Former Finance Minister of Nigeria, Ms. Okonjo Iweala has emerged as the first woman and African, to lead the World Trade Organization (WTO).
She was confirmed as the director of the organization on Feb. 15, 2021 (Monday). Ms. Iweala has worked for the WTO in the past and is considered a top advisor within the organization, having been in senior positions within the WTO in the past.
She will be leading the WTO which is revitalizing it’s organizational apparatus and leadership. The former Nigerian finance minister was one of the final picks along with South Korea’s trade minister, Ms. Yoo Myung-Hee to lead the over 25 year old trade organization. -SB
1) General Chuck Yeager, died at age 97, was remembered Monday as America’s greatest Pilot in a tweet attributed to his wife, Victoria Scott D’Angelo. After breaking the sound barrier, Yeager continued to break records and returned to combat. He was a double ace with 11.5 aircraft shot down and became an ‘ace in a day’ by shooting down 5 or more aircraft in a single day. After World War II, in 1947, he became the first man to fly faster than the speed of sound by flying the Bell X-1. In 1953 he flew more than 1,600 mph in the Bell X-1A. He also flew combat missions in both the Korean and Vietnam wars. Chuck Yeager had flown 361 different types of aircraft and flew 10,131.6 hours during his career, retiring from the Air Force in 1975.
2) With just 24 days to make a deal, the Brexit negotiators are finding the situation very gloomy for a trade deal, with talks now on a ‘knife’s edge’ again. The British and European teams are struggling to craft a free-trade agreement so the two sides can continue the orderly movement of goods and services across the English Channel. Otherwise, Britain and Europe will enforce new customs duties, tariffs, border checks, and quotas on goods, therefore increasing prices and fully ending the era of the free and frictionless trade. The major obstacle is the European access to fish in British waters, despite the fisheries accounting for just a small fraction of Britain’s gross domestic product. The Europeans are also pressing to maintain a “level playing field,” to keep Britain from undercutting worker protections or granting large state subsidies to British businesses, thus giving the U.K. firms unfair advantages.
3) Oil prices fell from a 9-month high while the dollar strengthened. Consumption in Asia remains robust, while other markets are soft or declining. Crude oil prices now look to be heavily dependent on how quickly Covid-19 vaccines can be rolled out. OPEC+ is facing more potential supply challenges, with Libya continuing to ramp up production while Iran prepares to raise oil exports with expectations that America will ease some sanctions under a Joe Biden presidency.
4) Stock market closings for – 8 DEC 20:
Dow 30,173.88 up by 104.09 Nasdaq 12,582.77 up by 62.83 S&P 500 3,702.25 up by 10.29
1) Experts forecast that a rising stock market and a weak dollar will keep going hand in hand in the near future. The movements of the past month are consistent with movements between equities and the dollar observed this year, which is at its strongest level since before the global financial crisis. Additionally, the seesaw relationship between the dollar and equities is getting more intense, so a rapidly falling currency serves as fodder for stock-market bulls, who are expecting this pattern to endure for some time. Stocks saw a historic rise in November, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average logging its biggest monthly rise since January 1987, as major indexes hit all-time highs. At the same time, the dollar fell 2.3%, its worst month since a 4.2% fall in July and its worst November since 2006. A weaker dollar is often seen as supportive to equities.
2) Boeing Aircraft Co. is considering an equity sale and other ways to ease its debt burden that has soared to $61 billion this year, a result of the worst slump in aviation history. Additionally, Boeing will cut back on production of its 787 Dreamliner from six down to five planes a month by mid-2021. The company has sufficient reserves to see it through months of tumult until coronavirus vaccines are widely distributed. Boeing is prepared to speed up deliveries of 450 of its 737 MAX planes that it built but couldn’t deliver during the global grounding. Therefore undelivered aircraft are starting to stack up around Boeing’s factories and in a storage lot in the California desert, and so it will take the manufacture through 2021 to clear them from its inventory.
3) Negotiations for Britain to exit the European Union continue as the dead line nears. The fundamental differences between the two sides remain over a ‘level playing field’ of the standards the U.K. must meet to export into the bloc, how future disputes are resolved and the fishing rights for EU trawlers in U.K. waters. Ireland finds itself in a difficult place with the most to lose from a no-deal exit. Speed is now of the essence since the 27 EU member states have to unanimously support any deal. Both sides will suffer economically from a failure to secure a trade deal, but most economists think the British economy would take a greater hit. The main problem is how Britain wrests itself free of EU rules with the bloc’s insistence that no country, should get easy access to EU’s market by undercutting its high environmental and social standards.
