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Japan's Nikkei 225 (^N225) a Leading Indicator of a Bankrupt, Zombie Planet

Friday, April 30, 2021, 8:05 am ET

The metric of Debt to GDP is a simple concept, a lazy way of viewing the economy of an entire nation or amalgam of nations (such as the European Union) with a snapshot of its indebtedness versus its supposed productive output.

Both sides of the equation are subject to wildly varying interpretations, many of them decidedly arguable against the accepted norms of economists and globalist thinking.

Japan, a victim of its own hubris and misguided principles in banking and governance for the past forty years is widely believed to claim ownership of most-indebted developed nation on the planet status. Its running Debt:GDP calculus falls in the range of 266%, by far the highest among developed and emerging countries.

In other words, if the government of Japan endeavored to pay down its debt or to retire it altogether, It would require more than 2 1/2 years of the entire country's gross production - all sales, transfers, payments in both the private and public sectors - to do so. It's an absolute absurdity to consider. The total cost of every plate of sushi, every circuit board or car or government payout for anything would have to go toward debt payment.

It's obvious to anyone who's ever tried to balance a budget that included a job, a mortgage, car payment and maybe some credit card revolving debt that to do so would require an impossibility. You would not be able to buy food, pay for utilities, or spend any money on anything other than debt owed. After a week, you'd be unable to proceed for the simple fact that you'd be dead. So it is with a nation's debt. It's simply not possible to pay it all back quickly, if at all. In fact, the debt of all developed nations continues to grow, not contract. There is not a single developed or emerging economy that is even attempting to address these odious debt loads.

They cannot ever be repaid, thus, they never will be. They will only grow and grow until the interest alone, even at a paltry 0.01% becomes an unbearable burden. While Japan may be the worst-case scenario, the EU, USA, Great Britain, India, and China are on the same pathway of economic destruction. The ability by central banks to conjure money (currency) out of thin air and then lend it at interest to any interested party - usually a government entity or multi-national business concern - has put the entire planet into an untenable condition of insolvency from which there seems to be no escape.

The calculation of Debt:GDP is, however, only the beginning. What's not included in that formula is personal and business debt. Most people, whether they own a home or rent, are insolvent. A seemingly successful family with two-wage earners living in a tony suburb are probably in over their heads with a massive mortgage on their property, probably car payment, maybe a student loan and possibly even some outstanding credit card debt. They're underwater. Should one of them lose their job, the result would likely be the loss of their home and most of their good intentions. There simply wouldn't be enough money to pay all the bills. The result, likely after months if not year of struggling to make ends meet, would be a visit to the bankruptcy court, whisking away all the debt by yet another government fiat, ordering your debts dissolved.

The same is true for many of the largest companies listed on the various stock exchanges. When measuring a company's net worth, one will find, invariably, that the amount of debt exceeds the company's equity, usually expressed as shares of stock, plus retained capital in various assets. While these companies routinely return some shareholder value in reported earnings, their bottom lines are a disaster common to the business world. In Wall Street parlance, this is known as debt to equity. Many firms are overweighted in debt. When they payments come due, they borrow more. The Federal Reserve and other central banks enable such behavior by buying up the debt of even the most egregious debt offenders.

There are some, though not many, companies that aren't underwater, that have large cash hordes above and beyond their debts. These would be the Googles, Apples, Berkshire-Hathaways, and Amazons of the world. They accumulate cash at such a mind-boggling rate that they don't need to borrow at all to meet payroll, normal operating expenses or even business expansion. They, and the central banks effectively own the world.

Taking into account all the individual, business, and government debt (right down to state and local levels), the total level of indebtedness for any country dwarfs the oft-cited Debt:GDP formula making the complete condition much worse than the superficial analysis touted by experts and TV talking heads lead the public to believe.

Japan's situation is at the leading edge. The government is completely insolvent, though their investments cover the spectrum of financial instrument madness. They own debt. They own mortgages. They own stocks. The Bank of Japan (BOJ) owns a piece of just about everything. They cannot collapse because the result would be a global catastrophe, but the reality is that they are the linchpin of the financial system. Their hands are tied into every aspect of modern life, with emphasis on their own population. The Japanese people, surprisingly, are savers, not spenders, which is cited often as a major reason the Japanese economy has stagnated for so long.

