1) There is a large backup of freighters parked in the San Francisco Bay and in Long Beach, which are awaiting an opening at the Port of Oakland. This is because of a trade bottleneck, a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, thereby leaving U.S. businesses anxiously awaiting goods from Asia. The pandemic has wreaked havoc with the supply chain since early 2020, because it forced the closure of factories throughout China. The problem arose last March, when Americans stayed home, thus dramatically changing their buying habits. Instead of clothes, they bought electronics, fitness equipment and home improvement products. In turn U.S. companies responded by flooding the reopened Asian factories with orders, which then lead to a chain reaction of congestion at ports and freight hubs as the goods began arriving. Ships with as many as 14,000 containers have sat offshore, some of them for over a week, with as many as 40 ships waiting.
2) The manufacturing crisis with automakers continues to grow, with the auto industry bracing for more chip shortages after a fire at a plant owned by Japanese chipmaker Renesas. The company makes chips for Toyota, Nissan and Honda, and expects production at one of the buildings at its Naka Factory in Hitachinaka to be halted for a month. Renesas said the fire started when some equipment overheated and ignited, though it isn’t known what caused it to overheat. Renesas said two-thirds of the products made in the building could be produced elsewhere, although due to the recent increase in demand for semiconductors, the situation does not allow for all products to be immediately produced alternatively. This further reduction in semiconductor production will further reduce production of automobiles worldwide.
3) North Korea tells China they should team up as ‘Hostile Forces’. North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un reportedly praised his country’s close ties with neighboring China, looking to boost their ties to counter the hostile policies of the United States. China and North Korea’s close ties date back to the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949, then the outbreak of the Korean War a year later. In the war, Chinese troops supported North Korean forces with the backing of the Soviet Union, against South Korea and a U.S. led United Nations coalition. However, the fighting ended in a stalemate with an armistice but no official peace, which continues to this day. The North Korea considers that the world is now undergoing transformations rarely seen in a century, which is also overlapped by the ‘once in a century’ pandemic. What this portents for China and North Korea’s future actions . . . only time will tell.
4) Stock market closings for – 24 MAR 21:
Dow Jones 32,420 down by 3.09 NASDAQ 12,962 down by 265.81 S&P 500 3,889 down by 21.38
1) American military officials are warning that, in the next few years, China could invade Taiwan. The island nation has long been a sore subject of U.S.-China relations. China’s rapid military build-up, are recent indications that Taiwan could unilaterally declare its independence from the mainland. An invasion could throw the whole region into chaos and potentially culminate in a shooting war between China and the United States, who is treaty bound to help Taiwan defend itself against Beijing. The Chinese army’s capabilities have matured to such a degree that this is no longer a dilemma we can afford to brush off. The Biden administration must signal its willingness to ‘go to the mat’ for Taiwan and help ensure the island can defend itself, but without further spooking Beijing. China has commissioned 25 advanced new ships, including cruisers, destroyers and ballistic missile submarines, with capabilities designed to keep America and its allies, who might interfere on Taiwan’s behalf, at bay. Meanwhile, China is integrating its new equipment into an increasingly sophisticated force
2) Production at U.S. manufacturers unexpectedly declined in February, representing a pause in recent momentum as factories were beset by severe winter weather and supply-chain challenges. The 3.1% decrease in output was the first since April, following an upwardly revised 1.2% gain in January. Total industrial output reflected a 7.4% surge at utilities, that was the largest advance since March 2017, also driven by increased demand for heating. Manufacturers continue to battle supply shortages and shipping challenges, but lean business inventories, steady demand from consumers and solid capital spending should push manufacturing back up.
3) A Tesla Model Y electric car, with its Autopilot engaged, crashed into a Michigan police car that had pulled over with its lights on. The driver was using Tesla’s Autopilot system when he crashed into the police vehicle, but there were no injuries, according to police. The 22-year-old driver was issued citations for failure to move over and driving with a suspended license. Tesla’s Autopilot system allows the car to brake, accelerate, and steer automatically. The electric car maker also sells its full self-driving software as a $10,000 one-off add-on and plans to release it as a subscription model this summer.
4) Stock market closings for – 18 MAR 21:
Dow 32,862.30 down by 153.07 Nasdaq 13,116.17 down by 409.03 S&P 500 3,915.46 down by 58.66
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
1) The American unemployed continue to climb with an additional 4.4 million for last week. This brings the five week total of more than 26 million workers now unemployed in America, or about 16% of the labor force. Nearly one in six workers have lost their jobs in the last few weeks. But because of lags in the reporting system, these numbers don’t fully show the extent of the problem. With people needing money to pay rents, mortgage, buy food and pay utilities, state governments are facing increasing pressure to retract the ‘shelter at home’ orders and forced closing of businesses, despite dangers of virus flare-ups. Experts warn such moves could undo all the containment that’s been accomplished at the economic cost of the last five weeks. To make things worst, layoffs are expected to continue, that we have not reached the unemployed plateau yet. State, county and city workers may form the next wave of layoffs as tax revenues needed to pay salaries plunge from the pandemic.
2) The clothing retailer Gap, has warned that its existing cash reserves may not be enough to continue operations, something that mirrors the predicament of so many American businesses, especially small businesses. The company says it must take further actions to find liquidity over the next twelve months, including job cuts and new debt financing. The chain has stopped paying rent for its stores, thereby amassing an additional debt of $115 million dollars. Its stock has fallen nearly 60% this year.
3) The coronavirus pandemic is spawning another economic consequence- lawsuits! Carnival Corp. is facing suits from several passengers who claimed they weren’t warned of the high risk from virus onboard ships. Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and US Bancorp are being sued by small businesses who missed out on coronavirus rescue loans. Even universities are threaten with lawsuits for reimbursements of tuition, fees and housing. Judging from past disasters, it’s expected that more lawsuits will emerge in waves, as people seek someone to blame for their misfortunes while opportunistic attorneys capitalize on the crisis.
4) Stock market closings for – 23 APR 20:
Dow 23,515.26 up 39.44 Nasdaq 8,494.75 down 0.63 S&P 500 2,797.80 down 1.51