16 March 2021

1) The technology known as carbon capture and storage, a concept that has been around for at least a quarter century to reduce the climate damaging emissions from factories, is being pursued by major international oil companies. The idea sounds deceptively simple, just divert pollutants before they can escape into the air, and bury them deep in the ground where they are harmless. But the technology has proved to be hugely expensive, and so has not caught on as quickly as advocates hoped. Exxon Mobil, BP and Royal Dutch Shell plus lesser known Norway’s Equinor, France’s Total, and Italy’s Eni are investors in capture and storage projects.

2) Reports are, that amid all the trillion dollar spending, the White House is now starting to consider how to pay for the programs meant to bolster long term economic growth with investments in infrastructure, clean energy and education. The challenges are twofold: 1) how much of the bill is paid for with tax increases and 2) which policies to finance with more borrowing. The administration hasn’t decided whether to pursue a wealth tax. With interest rates so low, U.S. borrowing costs are manageable right now. The federal government currently collects the biggest chunk of its revenue, about half in 2019, from individual income taxes, which now tops out at 37% of income above $518,000 per year. For now, there are few signs of inflationary spiral or fiscal crisis that policy makers thought would accompany debt levels like today’s. The Congressional Budget Office this month projected that the national debt would double as a proportion of gross domestic product over the next 30 years. But the cost of borrowing is rising for the government and across the economy so the large debt could mean trouble in the future.

3) India’s foreign-exchange reserves has surpassed Russia’s to become the world’s fourth largest, as India central bank continues to hoard dollars to cushion the economy against any sudden outflows. Reserves for both countries have mostly flattened this year after months of rapid increase. India’s reserves, enough to cover roughly 18 months of imports, have been bolstered by a rare current-account surplus, raising inflows into the local stock market and foreign direct investment. India’s foreign currency holdings fell by $4.3 billion to $580.3 billion as of March 5, edging out Russia’s $580.1 billion pile. China has the largest reserves, followed by Japan and Switzerland on the International Monetary Fund table.

4) Stock market closings for – 15 MAR 21:

Dow 32,953.46 up by 174.82
Nasdaq 3,459.71 up by 139.84
S&P 500 3,968.94 up by 25.60

10 Year Yield: down at 1.61%

Oil: down at $65.29

29 January 2021

1) As President Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion dollar stimulus bill is debated by law makers and the press, Biden says he’s no longer afraid to spend big on economic relief. It’s not just smart fiscal investments, including deficit spending, it’s the return on investments in jobs, in racial equity that will prevent long-term economic damage with the benefits far surpassing the costs. But the national debt has soar by more than $7 trillion dollars during the last four years, and for the last quarter, the federal budget deficit was $572 billion, which is up more than 60% from the same period a year earlier. Fears are growing over the now massive national debt, a debt larger than at the end of World War II (as percent GDP), plus many other western and even third world nations have similar huge debts. There are real fears that if one of those nations economy collapses, then other economies will be dragged down, including Americas. Biden supporters counter that the low interest rates make it more palatable to borrow, with the rate on the 10-year Treasury bond hovering around 1.1%.

2) A new way to manipulate the stock market made the news, that uses modern computer technology and the internet to drive stock prices up and down. Called a “pump and dump” scam, it has pitted the professional stock traders of Wall Street against amateurs trading on the internet (also known as non-professional individual investors) with apps like Robinhood and Reddit. The scammers buy up the shares cheap, then spread rumors that drive the stock price higher while encouraging other investors to get in on the supposed windfall. When the stock hits a high point, the scammers dump their shares, leaving unsuspecting investors holding the bag. In addition to other stocks, the stock for GameStop is the main name in stories this week. The stock started at $4 a share six months ago, rising to $483. Short traders had determined that GameStop was a failing company that would not survive, and so were buying up the stock planning to sell short, which they had bought up on credit. The amateurs, using the internet and social apps started talking up how great the stock was as they also bought up stock, both driving up the price. As the stock price became excessively high, the short sellers were force to actually buy the stock at a price above the short price, resulting in huge losses for the Wall Streeters. The amateurs then sold off their stocks to the unsuspecting, causing the stock to tumble down.

3) General Motors announces its goal to eliminate selling all their gas and diesel vehicle models by 2035 and be completely carbon neutral by 2040. California had announced that it will no longer allow the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035.

