8 June 2020

1) The oil cartel OPEC+ and Russia address extending record oil production cuts with the intent to force noncompliant members to also comply with the curbs in production. The cartel had previously agreed to a 9.7 million barrels per day cut during May and June in an effort to prop up oil prices which collapsed because of the coronavirus crisis. Those cuts are due to tapper to 7.7 million barrels from July to December. But sources say that Saudi Arabia and Russia have agreed to extend the deeper cuts until the end of July and possibly until August. The cost of oil is a prime factor in determining the health of a country’s economy, and therefore the world economy.

2) A surprise to everyone was the U.S. jobless rate dropped in May as hiring rebounded. This signals that the economy is picking up faster than expected from the damage of the coronavirus pandemic. The jobless rate fell from 14.7% to 13.3% in May, while economist had expected the rate to rise to 19%. Canada is also experiencing a reversal in joblessness too. This is with a possible resurgence of Covid-19 with a second wave of infections, and a resulting second crash of the economy and businesses. However, the unemployment rate is the highest since the Great Depression.

3) After the federal government made assurances on March 23, that it would make borrowing easier for American corporations, the food service giant Sysco Corp sold $4 billion dollars of debt. But then not long after, the company laid off one third of its workforce, or about 20,000 people, while their stock holders continued to receive dividends. As the virus spread in April and May, the federal promise spurred sale of corporate bonds with borrowing by top rated companies for a record $1.1 trillion dollars for the year, twice the previous year. Companies like Sysco, Toyota , Omnicom Group and Cinemark Holdings borrowed billions of dollars then fired workers. This calls into question of how the promise to purchase corporate debt helped preserve American jobs. While the feds have yet to buy a single corporate bond, their promise threw the bond marked into a frenzy to buy bonds.

4) Stock market closings for – 5 JUN 20: Job report sent markets skyrocketing.

Dow 27,110.98 up 829.16
Nasdaq 9,814.08 up 198.27
S&P 500 3,193.93 up 81.58

10 Year Yield: up at 0.90%

Oil: up at $38.97$2,531.81

1 May 2020

1) The numbers are in for the weekly jobless claims, with another 3.84 million people losing their jobs. This brings the total to over 30 million in the past six weeks. Expectations were for about 3 million, so the news was not upsetting. The claims peaked at 6.87 million so officials feel the worst is over with declines each week since, but still this has been the worst employment crisis in U.S. history. While some states are starting to bring their economies back on line, much of the key American infrastructure remains on lockdown. Predictions are for the second quarter to decline worse than anything America has ever seen. The unemployment rate is anticipated to be about 15.1%.

2) The crash of the oil market continues across the globe, with the American shale or fracking oil industry being hit the hardest. The shale oil industry had been fueled by lots of easy money, almost unlimited borrowing allowing companies to dramatically ramp up production, despite what the market demand was. Many companies had been in trouble before the coronavirus hit, and that combined with the Russian and Saudi Arabia oil dispute, oil prices have dropped by three-quarters since early January. There is $43 billion dollars of energy junk bond defaults coming in 2020 with hundreds of oil companies facing bankruptcy. The problem isn’t just American, with Shell Oil Co. announcing a cut in their dividends for the first time since World War II. Finally, the pandemic appears to be making fundamental changes to the oil market and consumption so the oil market may never fully recover.

3) The virus pandemic has adversely affected more than just traditional businesses, large and small. Dirty money from the illegal drug business is piling up in Los Angeles because the money laundering systems has also been put on hold by ‘closing orders’ of non-essential businesses. The businesses used by the drug trade to launder their money have been forced to close up, thereby ceasing operations leaving the drug dealers with growing stacks of cash that cant be used until cleaned.

