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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.

PRIOR COVERAGE:

6/19-6/25/2022
6/12-6/18/2022
6/5-6/11/2022
5/29-6/4/2022
5/22-5/28/2022
5/15-5/21/2022
5/8-5/14/2022
5/1-5/7/2022
4/24-4/30/2022
4/17-4/23/2022
4/10-4/16/2022
4/3-4/9/2022
3/27-4/2/2022
3/20-3/26/2022
3/13-3/20/2022
3/6-3/12/2022
2/27-3/5/2022
2/20-2/26/2022
2/13-2/19/2022
2/6-2/12/2022
1/30-2/5/2022
1/23-1/29/2022
1/16-1/22/2022
1/9-1/15/2022
1/2-1/8/2022
12/26/21-1/1/2022
12/19-12/25/2021
12/12-12/18/2021
12/5-12/11/2021
11/28-12/4/2021
11/21-11/27/2021
11/14-11/20/2021
11/7-11/13/2021
10/31-11/6/2021
10/24-10/30/2021
10/17-10/23/2021
10/10-10/16/2021
10/3-10/9/2021
9/26-10/2/2021
9/19-9/25/2021
9/12-9/18/2021
9/4-9/11/2021
8/29-9/4/2021
8/22-8/28/2021
8/15-8/21/2021
8/8-8/14/2021
8/1-8/7/2021
7/25-7/31/2021
7/18-7/24/2021
7/11-7/17/2021
7/4-7/10/2021
6/27-7/3/2021
6/20-6/26/2021
6/13-6/19/2021
6/6-6/12/2021
5/30-6/5/2021
5/23-5/29/2021
5/16-5/22/2021
5/9-5/15/2021
5/2-5/8/2021
4/25-5/1/2021
4/18-4/24/2021
4/11-4/17/2021
4/4-4/10/2021
3/28-4/3/2021
3/21-3/27/2021
3/14-3/20/2021
3/7-3/13/2021
2/28-3/6/2021
2/21-2/27/2021
2/14-2/20/2021
2/7-2/13/2021
1/31-2/6/2021
1/24-1/30/2021
1/17-1/23/2021
1/10-1/16/2021
1/3-1/9/2021
12/27/20-1/2/2021
12/20-12/26/2020
12/13-12/19/2020
12/06-12/12/2020
11/29-12/05/2020
11/22-11/28/2020
11/15-11/21/2020
11/8-11/14/2020
11/1-11/7/2020
10/25-10/31/2020
10/18-10/24/2020
10/11-10/17/2020
10/4-10/10/2020
9/27-10/3/2020
9/20-9/26/2020
9/13-9/19/2020
9/6-9/12/2020
8/30-9/5/2020
8/23-8/29/2020
8/16-8/22/2020
8/9-8/15/2020
8/2-8/8/2020
7/27-8/1/2020
7/20-7/26/2020
7/13-7/19/2020
7/6-7/12/2020
6/29-7/5/2020
6/22-6/28/2020
6/15-6/21/2020
6/8-6/14/2020
6/1-6/7/2020
5/25-5/31/2020
5/18-5/24/2020
5/11-5/17/2020
5/4-5/10/2020
4/27-5/3/2020
4/20-4/26/2020
4/13-4/19/2020
4/6-4/12/2020
3/30-4/5/2020
3/23-3/29/2020
3/16-3/22/2020
March 14, 2020
March 13, 2020
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March 1, 2020

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Stocks Staring at Another Weekly Loss; For the Dow, 19 of 25 Weeks Have Ended in the Red

Friday, July 1, 2022, 8:30 am ET

On a normal Friday, Money Daily takes a look at the week's trading in stocks through Thursday and offers analysis on whether the week as a whole will be a winning one or a loser.

This Friday is extra special, because not only is the end of the week directly ahead, but, being the 1st of July, it's an opportunity to look back on the first half of the year, the first and second quarters and prospects for the remainder of 2022, which is, in all candor, shaping up to be a real stinker for stock enthusiasts.

As far as the current week is concerned, it appears to be headed back to what's been normal behavior for stocks and the major indices, another weekly loss.

