Say it ain’t so….. Well there is a lot of chit chat and jibber jabber that Mr. or Ms. Internet Explorer (however you want to look at it); Microsoft Inc is exploring acquiring the famous social media app Tik Tok from China based ByteDance.
Talks began as the White House and President Trump are seriously considering banning the mega app, for US national security protocols and reasons. Analysts have indicated that Microsoft buying Tik Tok would be beneficial to the software conglomerate; allowing it to enter the social media space which Microsoft has dabbled in the past.
Experts have indicated that Tik Tok’s valuation seems to be exploding toward the upside and the purchase of Tik Tok by Microsoft or another tech company would make a lot of $en$e and $cent$. -SB
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
1) The markets took a sharp drop over fears of another shutdown as the number of Convid-19 cases began rising from states starting to opening up for business. The Dow Jones dropped over 1,800 points, closing on the worst day sell-off since March. It appears that this pandemic is going to linger longer than was anticipated. Texas has reported three consecutive days of record breaking Covid-19 hospitalizations. Nine counties in California are reporting spikes in hospital admissions from the virus. The U.S. now has topped 2 million cases in this pandemic. Also, oil prices have taken a sharp downward slide.
2) Inventories of unsold diamonds are increasing, with the five largest diamond producers having stockpiled excess inventories of about $3.5 billion dollars and could go as high as $4.5 billion dollars. World wide demand for diamonds has plummeted, with the renowned diamond supplier De Beers reporting diamond sales in May of about $35 million dollars, compared to last year’s $400 million dollars. The world wide lock down has closed jewelry stores across the world thereby reducing sales to a small fraction of normal. The diamond market resembles the diamond slump of the 2008 financial crisis.
3) More than 1.5 million Americans filed new jobless claims for the first week of June, again decreasing from the previous week of 1.9 million. This is in contrast to the 6.9 million claims in April, with a stead decline each week since then. There was 2.5 million jobs added to the American economy, largely due to 2.7 million workers returning from furloughs. Still, more than 40 million Americans have lost their jobs because of the pandemic forcing shutdowns of so many businesses across America. But the gradual improvement of employment is boosting hopes for a quick economic recovery, however, there remains the problem of technology displacement of jobs. In times of economic stress, businesses are seeking ways and means to cut operating cost, and that gives a niche for entry of new technologies that eliminate the human. Experts in Artificial Intelligence estimate that as much as 50% of the jobs will disappear in 15 to 25 years.
4) Stock market closings for – 11 JUN 20: The stock market is like a rectal thermometer- it’s rude and crude but surprisingly effective at showing sickness.
Dow 25,128.17 down 1861.82 Nasdaq 9,492.73 down 527.62 S&P 500 3,002.10 down 188.04
1) Another 2.1 million Americans are unemployed as the economy begins its reopening with restriction on economic activity easing in some parts of the country. One bright spot is the number of continued claims (people remaining on unemployment) dropped slightly from people returning to work. While the number of new claims continues to drop each week, it still remains at a record high, with the drop in new claims remaining higher than anticipated. The continued elevated number of claims isn’t a good sign, showing that we are not through the business shutdowns and possible closures yet, with some furloughs shifting over to permanent layoffs. The unemployment in America is now at 40.7 million workers.
2) Boeing aircraft manufacturer may be starting its recovery announcing the resumption of limited production of its 737 MAX after a five month halt. The 737 MAX has been grounded since March of 2018 because of software problems resulting in two airliners crashing. While the FAA has not cleared the airplane for return to passenger service, Boeing expects the 737 MAX to fly again in mid 2020.
3) The millennials and generation-Z are worst off economically than any previous generation, they are experiencing slower economic growth since entering the workforce than any other generation in U.S. history. It’s not just that it’s a bad recession, or that it’s hitting young people more, but rather that it’s hitting people who have already been hit by the Great Recession. Millennials have experienced slower economic growth since entering the workforce than any other generation in U.S. history, and they will bear these economic scars throughout their lives, with lower earnings, lower wealth and delayed milestones, such as home ownership. The old adage of ‘just work harder, sink or swim by your own effort’ no longer applies, because many millennials are now having to swim upstream against a much stronger current . . . from the forces of automation and technology displacement.