4) Stock market closings for – 28 JAN 21:

Dow 30,603.36 up by 300.19
Nasdaq 13,337.16 up by 66.56
S&P 500 3,787.38 up by 36.61

10 Year Yield: up at 1.06%

Oil: down at $52.18

8 December 2020

1) Experts forecast that a rising stock market and a weak dollar will keep going hand in hand in the near future. The movements of the past month are consistent with movements between equities and the dollar observed this year, which is at its strongest level since before the global financial crisis. Additionally, the seesaw relationship between the dollar and equities is getting more intense, so a rapidly falling currency serves as fodder for stock-market bulls, who are expecting this pattern to endure for some time. Stocks saw a historic rise in November, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average logging its biggest monthly rise since January 1987, as major indexes hit all-time highs. At the same time, the dollar fell 2.3%, its worst month since a 4.2% fall in July and its worst November since 2006. A weaker dollar is often seen as supportive to equities.

2) Boeing Aircraft Co. is considering an equity sale and other ways to ease its debt burden that has soared to $61 billion this year, a result of the worst slump in aviation history. Additionally, Boeing will cut back on production of its 787 Dreamliner from six down to five planes a month by mid-2021. The company has sufficient reserves to see it through months of tumult until coronavirus vaccines are widely distributed. Boeing is prepared to speed up deliveries of 450 of its 737 MAX planes that it built but couldn’t deliver during the global grounding. Therefore undelivered aircraft are starting to stack up around Boeing’s factories and in a storage lot in the California desert, and so it will take the manufacture through 2021 to clear them from its inventory.

3) Negotiations for Britain to exit the European Union continue as the dead line nears. The fundamental differences between the two sides remain over a ‘level playing field’ of the standards the U.K. must meet to export into the bloc, how future disputes are resolved and the fishing rights for EU trawlers in U.K. waters. Ireland finds itself in a difficult place with the most to lose from a no-deal exit. Speed is now of the essence since the 27 EU member states have to unanimously support any deal. Both sides will suffer economically from a failure to secure a trade deal, but most economists think the British economy would take a greater hit. The main problem is how Britain wrests itself free of EU rules with the bloc’s insistence that no country, should get easy access to EU’s market by undercutting its high environmental and social standards.

4) Stock market closings for – 7 DEC 20:

Dow 30,069.79 down by 148.47
Nasdaq 12,519.95 up by 55.71
S&P 500 3,691.96 down by 7.16

10 Year Yield: down at 0.93%

Oil: down at $45.66

22 July 2020

1) China, with the second largest economy in the world, is steadily developing into a technological powerhouse that could upend the status quo. China’s ten year plan called “Made in China 2025”, has a principle goal for China to catchup, then surpass the West in various technological fields. Some consider this not only threatens the U.S. economy, but the world economy too. China has already declared they intend to be the dominate power in the world by 2050, and having the high ground in technology development is a key milestone in that quest.

2) Some consider that the stock market will likely head upwards to a new high, fueled by borrowing and money printing. With another stimulus package in the near future, it is ‘out of fashion’ to consider how the borrowed money will be paid back. The central banks, who are not elected, stand ready to print as much money as is wanted, no matter that historically this is how inflation is created and fuel. Example is the Weimar Republic (Germany) who induced their great wave of hyper inflation by printing massive amounts of money in the 1920’s, that lead the way for the Nazi’s to ascend to power. Other problems stemming from printing too much money is currency depreciation, difficulties borrowing, higher interest rates and social unrest. With other investments limited, the excess of money goes to the stock market, thus pushing the market up, and possibly into a bubble just waiting to pop!

3) The Congress remains busy crafting a second stimulus package with lots of debates what should and shouldn’t go in it, intending on having a deal worked out by the end of next week. However, this could go into August before a bill is ready to sign. A major point of contention is checks vs taxes. Should stimulus be checks like the $1,200 checks given out a few months?. If checks, then who gets them this time and how much? The other strategy is reducing payroll taxes, but this only helps those who are working. The Republicans are proposing a $1 trillion dollar relief strategy, while the Democrats propose a sweeping $3.5 trillion dollar plan. This would add to the $2.9 trillion dollar package already implemented early this year. As usual, everything is being done will little to no real analysis, instead relying on gut feelings of lawmakers in making the future of America.

