4 January 2021

1) The prospects of approving the $2,000 stimulus checks have dimmed further. The legislation was scrambled in the final days of the 116th Congress. Democrats rapidly passed a bill with some Republican support and attempted to approve it in the GOP-led Senate. But the Senate Majority Leader blocked a vote on the checks, by eliminating Section 230 liability protections for social-media companies and reviewing purported voter fraud in the 2020 election. These contentious measures cut off Democratic support for the bill and avoided holding a vote directly on the larger checks. While a half dozen Senate Republicans have expressed support for larger checks, most have opposed additional spending on top of the $900 billion in aid.

2) There are eleven GOP senators who plan to object to certification of the election results, with Vice President Pence welcoming their move on January 6. So far, every state has certified their election results. The senators’ opposition to official certification is considered to only stall Congress by a matter of hours in finalizing the results. Nearly one-quarter of the Senate Republicans have broken with GOP leaders to join the effort to invalidate Biden’s win. Meanwhile, in the House, over half of the Republican members have said that they will vote on January 6 to block certification of the election results.

3) Nancy Pelosi has been reelected speaker of the house despite a narrow majority, for a fourth non-consecutive term, to lead the House of Representatives, despite suffering a handful of defections in a narrow vote. After serving for 17 years in charge of the House Democrats, Pelosi ran unopposed in her election. The Democrats’ had their smallest majority in decades and a pandemic that has hindered attendance. Some in her caucus have agitated for new leadership, and Republicans were unified against her. She received 216 votes, compared to House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy 209 votes.

4) Stock market closings for – 31 DEC 20:

Dow 30,606.48 up by 196.92
Nasdaq 12,888.28 up by 18.28
S&P 500 3,756.07 up by 24.03

10 Year Yield: down at 0.92%

Oil: up at $48.42

16 December 2020

1) The East Coast is bracing for a very heavy snow storm which is forecast to blanket Massachuset, New York and Pennsylvania. The storm system started on the West Coast over the weekend and is moving east, with some of the most intense snow and rainfall the region has seen in years. More than 63 million people are under some sort of winter storm watch this week. The winter storm is expected to strengthen as moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic clashes with cold air in the north to give the ingredients for a major snowstorm on Wednesday and Thursday. Forecasts are for 3-6 inches of snow from central Virginia up through Maine, with a swath of 6-12 inches or more, and higher amounts locally. Some isolated locations at higher elevations could potentially see up to 2 feet of snow and wind gusts that could exceed 40-50 mph. Such storms always wrought economic havoc.

2) Speaker Nancy Pelosi has invited congressional leaders to a meeting in a bid to break the months long stalemate over coronavirus relief negotiations, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. There has been major movement in recent weeks toward a potential deal, including the bipartisan proposal finally unveiled by centrist senators. But still, chances of another coronavirus stimulus bill passing are far from certain. A recently introduced $908 billion dollar compromise plan has been broken up into two parts. The goal of this is to produce a small-scale bill that can get broad support by separating out controversial provisions.

3) The mega-retailer Walmart will start testing driverless delivery trucks in Arkansas next year. Since 2019, Walmart has been working with a company called Gatik to test autonomous delivery trucks from its store in Bentonville, Arkansas. After logging more than 70,000 miles with a human driver-observer to guard that nothing went wrong, Walmart and Gatik say they’re ready to operate without any human drivers in the trucks. This makes Gatik one of the first companies to operate a fully autonomous route in this way. These delivery truck’s strategy is to use a simplified approach of using autonomous vehicles on specific routes. This limits the type of factors that can paralyze robots with indecision. Walmart has been a very active developer of the driverless delivery vehicles.