That may or may not be true, but the fact of the matter is that many astute Japanese households don't trust the financial system and are invested in hard assets beyond the currency of the yen, primarily gold. Some individuals in Japan are like the "preppers" in the United States. They've prepared for what they see as the inevitable decimation of the global financial system.

There's a certain mathematical probability to all of this and the Nikkei 225 is a proxy for the world's bankrupt, zombified status. Should the Nikkei break down, so with it goes the economy of Japan, and like dominoes, the rest of the world.

Those of us in the United States or Europe focus on our own stocks, our own trades and economy, our own problems, but it would be wise to keep a jaded eye on our neighbors across the seas.

Approaching the final trading day of April, stock futures have turned ugly, with the Dow sporting a -145 and NASDAQ futures off nearly 100 points. The Nikkei closed down 241.34 points, at 28,812.63, well off the February 16 high of 30,467.75, a 5.4% decline over the past 2 1/2 months. Should the Nikkei's losses extend to 10% or 15%, the effects will be felt far and wide. Stay tuned.

Tomorrow is May 1. Enjoy the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs and have a great weekend.

Dow: 34,060.36, +239.98 (+0.71%)
NASDAQ: 14,082.55, +31.52 (+0.22%)
S&P 500: 4,211.47, +28.29 (+0.68%)
NYSE: 16,376.00, +53.87 (+0.33%)

Fed Shrugs Off Inflation, Again; Biden Plan: Handouts and Higher Taxes

Thursday, April 29, 2021, 8:38 am ET

A funny thing happened on the way to the FOMC rate policy meeting which concluded Wednesday afternoon at 2:00 pm ET.

Stocks ramped higher immediately upon the release. For some reason, a reiteration by the Fed that interest rates would remain at the zero bound was celebrated as good news. But, as the session would to a close, stocks retreated to almost exactly where they were just prior to the announcement.

See here:

Index: at 2:00 pm / at close
Dow: 33,828.81 / 33,820.38
NASDAQ: 14,054.91 / 14,051.03
S&P 500: 4,184.23 / 4,183.18

So, does that imply the Fed is out of the loop? That whatever they say - as long as it's roughly the same message as the prior statement - is disregarded?

Probably yes on both counts. The Fed is just there to oversee the destruction of the fiat regime, which is on its final descent into oblivion. People trading chits, stocks, certificates, even cryptos, realize that it's all just paper, backed by nothing, soon to revert to its intrinsic value, near zero. With short term interest rates at .01% or .03%, the time value of money has been eliminated from any quantifiable equation. Money, in terms of fiats, has been deemed by the Federal Reserve, to have almost no value. There is literally no reason to hold onto it for any longer than necessary, which, if one is a functioning member of society, would mean hours, or even minutes.

Get your check. Pay your bill. Buy food, clothes, gas, a car, a bird cage. It's better to have a physical object in hand than wait for the price to come down or a better deal elsewhere, because it's probably not going to happen, at least not as long as the Fed insists on easy monetary policies and printing more at the drop of a hat.

The Fed also doesn't see inflation as a long term issue, though nobody in the building trades see the price of lumber coming down any time soon. The same goes for people who shop for food. Canned goods remain one of the smartest purchases one can make in this environment. For what it's worth, that 79-cent can of cut green beans will hold its value for years while the dollar loses the remaining 2.15% of its purchasing power.

So much for the first iteration of Wednesday's public finance double-header.

In the nightcap, Joe Biden took to the podium before an assemblage of other brain-dead political hacks to explain how he plans to help usher in the complete destruction of the US economy, outlining his absurd plan to spend another $1.8 trillion that the government neither has in hand nor possesses the ability to borrow and repay. Not that they can't borrow $1.8 trillion, or $5 trillion or even more. The Fed will gladly loan it out. The federal government simply has no reasonable way to repay it. They've already ballooned this year's deficit to over $1 trillion, and the fiscal year is just past the mid-point. And, there's that $28 trillion in outstanding debt that continues to accumulate interest that they cannot and never will pay back.

