq 13,201.98 up by 134.50
S&P 500 3,824.68 up by 20.89

10 Year Yield: up at 1.10%

Oil: up at $52.73

17 December 2020

1) North Dakota, a state with an early shale oil boom, expects oil production growth to stall in the next two years because of the market crash and higher environmental standards. The problem is investment money because Wall Street is showing no signs to invest in a shale boom. Investors have grown wary of the poor cash flow even before the crash, and institutional investors are shunning oil because of climate change concerns. North Dakota has limited excessive natural gas flaring from oil wells, intending to control greenhouse emissions at the expense of production. The state is expecting output to decline in November and December because of a lack of oil well completions. Oil markets are shrinking due to the loss of demand, while growth in shale oil depends on investments to replace wells that decline rapidly.

2) The Federal Reserve shifts its focus to fighting climate change, with average temperatures climbing and severe weather events happening more frequently. The Fed’s recent financial stability report includes a section on climate change, signaling a risk that climate change could pose to the financial system. Federal Reserve supervisors expect banks to identify, measure, control, and monitor all material risks, which for many banks are likely to extend to climate risks. Therefore if those dangers aren’t considered, hazards such as storms, floods, droughts or wildfires could change the value of assets suddenly, causing a shock to the system.

3) The more a person understands interest rates, inflation, risk diversification and other financial concepts, the less likely they show signs of financial fear and distraught at times of serious economic troubles. At the start of the pandemic in March, 40% of households was making under $40,000 per year lost their jobs. By April, the jobless rate had soared to 14.7% while the $1,200 direct checks and supplemental $600 federal-unemployment benefits started. Researchers asked people if they could cover a $2,000 unexpected emergency expense, and18.9% said they couldn’t meet the expense. In a test, the survey of ‘at risks participants’ correctly answered about half of the three questions about how interest rates are calculated, inflation and risk, while people in better money condition answered almost all three (2.5 on average) correctly.

4) Stock market closings for – 16 DEC 20:
Dow 30,154.54 down by 44.77
Nasdaq 12,658.19 up by 63.13
S&P 500 3,701.17 up by 6.55
10 Year Yield: down at 0.92%
Oil: up at $47.88

14 October 2020

1) Cuba’s economic minister urged calm as the government prepares to unify its dual currency system and multiple exchange rates in hopes of improving economic performance. The nation is undergoing a crisis caused by new U.S. sanctions on top of decades-old embargos, the pandemic and its inefficient Soviet-style command economy. The country could not overcome the crisis without unification which included wage, pension and other measures to protect the population. The monetary reform will eliminate the convertible peso while leaving a devalued peso, the officially exchanged rate since the 1959 Revolution is one peso to the dollar. The country would end up with a single currency and exchange rate with the dollar, but it’s unknown what the rate might be or the date devaluation would happen. Economists forecast this will cause triple digit inflation and bankruptcies while at the same time stimulating domestic economic efficiency and exports over imports.
2) Two more arms sales to Taiwan is reported to be moving forward. America is seeking to sell sophisticated military equipment, the MQ-9 drone aircraft and a coastal defensive missile system putting the island nation in a better position to repulse invasion by Red China, who claims Taiwan is a wayward province. China has stated she will reunite the province to the mainland, by force if necessary. Presently, there are as many as seven major weapon systems making their way through the U.S. export process, as the administration ramps up pressure on China. All arm sales to Taiwan must be approved by the Senate.
3) California’s PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electric) company is warning of up coming power outages in Northen California because of increased fire risk. Two dangerous wind events are expected this Wednesday and Thursday and into Friday. High winds pose a fire danger from sparking of power lines into vegetation, thus starting fires in dry areas already ravaged by fires. Power outages are anticipated in 34 California counties. Cutting off the electrical power is presently the only means to ensure against sparking wild fires in windy conditions, and has become standard operation procedure.
4) Stock market closings for – 13 OCT 20:
Dow 28,679.81 unchanged
Nasdaq 11,863.90 unchanged
S&P 500 3,511.93 unchanged
10 Year Yield: down at 0.73%
Oil: up at $40.18

