Over 3.3 million Americans have claimed unemployment benefits because of the coronavirus, the U.S. Labor Dept has indicated this past week. The virus has taken a toll on businesses, income wages and society’s everyday way of living.
These numbers reflect a growing number of Americans who are currently unemployed and are seeking financial relief; because of what the COVID-19 virus has done to their working wages. Many people have insisted that the impact has burdened them into massive financial debt.
It also has to be noted, that the United States has now surpassed all other countries with the most infected individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. Over 85,000 people in the USA have the coronavirus, as presented by data by John Hopkins University on March 26, 2020 (US infections 85,840).SB
Sources: US Labor Dept; John Hopkins University Covid-19 Data
1) The $2 trillion dollar coronavirus relief bill has been passed and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the people should receive cash payments within three weeks. The IRS has been tasked with distributing the monies, but the agency is hobbled by obsolete technologies such as 1960’s era computers, limited staff and a small budget. So there are questions if the agency can get the job done in a timely manner, let alone in three weeks. Experts say its more like a matter of months rather than weeks for Americans to receive their check.
2) Almost 3.3 million Americans have applied for unemployment benefits this last week, more than quadruple the previous record set in 1982. This is a result of the wide spread economic shutdown from the coronavirus pandemic. This rate of layoffs is expected to accelerate as the U.S. economy sinks into a recession with the collapse of revenues for a wide range of businesses. Economist predict the nation’s unemployment rate could approach 13% by May.
3) Gold has traditionally been a panic investment which people and nations buy to protect the value of their money. The worldwide panic over the coronavirus coupled with a flood of stimulus by central banks has ignited demand for gold to store wealth. But the gold market is running into difficulties in buying. Stored in high security vaults, government mandated shut downs have left access iffy. Also, refiners of gold have been forced to close because of the virus. Transporting gold is done via airlines, but the sharp drop in air service has also made transport of the metal difficult. All these factors have put a squeeze on gold futures.
4) Stock market closings for – 26 MAR 20:
Dow 22,552.17 up 1351.62 Nasdaq 7,797.54 up 413.24 S&P 500 2,630.07 up 154.51
1) The shutting down of many of American service industries is having an effect on America’s hard pressed trucking industry. Suddenly, there are fewer hauling jobs, a result of the coronavirus control measures. There are 300,000 to 400,000 thousand truck drivers who own their trucks and don’t have much protection if rates or demand for their service falls. Trucking is often considered a leading economic indicator where the rest of the economy is heading, because 71% of the freight in America is moved by trucks. A downturn in freight being hauled indicates the economy is slumping.
2) President Trump says the U.S. may be headed for a recession for the first time in eleven years as the coronavirus cripples the world economies which in turn can pull the U.S. economy down despite it being strong. Experts anticipate America will enter a recession in the upcoming second quarter, from April through June, with a decline of 4% to 8% annual pace. The unemployment rate could zoom up to 6% from its current fifty year low of 3.5%, which would hinder a recovery. Typically, economic hard times opens the way for new technologies to displace workers as business strive for ways to reduce cost and remain profitable.
3) The Department of Labor reported a 30% increase in unemployment claims, which is one of the largest spikes in claims. This signals the start of feared layoffs in response to the coronavirus impact on the economy. As more businesses are vastly reducing or stopping operations, they have no real choice but to lay off workers in the hope of surviving the coming economic storm. America’s oil industry is facing massive layoffs with tens of thousands being laid off in the shale fields like the Permian Basin as oil prices drop to alarming lows. No longer profitable to pump out shale fields and strapped with high levels of debt, the oil companies are facing bankruptcy. Six years ago, a sharp price drop in oil cost 200,000 oil workers their jobs.
4) Stock market closings for – 20 MAR 20: The Dow had its worst month since 1931.
Dow 19,173.98 down 913.21 Nasdaq 6,879.52 down 271.06 S&P 500 2,304.92 down 104.47
1) After two friendly attempts to merge with HP, Xerox is launching a hostile takeover bid. Xerox will nominate eleven new directors to replace all of HP board members, thus leaving Xerox in control of the company. HP claims that Xerox’s proposal significantly undervalues HP and creates risk for the HP shareholders, while Xerox claims combining the similar companies will create significant cost savings.
