25 March 2021

1) There is a large backup of freighters parked in the San Francisco Bay and in Long Beach, which are awaiting an opening at the Port of Oakland. This is because of a trade bottleneck, a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, thereby leaving U.S. businesses anxiously awaiting goods from Asia. The pandemic has wreaked havoc with the supply chain since early 2020, because it forced the closure of factories throughout China. The problem arose last March, when Americans stayed home, thus dramatically changing their buying habits. Instead of clothes, they bought electronics, fitness equipment and home improvement products. In turn U.S. companies responded by flooding the reopened Asian factories with orders, which then lead to a chain reaction of congestion at ports and freight hubs as the goods began arriving. Ships with as many as 14,000 containers have sat offshore, some of them for over a week, with as many as 40 ships waiting.

2) The manufacturing crisis with automakers continues to grow, with the auto industry bracing for more chip shortages after a fire at a plant owned by Japanese chipmaker Renesas. The company makes chips for Toyota, Nissan and Honda, and expects production at one of the buildings at its Naka Factory in Hitachinaka to be halted for a month. Renesas said the fire started when some equipment overheated and ignited, though it isn’t known what caused it to overheat. Renesas said two-thirds of the products made in the building could be produced elsewhere, although due to the recent increase in demand for semiconductors, the situation does not allow for all products to be immediately produced alternatively. This further reduction in semiconductor production will further reduce production of automobiles worldwide.

3) North Korea tells China they should team up as ‘Hostile Forces’. North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un reportedly praised his country’s close ties with neighboring China, looking to boost their ties to counter the hostile policies of the United States. China and North Korea’s close ties date back to the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949, then the outbreak of the Korean War a year later. In the war, Chinese troops supported North Korean forces with the backing of the Soviet Union, against South Korea and a U.S. led United Nations coalition. However, the fighting ended in a stalemate with an armistice but no official peace, which continues to this day. The North Korea considers that the world is now undergoing transformations rarely seen in a century, which is also overlapped by the ‘once in a century’ pandemic. What this portents for China and North Korea’s future actions . . . only time will tell.

4) Stock market closings for – 24 MAR 21:

Dow Jones 32,420 down by 3.09
NASDAQ 12,962 down by 265.81
S&P 500 3,889 down by 21.38

10 Year Yields: 1.6280

Oil: up at 64.41

16 February 2021

1) General Motors is the latest automaker to report that a global chip shortage is affecting its production. Other automakers include Stellantis, Volkswagen, Ford, Nissan, Subaru, Renault, Honda, Toyota, and Mazda. Chipmakers in Asia are rushing to boost production but say the supply gap will take many months to plug. The chip shortage is expected to cut global output in the first quarter by more than 670,000 vehicles and last into the third quarter, for an estimated total production lost this year reaching 1 million vehicles. When there is a shortage of semiconductors that impacts production, GM intends to build vehicles without certain modules and will complete them as soon as possible. This will help us quickly meet strong customer demand as more semiconductors become available. The shortage is affecting production of automaker’s most profitable cars: the Chevy Equinox, Colorado, GMC Canyon, and Terrain, Ford’s F-150, and Toyota’s Camry and Tundra.

2) The Pentagon has awarded contracts to Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and General Atomics to develop an air-launch, missile-packed drone. The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) handed out the contracts for Phase I design work on the LongShot unmanned air vehicle (UAV). The program is designed to use UAVs to deploy multiple air-to-air weapons. LongShot is part of the effort to allow crewed planes to launch drones from a standoff range away from enemy threats and allow the drones to close the gap and take more effective missile shots. Both the Air Force and the Navy consider that UAVs are the future in attempting to broaden their crewless arsenal both to save U.S. service person lives, and to cut costs. LongShot is likely to be designed in such a way that it can be deployed under the wing of a fighter or from the weapons bay of a bomber, which would extend its range well past whatever amount of fuel the drone is able to carry.

3) SpaceX has just crashed another test rocket, the Starship, which is designed to be 100% reusable, thus drastically dropping the cost of entering space. The Starship flew 10 kilometers up into the air, turned sideways, fell 10 kilometers back down, pivoted again to attempt a vertical landing, but failed to stick the landing. Descending too fast, it touched down more diagonal than vertical, exploding in a ball of flame on impact. However, SpaceX already has a clear solution to the problem by firing three engines in the landing burn instead of two.

