6 July 2020

1) Newest job report is out with America gaining 4.8 million jobs as people return from the shutdown to work again. This gives an unemployment rate of 11.1%, which is still in the recession category, but is coming down over time. These returning jobs were mostly in the restaurant, hotel and retail sectors. There remains the question of how many restaurant jobs will finally return, with significant numbers of privately own businesses failing financially because of the shutdown.

2) The cornerstone of Ford’s reorganization, its F series Ford pickups, has dropped 22% in sales. Most of these are the F-150 full size pickups, with a new version just recently released. Total Ford sales are down 33.3%, with Ford executives making it clear just how critical the F-150 is to the future of Ford. Before the pandemic crisis set in, Ford had implemented a major restructuring of its operations intent on remaining a strong profitable company, and had expected to pay for this plan in part with the strong sales of the F-150. The F series models have been a part of Ford’s product line since 1948.

3) It’s reported that the developing world loses billions of dollars in money from migrant workers. These migrant workers range from Polish farmhands in the fields of southern France, to Filipino workers on cruise ships in the Caribbean, almost all of them losing their jobs because of the pandemic shutdown. These workers routinely sent cash home, so the third world economy is suffering too. Migrant workers comprise tens of millions of Indians, Filipinos, Mexicans and others from the developing countries, who sent a record $554 billion dollars back home last year. This is more than three times the development aid from foreign governments. Family members depend on this cash to pay for food, fuel and medical care. This drop in money sent home is four times the fall in the 2008 Great Recession.

4) Stock market closings for – 3 JUL 20:

Dow 25,827.36 up 92.39
Nasdaq 10,207.63 up 53.00
S&P 500 3,130.01 up 14.15

10 Year Yield: down at 0.67%

Oil: unchanged $40.32 back home

22 June 2020

1) Oil has passed$40 a barrel, continuing a slow but steady recovery. This could be signaling a reawakening of the U.S. shale oil production. This rally allows the oil industry some breathing room with its high debt burden as the shale oil industry seeks to rebuild after the worst price collapse in a generation. This is far different than earlier this year when oil producers were paying to have their oil taken away. OPEC+ continues efforts to re-balance the global oil market, now abundantly clear that everyone loses in a price war.

2) More encouraging economic news with Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler returning to pre-coronavirus pandemic production schedules in their American plants. Ford plans to fully return to production levels by July 6 while also ramping up their production facilities in Mexico. Although not given any firm dates, Fiat Chrysler is also returning to former production levels as rapidly as possible.

3) Experts are predicting the restaurant business, as we know it, is coming to an end because of the Convid-19 crisis. The industry generates $900 billion dollars a year, employs 15 million people, which is 15 times more than the airline business, which many are so concerned about now. Estimates vary widely of 20 to 80% of the privately own restaurants succumbing to the pandemic. The big franchise restaurant chains are expected to mostly survive and continue, but the independents are expected to fade out. One factor is change, which is coming too fast for small operations to adapt and keep pace with. The general consensus is that the business was in trouble long before the pandemic, struggling with poor working conditions, very thin profit margins, low wages and increasing competition. But it’s not just the restaurants themselves, for behind them is farming, distribution, suppliers and commercial real estate. It’s apparent that the demise of a significant number of independent restaurants will spell a significant change to the American business environment.

4) Stock market closings for – 19 JUN 20:

Dow 25,871.46 down 208.64
Nasdaq 9,946.12 up 3.07
S&P 500 3,097.74 down 17.60

10 Year Yield: unchanged 0.70%

Oil: up at $39.43

17 June 2020

1) As restaurants start to reopen, they are finding a serious problem- it takes cash to reopen again, cash that many don’t have in the bank. The cost of food, staff, cleaning and training for new sanitary protocols is proving daunting, with one independent owner calculating he needs $80,000 cash to reopen. The suppliers are facing a similar problem since many of their restaurant customers still own them money, but need supplies on credit to reopen, so many suppliers are threatened with bankruptcy too. And if that’s not enough, restaurants that had opened in some major cities are threatened with another shutdown as the virus pandemic re-emerges again, and so not only face another loss of sales revenue, just when they need the money the most, but also have additional cash outlays for reopening. The closing of restaurants has shed more than 8 million jobs.

