5 January 2021

1) Because of the very rapid spreading of the new coronavirus variant, England will enter its toughest nationwide lock down since March. For at least six weeks schools will be closed and people can leave home only once a day for exercise. Because of the number of people in hospitals reaching a new height the British threat level has been raised to its highest level of 5. People must now only leave home for work, if it is impossible to work from home, and for essential food and medicine. School study will be online until mid-February. All non-essential retail and hospitality businesses are closed, but restaurants and other premises will continue delivery of takeaway food but not alcohol. Places of worship can remain open, including communal worship, subject to social distancing.

2) The first stimulus payments from new the coronavirus relief bill are now on the way. However, the aid won’t suffice for many. The $300 check additions to unemployment are half the amount of the old Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation pay outs, which lapsed in late July. Since then, aid recipients have been getting by on state unemployment assistance, which can pay less than the minimum wage when calculated on an hourly basis. But workers will receive just over a third of last spring’s CARES package, which paid out $600 per week for four months compared to $300 for 11 weeks now.

3) Google workers have formed their first-ever union, a rare step for the tech industry that also represents the biggest and most organized challenge yet to the company’s executive leadership. This is the first union at a major tech company and it’s for and by all tech workers. So far, 226 workers have signed union cards with the Communications Workers of America (CWA), one of the country’s largest labor unions. While the pandemic made it more challenging to hold those meetings face-to-face, the shift to remote work, in some ways, made it easier to organize. The workers could theoretically mount a strike, though that would be a challenge and there are no current plans to do so. The union’s formation comes after years of rising employee tensions over the company’s business and operational decisions, such as work with the defense sector, plans for a censored search engine in China, and the company’s handling of sexual misconduct claims.

4) Stock market closings for – 4 JAN 21

Dow 30,223.89 down by 382.59
Nasdaq 12,698.45 down by 189.83
S&P 500 3,700.65 down by 55.42

10 Year Yield: unchanged at 0.92%

Oil: down at $47.34

10 November 2020

1) The United States became the first nation to surpass 10 million coronavirus infections since the worldwide pandemic started. This is the feared third wave of the Covid-19 virus now surging across the nation. America has reported about a million cases in the past 10 days, the highest rate of infections since the first reporting, while worldwide, coronavirus cases now exceeds 50 million. In the United States the daily average of new deaths account for 1 in every 11 deaths worldwide. The Midwest remains the hardest-hit region based on the most cases per capital with the top five worst-affected states being North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Nebraska.

2) With Joe Biden now expected to enter the Oval Office, the American workplace is going to look much different. Biden has four decades of union leaders behind him, making him potentially the most labor-friendly president of the U.S., who won the endorsement of almost every major union in the country. Labor reform is a fundamental part of his administration with at least one union leader to be named to his Cabinet. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to drive permanent job losses and compromise worker safety, the case for structural change may be stronger than ever. A sharp turn from the Trump White House on labor policy is expected with the Democrats to reverse the present labor policies. Worker safety enforcement, progressive labor policy with a federal minimum wage of $15 per hour, boost manufacturing via trade, and a more labor-friendly National Labor Relations Board are just some of the areas for major changes to be made. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama push through a wide range of policies, only to have their plans overtaken by other agenda items like health care. But the most important factor being overlooked is AI (Artificial Intelligence) experts are predicting that up to 50% of American jobs will disappear in the next 15 to 25 years. Also, any time you raise the cost of labor, then those jobs will be replaced by automation.

3) Japan moves to reduce its fossil fuel emissions, with Japan being the fifth largest polluter, by using hydrogen fuel for its energy needs. Hydrogen offers the greatest potential to decarbonize industries like steel, cement and heavy duty transport, to achieve net-zero emissions.

4) Stock market closings for – 9 NOV 20: The Dow surged to 1,500 points on news of an effective Covid-19 vaccine trials by Pfizer with early results showing at 90% effectiveness. The Dow was briefly over 30,000.

Dow 29,157.97 up by 834.57
Nasdaq 11,713.78 down by 181.45
S&P 500 3,550.50 up at 41.06

10 Year Yield: up at 0.96%

Oil: up at $39.84

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

15 October 2019

1) There are fears that the manufacturing segment is in trouble and may contract for the third straight month. This in turn could drag down the U.S. GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in the third and fourth quarters. Three factors are causing this down turn- the trade war with China, the GM (General Motors) strike and Boeing’s 737 MAX problems stopping deliveries and slowing production.

