1) Just three months after filing for bankruptcy, the Pier 1 retail chain is closing down all its retail store outlets as soon as possible. This drastic action is blamed on store closure from the pandemic and failure to find a buyer. After modeling several options for remaining in business, they found liquidation was the best option to maximize Pier 1’s assets. Plans are to sell its remaining inventory, website and intellectual property. Once a large seller of home goods, the company has suffered severely from online retailers such as Amazon and Wayfair, while big box stores such as Target and Walmart have increased their marketing of home goods products. The fifty-eight year old retailer joins several other big name store chains now in bankruptcy, in what appears to be a fundamental change in consumerism.
2) The damage to employment continues to spread, starting with 1 million public sector workers possibly losing their jobs. All governments are seeing a drop in revenue from businesses being shut down because of the coronavirus. With limited money- cities, counties and states are facing layoffs of their workers until things improve. Restaurants have loss 417,000 jobs to closure. The low wage workers account for 86% of job losses, while over two hundred hospitals have laid off staff because of elective procedures being suspended to accommodate Covid-19 patients, because hospitals have experienced cash crunches.
3) The ride sharing service Uber has had steep revenue losses from the pandemic shutdown, and so announced another 3,000 layoffs to bring their total layoffs to 6,700 or 25% of its workforce. It’s anticipated this action will save the company more than $1 billion dollars annually. Additionally, the company is reorganizing into transportation (Uber Works) and food delivery (Uber Eats).
4) Stock market closings for – 19 MAY 20:
Dow 24,206.86 down 390.51 Nasdaq 9,185.10 down 49.72 S&P 500 2,922.94 down 30.97
1) The U.S. consumer prices has declined for the second straight month as the shutdown continues with people spending less. Prices have fallen 0.8% on a seasonally adjusted basis in April, which makes it the largest drop since December 2008. The prices are being forced down by the falling cost of gasoline and energy prices. While falling prices might at first seem like a good thing, economist say that deflation, the opposite of inflation, would be very bad news. This starts a chain reaction spurred by people not buying things, which means manufactures and producers often can’t charge enough to make the product they are trying to sell, so then they stop making products and layoff people. But food prices are climbing, with the biggest increase since February 1976 by 2.6%. The Federal Reserve tries to keep inflation at around 2%, which is considered ideal, but core inflation is likely to be below 1% for the coming year. Normally, it’s expected that a large release of money into the economy, such as the recent stimulus program, would cause inflation to increase.
2) Tim Hortons of Restaurant Brands International, says the food service industry needs to change for the near future, and possibly forever. The company is increasing its digital ordering capabilities by adding to restaurants smartphone apps with enhancements to its drive-thrus and curb service. Restaurant brands using delivery services such as pizza have seen an increase in revenues during the shutdown. The delivery service industries such as GrubHub were growing before the virus crisis, but have been given a real boost which will most likely be sustained when restrictions are lifted. Some restaurant chains are even experimenting with ‘kitchen only’ restaurants with multiple brands under the same roof providing delivery only. This could be an answer to the ‘living wage’ problem with restaurant systems using less labor thereby making a greater surplus of labor which keeps wages low.
3) The economic damage to the economy may not be over with yet, indeed there are fears that the economic crisis could still get worst. The provisions from Congress has done a fair job of sheltering the most vulnerable citizens, whose provisions will run out at the end of July. It’s unlikely that the labor market will be restored by July, so if the Congress doesn’t act, the economy could slide downward even more.
