Tuesday, March 31, 2020

As Usual, Government Solutions Are Wrong, Damaging the Economy as COVID-19 Ravages the Planet

The trading desk at the NY Fed apparently bought everything, all day long.

That's not a joke. It's probably much closer to the truth than many would believe.

Since the Fed took steps to backstop every bond, loan, or financial obligation on the planet over the past two weeks, and the Congress and President passed a $2.2 trillion rescue relief bill last week, stocks have done nothing but shoot the moon higher as four of the past five trading sessions have been positive for the Dow, S&P and NYSE Composite, and three of five for the NASDAQ.

Amid a crisis condition across the country and around the globe, this kind of action - with similar moves in international markets as well - is completely devoid of any fundamental pricing structure. Simply throwing more good money after bad seems to be the only way the Fed operates, as if it were in a void zone and it's the worst kind of malinvestment, chasing away the demon of real price discovery by throwing more fake, phony, fiat currency at it.

At current levels, the major indices have achieved bear market territory and are about as likely to escape it as President Trump is to refrain from tweeting. With giant swaths of the economy shut down for the past two weeks and looking forward to another month of idleness, stocks should be going down, not up. Even down as much as 60% from their recent peak, many stocks are still overvalued and the main indices are settled in at or near levels that are 40-60% (NASDAQ) higher than prevailing levels in 2007 prior to the Great Financial Crisis (GFC), indicating that stocks, rather then stabilizing at current levels, hav emuch further to fall.

The degree of decline should be back to levels below the lows of 2008-09, since the issues which caused the crash then were never addressed in any meaningful manner, instead just kicked down the road. Banks and corporations have re-leveraged well beyond any reasonable price, using nearly-free money from the Fed to perform stock buybacks, boosting prices to extremes.

Initially, the cascading waterfall of falling stock prices as COVID-19 panic became evident was justifiable, more extreme than the beginning of any bear market including 1929, 2000, and 2008, ending nowhere near a bottom.

The Fed's bazooka-style blitzkrieg has blown up the markets, exacerbated by the rescue relief package. It won't last. Eventually, the near-term lows will be tested, re-tested, and finally exceeded as the long, slow grind of a second phase bear market assumes command. All the money in the world - and that's how much the Fed has at its disposal - cannot prevent another wave of selling, and another, and another, nor can it limit the size and scope of the global tragedy that will unfold in coming months and years.

In its latest attempt to curry favor from the masses, the CDC proposed a best-case prognosis of 200,000 deaths from COVID-19, but that number pales by comparison to the economic and social damage the policies of demand isolation, shuttering of businesses, and crushing unemployment will produce over the next 12-18 months.

Government policy promoting social distancing, travel restrictions, and business closures are misguided and harmful, will not contain the virus to satisfactory levels and are likely to foment a Greater Depression worse than 1929 in terms of unemployment, poverty, and malnourishment. Sadly, almost all other developed and developing nations have taken a similar approach, a groupthink solution that isn't a solution at all, but rather a quest for more control, more power, and more curtailment of civil liberties by the authorities currently in charge.

Other approaches are better suited to achieve better results, especially ones suggested in a brilliant essay by Percy Carlton for the Saker Blog, titled Covid-19 Derangement Syndrome: A World Gone Mad.

Carlton relies upon logic and science to achieve his solutions, rather then the over-emotional reaction of today's government incompetents. It is a must read for everyone, especially those who value freedom of choice, liberty, and thoughtful self-expression over government controls, socialized solutions, pharmacological mandates, pseudo-science, and pathological lies.

Laid bare before the American public and the world is the staggering incompetence and outrageous insolence of world "leaders." Beyond that lies an unpromising land of replete with shortages, monetary imbalances, fiscal irresponsibility, societal dislocation, rioting, looting, starvation, and death which could have been avoided.

Lack of advance planning and reliance on extreme measures adopted from China's experience with coronavirus, combined with political grandstanding and media obsession and obfuscation of facts have the world lumbering toward desperation. The longer the general public is subjected to the dictates of the administration the worse the condition will become.

Defeating the disease is the easy part. Putting back together the pieces of a broken global economy figures to be a more difficult task, one which sovereign governments and a central banking cartel are not well-suited to handle.

Meanwhile, the treasury curve flattens out, with the 10-year note yield slipping to 0.70% on Monday. Gold and silver remain difficult to obtain at prices well above the futures levels. Crude oil has fallen to 18-year lows with the price of gasoline falling in line.

The recent rally has nowhere to go under current conditions and should not have happened in the first place even under the best of circumstances, which are certainly not prevalent.

At the Close, Monday, March 30, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 22,327.48, +690.70 (+3.19%)
NASDAQ: 7,774.15, +271.77 (+3.62%)
S&P 500: 2,626.65, +85.18 (+3.35%)
NYSE: 10,434.75, +247.54 (+2.43%)

Monday, March 30, 2020

Coronavirus Will Kill Many, but Government Response Has Killed the Economy

Theories have been floated about the coronavirus, or COVID-19, pandemic, suggesting (or outright claiming) that the infectious virus is variously a Chinese communist plot, an American false flag, a scheme by central banks or other nefarious, elitist secret society types, a message from God, an outer space concoction that has something to do with planet X, or that it's just the flu and the media, in cahoots with the governments of the world, is hyping it to the maximum degree as a cover story for the second Great Depression that was about to unfold, anyway.

At least for a change, nobody is blaming Vladimir Putin, the Russians or the Ukraine. They seemed to have worn out their scapegoat status.

Whatever and wherever the truth may lay, it's becoming apparent that the cure may be worse than the disease.

If a business were to shut down for a month or six weeks or maybe two months, the chances of it coming back to life in a healthy manner would be slim. Employees may have found new positions at other companies, customers would have had the time to find alternative sources for the product or service the shut-down business provided, bills, such as rent, utilities, and loans may or may not have been paid in a timely manner, and most of all, there would have been zero income for said business.

Now, multiply that case by thousands in one area, then expand the condition to all areas of the country and you've got a real mess, or, the current state of the global economy. Hundreds of thousands of businesses are temporarily closed and have been shuttered for as long as six weeks in some countries. Many of these operations are small businesses with a handful of employees, but the afflicted include major corporations with thousands of employees as well.

Adding to the nightmarish scenario are government orders or advisories at national or local levels telling people to stay home, to not go to work, to shelter in place, and otherwise avoid all unnecessary travel and contact with other people.

This is madness.

There is precisely zero possibility that the global economy will return to any place similar to what it was six months ago. And while that may be a good thing in the long run, in the short term it will almost completely destroy most of the economy, and rip to shreds any of the tattered fabric that remained of societies at local or national levels.

We have all of this for the sake of people getting sick, some dying, others experiencing nothing more than a minor cold, even more not contracting the virus at all. The latest figures from reliable sources put the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide at around 750,000. The number of deaths has surpassed 34,000. In the United States, there are now 143,000 confirmed cases and just over 2,500 deaths.

These numbers may sound frightening or staggering, but knowing how many people die every day may put them into a less-panicky perspective. Globally, about 153,000 people die every day. That's 1,071,000 every week and more than 380 million annually. In the United States, about 7500 people die daily, or about 2,750,000 each year.

Sure, the COVID-19 cases and death toll are mounting, but just taking the number of deaths already presented - 34,000 - and, for the sake of argument, assume they all died within the last month, that number is minuscule compared to the 4.6 million that normally die every month. It works out to 0.75%, or less than one percent worldwide.

So why are government officials making such a big deal out of COVID-19 when 80% of cases are resolved with little to no medical attention necessary and less than two percent eventually die from it?

Good question. People die in car accidents every day and we don't ban cars. There are murders and suicides every day and people have debated how to prevent them for decades. The normal flu variant - another virus - kills 290,000 to 650,000 people every year. Coronavirus has a lot of catching up to do, yet governments insist that we must destroy our economy in order to keep it in check. And guess what? It's not working. The caseloads and deaths pile up every day regardless of whether people stay home, avoid contact, wash their hands or (and, if the CDC were serious, they would require this of all Americans) wear face masks.

The goal is supposedly to slow the progress of this highly infectious pathogen. OK, fine, let's save some lives while killing our economy. Has anybody considered the number of lives that will be damaged or ruined, or the number of people that will die or have their lives shortened because of how this is being handled?

Face the facts. Many jobs are not going to be there if and when this virus panic is concluded. Over the weekend, President Trump extended the social distancing, avoid social contact, and stay at home guidelines though April 30. That's 4 1/2 more weeks. By that time, many people will have to stay at home - if they have one - because they'll have no job and no money, and ironically, even if they do have enough dough on hand to put gas in their cars at massively reduced prices, other than the grocery store, pharmacy, or bank, there's nowhere for them to go. Everything else is closed.

So, our so-called leaders (Chris Martenson of Peak Prosperity calls them "managers," because they aren't really leading anybody) have made the decision to save some number of lives (10,000? 4 million? Who knows?)by effectively shutting down the economy, crashing the stock market, then fixing it all with a $2.2 trillion rescue attempt which includes sending checks to most people who make less than $75,000 a year. Those checks or direct deposits, when and if they do arrive, will amount to $1200 for most adults and $500 for each dependent child. If they wanted to be fair about it, they could take that $2.2 trillion and just doe out $6,666 to every man, woman and child in the country. If they took the entire amount and send money to just people who earn less than $75,000 a year - roughly 200 million - everyone would get $11,000.

However, since those roughly 200 million are going to get $1200, that's only $240 billion. The rest of that money - roughly $2 trillion, is largely going to corporations, which are going to lay people off in droves, and states, to cover extra expenses incurred in dealing with the crisis and for additional unemployment insurance. It's a rather large boondoggle, which will explode the federal budget, but who cares, since we're destroying the economy anyhow? The US is already $23 trillion in debt, what's another $2 trillion? The rest of the developed nations are in equally bad conditions, so they're planning on doing some similar bailout.

