30 July 2020

1) First Walmart then Target and Dick’s Sporting Goods and now Best Buy have announced they will be closed on Thanksgiving, with more retailers expected to follow suit. The decision is in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Traditionally, Thanksgiving Day is the kick off of Black Friday sales, where retailers offer their lowest sales prices as the kickoff of the Christmas shopping season. But this also draws large crowds, something that goes against public health guidelines for social distancing. Instead, retailers will be offering their big sales online.

2) The spending habits of millennials had been credited with the decline of traditional consumer products, but now seem to be reversing for comebacks. Things like golf, starter homes and canned tuna are now on the rise, in part because of the covid-19 crisis. Some other products now on the rise is beer, mayo and cereal to name a few. More indications of how economic times in America are ever changing and becoming more unpredictable.

3) The pandemic crisis has sent the U.S. Postal Service into a fiscal tailspin, with President Trump saying he would not support a financial bailout until the Postoffice reformed its pricing of package deliveries for large on-line retailers like Amazon. But the federal government is preparing a $10 billion dollar loan to the Postoffice to continue services. This loan is part of the proposed $2 trillion dollar pandemic relief package passed in March, but the President said he wont spend the money until the USPS agrees to raise its prices. Much of the online retail business is dependent on the USPS to deliver their goods via mail delivery.

4) Stock market closings for – 29 JUL20:

Dow 26,539.57 up 160.29
Nasdaq 10,542.94 up 140.85
S&P 500 3,258.44 up 40.00

10 Year Yield: down at 0.58%

Oil: up at $41.32

9 July 2020

1) In a move that shows just how much troubled the airline industry is, United Airlines is sending out layoff warnings to half of its U.S. staff, or about 36,000 employees. The world’s airline industry has be devastated by the coronavirus crisis, with the prospects for recovery in air travel dimming in just the past two weeks because of a rise in infections. The ‘36,000 people’ is a worst case scenario, with United striving to minimize layoffs through things like early retirement packages. Air travel had plunged 95% from March to April, and has been making a slow recovery. Still air travel is down 70%.

2) After more than fifteen months since being grounded for safety, Boeing’s 737 MAX is finally getting close to winning approval to fly again. But it’s not expected the aircraft will actually start carrying passengers until late this year at the earliest. Now with a history of missed deadlines, neither Boeing or the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) will say when the airplane will be approved to fly passengers. But after the aircraft is certified, there will still be months of training before the 737 MAX can actually operate. The good news is the test flights signal the certification is nearing its end. Once the U.S. has granted approval, Boeing will start the process of certification in a number of other countries which the 737 will operate out of. Plus, the 400 aircraft built during the grounding will need to be modified and tested before they can be delivered. The biggest question is how much and how long the airline industry will need to recover from the pandemic.

3) President Trump is threatening to cut off funding for schools that do not reopen this fall. It’s unclear just how the federal government could exert significant financial pressure on states and local school systems. The President is also in disagreement with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for their reopening.

4) Stock market closings for – 8 JUL 20:

Dow 26,067.28 up 177.10
Nasdaq 10,492.50 up 148.61
S&P 500 3,169.94 up 24.62

Year Yield: up at 0.65%

Oil: up at $40.93

10 June 2020

1) President Trump is slipping in the polls, and this may pose a risk to the markets. Even though the wild swings of the markets have subsided and then surged upwards, with the Democrat Joe Biden gaining in the polls, there is concerns that the markets will take a down turn as Biden becomes stronger. The President is facing criticism over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the protest from the killing of George Floyd by the police. A victory by Joe Biden and a Democratic sweep are considered more ‘market unfriendly’ outcomes. Taxes are one major area of contrast between the candidates, with taxes a major concern for American businesses. These fears are fueled by the Dow sliding downwards for the first time this month as the rally pauses.

2) Borrowing by the British government to pay for the coronavirus shutdown is soaring to levels not seen since World War II. This is on top of the financial problems from Brexit with Britain’s debt jumping five-fold to a 300 billion pound deficit ($380 billion dollars) . This could leave Britain with a 2.2 trillion pound debt and the need to raise taxes with an impact on economic growth. Britain is funding this expenditure with sales of bonds, but have fears of a Greece style loss of confidence among investors. The government is hoping for a fast recovery after restrictions are lifted, allowing the debt to quickly be paid down.