4) Stock market closings for – 15 FEB 21:

Dow 31,458.40 up by 27.70
Nasdaq 14,095.47 up by 69.70
S&P 500 3,934.83 up by 18.45

10 Year Yield: up at 1.20%

Oil: up at $60.19

10 February 2021

1) Fear in American society is apparent with the soaring gun sales for this last year. Measuring, by using the Federal background checks, there have been 4.3 million checks for 2021 vs. 2.7 million for 2020. About 60% of these buyers are new buyers of guns, and about 40% are women. Sales have been so heavy that gun shops are closing because they don’t have any inventory, with people buying two and three guns at a time. The high sales are driven by fear of social unrest, rioting in major cities across the country lasting weeks on end, and fears of suppression of gun ownership by the new administration. Also, people don’t feel they can rely or trust the police to protect them anymore. Additionally, ammunition of all types has been sold out across the land.

2) The global microchip shortage for automobiles continues to spread with the next victim being Ford’s most profitable truck, the F-150 pickup. Many companies have scaled back car production because of the computer chip shortage. Ford is temporarily cutting the number of shifts in its truck production plants in half. Microchip shortages has Volkswagen production limited, and Honda and GM have also had to cut back. Nissan and Toyota have had to slow their truck production lines as well. Ford has already limited production of other models, the Escapes and Lincoln Corsairs. Modern cars have computer systems for almost every component these days, from digital speedometers to vital vehicle functions like controlling emissions and emergency brake systems. The microchip shortages isn’t confined to automobiles with manufactures of telephones, computers, appliances and home entertainment systems feeling the pinch too.

3) Unemployment agencies across the country were flooded with so many claims during the pandemic that many struggled to distinguish the correct from the criminal. Some Americans are receiving tax forms saying they owe money on unemployment benefits they never received. This is an indication of the extent of identity theft in the nation’s state run unemployment systems. Unemployment benefits are taxable, so government agencies must send a tax form to people who received them, and some Americans are receiving tax forms saying they owe money on unemployment benefits they never received. State run unemployment offices are lucrative targets for fraud particularly when the agencies are swamped with applications and not having the time and resources to check. This signals that someone has likely stole personal information and used it to claim benefits, but that data may later be used to steal an identity for more fraud. Nearly 26 million people requested unemployment aid in the initial months after states began ordering shutdowns due to the pandemic.

4) Stock market closings for – 9 DEB 21:

Dow 31,375.83 down by 9.93
Nasdaq 14,007.70 up by 20.06
S&P 500 3,911.23 down by 4.36

10 Year Yield: down at 1.16%

Oil: up at $58.39

4 February 2021

1) Two companies, AmSty and Agilyx, have announced the certified circular recycling pathway for polystyrene for recycling has been cleared. Polystyrene waste is currently being transformed from solid form to its liquid feedstock called recycled styrene monomer (RSM) at their joint venture facility, to produce circular recycled products. These products can now be put back into the marketplace with original quality. This is the major advancement in recycling polystyrene waste in a world being overrun by plastic waste.

2) QuantumScape, the solid-state battery company, debuted its stock which soared up 256% in less than a month, but then plunged 60% from the high. The solid-state battery is lighter, has greater energy density, therefore more range, lower cost and faster recharge times. But solid-state battery packs for cars are far from ready. They do away with the liquid electrolyte that makes conventional lithium-ion batteries heavy, as well as being dangerous at high temperatures. Getting solid-state batteries to the market is difficult and will take some time, so battery packs for cars are far from ready. Two things sent the company stock down. First is a January 4 report saying that QuantumScape’s batteries are small and unproven, smaller than an iWatch battery and never tested outside a lab. A few days later, the law firm Gainey McKenna and Egleston announced a class-action lawsuit against QuantumScape on behalf of investors, noting a 40 percent drop in the stock price after the story ran. QuantumScape has made clear the batteries are still in the development stage, with results from testing small prototypes instead of full power packs. Other companies, such as Toyota, General Motors, Samsung, Ford and Hyundai are working and investing in the new battery technology. The solid-state space energy storage field has been dormant for many years but now it is heating up.

3) It’s reported that China has stolen personal data from 80% of Americans using their Chinese hackers. On the news show 60 Minutes on CBS the former director of the US National Counterintelligence and Security Center disclosed that 80% of American adults have had some amount of their personally identifiable information stolen by the Communist Party of China. Furthermore, there are concerns that the Chinese regime is taking all that information about Americans, such as what we eat, how we live, when we exercise and sleep, and combining it with our DNA data. With information about heredity and environment, suddenly they know more about us than we know about ourselves.