When this is all over, maybe by September, your local restauranteur will be out of business, but the McDonalds, Applebees, Pizza Huts, and Taco Bells of the world will be there to please your palette. The government's solution to COVID-19 will manage to crush small businesses and reduce the middle class to rubble.

Stock market declines will wipe out pensions.

Banks and large corporations will get loans or grants, aka, bailouts, again.

In the face of all of this, stocks went on a tear last week, having the best week since 1932, supposedly, which is ironic, because 1932 was in the midst of the Great Depression. All of the top five or seven best daily or weekly gains for stocks have come during bear markets, just as last week's did.

While some people were claiming that the bear market was vanquished last week, there's absolutely no truth to that. All major indices are at least 20% lower from the all-time highs made in February. Stocks are in a bear market and they'll stay in one no matter how much money the government and Federal Reserve throws at them. Stocks may go up for a while, but they're destined to go right back down. There's no escaping the fact that the global economy is broken, banks are largely insolvent and at some point will likely be shut down, unemployment is headed north of 20% and bankruptcy attorneys are set to make fortunes.

Gas at the pump is the lowest it's been in decades. Gold and silver cannot be purchased and delivered at current quoted prices. Most dealers are sold out. Wait times for what may be available are as long as 45 days. While gold popped back over $1600 an ounce last week, nobody can touch an ounce for less than $1800. Pricing for physical has decoupled from the fake, manipulated futures con game price at the COMEX.

The same is true for silver. It's current price is floating somewhere around $14.50 per ounce. Sales on eBay, where delivery can be as quick as two day because private individuals are selling there, have the price for an ounce of silver anywhere from $20 to $25. That market is broken. More markets will break down in coming days, weeks, and months. It might be instructive to consider the equity markets broken since the Federal Reserve can prop up the banks and other companies at will, even though their mandate allows them to buy just about everything but stocks, though that will likely change. Imagine playing poker with a guy who has $20 trillion and you have $200. That's what trading stocks is going to be like soon.

Bond prices are the lowest in history. The short-dated maturities briefly went negative last week. Expect that to be the rule rather than the standard going forward.

It's an absolute mess, a complete shame. Already, the banks are in trouble, as CapitalOne (COF) received a back-handed bailout last week, getting a waiver from the CFTC when they were caught with their pants down playing derivatives in the oil market (yes, the oil market that crashed last month). There's more to come from your friendly banking community, which gets money for nothing and loans it to the public at 20%, 25%, 29% or more.

Everything is just peachy.

Here are some recent numbers for the major indices, noting the recent all-time highs (February, 2020) and interim lows (March, 2020):

Dow High: 29568.57, Low: 18213.65
NASDAQ High: 9838.37, Low: 6631.42
S&P High: 3393.52, Low: 2192.86
NYSE High: 14183.26, Low: 8664.94
Dow Transports: High: 11359.49, Low: 6481.20

At the Close, Friday, March 27, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 21,636.78, -915.39 (-4.06%)
NASDAQ: 7,502.38, -295.16 (-3.79%)
S&P 500: 2,541.47, -88.60 (-3.37%)
NYSE: 10,187.21, -349.07 (-3.31%)

For the Week:
Dow: +2462.80 (+12.84%)
NASDAQ: +622.86 (+9.05%)
S&P 500: +236.55 (+10.26)
NYSE: +1054.05 (+11.54)
Dow Transports: +861.46 (+12.60%)

Friday, March 27, 2020

Dow, S&P Gain Third Straight Day; Fed Buying Evident

There are signs everywhere that the Federal Reserve has taken an active role in the stock market, especially in the US, but probably abroad as well, in cahoots with their central bank partners, as stocks have recovered sharply over the past three days after being battered by fears stemming from the coronavirus global pandemic, or COVID-19.

Probably the most glaring evidence - outside of the Dow's near-500-point gain in the final 12 minutes of trading Thursday - is the ballooning of the Fed's balance sheet, which has grown by $507,323,000,000 ($507.323 billion) in just seven days, from March 18 to the 25th.

Being almost completely transparent, the Fed, in recent days has announced that they would purchase everything from municipal debt, to corporate debt, to exchange traded funds (ETFs) in the open market in order to "stabilize" the situation. There's one good reason why the Dow was up 1,351 points on a day that started with the announcement that more than three million Americans has lost their jobs in the past week, and it's because the Federal Reserve, with literally unlimited amounts of buying power, was actively in the market.

While this will come as a surprise to pretty much 90% of all Americans, central bank direct activity in equity markets has been an open secret in financial circles for at least the past decade. The Swiss National Bank (SNB) and Bank of Japan are major shareholders in many corporations, including Apple (AAPL) and many others. The BOJ has been buying ETFs in earnest since as early as 2012, when their balance sheet exploded from 150 trillion yen ($138 billion US) to 550 ($506 billion US). Today, the Bank of Japan owns stocks and bonds equal to the country's entire economic output, or 100% of GDP. In essence, the Bank of Japan owns the Japanese economy. It is the Japanese economy and a similar scenario is beginning to emerge in the United States, and likely in the European Union as well.

Other independent central banks in Australia, Canada, England, Brazil, and elsewhere are probably considering doing the same in their stock markets if they haven't already.

It's not as though central banks are complete foreigners to intervention in markets. They've completely distorted the capital markets for years, buying up agency (government) debt and mortgage-backed securities en masse before and after the Great Financial Crisis in 2007-09 to the point at which trillions of dollars in government bonds carry negative yields.

So, instead of just buying debt, why not stocks? Ask your broker. I'm sure he or she will have a ready answer after convulsing on the floor in either laughter or tears.

Elsewhere, treasury yields fell across the spectrum, the 10-year note checking in at 0.83%. Gold and silver have returned to being an afterthought in the futures market and largely unavailable in physical quantities. Gold is still testing recent multi-year highs, closing up $11.60 on Thursday to $1624.50 per ounce. Silver closed down slightly to $14.41 in the futures market. Meanwhile, dealers report widespread shortages amid massive demand for "everyman's gold."

Being that silver is so much less expensive than gold, it is available to anybody with a couple of sawbucks. Thus, it is THE prime target of central banks, as their greatest fear is to have a competing currency accepted by the middle and lower classes. It would kind of ruin their monopoly on currency. It's been going on for hundreds of years and isn't likely to change soon.

Oil was beaten down again on Thursday, with WTI crude closing out at $22.60 a barrel, down nearly two dollars from Wednesday's finishing price. Unleaded gasoline is cheap around the globe, the irony being, with so many coronavirus lockdowns or "stay at home" orders in place, gas is a bargain, but nobody can go anywhere.

At the Close, Thursday, March 26, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 22,552.17, +1,351.62 (+6.38%)
NASDAQ: 7,797.54, +413.24 (+5.60%)
S&P 500: 2,630.07, +154.51 (+6.24%)
NYSE: 10,536.28, +574.89 (+5.77%)

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Senate Approves $2.2 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Bill, Sends to House; Unemployment Claims Skyrocket to 3,283,000

Editor's Note: This edition of Money Daily was purposed delayed until after the weekly unemployment claims figures came out at 8:30 am ET Thursday. The regular report follows this headline news.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that initial unemployment claims for the week ending March 21 rose to a record 3,283,000, an increase of 3,001,000 from the previous week's revised level. An enormous jump in claims was widely expected.

Money Daily will have complete reporting on how this affected the markets in Friday morning's report.

Simply put, Wednesday was just a replay or extension of Tuesday's rally, without as much drama or conviction on the part of investors, witnessed by the rapid descent in the final hour of trading. The Dow lost more than half of the day's gains. The NASDAQ ended up in the red after being up more than 250 points in early afternoon trading.

In other words, this rally ran out of steam via the old, "buy the rumor, sell the news" meme. The "rumor" was the Senate's $2.2 trillion national bailout and rescue plan for COVID-19 (very convenient). The "news" is that it was not passed by the full Senate during market business hours. Instead, the aged Senators stayed up well past their bedtimes again, passing the bill around 11:00 pm ET.

The fact that the Senate's 96-0 passage of the bill will coincide perfectly with the next "buy the rumor, sell the news" item - the weekly unemployment claims number at 8:30 am ET Thursday morning, will no doubt leave open to speculation that the timing was anything but coincidence.

Leaving the barn door just slightly ajar, the House of Representatives still has to vote on the measure passed by the Senate before it goes to President Trump for his signature. If he does get a crack at putting pen to paper on this one, it will allow for a huge influx of capital to individuals, families, and businesses, both big and small. It will also destroy any chance of the federal budget coming in with anything less than a $2 trillion deficit this year (fiscal year ends September 30), and next.

Most Americans will receive either a check or direct deposit in the amount of $1,200. Married couples will get $2,400, plus another $500 for each dependent child. The media says that 90% of the people in this country will get such a check, which is a telling figure. It speaks loudly to the wealth distribution in America when only 10% are making enough to not receive a check of any amount. People making more than $75,000 in 2018 or 2019 will get less than the full amount. There's a cap at $99,000 for individuals and $198,000 for married couples. Those will get nothing. In general terms, there's proof that only 10% of Americans are making more than $99,000 a year. No wonder Bernie Sanders and other democrats receive such strong support for "wealth redistribution."

All that aside, Thursday is looking like a bloodbath for the Bulls, as the unemployment figures will almost certainly be record-setting. Estimates range from 860,000 new claims (UBS) to four million (4,000,000) (Citi). The prior high was 695,000 claims filed the week ended October 2, 1982. If this were a betting game, Money Daily would be at or above the high figure provided by analysts at Citi. There's a chance it could be six million. New York alone could be over a million, ditto California.

