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

19 June 2020

1) Kroger, the largest supermarket chain in the U.S., has been surprised by a 92% gain in its e-commerce sales. The giant has lagged behind its competitors like Walmart, Amazon and Target with e-commerce, but the coronavirus has provided the motivation for people to use the service to stay at home and do their cooking during the pandemic. The grocer has been working hard to expand into the electronic marketing area, including working with a robotics company for automated ‘stores’ to fill orders for delivery. With the pandemic changing shopping habits of Americans, now is the time for Kroger to establish its position for the future. The question now is can Kroger maintain this increased sales of e-commerce as the virus crisis subsides. Kroger had $41.55 billion dollar revenues compared with $37 million a year ago.

2) Looking back at the 100 days of the Convid-19 crisis and shutdown, we find the American economy has endured an extraordinary upheaval. Americans have endured over 2.1 million people suffering with Covid-19 which resulted in 117,000 deaths. The closing of non essential businesses sent the economy crashing into a deep recession, with record numbers of layoffs and a skyrocketing unemployment rate. This in turn made for record drops in household spending and manufacturing. Businesses such as automobile manufacturing, the airlines and hotels came to a near complete standstill. Small businesses such as restaurants were stopped dead in their tracks with fears than a large portion would not survive. The feds cut the interest rates to near zero, while pumping in trillions of dollars to stabilize the economy and support businesses until recovery starts.

3) Unemployment claims for last week were 1.5 million more people, up from the expected 1.3 million. This is the thirteenth straight week that claims were above one million. The elevated claims continue even as the country starts to open up and resume business. The real question is how many of those jobs will return and how many will be replaced by technology. Times of economic stress is when automation makes significant inroads as companies look for ways to cut cost to survive.

4) Stock market closings for – 18 JUN 20:

Dow 26,080.10 down 39.51
Nasdaq 9,943.05 up 32.52
S&P 500 3,115.34 up 1.85

10 Year Yield: down at 0.69%

Oil: up at $38.84

14 May 2020

1) Jerome Powell, the Federal reserve Chairman, has warned of a possible prolonged recession caused by the economic damaged from the coronavirus crisis. Widespread bankruptcies among small businesses and extended unemployment for many people remain a serious problem for the economy. Furthermore, he considers the proposed $3 trillion dollar aid package to be worthwhile if it averts long term economic damage thereby giving a strong recovery. Almost $3 trillion dollars has already been spent on economic assistance, with the interest rate cut down to near zero. Cutting the interest rate has been the traditional tool used to counter recessions and economic slow downs, but with interest rates almost zero, the feds no longer have this tool. Nothing is being said about the massive increase to the already very large federal debt, nor the impact on the long term economy if it fails to return to healthy growth to pay off that debt. Otherwise, it could become a boat anchor around America’s neck making swimming in the ‘economic lake’ very difficult, or maybe impossible later on. The markets responded to Powell’s remarks with a down turn.

2) Unemployment continues to subside with initial reports of another 2.5 million lost jobs compared to 3.2 million for the previous week. This brings the total unemployed for the past eight weeks to a staggering 36 million people without work. Percent wise, the unemployed numbers are worst than the Great Depression of the 1930’s. Economist anticipate a further, although smaller increase in unemployed people for the next few weeks before the curve bottoms out and employment starts increasing as businesses opens up to resume operations.

3) Automakers are preparing to restart manufacturing with plants in Mexico, which are due to open as soon as Monday. U.S. assembly plants rely heavily on Mexican auto plants for parts and subassemblies used in building cars, and there were fears of U.S. manufacturing being hindered by part shortages. Approximately 39% of auto parts for car manufacturing comes from Mexico.

4) Stock market closings for – 13 MAY 20:

Dow 23,247.97 down 516.81
Nasdaq 8,863.17 down 139.38
S&P 500 2,820.00 down 50.12

10 Year Yield: down at 0.65%

Oil: up at $26.23

11 May 2020

1) The Money market mutual funds have traditionally been the ultimate haven for investors wanting to preserve capital, but this is increasingly difficult in a zero interest rate environment. The problem centers on having twice as much cash as typical. The money market funds have soared with assets at a record high of $4.77 trillion dollars because of the flight to safety this year by investors. Of that, about 75% of those assets are in Treasury and other government funds perceived as the lest risky and therefor least likely to actually lose value. The U.S. Treasury has issued in excess of $1.5 trillion dollars to fund the stimulus program and the loss of tax revenues. With interest rates near zero, some fund companies are waving management fees in order to preserve returns for clients, otherwise their clients would actually be losing money.

