21 September 2020

1) Michael Farr of CNBC claims the problem with the U.S. economy is there are too many poor people, that the poor and middle class don’t have enough money. His contention is that until employment and wages increase, the U.S. economy will remain bogged down or worst . . . digging a deeper hole. The American economy is the world’s largest with nearly 70% driven by consumer spending. With the vast majority of consumers in the lower middle class and poor, it stands to reason that with more money in their hands, it would make for a more viable economy. He contends that until their lot is improved by having more money, the economy will remain sluggish. But as is often the case, he ignores the ‘obsolete people’ problem of machines with technology displacing those workers. The pay of people reflects the value of people to society, and as technology continues to lower their real value it makes it hard to increase their wages.

2) Wayfair, the giant on-line home furnishings retailer, has announced they are launching two new credit cards while retiring their Comenity Bank card. There will now be the Wayfair Mastercard and the new Wayfair Credit Card. These cards will have no annual fee and offer the choice of earning rewards on spending or receiving no-interest financing for up to 24 months. Wayfair is partnering with Citi Retail Services for the two credit cards.

3) Facebook, the social media giant, is searching for a director of remote work as part of its plan for a more permanent shift of working from home. The company has been making a major shift towards permanent remote work and now needs management dedicated to permanently establishing this method of work in the corporate structure. Facebook is expecting as much as half of its 48,000 workforce to be working at home in the next ten years. Several other large companies are exploring the work-at-home strategy as a way of reducing cost of labor as well as allowing a larger pool of workers to draw upon, since home workers can be thousands of miles away from the home office. There are many consequences to the economy from a large work force working at home, the first is reducing spending on automobiles and service, plus sales of clothing.

4) Stock market closings for – 18 SEP 20:

Dow 27,657.42 down 244.56
Nasdaq 10,793.28 down 117.00
S&P 500 3,319.47 down 37.54

10 Year Yield: up at 0.69%

Oil: up at $40.98

AMERICANS THAT ARE WEALTHY; ARE CLOSELY MONITORING THEIR FINANCES UNDER TRUMP PRESIDENCY OR BIDEN PRESIDENCY

By: Economic & Finance Report

Wealthy Americans are monitoring their finances and tax proposals from both candidates as the 2020 presidential election gets closer.

Money managers, financial advisors and accountants across the United States spectrum, have been advising their wealthy clients about what they may expect from either a Trump reelection presidency or a Biden presidency.

Some experts have advised their clients on what they will be paying in taxes under a Biden Democratic Presidency and Congress; what to expect with the current Trump Presidency and a full Republican Congress.

Things may be mightly different in comparison, opposed to exemptions and what the rich/wealthy will have to shell out and what they will save in either presidency. -SB

SPECULATION:CHINA MAY DUMP U.S. TREASURIES BECAUSE OF CURRENT TENSIONS WITH U.S.

By: Economic & Finance Report

It is speculated that China may dump more of its U.S. treasuries because of the current tensions between China and the United States. China currently holds $1.07 trillion dollars worth of U.S. treasuries.

China has been unloading some of their treasuries throughout the 2020 year, but that does not necessarily mean that they will unload their “whole deck of cards”. If China were to use the “nuclear option” in unloading their treasuries; the global markets would react haphazardly to such a scenario. -SB

Image Credit: Sott.net

17 August 2020

1) Across America, schools are struggling over if and how they should open and operate amidst the Covid-19 crisis while knowing students are infected in growing numbers. Schools are opening their doors only to have to quickly backtrack as soon as infections pop up. Debates rage over using ‘remote learning’ verse ‘in class’, with a mirid of problems with either strategy. Add to this is fears of teachers and bus drivers being exposed to potentially life threatening infections. The main problem is schools just aren’t designed for social distancing, either in the classroom or hallways. There isn’t any federal standards to guide local schools in the opening and operating of schools in the shadow of the pandemic.

2) First class mail volume had declined significantly in America, especially since the pandemic, so the USPS (United States Postal Service) is removing mailboxes in parts of Oregon. The USPS has seen a significant decline in revenue, a decline that has been on going for many years as electronic billing/payment and email has become increasingly popular. This could be portends of things to come in the near future, as the USPS struggles with money to operate.

