26 February 2020

1) Global trade experiences its first full-year drop since the financial crisis, with weaker world growth and a manufacturing recession taking their toll. The spread of the coronavirus, with its impact on businesses and households, is increasingly pulling world economics down. While the decline isn’t huge, it is the first since 2009 and follows growth of more than 3% in 2018. The virus has shut off huge areas of China causing the closing of factories and now is spreading internationally.

2) The markets continue to follow the Dow’s thousand point drop with more large loses. To add to the financial worries, bond yields are slipping down, raising concerns that the global economy is slowing significantly because of the spreading coronavirus. There is heavy buying of treasuries in order to shelter money, with the ten year Treasury yield traded at 1.32%, an all time low, with the thirty year bond yield also reaching a record low. Analysts are already cutting their earnings estimates for the first quarter, further dampening hopes for better near term growth.

3) Retail giant Amazon has opened its first Go Grocery store in Seattle. The automated store is cashierless where customers walk in, and get what they want, and on walking out, computer and sensors electronically charging their purchases. The store is over 10,000 square feet and has about 5,000 items including fresh produce, meats and alcohol. This is just another example of the grocery retailers efforts to automate their operations and reduce labor costs.

4) Stock market closings for – 25 FEB 20: Dow is down 1900 points in two days and some experts fear the markets are 500 points away from being a correction.

Dow 27,081.36 down 879.44
Nasdaq 8,965.61 down 255.67
S&P 500 3,128.21 down 97.68

10 Year Yield: down at 1.33%

Oil: down at $50.10

20 January 2020

1) A year ago, Boeing Aircraft had record revenues of over $100 billion dollars, anticipating delivery of record number of aircraft including the 737 MAX jetliner. With the grounding of its 737 MAX, that has been reversed with Boeing posting losses from massive pay outs as well as lost revenues as undelivered aircraft sit waiting in its parking lots. Boeing may ultimately have $20 billion dollars in cost from the 737 MAX problem. Boeing’s problems has been a bonus for China’s airline manufacturing giving them a big advantage to gain market share.

2) India is resisting Amazon’s efforts to expand into India with an investment of $1 billion dollars, fearful of predatory business practices. The investment would bring Amazon India investment up to $6.5 billion dollars. But Amazon is meeting growing resistance, first with an Indian anti-trust investigation by Indian regulators, then protest from a confederation of Indian traders and organizations.

3) As hiring surged in November, the employment market got tighter, job openings plunged to their lowest level in nearly two years. The total vacancies is down by 561,000 to 6.8 million for the month. This is the lowest since February of 2018, the trend telling the economy has finally reached full employment. The biggest drops came in retail and construction.

4) Stock market closings for – 17 JAN 20: All three exchanges closed on record highs.

Dow          29,348.10    up    50.46
Nasdaq       9,388.94    up    31.81
S&P 500      3,329.62    up     12.81

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.84%

Oil:    up   at    $58.81

17 January 2020

1) The trust funds for Social Security are in trouble and will run dry by 2035. But Social Security is not going bankrupt because the program’s primary source of revenue is payroll taxes, which at present is 12.4% of pay. So even if the trust fund should run out, Social Security still would have the money to largely keep up with benefits. A much greater danger for retirees is high inflation, for historically the first to suffer from a collapsing economy are those on fixed incomes.

2) The recently signed phase one agreement with China made for a cease-fire in the trade, but leaves the tariffs largely in place, with some considering the tariffs to be the new norm in international trade. China has committed to making $200 billion dollars in purchases from America. The agreement does not address the intellectual property issues, both the forced intellectual transfers and out right theft.

3) Claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, indicating a sustained strong labor market. Claims dropped 10,000 last week to 204,000 with the labor market remaining on a solid footing, the unemployment rate holding near a fifty year low of 3.5% for December. Layoffs were in manufacturing, transportation and warehousing.

4) Stock market closings for – 16 JAN 20:

Dow              29,297.64    up    267.42
Nasdaq          9,357.13    up      98.44
S&P 500         3,316.81    up      27.52

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.81%

Oil:    up   at    $58.59

6 January 2020

1) The U.S. manufacturing sector contracted the most in December, more than for a decade. Order volumes crashed to a near eleven year low with factory employment falling for a fifth straight month. The index of national factory activity fell to 47.2 last month from 48.1 for November and is the lowest reading since June 2009. A value of 50 or above indicates expansion, while below is contraction.

2) The electric auto maker Tesla sold more cars in 2019 than the two previous years combined. Tesla sold 367,500 cars in 2019, although its on the low end of the 360,000 to 400,000 cars the company estimated at the beginning of 2019. Its newly opened plant in China will sell its Model 3 automobile in China thus avoiding transport and import cost. China promises to be a major increase in Tesla sales for next year.

3) Despite worries by experts expecting a decline of spending by American consumers, many consider the consumer will keep the economy humming through the next year. This Christmas shopping season appears it will set new records in spending, despite trade tensions, Washington being absorbed in impeachment and oil prices creeping up. With the economy always on the minds of voters, a good economy bodes well for incumbents with 2020 being a presidential election year.

4) Stock market closings for – 3 JAN 20:

Dow              28,634.88    down    233.92
Nasdaq            9,020.77    down       71.42
S&P 500         3,234.85    down      23.00

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.79%

Oil:    up   at    $63.04

18 December 2019

1) Walt Disney’s Star War’s empire has been fading at the box office with many fans finding the new offerings less than anticipated. The last chapter of the Star Wars series, The Rise of Skywalker, is being heavily promoted to halt the financial slide. In playing up the nostalgia aspects and the fact that this will be the last Star Wars release for years, they are trying to reverse the downward slide of the franchise, which Walt Disney purchased from George Lucas for $4 billion dollars in 2012.

