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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.
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.
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Friday, August 26, 2022, 8:52 am ET
Stocks made a nice move Thursday, erasing some of the losses incurred on Monday and Tuesday, but especially those from Monday, a massive drawdown signalling the end of a two-month bear market rally.
Looking at a second straight weekly loss, the main indices are poised for a dovish speech from Fed Chair Jerome Powell at the Jackson Hole Economic Symposium in Wyoming this morning. Powell will give the keynote speech at 8:00 am Mountain Time (10:00 am ET), as the assembled bankers and note-takers seek hints at future Fed policy.
With so much being made of Powell's speech, it's a good bet that nothing much will be revealed. The financial press is very adept at over-hyping Fed actions, and Jackson Hole has been a traditional tag point for journalists as there is never a FOMC meeting in August and congress is out of town most of the month. There's a void. Jackson Hole fills it with mostly sound and fury, signifying nothing.
What may be more instructive is the speech by the behemoth known as Agustín Carstens, General Manager of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) at 1:00 pm (3:00 pm ET). The BIS is widely perceived to be the "central bank of central banks," and Carstens, all 450 (or more) pounds of him, often speaks quite frankly about global monetary policy. After all, other than a few pounds, the man has nothing to lose. Thus, he can be expected to be blunt about the global economy. His remarks are probably going to be worth more of a listen than Powell's.
No matter what comes out of the mouths of these pampered souls over the next few days, markets are going to react to a variety of issues, most of them more important than speeches by Fed officials. One such matter is the monthly Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) price index, a favored gauge of the Fed, released by the BEA this morning at 8:30, that revealed July PCE at 6.3%, leading most right-minded people to believe the Fed will continue on its path of tighter economic policy, though possibly at a more subdued pace, indicating that a 50 basis point hike in September may be appropriate.
The PCE doesn't waver much and is a lower-grade inflation reading than CPI, making it ideal for Fed policy-makers. April and May came in at 6.3%, but June was up, at 6.8%. July's reversion to 6.3% may change the calculus a little, though Wall Street will howl that inflation has been conquered. Even from their ivory towers at the Eccles Building, Fed officials can see prices rising and realize they have to keep to task.
The other side of the coin is for a 50 basis point hike, which is a little like splitting hairs. If the Fed wants to do 50 now and 50 at the next meeting in November, or 75 now and 25 in November, it really doesn't make much of a difference. As usual, Wall Street will cheer for the lower number, but this time is likely to get egg pie rather than creampuffs. There's ample evidence that inflation remains well-entrenched and the Fed will have to keep raising the federal funds rate through the end of this year and probably through the first half of next year. There is simply no white knight riding to the rescue this time around.
This looks like an uphill battle for stocks to close out the week. Futures were trending lower before the PCE data, but have spiked higher towards the opening bell. European stocks are flat. Much will be made of Powell's rhetoric during and after his address.
To turn what looks like a losing week into a winner, US indices would have to rally a bit on Friday. As of Thursday's close, the Dow is off 414.96, the NASDAQ down just 65.95, and the S&P lower by 29.36. The NYSE composite is up 6.92 entering Friday's cash market.
Friday's trading looks like a major nothing-burger, a big bite likely to be taken out by corpulent Carstens. However, Wall Street usually takes any news as a positive sign, so stocks could get a real boost post-Powell.
At the Close, Thursday, August 25, 2022:
Thursday, August 25, 2022, 8:43 am ET
The US economy is dangerously close to falling off a cliff. The problems facing the "world's largest economy" by GDP are multitudes greater than ever before. Not only is the US economy facing the dual threats of inflation and recession, but those in charge of finding solutions are the same people who caused them, the Federal Reserve central bank and the US federal government.
While the rot began many years ago, it's certainly accelerated since the bogus election of 2020, which placed a brain-dead, semi-conscious, treasonous thief, Joe Biden, in the ultimate seat of power in the White House and split the US senate in half, designating the fake VP, Kamala Harris, as the deciding vote in any deadlock. Not that the senate needed 50 Democrats, plus Harris to pass any legislation, as there are willing, repugnant Republican RINOs more than capable enough to switch sides on any divisive issues.
