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Wall Street Trench Warfare Pits Millennials Against Hedge Funds, Brokerages, the "System"

Friday, January 29, 2021, 8:30 am ET

Publisher's Note: A few words about our friend, Mother Nature, whose angry side we witnessed firsthand Tuesday morning around 2:00 am when our mountain abode was shuddered by a massive lightning strike. Barely avoiding the main house, the multi-pronged assault did the most damage by rupturing a propane gas line which erupted into flame with a loud boom that awakened most of our neighbors, one of whom is a fireman who responded with miraculous speed.

The fire was quelled by quick-thinking responders who shut the gas off at the tank, limiting the damage to an eight-foot wooden gate on the fence line. Upon daybreak, we began to assess the electrical damage, which amounted to quite a bit, including the frying of the AT&T internet modem, Dish TV modem along with the wiring to the dish itself which took one of the strikes directly, the entirely of an expensive audio center, two ceiling fan motors, a refrigerator, a furnace circuit board, an internet extender unit, and a small number of lights.

Indeed, we were fortunate that the damage was so limited, the sudden clap of electrical force serving as a not-so-gentle reminder of how fragile and conductive is our modern way of living. After two days of various repair trucks and service people in and out, life returned mostly to normal late Thursday. The insurance company is soon to be writing a fairly large check.

File this post under "better late than never," homage to resilience and Yankee ingenuity.

Over the past few days, the investing community has been treated to the tragi-comedy of millennial RobinHooders and other miscreant day-trading types versus the mighty force of hedge fund short-sellers (Citadel, part owner of Melvin Capital, among others) over shares of GameStop (GME), the failing gaming retailer. With wealthy billionaire hedge fund operators looking to cash in on the woes of the firm, thousands of small retail investors, purportedly organizing on Reddit, took them to task, buying up shares of the ill-fated company and boosting the price, causing the short-side hedgies to cover, suffering billions of dollars in forced buying.

From mid-morning Tuesday to the close on Thursday, shares of GameStop were whipsawed every which way, starting in the high 80s to close Tuesday at 145, then opening Wednesday at 327, eventually reaching a peak of 468 early Thursday morning.

That's when - with losses into the $$ billions - the unthinkable happened. Apparently at the behest of the doomed hedge fund managers, Robinhood and other brokerages - including TD Ameritrade, Webull, Merrill Edge, and others - began limiting trading and options on GameStop and other companies (AMC, BB, BBBY, EXPR, GME, KOSS, NAKD, and NOK) targeted by the millennial horde to sell only or raising margin requirements as high as 300%, in some cases closing out positions without notice to clients. In a little over an hour, the share price on GME fell from 468 to 112, eventually bouncing back over 300, but finally closing out Thursday at 193.60.

The story does not end there, however. While the hedge funds were being bailed out by the brokerages, retail investors were claiming "foul," obviously annoyed over the ham-fisted approach to the perception of fairness in "open" markets. It appears that Wall Street trading houses will allow unlimited losses to small investors, but when it comes to whales like hedge funds, they'll willingly step in to staunch declines.

Such action obviously is not sitting well with the general public nor the damaged retail millennial crowd. At least one lawsuit has been filed and congressional dog-and-pony shows are upcoming. It's safely assumed that no Wall Street persona will suffer anything more than having to be publicly berated and forced to contribute to a number of election campaigns. Such is the technocratic justice that prevails.

In the meantime, the wealthy hedgies are now forewarned that their activities in the market are not going to be tolerated by the retail crowd which has served notice that they can and will organize in monetary assault. The hallowed canyons of Wall Street have become the site of open economic class warfare, a drama which is likely to end well for nobody. In so far as the recent action have amounted to minor initial skirmishes, escalation of this unique economic trench warfare is to be expected.

In pre-market trading, GME is up 154 points, to 348. This battle is far from over.

Robinhood and other brokerages have freed up trading in the affected companies, according to reports. Robinhood has tapped into its liquidity, borrowing from JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs.

From the looks of things, there's likely to be more losers than winners in this battle.

Two days of an internet outage afforded the distinct displeasure of reading the stupid little book. COVID-19 The Great Reset by Klaus Schwab and Thierry Malleret. If only to spare readers any wasted moments on what amounts to child-like writing (maybe fifth grade level) by supposed intellectuals who espouse to instruct world leaders and commoners alike how to prosper from the pandemic, this review will be sparingly brief.

The authors (shuddering at dignifying them thusly) take vague suppositions on various issues such as "climate change" (which is a foremost topic for them), governance, mental health, environmentalism and other worldly subjects and expand them into a tapestry of pandemic behaviors seen through a prism of time between January and June of 2020. Their focus on digitization, lockdowns (which they frighteningly refer to as confinement), control, and taking advantage of the situation is perversely anti-human and gravely mistaken.

