Showing posts with label WTI crude. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WTI crude. Show all posts

Sunday, May 17, 2020

WEEKEND WRAP: Stocks Split, Dow Suffers; Gold, Silver May Be Headed For Record Prices

The week just past was not a particularly enthralling one for stock investors, as the Dow and NYSE Composite took it on the chin while the S&P and NASDAQ put up fractional, unsubstantial gains.

As economic and COVID-19 developments were concerned, it was mostly politicking over substance, as President Trump backhanded Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the CDC, over predictions related to states' reopening their economies and the potential for a second wave of the virus in the coming fall or winter.

For the most part, stocks refrained from further insane advances, though the gains toward the back end of the week reeked of malingering by the Federal Reserve, moving stocks off their lows into green territory in both Thursday and Friday's sessions. With the Dow Jones Industrial Average forming a pretty obvious short-term head-and-shoulders pattern, the equity markets are set up for a breakout either higher or lower, though the least resistant path may be down another six to eight percent over the next week to two weeks. With the traditional third Friday of the month options expiry in the rear view mirror (May 15), the markets will need some kind of catalyst to move forward. Otherwise, expect the Dow and NYSE Composite to both head back below the bear market defined level of -20 percent.

If that were to happen, the NASDAQ, already ridiculously valued, and S&P should fall in sympathy with the Blue Chips.

The week was a very solid one for oil, though the June contract is set to expire on Tuesday (May 18). Producers do not want to see a repeat of the May futures expiration when the price went negative and buyers were being paid to haul oil off to the tune of $41 a barrel.

June futures closed last Friday (May 8) at $24.61 a barrel and this week at $29.43. Monday will likely give a signal as to whether another collapse is imminent, though with US states and most of Europe reopening their economies, it would appear that the massive glut has at least partially abated and demand is rising. There is still no open air for the futures to fly in, however, as the spread between the current month all the way out to the December 2021 contract is pretty slim. 35.78 is the last quoted price for December 2021.

Yields on treasuries continued lower through the week and are presumptuously headed below zero, into the brave new world of negative rates. With the two-year yielding 0.16% and the five-year at 0.31, it would seem only a matter of when, not if rates go underwater. With deflationary forces at work, the low yields on short-dates bills and notes may be attractive as a hedge against asset price declines. Yields cannot fall much more from these levels before going negative in real terms. Those seeing inflation ahead could easily be urged into paying to hold capital.

Gold and silver absolutely exploded this week on eBay, a market where true price discovery can be ascertained.

For the first time since Money Daily began tracking prices a month ago for one troy ounce gold and silver coins and bars, one ounce gold coins sold for more than the all-time record closing spot price ($1895.00, September 5 and 6, 2011) on an average and median basis. The average price for a one ounce gold coin on eBay was $1,917.41, and for a one ounce bar, $1,898.62. Buyers are looking at a premium of over $150 for either coins or bars. Notably, smaller denominations of gold coins and bars (1/10 ounce to 1/2 ounce) are routinely selling at prices that relate to over $225 per ounce.

These actual sale prices are in stark contrast to the easily-corrupted gold COMEX prices where gold closed with a bid of $1742.20 on Friday afternoon.

Silver also showed enormous gains over last week as the average price of a one ounce coin gained from $30.50 on May 10 to $33.71 this Sunday. Price appreciation for silver bars was even more dramatic, gaining from last week's average price of $26.77 to $34.57 this week. That is more than double the COMEX paper silver price bid of $16.61 as of Friday's close.

We employ the same methodology, looking at the most recently-closed sales on eBay, eliminating any coins or bars that may have numismatic or collectible value as best as possible to come up with a standard, reliable price tracking model.

Here are the most recent prices:

Item: Low / High / Average / Median
1 oz silver coin: 20.51 / 47.00 / 33.71 / 32.42
1 oz silver bar: 26.25 / 44.50 / 34.57 / 34.50
1 oz gold coin: 1,833.08 / 2,030.50 / 1,917.41 / 1,907.02
1 oz gold bar: 1,845.37 / 2,035.00 / 1,898.62 / 1,874.09

Parts of Saturday and Sunday mornings were spent viewing some very interesting and important videos.

Mike Maloney's narrative over charts from wtfhappenedin1971.com offers an historic perspective of the American condition.



Refinitiv shares a wide-ranging interview with Real Vision’s CEO and co-founder, Raoul Pal, who provides distinct trading strategies and a serious view of what's ahead for the world's economies.



Gregory Mannarino supplies a look ahead for Stocks, Bitcoin, Gold and Silver.



Something to make note of as the world cascades through the covid crisis and beyond is that all of the important videos on youtube and various websites are being made by people who are generally shunned by mainstream media. goldsilver.com's Mike Maloney, Adam Taggert and Chris Martenson of Peak Prosperity, Real Vision's Raoul Pal, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert of the Kaiser Report, and, to a lesser extent, various guests of Keith McCullough's Hedgeye can be seen only on the internet, while Fed officials, government bigwigs like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and old line investors like Warren Buffett are the staple of mainstream TV media.

It's quite a contrast when you view it from that perspective and realize that the stories being told and the predictions being made about the future of the crisis and of the world are radically different. There's a choice to be made. Just which narrative are you going to believe? Who's advice will you follow, and where will you end up, socially, politically, and financially.

At the Close, Friday, May 15, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 23,685.42, +60.12 (+0.25%)
NASDAQ: 9,014.56, +70.84 (+0.79%)
S&P 500: 2,863.70, +11.20 (+0.39%)
NYSE: 10,947.32, +19.92 (+0.18%)

For the Week:
Dow: -645.90 (-2.65%)
NASDAQ: +70.84 (+0.79%)
S&P 500: +11.20 (+0.39%)
NYSE: -407.02 (-3.58%)

Friday, May 8, 2020

Are Markets Awakening to Reality? Gold, Silver, Bonds Higher; Stocks, Oil Lose Momentum As Argentina Approaches Default, US April Job Losses 20.5 Million

Stocks, bonds, oil and precious metals all had their ups and downs on Thursday, as the focus early was on stocks, which put on impressive gains, only to give half of them back in afternoon trading.

Oil was higher in early trading, spiking to $26.27 a barrel for WTI crude before collapsing all the way down to $23.13.

With a turn right after noon, money began to flow away from riskier assets and into safe havens, with bonds, gold, and silver all being bid as the day wore onward.

Silver started the day at $14.81, languished early, and finished sharply higher, at $15.36. Gold was also cold in the morning, but found its legs later, moving from Wednesday's NY close of $1684.10 to finish at $1718.00.

Treasuries were bought with unusual gusto on the long end. The yield on the 5-year note moved from 0.37% to 0.29% on the day, the 10-year yield went from 0.72% to 0.63%, and the 30-year dropped 10 basis points, from 1.41% to 1.31%. The curve flatted out by 10 basis points, 121 bips covering the entire complex.

All of this activity was against a backdrop of 3.2 million initial unemployment claims, bringing the recent total to 33 million over the past seven weeks.

April non-farm payrolls were also on the mind, with the number - expected to be a record for one month - due out Friday morning.

Argentina (silvery) is about to default on $65 billion of its foreign debt today, Friday, May 8, as bondholders and the government are at loggerheads over a restructuring, though the government appeared to be willing to make some concessions late Thursday. A harder deadline comes May 22, when the country could enter certain default, as a grace period for $500 million of interest payments comes to an end. The clock is ticking for the nation that has defaulted on debt eight times previously.

Argentina could be the doomsday clock the financial world is watching. Other nations are sure to be on the brink of debt default and currency crises after weeks and months of lockdowns, supply chain breakdowns, social unrest, and deaths caused by COVID-19.

Is this the beginning of the end of the stock market rally and a rush to the safety of hard assets? The Dow popped above 24,000 intraday, but it's been unable to surpass the seven-week high of 24,633.66, which is roughly a half retrace of the March pullback. Another failure at this level would signal a short-term selling condition.

Just moments ago, the BLS reported April non-farm payrolls, registering a loss of 20.5 million jobs, pushing the unemployment rate to 14.7%.

With COVID-19 continuing to cause dislocations in everything from meat distribution to pro sports to education, the debate over whether this economic maelstrom will eventually result in a sharp rebound or a long, drawn out recession or even a depression.

Siding with the sharp rebound are those who gave up the ghost back in March with lockdowns, the government, media, and most of the financial community following the lead of the Federal Reserve.

Naysayers, viewing the global economy at a severe breaking point with no good solutions, include James Rickards, Mike Maloney of goldsilver.com, Peak Prosperity's Chris Martenson, Peter Schiff (a fiat money perma-bear and gold perma-bull) and others.

Greg Mannarino, the Robin Hood of Wall Street adds some perspective:



At the Close, Thursday, May 7, 2020:
Dow: 23,875.89, +211.25 (+0.89%)
NASDAQ: 8,979.66, +125.27 (+1.41%)
S&P 500: 2,881.19, +32.77 (+1.15%)
NYSE: 11,121.67, +121.68 (+1.11%)

Friday, May 1, 2020

The World Has Been Hoaxed; Hydroxychloroquine Works; Rent Strike, Mass Protests On Tap for May 1

April is over and done. The month that saw the WuHan Flu, coronavirus, COVID-19, SARS-COV II, or whatever you prefer calling it spread like wildfire throughout the United States and the world also produced the best performance in the S&P 500 since 1987.