Congress, with a Democrat majority in the House is about as useful as a mime in a shouting match. Even if Republicans take control in the midterms, most of Biden's wasteful, destructive policies are already in place and the chances of overturning existing legislation are somewhere between nil and none.
Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve continues to pretend they are fighting inflation by raising interest rates at every FOMC meeting. While the effort is likely to tighten business conditions significantly, it's not effective enough to counter the four to five trillion dollars that was pumped into the economy during the fake pandemic of 2020-22.
The money supply in the US increase by 40% during those years and all that currency has to find a place to be spent. Major food producers and oil companies have made windfall profits from the engineered supply crisis, although, oddly enough, even though food and gas prices are through the roof, there are no shortages of anything, anywhere, just more soaking and gouging of the poor and middle classes by the top five percent and their favorite corporations.
Issues facing the US economy, and, by extension, Europe and the countries of the British Commonwealth are too numerous and wide-ranging to detail in an article of this duration. Let's just all recognize that the crises of the past few years have all been carefully plotted out by the governments and Western banking alliances of the West, as the debt-fueled currency cabal has run out of options and is resorting to end-game tactics such as population control, wide open borders, disinformation, censorship, and police tactics, all of it neatly couched in terms of a "great reset" away from traditional energy supplies to "green" initiatives to fight the hoax of climate change and a ginned up military conflict pitting East against West.
All of this narrative is neatly wrapped in a blanket of propaganda delivered endlessly by mainstream media. Anybody who disagrees or challenges the "accepted truth" is labeled a domestic terrorist and subject to home invasion, confiscation of assets, star chamber trials and assaults in social and corporate media.
Americans had a chance to change things during the Trump presidency, though most of the efforts by the maverick real estate mogul and TV star from New York City were thwarted by harassment from the left and from within his own Republican party. Once the election results of 2020 became official, Americans had lost any chance of turning things around, so entrenched was the deep state operation.
Now, it's likely too late to save the United States and Western civilization from being beaten into the ground by its own oligarchs and countries from the rest of the world. The US import/export imbalance has been outsized for so long and our public, corporate, and private debt so deep there are no good solutions. All that can be done is for individuals to understand the dynamics at play and work out solutions for survival. Relying on political or business "leaders" is not a way forward. These are the same people who caused the current malaise and they're not forthcoming with any reasonable proposals to reverse course.
So, the American people will be forced into higher prices for essentials, fomenting lower standards of living until the middle class is completely eviscerated. There will be nothing left except rich and poor other than a few stalwart patriots and preppers who saw the writing on the wall years in advance and have designed their own safety nets.
The US will forgive $10,000 in student debt for millions, send 87,000 new IRS agents after tax avoiders and otherwise honest people just trying to make ends meet in an insane world, and continue to fund the MIC by sending loot into military conflicts.
As dreadful as all of this sounds, the US economy hasn't completely crumbled into a giant, stinking heap, though any close inspection of US cities would lead one to conclude that the process is well underway. Homeless people are everywhere, drug addition is overwhelming hospitals and health agencies, and crime has run rampant. Homesteading in the rural enclaves of the vast continent and raising at least some of one's own food is only a partial solution. Protecting assets and learning the rudiments of alternative currencies and barter will better one's fate. A financial storm, completely caused by and promoted by government and central bank policies, is upon the West and it's not going to stop until fiat currencies are worth their exact intrinsic value: Zero.
The process is slow and grinding, but it has become evident that high inflation is here to stay and debts will continue to balloon until they burst. Sadly, there will be bargains to be had from neighbors and businesses that give up and declare bankruptcy. The trick is to beat the vultures to the goods before they're completely picked over and gone.
What's happened since 2020 has not been pretty. Expect more of the same and worse for at least another three to five years. Politicians won't - and largely can't - save us. Even Donald Trump, who should be president and will likely out-poll all contenders if there is an election in 2024, cannot fix all of the problems. That will only happen when all the fiat currency is thrown into a pit of fire and people can rebuild their lives with honest money.
Gold and silver are the enemies of central banks, totalitarian governments, and globalist tyrants. Acquiring as much as possible in holding it within arm's length in one's own possession as a safety net should be a primary objective of anybody who wishes to not just survive, but prosper, during these calamitous times.