4) Stock market closings for – 28 MAY 20:
Dow 25,400.64 down 147.63 Nasdaq 9,368.99 down 43.37 S&P 500 3,029.73 down 6.40
Major technology companies such as Spotify, Apple, BarStool Sports, and Amazon, are racking up their check books in investing in podcast shows and networks.
Amazon is utilizing Audible to attain podcast shows, while Apple is using its Apple TV shows and other Apple products for podcasting viability. BarStools Sports which began as a sporting blog, has utilized its strong sports platform in the podcasting space.
Over 100 million people in the United States listen to podcast shows, one way or another. The number seems to be increasing on rolling average basis according to analysts estimates. The way that traditional radio has been digressing, don’t be surprised as podcasting surpassing the new normal. -SB
_Listen to the #EFRPodcast & #TheCastPodcast shows on the cloud, soundcloud.com/Economic-FinanceReport
1) Again, there is additional unemployment this week with 2.4 million people filing for unemployment benefits this last week. This brings the total U.S. unemployment during the pandemic up to 38 million, with continuing claims at 25.07 million, the highest level on record. The good news is the filings continue to decline from previous weeks. So far, there’s no indications that the easing of the lockdowns is having any effect on the unemployment dilemma.
2) The apparel retailer chain ‘The Gap’ is accelerating its implementation of robots in warehouses to assemble online orders, thus avoiding the use of human contact during the pandemic. The Gap is tripling the number of item picking robots in use to 106 by the fall. With the pandemic forcing the closure of its stores nationwide, their online sales shot up just when social distancing rules reduced their staff. Each robot does the work of four humans in a warehoused that was already highly automated. This is an example of increased automation occurring during times of economic shock, leaving fewer jobs for when the economy improves. These are times when employers shed less skilled workers by replacing them with technology and higher skilled workers thereby reducing their labor cost.
3) The second crisis for the American economy is arriving. The pandemic is having sever consequence for state and local governments with lockdowns eviscerating their finances. Monies needed to pay for public services and infrastructure have withered leaving governments to do triage of the services they provide. Basic services such as police, fire fighting, health, trash and water/sewer services are threatened with curtailment for lack of monies to pay salaries and supplies such as gasoline. Such actions is politically dangerous which can fuel political extremism that threatens democracy. Losses of state and local revenues are estimated to be 15 to 45 percent, or an overall loss of $1.75 trillion dollars a year. With growing doubts of re-employment after the crisis passes, this economic crisis is long term.
4) Stock market closings for – 21 MAY 20:
Dow 24,474.12 down 101.78 Nasdaq 9,284.88 down 90.90 S&P 500 2,948.51 down 23.10
1) The present unemployment rate is thought to be higher than anytime during the Great Depression, raising the question if the present day recession will last as long as the Depression, which was almost ten years. While some sever recessions have been short lived, usually they are long affairs. Lowering the interest rates is a traditional tool used by the government to counter a recession and stimulate the economy, but interest rates are already near zero when the coronavirus hit, so the government didn’t have its primary tool. Many economist are considering the strategy ‘America is back open for business’ as unlikely to create a huge surge in growth. There are three other major factors to consider- 1) the other world economies are continually pulling America’s down 2) the big mess that oil is in and 3) predictions from several different experts that in the next 15 to 25 years as much as 50% of the jobs will disappear to technology. It will be difficult for employment to return to pre-coronavirus levels if jobs are continually disappearing faster than people are being rehired. One interesting point, a financial analyst is predicting that Disney World, Disneyland and their overseas parks will not be able to reopen until January 2021, and if such a cash rich company is having so much difficulty reopening, how about the multitude of smaller companies with much more limited resources?
2) U.S. automakers are taking the first steps to bring workers back and start manufacturing operations again, but are finding it easier said than done. There are negotiations with the United Auto Workers union, for the manufactures to provide protective gear, frequently sanitize equipment and take worker temperatures to prevent infection of the virus to the union members. As much as workers want to return to a paycheck, there are real fears of catching the virus. Fiat Chrysler has announced May 4 as the gradual restart date, with General Motors and Ford expected to quickly follow.
3) Reports are building that the coronavirus may cause lasting damage to some organs such as the kidneys. There are fears from reports that the virus may cause damage to the heart, lungs and possibly the liver. Furthermore, the blood from Covid-19 patients is having unprecedented blood clotting, evident by blood clots forming while trying to insert IVs or taking blood samples. Internal blood clots can be life threatening, and autopsies are finding such internal blood clots.