2) In a month filled with economic bad news, retail sales have posted their largest monthly jump upwards ever. With the cornonavirus lockdown coming to an end, consumers are out shopping again making a 17.7% headline gain including food sales, which beat the previous record of October 2001. Clothing and accessories were the biggest gains of 188%. This gain reverses the 16.4% plunged from a month ago. While very encouraging, the economy still has a lot to regain.

3) There is a faster than expected turnaround in home buyer demand, after a sharp drop-off at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index jumped 21 points in June to 58, where above 50 indicates a positive market. In April, the index dropped a record 42 points to 30. Builders report increase demand for families seeking single family homes in inner and outer suburbs featuring lower density neighborhoods.

4) Stock market closings for – 16 JUN 20:

Dow 26,289.98 up 526.82
Nasdaq 9,895.87 up 169.84
S&P 500 3,124.74 up 58.15

10 Year Yield: up at 0.76%

Oil: up at $37.76

15 June 2020

1) The Independent Restaurant Coalition estimates that 85% of the independent restaurants may go bust by the end of 2020. The independent restaurants comprise 70% of all the restaurants in America. These restaurants rely more heavily on dine-in revenue, which the franchise chains don’t because of their drive up and take out business is well established, while also having a corporate safety net or support system to fall back on. It will be a long time before dine-in revenue returns to pre-pandemic levels because independents depend on densely packed dinning rooms to generate sufficient revenue to meet expenses, something that social distancing prevents. Most owners just don’t have the cash reserves to survive.

2) J.C. Penny stores will begin their ‘going out of business’ sales having just received bankruptcy court approval to begin liquidation sales at those stores closing permanently. There are 242 stores closing leaving about 600 stores to continue. Sales could start as early as this weekend. J.C. Penny is the largest company to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy since the pandemic started. Penny faces a crucial deadline of 15 July for a business plan, which without one, the company is expected to pursue a sale instead, which could mean total liquidation.

3) Some are proposing negative interest rates for U.S. bonds as some European countries are doing. The rational for negative interest rates is they spur economic growth, which is controversial among economist with evidence that it really works being mixed. Lowering interest rates encourages businesses and individuals to invest and spend more, which helps the economy grow. The doubts about negative interest rates is companies and individuals would rather hold cash which cost nothing rather than pay to park their money in the bank. This encourages the money to be loan out rather than be parked, which often means riskier loans. While there are studies made of how effective negative interest rates are, so far the results are mixed.

4) Stock market closings for – 12 JUN 20:

Dow 25,605.54 up 477.37
Nasdaq 9,588.81 up 96.08
S&P 500 3,041.31 up 39.21

10 Year Yield: up at 0.70%

Oil: up at $36.56

9 June 2020

1) The worst U.S. economic downturn since the Great Depression has been officially declared a recession by the National Bureau of Economic Research. While the recession had been a foregone conclusion for most people since the coronavirus outbreak shut the economy down, the NBER declaration makes it a fact, adding that the different characteristics and dynamics makes this recession different from previous recessions. The recession is officially to have started in February.

2) The child care businesses are the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic shutdown with a third of the child care workers laid off or furloughed nation wide. Only the hotel and restaurant industries were hit harder, but because child care providers operate on such thin margins, many are going out of business. With parents unable to find day care for their children, they are unable to return to work, as much as they would like to. So this in turn is another hindrance to economic recovery for America. Therefore, Congress is proposing as much as $100 billion dollars for the child care industry in the next stimulus package.

3) A ten year long treasure hunt has come to an end with the finding of a treasure chest filled with jewels and gold coins worth a reported million dollars. An estimated 350,000 treasure hunters have been searching in the Rocky Mountains since 2010, a ten year long treasure hunt. Hidden by Forrest Fenn, an 89 year old art dealer, who confirmed the treasure was found by an anonymous person from the east. Thousands have spent considerable time and resources searching for the treasure, some even giving up their jobs to search full time. Some have claimed the entire enterprise is an elaborate hoax and have filed lawsuits. Clues to the treasure’s location were in a cryptic 24 line poem that Fenn wrote and published in his book, “The thrill of the Chase”, published in 2010.

