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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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Sorry, Internet Outage Kept Us Offline Thursday, Feb. 25
Friday, February 26, 2021, 9:53 am ET
Another day, another internet outage.
While running the underground fiber (100+ MBS), the ditch witch ripped up our old AT&T cable and poof! No internet.
The good news is that Moeny Daily is now running at super fast speed.
Will this enhance our writing? Probably not, but one never knows.
The NASDAQ suffered a serious blow on Thrusday. Will be looking into it.
See you Sunday for the WEEKEND WRAP.
Thursday, February 25, 2021, 8:25 am ET
Wednesday turned out to be quite the fascinating day from a stock market and global finance perspective. While Fed chairman, Jerome Powell, was wrapping up his testimony to congress, promising more stimulative measures if needed to revive the economy, the Federal Reserve Systems' global payment network was on the fritz, as the system that allows wire money transfers crashed with intermittent disruptions for two to three hours, according to various reports.
The outage to FedACH and FedWire impacted banks, brokers, and mortgage lenders' ability to transfer funds in large and small amounts and also individuals and small corporations which employ the service to move payroll, deposits, and other sensitive financing.
Service was restored mid-afternoon, Powell went back to wherever he goes after speaking publicly and stocks were up across all indices in the US. All seemed to be going smoothly until shares of GameStop (GSE) began stretching out gains made earlier in the day around 2:00 pm ET.
After closing 44.97 on Tuesday, GameStop was already sporting a three to four-point gain when it began picking up momentum. BY 3:00 pm, it was at 53, hitting 67 a half hour later. Volume was spiking as was trading on related options, especially those with a nearby strike date of Friday, February 26. Trading in GME was halted twice in the final hour of trading, but the price continued upwards into the close.
By the 4:00 pm final bell rang, GameStop was in reddit wonderland, sporting a 91.70 handle, even as reddit.com was coincidentally knocked briefly offline. After hours, GME was up as high as 200 per share, backing off to around 150 overnight and into the pre-market.
Here's a note, posted early Thursday morning on the r/wallstreetbets forum at reddit.com explaining the situation to the incels.
If GameStop hits 800 before 2/26 we will trigger the Mother of All Short Squeezes, read up. from r/wallstreetbets
What is amazing about this second attack against the short-sellers of GME is not that the redditers have re-assessed their position, but that shorts have piled back into GameStop with many betting that the stock would retreat further. Could these hedge fund types have been so short-sighted to not realize the reddit crowd would be watching and waiting, especially after how they were shafted in the first attack?
The answer is yes. While the identities of the shorts, call sellers, and put buyers are as yet unknown, the level of activity in GME call options was extreme over the past two weeks. Wallstreetbets minions were watching, and it appears they have the hedgies trapped into losing positions again.
If the redditers are successful, it will mark an important pivot point for markets globally, signaling that the ordinary controllers of stock, bond, options, and futures markets are in the throes of a violent economic uprising, spurred by inequality and fomented over social media.
As the silver market - another touchstone of r/wallstreetbets - continues to evidence stress and a severe supply shortage, the entire financial system could be on the brink of collapse, thanks largely to some creative organizing and strategizing by any number of smart disrupters on reddit and elsewhere.
While the focus of the financial news punditry will be on GameStop for much of the next two days, the treasury and bond markets are where the real action lays. On Wednesday, the 10-year note spiked again, shooting past a 1.40% yield and closing out at 1.389%. Yield on the 30-year bond closed up three basis points to 2.24%, the highest yield in more than a year.
Also higher is crude oil, with WTI pricing above $63 a barrel. While a good number of Keynesian-style economists view higher oil prices as a sign of recovery, they fail to realize that it translates directly into higher prices for automotive fuel, which acts as a tax on everybody, hitting those at the lower economic levels the hardest. Unless the price of crude is corralled soon, gas at $3 and $4 a gallon could be just over the horizon, a level that would put a serious damper on the general economy while adding to inflationary pressures, which themselves are already showing signs of bubbling over into hyperinflation.
The next few days will be exciting, challenging, potentially life-changing, but the next six months will tell the global fortune for years ahead.
