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

21 September 2020

1) Michael Farr of CNBC claims the problem with the U.S. economy is there are too many poor people, that the poor and middle class don’t have enough money. His contention is that until employment and wages increase, the U.S. economy will remain bogged down or worst . . . digging a deeper hole. The American economy is the world’s largest with nearly 70% driven by consumer spending. With the vast majority of consumers in the lower middle class and poor, it stands to reason that with more money in their hands, it would make for a more viable economy. He contends that until their lot is improved by having more money, the economy will remain sluggish. But as is often the case, he ignores the ‘obsolete people’ problem of machines with technology displacing those workers. The pay of people reflects the value of people to society, and as technology continues to lower their real value it makes it hard to increase their wages.

2) Wayfair, the giant on-line home furnishings retailer, has announced they are launching two new credit cards while retiring their Comenity Bank card. There will now be the Wayfair Mastercard and the new Wayfair Credit Card. These cards will have no annual fee and offer the choice of earning rewards on spending or receiving no-interest financing for up to 24 months. Wayfair is partnering with Citi Retail Services for the two credit cards.

3) Facebook, the social media giant, is searching for a director of remote work as part of its plan for a more permanent shift of working from home. The company has been making a major shift towards permanent remote work and now needs management dedicated to permanently establishing this method of work in the corporate structure. Facebook is expecting as much as half of its 48,000 workforce to be working at home in the next ten years. Several other large companies are exploring the work-at-home strategy as a way of reducing cost of labor as well as allowing a larger pool of workers to draw upon, since home workers can be thousands of miles away from the home office. There are many consequences to the economy from a large work force working at home, the first is reducing spending on automobiles and service, plus sales of clothing.

4) Stock market closings for – 18 SEP 20:

Dow 27,657.42 down 244.56
Nasdaq 10,793.28 down 117.00
S&P 500 3,319.47 down 37.54

10 Year Yield: up at 0.69%

Oil: up at $40.98

2 September 2020

1) Five American companies make up 24% of the S&P 500 Index, the big high tech companies Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and Alphabet. These five companies made up 17% of the index at the start of the year. This makes a significant part of American net worth and security for retirement dependent on just a handful of stocks, which makes some financial advisers nervous having their eggs in too few baskets. One hiccup in the technology sector could mean major losses across the board.

2) Another shooting of a young black man Monday in South Los Angeles has sparked more protest that could lead to more city rioting. The man was stopped for violating vehicle codes, but then ran, with the police in hot pursuit. When police caught up with him, he punched one policeman in the face at which time a semiautomatic pistol dropped out causing both policemen to open fired. Since the victim didn’t have the weapon in hand, nor was it ever pointed at either police officers, so there are questions about the shooting. So far, protests have been peaceful.

3) The U.S. Justice Department is investigating the protest leaders and their funding in Portland and other cities for possible criminal activity. With riots and civil unrest now at a hundred days, and significant monetary loses have been occurred, questions are being raised about who is behind the well organized protesters seemingly intent on violent confrontation. Of especial interest is the loosely organized far left Antifa and the Black Lives Matter, and who is ultimately controlling their operations through funding and why.

4) Stock market closings for – 1 SEP 20:

Dow 28,645.66 up 215.61
Nasdaq 11,939.67 up 164.21
S&P 500 3,526.65 up 26.34

10 Year Yield: down at 0.67%

Oil: up at $43.01

MICROSOFT TALK HEATS UP IN PURCHASING TIK TOK APP!!!!!!!!!!!!

By: Economic & Finance Report

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

Image Source: News18.com

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

12 June 2020

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

10 Year Yield: down at 0.65%

Oil: down at $36.17

29 May 2020

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

10 Year Yield: up at 0.70%

Oil: down at $33.68

MAJOR TECH COMPANIES ARE BETTING ON PODCASTS….

By: Economic & Finance Report

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

22 May 2020

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

10 Year Yield: down at 0.68%

Oil: up at $33.82

23 April 2020

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

10 Year Yield: up at 0.62%

Oil: up at $14.23