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Stocks Look to End Week on High Note, Erasing Prior Week's Losses; Dems May Nuke Infrastructure Plan

Friday, June 25, 2021, 8:55 am ET

This is what last week looked like:

Dow: -1189.52 (-3.45%)
NASDAQ: -39.05 (-0.28%)
S&P 500: -80.99 (-1.91%)
NYSE: -550.98 (-3.30%)

Following a brutal week for stocks, the fiat currency architects have brought markets back to a degree of respectability and beyond, with big rallies Monday and Thursday sopping up most of the losses.

The Dow is up 906 points on the week, so it won't take much (another 300-point rally) to get back to even over the two-week span. Setting new all-time highs, both the S&P 500 and NASDAQ have shrugged off the previous week like it was last spring's fashion. S&P is up 100 points this week; the NASDAQ added 339.

Somewhat left behind, the NYSE Composite has added 414 this week, lagging all but the Dow in rebounding.

Most of the news and data flows this week have been benign or leaning toward the negative. Still, there's a sense of euphoria sweeping the investment community after the 23 largest US banks passed the latest stress tests administered by the Federal Reserve, freeing them from CV-19-related restrictions on dividend payouts and share buyback programs.

On June 30, those restrictions will be lifted and the banks can increase dividends and/or announce new buyback programs without restraint. In other words, they're going to reward their executives with higher stock prices in the near future and thank shareholders with fat bonus checks in the form of dividends.

Essentially, what happened in recent history is that the Fed made all the banks flush with cash on the eve of the pandemic and now, 16 months out, they are found to be in great financial shape in a pretty cozy arrangement for all involved.

This development cannot be seen as anything but bullish for the entire market, but there may be a catch. With the Fed talking back inflation fears everything looked rosy until Democrats in the House and Joe Biden started linking the $1.2 trillion (over eight years) bipartisan infrastructure bill to the House reconciliation measure, potentially nuking both efforts.

Reconciliation has to be approved by the Senate, but, with the current 50-50 split, all Democrats would have to vote as a block, unless they can convince a few Republican senators (the usual suspects, Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski, or Susan Collins come to mind) to switch sides, though there certainly to be media pundits drooling over the prospect of having Kamala Harris break the tie with a photo op-worthy vote.

The reconciliation bill includes all of the items cut out of the infrastructure deal announced Wednesday, such as universal pre-K, free community college, and climate initiatives, items that have nothing to do with infrastructure but plenty to do with government overreach, graft, payoffs and nanny-state enviro-babble.

"There ain't going to be an infrastructure bill unless we have the reconciliation bill passed by the United States Senate." -- Nancy Pelosi

So, with the week's final session about an hour away, there are still some hurdles to overcome, but obviously nothing the Wall Street crowd can't simply overlook. Being untethered to the free-spenders in the Capitol, the money monarchs are likely to march to their own tune.

At the Close, Thursday, June 24, 2021:
Dow: 34,196.82, +322.58 (+0.95%)
NASDAQ: 14,369.71, +97.98 (+0.69%)
S&P 500: 4,266.49, +24.65 (+0.58%)
NYSE: 16,558.62, +121.00 (+0.74%)

Stocks Steady As Final 1st Quarter GDP Shows 6.4% Gain; Initial Claims Trending Higher at 411,000

Thursday, June 24, 2021, 9:17 am ET

IN one of the duller sessions of 2021, US equity markets closed with minor losses outside of the NASDAQ, which finished with another record closing high at 14,271.73, and it appears that it may break through to another record on Thursday, as futures are wildly positive.

Whatever reasons equity traders have for optimism is likely to be maintained through the remainder of the week and into month and quarter-end trading next week (next Wednesday is June 30) because there are no major data releases until Friday, July 2nd, when June's Non-Farm Payroll numbers are rolled out to markets. Analysts are expecting the figure to come in at around 600,000, after posting a gain of 559,000 for May.

Jobs numbers have recently been weak in comparison to expectations as the US economy reopens from the C-19 crisis. Most companies are close to getting back to normal, but the damage done to the small business segment is likely to curb job growth for months, if not years. An April study by the Federal Reserve estimated that 130,000 small businesses were shuttered permanently during the crisis, negatively affecting employment.