4) Stock market closings for – 21 JUL 20:

Dow 26,840.40 up 159.53
Nasdaq 10,680.36 down 86.73
S&P 500 3,257.30 up 5.46

10 Year Yield: down at 0.61%

Oil: up at $41.58

4 June 2020

1) The stock market continues to climb, with some saying this signals the end of the recession. The S&P 500 has a return of 37.7% over the past 50 trading days, which is the largest 50 day rally in history. This rally is attributed to the quick response of the Federal Reserve, with a record $2 trillion dollar federal stimulus package. Another factor is the unlimited asset purchases by the Federal Reserve. While the shutdown depressed retail and airlines businesses, other parts of the economy saw a boost, such as Netflix, Amazon and Facebook. But there is still the record high of over 40 million workers idled by the pandemic, while the weakening in the Chinese’s economy coupled with the tensions between China and America could have a telling effect to the economic recovery.

2) There are fears of another round of layoffs in the later part of 2020, amid questions of where the economy will go in the next six to twelve months. Businesses are now reluctant to expand and hire new people, and may decide to contract thus being better able to weather economic hard times. There is also the unspoken problem of continued automation taking jobs as AI (Artificial Intelligence) and automation that experts predict will continual to sap jobs for the next decade. Automation gives companies an added advantage in surviving when the economy slows down, but a second wave of layoffs may trigger that slowdown.

3) The giant movie theater chain AMC has announced they doubt they can remain in business after the effects of the coronavirus shutdown. The company has problems with their liquidity, their ability to generate revenue and the timeline for reopening its theaters. The chain expects to lose $2.1 to $2.4 billion dollars for the first quarter, with the second quarter to be even worst. With all its theaters closed down, AMC is generating zero revenues. The major problem in reopening is having enough cash for operations until cash starts coming in again, and there is still questions of when theaters will be able to open again, especially if there are flare-ups of the virus.

4) Stock market closings for – 3 JUN 20:

Dow 26,269.89 up 527.24
Nasdaq 9,682.91 up 74.54
S&P 500 3,122.87 up 42.05

10 Year Yield: up at 0.76%

Oil: down at $36.75

15 May 2020

1) There are growing fears of another economic bomb about to go off. A popping of the housing bubble, much like the 2008 bubble collapse of the housing market, may happen as early as July. Last time, the collapse of the housing market played out over four years, but for the pandemic, the rate could be much faster, as is being seen with the stock market. Home sales have been languishing, especially with the treat of the virus and people reluctant to let strangers tour their homes with possible infections. It is estimated that 15% of homeowners will fall behind on their mortgages and this would mean more delinquencies than during the Great Depression. This in turn is causing a tightening of lending standards which could continue even after the crisis subsides. All this makes for a bubble waiting to burst.

2) Delta Air Lines Inc. has announced they plan to retire their fleet of eighteen Boeing 777 jumbo jets, and will replace them with Airbus SE aircraft. This constitutes another major financial blow to the beleaguered aircraft manufacture struggling with their 737 MAX troubles from over a year ago. Delta attributes the early retirement of their 777 fleet to the pandemic impact and the need to economize with newer fuel efficient aircraft.

3) Growing fears of a slow recovery is beginning to show cracks in the markets as investor’s anticipation of a quick recovery of the economy fades. For weeks, the hopes that the massive stimulus of $3 trillion dollars would spur a relatively quick recovery later in the year, coupled with a hot rebound of the stock market despite the massive numbers of layoffs, but now hope is fading. The growing economic uncertainty of just how many people can restart their lives amid the uncertainty of controlling the virus, plus the dangers of opening up too early, is causing investors to rethink their view of how the economy will fair in the next few months, even the next few years.

4) Stock market closings for – 14 MAY 20:

Dow 23,625.34 up 377.37
Nasdaq 8,943.72 up 80.55
S&P 500 2,852.50 up 32.50

10 Year Yield: down at 0.62%

Oil: up at $27.98

30 April 2020

1) Experts are speculating on the interest rates going negative in the near future, something that President Trump wants. Negative interest rates have been a reality in the EU (European Union), with studies showing that investors do not significantly increase their equity holdings as interest rates decline. But when the rates go negative, they start increasing their equity holdings significantly. This in turn is a big boost to the stock market. Interest rates are an excellent predictor of long range growth potential, today’s level reflecting the markets expectation of sustained low future growth.

2) Larry Kudlow, the top White House economist, is calling for stimulate measures before a slowdown of the economy. Measures include tax breaks such as payroll tax holiday and deregulation of small businesses. This is in anticipation of growth in the second quarter worse than in the first, which shrank 4.8%. Additionally, he supports a second stimulus package to create incentives to grow in the medium and long term. Also more investment in infrastructure should be included.

