The. states with short, or no lockdowns (i.e. South Dakota and Nebraska) experienced the smallest amount of economic damage.


The Devastating Economic Impact of Covid-19 Shutdowns

To this point, the destruction caused by state and Federal Covid-19 lockdowns has largely been expressed in aggregates. Yet along the same line as a popular critique of Keynesianism, economic aggregates present a greatly truncated story by smoothing over minute but revealing evidence at lower levels. Looking at the policy impact on a smaller scale – regionally, and in terms of industries/sectors – exposes the impact of mandated shutdowns in greater detail.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, widespread lockdown restrictions were imposed, ostensibly to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed and medical resources from being consumed to exhaustion. Whether policymakers purposely or out of ignorance disregarded them, the tradeoffs of stay-at-home orders were immediate and severe: a massive spike in unemployment, rivaling the Great Depression; similarly historic drops in GDP, and others. By looking at disaggregated data, though, the devastation of lockdowns becomes all the more apparent.

Organization

We examined the US economy in the period leading up to the Covid-19 policy implementations in two ways: regionally and in terms of industries.

For our analysis, U.S. geographic regions are broken into the following areas: New England, Mideast (Midatlantic), Great Lakes, Plains, Southeast, Southwest, Rocky Mountain, and the Far West. These were compared using data on GDP, imports, exports, business formations, and unemployment. Continue reading “”

5 Gun Stocks to Watch for Investors With a Steady Hand
As we draw closer to the U.S. Presidential elections, keep these five gun stocks in your crosshairs

After years in the dog house, gun stocks have come back with a vengeance so far in 2020. And, unlike in the last boom (driven by gun control fears), there have been several tailwinds moving the needle this time.

Firstly, the novel coronavirus pandemic. With uncertainty in the air, and millions of Americans stuck at home, gun demand far outstripped supply. Then, this summer’s civil unrest further fueled firearms sales growth. Not just with gun aficionados, but first-time owners as well.

And now, with the U.S. Presidential election in November, a make-or-break moment for gun stocks could be around the corner. If President Trump wins re-election, this hot sector may take a breather. In 2016, Trump’s surprise win caught gun-makers off guard, leaving them with a glut of firearms and ammunition, as demand cratered.

But, a victory by Democratic candidate Joe Biden could further fuel the rally. Why? Obama-era fears of a “gun grab” may be back on the table. Especially if the Democrats take back the U.S. Senate as well.

With speculation over a “Biden blowout,” things still look good for the firearms sector. Even if another Trump upset isn’t off the table, either.

On the other hand, being bullish (or bearish) on gun stocks may not be as binary as it was back in 2016. Given a Trump upset could fuel even more civil unrest, gun sales may remain strong even if he wins a second term.

So, what’s the play here? While an electoral upset could take the wind out this sector yet again, continued fear and unrest may mean gun stocks remain red hot. Keep these five in your crosshairs:

  • Olin Corporation (NYSE:OLN)
  • Sturm, Ruger (NYSE:RGR)
  • Sportsman’s Warehouse (NASDAQ:SPWH)
  • Smith and Wesson (NASDAQ:SWBI)
  • Vista Outdoor (NYSE:VSTO)

US employers hire 1.4M in August as unemployment rate falls sharply
Economists surveyed by Refinitiv expected the report to show that unemployment dropped to 9.8%

The U.S. economy added 1.4 million jobs in August, indicating the pace of rehiring has eased amid growing fears the nation faces a slow recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Labor Department’s payroll report released Friday showed the unemployment rate unexpectedly tumbled to 8.4%, down from 10.2% in June. It marks the first time since March the nation’s jobless rate is below 10%. Continue reading “”

Dow turns positive for 2020, with S&P on pace for best August since ‘84.

Stocks rallied to record highs Friday on stronger than expected economic data and with the race for the White House officially underway following President Trump’s acceptance of the GOP nomination.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average turned positive for the year, returning to the highs of February, rising over 161 points or 0.57% closing at 28,653.87.

The Dow 30 is on pace for its best August since 1984 as is the S&P 500 which hit a fresh record Friday rising 0.67% while the Nasdaq rose 0.60%, respectively, both extended their longest streak of record closes in 2020. The Nasdaq is on pace for its best month since 2000 and the S&P has risen eight of the last nine weeks.

