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Markets Shaky As Congress Abrogates Responsibility On Coronavirus Stimulus Legislation
Friday, August 14, 2020, 8:17 am ET
Markets got a little bit shaky on Thursday, the main driver seemingly congress' inability to come together on a stimulus package to help out struggling Americans.
The Dems want $3.5 billion which would include a lot of extras, such as up to $150 billion in direct aid to states, localities, and school districts. The Republican plan is more streamlined and less expensive at around $1 trillion. Both plans include another $1200 check for individuals and some form of extended unemployment benefits, the Democrats calling for an extension of the $600 weekly though the end of the year, the Republicans wanting to lower the amount to $200 or $400 for a few months, and then base the extra federal payout plus regular state unemployment to become 70% of employees' regular pay.
The reality of the situation is that both parties' members are out of town, away on their usual month-long August hiatus and won't return until after Labor Day, September 7. Unless the president's executive orders issued over the past weekend pan out, all hell will have broken loose by then. There are an estimated 30 million Americans out of work presently and the so-called recovery has begun to stall out.
That's taking its toll on investors who are afraid that the rally, which has been engaged since mid-March, is about to roll over. Most of the upside in stocks over the past six months has been due to nothing other than Fed largesse, with the central bank basically sopping up assets from every corner of the country, and to a lesser extent, executing swaps on the international stage. Everything from high yield junk to AAA corporate offerings are on the Fed's menu and they've been busy chowing down like a gang of frat boys at an all-you-can-eat buffet.
An economy and stock market built almost entirely on central bank counterfeiting is not a long-lasting solution and everybody on Wall Street knows that, but they're getting while the getting is good. The S&P touched its all-time closing high on Thursday but backed off as selling intensified in the afternoon. Bonds were being sold off as well. The 30-year closed Thursday with a yield of 1.42%; the 10-year note ended at 0.71%. The yield on the 30-year is at a one-month high, but more troubling is the 10-year. One has to go all the way back to March 26 (0.72%) to find a yield higher than yesterday's close.
The Federal Reserve cannot allow rates on treasuries to rise much more as they would soon become more attractive than stocks. The very last thing the Fed wants is a stock market crash and high yields on treasuries as that would indicate just how serious the economic condition is in the United States. The overriding narrative has been that the Fed has a handle on everything and all is well. At least if things do get sideways, they can lay the blame on politicians for not acting prudently or quickly enough.
Following up on our reportage on Tuesday's massive selloff in gold and silver, Andrew Mcguire explains that the price "takedown" was executed as part of a strategy by the CME to achieve equilibrium in the market, because silver (and gold) for delivery as far as three months out - largely unavailable - was too cheap.
There's a lot of background knowledge into MacGuire's analysis and it's difficult for anyone without an understanding of how futures markets work (almost everybody) to follow, but the bottom line, according to the expert, is that gold and silver were not negatively affected long term and are still on their ways to higher prices in the near and long term.
For anybody in already invested in or thinking about investing in gold or silver, this is a good video to view as it points up the gamesmanship in the futures market and the need for more transparency in an effort toward true price discovery.
With price discovery in mind, Downtown Magazine's Money Daily is planning to launch a new page devoted to real prices for smaller gold and silver purchases, mainly one ounce coins and bars, quoting major bullion dealers and actual sale prices on eBay for these common, high demand items. An alpha test page will be launched this Sunday along with the usual WEEKEND WRAP.
Friday looks like it could be more signal than the usual noise, with European markets stressed and US futures pointing toward an open to the downside.
Play nice. See you on Sunday.
At the Close, Thursday, August 13, 2020:
Thursday, August 13, 2020, 7:40 am ET
Question: What do Neiman Marcus, JC Penny's, Lord & Taylor, Men's Warehouse, Pier 1 Imports, Brooks Brothers, J. Crew, and Ann Taylor have in common?
If you answered that they are all retailers, you're on the right track, but only partially correct. They are all former retailers, because the correct answer is that - according to this Yahoo! Finance article - they've all filed for bankruptcy protection within the past six months.
They are not alone, of course. Many other big companies have gone the bankruptcy route, along with scores of smaller firms. About 3,600 companies filed for Chapter 11 in the first half of 2020 nationwide, more than any year since 2012, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute. That number may not sound very large, but it should be couched in the understanding that these are corporations, and many smaller companies, sole proprietorships, LLCs, partnerships and such haven't bothered to go through the legal system
Updating those figures, there were another 642 filings in July, pushing chapter 11 U.S. Commercial Bankruptcy Filings up 52% in the month. Through July, Chapter 11 commercial filings are up 30% over the same period last year, with a total of 4,246 filings.
