11 September 2020

1) The new jobless numbers indicate the U.S. job losses persist with claims higher than was forecasts. Jobless claims were unchanged at 884,000 for last week, with the total number of people on unemployment rising by 93,000 to a total of 13.4 million people. Prior to the pandemic, new claims were about 212,000 a week with 1.7 million people on unemployment. What is concerning is the pace of layoffs has not slowed with the economy opening up, adding to fears of a second round of Convid-19 outbreaks. It appears that millions of Americans are heading for long term unemployment with most running out of unemployment benefits after 26 weeks.

2) Quantafuel AS, a Norwegian company established in 2014, who makes diesel fuel from plastic waste, is a success having tripled its value, which is now at $1 billion dollars. This is a time when the world is struggling over what to do with the monumental qualitites of plastic waste that continues to grow at an alarming rate. Even more welcomed is Quantafuel addressing the demand for fuel oils. Their process is more environmentally friendly than incineration of plastic. The company is increasing the production of its present plant and has plans to build additional plants with the goal of boosting production 100 fold in the next decade. No doubt, the Chinese will be showing great interest in this process because of their very limited oil resources.

3) One side effect of the coronavirus pandemic is limiting efforts to root out slavery across the world, because companies and investors are unable to visit factory floors in many countries. Even before the pandemic started, there was an estimated 40 million people working in slave like conditions, with the economic shock of the virus making people more vulnerable to exploitation. Companies are facing increasing legal obligations to ensure their supply chain doesn’t include slave labor.

4) Stock market closings for – 10 SEP 20:

Dow 27,534.58 down 405.89
Nasdaq 10,919.59 down 221.97
S&P 500 3,339.19 down 59.77

10 Year Yield: down at 0.68%

Oil: down at $37.00

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

7 August 2020

1) Another drop in applications for unemployment benefits is giving hope for the economy. For the week ending 1 August, there were 1.19 million jobless claims, down by 249,000 claims. Total unemployment is now at 16.1 million, the lowest since April. But even with continual drops, the claims are still five times the pre-crisis levels. More than decreasing claims is needed for the economy to improve, for much more hiring is required. There are fears of conditions improving so sluggishly, that the effects of the crisis become increasingly permanent. With the resurgence of the pandemic, there are signs of the economy stalling in what is already a fragile economy.

2) The Covid-19 crisis is fueling the need for high speed internet access, and rural America is responding with their electric and telephone co-ops using loans from the federal government. Subscribers are getting speeds up to 1 gigabit per second, with some planning for speeds up to 10 gigabits per second. Rural areas have the duel problem of low population densities and long distances, so its not economically feasible for private companies to install systems. The only alternative is satellite internet systems.

3) The Bank of England is warning of the potential risk of what’s called the ‘shadow banks’ in amplifying the volatility of unstable economies. Funds in investments like pension funds, investment funds like real estate investment trusts and money market funds are increasingly absorbing the cash once kept in banks, but are not as secure in times of crisis as traditional banks. This makes it harder for businesses to access their money when needed most. The non-banks impact in a financial turmoil is being assessed, lead by the Bank of England.

4) Stock market closings for – 6 AUG 20:

Dow 27,386.98 up 185.46
Nasdaq 11,108.07 up 109.67
S&P 500 3,349.16 up 21.39

10 Year Yield: down at 0.54%

Oil: down at $41.97

12 June 2020

1) The markets took a sharp drop over fears of another shutdown as the number of Convid-19 cases began rising from states starting to opening up for business. The Dow Jones dropped over 1,800 points, closing on the worst day sell-off since March. It appears that this pandemic is going to linger longer than was anticipated. Texas has reported three consecutive days of record breaking Covid-19 hospitalizations. Nine counties in California are reporting spikes in hospital admissions from the virus. The U.S. now has topped 2 million cases in this pandemic. Also, oil prices have taken a sharp downward slide.

2) Inventories of unsold diamonds are increasing, with the five largest diamond producers having stockpiled excess inventories of about $3.5 billion dollars and could go as high as $4.5 billion dollars. World wide demand for diamonds has plummeted, with the renowned diamond supplier De Beers reporting diamond sales in May of about $35 million dollars, compared to last year’s $400 million dollars. The world wide lock down has closed jewelry stores across the world thereby reducing sales to a small fraction of normal. The diamond market resembles the diamond slump of the 2008 financial crisis.

3) More than 1.5 million Americans filed new jobless claims for the first week of June, again decreasing from the previous week of 1.9 million. This is in contrast to the 6.9 million claims in April, with a stead decline each week since then. There was 2.5 million jobs added to the American economy, largely due to 2.7 million workers returning from furloughs. Still, more than 40 million Americans have lost their jobs because of the pandemic forcing shutdowns of so many businesses across America. But the gradual improvement of employment is boosting hopes for a quick economic recovery, however, there remains the problem of technology displacement of jobs. In times of economic stress, businesses are seeking ways and means to cut operating cost, and that gives a niche for entry of new technologies that eliminate the human. Experts in Artificial Intelligence estimate that as much as 50% of the jobs will disappear in 15 to 25 years.