S&P 500 hits another record, closes above 3,400 for the first time

Stocks rose to an all-time high on Monday, lifted by gains in tech and some reopening names, as sentiment around the coronavirus pandemic improved.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 378.13 points, or 1.4%, to close at 28,308.46.
The S&P 500 climbed 1% to 3,431.28 and hit an all-time high.
Monday also marked the S&P 500′s first-ever close above 3,400.
The Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.6% to 11,379.72 and also reached a record.Apple shares rose 1.2% to lead other tech-related names higher. Facebook

How Fear and Uncertainty Drives Demand for Gold

Even those in the nonfinancial media have noticed the skyrocketing price of gold this year. Some partially identify, but don’t quite understand, some of the many (and more measurable) intermediary effects in the chain of causation such as a “weakened US dollar” and “low bond yields.” Those in the financial press add to these factors ones like “central bank reserves” management, along with mining production and “jewelry and industrial demand.” One mainstream headline surprisingly hit closest to the mark regarding the few (and less measurable) underlying causes: “Fear and Cheap Money Send Gold Price Soaring.”

But the chief cause for this and all major rises in gold prices is not “fear and” but fear of cheap money. Continue reading “”

Americans keep buying stuff despite the pandemic — retail sales rise for a third straight month

Consumers spent less than expected in July as a pullback in auto sales helped cool an economy struggling to shake off the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Retail sales rose 1.2% for the month, against the expected increase of 2.3% from economists surveyed by Dow Jones.

The news wasn’t all a letdown, however: Excluding autos, the gain was 1.9%, ahead of the 1.2% estimate. A separate report also showed that worker productivity rose at its fastest pace in 11 years, up 7.3% annualized for the second quarter and well ahead of the 1.5% Reuters estimate.

Overall, it was the third straight monthly increase.

Continue reading “”

More jobs under Trump-Pence since May than all of Obama-Biden.

It’s go time for Vice President Mike Pence.

With the Democratic ticket finally set for the fall presidential race, Pence has switched to campaign mode, ready with a list of achievements to brag on, led by economic wins since the coronavirus crisis crashed the administration’s earlier successes.

Topping that list is the jobs comeback — some 9.2 million since the pandemic hit the United States in March.

That number gave the vice president, even more on message than usual, a new line to use against the newly minted Democratic ticket of former Vice President Joe Biden and California Sen. Kamala Harris………….

The pandemic cost some 20 million jobs, but many see the creation of nearly half of the loss as a major achievement and a path back to the record jobs that occurred under President Trump’s first three years in office.

Okay, here’s a point everyone may be missing. Venezuela used to be one of the largest oil producing nations in South America and refined their own gasoline for decades. And now they can’t even produce their own gas? What does it say about their socialist gubbermint that they’re reduced to importing petro products from a foreign country?

Can you say ‘Utter Failure‘?
I thought you could………..


FOUR TANKERS CARRYING IRANIAN OIL, HEADING TO VENEZUELA, ‘CONFISCATED’ BY TRUMP’S DOJ.

For the first time, the United States confiscated cargo in ships loaded with Iran fuel in violation of sanctions and it was the largest confiscation of its kind from anywhere. At the beginning of July, the DOJ sued to get permission to seize the four tankers of oil that Iran was sending to Venezuela. The court gave the DOJ the go-ahead and the US Centcom seized the ships on Aug. 12th.

Per the Wall Street Journal

The four vessels—Luna, Pandi, Bering and Bella—were seized at sea in recent days and are now en route to Houston, the officials said. Senior administration officials are expected to meet the tankers in the coming days at an event scheduled to mark the docking, the officials said. A spokesman for the Justice Department declined to comment.

We should follow Sweden’s model, ending the purposeless economic shutdowns. Common sense dictates that the best course is to continue masking where necessary, and maintaining social distancing. Meanwhile, like the Swedes, we should open our economy. And now, while we still have one to open.

One Swedish Model To Copy: No More COVID-19 Lockdowns

We’re getting an awful lot of very bad advice from public officials about how to handle the resurgent coronavirus pandemic. All of a sudden, we’re told, we must lock down the economy again, for our own good. Common sense and experience, it seems, have flown the coop. Just look at Sweden, which avoided a lockdown and slashed its daily COVID-19 death rate.

Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank President Neel Kashkari is the latest to create a stir by saying he favored a “really hard” four-to-six week lockdown of the economy to get the virus under control and help the economy rebound later. Continue reading “”

What Would A Joe Biden Presidency Retirement System Look Like? Farewell, 401(k), For Starters.

The Biden campaign has now (yes, two weeks ago) rolled out its released its policy recommendations, hammered out with supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, in a new 110 page document, the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force Recommendations. Is this a dramatic lurch to the left? It’s all a matter of interpretation, I suppose: for example, there is no promise of “Medicare for All,” but there is a plan to include a “public option” in which Medicare sets reimbursement rates, and in which those with income less than 200% of the poverty line have no premiums and every participant is promised a premium cap of 8.5% of income on a plan with no deductible and no copay for primary services. And there’s a lot that’s unsaid in this document; to take a random example, they pledge to “prohibit the continued taxpayer underwriting of pharmaceutical advertising” which sounds commonsense but actually would penalize drug companies by requiring them to calculate their profits (upon which they pay taxes) without considering advertising as a business expense, based on legislation proposed in January of last year, the “End Taxpayer Subsidies for Drug Ads Act.”

All of which is to say that it’s very difficult to take such a document at face value without knowing the “code” that underlies it. And that’s the case for the retirement provisions as well.

To begin with, these recommendations call for spending a lot of money. How much exactly is never tallied, but there are a long list of promises: “transitioning the entire fleet of 500,000 school buses to American-made, zero-emission alternatives within five years,” “universal, high-quality prekindergarten programs for 3- and 4-year-olds,” a massive infrastructure program including “historic investments in clean energy, clean transportation, energy efficiency, and clean and advanced manufacturing,” “Section 8 housing support for every eligible family,” and more.

Continue reading “”

More of that ‘decoupling’


Colorado on cutting edge to reduce China’s rare earth element domination.

WHEAT RIDGE—A Colorado city is now home to the tip of the spear in combating China’s domination of the world-market for rare earth elements (REE).  Manipulation of the REE market by China most recently resulted in the shutdown of the Mountain Pass REE mine in California in 2015 after an attempt by Greenwood Village-based Molycorp to reopen what has been the only developed REE mine in the U.S.

A pilot plant, now in operation in Wheat Ridge, which borders Denver to the west, will fine-tune existing technology to extract and purify elements including lithium, scandium, zirconium, beryllium, gallium and hafnium, among others, from domestic ore deposits in Texas.

Continue reading “”

Record jobs gain of 4.8 million in June smashes expectations; unemployment rate falls to 11.1%.

Nonfarm payrolls soared by 4.8 million in June and the unemployment rate fell to 11.1% as the U.S. continued its reopening from the coronavirus pandemic, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been expecting a 2.9 million increase and a jobless rate of 12.4%. The report was released a day earlier than usual due to the July Fourth holiday.

The jobs growth marked a big leap from the 2.7 million in May, which was revised up by 190,000. The June total is easily the largest single-month gain in U.S. history.

Continue reading “”

Two words; decoupling and control. Decoupling is wonkspeak for separating supply chains. The word is easy; the process is complex. “Control of production” means “build it yourself.”


On Point: Decouple and Control: U.S. Must Secure Supply Chains and Production

by Austin Bay
June 30, 2020
Beijing’s June 30 decision to impose its national security law on Hong Kong renders the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 null and void. Promising one China, two systems, that treaty guaranteed Hong Kong’s political autonomy through 2047.

So another Chinese Communist Party guarantee has entered the dustbin of history. Now tyrannical whim backed by military threat will rule the city. After a decent interval of propaganda glorifying “one China, one system,” the Pearl of the Orient’s free media and honest courts will die along with its democracy.

CCP guarantees go poof when its senior leaders decide breaking a treaty, ignoring a contract or hedging a deal serves them. In short form, that’s unfortunate Hong Kong’s strategic lesson.

To protect their own political, economic and military security, the U.S. and other democracies must treat Beijing’s CCP regime as the aggressive adversary it is.

Continue reading “”

Daily COVID-19 Deaths in the U.S. Have Fallen Dramatically Since April: The downward trend continued after states began lifting their lockdowns.

Amid concerns about post-lockdown increases in COVID-19 infections, there is one striking piece of good news: Daily deaths from the disease in the United States have fallen dramatically since April, and that downward trend has continued into June. Even taking into account the average lag between laboratory confirmation and death—about two weeks, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—the loosening of restrictions on movement and economic activity that began at the end of April so far has not led to the surge in COVID-19 deaths that many lockdown supporters predicted.

