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

19 March 2021

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

10 Year Yield: 1.73%

Oil: down at $59.53

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

23 December 2020

1) The sailing of a Chinese aircraft carrier group, led by the country’s newest carrier, through the sensitive Taiwan Strait, caused Taiwan’s navy and air force to deploy. While this isn’t the first time China’s carriers have passed close to Taiwan, it comes at a time of heightened tension between Taipei and Beijing, which claims the democratically-ruled island as its territory. China says such trips by carriers through the strait are routine, often on their way to exercises in the disputed South China Sea. Taiwan said it sent six warships and eight military aircraft to monitor the Chinese ships’ movements. China has little experience with naval air operations compared to the United States, which has operated integrated carrier battle groups with multiple vessels for decades.

2) Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary, said that millions of Americans could begin seeing stimulus payments as soon as next week. The stimulus measure is combined with other bills into a giant piece of legislation to include money to fund the government through September 2021 as well as the extension of various tax cuts. The stimulus has $600 direct payments to people as part of the bill, plus $300 in weekly unemployment benefits for 11 weeks.

3) The Justice Department has filed suit against Walmart, alleging they unlawfully dispensed controlled substances through their pharmacies thereby fueling the nation’s opioid crisis. Claims are Walmart pressured its pharmacists to fill opioid prescriptions quickly, thus denying pharmacists the ability to refuse invalid prescriptions. Therefore those pharmacists were knowingly filled thousands of prescriptions that came from ‘pill mills’. The government charges Walmart with failing to detect and report suspicious prescriptions to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, as the law requires, so for years Walmart has reported virtually no suspicious orders at all. Walmart has more than 5,000 pharmacies around the country, but Walmart contends that bad doctors are to blame. Therefore, Walmart filed its own preemptive suit against the Justice Department, Attorney General William Barr and the Drug Enforcement Administration saying the Justice Department’s investigation has identified hundreds of doctors who wrote problematic prescriptions. The company is asking a federal judge to declare that the government has no basis to seek civil damages.

4) Stock market closings for – 22 DEC 20:

Dow 30,015.51 down by 200.94
Nasdaq 12,807.92 up by 65.40
S&P 500 3,687.26 down by 7.66

10 Year Yield: down at 0.92%

Oil: down at $46.80

22 December 2020

1) Taiwan is building a state-of-the-art fleet of submarines as a means to counter any potential Chinese plans to invade the island or conduct a naval blockade. Construction of the first of eight submarines began last month the first expected to begin sea trials in 2025. This is just another sign of nations in the pacific realm with growing fears of China’s power. China claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, despite the fact that the two countries have had separate governments for more than seven decades. For several months, China’s People’s Liberation Army has been increasing military pressure on the island, but any PLA invasion flotilla must cross the Taiwan Strait, the relatively narrow body of water separating Taiwan from the mainland. Taiwan’s new submarine fleet could make a big difference in repulsing such a move.

2) Congressional leaders are nearing completion of end-of-the-year stimulus package to provide another round of checks to middle-class Americans and extend unemployment. The $900 billion dollar deal now has provision for a $600 payment to individuals, with checks promised to be sent out within a week of the bill being signed. On top of that, states, schools and local governments are clamoring for a federal bailout, facing massive budget gaps in 2021, but reports are, there are no such provisions in the 5,500 page bill.

3) The company Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp., which is China’s largest chipmaker, is included on a U.S. blacklist calculated to have a major adverse impact on the development of advanced technology. The research and development of 10-nanometer chips and more sophisticated technologies will be affected, however the blacklist isn’t expected to have significant impact on SMIC’s operations and finances in the short term. The blacklists has more than 60 Chinese firms, in addition to SMIC included, because of national security and human rights violations, while China threatens countermeasures against these U.S. sanctions. SMIC joins the likes of Huawei Technologies Co. where the list denies them access to U.S. technology from software to circuitry.

4) Stock market closings for – 21 DEC 20:

Dow 30,216.45 up by 37.40
Nasdaq 12,742.52 down by 13.12
S&P 500 3,694.92 down by 14.49

10 Year Yield: down at .94%

Oil: down at $47.86

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

23 November 20

1) When Joe Biden takes the presidential oath of office next year, he will need to address the question of his son and brother’s business arrangements with entities of foreign governments. A five-page report, with 65 pages of evidence, confirms the connections between the Biden family and the communist Chinese government, as well as the links between Hunter Biden’s business associates and the Russian government. Bidens’ global web of “consulting” and influence-mongering has created some unsavory question about conflicts of interest. Even if every past, present, or future business arrangement by Hunter and Jim Biden is technically legal, which is still an open question, plenty of difficulties can arise from financial pressure to do the bidding of those adversaries. To maintain public trust in his new administration’s diplomacy, the new president must force his son and brother to divest from many aspects of Biden family business.

2) Earlier this year, Australia was among the first countries to call for an official investigation into the coronavirus origins. China responded angrily which accusations that Australia’s highly irresponsible acts could disrupt international cooperation in fighting the pandemic. In recent months, China has imposed trade tariffs on Australia, targeted Australian journalists, and issued angry missives regarding Australia’s dealings with other regional powers. Chinese diplomats have distributed a document to Australian media listing Beijing’s grievances with Australia. These include unfairly blocking Chinese investment, spreading disinformation about China’s coronavirus response, falsely accusing Beijing of hacking, and engaging in incessant wanton interference in Xinjiang, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Yet while there may be legitimate concerns about China in a number of countries, such as the role of telecoms manufacturer Huawei in 5G networks, Australia has become more hawkish than most, but Australia could look foolish if Biden opens up partnerships with China on climate and pandemic management leaving Australia standing alone.