4) Stock market closings for – 11 JUN 20: The stock market is like a rectal thermometer- it’s rude and crude but surprisingly effective at showing sickness.

Dow 25,128.17 down 1861.82
Nasdaq 9,492.73 down 527.62
S&P 500 3,002.10 down 188.04

10 Year Yield: down at 0.65%

Oil: down at $36.17

1 May 2020

1) The numbers are in for the weekly jobless claims, with another 3.84 million people losing their jobs. This brings the total to over 30 million in the past six weeks. Expectations were for about 3 million, so the news was not upsetting. The claims peaked at 6.87 million so officials feel the worst is over with declines each week since, but still this has been the worst employment crisis in U.S. history. While some states are starting to bring their economies back on line, much of the key American infrastructure remains on lockdown. Predictions are for the second quarter to decline worse than anything America has ever seen. The unemployment rate is anticipated to be about 15.1%.

2) The crash of the oil market continues across the globe, with the American shale or fracking oil industry being hit the hardest. The shale oil industry had been fueled by lots of easy money, almost unlimited borrowing allowing companies to dramatically ramp up production, despite what the market demand was. Many companies had been in trouble before the coronavirus hit, and that combined with the Russian and Saudi Arabia oil dispute, oil prices have dropped by three-quarters since early January. There is $43 billion dollars of energy junk bond defaults coming in 2020 with hundreds of oil companies facing bankruptcy. The problem isn’t just American, with Shell Oil Co. announcing a cut in their dividends for the first time since World War II. Finally, the pandemic appears to be making fundamental changes to the oil market and consumption so the oil market may never fully recover.

3) The virus pandemic has adversely affected more than just traditional businesses, large and small. Dirty money from the illegal drug business is piling up in Los Angeles because the money laundering systems has also been put on hold by ‘closing orders’ of non-essential businesses. The businesses used by the drug trade to launder their money have been forced to close up, thereby ceasing operations leaving the drug dealers with growing stacks of cash that cant be used until cleaned.

4) Stock market closings for – 30 APR 20:

Dow 24,345.72 down 288.14
Nasdaq 8,889.55 down 25.16
S&P 500 2,912.43 down 27.08

10 Year Yield: down at 0.62%

Oil: up at $18.64

31 March 2020

1) Oil prices have crashed to an eighteen year low as coronavirus lockdowns cascaded through the world economies, which have drastically cut oil demand. The surplus in oil stocks is ballooning amid the Saudi Arabia and Russia’s dispute over struggle for oil control. The slump in petroleum based products has shut down refineries around the world. Prices are on track for the worst quarter on record. There are no signs of Saudi Arabia and Russia’s dispute being resolved as Saudi Arabia increases its production to further increase surpluses of oil thereby dropping oil prices more.

2) The coronavirus pandemic is expected to drive March auto sales off a cliff, from consumer confidence dropping and shuttered dealerships across much of the country. It’s expected that April may be as bad as or worst than March. Sales forecast for March has dropped 37% and April could be off between 50% and 60%. States under ‘stay at home’ orders have seen an 80% drop in auto sales.

3) With millions of Americans already laid off, fears among experts that job losses could be as high as 47 million to give an unemployment rate of 32%. The loses are a result of government induced economic freeze to contain the spread of the virus. A record 3.3 million Americans have filed initial jobless claims for the week ending 21 March of this year, with an estimated 66.8 million workers consider to be in jobs at high risk for layoff. With a loss of 47 million jobs, the unemployment rolls would rise to 52.8 million, or more than three times the peak number of unemployment in the 2008 Great Recession.

4) Stock market closings for – 30 MAR 20:

Dow 22,327.48 up 690.70
Nasdaq 7,774.15 up 271.77
S&P 500 2,626.65 up 85.18

10 Year Yield: down at 0.67%

Oil: down at $20.28

1 July 2019

1) Consumer spending increased in May as well as prices creeping up too. Both point to a slowing economic growth and benign inflation pressures. These two facts gives the Federal Reserve more reason to cut interest rates next month. Inflation is under the 2% target for this year with a projected 1.5% verses 1.8% originally expected. Consumer spending is about two thirds the U.S. economy.

2) Consumerism is changing fast, with a push to ‘no cashier checkouts’. Amazon Go stores are pushing the technology where sales payment is made automatically just by picking out items and walking out the door. E-commerce and on-line shopping continue their assault on traditional brick and mortar stores. Another strategy is showrooms in place of stores that allow the customer to try out products prior to purchasing them. Finally, drone delivery allows getting your purchases at home in less time than it takes to drive to and from a store. All these new technologies are coming together with increased profits by reducing labor cost.

3) The weekly jobless claims has increased more than expected, although there is no sign of significant layoffs as the economy slows down. Unemployment claims were 227,000 up by 10,000. The economy is slowing with manufacturing sliding down and the trade deficient widening as consumer confidence ebbs.

4) Stock market closings for- 28 JUN 19: Results from bank stress test edged markets up. Best June performance since 1938.

Dow            26,599.96    up    73.38
Nasdaq         8,006.24    up    38.49
S&P 500        2,941.76    up    16.84

10 Year Yield:    down   at    2.00%

Oil:    down   at    $58.20