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Money Daily has been providing business and financial market news, views, and coverage on a nearly continuous basis since 2006. Complete archives are available at moneydaily.blogspot.com.
Banks Profit From Coronavirus; Governments Equivocate; Fed Keeping Stocks Afloat
Friday, April 24, 2020, 8:08 am ET
Since there is too much information being thrown around on the coronavirus crisis, here are a few of the more important headlines and stories:
Stocks rallied again after another 4.4 million people filed for unemployment relief, but the gains were wiped out when the World Health Organization (WHO) leaked a report that suggested trials on Gilead Science's (GILD) treatment drug, remdesivir, were not going well. Gilead finished down 4.2%, and the entire US stock market complex finished the day essentially unchanged.
Thursday, as the House pushed through $484 billion in round two of the bailout loan program for small businesses, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and other big banks raked in $10 billion in fees for processing the first round of small business PPP loans. As they usually do, the federal government made sure to take care of their major campaign donors. One burning question: since Ruth Cris is returning the $10 million loan they received, is JP Morgan Chase returning the $100,000 fee they "earned" for processing the loan?
Then there's this video that shows Fox News reporter John Roberts and New York Times photographer Doug Mills in the White House coronavirus press briefing room this past Tuesday caught on a hot mic. The two discuss the fatality rate of the virus, with Roberts saying it's between 0.1 and 0.3 percent, and Mills responding that it's in line with the ordinary flu. Some news outlets are characterizing the video as misleading, suggesting the two are joking. Judge for yourself.
According to a study by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) which highlighted Thursday's White House press briefing, warm weather, sunlight, and low humidity could have mitigating effects on coronavirus. This theory has been bandied about since the early days of the pandemic, and there's been no substantial evidence to claim that normal summer weather will slow down the spread of the virus or kill it completely, though most flu viruses are negatively affected by warmer weather.
The best evidence is likely anecdotal, as countries with warm climates in the Southern Hemisphere and near the equator have actually been less-severely affected by COVID-19 than more northern countries like the United States, Russia, most of Europe and Canada. For instance, Australia, which first began reporting cases of the virus in February (similar to Northern Hemisphere's July), has had 6,674 reported cases, but only 78 deaths. Malaysia, whose capitol, Kuala Lumpur is situated 350 km or 217 miles from the equator, has reported 5,691 cases but only 96 deaths. This suggests that while the spread may be slowed somewhat, the virility, or severity, of the virus may be diminished. Time will tell, especially in the US and Europe, as warmer weather approaches and states and countries begin reopening their economies.
Since April 7, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the index of 30 leading US companies, has traded in a very thin range between 22,634 and 24,232, a mere 1,598 points in an extremely volatile market. The COBE Volatility Index, or VIX, which tracks volatility, has been below 39 just two times since March 5. Normally, the VIX holds between 10 and 18 with great regularity. Anything above 20 is considered to be edging toward extreme and readings over 40, which have been common during the coronavirus campaign, are rare. On March 18, the VIX registered a reading of 85.47, exceeded only by a high mark of 89.53, on October 24, 2008, at the height of the Great Financial Crisis.
Managing to keep the Dow in such a tight range can only be due to the Fed's massive inputs of cash to primary dealers via various funding vehicles created during the coronavirus crisis. Trillions of dollars have flowed to banks, who routinely put that currency to work buying stocks and keeping blue chip equities in a fairly well-defined pattern. Stocks go up, they go down, they go back up. The Fed is in control of what used to be a free, fair market. Freedom and fairness in publicly-traded stocks hasn't existed for quite some time. Now they are virtually extinct entities.
What most of the headlines and alternative media narrative suggests is that the global public is being used, abused and largely misinformed. Governments in developed nations are employing the virus and public lockdowns as cover for the failed global fiat currency economic system that will have to be replaced shortly, within six months to three years, depending on how long those in power can keep people from overthrowing the entrenched oligarchs, kleptocrats, cronies, and assorted liars and thieves in government, business, and the media.
When the new world currency is announced, it will likely be all digital (blockchain technology) because paper and coin currency is "dirty" and "may carry viruses." At least that would seem to fit the accepted game plan that's being etched out on an ongoing basis. It will be up to individuals - not governments - to either accept or reject new currencies offered by the same people who destroyed the old system or opt for alternatives like gold, silver, bitcoin, and the tried and true efficacies of bartering goods and services.