3) As Congress breaks for Thanksgiving, 12 million Americans may lose their jobless benefits on December 26 unless Congress can agree on a new stimulus deal in the next few weeks. More than half of the 21 million people currently collecting unemployment benefits can be effected. If lawmakers head home for Thanksgiving soon, it is even less likely they will reach a deal before they break for the year in December. As they do, millions of Americans could potentially lose their own residences when the nationwide eviction moratorium also expires at the end of the year. Tens of millions more cannot afford enough food to eat. Additionally, long-term unemployment is on the rise with the share of jobless workers out of work for 27 weeks or more, shot up from 19.1% to 32.5% in October, because there are simply not enough jobs being created to support all of the workers running out of aid before the end of 2020.

4) Stock market closings for – 20 NOV 20:

Dow 29,263.48 down by 219.75
Nasdaq 11,854.97 down by 49.74
S&P 500 3,557.54 down by 24.33

10 Year Yield: down at 0.83%

Oil: up at $42.47

29 October 2020

1) One major factor in the spread of Covid-19 virus, is the portability of societies, the degree which people are moving about and interacting with each other with ease. This is a major cause of the spread of infectious disease. Now with the surge of coronavirus in Europe, Germany and France, they are planning to restrict movement of people for at least a month, coming close to the stringent lockdowns of the spring as European leaders seek to rein in a resurgent pandemic outbreak. Spain, Italy, the U.K., Greece and Portugal reported record numbers of new cases on Wednesday. Asia, Singapore and Hong Kong could start a planned ‘travel bubble’ as soon as next month. This also means restrictions of travel for migrant workers, which in turn means restricting their ability to make money, where much is sent back home to families to support their subsistence.

2) Boeing Aircraft company, a major manufacture of airliners, will cut 7,000 more jobs amid the pandemic, almost doubling its planned job cuts. The coronavirus pandemic has prolonged the grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max jet, thus dimming prospects for financial recovery. Executives are abandoning their forecast that Boeing will stop burning cash next year and so they are now forced to eliminate an additional 7,000 jobs. That will bring the expected losses from layoffs, retirements and attrition to 30,000 people, or 19% of the pre-pandemic workforce, by the end of 2021.

3) Taiwan’s microcircuit manufacture United Microelectronics Corp. has pledged its assistance to the U.S. in a high-profile trade-secrets prosecution of Chinese chipmaker Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co. UMC has pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court as part of a deal with U.S. prosecutors. Prosecutors agreed to drop serious charges of economic espionage and conspiracy for theft of proprietary information from Idaho-based Micron Technology Inc. UMC instead admitted to trade-secret theft and agreed to pay a $60 million dollar fine. Prosecutors haven’t publicly detailed the cooperation they are seeking from UMC against Fujian

4) Stock market closings for – 28 OCT 20:
Dow 26,519.95 down 943.24
Nasdaq 11,004.87 down 426.48
S&P 500 3,271.03 down 119.65

10 Year Yield: unchanged at 0.78%

Oil: down at $37.69

26 October 20

1) The renewable energy industry is possibly getting a boost from New York’s East River, which is set to become the testing ground for a technology that generates electricity from the tides by using tiny turbines. Verdant Power, a New York based marine energy technology company, is installing three small underwater turbines in the river that will generate electricity from the actions of the tide. The test system will feed power to Consolidated Edison Inc.’s grid. For years there has been other attempts to draw power from marine energy, but its adoption has been stymied by high costs and mechanical issues. The turbines use 16 foot diameter rotors which are expected to have 35 kilowatts of capacity each, about four times more than a typical U.S. residential rooftop solar system. The key to success is reducing the cost, but at 10 cents a kilowatt-hour, it’s still more than twice the cost of wind and solar power.

2) The oil giant Exxon Mobil, is still reeling from the massive oil bust, and so is now having to lay off workers after all. When the rounds of layoffs in the oil industry started last May, Exxon had no plans to lay off employees. But economic realities have force a reversal of that position, because other measures to control operating cost have not been sufficient to weather the downturn. Exxon’s market value has dropped by 66 percent from $418 billion dollars and has recently been removed from the Dow Jones Industrial index, a group of 30 key stocks that serves as a benchmark indicator of the U.S. stock market. Fears that the oil and gas industry will never recover fully from the pandemic are dismissed, the company saying that developing countries around the world will continue to rely on affordable and abundant fossil fuels for decades to power their economies. It’s projected that oil and gas will make up about 50 percent of the global energy mix by 2040, down from around 60 percent today.

3) China shows increasing aggressiveness with threats of retaliation, if U.S. arms sale to Taiwan proceed, sales worth more than a billion dollars. Failure to do so would “compel the Chinese side to fight back resolutely,” a Chinese statement said. America is selling 135 precision land attack missiles, plus associated equipment and training to Taiwan to improve its defense capabilities. Taiwan isn’t the only pacific neighbor fearing China’s belligerent stance, for Japan is planning to build a missile defense system at sea despite facing mounting costs. Japan’s Aegis Ashore systems is meant to intercept missile strikes from westward. Japanese officials are considering several proposals, including putting Aegis on platforms resembling oil rigs, or on converted merchant ships or naval vessels because of safety issues for civilians. Japan has also launched its first high technology submarine, one of a coming fleet, to protect Japan from China’s aggressive threats.

4) Stock market closings for – 23 OCT 20:

Dow 28,335.57 down 28.09
Nasdaq 11,548.28 down 42.28
S&P 500 3,465.39 down 11.90

10 Year Yield: down at 0.84%

Oil: down at $39.78