25 September 2020

1) Tim Kendall, former Facebook director of monetization, says that Facebook “took a page from Big Tobacco’s play book, working to make our offering addictive at the outset.” The greater the usage of Facebook by people, the greater Facebook’s revenues, so it behooves the company to make its service as addictive at possible, as soon as possible with new people. But this drive to maximize engagements entails building algorithms that facilitate the spread of misinformation, encourages divisive rhetoric thereby laying the groundwork for a mental health crisis. While met to be a device for entertainment, Facebook is in fact tearing people apart with alarming speed and intensity. He fears that American’s are pushing ourselves to the brink of civil war. Presently, Section 230 is a law that makes social media platforms immune to legal liability for the content of users’ posts. But there are growing number of people calling for reforms.
2) California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed an executive order that bans the sale of all but electric and fuel cell cars by 2035. But legal experts say the order is ‘borderline worthless’, that there isn’t anyway to enforce it. The objective is to do away with the internal combustion engine in California by mandating an increasingly larger percentage of new car sales must be zero emissions machines starting with 2% for 1998, 5% by 2001, 10% for 2003 and etcetera. California auto dealers challenged the order in court and got it somewhat diluted. Nevertheless, it’s another step in the race to electrify California’s cars.
3) Half the people who lost their jobs from the pandemic are still unemployed, while 60% who did return to work have taken a cut in pay. As of 12 September, 12.6 million Americans are receiving unemployment benefits, with an unemployment rate at 8.4%. The lower income workers are more likely to still be unemployed. The bottom line, the virus crisis lead to a unprecedented loss of jobs and six months later, America is still a long ways from recovery. The crisis has caused a split in America’s labor force, the higher earners are going one direction while the lower paid ones are going another.
4) Stock market closings for – 24 SEP 20:
Dow 26,815.44 up 52.31
Nasdaq 10,672.27 up 39.28
S&P 500 3,246.59 up 9.67
10 Year Yield: down at 0.67%
Oil: up at $40.28

10 September 2020

1) The renowned Mall of America announced plans to lay off and furlough hundreds of employees. Located in Bloomington, Minn. the shopping center will permanently lay off 211 workers across various departments at the end of the month with an additional 178 workers to remain on furlough beyond the end of September. The Mall employs about 1,000 workers. Like most other malls in America, the Mall of America has suffered severely from the pandemic and need for social distancing. The malls across America have suffered a decline in recent years as people’s shopping habits and revenues decline. The Mall of America has been delinquent on its $1.4 billion dollar mortgage for May, June and July, and in turn some of its 500 retail tenants are unable to pay rent or having skip out on lease obligations.

2) Federal report warns of the threat from climate change to the economy. The report considers there are consequences that can create chaos in the financial system and disrupt the American economy. It’s considered that climate change poses a major risk to the stability of the U.S. financial system to sustain the American economy, that jobs, income and opportunity are at stake. This is just another indication of the increasing difficulty and expense of keeping individuals in a high technology society. The report makes 53 recommendations for dealing with the climate risks.

3) With the start up of college and return to campus life, there has been a sharp increase in coronavirus cases stemming from universities. For instance, the University of Tennessee has more than 2,100 students and staff members quarantined for Covid-19. As of Monday the university has 600 active cases of Covid-19. Of the 2,100 quarantined cases, about half are on-campus students and the other half off-campus. The surge is blamed on reckless behavior by a small portion of the students, especially traditional college parties with close personal contact. Many other American universities are having similar experience such as the University of Notre Dame, and North Carolina State. Some universities have implemented curfews, restrictions on visitors and even lockdowns of fraternities and sororities.

