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

CONGRESS FINALLY REACHES $900 BILLION STIMULUS DEAL BEFORE HOLIDAYS!!!!!!!!!!

By: Economic & Finance Report

Eureka!!!!!! Finally a resolution for the stimulus package to be garnered to the American people and American struggling small businesses; in the United States. The stimulus package reached by the Republican & Democrat Senate & House leadership; will have a full vote by the US Senate & House of Reps on Monday, December 21, 2020.

The $900 billion price tag leaves out state aid, that governors and mayors across party lines have indicated they desperately need, to revive their local economies. Local officials will have to figure out ways to attribute their fiscal budget without the aid support being provided by the federal government.

The stimulus deal was reached late Sunday night December 20, 2020 by both Republicans and Democrats. It had been in negotiations for months, as Democrats and Republicans had been jostling for superiority on what should be included for the second wave of stimulus checks to the American people and American small businesses. The package aid was desperately needed because of the collapse of the economy, caused by the coronavirus pandemic. -SB

Image Credit: Forbes.com

4 December 2020

1) Exxon has announced that it will dramatically mark down the value of its natural gas properties, a result of the slow oil price recovery. The plan is to take a non-cash charge of $17 to $20 billion dollars, which is a massive hit for a company who has long opposed to taking writedowns. Exxon erred when it acquired XTO Energy, a natural gas giant, for $41 billion dollars in late 2009. Now, about half of that purchasing value has now been erased. The natural gas market is depressed with the price of gas now less than half of what it was when Exxon purchased XTO Energy. Other oil companies such as Chevron, BP and Shell have also taken massive write downs. This write down also means that Exxon will limit its near term capital spending in gas

2) Failed talks have exposed a dangerous fissure at OPEC’s core, which its partners are quietly working to repair. Diplomatic efforts center around Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on how much crude oil to pump in the coming new year. OPEC rescued the oil market this year, after an unprecedented slump in oil prices, by slashing production to compensate for the demand decline because of the pandemic. But with oil prices down for so long, many OPEC member countries life blood revenues are down which impairs operations of those governments. This puts a lot of pressure on individual countries to break away and pump without any restrictions or quotas to get the monies they need. Privately, some OPEC members are talking about even leaving the cartel and going their own way with oil.

3) During the Thanksgiving holiday week, fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits, thereby reversing an uptick in jobless claims over the previous two weeks. But still unemployment claims remain historically high, indicating many companies are continuing to lay off workers, despite the economy recovering from the impact of the coronavirus. Some 712,000 people applied for unemployment benefits, a drop of 75,000 from the week before. Another 288,000 applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a special program for self-employed and gig workers, as well as others who don’t qualify for regular state unemployment. In addition, millions are struggling to find work during the pandemic. All told, about 20 million people are now receiving some type of jobless aid, with 12 million set to lose their benefits the day after Christmas unless Congress agrees to extend funding.

4) Stock market closings for – 3 DEC 20:

Dow 29,969.52 up by 85.73
Nasdaq 12,377.18 up by 27.82
S&P 500 3,666.72 down by 2.29

10 Year Yield: down at 0.92%

Oil: up at $45.64

19 November 2020

1) A crew of three astronauts went into space aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster. Not since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011 has America launched humans into orbit from American, to docked with the International Space Station. The Crew Dragon carried an international assembly of astronauts, three Americans and one Japanese, who are expected to spend the next six months in the station. The launch is another milestone in the commercialization of space. Previously, NASA was purchasing flights on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft but with SpaceX, NASA will save about $25 million per seat.

2) There are growing fears that tourism may not fully recover in New York city until 2025, another result of the coronavirus pandemic. New York city may only get one-third as many visitors as it did last year, a city that is one of the world’s most popular destinations. Forecasters predict that tourism will not fully rebound for at least four years, where in recent years tourism has been a vital part of the city’s economy, that supports hundreds of thousands of workers from hotels to restaurants to Broadway. New York had a record 66.6 million visitors in 2019 and drew $46 billion dollars in annual spending. The collapse of tourism has been a key reason that New York’s economy has been hit harder than most other major American cities. The city’s unemployment rate is 14.1 percent, more than double the national rate.

3) Experts predict that Boeing’s 737 MAX debacle could be the most expensive corporate blunder ever. The 20-month grounding of the 737 MAX could end very soon, but Boeing’s mounting costs have soared to tens of billions of dollars, which may rank among the most expensive corporate mistakes in history. Financially, Boeing continues to pay a high cost to ensure the safety of future 737 MAX passengers, with about $20 billion dollars in direct costs from the grounding, then $8.6 billion dollars in compensation to customers, $5 billion for costs of production, and $6.3 billion for increased costs of the 737 MAX program. Also, Boeing is spending $600 million for jet storage, pilot training and software updates that are not included in the company’s overall cost estimate. Finally, the company has established a $100 million dollar victim compensation fund, which also is not included in Boeing’s $20 billion dollars in estimated costs. Not included is the cost of legal liability which may add another $500 million. Boeing has had to borrow billions of dollars at a roughly 5% interest rate adding more money to be paid out over the 737 MAX. There is also the cost of opportunity lost from the lost of sales with 448 canceled orders for the MAX this year, compared with only nine for its other models. In addition Boeing has dropped another 782 orders from its backlog of orders believed to be no longer certain enough to rely on. In at least some cases those uncertain plane orders are jets airline customers have said they no longer want.

