15 March 2021

1) Canoo of Los Angeles is offering a battery-powered truck, with a skateboard-style EV platform, having a highly modular, cab-forward, for a blisteringly quick utility vehicle. Similar to Ford’s F-150, it comes in about the height and two inches narrower, and with a wheelbase 10 inches shorter. Without a conventional drive train, its extended cab is far forward, thus giving it a larger bed than the Ford. With its battery and electric motor, it can generate 600 horsepower and 550 foot-pound of torque even down at zero rpm. These should make the Canoo a respectable tow rig, not to mention a capable crawler, what with its short wheelbase, skid plates front and rear, and integral tow hooks.

2) America has now administered over 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine (101.1 million). That equates to more than 35 million Americans fully vaccinated or 10.5% of the total U.S. population. Nearly 66 million, or almost 20% of the total population, have gotten at least one dose, while one-third of Americans age 65 and older are fully vaccinated. The first shot was given on December 14, and more doses have been administered in the U.S. than any other country in the world, although several smaller nations have vaccinated a higher proportion of their populations. The U.S. should have enough COVID-19 vaccine to immunize the nation’s entire adult population by this summer, with enough left over for some 172 million more people. The nationwide pace of vaccinations has quickened to an average of over 2 million doses a day. The majority of states have already vaccinated many of their front line essential workers and residents over 75 years old.

3) Rare earth elements are produced in various parts of the world, but primarily in China, who has been holding the U.S. and some other countries hostage under threat of a trade war by using these ‘must have’ minerals. But that is about to change with Noranda Alumina of Gramercy, Louisiana, who is proposing developing an $800-million dollar high tech refining center for extracting rare earth minerals from over 35-million tons of residual bauxite stored in Louisiana. Investing nearly a billion dollars on the new plant, it will create 2,000 construction jobs. Once in operation, the facility will employ 200 full time high paying jobs along with nearly 600 indirect jobs. This opportunity enables America to domestically produce these rare earth elements that go into a lot of green earth technologies, plus by recycling the residual bauxite, the extraction plant will be carbon neutral.

4) Stock market closings for – 12 MAR 21:

Dow 32,778.64 up by 293.05
Nasdaq 13,319.86 down by 78.81
S&P 500 3,943.34 up by 4.00

10 Year Yield: up at 1.64%

Oil: down at $65.56

4 March 2021

1) Kelley Aerospace has officially launched the world’s first supersonic unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), called the ‘Arrow’. The drone is designed with a single shell of lightweight carbon fiber that allows it to reach speeds up to Mach 2.1. The UCAV has reduced radar cross-section and infra-red signatures, and is designed for multiple combat or reconnaissance roles. Kelley has 100 pre-orders for the war machine, which costs between $9 to $16 million dollars each. It’s designed to complement manned aircraft making it a force multiplier in the aerial battlefield. A manned combat aircraft would control multiple Arrow UAVs, tasking each with a different missions.

2) There are about a thousand restaurant closures a month in Texas, a result of the coronavirus pandemic. About 11,000 restaurants have closed in Texas since the start of the pandemic. This is about a fifth of all Texas restaurants with about 150,000 Texans who have lost their jobs. Nine out of 10 of these restaurants are small businesses employing less than 50 people. Restaurants in downtown city centers have been hit particularly hard because business lunches and conventions were suspended almost immediately. Surprisingly, the more expensive restaurants have not fared as well as family dining locations.

3) The American Petroleum Institute is considering throwing its weight behind a government imposed price on carbon dioxide emissions as a way to slow global warming, making for a major policy shift by the oil industry’s top trade group. Supporters of a tax argue that a carbon tax increases the cost of energy derived from oil, natural gas and coal so it would be more effective than regulations at paring U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Exxon Mobil Corp., ConocoPhillips, BP and Royal Dutch Shell already support a carbon tax-and-rebate plan. The tax has gained momentum as international energy companies make investment decisions based on the assumption that emission limits will be imposed by regulation, tax or other mechanisms. The companies are seeking regulatory certainty on the issue, instead of environmental policies that whipsaw with every presidential election. A carbon tax could benefit producers of natural gas over coal and spur investment in renewables and nuclear power. Some environmentalists who oppose fossil-fuel development criticized the possible move, calling it little more than a public relations ploy by letting producers buy their way out of climate accountability. Several utilities have lobbied Biden administration officials to support a nationwide carbon price.