Calling his agenda "The American Families Plan" the White House bills Biden's hair-brained $1.8 trillion spending fiasco as "a once-in-a-generation investment in the foundations of middle-class prosperity ≠ education, health care, and child care."

Excuse people for being dense or old-school, but isn't the foundation of middle-class prosperity a good job, stable home, hard work, and individual responsibility?

Biden seems to have lost touch with his own Baby Boomer roots and maybe even those of Millennials, Xs, Ys, and Zs. Education hasn't paid benefits in decades. That's why people with degrees are working as baristas at Starbucks. Health care is an expense that continues to skyrocket out of control, and child care is only a consideration if one has kids under the age of eight.

Anyhow, the "plan" is a blend of tax credits, free tuition to community colleges, paid family and medical leave, expansion of the child care tax credit and a string of tax hikes aimed at the upper echelon of society by increasing the top individual tax rate from 37% to 39.6% and raising the capital gains tax rate from 20% to 39.6% for taxpayers making over $1 million.

Coupled with the infrastructure plan currently dying in congress, the latest spending proposal by the occupier-in-chief would not create any new jobs, raise anybody's pay except maybe some social workers and IRS agents, and would result in higher taxes for individuals and businesses.

Joe's plans are no-go. The government can't afford it and people won't want to pay for it. Biden might as well be whistling past the grave of the US economy with these numbskull, Obama-era-inspired ideas.

Dow: 33,820.38, -164.55 (-0.48%)
NASDAQ: 14,051.03, -39.19 (-0.28%)
S&P 500: 4,183.18, -3.54 (-0.08%)
NYSE: 16,322.13, +48.82 (+0.30%)

Google's Blowout Earnings; Investor Disconnect As Markets Struggle; #Etherium Taking Crypto By Storm

Wednesday, April 28, 2021, 9:06 am ET

The earnings parade continues.

After the close on Tuesday, Alphabet (parent of Google, GOOG) released first quarter earnings which blew away Wall Street with stunning numbers, especially the EPS of $26.29, on expectations for $15.45. Revenue was $55.3 billion, also ahead of forecasts.

Google advertising revenue of $44.7 billion, rose 32.3% in the quarter, comprising 80.8% of companywide revenue.

Off numbers that were truly spectacular, the company is being rewarded by investors in the pre-market, with shares up by more than five percent (2,423.35 +116.23).

Meanwhile, with stocks set for an open in just over a half hour's time, futures are collapsing, with Dow futures off nearly 100 points. The S&P and NASDAQ futures are also trending lower.

There seems to be a disconnect between stocks and investors developing. Even though the main indices are at or near all-time highs, advancing further has been an issue over the past week to 1 days. As an illustration, the S&P made a new all-time closing high on April 16, finishing at 4,185.47. After failing to follow through for a week, it finally made its way to another record close on Monday, ending at 4,187.62, though the gain was a mere seven points. Tuesday's small dip kept it from setting another record.

The Dow has been trading in a very similar way, closing at record levels on April 5th, 8th, 15th and 16th, but the 30 industrials can't seem to find a way higher. Tuesday's session was the seventh straight in which it failed to make a new high at the close of the day.

Another issue facing markets - aside from stocks - is in the precious metals space. While god and silver have had some success over the past few sessions, they are still trading in the futures market at levels well below their August 2020 highs and were crushed again overnight. As of this writing, silver, which closed at $26.25 in New York, is trending at 25.82, down .43 cents.

Gold is down $11.10 from Tuesday's NewYork close, at 1,764.70. Resistance is substantial for $1800 gold and $26 silver.

Then there's Bitcoin and the universe of cryptocurrencies. Top performing Etherium has been the best crypto this year, outpacing even the grandaddy, Bitcoin. Just peaking above $2,700, ETH is up 58% in just the past month. It has taken most of the action away from Bitcoin and some of the other high-flying altcoins.

Bitcoin, however, has struggled. Since peaking at $64,899 on April 14, it fell to a low of $47,044 this past Sunday, April 25. It has recovered quite well over the past two days to a current level just above $55,000, but still far from the all-time high.