2) The number of claims for unemployment benefits for mid January rose slightly, but layoffs remain near a fifty year low. There are no signs of the strongest U.S. labor market in decades deteriorating. The number of people actually collecting unemployment benefits has fallen by a small amount. The U.S. economy is still growing but at a slower rate.
3) Fair Isaac Corp. announced changes on their scoring of consumer credit, the making of their FICO score. Soon, they will start scoring consumers with rising debt levels and those who fall behind on loan payments with lower scores. The changes will create a bigger gap between consumers considered good and bad credit risks. Also, scores are considering bank account balances and utilities payments. The new FICO changes reflect a shift in U.S. lenders’ confidence in the economy.
4) Stock market closings for – 23 JAN 20:
Dow 29,160.09 down 26.18 Nasdaq 9,402.48 up 18.71 S&P 500 3,325.54 up 3.79
1) The trust funds for Social Security are in trouble and will run dry by 2035. But Social Security is not going bankrupt because the program’s primary source of revenue is payroll taxes, which at present is 12.4% of pay. So even if the trust fund should run out, Social Security still would have the money to largely keep up with benefits. A much greater danger for retirees is high inflation, for historically the first to suffer from a collapsing economy are those on fixed incomes.
2) The recently signed phase one agreement with China made for a cease-fire in the trade, but leaves the tariffs largely in place, with some considering the tariffs to be the new norm in international trade. China has committed to making $200 billion dollars in purchases from America. The agreement does not address the intellectual property issues, both the forced intellectual transfers and out right theft.
3) Claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, indicating a sustained strong labor market. Claims dropped 10,000 last week to 204,000 with the labor market remaining on a solid footing, the unemployment rate holding near a fifty year low of 3.5% for December. Layoffs were in manufacturing, transportation and warehousing.
4) Stock market closings for – 16 JAN 20:
Dow 29,297.64 up 267.42 Nasdaq 9,357.13 up 98.44 S&P 500 3,316.81 up 27.52
1) Timothy Litzenburg, a Virginia lawyer involved in litigation over the health risks of Monsanto’s roundup weed killer product, has been arrested. He is charged with interstate intentions to extort an unnamed company into a $200 million dollar consulting fee for his firm. Litzenburg threatened to find people who he would advise to sue companies for exposing them to the chemical, but that he would cease searching for potential plaintiffs in exchange for a multi million dollar consulting agreement.
2) Freddie Mac has offered early retirement to about 25% of its staff in a drive to overhaul its workforce, as a result of the Trump administration’s reforming the housing finance giant. There are 1,650 eligible employees being offer the early out, with about one quarter expected to take the buyout. This will be about 6% of Freddie Mac’s workforce.
3) The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits dropped from more than a two year high, decreasing 18,000 to 234,000. This points to a sustained labor market strength, another sign of a strong American economy. Despite trade tensions and slowing global growth with a weighing down on manufacturing, the economy is on a moderate growth path.
4) Stock market closings for – 19 DEC 19:
Dow 28,376.96 up at 137.68 Nasdaq 8,887.22 up at 59.48 S&P 500 3,205.37 up at 14.23
1) The Trump administration has reached a trade deal in principle with China. Reportedly, the United States has offered to cut existing tariffs on Chinese goods by as much as 50%, while also suspending new tariffs that are scheduled to become effective on Sunday. This is a bid to secure a “Phase One” trade deal. The 50% tariff reduction would be on $375 billion dollars of Chinese goods, and $160 billion dollars in goods scheduled to become effective on the fifteenth of December.
2) The natural gas boom has fizzled because of a glut in U.S. gas with sinking profits. Hydraulic fracturing has uncorked a lucrative new source of natural gas supply, with billions of dollars poured into export terminals to ship gas to China and Europe. But the drop in gas prices has caused a bust with energy companies shutting down drilling rigs, filing for bankruptcy protection and slashing the value of shale fields. The supply of gas has far outstripped demand and the over-supply likely to remain for several more years.
3) The number of applications for unemployment jumped to more than a two year high last week, but experts don’t think this signals a coming round of layoffs. Claims are up by 49,000 for a seasonally adjusted 252,000 for the week ending the seventh of December. The previous week, claims had dropped to 203,000, which was a seven month low. In the same period, the government reported adding 266,000 new jobs to the economy.