The same article notes that Chapter 13 (personal) non-commercial filings are actually down 38% so far in 2020, with 99,136 filings, from 159,602 filings in the same period of 2019. Chapter 7 - which is liquidation - non-commercial filings are down 21% in July 2020 with 30,177 new filings, which is down from 38,033 the same period of 2019.
However, total non-commercial filings have increased each of the last four months and are up 11% since April, with 40,072 in July 2020, which is up from 36,151 in April 2020.
What all these numbers are suggesting is that some big retailers took an early exit with more business failures on the way, and that governments, banks and other credit institutions have done a good job of incentivizing bad behavior by allowing people to skip rent and mortgage payments, car payments, credit card payments and student loan payments. Such programs began in March or April, with the onset of the coronavirus and resulting government responses and continue today, in some cases being extended far beyond what was originally considered prudent.
Between the actions by the Federal Reserve, federal and state governments, banks, mortgage, and credit companies, the whoop-butt can of financial ruin that's descended upon American and the world has been kicked down the proverbial road for six months and counting.
But, time is running out and the consequences of playing along with stupid quick-fixes like temporary furloughs, deferrals, forbearance, and other cutesy-sounding programs like "stay safe at home" and "wear a mask" are leading to a major disaster later this year, just in time for - you guessed it - the elections in November.
Not trying to sound too cynical, it's a safe bet that much of what's happened so far in 2020 was thought out well in advance, as a means to inflict the maximum amount of fear, pain, and suffering upon the U.S. electorate. The fright dials will be turned up significantly as summer turns to fall and the elections of 2020 approach. Of course, the big one is the presidency, which has the Trump-Pence team lined up to defend its incumbency against the Biden-Harris squad.
To the assembled mainstream media, this looks like a fair fight. To anybody who hasn't been persuaded that president Trump is a secret Russian agent, a racist, or an otherwise evil person, the 2020 presidential race appears to be close to a slam dunk for the Republicans because they have more money, better candidates (Joe Biden is likely suffering from Alzheimer's or some other form of dementia), a better platform (Dems are running a "We Hate Donald" campaign), and Donald Trump will make mincemeat out of Joe Biden if and when there is a debate.
The elections are a but a sideshow to the national nightmare that is unfolding. Whoever wins locally, statewide, nationally, will have to dal with the same problems. Candidates on either side are barely equipped with enough skills to get them through a day without saying something utterly stupid, so who wins and who loses won't make much of a difference. Election hoopla and assorted finger-pointing, name-calling and mud-slinging will prove to be a short-lived distraction from the real issues.
That said, the global catastrophe that has been slowly proceeding is going to accelerate in the fall and winter. There will be more COVID cases, more deaths, more panic, all of it made up by an out-of-control media and government propagandists. Almost nothing presented so far has been trustworthy or useful and the coming spate of glaring, scary headlines and fake news stories are pretty much assured to be complete fabrications.
As the seasons change, people are going to find out that their unemployment insurance payments do actually run out at some time, deferrals of rent, mortgage, credit card, auto loan, and other debt didn't stop the interest from running and still need to be paid back, and that much of the world - particularly big cities - is a very messy place, ill-suited for human habitation. Personal bankruptcies will go through the roof and trigger another round of corporate and business bankruptcies. When law firms start going bankrupt, run for the hills, because if the people that sue people can't make a go of it, that says things have gone from sideways to downhill in a very bad way.
(It should be pointed out that the various forms of bankruptcy are usually followed by the word "protection." What bankruptcy protects companies and/or individuals from are creditors, i.e., banks, mortgage companies, credit card companies, auto loan financiers, which, if you've ever been through the process before, might give one pause to consider why any sane person would want to conduct business with any entity from which one might eventually need protection. It's like lambs and lions. Everybody's fine until the lions get hungry.)
Life is going to get more complicated, less fun, more frightening and probably, for a lot of people, significantly shorter and/or more unhealthy. Nothing on the horizon - like 30% of all renters in America not paying their rent in August - seems to indicate that the economy is picking up or will improve soon. Rather, there are signs that despite Wall Street's irrational exuberance, Main Street is dying a slow, painful death and with it the whole of society. Depending largely upon where one lives and maybe works, life in America is either going to get worse, a lot worse, or stay about the same.