4) Stock market closings for – 9 SEP 20:

Dow 27,940.47 up 439.58
Nasdaq 11,141.56 up 293.87
S&P 500 3,398.96 up 67.12

10 Year Yield: up at 0.70%

Oil: up at $37.78

28 Auguest 2020

1) The decay of the worlds airline industry is reaching out past the airline companies themselves, with jet engine maker Rolls-Royce announcing a $7 billion dollar lost for the first half of 2020. Rolls-Royce gets paid by the hours their engines are flown on airliners, and with the massive drop in air travel from the pandemic, the company’s revenues have drastically dropped leaving its survival in doubt. The company is being forced to sell assets to meet its cash needs, so they are reducing eleven of their locations to just 6, with the loss of 9,000 jobs. Stock dropped 9% on the news of reorganization which was already down 66% since the start of the virus crisis.

2) Not all of the retail industry is bleak news, with Abercombie & Fitch outperforming expectations in the second quarter. While the apparel company did lose ground in the last quarter, it performed better than analyst expected, with sales down by 17%, nevertheless their earnings per share made remarkable gains over last year. This is a result of aggressive costs reductions earlier in the quarter when the company slashed expenses by $200 million dollars by reducing salary expenditures and skipping dividends. Success in their e-commerce operations has also pushed up the revenues and promises to add more as people go to online for more of their shopping.

3) Another small indication that manufacturing is returning to America is Roche Holding AG plans to move its glucose testing strips manufacturing plant from Pueto Rico, where it has operated for about 40 years. The company is streamlining its operations by combining the plant with its other existing facilities. The move will cost 200 jobs in Peuto Rico, which has a number of other drug and medical device manufacturing plants.

4) Stock market closings for – 27 AUG 20:

Dow 8,492.27 up 160.35
Nasdaq 11,625.34 down 39.72
S&P 500 3,484.55 up 5.82

10 Year Yield: up at 0.75%

Oil: down at $42.96

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

24 July 2020

1) The parent company of Ann Taylor and Lane Bryant clothing chains, the Ascena Retail Group Inc., will close more than half its stores, a total of more than 1,000 stores. The troubled retailer was struggling like many other retailers to remain afloat, but the Covid-19 crisis tipped the scales into bankruptcy. Ascena has about 40,000 employees and there’s the expectation of cutting its 2,800 stores down to just 1,200 with significant losses of jobs. The chapter 11 will erase about $1 billion dollars in debt from its $12.5 billion dollars of liabilities, which includes $1.6 billion dollars of funded debt. Retailers have been among the hardest hit by Covid-19 lockdowns coupled with online shopping, which drained revenues and pushed so many retailers into bankruptcy.

2) Almost 16,000 restaurants have closed permanently from the Covid-19 pandemic, an indication of just how deeply the virus has affected the food industry, especially the restaurants. So far, about 60% of the restaurant closures have been permanent, with the number increasing with time. Restaurants now surpass the retail industry in the highest total business closures since the start of the pandemic. Bars and the night life industry has met the same fate, with 5,454 total business closures of which 2,429 are considered permanent closures, or 44% lost.

3) There is mounting evidence that America’s fragile economic recovery is faltering even as the pandemic seems to be leveling out. Reservations for restaurants are waning, air traffic is leveling off and foot traffic at stores is dwindling again. With rising infections in California, Texas and Florida, there is a growing sense that the recovery is fading. Small businesses have suffered the worst, having limited cash reserves and ability to obtain loans, and therefore are failing at record numbers. To compound the problem, there is weaker spending by consumers. Hopes for a real recovery depend more and more on an effective vaccine being created and available. Until there is one, there appears little hope that the economic will make any real lasting progress towards recovery.

4) Stock market closings for – 23 JUL 20:

Dow 26,652.33 down 353.51
Nasdaq 10,461.42 down 244.71
S&P 500 3,235.66 down 40.36

10 Year Yield: down at 0.58%

Oil: down at $41.21

28 May 2020

1) The aircraft manufacture Boeing is laying off almost 12,000 workers this week, a result of the coronavirus crisis impact on the aircraft company. Boeing, which is the largest exporter in the U.S., is trimming its workforce by about 10% which include international locations. It is anticipated the airline industry will take some years to recover with air travel dropping a whopping 95% because of the virus, and major airlines canceling the majority of their domestic flights while suspending nearly all international flights. The company suffered a major set back with its 737 MAX grounding that resulted in near record number of order cancellations for passenger jets with zero new orders in April. This has been Boeing’s worst year in decades.