There may indeed be more than one global currency: one for international trade and governments, and one for everyday commerce by the people. Whatever occurs, the next few years are likely to be convulsive and disruptive to what most people consider normal.
At the Close, Thursday, April 23, 2020:
Neo-Feudal Living Through Mainstream Media Propaganda Financed By Big Pharma
Thursday, April 23, 2020, 9:30 am ET
Everything is fake these days, especially financial news, which spills over boundlessly into politics and society. The fact that Big Pharma is the main funding source for mainstream media brings into question everything about the COVID-19 pandemic and government and media response.
In case there's any doubt, consider the recent news reporting on a Veteran's Affairs hospital study which concluded that Hydroxychloroquine - a generic drug used to treat malaria - is not a reliable treatment for coronavirus. Being mindful that the treatment, combined with Azithromycin in some cases, and in conjunction with zinc in early stage COVID-19 sufferers, has proven effective in shortening the length of time from infection to recovery, it's difficult to buy the claims by the study's authors, though that's exactly what the anti-Trump, big pharma-owned mainstream media did.
Never mind that President Trump was a big fan of Hydroxychloroquine, or that the research was neither done with random sampling nor was peer reviewed. The media just took the bait and ran with it, ostensibly in favor of the Gilead Science's more expensive proprietary drug, remdesivir, which is about to undergo real clinical trials.
Bear in mind that the mainstream media, especially television news, is sponsored mainly by Big Pharma. In between the two-to-four minute bouts of propaganda, commercials for drugs to treat everything from cancer to strokes to foot fungus are paid for by the likes of Pfizer, Roche, Novartis, Johnson and Johnson, Merck, Sanofi, AbbVie, Glacxo Smith Kline (GSK), Amgen, Gilead Sciences, and others. Here's a list of the Top 50 global pharma companies, which are also among the leading political donors.
The use of Hydroxychloroquine in conjunction with zinc and azithromycin for treatment of COVID-19 patients has been the focus of French physician and microbiologist, Dr. Didier Raoult,
Rauolt's twitter feed - mostly in French - is very active and strongly in favor of the treatment, which he claims limits the severity of the disease and shortens recovery time.
In the United States and in many developed countries, the mainstream media outlets, plus Google and Facebook, have been actively censoring Dr. Raoult's findings, the most recent of which involved successful treatment of 3000 patients, resulting in a death rate of 0.5 percent.
Raoult has extensive experience in treating viruses and getting positive results and is highly respected within the scientific community. His work spans decades and is frequently cited in leading medical journals. So, why does the mainstream media downplay or censor the importance of his work? Because hydroxychloroquine is very inexpensive (about 10¢ per dose) and Big Pharma can't make any money off generic cures.
Peak Prosperity's Dr. Chris Martenson breaks down the phony VA "study" and cites scientific evidence to conclude that the VA's review of patients in latter stages of the disease was "garbage." in this exceptional video. You are strongly urged to watch it and make up your own mind.
Getting to recent developments, the Labor Department reported minutes ago that another 4.4 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the past week, bringing the five week total to over 26 million.
Meanwhile, the US economy is floundering, as are the economies of almost all developed nations. The global depression, brought to you by the Federal Reserve in conjunction with the US federal government, the fake mainstream media and Big Pharma, is in full bloom and will affect life p in varying degrees - for billions of people for years.
Buy gold and silver if you can. Also consider bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies and getting off the electrical grid as much as possible, returning to a simpler lifestyle and out of the modern-day, neo-feudal rat race.
Finally, this clip from Family Guy offers metaphor for how many Americans (especially seniors who didin't file taxes in 2018 or 2019 -- think: poor people) feel about Treasury Secretary's five-week old promise to have $1200 checks in the hands of Americans "within two weeks."
At the Close, Wednesday, April 22, 2020:
Where Are We, And Where Are We Going?
Wednesday, April 22, 2020, 8:58 am ET
A month of social distancing, self-isolation and coronavirus fear media spin has probably done more to damage the social fabric and hasten the collapse of the global economy faster than any other event in history.