In wide, general terms, big cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Baltimore, Denver, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis, Atlanta will get a lot worse, smaller cities will only get a little worse, and rural areas may slip through the cracks only marginally affected by the coming debt tsunami and greater depression. Your mileage may vary, depending upon your levels of frustration, resiliency, savings, overall health, age, and future prospects along with other intangible variables.
As Chris Martenson recently offered on dealing with economic catastrophe now or later: "I'd rather fall off the fifth rung of the ladder than the twelfth rung." We're now somewhere between the fourth and seventh rung of Chris' hypothetical ladder. Some have already fallen off. Others are just barely hanging on. Only a brave few will make it to the top rung and manage to hang on through the chaos.
Thank you for slogging through the gloom and doom.
Please enjoy our nomination for COVID-19 song of the year: The Kinks, "Apeman" circa, 1970.
I think I'm sophisticated 'cause I'm living my life
I think I'm so educated and I'm so civilized
I'm an apeman, I'm an ape, apeman, oh I'm an apeman
In man's evolution he's created the city
I'm an apeman, I'm an ape, apeman, oh I'm an apeman
Oh come on and love me, be my apeman girl
I'm an apeman, I'm an ape, apeman, oh I'm an apeman
I'll be your Tarzan, you'll be my Jane,
I'm an apeman, I'm an ape, apeman, oh I'm an apeman
I don't feel safe in this world no more,
Songwriter: RAY DAVIES
At the Close, Wednesday, August 12, 2020:
Wednesday, August 12, 2020, 7:44 am ET
What happened in the futures and spot markets for gold and silver on Tuesday was nothing short of criminal. It was a sort of gang rape by the collected purveyors of fiat, who cannot stomach excessive gains in other currencies, the precious metals being the most frighteningly destructive to their counterfeiting of paper currencies, paper assets, and paper promises.
With gold wafting past the $2000 mark earlier and silver briefly touching $30 an ounce and up more than 55% over just the past month, the forces controlling the futures market embarked on one of their more ambitious raids, designed to discourage further investment in precious metals.
How successful they were only time will tell, but if past is prelude, their efforts will be short-lived. In an environment in which physical silver and gold are scarce to say the least, how in the world can a 14% one-day decline in silver and a $110 loss on gold be justified? It simply cannot, which is why the paper markets such as the COMEX must be dissolved, to allow true price discovery for actual purchasers and real sellers instead of he fakery of paper short and long contracts that are 99% of the time settled in cash, not physical metal.
To say that the futures market is rigged would be a massive understatement, but Tuesday's raid showed that the central banks are not only afraid of gold, they are absolutely terrified of silver as currency.
The reason is simple. Silver is plentiful and cheap (for now). If silver were ever allowed to be employed widely as currency, the end of fractional reserve banking would commence in a dizzying rush that would leave the lobal economy staring into an abyss of their own making. The math that says this outcome is inevitable notwithstanding, the terrorizing of futures markets - indeed, all markets - by imbecilic people with god-like power to conjure up currency out of thin air will continue for a while longer, but not much longer. It is coming quickly to a horrible conclusion as the Tuesday slaughter on the futures markets reeks of desperation and last-ditch attempts to keep a lid on the price of real money, gold and silver.
There's a certain amount of ironic futility in the effort to suppress precious metals at this juncture. All the central bank proxy shorting did was erase a week's worth of gains and likely encourage even more buying of the dip by savvy gold bugs and silver stackers who have seen this kind of activity all too many times.
By all indications, this was a one-off event, though there may be a follow-up raid, just to reinforce the mad machinations of the people who cannot bear to see the reign of fiat currency come to an end. Silver, while it was smacked down as low as $23.54 overnight, was already back above $26 an ounce earlier and currently hovers in the $25.60-25.90 range. Gold was knocked down to $1866.70, but is already up sharply, at $1931.
Truth be told, nary a single "true believer" in the power of real money so much as thought about unloading any physical gold or silver during this engineered crash in the futures.
Meanwhile, the carnage in precious metals futures spilled over somewhat as a liquidity drain into the financial markets. The Dow, which was sporting a gain of more than 300 points most of the day, ended lower by 104. The NASDAQ was was modestly higher in the early going, but ended lower for the third straight session, the 185-point loss the biggest since July 23.
Bonds were also sent reeling, with yields on longer-dated maturities up sharply. The 10-year note finished the day with a 0.64% yield, a move of six basis points, while the 30-year gained seven basis points to 1.32%.
