United States

Political and Economic Updates:

Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump for the White House; Americans waiting for Republicans in Congress to acknowledge Joe Biden as the President-elect may have to keep waiting until January as GOP leaders stick with President Donald Trump’s litany of legal challenges and unproven claims of fraud; GOP lawmakers like to ignore Electoral College official confirmation of Joe Biden as the next President of the United States saying the January 6 vote in Congress to accept the Electoral College outcome may be when the presidential winner becomes official. GOP Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, finally accepted Joe Biden’s victory after he was confirmed by the Electoral College on December 14, warning Senate Republicans not to reject president-elect’s victory, when Congress meets to ratify the election result on January 6, although President Donald Trump keeps protesting, no matter that he has no chance of recovering his loss to Biden. Congress agreed on a $900 Billion corona-virus aid package, including direct payments of $600,- to most adults and $600,- per child, and $284 Billion into the Paycheck Protection Program small business loans, as well as another $20 Billion to small business grants and $5 Billion to live event venues. President Trump threatens to veto the covid-19 relief bill, he wants $600 stimulus checks to be increased to $2.000 for individuals and to $4.000 for couples; the fate of the stimulus deal remains in limbo after House Republicans rejected Democratic effort to meet President Trump’s demand for $2.000 checks. Trump finally signed Pandemic Relief bill after unemployment aid lapsed, extending expanded unemployment benefits and an eviction moratorium keeping the Government open. Murdoch’s New York Post, long one of President Trump’s strongest allies, demanded him to stop spreading false claims of voting fraud and to accept President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. The House voted to override Trump’s veto of Military Bill, Republicans joined with Democrats to hand President Trump a rare legislative rebuke in the final days of his presidency. The bill will next be taken up by the Senate, where it is expected to pass. The House approved to raise stimulus checks to $2.000 from $600, that President Trump demanded, the bill’s fate in the Senate is uncertain. The Senate voted to override Trump’s veto of the $740,5 Billion annual defense funding bill, handing him the first such legislative rebuke of his presidency. A last-ditch effort by President Trump and his allies to overturn the election thrust Washington into chaos as a growing coalition of Republican Senators announced plans to rebel against Senate leaders by seeking to block the formal certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory; a group of 11 Republican Senators and Senators-elect led by Ted Cruz of Texas vowed to join Senator Josh Hawley (R.-Mo.) in challenging votes from some contested states, calling for an ’emergency 10-day-audit’ to investigate Trump’s unfounded claims; Trump wrote on Twitter that there would be ‘plenty more to come’. The move amounts to an open rebellion against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.), who last month pleaded with GOP Senators to avoid a public debate over the legitimacy of November’s election result; McConnell has personally congratulated Biden on his victory. Protesters incited by Trump stormed the Capitol, as lawmakers gather to count electoral votes, officers drawn guns in the House, lawmakers evacuated; National Guard activated, person shot dies; Biden condemns assault on liberty, calls chaos on Capitol an ‘insurrection’; defying Trump VP Pence, who will preside over the joint session of Congress to certify the electoral college votes, said he won’t overturn the 2020 election; Rep. Omar, Pressley said the president should be ‘immediately be impeached’, calling his behavior ‘dangerous and unacceptable’; U.K. Prime Minister describes scene on Capitol Hill as ‘disgraceful’; speaker Pelosi says leaders of Congress have decided to resume the joint session tonight to affirm Biden’s win. Democrats gain control of the Senate with victories in Georgia runoffs, taking control of Congress for the first time in ten years. Congress reconvened to certify electoral college vote and Biden’s election as president, hours after the mob stormed the Capitol. House speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Schumer call for the immediate removal of President Trump, demanding Vice President Pence immediately invoke the 25th Amendment, for what they call inciting sedition by encouraging the rioters, threatening to start impeachment proceedings if Pence doesn’t agree. Lawmakers are vowing an investigation into how the police handled the violent breach at the Capitol. As the effort to involve the 25th amendment is viewed as unlikely to proceed, Democrats march toward another impeachment against President Trump following a deadly riot at the Capitol. President Trump promised an orderly transition, saying he will not assist the inauguration ceremony of President Biden on January 20, 2020. House Democrats will introduce an Article of impeachment during the House’s pro forma session on Monday January 11, 2020, after 180 cosponsors signed on. With Trump considering pardoning himself, it’s time for a closer look at his pardon powers. In a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, VP Pence rejected the effort to invoke the 25th Amendment. The House of Representatives than voted 232-197 on Wednesday, January 13, 2021, to impeach President Donald Trump for an unprecedented second time for his role in January 6 riot and siege of Capitol; 10 House Republicans voted for impeachment and denounced the president’s action; the Senate trial could come after Trump leaves office; Senate Republican Leader Mich McConnell said he won’t bring back the Senate from recess before January 19, which could push a trial into the beginning of the Biden administration; McConnell is said to be pleased about impeachment, believing it will be easier to purge Trump from the G.O.P..