4) Stock market closings for – 7 DEC 20:
Dow 30,069.79 down by 148.47 Nasdaq 12,519.95 up by 55.71 S&P 500 3,691.96 down by 7.16
1) The European Union warned that the United Kingdom has not moved sufficiently to overcome the main obstacles to a post-Brexit trade deal. One major point of contention is the fishing rights for EU fishermen in having access to U.K. fishing waters. Late on Thursday, the leaders of France, Belgium and the Netherlands called on the EU to make contingency plans for the failure of a deal in time. Officials on both sides privately voiced cautious optimism that a deal could be concluded as soon as next week, with talks now at a delicate stage. On fishing, the two sides still can’t agree on how much of the British catch the EU boats will be allocated, while the two sides also haven’t agreed on cross retaliation clauses, the official said.
2) Great Britain and Canada have reach a trade deal in a Brexit giving Prime Minister Johnson a boost. U.K. has agreed with Canada to maintain the trading conditions it has from their European Union membership and to begin talks on a broader deal that would pave the way for even closer links with Britain. Canada is Britain’s 12th largest trading partner. The two countries will begin negotiations next year to expand their commercial agreements to cover digital trade, the environment and women’s economic empowerment. Without the new agreement, Britain and Canada face tariffs on trade from the first of the year, when the Brexit transition period ends. Britain is Canada’s third-largest export market after the U.S. and China.
3) The CDC has released a report that counties in Kansas who complied with a mask mandate saw a decrease in cases compared to counties that didn’t. Those counties that opted out of mandatory wearing of masks saw an increase by 100%. While experts have said that masks are a key part of limiting the virus, their usage has been the subject political debate for months. The same declines has been seen in 15 states and in Washington DC. Covid-19 infections decreased in 24 counties with mask mandates but increased in 81 counties that opted out of the order. This translates into a 6% in counties with a mandate compared to an increase of 100% in counties where masks were not mandated. There have been 136,861 confirmed cases of coroniavirus throughout the state of Kansas, which have resulted in at least 1,306 deaths. With more than 35% of tests administered coming back positive, three times higher than the 10% rate nationally. 4) Stock market closings for – 23 NOV 20:
Dow 29,591.27 up by 327.79 Nasdaq 11,880.63 up by 25.66 S&P 500 3,577.59 up by 20.05
1) In its quest to deliver packages to customers, Amazon has received FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) approval for its Amazon’s Prime Air, an aerial package delivery system using drones. This allows Amazon to operate unmanned aerial drones in the US on a trial basis. This means the aerial robots can deliver packages outside the operator’s visual line of sight. Amazon announced it’s aerial drone plans in 2013, but hardware and safety issues have been major challenges for the company, with the first successful drone delivery in 2016. The robot aircraft are helicopter like machines that can hover and fly forward powered by electricity with a range of 15 miles. They can deliver packages weighing under five pounds in 30 minutes or less.
2) United Airlines is abandoning its domestic flight change fees forever, so if you have to change your plans and need to change your flights, it no longer will cost you. Previously, a change fee cost the consumer $200 for all economy and premium cabin tickets within the U.S. Furthermore, there’s no limit on how many times you can adjust your flight for free. Additionally, customers can get same day standby for free, which had cost $75, starting on January 2021.
3) As trade relations with China worsen, large companies are pulling out of Red China. These are big name companies known to virtually everyone such as Hasbro, Nike, Apple, Google/Alphabet, Dell, HP, Samsung, LG Electronics, Stanley Black & Decker, Zoom, Intel, Old Navy/Gap, Sharp, Adidas, Puma, Kia Motors, Sony, Nintendo and Hyundia Motors as well as lesser know companies. Reasons cited are the disrupted supply chains, the ongoing US-China trade war with little resolution in the near future, tariffs on Chinese exports so companies are moving to other Asian countries to export from there under a different country name. Also fears of inadvertently using slave labor (political reeducation inmates) leaving a company embroiled in political controversy domestically, with adverse effects on their sales.
4) Stock market closings for – 31 AUG 20:
Dow 28,430.05 down 223.82 Nasdaq 11,775.46 up 79.82 S&P 500 3,500.31 down 7.70
1) The markets sank Monday, down by 762 points, when the news of the Feds bond-buying plan became known, reversing the selling to buying which raised the Dow up 150 points. The downward slide was from fears of a second round of the Convid-19 virus with the possibility of more economic damage. The plan is for the Federal Reserve to buy individual corporate bonds, on top of the exchange traded funds it is already buying. This is a move to ease credit conditions to further stimulate the economy. The program can buy up to $750 billion dollars worth of corporate credit, which the Feds can buy on the secondary market, individual bonds that have maturities of five or less years. Bonds is how corporations typically fund their operations and expansion using debt, and this program will ease debt for corporations allowing them to grow more and provide jobs.