As of Thursday's close, the Dow is down 725.25 points (-2.50%). Unless there's a rally like the one manufactured last Friday, all indications appear to align for another down week for the 30 big cap blue chips.

The NASDAQ is the big loser of the week, down 578.88 (-4.99%). The S&P is off 126.36 (-3.23%), while the NYSE Composite is lower by 232.91 (2.19%).

With plenty of time prior to Friday's opening bell, it's fairly safe to assume that even in the case of a start of third quarter rally, the major indices are going to end up in the red. That has been a safe bet much of the time. Futures are down, though not indicating a waterfall event. The NIKKEI led Asian stocks to a uniformly negative end to the week. Not a single Asian exchange showed a gain.

Europe is also sporting losses, but only minor ones. All but Belgium and Russia are down as of this writing.

In scoreboard terms, this week is the 26th of the year, and, assuming the current week ends on the downside in the US, the score for the Dow is 20 to the negative, with just six positive weeks. The NASDAQ has shown weekly gains 18 times, with eight winners, same for the S&P. The score for the NYSE Composite is 17-9, in favor of the losers.

How bad was the first half of 2022? Pretty bad. The S&P had its worst first half since 1970, the Dow, since 1962, and the NASDAQ, its worst start over six months ever.

Looking ahead to the third and fourth quarters, there is not much hope for a rebound, as the Fed is likely to continue its assault on inflation by raising rates. The current thinking is for basis point raises in the federal funds rate of 50 or 75 at the July and September meetings, with the likelihood of another 75 basis point raise in July, a 50 in September, followed by 25 basis point hikes in November and December. July's meeting is set for the 26th and 27th, with the FOMC meeting on September 20-21. There is no meeting in August.

The Fed figures to have inflation under control by the end of the year, which is a nice sentiment, but may prove more difficult that just talking about it. The big fear is that the Fed's actions will prompt a recession, even though the reality is that the US is already in a recession. First quarter GDP came in at -1.6%, and the latest estimate for the second quarter by Atlanta Fed's GDPNow "nowcast" is -1.0, updated June 30.

GDPNow will have six more revisions prior to the official announcement on July 28, but nary a soul sees data improving in time to halt the decline. The recession is already a fact, despite the various pundits and economists who are predicting one either later this year or in 2023.

Who pays these people? And how much? They're wrong about 90% of the time, often making use of the term "unexpected" in their report responses. Seems they're the only ones who don't expect what normally happens in a weakening economy.

Year-to-date, the Dow is down 15.88%, the NASDAQ off 30.34%, and the S&P is lower by 21.08%. There's still plenty of downside, as the indices aren't even down to pre-pandemic levels from February, 2020. Once those are breached, the potential for stocks to grind even lower is paramount as there is no significant support below.

The S&P could easily fall another 20 or 30%, though all of that may not take place in 2022. The current bear market may extend well into next year and even into 2024 before fair value is reached and a bottom formed.

Absent radical changes in government policies, a huge upending of Democrats by Republicans in the midterms, an end to the conflict in Ukraine, or all three, the second half looks to be equally as challenging as the first.

At the Close, Thursday, June 30, 2022:
Dow: 30,775.43, -253.88 (-0.82%)
NASDAQ: 11,028.74, -149.16 (-1.33%)
S&P 500: 3,785.38, -33.45 (-0.88%)
NYSE: 14,487.64, -111.95 (-0.77%)


Stocks Set to End First Half of 2022 with Near-Record Declines; 2nd Half Not Looking Any Better

Thursday, June 30, 2022, 9:00 am ET

By most accounts, the years 2020 and 2021 are considered to be not very good, due primarily to the lockdowns, restrictions, and isolation caused by government responses to the virus panic.

2022 is looking to top those two in terms of misery. Despite an end to masking and the general madness over the virus, this year offers food and fuel price hikes to record levels of dissatisfaction, a stock market in what appears to be terminal decline, farcical January 6 hearings, a proxy war in Ukraine, and a government set ablaze by a doddering, muttering, illegitimate resident of the White House.

At least in 2020 and 2021, stocks were up and the economy didn't collapse, thanks to three rounds of stimulus checks and other government and central bank interventions.