2) The discount home goods retailer Tuesday Morning has filed for bankruptcy, a result of the prolong store closings from Covid-19. The lost revenues created an insurmountable financial hurdle in a company that was thriving before the pandemic. The chain is closing 230 of its nearly 700 US stores across America. The first phase of closures of 130 stores will begin this summer. This is in line with another home goods retailer, Pier 1, which filed for bankruptcy in February, another casualty of the virus.

3) More than one in every six young workers have stopped working because of the coronavirus pandemic world wide. There are fears that young workers (15 to 28 years old) could face the inability to get proper training or gain access to jobs long after the pandemic ends, maybe even deep into their careers. Of those still working, about 23% report reduction in the number of hours they work. For 178 million young workers around the world, more than 40% are in the food services and hospitality industries, which is the hardest hit sector from the virus. Three fourths of the young workers are in informal jobs or casual labor. In addition, many companies in the U.S. are cutting salaries of those who still have a job, trying to remain in business, which will reduce discretionary income that will further slow economic recovery.

4) Stock market closings for – 27 MAY 20:

Dow 25,548.27 up 553.16
Nasdaq 9,412.36 up 72.14
S&P 500 3,036.13 up 44.367

10 Year Yield: down at 0.68%

Oil: down at $32.22

5 May 2020

1) Apparel retailer J. Crew is filing for bankruptcy, with other struggling retailers expected to succumb this year too, big retailer names like Sears and J.C. Penny. J Crew is considered to be the first retail casualty of the pandemic with others expected to quickly follow. The pandemic has caused numerous stores to be closed, laying off hundreds of thousands of employees and losing most of their sales. The big retail stores were struggling before the virus hit, with people backing away from consumerism and now after the coronavirus shutdown, people are spending little other than for groceries and daily essentials. With further declining retail revenues, more stores will close with more layoffs. Furthermore, Americans’ appetite and ability to shop continues to decline, so it looks very dismal for a major segment of the American economy, which in turn will be a burden on other segments of the economy continually pulling the rest down.

2) The service sector of the economy is also experiencing troubles in what appears to be an emerging new economy for America. Gold’s Gym International is seeking bankruptcy protection as it struggles with debt after the prolong shutdown from the virus. With the shrinking of people’s disposable income, that is the money they have left after essential spending like food, housing and transportation, the non essential businesses of the service economy are finding it harder to survive.

3) General Electric is eliminating as many as 13,000 jobs in its jet engine business, another casualty of the coronavirus devastation to the aviation segment of the economy. With airline manufactures, such as Boeing building fewer airliners, there is less demand for new jet engines. This means a 25% reduction on GE’s aviation work force with little near future likelihood of those jobs returning, indeed if the recession deepens, more jobs may be lost. Like Boeing, GE aviation was having troubles before the virus hit.

4) Stock market closings for – 4 MAY 20:

Dow 23,749.76 up 26.07
Nasdaq 8,710.72 up 105.77
S&P 500 2,842.74 up 12.03

10 Year Yield: down at 0.64%

Oil: up at $21.33

27 March 2020

1) The $2 trillion dollar coronavirus relief bill has been passed and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the people should receive cash payments within three weeks. The IRS has been tasked with distributing the monies, but the agency is hobbled by obsolete technologies such as 1960’s era computers, limited staff and a small budget. So there are questions if the agency can get the job done in a timely manner, let alone in three weeks. Experts say its more like a matter of months rather than weeks for Americans to receive their check.

