25 September 2020

1) Tim Kendall, former Facebook director of monetization, says that Facebook “took a page from Big Tobacco’s play book, working to make our offering addictive at the outset.” The greater the usage of Facebook by people, the greater Facebook’s revenues, so it behooves the company to make its service as addictive at possible, as soon as possible with new people. But this drive to maximize engagements entails building algorithms that facilitate the spread of misinformation, encourages divisive rhetoric thereby laying the groundwork for a mental health crisis. While met to be a device for entertainment, Facebook is in fact tearing people apart with alarming speed and intensity. He fears that American’s are pushing ourselves to the brink of civil war. Presently, Section 230 is a law that makes social media platforms immune to legal liability for the content of users’ posts. But there are growing number of people calling for reforms.
2) California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed an executive order that bans the sale of all but electric and fuel cell cars by 2035. But legal experts say the order is ‘borderline worthless’, that there isn’t anyway to enforce it. The objective is to do away with the internal combustion engine in California by mandating an increasingly larger percentage of new car sales must be zero emissions machines starting with 2% for 1998, 5% by 2001, 10% for 2003 and etcetera. California auto dealers challenged the order in court and got it somewhat diluted. Nevertheless, it’s another step in the race to electrify California’s cars.
3) Half the people who lost their jobs from the pandemic are still unemployed, while 60% who did return to work have taken a cut in pay. As of 12 September, 12.6 million Americans are receiving unemployment benefits, with an unemployment rate at 8.4%. The lower income workers are more likely to still be unemployed. The bottom line, the virus crisis lead to a unprecedented loss of jobs and six months later, America is still a long ways from recovery. The crisis has caused a split in America’s labor force, the higher earners are going one direction while the lower paid ones are going another.
4) Stock market closings for – 24 SEP 20:
Dow 26,815.44 up 52.31
Nasdaq 10,672.27 up 39.28
S&P 500 3,246.59 up 9.67
10 Year Yield: down at 0.67%
Oil: up at $40.28

11 September 2020

1) The new jobless numbers indicate the U.S. job losses persist with claims higher than was forecasts. Jobless claims were unchanged at 884,000 for last week, with the total number of people on unemployment rising by 93,000 to a total of 13.4 million people. Prior to the pandemic, new claims were about 212,000 a week with 1.7 million people on unemployment. What is concerning is the pace of layoffs has not slowed with the economy opening up, adding to fears of a second round of Convid-19 outbreaks. It appears that millions of Americans are heading for long term unemployment with most running out of unemployment benefits after 26 weeks.

2) Quantafuel AS, a Norwegian company established in 2014, who makes diesel fuel from plastic waste, is a success having tripled its value, which is now at $1 billion dollars. This is a time when the world is struggling over what to do with the monumental qualitites of plastic waste that continues to grow at an alarming rate. Even more welcomed is Quantafuel addressing the demand for fuel oils. Their process is more environmentally friendly than incineration of plastic. The company is increasing the production of its present plant and has plans to build additional plants with the goal of boosting production 100 fold in the next decade. No doubt, the Chinese will be showing great interest in this process because of their very limited oil resources.

3) One side effect of the coronavirus pandemic is limiting efforts to root out slavery across the world, because companies and investors are unable to visit factory floors in many countries. Even before the pandemic started, there was an estimated 40 million people working in slave like conditions, with the economic shock of the virus making people more vulnerable to exploitation. Companies are facing increasing legal obligations to ensure their supply chain doesn’t include slave labor.

4) Stock market closings for – 10 SEP 20:

Dow 27,534.58 down 405.89
Nasdaq 10,919.59 down 221.97
S&P 500 3,339.19 down 59.77

10 Year Yield: down at 0.68%

Oil: down at $37.00

8 September 2020

1) About two-thirds of the restaurants in New York are expected to permanently close by the end of this year. Restaurants in New York State are not allowed to do indoor dining, only takeout and outdoor dining is permitted. Therefore, a major portion of New York restaurants are unable to meet their revenue requirements without the indoor dinning. Surveys indicated that 64% of restaurant owners are likely to close by the end of this year, and about 55% to shut down before November, which amounts to a collapse of the restaurant industry in New York State. A group of 100 restaurant owners are banning together to launch a class action lawsuit to open up indoor dining.

2) In August, the American economy added 1.37 million jobs, which was above the 1.32 million forecasted by economist. The big winners were the Government and Retail trade, with the 2020 censes accounting for much of the government’s increase in jobs, but like the censes itself, those jobs will be temporary. The job increase in retail is a result of retail stores opening back up, and so those jobs should remain, baring losses from stores closing from failure. With the growing signs that the U.S. economy is improving and jobs are coming back, there is less pressure on Congress to pass a new fiscal stimulus package. The unemployment rate has fallen below 10% to 8.4%, but is still a long way from the 3.5% before the pandemic.