Adding to the slow return to normalcy are a number of factors, including the hesitancy of workers to return to work, as many have gotten used to collecting enhanced unemployment benefits, some for more than a year's time. Job creation is likely to remain below what could be considered normal trend, as new business formations are held back by continuing economic uncertainty. On the contrary, this report suggests - via data supplied by the US Censs Bureau - that business formation has been strong from the second half of 2020 through the first quarter of 2021.

Trusting government figures in the era of fake everything has become something of a parlor game since the pandemic began. Economic growth figures are warped by the sudden downturn from 2020 and appear to be better than the reality on the ground, in the real world, as seen through eyes not shaded by glass of any color, race, creed or religion.

Many businesses are crying out for new employees as workers are reluctant to return to jobs they didn't like and other - not necessarily better - opportunities are available. The US labor force participation rate - which measures employment as a percentage of total adult population - had been falling for decades prior to the crisis and has yet to fully recover.

In January of 2020, the labor force participation rate was 63.4%, hit a low of 60.2 by April, 2020, and has only rebounded to 61.6 as of May, 2021.

Thursday offered a pair of economic releases prior to the cash opening. Initial unemployment claims continue to trend higher, while the final estimate of first quarter GDP came in at an unrevised 6.4%.

Considering all of the variables and distortions to the data, it's difficult to believe the US economy actually expanded from the first quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2020. Even if it did, it was largely the result of the aforementioned enhanced unemployment benefits and stimulus checks that have been going out in various forms since the June of 2020 and how PPP loans, borrowings from the Fed, and the other dollar-figure boosters are lumped into the calculations.

Calculations of GDP are likely to be far from reality due to inputs being radically different from years past. How closely government bean counters estimated various stimulus measures as opposed to take-aways from rent and mortgage moratoria, business closures, and other disruptive elements is an open question. It's more likely than not that errors were tallied to the positive side because nobody in government wants anybody to think that the system is failing or at least not operating at a functioning level.

If there was a way to dig deeply into the GDP numbers many questions would arise over methodology, what is included in the calculations, and how much of the actual presentation is based on estimation and guesswork. Like all government statistics, GDP estimates must be taken with many grains of salt because government accounting is, and has been for a very long time, shabby, shoddy, and prone to political manipulation.

Like CPI at an annualized rate of 5.0%, GDP growing at close to seven percent in 2021 requires a leap of faith in a federal government that has a fake president and VP, a bunch of loafers and money-grabbers roaming the halls of congress, will never, ever agin balance a budget, and routinely runs deficits in the trillions of dollars, and is covered by fawning reporters with political and social agendas.

It's a pretty big leap that only the sheep-at-heart should take.

Bank of America analysts see GDP growth peaking in the second quarter, then slowing in the third and fourth quarters of 2021. Are they right or are they smoking from the government hopium pipe? Shouldn't they be keeping their mouths shut for the good of the country?

As far as initial claims are concerned, data from the week ended June 19 showed 411,000 initial filers for unemployment benefits versus 380,000 expected and an upwardly revised 418,000 during the prior week. Somehow, this is either positive news for stocks or deemed worthy of a heave into the Wall Street dustbin of historical facts they need to ignore. Most likely, lit's the latter, because the narrative must remain "recovery" at all costs, even though anecdotal evidence from many parts of the country suggest otherwise.

Bottom line for stock professionals is that inflation is transitory, the economy is humming right along, stocks are cheap, the check's in the mail.

These are opinions and opinions are not facts. Facts require real data. What the government issues is a smooth, soothing combination of fantasy and propaganda. If you buy the data, you'll probably buy some stocks.

Caveat Emptor.

At the Close, Wednesday, June 23, 2021:
Dow: 33,874.24, -71.34 (-0.21%)
NASDAQ: 14,271.73, +18.46 (+0.13%)
S&P 500: 4,241.84, -4.60 (-0.11%)
NYSE: 16,437.63, -11.39 (-0.07%)

Financial Cross-Currents Making Market Movement Risky and Difficult to Predict

Wednesday, June 23, 2021, 9:21 am ET

There are moments in every investor's life when it makes sense to just sit tight and let the world go by, waiting for some indication of what lies ahead.