As if the stock market's miraculous rebound off the March lows wasn't enough, the Fed's balance sheet, thanks to sopping up trillions in debt of all varieties - from corporate issuance to high yield (junk) to munis to the usual nasty mortgage=backed securities (MBS) and low-yielding treasuries - increased by some $2.23 trillion to a record amount of more than $6.6 trillion.

Also showing up on the national radar are people who are refusing to go back to work because they are making more on unemployment, states reopening businesses with some restrictions and precautions, Florida opening beaches while California closes them down, a GDP for the first quarter of -4.8%, and various misdirections, untruths, fabrications, and outright lies due to conflicts of interest by doctors (including the CDC's Dr. Anthony Fauci) promoting Gilead Science's remdesivir as a primary treatment of COVID-19 with little to no evidence that it does anything more than shorten the length of hospitalizations.

All the while, evidence continues to pile up showing hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) as a drug with a wide range of uses in not only diminishing the severity of coronavirus symptoms, but possibly acting as a preventive treatment, i.e., Lupus patients, who are prescribed Plaquenil (the brand name for HCQ), do not contract coronavirus.

Various studies from countries around the world have shown early use of HCQ is highly effective in combating the coronavirus, though the mainstream media refuses to report any positives about the drug, preferring to bombard the public with questionable research on remdesivir, a drug that can cost as much as $100 per dose, where HCQ can be produced in massive quantities for about a dime per dose.

Peak Prosperity's Chris Martenson, who has been doing incredible daily reporting on the crisis, has details in his latest video:



While the US continues to lurch toward some degree of normalcy at the end of a six-week near-nationwide lockdown, many questions linger, not the least of which being how badly the American public has been hoodwinked by the wealthy elite and their cohorts in government. From all appearances, it seems the public has been royally screwed this time around.

The economy is in tatters, more than 30 million lost their jobs, but what is likely going to be worse, are the millions of small businesses which have been severely hampered or outright destroyed by government overreach. Many of these businesses will not come back in the summer, or the fall. They are gone forever, and with them, their owners facing financial ruin. It will take years to undo the damage wrought by the government response to a virus that essentially affects people over 50 or those with pre-existing serious medical issues.

Friday, May 1, will offer some pushback agains the federal tyranny. There's a nationwide rent strike being waged in big cities and small, along with a May Day work stoppage promoted by employees of some of the multi-national companies that were not forced to shut down for the past six weeks, including Wal-Mart, Amazon, Target, and others. Protests will be very visible, as will the outrage expressed in Michigan, where governor Gretchen Whitmer is extending the lockdown until May 28.

Protesters there have already been storming the Capitol, and some were actually armed inside the Capitol building on Thursday, though that received scant notice on the evening TV news. This explosive situation merits closer attention, as what happens in Lansing, Michigan's capitol, may serve as a template for popular uprisings in places like Virginia, California, New York, Massachusetts, and any other state that believes they can keep the general population under lock and key indefinitely.

With warmer weather and a weekend ahead, some payback may be forthcoming from an angry, frustrated American public.

In other markets, gold and silver were beaten down as they usually are at the end of the month, though the dislocation between spot, futures, and actual prices for acquiring physical metal has completely blown up. Silver especially is out of whack, with premiums over the futures price of anywhere from 30 to 100% now commonplace. Gold premiums are still in the 10-15% range, though dealers have been and continue to impose minimums with lengthy shipping delays.

Oil markets continue to fluctuate wildly as the supply glut and demand collapse refuse to abate. Beyond giants Russia and Saudi Arabia, countries which produce oil as a primary revenue source are going to be devastated, while in the US, rig counts are plummeting as shale drilling operations are being shut down. They're unable to make money at the current prices and investors are being wiped out along with the lenders who financed operations. WTI crude, as of Friday morning is hovering just under $19 a barrel, though it's been as low as $10.64 earlier this week. The June futures contract is beginning to look like another disaster - as was the May contract - in the making.

Treasuries have been relatively unmoved during the week, though the 30-year bond has increased yield from 1.17% last Friday to 1.28% Thursday. The curve has steepened slightly, though not in any statistically meaningful way. 118 basis points covers the entire complex.

Equity futures are pointing to a very ugly open Friday, with Dow futures down more than 450 points.

Could this be the "sell in May and go away" signal? Possible, but the real fallout may not occur until late July or August when earnings and the first reading of second quarter GDP will shock the markets, not just in the United States, but globally. The Greater Depression is ramping up.

At the Close, Thursday, April 30, 2020:
Dow: 24,345.72, -288.14 (-1.17%)
NASDAQ: 8,889.55, -25.16 (-0.28%)
S&P 500: 2,912.43, -27.08 (-0.92%)
NYSE: 11,372.34, -245.89 (-2.12%)

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Bailout Nation: Careening Toward the Zombie Apocalypse

Beneath the superficial aspects of the coronavirus - the hospitals, the deaths, media deflection, Presidential dithering, lockdowns, social distancing, and the state-by-state re-openings - there exists a subculture of cash, credit, debt, default, and the eventuality of a global depression.

The question is not whether there's going to be a recession - there will be, without a doubt - it's how long the depression will last and how deeply affected will be various segments of the economies of nations and those nations themselves.

This is an extremely complex scenario that will not be evenly distributed. Some people will prosper while others decline. Some will go broke. Others will simply give up and die. It's an absolute certainty that there will be more losers than winners, many many more. Knowing that, the federal government, in conjunction with the Federal Reserve, has set about the process of bailing out everybody, or, nearly everybody. The problem is, they've not gone about the process with much foresight, they have no comprehensive plan, and the result has been a sloppy patchwork of band-aids, unkept promises, imbalances, and knee-jerk, short-term remedies.

Wall Street got their money right away, small business got shafted, twice, wage-earners, especially those in low-wage jobs, got a bonanza to the extent that the $600 extra unemployment benefit doled out by the Fed has in some cases doubled the take home pay of a huge chunk of the workforce. Anybody making minimum wage or anything less than $15 per hour has experienced a tangible benefit. The unfortunate part of this is that the additional unemployment benefit vanishes in about four months, or, for most people, sometime during August. Whether the federal government will step in again at that point to provide more relief is, at this juncture, a speculation.

Meanwhile, most seniors receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits, haven't seen a dime, despite the late March pledge from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that they would have their money ($1200 per person plus $500 for each qualifying dependent) within two weeks. It's going on six weeks and the money still hasn't arrived. The latest promise is that direct deposits would be made this week. Don't count on it. Mnuchin has proven that his priorities lie mainly with big business and Wall Street banks, not with the people who matter, the citizens, the taxpayers, the consumers. He's effectively relayed the message to seniors that they don't matter at all.

All the time, but especially during times of crisis, people should be judged by their actions, not their words. If there's a judgement to be made on Steven Mnuchin, he would be deemed an awesome character by the one-percenters and upper crust, and a outright liar and scoundrel by just about everybody over the age of 62.

The problems with the quick-fixes that have come out of the Fed and the federal government are multiple. They're temporary. They solve nothing. They're largely unfair. They won't work long term. Not for the stock market, not for the banks, not for states and cities, not for pension plans, and especially for the backbone of society, small businesses and the people they employ, or, rather, employed, because most small businesses in the United States are dead men walking. If they haven't already closed their doors forever, never to return, they're on the verge of collapse, as is the rest of the country, despite nobody in government or the media actually leveling with the people.

Next up on the list of bailouts are cities, counties and states, which have experienced massive losses to their revenue base and will see those losses multiply over time. They are coming to the federal government with outstretched arms, awaiting their turn at the feeding trough of unlimited capital. A business owner who doesn't pay property taxes because his business has been shut down for a month or six weeks or longer is one thing. The loss of sales tax revenue is another, and one that will continue long into the future. Again, the feds can only do so much. It's up to the local and state managers of their various governmental units to take action, and sooner rather than later.

Cutting back on services and employment should have been happening in March and April, but it hasn't. Teachers get paid. Cops and firemen get paid. Sanitation workers get paid. Clerks and paper shufflers get paid. All the while the cities and counties are bleeding revenue. Their collapse is imminent and they have only themselves to blame for decades of living high on the hog that is the taxpayer, without regard to emergencies, without planning for even a slowdown from the stock buyback, free money largesse of the past decade. Their demise, along with the platinum health care plans and pension, are at extremely high risk of being insolvent and overdue for a significant haircut. They're counting on the federal government to bail them out, but at issue is which ones get bailed out first and for how much? Will red states get more than blue states? Will big cities get a better piece of the pie than rural communities?

It's likely, actually, it's not only probable, but a near-certainty that any government bailout of cities, counties, and states will be as uneven as the handling of the first few rounds of government aid to private business and citizens. It's going to be a disaster of magnificent proportion because not only will the federal government take too long to deliver, they'll almost certainly deliver less than is necessary, and the help will be only temporary. There is no good way out. Like the companies who are being propped up by the Fed via purchasing of their commercial paper, the Fed can't stop at buying up muni bonds; it has to come in with actual cash to keep the lights on in every city, town, and village across America.

In the end, everything goes dark. While trying desperately to not sound like a broken record, Wall Street firms will fail, banks will fail, governments will fail, companies will die, people will die, but not until there's a massive outbreak of civil unrest, the first springs of that having already been seen in the "reopen" protests that have flourished at state capitols and elsewhere around the country.

