DAILY UPDATE: Unemployment Up, Amazon Down as Markets Quiet

By Staff Reporters

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Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 225,000 for the week ending December 24th, the Labor Department reported, in line with the median estimate among economists polled by Reuters. Meanwhile, the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid rose 41,000 to 1.710 million in the week ending December, 17th, 2022.

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Meanwhile, Amazon stock closed the December 22 trading session at $83.79, which represents a 49.7% drop compared to December 31, 2021. This is the lowest closing level for the Amazon stock since March 12, 2019. Basically, the group, founded by Jeff Bezos, has completely erased all the gains during the two years when strict restrictions were put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19. It closed today at $84.18.

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Finally, U.S. stocks rose sharply, ending a two-session losing streak, though trading volumes remain subdued in the final days of the year. The heavyweight Information Technology sector led the rally, rebounding from a recent drop that has weighed on the markets this week. The equity front continued to offer little in terms of headlines, though shares of Cal-Maine Foods fell after the company missed earnings estimates.

The economic calendar introduced labor data, as jobless claims ticked slightly higher compared to the prior week.

Treasury yields were mixed, the U.S. dollar dropped, crude oil prices were lower, and gold traded higher.

Asian stocks finished mostly lower after yesterday’s downturn in the U.S., while markets in Europe were higher despite uncertainty regarding the ultimate global impact of aggressive monetary policy tightening across the world.

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DAILY UPDATE: Winter Solstice, Tele-Health, Retiree Withdrawal Rates, Crypto and the Markets

By Staff Reporters

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The Winter Solstice, or the December Solstice, is the point at which the path of the sun in the sky is farthest south. At the Winter Solstice, the sun travels the shortest path through the sky resulting in the day of the year with the least sunlight and therefore, the longest night.

Telehealth extension: Tucked in the new Congress’ spending bill is an extension of HHS rules that made telehealth more accessible during the pandemic. But the provision, which extends the flexibility through the end of 2024, falls far short of a push from some lawmakers who wanted to make that flexibility permanent.

Traditional guidance says not to spend more than 4% of your retirement savings in the first year to protect yourself from running out of money in your golden years. A new recommendation puts that figure at 3.8% with a 30-year time horizon, according to researchers at Morningstar Inc., a half-point higher than the 3.3% withdrawal they recommended in 2022 due to expectations for lower future investment returns. That means if you retire this year with a $640,000 portfolio invested 50% in stocks and 50% in bonds, you should take out no more than $24,320 in 2023.

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Following the downfall of Sam Bankman-Fried and FTX in November, cryptocurrency trading volumes plummeted 50%. Since last year, crypto’s market cap has lost nearly three-fourths of its value, with bitcoin and ethereum, both down nearly 75% from their record-highs in November of 2021.

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U.S. equities finished higher in choppy action, posting the first gains in four sessions, as investors digested a host of monetary policy decisions from central banks in Asia. The Bank of Japan and People’s Bank of China kept their respective benchmark interest rates unchanged, but the former surprisingly tweaked its yield curve control policy.

Equity news was on the light side today, as General Mills beat earnings estimates and raised its full-year guidance, and shares of Steel Dynamics gained ground after it was announced that it would replace ABIOMED in the S&P 500.

On the economic front, housing starts declined less than anticipated, while building permits fell much more than expectations. Treasury yields rose, particularly on the long end of the curve, while the U.S. dollar fell, crude oil prices saw a modest increase, and gold prices rallied.

Asian stocks finished broadly lower and market in Europe diverged amid the host of monetary policy decisions.

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ELECTIONS: Money and Markets

Historical Review

By Staff Reporters

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Now that the voting is behind us, it might be safe to start checking your portfolio. In recent history, stocks have only gone up after midterm elections:

  • In the year following every midterm election since 1950, the S&P 500 has risen—no matter which party won.
  • A divided government, which could happen if the GOP retakes at least the House, delivers the best market results: Data going back to 1932 shows average annual S&P returns of 13% when there’s a GOP-controlled Congress under a Democratic president, compared to 10% when Democrats have both, per RBC Capital Markets.

Why?

There’s some debate, but partisan gridlock can be advantageous for business because it minimizes the chance of major changes to taxes or other laws that impact companies. It also doesn’t hurt to have the uncertainty of the election in the rear-view mirror.

Right now however, investors are more focused on the FOMCs’ rate hikes in response to inflation. While politicians from both sides of the aisle have criticized Jerome Powell’s recent decisions, he’s unlikely to change course due to the election outcome. Plus, economists seem pretty convinced the US is headed toward a recession, regardless of who’s in control in Washington.

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FLASH ALERT: “Alphabet” Stock Shares!

