29 January 2021

1) As President Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion dollar stimulus bill is debated by law makers and the press, Biden says he’s no longer afraid to spend big on economic relief. It’s not just smart fiscal investments, including deficit spending, it’s the return on investments in jobs, in racial equity that will prevent long-term economic damage with the benefits far surpassing the costs. But the national debt has soar by more than $7 trillion dollars during the last four years, and for the last quarter, the federal budget deficit was $572 billion, which is up more than 60% from the same period a year earlier. Fears are growing over the now massive national debt, a debt larger than at the end of World War II (as percent GDP), plus many other western and even third world nations have similar huge debts. There are real fears that if one of those nations economy collapses, then other economies will be dragged down, including Americas. Biden supporters counter that the low interest rates make it more palatable to borrow, with the rate on the 10-year Treasury bond hovering around 1.1%.

2) A new way to manipulate the stock market made the news, that uses modern computer technology and the internet to drive stock prices up and down. Called a “pump and dump” scam, it has pitted the professional stock traders of Wall Street against amateurs trading on the internet (also known as non-professional individual investors) with apps like Robinhood and Reddit. The scammers buy up the shares cheap, then spread rumors that drive the stock price higher while encouraging other investors to get in on the supposed windfall. When the stock hits a high point, the scammers dump their shares, leaving unsuspecting investors holding the bag. In addition to other stocks, the stock for GameStop is the main name in stories this week. The stock started at $4 a share six months ago, rising to $483. Short traders had determined that GameStop was a failing company that would not survive, and so were buying up the stock planning to sell short, which they had bought up on credit. The amateurs, using the internet and social apps started talking up how great the stock was as they also bought up stock, both driving up the price. As the stock price became excessively high, the short sellers were force to actually buy the stock at a price above the short price, resulting in huge losses for the Wall Streeters. The amateurs then sold off their stocks to the unsuspecting, causing the stock to tumble down.

3) General Motors announces its goal to eliminate selling all their gas and diesel vehicle models by 2035 and be completely carbon neutral by 2040. California had announced that it will no longer allow the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035.

4) Stock market closings for – 28 JAN 21:

Dow 30,603.36 up by 300.19
Nasdaq 13,337.16 up by 66.56
S&P 500 3,787.38 up by 36.61

10 Year Yield: up at 1.06%

Oil: down at $52.18

27 January 2021

1) There are growing fears that the long running bull market is about to crumble and collapse. The biggest sign is there are fewer stocks helping to drag benchmarks toward fresh records. When the underlying momentum wanes then we see weaknesses developing under the surface, which is what’s happening now. Fewer stocks are managing to end above their short-term moving averages even as indexes show record closing highs and yet fewer than 45% of their stocks managed to close above their 10-day moving averages.

2) China is working to overtake America by leading the global recovery from the pandemic thereby becoming more influential on the world stage than ever before. And China just might have the momentum and confidence to pull it off. As the world’s second largest economy shrugs off much of the Covid-19 pandemic this last year, China’s economy continues growing while the world crashes into recession. This could mean China’s GDP will exceed the United States later this decade, which will be years earlier than expected. China has outpaced the United States in attracting foreign direct investment for the first time, signing a trade agreement with the European Union giving European companies greater access to China’s1.4 billion consumers. Furthermore, China’s starts the new year without one of its most aggressive political adversaries, the former President Trump. China has sent help to other countries and in the process left many third world countries deeply in debt to China, claiming they are injecting more momentum into growth. But a host of geopolitical challenges, including the clashes over Hong Kong and alleged human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang region, taking control of islands in the South China Sea and threats to Taiwan have all exacerbated tensions with the West and may stymie efforts to foster multilateral cooperation. These actions are unacceptable to the democratic nations, who are pulling away from China despite its attractiveness as a market.

3) There are fears that Biden’s executive order will aggravate America’s food crisis, by signing an executive order that addresses America’s most pressing economic needs. This order includes measures to blunt the meteoric rise in food insecurity during the pandemic. The order calls on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to expand three key food assistance programs, which are the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT), SNAP, and the Thrifty Food Plan.