2) Ford Motor Company plans to invest more than $1.45 billion dollars in two of its manufacturing facilities in Detroit, to make electric, autonomous and sports-utility vehicles. The new manufacturing will add 3,000 jobs, with Ford saying it will invest $11 billion dollars to make forty new hybrid and fully electric vehicles by 2022.

3) Fears continue that Boeing’s halting of the 737 MAX production could have serious impact on the U.S. economy next year. This production halt is anticipated to go until March and April of next year. Presently, Boeing has 400 airplanes in storage awaiting delivery. The production halt will impact everything from airlines to parts manufacturers, with a supply chain consisting of hundreds of firms and tens of thousands of workers. This widely diversified economic network makes forecasting the total economic impact of Boeing very difficult.

4) Stock market closings for – 17 DEC 19:

Dow                  28,267.16    up    31.27
Nasdaq             8,823.36    up       9.13
S&P 500            3,192.52   up        1.07

10 Year Yield:    unchanged   at    1.89%

Oil:    up   at    $60.54

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

7 October 2019

1) As part of its restructuring plan, HP announced they will cut about 7,000 to 9,000 jobs, resulting in an estimated savings of about $1 billion dollars. While HP expects to incur labor and non-labor cost of about $1 billion dollars, they expect to generate at lease $3 billion dollars of free cash flow. As of 31 October 2018, HP had world wide employment of about 55,000 workers.

2) Consumer spending has been the bright spot in an economy showing signs of weakening on multiple fronts, in particular manufacturing. Economists worry if consumer spending will continue to prop up the economy, saying that the up coming Christmas season will be a test. Issues such as trade, interest rates, global risk factors and political rhetoric are where confidence can be eroded by deterioration of these items.

3) The new Costco in Shanghai China reports membership of more than 200,000 as compared to an American average of 68,000 per store. Costco will open a second Shanghai location in early 2021. The first day opening, the store was so swamped with customers, that the doors had to be closed for four hours to limit the number of people inside to safe limits.

4) Stock market closings for – 4 OCT 19:

Dow                  26,573.72    up    372.68
Nasdaq               7,982.47    up    110.21
S&P 500              2,952.01    up      41.38

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.52%

Oil:    up   at    $53.01

3 October 2019

1) Despite positive last quarters, both General Motors and Ford Motor company’s are concerned about the U.S. auto market taking a turn for the worse. Shares for the two automakers, as well as Fiat Chrysler, fell because of smaller figures for the quarter, although smaller than market analysis projected. There are also concerns of the overall impact from a slowing U.S. and international economies with the impact it would have on new car sales.

2) For the second day, the stock markets nose dived with the Dow losing more than 800 points these last two days. Fears of an economic recession cause the Dow to lose 490 points on Wednesday, with indications that manufacturing is slowing down, and even though manufacturing accounts for only 10% of the economy, investors see this as an indication that the economy is contracting soon with a possible recession in the near future.

3) With the markets in decline, there is a lot riding on the up coming job numbers this Friday. Fears of a coming recession could be reinforced with poor job numbers signaling that a recession is nearing. So far, there is little evidence of layoffs on the rise despite scattered reports that more companies are cutting jobs.

4) Stock market closings for – 2 OCT 19:

Dow           26,078.62    down    494.42
Nasdaq        7,785.25    down   123.44
S&P 500       2,887.61    down     52.64

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.60%

Oil:    down   at    $52.47

4 September 2019

1) The ever present problem of growing student debt is being aggravated by the ever rising cost of college. This rise in cost is fueled by decreasing funding by governments, a lack of cost controls by college administrations and an emphases on plush facilities instead of real education support.

2) Manufacturing shrank in August for the first time since August 2016. The manufacturing index slid to 49.1 from 51.2 in July, where an index below 50 signals a contraction. Production declined by 1.3 percent while employment fell by 4.3 percent with new orders falling by 3.6 percent. With the trade war increasing the cost of Chinese manufactured imports, it would be expected that American manufacturing would be increasing.

3) The United Auto Workers union is targeting GM for contract talks, with the UAW approving a strike. The UAW represents nearly 150,000 hourly workers at Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler with 96% of it’s workers OKing a strike. Leaders of the UAW are under investigation for corruption by the FBI who have conducted raids on key leadership members recently for mis use of monies. The union is angry at GM for layoffs and the closing of plants, plus production plants in Mexico.

4) Stock market closings for – 3 SEP 19:

Dow              26,118.02    down    285.26
Nasdaq           7,874.16    down      88.72
S&P 500          2,906.27    down       20.19

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.47%

Oil:    down   at    $53.90

3 September 2019

1) Gold is renowned for being a panic investment, something that investors move their money into when fearing that sever financial troubles are coming. Investors are worried about political uncertainty that plagues world markets, and are pushing gold prices up to record highs. Real yields in the US have fallen to about zero which makes gold especially appealing as a safe haven.

2) The Price of oil falls as the trade war deepens stoking concerns over growth. Principal cause for concern is the trade war and the deterioration of manufacturing in China. Oil prices is considered a gage of economic health because slower growth means there will be less demand for oil, so prices drop. Furthermore, since oil is bought and sold as futures commodities, the price reflects anticipation of near future economic state of the world.

3) Owners of 98,000 Volkswagen AG U.S. vehicles which had fuel economy labels overstating efficiency will ask a U.S. judge for $26 million dollars. The EPA said the German automaker must forfeit greenhouse gas emissions credits and lower the fuel economy ratings on these vehicles after using software to falsify fuel efficiency ratings.

4) Stock market closings for – 2 SEP 19:

Markets closed for holiday.