24 September 2020

1) California’s annual bout of fires has just added a new dimension to the state’s history. The Creek Fire has become the state’s single most massive wildfire in history by burning 286,519 acres in Fresno and Madera counties. Ignited on September the fourth, it has so far destroyed 855 structures and damaged 71 others. There are now 50 major fires across the West coast this week, so far claiming 26 fatalities, while consuming 2.2 million acres. There are forty crews with 3,100 personnel who are fighting the fires, but only about 32% of the Creek fire blaze has been contained. No estimates yet of just how much monetary damages the state has suffered.
2) As the remnants of Sally continue moving across the southeastern United States, the first estimates are in for the damages. Sally made landfall as a category 2 storm near Gulf Shores, Alabama bringing a storm surge that caused major flooding in places like Pensacola with several feet of water. Damages are expected to cost upwards of $2 billion dollars. NOAA’s aerial imagery is being evaluated to more accurately determine the extent of flooding and damages in Florida and Alabama. Major beach erosion is also apparent too.
3) Tesla’s much touted Battery Day appears to have disappointed most of the average people, with Tesla (TSLA) stock tumbling down 8.6% in midday trading, on track for its lowest close in two weeks. Investors fear that promised new batteries will take years to fully develop and be available for automobiles. Tesla unveiled a new battery design that is 56% cheaper and more efficient for use in automobiles, which should be a big step towards the viability of fully electric cars. Additionally, the company announced a future robot car for $25,000 that will be fully autonomous, and available in the next three years. The new battery technology will enable sleeker affordable cars that can travel much longer distances on a single charge. Investors had expected announcements of two big innovations, the first one is a ‘million mile’ battery that would be good for ten years or more, as well as a cost reduction, a target specified as dollars per kilowatt-hour, which would finally drop the price of an electric vehicle below that of a gasoline car.
4) Stock market closings for – 23 SEP 20:
Dow 26,763.13 down 525.05
Nasdaq 10,632.98 down 330.65
S&P 500 3,236.92 down 78.65
10 Year Yield: up at 0.68%
Oil: up at $39.59

18 September 2020

1) The batteries in electric cars don’t last forever, so therefore they must be replaced from time to time. That leaves defunct batteries which must be disposed of. One company engaged in the recovery and recycling of electric vehicle batteries, as well as other lithium-ion batteries and e-waste, is Redwood Materials run by former Tesla executive Mr. Staubel. Amazon is investing in Redwood Materials as part of Amazon’s $2 billion dollar Climate Pledge Fund. The retail giant Amazon is a major consumer of batteries including its own growing fleet of electric logistics vehicles. In recycling, the company is already recovering most of the metal, lithium, nickel and cobalt from batteries.
2) Some are calling for publicly owned companies to include ‘climate related risks’, since climate change will have a major effect on a companies’ profits and the value of their assets. Therefore, investors want companies to publish these factors in their annual financial reports in accordance to the guide lines from the International Accounting Standards Board. Accounting standards play a key role in calculation of a company’s profits, solvency and remunerate senior executives. Therefore, this information is relevant when judging a company’s likely prospects.
3) Commercial properties in the Asia-Pacific arena is suffering as investors flee the market. Global investors have reduced their spending on commercial real estate in the Asia Pacific area disproportionately compared with other world areas. The total volume of commercial property acquisitions, such as office, retail and hotels, is about 65% of levels in the last two years. The shift is due in part from the Convid-19 crisis. Another fear is the increasing troubles from China across the realm, as China strives to dominate the world by 2050.
4) Stock market closings for – 17 SEP 20:
Dow 27,901.98 down 130.40
Nasdaq 10,910.28 down 140.19
S&P 500 3,357.01 down 28.48
10 Year Yield: down at 0.68%
Oil: up at $40.96

9 September 2020

1) It’s not just American businesses who are feeling the effects of the Covid-19 crisis from reduced sales, American charities are also suffering a major drop in revenues for the same reason. With the recession straining household budgets, people are less able to contribute resulting in charities losing billions of dollars since this spring. Furthermore, traditional money raising methods such a concerts, festivals and galas have been canceled or scaled back to a fraction of their previous size. Many charities are now working to make the holiday season productive to make up shortfalls in revenue.