At the Close, Wednesday, August 24, 2022:
Wednesday, August 24, 2022, 7:58 am ET
Conditions in the US are rapidly changing over from inflation to recession, which, depending on one's individual outlook, may already be underway. First and second quarter GDP were both negative - which used to be the definition of a recession until the government changed it - and the current reading from Atlanta Fed's GDPNow measurement is a hopeful outlook for a 1.6% expansion in the third quarter.
Business activity in the US private sector contracted at a stronger pace in early August than it did in July with the Composite PMI falling to 45 from 47.7, according to S&P Global. The Manufacturing PMI declined to 51.3 from 52.2 and the Services PMI took a major hit, falling to 44.1 from 47.3.
Combining this data with earlier releases in the housing market and July's retail sales reading flat, the case can be made that the US economy is failing at a faster rate than the government and media wishes to admit.
Housing starts plunged 9.6% last month to the lowest level in more than a year and existing home sales have fallen nearly 30% from a January high. Home prices haven't fallen much, the median price dropping to $403,800 from a record high in June and still up nearly 11% from one year ago.
Demand for housing remains at high levels, despite cooling recently, but higher interest rates have made affordability a serious concern as many buyers are priced out of the housing market at these levels. As baby boomers retire and downsize, inventory should be on the rise, but a buyer's strike may be looming due to affordability matters and rising interest rates on mortgages. Prices need to come down from the current lofty levels if the market is expected to maintain a balance.
Normally, recessions are accompanied by layoffs, though, even as wages can't keep pace with inflation, the only areas experiencing job losses are in tech and housing, as high flying Silicon Valley firms trim staff and banks downsize their lending departments. The risk is that layoffs could spread to other sectors, with retail and hospitality looking the most vulnerable.
With the next probable rate hike less than a month away, the focus is on Friday's keynote speech by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, for signals leading up to the September 20-21 FOMC meeting. The current outlook is for the Fed to hike the federal funds rate another 75 basis points for an unprecedented third consecutive meeting, though many are pointing to a slowing, down to 50 basis points, which would send the key rate to $2.75-3.00%.
Rate hikes, as they are macro moves, take time to have an effect on the economy, usually six months after they are announced. While the bond and treasury markets have reacted in fits and spasms over the past few months, inflation, stocks and Main Street businesses haven't been largely affected, yet. With the Fed trying desperately to thread the needle between inflation and recession, consumers continue to feel the pain. Early signs are that their angst is fueling a downturn at retailers as more than a few have reported dull or declining same store sales, second quarter earnings misses, and lower guidance in recent days.
Stocks have cooled after a two-month rally ended abruptly on Friday, confirmed by Monday's massive drawdown. As the week wears on, retail may get a boost from second quarter reports from Dollar Tree (DLTR) and Dollar General (DG), both of which report Thursday morning prior to the open. Strong reports from both discounters are expected, though that could serve part of a continuing negative feedback loop, indicating that consumers are looking for bargains while shunning high ticket items and discretionary purchases.
Powell's speech isn't likely to raise many eyebrows and it may be more hawkish-sounding than many analysts expect. Talk of a "pivot" from hiking rates to lowering them has faded. Sometime in 2023 appears to be the earliest for a change in attitude and direction for the Fed and interest rates.
Europe and US stock futures are essentially flat-lining this morning. Any market activity is likely to be subdued as investors await the word from Jackson Hole.
At the Close, Tuesday, August 23, 2022:
Tuesday, August 23, 2022, 9:27 am ET
Trying to put the current situation in as pleasant a way as possible isn't easy. In two words: It's over.
What's over, you ask?
Everything. The bear market rally from the middle of June. OVER.
American hegemony in world affairs. OVER.
Making money from stocks, bonds, real estate. OVER.
Your way of life in America, Europe, the Commonwealth (should be common poor). OVER.
Take a serious look around, especially if you're in a big city, or even a small city. It's not the same as it was 20 years ago. Heck, it's not even the same as it was five years ago, or even three years ago. The age of American greatness has ended, squandered by the government politicians and the oligarchs of Wall Street, the "great" companies and the people who run them. America has been strip-mined of its wealth. Europe is worse. England, Canada, and Australia are becoming second and third world countries, rapidly.