As for other markets, bonds, precious metals, and oil were relatively stable on the day. The 10-year note seems to have found a sweet spot with a yield around 0.85%.

Gold looks to be consolidating above $1600 per ounce, though there are widespread reports that nobody can find even a one ounce bar at that price. Dealers have been scrambling for the last two weeks to fill orders and many are completely sold out. The same is true for silver, though to a lesser extent. The miners can produce silver faster than gold, so supplies are being replenished, but they will be bought up as soon as they're available.

Order fulfillment times for physical gold and silver bullion, coins, and bars are running three weeks and longer. Silver, on the spot or futures market is stabilizing around $14.50, but prices on eBay (which means almost immediate shipment) and through dealers are much higher.

Single one-ounce silver bars on ebay have been flying high, with prices ranging anywhere from $22 to as high as $41.

WTI crude is settling into a range between $22 and $24 per barrel and that price should persist and possibly go lower as the COVID-19 plague spreads and slows movement commerce worldwide. Gas prices in the US are a multi-year lows.

Stocks are not going back to record levels despite the Dow gaining ground for the second straight day. Tuesday and Wednesday were the first time the Dow saw back-to-back gains since February 3-6, when it strung together four straight wins. Finishing on the upside two days straight hadn't happened over the past 31 sessions.

At the Close, Wednesday, March 25, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 21,200.55, +495.64 (+2.39%)
NASDAQ: 7,384.29, -33.56 (-0.45%)
S&P 500: 2,475.56, +28.23 (+1.15%)
NYSE: 9,961.38, +303.06 (+3.14%)

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

As Senate Seeks $2 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Package, Stocks Roar to Record Gains; Gold, Silver Rebound

When Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell announced on Tuesday that negotiations over a $2 trillion national bailout were "on the five-yard line," minority leader Chuck Schumer one-upped him, quipping that negotiations were on the two-yard line as he met and wrangled over details with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Presumptuously a bi-partisan effort, the back-and-forth between the administration and Senate leaders managed to lift spirts in lower Manhattan, sending stocks to record one-day gains as hope for financial relief appeared to be within reach.

The 2,113.01-point, 11.37 percent gain on the Dow Industrials was not only the greatest one-day point rise in market history, it was also the fourth-best percentage rise, following a 12.34 percent advance on October 30, 1929, when the market was just entering the Great Depression. At the time, the Industrial Average stood at 258.47, with its gain of 28.40 points.

Whether that comparison is fair or apocryphal remains to be seen, though it's a well-known fact that the greatest stock market gains occur during bear markets. Of the top seven one-day percentage gains, four were during the Great Depression, the other two occurring in the Great Financial Crisis, on October 13 and 28 of 2008. It would indeed be wise for market participants to pay heed to Tuesday's inclusion in this suspicious list.

The NASDAQ's 557.19-point rip was the second-most ever, following a 672.43-point advance on March 13, 2020, less than two-weeks ago. The 8.12 percent increase tied for seventh all-time with a similar percentage gain on April 18, 2001. At that time, the NASDAQ was well into the throes of the dot-com bust. The tech-laden index was then trading just above 2000, when a month prior it had reached all-time highs, breaking above 5000.

The story was the same for the S&P 500, which recorded the eighth-best percentage gain. The seven higher percentage gains were all made either during the Great Depression (five of them), while two happened in October, 2008. The S&P's 209.93-point rise stands second only to the 230.38-point advance on March 13 of this year.

While the Senate dithered over details, bulls were greatly relieved as they took it to the bears throughout the session. Led by Chevron (CVX) with a 22.74% increase, some of the top performers on the Dow Jones Industrial Average included American Express (AXP, +21.88%), beleaguered Boeing (BA, +20.89%), McDonald's (MCD, +18.13%), Goldman Sachs (GS, +13.80%), and 3M (MMM, +12.60%).

The outpouring of money and joy didn't stop at the corner of Wall Street and Broadway. The money flows extended into gold and silver, the two precious metals having recently been pounded below sensible levels. With one of its best one-day performances ever, gold advanced by some $84.80, finishing up at $1636.00 the ounce after a close at $1551.20 on Monday.

Silver rose from a close of 13.27 on Monday to end trading in New York at 14.36, a gain of 8.21 percent.

Oil was stable to higher, with WTI crude advancing from $23.36 per barrel to $24.01 on the day.

Generally, bonds sold off, led by treasuries with durations between one and 10 years. Yield on the 10-year note advanced eight basis points, from 0.76% to 0.84%. The largest gain of yield was found on the five-year note, which rose from 0.38% to 0.52%. The curve is still relatively flat, with yields in a narrow band of 138 basis points. The one, two, and three month bills all stand at 0.01%, with the 30-year bond checking in at 1.39%

While the Senate never did get to a cloture vote on Tuesday, the deal was eventually struck just before 1:00 am ET on Wednesday, when White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland exited Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office saying, according to CNN. “We have a deal.”

The full Senate is poised to vote on the package midday Wednesday. The House is expected to approve the bill by unanimous consent, sending it to the White House for President Trump's signature. The president is reportedly eager to sign the bill, sending money to individuals, families and businesses affected by events surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.

It is expected to advance direct payments of $1200 per citizen ($2400 for married couples) earning less than $75,000 a year. It is the largest stimulus bill ever made into law. With markets prepared to open shortly, futures are less-than-enthusiastic, as all of the major indices indicate a lower opening though Asian markets were up sharply overnight and European indices are mixed.

At the Close, Tuesday, March 24, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 20,704.91, +2,113.01 (+11.37%)
NASDAQ: 7,417.86, +557.19 (+8.12%)
S&P 500: 2,447.33, +209.93 (+9.38%)
NYSE: 9,658.32, +880.94 (+10.04%)

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Stocks, Bond Yields Tumble, Gold, Silver Sold Out at Most Dealers as Legislators Work on Stimulus Package

Stocks took another beating in the US on Monday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing at its lowest level since the coronavirus crisis began in mid February. The close at 18,591.93 was lower than the previous low, but also lower than the intraday low (18,917.46, March 18). Intraday, the Dow was down nearly 1000 points from Friday's close (19,173.98), falling to 18,213.65.

The other indices fall in line for the most part, except the NASDAQ which was above the unchanged line most of the session and finished with a fractional loss. Being more speculative than the more stoic Dow, S&P and NYSE Composite, the NASDAQ is still experiencing some buying activity, though much of that is reserved for grocers and tech stocks.

Once again, the Fed stepped up to the plate prior to the market open, making an emergency statement about an hour prior to the opening bell U.S. to announce that Treasury and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) purchases would be expanded as much as needed. As with last Monday's pre-opening salvo by the Fed, traders were not swayed, sending the major indices into the red right off the bat.

As the trading wore on, there was some relief from the selling midday, as Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and minority leader, Chuck Schumer, hinted that they were close to a deal on the $1.5 trillion relief package that would include a payment of up to $1200 (plus $500 per child) for most Americans making less than $75,000 a year.

When the measure failed to reach cloture on a 47-47 tie, stocks quickly reversed course and headed to the lows of the day. Any bill coming out of the Senate for a COVID-19 stimulus bill will need at least 60 votes to pass. The two parties are far from reaching compromise, especially after House Democrats released their $2.5 trillion plan that was much more generous. The Democrat bill calls for monthly payments of $2000 to nearly all Americans and $1000 per child under 18. It also provides provisions to shelter people who cannot make rent, mortgage, credit card, car leases or loans, or student loan payments, calling for forbearance without penalty for as long as the crisis is deemed a national emergency, plus 120 to 180 days after that.

In what would be essentially a debt jubilee, Democrats' are offering much more to individuals and families than are the Republicans. Their plan has many flaws, however, in that one could, conceivably, buy a new car, rent a swanky apartment, pay for neither and have use of them for up to a year, possibly longer. The bill would make whole all creditors harmed by the measure, presumably at some later date. It's a complete boondoggle that would crush the economy rather than help it.

Legislators will be back at it on Tuesday, looking for a bill that will satisfy both their constituents and their major campaign funders (corporations, banks).

Bonds were bid nearly across the board, with the one-month bill plummeting to 0.01 and the 30-year bond losing 22 basis points on the day, closing out with a yield of 1.33%. Yield on the 10-year note also crumbled, falling form 0.92% to 0.76%.

Precious metals were bid higher. Spot gold ended the day at $1551.20. Silver finished at $13.27 the ounce at the close of trading in New York. However, both were up significantly overnight. Silver adding 97 cents to $14.24, while gold was up $96 to $1647.20, as both metals, quoted in futures contracts, are actually selling far above those prices for physical. Buyers are paying up to 100% premiums on silver and $300-600 more for an ounce of gold and having to wait as much as a month for delivery as major metals dealers are simply overwhelmed with buyers and generally out of stock.

Oil closed at $23.36 per barrel. Gas prices in the USA have been seen as low as 99 cents at one Kentucky outlet. Most states are seeing the price at the pump under $2.00 per gallon and falling.

With trading set to resume in the US in a matter of hours, futures are looking absolutely dashing, suggesting that this Turnaround Tuesday could be one for the record books. Then again, futures have often been optimistic, only to see waves of selling throughout the open trading session.

At the Close, Monday, March 23, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 18,591.93, -582.07 (-3.04%)
NASDAQ: 6,860.67, -18.85 (-0.27%)
S&P 500: 2,237.40, -67.52 (-2.93%)
NYSE: 8,777.38, -355.78 (-3.90%)

Sunday, March 22, 2020

WEEKEND WRAP: Wall Street Suffers Worst Week Since 2008; Economy in Shambles and Worsening; COVID-19 Wrecking Central Banks, Sovereign Governments

My, oh, my, what a week this was!

