16 September 2020

1) A survey by Photonics and Harris Insights and Analytic, a market research company, has found that 35% of Americans would like to avoid traditional in-store shopping, another indication of how American consumerism is fundamentally changing. The traditional in-store sales are becoming less attractive to customers who are now less likely to browse. Retailing is responding by investing in new technologies and creating jobs to meet e-commerce. Now 37% of the fashion retailers are selling more through social media.

2) The aquatic-life theme park SeaWorld is laying off nearly 1,900 furloughed workers because of low attendance from the pandemic. These layoffs include 450 food service attendants, 270 park operation hosts, 121 performers and 18 senior trainers. SeaWorld furloughed 95% of its staff back in March, but long term success of the company has forced less optimistic forecast for the economic recovery time wise.

3) In the last six months, about 100,000 restaurants have had to close permanently as independently owned business struggle to make ends meet during the virus crisis. There are one in six restaurants across America that have closed in just a half a year. Another 40% of owners say it is unlikely their restaurant will still be in business six months from now. Presently, outdoor dining has allows many restaurants to maintain a sustainable revenue stream, but with winter approaching, much of this opportunity will disappear. Coronavirus restrictions limit the in-dinning to as little as 30% normal capacity, which means a drastic cut in sales and revenue to the point that many restaurants are unable to support themselves.

4) Stock market closings for – 15 SEP 20:

Dow 27,995.60 up 2.27
Nasdaq 11,190.32 up 133.67
S&P 500 3,401.20 up 17.66

10 Year Yield: up at 0.68%

Oil: down at $38.51

10 September 2020

1) The renowned Mall of America announced plans to lay off and furlough hundreds of employees. Located in Bloomington, Minn. the shopping center will permanently lay off 211 workers across various departments at the end of the month with an additional 178 workers to remain on furlough beyond the end of September. The Mall employs about 1,000 workers. Like most other malls in America, the Mall of America has suffered severely from the pandemic and need for social distancing. The malls across America have suffered a decline in recent years as people’s shopping habits and revenues decline. The Mall of America has been delinquent on its $1.4 billion dollar mortgage for May, June and July, and in turn some of its 500 retail tenants are unable to pay rent or having skip out on lease obligations.

2) Federal report warns of the threat from climate change to the economy. The report considers there are consequences that can create chaos in the financial system and disrupt the American economy. It’s considered that climate change poses a major risk to the stability of the U.S. financial system to sustain the American economy, that jobs, income and opportunity are at stake. This is just another indication of the increasing difficulty and expense of keeping individuals in a high technology society. The report makes 53 recommendations for dealing with the climate risks.

3) With the start up of college and return to campus life, there has been a sharp increase in coronavirus cases stemming from universities. For instance, the University of Tennessee has more than 2,100 students and staff members quarantined for Covid-19. As of Monday the university has 600 active cases of Covid-19. Of the 2,100 quarantined cases, about half are on-campus students and the other half off-campus. The surge is blamed on reckless behavior by a small portion of the students, especially traditional college parties with close personal contact. Many other American universities are having similar experience such as the University of Notre Dame, and North Carolina State. Some universities have implemented curfews, restrictions on visitors and even lockdowns of fraternities and sororities.

4) Stock market closings for – 9 SEP 20:

Dow 27,940.47 up 439.58
Nasdaq 11,141.56 up 293.87
S&P 500 3,398.96 up 67.12

10 Year Yield: up at 0.70%

Oil: up at $37.78

4 September 2020

1) For first time since World War II the U.S. government’s debt will nearly equal the size of the entire American economy. By the end of 2020, the amount of debt owed by the United States will be about 98% of the nation’s gross domestic product with a debt that is about three times the 2019 level. The huge surge in debt is a result of the Congress spending an additional $3 trillion dollars in emergency funding since March, a result of the economic downturn from the coronavirus crisis. This is why some members of Congress and the White House have balked at approving an additional $2 trillion dollars in spending in view of the weak economy coupled with having little promise of improving soon. Few experts believe the Congress is likely to do something to reduce the deficit in the short term, all the while unemployment remains near 10 percent. Interest rates are low, which makes it less costly for the federal government to borrow. In addition to increase emergency spending, tax revenues fell as business slowed and many people lost their jobs.