4) Stock market closings for – 30 APR 20:

Dow 24,345.72 down 288.14
Nasdaq 8,889.55 down 25.16
S&P 500 2,912.43 down 27.08

10 Year Yield: down at 0.62%

Oil: up at $18.64

27 April 2020

1) People are tantalized by the incredibly low oil prices, thinking only of lower gas prices. But economically, there is much more to oil and its low price. First, there is the destruction of America’s shale oil (fracking) industry, which has made us independent of foreign oil. There are fears that if oil doesn’t pick up, then the world could see a major shift in global power. The economies of several nations are very dependent on oil sales, the revenue being the bulk of their GDP. For instance, Saudi Arabia’s oil revenues account for 60 percent of its GDP (Gross Domestic Product), two-thirds of its budget, and nearly three-quarters of its exports. For Russia, one-third of its GDP is petroleum, half its budget, and two-thirds of its exports. The turbulent Middle East has states with greater dependence on oil: including Iran, Iraq, Qatar, and Kuwait. For America, oil accounts for only 8% of our GDP. The coronavirus pandemic has drastically reduce oil consumption world wide, and if it’s slow in returning to pre-pandemic levels, some countries could find themselves in serious financial and geopolitical trouble, with their influence waning and other nations displacing them in the world pecking order. It’s anyone guess how things could settle out and in whose favor.

2) Amazon has been using data about independent sellers on its platform to develop competing products, which their stated policies forbid. Such practices would give the online retailer tremendous advantage in competing against similar products, but is using proprietary information. Information includes total sales, vendor cost for Amazon’s marketing and shipping, and how much Amazon made on each sale, and other non-public information.

3) President Trump stated he would veto an emergency loan for the U.S. Postal Service if the USPS didn’t immediately raise its prices for package delivery. The President considers package delivery prices need to be four times the present charges. He has been critical of the USPS for years, considering the postal service problems are a result of mismanagement.

4) Stock market closings for – 24 APR 20:

Dow 23,775.27 up 260.01
Nasdaq 8,634.52 up 139.77
S&P 500 2,836.74 up 38.94

10 Year Yield: down at 0.60%

Oil: up at $17.18

10 April 2020

1) Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve Chair, said the U.S. economy is in an emergency, which is deteriorating with alarming speed. His remark comes after unveiling over $2 trillion dollars in new loans to keep the economy afloat, a result of the coronavirus shutdown. America is moving from the lowest unemployment in fifty years to a very high unemployment in just weeks. Claims for unemployment aid is now up to 17 million and still climbing as more businesses fight to survive. It is expected the U.S. economy may shrink by more than 30% between April and the end of June. The Fed will soon begin purchasing up to $750 billion dollars in corporate loans from big businesses who have a low investment grade, in the hopes of preventing their bankruptcy bringing further damage to the American economy. The Feds are making a wide range of loans to various size businesses which it doesn’t expect to get paid for. No one is making estimates on how extensive this will ultimately be to the American economy.

2) Although Saudi Arabia and Russia have reached an agreement on limiting oil production, it’s not yet known just how large those reductions are going to be, so oil prices had turned negative while awaiting details of OPEC+ cuts in oil production. The general consensus is each nation will cut production by 10 million barrels a day, but with world oil consumption way down because of the pandemic, it’s not certain if the OPEC+ cuts will have much effect, especially for U.S. domestic oil production (shale oil).

3) The Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin considers it may be possible for the U.S. to be open and back to business next month, considering it’s just a matter of medical considerations. The administration is doing everything possible for business to resume as soon as the ‘all clear’ is sounded and they have the necessary liquidity to operate. The president is forming a second taskforce charged with addressing the economic devastation which the virus has wrought and take measure to resume economic activity as soon as possible.

4) Stock market closings for – 9 APR 20:

Dow 23,719.37 up 285.80
Nasdaq 8,153.58 up 62.67
S&P 500 2,789.82 up 39.84

10 Year Yield: down at 0.73%

Oil: down at $23.19

6 April 2020

1) Across the world, truckers are having a difficult time in their role of delivering food stocks to the people. In America, truck drivers are finding it more difficult to operate, unable to find places to eat, with restaurants shut down and their rigs too big to go to the drive-thru lanes. They are unable to find places to sleep, shower or even clean toilet facilities. Nevertheless, the food supply chain continues to struggle to get the necessary food to the people.

2) With the government announcement that we are now in a recession, questions abound how long will it last? For the ‘08 recession, it took more than a decade to recover. One major obstacle facing a recovery, from a near total shutdown of the economy, is the small businesses. Half the businesses in the American economy are classed as small businesses, and half of those have less than fifteen days cash reserves, which means a significant number of American businesses will not survive the virus shutdown. This will leave millions of workers scrambling to find work and therefore will greatly hinder a recovery.