The numbers are sufficiently horrifying to speak for themselves, and they're speaking loudly.

Stocks suffered their worst week since 2008. Yes. The week just past was worse than anything since the Great Financial Crisis, and beyond that, the dramatic drop that kicked off the Great Depression in 1929, is comparable.

The three top indices had their worst weekly performances since October of 2008. The Dow dropped 17% for the week, the S&P 500 tumbled 15% and the NASDAQ lost more than 12%. Friday's losses were widespread, the biggest losers were utilities (-8.2%) and consumer staples (-6.5%).

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, the main indices are down anywhere between 30% (NASDAQ) and 35% (Dow).

Here are the stark, raving-mad numbers from the peaks to Friday's close, with dates:

Dow Industrials: peak: 29,551.42 (2/12), close 3/20: 19,173.98, net: -35.12%
NASDAQ: peak: 9,817.18 (2/19), close 3/20: 6,879.52, net: -29.92%
S&P 500: peak: 3,386.15 (2/19), close 3/20: 2,304.92, net: -31.03%
NYSE Composite: peak: 14,136.98 (2/12), close 3/20: 9,133.16, net: -35.40%

Bear in mind, these numbers are all higher than they were prior to the collapse of 2008. For reference, here are figures from August 2008, followed by the bottoms, all recorded March 9, 2009.

Dow Industrials: 8/11/09: 11,782.35; 3/9/09: 6,926.49
NASDAQ: 8/14/09: 2,453.67; 3/9/09: 1,268.64
S&P 500: 8/11/08: 1,305.32; 3/9/09: 676.53
NYSE Composite 8/6/09: 8,501.44; 3/9/09: 4,226.31

What are the implications from these figures? Pretty simple, really. Since nothing was really fixed from 2008-09 (i.e., none of the major commercial banks - Lehman and Bear Stearns notwithstanding, as they were investment banks - failed), nobody went to jail, the GFC was mostly the deflation of a housing bubble, and all of the gains in stocks were the product of buybacks and/or massive infusions of cash by the Federal Reserve, it stands to reason that stocks will fall below their lowest levels of the GFC, or sub-prime crisis.

As almost all bear markets prove, there are steep losses in the initial phase, followed by a longer, slower, gradual decline, ending in complete capitulation wherein nobody wants to be holding equity shares at any price. Stocks go bidless. There are no buyers, and that is the condition to come.

The years 2009 through early 2020 can readily be construed as what's often referred to as the "everything bubble," in which all financial assets were inflated. In the simplest terms imaginable, gains in stocks during the past 11 years were a chimera, a figment of Wall Street's great imagination and greed.

An arguable point is that all of the major corporations who feasted on stock buybacks and easy money from the Fed are bankrupt. A corollary to that is the the commercial banks - Citi, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley - being either major shareholders of the Federal Reserve and/or many major corporations are also bankrupt, insolvent, as is the Fed, which, for all intents and purposes, just creates whatever money is needed out of thin air, with no backing other than the faith of the people and institutions using their fiat currency, and that faith is fading fast.

WTI crude oil concluded its worst week since the 1991 Gulf War, settling -11%, at $22.43/bbl as part of its 29% meltdown this week.

Precious metals continued to be under pressure, even though buyers of physical gold and silver are paying high premiums and silver buyers are waiting as long as a month for deliveries from major coin and bullion dealers. Many online outlets are out of stock on almost all silver items. Scottsdale Mint is advising buyers that silver purchases are 15-20 days behind. Spot silver was as low as $11.94 per ounce, ending the week at $12.59. Prices for coins and bars are ranging between $17.50 and $25.00.

Gold traded as low as $1471.40 on the paper markets. It finished up Friday at $14.98.80

Bonds were all over the map and ended with lower yields overall. Yield on the 30-year was as low as 1.34% and as high as 1.78%. It ended the week yielding 1.55%, crashing 23 basis points on Friday. The 10-year note yield ranged from 0.73% to 1.18%, closing at 0.92%. The curve steepened through the week to 151 basis points from the 1-month bill (0.04%) to the 30-year bond, though yields are lower than ever in history. Money has lost nearly all of its time-value, especially at the shorter end. The two-year is yielding a mere 0.37%.

The point is that the Federal Reserve, with ample assistance from other central banks around the world, particularly, the ECB, BOE, BOJ, and SNB (Swiss National Bank), blew an enormous stock bubble around the world, and, since it is deflating rapidly, are trying to blow an even bigger bubble. It will not work. Never has, never will. It might for a time, but in the end there will be massive defaults from individuals all the way to sovereign states and central banks themselves. There is a limit to how much fiat currency (not money, which would be currency backed by gold or silver or some other tangible, not-easily replenished asset) and how much complexity the world can handle. We are at those limits and hastily exceeding them.

What's worse is that the governments and central banks of planet Earth are doing this to themselves, or, rather, to their sovereign citizens, who will bear the brunt of rash decisions based on faulty economics and radical monetary and fiscal policies. The Fed will print trillions of dollars. The government will run debts to the tune of 20-25% of the gross national product, if there is any left after the shutdowns, slowdowns, quarantines, and eventual rationing.

Profligate spending and corruption at the highest levels of business, finance, and government has led to an inevitable dead end, ruining lives, destroying businesses, and deflating, then inflating bogus currencies.

This is the end of the fiat currency era, but it doesn't have to be the end of the world. Money Daily has been warning its readers for more than a decade that this kind of economic carnage would eventually come, urging people to invest in hard assets, real estate, precious metals, machinery, food supplies, arable land and produce, and more.

There will be winners and losers in all of this, and it is the intention of Money Daily to provide information and instruction on how to win.

Some random links:

Gregory Mannarino says, in a very emotional and exasperating video, that it's OVER, just as Money Daily has been suggesting for weeks.

Here's a beach-loving Seeking Alpha commentator who thinks we've seen the worst.

Marketwatch notes that the Dow is on track for its worst month since the Great Depression.

Sending checks to every eligible American is being debated in congress. Treasury Secretary quipped early in the week that President Trump and he would like to get money into the hands of Americans within two weeks. The current proposals being argued in congress are looking at early April as a timeline to get money to needy citizens. That's a lot longer than two weeks, but, when the banks and hedge funds need billions and trillions of dollars from the Fed, they get it the next day, if not sooner. It's about as unfair as banks getting money at near zero interest and charging 17-29% interest on credit cards.

The house of cards (no pun intended) is tumbling down.

At the Close, Friday, March 20, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 19,173.98, -913.21 (-4.55%)
NASDAQ: 6,879.52, -271.06 (-3.79%)
S&P 500: 2,304.92, -104.47 (-4.34%)
NYSE: 9,133.16, -328.15 (-3.47%)

For the Week:
Dow: -4011.64 (-17.30%)
NASDAQ: -995.36 (-12.64%)
S&P 500: -406.10 (-14.98%)
NYSE: -1718.82 (-15.84%)

Friday, March 20, 2020

Stocks Bounce As News Suggests Possible, Readily-Available COVID-19 Treatments May Be Effective

Considering the extreme levels of volatility lately, Thursday's trading was relatively calm. Though the VIX remained elevated, it came down from over 80 to near 70 as the day commenced.

Stocks initially were lower, but found solid footing and ramped higher by mid-morning, the NASDAQ leading the way with speculators eyeing stocks that had cratered over the past three weeks, and began establishing positions at levels they considered to be bargains.

The S&P, Dow, and NYSE composite followed gamely but trailed the red-hot NASDAQ by more than a percentage point throughout the session. It was the first in many days that stocks had not ventured more than three percent in either direction for the last nine sessions, so some might argue that volatility is cooling, though still near record levels.

Moving 900 points from the morning lows to the close, the Dow's move was impressive, considering it has been absolutely damaged the prior session with Boeing (BA) leading the way down on Wednesday with a loss of some 25%. The aircraft manufacturer was down a mere four percent on Thursday, and is sporting a positive sign in pre-market trading Friday.

Thursday's unemployment claims numbers were 281,000, up by 71,000 over the prior week, but were for the week ending March 14, so much of the coronavirus-related data had not been tabulated, but will appear next Thursday.

Goldman Sachs’ Jan Hatzius wrote in a note to clients on Thursday night, “state-level anecdotes point to an unprecedented surge in layoffs this week.” The analyst claims that figures for the week ending March 21 will show initial claims rising to roughly 2¼ million, which would be the largest increase in initial jobless claims and the highest level on record. That's not unlikely, as major cities - San Francisco and New York in particular - are at or near lockdown levels of activity with many workers furloughed or otherwise idled by warnings or edicts from city and state officials.

Philly Fed’s manufacturing activity index crashed to an eight-year low of -12.7 in March from a three-year high of 36.7 in February. This follows the NY Fed’s Empire State Manufacturing index, which also dropped at a record pace to an 11-year low.

In a research report published on Thursday, Bank of America economists predicted the U.S. economy would lose 3.5 million jobs and GDP plummeting at a 12% pace in the second quarter, also probable figures given the severity of the reaction to COVID-19.

What's keeping Wall Street open for business and possibly ending the week with a positive tone are actions taken by the Fed which are too numerous to list, but include opening swap lines to other central banks, injecting billions of dollars via repo and QE, and wide open credit lines to primary dealers.

Also, President Trump's mention of a possible treatments for the virus in his now-daily news briefing, has been getting a great deal of attention. Specifically, the president mentioned a number of possible drugs that showed promise in tests, including Gilead Sciences' remdesivir (Money Daily mentioned Gilead's product back in January as a promising treatment and the stock has responded with a run from 63 to 78 since then) and chloroquine, an inexpensive drug long used to treat malaria, which is widely available and has proven to be an effective anti-viral in clinical trials done recently in China and France.