There just seems to be an uneasiness in all markets, as though everything is not as it appears and that something big is about to occur. There are many distortions, dislocations, and distractions in the world, from supply chain issues to congress and the presidency. Joe Biden will make a speech tonight at 9:00 pm ET to a joint session of congress (an unusual event) to unveil yet another massive spending program.

Well before that the FOMC of the Federal Reserve will issue a policy statement at 2:00 pm ET, followed by a press conference with Chairman Jerome Powell.

More earnings hitting the street as well today, so there are plenty of events to affect prices and trading.

Money Daily HQ is in the process of getting a new roof today. It's difficult to concentrate on anything as it sounds like a thunderstorm overhead, so this note is going to be cut short...

Dow: 33,984.93, +3.36 (+0.01%)
NASDAQ: 14,090.22, -48.56 (-0.34%)
S&P 500: 4,186.72, -0.90 (-0.02%)
NYSE: 16,273.31, +32.10 (+0.20%)

Musk Tweets, Tesla Beats; JP Morgan's Jamie Dimon Green Light's Bitcoin; NASDAQ Closes At ATH

Tuesday, April 27, 2021, 9:10 am ET

Since the early hours of April 14, when Bitcoin reached a new all-time high of $64,899, the price of the world's dominant cryptocurrency went into a protracted tailspin, dropping to $47,044 on Sunday, April 25, a decline of some 28 percent, prompting cries of "told 'ya so", "tulips" and "ponzi scheme" from the usual chorus of no-coin losers.

Prior to hitting what turned out to be a short-term bottom, however, Tesla CEO, Elon Musk sent forth a tweet, simply asking, "What does the future hodl?" which caught the attention of more than a few investors and acolytes, being that Musk is a Bitcoin believer, having committed $1.5 billion of his company's funds to the currency. "Hodl", a discrete misspelling by Musk in his tweet, is a commonly-used acronym popular among Bitcoin devotees, meaning "Hold On for Dear Life." Thus, people who own and keep Bitcoin are known as hodlers.

Whether Musk was the actual catalyst, the price of Bitcoin began hurtling forward at a rapid pace Sunday evening, catapulting beyond $52,000 by midnight. But, that was only the beginning, because on Monday morning, none other than world-class Bitcoin basher, Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase, announced that his bank would begin offering investments in Bitcoin to its wealthiest clients via an actively-traded fund by partnering with institutional investor NYDIG.

For JP Morgan's investment arm, the goal will be to offer high net worth individuals and institutions exposure to the world of cryptocurrencies without them actually having to own or acquire any of it. Dimon's early Monday morning missive sent Bitcoin higher still. By midday, it had climbed back over $54,000 and as of Tuesday morning has cruised past $55,000, considered by a score of Bitcoin analysts to be a critical pivot point.

Those who had - for the 489th time - decried Bitcoin's demise, seem presently to have been wrong again, as the cryptocurrency launched in 2009 continues to careen into the stratosphere. Did Musk know something about JP Morgan's imminent announcement when he tweeted or was he just lucky to get such favorable timing? We many never know, but his tweet and Dimon's announcement were certainly an opportune coincidence for anybody who BTFD (Bought the F***ing Dip).

Bitcoin followers note that on the way to "the moon", Bitcoin often experiences severe pullbacks such as this most recent one, but it's become well known that these instances of bearishness are common, normal, and healthy for the continued success of the crypto world. The instances of selloffs are usually short - lasting between seven and 15 days - and routinely severe, with declines of 15 to 30 percent. Weak hands get shaken out during these drawdowns, replaced by more serious, often institutional players who are less inclined to panic on short-term price volatility, giving Bitcoin a more solid base of support.

Where the price of Bitcoin will eventually head nobody really knows, but serious investors such as Max Keiser and Raoul Pal believe the price will eventually soar into six digits. For instance, Keiser has set a price target of $220,000 for "sometime in 2021." Other crypto champions offer similar predictions, many of them higher.

Also helping Bitcoin forge a path forward are comments made by legendary investor, Bill Miller, who spoke on CNBC last week, opining that Bitcoin isn't a bubble, and that this year's outstanding growth is a sign of it going mainstream and appealing to institutional investors. He points out that one of the main features of Bitcoin's rising price structure is simply a supply and demand issue. Bitcoin miners increase the stock by two percent a year, while demand for it is growing at a much faster pace, thus raising the price naturally.