3) The hopes of a comfortable retirement are continually dimming for the youth of America because of a number of reasons. The increase life span after retirement means more money is needed to cover retirement. Retired people are still subject to economic downfalls such as the Great Recession of 08 that robbed workers of earning power. The age of private pensions is gone, with workers now expected to provide all their own retirement out of their own pockets. This goes hand and hand with Social Security’s money reserves dropping as more retirees take their pension. Interest rates are low, making saving for retirement unproductive while the stock market is risky, plus people are reaching retirement with more debt and therefore requiring more money to sustain themselves. The average American needs to have three quarters of a million dollars to retire and be able to maintain their standard of living.

4) Stock market closings for – 4 SEP 20:

Dow 28,133.31 down 159.42
Nasdaq 11,313.13 down 144.97
S&P 500 3,426.96 down 28.10

10 Year Yield: up at 0.72%

Oil: down at $39.51

For- 7 SEP 20:

Dow 28,133.31 down 159.42
Nasdaq 11,313.13 down 144.97
S&P 500 3,426.96 down 28.10

10 Year Yield: up at 0.72%

Oil: down at $39.15

20 August 2020

1) Boeing Aircraft has received its first 737 MAX orders since 2019, from Enter Air, a Polish charter airline that exclusively uses only Boeing airplanes. They have ordered two 737 MAX with an option to order two more. With the option, this would bring its MAX fleet to ten aircraft. Frzegorz Polaniecki, the general director and board member of Enter Air, said he’s convinced the 737 MAX will be the best aircraft in the world for many years to come. This order for two aircraft pales in comparison to Boeing’s July net negative order of 836 aircraft, but it’s a start in the right direction. Cancellation of Boeing aircraft sales have far outpaced new orders this year because of the pandemic. The last six months, Boeing has faced a combination of problems specific to Boeing and the pandemic.

2) The Federal Reserve is lowering their estimate for economic growth over the second half of the year. The Reserve presents its forecast at the central bank’s eight interest rate committee meetings in a year. The reduced forecast is because they expect the rate of recovery in the Gross Domestic Product and the rate for reducing unemployment to be slower than previously expected. Reduction of the unemployment depends on the reopening of businesses, which in turn is depended on the pandemic.

3) According to Bank of America, moving manufacturing out of China could cost U.S. and European companies $1 trillion dollars over five years. Companies in over 80% of global sectors have experienced supply chain disruptions during the pandemic, so many are widening the scope of their reshoring plans. The shift to return manufacturing back to home countries has been spurred on by the Convid-19 crisis. Supporting companies will also benefit with the increase of economic activity by having manufacturing return.

4) Stock market closings for – 19 AUG 20:

Dow 27,692.88 down 85.19
Nasdaq 11,146.46 down 64.38
S&P 500 3,374.85 down 14.93

10 Year Yield: up at 0.68%

Oil: up at $42.79

14 August 2020

1) This year’s hurricane season was already forecast to be a very active season, but now is going from bad to worst because of La Nina. The hurricane season was already on a record making pace, with the peak of the season coming in just a few more weeks. The possibility of the pacific having a La Nina, a state where the sea surface temperature becomes cooler than usual, is increasing in probability. This change in pacific weather patterns decreases the hurricane killing wind shear across the Atlantic, thus allowing more storms to form and strengthen. The Atlantic has already had 10 storms, which is the earliest number to occur by this date. Predictions are for as many as 25 storms forming, compared with the 2005 record of 28 storms including Hurricane Katrine. Additionally, a La Nina can spell cooler temperatures and storms across the north, with drier weather in the southern U.S., all having significant economic impact on America.

2) Again, the first time jobless claims have dropped, this time it’s the first time below 1 million since last March. Last week, 963,000 people filed for first time unemployment benefits, the first time in five months claims were below 1 million. Although the decline is a positive sign, the economic job situation still remains critical with 15.5 million people still unemployed, but still people are returning back to work. The employment problem still remains worst than for the Great Recession just a decade ago, which had lower jobless claims. It took nearly five years for the peak in 2009 until 2014 to return to what they were before the Great Recession.

3) Oil prices dropped as a result of IEA’s (International Energy Agency) forecasts for global oil demand. This reduction is in part a result of the slowdown in air travel. Price of oil has been creeping up coming to a five month high on Wednesday, but then fell as much as 1.3%, from the forecast of a drop in consumption for every quarter to the end of the year. The forecast also signals a shift in the recovery toward a stalling of economic growth. There remains an inventory overhang that persists, which the oil industry continues to work down.

