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.Senate passes $1,9 Trillion corona-virus relief package, that includes $1.400 checks, $300/wk jobless benefit through summer, a child allowance of up to $3.600 for one year, $350 Billion for state aid, $34 Billion to expand ACA subsidies, $14 Billion for vaccine distribution; not a single Republican voted for the American Rescue Plan, 50 Yea 49 Nay; the measure, the American Rescue Plan Act, now heads back to the House, where Majority Leader Stany Hoyer said a vote will be held Tuesday, March 9, 2021; Democrats aiming for Biden to sign measure by March 14, 2021. President Biden signed the $1,9 Trillion Aid Bill into law. President Biden announced withdrawal of all combat troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021.

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. F.D.A. endorsed Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use, a critical step in bringing a third shot to the U.S. marketplace; the F.D.A. confirmed that overall the vaccine is about 66% effective at preventing moderate to severe Covid-19 and about 85% effective against the most serious illness, saying also Johnson & Johnson’s shot – one that could help speed up vaccinations by requiring just one doses instead of two – is safe for use. Johnson & Johnson’s single shot Covid-19 vaccine gets emergency use authorization from F.D.A.. Pharmaceutical giant Merck will help manufacture doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine, dedicating two U.S. facilities to produce at least 100 Million shots by this summer. WHO authorized the Johnson & Johnson Coviod-19 vaccine. AstraZeneca will seek will seek U.S. authorization for its Civid-19 vaccine. AstraZeneca will seek emergency use authorization from the FDA for its corona-virus vaccine after a U.S. clinical trial found it was 79% effective at preventing symptoms and 100% effective at preventing serious disease and hospitalization. AstraZeneca may have included outdated information in Covid-19 vaccine trial, U.S. health agency says, which may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data; the vaccine has been dogged with doubts about possible side effects. The FDA recommends to pause the Johnson & Johnson covid-19 vaccine after reports of rare blood clotting. Denmark the first country in the world suspending definitively the use of AstraZenecas’s Covid-19 vaccine over blood clots concerns.

The jobless rate fell to 6% in March 2021, down from 6,2% in February 2021, rebounding U.S. jobs, adding the U.S. economy 916.000 jobs, up from 416.000 in February 2021, signaling the labor market is showing signs of recovery. U.S. weekly first time jobless at 744.000 for the week ending April 3, 2021, while continuing claims dropped to 3,8 Million and the total of those receiving benefits under all programs declined to 18,2 Million.