This could be one of those moments.

Stocks are coming off two straight days of gains - albeit the second not quite as dramatic as the first - after free-falling the prior week. Essentially, nothing is decided.

Bitcoin, after falling below $30,000 for the first time since Janaury 1, rebounded smartly and has been maintaining a holding pattern between $33,672 and $34,513 since 9:30 pm ET Tuesday night.

Gold and silver were both pushed lower last week, but aren't showing any signs of a lasting rebound nor a continuation of the decline.

Treasury yields are at three-month highs on the short end of the curve and three-month lows at the long end. The yield curve between 2s and 10s is at 123 basis points. For 2s-30s, it's 185.

Should the recent past repeat from March forward, those positions will reverse and the curve would steepen. On March 15, 2s-10s were at 158 and 2s-30s were 223.

The bond market is likely to offer the best indication for what's to occur over the next six months. Right now it is flattening out, meaning economic conditions may be worsening, or contracting, though it's not really very flat when one considers that on March 24, 2020, when the Fed issued emergency measures at the start of the pandemic, 2s-10s were 37 basis points and 2s-30s were 101.

That's tight. Should the nascent global and US recoveries stall out, expect yields to converge, flattening the curve. Since last week's FOMC meeting, that seems to be part of the message that the Fed is going to tighten sooner than previously expected, but Fed speakers - including Chairman Powell, who addressed congress yesterday - are gradually walking their positions back.

Still, bonds are signaling a slowdown even while the NASDAQ set a record high on Tuesday, at 14,253.27. It was the second record close in eight days for the NAZ, the last being 14,174.14, on June 14.

It's plain to see that there are significant cross-currents across markets, making it difficult to establish a risk profile over the next six months through the end of the year. The dollar index moved was moving higher up until last week's Fed meeting. Since then, it has trended lower.

Along with the NASDAQ, the other asset moving higher is oil, with WTI crude currently pricing at $73.60 a barrel and prices at the pump continuing to gradually increase, acting as a noose on the consumer economy.

The safest place to be may be in cash, though that's a difficult position to achieve for those dealing with managed funds, like IRAs, pension funds or other long-term investment vehicles. For the self-directed, the emergence of crosswinds over the financial landscape should evoke a cautious stance.

At the Close, Tuesday, June 22, 2021:
Dow: 33,945.58, +68.61 (+0.20%)
NASDAQ: 14,253.27, +111.79 (+0.79%)
S&P 500: 4,246.44, +21.65 (+0.51%)
NYSE: 16,449.01, +37.04 (+0.23%)

Fed Sponsors Dead Cat Bounce After Tightening Talk Tremors; Bitcoin Trends Lower

Tuesday, June 22, 2021, 8:16 am ET

Appended to the end of every market drubbing is the traditional dead cat bounce.

Some dead cats bounce higher than others, and, that being the case, the Fed-promoted bounce Monday was of the higher-than-normal variety. The Dow Jones Industrials - which were the hardest hit of the major averages - produced the best day it's had in three months. A 58-point gain on the S&P 500 was its best session in a month.

Just like everything else that happens on Wall Street, it was totally fake. The intraday lows recorded on Friday's meltdown are still there, just sitting, waiting to be tested by non-believers, of which there are many.

That's the sad thing about dead cat bounces. They don't last. There's nothing to them except a quick profit for those futures traders and dealers instructed to "buy the market" and push everything back up to where it used to be.

The real telling of whether Monday's gains are of the sustainable variety will come quickly. How stocks fare the rest of the week - even as the Fed trots out 16 speakers at a variety of venues - will be telling of which direction the equity markets are headed, because the only real tools the Fed has left in its bag of monetary tricks is having Fed officials talk up the market and the economy. Such "jawboning" is a common practice of cowards, tyrants, and criminals who have run out of rope and are left with the final defense of talking themselves out of a bad situation.

And that's exactly where the Fed stands, trying desperately to have the public believe that they can both promote and staunch inflation at the same time, and that they've got the timing down on when to slow down their QE program and its loose money policies and begin tightening, as they tried to explain last week at the conclusion of Wednesday's FOMC meeting.

