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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.


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Stocks Slide Into Friday, Looking To End Two Week Skid

Friday, September 18, 2020, 9:10 am ET

Note: Google's Blogger platform (where these posts are created) has forced all users into their new format, which should still be in Beta. Apologies in advance for any formatting or typographical errors (no spell checker that we could find).

Stocks took another dive on Thursday and are looking to close out the week on a positive note. The major indices are still up for the week, but not by much. A repeat of Thursday's action on the NASDAQ would send that index into the red for the third straight week, while the Dow is already up nearly one percent on the week and the SA&P 500 clinging to a 16-point gain.

Inaction by congress to pass another COVID-related stimulus bill has Wall Street somewhat flummoxed to say nothing for the Federal Reserve, which seemed to be begging for some form of fiscal relief, saying that monetary policy alone could not effectively bring about a meaningful recovery.

Futures are indicating an opening with a very slim upside.

At the Close, Thursday, September 18, 2020:
Dow: 27,901.98, -130.40 (-0.47%)
NASDAQ: 10,910.28, -140.19 (-1.27%)
S&P 500: 3,357.01, -28.48 (-0.84%)
NYSE: 12,948.45, -49.41 (-0.38%)

It's Constitution Day; Fed Signals Zero Fed Funds Rate Until 2023; Initial Jobless Claims 860,000; Markets Tanking

Thursday, September 17, 2020, 8:49 am ET

Today is national US Constitution Day.

In case the US constitution is alien to you or you haven't perused it in a while, today might be a good day to refresh your memory on the original document that led to placing America among the greatest nations of the world.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

-- preamble to the constitution of the United State of America

Focusing on the capitalized words alone - Union, Justice, Tranquility, Welfare, Blessings, Liberty, Posterity - consider how the goals of our constitution are being handled today and especially since the 2020 pandemic, now bordering on seven months hence.

As a country, the United States can hardly be called a Union under today's circumstances. Cities across the country have been set on edge and ablaze by notorious terrorist groups such as ANTIFA and BLM, whose insistence on putting race above reason and union are tearing the country apart, community by community.

These very same people call for Justice while burning, looting, rioting, demanding that all Americans respect the credo of "Black Lives Matter" over all else, insisting that "All Lives Matter" is not appropriate to their cause and that "White Privilege" and "Systemic Racism" are at the root of their protestation, which, at its heart is divisive, disruptive, and degenerative.

Because of these people, there is no Tranquility. Most of them would prefer to be on Welfare rather than take on a job and work for an honest living.

They are able to spread their message of racism and hatred with the Blessings of large swaths of the Democrat party, many mayors and city councils, and a compliant media which fails repeatedly to point out the failure of their messaging.

Thanks to the media, the rioters and protesters, the self-ordained medical junta, the governors of various states, and mayors of various cities, individual Liberty has been denied and obstructed via unconstitutional edicts, recommendations, orders, and draconian lockdown measures.

At the pace the country is going, we will leave to our Posterity not a nation, but the picked over bones of what was once a place endowed with a proud history, a land of opportunity, a welcoming refuge from tyranny and oppression.

As far as honoring and adhering to our constitution, the Federal Reserve System, a private banking organization which, in 1913, was granted a charter to pillage the American people with a fiat currency in the form of bills of credit (Federal Reserve Notes), in contravention to the constitution that nothing other than gold and silver can be used as legal tender. When it created the charter for the Federal Reserve System, congress exceeded its authority to assign the power of issuing legal tender as bills of credit.

For 107 years, the United States has been operating with a bank charter that is neither constitutional nor legal and the current congress steadfastly refuses to amend the charter for the Federal Reserve or expunge it entirely.

Americans will never be free until the Federal Reserve System is completely nullified and constitutional money, backed by gold and silver reinstated.

Adding insult atop a century of injury, on Wednesday, the Federal Reserve concluded another of its Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) policy meetings on Wednesday, stating that it would keep its key lending rate - the federal funds rate (or intra-bank rate) - at or near zero until 2023.

In the press conference following the policy announcement, Chairman Jerome Powell suggested that congress and the president need to pass another stimulus bill, as if the Fed's own endless monetary magic, via creation of currency out of thin air and backstopping or buying all debt, from corporate bonds, to junk, to treasuries, to munis, wasn't already enough of a monstrosity.