4) Stock market closings for – 26 JAN 21:
Dow 30,937.04 down by 22.96
Nasdaq 13,626.06 down by 9.93
S&P 500 3,849.62 down by 5.74
10 Year Yield: unchanged at 1.04%
Oil: down at $52.75

22 January 2021

1) President Biden is asking Congress for $1,400 stimulus checks, but economists advise caution before spending, because economists who have looked at what happens when people have time to mull over a financial windfall, found that they spend less of the money, rather they save more of it. With less spending, there is less stimulus to the economy, therefor the stimulus fails to do the intended purpose. For the first stimulus checks in April people generally spent between one-quarter and one-third of the check in the first 10 days. Bottom line, the longer payment delays make it more likely that households will save their stimulus checks, which undermines the goal of stimulating the economy by boosting consumption.

2) The Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen will be part of the Senate Finance Committee process of vetting President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion dollar Covid-19 relief plan. She will say that low borrowing costs means it’s time to act big. The new package includes a minimum-wage hike and substantial expansion in family and medical leave, social safety-network of programs that have already triggered Republican opposition. There are still almost 11 million unemployed Americans in an economy still being battered by the pandemic. Declines in both payrolls and retail sales in December left the nation’s economy limping into the new year. Additionally, more than 17 million people say they have little to no confidence in their ability to pay their rent next month. However, Yellen will also be asked what the safe debt limit is, since it is already on the verge of surpassing 100% of the GDP. There is also the question of the pros and cons of strengthening the dollar among fears that a stronger dollar will weaken the U.S. economy.

3) The U.S. government has approved routes for a system of pipelines that will move carbon dioxide across Wyoming for disposal. The greenhouse gas is captured from coal-fired power plants, to keep it out of the atmosphere where it causes global warming. The captured CO2 is then pumped underground to add pressure to and boost production of oil fields. The pipeline is about 1,100 miles of federal land through the Wyoming Pipeline Corridor Initiative. This project is a way to boost the state’s struggling coal mining industry.

4) Stock market closings for – 21 JAN 21:

Dow 31,176.01 down by 12.37
Nasdaq 13,530.92 up by 73.67
S&P 500 3,853.07 up by 1.22

10 Year Yield: up at 1.11%

Oil: up at $53.03

6 November 2020

1) This year’s elections are revealing some interesting things about the new young voters and the society they want. Voters are backing legalized drugs, higher wages and voting restrictions. In Oregon, they have eliminated all criminal penalties for possession of hard drugs. Four other states legalized recreational marijuana. Voters continue to support higher wages with minimum wage settings in states, with Florida raising their minimum to $15 an hour. Abortion encountered more restrictions on the state level. Several states adopted measures, including constitutional amendments, to limit voting rights to U.S. citizens only.

2) The White House task force is warning that new cases of Covid-19 are increasing ‘exponentially’ despite President Trump’s claims that the pandemic would vanish on November 4. Rising case numbers, hospitalizations, and deaths nationwide are causing the task force to sound dire warnings. Recommendations are 1) Do not gather without a mask with individuals living outside of your household, 2) Always wear a mask in public places and, 3) Stop gatherings beyond immediate household until number of cases and positive tests have decrease significantly. The task force is warning states and universities/colleges of the risks during the up coming holiday season and the increase risk of spreading of the virus. States with the highest number of new cases per 100,000 are North Dakota followed by South Dakota, Wisconsin, Montana, Wyoming, Iowa, Alaska, Nebraska, Utah, and Idaho. Vermont remains the state with the lowest number of new cases.

3) Renowned investor Warren Buffett’s (Berkshire Hathaway CEO) favorite market indicator nears record high, signaling stocks are overvalued and riskier than ever for investing. His indicator takes the total market capitalization of a country’s stocks and divides it by quarterly GDP in order to compare the stock market’s valuation to the size of the economy. Currently that’s 168% which signals a record disconnect between asset prices and the economy, and a warning to investors to exercise a great deal of caution towards equities as an asset class. The stock market has never been as expensive as it is today, and not only does this mean that forward returns will likely be exceptionally poor, it means that downside risk has also never been greater than it is today. This indicator also soared before the dot-com bubble burst and surged in the months leading up to the 2008 financial crisis.