3) After posting a massive first quarter loss, Boeing has announced they will slash staff and production of about 16,000 people or about 10% of its personnel. Demand for air travel evaporated because of the coronavirus, so Boeing is drastically scaling back production of the two widebody passenger jets, its 787 Dreamliner and the 777. Boeing lost $1.7 billion dollars, while shutting down its factories, because of the pandemic, added another $137 million dollar lost.

4) Stock market closings for – 29 APR 20:

Dow 24,633.86 up 532.31
Nasdaq 8,914.71 up 306.98
S&P 500 2,939.51 up 76.12

10 Year Yield: up at 0.63%

Oil: up at $15.35

20 April 2020

1) The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent ‘sheltering in place’ is changing the American supermarkets. Online shopping of groceries had been somewhat of an awkward luxury service, that was growing ever so slowly, despite efforts of retailers to promote the new service. But the lockdown, stay at home orders have catapulted the service forward by up to a fifty times (not percent) increase in usage. Stores have been left struggling to meet the demand with many unable to keep up with that demand. When the pandemic ends, it will have forever changed the supermarket for many Americans, for once customers have used and got use to the service, then they will most likely continue using online grocery shopping, at least in part. But online shopping eliminates one of the big mainstays of modern supermarkets, the psychology of shopping with the browsing and impulse buying. The counter to this is automation which reduces the staff and labor cost of traditional retail stores, just as Amazon has done with dry goods.

2) The Chinese maker of driverless cars, Pony.ai, has launched a delivery service in Irvine California using its robot cars to deliver to people stuck at home from the virus. Teaming up with the e-commerce site Yamibuy, orders from Yamibuy get delivered to the customers homes. Each car can deliver between 500 to 700 packages a day. A year ago the company launched a robo-taxi service in Irvine, but with the ‘shelter in place’ order, their taxis were repurposed for deliveries.

3) Everyone is baffled over how the stock market continues to hold, even climbing, with what is happening today. For example-
a) Unemployment is now at 22 million and still climbing
b) Threat of large numbers of businesses going bankrupt
c) Recession starting, which most expect will last at least 12 months
d) Automation expected to eliminate up to 50% of jobs in 15 to 25 years
e) Global coronavirus cases surpass 1.5 million and continue growing
At a time when the markets would normally be crashing down from all the uncertainty, what is holding them up? Experts think because of the quick reaction of the government in passing the $2.2 trillion dollar economic stimulus waylaid market fears by showing something is being done. Also, Warren Buffett’s axiom, “Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy only when others are fearful.” Finally, the ‘social distancing’ measures seems to be controlling the virus, thereby lessening its economic effects in the long run.

4) Stock market closings for – 17 APR 20:

Dow 24,242.49 up 704.81
Nasdaq 8,650.14 up 117.78
S&P 500 2,874.56 up 75.01

10 Year Yield: up at 0.65%

Oil: down at $18.12

13 April 2020

1) As the administration considers efforts to restart the economy, economist are considering what a recovery will look like. Although there are widely differing opinions, most consider it will be a long slow process. While it was a great shock with the sudden stopping of businesses followed by the sudden massive unemployment, few consider that there will be a quick ‘snap back’ like with a light switch being snapped back on. The shutdown is causing fundamental shifts in the social-economic system. People’s shopping and ‘going-out’ habits such as restaurants, movies and sporting events is changing, which is also a change in spending habits. People are more reluctant to travel in high density such as airliners or cruise ships. Many small businesses will not survive this recession, and with half the businesses in America classed as small, there will be a significant change in the business environment, plus it will be a long time to reabsorb the massive unemployed, since automation will move in to fill the void. Finally, America’s economy is subject to being pulled down by the world economies, which few are expecting a strong comeback from, since so many were already weak before the coronavirus.

2) Consumer prices fell 0.4% in March, the largest monthly decline in five years. This is from the cost of things like traveling, gasoline, airfares and hotel rooms plunging. Energy cost is down 5.8% with gasoline prices down 10.5%. Food prices did continue rising. There are fears that the GDP will drop 30% or more adding to the economic bad news.

3) The wild gyrations of the stock market is leaving investors confused over what is happening. Stocks are going up when the future is filled with doubts and uncertainty, not a time when investors buy equities. The unemployment is quickly approaching, and may surpass 15% amidst fears of a huge economic contraction with a long term recession- a time when normally only fools would buy into the markets.

4) Stock market closings for – 10 APR 20:

Markets closed for Good Friday

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