Action on a second major coronavirus stimulus bill has been stalled in congress since late July and prospects of anything passing through the House and Senate to the president's desk are dim.

The House is scheduled to go into recess on October 3rd and not return until after the elections. The Senate is scheduled for a recess beginning October 12.

On the Fed's policy announcement Wednesday - the final FOMC meeting prior to the November 3 elections - stocks, which were mixed prior to the 2:00 pm ET announcement, initially rose, but uniformly fell as the trading day commenced, with the Dow and NYSE Composite barely holding onto slim gains and the NASDAQ and S&P 500 finishing in the red.

As Thursday's opening bell approached, the weekly initial unemployment claims data was released, sending stock futures further into negative territory when new claims came in 860,000, close to the prior two weeks which saw 880,000 initial claims.

Initial claims such as have been witnessed since the beginning of the pandemic in March have been exaggerated over previous recessions, where initial claims would run hot - around 600-800,000 per week -at the start, but settle into a lower range of 250-380,000. Current initial and ongoing claims are well beyond historic norms.

As of this writing, Dow futures are off by about one percent; NASDAQ futures are down more than two percent.

Get ready for another culling.

At the Close, Wednesday, September 16, 2020:
Dow: 28,032.38, +36.78 (+0.13%)
NASDAQ: 11,050.47, -139.86 (-1.25%)
S&P 500: 3,385.49, -15.71 (-0.46%)
NYSE: 12,997.86, +30.67 (+0.24%)

How Big A Bubble Can The Fed Blow And How Low Can Interest Rates Go?

Wednesday, September 16, 2020, 9:09 am ET

September 2, 2020: NASDAQ reaches an all-time closing high of 12,056.44.

Twelve years prior, on the same date in 2008, the NASDAQ was still recovering from the dotcom meltdown and 9-11 attacks, closing at 2,349.24. Six months later, the NAZ would find itself at nearly half that value, 1,268.64, as the sub-prime crisis took its toll. If you bought at the high in 2008 and held, your annualized return is 14.6% compounded. If you bought at the low, it's 20.65% and your investment is worth nearly 10 times what you paid just 12 years ago. That is simply not realistic.

Following both the dotcom/9-11 and sub-prime declines, the Federal Reserve stepped up and adjusted markets so that they would recover via cuts in the federal funds rate. In 2000, the Fed cut the rate from 6.5% to 3.5% just before 9-11. After that, the Fed reduced the federal funds rate first by a full percentage point, and eventually all the way down to one percent.

The one percent rate - which was supposed to be temporary - did last only one year, from July 2003 to June 2004, during which time the US engaged in a war with Iraq. Then, the Fed embarked on a series of 25 basis point raises, peaking out at 5.25% from July 2006 to July 2007. After that came sub-prime, and the Fed dropping its key interest rate rapidly. Over the course of the next 17 months (August 2007 to December 2008) the Fed lowered the federal funds rate all the way down to a range between 0.00% and 0.25%.

Again, this historic ultra-low interest rate was supposed to be temporary, but this time, temporary was longer. Stretching from December, 2008 until December, 2015, the Fed kept the federal funds rate at whats now known as the "zero-bound," a range between 0.00% and 0.25%.

When the Fed thought the economy was strong enough for it to increase interest rates again, they began a series of 0.25% hikes. From December, 2015 to December, 2018, they managed to get the federal funds rate back up to a range between 2.25-2.50%. with the economy faltering again, they cut, from July to December, 2019, by one percent, back to 1.25-1.50%.

At the end of February, 2020, the rate stood at around 1.50%, but along came the coronavirus and the Fed, in two swift moves, knocked their key rate all the way down to 0.00-0.25% again, the actual rate steadying between 0.05% and 0.10%, where it remains today. Stocks, which fell off the table in March, have recovered to make record highs in the NASDAQ and S&P, with the Dow getting to within two percent of its previous all-time high.

Once again, this zero-bound rate is supposed to be temporary. Bear in mind that the first temporary cut lasted a year, but the second - from 2008 to 2015, lasted seven years. The current low rate may, extrapolating from past experience, may last 40 years or longer, though the Fed has hedged itself via all manner of bond-buying schemes they call "facilities" designed to keep America's big business - and the rest of the world - afloat. In that case, most of the people invested in stocks will be dead or dying, the world and its broken markets handed off to new generations.

