5 January 2021

1) Because of the very rapid spreading of the new coronavirus variant, England will enter its toughest nationwide lock down since March. For at least six weeks schools will be closed and people can leave home only once a day for exercise. Because of the number of people in hospitals reaching a new height the British threat level has been raised to its highest level of 5. People must now only leave home for work, if it is impossible to work from home, and for essential food and medicine. School study will be online until mid-February. All non-essential retail and hospitality businesses are closed, but restaurants and other premises will continue delivery of takeaway food but not alcohol. Places of worship can remain open, including communal worship, subject to social distancing.

2) The first stimulus payments from new the coronavirus relief bill are now on the way. However, the aid won’t suffice for many. The $300 check additions to unemployment are half the amount of the old Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation pay outs, which lapsed in late July. Since then, aid recipients have been getting by on state unemployment assistance, which can pay less than the minimum wage when calculated on an hourly basis. But workers will receive just over a third of last spring’s CARES package, which paid out $600 per week for four months compared to $300 for 11 weeks now.

3) Google workers have formed their first-ever union, a rare step for the tech industry that also represents the biggest and most organized challenge yet to the company’s executive leadership. This is the first union at a major tech company and it’s for and by all tech workers. So far, 226 workers have signed union cards with the Communications Workers of America (CWA), one of the country’s largest labor unions. While the pandemic made it more challenging to hold those meetings face-to-face, the shift to remote work, in some ways, made it easier to organize. The workers could theoretically mount a strike, though that would be a challenge and there are no current plans to do so. The union’s formation comes after years of rising employee tensions over the company’s business and operational decisions, such as work with the defense sector, plans for a censored search engine in China, and the company’s handling of sexual misconduct claims.

4) Stock market closings for – 4 JAN 21

Dow 30,223.89 down by 382.59
Nasdaq 12,698.45 down by 189.83
S&P 500 3,700.65 down by 55.42

10 Year Yield: unchanged at 0.92%

Oil: down at $47.34

28 September 2020

1) Another round of protest against the police was spurred by the grand jury in Kentucky deciding to indict only one of the three officers in the case of the 26 year old medical technician. The case of Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot by police inside her apartment during a no-knock drug raid on 13 March 2020, is a closely watched case across the nation. The protests which started almost four months ago, seem to be getting more violent with one policemen in Seattle attacked by a protester and struck from behind with a metal baseball bat that cracked the policeman’s helmet. The officer sustained only minor injuries and was checked at the scene by the Seattle Fire Department. A video of the incident instantly went viral.

2) The U.S. Navy is considering expanding the naval force to a maximum of 534 ships by the year 2045, with many of the ships unmanned designs. Currently, the fleet has 355 ships, so this would mean a major construction undertaking that in turn would be a stimulus to the economy for years to come. The plan is to build a new fleet of lightly manned ships that over time can be unmanned. The goal for the unmanned ships is to allow the independently operated robot navigation systems to provide ammunition reloads to attacking vessels. Right now, the Navy is researching and developing the means to deploy the automated systems.

3) Florida is reopening from the coronavirus with Governor Ron DeSantis lifting restrictions on capacity of restaurants and other businesses, vowing not to turn back. This is despite the state reporting hundreds of Covid-19 deaths a week. Furthermore, the Governor is making it harder for local governments to institute their own restrictions that go above and beyond the state’s rules. There is still uncertainty about the consequences of schools reopening and other more relaxed measures. Presently, Florida is experiencing about 700 Covid-19 deaths a week.

4) Stock market closings for – 25 SEP 20:

Dow 27,173.96 up 358.52
Nasdaq 10,913.56 up 241.30
S&P 500 3,298.46 up 51.87

10 Year Yield: down at 0.66%

Oil: down at $40.04

31 August 2020

1) The dreaded coronavirus seems to be on the rise again in Europe, with some European countries experiencing an increase of new cases, but this time with fewer deaths. This resurgence of recent weeks, has not forced as many people into medical wards as last spring. However, the increase of Convid-19 is widespread, unsettling people who hoped the worst was behind them. So far, the rise in cases is in France, Germany and Spain, with Spain hit particularly hard. Europe had just started their schools for the new academic year.

2) The E-commerce giant Amazon has just opened its first ‘shop-in-person’ grocery store under its own name. The new store in the Los Angeles suburb of Woodland Hills, is a traditional physical store open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. PST. But the store has lots of high-tech touches such as a new feature called Dash Cart which allows you to use Alexa. This allows the customer to create a shopping list in advance then be guided around the store to those items on the list. The store uses cashierless checkout, so there isn’t any line to wait in. The customer has the option of using their Amazon account and Prime membership to order and get free delivery. Amazon is soon opening additional stores in other cities.

3) One of the most powerful storms to ever hit the US Gulf Coast, Hurricane Laura has left the usual damage and destruction, but having missed the Houston and New Orleans areas, caused far less damage than it could have. The death toll was six people and monetary damages are estimated to be between $8 billion and $12 billion dollars, most of the loss in Louisiana with only about $500 million dollars in Texas. The total economic cost from damaged structures and closed businesses is estimated to be about $20 billion dollars.

4) Stock market closings for – 28 AUG 20:

Dow 28,653.87 up 161.60
Nasdaq 11,695.63 up 70.30
S&P 500 3,508.01 up 23.46

10 Year Yield: down at 0.73%

Oil: down at $42.93

8 April 20

1) The dizzying swings in the stock market has made a mockery of efforts to forecast the market. This phenomena graphically reveals the high degree of uncertainty prevalent in the world today. One day, markets are up by one or two thousand points, next day down by the same amount as people are unable to decide if the economy will grow or contract. Market experts are unable to decide if the economic downturn is a short impulse from the coronavirus, or a long term event covering months or even years. One major component in seeing the economic future is the question of how many small businesses will fail during the shutdown, most from lack of cash. A high number of failures could drag the rest of businesses down.

2) American colleges and universities are also suffering financial problems from the coronavirus shutdown. Institutions are scrambling to close deep budget holes from loss of tuition and fees, refunds for student housing, dining and parking from students forced to leave school. Some have had a huge share of their reserves wiped out with some schools are facing financial collapse. Some face a double loss with their reserves in the stock market. To add to college’s worry, is the question of how many students will return this fall if the shut down is over. Furthermore, surveys show significant number of highschool seniors planning to take a year off before continuing their education, another loss of revenues for colleges.

3) Because of the virus shut down, demand for gasoline in America has collapsed. Sales are down 46.5% from last year. The same sharp decline in gasoline sales has been seen in Europe with demand for gasoline down as much as 85%. With big box retailers slowing and automakers shutting down, a slowdown is expected in the next few weeks.

4) Stock market closings for – 7 APR 20:

Dow 22,653.86 down 26.13
Nasdaq 7,887.26 down 25.98
S&P 500 2,659.41 down 4.27

10 Year Yield: up at 0.74%

Oil: down at $24.26

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