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[Markets] FedEx Cargo Jet Narrowly Averts Collision With Southwest Plane At Texas Airport FedEx Cargo Jet Narrowly Averts Collision With Southwest Plane At Texas Airport

A FedEx cargo jet averted crashing into a Southwest Airlines commercial plane while attempting to land at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Texas. 

The FedEx jet, a Boeing 767, was cleared to land on the same runway early Saturday morning when a Southwest jet, a 737, was cleared to takeoff.  

According to the flight tracking website Flightradar24, the FedEx jet pulled up with full thrust at the very last second to prevent what could've been a devastating air disaster. 

"The pilot of the FedEx airplane discontinued the landing and initiated a climb out," the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said in a statement.

Later in the day, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) tweeted, "NTSB is investigating a surface event at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport Saturday, a possible runway incursion and overflight involving airplanes from Southwest Airlines and FedEx." 

The FAA and NTSB said they are investigating the incident. 

Tyler Durden Sun, 02/05/2023 - 08:45
Published:2/5/2023 7:58:28 AM
[Markets] UK's "Nudge Unit" Pushes Various Online PsyOps When People Shop To Build "Net Zero Society" UK's "Nudge Unit" Pushes Various Online PsyOps When People Shop To Build "Net Zero Society"

Authored by Didi Rankovic via,

The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) – started by the UK government to then in late 2021 become owned by Nesta, which describes itself as an independent charity focused on innovation – has a new report out.

And while its authors present it as a useful “guide” toward building “a net zero society,” what observers critical of this content have taken away from it is that it is promoting, and detailing, various forms of psychological manipulation of people.

The problem that Behavioural Insights Team (aka, “Nudge Unit”) has found for itself to solve is a part of the climate change narrative, where achieving “net zero” means doing away with greenhouse gas emissions.

And they don’t seem to care if the way to get there is through direct manipulation of people, specifically online, via prompts (“nudges”) toward making choices that are not really theirs but serve the agenda.

These choices concern and consume people’s everyday lives: what they wear, what and how much they eat, how they travel to work, whether that job is “climate-friendly,” how they travel just in general and where to, for example, for a vacation.

These are all examples of what the report aims to affect from the behavioral perspective, and clearly, the “solution” is to actively push citizens toward “social transformation.”

In this sense, the report recommends putting prompts in apps that would seek to direct the user to order less takeaway food through what critics might call “reality transformation” – one suggestion is changing the name of small portions to “regular portions.”

At one point, the report mentions BIT case study 4, which deals with “exploring” the role of social media influencers as vehicles to promote “green behaviors.”

BIT case study 12, meanwhile, is about “Helping Solent Transport deliver an effective ‘Mobility as a Service’ app.” Solent Transport is a partnership with local transport authorities, while the main idea here is “encouraging people out of cars” and “nudging” them toward other means of transportation.

BIT case study 15 is one about “encouraging” customers to order smaller portions on takeaway platforms.

Several suggestions are made to make “sustainable food easy,” including utilizing the fact that online shopping “gives many opportunities to provide timely substitution prompts, or encourage personalized goals and tips linked to product filters and ranking.”

BIT says that in producing these case studies of interventions, it partnered with “HMG, the French government, UAE’s Crown Prince Court, World Wildlife Forum, Unilever, Tesco, Sky, Gumtree, and Cogo,” among others.

*  *  *

If you're tired of censorship, cancel culture, and the erosion of civil liberties subscribe to Reclaim The Net.

Tyler Durden Sun, 02/05/2023 - 07:35
Published:2/5/2023 6:58:52 AM
[Markets] This Recession Indicator Has Been Foolproof for 70 Years: Here's What It Says Happens Next When the curtain closed on 2022, the iconic Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI), benchmark S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC), and technology-dependent Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX: ^IXIC) all entered respective bear markets and produced their worst returns since 2008. The abysmal performance of these core stock indexes has a lot of investors asking whether a U.S. recession is unavoidable. Unfortunately, there is no crystal ball that allows us to look into the future and know with concrete certainty whether a recession is coming. Published:2/5/2023 4:27:42 AM
[Markets] Everything You Need To Know About The Lab Leak (But Were Not Allowed To Ask) Everything You Need To Know About The Lab Leak (But Were Not Allowed To Ask)

Authored by Pat Fidopiastis via The Brownstone Institute,

Between 2014 and 2019, US tax dollars were funneled to the Wuhan Institute of Virology via EcoHealth Alliance. Given that US scientists have far more virology expertise than the Chinese, this begs an obvious question: what type of research were US tax dollars paying for in Wuhan, China? Dr. Fauci’s surprising statement in an interview might provide the short answer to this question: “You don’t want to go to Hoboken, NJ or Fairfax, VA to be studying the bat-human interface that might lead to an outbreak, so you go to China.” 

Given what we’ve endured for the past three years, Fauci’s “so you go to China” comment suggests that he hadn’t considered the global implications of a highly transmissible coronavirus leaking from a Chinese lab plagued by serious safety issues. 