4) Stock market closings for – 3 MAR 21:

Dow 31,270.09 down by 121.43
Nasdaq 12,997.75 down by 361.03
S&P 500 3,819.72 down by 50.57

10 Year Yield: up at 1.47%

Oil: up at $61.06

19 February 2021

1) U.S. retail sales surged in January, the most in seven months, beating all estimates. This suggests fresh stimulus checks helped spur a rebound in household demand following a weak fourth quarter. The value of overall sales increased 5.3% from the prior month after a 1% decline in December, and was the first monthly gain since September with all major categories showing sharp advances. The jump in retail sales could further embolden Republican opposition to President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, which the GOP considers too big. Even so, the Democrats can most likely pass the package without Republican votes, while the data might be evidence of how critical relief payments are to the economy and jobs.

2) The IRS has sent out all $600 stimulus payments, delivering more than 147 million second round stimulus checks, worth over $142 billion dollars. Some payments may still be in the mail, but otherwise, eligible Americans who did not receive the first or second payment can claim a Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2020 tax returns, which will be on line 30 of the 2020 Form 1040 or 1040-SR. The agency also noted that its ‘Get My Payment’ tool, which updated taxpayers on the status of their stimulus checks or deposits, was updated in January and will not be refreshed again for the second check.

3) The automaker Kia seems to be in quite a predicament. The automaker’s online services appear to have been severed from the outside world, with customers unable to start their cars remotely via Kia’s apps or even log into the company’s financing website to pay their bills. All signs pointed to a potential cyber attack against Kia, a ransom ware attack most likely, which is exactly what a new report is claiming. A report by information security news site Bleeping Computer seems to solidify that theory, as the publication shared a screenshot of an alleged ransom note asking Kia for the hefty tune of $20,000,000 to decrypt its files. The infection is believed to be the work of a group called DoppelPaymer by Crowdstrike researchers in 2019. Such threat actors routinely hunt big game for large pay outs, according to a security bulletin released by the FBI late last year. The note left behind mentions that the malware not only encrypted live data, but also the company’s backups, which more sophisticated attacks of this sort often prevent an easy restoration.

4) Stock market closings for – 18 FEB 21:

Dow 31,493.34 down by 119.68
Nasdaq 13,865.36 down by 100.14
S&P 500 3,913.97 down by 17.36

10 Year Yield: down at 1.29%

Oil: down at $59.79

13 January 2021

1) Reports are that Biden will unveil plans to spend trillions of dollars in pandemic and economic relief money this next week. Biden is introducing several members of his economic team, after data shows the U.S. economy has lost jobs for the first time in eight months as a resurgent COVID-19 pandemic has again shuttered restaurants and other businesses. Biden is calling for raising the minimum wage to $15, and for sending out $2,000 in direct cash payments. Biden claims that economic research confirms that with today’s crisis, especially with such low interest rates, taking immediate action, even with deficit financing , is going to help the economy. Biden also say they are looking into other economic relief actions that can be taken unilaterally, including extending a pause on repayments of federal student loans.

2) US naval aircraft carrier groups still rule the seas, but both Russia and China have plans to change that as they strive to expand their blue water navies, by developing new weapons that could threaten America’s dominance. For instance, it is reported that China launched two ballistic missiles that hit a moving target ship in the South China Sea thousands of miles from their launch sites. The Russian navy conducted its third test launch of it’s hypersonic anti-ship cruise missile that was launched from a frigate. The missile reached a speed of Mach 8 before hitting a target more than 200 miles away. These tests are the latest indication that American aircraft carriers, long viewed as kings of the seas, may soon face a real threat to their existence.

3) Iran has told South Korea not to politicize the seizure of their vessel, while demanding the release of $7 billion dollars in funds frozen amid U.S. sanctions. Additionally, Iran has denied all allegations that the seizing of South Korea’s tanker and its 20-member crew amounted to hostage taking, claiming instead it was Seoul who was holding Iran’s funds hostage. The vessel was seized based on an Iranian court order for ‘environmental pollution’, however, the ship’s Busan-based operator, said there was nothing to indicate that before the seizure of the vessel that Iranian authorities were probing possible violations of environmental rules.