At the Close, Wednesday, February 24, 2021:
Wednesday, February 24, 2021, 8:13 am ET
On Tuesday, the S&P 500 broke a five-day losing streak, gaining just under five points as the widely-watched index bounced right off its 50-day moving average.
Not so fortunate was the NASDAQ, which ended in the red for the fifth time in the past six sessions. It finished the day resting right on its 50-day moving average.
The distinct impression is that there's either something magical or important about those 50-day moving averages, an astute observation as most trades these days are of the programmatic, algorithm-blessed, computer-driven, non-human kind, keyed to respond to headlines and trend lines, like the moving averages.
When these trend lines are violated or even touched down upon, the algos are instructed to buy, hitting just about anything vulnerable. Just in case there's insufficient thrust to move the index or group of stocks off the point, there are always humans, such as the PPT, to pick up the baton of endless stock wins and boost prices higher.
Obviously, such chicanery has been going on for some time now and it's been especially poignant since stocks got slammed at the outset of the coronavirus last year.
We've recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the 2020 crash. On February 20, 2020, the S&P dropped a massive 113 points. It kept falling, almost daily, until reaching the bottom at 2,237.40 on March 23rd.
Since then, the S&P has put on quite the show, closing on Friday, February 12 of this year at 3,934.83, a near doubling off the lows and an overall gain of 1697 points.
The NASDAQ was a little less spectacular at the start of its decline, but it made up for any lack of bedazzlement on the upside. On February 20, 2020, the NAZ shed 67 points to end the day at 9,750.97. But, the following session, it took a 74-point hit, closing out the week at 9,576.59. The following Monday, February 24, the index gulped down a 355-point loss, finishing at 9,221.28.
Losses continued to pile up on the NASDAQ until finally hitting bottom on March 23rd when it closed at 6,860.67.
Over the ensuing 11 months, the NASDAQ did actually double in price, topping out at 14,095.47 on February 12, less than two weeks ago.
Now, before bemoaning the recent declines, bear in mind that investors have been making hay just holding onto stocks for the past year. The NASDAQ ended Tuesday's session at 13,465.20, a 630-point decline from the all-time high. Boo-hoo. The mighty NASDAQ has shed almost five percent. The decline on the S&P has been even less enthralling, down an entire 53 points from less than two weeks ago. The end at 3,881.37 Tuesday marks a loss of less than two percent.
It would be justifiable to suggest that investors are far from worried. After all, they have their man, Jerome Powell, at the Fed, and their lady, former Fed Chair, Janet Yellen, at Treasury, ready to jawbone to the extreme should any doubt enter the minds of shaky-handed newbies in the investment community.
Powell appeared, virtually, before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, telling Senators, "The economy is a long way from our employment and inflation goals," while reaffirming the Fed's commitment to easy money policies for the remainder of 2021 and likely beyond. According to the Chairman, the economic recovery is only just beginning.
As for Yellen over at Treasury, she doesn't have to say much, as everybody knows she'd like the $1.9 trillion Biden/congress COVID relief bill to be even larger. From her perspective, the $1400 per individual in the bill would be better if it had an extra zero attached to its end. For all her love of easy money, assigning a dovish posture to Janet Yellen would be a mistake. She's more an accommodative hawk, carrying a bazooka loaded with canisters of $100 bills, ready to fire off in any direction.
With these two backing stocks over anything else, Wall Street is probably more juiced for a "buy the dip" moment than worried about further declines.
Until somebody issues some dire, unmistakable warning or rings a bell for the top, stocks should continue an easy glide path into the stratosphere.
At the Close, Tuesday, February 23, 2021:
Tuesday, February 23, 2021, 8:40 am ET
There's a lot of this folderol afoot. Much of it has been with us for quite some time. Some of it is recycled. Some is new.
Let's start with the dollar index or the Dixie (^DXY) as it is commonly known to the slithering creatures who "manage money."
It's a joke. The dollar index is a construct made popular by some delusional specialists in the business of fractional reserve currency debasement. What they call "money" is not really that. It's currency at best, and, whether it's denominated in US$, yen, euro, yuan, pounds or loonies, it's value is approaching toilet paper status.