The "Great Reset" isn't going so well for the planners and plotters of that devious notion. They're being destroyed by the very policies they themselves set in motion: fear, media control, population destruction, political disunity.
People thought nothing could be worse than 2020, but then along came 2021, and now, 2022 is looking to be even worse, especially from an economic standpoint. The US and all Western nations are slowly, inexorably deteriorating into husks and shells of their former selves. It's not pretty to watch, but, be not fooled, it is purposeful and it is happening.
Just in the last two trading days, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has dropped 925 points, roughly three percent, the NASDAQ is down 583 points, close to five percent, and the S&P has lost 142 points, or a shade more than three percent. The bears are back in charge and they're not likely to quit until Wall Street screams for mercy.
There will be ups and downs over the next few months, but more down than up. The bottom is falling out of markets. The US and its Western allies are transitioning from inflation to recession, and eventually, depression. It's coming. There's little doubt about that.
Just this morning, Macy's (M) cut its full-year sales and profit forecasts, the company saying it will need to offer more discounts to get rid off excess inventories of casual and leisure apparel.
The company joined other top retailers, including Kohl's (KSS) and Target (TGT), warning of a hit to profitability in recent weeks, as soaring prices of essentials (food and energy) made Americans wary of spending on discretionary items.
At 18.61, the stock is tending lower, though how much lower it can go in a short period of time is limited by its being already cut in half from the November 18, 2021 high of 37.37. 15 is a near-term objective. Macy's used to be a great retailer. Now, it's just garbage wiating to be taken to the trash pile, like the rest of US companies.
Don't be fooled or lied to about what's coming. Republicans won't save you. Democrats have already demonstrated their worthlessness. Western economies are shrinking and will continue to shrink. Anybody talking about "growth" is living a lie, propagated by government and media.
Don't fall for it.
At the Close, Monday, August 22, 2022:
Sunday, August 21, 2022, 9:10 am ET
Hidden from plain sight, this was a week of desperation, as the summer rally that began in mid-June, finally fizzled out on Friday. Everything that wasn't nailed down was sold, including stocks, bonds, oil, gas, gold, and silver. Losses in precious metals were extreme, suggesting margin calls on over-leveraged equity investors. PMs are usually the first liquidated assets.
As the Dollar Index approached the July 14 high of 108.54 - closing Friday at 108.10 - the EUR/USD pair locked in near parity at 1.0037, just a smidge above the 20-year low of 1.0022, just over a month ago. While dollar-euro equilibrium may be music to the ears of some globalist megalomaniacs, it's like fingernails on a blackboard to most common Europeans. Inflation in the Eurozone is soaring and the cost of basic survival is breaking the backs of consumers from Spain to Germany.
Atlanta Fed's GDPNow model estimate for real GDP growth for the third quarter of 2022 dropped down to 1.6 percent on August 17, from 1.8 percent on August 16, following the July retail sales report from the US Census Bureau, a report that was flat from June's 0.8% increase. Compared with 12 months ago, overall retail sales rose 10.3% in July, virtually mirroring the inflation rate. Retail was running in place and that was reflected in mixed results from the Likes of WalMart (WMT), Target (TGT), Kohl's (KSS), Ross Stores (ROST) and others.
In the main, large and discretionary retailers faced bulging inventory and a sales slump while discounters like BJ's Wholesale (BJ) enjoyed a rush for staples.
Ending a four-week win streak, the NASDAQ and S&P suffered losses of 2.01% and 1.21%, respectively. The Dow and NYSE Composite shifted back to losers for the week after Friday's drawdown erased all gains. Essentially, stocks were higher Monday and Tuesday, weakened Wednesday and Thursday before falling completely out of bed on Friday. It was a wake-up call for bears that had gone into an unusual summer hibernation and it appears the squeeze has run its course.
Legislators will be getting back to the Capitol in a few weeks, giving Wall Street some refuge from being the center of attention. As the week wore on, Wednesday's release of July FOMC minutes produced an initial dovish hype from the usual suspects (Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan) which was quickly and quietly faded over Wednesday afternoon into Thursday and eventually led to Friday's fallout.