Over the next six to eight months, expect the Fed to talk out of both sides of its mouth, employing the various regional presidents and governors at finaicial symposiums, giving speeches and conducting interviews with the press. They have a horde of mouthers and mumblers with which to numb the public consciousness into believing they have everything under control when, in fact, thay have lost control long ago.

All during this economy road show, stocks will be slowly, inexorably on the wane with a few major bumps to the downside. It's inevitable because the business cycle still exists in some distorted fashion and market forces will dictate direction, not the Fed, and certainly not the professors of public confidence.

For some evidence of central bank chicanery, look no further than Japan's NIKKEI 225, a leading indicator of global equity markets. On Monday, prior to the upside correction in European and US stocks, the Nikkei shed 954 points. Its land of the rising sun counterpart, the TOPIX (on scale with the Dow Industrials in the US) was down 2.5% before the Bank of Japan purchased 70.1 billion yen of ETFs Monday, boosting that index out of the dumps, prompting a reversal in US futures early Monday morning from steep losses of -225 on the Dow futures to +240 just prior to the markets open, spawning the US bull run.

Tuesday's trade on the NIKKEI was a sympathetic one, sending shares higher by 873 points, just like its US counterparts, erasing most of the bad trading of prior sessions. The NIKKEI is straddling its 50 day moving average, having spent most of the past two months underneath. It is almost a given that the NIKKEI will plummet below the 50-day MA again and again, because if there's an economy teetering on the brink, it is Japan's, though it could easily be said that the economies of all the major developed nations are in a similar condition.

The Nikkei is predictive of global markets four to six weeks out, so it can be instructive by keeping close tabs on it.

As Wall Street steadied on Monday, all other asset classes were not allowed to participate. Gold was up modestly, but silver was nearly unchanged on the day. Cryptos, the mortal enemies of central banks, were dashed, with Bitcoin falling back to support levels just above $31,000.

As the parade of Fed speakers babbles on this week, stocks are either going to buy what they're saying or reject it. Movements in the US indices may be subtle and may not discern direction until the middle of next week, having digested all of the Fed pablum.

Stocks may find some footing with the Buy the Dip crowd, though it is more likely that there will be selling into any strength. During the recent downturn, bank stocks were hit fairly hard and they should provide directional clues going forward. Emerging from the depths of a crisis, the global and US economies are struggling to get back to normal or find a new normal. It's a sae bet that any "new normal" that may emerge will not be as robust or dynamic as the old one.

Trade accordingly.

At the Close, Monday, June 21, 2021:
Dow: 33,876.97, +586.89 (+1.76%)
NASDAQ: 14,141.48, +111.10 (+0.79%)
S&P 500: 4,224.79, +58.34 (+1.40%)
NYSE: 16,411.98, +268.03 (+1.66%)

WEEKEND WRAP: Stocks Slammed As Fed Blunders Into Inflation Debate; Gold, Silver Punished; Bitcoin Reeling, Rocking, Rolling

Sunday, June 20, 2021, 12:30 pm ET

As expected, the major events of the week turned out to be the Federal Reserve's FOMC interest rate policy statement on Wednesday and quad witching options and futures expiry on Friday.

Investors struggled to find good reasons to stay in stocks as financial markets were roiled by the simplistic dot-plot chart supplied as an adjunct to the policy statement, in their Summary of Economic Projections [PDF], which included the (dot-plot) chart of FOMC participants' assessments of appropriate monetary policy: Midpoint of target range or target level for the federal funds rate for the remainder of 2021, 2022, and 2023.

What concerned markets was the upward movement of seven of the 18 dots in 2022 off the baseline 0.00-0.25%, with five bumped up to 0.25-0.50% and two dots in the 0.50-0.75, suggesting that some members of the FOMC believe that the appropriate federal funds rate in 2022 would be higher than what prevails today and likely through the end of 2021.

More alarming, perhaps, was the upward thrust of the dots in 2023, where a mere five of 18 remained at the baseline 0.00-0.25, with nine of the dots clustered between 0.50 and 1.25%. The outliers were two dots at 0.25-0.50% and two more between 1.50 and 1.75%.

