22 March 2021

1) The U.S. Department of Justice has launched an antitrust investigation into the practices of renowned credit card company Visa regarding debit-card transactions. The DOJ is looking into the rules for routing transactions, both in stores and online. In its suit against Visa last year, the Justice Department claimed Visa already possesses monopoly power in the market for online debit-card transactions, arguing that roughly 70% of such transactions in the U.S. are routed over the firm’s network. At the heart of the Justice Department’s issues with Visa is the 2010 law known as the Durbin Amendment, which requires banks to include two networks on their debit cards. Merchants are then supposed to be given the choice of routing over a major network versus a smaller alternative such as Pulse, Star or NYCE. Those alternative networks can be cheaper for merchants.

2) The Federal Reserve stated that while the U.S. economy has been steadily rebounding from the pandemic recession, the recovery is far from complete and needs continued support from the Fed. About half the 20 million jobs that were lost to the pandemic have been recovered, and the outlook is brightening as vaccinations are more widely administered. The central bank’s policymakers forecasts are sharply upgraded, with the economy expected to accelerate quickly this year. At the same time, their forecast showed that the benchmark rate remains near zero through 2023, despite concerns in financial markets about potentially higher inflation.

3) Flipping houses in America is an easy way to make a quick buck. With the real-estate market red hot, profits on flips are at a record high, averaging some $66,000 per home. There are more than 60 banks and other financing companies catering to flippers. Memories of the 2007 real-estate bust are fading, and with interest rates on most fixed income investments still so paltry, lenders are desperate for anything that provides higher returns. The 7.9% average annual rate on a fix-and-flip loan is more than twice the 3.09% rate that a bank can earn on a 30-year mortgage. But there aren’t that many houses to purchase, the inventory of existing homes for sale is at its lowest since 1999, so now more flippers are chasing fewer transactions. Almost 68% of all home flippings last year sold for $300,000 or less.

4) Stock market closings for – 19 MAR 21:

Dow 32,627.97 down by 234.33
Nasdaq 13,215.24 up by 99.07
S&P 500 3913.10 down by 2.36

10 Year Yield: unchanged at 1.75%

5 February 2020

1) As the coronavirus continues the slowing of China’s economy, coupled with a general slow down in world economies, world oil prices are dropping. China is the world’s largest oil importer, with speculation that if oil continues to drop, America can expect a drop in gasoline prices, possibly going below $2 a gallon.

2) The credit card company Visa is planning major changes to the rates U.S. merchants pay to accept its cards. These changes are the biggest changes in a decade, with Visa hoping to encourage people to abandon checks and cash. Higher rates are coming for transactions on e-commerce sites, while certain retailers such as real estate and education will see lower rates. Retailers have long complained about the $100 billion plus dollars they spend each year to accept electronic payments.

3) Ford Motor Co. has posted a fourth quarter loss and provided weaker than expected 2020 forecast due to continued higher warranty cost, lower vehicle volumes, lower results from Ford Credit branch, and higher investment in future transportation. This is coming at a time when Ford and other automakers are making huge investments in producing a line of electric cars and trucks. For the fourth quarter, Ford is reporting a net loss of $1.7 billion dollars, or 42 cents a share. Revenue for the fourth quarter was down 5% to $39.7 billion dollars.

4) Stock market closings for – 4 FEB 20:

Dow                   28,807.63    up    407.82
Nasdaq                9,467.97    up    194.57
S&P 500               3,297.59    up      48.67

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.60%

Oil:    down   at    $49.45

20 November 2019

1) There are fewer international students coming to America, which is hurting American universities and the economy. International student enrollment has been declining since the fall of 2016 which is estimated to cost the economy $11.8 billion dollars and more than 65,000 jobs. There is a perception among students that getting a visa for the United States is more difficult and it’s increasingly unsafe in the U.S.

2) National retailer Kohl’s posted quarterly sales that was lower than analysts’ projections, and has fallen the most in almost three years. This raises further concerns about the future of department stores, a market segment that has been struggling to adapt to broad changes in consumer habits. Kohl’s shares fell as much as 18%, the biggest one day tumble since January of 2017. Other department store chains such as Macy’s and Nordstrom have seen declines too.

3) Home Depot shares fell after reporting a third quarter earnings below Wall Street expectations, and the company cut its full year outlook for the rest of 2019. Like so many other traditional retailers, Home Depot is struggling to adapt to the online market place. While they are spending a lot of money to become a bigger online player, the company hasn’t seen the results they expected. The home improvement retail landscape is getting tougher.

4) Stock market closings for – 19 NOV 19:

Dow                27,934.02   down   102.20
Nasdaq            8,570.66          up     20.72
S&P 500           3,120.18    down        1.85

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.79%

Oil:     down   at    $55.15

23 October 2019

1) China is growing at its slowest pace in nearly thirty years, with a 6% growth rate down graded to 5.8% growth which was predicted by the IMF (International Monetary Fund) for 2020. China’s economy isn’t looking very good, and what’s worst it’s getting worst. Economist are in disagreement over just what is causing the decline, considering there’s more than just the trade war responsible for China’s down slide. Slowing of global trade is another factor, but still with a 6% growth, China is above the world average of 3%.

2) The major credit card companies are launching a ‘one-click’ checkout button for fast secure online purchases similar to the PayPal. Now available with Cinemark, Movember and Rakuten websites, it will soon be available on BassPro, JoAnn Fabric, Papa John’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, SHOP.com and Tickets.com by the end of the year, with further companies to be added in 2020. Users won’t have to create or log into an account to make a purchase, nor will they need to enter their card info into every new site. The new service is being offered by Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express.

3) According to a survey from the consultant firm McKinsey & Co., more than half the world’s banks are too weak to survive a downturn of economies. These banks are not economically viable because of their returns on equity, which are not keeping pace with costs.

4) Stock market closings for – 22 OCT 19:

Dow                26,788.10    down    39.54
Nasdaq            8,104.30    down    58.69
S&P 500           2,995.99    down    10.73

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.77%

Oil:    up   at    $54.32