4) Stock market closings for – 12 JAN 21:

Dow 31,068.69 up by 60.00
Nasdaq 13,072.43 up by 36.00
S&P 500 3,801.19 up by 1.58

10 Year Yield: up at 1.14%

Oil: up at $53.38

29 December 2020

1) President Trump has signed the coronavirus relief bill which includes the $600 stimulus checks. The stimulus is $900 billion dollar relief bill, which was delayed by Trump’s reluctance to sign the bill into law as the coronavirus pandemic continues to range while millions of people have lost their jobs. The stimulus legislation was flown down to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida where the President spent his Christmas holiday. But on Sunday, Trump sign the mammoth, 5,593-page product of months of congressional negotiations.

2) With President Trump public statement that he wanted $2,000 stimulus checks spurred the Republicans and Democrats to pursue a new offering with a special bill. Trump has repeatedly criticized the $900 billion bipartisan stimulus bill calling it a disgrace for only including a “measly $600” in direct payments. He tweeted Saturday “I simply want to give our great people $2000”. The president opposed the bills, but backed down on Sunday and signed it narrowly avoiding a government shutdown. However, the Republicans have agreed to a new vote on $2,000 stimulus checks with a new bill to increase payments to individuals from $600 to $2,000.

3) Star Trek’s Scotty, the chief engineer on the fictional U.S.S. Enterprise, has finally beamed up to the International Space Station. The ashes of James Doohan, the actor who portrayed the original Star Trek character Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, have been interred for a dozen years on the International Space Station (ISS). The actor died in July 2005 at age 85, and portions of the actor’s ashes had previously been officially launched into space a couple of other times. Citizen astronaut and entrepreneur Richard Garriott, who was one of the first private citizens to fly to space, smuggled Doohan’s ashes during a 12-day mission in 2008 and were left hidden on board the station. Doohan’s ashes have now traveled 1.7 billion miles in space, orbiting Earth more than 70,000 times.

4) Stock market closings for – 28 DEC 20:

Dow 30,403.97 up by 204.10
Nasdaq 12,899.42 up by 94.69
S&P 500 3,735.36 up by 32.30

10 Year Yield: down at 0.93%

Oil: down at $47.69

2 November 2020

1) America’s economy is expanding at a record pace after a historic decline from the Covid-19 crisis. The economy grew at an unprecedented 7.4% pace from the second to the third quarter, which on an annualized basis, would be a growth rate of 33.1%. This would be the highest annualized growth rate on record. While this is undoubtedly positive, it comes with lots of caveats, for the U.S. economy is still in a deep hole with the gross domestic product still about 3.5% below the level recorded in the fourth quarter of 2019. Second, the economy is slowing. Third, there are about 11 million fewer people on payrolls than before the pandemic hit, plus layoffs persist. Finally, the report is a political football with politicians framing the numbers to best serve their individual’s objectives.

2) Cruise ships can begin a phased return to operations starting Nov. 1 under new health protocols. There has been 74 recommendations made for a potential safe return to cruising, including a new focus on “air management”, lower ship capacities, shorter sailing times, required testing and masks, and enhanced cleaning and medical staff on voyages. There are four phases to return to cruising, beginning with cruise ships establishing coronavirus testing of all crew. Phase 2 will be simulated voyages to test the ability to mitigate Covid-19 on cruise ships. Phase 3 is certification by the CDC, and the final phase is a return to passenger voyages.

3) One question this fall is America’s energy future of whether, and to what extent, we should transition from reliable fossil fuels, such as oil and natural gas, to more intermittent sources of energy such as wind and solar power. But arbitrarily halting oil and natural gas development would do serious harm to our economy, and thereby jeopardize post-pandemic recovery. Businesses need reliable, low-cost energy to reopen and return to normal operations, and presently fossil fuels currently accounts for 80 percent of overall American energy production. At the start of this year, the oil and gas industry was responsible for 12.3 million American jobs, while also generating $1.6 trillion dollars in federal and state tax revenue. So if the oil and gas revenue dries up, major public services will be reduced or even cut. The simple fact is that the United States cannot continue on the path of recovery without a thriving oil and natural gas industry because it supports jobs, lowers energy costs for families and businesses, and strengthens our energy and national security.