As the coronavirus has proven to be less of a threat to human existence than previously thought, the feds and state governments continue to respond as though it is a return of the Bubonic Plague or Spanish Flu. It's not, and the response has been a massive overreach that has destroyed the economy and people's already wavering confidence in leadership and government. It has only just begun and the levels of protest, unruliness, incivility, lawlessness, and violence will only increase over time. When the extra unemployment insurance runs out in August and there are still 12-15 million people out of work, the cat will have come out of the bag, and it will be not a tame household kitty, but a hungry, untamed lion, set out to ravage the nearest prey, and that prey will be neighborhoods, local governments, and the unprotected. The resultant destruction to the social fabric will be devastatingly real and not just close to home, at your home or your neighbor's home or in it.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but it isn't COVID-19 that is screwing the country and the world, but the government reaction to it. As has already been made evident, government is not only not the solution, it is the problem itself.

Presently, the Fed has managed to keep the stock markets from imploding and possibly from shutting down altogether. They've actually managed to boost prices for many companies that should be heading to the bankruptcy courts rather than to the Fed's liquidity spigot. Since April 8, all the major indices have traded in a well-defined range, an overt signal that the Fed is in charge, keeping the markets stable while the VIX remains elevated. It's a manipulation and a thorough destruction of capital markets. Stocks and bonds are effectively controlled by government now, and thus, are DOA.

While stocks were reaching for yet another giddy day in their make-believe land of rich and plenty, General Motors (GM), at one time a bastion of industry and a beacon of capitalism, a company the taxpayers bailed out a decade ago, announced on Monday that it was suspending its 38 cents quarterly dividend, halting the buyback of its own stock and bolstering its lines of credit. Gee, thanks, GM. Please turn the lights out before you close the door. GM should have been allowed to fail in 2008. Now they will just burn more cash, screw their investors and permanently dis-employ hundreds of thousands of workers in the auto business and its suppliers.

GM has about 164,000 full time employees including Chairwoman of the Board and CEO Mary Barra, whose pay last year was $7.36 million, not including stock options and other bonuses and benefits. Not only has she managed to completely decimate the company's balance sheet, but she's managed to raid the company coffers to her benefit. The company is likely to survive for a few more years, but, after bankruptcy proceedings, within four or five years, the number of full time employees will be zero, and Ms. Barra and all her hourly and salaried workers can compliment her on the bang-up job she'd done throughout the coronavirus crisis, culminating in the wholesale looting and destruction of the company.

With that news as a backdrop, GM tacked on half a point Monday, closing at 22.45 a share. The company publicly disclosed assets of 228 billion and liabilities of 182 billion. With the expectation that the assets are overvalued and liabilities on the rise, it won't be long until GM is permanently upside down. Give it six months before all hell breaks loose.

GM is not alone. Most companies are going to slash dividends, workers, expenses and tap into their lines of credit as the quarterly reports flow this month and next, but Wall Street seems to like the idea, rallying on Monday with futures ramping higher into Tuesday's opening.

This is what a dysfunctional market looks like.

On the day, treasuries acted as though the recovery had already begun, with the 30-year upping its yield from 1.17 to 1.25%, the 10-year note up seven basis points to 0.67% and the curve steepening to 114 basis points. When the curve falls to below 100 basis points (one percent), that will be the signal that the crisis is deepening.

Oil got whacked again on Monday, WTI crude dropping from its Friday close of $16.94 per barrel to $10.76. Gold and silver were up early down late on futures trading, but that doesn't matter since physical is still elusive and premiums are through the roof, up to $135 on an ounce of gold, as much as $7.00 or more on silver.

Dominoes are falling. Get out of the way. Within six months, there will be more zombie companies, zombie banks, zombie governments and zombie people, all kept alive by the Federal Reserve. Unlike vampires, which can be killed with silver bullets or stakes to the heart, the only way to kill zombies is to blow off their heads.

Ready, aim...

At the Close, Monday, April 27, 2020:
Dow: 24,133.78, +358.51 (+1.51%)
NASDAQ: 8,730.16, +95.64 (+1.11%)
S&P 500: 2,878.48, +41.74 (+1.47%)
NYSE: 11,264.84, +246.94 (+2.24%)

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The Bubble Has Been Popped; All Fiat Currencies Will Become Worthless; The New Normal Will Be Absurd

Leave it to the most corrupt governments in the history of mankind to put the world into a global depression. This isn't about China, or the United States, it's about all of them. France, Egypt, Indonesia, it doesn't matter. Every government in the world is corrupt to the core, led on by central bankers, market manipulators, and the lure of riches.

It's likely always been that way, but it just seems to be much worse now than ever before. There's no honesty, no integrity, no compassion in any of the soulless monsters that some refer to as "our leaders." Well, our dear leaders have led everybody down a path of ruin and injustice, pain and despair.

And it certainly doesn't help matters when the mainstream media has become completely useless. Neither do they investigate nor present truth. They are not journalists. They are note takers, headline mongers, zombified readers of tele-prompters. They spew propaganda directly from government sources.

Enough.

The world is currently so bizarre that the price of crude oil traded at a negative price. On Monday, the May contract for US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil, the benchmark for US crude prices, fell to its lowest-ever, a negative price of -$40.32 per barrel. Because of demand destruction by a near-global lockdown and a supply glut that has filled storage capacity to the brim, producers were forced to pay buyers to take delivery as contracts expired.

Here is an explanation of how this happened.

The upside-down futures market will provide more insanity in days to come. It's not as though everybody's going back to work tomorrow or next week, or that airline travel will suddenly become all the rage again. The June contracts are likely to witness similar madness.

Stocks responded to a degree, though hardly with the expedience one would have expected. For a time, the NASDAQ was actually trading in positive territory. Eventually, even the most stubborn of the bulls had to relent.

As the coronavirus crisis and lockdowns continue, stocks should be expected to decline. They haven't because the Fed is backstopping everything on wall Street by buying up all the bad paper that being tossed to the wind. Through Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) which circumvent the law, the Federal Reserve is buying up municipal bonds, investment grade (IG) bonds, High Yield (HY) bonds, Junk bonds, and much more in addition to their usual purchasing of treasury and mortgage-backed securities, in a desperate effort to provide liquidity in what has become an illiquid market. Eventually, they will resort to buying equities outright, just as the Bank of Japan and Swiss National Bank has done.

When the Fed becomes the global lender and buyer of last resort, all of the companies listed on the exchanges will be worthless because they will not have enough free cash flow to cover the interest on their debt. The money center and investment banks are already insolvent, and have been since 2008, kept alive by massive injections of fiat currency via the Fed's discount window, interest on reserves, various accounting frauds, and other chicanery only people as deranged and greedy as these money maniacs have become.

National currencies are imploding at an increasingly rapid pace, all fiat, backed by nothing, eventually headed to worthlessness. Perhaps some day in the not too distant future, the Fed will pay people to take currency off their hands, such as happened with oil on Monday. The ECB, most European nations and the Bank of Japan already do, most of their national bonds carrying negative yields. Having the entire planet's economy shut down certainly hasn't helped matters.

Eventually, the creators of this mess will improvise a new global currency to "save the world," which would be more insanity unless it is backed by gold and/or silver. Desperate people will line up to exchange their worthless dollars, yen, euros, and pounds for what will likely be of digital design, capable of being tracked by the purveyors of debt, the same ones who imploded the prior system.

There will be riots, protests, starvation, rampant crime, lawlessness of a degree nobody can even imagine before the central banks arrive with their ultimate solution. It's all part of the plan. Nobody will be able to do anything without using the agreed-upon new currency. The only hope for preventing the world turning into a ghastly neo-feudal nightmare is the wholesale repudiation of central banks, debt-backed currencies, and fractional reserve banking. It's going to be a very wicked time.

That's all for today. It's too disgusting and depressing to even bother trying to explain the present circumstances and the blighted future that awaits.

At the Close, Monday, April 20, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 23,650.44, -592.05 (-2.44%)
NASDAQ: 8,560.73, -89.41 (-1.03%)
S&P 500: 2,823.16, -51.40 (-1.79%)
NYSE: 11,003.88, -204.41 (-1.82%)

Friday, April 17, 2020

As States Prepare to Reopen Economies, Is The Coronavirus and COVID-19 Crisis a Complete Fake?

Editor's Note: Don't get me wrong. I supported Donald Trump in his run for president in 2016 and predicted that he'd win the presidency a month before the election. I voted for him and supported most of his agenda. For more background, see here, here and here.

Many diverse aspects of the coronavirus crisis are troubling to anybody who's awake, alive, and has has a skeptical view of government and media. From how COVID-19 was initially downplayed by the government and the media, to the heightened alarm of recent weeks, to the national shutdown, to the fawning TV media over "heroic" doctors and nurses, to the multi-trillion dollar bailout of Wall Street, and now, the sudden emergence of a plan to reopen the economy, the timeline seems all-too-well coordinated.

It was last Friday that President Trump announced the formation of a task force to focus on reopening the economy, calling it a bipartisan "council" of great doctors and business experts. The president had hinted at the formation of such a task force the day prior.

"I call it the "opening our country task force" or "opening our country council," said the president. Mr. Trump said the group would be more informal, communicating via teleconferences, and would include "names that you have a lot of respect for," which will be announced Tuesday.

"We’re going to have the great business leaders, great doctors. We’re going to have a great group of people," he said.

Just who are these great business leaders and doctors that put together a comprehensive plan for states to reopen their economies in six short days? Nobody's really sure, but it looks to be a rather large group that was consulted and cajoled while the White House already had plans in place. It's difficult to believe that the administration could have come up with such a tidy set of recommendations in a week when the president was making phone calls, engaging in conference calls (supposedly), holding lengthy, daily press conferences and two of those days fell on a weekend, when, let's be realistic here, very few people in Washington, D.C. are working.