Anybody over the age of 50 recognize the traits of a depreciating currency, as they've lived with it continuously since birth. What used to buy a bag of apples in 1975, buys one, maybe two, today. The apples aren't bigger or better. They've pretty much stayed the same. What's changed is the purchasing power of the currency.
A 15 ounce box of Oreo cookies was 55 cents in 1974. You can buy a plastic package of Oreos for about $4.00 nowadays, but the net weight is probably some weird number like 13.2 ounces. You pay more, you get less.
What the dollar index does is compare the US dollar to a basket of other fiat currencies, i.e., backed by nothing, printed to infinity, eventual value approaching zero. It rises and falls in line with the varied perceptions of the rest of the gang, which are:
No, I didn't see gold or silver in there either, which is the point. Comparing the US$ to the yen or the pound, or comparing the loonie to the krona is like comparing rotting apples to rotting peaches, or rotting onions. There's a lot of rot and stench, but little value. Leave them be for a while and they'll be worth nothing other than more scrap for the landfill or the compost heap.
What the dollar and the rest of the fiat gang needs to be compared to is gold or silver or oil or apples or some other commodity that has been around long enough that it has some recognized value. Gold is a good choice. In 1971, the last time the US$ was tied to it, gold was $35 an ounce. It's been bouncing around $1800 lately and was over $2000 recently.
The gold Eagles your grandfather held in 1971 or thereabout were nice items. Today, they're priceless. You could have bought 10 one-ounce gold coins with $350 in 1971. That same money will get you a little less than 2/10ths of an ounce, if you're lucky. The gold didn't change. The dollar did. It lost value, about 98% of it. So, if somebody asks your opinion of gold and the US dollar, throw them a buck and tell them that's your "two cents."
If the dollar index isn't a bad enough measure of value, consider the government's use of GDP to measure economic activity. According to what the great minds in government and finance tell us, GDP measures the monetary value of all finished goods and services made within a country during a calendar year. Everything. New cars. Dental work. Your kid's lawn mowing. All of it. And that's all well and good, but it's fake as all get out because it's measured in dollars, and they're worth less and less every year.
So, if economic output (GDP) was $1.073 trillion in 1970, and a shade over $21 trillion in 2019 - before the pandemic - it sure looks like the United States has grown by leaps and bounds. There should be 800-story buildings, trains that travel at the speed of light, and everybody should be rich.
The economy has improved somewhat, maybe, over the past 50 years, but is it 20 times better now than it was then?
Doubtful. We don't even have discos any more. In some ways, the country has gotten worse. Look at roads, bridges, the power grid. Most of that stuff hasn't been updated since the 1950s or even before. Infrastructure has stagnated. The rest is just inflation, or, devaluation of the dollar.
It's a nice day when the government announces some quarter of GDP was up three percent. However, failing to tell you that inflation was five percent exposes the fakery in their numbers. The country has been going backwards for at least the past 20 years, probably longer. Sure, we have the internet, smart phones, better automobiles. But, we're still building houses out of wood, concrete, and recently, plastic, and prices for those have gone through the roof (pun intended). The median price of an existing home was $303,900 in January, 2021. In 1971, the same house would have set one back about $26,000.
We've come a long way, baby.
And then there's our current curse, the COVID-19 pandemic, which, if chart-reading hasn't gone out of fashion, appears to have run its course. Date from the Covid Tracking Project shows testing, cases, hospitalizations, and deaths all plummeting, by anywhere from 30 to 70 percent.
For instance, the number of cases reported for a day fell from a peak of 295,121 on January 8 to 52,530. A majority of states are reporting less than 1000 new cases a day. Many, like Arkansas, Wyoming, Idaho, Iowa, Nevada, and New Mexico are well under 500 with deaths and hospitalizations falling in similar fashion.
This thing is over. People are done with it. We have vaccines. We've socially-distanced. We've worn masks. Sometimes two of them at once. We've isolated, lock-downed, sacrificed for the greater good, skipped work, kept kids at home, got jabbed with vaccines, there's herd immunity, and we're done.