By Staff Reporters

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  • Stocks are hot and posted their third straight day of gains on hope that the FOMC might end its rate hikes at some point in the future. But that streak could end today.
  • Alphabet shares took a tumble in late trading after the company revealed its fifth consecutive quarter of slower revenue growth. Cracks are emerging in some of its core properties: Google search and YouTube. YouTube revenue declined for the first time since Google started reporting the division’s earnings separately.
  • Alphabet’s total quarterly revenue growth drastically declined from 41% to 6%.
  • The growth rate of Microsoft’s search and news advertising business has been shrinking each quarter of the past year, coinciding with the general downward trajectory of the entire online advertising market.

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The MARKETS and Meta

By Staff Reporters

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  • Markets: Strong earnings reports for the stock market’s tortured participants. Stocks climbed for the second straight day after companies including Goldman Sachs, Netflix, and Lockheed Martin topped Q3 estimates. Tesla’s up later today.
  • Meta will sell Giphy after UK regulators blocked its $400 million acquisition from going through.

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UPDATE: President Biden, Domestic Markets, IRS Tax Filing Service, Polio and Paul Krugman’s “Sorry”

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By Staff Reporters

President Biden tested positive for the coronavirus, raising health concerns for the 79-year-old president and underscoring how the virus remains a persistent, if muted, threat in a country trying to put the pandemic in the past.

U.S. IndicesChangeClose
Dow Jones+162.0632036.90
NASDAQ+161.9612059.61
S&P500+39.053998.95
SCHWAB1000+129.5013230.70

Senator Elizabeth Warren along with 22 more Democratic lawmakers are pushing the IRS to create its own free tax filing service. The bill also aims to allow eligible taxpayers to choose a “return-free option,” providing a pre-populated filing. “The average American spends 13 hours and $240 every year to file their taxes — that’s too much time and too much money,” Warren said in a press release. But some tax professionals say it’s not a realistic plan for the overburdened agency.

A case of polio has been identified in an un-vaccinated adult in Rockland County, according to a news release from the New York State Department of Health. The agency confirmed that the infection was transmitted from someone who received the oral polio vaccine, which has not been administered in the United States since 2000. Officials believe the virus may have originated outside the United States, where the oral vaccine is still administered.

he New York Times opinion columnist Paul Krugman published a mea culpa in column form flat out admitting he was wrong for thinking inflation wouldn’t be that bad. In his piece, titled, “I Was Wrong About Inflation,” the economics professor noted that he was on “Team Relaxed” when it came to fears of inflation and acknowledged that was a “very bad call.” Krugman began by recounting the “intense debate among economists about the likely consequences of the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion package enacted by a new Democratic president and a (barely) Democratic Congress.” He mentioned how he originally didn’t see the massive government spending bill as that dangerous for the economy. “Some warned that the package would be dangerously inflationary; others were fairly relaxed. I was Team Relaxed. As it turned out, of course, that was a very bad call,” he confessed.

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UPDATE: Markets, Twitter, Theranos and the ‘Pass-Through’ Tax Loophole

By Staff Reporters

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  • Markets: The S&P climbed for its fourth-straight trading day, tying its best winning streak in 2022 (h/t chip and energy companies). But, at 8:30am ET today, with the release of the June jobs report, any sign of a recession will show up.
  • Elon Musk could take drastic action to back out of his $44 billion agreement to buy Twitter, according to the Washington Post. Apparently Musk’s team cannot verify the data on bots that were provided to them and therefore are looking to exit the agreement.
  • Former Theranos executive Sunny Balwani was convicted of defrauding investors and patients in his role as president and COO of the company.

Finally, under proposed IRS changes, individuals who make more than $400,000 annually and couples who make more than $500,000 will have to pay a 3.8% tax on earnings from their pass-through business income. Those revenues would be used to shore up the government-run Medicare healthcare program for the elderly. A pass-through business is a sole proprietorship, partnership, or S corporation that is not subject to the corporate income tax; instead, this business reports its income on the individual income tax returns of the owners and is taxed at individual income tax rates.

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UPDATE: The Markets, Ruja Ignatova, and the Grayscale ETF Bitcoin SEC Challenge

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By Staff Reporters

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Markets: The S&P’s drop of more than 21% was its biggest H1 plunge since 1970. Its second quarter was the worst since Q1 of 2020. And while the S&P is floundering in the bear market, the NASDAQ, which is loaded with tech stocks, has taken an even bigger licking: It’s plunged more than 30% since its peak last November. For example:

Netflix: down 71% YTD (the worst performer in the S&P)

Coinbase: down 81%

Even megacaps like Meta (-52%), Amazon (-38%), and Apple (-25%) haven’t been spared.