3) Oil prices have rallied from news that the Saudi Arabia – Russia price war may be coming to an end with agreements to cut back oil production by ten million barrels a day. Oil is the keystone to economic vitality with oil prices needing to be above about $40 a barrel for shale oil to be profitable so America can remain oil independent.

4) Stock market closings for – 3 APR 20:

Dow 21,052.53 down 360.91
Nasdaq 7,373.08 down 114.23
S&P 500 2,488.65 down 38.25

10 Year Yield: down at 0.59%

Oil: up at $29.00

3 April 2020

1) Unemployment claims have jumped twice the previous week’s numbers, with 6.6 million Americans filing for benefits. This brings the last two weeks total of new unemployed to 10 million. The speed and scale of job losses are unprecedented. The record for loses in a month had been 695,000 in 1982. The coronavirus has wiped out more jobs in two weeks than were lost in the worst months of the last recession. Companies based on white-collar workers, have been able to keep their people working with work at home, but as revenues dry up, it’s questionable how long before they too will be forced to start layoffs. The growing number of laid off workers unable to pay their bills could well lead to a cascade of further layoffs and business failures.

2) While the price of oil has always had an effect on the equities, the recent plunged has had a more profound effect and therefore causing the roller-coaster volatility of the markets. This dramatized how very central oil is to the entire modern world. Stabilizing the oil prices would greatly help stabilizing the markets, and therefore the whole world economic system. Central to this is for Russia and Saudi Arabia to end their price war and resume limiting production. But central to this is Russia’s desire to damage American domestic oil production by destroying the shale oil companies, which would reduced American’s influence in the world especially in the middle east where Russia is very active.

3) Already wracked by fiscal problems from decline of the milk product markets, dairymen now suffer a further decrease in their market as a result of the coronavirus crisis. This is a result of restaurants, schools and other food service outlets reduced to stopping operations and therefore not needing milk products. The dairy industry is still producing, but doesn’t have anyplace to sell their milk, so the industry is asking the government to increase its purchases of dry milk, butter and cheese.

4) Stock market closings for – 2 APR 20:

Dow 21,413.44 up 469.93
Nasdaq 7,487.31 up 126.73
S&P 500 2,526.90 up 56.40

10 Year Yield: down at 0.63%

Oil: up at $24.90

2 April 2020

1) One developing economic crisis from the coronavirus is non-payment of rents. Renters tend to have less cash reserves than home owners, and for those renters not working, a large number will not be able to pay their monthly rent. Many are calling for the federal government to suspend rent payments until the crises is over, while others are calling for a rent boycotts to force landlords into accommodations. A wave of evictions could cause large numbers of people to fall below the poverty line, and worst yet greatly increase the number of homeless Americans.

2) Tuesday, President Trump warned of a very painful next two weeks, with projections of 100,000 to as much as 240,000 coronavirus deaths in the U.S. The news caused another shock to the markets with stocks again dropping shapely. With tremendous uncertainty, the markets are very unstable and therefore subject to sharp up and down swings. Both the Dow and S & P have had their worst first quarter in history. Oil too, continues with its low prices making for its worst month and quarter in history from both the coronavirus shutdown and the Saudi Arabia-Russia price war.

3) With the sudden surge in coronavirus patients, hospitals around America are running low on drugs needed to treat those patients. Some of the drugs are officially in shortage, with use of others skyrocketing and expected to quickly become into short supply. Also in short supply are antibiotics like azithromycind and antivirals like chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. Other drugs associated with patients using ventilators are quickly becoming scarce. Non prescription drugs such as vitamin C have seen a sharp increase in purchases.

4) Stock market closings for – 1 APR 20:

Dow 20,943.51 down 973.65
Nasdaq 7,360.58 down 339.52
S&P 500 2,470.50 down 114.09

10 Year Yield: down at 0.64%

Oil: up at $21.20

16 March 2020

1) Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft is stepping down from the company’s board of directors, which makes it the biggest boardroom departure in the tech industry, since the death of Apple’s Steve Jobs. Additionally, Mr. Gates is vacating his board seat at Berkshire Hathaway Inc., intending to devote his time to his philanthropic efforts. He will continue serving as a technical advisor to Microsoft.