Thus, while COVID-19 is still making its way through the population, potential treatments are promising and - in the case of chloroquine - readily available in mass quantities at extremely low cost (less than 10 cents per pill in some countries). Also emerging is data from South Korea, Italy, the United States, and elsewhere that show the vast majority of cases that result in death are people over the age of 60 with underlying health conditions such as heart conditions, diabetes, or otherwise compromised immune systems.

That's the kind of news Wall Street traders can get behind, because, if successful treatments become widely available, people could be back at work within weeks, rather than months. While various governments - including California, which late Thursday announced a state-wide stay-at-home recommendation - are trying to limit transmission via social distancing and "soft" quarantines, communities that develop "herd immunity" quickest will be fastest to recover, meaning that the virus spreads readily and renders most of the population immune.

As the opening bell approaches, stock futures have lost some of their momentum, but still point to a positive opening Friday, which also happens to be a quadruple witching day.

Investopedia.com defines quadruple witching as "...a date on which stock index futures, stock index options, stock options, and single stock futures expire simultaneously. While stock options contracts and index options expire on the third Friday of every month, all four asset classes expire simultaneously on the third Friday of March, June, September, and December."

These dates are normally volatile, but should fit snugly into the current trading regime.

At the Close, Thursday, March 19, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 20,087.19, +188.29 (+0.95%)
NASDAQ: 7,150.58, +160.74 (+2.30%)
S&P 500: 2,409.39, +11.29 (+0.47%)
NYSE: 9,461.30, +76.71 (+0.82%)

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Wall Street Endures Another Wicked Day of Losses; Oil At Multi-Decade Lows; Gold, Silver Decoupling

There is nothing good that can be said about market action on Wednesday, March 17, except that it could have, and probably should have, been worse. A late-session rally brought all US indices off their lows of the day, to finish with spectacular, though not record, losses.

The Dow Industrials were down by as much as 2,320 points, the NASDAQ had fallen 648 points, and the S&P had fallen by 249 points before the late-day surge. The losses were spread across almost all sectors and stocks, some retail operations, grocery chains, and consumer favorites, such as Dow components, Wal-Mart (WMT) and Walgreens (WBA), enjoyed gains of 2.78% and 6.47%, respectively.

Oil was beaten to multi-decade lows, with WTI crude falling to $20 per barrel and Brent hitting the $25 mark.

Most of the financial carnage was caused by effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts by governments and medical professionals around the world to control its spread. Worldwide, the virus has infected more than 220,000 and caused over 9,000 lives. In the United States, the numbers are growing rapidly with widespread testing becoming available. Cases are up to nearly 10,000 and 150 deaths have been attributed to the disease.

Where Wall Street and international markets go from here is plain for all to see. With financial assets having been boosted relentlessly after the Great Financial Crisis (GFC) of 2008-09, stocks are being sold off as though they had little to no value, which may, in fact, be the correct assumption.

With many companies and cities shut down indefinitely, people are more concerned about their personal health and welfare than what's in their 401k or retirement accounts. Financial stocks and airlines have thus far led the cascading declines, but they are being joined by stocks of all stripes.

Overnight, the Senate approved a bill sent by the House of Representatives and ready to be signed into law by President Trump for over $100 billion in relief to various segments of the country. The bill includes provisions for free coronavirus testing, paid sick leave and emergency leave for some individuals, food relief and enhanced unemployment benefits, which are probably going to be needed with an expected spike in new claims.

The European Central Bank approved a 715 euro stimulus package aimed primarily at bond repurchases and other assorted financial plumbing.

At 8:30 am ET, the US Labor Department updated the most recent new claims for unemployment insurance of 281,000, an increase of 70,000 from the previous week, though that number is for the week ending March 14. Claims are expected to surge to over 500,000 next week and some estimates are projecting job losses of more than three million by July, a number that is likely to be seen as conservative.

Gold and silver continue to be sold off as holders of paper contracts sell to make margin calls. The paper prices of the metals feel again on Wednesday, leaving gold at $1474.40 and silver closing n New York at $11.89.

Physical precious metal prices have broken away from the futures, with dealers charging extensive premiums as demand has skyrocketed. Silver is selling for $17 to $20 and more per ounce, with some dealers imposing 100% premiums. Prices on eBay for single ounce purchases of silver are ranging from $18 to $24 and higher.

Gold, partly because its high price holds down demand, is being sold in a range of $1580-$1675 per ounce with widespread shortages at online dealers. While the premiums for gold are still in the 10% range, they are significantly higher than just a few weeks ago. One would expect the gold price to be rising amid the buying surge, and decoupling from the paper price of the metals - which has already occurred with silver - may be imminent.

Bonds were sold at the long end of the treasury yield curve, sending the 30-year bond to 1.77% yield and the 10-year note to a yield of 1.18%, while the shortest durations, 1, 2, 3, and 6-month bills were hot tickets, ending the day with yields of 0.04, 0.03, 0.02, and 0.08%, respectively.

As Wall street steadies for another day of wicked trading, European markets are marginally lower. Asian markets felt even more pain in early Thursday trading. Indonesia's Jakarta Composite Index was down 5.20%; South Korea's KOSPI Composite was off 8.39%; the Straits Times Index off 4.73; Japan's NIKKEI fell by a mere 1.04%, and the Hang Seng, Hong Hong's index, was down 2.61%.

At the Close, Wednesday, March 18, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 19,898.92, -1,338.46 (-6.30%)
NASDAQ: 6,989.84, -344.94 (-4.70%)
S&P 500: 2,398.10, -131.09 (-5.18%)
NYSE: 9,384.60, -678.76 (-6.74%)

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Stocks Gain Tuesday, Busy Fed Monetizes Stocks Amid Spreading COVID-19 Virus: Boeing Wants $60 Billion

On the heels of Monday's knee-knocking losses, Tuesday's trade to the upside was somewhat predictable, in that a dead cat bounce usually follows massive losses, so the major indices continued along their path of one step forward, two (or three, four, or five) steps back.

There has not been back-to-back gains on the majors since a four-day stretch from February 4-7, as stocks rose relentlessly to new highs, the general top coming on February 12, in itself a surprising date, since the coronavirus was already in the process of devastating China and its economy, already having disrupted the global supply chain. How could investors have been so short-sighted? Greed has a certain blinding element to it, as does the opposite market reaction, fear, which has taken firm hold in the US markets and around the world.

Tuesday's events surrounding the viral outbreak were more of the standard fare of shutdowns, closures, government-imposed rules, as Europe closed its borders, every nation inside the EU locking down, as did the city of San Francisco, soon to be followed, most likely, by a similar "shelter in place" order in New York City, hinted at by Mayor Bill DeBlasio, shutting down all commerce for the foreseeable future.

The global case count has no exceeded that of mainland China and continues to outpace it. China's figures are still suspect, as they claim to have all but conquered the virus, the number of new cases since February 18 having grown by only 7,000, leveling off in the 81,000 range, a minuscule percentage of China's 1.4 billion population. However, China did lock down more than half of the country, especially in the province of Hubei, he original epicenter. There's probably never going to be any way to verify China's figures, since they announced Tuesday that reporters from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post would have their media credentials revoked, essentially barring them from reporting on anything.

With the March FOMC meeting underway, the Fed was very busy, boosting QE, extending credit for commercial paper to businesses large and small, and, after the market closed, re-instituting a loan facility to primary dealers from the 2008-09 crisis.

Officially called the Primary Dealer Credit Facility, or PMDF, the program will supply primary dealers of equities and other financial instruments loans of up to 90 days for at least the next six months, essentially monetizing stocks by allowing the 24 primary dealers to use stocks as collateral for short-term funding.

Also making headlines were Secretary Steven Mnuchin and President Trump, who were touting a plan to send $1000 checks to most Americans, specifically singling out millionaires, who, according to their statements, would not receive any handouts.

Boeing (BA), besieged by their own errors, is asking for a $60 billion bailout from the federal government. Boeing stock has fallen from a high of 440.62 to 124.14 currently, but the aerospace and airplane manufacturer should not be afforded such generosity, given that the company has been derelict in its corporate money management. Over the past 12 years, Boeing has repurchased at least $40 billion of its own shares, so, if it is in need of capital, it should just sell those stocks in the open market.

Boeing's stock buyback scheme worked to enrich shareholders and top executives as the share price soared as available stock was taken out of circulation and dividends were increased. Instead of reinvesting their profits, Boeing executives showered themselves with lavish bonuses and stock options. Now that a rainy day has arrived, they come begging for money from US taxpayers.

The same is true of major airlines, who spent almost all of their free cash flow on stock buybacks since the Great Financial Crisis of 2008-09. It's a travesty beyond compare.

While stocks held their own private party, other parts of the economic landscape obviously didn't share in the celebratory mood. Crude oil was sent to fresh lows, WTI crude cratering to $26.95 on Tuesday, and falling even more, to $26.04, in early Wednesday trading.

Gold and silver have been ravaged for days, though gold rallied sharply on Tuesday while silver fell to new lows, sending the gold-silver ratio to unimaginable heights. The last spot silver price in New York was $12.56 per ounce. Gold settled Tuesday at $1527.90, leaving the ratio at 121.65, an unbelievable figure, far and away the highest level in the 5,000 years of gold and silver being used as money.

As investment grade (IG) spreads have blown out to crisis levels, the treasury curve steepened dramatically on Tuesday, as the short end was bought and longer-dated maturities were sold. The total spread from 1-month bills out to 30-year bonds increased from 109 basis points on Monday to 151 Tuesday, the 30-year yield spiking 29 basis points to 1.64%, the 10-year note yielding 1.02%, also 29 basis points higher. At the short end, the 1-month bill yields 0.12%, falling from 0.25% on the day.