How does one reconcile Wednesday's Business Insider story: Trump's vaunted task force to reopen the US economy became a marathon series of phone calls with 200 corporate leaders instead with the slick, well-produced, detailed, three-phase White House plan that was presented at Thursday's press conference?

By all outward appearances, the White House plan to reopen the economy had been in the works for some time and the release was coordinated to fall on Thursday, after protests began popping up all over the country and, similar to last Thursday, stocks struggled and options expire on Friday. Some people are making bank off all of the chaos, especially the usual suspects, big banks and their wholly-owned brokerages.

The timing is just too good to be coincidence. There's been a master plan all along. So, is it Trump playing six-level chess, a hustling, competent staff behind the scenes at the White House, or a crafty, giant hoax designed to deflect from bailing out banks and many what are now zombie corporations trading on the stocks exchanges?

I'll go with the latter. Scare the daylights out of people. Kill off bunches of people with pre-existing conditions or in nursing homes that are an overall drag on the economy, wipe out thousands of small businesses, release scary predictions that millions might die, revise those numbers downward, fall well short of them and then pat yourselves on the back for doing such a bang-up job. The general public has fallen for the ruse and don't see the big picture, that suggests - with so few deaths and focused primarily in just New York City - that the coronavirus was never as deadly to the general population as people like Dr. Fauchi, and Dr. Birks and the TV doctors would have everyone believe.

While the president was first out with a plan for reopening the economy, he's not the only one with a task force. There's one in the House of Representatives, another among East Coast states, another comprised of Oregon, Washington, and California, and even one in the midwest, composed of Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois. It's a task force mania.

So, color me skeptical about President Trump's overall honesty and somewhat disappointed by his devotion to Wall Street and the stock market.

Thursday's market action was mixed, with the Dow down and the NASDAQ up most of the session. A late-day rally moved the NASDAQ higher and prompted the Dow into positive territory just in time for the closing bell.

Oil had a banner day, or, rather, night. After WTI crude closed Wednesday at $19.87, and was unchanged Thursday at the lowest price since 2002, it suddenly ramped higher just before 11:00 pm ET, from $19.67 to $26.47 in a matter of just 10 minutes according to dailyfx.com, though their price says one thing and their chart another, with WTI crude trading in around $18.80. How this happened, and why, is a mystery, presently. No news outlet has published anything by way of explanation. Somehow, WTI crude has been quietly repriced to within two to three dollars of Brent ($28.34/bbl.) according to Business Insider's chart, while Yahoo Finance has WTI trading at $18.63. Something's not right. Probably just a glitch, but who knows?

Here's another oddity. Gold closed Wednesday in New York at $1716.00 per ounce and at $1716.80 on Thursday. Overnight it's been smashed down to $1684.00 as of 6:30 am ET, a $32 decline. A similar pattern is in place for silver, with closes of 15.43 Wednesday, $15.50 Thursday, but is down to $14.97 presently.

Treasuries are more or less stable, but in a frightful state. The yield on the 10-year note fell to 0.61% and the entire curve is now covered by a mere 107 basis points, or, just more than 1% from a 30-day bill to the 30-year bond.

As usual, stock index futures are flying high, with the Dow and S&P set to open trading more than three percent higher, the NASDAQ around 2.25% up.

It's probably an understatement to suggest that these are indeed strange days, but, overnight, it seems as though a switch was thrown, reshaping the narrative from fear, panic, and anger to "let's get back to work" optimism.

From all appearances, this wild ride still has many twists and turns ahead, and is far from over. With government corruption and inside dealing the order of things and running rampant throughout the world, it's probably safe to say that what looks like conspiracy theory today will become conspiracy fact sometime soon.

At the Close, Thursday, April 16, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 23,537.68, +33.38 (+0.14%)
NASDAQ: 8,532.36, +139.18 (+1.66%)
S&P 500: 2,799.55, +16.19 (+0.58%)
NYSE: 10,818.03, -25.88 (-0.24%)

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Stocks Fail to Extend Rally; Oil Flat; JP Morgan, Wells Fargo Declare 1Q Earnings

Last week's furious rally failed to extend over into Monday's trading as news flow trended negatively.

Given the number of new cases and deaths worldwide from COVID-19, the pain and suffering of millions around the world out of work and isolated in their homes, it's surprising that Wall Street can even muster enough capital for any kind of rally.

Conditions have not changed from the onset of COVID-19's spread, only the Federal Reserve's commitment to suspend reality and boost stocks through various band-aids and stop gap measures has. The only reason stocks managed to gain any ground last week was due to trillions of dollars pumped into the hands of primary dealers via repos, debt purchases, foreign debt purchases, and promises from various Fed presidents to keep the currency spigots wide open.

The lunacy of these efforts is astounding. Desperate to save face and completely devoid of any tools to bring the economy back to their stated mandates of full employment and no inflation, the Fed has expanded its own balance sheet to the point at which it needed funding from the US treasury, a backhanded bailout of the central bank, using some $400-500 billion from Treasury's Exchange Stabilization Fund.

Oil prices barely budged after the hurried agreement by OPEC+ and other countries will slash production by as much as 10 million barrels a day, roughly 10 percent of global supply. WTI crude closed Monday at $22.41. Efforts to raise the price of oil worldwide were seen as mostly a publicity stunt, as the problem is more a lack of demand than of oversupply. Producers would be best served to stop pumping as storage facilities are near capacity already and the lockdowns in major countries remain weeks away.

Treasury yields rose on the long end, with the 30-year bond at 1.39% and the 10-year note rising three basis points to 0.76%. The curve steepened slightly to 122 basis points.

JP Morgan Chase (JPM) announced first quarter earnings prior to the opening bell Tuesday that were the lowest since 2013, warned of a fairly severe recession ahead and set aside $8.29 billion for bad loans, the biggest provision in at least a decade and more than double what some analysts expected.

The bank reported EPS of 78 cents on revenue of $29.07 billion. Net interest income was flat at $14.5 billion.

Wells Fargo (WFC) reported EPS of 1 cent per share on revenue of $17.7 billion as a $3.1 billion reserve build accounted for 56 cents per share and a $950 million impairment of securities accounted for 17 cents a share. Net interest income fell 8% to $11.3 billion. This bank is essentially insolvent, as is the Federal Reserve, the ECB, BOJ, PBOC and hundreds of other money center banks.

Other money center banks also report this week. Wednesday Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and Citigroup release their reports. Morgan Stanley’s announcement is scheduled for Thursday.

(Reuters) - Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday beat analysts' estimates for first-quarter profit on higher sales of its cancer drugs and consumer products including Tylenol, while slashing its full-year forecast due to the coronavirus shutdowns.

Shares of the company, which raised its dividend by 6.3% to $1.01 per share, rose 3% to $144 in trading before the bell.

The company now expects 2020 adjusted earnings per share of $7.50 to $7.90, compared with its prior estimate of $8.95 to $9.10.

Gold and silver posted modest gains on the day. In case anyone was skeptical over Money Daily's call for $100 silver and a 16:1 gold:silver ratio in Sunday's Weekend Wrap (below), perhaps a gander at Mike Maloney's call for $700 silver a few years ago at goldsilver.com, may be in order:



At the Close, Monday, April 13, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 23,390.77, -328.60 (-1.39%)
NASDAQ: 8,192.42, +38.85 (+0.48%)
S&P 500: 2,761.63, -28.19 (-1.01%)
NYSE: 10,949.53, -187.08 (-1.68%)

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Turnaround Tuesday Wipes Out Massive Stock Gains; Oil Lower; Gold and Silver Nearly Unobtainable

Turnaround Tuesday certainly lived up to its advance billing as stocks performed a midday about-face, giving up expansive gains - the Dow gave up over 900 points from its intraday peak - to end near the flatline, only the NYSE Composite finishing in the black.

With a massive gap up at the open, equities were riding the crest of Monday's monstrous wave of buying, on the false hope that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic was behind them. At 11:25 am ET, when New York City announced its death toll for the prior day as the highest one-day total to date with 731 fresh corpses, bringing the state total number of coronavirus fatalities to 5,489, surpassing those lost on 9/11, a wave of gloom descended on Wall Street and in trading offices worldwide. Once the news circulated, stocks embarked upon an afternoon of desperate selling.

Whatever it is that fuels the animal spirits of the investor class, it is misplaced and widely mis-pricing stocks presently, and has been for much of the past 11 years. Now that stock buybacks are no longer going to spike the punch in lower Manhattan, the Fed has stepped in with a variety show of programs and debt options, none of which will eventually be proven sufficient to stem the coming tide of lowered expectations, defaults, earnings misses and downright deplorable economic data.

All the Fed is doing is throwing more bad money atop a raging fire. They cannot print enough money globally to stop the coming self-inflicted Greater Depression, though they will surely blame everything on COVID-19, the convenient scapegoat.

Now that stocks have briefly recovered from the March selloff, all of the programs brought to light by the Federal Reserve will be viewed skeptically, as real values make their return to the former fantasy world of finance. Instead of the Dow resting comfortably above 22,000, the true value, when all is said and done will be much closer to 12,000 and likely far lower.