Ruja Ignatova promised her cryptocurrency, OneCoin, would become the next Bitcoin. The only problem: It didn’t exist. The FBI today added the Bulgarian-born Ignatova—accused of defrauding investors out of approximately $4.1 billion in a fake cryptocurrency scheme—to its most-wanted list. The 41-year-old has been on outstanding since October 2017, just days after a warrant was issued for her arrest in the U.S. In a press release, the FBI called OneCoin a “massive fraud scheme” and offered up to $100,000 for information leading to Ignatova’s arrest.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rejected a proposal from Grayscale to list a spot Bitcoin ETF on the NYSE Arca exchange, setting up a potential legal battle with the country’s biggest digital asset manager. The SEC said Grayscale’s request for an ETF listing, which it proposed as a conversion of its popular Grayscale Bitcoin Trust GBTC, didn’t meet the regulator’s standard of being “designed to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices” and “to protect investors and the public interest.” Grayscale said it would challenge the SEC’s decision in court, arguing that its approval of ETF’s that hold Bitcoin futures should “logically (make it) comfortable with ETFs that hold that same asset.”

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UPDATE: The Markets, SS COLAS, EY, and Monkey-Pox?

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Markets: Stocks sagged for the second straight day, with technology chip stocks taking some of the biggest blows. A new consumer report showed that Americans are not confident in the economy, but are confident that inflation will be remain for the next year.

A Social Security official earlier this month said he expects a COLA bump of about 8%, based on the current inflationary trends. But if inflation continues at its current pace — the cost of goods and services in May accelerated to 8.6% — seniors could receive a COLA hike of 10.8% in early 2023, according to a new analysis from the non-partisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. If inflation grinds to a halt over the final months of 2022, seniors would receive a COLA increase of 7.3%, the group predicted. 

Ernst and Young (EY), one of the world’s largest auditing firms, has agreed to pay a $100 million SEC fine after admitting hundreds of its accountants have cheated on their ethics exams between 2017 and 2021.

US health officials ramped up their fight against the Monkeypox outbreak, expanding the group eligible to get vaccines and deploying more doses and testing capabilities.

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UPDATE: The Markets, Gasoline, Recession and the Bear

By Staff Reporters

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For the domestic markets, the S&P 500 closed down 151 points, or 3.88%. It’s down nearly 22% since January. The Dow was down 876 points (2.79%) and the NASDAQ dropped 530 points (4.68%). And, investors were disappointed to learn that inflation is moving in the wrong direction. U.S. consumer prices surged 8.6% year-over-year in May, to a fresh 40-year high, led by higher prices for energy, food and housing.

For the first time in history, a gallon of regular gasoline now costs $5 on average nationwide, according to AAA, and experts predict gas prices could average $6 a gallon by August.

Moreover, nearly 70% of leading economists expect the US to tumble into a recession as the country grapples with inflation. In a Financial Times poll, the bulk of economists said they expect a recession to be declared in the first half of 2023. The poll comes after US inflation soared to 8.6% in May, outstripping economists’ expectations and piling the pressure on the Fed.

Finally, S&P Global says a 20% decline in the S&P 500 on a closing basis from its previous peak is all it takes to define a bear market. Which means that this bear market is already more than five months old, since the S&P 500 all-time high came on January 3rd, 2022.

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UPDATE: The Markets, Crypto and Online Retailers

By Staff Reporters

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  • Markets: After booming stocks had their worst day of the year because of raging inflation, slowing economic growth, and a potential recession.
  • Crypto: Bitcoin and other major cryptos like ethereum also tumbled in the aftermath of the FOMC announcement. They’ve typically tracked the performance of growth stocks, which have gotten hammered on the prospect of higher interest rates.

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Almost every major online retailer reporting earnings with signs of a decline:

  • Wayfair shares cratered nearly 26% yesterday after announcing that its active customer count dropped 23.4% from a year ago.
  • Bed Bath & Beyond reported an 18% nosedive in online sales.
  • Etsy and eBay shares both dropped by double digits yesterday after giving weak guidance for the current quarter.
  • At least five senior executives from Meta’s fledgling e-commerce division have fled in the last six months.
  • Shopify shares plummeted about 15% on Thursday after posting much lower-than-expected earnings.

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UPDATE: Markets and Medicine

By Staff Reporters

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The Federal Reserve announced that it will stop buying bonds about three months earlier than initially planned. The Fed now plans to trim its monthly Treasury and mortgage-backed security purchases by $30 billion a month starting next month. The new pace is expected to put an end to bond buying by March.

CITE: https://www.r2library.com/Resource/Title/0826102549

The Fed also announced that it would leave interest rates unchanged at near-zero percent. The announcement paves the way for three interest rate hikes by the end of 2022, which could weigh on tech and growth stocks.

UPDATE: https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/news/tech-takes-a-beating-as-central-banks-pull-back/vi-AARTp0n

  • Markets: Stocks reversed their post-Federal Reserve announcement rally with a stinker of a day—especially tech stocks. Semiconductor companies like AMD and Nvidia got particularly thwacked.
  • Covid: The CDC recommended adults use Moderna’s and Pfizer’s Covid vaccines over J&J’s due to the risk of developing rare but serious blood clots.