To the Wall Street casino players, this registered as a signal of changing sentiment on the part of the Fed toward normalization of interest rates in an effort to cool off inflation in what some are predicting to be an overheating economy. Resting on a razor's edge, the fear trigger in the subjective subconscious of the financial horde was pulled, sending stocks sharply lower at the inception of the policy release, a sentiment that did not relent for the rest of the week. The frightening reality was a telegraphed five-day selloff in blue chips (Dow Industrials) and general carnage across equity assets that was hardly contained to US markets.

Since the May 10 high of 35,091.56 to Friday's low of 33,271.93 the intraday loss for the Dow Jones 30 blue chips is 1,819.63 points, or, 5.185%. The Dow has closed below its 50-day moving average for three consecutive sessions as of Friday's close, which was the fifth straight negative finish for the Dow and the eighth close in the red in the past 10 sessions.

Chart-wise, the recent decline on the Dow was the second leg of a double dip off the top, the first part occurring from May 10-19. This second act began in earnest on June 7th. Despite Friday's bottom exceeding to the downside both the intraday and closing lows of the first leg, this segment has not yet found a floor. That will be determined beginning Monday and through near term trading sessions.

The other indices followed somewhat similar paths, though the NASDAQ inexplicably made gains on Monday, and even more so on Thursday, after the Fed's blooper. Friday's selloff sent the NASDAQ into negative territory for the week, though only by a small amount.

Offsetting Monday's gains with four straight sessions on the downside, the S&P 500 dumped nearly two percent, closing below its 50-day moving average on Friday for the first time since early March.

Mirroring the Dow, the NYSE Composite Index shed 3.30%, exceeded only by the Dow's 3.45% loss.

With stocks being shunned on the whole, Friday's options expiry set the dumpster ablaze. Friday's trading was punctuated by a deafening thud into the close. The S&P, for instance, dropped nearly 20 of its 55 points in the final 15 minutes of the session.

This, at the quarter's end in futures and options and nearing the end in the cash market, was the opposite of a short-covering boost for stocks. It was the flip side as holders of long positions capitulated, becoming sellers out of fear of being Monday morning bag holders.

In a related note, the FOMC also extended temporary US dollar liquidity swap lines with nine central banks through December 31, 2021. According to the Federal Reserve:

These swap lines allow the provision of U.S. dollar liquidity in amounts up to $60 billion each for the Reserve Bank of Australia, the Banco Central do Brasil, the Bank of Korea, the Banco de México, the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and the Sveriges Riksbank (Sweden) and $30 billion each for the Danmarks Nationalbank (Denmark), the Norges Bank (Norway), and the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.

These countries have had trouble securing enough dollar reserves during and after the COVID crisis to continue smooth operation of foreign trade. The takeaway from this move is that these countries are dealing with trading partners outside the US that are using other currencies (mostly yuan or euros) rather than the traditional US reserve currency in cross-border transactions. As more and more countries - like Russia - move away from the US dollar reserve currency standard, expect to see more liquidity squeezes and more swap lines extended by the Fed in a desperate attempt to keep the reserve currency plates spinning.

Also, the Fed increased the payout on overnight reverse REPO loans to participating banks flush with cash from 0.01% to 0.05% (five basis points) as banks seek collateral with which to balance their books. The reverse REPO market is deep in the bowels of the monetary system plumbing, but the kep point is that banks and other financial intermediaries have too much cash (which is a line item liability) and not enough collateral (assets).

All of this is causing disturbance in US and global structure, FX, and international commerce, exacerbating an already unstable condition persisting since February 2020.

Exceeding $8 trillion for the first time was the Fed's Balance Sheet as they continued their $120 billion in monthly asset purchasing ($80B in treasuries; $40B in MBS). Regrettably, nobody handed out FED $8,000,000,000,000 hats... yet.