17 September 2020

1) The Federal Reserve announced it is keeping its key policy rate unchanged and it intended to keep interest rates near zero for a least the next three years. This is a time period that is much longer than analysts had expected and reflects the concern for near future economic growth. The Feds will continue to purchase additional assets, principally government and corporate bonds, to support its monetary stance. Their goal is to achieve a maximum employment while keeping inflation at 2% over the long term. The prime interest rate will remain between 0% and 0.25% until at least the end of 2023. Their actions essentially acknowledge they were a bit behind the curve with their forecast on the economy.

2) Fox News is beginning a round of layoffs, the hair and makeup department being particularly hard hit. None of the network’s on-air talent is being let go, but now only the news anchors will receive hair and makeup services, while their guess will not. This is, in part, because since the pandemic more and more of interviews are being done remotely. The job cuts are expected to affect less than 3% of the overall staff, with the intent to streamline operations. TV news services are shifting from traditional TV broadcast to on-demand outlets streaming video services. Fox News is the most watched cable news network with 3.28 million viewers, that’s more than CNN and MSNBC combined. A time of economic stress causes changes to the economic environment, which opens the way for new technologies to emerge that reduce labor cost.

3) As hurricane Sally continues its journey into the interior of America, the next question on people’s minds is the ‘dollar amount for damages?’, a question that follows every hurricane which makes landfall on the continental United States. Sally dumped heavy rains and has brought historic flooding to the Gulf Coast, leaving much of Alabama and Florida coast lands under water. There were forecast of some areas receiving over three feet of rain, but as the storm system travels north and east, inundating land with water that runs off into rivers, more flooding is feared down river from the runoff. The flooding is a result of Sally moving so slow, slower than the average person walks, turning heavy rains into heavy flooding.

4) Stock market closings for – 16 SEP 20:

Dow 28,032.38 up 36.78
Nasdaq 11,050.47 down 139.86
S&P 500 3,385.49 up 15.71

10 Year Yield: up at 0.69%

Oil: up at $40.18

13 August 2020

1) Another national retail outlet, Stein Mart, is going the way of the brick and mortar retail system announcing they are closing all their stores in bankruptcy amid Covid-19 pandemic. Based in Jacksonville, Florida the company operates 281 stores in 30 states with 9,000 employees. Stein Mart ‘going out of business’ sale is expected to begin in August 14 or 15 with complete liquidation of inventory, with the anticipation of all stores closed by the fourth quarter of 2020. The retailer joins a long list of businesses to file for bankruptcy protection amid the coronavirus crisis.

2) With all the money being pumped into the economy by the government, there were fears of fueling inflation. Those fears were increased with the July consumer price data showing that prices are indeed on the rise. But some are saying these price increases are a result of supply and demand dynamics from the pandemic, and will fall once the supply system becomes stable with production reaching equilibrium again. It’s just a matter of time.

3) Amid suspicion of a rigged election by authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko, Germany and Lithuania is calling for renewed sanctions on Belarus. Claiming a landslide victory in his presidential election, Lukashenko has cracked down on protesters and demonstrators. The EU (European Union) has call an extraordinary meeting of foreign ministers to discuss the situation, considering the election was neither free nor fair, and efforts to suppress demonstrations as unacceptable. The EU is considering reinstating sanctions. The protest have been violent with about 1,000 people arrested to add to the 5,000 already being held, and injuries to both protesters and police.