2) Oil prices climbed up 5% on the announcement by President Trump that the Department of Energy would purchase crude for the nations’ strategic petroleum reserve. The objective is to boost oil prices to keep shale producers in business, because oil needs to be $40 or more a barrel to break even, depending on the particulars of an oil field. The shale oil companies are further in trouble because they are carrying a high debt level. Shale oil production is very capital intensive and therefore very sensitive to oil prices if companies aren’t to go bankrupt. Some suggest that the Russians engineered the rupture of the Saudi Arabia – Russian agreement to limit production levels as a means to cripple the U.S. shale oil production and thereby make America dependent on foreign oil again.

3) President Trump and the Congress have agreed on several provisions of a package, but have been far apart on others. Their discussions center on ways to minimize the economic impact of the coronavirus fears. One point is to ensure that every American can receive a virus test without consideration of money.

4) Stock market closings for – 13 MAR 20:

Dow 23,185.62 up 1985.00
Nasdaq 7,874.88 up 673.07
S&P 500 2,711.02 up 230.38
10 Year Yield: up at 0.95%
Oil: up at $32.93

12 March 2020

1) The WHO (World Heath Organization) has declared the coronavirus to be a pandemic, which in turn has cause the markets to make another plunge after its apparent recovery on Tuesday. The number of coronavirus cases world wide is now in excess of 100,000 with more than 1,000 in the U.S. The central banks in other western nations are cutting their interest rates in an attempt to minimize the effects of the virus and avoid a world wide economic slowdown. At present, there doesn’t seem to be an end to the markets volatility.

2) The United Kingdom is levying an additional 2% tax on big high tech companies starting the first of April. Call the ‘digital services tax’, it will levy a tax on the revenues from search engines, social media services and online marketplaces used by British citizens, but it only applies to companies making more than $650 million dollars and derive more than $35 million dollars revenue from UK users. This will encompass companies like Amazon, Apple, facebook and Google. The EU (European Union) is considering a similar tax, but with a 3% rate.

3) Oil production in the U.S. is expected to drop as a result of the dramatic collapse in oil prices. This would be the first decline in output since 2016 as drillers are cutting back on capital spending. Oil prices are below $35 a barrel, well below the breakeven price for most American shale fields. Oil prices have been pushed down by the economic impact of the coronavirus plus Saudi Arabia and Russian failing to agree on limited oil production.

4) Stock market closings for – 11 MAR 20 Stocks down 20% from their high.

Dow 23,553.22 down 1464.94
Nasdaq 7,952.05 down 392.20
S&P 500 2,741.38 down 140.85

10 Year Yield: up at 0.82%

Oil: down at $33.12

11 March 2020

1) Fully 70% of the American economy is consumer spending. Even through wages and incomes have been stagnant for many households, the consumer has continued to spend. It is not new investment by corporations, tax cuts or big new federal spending programs that stimulate the economy, but rather it’s consumer spending. However, fears of the coronavirus is dampening that spending by curtailing business trips, personal travel, sports and other outings. With the interest rate near zero, the major tool used to combat a recession is now impotent.

2) The collapse of the long standing deal between Saudi Arabia and Russia, to limit oil production, fell through this weekend sending oil prices crashing from oil supplies surplus. The coronavirus has caused China to limit economic activity and therefore reduced China’s oil consumption leading to further oil surpluses. China’s purchase of oil is down 20%. The low oil prices has made the world economy very unstable and therefore volatile. For America, independent oil companies have gone deeply into debt to pay for the shale oil extraction process, who are now threaten by low oil prices making it impossible to pay that debt. Failure of these oil companies could ripple through the American economy to pull other segments down.

3) Airlines across the world continue to sink deeper into crisis from the worsening coronavirus epidemic reducing the number of passengers, who are foregoing travel fearing the virus. The situation is made worst by not being able to predict how long the crisis will likely last and therefore unable to make accommodating plans. The lockdown of Italy has further aggravated world air travel, especially with the interruption of tourism just as the tourist season would be ramping up.

4) Stock market closings for – 10 MAR 20

Dow 25,018.16 up 1,167.14
Nasdaq 8,344.25 up 393.577

S&P 500 2,882.23 up 135.67

10 Year Yield: up at 0.748%

Oil: up at $34.62