4) Stock market closings for – 15 DEC 20:

Dow 30,199.31 up by 337.76
Nasdaq 12,595.06 up by 155.02
S&P 500 3,694.62 up by 47.13

10 Year Yield: up at 0.92%

Oil: up at $47.59

3 December 2020

1) China has landed its Xinhua robotic spacecraft on the moon to spend two days gathering rocks and dirt from the lunar surface, then return those moon samples back to Earth. This is the third successful non-crewed lunar landing made by China, the first being the 2013 Chang’e-3 and its Yutu rover. Then in 2019, Chang’e-4 landed on the moon’s far side, the first spacecraft from Earth to ever do that. China will be the third nation to bring lunar samples back to earth, with first the Apollo moon landings then the Soviet Union’s Luna robotic landers. After China’s spacecraft entered orbit around the moon, Chang’e-5 was split into two vehicles, the lander went down onto the surface then other an orbiter that awaits its return. Moon samples will then be transferred to the orbiter for the journey back to Earth.

2) Further increasing the tensions in the Asian Pacific arena, while also showing its increasing militancy, Russia deploys missiles to Pacific islands, which are claimed by Japan. The deployed missiles are state-of-the-art air defense missile system designed to bring down flying aircraft. The S-300V4 air defense missile systems have entered combat duty on the Kuril Islands, adding punch to the shorter range Tor M2 missile systems deployed there earlier. This is the latest move in a continuous Russian military buildup on the islands, which has included stationing advanced fighter jets and anti-ship missiles there. The Soviet Union took the islands in the final days of World War II, and the dispute over ownership has kept the countries from signing a peace treaty ending their hostilities.

3) Negotiations for a new coronavirus stimulus package is in progress but a deal remains unclear. Plans are for Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to meet, to discuss both the effort to avert a government shutdown next week and the long-stalled stimulus package. It is reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will accept a plan that is just under $1 trillion dollars, which removes a major roadblock, but this bill would not include another $1,200 check for individuals.

4) Stock market closings for – 2 DEC 20:
Dow 29,883.79 up by 59.87
Nasdaq 12,349.37 down by 5.74
S&P 500 3,669.01 up by 6.56

10 Year Yield: up at 0.95%

Oil: up at $44.96

29 September 2020

1) A railroad link between Alaska and Canada has been a dream for generations, because such a rail link would reduce Alaska’s costs for goods and services. It would also give Canada’s land locked oil-sands access to ports in Alaska, therefore making for more domestic oil reserves, but such a railroad line faces numerous steep challenges. President Donald Trump has endorsed such a proposal, but several regulatory agencies in both America and Canada must first approve such an undertaking before the first shovel full of dirt can be moved, and this is expected to take years to get permits. The Alaska-Alberta railway Development Corporation (A2A Rail) project would be privately funded costing about $17 billion dollars and would run about 1,600 miles.

2) The plague of wild fires continues in California with several new fires in Northen California consuming thousands of acres a day. The fires are consuming vineyards and destroying the wine business, including grape vineyards that have produced for over a hundred years. The heat wave continues to bring dry air into the conflagration, thus drying out vegetation to make ideal fuel for fires, while strong winds are fanning and spreading the flames. Fires are around the San Francisco area, the Napa-Sonoma wine region and Shasta County which are consuming land at a prodigious rate. Two major fires are the Zogg Fire, which has burned through 15,000 acres and the Glass Fire burning through 11,000 acres. The damage is being created so fast that estimates of dollar losses can not be reliably made.

3) The Congress continues to struggle with a second stimulus bill, the Democrats looking to score at the polls if passed before the election. The big question and holdup is the personal stimulus check to individuals and how much it will be this time. It now appears that $1,200 will be the maximum for individuals, but this time there will be restrictions which will lower the amount for many people based on how much their income is. After nearly two months of relative inactivity, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have agreed to resume negotiations.

4) Stock market closings for – 28 SEP 20:

Dow 27,584.06 up 410.10
Nasdaq 11,117.52 up 203.96
S&P 500 3,351.60 up 53.14 %

10 Year Yield: unchanged at 0.66%

Oil: up at $40.57