2) In the recent past, the online retailer giant Amazon has been unable to compete with traditional retailers when selling single items costing less than a few dollars, because the shipping cost is more than the single item cost such as toothpaste, deodorant or a simple brush. Customers had to buy these items as add-ons to make the $25 minimum for free shipping. But these items are now available for free shipping with Amazon’s Prime shipping. This could make for a significant challenge to other retailers such as Walmart, Target and CVS.

3) GM is attempting to end the month long strike of the UAW (United Auto Workers) by making direct appeal to the workers. The company has lost more than a $1 billion dollars so far, and is making several promises to the workers trying to circumvent the union’s leadership. The UAW has increased strike pay from $250 to $275 per week with union members allowed to hold other jobs as long as it doesn’t interfere with their picket duty.

4) Stock market closings for – 14 OCT 19:

Dow            26,787.36    down    29.23
Nasdaq         8,048.65    down      8.39
S&P 500        2,966.15    down       4.12

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.73%

Oil:    down   at    $53.50

30 September 2019

1) The White House is considering putting limits on U.S. investment in China, which would aggravate the protracted trade dispute between the two largest economies in the world. Advisers are discussing ways to limit U.S. investors’ portfolio flows into China, including limiting all U.S. investment in China. One possible method being considered is to delist Chinese companies on the U.S. stock exchanges thereby limiting American’s exposure to the Chinese market.

2) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortex, the New York Representative, announced a comprehensive anti-poverty bill that would provide new protections for tenants, children, immigrants and other Americans who are increasingly vulnerable to the high cost of inequality. One part of the bill is a tenant rights bill which would significantly expand federal housing policy. This would include a cap on annual rent increases or rent control.

3) General Motors has reversed itself and reinstated health care benefits to its striking workers, as a result of sever criticism from politicians and social media. Normal procedure in strikes is for the cost of health care to shift from the company to the union. The strike of 49,000 GM workers has shut down 30 GM plants across the nation for nearly two weeks. The GM plant in Mexico has been forced to close due to parts shortages as a result of the strike.

4) Stock market closings for – 27 SEP 19:

Dow              26,820.25    down    70.87 
Nasdaq           7,939.63    down    91.03
S&P 500          2,961.79    down    15.83

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.68%

Oil:    $56.18

18 September 2019

1) World oil prices dropped sharply with Saudi Arabian source saying that their oil production could be fully back on line within weeks. This is far sooner than was initially assumed by world markets. Production may be back up in as little as two to three weeks. The attacks resulted in the largest single supply disruption in half a century.

2) Economists say the GM (General Motors) strike no longer has the economic impact that they once did. They assert it will take a lengthy shutdown to make a national impact. This is a result of GM’s market share shrinking while its work force is now smaller, in part because of automation. A prolonged strike could impact the economy by disrupting the supply chain effecting other industries. GM has shifted workers health care cost to the UAW (United Auto Workers) union, increasing pressure on the union for a quick settlement.

3) There are expectations that the Federal Reserve will lower interest rates on Wednesday for the second time in two months with another likely cut later this year. The consensus is the feds will drop the interest rate by about a quarter percent in an attempt to starve off the world economic slowdown from reaching America. Job growth has slowed and the index of manufacturing activity shows contraction, increasing fears that a recession will happen in the near future.

4) Stock market closings for – 17 SEP 19:

Dow                 27,110.80    up    33.98
Nasdaq             8,186.02    up    32.47
S&P 500            3,005.70    up      7.74

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.81%

Oil:    down   at    $58.81

4 September 2019

1) The ever present problem of growing student debt is being aggravated by the ever rising cost of college. This rise in cost is fueled by decreasing funding by governments, a lack of cost controls by college administrations and an emphases on plush facilities instead of real education support.

2) Manufacturing shrank in August for the first time since August 2016. The manufacturing index slid to 49.1 from 51.2 in July, where an index below 50 signals a contraction. Production declined by 1.3 percent while employment fell by 4.3 percent with new orders falling by 3.6 percent. With the trade war increasing the cost of Chinese manufactured imports, it would be expected that American manufacturing would be increasing.

3) The United Auto Workers union is targeting GM for contract talks, with the UAW approving a strike. The UAW represents nearly 150,000 hourly workers at Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler with 96% of it’s workers OKing a strike. Leaders of the UAW are under investigation for corruption by the FBI who have conducted raids on key leadership members recently for mis use of monies. The union is angry at GM for layoffs and the closing of plants, plus production plants in Mexico.

4) Stock market closings for – 3 SEP 19:

Dow              26,118.02    down    285.26
Nasdaq           7,874.16    down      88.72
S&P 500          2,906.27    down       20.19

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.47%

Oil:    down   at    $53.90