It's becoming abundantly clear that the Fed isn't going to tip-toe around inflation matters. September's FOMC meeting (Sept. 20-21) has a clear mandate for a third straight 75-basis point hike in the federal funds rate and investors are on alert for more tightening of financial conditions. Since a tightening cycle like this hasn't been seen in decades, traders in their 30s and 40s are witnessing their first such event while older veterans are poised for what's to come having been on hand from the mid-70s through the 1980s. Traders and advisors 60 years old and beyond know what's coming next: recession, and this one could be a doozy, if not already having begun (likely case).
As is the case that stocks and indices don't go up and down in straight lines, so too the Main Street and Wall Street economies, owing to the fact that the United States is a rather large operation consisting of various cities, rural enclaves, states and regions which will fare better or worse in changing times. That great diversity of interests creates uneven levels of spinning plates from which data and policy are derived. Some areas will prosper while others fail and still more are left somewhere in between, in an economic no-man's land, the place everything seems to be headed. As the world careens through 2022, the bad after-effects of absurd policies and short-sighted objectives (like another 87,000 IRS agents) will be felt far and wide, however, from the farms of Kansas to the beaches of Malibu and everywhere in between. A resumption of first-half carnage is about to be released to most asset classes, particularly equities and mainstream fixed-income.
As the coming week commences, the major event will be the Federal Reserve of Kansas City's annual Jackson Hole Economic Symposium, dubiously titled, "Reassessing Constraints on the Economy and Policy." The assemblage of top central bankers, commercial bankers, media wankers, and think tankers is going to reassess economic constraints? Seriously? For openers, they could start with their own policies dating back to 1913 which have resulted in every boom and bust thereafter. Then they could all go home, never to be heard from again. The world would rejoice.
Since all these bankers and money loyalists deem themselves to be both exceptionally intelligent and beyond reproach, expect a cacophony of deafening noise about interest rates, currency expansion, Russia, future forecasts, and mind-numbing speeches that will eventually amount to nothing being served up between courses of Lobster Thermidor and Baked Alaska. Jackson Hole is one of the more over-hyped confabs on the economic circuit, but this year's is likely to be rife with extra helpings of disinformation, indecision, shilly-shallying, vacillation, and wobbling.
It's going to be like eating Jell-o with an ice pick.
Also upcoming are some retail stragglers reporting second quarter results, including Macy's (M) and Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS) Tuesday morning and Nordstrom (JWN) and Advance Auto Parts (AAP) after the close. Wednesday has Petco (WOOF) before the open and Victoria's Secret (VSCO) after the close. Peloton (PTON), Dollar Tree (DLTR), Dollar General (DG), and Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) report Thursday morning, with Gap (GPS) and Workday (WDAY) finishing the drill after the close.
A lone Dow component, Salesforce (CRM) reports on Wednesday after the closing bell, along with Nvidia (NVDA), also in focus.
As the tables below indicate, all of the maturities moved over the course of the week, but only 1-month bills and 1-and-2-year notes ended up back where they began. Everything else was sold, raising yields, especially on 5s, 7s and 10s, which all notched up 14 basis points.
All fo this indicates significant hedging at the margins and an overall distaste for US debt. While the locals are shunning everything other than very short maturities, there appears to be a growing consensus to avoid long-dated notes and bonds. After a very sloppy 20-year auction this past week, both it and the 30-year bond got knocked up 10 basis points higher.
China has reduced its holdings of US treasuries in reserve, Russia's been entirely cut off and more than a few countries and sovereign funds in the Middle East to Central and Eastern Asia are taking notice and gradually moving away from US dollar debt. After its bellicosity towards Russia, between sanctions and outright theft, the world at large is becoming increasingly cautious regarding US exposure. While trade continues to need US dollars to function, the reliance upon the one-world reserve currency is slipping away, the pace quickening.
There's going to be a split of the East and West, with the West continuing reliance on the dollar and euro, the East heading towards a competing BRICS currency, affecting not just treasuries and corporate debt, but capital flows, loans, rates, and eventually everything. The US and European debt markets are primed for a perfect storm of loathsomeness, as prospects of the US honoring its debt obligations through 2052 approach that of a shark growing fur.
