26 March 2021

1) The U.S. Supreme Court, in a unanimous 8-0 ruling in a civil procedure case, has made corporations suffer a huge loss by making it easier to sue over defective and dangerous products. The basic thrust of the controversies is actually fairly simple in the case of Ford Motor Co. v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court. The state court held that it had jurisdiction over Ford Motor Company in a product liability suit stemming from a car accident, since the accident happened in the state where suit was brought, and the victim was one of the state’s residents. Furthermore Ford did substantial business in the state with advertising, selling, and servicing the model of vehicle the suit claims is defective. Ford contends that jurisdiction is improper because the particular car involved in the crash was not sold in the state where Ford was sued, nor was it designed or manufactured there. The Supreme Court has essentially staked out two methods for bringing lawsuits against huge corporations: 1) general jurisdiction, and 2) specific jurisdiction. When minimum contacts are found to be sufficiently related to the cause of action, a given court may exercise jurisdiction over such claims.

2) Taiwan and the U.S. plan to deepen maritime security ties in view of China’s escalating ‘gray-zone’ threats. The Chinese government has made vast maritime claims in the South China Sea and also claims sovereignty over the Japanese controlled Senkaku Islands, which it calls Diaoyu. Until Beijing enacted its new coast guard law last month, the country relied on its myriad of armed fishing militia to harass the vessels of other regional claimants. However, China’s neighbors have raised concerns about the revised maritime police legislation, which allows coast guard ships to fire upon foreign vessels deemed to be intruding in Chinese territorial waters. Manila and Tokyo, both who are U.S. defense treaty allies with the U.S., have expressed concern at the potential consequences of the law.

3) Google’s systems infrastructure group calls their new Systems on Chip (SoC) the motherboard on a chip. The cloud computing giant, who is always in need of more computing power for its servers, until now relies on the motherboard as an integration point, where CPUs, networking, storage devices, custom accelerators and memory all come together. To gain higher performance and to use less power, workloads demand even deeper integration into the underlying hardware. With the SoC, the latency and bandwidth between different components can be orders of magnitude better, with reduced power and cost compared to traditional motherboards.

4) Stock market closings for – 25 MAR 21:

Dow Jones 32,619 up by 199.42
NASDAQ 12,978 up by 15.79
S&P 500 3,910 up by 20.38

10 Year Yields: up at 1.635

Oil: down at 61.84

2 February 2021

1) In October and November Intermodal, shipping carriers rejected U.S. agricultural export containers worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Instead they are sending empty containers back to China to be filled with more profitable Chinese exports. These refusals came during the peak season for agriculture exports. The matter is being investigated to see whether the carriers refusing U.S. export cargo violated the Shipping Act. This act makes it unlawful for carriers to unreasonably refuse to deal with or negotiate, to boycott or take any other concerted action resulting in an unreasonable refusal to deal, or engage in conduct that unreasonably restricts the use of intermodal services. Carriers rejected an estimated 177,938 containers known as TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) in October and November.

2) There are three Pacific military flashpoints that could shape Biden’s entire China strategy these next four years. The suggestion that the departure of President Trump from Washington would ease US-China tensions are being discounted. China has flown more than two dozen combat aircraft near Taiwan and have passed a law which allows China’s coast guard to fire on foreign vessels. Meanwhile, the US Navy has sent an aircraft carrier strike group into the South China Sea. China could use large-scale military exercises near Taiwan or in the South China Sea, or stopping foreign vessels in the name of enforcing Chinese maritime regulations. The flashpoints are: 1) The South China Sea- China has built up tiny reefs and sandbars into man-made artificial islands, fortified with missiles, runways and weapons systems. 2) Taiwan and the Taiwan Strait- Despite 75 years as an independent nation, China claims Taiwan as belonging to China, and has repeatedly stated its intention to bring Taiwan under its control, with force if necessary. 3) Japan- Strongly aligned with the U.S. There is contention between Japan and China over Senkakus, an uninhabited rocky island chain, 1,200 miles southwest of Tokyo.

3) Experts predict that Phoenix Arizona may become uninhabitable by the end of this century. The Southwest is facing a reckoning from decades of human development, coupled with rising global temperatures from carbon emissions, which means that many major cities in the Southwest may become uninhabitable for humans this century. They are concerned that cities like Phoenix may have temperatures above 100 degrees for a third of the year, including well after dark.