At current levels, the major indices are still higher than they were in 2007, before the Great Financial Crisis nearly wiped out the global economy. The ongoing crisis will assure that everybody loses, particularly the Baby Boomer generation, which was forced into stocks by the Fed's insistence on interest rates near zero for almost all of the current century.

Portfolios which were valued as retirement savings are going up in smoke and they will continue to do so as the crisis and antecedent solutions tear to shreds the dreams and aspirations of the enormous, aging generation. Unless one has already departed the stock market, anticipated losses will be catastrophic.

Elsewhere, bond yields ticked slightly higher on Tuesday. Gold and silver remain in a nascent bull market, as a global scramble for precious metals has left major dealers with dwindling or already depleted stock. Spot and futures prices are diverging in gold, but that's not even the real story, as premiums are going through the roof for gold and silver bars and coins. If one is fortunate enough to find a dealer with goods for sale, wait times for delivery are now averaging a month for silver in quantity, and five to 10 days for gold.

In times of panic, precious metals are desirous as a hedge against catastrophic circumstance, but, already, many have arrived at the decision to acquire such stock too late as prices have become unaffordable and physical delivery unobtainable.

On the oil front, the spasm of price hikes from last week has faded badly, with WTI crude down again, backing into a $24 handle per barrel. As they say in the trade, it's a fluid situation.

Finally, and this is not to be taken lightly, an astute commentator on a popular financial website posted the following cryptic message:

I don't think any bankers will go to jail, but I assure you they will meet with other, more horrible circumstances as this all plays out.

Citi, BofA, JPM Chase, Wells, Goldman Sachs, and others are all underwater, have already been bailed out (for the past 11 years), and will soon be insolvent when millions of Americans (and a host of foreigners) default on credit cards, car loans and leases, commercial leases, student loans, personal loans, business loans, and more.

There are a lot of biblical posters around here who quote Revelations and such, but they are off the mark. Judgement Day for the major commercial banks was delayed in 2008-09, but, when the full temper of anger from the American public is released - and that is not far off - their branches will be firebombed, their insurance cancelled, their stocks worth less than zero.

They've had it coming and whether they've calculated the enormity of unintended consequences or not, they're going to get skewered for good.

It will be a feast like no other, and a jubilee.

At the Close, Tuesday, April 7, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 22,653.86, -26.13 (-0.12%)
NASDAQ: 7,887.26, -25.98 (-0.33%)
S&P 500: 2,659.41, -4.27 (-0.16%)
NYSE: 10,537.04, +21.80 (+0.21%)

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Stocks Rocket Higher on Hopes COVID-19 Threat Has Peaked; Gold Silver Remain in Short Supply with Hefty Premiums

According to Wall Street, the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis is all but over.

Stocks were being bought as if there weren't going to be any more available on Monday, as news spread that the coronavirus outbreak may have peaked in New York, which has been the epicenter of the crisis. Of the 367,758 confirmed cases in the United States, 130,689 are in New York state, mainly in the most populous part, New York City.

The state of New York accounts for 35% of the total cases in the US.

4,758 of those have resulted in death, a full 44% of the entire US death toll of 10,831.

What triggered the giddiness in the markets was the number of confirmed cases in New York falling for three straight days, though the 8,000+ increase from April 5 to April 6 was still a very large number.

There's no need for analysis of how the stock algorithms took the headlines. The 7.73% gain on the Dow Jones Industrial Average is proof enough that investors (or, at least the algos that guide the trades) believe the worst of the crisis is past.

This could be a case of some whistling past the graveyard, however, as the aftereffects from a near-nationwide lockdown and closure of many businesses have yet to be felt. The promised $1200 checks for most Americans haven't even begun to be distributed, which is causing more than a little consternation in many households which have been forced to work from home.

Along with kids out of school and assorted other odd conditions of voluntary confinement, millions of ordinary Americans have put up with the condition for over three weeks and are finding that states which did not impose "stay-at-home" recommendations have some of the lowest reported case numbers in the country.

Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming are the eight remaining states without statewide orders after South Carolina's governor, Henry McMaster, ordered all residents of the state to remain at home except for visits with family members or essential outings to get groceries, medicine or exercise, to help slow the spread of the coronavirus on Monday.

South Carolina has 2,232 recorded cases of the virus, comparable to neighboring states North Carolina (2,870), Georgia (7,558), and Tennessee (3,802), all of which have had stay-at-home or similar orders in place for weeks.

Wyoming, with 210 cases documented, is the least-affected in the lower 48 states (Alaska, 191), and has issued only local ordinances. North Dakota (225) and South Dakota (288) are the next-lowest states. Neither of the Dakotas have any restrictive orders in place. The data suggests that the virus, while easily transmitted, is not gaining much traction in places that are sparsely populated and mostly rural. It remains to be seen whether these states will eventually see a huge outbreak from the virus. Only time will tell on that account.

For the majority of people outside of city centers, the virus has proven to be an annoyance, exacerbated by public officials wishing to appear concerned and active in fighting the spread.

With a death toll not even having approached the usual count from ordinary flu (about 40,000 in a typical season), there's growing pressure on the White House and governors to lift some restrictions and get people back to work. According to recent timelines, the country as a whole is within two weeks of the peak, if not already having reached that point.

With more than 10 million having already applied for unemployment insurance over the past two weeks, it's a near certainty that the number will ratchet higher when new claims numbers are released this Thursday.

The White House - which originally was considering a death toll of two million - has lowered its estimate on the number of deaths to 100,000 to 200,000 as the pandemic takes its toll. If the final tally comes in under the low of 100,000, there will likely be widespread criticism of the government effort, which may have saved some lives but crippled the economy, almost certain to enter a recession.

On the day, oil, after blistering gains last week, settled down, pricing around $26.40 per barrel for WTI crude. The price peaked Friday at $28.86.

The big move in stocks helped stall the rally in treasuries, though not significantly. The benchmark 10-year note moved five basis points, as yield increased from 0.62% to 0.67%.

Gold rallied throughout the day, ending at $1660.70 in New York, while silver also caught a bid, rising from $14.40 to $15.01 on the spot market. Prices for physical metal at the biggest dealers remains well above those quoted prices and delivery - due to a shortage - can take as many as 30 to 45 days. Many dealers report sold out inventories of the most popular coins and bars.

The US Mint is offering 2020 one ounce proof Silver Eagles for $64.50 and 2020 one ounce gold proof Eagles at $2,275. Ebay remains the most reliable source for coins and bars with fast delivery times (one to three days, typically).

At the Close, Monday, April 6, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 22,679.99, +1,627.46 (+7.73%)
NASDAQ: 7,913.24, +540.15 (+7.33%)
S&P 500: 2,663.68, +175.03 (+7.03%)
NYSE: 10,515.24, +634.61 (+6.42%)

Sunday, April 5, 2020

WEEKEND WRAP: COVID-19 Crisis Will Peak Within Three Weeks, but the Economic Crisis Will Continue for Years

(Simultaneously published at Downtown Magazine)

OK, this was a long week, and stocks got clobbered again, but it could have been, and should have been, worse. The main indices were down between two percent (S&P 500) and three percent (NYSE Composite). For most citizens of the world who are under forced quarantine, the week was a painful experience. The vast majority of people would just like to be back at work, earning a living to support their families. The partially-manufactured COVID-19 crisis is keeping most of the developed nations' economies and people in lockdowns, on purpose, to impose government will over everyday people.

It's a shame how many will be cowed by government and led to believe the many lies that have been perpetrated during this period.

The beginning effects of the Fed backstopping companies has already been noticed. Some dime-store variety stocks were being bid up as the rest of the market was heading lower through the week. Companies (no names, for now, until more than a few weeks data is collected) evidenced buying at stop loss triggers. Not many were allowed to fall to anywhere near the recent lows.

Stocks should get another taste of selling in the coming week, as most of the news will be about overloaded hospitals, stressed out medial workers, press conferences by the president and his "team." It will be interesting to note how hard the Fed works to stave off a return to 18,212 on the Dow and similar drops on the other indices. They will likely keep losses to a minimum. It would not surprise at all would stocks stage another rally.

The treasury yield curve is about as flat as it can be, signaling nothing good. 115 basis points, or, just more than one percent, covers the entire complex from one-month bills (0.09% yield) to 30-year bonds (1.24%). The 10-year note is flatlining at 0.62%. The Fed, via its SPVs (Special Purpose Vehicles) is desperately buying commercial paper, in addition to treasury bonds, agency mortgage-backed securities, ETF paper, and municipal bonds. They're busy buying up the world's debt with the only currency that matters, the US dollar, conjured up daily out of thin air. The Federal Reserve's balance sheet has ballooned to nearly $6 trillion in their attempt to blow the global credit bubble a lot larger.

Oil caught a huge bid after President Trump supposedly brokered a deal between the Saudis and the Russians, making a record gain on Thursday and another huge leap forward in price on Friday. While there is rampant skepticism over whether there is any kind of deal afoot (the Saudis denied it), the recent price jump - WTI crude went from $21.76 per barrel on Wednesday to a high of $26.35 Thursday, and closed out Friday at $28.34; Brent went from $26.90 to $34.11 over the same span - is unlikely to be long-lasting. Until the Saudis and Russians have eliminated 50-60% of the shale drillers in the US, there aren't going to be any concessions. Additionally, the rampant supply glut and limited demand should keep the price around $20-24 per barrel.