4) Stock market closings for – 5 NOV 20:

Dow 28,390.18 up by 542.52
Nasdaq 11,890.93 up by 300.15
S&P 500 3,510.45 up by 67.01

10 Year Yield: up at 0.78%

Oil: down at $38.51

31 July 2020

1) The American economy last quarter is the worst on record, with a 32.9% annual rate contraction (April – June). American business ground to a halt from the pandemic lockdown this spring, leaving the country in its first recession in eleven years. This wipes out five years of economic gains in just months. From January to March, the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) declined by an annualized rate of 5%. While the unemployment is declining as states open up from the shutdown, there are still about 15 million unemployed workers. Americans are spending less money during th lockdown, partly because of lost of jobs. Consumer spending is the biggest driver of the economy, and it declined at an annual rate of 34.6% for the second quarter.

2) While Walmart has posted surging sales for each month, it is still taking cost savings measures. The retailer has laid off hundreds of workers including store planning, logistics, merchandising and real estate. Also, Walmart is reorganizing its 4,750 stores by consolidation of divisions and eliminating some regional manager roles. Walmart is performing well because of high demand and low prices during the pandemic. The company isn’t opening as many new stores in the U.S. anymore, so Walmart doesn’t need as many people to find new locations and so design them.

3) Job postings in technology are 36% down from 2019 levels. This is attributed to increased competition, low priority in hiring and uncertainty over the pandemic. Therefore, the tech industry is also feeling the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Sending a very significant portion of its workers remote to work at home, there were predictions tech jobs would lead the recovery with increase job numbers. The ‘work at home’ was thought to show tech jobs might be available outside the traditional hubs. Neither has proved to be true. In short, the tech jobs are faring worst than the overall economy.

4) Stock market closings for – 30 JUL 20:

Dow 26,313.65 down 225.92
Nasdaq 10,587.81 up 44.87
S&P 500 3,246.22 down 12.22

10 Year Yield: down at 0.54%

Oil: down at $40.45

The Young are getting the Worst Deal Ever!

The ever shrinking economic opportunities for the millennials and generation-Z are leaving them with the worst deal ever.

James Lyman BSAE, BSEE, MSSM

Because of the continual displacement of jobs by technology, I’ve been saying that the youth of America is getting the worst deal ever, worst than the Indians selling Manhattan Island for just $24. Now Andrew Van Dam of the Washington Post has written an article with the numbers to substantiate that premise. Dated the 27th of May this year, his article “Millennials are the unluckiest generation in US history”, shows how the millennials have experienced slower economic growth upon entering the labor market, and the generation-Zs has even less to be expected.

As with so many analysis of economic opportunity for the millennials and generation-Z, there is no consideration for the obsolescence of people, the ever increasing displacement of people and their jobs by technologies. Their decline in economic well-being is due in large part because those good paying jobs of their parents are disappearing to machines. You now have 20 to 25% of new college graduates unemployed or under employed, simply because those jobs once open to these graduates have faded away . . . largely because of new technologies.

Mr. Van Dam’s article gives the facts as the Gross Domestic Product per person, a measure of the average personal wealth. In this case, the GDP after the first fifteen years from starting work, with the dollar amounts adjusted for inflation. Coming out of the Great Depression, the World War II era people, born between 1901 and 1924, had the highest with a GDP of $59,600, while their kids, the Baby Boomers were about half as much at $35,500. In turn, their kids were again about half of their GDP with $15,400. Each generation is reaching significantly less wealth in their early working years as seen in Mr. Van Dam’s table below:

Generation Group Birth Year GDP
World War II, GI (1901-1924) $59,600

Baby Boomers (1946-1964) $35,500

Millennials (1981-1996) $15,400

The next generation, those born after about 2000, the generation-Z, for now are too young to have 15 years of working data to compare, since they are just starting to work. But there’s every indication they will do worst than their fathers. For the millennials, first 9/11 followed by the Great Recession and now the new recession, has continually set them back erasing their gains leaving them with little compared with their forefathers. While their fathers lost little in wages, which they were mostly able to recover, for the millennials there was limited recovery. The average millennial lost about 13% of earnings from 2005 to 2017 compared with 7% for the baby boomers. This lost continues with depressed life time earnings leaving the millennials with less wealth than previous generations, which translates into the homes they own, their savings for retirement, their long term debt. More importantly, for a hyper-consumerism economy, the millennials have a shrinking disposable income, which means fewer luxury things they can buy, an important part of consumerism. So this leaves the hyper-consumerism economy shrinking as evident by the decline of retailing with all the store closings across America. Estimates are that 25,000 stores will close by the end of the year, and 100,000 by 2025. But if hyper-consumerism collapses, what economic system will replace it?