Acceptance of Bitcoin by the institutional investor crowd, especially such high-profile statements by the likes of Miller, Musk and Dimon, ensures that the federal government will not crack down on cryptocurrencies as many have feared. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has commented repeatedly that Bitcoin and altcoins need to be regulated, but her office has not issued any new rules regarding cryptos. Any rules or restrictions Yellen may wish to put upon investors are being made much more difficult now that Wall Street is beating a hasty path to the crypto universe. The one thing she is certain NOT to do is upset the masters of the universe at the big banks and investment brokerages.

Elsewhere on Monday, stocks were mixed, with the Dow losing ground while the NASDAQ was playing catch-up to the rest of the major indices, joining the Dow, S&P, and NYSE Composite by setting a new closing all-time high at 14,138.78, surpassing the February 12 close of 14,095.47. The other indices have been setting records on a regular basis for the past few months, but now the averages are in lockstep, prompting the bulls to press forward.

Announcing after the closing bell, Tesla (TSLA) returned 93 cents in the first quarter, topping estimates of 79 cents per share on revenue of 10.39 billion. The stock fell in after-hours trading. As of Tuesday morning, shares were trending lower by just more than two percent. A decline in the share price of the electric car manufacturer would not be devastating to anyone who's been on the Tesla train for a while. The stock has been one of the best performers in the market since the start of the plandemic back in February 2020.

In March of 2020, the price of TSLA shares fell into double digits, bottoming out around $85. It has since skyrocketed as high as 883, a ten-bagger for bottom feeders. It's since pulled back, as have most of the big cap tech stocks, but is still elevated above 700. It closed Monday at 738.20. Nobody's crying over another solid quarter at Tesla.

Many more companies are reporting first quarter earnings Tuesday and the rest of the week. The Fed begins a FOMC meeting on Tuesday with a policy statement due out at 2:00 pm ET Wednesday.

Dow: 33,981.57, -61.93 (-0.18%)
NASDAQ: 14,138.78, +121.98 (+0.87%)
S&P 500: 4,187.62, +7.45 (+0.18%)
NYSE: 16,241.21, +35.21 (+0.22%)

WEEKEND WRAP: Biden's Green Promise Is Full of Hot Air; Bitcoin Bombs, Bonds Flat, Silver On the Radar

Sunday, April 25, 2021, 9:35 am ET

One of the major stories from the week just past was the virtual global climate summit (via Zoom) in which Joe Biden made a commitment to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 50% by the year 2030.

Biden's promise, just like everything else that comes out of this man's mouth, is ambiguous, inaccurate and misleading. It offered no significant plans - only objectives - on how this was going to be accomplished (hint: it won't be) other than the usual platitudes about more green jobs, a commitment to renewable energy, and reducing the use of fossil fuels. Like most political affairs, this one was full of hot air, suggesting that if politicians would, in the aggregate, shut up for a couple of years, the problem would be solved.

According to the White House "fact sheet" (honestly, it was difficult to find any "facts" at all, though there were plenty of promises and loads of political posturing), the target aims at 50-52 Percent Reduction in U.S. Greenhouse Gas Pollution from 2005 Levels in 2030. The key phrase missing from almost all news reports is highlighted (2005 levels).

In 2005, total gross U.S. greenhouse gas emissions were 7378.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent
(MMT CO2 Eq).

In 2019 (latest data), total gross U.S. greenhouse gas emissions were 6,558.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent
(MMT CO2 Eq).

Overall, net emissions decreased 13.0 percent from 2005 levels. So, Biden's team has a running start. To get to -50% from 2005, they need to lower emissions to 3,689.4 MMT CO2 Eq, which would be about a 43% reduction from the 2019 figures. Considering that 2020 was probably a net winner for the climate changers, since automobile traffic, factory output and many other greenhouse gas emitters were significantly lower because of all the lockdowns, restrictions, and stay-at-home mandates, the Biden administration's EPA will probably make some bogus claim about 2020 greenhouse gas reductions being down some seven to 13 percent from 2019. So, yes, more innuendo, ambiguity, misdirection and glad-handing all around to come.