4) Stock market closings for – 8 JUN 20:

Dow 27,572.44 up 461.46
Nasdaq 9,924.74 up 110.66
S&P 500 3,232.39 up 38.46

10 Year Yield: down at 0.88%

Oil: down at $38.51

1 June 2020

1) For the last few years, a number of retailers have been downsizing by closing a number of their stores across the country, something that the coronavirus pandemic has greatly accelerated. But the restaurant chains have also been downsizing as well, closing branches all across the county. Such popular names as Jack in the Box, Luby’s, Pizza Hut, Ruby Tuesday, Steak’nShake , Subway, Burger King, TGI Fridays and Applebee’s just to name a few, who are closing restaurants across the country. Each have been struggling for the last several years. This is another sign that the American consumer market is in the process of fundamentally changing.

2) The U.S. consumer spending plunged in April by the most on record because of the nation wide lock down. Spending fell 13.6% from the prior month, making for the sharpest drop in six decades. A rise in income temporarily masks the fact that people are in a fragile economic position, because the rise was a result of the one time stimulus checks. The virus crisis halted all but the most essential purchases, with economists expecting it will take a year or more before spending recovers.

3) It’s anticipated that the national debt will increase to more than 100% of the national GDP (Gross Domestic Product) by the end of the year. This will exceed the record set after World War II. The $25 trillion dollar national debt equates to $76,665 dollars per citizen or $203,712 dollars per taxpayer. The federal deficit is over $1.9 trillion dollars through April, and is expected to rise to $3.7 trillion dollars by the end of September, which is the end of the fiscal year. Such debt could draw investors to demand higher interest rates, as the federal government’s position becomes increasingly precarious. This is like an individual piling on credit card debt without consideration for the short or long term consequences to their financial position. For America, those consequences could be deep depression coupled with inflation of the dollar leaving money far less valuable than today.

4) Stock market closings for – 29 MAY 20:

Dow 25,383.11 down 17.53
Nasdaq 9,489.87 up 120.88
S&P 500 3,044.31 up 14.58

10 Year Yield: down at 0.65%

Oil: up at $35.32

26 September 2019

1) Devin Wenig, the president and CEO for eBay is stepping down as the company moves forward with potential sale of assets. EBay’s board of directors considers that a new CEO is best for the company at this time. Scott Schenkel, eBay’s senior vice president and chief financial officer has been appointed as interim CEO.

2) Inspired Brands, a restaurant chain holding company, announced it is adding Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches to its portfolio. Other restaurant chains owned by Inspired Brands is Arby’s, Sonic, Buffalo Wild Wings and Rusty Taco. This acquisition will make Inspired Brands the fourth largest restaurant company in the U.S., with over $14 billion dollars in annual sales from 11,200 restaurants in 16 countries.

3) The number of mortgage applications has fallen 10.1% this last week, as interest rates rise. However, the volume is still 46% higher than a year ago when interest rates were higher. Applications for refinancing home loans, which are very sensitive to interest rates, fell 15%, but again is still 104% higher than a year ago.

4) Stock market closings for – 25 SEP 19:

Dow                26,970.71    up    162.94
Nasdaq             8,077.38    up      83.76
S&P 500            2,984.87    up      18.27

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.73%

Oil:    $56.66

1 May 2019

1) As American farmers age, more of them are cashing out of the grain business with the number of farms decreasing from consolidation. Auction houses report their sales of closing farms are up 30%, a result of consecutive years of harvest and low grain prices, made worst by the China-U.S. trade war.

2) The Las Vegas based resort company MGM announced a planned 1,000 layoffs by June in an attempt to reduce costs and boost earnings. So far, 35 executives have taken voluntary retirement as part of the company’s restructuring.

3) Rising meat prices is weighing down on many restaurant chain’s bottom lines, at a time when rising minimum wages is cutting deeply into profits, which will start forcing their prices up leaving consumers paying more.

4) 30 APR 19 Stock market closings:

  Dow             26,592.91         up     38.52
Nasdaq           8,095.39    down    66.47
S&P 500          2,945.83          up      2.80

10 Year Yield:      down   at    2.51%

Oil:    down   at    $63.47