30 June 2020

1) The Boeing Aircraft Co. has started it re-certification process for the 737 MAX with the take off of a test aircraft for the first flight. An FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) pilot was on board as test flights begin, to determine if the aircraft is safe for flying with passengers. The first flight test is to fly maneuvers for about three hours, the test craft being fitted with a number of instruments and monitoring equipment to test and record how the aircraft performs. Test include the ‘wind-up turn’ which is a steep turn that essentially approaches a stall, with wings almost at 90 degrees of bank. This maneuver should trigger the Boeing software system that played a role in both crashes, which caused the aircraft design to be grounded. The software caused the aircraft’s nose to be repeatedly pointed downward at the ground until pilots lost control. These certification flights are expected to take approximately three days, and while they are an important milestone, there remains a number of key tasks to be completed.

2) According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 47.2% of American adults are now jobless, almost half the adult population. This is a direct result of losing 30 million jobs because of the coronavirus crisis. While there was an unexpected snap back in May, there are now signs of a slowdown in the labor market improvement because of fears of a Convid-19 resurgence increased these last few weeks. The massive loss of jobs is what is now dragging the economy down. Both Texas and Florida have paused plans for further reopening because of a record spike in coronavirus cases.

3) Lending institutions are pulling back sharply on their lending to U.S. consumers during the pandemic, because they can’t tell who is creditworthy anymore. There are millions of Americans out of work and behind on their debts, but many of these missed payments aren’t reflected in credit scores. This is a result of the government’s stimulus package which allows borrowers to defer their debt payments, but credit companies can’t report these late payments to credit reporting companies. For May, there were more than 100 million accounts with deferred debt payments. This is a sign of widespread financial distress.

4) Stock market closings for – 29 JUN 20:

Dow 25,595.80 up 580.25
Nasdaq 9,874.15 up 116.93
S&P 500 3,053.24 up 44.19

10 Year Yield: unchanged at 0.64%

Oil: up at $39.55

22 August 2019

1) Retailers Target and Lowe’s posted second quarter sales higher than anticipated by analyst. Target’s ‘same store sales’ is up by 3.4% compared to an expected growth of 2.9%. This news boosted Target’s stock by 16%. Lowe’s also reported better than expected second quarter earning results which pushed its stock up 10%. These big box store reports help qual fears of an approaching recession.

2) The chip maker Intel announced two new chip products for the AI (Artificial Intelligence) market, processors as part of its Nervana Neural Network Processor. This chips will accelerate training and inferences drawn from AI models. This will allow AI systems to gain inferences and insights more readily. They will help AI platforms address the crush of data being generated and ensure AI enterprises make efficient use of their data, by processing it where it’s collected.

3) Boeing, the aircraft manufacturer, is incurring additional cost from its grounded 737 MAX, by hiring hundreds of temporary workers to help maintain its growing fleet of 737 MAXs that Boeing is storing until the FAA restores its certification. These temporary workers have skills such as avionics technicians, aircraft mechanics, airframe and power plant mechanics and aircraft electricians. Once the aircraft is re-certified, these technicians will be needed to upgrade the software and prepare aircraft for delivery.

4) Stock market closings for – 21 AUG 19:

Dow            26,202.73    up    240.29
Nasdaq         8,020.21    up      71.65
S&P 500        2,924.43    up       23.92

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.58%

Oil:    up   at    $55.85

22 July 2019

1) The woes of traditional American big box retailers continues with J.C. Penney seeking strategies to keep their money losing company afloat. The company is in talks with specialist on reorganizing their trouble companies debt. Dressbarn, another retailer has announced the closing of all its retail stores starting this August with the closing of 53 stores.

2) The American retiree population is running out of money too soon. Three fifths of retirees do not have any traditional pension plan. The much vaunted 401K plan for replacing retirement plans, which became popular in the last quarter of the twentieth century, is failing to provide the needed retirement income despite the soaring stock market of the last ten years. This will leave America’s young people with a massive burden who themselves are facing financial challenges with shrinking job markets and displacement by technology.

3) The renowned airline manufacture Boeing announced they are taking a $4.9 billion dollar charge in the second quarter which will wipe out all of it’s profits for that quarter. This charge is compensation to airline companies for having their aircraft grounded, resulting in loss of business and revenues. Furthermore, Boeing has cut production of their best selling product as deliveries are backed up pending acceptance of their software fix by the government.