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine received emergency-use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration/FDA and the U.S. begins vaccine roll-out as high-risk health care workers go first. FDA find that U.S. Moderna vaccine is highly protective against covid-19 and will likely grant emergency authorization to a second corona-virus vaccine this week. The FDA authorized also Moderna’s vaccine for emergency use. The BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine is the first to receive the emergency use authorization from the World Health Organization/WHO.

The jobless rate held steady at 6,7% in December 2020, as U.S. economy sees job loss for the first time since April 2020, falling non-farm payrolls by 140.000 in December 2020. U.S. jobless claims totaled 787.000 for the week ending January 2, 2021; the number of Americans on all unemployment compensation programs declined to 19,2 Million.

The December 2020 Manufacturing PMI registered 60,7%, up 3,2% from 57,5% in November 2020, new orders index at 67,9%, up 2,8% from 65,1% in November 2020, production index at 64,8%, up 4,0% from 60,8% in November 2020, employment index at 51,5%, up 3,1% from 48,4% in November 2020. The December 2020 ISM services PMI at 57,2%, up 1,3% from 55,9% in November 2020, business activity index at 59,4%, up 1,4% from 58,0% in November 2020, new orders index at 58,5%, up 1,3% from 57,2% in November 2020, and employment index at 48,2%, down 3,3% from 51,5 in November 2020. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index declined in December 2020 to 88.6, the lowest reading since August, from 92.9 in November 2020, the present situation index tumbled to a reading of 90.3 in December 2020 down from 105.9 in November 2020, the expectations index increased to 87.5 in December 2020, up from 84.3 in November 2020. The U.S. is struggling with a resurgence in new corona-virus cases, with more than 17,78 Millions people infected and over 317.800 dead. The Conference Board leading economic index for the U.S. increased 0,6% in November to 109.1, following a 0,8% increase in October 2020 and a 0,7% increase in September 2020. The U.S. CPI-U index increased 0,4% in December 2020 on a seasonally adjusted basis, after rising 0,2% in November 2020, increasing the all items index 1,4% over the last 12 months through December 2020; the core-CPI, less food and energy, increased 0,1% in December 2020, after rising 0,2% in November 2020, rising 1,6% over the last 12 months through December 2020, as it did in the periods ending October and November 2020. The PCE price index, excluding food and energy, was unchanged in November 2020, rising the so-called core PCE 1,4% over the last 12 months through November 2020, the same increase as in October 2020. The U.S. disposable personal income declined 1,2% in November 2020, after dropping 0,7% in October 2020, the personal savings rate at 12,9%, down from 13,6% in October 2020 (personal savings as a percentage of disposable income). The U.S. consumer spending declined 0,4% in November 2020, after rising 0,3% in October 2020. U.S. retail sales fell again in December 2020, dropping 0,7%, while data for November 2020 was revised down to show declining 1,4% instead of 1,1%. The U.S. monthly trade deficit increased by 8,0% to $68,1 Billion in November 2020, U.S. exports rose 1,2% to $184,2 Billion , imports increased 2,9% to $252,3 Billion. The U.S. economy grew at a revised 33,4% rate in the third quarter of 2020, following a 31,4% rate of contraction in the second quarter of 2020. U.S. light vehicle sales were down in 2020 to levels not seen since 2012, but they’re in a recovering mode now that leaves the industry hopeful for 2021; sales are estimated to finish around 14,5 Million in 2020, down 14,9% to 15,5% bringing sales to the lowest levels since 2012; Fiat Chrysler saw a 17% decline through the year, Ford sales down 16% as compared to the prior year, GM finished the year down 12% compared to 2019, Toyota’s total sales shrank 11,3%, Volkswagen sales dropped 10% in 2020; Trucks and SUVs are set to make up 79% of new vehicle sales, up from 75% in 2019, strong Truck and SUV sales have underscored many of the results seen in 2020. The Fed raised its economic outlook for 2021 slightly to 4,2%.

The current average 30-year fixed mortgage rate decreased to 2,85% in December 2020, from previously 2,92%. U.S. pending home sales fell 1,1% in October 2020 standing the sales index now at 128.9 down from 130.3 in September 2020, but were 20,2% higher compared to October 2019 when the index stood at 107.2. Existing home sales fall for the first time in 5 months, declining 2,5% in November 2020 to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6,69 Million units, down from 6,85 Million units in October 2020, but sales were still a strong 25,8% higher from a year earlier; the median existing home price in November 2020 was $310.800,-, a 14,6% increase from November 2019. U.S. housing starts rose 1,2% in November 2020 to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.547.000 units from 1.530.000 units in October 2020; overall building permits raced 6,2% in November 2020 to a seasonable adjusted annual rate of 1.639.000, after being flat in October 2020. Sales of new single-family houses in November 2020 fall for the fourth consecutive month, dropping builder stocks, declining 11% month-over-month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 841.000 units, down from the 979.000 peak in July 2020, but sales were still up 21% year-over-year; the median price for a newly built home rose 2,2% in November 2020 to $335.300 from $328.000 a year ago. The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Sentiment Index dropped 4 points to 86 in December 2020, in December 2019 the index stood at 76. U.S. home-prices rising at the fastest pace in nearly six years, were up 7,9% in October 2020 compared with 12 months ago, pushing a strong demand and limited supply prices up.

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