4) Stock market closings for – 30 OCT 20:

Dow 26,659.11 up 139.16
Nasdaq 11,185.59 up 180.73
S&P 500 3,310.11 up 39.08

10 Year Yield: up at 0.84%

Oil: unchanged at $36.10

29 October 2020

1) One major factor in the spread of Covid-19 virus, is the portability of societies, the degree which people are moving about and interacting with each other with ease. This is a major cause of the spread of infectious disease. Now with the surge of coronavirus in Europe, Germany and France, they are planning to restrict movement of people for at least a month, coming close to the stringent lockdowns of the spring as European leaders seek to rein in a resurgent pandemic outbreak. Spain, Italy, the U.K., Greece and Portugal reported record numbers of new cases on Wednesday. Asia, Singapore and Hong Kong could start a planned ‘travel bubble’ as soon as next month. This also means restrictions of travel for migrant workers, which in turn means restricting their ability to make money, where much is sent back home to families to support their subsistence.

2) Boeing Aircraft company, a major manufacture of airliners, will cut 7,000 more jobs amid the pandemic, almost doubling its planned job cuts. The coronavirus pandemic has prolonged the grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max jet, thus dimming prospects for financial recovery. Executives are abandoning their forecast that Boeing will stop burning cash next year and so they are now forced to eliminate an additional 7,000 jobs. That will bring the expected losses from layoffs, retirements and attrition to 30,000 people, or 19% of the pre-pandemic workforce, by the end of 2021.

3) Taiwan’s microcircuit manufacture United Microelectronics Corp. has pledged its assistance to the U.S. in a high-profile trade-secrets prosecution of Chinese chipmaker Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co. UMC has pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court as part of a deal with U.S. prosecutors. Prosecutors agreed to drop serious charges of economic espionage and conspiracy for theft of proprietary information from Idaho-based Micron Technology Inc. UMC instead admitted to trade-secret theft and agreed to pay a $60 million dollar fine. Prosecutors haven’t publicly detailed the cooperation they are seeking from UMC against Fujian

4) Stock market closings for – 28 OCT 20:
Dow 26,519.95 down 943.24
Nasdaq 11,004.87 down 426.48
S&P 500 3,271.03 down 119.65

10 Year Yield: unchanged at 0.78%

Oil: down at $37.69

9 October 2020

1) The airlines around the world are expected to lose $77 billion dollars in the second half of 2020 as Covid-19 continues to crush air travel demand. There are desperate efforts to cut cost by cutting jobs, grounding aircraft and consolidating work, but all their efforts are not enough. The first half of 2020 has been brutal for airline business and the rest of the year isn’t looking much better despite modest increase in air travel. This translates into losing $13 billion dollars a month or $300,000 a minute. At the start, U.S. airlines were burning about $100 million per day, which they reduced to about $30 to $40 million at the end of the third quarter. The airlines hope to reach zero ‘cash burn’ by year’s end using workforce reductions and operational consolidation. Air travel in America is down roughly 70% from 2019.

2) As another hurricane is approaching through the Gulf of Mexico, oil workers are evacuating oil rigs in the gulf ahead of Hurricane Delta, in turn causing oil prices to rise in anticipation of lower available oil. Oil prices had been falling Wednesday, but started rising as the storm came into the Gulf and the off shore evacuations began. So far, 183 offshore oil facilities have been evacuated which has halted nearly 1.5 million barrels per day of oil output. In July, the Gulf of Mexico produced oil at 1.65 million barrels per day, which is 17% of U.S. crude oil output. The demand for oil at refineries is 13.2% lower than a year earlier, a result of the virus crisis.

3) Electric car maker Elon Musk is pushing his company to boost production to build half a million cars in one year. That means producing 170,000 cars in the fourth quarter, a 17% increase from the third quarter. A half a million cars would be a milestone for Musk’s company, a first in the history of Tesla. So far, Tesla has produced 330,000 cars while also posting profits for its fourth consecutive quarter. Additionally, Tesla is pushing production numbers up by adding more production capacity.