Schwab and Malleret suggest, ad nauseum, that the advent of COVID-19 brought with it hopeful possibilities for governments, businesses, and individuals to rethink, retool, and reset their environment and practices. Nearly completely disregarding the medical missteps and personal devastation, the evidence and advice springs from the Rahm Emanuel principle of "...never let a crisis go to waste," which is in itself a sick, cynical world view. There's no concrete evidence or proposals offered. The whole 190 pages of boring, run-on text and 20 pages of footnotes includes a dizzying array of if (found on 73 pages), and, but (143 pages), could (85), might (44), may (89) propositions and no concrete solutions to anything.

While it's refreshing to realize through the reading that Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum (WEF), is not some crazed Nazi holdout bent on world domination, but rather a fuzzy teddy bear without much purpose or brain power, the other side of the coin says this book should not be on anybody's reading list. In fact, it should never have been written. That's why there's no link HERE to the free PDF, as it might encourage some to engage. Forget it. Dustbin of history stuff, it is.

While at the literary latrine, it would be a shame not to leak just how painful it was to see and hear youth poet laureate, Amanda Gorman, recite her trite, mixed metaphorical nonsense, "The Hill We Climb" at the fake inaugural last week. While the poem itself offered a garbled message of hope and desperation, it was decidedly non-inclusive and unwelcome to large swaths of people, particularly white ones.

It's not OK to elevate black girls to high positions when they reference their color, slavery, and inflammatory lines such as:

We've seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy
And this effort very nearly succeeded
But while democracy can be periodically delayed
it can never be permanently defeated

... as Americanism without punctuation. It's gaslighting.

Basically, give it a break. Americans are truly tired of being reminded of how evil, insensitive, and racist we are.

Just for good measure, a reminder that "double-masking" is doubly stupid.

At the Close, Wednesday, January 27, 2021:
Dow: 30,303.17, -633.87 (-2.05%)
NASDAQ: 13,270.60, -355.47 (-2.61%)
S&P 500: 3,750.77, -98.85 (-2.57%)
NYSE: 14,487.73, -379.64 (-2.55%)

At the Close, Thursday, January 28, 2021:
Dow: 30,603.36, +300.19 (+0.99%)
NASDAQ: 13,337.16, +66.56 (+0.50%)
S&P 500: 3,787.38, +36.61 (+0.98%)
NYSE: 14,669.52, +181.79 (+1.25%)

World Economic Forum Opens on Virtual Platform

Tuesday, January 26, 2021, 10:45 am ET

Publisher's Note: A lightning strike overnight has our electrical on emergency use only, so this is going to be brief. Apologies.

On Monday, the World Economic Forum opened "Virtual Davos" with a series of speeches and affirmations.

The World Economic Forum will convene the Special Annual Meeting 2021 in Singapore from 25-28 May. It will return to Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, for the Annual Meeting 2022. The Special Annual Meeting 2021 in Singapore will be the first global leadership event to address worldwide recovery from the pandemic.

If you want to follow the events - all online - at Virtual Davos this week, start with the Davos Agenda 2021.

At the Close, Monday, January 25, 2021:
Dow: 30,960.00, -36.98 (-0.12%)
NASDAQ: 13,635.99, +92.13 (+0.69%)
S&P 500: 3,855.36, +13.89 (+0.36%)
NYSE: 14,935.29, -16.55 (-0.11%)

WEEKEND WRAP: Biden Takes Oath; Stocks Pause, Bonds Flat; Earnings Season in Full Swing

Sunday, January 24, 2021, 10:45 am ET

On Wednesday, Joe Biden took the presidential oath of office, making him the 46th president of the United States. The inauguration went off without a hitch, which was to be expected, considering there were more than 25,000 National Guards on duty across the District of Columbia, protecting the president and assembled dignitaries from some supposed threat, which, since the whole narrative was complete fiction, never materialized.

Neither white supremacists, ANTIFA or BLM radicals or even Daughters of the Republic showed up for the event, which more resembled a bad "made for TV movie" than the usual pomp and circumstance associated with the peaceful transition of power. It was so bad, there were more people awaiting President Trump's arrival in Florida than there were at Joe Biden's inauguration.

Trump didn't attend the inauguration. He left hours beforehand, aboard Air Force One. According to verifiable sources, he took the nuclear codes with him. Biden doesn't have the nuclear codes, probably never will, and his members of his administration are barred from the Pentagon, also verified.

There are still, at this writing, some 7,000 National Guardsmen on duty in the nation's capitol, which is quizzical, since there was no threat of violence at the big event, and no intelligence to expect any. The fences encompassing the National Mall, White House, Capitol, and Supreme Court are still up. The desolate city looks more like a third world prison camp than the seat of national power.