2) The repressiveness of the Hong Kong police was further exposed when police chased down and tackled a 12 year old girl in a shopping mall. Video footage of several police officers pinning the hapless girl down on the floor went viral worldwide with a public outcry over the excess use of force against political dissenters. The incident touched off angry shouts from onlookers. The police tactics are being criticized as an indiscriminate treatment of children who are not taking part in protest. The girl complained she felt targeted because of her age, that being young has become a crime in Hong Kong, further increasing concerns that the regime is targeting their young for repression.

3) The markets continue their decline after a five week winning streak as investors begin to worry about stretched valuations. The decline is being lead by the technology stocks, which has met a heavy decline for the tech-heavy Nasdaq. Remarks by President Donald Trump to decouple the U.S. economy from China further added to the market’s jitters. The high flying technology company Tesla has suffered it worst one day loss since March with an 18% drop in the price of its stock.

4) Stock market closings for – 8 SEP 20:

Dow 27,500.89 down 632.42
Nasdaq 10,847.69 down 465.44
S&P 500 3,331.84 down 95.12

10 Year Yield: down at 0.68%

Oil: oil down $36.62

21 July 2020

1) Another major U.S. airline, Southwest Airlines, is facing reduction in staff as the airline business continues to contract with little expectation of returning to its pre-corona days of business. About 24% of Southwest pilots and 33% of flight attendants have agreed to early retirement or long term leaves of absence. This accounts for about 4,400 employees who have decided to leave permanently with another 12,500 for extended emergency time off. Southwest is trying to avoid its first involuntary job cuts in its 49 year history. The company says that passenger numbers will have to triple by year end to eliminate the need for layoffs. There is growing evidence that the airline business is fundamentally changing.

2) The freight truck company TuSimple is building the world’s first network of self driving delivery trucks by 2024. The autonomous semi truck-trailers will operate across the America. TuSimple has partnered with UPS, Penske Truck Leasing, US Xpress and McLane for this autonomous freight network project. TuSimple is creating digital routes, terminals and a monitoring system in three phases that tracks its truck. Phase I is until end of 2021 to bring autonomous trucking services to Phoenix and Tucson in Arizona, plus El Paso, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio in Texas. Phase II, from 2022 till 2023, will expand the network coast to coast with a line from Los Angeles to Jacksonville in Florida. Finally, phase III between 2023 and 2024, will expand service nation wide to 48 states.

3) Both automakers GM and Ford have lost 27% of their market value this year, while electric car maker Tesla continues its unbelievable rise in the market. The reasons for the decline are different for the two companies. Ford sales relied too heavily on the F-150. While GM continues to sell more cars in the U.S. and worldwide, it’s hammered by the pandemic and failure in China, the world’s largest car market.

4) Stock market closings for – 20 JUL 20:

Dow 26,680.87 up 8.92 %
Nasdaq 10,767.09 up 263.90
S&P 500 3,251.84 up 27.11

10 Year Yield: down at 0.62%

Oil: up at $40.70

2 July 2020

1) The airline industry is one of the hardest hit segments of the economy from the pandemic, with an estimated 36% drop in traffic this year. But the International Air Transport Association is warning that it could worsen with a 53% drop if boarder curbs on emerging market countries and the U.S. remain in place. The U.S. – EU (European Union) air travel market generates $29 billion dollars a year is threaten by the ban on non essential flights from the U.S. as the EU attempts to avoid an resurgence of the virus. Air travel was down over 90% for April and May, with little prospects for improvement in the near future, leaving the future of air carriers in doubt too.

2) The maker of electric automobiles Tesla has become the world’s most valuable automaker, surpassing Toyota’s for the first time on record. Tesla’s valuation is roughly $206.5 billion dollars compared with Toyota’s valuation of about $202 billion dollars. This underscores the vast investor enthusiasm for the automaker, which has yet to turn a profit on an annual basis. While it’s valuation exceeds Toyota, its car production of 103,000 cars lags far behind Toyota’s production of 2.4 million vehicles. The valuation comes from the stock in the company, with investors piling money in since there aren’t any other electric vehicles investments available, with Tesla stock soaring to $1,135 per share.