4) Stock market closings for – 22 APR 20:
Dow 23,475.82 up 456.94 Nasdaq 8,495.38 up 232.15 S&P 500 2,799.31 up 62.75
1) Monday markets opened in a steep downward spiral from sell offs, driven by the coronavirus fears, followed by the sharp drop in oil prices. The Dow dropped 2,000 points, with a massive sell off of both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq, which triggered a key market circuit breaker that halted trading for fifteen minutes. There are widespread fears over the economic impact of low oil prices, with some experts fearing oil prices down to $20 a barrel. Gold prices crossed the $1,700 dollar an ounce, hitting the highest since December 2012. The banks are hard pressed as the interest continues to sink, cutting into their margins.
2) Experts speculate that the Feds will cut the interest rate to zero in the next few months in an effort to forestall a downturn of the economy. The entire U.S. yield curve fell below 1% for the first time in history on expectations that the Federal Reserve will cut rates to zero in the next few months. Some speculate the Feds may adopt a negative rate just as some European countries have, such as Germany’s -1%.
3) While checkout-free with cashless supermarkets is now a novelty, Amazon expects this technology to spread to other retailers. Amazon has announced it plans to license its automated checkout technology to other retailers, telling of several other companies that have already signed up for the technology. The technology has been proven with cashless convenience stores across America and with Amazon’s new Go-supermarkets. The technology represents another significant step in retail automation.
4) Stock market closings for – 9 MAR 20: The stock market is like a rectal thermometer- it’s rude and crude, but surprisingly effective in showing a sick economy.
Dow 23,851.02 down 2013.76 Nasdaq 7,950.68 down 624.94 S&P 500 2,746.56 down 225.81
1) To settle its civil law suit over fake accounts, Wells Fargo, America’s fourth largest bank, is paying $3 billion dollars. In order to meet sales quotas, employees opened millions of savings and checking accounts using the names of actual customers. Wells Fargo is accountable for tolerating fraudulent conduct, which was remarkable for its duration and scope. The bank company took several steps to conceal the accounts from customers, such as forging signatures and preventing other bank departments from contacting customers to survey their accounts.
2) John Deere, a manufacturer of farm and construction equipment, has experience a first quarter profit, signs that the U.S. farm market is stabilizing. The manufacturer has been buffeted for the last two years by the U.S. – China trade war, which has pushed agriculture business down leaving farmers struggling to turn a profit.
3) Facebook will stop listening to and transcribing messenger voice for its speech recognition technology development. But the company still needs the voice recordings to improve its speech recognition, so the company will pay selected users to record snippets of audio using a development program called ‘Pronunciations’. Test subjects will have phrases recorded, which Facebook will specify, and in turn will receive compensation.
4) Stock market closings for – 21 FEB 20:
Dow 28,992.41 down 227.57
Nasdaq 9,576.59 down 174.38
S&P 500 3,337.75 down 35.48
1) The chip maker Intel announced a chip which makes quantum computers smaller and faster, thus bringing the promise of quantum computer to realization. Working with QuTech, Intel has developed a new chip called Horse Ridge that should make quantum computers smaller, faster and requires less deep cooling. The system on a chip uses Intel’s FinFET low power process, having four radio frequency channels that control a total of 128 qubits, which is more than double the 49 qubits from back in 2018. For a quantum computer to be viable it needs over 1 million qubits.
2) The technology innovation company Alphabet has ended its work on Makani, a design to generate power using wind turbines attached to kites. While demonstration flights were successful, the path to commercialization was considered to be longer and riskier than expected. Makani was a seven year project which developed a 20 kilowatt demonstrator kite into a utility scale model generating 600 kilowatts.
3) Boeing Aircraft’s 737 MAX has met with another problem- foreign-object debris in the fuel tanks of several aircraft. Boeing is conducting a voluntary inspection for debris in undelivered aircraft with further action based on its findings, but doesn’t anticipate this problem will delay re-certification of the aircraft and it resumption of deliveries. Furthermore, Boeing plans to inspect the fuel tanks on all undelivered 737 MAX planes.
4) Stock market closings for – 19 FEB 20:
Dow 29,348.03 up 115.84
Nasdaq 9,817.18 up 84.44
S&P 500 3,386.15 up 15.86