Snapping back to reality, the Fed can't actually keep its key rate at zero for 40 years and everybody knows that. They are faced with two bad choices: 1) follow Japan and Europe into the land of negative rates, or 2) do nothing and hope for the best.

The Fed does have two other options, and they are similar. One is to scuttle the whole facade of currency created at interest, backed by nothing and return to a standard of currency backed by something tangible, like gold or silver, or, scrap it all and introduce a currency again created by debt and backed by nothing, but this time make it digital, with no actual coins or bills, a cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin.

That last option is the one they're likely to take, it being the easy way out, where they don't have to admit their abject failure, and one in which they could conceivably - in their boxy, self-centered minds - keep interest rates at or near zero for 40 years or longer. Or at two percent, or five. After all, they control the currency and all aspects of it. They can do whatever they like.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but such an action by the Fed would be disastrous for just about everybody. As it stands today, most people are completely unsure about the future, be it the next month, next year or next decade. More people are out of work than ever before (go ahead, include welfare, disability and other government non-work programs in an unemployment calculation and see what you get), and the economy of not just the United States, but the whole planet, is in the toilet and about to be flushed.

If the Fed replaces the dollar with a cryptocurrency, a "digital dollar," they're also likely to introduce some form of UBI, or Basic Universal Income. They will pay people not to work.

Adam Smith, the father of modern economics, based his theories on three forms of capital: labor, currency, and hard assets, the most important of which was labor. If the Fed - which has already reduced the value of currency to zero - institutes UBI, they'll have taken away the second leg of the three-legged stool which is economics, labor, and reduced its value to nothing. An economy, be it local, national, or global, cannot stand on a one-legged stool, the remaining leg being hard assets, those being business equipment and facilities, land, gold, and silver.

Adamant about keeping nothing but the fiat currencies of the world functioning, the Fed will take quite the circuitous route to asset-backed currency and restoration of the value of labor. In the interim - be it four years or 40 - the global economy will crash and burn. The Fed - itself a private bank owned by people and institutions veiled off from the general public - and their central bank allies - will buy up everything of value for pennies on the dollar, a dollar which they themselves created. It's the worst and most devastating scam in the history of the world and it's unfolding right before our tired eyes.

Naturally, the Fed's plans do not operate in a vacuum. There are other pieces to their twisted puzzle, most significant among them the will of individuals and groups of individuals opposed to he ongoing destruction of the currency, the economy, and their lives.

We see it already in the "prepper" movement, Marxist ANTIFA and BLM protesting, looting, and rioting, goldbugs, silver stackers, and those who have opted out, returned to land and water, to farming, to a subsistence lifestyle.

Therein lies the future. The vast majority of people on planet Earth, perhaps as many as 95% of them, have no idea of what has been happening or is occurring. They will be the beneficiaries of the new world order of cryptocurrency, universal basic income, fast food made from GMO elements or worse, centralized media and educational propaganda, the big pharma medical monopoly, and what basically amounts to slavery.

People who believe they have a choice will try to take different paths to the future but they will be largely on their own because they are vastly outnumbered by those who don't believe they have any choices.

Take a look around. See how many people are wearing masks. See how few aren't and there are your answers to today's headline. Interest rates cannot go any lower (though they might), and the Fed bubble can be enormous. As large a bubble they blow, it is likely to be their last.

The NASDAQ is fewer than 900 points off its all-time high. It will almost certainly exceed that number, probably within weeks. The value of stocks has never been so extreme and all of it because the Federal Reserve has managed to decimate the purchasing power of the currency - the US dollar - by 98% since its inception in 1913.

Good luck with your stocks and bonds, all electronic, trapped in investment vehicles which you neither own nor control, and of little to no real value. In the long run, they will buy nearly nothing.

At the Close, Tuesday, September 15, 2020:
Dow: 27,995.60, +2.27 (+0.01%)
NASDAQ: 11,190.32, +133.67 (+1.21%)
S&P 500: 3,401.20, +17.66 (+0.52%)
NYSE: 12,967.18, +34.50 (+0.27%)

Wall Street Entirely Detached From Economic Reality

Tuesday, September 15, 2020, 8:38 am ET

Because nothing in the financial universe travels in straight lines, stocks took the high road on Monday to prove to the world that all is well, everywhere, all the time.