With markets being bought and sold in tandem, the danger is that falling stocks will not translate into lower yields, with investors heading to gold. A resultant rise in interest rates and loss of control by the Fed would signal disaster. A simultaneous selloff in equities and fixed income would be a crushing blow, the gates of hell flung open wide.
Here's a nominee for quote of the year, by Eugene Fama, Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago, who, in 2013, shared the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences jointly with Robert J. Shiller and Lars Peter Hansen. The renowned economist and creator of the Efficient Market Theory, known as the "Father of Modern Finance," recently did an interview with Market/NZZ:
Market/NZZ: Professor Fama, the efficient market hypothesis has revolutionized the way people invest. What goes through your mind when you look at the wild swings the stock market made this year?
Fama: The market seems pretty good. It held up even though the economy is deep in the bucket. This is a good example of how forward looking the market really is: It's looking past what we are going through now, and it's saying that the future doesn't look that bad.
Market/NZZ: Do you think that's the correct assumption?
Fama: If I could forecast, I wouldn't be a professor.
Bada Bing! A rare expression of shameless self-deprecating humor. Kudos to Professor Fama.
Tuesday, August 11, 2020, 7:17 am ET
Slow news day, Monday.
Looting in Chicago, armed man shot outside White House. Dow up, NASDAQ down, silver up, gold down.
About the only item of significance actually occurred after midnight, ergo, Tuesday, when the "Protectors of Fiat" (POF) managed to beat the price of gold back down below $2000, currently stumbling down $40, at $1988.90.
Why? The world's central banks cannot allow gold and silver to be priced at anything that might inspire people to want to hold them, so they allow some gains before shorting them back down to more "reasonable" levels.
It's a game, and the central banks are still winning, though that is all dependent on a majority of the population playing. Pricing everything in Federal Reserve Notes preserves the fantasy of control. They have none over people who have chosen to opt out. People who have had enough, who are home-schooling their kids instead of packing them off for daily trips to the government indoctrination centers, who have backyard gardens, own guns for personal protection, and invest in shiny metals rather than worthless electronic bits of paper contracts commonly known as stocks, are not playing.
These are people who do things for themselves, without assistance from government bureaucrats who only help to make everything more difficult and time-consuming. These people are not interested in creating a wealth nest egg based on fake money. They're interested in raising their families as they see fit, eating food they raise themselves, living life on their terms, not those of some government or central bank.
The people we see looting, protesting, rioting, tearing down monuments, and engaging in otherwise destructive activities are the opposite of those described above. They are useful idiots who measure themselves in fiat currency and rail against the same government from which they expect to receive all benefits: money, food, clothing, shelter, communications, everything.
They hurl insults over injustice, then ask for social justice. The loot stores in their neighborhoods, then complain when there is no bread on the shelves. They are the dregs of society, and they've always been there, just now they are emboldened by the biased mainstream media, communist infiltrators, and a left-leaning Democratic party which has sailed off on an election campaign without a rudder.
In the end, when the reality of a failed economy, fake pandemic, and burning cities collide, the useful idiots will cease to be useful and a culling will commence. Unless they change their ways - a doubtful expectation - they will no longer be useful to anybody and will be discarded one way or another.
At the same time, those who have opted out, the preppers, home-schoolers, backyard gardeners, gun-toters, silver and gold hoarders, will find their footing on the other side of the social equation.
In between these two mega-groups, millions of civil servants (a misnomer since 1980) will continue to exist, albeit at levels that will have to be readjusted to a new reality. Their privilege will be lost. Their pay, health care coverage, and pensions reduced. They will find that a life spent making other people more miserable doesn't end well. They will either learn new skills and survive or resist and die.
That's just the way it goes during a depression. And make no doubt about it, the United States - and most of the rest of the world - is in the early stages of what is likely to be known as the greatest depression.
The Federal Reserve and fellow central banks can't just continue conjuring up trillions of dollars out of thin air and handing it off to banks and oligarchs and the federal government can't continue to borrow far in excess of their tax revenues. States have been broken by this fake pandemic; the worst of them are bankrupt.
A great reset is upon us, and it will be painful for many.
Slow news day, but the gloom continues to descend, slowly, inexorably, deliberately.
At the Close, Monday, August 10, 2020:
Sunday, August 9, 2020, 10:15 am ET
We'll get to the good stuff in a few paragraphs, but first, for the record, the salient numbers.