Wait, wait, wait a minute. Dr. Fauci tells us we're not going to be "out of the woods" until fall.
What is this guy smoking? This delusional, self appointed demigod of disease says that even people who have been vaccinated have to continue wearing masks and social distancing. What? Why then even bother with the vaccine? On the other hand - or side of his mouth - Fauci says that teachers don't have to be vaccinated to go back to work safely.
Yes. No. He's not confused. He's a fraud. He should take a permanent lid with the fake president. We're done with idiots.
Apparently, we're done with tech stocks, too. Look at that drop on the NASDAQ. Probably more where that came from.
At the Close, Monday, February 22, 2021:
Sunday, February 21, 2021, 11:25 am ET
The treasury market was a primary focus as the week commenced, particularly on the long-dated maturities, which had been selling off over recent weeks. With the 10-year note hitting a yield of 1.34% by Friday and the 30-year bond yielding 2.14%, alarm bells were going off in fixed-income markets.
For the most prescient insight, Doug Noland's weekly Credit Bubble Bulletin was titled, appropriately, "Wrecking Ball" and contained a mountain of pertinent information and explained some of the underlying causes for what looks to be the beginning of a long-awaited bond market bust. Credit has eluded the grim reaper since the 1980s, but it appears that the reckoning has finally arrived.
Noland begins his narrative with an overview of the GameStop hearings in congress, pointing out how the cretins on Maxine Waters' House Financial Services Committee were more interested in scoring points on the predatory hedge funds and preening for the cameras than exploring the root causes and effects of the wild ride in a few selected companies.
Listening Thursday to the House Financial Services Committee's "GameStop" hearing, it was clear Washington has little appreciation for the seriousness of structural deficiencies revealed by recent market mayhem. The focus was more on blasting predatory Wall Street and the hedge funds, while looking into the cameras to defend the defenseless small investor. The broader point of a historic mania and potentially catastrophic infrastructure shortcomings was completely neglected. Millions of unusually synchronized buy orders almost led to a cascading market accident. It seems rather obvious at this point that existing market infrastructure will buckle under tens of millions of synchronized sell orders.
A dissertation on the Texas power grid catastrophe follows, with Noland pointing out that the Lone Star state's grid issues occur on a decade by decade calendar, like clockwork, with similar, though less extreme, episodes in 1989 and 2011, all due to Texans' desire for cheap energy while ignoring the need for winter weatherization.
Getting closer to the point, Noland reports how Fed officials harp on recent interest rate spikes as "transitory" and consider the rout in bonds not much of a problem. Such Fed-speak recollects Ben Bernanke's fateful pronouncement that "subprime is contained" back in March of 2007.
Noland points out other warning signs, such as the Producer Price Index (PPI) jump in January of 1.3%, the biggest gain since December 2009, the median price of an existing home sold in January at $303,900, a 14.1% increase from January 2020, the highest January price that the Realtors have ever recorded, and the Fed's incredibly loose monetary policy fueling further inflationary pressure, noting that they're still implementing QE in the amount of $120 billion a month when they normally would be tightening.
Further, Noland contends, "The point is the Fed is locked into the loosest and most asymmetric monetary policy imaginable. Slash rates to zero and inject Trillions of liquidity in days and weeks, while the return to any semblance of policy normalcy unfolds over quarters and years." He goes on to say, "I do not recall a period when the domestic environment was as ripe for inflationary pressures to gather momentum." Additionally, he points to global inflationary pressures in all fiat currencies with 10-year bond yields in developed and emerging markets rising dramatically.
Noland's weekly commentary is highly recommended. His research and expertise spans decades.
All of which leads directly to speculation in stocks, commodities, and cryptocurrencies, leaving the badly-damaged Euro-centric Western banking-dominated COMEX and LBMA spot prices for gold and silver struggling to maintain dollar (US$) hegemony in a world that is rapidly moving on toward Asian pre-eminence.