3) There are fears that the U.S. dollar is entering a bear market so may no longer be the safe haven for investors. This bear market could go for five to ten years. This would occur if the global economy really is bottoming out and thereby rebound again, while U.S. interest rates are at zero, with potential growth lower than the merging markets. The U.S. dollar is depreciating against many international peer currencies these last few days.

4) Stock market closings for – 9 JUN 20:

Dow 27,272.30 down 300.14
Nasdaq 9,953.75 up 29.01
S&P 500 3,207.18 down 25.21

10 Year Yield: down at 0.83%

Oil: down at $38.39

2 June 2020

1) Experts say it could take as much as a decade for America’s economy to fully recover from the coronavirus and the subsequent massive shutdown of businesses. Presently, it’s expected that the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) will decrease about 3% from 2020 to 2030 or about $7.9 trillion dollars. It’s expected that the measures to counter the virus, the business closures and social distancing measures, will reduce consumer spending, which in turn will cool the economy. With 41 million people now unemployed, more layoffs are expected for the next week with an unemployment rate of 19.6%. Furthermore, it’s expected that the coronavirus will cost the economic about $7.9 trillion dollars.

2) The reopening of America from the lockdown was going to be difficult enough, but now the growing violence of protest is threatening to hamper that recovery. Stores in the protest areas are closing for the protection of its employees such as CVS and Target, with doubts mounting if some of the stores will ever reopen. Mayor Lightfood of Chicago said the continuing violence is making the city reconsider the opening of Chicago’s businesses. Also, the wireless carriers T-Mobile has closed Metro and Sprint stores over the same consideration of possible violence.

3) China has stopped some imports of U.S. farm products such as soybeans and pork meat. This is the latest sign that the January phase one trade deal between the world’s two largest economies is unraveling. The halts come after President Trump’s criticism of China’s efforts to bring Hong Kong under the firm control of the communist. The president is threatening to strip Hong Kong of some of it’s special privileges, which in turn would make Hong Kong less valuable economically to China. Further aggravating U.S. and Chinese relations is the charges that China shares some responsibility for the Convid-19 pandemic.

4) Stock market closings for – 1 JUN 20:

Dow 25,475.02 up 91.91
Nasdaq 9,552.05 up 62.18
S&P 500 3,055.73 up 11.42

10 Year Yield: up at 0.66%

Oil: up at $35.56

11 May 2020

1) The Money market mutual funds have traditionally been the ultimate haven for investors wanting to preserve capital, but this is increasingly difficult in a zero interest rate environment. The problem centers on having twice as much cash as typical. The money market funds have soared with assets at a record high of $4.77 trillion dollars because of the flight to safety this year by investors. Of that, about 75% of those assets are in Treasury and other government funds perceived as the lest risky and therefor least likely to actually lose value. The U.S. Treasury has issued in excess of $1.5 trillion dollars to fund the stimulus program and the loss of tax revenues. With interest rates near zero, some fund companies are waving management fees in order to preserve returns for clients, otherwise their clients would actually be losing money.

2) The rural department chain store Stage Stores, who predominantly caters to the rural areas and small to mid-size markets, is also experiencing the crunch on retailing. The company’s owners are preparing for bankruptcy , another casualty of the coronavirus pandemic. The chain has about 700 department stores in small towns and rural communities with about 13,600 full and part time employees. The classic retailer JC Penny is reportedly preparing to also file for bankruptcy including plans to permanently close a quarter of its 850 stores. The company missed a $17 million dollar debt payment and is going into default. The cruise ship line Norwegian Cruise Line in Miami has warned the company could go out of business because of the pandemic. The company has $6 billion dollars in long term debt, plus it’s faced with a huge number of clients demanding their money back for cruises already booked.

3) The U.S. Postal Service is reporting a huge loss, a direct result of the coronavirus crisis. The government owned corporation reported a $4.5 billion dollar loss for the first quarter. The USPS anticipates losses for the next 18 months amid steep declines in revenues. They have warned congress that government assistance is required if they are to continue delivering the mail. The congress has authorized the Treasury Department to lend the USPS up to $10 billion dollars as part of the $2.3 trillion dollar stimulus package, but President Trump has threaten to block that aid.