More puzzling, even after years of economic growth, the millennials are below previous age groups. Why? This is the critical part so many are missing . . . the impact of automation and technology displacement. The millennials were born from 1981 to 1996, and started coming into the work force just when computers were an exploding technology finding their way into more and more of America business, and not just the large corporations, but down in the small business arena with just a few workers. For instances, look at the sophisticated accounting software that became available at that time. Less skilled people were needed to run a business, and less skill translates into lower pay. For the most part, technology didn’t directly replace millennial people with ‘robot machines’ rather technology chipped away at workers intellectual and skill levels requirements. This met that more people could do a job, and that in turn lowered the pay needed to get workers. This started the era of economic growth but with zero wage growth. To better understand, read “How to Make Obsolete People” at www.peopleobsolete.com, clicking on ‘Down Load Articles’ on the top menu, then the third article down.

The real problem for the future of millennials and generation-Z is their growing obsolescence which decreases their value and worth to the economic system. Mr. Van Dam’s article shows that the two generations has a ‘lesser future’ than previous generations, but in not considering the growing problem of technology displacement and its real impact on the employment environment, there isn’t any real understanding of why the millennials are the unluckiest generation in U.S. history.

The fact is, the millennials and generation-Z are getting the worst deal since the Indians sold Manhattan for just twenty-four dollars.

The thing to know is economic turmoil stimulates introduction of new technologies as businesses seek the means to survive, which then means more jobs lost to machines.

26 June 2020

1) General Motors is eliminating 700 factory jobs in Tennessee as a result of low sales, which they are blaming on the Convid-19 crisis. This is the third shift at their Spring Hill assembly plant, leaving 3,000 workers still employed. This plant makes Cadillac XT5 and XT6 SUVs plus the GMC Acadia. This is another sign of the weakness in auto demand, a result of record job loss coupled with people working at home and therefore putting less wear on their old cars. The GM plant for building truck engines remains unchanged, since they were working just two shifts to start with.

2) The nation wide retailer Macy’s is cutting nearly 4,000 corporate jobs, about 3% of its overall workforce. The pandemic has taken a toll on the department store chain, just like so many other traditional chain retailers. This move will save the company about $630 million dollars per year, amid a quarterly net loss of $652 million dollars. Macy’s was struggling long before the pandemic because of competition from lower priced retailers such as Walmart, T.J. Maxx and Target.

3) The U.S. GDP (Gross Domestic Product) shrank by 5% for the first quarter, compared to an increase in the previous quarter of 2.1%, prior to the coronavirus pandemic onset. This drop is attributed to a decrease in personal consumption expenditures (PCE) because people are spending less. The real gross domestic income decreased 4.4% as compared to a 3.1% increase in the fourth quarter of last year.

4) Stock market closings for – 25 JUN 20:

Dow 25,745.60 up 299.66
Nasdaq 10,017.00 up 107.84
S&P 500 3,083.76 up 33.43

10 Year Yield: down at 0.67%

Oil: up at $39.18

3 June 2020

1) The economic activity for the second quarter is down, while more than half the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is now showing a 52.8% drop. Consequently, the personal consumption expenditures is expected to fall 58.1%, which makes up 68% of the nation’s GDP. The current recession is unique in that it was lead by the services sector instead of the traditional manufacturing or construction sectors.

2) Because of the Convid-19 shutdown, the retail industry has a mountain of apparel stock piling up in stores, distribution centers, warehouses and shipping containers. Those retailers now face the difficult decisions of what is best to do with this overstock and choked supple chain. Their options are to keep it in storage, hold sales, offload to ‘off price’ retailers who then sell at deep discounts or move it to online resale sites. None of these options are ideal, but they do limit the damage to company’s bottom line. For apparel that isn’t so fashion sensitive, such as underwear, t-shirts and chinos, warehousing for a short time to wait for demand to return is a viable option. But storing inventory cost money. The opposite strategy is to hold sales and sell stock to the off-price retailers. The ‘in store’ sales is usually better because dumping in bulk to the discounters usually brings only pennies on the dollar for retailers. This amounts to huge losses for the retailer. The most lucrative option is moving merchandise to online re-sellers who take a commission on sales, however this is largely only open for high end brands. No matter what options a retailer takes, it all spells out large losses for them because of the pandemic.