The thrust in Asia, particularly acute in China, is toward modernization and growth through infrastructure buildout. The US is lagging far behind in technology - importing most of it - and infrastructure, which has been stalled out since the 50s and 60s. US dominance over South America, and Europe's domination of the Middle East and Northern Africa have sent hordes of refugees from South to North, from the countries controlled and maligned to the global hegemons.
With the advent of cryptocurrencies - Bitcoin for the most part - and the mobilization of Chinese industrialization to South Asia, the Middle East, Africa and South America, the United States and Europe are being left in a void, the proximate causes being the hubris of supposed central banking infallibility, decades of stealth expansionism and colonization, and the short-sightedness of politicians who have failed to address the two main issues facing their economies and societies since the origin of the fiat epoch in 1970, infrastructure and immigration. Their answer has been and will continue to be bigger and more destructive deficits, lumping trillions more onto the national debt.
Europe will implode as the European Union disintegrates. With the UK leading the charge via Brexit, other countries will soon follow. Greece, Italy, Spain, and Portugal are well on their way out, which would leave a very fractured alliance between Germany and France to fight over the bones and scrap. While politicians struggle to retain power, the citizens will struggle to survive. The ultimate solution is a complete dumping of the central banking fiat regime in favor of honest money, be it backed by gold or silver or a form of cryptocurrency, though it's obvious that the "leaders" and managers of these countries are well behind the curve, late to the emerging party.
In a few words, Europe and the United States are losing. China, Russia, and the so-called "undeveloped" countries are winning. Sooner or later, the privilege of printing dollars and euros in exchange for valuable goods and services will be denied. The process is already underway. It's manifested by inflation.
What's even more confounding for the Fed and their central bank cohorts is squaring higher yields in long-dated maturities while the short end threatens to fall below zero. While it's exactly their intention, the steepening of the yield curve beyond two years is frighteningly inflationary, a veritable crack-up boom in von Mises' terms, almost an exact opposite of an inverted curve which signals deflation and recession. This is inflation on steroids: the hyper variety. This set-up is very inconvenient for proponents of stability and measured growth.
Bitcoin and Etherium spent most of the week sprinting forward. Bitcoin topped out at $57,800, posting a 21.5% gain for the WEEK. Ether cascaded beyond $2000, a new all-time high, before settling back in the low-to-mid $1900s. It's rise for the week was a paltry 7.6%.
Gold and silver continued to be suppressed by the COMEX futures traders and LBMA. Silver ended the week at a laughable $27.24 per troy ounce, while gold priced out Friday at an absurd $1784.05. Meanwhile, Money Daily's Single Ounce Silver Market Price Benchmark (SOSMPB) was pegged at $43.94, up 95 cents from last week ($42.99).
According to prices for both gold and silver via the LBMA's daily spot "fix" and the phony COMEX futures markets, the world is to believe that these two monetary metals are stable at low levels while everything else is inflated away. By most accounts, both should be multiples higher. A fair price for gold could easily be upwards of $8,000, with silver tagging along at a 12:1 or 16:1 ratio, or somewhere in the neighborhood of $500-$675 an ounce.
A recent shortage of silver at dealers may prove to be short-lived as the threat to the futures market was unexpectedly short-circuited by the r/wallstreetbets crowd, which has splintered into at least two opposing groups consisting of die-hard silver longs and stackers and those who believe the "silver raid" was never actually sponsored by the redditers. If silver dealers are able to restock quickly, both the COMEX and market prices could fall under short-term pressure, making for one huge buying opportunity similar to last March's smackdown to under $12/ounce.
For gold bugs, buying bars at under $1800 an ounce is like living the dream in technicolor.
Most recent prices of common 1 ounce gold and silver items sold on eBay (numismatics excluded, shipping - often free - included) follow:
Item: Low / High / Average / Median
Prior data here.
Stocks spent the week gyrating around break-even, with the NASDAQ losing a percent. With the main indices floated near all-time highs, there's no indication that stocks are going to be pressured, though a pull-back or correction would be considered a healthy episode. Wall Street and the Fed simply will not have it, however. They're mortally bound to higher stock prices and suppression of everything that doesn't support the "recovery" narrative, be it gold, silver, shrink-flation, international news, vaccination horror stories, or traditional values.