4) Stock market closings for – 1 FEB 21:

Dow 30,211.91 up by 229.29
Nasdaq 13,403.39 up by 332.70
S&P 500 3,773.86 up by 59.62

10 Year Yield: down at 1.08%

Oil: up at $53.61

27 January 2021

1) There are growing fears that the long running bull market is about to crumble and collapse. The biggest sign is there are fewer stocks helping to drag benchmarks toward fresh records. When the underlying momentum wanes then we see weaknesses developing under the surface, which is what’s happening now. Fewer stocks are managing to end above their short-term moving averages even as indexes show record closing highs and yet fewer than 45% of their stocks managed to close above their 10-day moving averages.

2) China is working to overtake America by leading the global recovery from the pandemic thereby becoming more influential on the world stage than ever before. And China just might have the momentum and confidence to pull it off. As the world’s second largest economy shrugs off much of the Covid-19 pandemic this last year, China’s economy continues growing while the world crashes into recession. This could mean China’s GDP will exceed the United States later this decade, which will be years earlier than expected. China has outpaced the United States in attracting foreign direct investment for the first time, signing a trade agreement with the European Union giving European companies greater access to China’s1.4 billion consumers. Furthermore, China’s starts the new year without one of its most aggressive political adversaries, the former President Trump. China has sent help to other countries and in the process left many third world countries deeply in debt to China, claiming they are injecting more momentum into growth. But a host of geopolitical challenges, including the clashes over Hong Kong and alleged human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang region, taking control of islands in the South China Sea and threats to Taiwan have all exacerbated tensions with the West and may stymie efforts to foster multilateral cooperation. These actions are unacceptable to the democratic nations, who are pulling away from China despite its attractiveness as a market.

3) There are fears that Biden’s executive order will aggravate America’s food crisis, by signing an executive order that addresses America’s most pressing economic needs. This order includes measures to blunt the meteoric rise in food insecurity during the pandemic. The order calls on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to expand three key food assistance programs, which are the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT), SNAP, and the Thrifty Food Plan.

4) Stock market closings for – 26 JAN 21:
Dow 30,937.04 down by 22.96
Nasdaq 13,626.06 down by 9.93
S&P 500 3,849.62 down by 5.74
10 Year Yield: unchanged at 1.04%
Oil: down at $52.75

13 January 2021

1) Reports are that Biden will unveil plans to spend trillions of dollars in pandemic and economic relief money this next week. Biden is introducing several members of his economic team, after data shows the U.S. economy has lost jobs for the first time in eight months as a resurgent COVID-19 pandemic has again shuttered restaurants and other businesses. Biden is calling for raising the minimum wage to $15, and for sending out $2,000 in direct cash payments. Biden claims that economic research confirms that with today’s crisis, especially with such low interest rates, taking immediate action, even with deficit financing , is going to help the economy. Biden also say they are looking into other economic relief actions that can be taken unilaterally, including extending a pause on repayments of federal student loans.

2) US naval aircraft carrier groups still rule the seas, but both Russia and China have plans to change that as they strive to expand their blue water navies, by developing new weapons that could threaten America’s dominance. For instance, it is reported that China launched two ballistic missiles that hit a moving target ship in the South China Sea thousands of miles from their launch sites. The Russian navy conducted its third test launch of it’s hypersonic anti-ship cruise missile that was launched from a frigate. The missile reached a speed of Mach 8 before hitting a target more than 200 miles away. These tests are the latest indication that American aircraft carriers, long viewed as kings of the seas, may soon face a real threat to their existence.

3) Iran has told South Korea not to politicize the seizure of their vessel, while demanding the release of $7 billion dollars in funds frozen amid U.S. sanctions. Additionally, Iran has denied all allegations that the seizing of South Korea’s tanker and its 20-member crew amounted to hostage taking, claiming instead it was Seoul who was holding Iran’s funds hostage. The vessel was seized based on an Iranian court order for ‘environmental pollution’, however, the ship’s Busan-based operator, said there was nothing to indicate that before the seizure of the vessel that Iranian authorities were probing possible violations of environmental rules.