Gold and silver continue to decouple from the fraudulent futures prices. Gold settled out just below $1600 the ounce, silver about $14.00. For real prices on physical silver and gold, one must go to eBay of all places, where there is a wide-open market for coins, bars and assorted bullion. An ounce of gold is ranging between $1800-$2000, while silver cannot be had for under $22 per ounce. These are the real prices, and are heading up quickly because demand is through the roof, many miners are idled, reducing supply, hoarding is rampant, and delivery times from established dealers (30-45 days in some cases) cannot match the one-to-three day deliveries by independent eBay sellers, and those prices have built into them a 10% commission to eBay and do not include shipping, which only adds to the real prices.

There's a definite possibility that the COMEX and LBMA will soon be disregarded completely and a free, open, un-manipulated market will emerge at the world's biggest online bazaar and elsewhere on the internet as fiat currencies are inflated away and real money begins to take root at the consumer level.

Random Notes and Recommendations

JP Morgan put out a study which concluded that the world will be on the downside of the case infection rate curve in two months. Rubbish. Check out this site for the US:

http://covid19.healthdata.org/projections

The United States will be peaking and on the downslope of the curve within 2-3 WEEKS, not 2 months, and European nations are already on the downslope.

All the noise over ventilators, on which two-thirds of the people die anyhow, is just wasted time and money. The small business "loans" are garbage, full of loopholes and boondoggles for small business.

As usual, Wall Street got their trillions in the blink of an eye. American citizens will have to wait until the government gets around to figuring out how to pay them their $1200. Average time, from right now, 3-6 weeks.

Gee, thanks for helping us all out.

Open up MLB. It would be nice to see the some home runs, swings and misses, stolen bases, sign-stealing, and all that good stuff by May 15 at the latest. Even a shortened season would be acceptable. Americans, average Americans are the ones who deserve all the credit. They took social distancing and stay-at-home seriously, which was very helpful in slowing the spread of COVID. We should all get $10K, and Wall Street nothing, because those companies contributed nothing, and most of the companies getting bailout money do nothing. The people should revolt once this is over.

The government, local, state, and federal are the destroyers of liberty. All of them are worthless parasites and when this is all over they'll all pat themselves on the backs for doing such a bang-up job, when, in reality, it was mostly a big hoax.

Here is an exceptional interactive chart which shows the curve (the one we're actively flattening by social distancing and other mediations) in the United States and in every state individually, with figures for numbers of beds, ICU beds, and ventilators needed and available.

It clearly shows the curve peaking between April 15 and 21. The response curve will peak first, followed quickly by the number of COVID-19 cases curve. After that, it's all downhill for the dangerous pathogen that has disrupted lives and economies worldwide.

Brent Johnson's Dollar Milkshake Theory

Brent Johnson is CEO of Santiago Capital. He has been creating and managing comprehensive wealth management strategies for the personal portfolios of high-net-worth individuals and families since the late 1990s.

If you watch no other video on money, gold, or finance, this is the one you definitely should see.



Also, Mike Maloney's GoldSilver.com is an excellent resource. Recently, Mike has been doing pretty much daily videos with consolidated information from a wide variety of sources, funneled through his intuitive, calculating mind. Here is a recent entry with some revealing charts by the incredible analyst John Hussman, another number-crunching maniac who's been studying and disseminating information on the economy in a series of market commentaries at his Hussman Funds website.

Here is Mike Maloney's April 3rd video:



Make sure to get Mike's free e-book, Guide to Investing in Gold & Silver, the #1 All-Time Bestseller On Precious Metals Investing, available at his site.

At the Close, Friday, April 2, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 21,052.53, -360.87 (-1.69%)
NASDAQ: 7,373.08, -114.23 (-1.53%)
S&P 500: 2,488.65, -38.25 (-1.51%)
NYSE: 9,880.63, -181.77 (-1.81%)

For the Week:
Dow: -584.25 (-2.70%)
NASDAQ: -114.23 (-2.53%)
S&P 500: -52.82 (-2.08)
NYSE: -306.58 (-3.01%)


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%)

Monday, March 9, 2020

Weekend Wrap: This Is Bad; Oil Crashes; Stock Futures Limit Down; Global Market Panic in Progress

Thanks to a late-day ramp on Friday afternoon, the week turned out to be mostly positive for the investor class, though it certainly didn't seem to be that way most as the days wore onward.

With a 600-point buying spree on the Dow Jones Industrial Average - which pulled all the other indices higher as well - stocks finished with gains instead of substantial losses. After a week of wild swings, the mood had turned ugly, accentuated by cascading drops on Thursday and Friday at the opening bells both days and concerted selling in airline stocks, banks, and hospitality.

As pronounced as the near-panic over the prior five trading sessions was, what's ahead on Monday will be worse by orders of magnitude.

Beginning with the coronavirus (COVID-19) decimating economies and social structure from China to Italy to South Korea, Iran, and beyond, slumping demand and forecasting of a bleak near-term future prompted extreme action from Saudi Arabia over the weekend. On Friday, when Russia refused to go along with a planned 1.5 million barrels a day reduction in crude production by OPEC+ nations, the Saudis decided to put the screws to everyone in the oil business by slashing their rates and ramping up production.

The impact of this momentous decision on Saturday was immediately felt across not just the oil futures markets but equity and credit markets around the world. With all major indices closed as usual on Sunday, focus was attuned to futures, which were being hammered lower by as much as seven percent in some cases. In the US, futures trading was halted when the Dow, S&P, and NASDAQ futures fell by five percent, otherwise known as limit down.

Crude futures were down by extreme amounts. WTI crude was last seen at $32.07 per barrel, a 22% loss from Friday, when it was selling in the low 40s per barrel.

Bonds were being battered as well, with reports that the benchmark 10-year note was trading with a yield below 0.48% (at one point yielding an all-time low of 0.31%) and other bond yields were being destroyed in markets that began to open, first in Japan, China and the Far East, then to Europe. If fear of COVID-19 contagion was palpable, the contagion from the economic fallout had become all to real.

With US markets set to open in an hour, the condition is dire.

A quick rundown of the carnage on major indices around the world:

  • NIKKEI (Japan) -5.07%

  • Straits Times Index (Taiwan, Pacific Rim) -6.03%

  • SSE Composite (China) -3.01%

  • Hang Seng (Hong Kong) -4.23%

  • BSE Sensex (India) -5.17%

  • All Ordinaries (Australia) -7.40%

  • KOSPI (South Korea) -4.19%

  • MOEX (Russia) -3.45

  • Jakarta Composite (Indonesia) -6.58%

  • FTSE Bursa (Malaysia) -3.97%

  • DAX (Germany) -7.00%

  • CAC-40 (France) -7.14%

  • FTSE 100 (England) -6.93%

  • EuroNext 100 (Europe composite) -7.50%


Suppression of the precious metals, the only remaining asset class that may hold some value, continues unabated as global economies come under severe pressure. Gold gained marginally, to $1678.00 per ounce, following a banner performance last week. Silver is under even more pressure, trading at $16.83 on futures markets, making a mockery of the gold/silver ratio, which is nearly 100:1. In more measured times - as in all centuries prior to this one - the gold silver ratio was pretty steady at 12:1 to 16:1. The current measure is a bad joke on a bad day, told by bad people with nothing but evil intentions (central banks).

Silver would have to rise to $100 per ounce for the gold/silver ratio to be anywhere near historical norms. With gold on the verge of a major breakout above $2000 per ounce, silver should - some day, maybe - be worth over $150 per ounce or similar equivalent in some other currency.

Monday's open should be epic. The aftermath, and the expected coordinated response by central banks figures to be a complete clown show, highlighted by massive injections of cash, POMO, TOMO, market-neutral rates, negative rates, and eventually, some collapsing banks. Couldn't happen to a more deserving crowd.

Money Daily will provide updates as time allows. Panic is a mild term for what's about to occur.

At the Close, Friday, March 6, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,864.78, -256.52 (-0.98%)
NASDAQ: 8,575.62, -162.97 (-1.86%)
S&P 500: 2,972.37, -51.57 (-1.71%)
NYSE: 12,352.03, -240.97 (-1.91%)

For the Week:
Dow: +455.42 (+1.79%)
NASDAQ: +8.25 (+0.10%)
S&P 500: +18.15 (+0.61%)
NYSE: -28.94 (-0.23%)

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Crushes Stocks, Commodities, Oil, Gold, Silver; Crisis Appears To Be Accelerating

(Simultaneously published at Downtown Magazine)

As ugly goes, this past week ranks right up there with bearded lady or three-eyed ogre status.

Over the course of just five trading sessions, stocks lost more than ten percent on all the main indices. The Dow topped the list with a drop of 12.36%. The week and the preceding Thursday and Friday (all but the NASDAQ are sporting seven-day losing streaks marked the fastest that stocks fell into correction territory, officially designated as a 10% slide.

What's worse - if there's anything worse than shaving a couple trillion off the American market cap balance sheet - is that the rush to sell hardly seems to be over. The last week of February looks more like the beginning of something more severe, and with the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) just beginning to make an impact in the United States, there isn't much talk about "buying the dip" at this particular juncture.

Just because everybody loves numbers, here are the current losses from the respective tops and the levels needed to reach down to a 20% loss, the designated level at which would kick in a bear market. Bear in mind that stocks recently hit all-time highs.