3) With China’s announcement of its latest combat drills near Taiwan, the democratic island is increasing its defense spending. China’s aggressiveness, both military and economic, in the pacific area is raising fears of surrounding countries about their safety. Japan is also concerned over what China might do with her fast growing military power. Taiwan is increasing their military budget by 10.2%. Since the early days of the cold war, Taiwan has been threatened by China, including direct military attacks, so Taiwan knows that China has to be taken seriously. The island nation is discussing acquiring sea mines to deter amphibious landings as well as cruise missiles for coastal defense. Last year the State Department approved $10 billion dollars in arms sales. Additionally, Taiwan is beginning free trade talks with the U.S., a move that would bring the two countries closer together.

4) Stock market closings for – 14 AUG 20:

Dow 27,931.02 up 34.30
Nasdaq 11,019.30 up 23.20
S&P 500 3,372.85 up 0.58

10 Year Yield: down at 0.71%

Oil: down at $42.23

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

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

27 July 2020

1) Another indication of the contraction of the oil business is the oil services company Schlumberger who cut 21,000 jobs or about one fifth of its 105,000 global employees. This is a direct result of an expected 25% drop in the number of oil wells drilled worldwide. Revenues fell 58% from last year for north American operations. The world wide cornavirus crisis caused a massive drop in oil demand, which collapsed the price of oil.

2) Boeing aircraft is facing another trouble, this time with their older Boeing 737 jets. The FAA was warned of corrosion which could cause dual-engine failure, and has ordered inspections. The corrosion problem is a result of hundreds of aircraft now in storage that have been idled because of the drop in air travel from the virus. The order requires aircraft that have not been operated for a week or more must be inspected which will impact about 2,000 aircraft. The corrosion is in engine valves, which has caused single-engine shutdowns which resulted from engine bleed air valves being stuck open.

3) Junk bonds are back again, but are packaged in a format met to appeal to investors, avoiding their seamy 1980s era reputation. Low interest rates driven by the Federal reserve is encouraging companies to borrow, which has lead to a record $51.5 billion dollars worth of junk bonds issued in June. Junk bonds are bonds with high yields (interest rates) but having a lot higher risk. The high risk comes from companies fiscal ability to pay out the bond on maturity or dividends. In a recessionary environment awash in cheap money, a troubled company can collapse under the weight of their debt. But extensive use of junk bonds pose the same dangers of the mortgage backed securities in 2008 with massive failing of businesses pulling the already fragile economy down.

4) Stock market closings for – 24 JUL 20:

Dow 26,469.89 down 182.44
Nasdaq 10,363.18 down 98.24
S&P 500 3,215.63 down 20.03

10 Year Yield: up at 0.59%

Oil: up at $41.34

22 July 2020

1) China, with the second largest economy in the world, is steadily developing into a technological powerhouse that could upend the status quo. China’s ten year plan called “Made in China 2025”, has a principle goal for China to catchup, then surpass the West in various technological fields. Some consider this not only threatens the U.S. economy, but the world economy too. China has already declared they intend to be the dominate power in the world by 2050, and having the high ground in technology development is a key milestone in that quest.

2) Some consider that the stock market will likely head upwards to a new high, fueled by borrowing and money printing. With another stimulus package in the near future, it is ‘out of fashion’ to consider how the borrowed money will be paid back. The central banks, who are not elected, stand ready to print as much money as is wanted, no matter that historically this is how inflation is created and fuel. Example is the Weimar Republic (Germany) who induced their great wave of hyper inflation by printing massive amounts of money in the 1920’s, that lead the way for the Nazi’s to ascend to power. Other problems stemming from printing too much money is currency depreciation, difficulties borrowing, higher interest rates and social unrest. With other investments limited, the excess of money goes to the stock market, thus pushing the market up, and possibly into a bubble just waiting to pop!

3) The Congress remains busy crafting a second stimulus package with lots of debates what should and shouldn’t go in it, intending on having a deal worked out by the end of next week. However, this could go into August before a bill is ready to sign. A major point of contention is checks vs taxes. Should stimulus be checks like the $1,200 checks given out a few months?. If checks, then who gets them this time and how much? The other strategy is reducing payroll taxes, but this only helps those who are working. The Republicans are proposing a $1 trillion dollar relief strategy, while the Democrats propose a sweeping $3.5 trillion dollar plan. This would add to the $2.9 trillion dollar package already implemented early this year. As usual, everything is being done will little to no real analysis, instead relying on gut feelings of lawmakers in making the future of America.