2) The rural department chain store Stage Stores, who predominantly caters to the rural areas and small to mid-size markets, is also experiencing the crunch on retailing. The company’s owners are preparing for bankruptcy , another casualty of the coronavirus pandemic. The chain has about 700 department stores in small towns and rural communities with about 13,600 full and part time employees. The classic retailer JC Penny is reportedly preparing to also file for bankruptcy including plans to permanently close a quarter of its 850 stores. The company missed a $17 million dollar debt payment and is going into default. The cruise ship line Norwegian Cruise Line in Miami has warned the company could go out of business because of the pandemic. The company has $6 billion dollars in long term debt, plus it’s faced with a huge number of clients demanding their money back for cruises already booked.

3) The U.S. Postal Service is reporting a huge loss, a direct result of the coronavirus crisis. The government owned corporation reported a $4.5 billion dollar loss for the first quarter. The USPS anticipates losses for the next 18 months amid steep declines in revenues. They have warned congress that government assistance is required if they are to continue delivering the mail. The congress has authorized the Treasury Department to lend the USPS up to $10 billion dollars as part of the $2.3 trillion dollar stimulus package, but President Trump has threaten to block that aid.

4) Stock market closings for – 8 MAY 20:

Dow 24,331.32 up 455.43
Nasdaq 9,121.32 up 141.66
S&P 500 2,929.80 up 48.61

10 Year Yield: up 0.68%

Oil: up at $26.04

10 March 2020

1) Monday markets opened in a steep downward spiral from sell offs, driven by the coronavirus fears, followed by the sharp drop in oil prices. The Dow dropped 2,000 points, with a massive sell off of both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq, which triggered a key market circuit breaker that halted trading for fifteen minutes. There are widespread fears over the economic impact of low oil prices, with some experts fearing oil prices down to $20 a barrel. Gold prices crossed the $1,700 dollar an ounce, hitting the highest since December 2012. The banks are hard pressed as the interest continues to sink, cutting into their margins.

2) Experts speculate that the Feds will cut the interest rate to zero in the next few months in an effort to forestall a downturn of the economy. The entire U.S. yield curve fell below 1% for the first time in history on expectations that the Federal Reserve will cut rates to zero in the next few months. Some speculate the Feds may adopt a negative rate just as some European countries have, such as Germany’s -1%.

3) While checkout-free with cashless supermarkets is now a novelty, Amazon expects this technology to spread to other retailers. Amazon has announced it plans to license its automated checkout technology to other retailers, telling of several other companies that have already signed up for the technology. The technology has been proven with cashless convenience stores across America and with Amazon’s new Go-supermarkets. The technology represents another significant step in retail automation.

4) Stock market closings for – 9 MAR 20: The stock market is like a rectal thermometer- it’s rude and crude, but surprisingly effective in showing a sick economy.

Dow 23,851.02 down 2013.76
Nasdaq 7,950.68 down 624.94
S&P 500 2,746.56 down 225.81

10 Year Yield: down at 0.50%

Oil: down at $30.24

13 February 2020

1) NASA (National Air and Space Administration) has asked for a 12% increase to give a $25.2 billion dollar budget for next year. Nearly half of this years proposed budget is for NASA’s lunar project with much of the money going to the biggest American space companies. Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne will be the primary beneficiaries with $1.4 billion dollars going to the Orion spacecraft and $2.26 billion dollars for the Space Launch System. There is $3.37 billion dollars proposed to fund a crewed lunar lander system.

2) Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell suggest that the central bank may not have the ability to fight the next recession and therefore Congress may need to get ready to help. This is a result of the already low interest rate, one of the prime tools used by the central bank to counter recession trends. Tax cuts and government spending increases may be necessary to fight a downturn, for there is little else the central bank has to counter a recession.

3) The giant aircraft maker Boeing Aircraft is facing bigger problems than just fixing its 737MAX and getting it certified to fly. The company needs to be focused on its next generation of passenger aircraft. Boeing didn’t get any new orders for aircraft in January compared with 45 orders last year, while delivering 13 airliners compared with 46 last January. Boeing is falling behind its rival Airbus and must build its next generation of planes to remain competitive. This means getting its 777X finished and ready for delivery with its other wide body plane, the 787 Dreamliner. In the background is a possible new design concept the 797.