Thus, with millions of Americans at home for the next two weeks, with no sports, little work, and high anxiety, high finance drama continues to play out daily in the markets, which, for better or worse, remain unfettered and open for business.

The world is witnessing a financial calamity in real time.

At the Close, Tuesday, March 17, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 21,237.38, +1,048.86 (+5.20%)
NASDAQ: 7,334.78, +430.19 (+6.23%)
S&P 500: 2,529.19, +143.06 (+6.00%)
NYSE: 10,063.36, +495.83 (+5.18%)

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Following Massive Declines, Wall Street, Global Markets Brace For Recessions, Bankruptcies, Deficits

With most of America and parts of the rest of the world on lockdown in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus, international markets and Wall Street investors suffered stunning losses even with the Federal Reserve lowering interest rates essentially to zero and promoting a heavy dose of quantitative easing Sunday night.

The world awoke to a different place on Monday, one in which social distancing was preferred over social networks, toilet paper was more valued that commercial paper, and sheltering in place triumphed over going anyplace.

US indices encountered the worst point losses ever and the largest percentage declines since the 1987 crash which sent stocks reeling by 22 percent. Back then, there were no "circuit breakers" as are in place today, so the waves of selling were allowed to just continue until trading ended.

Monday's journey into the depths of despair began with futures going limit down (-5%) prior to the opening bell, after the Fed panicked and sent the federal funds to 0.00-0.25%, and launched a massive bond-buying binge, otherwise known as QE. None of that helped. In fact, the Fed's emergency actions, coming right before a planned FOMC meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday, sent a signal that all was not well and that liquidity was at the top of the Fed's agenda.

Having credit markets seize up, as they did in the 2008 rout, would be an economic disaster in itself, exacerbated by the effects of trying to tame the coronavirus, people out of work, events cancelled, life, as it used to be known, utterly changed, but for how long, nobody knows.

When the opening bell rang on Wall Street, trading was halted almost instantaneously, with the S&P 500 declining seven percent, setting off the first circuit breaker for the third time in the past two weeks. After a fifteen minute pause, stocks reopened, collapsed below the seven percent mark, but never made their way to the next circuit breaker, at -13%, until after 3:30, when the circuit breakers are effectively "turned off" in the final 25 minutes of trading.

As President Trump spoke at the White House, stocks continued to tumble into the close, saved by some spirited short-covering minutes before 4:00 pm ET.

Elsewhere, markets in Europe and Asia were likewise battered, with just about the entire world's markets already in bear markets and likely to fall further. The dangers for stocks are varied, but essentially fall into three areas. First, supply chain disruptions stemming from China and elsewhere grinding production to a halt. Second, even if corporations have goods or services to sell, the virtual lockdown of more than half the global population is causing a demand shock. Third, having employees working from home or furloughed will wreak havoc on underlying corporate structures and the general economy.

If the severe measures being taken now don't contain the spread of the virus in two to three weeks - in itself a damaging amount of time - and quarantines are put in place for longer, the economic effect could be devastating, no matter how much money the government wants to throw the way of the corporate class. It is individuals that are being most adversely affected. Federal government plans don't include any relief for the people who contribute 70% of GDP. The government will instead seek to bail out large corporations, figuring that if they are kept afloat, jobs will be saved, which is, of course, hogwash, because there will be nothing to stop cash-strapped corporations from laying off employees by the thousands.

With bars, restaurants, night clubs, and casinos being ordered to shut down, layoffs have already begun. On Monday, New York State's unemployment website crashed as thousands rushed to apply for benefits. Americans have been living hand-to-mouth, paycheck-to-paycheck for decades and now they're expected to ride out an economic shutdown at home, with their kids and spouses and no income for weeks, maybe months. The federal government should be making plans to offer relief to individuals in the form of direct payments, forbearance on loans, mortgages, and credit cards. Giving money to businesses is not the most efficient way to ease the pain and suffering of families and individuals. Direct assistance would be more beneficial, but, from the squabbling already firing up on capitol hill over the federal government's relief package, it's unlikely that any significant money will find its way down to the family or individual level.

So, with markets due to open Tuesday (up slightly) within minutes, looking ahead for any positive news is a fool's errand. The Fed meeting Tuesday and Wednesday is now a non-event, and Thursday's first look at new unemployment claims could be an eye-opener, though next week's will probably be more impactful.

There's a good chance for a bounce today, but all rallies should be sold into at this point. No sense in catching falling knives nor beating dead horses.

At the Close, Monday, March 16, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 20,188.52, -2,997.10 (-12.93%)
NASDAQ: 6,904.59, -970.28 (-12.32%)
S&P 500: 2,386.13, -324.89 (-11.98%)
NYSE: 9,567.53, -1,284.45 (-11.84%)

Saturday, March 14, 2020

WEEKEND WRAP: Cancel Everything Else, But Stock and Bond Markets Will Remain Open

Despite Friday's massive rally, this past week was one of the worst on record for Wall Street, as the Dow lost another 10 percent and the NYSE Composite, the broadest measure of equities in the United States, dropped more than 12 percent, below levels last seen in late 2016.

With all the major indices ensconced in bear market territory (-20%), which the Dow entered on Wednesday afternoon, Friday's jaunt to the upside was more short-covering and a boatload of pent-up, falsely-placed optimism than anything positive, manifesting itself in the final 27 minutes of trading while President Trump was declaring a national emergency over the COVID-19 crisis, the outbreak declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) two days prior.

The week in financial markets was literally one for the record books, with record gains and losses recorded on all US indices, Friday's meteoric rise becoming the largest one-day gain on the Dow, NASDAQ, and S&P 500, just a day after the biggest point losses. Market volatility has been off the charts as well, as the VIX has remained at an inflated level over the past three weeks, rising as high as 77.54 on Friday before coming down through the week-ending rally.

Putting that into perspective, the VIX closed at 17.08 on February 21. On Thursday, March 12, it ended the session at 75.47, and Friday, 57.83. These are extraordinary numbers.

It wasn't just stocks that were battered and bruised during the week. Bonds took painful hits at the long end of the curve, the 10-year note yield rising from 0.54% on Monday to 0.94% on Friday. Yield on the 20-year was up 44 basis points, from 0.87 to 1.31%. The 30-year bond yield went from 0.99 to 1.56, an enormous, 57 basis point move in just four days.

Shorter duration offerings were bought, sending yields in the other direction, which helped steepen the curve and iron out most of the inversion. Top-to-bottom, the curve was at a mere 73 basis points on Monday, increasing to 128 by Friday.

The most perplexing trade had to be precious metals, which were whipsawed to unforeseen levels as the week wore on. Gold, which had rocketed to 1683.65 on March 6, plummeted to 1529.90 on Friday. Silver fell from a high of 18.78 on February 24 to a close Friday of 14.69. That puts the gold:silver ratio at a record, 104.15.

Closings and cancellations were all the rage late in the week. The NBA canceled their remaining regular season games, as did the NHL. The NCAA cancelled the annual Men's and Women's basketball tournaments and all the major conferences canceled the remainder of their championships. Major League Baseball suspended all Spring Training games and pushed back the opening of the regular season temporarily by two weeks, from March 26th to April 9, at the earliest.

Broadway shows were cancelled in New York, as were any gatherings of 500 or more, throughout the state. California banned gatherings of 250 or more. Disney closed all of its major resort properties, including Disney World in Florida, and halted production on a number of films in progress.

More than 46,000 schools had announced closures by week's end. In Europe, Italy closed its borders, followed by Spain on Saturday. Just about any kind of social activity involving an audience has been shut down indefinitely. DollyWorld in Tennessee closed its doors on Friday. Augusta National postponed the Masters golf tournament and did not specify a date for when it would be held.

For many people, the cancellation of sporting events, shows, and theme parks leaves them with little to do. All cruise lines are on hiatus and President Trump imposed a travel ban to and from Europe and included Great Britain and Ireland on Saturday.

Shopping for essentials seemed to be on the mind of quite a few. Stores like Costco, Wal-Mart and other large grocery chains (Kroger's, Wegman's) saw some shelves emptied quickly, especially the staples, bread, milk, and toilet paper, which was apparently the hottest commodity on the planet this past week. The Players Championship, which was halted on Thursday due to darkness, never got the second round started, cancelling the event and dividing half the prize money evenly among players.

What will continue is the pursuit of money and all its derivatives in equity, bond, and commodity markets, as of this writing. Markets should open Monday as scheduled, though floor traders at the NYSE will surely be screened upon entering the building. Most trading is done electronically, and many traders are working from home instead of offices on Wall Street, throughout Manhattan and in New Jersey and Connecticut.

The Fed has promised as much as $1.5 trillion in repo operations and probably more will be needed. Additionally, the FOMC meeting this Tuesday and Wednesday promises to be of paramount interest, with expectations of another 75 to 100 basis points cut to the federal funds rate, bringing it effectively to the zero bound. The Fed executed an emergency cut of 50 basis points on March 3rd, bringing the overnight lending rate to 1.00-1.25% The Bank of England cut its main bank rate to 0.25% with a 50 basis point slash on March 11.

As the economy weighs the impacts of COVID-19 on the business community and global economies, the threat of recession looms large in all developed nations. With markets turning decidedly bearish since the spread of the disease expanded out of mainland China, companies are looking at major disruptions to business and first quarter earnings. If the crisis is an extended one, second quarter results will also be impacted to a greater degree than they already are.

Estimates for US GDP in the first quarter were already low, teetering around 1.5 to 2.0 percent and that will certainly come in lower than expected, but economists believe the hit to the second quarter (April-June) will be even greater, with some calling for a GDP decline of three to four percent.