WTI crude oil closed out the week at $89.95/barrel, a drop from the prior Friday at $92.09. Perplexing as a mid-summer drop in price may be, the causes are faintly evident as drawdowns from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and alternatives in international markets have emerged in the aftermath of the initial shock from Russia's special military operation in Ukraine. More than six months in, energy buyers, sellers, and producers have found work-arounds to the multitude of US, UK, and Eurozone sanctions imposed over time.
Inflation has caused a little bit of demand destruction at the pump, but hardly at the level suggested by government wonks. Europe and the US cannot continue to exist with super-high oil and gas prices. It's simply not sustainable. With a return to heavier winter distillates coming soon, the price of oil isn't likely to rise back to levels seen earlier in the current debacle. If Western economies continue on their current path - leading up to a complete ban on all Russian energy supply in Europe - disaster will come sooner than $150/barrel oil.
A rising possibility is of a negotiated truce in Ukraine and an easing of the sabre-rattling posture taken on mostly by NATO-aligned nations. Should that occur - and considering the prevaricating, faltering nature of the Brandon administration and a money-hungry congressional delegation - the price of oil could easily fall below $80 by winter.
Gas at the pump in the US continued lower, with the national average hitting $3.88 Sunday morning according to gasbuddy.com, a far cry from the record $5.02 seen in early June. With the final summer holiday just two weeks away, a little bump higher would not be unexpected before a hunkering down period extending through Thanksgiving or the midterm elections commences. After that, the picture becomes less clear. Anybody trying to guess where the price goes in three to five months is kidding themselves, and likely, their clients. For now, the price of gas is better than it was, but not low enough in most parts of the country, especially in the population centers on the coasts.
Being what most people would consider a massive, multi-layered Ponzi scheme, the crypto space continues to implode as a small part of the current Western monetary laundering regime, all of which is corrupt to the core. Many alt-coins have lost 50-70% of their value while others have completely run off the map and are defunct. With Blackrock and Coinbase teaming up to salvage and/or savage the remains, churning at lowered levels may continue for months, if not years.
The one legitimate "coin" remains bitcoin, but it is victim of its own success as governments shun it and over-regulate it, media mauls it, and whales seek escape routes. Currently resting in a narrow range around $21,400, bitcoin fell more than 10% on the week, from a high over $24,000. The range has been mostly between $21k and $24k for upwards of nine weeks and prospects for a breakout are overshadowed by another sustained drawdown.
Cryptos remain the most volatile and speculative of any asset class and nobody should be "investing" anything more than pin money into it.
Gold/Silver Ratio: 92.84
Gold price 07/22: $1,725.30
Silver price 07/22: $18.49
As shown above, precious metals were viciously hammered last week, reversing most of the gains experienced over the past month. Silver took the worst of it, losing nine percent, with gold dropping a mere 3.2% week-over-week. That sent the gold-silver ratio back over 90, reaffirming silver as the buy of the century.
With gold and silver qualifying as longest-term holdings for many investors, holders of bullion aren't exactly holding their collective breaths waiting for a breakout. These markets, as volatile as they may seem on a day-to-day basis, take long strides in price movements. Premiums remain accordingly high, but, overall, the current price levels seem unsustainable over longer periods.
Below are the latest prices for common one ounce gold and silver items sold on eBay (numismatics excluded, free shipping included):
From the "what you don't know can hurt you" department comes word that Russia, having been unceremoniously tossed out of the LBMA earlier this year, is planning to build its own precious metals exchange and establish what they're calling the Moscow World Standard (MWS) to stabilize prices for gold, silver, platinum, et. al.
In case anybody still believes the West is going to control the rest of the world, including giant countries like Russia, China, India, and Brazil, Russian President Putin continues to fire salvos over the bow of the sinking US ship of state, this proposal of an exchange to compete with the compromised LBMA and COMEX standards sits next to the prospect of a BRICS+ currency, which may be unveiled at any moment, though the complexities of such an endeavor will take years to become fully implemented.
At the end of the day, week, month, and year, Asia was always going to eat the West's lunch. What's been going on for the past couple of decades and accelerating recently has been just a tune-up. The real consequences of US and Eurozone overreach are still to come... in spades.
At the Close, Friday, August 19, 2022:
For the Week:
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