4) Stock market closings for – 12 DEC 19:
Dow 28,132.05 up 220.75 Nasdaq 8,717.32 up 63.27 S&P 500 3,168.57 up 26.94
1) The U.S. Federal Reserve elected not to raise interest rates, thereby signaling borrowing cost will most likely remain unchanged, and they expect moderate economic growth and low unemployment to continue into the presidential election year. The Feds left the benchmark overnight lending rate at its current range of 1.5% to 1.75% with 13 of the 17 fed policymakers supporting no change.
2) American consumer prices rose more than expected in November, giving credence to the Fed’s decision not to raise interest rates. The consumer price index increased 0.3% last month, in part from households paying more for gas. In the twelve months through November, the CPI (Consumer Price Index) increased 2.3% after a similar gain in October. Gasoline prices rose 1.1% after rebounding 3.7% in October.
3) China is accused of dumping cheap mattresses which is disrupting the U.S. bedding industry, in an attempt to gain a foothold in American markets. In recent years dozens of Chinese companies have been flooding the market with super low priced mattresses, selling them to retailers for as little as $18 each. In turn, the mattresses are sold under a wide range of labels at national chains, online businesses, local retailers and mattress stores. In recent years the industry has been troubled by disruption including thousands of job losses, multiple bankruptcies and hundreds of store closures. In 2018, about five million mattresses were shipped to the U.S. from China.
4) Stock market closings for – 11 DEC 19:
Dow 27,911.30 up 29.58 Nasdaq 8,654.05 up 37.87 S&P 500 3,141.63 up 9.11
1) The newly released November jobs report is the best in ten months and blows away expectations as striking GM workers returned to work. The good news confirms the economy remains on a moderate expansion path despite a prolonged manufacturing slump. Even better news is the unemployment rate has falling back to 3.5% damping fears of an up coming recession.
2) The oil cartel OPEC+ (plus) will adjust its output target and redistribute production cuts between its members. Saudi Arabia pressured the decision since they have long carried an outsized share of the burden. The cartel, which pumps more than half the world’s oil, agreed to reduce its output by 500,000 barrels a day. Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil exporter and the de facto leader of OPEC.
3) Amazon Business, one unit of the giant Amazon, operating in the business-to-business marketplace, serving a variety of customers from large companies to hospitals, to schools and colleges. Growing faster than their consumer retailing segment, analyst say Amazon Business could be a $31 billion dollar business in four years. Started in 2015, it had over a billion dollars of sales in its first year.
4) Stock market closings for – 6 DEC 19:
Dow 28,015.06 up 337.27 Nasdaq 8,656.53 up 85.83 S&P 500 3,145.91 up 28.48
1) The Oklahoma energy company Chesapeake Energy, who helped pioneer America’s shale natural gas revolution, is now warning that it may not survive the era of cheap gas it helped usher in. In a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company stated that if depressed prices persist, there is substantial doubt if it can survive. Fracking made it a natural gas powerhouse, at one time the number two natural gas producer, but now it is drowning in $10 billion dollar debt.
2) The U.S. productive has fallen for the first time since 2015. American productivity fell 0.3% in the third quarter, after two quarters of healthy gains, while productivity had increased 1.4% in the past year, about two-thirds of its long run average. Additionally, the low unemployment rate is driving up labor costs by forcing companies to pay more for workers, a trend that could eventually raise inflation. Labor cost rose at 3.6% in the third quarter, up 3.1% for the past year.
3) SoftBank Group Corp. reported an enormous loss from investments in the two money losing startups WeWork and Uber Technologies Inc. SoftBank reported a loss of $6.5 billion dollars after writedowns in WeWork and other investments, the first such loss in 14 years. The massive losses were incurred when WeWork’s IPO failed leaving the startup company cash starved so SoftBank had to extend a $9.5 billion dollar rescue package and take an 80% stake in the company.
4) Stock market closings for – 6 NOV 19:
Dow 27,492.56 up 0.07 Nasdaq 8,410.63 down 24.05 S&P 500 3,076.78 up 2.16