Isolation, a technique usually deployed against heinous criminals and terrorists has made its way to the mainstream and the result was predictable: protests across the country demanding that states re-open their shuttered economies sooner rather than later.
So far, the protests have been mild and peaceful, but violence is just around the corner and this game of political chess has only just begun. As the government continues to play out its poorly-chosen scenario to stem the advance of coronavirus it has alienated and frustrated a population that was already on edge. Forcing citizens to stay home, businesses to close, and strictly enforcing rules in an effort to contain a pandemic is likely to turn out to be a poor choice in terms of controlling the citizenry, none moreso than in America, where independence is inbred and following orders largely a matter of choice.
So far, a few states have relaxed their mandated strictures, and more will follow, but the damage to psyche of the nation has been severe and this may only be the beginning of a long, tortuous calamity.
The first true casualty was the collapse in the price of oil on Monday, as the May futures contract ended deep into negative territory, an outcome that could only happen in a controlled, contrived environment such as the exchange itself, the NYMEX. Entities long oil got slaughtered while the shorts carried the day and the profits fro a failing system. The June contracts aren't looking any rosier, with WTI crude checking in Wednesday morning in a range of $7-11 per barrel. As expiration nears, less than a month out, a similar outcome may await the breathless traders in search of not oil, but profit in fiat currency.
An oil price shock such as occurred on Monday is anathema for central bankers and economies built on producing the world's energy supply. Long-term ramifications are difficult to ascertain with such limited knowledge, but besides the obvious carnage this will cause in oil-producing nations such as those in the Middle East and Russia, US shale producers - who were already on the brink of collapse anyhow - are going to default in droves, leaving empty holes in some bank balance sheets.
Naturally, President Trump has ordered Treasury and Energy departments to find a solution, though none will be handy. More meddling by the government, and more bailouts by the Federal Reserve will only serve to enrich those who failed, at the expense of everyone else.
What happened in the oil market will happen in other markets. Prices should, and will, collapse, at first, as demand becomes nil and supply is overabundant. Certain foods will be cheap as oversupply is drawn down, but then will become increasingly expensive as the means of production are disrupted or shut off entirely.
Around and around this circle of supply and demand will go in markets that are already distorted by government mandates, price controls, subsidies, and other devices which serve to prop up industries. In the end, everything will go bust, including the currency, but directly prior to that, stocks, then bonds, will go belly up.
The more the government intervenes, the more the people will push back.
Currently, because of the business shutdowns across the country, small business closures are expected to expand well beyond normal circumstances. That will serve to slow derivative businesses, suppliers, intermediaries, wholesalers. There will be winners, most of them well-known publicly-owned corporations which have been spared the worst of the crisis thanks to trillions in loan guarantees and purchases by the Federal Reserve. Eventually, not even the "infinite" resources of the Fed will be enough to fend off a depression that will bankrupt entire industries and individuals. It could take years, but only months in certain segments of the economy, as illustrated by the oil price collapse.
America and the rest of the world is entering a phase of political, economic and social unrest that has never been precisely pondered. Not since the Great Depression of the 1920s has anything even remotely similar to what's ahead been considered, a world of limited supply, eroding confidence, wild swings in financial markets, currency debasement gone wild, all overtopped by a neo-feudal police state bent on keeping the status quo intact and the general population under control.
There are any number of ways to get around the conditions that prevail and will likely become somewhat unbearable, but the best are to divorce oneself from the system that is causing the carnage. Just as one would rationally flee a burning building, individuals and families, armed with knowledge and a strong survival instinct would be well-advised to have been preparing beforehand. Barring that, immediate departure from populations centers would be advisable.
It's already a known fact that urban and suburban areas have been hit the hardest by the coronavirus and the knock-on effects of the shutdowns. Rural areas have been left relatively unscathed as "social distancing" is the natural order in these places. Neighbors, rather than separated just by walls or back yards, are acres away, and the people like it that way. Thus, it behooves anyone who wishes to escape the coming general mayhem to find accommodations far off the beaten path, preferably with some acreage and own supplies of water and, to some extent, energy, making a working well and at least some solar panels and ready supply of fuel (propane being the most accessible) essential.