4) Stock market closings for – 12 JAN 21:

Dow 31,068.69 up by 60.00
Nasdaq 13,072.43 up by 36.00
S&P 500 3,801.19 up by 1.58

10 Year Yield: up at 1.14%

Oil: up at $53.38

1 December 2020

1) Amazon’s cloud-computing unit, Amazon Web Services, suffered an outage, for such services as Adobe and Roku, who rely on Amazon for their websites, while major clients like Apple and Slack appeared to be unaffected. Amazon status page said it was experiencing problems with Kinesis, its service that processes large streams of data, causing increased error rates for a number of websites. Other services affected are Amazon’s smart security subsidiary Ring, software maker Autodesk, the lending company Affirm, Target’s Shipt delivery service and the subway status site operated by New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

2) Elon Musk says the Tesla semi truck could go 621 miles on a battery charge, while paying a small weight penalty. Production is due to start this next year. Driven by four electric motors, one for each wheel, the same used on the Model 3 truck, and also uses the regenerative braking that gives quasi-infinite brake life. Tesla claims the truck can go 400 miles on a 30-minute charge using a Megacharger. Musk further claims that from day one a conventional diesel powered truck is 20% more expensive than a Tesla. One main problem is the size and weight of a battery pack to go those distances, so that means a 1-ton penalty compared to diesels. Trucks in the U.S. have a total weight limit of 40 metric tons or 80,000 pounds including their load. Regulations allows 11 hours of driving a day during a 14-hour window, so if a truck averaged 50 mph over that time, it would move 550 miles in a day. For 60 mph it would be 660.

3) The Philippines’ defense secretary has warned that increasing tensions in the South China Sea between the United States and China could easily spill over into war. If a shooting war happens, the Philippines will be involved whether she likes it or not. The crux of the threat is a confrontation of the U.S. and its allies against China for the South China Sea. An example is a Chinese destroyer recently coming threateningly close to an American warship who was conducting a ‘freedom of navigation’ patrol in the South China Sea. Also, China continues its threatening actions against Taiwan by staging amphibious landing maneuvers for invasions of islands like Taiwan.

4) Stock market closings for – 30 NOV 20:
Dow 29,638.64 down by 271.73
Nasdaq 12,198.74 down by 7.11
S&P 500 3,621.63 down by 16.72
10 Year Yield: unchanged at 0.84%
Oil: up at $45.14

24 June 2020

1) Economists are concerned about four major factors bearing down on a recovery of the economy. These are 1) the household fiscal cliff, 2) a great business die-off, 3) state and local budget shortfalls, and 4) the lingering health crisis. The pandemic shutdown cost the jobs of 40 million Americans, 40% of them low wage workers. This has left many households short of money, having little to no savings to meet their fiscal obligations such as rent and utilities. Add to this, there has been a steep decline in consumer spending leaving large numbers of businesses to face bankruptcy, thereby making a contraction of the economy. But businesses are not the only one facing revenue shortfalls, for governments are also facing shortages of money needed for their operations and paying employees, as in more layoffs. Finally, the cost of controlling the Convid-19 virus, especially if a major second wave does emerge, for both preventive treatment and caring for the sick. All four of these factors may very well be pushing America’s economy towards another Great Recession, which could last for many years.

2) The New York eviction moratorium ended this weekend, raising fears that tens of thousands of residents will soon face evictions which will flood the courts. This problem is a reflection of a problem across all of America as those 40 million laid-off workers have been unable to pay rent or mortgage payments and now face losing their residence. But it isn’t one sided, for landlords and lenders are also facing money shortages to meet their obligations too, which can lead to their fiscal demise. Most of the tenants and home owners have limited monies beyond their income, so paying back rent and mortgage is going to be near impossible.

3) China is warning of the risk of a naval incident with the US. Claiming that the U.S. military is deploying in unprecedented numbers to the Asia-Pacific region, which makes for a rising risk of an incident with China’s navy. The United States freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea has angered the Chinese, who is trying to establish dominance in the area and hence control of the territory. The Chinese claim that 60% of America’s warships and 375,000 soldiers are deployed in the Indo-Pacific region, including three aircraft carriers. So far, the U.S. Navy has conducted 28 freedom of navigation operations by sailing through the area where China has built islands, and therefore claiming the area as theirs.

4) Stock market closings for – 23 JUN 20:

Dow 26,156.10 up 131.14
Nasdaq 10,131.37 up 74.89
S&P 500 3,131.29 up 13.43

10 Year Yield: unchanged at 0.71%

Oil: up at $40.02