2) After a steady increase in the markets, setting new records for highs, the stock markets took a sudden nose dive. This was caused by a massive and sudden sell off of the technology sector. The tech stocks had been on a ten day winning streak then a sudden overnight change which caught everyone by surprise. The Nasdaq dropped almost 600 points while the Dow was down 800 points. Market experts are left wondering what will come next, especially with the next jobs report for August coming out.

3) The pace of rehiring is expected to slow in August, so the economy will likely add fewer jobs than in July, while workers continue to be laid off. Because of the pandemic, America lost about 22 million jobs in March and April. In May through July, about 9.3 million jobs came back, so we are still short about 12 to 13 million jobs. Part of this is a result of so many small businesses having gone bust, so it will take a long time to replace those businesses and therefore replace the jobs they had. Economic turmoil is when technology displacement is prevalent as business seek the means to survive by reducing labor cost (eliminating jobs).

4) Stock market closings for – 3 SEP 20:

Dow 28,292.73 down 807.77
Nasdaq 11,458.10 down 598.34
S&P 500 3,455.06 down 125.78

10 Year Yield: down at 0.62%

Oil: down at $41.03

26 August 2020

1) The American Airlines Group Inc. will layoff 19,000 workers once the federal payroll act expires on the first of October, making for a 30% reduction in its workforce since the Convid-19 crisis. This will result in 17,500 workers furloughed and about 1,500 cuts to management staff. These cuts are forced by a 70% drop in passenger numbers. This will bring the airlines pandemic cuts to 40,000 positions since the coronavirus outbreak. Presently, American plans to fly less than 50% of its normal schedule in the fourth quarter, while their long haul international flights will be just 25% of 2019. The airlines will have 100,000 employees compared with 140,000 in March of this year.

2) Real estate investors, including some of the largest investment groups, are skipping loan payments while raising billions of dollars for new investments. While the pandemic has devalued some real estate, it has also created new targets for investors loaded with cash. It’s the age-old strategy of abandoning ‘loser investments’ to buy winners, the losers being commercial properties with businesses that don’t need as much space as before the pandemic. Property owners are more likely to walkaway when their equity has been wiped out by lower values. Restaurants and hotels properties are especially vulnerable.

3) Reverse mortgages have new appeal for older Americans because of the super low interest rates, which means more of the equity is available to the home owners since less is going towards the interest. Essentially, a reverse mortgage is like a loan, where the owner sells his property for cash, but continues living in it. This makes retirement more comfortable or even possible with the homeowner having access to his house equity without having to actually sell his home.

4) Stock market closings for – 25 AUG 20:

Dow 28,248.44 down 60.02
Nasdaq 11,466.47 up 86.75
S&P 500 3,443.62 up 12.34

10 Year Yield: up at 0.68%

Oil: up at $43.43 this will

16 July 2020

1) Delta Airlines is expecting to spend up to $3.3 billion dollars on buyouts and early retirements in an effort to slash their labor cost. So far, 17,000 employees have signed up to leave the company because there is little in sight for the pandemic’s impact to end soon. The company is prohibited from laying off workers through 30 September under the terms of the $25 billion federal aid package met to support employee payroll. Delta has roughly 91,000 employees so this is a 19% reduction in their work force. The separation packages include cash severance, extended health care benefits and free flights. Other airlines are offering similar packages in an effort to reduce their work force.

2) Heritage Brands, an anchor of outlet malls across American, is closing all of its 162 stores starting next year. PVH Corp, which owns such brand names as Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, blames the closure on a combination of changing shopping habits of people and the Covid-19 pandemic. This will result in a 12% reduction in jobs or about 450 employees, saving the company $80 million dollars annually. The company had a 43% drop in revenue because of the impact of the coronavirus.

3) There are growing fears of an environmental disaster erupting in the Red Sea on the coast of Yeman. An abandoned oil tanker with 1.1 million barrels of crude oil, is beached on the coast of Yeman, with the potential to explode or rupture causing major environmental and humanitarian damage in the area. UN officials are trying to gain access to the ship to assess the tanker’s condition, conduct any possible urgent repairs and make recommendations for extraction of the oil, but the area is controlled by Houthi rebels. The danger is from sea water entering the ship’s interior causing rust and loss of structural integrity plus the inert gas that prevents the tanks from gathering inflammable gases has leaked out, so there is the threat of an explosion. To start with, an oil spill could result in 126,000 Yemeni fishermen losing their source of income.