A good wood-burning stove would likely be a solid investment, along with a stand of trees, at least enough to last a few winters. Anybody who has never tended a garden would be well-advised to get up to speed as quickly as possible. This summer should serve as a tutorial for future endeavors.
Antenna TV will be preferred over cable or satellite, at least on a cost-forward basis, and some good radio equipment, batteries, and a knowledge of broadcast antennae will go a long way toward providing some entertainment and information when situations become critical.
While Money Daily has focused on financial markets, it also has never shied from being critical of control mechanisms like the Federal Reserve or any form of government. It also has consistently advocated self-sufficiency as a panacea for a better overall lifestyle. Most of what is being suggested here could be found in just about any prepper manual, and yes, guns, the ability to use them properly, silver, gold, and good equipment have also been consistently advocated in our message.
As for debt, especially the unsecured kind, like credit cards, don't worry about it. Just about everybody is going to eventually default, so, one can either join the maxed out crowd in the courts (which will be a zoo), or try to maintain some semblance of balance and propriety. The best condition would be to have no debt, though that's somewhat unrealistic for the vast majority of people. It's nothing to fret over, though. Banks and corporations default all the time. That's why we have bankruptcy laws and plenty of lawyers and judges to plead and administer them.
A bleak future for some does not have to be a bleak future for you. Read up on the history of the Great Depression and you will find that rural folks, although dirt poor, still had the means to survive, some - outside of the Dust Bowl states - to actually prosper. Food on the table, wood chopped and stacked, think not so much about prosperity, but survival first.
Much more to come...
At the Close, Tuesday, April 21, 2020:
The Bubble Has Been Popped; All Fiat Currencies Will Become Worthless; The New Normal Will Be Absurd
Tuesday, April 21, 2020, 7:54 am ET
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.
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:
WEEKEND WRAP: Americans Angered Over Lockdowns, Unfairness; Government Proposes Re-Opening
Sunday, April 19, 2020, 3:03 pm ET
Was it a coincidence that the president released his guidelines for states to reopen their economies just as civil unrest was percolating across America?
Probably not. Very little happens by chance in the hyper-charged world of politics. The timing was no accident. From the looks of the well-prepared document sent out by the White House, these guidelines had been thought out and processed well in advance. Whether the co-mingled events of Thursday constitute conspiracy or just good planning is a debatable topic.
Whatever the case, most Americans won't be going back to work any time soon. The presidential guidelines call for 14 days of declining trajectory of COVID-19 cases or other criteria. Presently, the numbers are still rising in most states, so expect the level of unrest amongst the working class - what's left of it - to only increase in coming days.
At the same time, the fetid morass that came out of the recently-enacted relief bill is cause for even more dissent. While public corporations received government largesse instantaneously, small businesses suffering from shutdowns cited distressing experiences dealing with banks charged with administering their loans, and that was before the funding dried up and was gone. The so-called Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was availed to a very small percentage of businesses needing assistance, falling well short of anything approaching appeasement. Some lucky individuals began receiving $1200 direct deposits from the feds, and a good number of the 22 million unemployed started getting the extra $600 in weekly unemployment payouts.
Frustration with the rollout of the PPP small business loans was possibly ameliorated by the extra cash afforded unemployed people. There are more than a few people presently reporting a weekly windfall far in excess of what they were making while actually working, so where is the incentive for businesses to keep employees on the books - with the mandate of employers providing up to three months of paid family leave during the crisis - when the government is offering a better deal?
Again, the clashing narratives of extra unemployment compensation and forgivable loans to small business was not happenstance. It is no accident that the federal government gave generously with few strings attached to bail out Wall Street's darlings while confounding and confusing small business and wage earners.
It would take a monumental leap of faith to overlook either the government's gross incompetence or purposeful negligence. From the start, the entire coronavirus affair looks like, smells like, and feels like a deceitful scam, perpetrated to gloss over a multi-trillion dollar scheme to rescue the money center banks and their big corporation, stock-buyback, campaign contributing cohorts.
It worked, and so well that Americans are now clamoring and demanding to get back to their wage-and-tax slavery, otherwise known as a steady job. On Thursday, when the Labor Department reported another 5.5 million new unemployment claims, boosting the number since lockdowns and stay-at=home orders went into effect to over 22 million, stocks managed small gains on the day, but closed out the week on Friday with massive gains.