3) Southwest Airlines is offering buyout packages and temporary paid leaves to employees in an attempt to ensure survival, in anticipation of a slow recovery. The airline company has not imposed any layoffs or furloughs in its 49 year history, and while overstaffing isn’t tied to 100% capacity levels, it has never faced the drastic drop in passenger service as now seen with the pandemic. Therefore, Southwest if seeking to voluntarily reduce workforce as softly as possible.

4) Stock market closings for – 2 JUN 20:

Dow 25,742.65 up 267.63
Nasdaq 9,608.38 up 56.33
S&P 500 3,080.82 up 25.09

10 Year Yield: up at 0.68%

Oil: up at $36.90

2 June 2020

1) Experts say it could take as much as a decade for America’s economy to fully recover from the coronavirus and the subsequent massive shutdown of businesses. Presently, it’s expected that the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) will decrease about 3% from 2020 to 2030 or about $7.9 trillion dollars. It’s expected that the measures to counter the virus, the business closures and social distancing measures, will reduce consumer spending, which in turn will cool the economy. With 41 million people now unemployed, more layoffs are expected for the next week with an unemployment rate of 19.6%. Furthermore, it’s expected that the coronavirus will cost the economic about $7.9 trillion dollars.

2) The reopening of America from the lockdown was going to be difficult enough, but now the growing violence of protest is threatening to hamper that recovery. Stores in the protest areas are closing for the protection of its employees such as CVS and Target, with doubts mounting if some of the stores will ever reopen. Mayor Lightfood of Chicago said the continuing violence is making the city reconsider the opening of Chicago’s businesses. Also, the wireless carriers T-Mobile has closed Metro and Sprint stores over the same consideration of possible violence.

3) China has stopped some imports of U.S. farm products such as soybeans and pork meat. This is the latest sign that the January phase one trade deal between the world’s two largest economies is unraveling. The halts come after President Trump’s criticism of China’s efforts to bring Hong Kong under the firm control of the communist. The president is threatening to strip Hong Kong of some of it’s special privileges, which in turn would make Hong Kong less valuable economically to China. Further aggravating U.S. and Chinese relations is the charges that China shares some responsibility for the Convid-19 pandemic.

4) Stock market closings for – 1 JUN 20:

Dow 25,475.02 up 91.91
Nasdaq 9,552.05 up 62.18
S&P 500 3,055.73 up 11.42

10 Year Yield: up at 0.66%

Oil: up at $35.56

1 June 2020

1) For the last few years, a number of retailers have been downsizing by closing a number of their stores across the country, something that the coronavirus pandemic has greatly accelerated. But the restaurant chains have also been downsizing as well, closing branches all across the county. Such popular names as Jack in the Box, Luby’s, Pizza Hut, Ruby Tuesday, Steak’nShake , Subway, Burger King, TGI Fridays and Applebee’s just to name a few, who are closing restaurants across the country. Each have been struggling for the last several years. This is another sign that the American consumer market is in the process of fundamentally changing.

2) The U.S. consumer spending plunged in April by the most on record because of the nation wide lock down. Spending fell 13.6% from the prior month, making for the sharpest drop in six decades. A rise in income temporarily masks the fact that people are in a fragile economic position, because the rise was a result of the one time stimulus checks. The virus crisis halted all but the most essential purchases, with economists expecting it will take a year or more before spending recovers.

3) It’s anticipated that the national debt will increase to more than 100% of the national GDP (Gross Domestic Product) by the end of the year. This will exceed the record set after World War II. The $25 trillion dollar national debt equates to $76,665 dollars per citizen or $203,712 dollars per taxpayer. The federal deficit is over $1.9 trillion dollars through April, and is expected to rise to $3.7 trillion dollars by the end of September, which is the end of the fiscal year. Such debt could draw investors to demand higher interest rates, as the federal government’s position becomes increasingly precarious. This is like an individual piling on credit card debt without consideration for the short or long term consequences to their financial position. For America, those consequences could be deep depression coupled with inflation of the dollar leaving money far less valuable than today.

4) Stock market closings for – 29 MAY 20:

Dow 25,383.11 down 17.53
Nasdaq 9,489.87 up 120.88
S&P 500 3,044.31 up 14.58

10 Year Yield: down at 0.65%

Oil: up at $35.32