Meanwhile, just a few headlines:

Protest in Kalamazoo, MI
Protests, Lancaster, PA
Protests, Cops Shot, Los Angeles, CA
Planned Protests of President Visiting Philadelphia
Protests, Sacramento, CA
Protests, St. Louis, MO

At Least 50 Shot, 10 Dead in Chicago Weekend Shootings
Shootings, Grand Rapids, MI
At Least 6 Dead in NYC Weekend Violence
Detroit, MI: 4 Weekend Homicides
46 Shot, 12 Dead in Baltimore Shootings

Food Banks In San Francisco Double
Feeding America Says 54 Million May Need Food Banks In 2020
Greater Chicago Food Depository Sees Increased Demand
Increased Demand At Memphis Food Banks

That's just a sampling of what's going on in the world's largest economy. Apparently, investors see protests, violence, and starvation as net positives.

At the Close, Monday, September 14, 2020:
Dow: 27,993.33, +327.69 (+1.18%)
NASDAQ: 11,056.65, +203.11 (+1.87%)
S&P 500: 3,383.54, +42.57 (+1.27%)
NYSE: 12,932.69, +159.65 (+1.25%)

WEEKEND WRAP: Stocks Fall For Second Straight Week; Oil Skids; EU Seeks Digital Currency

Sunday, September 13, 2020, 10:00 am ET

For the second consecutive week, equity investments in big caps looked like the wrong place to be plying currency in these turbulent times. Led by the NASDAQ and S&P 500, stocks dumped in three of three of the four trading days following the Labor Day weekend. Hard hit were household tech names like Apple, Amazon, Google, Tesla, and Netflix, but bank stocks also participated in the widespread selling as did almost every other market segment.

Key elements driving the declines remained as they have for months: coronavirus, lockdowns, school and business closures, election concerns, mass protests, and occasional rioting. Adding to the mix were forest fires devastating Western states and ongoing international trade disputations, especially those between China and the United States. The EU had its own spat going with Great Britain, which has decided to chart its own course in its ongoing separation from the mainland economic bloc.

Overriding all of the usual issues was the usually-ineffective congress, which continued to flail about over any kind of relief resolution. It's not so much that the house and senate can't come to mutually-agreeable terms, it's more that as a legislative governing body they are feckless, unrepresentative, unresponsive and devoid of common sense. On capitol hill, there's little interest to come to the aid of the masses. It is almost as if, suddenly, the entire congress has re-discovered fiscal responsibility. Don't count on it, though. They just don't want to help out the American public, looking down from their preening and primping perches on the huddled minions like all tyrannical bodies are prone to do.

So, Wall Street managed to express its disapproval the only way it can, by selling, instead of buying, stocks. Ho-hum. Major indices all managed to end the week nesting at or near their 50-day moving averages, a meaningless tactic by the monied gang of crooks and thieves masquerading as America's bankers and financial genii. Stocks dare not fall below desirous levels, lest they incur the ire of the almighty Federal Reserve, of which its federal open market committee (FOMC) meets this coming week (Tuesday and Wednesday).

After all, the Fed has, following the fast crash of March, put the money people onto easy street once again via a binge-buying of virtually all outstanding debt, backstopping even the riskiest loans and hoisting up companies that should be headed to bankruptcy proceedings. Stocks cannot be allowed to lose value. Not only would that truncate the V-shaped-recovery narrative, but it would send shock waves of negative sentiment throughout the economy. The Fed will not stand for that, so it is expected to become the soul of dovishness as the coming week progresses.

So much is predicated on the Fed "put" that it had better work out to the advantage of the one-percenters. Otherwise, a hard dose of economic reality might just cause real panic, a shakeout from over-indulgent investment chasing, an abrupt end to churning, controlling, high-frequency spoofing, and a host of big money hijinks hat keep the wheels of financialization intact.

There might not be a crash, but a slow, steady decline in stock prices seems to be well underway. This second leg down won't inspire shock and awe, headlines of doom, or frightening one-day drops. It will be more like Chinese water torture: precise and deliberate, exacting excruciating dull pain over a long period.

Treasuries are catching onto the game gradually. All issuance of less than five years duration has been at the zero-bound for months and is not moving nor movable. The 10-year note took the bulk of the safety play, dropping five basis points in yield to end the week at a moribund 0.67%. The 30-year dropped four, to 1.42%.