But it's not all that simple. Here's an NOAA article claiming that despite pandemic shutdowns, carbon dioxide and methane surged in 2020, and carbon dioxide levels are now higher than at anytime in the past 3.6 million years.

However, the very same article links to another article which claims that the economic recession was estimated to have reduced carbon emissions by about 7 percent during 2020. So, let's follow the science, which is apparently leading in opposite directions. All this stuff makes one's head spin.

For some perspective, here's Joakim Book of the American Institute for Economic Research on Zero Hedge with a view of how journalists and media distort the facts and findings on climate change (and just about everything else). The Zero Hedge version is the same as the original, but with funny cartoons and a lively discussion section following.

There are a number of scenarios. By 2030, Biden will likely be dead and buried and all of his mouthpieces, spokespersons, aides, and entourage will have moved on to other things, so nobody working at the White House today will have any accountability issues. Even if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by 10% or 15%, which could happen either due to population reduction (don't laugh, it's a thing!) or "green" measures, that's going to be enough for Democrats to call it a win, as in, "well, we're close, we tried." Like Obamacare, the upfront lies - "if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor" - will largely be overlooked down the road.

Advice to anybody worried about any of this: punt. It's not worth anybody's time or effort to get excited, depressed, or concerned about this or any other program coming out of the bogus white house and fake media. Remember, these are government programs. They're destined to fail or fall far short of their stated goals. Besides, there's a vested interest by researchers to conclude that global warming or climate change is really a problem, because their funding and livelihoods depend upon it, so the findings are subject to goal-seeking erros and mass delusions. We were supposed to be underwater by now. We're not. And if the world is supposedly getting hotter every day, how come the US had a major snowstorm in April?

Not to put to fine a point on it, the sudden resurrection of the climate change argument is more about politics and money than actual scientific data.

If you're interested, there's plenty of data. The links below offer a good place to start reading up on the government's version of climate change. Warning: may cause nausea to conservatives, scientists, or anybody over the age of 60.

Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2019

Executive Summary [PDF]

In the financial world, it was a great week to be a trader or broker because stocks were flipping from red to green faster than pancakes at Waffle House. Headlines and algos produced a week of three down days and two to the upside. The losses on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday were offset by bounce-back gains Wednesday and Friday. Investors were thankful for rebounding trades but likely miffed over the losses, especially Thursday's, when the market suddenly slammed into reverse on rumors of a 39.5% capital gains tax suggestion coming from the Biden administration.

As it turns out, this particular FUD attack was put in play by Bloomberg, always acting at the behest of the Fed and other financial handlers. Because the proposed near-doubling of the capital gains tax turned out to be something Biden's team proposed months ago, the cynical view was that insiders on Capitol Hill and elsewhere made bank on the algo-moving story, shorting all the way down and buying back in on the way back up the following day.

That the losses Thursday were overcome by gains on Friday in all of the indices except the Dow Industrials speaks to the anguish over controlled markets and the pack of transparency caused by algorithms, front-running, spoofing, and massive dark pools operated by the largest brokerages and trading houses.

In the end, stocks and those who invest in them suffered what amounted to a flesh wounds. Small caps on the NYSE actually ended up slightly on the positive side for the week even though the roller coaster ride may have been unsettling along the way.

Dow: 33,815.90, -321.41 (-0.94%)
NASDAQ: 13,818.41, -131.81 (-0.94%)
S&P 500: 4,134.98, -38.44 (-0.92%)
NYSE: 16,030.62, -90.99 (-0.56%)

Dow: 34,043.49, +227.59 (+0.67%)
NASDAQ: 14,016.81, +198.39 (+1.44%)
S&P 500: 4,180.17, +45.19 (+1.09%)
NYSE: 16,206.00, +175.38 (+1.09%)

Dow: -157.18 (-0.46%)
NASDAQ: -35.53 (-0.25%)
S&P 500: -5.30 (-0.13%)
NYSE: +19.71 (+0.12%)

While stocks were getting bumped and pushed higher and lower, fixed income flat-lined. At the long end of the treasury complex, yield on the 30-year bond round-tripped a whole five basis points, finishing the week one bip lower than the prior Friday, at 2.25%. The 10-year note yield was similar, with a four basis point range resulting in a loss of one basis point, to 1.58%. Bills of one to six months duration were pressed as low as possible, with the 30-day bill yielding 0.1%, the six-month, 0.3%.