2) The oil giant BP (British Petroleum) has signaled to investors that the economic shock of the pandemic will reverberate for years. This in turn means less gas and oil needed by the world in the future. The company is expected to write down $17.5 Billion dollars of its oil and gas holdings this next quarter, meaning they are worth less in the future than what they are worth today. The coronavirus pandemic has caused steep declines in demand for gas and oil worldwide, and this is expected to last for a number of years. This write down is in the approximate class of the Deepwater horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, which was $32 billion dollars.
3) Britain’s Brexit, the planned exit of Britain from the European Union, has been overshadowed by the world wide pandemic, but nevertheless Brexit trade talks have continued. But the talks have reached an impasse. Britain left the union at the end of January, but had not reached agreements on traded with the other European countries. Although Britain left the union, the two economies have continued operating as before Brexit, so there has been little changed in trading. But this is only to the end of the year, and with Britain a major trader of goods with Europe, it’s important to reach agreements before that time comes. One major point of contention is how future disagreements will be adjudicated or arbitrated.
4) Stock market closings for – 15 JUN 20:
Dow 25,763.16 up 157.62 Nasdaq 9,726.02 up 137.21 S&P 500 3,066.59 up 25.28
1) Present Trump has renewed his threats to impose tariffs on imported cars from Europe, citing that the European Union is even more difficult to do business with than China. His comments signals he is turning his attention to renegotiating trade deals with the bloc. Automobiles have been at the center of trade tensions for the past couple of years.
2) The millennials own just 4% of American real estate by value, much less than the 32% which baby boomers owned. This comparison is with approximately the same media age of the two groups, meaning the millennials are far behind the baby boomers economically. While millennials may close that gap in the next four years, it’s unlikely they will reach 20% ownership, still far behind the baby boomers.
3) There is a rash of retail store closings after the holiday season, due to sales slump. Fashion retailer Express is closing 91 stores, Bed Bath & Beyond is closing 60 , Schurman Retail Group is closing its Papyrus and American Greeting stores for a total of 254 locations in the next four to six weeks. Express is the latest in a serious of fashion retailers to close, part of the struggle of malls to compete in the new retail arena. Last year, retailers Forever 21 filed for bankruptcy, with Charlotte Russe and Payless ShoeSource going out of business.
4) Stock market closings for – 22 JAN 20:
Dow 29,186.27 down 9.77 Nasdaq 9,383.77 up 12.96 S&P 500 3,321.75 up 0.96
On January 15, 2020 (Wednesday), the USA and China signed the first phase of the US-China Trade Agreement. The first phase of the agreement, has China purchasing 200 billion dollars worth of goods and services, within the next 2 years from the United States .
The United States will then reduce the tariffs of $120 billion dollars worth of Chinese products, which is currently at 15% to be reduced to 7.5%. Chinese exports will then achieve over $260 billion dollars in the 2020 fiscal year.
The agreement provides more and better protection for American companies. American companies have discontent in China stealing intellectual property and trade stipulations. Phase 1, allows US banks to operate in China, while also enabling penalties for bad business and financial practices; instituted by US banks while operating in China.
So far the Phase 1 deal; seems to be a success as global markets have reacted positively to the signing of the USA-China Phase 1 Agreement. -SB
1) Ford Motor Company’s sales in China has declined for the third straight year, falling by 26.1%. The company has been trying to revive sales in China after the decline started in 2017 and plans to introduce thirty new models in the next three years, with a third being electric models. General Motors has also experienced a decline in sales of 15% this last year.
2) One of the largest suppliers of parts to Boeing’s 737 MAX, Spirit AeroSystems, is laying off 2,800 workers. Based in Wichita Kansas, will eliminate 20% of its workforce. Smaller layoffs will happen at its facilities in Tulsa and McAlester, with half its annual sales from parts for the 737 MAX. Since last February, Spirit’s stock has fell from a high of $100 a share to $71.50 on news of the layoffs.
3) Expectations are that the U.S. will remove China from its list of currency manipulators two days before the signing of initial U.S. – China trade agreement. Part of the agreement is that both nations will not devalue its currency to gain a competitive advantages of exports. Labeling China a currency manipulator was viewed largely as a symbolic action.
4) Stock market closings for – 13 JAN 20: Stocks are up 495% in the past decade.
Dow 28,907.05 up 83.28 Nasdaq 9,273.93 up 95.07 S&P 500 3,288.13 up 22.78