As the first half of 2022 draws to a close today, the mood is unpleasant. It's hard to find anybody content with the current state of affairs, exacerbated by an unhealthy dose of Supreme Court rulings and a congressional overreaching gun bill that has virtually disappeared into a lexicon of legislation longer than a few loopy orbits around the sun.

Brain-dead analysts who are constantly "surprised" by failing economic data keep trying to spin the present as somehow less distressing than what is apparent, predicting a recession for later this year or some time next year when the United States and much of the western world is already in one. Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan trotted out reports at the end of last week suggesting that the nascent bear market rally would extend into the end of the month and the quarter because of a mysterious "rebalancing" of pension fund accounts that would shoot the S&P back to 4100 or higher. In fact, the opposite has happened. While pension funds may have been buying stocks, insiders were selling them at a more rapid pace. Gains from June 17 through 24 have been hacked nearly in half and stock futures this morning are presaging further declines.

It's not just US stock futures that have equity pumpers worried. Asian stock indices were down, with Japan's NIKKEI off 411.56 points (-1.54%) and Australia's All Ordinaries dropping with a thud into the close, down 131.40 points (-1.91%). In Europe, Germany's Dax is reeling, down nearly three percent. It has entered officialdom's bear market territory, down 21 percent year-to-date.

France's CAC-40 has outdone its German counterpart on the day, losing 173.61 points (-2.88%) so far. It is down 18% for 2022.

Getting back to US stocks, the S&P 500 quietly re-entered bear status on Tuesday and failed to produce any kind of encouraging rally on Wednesday, trading in a tight range of just 36 points in one of the most sluggish sessions in recent memory. Nobody is buying much of anything. Savvy investors have long ago left the crumbs to the stragglers and bag-holders and even they are having trouble finding bargains with any kind of upside potential.

As of 8:00 am ET, Dow futures are scraping the bottom at -403; S&P futures are down 58 points, and NASDAQ futures are skidding 208 points.

It appears the final day of the first half is going to look a lot like the rest the days that preceded it. Other not-so-pleasant indicators are past performances of the various indices. With the NASDAQ off to its worst start ever, down 29.40%, comparisons to the dot-com crash and 2008's Great Financial Crisis are appropriate and not very encouraging.

In 2002, with much of the damage already done, the NASDAQ posted a first half loss of 25.0% and followed up with another 8.7% drop the rest of the year for a total return of -31.5%. In 2008, the index started with a first half loss of 13.50%, but then dropped another -31.2% from July through December for a total loss on the year of -40.5%.

1973, 1974, and 1984 were also poor first half performances on the NASDAQ. Respectively, those years ended with full year declines of 31.1%, 35.1%, and 11.3%.

Off to its worst start since 1962, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 15.19% and prospects for a second half rebound are better than those for the NASDAQ. In 1962, the Dow had first half returns of -23.2%, but perked up in the second half with a gain of 16.2%, for a total return on the year of -10.8%.

In 2008, the first half was -14.4%, and the second half worse, down another -22.7%, for a total loss on the year of -33.8%, one of the worst years ever for the 30 blue chip index.

The S&P 500 is set to end the first half with its worst performance since 1970, down 20.38% as of Wednesday's closing bell.

A couple of key readings crossed the wires at 8:30 am ET. The Fed's favored inflation gauge, PCE for May printed +6.3%, equalling that of April, but good enough for give futures a little boost.

Initial jobless claims, for the week ended June 25, came in at 231,000, down modestly from an upwardly revised 233,000 in the prior week. The 4-week average is at its highest since January.

There were 1.328 million continuing claims, slightly below an upwardly revised 1.331 million last week, but higher than the 1.318 million expected.

Overall, Thursday morning's data isn't enough to erase the losses from the first half and probably aren't encouraging enough to keep stocks from further declines in the second half of 2022.