With all that's gone on over the course of the past three weeks, nothing is for certain as the market searches for a bottom. While it's nearly assured that Thursday's knee-shaking rout will not prove to be the ultimate drop point, it brings some interesting perspectives to light, particularly, what if the virus does actually peter out with the onset of warmer weather and all this emergency preparedness turns out to be major overkill in addition to being a major buzz kill?

If conditions begin to improve rapidly, the impact to the second quarter would be minimal and first quarter results might actually be skewed positively due to all the panic buying by the general public. That would certainly wrong-foot any number of investors, sending alternate shock waves back at the bears.

Opinion is still out on how long this state of emergency will exist and whether measures will become more severe in coming weeks remains to be seen. The outbreak in the United States has not been particularly alarming, with 2,569 cases and now, 51 deaths, though those numbers continue to accelerate and probably will exceed 8,000 and 200 over the coming week. Most cases are mild, but lack of testing due to fumbling incompetence at the CDC and being slow in preparing overall might cause the numbers to spike.

Whatever the case, the money people will carry on, Washington will bail out anybody and anything with freshly printed greenbacks and the deficit will soar even further into the stratosphere. The global economy has reached a point of no return and is rapidly applying the principles of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) to a system that has basically be dysfunctional since October 2008.

At the Close, Friday, March 13, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 23,185.62, +1,985.00 (+9.36%)
NASDAQ: 7,874.88, +673.07 (+9.35%)
S&P 500: 2,711.02, +230.38 (+9.29%)
NYSE: 10,851.98, +791.21 (+7.86%)

For the Week:
Dow: -2679.16 (-10.36%)
NASDAQ: -700.74 (-8.17%)
S&P 500: -261.35 (-8.79%)
NYSE: -1500.06 (-12.14%)

Friday, March 13, 2020

Global Crash: Stocks Battered Across All Markets; Central Banks, Governments Prepare to Die

It's likely that March 12, 2020 will go down in history as the day global markets were dealt a fatal blow.

After weeks of volatility, with stocks moving radically up and down - but mostly down - capitulation had arrived as equity indices around the world suffered historic losses. In the United States, stocks started the day badly, down seven percent within minutes, triggering a market circuit-breaker, shutting down the exchanges for 15 minutes.

Upon reopening, stocks languished in the red, major indices down more than eight percent, the Dow Industrials falling nearly 10%. At 1:00 pm ET, the Federal Reserve announced that it would inject $500 billion in a three-month repo operation at 1:30 PM ET. It also announced a further $500 billion in a three-month repo operation on Friday and another $500 billion in one-month repo operation for same-day settlement.

The promise of $1.5 trillion in ready liquidity quickly sent stocks higher, but, just as an attempt to sooth markets with a 50 basis point rate cut last week had failed to quell the selling, this exercise in money printing ended up in tatters as well, stocks plummeting shortly thereafter back to session lows and beyond.

By day's end, the carnage was widespread, with the Dow, S&P, NASDAQ, and NYSE Composite indices all suffering the largest point losses in history, and the greatest percentage declines since the 1987 crash.

While the focus was clearly on effects that the spread of COVID-19 will have on the business community and corporations in particular, it was also evident that efforts by central bankers were not going to solve the market's problems this time around.

As has been the case for the duration of the 11-year bull market, which ended abruptly on Wednesday, Thursday's trading was about as grim and gloomy as had ever been seen, even worse than the fateful days of October, 2008, when Lehman Brothers failed and markets seized up in a paroxysm of distress, anguish, and fear.

While the Fed's largesse at this juncture may ease some of the immediate pain, it is unlikely to solve the underlying issues in the global economy, which are, in the main, disastrous levels of debt in corporate circles, households and governments. As the Fed believes every crisis to be a call for more credit, the world is drowning in what has become an avalanche of debt that will never be repaid. They system is readily drawing itself into a vicious death spiral. Every new dollar that the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank, Bank of Japan, People's Bank of China or other central bank entity will be washed down the tubes as quickly as it is put to use.The world's banking entities and governments are about to find out that they cannot bail out every corporation, every household, every state, city, or county that suffers from unwieldy debt overburden.

The market meltdown of March 12 is the beginning of the end for the global fiat money system. Backed by nothing but faith, all currencies are about to suffer the same fate: being expunged forever into the trash heap of failed economic ideas. Central bank intervention can only offer temporary relief, but it cannot continue on this course of action each time there comes a crisis. In the end, all central banks will fail, many governments will be overthrown by its own people or the sheer weight of indebtedness upon them.

The world is about to change in dramatic fashion. Money will vanish. Corporations, which have binged on stock buybacks for the better part of a decade, are bout to suffer a powerful hangover and have possibly poisoned themselves to death. All the time corporations had been loading up on cheap money, financing massive stock buybacks, no thought was ever given to how the balance sheet would look when the stock would be reissued to the public. Companies which bought back their own stock at, say, $90 per share, are looking at offering fresh issuance at $40 or $30 per share. Worse yet, when they issue new stock, there may not be ready buyers, as investors have been put off by the fragility of the market, massive losses in portfolios, gross wealth inequalities, and an evolving liquidity crunch.

Corporations will be caught upside-down and many will be earn the moniker of "zombies," wherein their present income is not enough to service ongoing debt. There will be massive numbers of bankruptcies, first by small businesses, then by major, publicly-held corporations. The economy, in major developed nations, will cease to exist in any reliable fashion.

Prior to all of this unfolding over upcoming months and years, the world has first to combat the nemesis that is COVID-19. As the day wore on, the news flow became worse and more terrifying with each announcement. During the day, the NBA suspended all games, as did the NHL. The NCAA cancelled the annual college basketball tournaments, and with that, "March Madness" became "March Numbness" for college hoops fans. Late in the day, Major League Baseball (MLB) announced that is was suspending Spring Training at various facilities in Florida and Arizona, and announced the the opening of the regular season would be delayed by at least two weeks. Originaly scheduled for March 26, the timetable was pushed forward to April 9th, at the earliest.

The states of California and New York, where outbreaks of coronavirus have been spreading rapidly, announced bans on large gatherings, California limiting the size to 250 people, while New York will allow only crowds of 500 or fewer. Other states have closed public schools, issued various warnings, and are preparing for large-scale outbreaks. Literally, there are too many stories of cancellations, bans, and preparedness responses to cover in this article.

Overnight, Disney (DIS) announced that it was closing all of its theme park operations, including Disney France, and the massive Disney World park in Orlando, Florida.

The news is unlikely to be cheerful as the week draws to a close. Millions of Americans will spend the weekend doing something other than watching sports on TV. People around the world are frightened, many already infected (in excess of 135,000 worldwide), and over 5,000 have died. With the virus nearing what should be its peak stage, almost all economic activity has ground to a halt. Congress continues to work toward a plan for assistance to hospitals, states and localities, but, as usual, they're doing more arguing for political gain than providing actual service to the American people.

It's become all too real, all of a sudden. It's not about to end any time soon. Brace for economic and societal impact.

Here is a glimpse of the carnage done to markets on March 12:

World Indices, March 12, 2020
^GSPC S&P 500 2,480.64 -260.74 -9.51%
^DJI Dow 30 21,200.62 -2,352.60 -9.99%
^IXIC Nasdaq 7,201.80 -750.25 -9.43%
^NYA NYSE COMPOSITE (DJ) 10,060.76 -1,116.52 -9.99%
^XAX NYSE AMEX COMPOSITE INDEX 1,564.90 -210.79 -11.87%
^BUK100P Cboe UK 100 8,969.78 -960.32 -9.67%
^RUT Russell 2000 1,122.93 -141.37 -11.18%
^VIX Vix 75.47 +21.57 +40.02%
^FTSE FTSE 100 5,237.48 -639.04 -10.87%
^GDAXI DAX PERFORMANCE-INDEX 9,161.13 -1,277.55 -12.24%
^FCHI CAC 40 4,044.26 -565.98 -12.28%
^STOXX50E ESTX 50 PR.EUR 2,545.23 -360.33 -12.40%
^N100 EURONEXT 100 788.87 -107.28 -11.97%
^BFX BEL 20 2,701.00 -447.40 -14.21%
IMOEX.ME MOEX Russia Index 2,286.40 -206.48 -8.28%
^N225 Nikkei 225 18,559.63 -856.43 -4.41%
^HSI HANG SENG INDEX 24,309.07 -922.54 -3.66%
000001.SS SSE Composite Index 2,923.49 -45.03 -1.52%
^STI STI Index 2,678.64 -105.08 -3.77%
^AXJO S&P/ASX 200 5,304.60 -421.30 -7.36%
^AORD ALL ORDINARIES 5,370.90 -418.40 -7.23%
^BSESN S&P BSE SENSEX 32,778.14 -2,919.26 -8.18%
^JKSE Jakarta Composite Index 4,895.75 -258.36 -5.01%
^KLSE FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI 1,419.43 -24.40 -1.69%
^NZ50 S&P/NZX 50 INDEX GROSS 10,333.27 -540.33 -4.97%
^KS11 KOSPI Composite Index 1,834.33 -73.94 -3.87%
^TWII TSEC weighted index 10,422.32 -471.43 -4.33%
^GSPTSE S&P/TSX Composite index 12,508.45 -1,761.64 -12.34%
^BVSP IBOVESPA 72,582.53 -12,588.60 -14.78%
^MXX IPC MEXICO 36,636.70 -2,041.85 -5.28%
^MERV MERVAL 38,390.84 +233.89 +0.61%
^TA125.TA TA-125 1,194.69 -79.46 -6.24%

At the Close, Thursday, March 12, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 21,200.62, -2,352.60 (-9.99%)
NASDAQ: 7,201.80, -750.25 (-9.43%)
S&P 500: 2,480.64, -260.74 (-9.51%)
NYSE: 10,060.76, -1,116.52 (-9.99%)

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Dow Reaches Bear Territory, Down 20% From Record Highs

Wednesday, at 2:18 pm Eastern Time, the Dow Jones Industrial Average sank into bear market territory on an intraday basis when it broke below 23,654.72, officially marking the end of the 11-year bull run since the Great Financial Crisis of 2008-09.