2) Almost 3.3 million Americans have applied for unemployment benefits this last week, more than quadruple the previous record set in 1982. This is a result of the wide spread economic shutdown from the coronavirus pandemic. This rate of layoffs is expected to accelerate as the U.S. economy sinks into a recession with the collapse of revenues for a wide range of businesses. Economist predict the nation’s unemployment rate could approach 13% by May.

3) Gold has traditionally been a panic investment which people and nations buy to protect the value of their money. The worldwide panic over the coronavirus coupled with a flood of stimulus by central banks has ignited demand for gold to store wealth. But the gold market is running into difficulties in buying. Stored in high security vaults, government mandated shut downs have left access iffy. Also, refiners of gold have been forced to close because of the virus. Transporting gold is done via airlines, but the sharp drop in air service has also made transport of the metal difficult. All these factors have put a squeeze on gold futures.

4) Stock market closings for – 26 MAR 20:

Dow 22,552.17 up 1351.62
Nasdaq 7,797.54 up 413.24
S&P 500 2,630.07 up 154.51

10 Year Yield: down at 0.81%

Oil: down at $23.18

13 March 2020

1) The popular theme parks Disneyland and Disney World have been closed until April because of the threat of coronavirus. The closure commences on 14 March, but the hotel resort will remaining open until 16 March to allow guess to make travel arrangements for returning home. Walt Disney Co. will continue to pay cast members during the closure. Disney Cruise Line will suspend all new departures beginning Saturday until the end of the month. At this time, it is uncertain how adversely this will financially effect Walt Disney Co.

2) A global recession, driven by the coronavirus pandemic, may result because of the flow of goods, services and people becoming more restricted. In the past day, President Trump has restricted travel from Europe, Italy has closed almost every shop, India suspended most visas and Ireland partially shut down. Many sporting events have been closed to public spectators with major lost of revenues. Many nations fear a contraction, with China the first in decades, thus ending the 11 year expansion. The Federal Reserve’s emergency interest rate cut of March 3 failed to boost investor’s confidence.

3) The Federal Reserve has announced its plan to ease market strain and halt its downward spiral. The Feds will offer a huge injection of liquidity to the Treasury market to counter market dysfunction. Government bonds are liquid assets making them the easiest thing to sell in turbulent times when investors need to raise cash. The New York Feds have been buying Treasury bills in what is called repurchase agreements or repos. This added liquidity is intended to bring stability to the markets and arrest the downward movements.

4) Stock market closings for – 12 MAR 20: The markets continue their drastic downward spiral.

Dow 21,200.62 down 2,352.60
Nasdaq 7,201.80 down 750.25
S&P 500 2,480.64 down 260.74

10 Year Yield: up at 0.85%

Oil: down at $30.88

29 January 2020

1) Amazon it pushing hard to establish its Kuiper broadband internet access satellite system. The planned satellite system will have 3,236 satellites in polar orbits to form a mega-constellation system in low earth orbit that will provide broadband internet service for billions of people around the world who are currently being under served. Amazon is pushing the FCC for expeditious granting of application for system. SpaceX and One Web have also started their planned mega-constellation satellite system.

2) North Korea’s economy is largely hidden from the world because it’s one of the most secretive nations. But it’s known the economy is struggling because of its isolationism, where the average worker makes less than $2,000 a year with much of its population undernourished. Citizens are paying as much as $12,000 to defect.

3) Boeing Aircraft has secured over $12 billion dollars to finance its 737 MAX crisis. Loans from over a dozen banks will shore up Boeing’s balance sheet until deliveries of its 737 MAX can resume with resulting revenues coming in. This is at least $2 billion dollars more than Boeing originally sought, making the loans a vote of confidence of its future. The loan is a delayed-draw loan, meaning the company may not use it immediately.

4) Stock market closings for – 28 JAN 20: Markets rebound from threat of coronavirus.

Dow                      28,722.85    up    187.05
Nasdaq                  9,269.68    up     130.37
S&P 500                 3,276.24    up       32.61

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.64%

Oil:    up   at    $53.98