At the Close, Wednesday, June 29, 2022:
Dow: 31,029.31, +82.32 (+0.27%)
NASDAQ: 11,177.89, -3.65 (-0.03%)
S&P 500: 3,818.83, -2.72 (-0.07%)
NYSE: 14,599.59, -67.73 (-0.46%)


People of Western Nations Experiencing Economic Collapse and Government Tyranny Face Hard Choices

Wednesday, June 29, 2022, 9:30 am ET

There's no sense arguing whether the Western economies are going to falter and suffer from high inflation or the ravages of a recession. Both conditions are already emergent in the UK, US, and EU. Those conditions are likely to get worse before they get any better, if they ever do improve.

Western nations face an existential threat, not from Putin or Russia, but from within, from the governments of the various nations, with ample support from their lapdog media and police forces. Europe seems to be a completely lost cause. The European Union has been taking a wrecking ball to national identities of the countries of Europe for more than 40 years. Implementation of the international currency - the euro - replacing the likes of the mark, franc, lira, etc., was just a further step toward the techno-feudalism that's being imposed on the population of the continent.

Nations of the British Commonwealth - (not so) Great Britain, Australia, and Canada in particular, accelerated the slapping down of the population during and after the global hoax of covid-19. Their heavy-handed form of socialism is quietly depriving the citizens of their rights, gradually, incrementally, but quite effectively. Australia has almost reverted back into a prison colony.

The United States remains a holdout nation against the wishes of the World Economic Forum's (WEF) plan for the Great Reset. There are still plenty of holdout states in the South and Midwest taking their Bill of Rights seriously as the federal government continues trying to override state and individual rights. Recent Supreme Court rulings - affirming the right to bear arms in the second amendment, and slapping down the federal overreach concerning right to life (abortion) - are hopeful developments, despite widespread dumbing down of the population and efforts to silence and censor opponents to their vision of the new world order, which have been largely effective.

The democratic institution of popular voting has become a sham and a bad joke in most Western nations. Rigged outcomes in recent elections of Justin Trudeau in Canada, Joe Biden in the US, and Emmanuel Macron in France are primary examples of the power structures seeking total control. Opposing, or even questioning the dictates and mandates of these (un)elected leaders is portrayed as antithetical, unpatriotic, and even terroristic by the mainstream media, which promotes nothing but lies propagated by the various governments.

Meanwhile, the economies of the Western nations are being crushed by inflation and recession at the same time, so, it's not difficult to see why some people are seeking alternatives, as in moving to another country that offers less in the way of control, propaganda, and restrictions, and leans more towards freedom, liberty, and self-determination. That's where the BRICs and nations friendly to their cause come into focus. We are entering into a bi-polar or multi-polar world, where US dollar and military hegemony are tempered by opponents from the East and "Global South" in Asia, the Pacific, Middle East, Africa, and South America. Essentially, its the EU, UK, US, plus Japan versus the Rest of the World (ROW), led by the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China). Throw in the major components of Indonesia, Iran, Argentina and a host of smaller, independent nations, and the choices for Americans, British subjects, and Europeans wishing to escape the coming totalitarianism become magnified.

Whether one believes in the eventuality of fiat currency collapse or understands some basic principles of mathematics, it's hard to deny what's already taken place and imagine what's ahead. Social and political ramifications of tyrannical government rule are deep and multi-faceted, while the economic portion is more easily understood and readily apparent.

Austrian School economist, Ludwig von Mises, explains:

There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.

Japan is currently testing the theory, with the nations of the Commonwealth, the EU, and the USA fast on their heels. It's either going to be hyper-inflation or depression, or a wickedly-destructive combination of the two, an extension of what's on the table currently - high prices and contracting economies.

Individuals can only fight against it so long. Eventually, inflation eats into wages and savings, while recession erodes confidence and promotes asset deprecation. In the long term, there's no escaping it, only different degrees of denial, normalcy bias, and cognitive dissonance.

Regardless of what people are led to believe, there are great cities and vast swaths of undeveloped land in a plethora of countries around the world. Whatever one's particular lifestyle happens to favor - rugged ruralism or the sophistication of urban life - options exist on what is still a rather large planet.

All it takes is a willing spirit and the desire to live free.