4) Stock market closings for – 19 JUL 19:

Dow                 27,154.20    down    68.77
Nasdaq             8,146.49    down    60.75
S&P 500            2,976.61    down    18.50

10 Year Yield:    up   at    2.05%

Oil:    up   at    $55.74

16 April 2019

1) The British business climate is expected to get worst after Brexit. A survey of chief finical officers finds that a full 80% consider Britain’s economy will slump after Brexit, especially if an unplanned exit occurs. The long term outlook for investment is poor, so with little investment, the economy will flatten.

2) Battle lines of banking are being drawn in China between virtual banks and conventional banks. A banking shakeup is in progress between hi-tech companies and traditional banks, who find it hard to quickly react to the challenges of virtual banks, much as with Amazon is to retailing or Urber is to transportation.

3) The auto maker Mercedes-Benz is being investigated for software cheating of emissions test. Germany has ordered recall of 238,000 cars using illegal software to defeat government testing for compliance of emissions standards.

4) 15 APR 19 Stock market closings:

Dow            26,384.77    down    27.53
Nasdaq         7,976.01    down      8.15
S&P 500        2,905.58    down      1.83

10 Year Yield:    down   at    2.55%

 Oil:    up   at    $63.57

1 March 2019

1) Apple announced they are laying off 190 people from their self driving car division. These includes forty hardware engineers, twelve software engineers and one machine shop technician. Speculation is that Apple is pulling out of the self driving car competition. They hadn’t actually built a working self driving car, rather they have reportedly concentrated on the sensors and software organic to such systems, which means they are behind the other developers.

2) The Brexit problem for Britain deepens as considerations are being made for Britain to extend the time when it’s exits from the European Union. No time for extensions has been agreed upon yet, although the Prime Minister has stated than it cannot be more than a few weeks. This is another example of the British’s concerns for the difficulties that face Britain’s exit.

3) Twenty-first Century Fox studios has been ordered to pay actors of the hit show “Bones”, $179 million dollars in punitive damages, which it withheld from profits promised to the actors.

4) 28 FEB 19 Stock market closings:

Dow                  25,916.00    down    69.16
Nasdaq               7,532.53    down    21.98
S&P 500              2,784.49    down      7.89

10 Year Yield:    up   at    2.71%

Oil:    down   at    $57.18

14 February 2019

1) Criticism continues to mount against the proposed ‘New Green Deal’, in particular the soaring cost it would entail. Although the plan has not been fleshed out enough to do accurate cost analysis, some objectives would need huge expenditures, just when the national debt has topped $22 trillion dollars, making the plan’s future doubtful. The recent massive failure of California’s high speed train and it’s cancellation is another stumbling block to the New Green Deal because it proposes a system of similar high speed trains to replace airliners.

2) The Ford Motor Company announced the recall of 1.5 million of their F150 pickups, which were manufactured from 2011 to 2013. Their six speed transmission has a software problem where it can suddenly down shift to first gear. This could cause loss of control and therefore crashes.

3) Fears are mounting over the $22 trillion dollar American public debt, which is mounting faster than the economy is growing, making it unsustainable. In addition to excess spending by the government, the growing numbers of ‘baby boomers’ retiring leaves not only increased spending obligations for the government, but less revenues coming in, while the younger people are making less monies and therefore paying in less thereby lowering revenues further.

4) 13 FEB 19 Stock market closings:

Dow            25,543.27   up   117.51
Nasdaq         7,420.38   up       5.76
S&P 500        2,753.03   up       8.30

10 Year Yield:    up   at    2.71%

Oil:    up   at    $53.95

26 January 2019

1) Boeing is testing a small self flying car, to compete in the budding autonomous air taxi market or electric Vertical Take Off and Landing (eVTOL) vehicles. Airbus and Google, plus several smaller companies are vying to pioneer the untapped market of electric flying machines carrying people.

2) Microsoft is expanding the number of different devices able to use their new software NewsGuard, software which can detect and root out fake news from the internet.

3) China has partially lifted its ban on Microsoft’s search engine Bing, allowing some access by its citizens. The ban is part of a very concerted effort by China to control their citizens criticism of the Chinese regime.