Stocks had another mostly impressive week, slowed down slightly on Friday by the reality of the July non-farm payrolls data. While the July jobs number exceeded expectations with the creation of 1,763,000 employment positions. The unemployment rate fell from 10.6% to 10.2%, and it was that nagging reminder that millions of Americans are still out of work that took some steam away from Wall Street.
Led by an impressive 1000+ point gain on the Dow Industrials (+3.80%), stocks out-performed expectations in the face of continuing COVID-19 issues, the NASDAQ making another in a long stretch of record closes Thursday (11,108.07) before Friday's giveback.
Fixed income rallied alongside stocks, with the 10-year note recording a record low yield of 0.52% on Tuesday. The Treasury complex did, however, finish the week roughly where it started, with the 30-year at 1.23% and the 1-month bill off a mere one basis point to 0.08%.
Crude oil continued to trade rangebound, as WTI crude closed out the week at 41.22 Since mid-June, a barrel of WTI crude oil has been priced between $38 and $42 due to slack demand and a glut on the world market.
The real story was in the precious metals space, where silver stole the spotlight from gold. A little more than a week earlier, the price of gold in US dollars set an all-time high, but by Thursday's close of 2,069.40, was beginning to gain the attention of many more than the usual gold bugs. Finishing the week at 2,028.00, gold's rise seems to be an unstoppable force.
Silver was a runaway success on the week, reaching as high as $29.88 on the COMEX. even though it closed Friday at $27.54, it still managed a gain of $3.32, or 13.7%. Silver is up an incredible 51.24% in just the past 30 days.
GoldMoney.com's Allasdair Macleod believes bullion banks and fiat currencies have no way out as gold vaults past $2000 and silver powers forward as a secondary current.
Ted Butler reminds us that silver is also an industrial metal and an even more significant price move could develop if makers of solar panels and electrical devices get the idea that it's getting too expensive and move to buy up existing or future supplies.
In the physical world, premiums and shortages are widespread on both metals. Here are the most recent prices for selected items on eBay (including shipping, which is often free):
Item: Low / High / Average / Median
At the Close, Friday, August 8, 2020:
For the Week:
The biggest news of the week, however, came Saturday afternoon, when President Trump took to the podium at his private golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, to announce the signing of four executive orders after congress wasted weeks trying to negotiate a stimulus package.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows spent countless hours over the past three weeks trying to sway intractable, unbudging Democrats led by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, senator from New York toward a workable compromise.
When discussions broke down entirely on Friday, the President was ready to act on his own and did so on Saturday.
The four executive orders are 1) to continue paying a supplemental federal unemployment benefit for millions of Americans out of work, lowering the amount from $600 a week to $400 through the end of 2020; 2) extending a moratorium on federal student loan payments; 3) recommendations for a continuation of a freeze on some evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 crisis, and; 4) deferral of the employee portion of the payroll tax from August 1 through the end of the year for people who earn less than $100,000.
Missing was the $1200 checks to eligible Americans that were promised by both sides, though many of the recipients of the government stipend were already receiving enhanced unemployment. Congress may step forward with a smaller, slimmed-down relief bill to address the needs of seniors and the self-employed and destitute.
Thus, President Trump stepped around congress and acted forcibly on his own, prompting cries of derision and unfairness from the liberal side and threats of lawsuits challenging his authority to distribute funds. However, the President seemed to be within his rights since the money, especially for enhanced unemployment payments, was already in the hands of the states. No further money was needed to be appropriated.
Finally, here's the late, great Robert Goulet, singing "The Impossible Dream," a song from the Broadway smash hit, "Man of La Mancha." Based on the novel, "Don Quixote" by Miguel de Cervantes, the 1965 musical by Dale Wasserman, lyrics by Joe Darion, and music by Mitch Leigh is a loose interpretation of Cervantes' greatest novel, itself a masterpiece of Western literature, published in two parts in 1605 and 1609.
The original 1965 Broadway production of "Man of La Mancha" ran for 2,328 performances and won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It has been revived four times on Broadway, becoming one of the most enduring works of musical theatre.
"The Impossible Dream" was the principal song from the show and it became an American classic. We present it here in tribute to President Trump. The lyrics aptly capture the essence of Trump's crusade against the deep state and successive campaigns for the presidency of the United States.
The Impossible Dream
To dream the impossible dream
To right the unrightable wrong
This is my quest, to follow that star
And I know if I'll only be true
And the world will be better for this
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