From all appearances, the Fed has been able to exert some manner of yield curve control on agency-issued debt, sparking a rally in the long-dated maturities off the scary high yields from a month ago. In mid to late March, the 30-year yield was as high as 2.45%, the 10-year pumped as high as 1.74%. Jawboning the inflation fright out of bonds was child's play for Fed officials. All they had to do was convince the entire planet that those inflationary signals coming from the commodity space (especially lumber and base metals) and grocery prices (think ground beef at $4.95 a pound and up, plus "shrink-flation" in packaged consumables) were either transitory or temporary, two words which are like a magic potion in the world of central bank counterfeiting.

Now that the Fed has proven capable of keeping the lid on bond yields, thanks to a lapse in government hand-outs (no new stimulus proposals, yet) and some slight apparent return to almost normal conditions in the real world, in some places, in a fragmented, localized manner, bonds can continue on their path to zero-boundness or the passť euro-branded negative rate structure. In sympathy, the dollar came under pressure against most other fiats as the planet winds down the currency debasement road to monetary hell.

In keeping with the no-inflation containment theme, oil prices were wrangled down over the past seven days, with WTI crude dropping from $63.13 a barrel to as low as $61.35, finishing up Friday at $62.14, down just over a buck for the week. There was little to no further pain at the pump. In the United States, drivers don't appear to be concerned with fuel prices hovering around a national average of $2.89 a gallon, even though it is the highest in more than a year and up by more than a dollar from this time a year ago.

The matter falls to the cost of extraction across the universe of drillers and riggers. At $60+ a barrel, even most shale drillers can turn a profit, putting the current price somewhere in "Goldilocks" territory, not too high, nor too low, but just right. Unless there's a sudden demand spike - which could be manufactured due to pent-up vacation demand by locked down US citizens - the current range just above $60 may persist into the summer driving season, though the potential for profit-driven price hikes cannot be ruled out in the current context of mass control.

While stocks, bonds, and crude oil were forging a bridge to an unchanged shoreline, the case in cryptocurrencies was more panic-stricken, as Bitcoin continued to tumble off new highs made just days prior. It was April 14 when Bitcoin priced at a record high of $64,899. Since then the world's original crypto has fallen off a proverbial cyber-cliff, bending to a low of $47,464 as of Friday night (4/23).

There have been two major drawdowns over the past ten days for Bitcoin, both occurring, for whatever reason, on, or close to, the weekends. The first, which saw the price plummet from $60,000 to $53,000 in hours, happened over last Saturday night (4/17) into Sunday morning (4.18). The latest fallout - from $54,860 to $47,464 - was this past Thursday into Friday.

If this becomes a trend, a drop from around $48,000 to somewhere in a range of $41,000 to $42,000 could be in the offing. For now, Bitcoin is holding in a range between $48,000 and $51,000 over the past 24 hours. Directionally, the trend is lower, which shouldn't come as a surprise. Moves of 18% to 30% in a tight time frame are not unusual in the crypto space. Putting the recent pullback into perspective, six months ago - October, 2020 - Bitcoin was trending in a range between $11,000 and $13,000. The rise to the recent high was a 500-600% move. Some profits are being taken, not unexpectedly.

Precious metals found midweek upside by Wednesday only to be squelched by a wicked selloff Thursday and Friday. Gold ended the prior week (4/16) at $1782.50, moved as high as $1793.90, only to close out the week in the red, at $1,778.18. Silver was also bounced around, starting from Sunday's price of $25.97 the troy ounce to as high as $26.55 on Wednesday, only to be hammed to a loss at $25.57 by week's end.

The continuing sideways to lower pricing in the futures market of gold and silver has prompted a call to arms by Sprott Money's Craig Hemke, who penned a note on the site's blog, aligning himself with the reddit group r/WallStreetSilver, which has been in the process of trying to squeeze the COMEX and LBMA of their existing stocks of 1000-ounce bars stored mostly in London vaults.