4) Stock market closings for – 8 OCT 20:

Dow 28,425.51 up 122.05
Nasdaq 11,420.98 up 56.38
S&P 500 3,446.83 up 27.38

10 Year Yield: down at 0.76%

Oil: up at $41.27

25 September 2020

1) Tim Kendall, former Facebook director of monetization, says that Facebook “took a page from Big Tobacco’s play book, working to make our offering addictive at the outset.” The greater the usage of Facebook by people, the greater Facebook’s revenues, so it behooves the company to make its service as addictive at possible, as soon as possible with new people. But this drive to maximize engagements entails building algorithms that facilitate the spread of misinformation, encourages divisive rhetoric thereby laying the groundwork for a mental health crisis. While met to be a device for entertainment, Facebook is in fact tearing people apart with alarming speed and intensity. He fears that American’s are pushing ourselves to the brink of civil war. Presently, Section 230 is a law that makes social media platforms immune to legal liability for the content of users’ posts. But there are growing number of people calling for reforms.
2) California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed an executive order that bans the sale of all but electric and fuel cell cars by 2035. But legal experts say the order is ‘borderline worthless’, that there isn’t anyway to enforce it. The objective is to do away with the internal combustion engine in California by mandating an increasingly larger percentage of new car sales must be zero emissions machines starting with 2% for 1998, 5% by 2001, 10% for 2003 and etcetera. California auto dealers challenged the order in court and got it somewhat diluted. Nevertheless, it’s another step in the race to electrify California’s cars.
3) Half the people who lost their jobs from the pandemic are still unemployed, while 60% who did return to work have taken a cut in pay. As of 12 September, 12.6 million Americans are receiving unemployment benefits, with an unemployment rate at 8.4%. The lower income workers are more likely to still be unemployed. The bottom line, the virus crisis lead to a unprecedented loss of jobs and six months later, America is still a long ways from recovery. The crisis has caused a split in America’s labor force, the higher earners are going one direction while the lower paid ones are going another.
4) Stock market closings for – 24 SEP 20:
Dow 26,815.44 up 52.31
Nasdaq 10,672.27 up 39.28
S&P 500 3,246.59 up 9.67
10 Year Yield: down at 0.67%
Oil: up at $40.28

15 September 2020

1) The old, almost extinct vinyl record album technology for music has surpassed the newer high technology CD music media this year, by selling $129.9 million compared to $232.1 million dollars for vinyl records. This is the first time vinyl has outsold CDs since the 1980’s. About 8.8 million records were sold with 10.2 million CDs, so number wise CD’s are still ahead. Overall, the music industry now is center on digital downloads, digital subscription and streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube with revenues up 12% overall. The recorded music for the first six months of 2020 was $5.6 billion dollars so combined vinyl and CD’s are just a small fraction of the total business.

2) Amazon is hiring again expecting to fill 100,000 part time and full time openings across the U.S. and Canada. This is in addition to 33,000 technology and corporate jobs announced just a week ago, many paying six figure salaries. The 100,000 labor jobs pay at least $15 an hour with a $1,000 sign up bonuses in some cities. Amazon is opening 100 new buildings this month because of the pandemic fueled sales surge with increase home delivery, as shopping habits shift to e-commerce. Market value for Amazon is now at $1.6 trillion dollars and continues climbing.

3) Oil giant BP (British Petroleum) says the demand for oil may have peaked last year, that global market for crude oil might never recover from the coronavirus pandemic. The company considers there are three scenarios for energy demand, all of which forecast a decline in demand for oil over the next thirty years. 1) ‘Business as usual’ oil demand increases slightly after the pandemic crisis passes, then plateaus around 2025 finally it declines after 2030. 2) Governments take more aggressive steps to curb carbon emissions, 3) there are significant shifts in societal behavior, both leading to a decline in oil demand. All point to a shift in the world economic system with a significant decline in growth for many countries.

4) Stock market closings for – 14 SEP 20:

Dow 27,993.33 up 327.69
Nasdaq 11,056.65 up 203.11
S&P 500 3,383.54 up 42.57

10 Year Yield: unchanged at 0.67%

Oil: down at $37.38