At the Close, Tuesday, June 28, 2022:
Dow: 30,946.99, -491.31 (-1.56%)
NASDAQ: 11,181.54, -343.06 (-2.98%)
S&P 500: 3,821.55, -78.56 (-2.01%)
NYSE: 14,667.32, -167.98 (-1.13%)


Global Inflation and Currency Crisis: How and When It Will End and What Happens in the Aftermath

Tuesday, June 28, 2022, 8:40 am ET

Inflation in developed countries has reached crisis levels. The central banks of the advanced economies - in particular, the Federal Reserve, Bank of Japan, Bank of England, and the European Central Bank - caused the crisis by expanding their currencies in circulation by massive amounts during the COVID-19 pandemic and are doing little to stem the resultant tide of price increases in food, energy, and a host of consumer and industrial goods.

While the Fed has made headlines recently by boosting its key federal funds rate with more hikes ahead, the effort has not produced much in the way of slowing the pace of increases in consumer prices, popularly indexed by the CPI in America and similar measures elsewhere.

One country that is resisting the nearly-worldwide effort to raise interest rates is Japan, as the Bank of Japan recently surpassed a milestone, owning more than half of all government issued securities know as JGBs (Japan Government Bonds), essentially becoming the only bond buyer of any importance. Worse yet, the BoJ owns something on the order of 87% of its benchmark 10-year notes, crowding out any speculation.

But there is speculation, and plenty of it, not necessarily in the 10-year notes, but overall short Japan's bond market. A host of hedge funds and other speculative entities are boldly betting that the BoJ will have to abandon what is known as YCC, or Yield Curve Control, by which the central bank keeps its key interest rate at or below 0.25%.

Making matters even more worrisome, the Bank of England (BOE) and the ECB are approaching owning 40% of all government issuance, with the Federal Reserve nearing 30%, despite their promise of reducing its balance sheet begiinning in June. The Fad hasn't reduced anything. Their balance sheet has expanded by another $20 billion in June.

As recently as June 14, just two weeks ago, Japan's crisis became everybody's problem. The Federal Reserve and ECB stepped into the fray with the Fed hiking the federal funds rate 75 basis points while the ECB called an emergency meeting to prevent "fragmentation." Behind the scenes, interest rates popped, with the US 10-year note balooning from 3.15% on Friday, June 10 to 3.49% on Tuesday, June 14, a day before the Fed's rate hike announcement. On Wednesday, June 15, the 10-year treasury note mysteriously fell to 3.33% and eventually to as low as 3.09% (6/23). That's what central bank panic looks like. All the central banks had to pile into JGBs, lest they spike and set off global hyper-inflation.

For the time being, the world's central banks appear to have saved the day, but the crises continue to mount with less time in between. Soon enough, every day will be a crisis somewhere. The global economy is approaching a full meltdown. It's difficult to see how the current environment can continue without something triggering a full-blown, global currency crisis.

What happens then is not rocket science. When currencies implode, interest rates skyrocket, and, instead of putting the brakes on prices, the result is a further loss of purchasing power. In other words, higher prices result as currencies devalue against each other and themselves as the central banks run the printing presses non-stop. Weimar-style hyper-inflation is the result. Prices careen out of control because the central bank cannot keep up with demand for currency, based on debt which cannot be repaid. Boom!

Such a crisis is not far off and it could happen at any moment. If Japan capitulates and allows yields to rise like the rest of the world, the world economy becomes completely unmoored, with currencies crashing in record time. There's actually nothing to stop this from happening. It will happen, the only question is when, but it's becoming more and more apparent that global hyper-inflation may be just months away.

Currency crises are already underway in smaller, emerging economies like Sri Lanka and the pain is growing in places like Ecuador, Bolivia, Mexico, Turkey, and others, predominantly in Asia and South America. The warning signs are everywhere. Emerging market countries will blow up first, then the contagion spreads to the advanced economies.

Not to sound over-dramatic, but there are plenty of indicators suggesting that a global hyper-inflation could already be underway and the effects will hit advanced economies in a matter of months.

What happens after that, after currencies like the US dollar, Japanese yen, the euro, and the pound can't buy much of anything, is pretty obvious. Chaos. Depression. Famine. War.

Sorry, but somebody needs to deliver the bad news. Central banks can't hide behind media and government lies forever.