Unwilling to admit that he, EcoHealth Alliance, and their Chinese collaborators, are suspects in one of the largest crimes against humanity, Fauci instead opted to conspire with his boss, Francis Collins, to declare “lab leak” a “destructive conspiracy” that must be “put down.” Sadly, it’s clear that from the beginning, these two distinguished scientists made up their minds about virus origin without evidence from both sides of the debate. 

Even worse, renowned scientists that rely on Fauci for their research funding, fearful of sanctions being placed on their life’s work, rallied around the “anti-lab leak” stance. One of the premier scientific journals, Science, whose political bias has become very apparent, attempted to provide legitimacy to Fauci’s position by publishing a paper by authors that claimed “dispositive evidence” that SARS-CoV-2 emerged from an animal at the Wuhan market. This paper allegedly “crushed” the lab-leak hypothesis, despite leaving much room for debate. 

The good news is that Big Tech, scientific journals, and most media sources were forced to stop censoring countervailing evidence as it reached critical mass and began spilling over into the public domain. Far from being a “conspiracy,” there is a lot of evidence that strongly suggests SARS-CoV-2 is an engineered virus that spread from a Wuhan virology lab. Before getting into the evidence that SARS-CoV-2 was engineered and leaked from a lab, let’s start a debate around the “dispositive evidence” that SARS-CoV-2 is natural and emerged from the Wuhan market. 

The “market origin hypothesis” is based on four debatable premises  

The entirety of the “dispositive evidence” for market origin cited by Dr. Fauci and others can be summed up as follows: 1) “Early” cases allegedly lived near the market, 2) “early” SARS-CoV-2 lineages were allegedly associated with the market, 3) wild animals susceptible to COVID-19 were sold at the market, and 4) positive SARS-CoV-2 samples were found in the environment around the market and were allegedly “linked to human cases.” For many reasons, some of which are discussed here, none of this evidence is anywhere near “dispositive.” This is why reviewers forced the authors to remove the phrase “dispositive evidence” as a requirement for publication.   

Did “early cases” really live near the market?

The Science paper relied on a joint World Health Organization (WHO)-China report to define “early cases” as those that occurred in December 2019. However, the joint WHO-China report also states: “Based on molecular sequence data, the results suggested that the outbreak may have started sometime in the months before the middle of December 2019.” 

This statement seems more in line with other evidence that the pandemic started earlier than December 2019. Urgent communications from the highest levels of the Chinese government circulating at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in November 2019 reported a “complex and grave situation” at the lab. Was this “grave situation” the start of a SARS-CoV-2 “lab leak” unfolding in real -time, weeks before the rest of the world was made aware of the imminent pandemic? 

There were also multiple reports from Chinese media and even the venerable Lancet that documented initial cases started before December 2019, as well as lab-based evidence of international spread as early as November 2019. Furthermore, shouldn’t we be alarmed that a group led by Chinese military scientists applied for a COVID-19 vaccine patent in February 2020? 

If the first COVID-19 cases really were in December 2019, this means that inexperienced Chinese military researchers somehow managed to produce a COVID-19 vaccine based on traditional, less efficient methodology, in a little over a month. For comparison, it took vaccine giant Pfizer about 9 months to produce their vaccine based on more efficient mRNA methodology. Accurately pinpointing the true start date of the pandemic would allow us to assess how meaningful the “early cases” data are. If countervailing evidence is correct and cases that preceded December 2019 were missed or ignored, then a dataset beginning in December would most likely lead to flawed conclusions about pandemic origin.

Were “early virus lineages” really associated with the market?

In perhaps the clearest evidence of a crime scene coverup, Chinese scientists quietly removed from public databases at least 13 genome sequences representing the earliest SARS-CoV-2 strains. There is no legitimate reason for doing that. Fortunately, the files had been backed up before they were removed, allowing Dr. Jesse Bloom to be the first to retrieve them from Google Cloud and analyze them. 

This is proof that the Science paper many claimed to have “crushed” the lab leak was unlikely to be fully representative of the viruses spreading at the start of the pandemic. Adding to the intrigue, one of the authors of the Science paper attempted to intimidate Dr. Bloom so he would not publish his findings. If the evidence for a natural origin of SARS-CoV-2 is so “dispositive,” why would anyone feel the need to censor an expert like Dr. Bloom? 

Animals susceptible to COVID-19 were sold at the market but none tested positive.

Some of the animals trafficked at the market had been experimentally infected with SARS-CoV-2 in labs or deemed theoretically susceptible based on the presence of compatible receptors. However, the WHO-China Report revealed that none of the 457 samples taken from 188 animals at the market tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. A criticism of these negative results is that the market was “under-sampled.” The SARS-CoV-1 pandemic of 2003-2004 spread around the world causing about 8,000 documented infections, resulting in about 800 deaths. Chinese scientists mobilized immediately and within a few months discovered an identical virus that naturally occurs in palm civet cats that were sold in Chinese markets.  

Yet here we are, three years later, thousands of additional animals have been sampled, millions of genomic sequences analyzed, and nothing close to SARS-CoV-2 has yet to be detected in nature. Why is that?