3) Electricity bills are set to surge this summer because of millions of Americans sheltering in place. This added demand will mean higher electricity costs for months to come. This will mean an additional $30 to $40 per month on electric bills in cities like New York and Philadelphia. Increases are anticipated to be highest for the northeast area of the country, decreasing when going westward. This comes when people’s finances are already stretched tight because of the coronavirus crisis.

4) Stock market closings for – 1 JUL 20:

Dow 25,734.97 down 77.91
Nasdaq 10,154.63 up 95.86
S&P 500 3,115.86 up 15.57

10 Year Yield: up at 0.68%

Oil: down at $39.71

12 May 20:

1) Economic advisers are urging the reopening of the economy as quickly as possible to reduce unemployment rates, which they fear are already above 20%. But despite the risk of permanent economic damage, public health experts warn that reopening nonessential businesses could lead to a flare up of the pandemic. This could mean unemployment worst than the 1930’s great depression with a true unemployment rate reaching 25%. However, there are early reports that China is experiencing a recurrence of the coronavirus after they’ve started their reopening process, so the warnings of health experts isn’t to be taken lightly. While some officials state that 80% of the unemployment is from furloughs and expect very rapid re-employment with the ending of the shutdown, there remains the very real problem of how fast they can be rehired. With a large portion of businesses now strapped for cash, they will have to restart slowly as money permits. No doubt, many will have gone bust during the shutdown, having already run out of money, while many more will be cash starved for weeks, months or even years, teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

2) Toyota Motor company plans to cut North American production by about a third before October, with expectations that it will be some time before production is restored to present levels. The company will build about 800,000 vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico, a number which is down 29% from the same time last year.

3) The electric automaker Tesla, controlled by Elon Musk, has filed a federal lawsuit Saturday against Alameda County in California to reverse the closing of the auto plant. The Tesla’s plant in Fremont, California was closed by health orders from the county and remain closed for social distancing reasons. Additionally, Musk is threatening to move the manufacturing plant to a more business friendly state such as Texas or Nevada, considering the regulation to be the last straw. In the last few years, California has faced a ‘business drain’ as significant number of businesses and skilled/educated workers move out of California for states offering more opportunity.

4) Stock market closings for – 11 MAY 20:

Dow 24,221.99 down 109.33
Nasdaq 9,192.34 up 71.02
S&P 500 2,930.32 up 0.52

10 Year Yield: up at 0.73%

Oil: at up at $25.38

9 April 2020

1) The electric auto maker Tesla announced it is furloughing workers as well as cutting employee salaries as a result of the coronavirus shutdown of its facilities. Furthermore, the virus pandemic has slashed demand for cars and forced several other automakers to furlough workers. Barring any significant changes, Tesla plans to resume normal operations on May 4. Salary reductions will start on April 13 and remain in place until the end of the second quarter. Workers salaries are cut by 10%, directors by 20% and vice presidents by 30%. The company considers it has sufficient cash reserves to weather the shutdown.

2) Nuro’s driverless delivery vehicles has received another approval. California’s DMV has given a permit for Nuro to operate in specific parts of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. While test have been permitted since 2017, a human monitor was required, but these vehicles will be fully autonomous having no humans. This is another step in the rapidly changing retail market, which is embracing wide spread automation in its sales, as robots become more involved in consumerism activities.

3) The number of deaths projected for the coronvirus has been lowered, but there are fears of a ‘second wave’ to follow. The pandemic model has scaled back its projected death toll by 26% to 60,000 however, if social distancing practices are not maintained, a second wave of infections may ensue. So far, about 400,000 coronavirus cases have been reported with roughly 13,000 deaths. But even the revised forecast suggest months of infection troubles for the United States. About 94% of the population has been ordered to stay at home.

4) Stock market closings for – 8 APR 20:

Dow 23,433.57 up 779.71
Nasdaq 8,090.90 up 203.64
S&P 500 2,749.98 up 90.57

10 Year Yield: up at 0.76%

Oil: up at $26.14

6 March 2020

1) The devastation that the coronavirus fears has wrought on Europe’s tourist industry is brought into glaring focus in front of the famous Mona Lisa painting in Paris. Where there would normally be a continuous surge of admiring people to view the art classic, now just vacant space. The same at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the normally long lines of waiting people to get in, are also gone. The drop in tourism is costing the EU (European Union) $1.1 billion dollars a month, just when the high season is getting under way. Expectations are that it will only get worst as the year progresses.