4) Stock market closings for – 12 MAY 20:
Dow 23,764.78 down 457.21 Nasdaq 9,002.55 down 189.79 S&P 500 2,870.12 down 60.20
1) Economic advisers are urging the reopening of the economy as quickly as possible to reduce unemployment rates, which they fear are already above 20%. But despite the risk of permanent economic damage, public health experts warn that reopening nonessential businesses could lead to a flare up of the pandemic. This could mean unemployment worst than the 1930’s great depression with a true unemployment rate reaching 25%. However, there are early reports that China is experiencing a recurrence of the coronavirus after they’ve started their reopening process, so the warnings of health experts isn’t to be taken lightly. While some officials state that 80% of the unemployment is from furloughs and expect very rapid re-employment with the ending of the shutdown, there remains the very real problem of how fast they can be rehired. With a large portion of businesses now strapped for cash, they will have to restart slowly as money permits. No doubt, many will have gone bust during the shutdown, having already run out of money, while many more will be cash starved for weeks, months or even years, teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.
2) Toyota Motor company plans to cut North American production by about a third before October, with expectations that it will be some time before production is restored to present levels. The company will build about 800,000 vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico, a number which is down 29% from the same time last year.
3) The electric automaker Tesla, controlled by Elon Musk, has filed a federal lawsuit Saturday against Alameda County in California to reverse the closing of the auto plant. The Tesla’s plant in Fremont, California was closed by health orders from the county and remain closed for social distancing reasons. Additionally, Musk is threatening to move the manufacturing plant to a more business friendly state such as Texas or Nevada, considering the regulation to be the last straw. In the last few years, California has faced a ‘business drain’ as significant number of businesses and skilled/educated workers move out of California for states offering more opportunity.
4) Stock market closings for – 11 MAY 20:
Dow 24,221.99 down 109.33 Nasdaq 9,192.34 up 71.02 S&P 500 2,930.32 up 0.52
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
1) The coronavirus economic troubles has reached out to touch social security. The social security is financed by the payroll tax, those social security deductions on worker’s paycheck and the SSI employers pay for each worker. With a little over 30 million people now unemployed, one out of every six American workers, the monies needed by the government to send out social security checks has been drastically reduced. But the government’s obligation has not been cut, they are sending out the same amount each month, so the government must spend monies they get from other sources. The social security program is the largest single source of federal spending, which is now even more shakier than before.
2) More states are beginning the process of relaxing restrictions on businesses and shut down orders. About half of the states are retracting closing orders for businesses deemed nonessential allowing them to open for business again. The states are using a patchwork of strategies to reopen, based on the type of business and how their operations expose the public to infection of the virus. Two states with large populations, Texas and Ohio, have joined in the reopening process. States are feeling enormous pressure to restart businesses and restore social life, mostly in the South, Midwest and mountain West leading the way. There are big questions if the reopening is too early, that the waning virus infection might suddenly erupt in force.
3) American colleges and universities are also facing crippling financial difficulties from the coronavirus impact, with some small colleges already closing. They are having to bear the cost of having to suddenly shift to online classes, giving partial reimbursements of room and board, plus deferring summer secession without a change in their fixed cost of operations. Many experts considering the college education system is being forever changed in America.
4) Stock market closings for – 1 MAY 20:
Dow 23,723.69 down 622.03 Nasdaq 8,604.95 down 284.60 S&P 500 2,830.71 down 81.72
1) The American unemployed continue to climb with an additional 4.4 million for last week. This brings the five week total of more than 26 million workers now unemployed in America, or about 16% of the labor force. Nearly one in six workers have lost their jobs in the last few weeks. But because of lags in the reporting system, these numbers don’t fully show the extent of the problem. With people needing money to pay rents, mortgage, buy food and pay utilities, state governments are facing increasing pressure to retract the ‘shelter at home’ orders and forced closing of businesses, despite dangers of virus flare-ups. Experts warn such moves could undo all the containment that’s been accomplished at the economic cost of the last five weeks. To make things worst, layoffs are expected to continue, that we have not reached the unemployed plateau yet. State, county and city workers may form the next wave of layoffs as tax revenues needed to pay salaries plunge from the pandemic.
2) The clothing retailer Gap, has warned that its existing cash reserves may not be enough to continue operations, something that mirrors the predicament of so many American businesses, especially small businesses. The company says it must take further actions to find liquidity over the next twelve months, including job cuts and new debt financing. The chain has stopped paying rent for its stores, thereby amassing an additional debt of $115 million dollars. Its stock has fallen nearly 60% this year.