The thrust is higher and higher as inflation (which the Fed still insists is too low) rages. Hyperinflation is proceeding at breakneck speed. By fall, food prices could be 20-30% higher than a year ago. Energy is already beyond the norm, with oil surpassing pre-pandemic levels. A barrel of WTI crude settled out Friday at 59.01 after reaching a fresh 52-week high of $61.14 on Wednesday, Feb. 17. A year ago, the price of crude was under $50 a barrel and falling. In February alone, WTI crude is up 13% as of Friday's close.
Comparisons to year-ago levels are going to become more and more stretched. WTI crude fell from the 40s into the 20s and teens from March through May of 2020 as the coronavirus and lockdowns spread worldwide. With global recovery eyed, there's no doubt a huge difference in price everywhere from the wellhead to the gas pump. Without sounding like punidtry, energy costs fuel inflation. Higher prices for pumped oil will pump prices everywhere else.
A slew of companies will be reporting Q4 2020 and full year earnings in the coming week. Monday, after the closing bell, Marathon Oil (MRO) and ZoomInfo (ZI) announce. Tuesday, before the open, Home Depot (HD) and Macy's (M); after the close, Square (SQ), Intuit (INTU, Toll Brothers (TOL). Wednesday, Overstock (OSTK), Lowe's (LOW), TJX Companies (TJX), and Casper (CSPR) report pre-open. After market's close, Nvidia (NVDA) reports. On Thursday, before the open, Moderna (MRNA), Domino's (DPZ), Best Buy (BBY), Wayfair (W). After the close, Salesforce (CRM), Etsy (ETSY), Beyond Meat (BYND), Workday (WDAY), Airbnb (ABNB). The week's reports closes out Friday morning with reports from Draft Kings (DKNG), Foot Locker (FL), and Cinemark Holdings (CMK).
Finally, it appears that capitulation by commercial banks, leading to destruction of central banks, is afoot. Reports by Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan each signal that cryptocurrencies have made the leap from speculation to an acceptable asset class. With listed companies - Microstrategy and Tesla, led by visionary CEOs Michael Saylor and Elon Musk, respectively - now lining their treasuries with Bitcoin and banks (the nation's oldest bank, BNY Mellon announced that it would engage in crypto investments for high net worth individuals) now admitting the error of their prior denunciations, it's surely off to the races for crypto. All manner of cliche can be used to describe the current mania. The horse has left the barn. The ship has sailed. The train has left the station. The bloom is off the rose.
Simply put, all the fears of owning Bitcoin have been negated by the powers which opposed it. Now that institutional money is interested and flowing into the cryptocurrency universe the Fed or the federal government would be derelict in banning, barring or limiting holders of crypto or of the exchanges like coinbase. It's bad enough that the IRS targets gains in cryptocurrencies as regular income. That designation may be rescinded soon enough. Any further interloping by government entities would not only raise the ire of millions of individual "hodlers", but now would endanger the welfare of publicly-listed companies and the mega-banks. Government regulation of Bitcoin and other cryptos has been permanently and irrevocably neutered.
The bottom line is that if you don't hold any Bitcoin, you'd better get some, and soon. Price is not relevant. Look at it like seeing Amazon's (AMZN) stock in a rear-view mirror. It matters little if you bought in at $50 in 2003 or $500 in 2016 now that it's well over $3000 a share. While those who bought into Bitcoin early are reaping massive returns, even those who bought at $16,000 as recently as this past November have already tripled their stakes, in just three months!
Even more to the point is that Bitcoin is the anti-dollar, the new paradigm and the pathway to freedom from debt slavery and depreciating fiat currencies. There's every indication that the US$ and the euro will both soon fail and devalue massively as the rest of the world refuses to subsidize the United States and Europe, being non-productive members of the global community. At the very least, if not bitcoin, some (rather large) percentage of a portfolio should be dedicated to gold or silver, preferably both.
Here's Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert gloating a bit and explaining why:
At the Close, Friday, February 19, 2021:
For the Week:
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