By the close of trading, the Dow also fell into bear market territory on a closing basis, finishing below 23,641.14.

Falling as low as 23,338.96 shortly after 3:00 pm, a brief attempt at a rally was undertaken, but eventually failed, leaving the market in tatters, and the future uncertain.

Wednesday night, President Trump made a brief televised appearance, outlining the government's steps to curb the global pandemic that is COVID-19, banning all travel from Europe to the United States for 30 days, beginning at midnight, Friday, the 13th of March. The president also instructed the Small Business Administration to extend loans to small businesses and to increase funding for the program by $50 billion.

These measures are being implemented to help slow the spread of COVID-19, the coronavirus that has spread globally to 115 countries, sickening more than 127,000 people and killing 4,717. There have been 1323 cases of COVID-19 in the United States and 38 deaths. The numbers have jumped dramatically over the past week, both in the US and around the world, especially in Italy, Spain, France, and Germany.

With markets opening in minutes, and stock futures at distressed levels, this evolving story will be updated.

At the Close, Wednesday, March 11, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 23,553.22, -1,464.94 (-5.86%)
NASDAQ: 7,952.05, -392.20 (-4.70%)
S&P 500: 2,741.38, -140.85 (-4.89%)
NYSE: 11,177.29 -615.99 (-5.22%)

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Record Rise on NASDAQ; Big Gains on Dow, S&P Relieve Bear Market Fears... for Now

(Simultaneously published at Downtown Magazine)

In case anybody is growing weary of the recent volatility that has sent stocks soaring and diving over the past three to four weeks, prepare for more of the same. There will be no respite in daily swings of two percent, three percent or more, as yesterday proved, as stocks staged a monumental rally in the latter part of the the session, the Dow rising more than 1000 points in the final two hours.

At the end of the day, all major indices were approaching gains of five percent. Keeping with the trend of record-breaking sessions, the Dow's rise was the third largest point gain in market history. The other two occurred earlier this month. On March 2nd, the Industrials set the mark with a gain of 1,293.96 points. Tow days later, it came close to breaking that, up by 1,173.45 points.

With an eye toward the VIX - the market's preferred measure of volatility - this kind of roller coaster ride should continue until there's resolution to the downside. The VIX has recently hovered in the 40-50 range, ripping as high as 55. Normal volatility is usually measured in the teens.

The NASDAQ and S&P also experienced massive upside Tuesday afternoon, resulting in a record point gain on the NASDAQ, up 393.58 points, surpassing the record set just over a week ago, on March 2nd (+384.80). The S&P's gain of 135.67 points fell just shy of the record mark, also recorded on March 2nd, at +136.01.

In this regime of wild swings, it's probable that some traders are going to make massive profits while others fail miserably. It's all about timing and nerves. Anybody with poor timing and a thin appetite for risk is likely to be wiped out in short order. Those who relish the thrill of the hunt and have money to burn should come out ahead in the end, varying trades between long and short, at least until the market overseers ban short sales or profiting on put options.

It may not be obvious to the general public, but where this is head seems pretty clear. The coronavirus, COVID-19, has wreaked havoc on human society, thus disrupting the normal flow of business, a trend that's only just begun. Businesses are only beginning to feel the effects of breaks in the supply chain from China, and soon enough the entire planet's trade will be paralyzed by delays, outages, work stoppages, quarantines, deaths, and all the assorted maladies that accompany global pandemics, the likes of which have not presented themselves in the lifetimes of anybody alive today.

Estimates from medical experts are frightening, which is why the numbers being released by the CDC in the United States are nothing short of a bad joke. Over the past week, the CDC has "officially" recorded anywhere between 2 and 19 new cases of COVID-19 daily, this in a country with a projected population of 333,546,000.

Actual incidence of infection is orders of magnitude higher; that can be safely assumed. With the aid of the CDC, the US government has chosen to protect the economy rather than the people, a strategy doomed to fail. Without effective measures for controlling and containing the spread of the disease - as has been accomplished to a relatively high degree in places like Hong Kong, Singapore, and South Korea - via testing, contact tracking, and quarantine - it will spread virtually unchecked through a population. The evidence from the epicenter in Wuhan, China is compelling in this regard. Akin to what happened there, the US approach is dangerously close to causing a widespread outbreak in any number of cities by ignoring simple precautions and putting money ahead of human health.

What would an economy look like with 200 deaths per day, hospitals overwhelmed and people forced to stay indoors and away from others for weeks at a time? We, and some European nations are about to find out. With a population spoiled by the luxuries of freedom, it's not going to be much fun watching entitled populations melt down under the imposition of travel bans, quarantines, and other draconian measures.

As for stocks, well, their pathway will be all but assured. The Dow Jones Industrials bounced off a mark of declination on Tuesday when it bottomed out at 23,690.34. It was down 19.88% from the intraday high of 29,568.57, recorded on February 12 of this year. It was about to fall into bear market territory. The day's gains may have staved off capitulation for now, but it's coming, and soon. The end of the 11-year bull market and the beginning of what could be a prolonged bear market is at hand.

At the Close, Tuesday, March 10, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,018.16, +1,167.14 (+4.89%)
NASDAQ: 8,344.25, +393.58 (+4.95%)
S&P 500: 2,882.23, +135.67 (+4.94%)
NYSE: 11,793.27, +494.84 (+4.38%)

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Stocks Lose Record Amounts, Treasury Bond Yields Smashed As COVID-19 Begins Taking Its Toll

All of the major US indices posted record losses as coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to rage through 115 countries, with 114,595 confirmed cases and a death toll now over 4,000 (4,028).

Adding to market grief, Saudi Arabia, in an effort to harm other oil producers sent crude futures plunging as it unilaterally slashed prices and raised production output. WTI crude fell below $30 a barrel, recovering slightly to above $34.00 a barrel prior to Tuesday's opening bell. Still, the price cut was mammoth, on the order of a 24.6% decline. WTI closed at $41.28 Friday, finishing at $31.13 on Monday.

The Dow, S&P, NASDAQ, and NYSE all recorded record point losses, blowing away earlier marks. The Dow's 2,013.76 loss nearly doubled the previous record from February 27 of this year (−1,190.95). On The NASDAQ, the 624.94-point loss topped the list, easily surpassing the February 9 drop of −414.30.

Losing 225,81, the S&P vaulted over its previous mark of −137.63, also on February 27 of this year, less than two weeks ago.

The treasury bond complex was not spared, with yields falling across the entire curve by enormous amounts. The 30-year bond finished at 0.99% yield, the first time ever it has been below one percent. The day's decline was an unprecedented 26 basis points. At the other end, one-month bills dropped 22 basis points, from 0.79 to 0.57%.

Offering the lowest yield is the six-month bill, at 0.27%. The 10-year note was absolutely shattered, down 20 basis points, from 0.74 to 0.54%. In terms of curve, the complex is exceedingly flat, with just 72 basis points between the top and bottom yields.

Gold and silver both were higher initially, but were beaten down over the course of the day.

In the United States, the number of new, confirmed cases are rising rapidly as tests from the CDC begin arriving in massive quantities to state and local hospitals and labs. There are now 755 cases of coronavirus in the US, and 26 deaths.

After China, the US ranks 8th overall. Italy has reported 9,172 cases with 463 deaths. Italy's death figures are the highest outside mainland China, as are the number of cases. The Italian government closed its borders completely on Monday after efforts to contain the virus to the northern provinces failed.

The other countries topping the list of most infected are, in order, South Korea, Iran, France, Spain, and Germany, after which comes the United States. All of the aforementioned countries are reporting more than 1,000 cases. Confirmed cases outside China has exceeded those inside China for nearly the past week and are doubling every three to four days.

In addition to the human tragedy, large events are being canceled worldwide. Ireland has canceled all St. Patrick's Day parades, and around the world sporting events, concerts and other large-crowd gatherings are being put on hold or canceled, including the huge South-by-Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin, Texas. The NCAA basketball tournament, commonly known as March Madness, which begins in a week, NBA basketball, and Major League Baseball, which opens its regular season on March 26, are all mulling the idea of playing games with no fans in the stands.

Businesses are gearing down due to the crisis, with many major firms instructing employees to work from home. School cancelations are on the rise globally, and will be widespread in the US in coming days and weeks.

The after-effects of the virus on the business community and the economy are just beginning to be felt according to many in finance, including hedge fund manager Kyle Bass, who believes the crisi will peak in about a month.

Even though the World Health Organization (WHO) is reluctant to call the worldwide spread of the pathogen a pandemic, it is surely one. The WHO does not want to use the world pandemic as it would trigger the default of "pandemic bonds," designed to provide $500 million to the organization should a pandemic be declared.

With less than an hour before the opening bell in the US, stocks seem to have caught a bid. Japan's NIKKEI was lower for most of the day but finished marginally higher on Tuesday. Other Pacific Rim bourses finished with gains of one to one-and-a-half percent, while European indices are currently sporting gains of around 2.5%.

US stock futures point to a higher open, as traders prepare for another stressful session. The so-called "dead cat bounce" applies, as the markets don't seem to have actually bottomed out. When all is said and done, many countries are going to report GDP losses for the first and likely, second quarters, plunging the world into what may be a prolonged recession.

At the Close, Monday, March 9, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 23,851.02, -2,013.76 (-7.79%)
NASDAQ: 7,950.68, -624.94 (-7.29%)
S&P 500: 2,746.56, -225.81 (-7.60%)
NYSE: 11,298.43, -1,053.60 (-8.53%)