3) The coronavirus pandemic is spawning another economic consequence- lawsuits! Carnival Corp. is facing suits from several passengers who claimed they weren’t warned of the high risk from virus onboard ships. Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and US Bancorp are being sued by small businesses who missed out on coronavirus rescue loans. Even universities are threaten with lawsuits for reimbursements of tuition, fees and housing. Judging from past disasters, it’s expected that more lawsuits will emerge in waves, as people seek someone to blame for their misfortunes while opportunistic attorneys capitalize on the crisis.
4) Stock market closings for – 23 APR 20:
Dow 23,515.26 up 39.44 Nasdaq 8,494.75 down 0.63 S&P 500 2,797.80 down 1.51
1) In order to help contain the Chinese coronavirus outbreak, China’s central bank has started deep cleaning and destroying potentially infected cash. The virus appears able to survive on surfaces for many hours which is why buildings in affected areas are regularly disinfecting elevator buttons, door handles and other commonly touched surfaces. Since cash money changes hands multiple times in a day, it too is a potential media to transmit the virus. The cash is disinfected with ultraviolet light and high temperatures, then stored for seven to fourteen days before returning to circulation.
2) The price of wine is expected to drop to its lowest levels in five years, in part because of a surplus of grapes in California. Additionally, there is a decreased demand for wine, with the lower prices lasting up to three years. Vineyards began planting thousands of acres of new vines in 2016, plus more efficient harvesting methods have combined to increase the supply of grapes.
3) GM (General Motors) has decided to pull out of Australia, New Zealand and Thailand as part of their strategy to exit markets that don’t produce adequate returns on investments. The car maker has 828 employees in Australia and New Zealand and another 1,500 in Thailand which will be eliminated.
4) Stock market closings for – 17 FEB 20:
Dow 29,398.08 down 25.23 Nasdaq 9,731.18 up 19.21 S&P 500 3,380.16 up 6.22
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
1) Celadon, a truckload carrier and American trucking giant, is slated to declare bankruptcy as early as December the 11 th. This may possibly be the largest truckload bankruptcy in history. Already, fuel cards for truck drivers are getting turned off, leaving truckers stranded in the field unable to get home without using their own money. As many as 3,200 truck drivers may find themselves stranded in addition to being without jobs. In the first half of 2019, about 640 trucking companies went bankrupt, triple the number from last year as freight volumes decline for 11 straight months. Celadon’s stock has gone from $20 a share down to 41 cents.
2) The Federal Government’s liquidity problem hasn’t gone away yet, even with hundreds of billions of dollars in new liquidity created out of thin air. The Feds will not know if there is enough money to cover repos, the short term loaning of money from bank to bank to cover short term cash shortages. If there is insufficient liquidity, then there’s the danger of a ‘lock up’ of American’s financial system.
3) Yes Bank Ltd. is expected to reject an offer of $1.2 billion dollars, more than half its planned $2 billion dollar capital raising. Instead, the company is turning to institutional investors to make up the shortfall. The bank would prefer to have institutions rather than individual investors in their fund raising. Yes Bank needs new investors in order to replenish its capital, which is now down to regulatory minimum as a result of bad loans.
4) Stock market closings for – 9 DEC 19:
Dow 27,909.60 down 105.46 Nasdaq 8,621.83 down 34.70 S&P 500 3,135.96 down 9.95
Two of the country’s largest newspaper companies will be merging and creating one huge newspaper media conglomerate. New Media Investment Group (NYSE: NEWM) will buyout Gannett Co. (NYSE: GSI) for $1.38 billion dollars, in cash and stock options.
The closing of the deal is supposedly going to be complete at the end of 2019. New Media and its satellite company GateHouse Media will operate under Gannett Co. and also be headquartered in Virginia, where Gannett is also located. -SB