What the new president did right away was sign away some executive orders, mostly designed to reverse EOs issued by President Trump. EOs don't carry the weight of law. Biden's signings are designed to set the country back four years, and, despite what he says about uniting the country, don't exactly exude that Kumbaya feeling.

In response, stocks, in the first two full trading days since the inauguration, took a left turn. See closing prices below:

Index: 1/20/2021 / 1/22/2021
Dow: 31,188.38 / 30,996.98
NASDAQ: 13,457.25 / 13,543.06
S&P 500: 3,851.85 / 3,841.47
NYSE: 15,097.28 / 14,951.84

Just guessing, but, other than the NASDAQ (which always goes up because of the Tech monopoly giants (the AMFAG stocks: AAPL, MSFT, FB, AMZN, GOOG), traders seem to be less than enthralled with the direction taken by the new administration. While presidents aren't usually responsible for Wall Street antics, there is something of a correlation between policy and prices. The Biden administration is off to a rocky start.

While change has come to the federal government, some things are out of their reach, and unlikely to change. Treasuries were flat, with the 10-year yielding 1.10%, just a single basis point below the close of the prior week. The 30-year ended the week unchanged, at 1.85%.

Likewise, the surpression of precious metal prices continued, though at a somewhat subdued pace. Gold gained, from $1,829.80 to $1,855.50 (+$25.70), though it was down slightly the two days following Biden's inauguration. Silver rose from $24.87 to $25.57, a gain of 70 cents per ounce.

Oil, which hit a nine-month high of $53.57 per barrel on January 14, closed out at $51.98 on Friday, the 22nd. Could relief at the pump be at hand? Unlikely. Democrat governors, from New York's Andrew Cuomo, to Illinois' J.B. Pritzker, are reopening their economies and weather will begin to warm in another month or so, though heating costs have been mild this winter. Oil's price could moderate for a time, but by summer, it's almost certain to be above current levels.

In the crypto space, Bitcoin continues to vacillate at a level about 20% below its recent high above $42,000. Bitcoin's price fell as low as $28,732 and is holding around $32,000 currently. Etherium, the second largest coin by market cap, dipped as low as $1,039.62, but has recovered above $1,300.

Below is the Money Daily exclusive weekly survey of commonly-sold items on eBay (numismatics excluded, shipping - often free - included):

Itam: Low / High / Average / Median
1 oz silver coin: 35.00 / 50.50 / 42.17 / 42.47
1 oz silver bar: 32.25 / 47.15 / 38.57 / 38.48
1 oz gold coin: 1,952.00 / 2,046.24 / 1,999.27 / 2,007.80
1 oz gold bar: 1,950.00 / 1,986.49 / 1,966.96 / 1,965.94

For historical price data go HERE.

Of interest looking ahead, the coming week is the heart of earnings season, as companies release 4th quarter 2020 and full year results. Among the companies reporting this week are some heavyweights, as shown below.

Monday: (before open) Kimberly-Clark (KMB); (after close) Xilinx (XLNX), Yamana Gold (AUY)

Tuesday: (before open) UBS AG (UBS), 3M (MMM), D.R. Horton (DHI), General Electric (GE), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), American Express (AXP), Lockheed Martin (LMT), Verizon (VZ); (after close) Texas Instruments (TXN), Capital One (COF), Starbucks (SBUX), Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Microsoft (MSFT)

Wednesday: (before open) Blackstone (BX), AT&T (T), Teledyne (TDY), General Dynamics (GD), Boeing (BA); (after close) Facebook (FB), Las Vegas Sands (LVS), Tesla (TSLA), Apple (AAPL), Teradyne (TER), Raymond James (RJF)

Thursday: (before open) Dow Chemical (DOW), Stanley Black & Decker (SWK), Tractor Supply Company (TSCO), PulteGroup (PHM), Southwest Airlines (LUV), McDonald's (MCD), Altria (MO), American Airlines (AAL), Sherwin-Williams (SHW), Alliance Data Systems (ADS), Nucor (NUE), Mastercard (MA); (after close) Celanese (CE), Visa (V), Beazer Homes (BZH), US Steel (X)

Friday: (before open) Weyerhaeuser (WY), Caterpillar (CAT), Eli Lilly (ELI), Honeywell (HON), Synchrony Financial (SYF), Chevron (CVX), Colgate-Palmolive (CL)

At the Close, Friday, January 22, 2021:
Dow: 30,996.98, -179.03 (-0.57%)
NASDAQ: 13,543.06, +12.15 (+0.09%)
S&P 500: 3,841.47, -11.60 (-0.30%)
NYSE: 14,951.84, -67.21 (-0.45%)

For the Week:
Dow: +182.72 (+0.59%)
NASDAQ: +544.56 (+4.19%)
S&P 500: +73.22 (+1.94%)
NYSE: +57.68 (+0.39%)

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