MORE: https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/markets/stocks-fall-as-investors-digest-feds-latest-move/vi-AARTm2C

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The National Health Care-Scare

The Markets and Health Economics

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

marcinko

As a centrist fiscal conservative – social liberal – I tend to side with libertarian issues and not political parties. Nevertheless, I was dismayed with the recent presidential election and wondered what impact it would have on the stock markets. Mr. Market replied with haste.

The Question 

In the short term, the stock market collapsed back in September when most pundits opined that President-elect Barack Obama would become our new leader. In fact, the DOW has not seen its current lows since 1998, or so.

More specifically, according to one analyst from Wall Street – Paul Shread – “the Dowshould have strong support between here and 7000, which would cover the 1998 and 2002-2003 lows (7200-7400), the 50% decline mark (7100) and the October 1997 low (6971). This would be a very important place for the market to make a stand.” But other chartists see the markets falling even further, with the S&P dropping as low as 400. Why is this?

The Answer is Uncertainty, Doubt and Fear

While the mounting credit default swap and mortgage crisis has had a major role in sinking stocks, some speculators worry that Obama will follow through on promises to raise income taxes on dividends and capital gains; eliminate the estate tax exemption, rescue the auto-industry and  the: airlines, home builders, furniture, footgear and apparels, textiles, glassware, tobacco, beer brewers and perhaps a few others, and generally make it difficult for private employers to resist unionizing drives. In other words – there is a rising level of fear, doubt and uncertainty over the seeming potential of Keynesianism and governmental guarantees and protectionism – rather than the opportunities of capitalism. All disguised in the “cloak of change”.

Enter the Politicians

Some economists – tax and policy experts – fear that if Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid bailout these manufacturing segments instead of filing for Chapter 11, the country may face a very long recession. Just look to Japan some two decades ago, when the country bailed out its failing banks and corporations instead of letting them fall so that innovative competitors could take their place.

According to Niall Ferguson, a scholar who has studied the relationship between political, banking and financial fortunes –”you can stick money into every orifice of the big banks — their mouth, their nose, their ears, wherever — but if they can’t make loans because they have to reserve against future losses, and if they won’t make loans because there’s a recession, it won’t do any good,” Ferguson says. “If they can’t lend, there’s no money multiplier — they’re stuck, they’re zombies. It’s Japan all over again.” And, some ghoulish traders are indeed hoping for a deep recession. Today, Japan is still in worse shape than we are.

Phoenix Rising

Following such a debacle, the failed companies might then re-organize with some of their current workers under revamped union contracts. Reorganization, new labor contracts and new employee and retiree health benefit plans would make them competitive and profitable after emerging from bankruptcy; much like the proverbial Phoenix.

National Health Insurance, et al

Our physician clients and investors also are also worried that if national health insurance becomes a reality, defense spending is reduced and/or onerous regulations imposed on the surviving banks and Wall Street, the economy will be in for ride rougher than the one we have experienced to-date. No wonder a recent poll suggested that more than half of all doctors did not encourage their offspring to follow their career footsteps.

Other pressing issues for the medical profession, according to the HealthCare Group – Co-Chaired by Angela Braly of Wellpoint Inc., Dr. Denis Cortese of the Mayo Clinic, Jeffrey Kindler from Pfizer Inc., and Dr. Daniel Vasella from Novartis AG – include tort reform,defining and measuring medical value, payment reform, and building the health care workforce of the future with an emphasis on primary care, nursing and other allied health professionals. Moreover, true healthcare reform must involve integrating issues like Single Payer Systems, Consumer Directed Health Plans, Pharmaceutical Price Competition, Advanced Electronic Medical Records, and Quality & Outcomes Disclosure, etc.

The Obama Cabinet

President-elect Obama’s staff and cabinet appointments will also offer important clues for the markets, going forward. In addition to Rahm Emanuel, as the President-elect’s Chief of Staff, hearsay suggests Laura Tyson or Bill Richardson for Secretary of Commerce, Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State and Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary. Other considerations include Renee Glover for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development [HUD], Max Cleland as Secretary for Veteran’s Affairs, Janet Napolitano for Homeland Security, Jim Jones as National Security Advisor; and Richard Danzig and/or Chuck Hagel for other Cabinet Posts. Yet, Tom Daschle as Secretary of HHS is not exactly an “agent of change”, as the term is commonly understood.

Assessment

As the world’s markets sink, the pressure on our new administration will be to clarify these issues. Only then, will a stock market bottom be reached, and the dismal economy begins to reverse itself. Hopefully, the health care-scare will then be mitigated.

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com 

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