At the Close, Monday, June 27, 2022:
Dow: 31,438.26, -62.42 (-0.20%)
NASDAQ: 11,524.55, -83.07 (-0.72%)
S&P 500: 3,900.11, -11.63 (-0.30%)
NYSE: 14,835.30, +23.75 (+0.16%)


WEEKEND WRAP: Current Speculative Environment Calls for Prudence, Risk Assessment, Entry and Exit Strategies

Sunday, June 26, 2022, 8:45 am ET

With inflation running red hot, the cost of living on the rise, stocks in a tailspin with the possibility of a turnaround pending, and the global economy under stress, everybody has become a speculator.

Should one hold cash that is depreciating at eight percent or more? Gold or silver which never seem to make any gains of substance? Stocks? Fixed income? Cryptos?

Let's explore in this edition of the WEEKEND WRAP.


Stocks

How good was Friday's rip-roaring rally and the week as a whole? From the bullish perspective, it was pretty darn awesome. Raw figures for the major indices are at the bottom of today's post, as usual, and they are stunning. In particular, the NASDAQ had a week not soon to be forgotten, gaining more than seven percent. It came with a 3.34% gain on Friday, capping off a week that added 809 points to the tally.

Dow industrials posted a gain of 1611 points for a 5.39% increase, while the S&P tacked on 6.45% for the week.

The question for investors entering the final week of June (this coming Friday is July 1 and precedes a three-day, Independence Day holiday weekend) is whether or not this rally has legs or if it's just another false flag in a bear market. Optimistic bulls will point to the upcoming month-and-quarter-end on Thursday, spiked by pension and sovereign fund quarter-end rebalancing to maintain a roughly 60/40 mix of stocks/bonds.

The week's enormous rally may have caught some bear offside, leading to massive amounts of short-covering and quieting the cries of the inflation/recession crowd. However, since the NASDAQ entered the week down more than 30% year-to-date and the S&P down 22% and in a technical bear market as of the prior Friday (6/17), a dead cat or even live cat rally seemed to be overdue.

In Fibonacci terms, a 38% retracement would bring the SPX to 4089, a move of 178 points, easily within the realm of possibility over the course of the coming week.

Near term, stocks appear poised to move higher. That same sentiment has been repeated through most of 2022, with glaringly poor results. Caveat Emptor.


Treasury Yield Curve Rates

Date 1 Mo 2 Mo 3 Mo 6 Mo 1 Yr
06/03/2022 0.87 1.05 1.21 1.68 2.18
06/10/2022 1.10 1.25 1.39 1.98 2.58
06/17/2022 1.15 1.50 1.63 2.25 2.86
06/24/2022 1.19 1.60 1.73 2.51 2.83

Date 2 Yr 3 Yr 5 Yr 7 Yr 10 Yr 20 Yr 30 Yr
06/03/2022 2.66 2.87 2.95 2.99 2.96 3.33 3.11
06/10/2022 3.06 3.21 3.25 3.24 3.15 3.45 3.20
06/17/2022 3.17 3.35 3.34 3.34 3.25 3.55 3.30
06/24/2022 3.04 3.13 3.18 3.19 3.13 3.51 3.26

If stocks are going to move higher on quarter-end rebalancing, that means fixed income will be sold, making the upcoming week one of particular interest (pun intended) to those seeking higher yields.

As the tables below display, short-dated bills were being sold last week, and longer-dated notes and bonds bought, as yields moved in opposite directions, the nexus between 6-month bills (+26 basis points) and one-year notes (-3 basis points). Yields were slammed to earth in the belly of the curve, with inversion remaining, as 3s, 5s, and 7s stood higher than 10s. That's where the buying was most intense with 3s down 22 basis points, 5s down 16, 7s down 15, and 10s off 13, leading to an ultimate flattening of the entire curve. 20-year and 30-year bond yields fell by a mere four basis points each.

That curve-flattening indicates the fixed income crowd is still looking hard at recessionary forces, which have already reared various ugly heads. First quarter GDP contracted by 1.5%, and the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow has the second quarter trending at 0.00%. Money Daily has consistently held the view that the US is already in a recession, and current data offers no good reasons to alter that perspective.

If the equity rally is extended, expect yields on notes to reverse course and move higher. Bad for sellers, good for buyers. Locking in a five-year yield at anything over 3.5% may turn out to be a good choice if inflation wanes and recession emerges, which is the most likely scenario. Fixed income buyers may find themselves in a sweet spot, the up/downside being they will only be harmed marginally while stock investors could get wrecked over the medium to long term.


Oil/Gas

Oil closed out the week with a drawdown to $107.08 per barrel for WTI crude, dipping below $105 before getting a bit of a boost on Friday to close out the week. It was the lowest weekly close in nearly two months ($104.69, 4/29) and helped gas at the pump close lower for the second straight week after rising for nine consecutive weeks.

According to gasbuddy.com, the US national average for a gallon of unleaded regular is now $4.91, with the lowest price in Georgia ($4.39) and the highest, where else but California, knocking it out of the park at $6.32. All of the Northeast is averaging below $5.00 with the exception of Maine ($5.01). Everything East of New Mexico and south of the parallel 3630? north (Kansas/Oklahoma, Missouri/Arkansas, Kentucky/Tennessee, and Virginia/North Carolina) is averaging $4.54 or lower.

Motorists are hoping the recent price weakness is the beginning of a virtuous cycle of lower prices. Spending the bulk of a paycheck on just gas and groceries hasn't set well with pursuers of the American Dream and relief would be not only welcome, but overdue. Demand destruction in petroleum has been a feature for the better part of the last 15 years and especially since the pandemic, which witnessed the emergence of remote work, requiring less driving than the usual 9-to-5 grind and commute.

Beyond the idea that oil companies, the government and media are all lying about the root causes for inflation (Russia, excessive profits, refinery shutdowns and slowdowns, etc.), there remains scant evidence of anything remotely resembling an outright shortage of fuel or distillates, though truckers are warning about strains on the supply of diesel and heavy truck motor oil. While that may be the case, the current condition does not approach the level of shrieking by some claiming fuel shortages will lead to widespread shortages, famine, and freezing in the United States.

The jury's still to be heard on those accounts, but, for the time being, all indications are that the verdict will be not guilty and Americans will have heat and food in ample supply through next winter. Hedging a bit by ramping up the survival skills, loading up the pantry and storing whatever excess fuel one can may still prove to be prudent endeavors.


Bitcoin

Another rare event was the rise of Bitcoin over the course of the week, gaining to $21,717.60 after tracking at 19,233.70 last Sunday. While that's a reasonable gain and maybe indicative of a near-term bottom, the long-range outlook for the entire crypto space appears to be somewhere between cloudy, murky, obscure, and absurd. Exchanges are being bailed out by Wall Street types and crypto billionaires, with BlockFi and Celsius Network the latest recipients of fiat - not crypto - emergency funding. Sam Bankman-Fried of FTX and Alameda Research has been front-and-center in the melee, with a variety of hedge funds and venture capitalists drooling over the remnants of the battered industry.

These are indeed bad times for crypto enthusiasts. An industry that was built on innovation and "trustless" currencies has fallen under the spell of fiat and the fakery of Wall Street hucksters. If the entire space isn't already dead, it certainly appears to be dying. With forces of a recession already apparent, currency that one can neither touch or see has little hope of gaining traction. Bitcoin may yet emerge as a viable value proposition, but the time to be buying for the long haul does not seem to be at this particular juncture.

Speculation over the very near term may lead to some profits, but cryptos are now, more than ever, as risky a play as can be found. Outside the venture vultures and quick buck slick movers, there isn't much of a compelling argument for any of it.


Precious Metals

As the stock market fell, inflation raged, and recession appeared, precious metals would seem to have been the obvious safe play, but after initially looking like sure things, prices have been steadily falling since early March. Putting aside the obvious manipulation in the broad COMEX market and price fixing of the LBMA, there are a variety of reasons why gold and silver have not fared well the past three to four months.