4) Stock market closings for – 15 JUL 20:

Dow 26,870.10 up 227.51
Nasdaq 10,550.49 up 61.92
S&P 500 3,226.56 up 29.04

10 Year Yield: up at 0.63%

Oil: up at $41.04

18 June 2020

1) Retail giant Target has announced it is raising the minimum wage they pay to store and warehouse workers to $15 an hour, a $2 increase. Target had 350,000 workers employed in 1,900 stores across America. The company is also extending the benefits it started offering during the pandemic, including a new one of free visits to a virtual doctor. All this increases Target’s operating cost by more than $1 billion dollars a year. The company’s margins have been under pressure from pandemic related expenses, in addition to selling fewer high margin items such as apparel and accessories, as well as customers shifting to online shopping. Rival Walmart has announced they are testing a totally cashierless store as a way of limiting human contact because of the Convid-19 threat, but a cashierless store also means reduce labor cost, a goal long sought after by retailers.

2) There is a spike in mortgage demand driven by the record low interest rates. There is a 21% increase in mortgage applications from this time last year. The easing of the pandemic is releasing the pent up demand caused by the shutdown. A 30 year mortgage with 20% down fixed rate has an interest rate now of 3.3%. Refinancing continues to play a significant part in the home mortgage market.

3) Hilton Hotels is laying off 22% of its corporate workforce of 2,100 employees as a result of the coronavirus, while also extending furloughs for many of its corporate staff for an additional 90 days. The virus crisis has brought the hotel business to a near complete halt. The industry has lost about 7.7 million jobs, although occupancy has started to increase, signaling the worst may be coming to an end.

4) Stock market closings for – 17 JUN 20:

Dow 26,119.61 down 170.37
Nasdaq 9,910.53 up 14.66
S&P 500 3,113.49 down 11.25

10 Year Yield: down at 0.73%

Oil: down at $37.65

21 April 2020

1) The second wave of unemployment is coming after an unprecedented spike in layoffs from the cornonavirus ‘stay at home’ orders. But while businesses will soon start rehiring workers, many will take the opportunity to replace their workers with cheaper and more contingent labor. The crisis will accelerate trends towards industry consolidation that reduces potential employers, automation, which replaces human labor, and worker precarity when convenience of employers and customers entirely overrides the well being of workers. Further aggravating employment will be the large number of small businesses expected to succumb to the recession leaving fewer employment opportunities. Also, the force isolation is changing people’s buying habits with more online shopping, delivery services and self service kiosks. These methods of automation also represent cost cutting methods, which companies will cultivate to make more wide spread. All this promises to make the second round even harsher.

2) Oil prices continue their downward spiral, with futures at record lows as investors worry about lack of storage and the world economy. German and Japanese data indicates a bleak global economy, which will in turn pull America’s down. Despite measures being taken to reduce the supply, the glut will continue for the foreseeable future. Numerous statistics and prices point to a continual crisis for the world and American economies.

3) Restaurants are particularly hard hit by the coronavirus economy, with more than 8 million workers having lost their jobs, about two-thirds of the restaurant labor force. About four in ten restaurants have closed, while many others struggle to stay afloat by providing curbside service. The National Restaurant Association is asking for more monies to support survival of restaurants during this period of government enforced business closure. Like so many other small businesses, the future for many restaurants is looking very doubtful.

4) Stock market closings for – 20 APR 20: Oil drops from $18.12 for Friday to -$16.10, almost a complete inversion in price.

Dow 23,650.44 down 592.05
Nasdaq 8,560.73 down 89.41
S&P 500 2,823.16 down 51.40

10 Year Yield: down at 0.63%

Oil: down at -$16.10

9 April 2020

1) The electric auto maker Tesla announced it is furloughing workers as well as cutting employee salaries as a result of the coronavirus shutdown of its facilities. Furthermore, the virus pandemic has slashed demand for cars and forced several other automakers to furlough workers. Barring any significant changes, Tesla plans to resume normal operations on May 4. Salary reductions will start on April 13 and remain in place until the end of the second quarter. Workers salaries are cut by 10%, directors by 20% and vice presidents by 30%. The company considers it has sufficient cash reserves to weather the shutdown.