Dow: Top: 29,551.42 (2/12/20); Current: 25,409.36 (-14.02%); Bear Market (-20%): 23,641.14
NASDAQ: Top: 9,817.18 (2/19/20); Current: 8,567.37 (-12.74%); Bear Market(-20%): 7,853.74
S&P 500: Top: 3,386.15 (2/19/20); Current: 2,954.22 (-13.76%); Bear Market (-20%): 2,708.92
NYSE: Top: 14,183.20 (1/17/20); Current: 12,380.97 (-12.71%); Bear Market (-20%): 11,346.56

The potential for a bear market are palpable for more reasons than just the threat of COVID-19 spreading across the great expanse of the United States. A widespread outbreak, like the one in China, would be devastating, but already there are strong indications that community transmission has already taken place in the state of Washington, in Chicago, and in California.

Widespread infections that close schools and businesses would only be the tip of the issue. Large public gatherings - and that is a concern with baseball's regular season less than a month away - would carry warnings to the public. Many would likely stay away just out of personal caution, but hope is that the department of Heath and Human Services (HHS), CDC and Vice President Pence's executive branch team will keep community outbreaks well contained. However, France and Switzerland have banned large gatherings over 5,000, and cancelled all sporting events. Imagine the same for the United States in just a few weeks. It could happen. It may not.

Possibly also working against the virus is time. Many similar viruses, like the flu, die off naturally or lose their effectiveness and ability to transmit and spread.

On he other hand, the aftereffects from China's production slowdown have not been fully felt and won't be evident until companies report first quarter results. That's early April and beyond, giving the markets more than a month to navigate whatever trend emerges.

Stocks were significantly overvalued when the slide began; today they are less so, though still hanging in the high end in the valuation regimen. There is more room on the downside. All through 2019, companies were not reporting robust results. The S&P was generally flat on earnings yet stocks rose. Capacity Utilization and Productivity have also shown signs of a slowdown, even prior to the coronavirus event.

While unemployment remains a bright spot, business expansion has been slow to nearly nothing. A slew of variables - in effect the market's wall of worry - are mixed and unresolved. With sentiment now having shifted violently from greed to fear, any bad or marginal data is going to get the bum's rush, encouraging more selling.

Elsewhere, crude oil took a massive hit during the week. WTI crude closed at $54.88 on February 20, but by Friday of this week had dropped to $44.76 per barrel, a slide of 18.45%.

Precious metals abruptly went negative midweek after rallying for the better part of the last month. The silver continuous contract closed Friday at $16.46, the lowest price since last July. Gold topped out at $1691.70 per ounce on Monday, but by Friday could be purchased for $1566.70, more than a hundred dollar discount. Four straight down days snapped a rally in gold that started in late November, 2019. The gold price remains elevated, having only caught down to a price that was last seen the first week of February.

Particularly telling was action in the treasury market and bonds overall. The entire yield curve was decimated with the benchmark 10-year note checking in at an all-time low of 1.13%. The 30-year bond also posted a record low yield at 1.65% on Friday. With inversion on the short end - the 6-month bill is yielding 1.11 - the 2-year, 3-year, and 5-year are yielding 0.86%, 0.85%, and 0.89%, respectively.

With everybody from President Trump on down calling on the Federal Reserve to get into the act, rumors began circulating late Thursday that the Fed would coordinate with other central banks for some kind of symmetric cuts in overnight rates as early as Sunday, though as of this writing, nothing has come of it. The Fed is virtually guaranteed to cut by at least 25 basis points at its next FOMC meeting, on March 17-18, though for many in the markets, that seems a long time off and may in fact be too late to have much influence.

It wasn't just treasuries feeling the heat. According to Doug Noland's Credit Bubble Bulletin, "There were no investment-grade deals for the first time in 18 months, as $25bn of sales were postponed awaiting more favorable market conditions."

If credit markets begin to seize up, which appears to be the evolving case, the Fed will have no choice but to lower the federal funds rate prior to the meeting. 50 basis points would appear appropriate if the virus continues to spread not just in the US, but around the world. More than 60 countries have at least one case of the virus and the United States, Australia, and Thailand have reported their first deaths just in the past 24 hours.

Preparedness is the key to surviving whatever form the crisis takes, be it medical or economic. Households should have on hand at least a three-week supply of food and other essentials at the minimum. Investors should have moved money into safe havens, as many did. Money market funds and bonds provide some relief from the roller coaster of stocks. Precious metals usually provide some protection, but, as was the case in 2008, gold and silver fell off dramatically as stores of the metals were sold in order to shore up cash liquidity. Back then, they were the first commodities to recover, besting the markets by a number of months, though right now, they don't appear to be stunning buying opportunities.

If the worst case scenario occurs and there are wide ranging quarantines, travel restrictions and cancelation of public gatherings, expect nothing short of a complete meltdown of the financial system and conditions which have never been seen before. A stock market decline of 60-70 percent would be a real possibility. The entire rip to the downside could take as long as 18 months or as little as six.

That's not to say that a total collapse will occur. There may be mitigating factors in the interim, plus the advent of warmer weather with higher humidity might slow down the virus, but market direction has turned violently to the negative. Now is not the time to jump in a buy equities as most rallies will likely be met with strong resistance and more selling.

Presently, everything is up in the air, including the virus and the world's finances.

At the Close, Friday, February 28, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 25,409.36, -357.28 (-1.39%)
NASDAQ: 8,567.37, +0.89 (+0.01%)
S&P 500: 2,954.22, -24.54 (-0.82%)
NYSE: 12,380.97, -166.29 (-1.33%)


For the Week:
Dow: -3583.05 (-12.36%)
NASDAQ: -1009.22 (-10.54%)
S&P 500: -383.53 (-11.49%)
NYSE: -1594.81 (-11.41%)

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

WEEKEND WRAP: No Panic in Markets As COVID-19 Story Unfolds

In the US, a long weekend offered the opportunity to assess and reassess positions, but, from Friday afternoon through Tuesday morning, nothing substantially changed in the macro picture of global markets.

COVID-19 continues to dominate headlines, though attention has begun to focus on the spread of the virus outside of mainland China. Johns Hopkins, which provides the most unbiased numbers available, shows 898 reported cases worldwide. For perspective, that number compares to 343 reported on February 8, just 10 days prior.

While there are plenty of alarmists touting this infectious variant as the second coming of the Spanish flu, the available evidence purports to something less deadly. While the mortality rate has remained in the neighborhood of 2-3 percent in China, only a handful of deaths (four) have been directly attributable to infection from the coronavirus.

Wall Street appears to share the view that the virus is not a deadly killing machine, having put together a solid week, however, realization of knock-on effects from the mass quarantines in China are beginning to strike home.

It's been about a month now since the outbreak became apparent in China and efforts to stop the spread of information about it turned to efforts to actually contain the virus itself. Mainland factories have been shuttered and many are not soon to open to full capacity just yet. That's causing disruptions in various supply chains, the effects being noted throughout the global marketplace.

Looking forward, stocks, still at or near record prices, are almost certain to come under some pressure in the coming short week.

Oil has rebounded slightly as the world comes to grips with a glut of crude on the market. WTI continues to trade just above $50 per barrel.

The US treasury bond curve remains flat, with the 10-year note closing out the week at 1.59 percent.

There's unlikely to be any more clarity within the next few days or even weeks as the situation involving the virus is still evolving. Investors looking for a reason to exit have a reasonable excuse to do so.


At the Close, Friday, February 14, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 29,398.08, -25.22 (-0.09%)
NASDAQ: 9,731.18, +19.21 (+0.20%)
S&P 500: 3,380.16, +6.22 (+0.18%)
NYSE: 14,097.34, -1.66 (-0.01%)

For the Week:
Dow: +295.57 (+1.02%)
NASDAQ: +210.66 (+2.21%)
S&P 500: +52.45 (+1.58%)
NYSE: +165.41 (+1.19%)

Correction: In earlier posts this January, Money Daily had mentioned that Yum Brands owned KFC and Pizza Hut locations through out China. That is incorrect. Yum's China properties were spun off in 2016. We regret being in error.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

WEEKEND WRAP: Coronavirus Affecting Markets; Turbulent Week Ahead; Oil Already Whacked

Last week, as the the wealthy and infamous gathered for the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, markets were focusing on more compelling domestic and international issues, primarily, the impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump and the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus which has spread outward from its source in mainland China, now reaching around the world, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere, where nearly all the developed nations are anchored.

While the impeachment hearings were less impactful, being that the first few days of the trial consisted of one session for rule-making and three days of Democrat managers from the House of Representatives reiterating their tired claims from months of investigations stemming from a single phone call, the spread of a killer virus caught everybody's attention.

The number of deaths officially reported by the Chinese government grew from 16 on Wednesday to 23 to 41 to 56 by Sunday. As the week progressed, the number of reported cases grew considerably - by Sunday, nearly 2,000 in China alone - along with the number of countries discovering outbreaks. By Sunday morning, instances of reported cases had been registered in France, South Korea, Japan, Nepal, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Taiwan, Australia, and the United States.

Similar to the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak, which killed more than 750 people in 2002-2003, the threat is that this particular virus is spreading at a much faster rate as transmissibility is increasing.

By Monday morning, the toll will likely exceed 90, but there's widespread speculation that China has been and continues to understate not only the number of cases reported, but also the death toll.

This is the kind of thing some students of the dark science of economics might consider a "black swan," an unusual event or occurrence with a low probability that nobody sees coming. Already, the coronavirus outbreak has affected markets, but none more profoundly than oil. With travel bans in effect already in some Chinese cities and many presumably taking precautions to avoid crowds and people who may be infected, the world's second-largest user of oil and distillates is bound to experience a sharp demand decline that will affect prices globally.