4) Stock market closings for – 12 AUG 20:

Dow 27,976.84 up 289.93
Nasdaq 11,012.24 up 229.42
S&P 500 3,380.35 up 46.66

10 Year Yield: up at 0.67%

Oil: up at $42.56 +0.01

28 July 2020

1) Economist are warning that the economy needs help now to avoid faltering. As the President and Congress struggle to create another economic aid package, evidence is growing that the U.S. economy is headed for trouble, especially if the government doesn’t take steps to support hiring and economic growth. Experts say the economy is in a pretty fragile state again and needs another shot in the arm. Unemployment is still at a high 11.1% and hiring seems to be slowing in July, so the economy is likely to weaken further. Few economist consider that the recovery will be a V-shaped path, that is, the sharp recession will be followed by a quick rebound. In addition to helping the millions of unemployed Americans, the governments needs to help businesses from going bust.

2) There are five trends which indicate the U.S. economy is not rebounding as hope. The first is ‘Direction Requests’ on smart phones for walking and driving directions, have gone flat over the last few weeks indicating people are staying at home. The second is ‘Restaurant Bookings’ which show a 60% drop from last year. Third trend is ‘Hotel Occupancy’ which has stagnated with occupancy at 47%. ‘Air Travel’ was slowly increasing, but has also stagnated this last month with air travel down 70% from last year. Finally, ‘Home Purchases’ is increasing at a slow rate, a reflection of peoples uncertainty and changing employment status of potential buyers.

3) Price of gold continues to climb, as investors seek the safety of the yellow metal amidst economic fears of the future. Gold has historically been a refuge for money in times of economic uncertainty, a panic investment. Bullion has climbed to a record high of $1,946 per ounce. The real interest rates (less inflation) is driving investors to gold, as well as the tumbling dollar. Silver bullion is also increasing in price as another safe heaven for investing.

4) Stock market closings for – 27 JUL 20:

Dow 26,584.77 up 114.88
Nasdaq 10,536.27 up 173.09
S&P 500 3,239.41 up 23.78

10 Year Yield: up at 0.61%

Oil: up at $41.66

22 July 2020

1) China, with the second largest economy in the world, is steadily developing into a technological powerhouse that could upend the status quo. China’s ten year plan called “Made in China 2025”, has a principle goal for China to catchup, then surpass the West in various technological fields. Some consider this not only threatens the U.S. economy, but the world economy too. China has already declared they intend to be the dominate power in the world by 2050, and having the high ground in technology development is a key milestone in that quest.

2) Some consider that the stock market will likely head upwards to a new high, fueled by borrowing and money printing. With another stimulus package in the near future, it is ‘out of fashion’ to consider how the borrowed money will be paid back. The central banks, who are not elected, stand ready to print as much money as is wanted, no matter that historically this is how inflation is created and fuel. Example is the Weimar Republic (Germany) who induced their great wave of hyper inflation by printing massive amounts of money in the 1920’s, that lead the way for the Nazi’s to ascend to power. Other problems stemming from printing too much money is currency depreciation, difficulties borrowing, higher interest rates and social unrest. With other investments limited, the excess of money goes to the stock market, thus pushing the market up, and possibly into a bubble just waiting to pop!

3) The Congress remains busy crafting a second stimulus package with lots of debates what should and shouldn’t go in it, intending on having a deal worked out by the end of next week. However, this could go into August before a bill is ready to sign. A major point of contention is checks vs taxes. Should stimulus be checks like the $1,200 checks given out a few months?. If checks, then who gets them this time and how much? The other strategy is reducing payroll taxes, but this only helps those who are working. The Republicans are proposing a $1 trillion dollar relief strategy, while the Democrats propose a sweeping $3.5 trillion dollar plan. This would add to the $2.9 trillion dollar package already implemented early this year. As usual, everything is being done will little to no real analysis, instead relying on gut feelings of lawmakers in making the future of America.

4) Stock market closings for – 21 JUL 20:

Dow 26,840.40 up 159.53
Nasdaq 10,680.36 down 86.73
S&P 500 3,257.30 up 5.46

10 Year Yield: down at 0.61%

Oil: up at $41.58