4) 24 JAN 19    Stock market closings:

Dow                 24,553.24       down       22.38
Nasdaq              7,073.46             up       47.70
S&P 500             2,642.33             up         3.63

10 Year Yield:     down   at    2.71%

Oil:     down   at     $53.11

Ebay & Delta: Companies Defining the New and Different World, in which the Youth Are Living In.

By: James Lyman BSAE, BSEE, MSSM

Economic & Finance Report

I keep telling people that the world of my generation (second half twentieth century) has already slipped away, died, never to return … that the world for the millenniums is completely different from my generation.  How? Well, I just had a stark demonstration of how that world is so very different from my world.  I’ve been getting rid of some of the things I’ve accumulated over the years by putting them on the auction service eBay.  One item was a radio control transmitter, almost never used, that was in excellent condition, and I anticipated selling for a good price.   I had a sever problem with eBay’s system that resulted in selling it for a fraction of what I expected.  I tried to send an email detailing the problem, only to find I was limited to just 100 characters.  Below is the email I tried to send, which best explains my problem.

I had a Radio control transmitter, Hi-tec Laser 6 channel FM (PPM) R/C up for auction this last week with a starting bid of $15, item number 152531590747 ending this last Sunday evening.  I had a lot of interest, something like 116 views the last time I checked, about a dozen or more watching, and six or more bidders.  Trouble is, despite all these bids, the bid amount remained fixed at the $15  I specified for starting.  And so that’s what it sold for!

 Now just what is going on here?  With the product type and interest shown, I would expect it to have sold for $80 to $100, instead I practically gave it away.  Is this suppose to be some practical joke by one of the mirid of programmers sitting on your payroll?  Considering the time and effort I put in with the pictures and written description, I would have been better off just to have taken it down to Goodwill!

As a degree electronic engineer having spent most of my career with embedded systems, I’m shocked by how poorly your software has matured.  Your software is as buggy as flour full of weevils!!  I see the basic system is continually being changed, with snags which I considered should have been resolved years ago.  Considering how long your company has been operating, your system should by now be very stable requiring few changes to its design.

 I consider my loss to be the result of the poor performance of your software staff, in particular the management in the software department.  It’s past time for eBay to have a thorough house cleaning of it’s software management personnel, particularly the upper levels of management, and start getting qualified people in who have the knowledge and ability to manage large software systems.

 But like so many other giant modern American business, eBay has insulated themselves from the troubles and bother of their customers by using technology.  The little trick of limiting an email to just 100 characters, 40 less than a tweet, is a prime example.  Just the first sentence of my proposed email ran 185 characters, almost twice what was allowed.  Their idea for customer service, and it’s the same for so many other large American companies, is to create some on-line ‘puzzle palace’ of canned answers, leading the customer around and around in software loops until they tire and give up.

The recent video on television news, of Delta Airlines arbitrary and capricious treatment of a paying customer being beaten and bodily dragged off their airplane, graphically shows the companies real attitude towards their customer base.  And these two events made me realize just how different today’s millenniums world is from the world I grew up and came to know.  In my youth, companies bent over backwards, jumped through hoops making sure their customers were taken care of, the axiom of American business being:

Take care of your customers … or somebody else will!

But not today.  Today’s companies consider their customers as nothing more than livestock to be  cultivated and herded around using the modern technologies of mass media and the internet.  I know . . . I used to live on a farm and worked with livestock.  Their attitude is the same as any farmer or rancher towards their cattle or hogs.  This typifies what I mean when I say the world of the millennium’s parents has faded away and died, while the millennium’s world is completely different from my world.  In my time companies who acted in such a manner towards their customers would have found themselves lepers in American society, slowly dying just as surely as if they had leprosy.  In the long run, this can only hurt American business and the economy.

 

But the same modern technologies which destroyed my world and created the millennium’s commercial world has gone beyond the economic boundaries to be infused into America’s political system, with the same disastrous results.  Elected officials (Presidents, Vice-presidents, Senators and Congressmen) no longer work at the problems plaguing their constituents, instead they ‘work their people’ using the mass media and mass advertising technologies of commerce to cultivate and manipulate their voters to their own ends and means.  For so much of the government, people are just livestock for them to use as they see fit.

 

In not addressing the problem of obsolescence of workers, they have destroyed the whole future of a whole generation, the generation of the millenniums and Z Generation.  With 20% to 25% of new college graduates unemployed or under-employed, one shouldn’t be surprised at the growing student unrest

 

No one cares about the young people, so no one is doing anything to address their problems.