4) Stock market closings for – 8 MAY 20:

Dow 24,331.32 up 455.43
Nasdaq 9,121.32 up 141.66
S&P 500 2,929.80 up 48.61

10 Year Yield: up 0.68%

Oil: up at $26.04

30 April 2020

1) Experts are speculating on the interest rates going negative in the near future, something that President Trump wants. Negative interest rates have been a reality in the EU (European Union), with studies showing that investors do not significantly increase their equity holdings as interest rates decline. But when the rates go negative, they start increasing their equity holdings significantly. This in turn is a big boost to the stock market. Interest rates are an excellent predictor of long range growth potential, today’s level reflecting the markets expectation of sustained low future growth.

2) Larry Kudlow, the top White House economist, is calling for stimulate measures before a slowdown of the economy. Measures include tax breaks such as payroll tax holiday and deregulation of small businesses. This is in anticipation of growth in the second quarter worse than in the first, which shrank 4.8%. Additionally, he supports a second stimulus package to create incentives to grow in the medium and long term. Also more investment in infrastructure should be included.

3) After posting a massive first quarter loss, Boeing has announced they will slash staff and production of about 16,000 people or about 10% of its personnel. Demand for air travel evaporated because of the coronavirus, so Boeing is drastically scaling back production of the two widebody passenger jets, its 787 Dreamliner and the 777. Boeing lost $1.7 billion dollars, while shutting down its factories, because of the pandemic, added another $137 million dollar lost.

4) Stock market closings for – 29 APR 20:

Dow 24,633.86 up 532.31
Nasdaq 8,914.71 up 306.98
S&P 500 2,939.51 up 76.12

10 Year Yield: up at 0.63%

Oil: up at $15.35

27 April 2020

1) People are tantalized by the incredibly low oil prices, thinking only of lower gas prices. But economically, there is much more to oil and its low price. First, there is the destruction of America’s shale oil (fracking) industry, which has made us independent of foreign oil. There are fears that if oil doesn’t pick up, then the world could see a major shift in global power. The economies of several nations are very dependent on oil sales, the revenue being the bulk of their GDP. For instance, Saudi Arabia’s oil revenues account for 60 percent of its GDP (Gross Domestic Product), two-thirds of its budget, and nearly three-quarters of its exports. For Russia, one-third of its GDP is petroleum, half its budget, and two-thirds of its exports. The turbulent Middle East has states with greater dependence on oil: including Iran, Iraq, Qatar, and Kuwait. For America, oil accounts for only 8% of our GDP. The coronavirus pandemic has drastically reduce oil consumption world wide, and if it’s slow in returning to pre-pandemic levels, some countries could find themselves in serious financial and geopolitical trouble, with their influence waning and other nations displacing them in the world pecking order. It’s anyone guess how things could settle out and in whose favor.

2) Amazon has been using data about independent sellers on its platform to develop competing products, which their stated policies forbid. Such practices would give the online retailer tremendous advantage in competing against similar products, but is using proprietary information. Information includes total sales, vendor cost for Amazon’s marketing and shipping, and how much Amazon made on each sale, and other non-public information.

3) President Trump stated he would veto an emergency loan for the U.S. Postal Service if the USPS didn’t immediately raise its prices for package delivery. The President considers package delivery prices need to be four times the present charges. He has been critical of the USPS for years, considering the postal service problems are a result of mismanagement.

4) Stock market closings for – 24 APR 20:

Dow 23,775.27 up 260.01
Nasdaq 8,634.52 up 139.77
S&P 500 2,836.74 up 38.94

10 Year Yield: down at 0.60%

Oil: up at $17.18

2 April 2020

1) One developing economic crisis from the coronavirus is non-payment of rents. Renters tend to have less cash reserves than home owners, and for those renters not working, a large number will not be able to pay their monthly rent. Many are calling for the federal government to suspend rent payments until the crises is over, while others are calling for a rent boycotts to force landlords into accommodations. A wave of evictions could cause large numbers of people to fall below the poverty line, and worst yet greatly increase the number of homeless Americans.