2) General Motors is making an all out effort to dominate the EV (Electric Vehicle) market and in the process beat Tesla at its own game. GM has developed new battery modules called Ultium that is said to reduce the cost of batteries and therefore make more affordable EVs. Plans are to offer 20 new EVs by 2023, both in America and China, with marketing plans to sell one million electric cars in the next five years. However, the UAW is concerned that EVs will hurt the union because they require less manpower to assemble. Presently, GM holds over 3,000 patents on electric automobile design.

3) Seattle area school district has closed down its 33 schools of more than 23 thousand kids for up to two weeks due to the coronavirus threat. These students will use online teaching during this time through Google Apps for Education. Students needing a device or internet connection will be provided with one. Teaching staff have been provided with a one day instruction on using the apps and how to monitor the progress of their students. ATS (Automated Teaching Systems) has been on the cusp of revolutionizing American schools, and the coronavirus may provide the impetus to open the market to wide spread commercialization.

4) Stock market closings for – 5 MAR 20: The instability of the markets continue with wild swings of the trading indexes.

Dow 26,121.28 down 969.58
Nasdaq 8,738.60 down 279.49
S&P 500 3,023.94 down 106.18

10 Year Yield: down at 0.93%

Oil: down at $46.13

6 February 2020

1) For the first time in six years, the U.S. trade deficit fell as the White House’s trade war with China curbed imports. The trade deficit dropped 1.7% to $616.8 billion dollars last year with steep decline in industrial materials and supplies, consumer goods and other goods. The trade deficit for goods with Mexico jumped to a record high of $101.8 billion dollars last year, with the European Union reaching an all time high of $177.9 billion dollars.

2) The Ford Motor Company is posting a$1.7 billion dollar loss and anticipates a weak forecast for 2020. General Motors is also reporting poor performance for 2019 and anticipates flat profits for 2020. Both Ford and GM’s troubles are in part from slaking sales in China, in particular with the economic slowdown in China from the coronavirus pandemic. The major competitor to the duet auto makers, Tesla, is suffering from the coronavirus closing of its Shanghai factory which builds its Model 3 sedans.

3) Macy’s, another major world renowned retailer, is experiencing the brick-and-mortar decline of other major traditional retailers. The chain is closing 125 of its stores, in addition to the 100 stores it has already closed, and cutting about 2,000 corporate jobs. Their strategy is to exit weaker shopping malls and focus towards opening smaller format stores in strip centers. But even with these changes, the future of Macy’s is abysmal. The company has lost market share in core categories such as apparel, as fewer shoppers take trips to malls, preferring on line shopping.

4) Stock market closings for – 5 FEB 20:

Dow                 29,290.85    up    483.22
Nasdaq             9,508.68    up      40.71
S&P 500            3,334.69    up      37.10

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.65%

Oil:    up   at    $51.17

28 January 2020

1) The threat of coronavirus spreading has caused stock markets to sharply fall over fears of the virus’ impact on the world economy. The death toll in China has risen to 81, and a fifth case has occurred in America. With China the biggest driver of global growth, the virus started in the place where it could have the biggest impact. There are worries that this virus caused market dip could spark a major correction in the markets.

2) General Motors plans to go all electric at its Detroit Hamtramck plant starting next year. GM is committing a $2.2 billion dollar investment in the factory to include $800 million dollars on tooling and projects related to trucks. The plant will be GM’s second builder of plugin models of cars. Only Tesla has sold electric cars in significant volume so far. The Hamtramck plant will employ 2,200 workers.

3) With the Federal Reserve’s bond portfolio swelling at a pace not seen since the 2010s, the Feds are faced with the tricky maneuver of turning the tap off soon. A misstep could have painful consequences, with the risk of what happens when the Feds stops increasing their balance sheet. Questions arise over what will happen to the stock markets when that liquidity spigot closes. This is part of the process called quantitative easing.

4) Stock market closings for – 27 JAN 20: The spread of coronavirus pushes markets down.

Dow               28,535.80    down    453.93
Nasdaq            9,139.31    down    175.60
S&P 500           3,243.63    down      51.84

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.60%

Oil:    down   at    $52.83