2) Nuro’s driverless delivery vehicles has received another approval. California’s DMV has given a permit for Nuro to operate in specific parts of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. While test have been permitted since 2017, a human monitor was required, but these vehicles will be fully autonomous having no humans. This is another step in the rapidly changing retail market, which is embracing wide spread automation in its sales, as robots become more involved in consumerism activities.

3) The number of deaths projected for the coronvirus has been lowered, but there are fears of a ‘second wave’ to follow. The pandemic model has scaled back its projected death toll by 26% to 60,000 however, if social distancing practices are not maintained, a second wave of infections may ensue. So far, about 400,000 coronavirus cases have been reported with roughly 13,000 deaths. But even the revised forecast suggest months of infection troubles for the United States. About 94% of the population has been ordered to stay at home.

4) Stock market closings for – 8 APR 20:

Dow 23,433.57 up 779.71
Nasdaq 8,090.90 up 203.64
S&P 500 2,749.98 up 90.57

10 Year Yield: up at 0.76%

Oil: up at $26.14

7 April 2020

1) Ten million people have rushed to file unemployment claims only to find a system swamped to the point of being nonfunctional. State websites are buckling, their phone lines jammed with backlogs mounting from jobless people seeking benefits, needing help. To make matters worst, the federal government has not dispersed all the necessary monies to states so there isn’t enough money for benefits. While the coronavirus is concentrated in a few areas of the country, the economic havoc has been nation wide.

2) Wells Fargo bank is bowing out of the new federal program aimed at helping small businesses retain workers and pay bills. The bank is no longer accepting new loan applications under the Paycheck Protection Program, which is part of the $2.2 trillion dollar economic relief package. The bank had committed $10 billion dollars to the loan program, but has already reached more than that amount in applications. Last year, Wells Fargo arranged more small business loans than any other lender. The Paycheck Protection Program offers 1% interest loans to business with fewer than 500 workers, and if borrowers don’t lay off workers in the next eight weeks, they will have their loans and interest forgiven. The program allots $350 billion dollars, but as of Friday only 17,000 loans have been approved for a total of $5.4 billion dollars.

3) Jamie Dimon, CEO for JP Morgan Chase, predicts a ‘bad recession’ as a result of the coronavirus, where the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) could plunge as much as 35% annual rate in the second quarter with a down turn lasting the rest of the year. Furthermore, the unemployment rate could spike as high as 14% during this recession. Because of the extension of new credit, a major recession means we are exposing the bank to billions of dollars of additional credit losses in helping businesses through this setback.

4) Stock market closings for – 6 APR 20:

Dow 22,679.99 up 1627.46
Nasdaq 7,913.24 up 540.16
S&P 500 2,663.68 up 175.03

10 Year Yield: up at 0.68%

Oil: down at $26.73

6 April 2020

1) Across the world, truckers are having a difficult time in their role of delivering food stocks to the people. In America, truck drivers are finding it more difficult to operate, unable to find places to eat, with restaurants shut down and their rigs too big to go to the drive-thru lanes. They are unable to find places to sleep, shower or even clean toilet facilities. Nevertheless, the food supply chain continues to struggle to get the necessary food to the people.

2) With the government announcement that we are now in a recession, questions abound how long will it last? For the ‘08 recession, it took more than a decade to recover. One major obstacle facing a recovery, from a near total shutdown of the economy, is the small businesses. Half the businesses in the American economy are classed as small businesses, and half of those have less than fifteen days cash reserves, which means a significant number of American businesses will not survive the virus shutdown. This will leave millions of workers scrambling to find work and therefore will greatly hinder a recovery.

3) Oil prices have rallied from news that the Saudi Arabia – Russia price war may be coming to an end with agreements to cut back oil production by ten million barrels a day. Oil is the keystone to economic vitality with oil prices needing to be above about $40 a barrel for shale oil to be profitable so America can remain oil independent.

4) Stock market closings for – 3 APR 20:

Dow 21,052.53 down 360.91
Nasdaq 7,373.08 down 114.23
S&P 500 2,488.65 down 38.25

10 Year Yield: down at 0.59%

Oil: up at $29.00