4) Stock market closings for – 21 JUL 20:

Dow 26,840.40 up 159.53
Nasdaq 10,680.36 down 86.73
S&P 500 3,257.30 up 5.46

10 Year Yield: down at 0.61%

Oil: up at $41.58

20 July 2020

1) The international British Airways has announced they are retiring their entire fleet of Boeing 747 jets, a direct result of the Convid-19 crisis. Once one of the biggest airlines using the iconic jumbo jet, the contraction of the airline industry and the likelihood that air travel will not return to its previous size is forcing all airlines to abandon their jumbo jets early. They are going to the more modern fuel efficient Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 in their place. British Airways now has 31 Boeing 747s, about 10% of its total fleet, with an average age of 23 years.

2) What appears to be a massive attempt to embezzle monies from the general public has come to light with the social media Twitter confirming that 130 accounts were targeted in a hack. The accounts of a handful of prominent users were compromised that allowed criminals to gain access to prominent users such as Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Kanye West to post solicitations for money. The attackers were able to gain control of accounts then send Tweets from those accounts asking to send money via Bitcoin to commit cryptocurrency fraud. Wire fraud is a federal felony crime, so the FBI immediately began an investigation of who and how the fraud was perpetrated.

3) Delta Airlines is proposing a 15% cut to minimum pay for pilots to avoid furloughs for a year. This would have to come after the first of October when federal aid terms expire. This is in view that a quick recovery in air travel is becoming increasingly remote because of the rise in new coronavirus cases. More than 60,000 airline employees across several carriers have been warned that their jobs are at risk, including more than 2,500 of Delta’s 14,000 pilots. As financial losses pile up, employees are urge to take early retirements, buyouts and other forms of leave in a attempt to slash cost as financial losses pile up. So far, more than 1,700 pilots have signed up for early retirements. This is just another indicator how the air travel business is probably fundamentally changing.

4) Stock market closings for – 17 JUL 20:

Dow 26,671.95 down 62.76
Nasdaq 10,503.19 up 29.36
S&P 500 3,224.73 up 9.16

Year Yield: up at 0.63%

Oil: down at $40.57

17 JUL 2020

1) Looming in the wings of the pandemic crisis is another major crisis . . . and epidemic of evictions. With the unemployment rate still more than 10% and eviction protections lapsing across America, housing experts expect millions of Americans to lose their homes in the coming months. For millions of Americans, the housing situation was already precarious before the pandemic. Many are paying large percentages of their monthly incomes toward rent, but don’t have enough to cover an unexpected expense of just a few hundred dollars. With insufficient money from unemployment, people are facing living on the streets during 100 degree plus temperatures, hurricane season and possibly freezing weather if the problem continues. This would also mean increased exposure to the Convid-19 virus.

2) A bright spot in the economy is that retail sales rose again for the second straight month as shoppers slowly trickle back into stores. But with conronavirus cases on the rise, this could be short lived. Sales increased 7.5% for June, from May, better than the 5% estimated by economists. Sales were driven by clothing, electronics and appliances as well as home furnishing. Still, foot traffic through stores is way down, people coming in with specific items to consider buying instead of just browsing. So far this year, 4,000 stores are closing permanently with as many as 25,000 expected by the end of the year. Last year, there were 9,302 store closing.

3) The traditional investing axiom of 60/40 portfolios is coming into question. This is the mix of 60% stocks and 40% bonds, which is generally considered the best risk minimizing strategy for individuals to use in building their fortune. But with Treasury yields now hovering around zero, and expected to stay there for years, those gains are in doubt. For decades, this strategy has given the best returns with the least risk in times of volatile markets. Consequently, investors are scrutinizing the strategy as maybe out of date in a changing economy.

4) Stock market closings for – 16 JUL 20:

Dow 26,734.71 down 135.39
Nasdaq 10,473.83 down 76.66
S&P 500 3,215.57 down 10.99

10 Year Yield: down at 0.61%

Oil: down at $40.80