Continue reading “”

Dow jumps 550 points as May retail sales surge to record.

U.S. stocks rallied Tuesday after retail sales rebounded in May, rising to a record as businesses that were battered by the coronavirus pandemic started to reopen.

The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 550 points after rising nearly 850 points following the opening bell, the latest set of swings for markets in recent sessions following a weekslong rally. The Standard & Poor’s 500 climbed 2.1%, driven by gains in retail and airline stocks that are tied to the economy reopening.

Retail sales jumped in May following three straight months of declines, as consumers started shopping again after states began reopening businesses following widespread shutdowns to contain the virus. Sales surged 17.7% in May, according to the Commerce Department, the largest monthly jump ever after a historic 16.4% drop in April.

Insured Losses From Riots Reach ‘Catastrophe’ Levels, May Rival Record

Rioting that erupted in cities across the United States after the Memorial Day death of George Floyd in Minneapolis may rival the 1992 Los Angeles riots to become the most costly civil disorder in United States history.

The civil disturbance in Los Angeles after the videotaped police beating of Rodney King in April and May 1992 caused $775 million in damages — or $1.42 billion in today’s dollars, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Those riots, however, were largely confined to one metropolitan area. Destruction and looting that erupted after Floyd’s death was reported in at least 25 cities, and spread into many suburbs as well. The extent of damage was unknown as of late Monday, but a sample of local news reports suggests that it is widespread:

  • In Pittsburgh, the Public Safety department reported 50 businesses and properties in downtown area were damaged.
  • The Downtown Seattle Association reported that 50 businesses had damaged downtown and in the neighboring Chinatown-International District.
  • The Chicago Loop Alliance said at least 45 property were damaged in the downtown area by rioting that also spread into the cities suburbs.
  • In Madison, Wisconsin, 75 businesses were damaged and some were looted.

The National Guard reported on Monday that it had deployed troops in 24 states to protect lives and property.

“We expect this to be a significant loss event as the impact is being experienced in large and small markets across the U.S.,” stated III spokesman Mark Friedlander. “However, because it is an ongoing event, it is premature to determine the volume of property loss that will be incurred.”

Civil disturbances generally cause modest property losses when compared to natural disasters, data from the Insurance Information Institute shows. Rioting in Los Angeles in August 1965 — the second costliest civil disorder — caused $357 million in damages, measured in 2020 dollars. Together, riots in Baltimore, Chicago and New York City in April 1968 caused $231 million in damages in today’s dollars.

By comparison, Hurricane Harvey in 2017 caused an estimated $20 billion in damages.’Verisk’s Property Claims Service over the weekend declared the riots a catastrophe event, which means it projects damages of more than $25 million.

Dow Jumps More Than 800 Points, Nasdaq Hits a Record After Surprise Jobs Surge Boosts Recovery Bets

Stocks rallied on Friday after an unexpected surge in U.S. jobs raised hope that the economy is starting to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Nasdaq Composite became the first of the three major averages to climb back to an all-time high, advancing 2.0%, or 198.27 points, to 9,814.08 on Friday and touching an intraday record of 9,845.69. After tumbling as much as 25% earlier this year, the tech-heavy index is now 9.3% higher for 2020.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 829.16 points, or 3.1%, to 27,110.98. The S&P 500 rose 2.6%, or 81.58 points, to 3,193.93.

US shocks economists by adding 2.5 million jobs in May as unemployment declines to 13.3%.

Economists were shocked on Friday as the Bureau of Labor Statistics said US employers added 2.5 million payrolls in May, defying expectations of 7.5 million jobs lost. The surprise increase came on the heels of the record 20.5 million jobs lost in April.

The unemployment rate declined to 13.3%, bucking forecasts of a near-record 19% rate. April’s 14.7% reading was the highest since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The May report suggested that the US economy might be past the peak of the coronavirus pandemic’s devastation. By the end of the month, all 50 states had relaxed at least some restrictions, even as the US’s COVID-19 death toll surpassed 100,000 people.

“Today’s data suggests that the US economy is more resilient than expected,” said Seema Shah, the chief strategist at Principal Global Investors. “Certainly the initial signs suggest that the reopening of economies has already started to heal the labor market.”