Hemke's post, "A Time To Fight Back", appeared on Tuesday, April 20, and caught the attention of many in the precious metals community. In it, he makes an impassioned plea to the redditers and others to purchase 100 ounces of physical silver on May 1, ten years to the date of the near-fatal cramdown in silver that kicked off a nearly decade-long bear market.

As well-intentioned as Hemke's proposal may have been, there are two major points of contention in his plan. First, the reddit crowd and other silver stackers have never stopped buying physical silver since the first raid back in February. Second, May 1 is a Saturday. In addition to it being the date for the annual "Run for the Roses" Kentucky Derby, the futures markets are closed. Thus any mass buying spree on that day would give the LBMA and COMEX all day Sunday to plot any counter attack, should one even be appropriate.

Perhaps, Hemke might have chosen not to let his emotions rule his thinking by timing the assault to the day of a prior massacre, but spread the buying out over time. Perhaps the late week drawdown in silver - and gold - was a reaction or warning shot by the bullion banks. They're not accustomed to being challenged on social media or elsewhere and they can fight dirty. That's well known. Whatever the case, the battle has been re-engaged and this coming week may be one for the History Channel.

Closing out the WEEKEND WRAP, here are the most recent prices for common gold and silver items purchased on eBay (numismatics excluded, shipping - often free - included):

Item: Low / High / Average / Median
1 oz silver coin: 33.29 / 49.95 / 41.41 / 41.45
1 oz silver bar: 35.00 / 53.49 / 42.79 / 40.50
1 oz gold coin: 1,904.15 / 2,155.77 / 1,981.67 / 1,977.96
1 oz gold bar: 1,854.25 / 1,885.49 / 1,873.05 / 1,872.20

The key takeaways from this week's survey are that sales are brisk, many non-numismatic one ounce gold coins have come out of hiding and are fetching exceptionally good prices, the average premium more than $100 higher than one ounce gold bars, whose prices are routinely uniform, in a $31 range, whereas gold coins are spread out over a $250 range. It's more than apparent that gold coins are more highly valued to investors than similarly-weighted bars. Prices for coins are higher this week than at any time back to February. The average and median prices for gold bars was down slightly from the prior week.

Silver held up well, despite the drop on the COMEX leading into the weekend. The Single Ounce Silver Market Price Benchmark (SOSMPB) did suffer a loss, dropping from $42.99 down to $41.54. The benchmark remains above $40 a troy ounce for the 12th consecutive week.

A final word: Many listed companies report earnings this week. Among the big names putting out first quarter results are Tesla (TSLA), General Electric (GE), AMD (AMD), Alphabet (GOOG), Microsoft (MSFT), Visa (V), 3M (MMM), Boeing (BA), Yum Brands (YUM), eBay (EBAY), Facebook (FB), Apple (AAPL), Caterpillar (CAT), McDonald's (MCD), Amazon (AMZN), Merck (MRK), Twitter (TWTR), ExxonMobil (XOM), Chevron (CVX), and AstraZeneca (AZN).

There's also a meeting of the FOMC of the Federal Reserve, Tuesday and Wednesday, with a press conference following the policy rate decision after 2:00 pm ET, Wednesday.

OK, that's it. Have a good week, everybody.

Dow: 34,043.49, +227.59 (+0.67%)
NASDAQ: 14,016.81, +198.39 (+1.44%)
S&P 500: 4,180.17, +45.19 (+1.09%)
NYSE: 16,206.00, +175.38 (+1.09%)

Dow: -157.18 (-0.46%)
NASDAQ: -35.53 (-0.25%)
S&P 500: -5.30 (-0.13%)
NYSE: +19.71 (+0.12%)

Disclaimer: Information disseminated on this site should not be construed as investment advice. Downtown Magazine, Money Daily and it's owners, affiliates and/or employees are not investment advisors and do not offer specific investment advice. All investments have risk. You should consult a professional investment advisor or stock broker or use your individual judgement when making investment decisions. By viewing this site, you hold harmless Downtown Magazine, Money Daily, its owners, affiliates and employees against any and all liability.


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