The March 2021 Manufacturing PMI registered 64,7% up 3,9% from 60,8% in February 2021, new orders index at 68,0% up 3,2% from 64,8% in February 2021, production index at 68,1% up 4,9% from 63,2% in February 2021, employment index at 59,6% up 5,2% from 54,4% in February 2021. The March 2021 ISM services PMI at an all time high of 63,7%, up 8,4% from 55,3% in February 2021, business activity index at 69,4%, up 13,9% from 55,5% in February 2021, new orders index at 67,2%, up 15,3% from 51,9% in February 2021, employment index at 57,2%, up 4,5% from 52,7% in February 2021. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index surged in March 2021 to its highest reading in a year, after a modest increase in February 2021, standing now at 109.7 up from 90.4 in February 2021, the present situation index climbed from 89.6 in February 2021 to 110.0 in March 2021, and the expectations index also improved from 90.9 in February 2021 to 109.6 in March 2021. The Conference Board leading economic index for the U.S. increased 0,2% in February 2021 to 110.5, following a 0,5% increase in January 2021 and a 0,4% increase in December 2020. The U.S. CPI-U index rose 0,6% in March 2021, the highest year-over-year gain since August 2018, after increasing 0,4% in February 2021, surging the all items index 2,6% over the last 12 months through March 2021, up from 1,7% in February 2021; the core-CPI, less food and energy, edged up 0,3% in March 2021, after rising 0,1% in February 2021, increasing 1,6% year-over-year in March 2021, up from 1,3% in February 2021. The PCE price index, excluding food and energy, rose 0,1% in February 2021, after increasing 0,2% in January 2021, surging the so-called core PCE 1,4% over the last 12 months through February 2021, down from 1,5% in January 2021. The U.S. disposable personal income declined 8% in February 2021, after gaining 11,4% in January 2021, the personal savings rate at 13,6% in February 2021, down from 20,5% in January 2021 (personal savings as a percentage of disposable income). The U.S. consumer spending dropped 1% in February 2021, after increasing 3,4% in January 2021. U.S. retail sales fell more than expected moderately in February 2021, dropping by seasonally adjusted 3%, while data for January 2021 was revised up to show sales rebounding 7,6% instead of 5,3% previously reported. The U.S. international trade deficit in goods and services increased in January 2021 from $67,0 Billion in December 2020 to $68,2 Billion; the the goods deficit rose $1,3 Billion in January 2021 to $85,4 Billion, the service surplus surged $0,1 Billion in January 2021 to $17,2 Billion; exports of goods and services increased $1,8 Billion, or 1%, in January 2021 to $191,9 Billion, imports of goods and services increased $3,1 Billion, or 1,2%, in January 2021 to $260,2 Billion; the annual deficit was $678,7 Billion in 2020, the U.S. imported $2,8 Trillion of goods and services, which is down $294,5 Billion from 2019, exports were at $2,1 Trillion, which is $396,4 Billion less than in 2019. 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 at a revised 4,1% rate in the 4th quarter of 2020, shrinking by 3,5% for all of 2020, the largest decline since 1946, expecting to rebound by up to 4,1% in 2021; Fed officials see a GOP growth around 6,5% this year, which would be the fastest increase since 1984. 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. U.S. vehicle sales fell 5,7% month-on-month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 15,7 Million units in February 2021; declines were spread across both passenger vehicles (-8,1% m/m) and light trucks (-5% m/m); light trucks accounted for 78,2% of February 2021 sales, up nearly 4% from 2020. U.S. light vehicle sales rose an impressive 12,6% month-on-month in March 2021, reaching 17,75 Million (SAAR) units; unadjusted sales volumes were 1,58 Million units. or 59,7% above March 2020 – levels, which were heavily influenced by Covid-19 lock-down restrictions; gains were spread evenly across passenger vehicles (+12,8% m/m) and light trucks (+12,4% m/m); light trucks accounted for over 77% of sales. 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 budget report showed that the deficit for just March 2021 totaled $659,6 Billion, the third -highest monthly deficit; for the six-month period the $1,7 Trillion deficit total passed the previous record of $829 Billion deficit; last year’s deficit for the budget year ended September 30, 2020, totaled a record $3,1 Trillion; this year’s deficit was estimated to reach $2,3 Trillion, without including the cost of the $1,9 Trillion rescue plan or the impact of Biden’s infrastructure proposal that Congress is considering now.

The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate decreased to 2,81% in February 2021, from previously 2,85%. U.S. pending home sales fell 10,62% in February 2021 from the month before, standing the sales index/NAR now at 110,30, down from 123,40% in January 2021 and down 0,45% from a year ago! Existing home sales fell sharply in February 2021, declining 6,6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6,22 Million units, down from 6,69 Million units in January 2021, but sales were still 9,1% higher compared to February 2020; the median existing home price in February 2021 was $313.000, up 15,8% from February 2020. U.S. privately owned housing starts in February 2021 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.421.000, which is 10,3% below the revised January 2021 rate of 1.584.000 and is 9,3% below the February 2020 rate of 1.567.000; privately owned housing units authorized by building permits in February 2021 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.682.000, which is 10,8% below the revised January 2021 rate of 1.886.000, but is 17% above the February 2020 rate of 1.438.000. Sales of new single-family houses in February 2021 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 775.000, which is 18,2% below the revised January 2021 rate of 948.000, but is 8,2% above the February 2020 rate of 716.000; the median price for a newly built home sold in February 2021 was $349.400, the average sales price was $416.000. The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Sentiment Index fell two points to 82 in March 2021. The 20-city composite posted a 10,1% annual increase in U.S. home prices in December 2020, up from 9,2% in November 2020.

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