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.. Joseph R. Biden Jr. was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, promising to seek unity in a moment of national crisis, honoring the over 400.000 Americans lost to Covid-19, asking Americans to wear face masks in public for 100 days and imposing there use on federal property, making the corona-virus pandemic his top priority. He announced a broad plan to reverse some of Trump’s most controversial immigration policies, ordering a ‘pause’ on border wall construction. He also recommitted the U.S. to the Paris climate agreement, an international accord designed to avert catastrophic global warming. President Biden signed order of federal mask mandate in planes, trains and buses; travelers to the U.S. will be required a negative Covid-19 test before flying to the U.S. and to quarantine on arrival. Senator Mitch McConnell asks Democrats to delay the start of Donald Trump’s impeachment until early February 2021, saying former President needs time to prepare and stand up his legal team, ensuring due process. Senate leaders struck a deal to delay Donald Trump’s impeachment for two weeks, aiming to begin week February 8, 2021; the House still plans to deliver its impeachment of insurrection at 7:00 pm, Monday, January 25, 2021. The GOP looming impeachment strategy; Focus on the constitution and not Trump, Republicans reportedly plan to argue Trump can’t be convicted now that he is out of office. The Senate confirmed Janet Yellen, former chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, as first female Treasury Secretary. The Senate has passed a $ 1,9 Trillion budget for Covid-19 relief, with Vice President Kamala Harris carting the crucial 50-50 tie-breaking vote. The Senate agrees trial is constitutional as Trump consolidated votes for an acquittal; lawmakers on both sides are said to favor a quick trial, amid ongoing effort to have President Biden’s corona virus relief package approved. According to new polls, Biden’s job approval remains steady at around 60%. The United States Senate voted 57-43 to acquit Donald J. Trump in his second impeachment trial, but seven Republicans voted with all 50 Democrats to convict, the most bipartisan margin in favor of conviction in history.

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. Johnson & Johnson said its single-shot corona-virus vaccine was 66% effective overall in protecting against Covid-19 and it was 85% effective in preventing severe decease four weeks after vaccination in all adults; the vaccine however appears to be less potent against variants. Novavax Inc, an American biotech firm, announced that its protein based Covid-19 vaccine candidate NVX-COV 2373 met the primary endpoint with a vaccine efficacy of 89,3%, in its Phase 3 clinical trial conducted in the United Kingdom/U.K.. Johnson & Johnson asked FDA for an emergency use authorization of its Covid-19 vaccine, taking forward the possibility of a third corona virus vaccine for the U.S. market.

The jobless rate fell to 6,3% in January 2021, although payrolls barely grew, adding the U.S. economy just 49.000 jobs, after a decline of non-farm payrolls of 140.000 in December 2020. U.S. jobless claims totaled 861.000 for the week ending February 13, 2021, total filings for assistance dropped by 1,3 Million to ^8,34 Million.

The January 2021 Manufacturing PMI registered 58,7%, down 1,8% from 60,5% in December 2020, new orders index at 61,1%, down 6,4% from 67,5% in December 2020, production index at 60,7%, down 4,0% from 64,7% in December 2020, employment index at 52,6%, up 0,9% from 51,7% in December 2020. The January 2021 ISM services PMI at 58,7%, up 1% from 57,7% in December 2020, business activity index at 59,9%, down 0,6% from 60,5% in December 2020, new orders index at 61,8%, up 3,2% from 58,6% in December 2020, and employment index at 55,2%, up 6,5% from 48,7% in December 2020. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index improved moderately in January 2021, after decreasing in December 2020, standing now at 89.3, up from 87.1 in December 2020, the present situation index declined from 87.2 in December 2020 to 84.4 in January 2021, while the expectations index increased to 87.0 in December 2020 to 92.5 in January 2021. 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 0,3% in December 2020 to 109.5, following a 0,7% increase in November 2020 and a 0,9% increase in October 2020. The U.S. CPI-U index increased steadily in January 2021, rising 0,3% after climbing 0,4% in December 2020, gaining the all items index 1,4% over the last 12 months through January 2021, after a similar rise in December 2020; the core-CPI, less food and energy, was unchanged in January 2021, after surging 0,1% in December 2020, rising 1,4% over the last 12 months through January 2021, down from 1,6% in December 2020. The PCE price index, excluding food and energy, rose 0,3% in December 2020, after being unchanged in November 2020, increasing the so-called core PCE 1,5% over the last 12 months through December 2020, up from 1,4% in November 2020. The U.S. disposable personal income surged 0,6% in December 2020, after declining 1,5% in November 2020, the personal savings rate at 13,7%, up from 12,9% in November 2020 (personal savings as a percentage of disposable income). The U.S. consumer spending declined 0,2% in December 2020, after dropping 0,7% in November 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%, but December 2020 retail sales were still 2,9% higher compared to December 2019; total sales for the 12 months of 2020 were up 0,6% from 2019. The U.S. international trade deficit in goods and services stood at $66,9 Billion in December 2020, down 3,5% from the previous month, imports were up 1,5% to $ 256,6 Billion and exports were up 3,4% to $190.0 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, and a 4% annualized growth in the 4th quarter of 2020, shrinking by 3,5% in 2020, expecting to rebound by up to 4,1% in 2021. 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%. U.S. light vehicle sales rose by 2,5% month-on-month in January 2021to 16,6 Million units (seasonally adjusted annual rate); light trucks accounted for 77,8% of the January 2021 sales, up 3,5% from 2020. According to the Congressional Budget Office the federal budget is projected to be $2,3 Trillion in fiscal 2021, not counting additional stimulus, which is smaller than the 2020 shortfall of $3,13 Trillion, but larger than anything the nation had seen prior to the covid-19 pandemic; current United States National Debt $27,91 Trillion, U.S. Debt to GDP ratio 130,91%. U.S. household debt rises to $14,6 Trillion due to a record-breaking increase in mortgage loans, rising 1,4% in the fourth quarter of 2020, totaling more than $10 Trillion.

The current average 30-year fixed mortgage rate decreased to 2,85% in December 2020, from previously 2,92%. U.S. pending home sales dipped for the fourth straight month, falling 0,3% in December 2020, standing the sales index/NAR now at 125.5, but were 21,4% higher compared to December 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 jump 5,8% in December 2020 to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.669.000 units, from 1.547.000 units in November 2020, increasing 5,2% on a year-to-year basis; overall building permits increased 4,5% in December 2020 to a seasonable adjusted annual rate of 1.709.000 units, from 1.639.000 units in November 2020, totaling 1.452.000 in 2020, a 4,8% gain compared to 2019. 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 edged up 1 Point from the previous month to 84 in February 2021. U.S. home-prices rising at the fastest pace in nearly six years, were up 9,5% in November 2020 compared with 12 months ago, one of the highest gains on record, pushing a strong demand and limited supply prices u

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