Over the course of the four weeks in which large numbers of unemployed were reported, stocks gained in three of them, accosting middle and lower class wage earners with an unhealthy kick in the teeth each time for their "sacrifice." The unfair collusion between big business and big government apparently is being tolerated for the time being, though the restlessness of the citizenry has become palpable, the bad taste becoming less palatable with each passing day of isolation and perceived abuse.
A less civil society would have already manned the ramparts and forced the issue. In Michigan, at least, the state house was under assault by thousands of protesters in what may be a sign of things to come. Americans shouldn't stand for such out-and-out double dealing by their government, but it looks like they will, at least until the unemployment money runs out. Or the food runs out. As it stands, they have already taken away Americans' right of assembly (banning large gatherings) to free movement, freedom of choice, and as the crisis commences, governors and bankers will be picking winners and losers, denying re-openings and/or loans to businesses that are deemed "non-essential."
When the Roman Republic transitioned to becoming the Roman Empire the will of the people waned and government fiat became law, with little to no public input or appreciation. Juvenal, a poet of the late first and early second century, decried the dreadful state of affairs in his satires, his most famous phrase coining the term for pacifying the masses, panem et circenses.
... Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions ‹ everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.
Since the government of the United States - and elsewhere around the world - has already mandated an end to the circus aspect of American life by outlawing public gatherings such as sporting events - no baseball, no basketball, hockey, or soccer, and no fans - how soon they take away the bread (food), or price it at unaffordable levels, remains to be seen. The audacity and mendacious aspects of the government response - federal, state, and local - to the coronavirus pandemic puts into play a popular uprising in opposition to government that is increasingly being viewed as unfair, uncaring, and unaccountable.
This viewpoint is not held in isolation. It is shared by many. For perspective, the most recent Keiser Report gives an outstanding testament for the general outrage. It may be Max and Stacy's best effort ever produced (and this is episode 1529). The message is clear, concise, and to the point. Having the brilliant economist, Dr. Michael Hudson, in the second segment is a significant bonus. America, and likely, the rest of the world, is about to enter a new age of unbridled financial repression unless the citizenry rises up to smite the government and rentier class. Max and Stacy hit the nail hard and directly on the head.
Now, to recap the week in what used to be markets, everything is either broken, controlled, or manipulated. Precious metals can no longer be realistically priced by the futures. For decades, they have been manipulated by central banks and the bank for International Settlements (BIS). If there is any doubt, read the extensive body of work done by the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee (GATA). Be forewarned. It is voluminous. Likely the most accurate, true market for gold and silver is on - of all places - eBay, where private parties and dealers buy and sell precious metals in an open, largely unregulated market.
Here are recent (April 18, 19) prices for 1 ounce silver and gold coins on eBay* (quote order is LOW, HIGH, AVERAGE and MEDIAN):
*Prices were generated using eBay's sold (recently ended) function for the 12 most recent sales of standard (non-numismatic) bars, rounds and coins. Prices included shipping (often free).
Compare the public market price (eBay) to the futures prices and judge for yourself which standard should be used when pricing precious metals. In addition to many dealers being sold out of many popular items, for the past month to six weeks dealers have been imposing minimum order amounts and shipment delays of 15-45 days.
Futures (fake) prices (April 17):
How about some US Treasury bonds for your portfolio? The benchmark 10-year note yielded between a record low, 0.61%, and 0.76% for the week, closing out on Friday at 0.65% The entire yield curve is 115 basis points end to end, from the 30-day (0.12%) and the 30-year (1.27%). The best that can be said for the treasury yield is that it's better than all other developed national debt, most of which offer negative yields through to 10 year bonds.
Those with faith in government might still want to drop $10,000 on a 10-year note for a whopping return of $76 a year and a grand total of $760 if held to maturity. Others might be hedging that the yield will drop even lower or into negative territory and then sell the bond at a profit. For such a paltry return, neither scenario offers much upside potential.
The one bright spot for the global population is the price of oil and gas. Some states are selling gas at the pump for under $1.00 per gallon as the price of WTI crude closed out last week at $18.12, the lowest in decades. That's overtly deflationary.
At the Close, Friday, April 17, 2020:
For the Week: