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Friday, July 2, 2021, 7:36 am ET
Arcadia, Avalon, Eden, Nirvana, Paradise, Utopia, Xanadu.
These are places and states of mind or being that promise light, clarity, freedom, dignity, tranquility, and peace.
Being desirous of attaining these things, these mythical lands exist in our subconscious, as symbols of what might be, what could be, in a more perfect world.
The problem, for most of us, is that we'll never make it to Paradise with our noses in our phones, heads in the clouds, trying to ignore the blare of monetary dependence, the tilting of odds in favor of the other guy, the rich, the famous, the psychopathic politicians and scheming bankers.
We are beset on all side by iniquites of the worst kind. Greed, avarice, fear, crime, villainy, and immorality surround our daily lives. Avalon drifts deeper into our subconscious. Eden recedes. Paradise is paved over. Nirvana gets fenced in.
Until there is some change, until authority is questioned, there will be neither peace nor dignity. Clarity and light will be dim hope. And freedom will be a fleeting fantasy.
Society has ruined us, turned us into craven creatures seeking worldly baubles and notes of printed numbers with faces of people we thought we knew. We have lost our ways. The world in which we traverse has become a mine field of accounting rules, tax regulations, laws, orders, and dictates from the high priests of capitalism and democracy. Our national identity has been stolen by the monstrosity of government, the leviathan that overwhelms our lives and removes, little by little, our human dignity.
Self-determination has been replaced with dependency. Aspiration is foiled by bureaucracy. Truth has become a lie.
We are chasing phantoms. Job security reaches only so far as the awkward prhase, a wayward glance. Saving for the future is a pipe dream from a forgotten age when banks paid five percent interest on deposits. Now they say they don't want them. They have too many deposits. Somehow, they still can't make loans to people who need them.
And while they pay one percent on deposits (if one is lucky), they charge 12, 18, 27 percent on unsecured loans.
Is there any question why so many people are miserable, suspicious, angry, upset, or otherwise unsettled?
In a few days, Americans will celebrate Independence Day. Once upon a time, it was revered as remembrance of the signing and passage of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress in 1776, freeing the 13 North American colonies from British rule. We come to it presently as a nation divided. Most will raise the flag in honor. Others wish to burn or desecrate it, calling America a racist place, an unfair place, a nation of broken promises, broken dreams, broken ideals.
Our current plight has been thrust upon us only recently, and, most recently, with fury. Over the past 50 years, we've gone from a representative republic to aristocracy, to oligarchy, and, in the past 20 years, straight through to banana status.
Our currency is a joke, backed by nothing while being printed to infinity. Our political leaders are swine, interested only in slurping from the public trough. Our leading companies are expert at deception and censorship, publishing falsehoods and punishing anybody who objects. Our markets are con games driven by phony headlines. The financial industry is kept alive by an illicit central bank, churning out counterfeit as readily as it snuffs out lives, livelihoods, hopes, dreams and aspirations. Federal Reserve notes are debt instruments which have lost 98% of their purchasing power since 1914, and, while they are widely accepted as legal tender, they are, nonetheless, unconstitutional, fabricated financial conveyances. But, we must all have them, work for them, spend them and use them.
Woe unto us in the America and the world, forced by a cunning banking cartel into servile behavior for ever more.
There will be little to celebrate on the 4th of July this year or any year afterwards for that matter unless there is change in how the country is managed from the federal level right down to the local counties, towns, and villages. Mayors, governors, senators, and presidents need to be reminded constantly that they are there only by consent of the governed. They are not there to rule over us. They are to serve us, a trust and duty that seems to have been willfully forgotten by most.
In order to celebrate Independence Day properly, think for yourself, plan for yourself, prepare for yourself and loved ones. Don't forget your neighbors and friends, of whom you may have to rely upon in days to come.
Be independent. Earn it. Reject authority. Defy power.
At the Close, Thursday, July 1, 2021:
Avalon - Benny Goodman 1980
Thursday, July 1, 2021, 9:32 am ET
Initial unemployment claims fell to 364,000 for the week ended June 26, dropping sharply from the upwardly revised 415,000 from the prior week.
Continuing claims remain stubbornly high, however. For the week ended June 19, 3.469 million individuals were still out of work. More than a year after the worst of the virus crisis shut down many businesses across multiple states and months into the new recovery mode of the US economy, joblessness remains at issue, even as businesses continue to have trouble filling open positions.
There's a good likelihood that the ease by which people can apply for and receive unemployment benefits and the additional $300 per week authorized by the federal government are keeping many from going back to work while also encouraging others who were employed over the past year to join the ranks of the unemployed.
Combined, the federal government and the failure of incomes to match price inflation over decades have made working for a living unattractive. With many small businesses permanently shut down over the past year due to government restrictions and lockdowns, there are also fewer jobs available outside the corporate structure which is unattractive to a host of people. Without the base of small business hiring and keeping people employed in restaurants, small retail and family operations, it is possible that US unemployment may remain at enhanced levels for an extended period of time.
Over decades, local, state and federal restrictions and demands from small businesses have rendered entrepreneurship null and void. 50 years ago, it was easy to start up a small business and the "can do" attitude of the World War II generation was still alive and well in the offspring of war veterans, eager to eun their own operations and get out of the corporate structure that was then known as the "rat race."
Countless requirements for small businesses - from local licensing to worker's compensation to inordinate IRS filings - has made the United States a less attractive option for enterprising new leaders to a point at which new business ventures are largely the product of Silicon Valley technocrats, funded with millions, if not billions of dollars from venture vulture capitalists on a massive scale.
In the 1950s and 60s, and even into the 70s and 80s, businesses which were started up in garages and spare bedrooms, funded by little more than hard work, desire, and sweat have over the years been replaced by nothing short of an MBA with angel funding and multiple silent partners. When, in the past, start-ups could be seat-of-the-pants operations, today's business beginners are globally-scaled and expected to lose money for multiple years before ever reaching profitability.
Financialization of the start-up space has crowded out small business to the point at which entrepreneurship has become a path to endless hours of compliance on a road to financial ruin, a far cry from the days when starting a business was seen as noble and enjoyable and a pathway to upward mobility.
Business and government leaders have only themselves to blame for the moribund throes of the small business landscape. Without self-determination as a basis for economic freedom, small business and the millions employed by such may never recover without radical change.
Wall Street's disdain for Main Street has never been as obvious as during the recent crisis. Mom and pop got shut down while corporate giants were deemed "essential," mostly to their own profitability, lining the pockets of wealthy investors. The longer the US continues on this path of picking winners and wealth disparity, the shallower will the recovery be.
With the second quarter coming to a close with yet another record high on the S&P 500, mega-businesses are winning the battle against smaller competitors, most of them regulated out of existence.
At the Close, Wednesday, June 30, 2021:
Wednesday, June 30, 2021, 8:56 am ET
All of the media tells us - aside from the threats of future lockdowns and mask mandates from the dreaded "Delta variant" - that the recovery from the virus panic of 2020 is proceeding as expected, with various bumps, grinds, and disparities along the way.
Using a very wide swath of data, certain sections of the country are doing better than others. Unsurprisingly, the 26 states which opted to end the federal enhanced unemployment benefits early are doing all right and don't have a shortage of workers for jobs needed to be filled. All of those states except Louisiana are run by Republican governors and include some of the more populous states, such as Florida, Texas, Georgia, Ohio, South Carolina, and Indiana.
But now, here comes the punch line. An Indiana state court judge ruled that Governor Eric Holcomb must continue participating in the programs which end on Labor Day, September 6. The question now becomes whether or not the other 25 states have to reinstate or extend their participation in the extended unemployment programs. As usual, with the federal government attempting to dictate policy to states, it's a massive boondoggle which will eventually be decided by some court, be it individual state courts or federal court, like the Supreme Court, which is useless, and will side with the federal government. It looks like there will be two more months of giveaways. Bullish.
Should these state be forced to continue offering an additional $300 a week to the millions on unemployment, it would be viewed as a win for the illiterate nanny-state mob currently occupying the nation's capitol and a loss for free enterprise, but stocks will love the extra money being spent at chain stores, fast food eateries and other public company outlets. Eventually, in a sane society, all of the stupidity stemming from the virus crisis, a stolen presidential election (if not some congressional races as well) would end, but the United States is far from a sane society, so madness and stupidity should continue through the summer.
It's likely that the overwhelmingly upset mood of the country is keeping something of a lid on stocks, even though the NASDAQ and S&P 500 set record closing all-time highs on Tuesday. If not for those scheming Republican governors and the Capitol Hill mess that is having the Infrastructure "compromise" tied to the House reconciliation bill that's loaded with social handouts and pork, stocks would be soaring rather than just marking time, gradually ticking to new highs.
What's likely to get the attention of investors once the calendar turns the page on the second quarter - which ends today - and the Independence Day holiday is past (July 5th is a federal holiday and markets are closed) are second quarter earnings reports, which will begin being reported next week (July 6-9) and really heat up the following week.
If past performance gives any indication of what to expect from the upcoming iteration of earnings season, stocks could fly higher than ever through the third week of July and beyond. There's nothing holding companies back from doing business - for now - and year ago comparisons are going to be incredibly bullish.
Thus, whatever one's opinion on the state of the economy or the madness of post-viral America, the stock market could be about to explode higher, since, as stated in Sunday's WEEKEND WRAP post (see below), there is nothing in which to invest except stocks.
Bang. Boom. It's on.
At the Close, Tuesday, June 29, 2021:
Tuesday, June 29, 2021, 11:22 am ET
[Editor's Note: Call this the "better late than never" edition, due to computer malfunction at just the wrong time, followed by pressing out-of-office matters. Finally, posted before noon.]
Wednesday being the final day of trading for the month and second quarter, it is worth noting which individual stocks are chosen as "window dressing" in these sessions.
Funds load up on stocks they wish to pitch to their clients or show in their quarterly statements as having significant positions. Stocks that are on the rise heading into the next quarter offer confidence in the fund manager's ability to maintain winning positions and keep clients on the cutting edge.
Monday's winning most actives were headed by Context Logic (WISH), then AMC Entertainment (AMC), NIO (NIO), and Apple (AAPL).
SoFi Technologies (SOFI) was notably up 4.41%, and Workhorse Group (WKHS) was up 8.65%. Keep an eye on these - and others - Tuesday and Wednesday to see if they stay in play or were mere one-day wonders.
Also worthy of attention are bank stocks, which recently passed the Fed's stress tests and are being rewarded by having restrictions on buybacks and dividends lifted. The usual suspects are leading the group. Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley (MS) said it will double its annual dividend to 70 cents a share and buy back $12 billion in shares over the next twelve months. Goldman Sachs (GS) increased its dividend by 60% to $2.00 per share. JPMorgan (JPM) is hiking its dividend 10 cents and revealed plans to buy $30 billion of its own shares between now and next June.
Bank of America (BAC), Wells Fargo (WFC), and Citigroup (C) also made announcements on dividends and buybacks on Monday. Flush with cash, the entire banking sector looks like a solid play over the next 3-12 months. There should be plenty of volatility in the space, so investors are advised to proceed with caution and have stop losses in place should a waterfall decline send all sectors plummeting, though prospects for a major downturn have been somewhat muted by Fed officials.
Outside of stocks, every other investment appears moribund at the present time. Cryptos have been beaten down badly in recent weeks and are now the province of Wall Street traders and sharks, who will dictate price and duration of gains or losses. Bitcoin in particular has lost quite a measure of legitimacy and speculative authority since becoming first a darling of Wall Street sharpies, then a questionable asset, all the while being led by media FUD and stories painting it in unflattering colors.
Hailed as a new currency class and then as a store of value, with hedge funds and investment brokerages now in the game, it has become neither. It is now just another trade, the same as tech stocks or meme stocks, but without any underlying business. Bitcoin and most of the crypto space has been infected by the monetary virus that is the Wall Street investment game.
Bonds are for people with too much money and time on their hands, with most offerings (especially treasuries) not even keeping pace with inflation. Commodities have had a strong run of late and are also subject to the whims of traders. Oil is currently flirting with multi-year highs, making it an unsafe long play. Shorting crude has often proven a path to financial destruction, as normal supply-demand dynamics do not always apply.
Gold and silver are not in play even though European banks have begun compliance with Basel III rules with US banks to do the same on July 1. The kicker is that the banks have six months grace period for compliance, so the net result is that no significant price appreciation is likely until at least January of 2022, which UK banks must also begin to comply with the new rules which restrict unallocated gold and silver, mostly used as trades in the futures markets.
Precious metals are still considered somewhat inexpensive currently, and are a either a long-term holding or backup for emergencies and better than cash. Trading on a short term basis is a fool's errand, as price continues to be dictated by the futures players (banks) and the LBMA.
That leaves stocks as the main speculative asset class, as it has been since 2008 and prior. Trade 'em, save 'em, hold 'em, but be alert to the potential for sudden corrections in either individual names, sectors or whole markets.
At the Close, Monday, June 28, 2021:
Sunday, June 27, 2021, 8:35 am ET
US stock markets had one of the best weeks of the year, recovering almost all of the outsized losses from the prior week on the Dow Industrials and NYSE Composite, while setting record highs on the NASDAQ and S&P 500.
This is what happens when you have command markets instead of demand markets. In demand markets, price discovery mechanisms predominate, empowering participants to trade openly in a fair environment. Supply and demand determine price.
In command markets, prices are goal-seeked. Instead of price discovery, there is price fixing. Rather than participants being the key drivers of the market, the opposite is the case: the market drives participants to buy or sell. It's a macro-oriented, narrative-driven organism that has little regard for individual actors.
The Fed made ominous-sounding noises about inflation and tightening conditions with rate hikes in the week ended June 18. The market, very predictably, sold off. Last week, they reversed course via an avalanche of speakers, backpedaling on their prior incantations. Markets, again, quite predictably, bought in.
Much of what occurred over the past two weeks was well-known inside the Wall Street complex of major brokerages, primary dealers, and fund managers. They made money on the way down and on the way back up. The end result is record high stock prices with no risk of loss in the near term.
With the Independence Day holiday in focus (Markets will be closed Monday, July 5th) the lone outlier in the upcoming week is Friday's (July 2) BLS release of June non-farm payroll (NFP) data. Since no data is taken seriously in the markets, it may be used as a signaling mechanism, to determine not whether stocks will rise or fall, but by how much they will rise, because the command structure demands it.
For the Week:
Week ending 6/18
Treasuries were routed on the long end of the curve, with yields on the 30-year rising from 2.01% to 2.16%. 10-year yields rose nine basis points, from 1.45% to 1.54%. With the short end well-managed and nearly unchanged from the prior week (30-day maturities at 0.05% out to 1 year at 0.09%), the curve steepened, as 2s-10s moved from 119 basis points to 126.
Exercising considerable curve control on the complex, the Fed has managed to take the fear out of owning stocks in a visible manner.
Oil prices continued higher. After a major bump higher on Monday - from $71.64 to $73.66 per barrel of WTI crude - futures settled out at $74.00. Gas prices for US motorists climbed again, to an average of $3.09. Prices were lowest in the Southeast and highest in the West. Travelers are paying over $4.00 per gallon in California, with an average price of $4.26. Gas is cheapest in Mississippi, at $2.71.
Cryptocurrencies continue to trade in a state of suspended animation. Bitcoin briefly touched $36.139 last Sunday before dropping to $28,800 on Tuesday (June 22). Trading since in that narrow range, it's stabilizing around $33,500, offering no directional clues. Etherium and other altcoins have become money dumps.
As is usually the case during times of stress for the fiat currency counterfeiters of the world, gold and silver were under pressure. Gold, since bottoming at 1769.00 on June 18, spent the week in a narrow range, finally ending modestly higher, at $1,777.80. Silver also gained slightly, from $25.97 per ounce to $26.09.
Lower wholesale prices were reflected in retail markets as news of any supply shortages were quickly swept under the LBMA rug.
Here are the most recent prices for common one ounce gold and silver items sold on eBay (numismatics excluded, shipping - often free - included):
Item: Low / High / Average / Median
1 oz silver coin: 34.00 / 55.95 / 39.93 / 39.10
The weekly survey data reveals an unusual preference for silver bars over coins and significant premiums continue to present themselves in both metals. Gold coins led the way with a nearly $200 premium over spot. Gold bars sold in a narrow price range roughly $100 lower than gold coins.
$40.89 was the settled Single Ounce Silver Market Price Benchmark (SOSMPB) for the week, down significantly from last week's level ($43.25).
This week was all about keeping stock prices inflated, and nothing else. The Fed is doing its level best to wring out any remaining volatility from the prior crisis and forge a path to a more boring, ever-rising world of asset appreciation, focused almost entirely on stocks and residential real estate.
The message from the control market freaks at the Fed is clear: You will own a huge house with an even bigger mortgage, financed by gains in the stock market, which never goes down.
Is that all there is?
At the Close, Friday, June 25, 2021:
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