4) Stock market closings for – 18 NOV 20:

Dow 29,438.42 down by 344.93
Nasdaq 11,801.60 down by 97.74
S&P 500 3,567.79 down by 41.74

10 Year Yield: up at 0.88%

Oil: up at $41.62

16 November 2020

1) Experts predict the growth of jobs will slow during a Biden presidency, simply because the easy gains are almost gone. So the easy part of job recovery will be history by the time President-elect Joe Biden moves into the White House, leaving a particularly difficult environment for an administration seeking to right the economy. The job growth rate has decline every month since June, and this will be even worst with the resurgence of the coronavirus putting economic growth into reverse. One cause of this is companies who laid off workers at the start of the pandemic, have since gone out of business, leaving nothing for laid-off workers to return to. Over a million workers are still being laid off or fired each month, with about 3.7 million additional workers who have quit working or looking for work entirely since February. Furthermore, it takes longer for skilled workers to return to work simply because there are few jobs available to choose from.

2) Massachusetts was one of the hardest hit states by the virus last spring, and this summer was seen as a model for infection control, but now, the number of Covid-19 cases are climbing once again with confirmed deaths surpassing 10,000. So Massachusetts is having to return to restrictions approaching another shutdown. And Massachusetts isn’t the only state seeing a strong resurgence in the coronavirus. California becomes the second state to top one million cases, with Texas closely following, who hit the grim milestone earlier this week. Just five states account for about one third of new cases. Nationwide, the pandemic has killed more than 240,000 forcing states to impose measures as cases surge. Many officials attribute raising number of cases to complacency in travel and social settings such as bars and house parties.

3) Canada welcomes Hong Kong refugees amid China crackdown by easing immigration requirements for them. Canada plans to target young, educated Hong Kongers. Their plan includes the creation of a new three-year open work permit for recent graduates and shortening eligibility for permanent residency to one year. This comes at a low point in Canada-China relations, after the 2018 arrest of a top Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. executive. Hong Kongers already in Canada will now be eligible to apply for permanent residency sooner, provided they meet language and education requirements and have worked for a year in Canada.

4) Stock market closings for – 13 NOV 20:

Dow 29,479.81 up by 399.64
Nasdaq 11,829.29 up by 119.70
S&P 500 3,585.15 up by 48.14

10 Year Yield: up at 0.89%

Oil: down at $40.12

26 October 20

1) The renewable energy industry is possibly getting a boost from New York’s East River, which is set to become the testing ground for a technology that generates electricity from the tides by using tiny turbines. Verdant Power, a New York based marine energy technology company, is installing three small underwater turbines in the river that will generate electricity from the actions of the tide. The test system will feed power to Consolidated Edison Inc.’s grid. For years there has been other attempts to draw power from marine energy, but its adoption has been stymied by high costs and mechanical issues. The turbines use 16 foot diameter rotors which are expected to have 35 kilowatts of capacity each, about four times more than a typical U.S. residential rooftop solar system. The key to success is reducing the cost, but at 10 cents a kilowatt-hour, it’s still more than twice the cost of wind and solar power.

2) The oil giant Exxon Mobil, is still reeling from the massive oil bust, and so is now having to lay off workers after all. When the rounds of layoffs in the oil industry started last May, Exxon had no plans to lay off employees. But economic realities have force a reversal of that position, because other measures to control operating cost have not been sufficient to weather the downturn. Exxon’s market value has dropped by 66 percent from $418 billion dollars and has recently been removed from the Dow Jones Industrial index, a group of 30 key stocks that serves as a benchmark indicator of the U.S. stock market. Fears that the oil and gas industry will never recover fully from the pandemic are dismissed, the company saying that developing countries around the world will continue to rely on affordable and abundant fossil fuels for decades to power their economies. It’s projected that oil and gas will make up about 50 percent of the global energy mix by 2040, down from around 60 percent today.

3) China shows increasing aggressiveness with threats of retaliation, if U.S. arms sale to Taiwan proceed, sales worth more than a billion dollars. Failure to do so would “compel the Chinese side to fight back resolutely,” a Chinese statement said. America is selling 135 precision land attack missiles, plus associated equipment and training to Taiwan to improve its defense capabilities. Taiwan isn’t the only pacific neighbor fearing China’s belligerent stance, for Japan is planning to build a missile defense system at sea despite facing mounting costs. Japan’s Aegis Ashore systems is meant to intercept missile strikes from westward. Japanese officials are considering several proposals, including putting Aegis on platforms resembling oil rigs, or on converted merchant ships or naval vessels because of safety issues for civilians. Japan has also launched its first high technology submarine, one of a coming fleet, to protect Japan from China’s aggressive threats.

4) Stock market closings for – 23 OCT 20:

Dow 28,335.57 down 28.09
Nasdaq 11,548.28 down 42.28
S&P 500 3,465.39 down 11.90

10 Year Yield: down at 0.84%

Oil: down at $39.78

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