4) Stock market closings for – 13 AUG 20:

Dow 27,896.72 down 80.12
Nasdaq 11,042.50 up 30.27
S&P 500 3,373.43 down 6.92

10 Year Yield: up at 0.72%

Oil: down at $42.34

11 August 2020

1) Online retailer giant Amazon is considering taking over closed department stores in some malls to use as warehouses in their distribution system. Amazon is in talks with Simon Property Group, America’s largest mall owner, to convert J.C. Penny and Sears stores into distribution hubs for package delivery. Simon malls have 63 J.C. Penny and 11 Sears stores available. With many traditional brick-and-mortar stores in collapse, such a deal would make sense for both Amazon and Simon. Amazon is looking for more space closer to where customers live to help with its one day delivery strategy, while Simon needs cash rich tenants to bolster their business.

2) A report that outlines the three potential future movies in the Star Trek franchise has been released. The movies for Star Trek follow-on’s have been in limbo since the 2016’s Star Trek Beyond. There are three potential projects being considered for possible production, including a Tarantino’s Star Trek movie. The first movie by Noah Hawley (Fargo and Legion creator) is centered on a pandemic story line using a brand new cast, but is now on pause. The second is a movie by Tarantino, of Pulp Fiction fame, as writer, but not necessary directing it. Something of a take on of a prior Star Trek episode, it would be largely an earthbound 1930’s gangster setting. The third is a far more traditional Star Trek with the recent stars Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto. The next few weeks is expected to yield the fate of the Star Trek franchise.

3) Latest job numbers show 1.8 million new jobs created last month to give a 10.2% unemployment rate. This is another coming down of the rate, a good sign for the economy. This leaves 43% unemployed of the 22 million people who lost their jobs from the pandemic, so the economy is still a long way from a full recovery. Fears are that it will be a long time before full recovery, what with the large number of small businesses that have succumb to the Covid-19 crisis with subsequent loss of jobs. The continual struggling price of oil indicates a still weak international economy.

4) Stock market closings for – 10 AUG 20:

Dow 27,791.44 up 357.96
Nasdaq 10,968.36 down 42.63
S&P 500 3,360.47 up 9.19

10 Year Yield: up at 0.57%

Oil: up at $41.99

7 August 2020

1) Another drop in applications for unemployment benefits is giving hope for the economy. For the week ending 1 August, there were 1.19 million jobless claims, down by 249,000 claims. Total unemployment is now at 16.1 million, the lowest since April. But even with continual drops, the claims are still five times the pre-crisis levels. More than decreasing claims is needed for the economy to improve, for much more hiring is required. There are fears of conditions improving so sluggishly, that the effects of the crisis become increasingly permanent. With the resurgence of the pandemic, there are signs of the economy stalling in what is already a fragile economy.

2) The Covid-19 crisis is fueling the need for high speed internet access, and rural America is responding with their electric and telephone co-ops using loans from the federal government. Subscribers are getting speeds up to 1 gigabit per second, with some planning for speeds up to 10 gigabits per second. Rural areas have the duel problem of low population densities and long distances, so its not economically feasible for private companies to install systems. The only alternative is satellite internet systems.

3) The Bank of England is warning of the potential risk of what’s called the ‘shadow banks’ in amplifying the volatility of unstable economies. Funds in investments like pension funds, investment funds like real estate investment trusts and money market funds are increasingly absorbing the cash once kept in banks, but are not as secure in times of crisis as traditional banks. This makes it harder for businesses to access their money when needed most. The non-banks impact in a financial turmoil is being assessed, lead by the Bank of England.

4) Stock market closings for – 6 AUG 20:

Dow 27,386.98 up 185.46
Nasdaq 11,108.07 up 109.67
S&P 500 3,349.16 up 21.39

10 Year Yield: down at 0.54%

Oil: down at $41.97

31 July 2020

1) The American economy last quarter is the worst on record, with a 32.9% annual rate contraction (April – June). American business ground to a halt from the pandemic lockdown this spring, leaving the country in its first recession in eleven years. This wipes out five years of economic gains in just months. From January to March, the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) declined by an annualized rate of 5%. While the unemployment is declining as states open up from the shutdown, there are still about 15 million unemployed workers. Americans are spending less money during th lockdown, partly because of lost of jobs. Consumer spending is the biggest driver of the economy, and it declined at an annual rate of 34.6% for the second quarter.