Oil was the big "tell" of the week, losing any momentum it may have had, with WTI crude settling out at $37.33 a barrel, down 14% from its high of $43.39 on August 26. If stocks aren't willing to tell the whole story, oil, which greases the skids of the global economy is screaming a "run for the hills" signal.

As is usually the case when stocks get hit, precious metals had to be spanked as well, despite there being no correlation between stocks and gold or silver, but rather, in a sane world, an inverse relationship might apply.

Rather than taking an overt beating, gold actually gained on the week, though not by much. Closing out on September 4 at $1,933.94, it ended this week at $1,940.55. Silver actually did lose a little, trading down from $26.91 to $26.73 per ounce. Both moves in the metals were well short of one percent, which has to offer some hope for the proponents of real money, as the main stock indices fell anywhere from one to four percent on the week. There's always something good to be said about out-performance.

Here are the latest prices on eBay for common gold and silver items (numismatics excluded, shipping - often free - included):

Item: Low / High / Average / Mean
1 oz silver coin: 32.74 / 45.10 / 39.27 / 40.03
1 oz silver bar: 32.94 / 44.20 / 35.42 / 34.02
1 oz gold coin: 1,929.90 / 2,324.37 / 2,077.02 / 2,070.47
1 oz gold bar: 2,028.90 / 2,111.09 / 2,057.38 / 2,056.68

Notably, the ECB has been, and continues to explore the possibility of the creation of a central bank digital currency (CBDC). Central banks are afraid that big tech firms with their own digital currencies could shut them and government out of their monetary roles in national and international economies.

Now, wouldn't that be a crying shame. Central banks - all of them private institutions - wouldn't be able to wouldn't be able to issue currency at interest, create mountains of debt, impoverish millions of people, change interest rates at their pleasure, intervene in markets, prop up failing businesses, distort and destroy price discovery, leverage deposits as loans at 20:1, 30:1 or even more ridiculous ratios, create massive asset bubbles, stoke inflation, track and record all transactions, and generally enslave the entire global population with currencies backed by nothing but their own hot air and blind faith.

Would the world be a better place with a Bitcoin standard or even a Libra, the blockchain currency that is the brainchild of Facebook?

Perhaps, though the dangers are inherent and obvious. While Bitcoin, Etherium and all cryptocurrencies are supposedly secure - though most of them have been hacked or otherwise compromised - they're all electronic and would cease to operate at the most critical of times, when the lights go out. The same applies to Libra or any other privately-held cryptos, plus, they would be subject to the dictates of their owners, and less prone to market forces.

Blockchain-based currencies have the advantages of being stable, portable and divisible, but they are by no means a store of value. Only currencies backed by physical assets, such as gold and silver, maintain that standard. The ultimate answer trends toward diversification and convertibility, in terms of sovereign currencies backed by the natural holdings of individual nations, be it oil, gold, silver, water, energy, or whatever is the unique strength of a country.

It would be refreshing - if not preposterous to the central bankers of the world - to hear considerations of tried and true currencies backed by gold and silver rather than the perverse fascination with untested techno-centric solutions, but that, sadly, is not the case. The world is hurtling toward digital money at breakneck speed. Central banks have been plotting and planning its rollout for years and it will become reality. It will be centralized, globalized, prone to error and miscalculation, hackable, inconsistent, unstable, and likely to cause more deprivation and suffering than the world has been forced to bear through the last 50 years of the failing fiat experiment.

At the Close, Friday, September 11, 2020:
Dow: 27,665.64. +131.06 (+0.48%)
NASDAQ: 10,853.54, -66.05 (-0.60%)
S&P 500: 3,340.97, +1.78 (+0.05%)
NYSE: 12,773.04, +66.35 (+0.52%)

For the Week:
Dow: -467.67 (-1.66%)
NASDAQ: -459.59 (-4.06%)
S&P 500: -85.99 (-2.51%)
NYSE: -144.11 (-1.12%)

Disclaimer: Information disseminated on this site should not be construed as investment advice. Downtown Magazine, Money Daily and it's owners, affiliates and/or employees are not investment advisors and do not offer specific investment advice. All investments have risk. You should consult a professional investment advisor or stock broker or use your individual judgement when making investment decisions. By viewing this site, you hold harmless Downtown Magazine, Money Daily, its owners, affiliates and employees against any and all liability.