2) Tuesday, President Trump warned of a very painful next two weeks, with projections of 100,000 to as much as 240,000 coronavirus deaths in the U.S. The news caused another shock to the markets with stocks again dropping shapely. With tremendous uncertainty, the markets are very unstable and therefore subject to sharp up and down swings. Both the Dow and S & P have had their worst first quarter in history. Oil too, continues with its low prices making for its worst month and quarter in history from both the coronavirus shutdown and the Saudi Arabia-Russia price war.

3) With the sudden surge in coronavirus patients, hospitals around America are running low on drugs needed to treat those patients. Some of the drugs are officially in shortage, with use of others skyrocketing and expected to quickly become into short supply. Also in short supply are antibiotics like azithromycind and antivirals like chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. Other drugs associated with patients using ventilators are quickly becoming scarce. Non prescription drugs such as vitamin C have seen a sharp increase in purchases.

4) Stock market closings for – 1 APR 20:

Dow 20,943.51 down 973.65
Nasdaq 7,360.58 down 339.52
S&P 500 2,470.50 down 114.09

10 Year Yield: down at 0.64%

Oil: up at $21.20

1 April 2020

1) To aid in economic recovery, President Trump is calling for a $2 trillion dollar spending plan to update the country’s infrastructure. Monies would be used to update the country’s roads, bridges and other parts of the physical infrastructure. This would be part of Phase 4 response to the coronavirus crisis. The President said that with interest rates at zero, this is the ideal time to address our declining infrastructure.

2) There are growing fears of the devastation that the coronavirus has and continues to wrought on America’s economy. Layoffs are coming faster than unemployment offices can accommodate, increasing fears about making mortgage and loan payments, malls and shopping centers devoid of people with only the essential commerce. Economist are now forecasting a real GDP growth of negative 9% for the first quarter and minus 34% for the second. There is expected to be 4.5 million filings for jobless benefits this week, which will be the highest in history. While there are hopes for a quick turn around, the damage may be too great to quickly return to the economic boom prior to the virus.

3) Founders of the European Union (EU) have always feared that Italy’s proliferate borrowing would ultimately become the EU’s problem. Now with Italy’s coronavirus problems, the country is having to borrow again to care for its people, in turn pushing up its debt to dangerous levels which the EU will have to cover. This is made doubly critical with other EU member’s economies shaken by the shutdowns from the virus. Presently, Italy’s debt level is approaching 150% of its gross domestic product and may well surpass that.

4) Stock market closings for – 31 MAR 20:

Dow 21,917.16 down 410.32
Nasdaq 7,700.10 down 74.05
S&P 500 2,584.59 down 42.06

10 Year Yield: up at 0.70%

Oil: down at $20.10

23 January 2020

1) Present Trump has renewed his threats to impose tariffs on imported cars from Europe, citing that the European Union is even more difficult to do business with than China. His comments signals he is turning his attention to renegotiating trade deals with the bloc. Automobiles have been at the center of trade tensions for the past couple of years.

2) The millennials own just 4% of American real estate by value, much less than the 32% which baby boomers owned. This comparison is with approximately the same media age of the two groups, meaning the millennials are far behind the baby boomers economically. While millennials may close that gap in the next four years, it’s unlikely they will reach 20% ownership, still far behind the baby boomers.

3) There is a rash of retail store closings after the holiday season, due to sales slump. Fashion retailer Express is closing 91 stores, Bed Bath & Beyond is closing 60 , Schurman Retail Group is closing its Papyrus and American Greeting stores for a total of 254 locations in the next four to six weeks. Express is the latest in a serious of fashion retailers to close, part of the struggle of malls to compete in the new retail arena. Last year, retailers Forever 21 filed for bankruptcy, with Charlotte Russe and Payless ShoeSource going out of business.

4) Stock market closings for – 22 JAN 20:

Dow            29,186.27    down       9.77
Nasdaq         9,383.77          up     12.96
S&P 500        3,321.75          up       0.96

10 Year Yield:       unchanged   at    1.77%

Oil:         down   at    $56.17