First, there's the supply/demand regimen wherein there's plenty of metal being mined and plenty to be bought. In silver's case, industrial use is down, and for gold, there's tonnes of it around, always has been and likely always will. Second, liquidity and margin calls have created a situation in which traders need fast cash and the usual place to get that - beyond actual cash in the bank - is by selling precious metals into the market. Naturally, forced selling will keep prices in check, and it's very possible that liquidity is going to become an even bigger issue in the not-too-distant future, meaning further declines may be on the horizon.

Premiums tell a slightly different story, with prices at retail far above spot for both metals, though they've come off the highs seen earlier in the year. Still, demand is constant and strong, with more small buyers entering the market. As a store of value long term, gold, and to a lesser degree, silver (although extremely undervalued) are strong performers. As with any investment, entry and exit points are primary considerations, but, as far as ease of ownership and convertibility is concerned, gold and silver bars and coins are unmatched.

You make your purchases (often away from the peering eyes of government), wrap them up securely and store them away in a safe place, occasionally retrieving them for admiration of their beauty and/or personal ego stroking. They don't tarnish or deteriorate and generally increase in value, especially as opposed to fiat currencies and other inflatable assets.

The relatively-reasonable prices presently available are seen as buying opportunities by investors large and small, even though they may fall further as economic conditions deteriorate. As generational wealth is concerned they are top of the list and will remain so, bettering cryptos, stocks, bonds and in a class with hard assets like classic cars, fine art, and real estate, the main advantage being that they are real money, along with their ease of acquisition, mobility, and long term storage. Precious metals are, almost always and everywhere, a solid buy.

Gold price 05/29: $1,850.60
Gold price 06/03: $1,853.90
Gold price 06/10: $1,875.20
Gold price 06/17: $1,841.60
Gold price 06/24: $1,828.10

Silver price 05/29: $22.14
Silver price 06/03: $21.94
Silver price 06/10: $21.92
Silver price 06/17: $21.63
Silver price 06/24: $21.13

Here are the latest prices for common one ounce gold and silver items sold on eBay (numismatics excluded, free shipping included):

Item/Price Low High Average Median
1 oz silver coin: 27.52 54.00 37.95 36.25
1 oz silver bar: 29.34 55.00 38.61 36.48
1 oz gold coin: 1,917.57 2,050.00 1,952.42 1,946.77
1 oz gold bar: 1,907.35 1,962.30 1,925.17 1,923.65

The Single Ounce Silver Market Price Benchmark (SOSMPB) was fairly stable for the week, falling to $37.32, a decline of just 22 cents from the June 19 price of $37.54.


WEEKEND WRAP

As global and sovereign conditions continue to display extreme stress, prudence and higher degrees of caution appear to be the logical approaches. If one were to construct a risk-assessment chart from the bottom up, with riskiest assets and investments at the top and nearly risk-free items at the bottom, it might look something like this:

Cryptos (all alt-coins)
Cryptos (bitcoin only)
Stocks (growth)
Stocks (value, dividend-yielding)
Debt (high yield)
Debt (corporate)
Debt (short term bills)
Debt (long term treasuries: bonds, notes)
Cash and cash equivalents (currencies, FX, CDs)
Real Estate (Residential)
Real Estate (Commercial and undeveloped)
Base commodities (nickel, copper, coal, oil, etc.)
Hard assets (Fine art, collectibles)
Precious Metals (gold, silver, platinum)
Survival Assets (food, water, self-reliance)

Variety being the spice of life, allocate accordingly.

At the Close, Friday, June 24, 2022:
Dow: 31,500.68, +823.32 (+2.68%)
NASDAQ: 11,607.62, +375.43 (+3.34%)
S&P 500: 3,911.74, +116.01 (+3.06%)
NYSE: 14,811.55, +409.42 (+2.84%)

For the Week:
Dow: +1611.90 (+5.39%)
NASDAQ: +809.27 (+7.49%)
S&P 500: +236.90 (+6.45%)
NYSE: +714.50 (+5.07%)


Disclaimer: Information disseminated on this site should not be construed as investment advice. Downtown Magazine Inc., 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 Inc., Money Daily, its owners, affiliates and employees against any and all liability. Copyright 2022, Downtown Magazine Inc., all rights reserved.

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