With stocks under pressure, the treasury complex was rallying on the long end while selling off at the short end, flattening the overall curve, a significant development that usually precedes recessions. With 1-month, 2-month, 3-month, 6-month, and one-year bills conveniently parked at 0.01%, 0.02%, 0.03%, 0.04%, and 0.05%, as of last Friday (June 11), respectively, those same maturities ripped higher, to 0.05%, 0.05%, 0.05%, 0.06%, and 0.09% at Friday's close as bidders were bugged by inflation. On the long end, the 10-year rose from 1.47% to 1.57% by Wednesday, then reversed course and closed lower, finishing up at 1.45%, a two basis point trip.

The 30-year was much more of an interesting situation, in which the bedrock of the long term global bond market, the 30-year bond, gained from 2.15% to 2.20% on Wednesday, but then rolled off the table, ending the week at 2.01%, the lowest rate since February 12, matching that rate, all of which points to tightening financial conditions, as banks are unwilling to lend despite having an excessive amount of cash in their coffers.

Simply put, US credit markets have overindulged on debt for too long and are tapped out, constipated with scanty liquidity and near-zero money velocity. Having had only one solution to every crisis since 2008, the Fed has kept the QE spigot open for too long and the system is freezing up.

As usual, when credit becomes the issue, we turn to the faultless analysis of Doug Noland at the Credit Bubble Bulletin for further insight:

The spread between two and 30-year Treasury yields closed Tuesday's (pre-meeting) session at 202 bps. In a mad scramble to unwind "curve steepeners," this spread had contracted 26 bps to 176 bps by Friday's close. The five to 30-year spread sank from 140 to 113 bps.

Suddenly, it will matter that Beijing is determined to slow system Credit growth, putting China's Bubbles in serious jeopardy. Chinese Credit stress matters. It matters that some of the major apartment developers are facing liquidity challenges. Huarong and the other huge asset managers matter. The possibility that Beijing may allow a major financial institution to fail matters tremendously.

Ten-year Treasury yields below 1.50% are sending a signal: there are Bubble fragilities that will impede any effort of policy normalization. QE is here to stay. And after a week of big commodity price drops, it will be easy for some to now dismiss inflation risk ­ or even assert yields indicate prospective deflation. And while bursting Bubbles would surely exert disparate disinflationary pressures, thinking one step ahead I ponder the consequences of the Fed's policy response to the next crisis. I actually doubt it will be that far out into the future. And there are decent odds Trillions of additional liquidity will hit an economy already demonstrating powerful inflationary dynamics.

June 18 ­ Dow Jones (Michael S. Derby): "The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said the economy is seeing more inflation than he and his colleagues had expected, and noted that while there is substantial uncertainty about the outlook, it could lead to a rate increase next yearŠ 'The inflationary impulse, I think, is more intense than we were expecting,' Mr. Bullard said. 'You could see even some upside risks to the inflation forecast, but that's okay' given that the central bank had hoped to get inflation back up over 2% for a time to make up for extended periods of falling short of that goal, he said. At the Fed meeting, officials projected 3.4% inflation this year, up from the 2.4% forecast made in March. Mr. Bullard also noted that Chairman Jerome Powell opened the doorŠ to a central bank debate on paring back on bond-buying stimulus efforts."

WTI Crude Oil rose from $70.88/barrel to a high of $72.15 Wednesday, ending the week at $71.50. With prices in the Saudi comfort zone and North American rig count at 587 (up from 283 a year ago), the US economy re-opening, and summer driving season about to commence, oil prices continue to ramp higher, putting net damper on small business and consumer leisure travel. The US national average gas price at the pump moderated slightly from a high of $3.09 on June 10 to just below $3.06, though higher oil prices and any disruption in supply could cause gas and other distillates to rise once again.

Overall, higher gas prices act as a tax on consumers and business, feeding into the inflation narrative. Moderation could occur if the Saudis ramp up production at these price levels, which are very productive for their economy, but that may not be felt downline for months. Expect oil and gas prices to remain high until such time as the economy begins to falter or there's a wholesale correction in stocks. For now, prices at the pump are manageable and unthreatening to the "recovery" meme.

Gold and silver took a beating over the week, both prior to the Fed announcement and afterwards. Gold, which was over $1900 as recently as June 2nd, nosedived from $1877.64 all the way down to $1,764.34. Silver was similarly mistreated, falling from $27.92 to $25.80, an eight-week low.