4) Stock market closings for – 3 FEB 21:

Dow 30,723.60 up by 36.12
Nasdaq 13,610.54 down by 2.23
S&P 500 3,830.17 up by 3.86

10 Year Yield: up at 1.13%

Oil: down at $55.95

11 December 2020

1) The minerals called ‘rare earths’, is used in a wide range of products central to the American economy, and therefore is a disaster waiting to happen. Already, voices in China and the Chinese Communist Party are suggesting that supplies of rare earths to America should be curtailed to gain diplomatic and economic leverage. In 2010, China made a similar threat to Japan, then temporarily cutting off supplies over a minor diplomatic dispute. China holds 35 percent of the world’s entire rare earth supply, but has been turbocharging production, and so now accounts for 70 percent of global production. Furthermore, China supplies 80 percent of the U.S.’s rare earth imports. The rare earth minerals are a class of 17 different mineable natural elements, which can be extracted from the earth’s crust. These minerals make up crucial components of many modern technological innovations, from electric cars and solar panels to fighter jets and satellites. The permitting process in the U.S. is ridiculously long, taking up to three decades where Australia and Canada’s only require two years, thus precluding much-needed investment from taking place.

2) Entrepreneur Elon Musk has announced his intention to relocate his business center to Texas. He joins the massive migration of Californians to Texas, with 687,000 California citizens having moved to Texas in the last decade, and in addition, Texas is the number one state for corporate moves. Other major technology companies have also abandon their ‘mother state’, leaving California for Texas. Major companies such as Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. have left. Toyota moved its North American headquarters, and about 4,000 jobs, from California to Plano Texas in 2017. Musk has also moved some major operations, picking Austin as the site for Tesla’s largest U.S. assembly plant, a $1.1 billion dollar investment that’ll employ at least 5,000 workers.

3) There are suggestions that the FCC has massively overstated the availability of gigabit coverage of internet service in the U.S. The FCC reported that gigabit internet was available to 84% of Americans, but independent numbers show it’s closer to 56% and possibly even less. This discrepancy is a result of the method used by FCC research, by counting all houses as having the gigabit service in an area when only some number of houses actually have the service. The larger issue is limited access to high-speed broadband internet for those households located in rural areas and low-income urban areas.

4) Stock market closings for – 10 DEC 20:
Dow 29,999.26 down by 69.55
Nasdaq 12,405.81 up by 66.86
S&P 500 3,668.10 down by 4.72
10 Year Yield: down at 0.91%
Oil: up at $46.97

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

29 May 2019

1) Reports continue of a General Motors and Ford merger in the near future, both are in deep financial trouble. The proposed merger would make the new company the third largest in the world, behind Toyota and Volkswagen. Car sales have flattened in the U.S. and are dropping in China, which are the two largest car markets in the world. There are also questions of how successful Ford can enter the electric and hybrid car markets.

2) Amazon, the worlds largest retailer, is starting to purge many of its small vendors, and concentrate on large major brands like Lego, Procter & Gamble and Sony to better compete with the large traditional retailers such as Target and Walmart. This will be one of the biggest shifts in Amazon’s strategy since it started using independent sellers, and is scaring the daylights out of many smaller companies.

3) The prices for homes is rising at its slowest pace in six years, down 2.7% from last year’s 3%. Price gains in hot cities like San Francisco have cooled, which is causing sellers to pull in their price increases. The home and auto segments of the economy constitute one half of the U.S. economy.

4) 28 MAY 19 Stock market closings:

Dow              25,347.77    down    237.92
Nasdaq           7,607.35    down      29.66
S&P 500          2,802.39     down     23.67

10 Year Yield:    down   at    2.27%

Oil:    down   at    $59.06

7 February 2019

1) American trade deficient continues to fall, now down to $49.3 billion dollars. This is a decline of 11.5% from last October’s $55.7 billion dollars. American exports fell, but imports fell even fast to give a net decline of the trade deficient.

2) Daimler has experienced a financial downturn while Toyota’s improved. Daimler’s fourth quarter net profit fell 49% even though revenue is up 7%. Sales are down for their luxury automobiles because of trade wars and bottle necks such as environmental certifications.

3) Boeing Aircraft is being sued for a wildfire that devastated Malibu California. The suit alleges that Boeing was negligent in the management of vegetation which allow the fire to spread. The fire resulted in three deaths, burned 100,000 acres while destroying 1,500 structures.

4) 6 FEB 19   Stock market closings:

Dow               25,390.30     down    21.22
Nasdaq             7,375.28     down    26.80
S&P 500            2,731.61     down      6.09

10 Year Yield:     unchanged    2.70%

Oil:     down   at    $54.00