WTI crude fell, over the course of the week, from $58.58 per barrel to $54.19, a decline of 7.5%. Brent dropped from an opening at $65.65 on Monday to $59.85 by week's end, losing nearly nine percent.

Stocks were also hit, as increasingly dire stories continued to mount over the course of the week, limiting upside on all exchanges, and squelching rallies on Tuesday, and especially in the US on Friday, when the Chinese government announced the rising death toll and cancellation of many Lunar New Year festivities, the biggest holiday in the country.

China, already on the brink of an extended financial downturn, saw severe damage to equity markets.

If the coronavirus continues to spread to other countries and becomes a pandemic, declines on the major indices (the Dow was down for the fourth straight day as of Friday) could turn what appeared as a minor fluctuation into an avalanche. Limiting movement, be it out of fear or by government dictates, would seriously hamper economic activity anyway, and, if the contagion becomes global in nature, which it appears to be doing, the effect may be long-lasting.

So, that's how normal operating markets turn into dungeons of doom. There is no silver lining, other than, you guessed it, silver and gold, both of which turned in the opposite direction from stocks, both tumbling on Tuesday but gaining the remainder of the week. Gold finished at $1571.60 per ounce; silver closed out the week at $18.10 per ounce. There is likely to be a further, faster advance in precious metals should the virus continue to spread.

With an FOMC meeting up next week (January 28-29) bonds saw high demand, moving interest rates on treasuries to their lowest levels since October, 2019. The 10-year-note closed out the week at 1.70% yield, with the 30-year bond closing at 2.14%.

Also upcoming in the week ahead, a slew of earnings reports, many of them notable as most will be for the fourth quarter of 2019 and the full year.

On Monday, homebuilder D.R. Horton (DHI) and telecom Sprint (S) get the earnings parade started. A loaded Tuesday has Lockheed Martin (LMT), 3M (MMM), Phizer (PFE), United Technologies (UTX), Nucor (NUE), and PulteGroup (PHM). Apple (APPL) and eBay (EBAY) report after the close.

On Wednesday, Dow components Boeing (BA), AT&T (T), and McDonald's (MCD) present, along with Mastercard (MA), General Electric (GE), and Dow Chemical (DOW). Tesla (TSLA), Microsoft (MSFT), Facebook (F), and PayPal (PYPL) report after the close. Thursday's offerings include some titans. Coca-Cola (K), UPS (UPS), and Verizon (VZ) report prior to the opening bell. Amazon (AMZN) and Visa (V) are up after the close.

Prior to Friday's market open, ExxonMobil (XOM), Chevron (CVX), and Caterpillar (CAT) close out the earnings deluge.

It's going to be a busy week with plenty of engaging, diverging stories. In case that's not enough, the impeachment trial could conceivably wrap up by Friday, possibly sooner, the Super Bowl is Sunday, February 2nd, and the first presidential primary, the Iowa caucus, convenes on Monday, February 3rd.

If the coronavirus continues to spread, it's not likely to slow down, so this coming week could be an opportunity to take profits and/or shed losers before markets get any ideas about tanking. Depending on how severe the virus becomes, how quickly and how far it spreads, appropriate defensive actions may be entertained.

With stocks close to all-time highs, there's hardly a case to be made for buying at this point, which, in itself may provide good enough reason for some spirited selling.

At the Close, Friday, January 24, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 28,989.73, -170.36 (-0.58%)
NASDAQ: 9,314.91, -87.57 (-0.93%)
S&P 500: 3,295.47, -30.07 (-0.90%)
NYSE: 13,978.47, -123.57 (-0.88%)

For the Week:
Dow: -358.37 (-1.12%)
NASDAQ: -74.03 (-0.79%)
S&P 500: -343.15 (-1.03%)
NYSE: -123.57 (-0.8*%)

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The Year That Was: Investors Bid 2018 GOOD RIDDANCE; Worst Year Since 2008

Should all acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind,
Should all acquaintance be forgot and the days of auld lang syne.
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup of kindness yet for the sake of auld lang syne.
Let's have a drink or maybe two or maybe three or four
Or five or six or seven or eight or maybe even more.

A cup of kindness, indeed. It's what some investors would have liked in December, or October, or maybe February or March.

Those were the worst months for stocks.

Dow loss, February, 2018: -1120.19
March, 2018: -926.09
October, 2018: -1341.55
December, 2018: -2211.10

As the year wore on, conditions proceeded to deteriorate for holders of US large cap equities. On the S&P and the NASDAQ, some stocks suffered losses of 30, 40, 50% or more.

Facebook (FB) was the poster child for tech stocks breaking bad. On July 25, the famous brainchild of Mark Zuckerberg topped out at 217.50. As of December 24, it bottomed out at a closing price of 124.06, a 43% loss. It wasn't a very merry Christmas for Facebook. Still, Zuckerberg is still one of the richest persons in the world, just not quite as rich as he used to be.

Netflix (NFLX) was another one being hammered in the second half of the year. Closing at 418.97 on July 9, the streaming video service lost 44% by December 24, closing that session at 233.88.

Stocks weren't the only asset class that was sucker-punched during the year. One standout of the commodities class was crude oil, where the price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) shot up from $60 to $76 in October - coincidentally, on the same day the Dow peaked - before retreating to under $45 nearing the end of December, striking a low of $42.53 on Christmas Day.

In similar manner, precious metals were abused during the year. Gold spent the early part of the year fluctuating in the $1300-1350 per ounce range, never closing above $1352. By June, signs of weakness were appearing, with the metal of kings dipping into the $1200 range, eventually bottoming out at $1178 by August. With stocks on the decline in the fourth quarter, gold was the beneficiary, ending the year at $1278 per ounce.

Silver was damaged more severely. Peaking at $17.52 per ounce on January 25, silver slumped all the way to 13.97 in November. December was the best month of the year for gentleman's coin, as it closed at a five-month high on December 31, with a price of $15.46. Both gold and silver ended the year on high notes, suggesting that they are due for a long-overdue rally.

Bonds were perhaps the most entertaining of the financial assets, with investors watching for an inversion in the treasury yield curve between the two and 10-year notes. While that did not materialize, a smaller inversion between 2 and three-year and the five-year yield presented itself in December, but only persisted for three weeks. The five-year was actually yielding less than both the 2s and 3s on December 4, but corrected back to normalcy - with yields rising over duration - on December 21. Still, it was a wake-up call to investors fearing a recession in 2019 and may have contributed to some of the panic selling during the final month of 2018.

Yield on the barometric 10-year note ended the year at an 11-month low, checking in at 2.69% on New Year's Eve. The 30-year was also pushed lower. By year's end, it was yielding a mere 3.02%, all of this occurring in the face of four quarterly federal funds rate hikes over the course of the annum. Surely, the bond vigilantes are out in force, and as the year of 2018 comes to a close, fear is winning out over greed in rather obvious manner.

What 2019 will bring is anyone's guess, considering the continuing dysfunction coming out of the nation's capitol. Republicans and Democrats are at war, leaving the American people to fend as best they can as casualties or collaterally-damaged bystanders. Rhetoric from both sides of the aisle has been inflamed to a combustible state, and, with the partial government shutdown already in its second week, when the Democrats seize control of the House of Representatives on January 3, chaos will reign.

Despite honest effort from President Trump, nothing good will come out of Washington this year, unless one considers complete rejection of government by the people to be constructive, because that is precisely where the swamp dwellers inside the beltway - with ample assistance from a media that operates as a free press in name only - are taking the country.

2019 may be a year worse than the one preceding it, perhaps much worse, as the political leaders of the greatest nation on the planet can do no better than bicker, posture, and fail in their duties.

Until and unless Washington changes its ways, the financial picture will be clouded by the politicians, whose only aim seems to be one of destroying anything good in the country. While the Democrats can largely be blamed for inciting division, Republicans in the Senate share nearly equal responsibility for not standing up for the public.

Sadly, Washington has made it clear that it wants to be all-important, all the time. The cost will be borne by the people in ways that exceed mere finance.

Dow Jones Industrial Average December Scorecard:

Date Close Gain/Loss Cum. G/L
12/3/18 25,826.43 +287.97 +287.97
12/4/18 25,027.07 -799.36 -511.39
12/6/18 24,947.67 -79.40 -590.79
12/7/18 24,388.95 -558.72 -1149.51
12/10/18 24,423.26 +34.31 -1115.20
12/11/18 24,370.24 -53.02 -1168.22
12/12/18 24,527.27 +157.03 -1011.19
12/13/18 24,597.38 +70.11 -941.08
12/14/18 24,100.51 -496.87 -1437.95
12/17/18 23,592.98 -507.53 -1945.58
12/18/18 23,675.64 +82.66 -1862.92
12/19/18 23,323.66 -351.98 -2214.90
12/20/18 22,859.60 -464.06 -2678.96
12/21/18 22,445.37 -414.23 -3093.19
12/24/18 21,792.20 -653.17 -3746.36
12/26/18 22,878.45 +1086.25 -2660.11
12/27/18 22,878.45 +260.37 -2399.74
12/28/18 23,062.40 -76.42 -2476.16
12/31/18 23,327.46 +265.06 -2211.10

At the Close, Monday, December 31, 2019:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 23,327.46, +265.06 (+1.15%)
NASDAQ: 6,635.28, +50.76 (+0.77%)
S&P 500: 2,506.85, +21.11 (+0.85%)
NYSE Composite: 11,374.39, +83.44 (+0.74%)