While wholesalers on the COMEX and the LBMA fixes were hauling down precious metals prices, retail continued to be hot, with significant signs of shortages in select silver and gold coinages and bars. Many items were available for immediate sale on most online dealer sites, though just as many or more in the same categories were out of stock. Shipping times were largely static, with most available items shipping immediately or within a week to two weeks.

Notably, Scottsdale Mint, a metals fabricator, continues to post a notice that orders are not shipping for four to eight weeks and longer for Eagles, Buffalos and Maples.

Money Daily's weekly survey of eBay prices determined that demand remains strong in silver while gold prices fell in concert with spot, though premiums are still quite high, especially on gold coins.

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

Item: Low / High /Average / Median
1 oz silver coin: 40.25 / 47.90 / 43.66 / 43.82
1 oz silver bar: 39.45 / 54.95 / 44.15 / 41.38
1 oz gold coin: 1,882.72 / 2,033.50 / 1,944.72 / 1,949.78
1 oz gold bar: 1,843.41 / 1,932.78 / 1,870.16 / 1,865.24

Indicating that the r/wallstreetsilver apes (now 113,000 strong) are still working to wreck the COMEX and may have done so already, as retail, immediate shipping prices on eBay have decoupled from the futures and LBMA standards. While silver was losing more than two dollars an ounce at the wholesale level, the Single Ounce Silver Market Price Benchmark (SOSMPB) rose dramatically over the past week from $41.68 to $43.25. Retail demand may become even more relentless as dissatisfaction with US currency and government policies push people toward alternatives and financial safety nets.

Along the lines of that trend, Bitcoin has been frolicking in a range from $33,000 to $41,600 for the past week. In what's becoming something of a regular feature, Bitcoin fell hard Saturday night into Sunday morning, bottoming out $33,347 at 8:20 am ET. Regulators in developed nations continue to eye Bitcoin with grave suspicion, spreading as much fear and resentment for the digital alternative to fiat currency as possible. Meanwhile, new developments in blockchain technology are fomenting a worldwide movement toward cryptocurrencies, with Bitcoin remaining the clear leader.

El Salvador was denied assistance in implementing Bitcoin as legal tender alongside the US dollar by the World Bank and IMF, a development that knowledgable parties had expected. There are rumblings from other Central American countries concerning Bitcoin adoption, if not by government rule, the people of the various countries in the connecting route between North and South America and many Caribbean nations are warming to the prospect of decentralized currency and seeking technological innovation. Developers and entrepreneurs are beginning to beat a path to El Salavador and Guatemala as well as to Texas, as China begins dissuading Bitcoin mining.

The price of Bitcoin on a day-to-day basis is not the whole story of Bitcoin. The original cryptocurrency, now 12 years old, continues to fascinate and attract freedom-seeking individuals and companies from all walks of life and business segments.

Bitcoin is not going away nor will it be regulated out of existence. For every developed nation that bans, regulates, or demonizes the crypto, there are developing or emerging-market nations seeking to engage with it.

The US economy is not as well as mainstream media and financial pundits would like you to believe. The desperation and confusion at the Fed was revealed for all to see this week and the steady decline on the Dow and in stocks in general have given pause to many a would-be stock enthusiast. Built on the shaky ground of an unbalanced economy, an untrustworthy press and incompetent government and monetary officials, the United States sits precariously on a ledge overlooking a currency and liquidity abyss. This summer - which began today - should prove one of the more dynamic and explosive seen in years.

Wishing one and all a pleasant, profitable summer,

That's the WEEKEND WRAP.

At the Close, Friday, June 18, 2021:
Dow: 33,290.08, -533.37 (-1.58%)
NASDAQ: 14,030.38, -130.97 (-0.92%)
S&P 500: 4,166.45, -55.41 (-1.31%)
NYSE: 16,143.95, -267.70 (-1.63%)

For the Week:
Dow: -1189.52 (-3.45%)
NASDAQ: -39.05 (-0.28%)
S&P 500: -80.99 (-1.91%)
NYSE: -550.98 (-3.30%)

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