4) Stock market closings for – 12 FEB 20:

Dow 29,551.42 up 275.08
Nasdaq 9,725.96 up 87.02
S&P 500 3,379.45 up 21.70

10 Year Yield: up at 1.63%

Oil: up at $51.69

31 October 2019

1) The Federal Reserve has cut interest rates for the third time this year to ensure the U.S. economy weathers a global trade war without a recession. While the feds signaled the rate cut cycle might be at a pause, there is signs for a future rate cut if need be. The markets have shown little response to the cut because the action was widely expected. While unemployment is near a 50 year low, inflation is moderate while gross domestic product grew at 1.9% in the third quarter, parts of the economy like manufacturing having slowed as well as the global economy.

2) A new kind of consumer debt is gaining popularity, called the Online Installment Loan. It is a longer maturity loan unlike the payday loans, but also comes with the triple digit interest rates. Unlike the payday loans aimed at the nation’s poor, these loans are targeting the working class who have amassed debt over years. The installments generate much greater revenue for loan companies than the payday loans, with loan amounts much larger.

3) While the U.S. economy continues growing, with unemployment at a half century low, factory activity has contracted for two consecutive months. Manufactures of consumer goods are still stronger, while those manufactures engaged in global markets are feeling the effects of trade wars and profound uncertainly of the future. Thousands of factory workers have been laid off in the mid-west with factory wages being higher than average, as well as higher benefits than other jobs not requiring a college degree..

4) Stock market closings for – 30 OCT 19:

Dow                  27,186.69    up    115.27
Nasdaq               8,303.98    up      27.12
S&P 500              3,046.77    up         9.88

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.80%

Oil:    down   at    $54.90

19 September 2019

1) The Federal Reserved voted for a quarter percent drop in the interest rate, bringing the ire of President Trump in a tweet, complaining the Feds lack the guts and vision to cut more. But the board surprised everyone by its divided vote, three of the members voted against a policy decision, while seven voted for it. This is considered an indication of how uncertain things are and just what the economic future holds. In response, the stock markets fell over the news of just a quarter percent rate reduction.

2) Some fear that parallels in the market signal the coming of another recession. These parallels include an inverted yield curve with the stock markets making new highs in July, followed by a correction in August, then a rally in early September. Additionally, growth is slowing. These same signs occurred in 2007 prior to sliding into a sever recession. All that is needed is a trigger such as the world oil supply.

3) As a result of the UAW (United Auto Workers) strike, GM (General Motors) announced 1,300 layoffs in their Oshawa plant in Canada. This is because GM plants in the US are shut down and unable to deliver needed parts and assemblies to the Canadian plant. This shows that the strike is spreading to other units of the automakers business.

4) Stock market closings for – 18 SEP 19:

Dow             27,147.08         up    36.28
Nasdaq          8,177.39    down      8.62
S&P 500         3,006.73          up      1.03

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.79%

Oil:    $58.25

1 August 2019

1) General Electric suffered a loss last quarter despite two previous profitable quarters, a result of the restructuring cost of its electric power division and the grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX. GE provides the jet engines used on the 737, which Boeing has reduced production of. The grounding of Boeing has drained off more cash than expected, but General Electric forecast a profitable year for 2019.

2) President Trump has fulfilled his campaign promise to lower drug prices by creating a pathway to allow Americans to legally and safely import lower cost prescription drugs from Canada. This reverses the opposition from federal health authorities, despite the public outcry over high prices for drugs in America. It’s uncertain when imports can start as the plan has to go through the time consuming regulatory approval and possible court challenges from drug makers. The opening of the door for cheaper drugs and keeping it open still faces an up hill battle with the political organizations of the pharmaceutical industry.

3) In an effort to keep the American economy on track, the Federal Reserve has reduced the benchmark interest rate by a quarter point to about 2.25%. This is a modest and widely expected move intended to keep the economy healthy in face of the trade war with China and the slowing economic growth overseas. In addition, the feds signaled that the cental bank is ready to make more cuts to stimulate the economy if necessary. A higher interest rate makes for a stronger dollar, a disadvantage for international trade. Wall Street anticipates as many as three more cuts this year, while in addition to the rate reduction, the feds will stop selling off assets this August, two months earlier than expected.

4) Stock market closings for – 31 JUL 19:

Dow             26,864.27    down    333.75
Nasdaq           8,175.42    down      98.19
S&P 500          2,980.38    down      32.80

10 Year Yield:    down   at    2.02%

Oil:    down   at    $57.90