2) While Walmart has posted surging sales for each month, it is still taking cost savings measures. The retailer has laid off hundreds of workers including store planning, logistics, merchandising and real estate. Also, Walmart is reorganizing its 4,750 stores by consolidation of divisions and eliminating some regional manager roles. Walmart is performing well because of high demand and low prices during the pandemic. The company isn’t opening as many new stores in the U.S. anymore, so Walmart doesn’t need as many people to find new locations and so design them.

3) Job postings in technology are 36% down from 2019 levels. This is attributed to increased competition, low priority in hiring and uncertainty over the pandemic. Therefore, the tech industry is also feeling the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Sending a very significant portion of its workers remote to work at home, there were predictions tech jobs would lead the recovery with increase job numbers. The ‘work at home’ was thought to show tech jobs might be available outside the traditional hubs. Neither has proved to be true. In short, the tech jobs are faring worst than the overall economy.

4) Stock market closings for – 30 JUL 20:

Dow 26,313.65 down 225.92
Nasdaq 10,587.81 up 44.87
S&P 500 3,246.22 down 12.22

10 Year Yield: down at 0.54%

Oil: down at $40.45

28 July 2020

1) Economist are warning that the economy needs help now to avoid faltering. As the President and Congress struggle to create another economic aid package, evidence is growing that the U.S. economy is headed for trouble, especially if the government doesn’t take steps to support hiring and economic growth. Experts say the economy is in a pretty fragile state again and needs another shot in the arm. Unemployment is still at a high 11.1% and hiring seems to be slowing in July, so the economy is likely to weaken further. Few economist consider that the recovery will be a V-shaped path, that is, the sharp recession will be followed by a quick rebound. In addition to helping the millions of unemployed Americans, the governments needs to help businesses from going bust.

2) There are five trends which indicate the U.S. economy is not rebounding as hope. The first is ‘Direction Requests’ on smart phones for walking and driving directions, have gone flat over the last few weeks indicating people are staying at home. The second is ‘Restaurant Bookings’ which show a 60% drop from last year. Third trend is ‘Hotel Occupancy’ which has stagnated with occupancy at 47%. ‘Air Travel’ was slowly increasing, but has also stagnated this last month with air travel down 70% from last year. Finally, ‘Home Purchases’ is increasing at a slow rate, a reflection of peoples uncertainty and changing employment status of potential buyers.

3) Price of gold continues to climb, as investors seek the safety of the yellow metal amidst economic fears of the future. Gold has historically been a refuge for money in times of economic uncertainty, a panic investment. Bullion has climbed to a record high of $1,946 per ounce. The real interest rates (less inflation) is driving investors to gold, as well as the tumbling dollar. Silver bullion is also increasing in price as another safe heaven for investing.

4) Stock market closings for – 27 JUL 20:

Dow 26,584.77 up 114.88
Nasdaq 10,536.27 up 173.09
S&P 500 3,239.41 up 23.78

10 Year Yield: up at 0.61%

Oil: up at $41.66

17 JUL 2020

1) Looming in the wings of the pandemic crisis is another major crisis . . . and epidemic of evictions. With the unemployment rate still more than 10% and eviction protections lapsing across America, housing experts expect millions of Americans to lose their homes in the coming months. For millions of Americans, the housing situation was already precarious before the pandemic. Many are paying large percentages of their monthly incomes toward rent, but don’t have enough to cover an unexpected expense of just a few hundred dollars. With insufficient money from unemployment, people are facing living on the streets during 100 degree plus temperatures, hurricane season and possibly freezing weather if the problem continues. This would also mean increased exposure to the Convid-19 virus.

2) A bright spot in the economy is that retail sales rose again for the second straight month as shoppers slowly trickle back into stores. But with conronavirus cases on the rise, this could be short lived. Sales increased 7.5% for June, from May, better than the 5% estimated by economists. Sales were driven by clothing, electronics and appliances as well as home furnishing. Still, foot traffic through stores is way down, people coming in with specific items to consider buying instead of just browsing. So far this year, 4,000 stores are closing permanently with as many as 25,000 expected by the end of the year. Last year, there were 9,302 store closing.

3) The traditional investing axiom of 60/40 portfolios is coming into question. This is the mix of 60% stocks and 40% bonds, which is generally considered the best risk minimizing strategy for individuals to use in building their fortune. But with Treasury yields now hovering around zero, and expected to stay there for years, those gains are in doubt. For decades, this strategy has given the best returns with the least risk in times of volatile markets. Consequently, investors are scrutinizing the strategy as maybe out of date in a changing economy.

4) Stock market closings for – 16 JUL 20:

Dow 26,734.71 down 135.39
Nasdaq 10,473.83 down 76.66
S&P 500 3,215.57 down 10.99

10 Year Yield: down at 0.61%

Oil: down at $40.80