Positive environmental samples found at the market were taken too late to infer virus origin

SARS-CoV-2-positive environmental samples were detected at the market. However, the samples were taken between January and March 2020. By January, the virus had likely been spreading in Wuhan for more than a month, and had already spread internationally, so how much can we deduce from these samples taken from the heavily trafficked market, weeks after the pandemic started? In fact, those responsible for collecting the samples concluded, “Tthe market might have acted as an amplifier due to the high number of visitors every day.”

In other words, infected people most likely entered the crowded market and spread the virus. It’s notable that many of the positive samples came from vendor stalls in which “aquatic products,” seafood, and vegetables were sold. None of these products could be a natural reservoir for SARS-CoV-2. In fact, the WHO-China report concludes that many of the environmental samples reflect “contamination from cases” (i.e., infected people) given how widely distributed the virus was by then. 

The following is a review of some of the lab-based and circumstantial evidence supporting “lab leak.” Hopefully, this analysis will lay the foundation for honest, thoughtful discussion, leading to a true understanding of the origin of SARS-CoV-2. If we can’t have honesty, how will we ever minimize the chances of this happening again?

Early strains of SARS-CoV-2 were unnaturally human adapted

The “natural origin” hypothesis contends that SARS-CoV-2 spilled over into humans from an animal in December 2019. A virus that so recently jumped to humans from an animal should not bind to human cells with higher affinity than the animal host it came from. However, at the beginning of the pandemic, Dr. Nikolai Petrovsky’s lab made the startling discovery that the earliest known strains of SARS-CoV-2 were unnaturally human-adapted. 

In fact, these strains showed highest affinity for human cell receptors over receptors from bats, pangolins, and about eleven other animals known to harbor coronaviruses. Dr. Petrovsky submitted this important research to a top journal, Nature, in August 2020. In an egregious example of censorship, Nature delayed publishing the paper until June 2021, corresponding to when Dr. Fauci finally admitted that a lab leak could have started the pandemic.

There was financial motivation and established methodology for creating pandemic viruses

A rejected 2018 grant proposal submitted to DARPA that includes EcoHealth Alliance and Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) collaborators gives us enough information to figure out the motivation and methodology that likely created SARS-CoV-2. The primary goal of the grant was to create a “complete inventory” of SARS-like coronaviruses taken from several bat caves in China. 

What follows is a streamlined version of the workflow proposed by the researchers: 1) add the spike proteins from these novel bat coronaviruses to a previously characterized SARS-like bat coronavirus core, and insert genetic modifications to spike proteins for enhanced infectivity if necessary, 2) infect “humanized” mice with these lab-made viruses, 3) flag chimeric viruses capable of infecting the mice as potential pandemic strains, and 4) prepare “spike” protein vaccines from these potential pandemic strains and use them to “immunize” bats in caves (Fig. 1). 

Fig. 1. Risky research methodology used by EcoHealth Alliance, WIV, and their collaborators to attempt to create bat vaccines. There’s no way of knowing in advance the pandemic potential of unnatural, chimeric SARS-like viruses created in this workflow.

The authors of the DARPA proposal discuss the importance of spike protein cleavage by human enzymes such as furin in the ability of coronaviruses to spread optimally and become pandemic strains. Notably, they proposed to insert “human-specific cleavage sites” (e.g., furin cleavage site, FCS) in spike proteins that lack the functional cleavage sites and then “evaluate growth potential” of the modified viruses in human cells. 

They further proposed to modify cleavage sites in highly abundant, low-risk SARS-like viruses taken from Chinese bat caves. These studies are precisely the type of work that could accidentally or intentionally create pandemic viruses. Although the proposal states that chimeric virus work would be done at the University of North Carolina, by Fauci’s own admission, “I can’t guarantee everything that’s going on in the Wuhan lab, we can’t do that.”  Furthermore, whenever a proposal this large (i.e., a $14 million request) is submitted, a great deal of the work will have already been done in advance to provide the “proof of concept” needed to sway reviewers. 

The unique furin cleavage site in SARS-CoV-2 is evidence of genetic engineering 

Many natural coronaviruses contain an FCS, so why is an FCS in SARS-CoV-2 so suspicious? The answer is that the genomes of thousands of coronaviruses from hundreds of different animals have been sequenced, and it’s clear that only distant relatives of SARS-CoV-2 have an FCS (see Fig 1ATable 1). 

The closest known sibling of SARS-CoV-2, a bat coronavirus named RaTG13, at best weakly infects human cells and lacks an FCS. SARS-CoV is another sibling of SARS-CoV-2, and like all the other known siblings, also lacks an FCS. Without an FCS, SARS-CoV-1 spread around the world in 2003-2004 but fizzled out after infecting about 8,000 people. A comparison of the short stretch of amino acids in the spike protein clearly reveals the missing FCS in these SARS-CoV-2 siblings (Fig. 2). 

Fig. 2. Comparison of partial spike protein amino acids showing the FCS of SARS-CoV-2 (i.e., “PRRAR”), and the lack of FCS in two of its siblings. Different letters represent unique amino acids. Identical amino acids in all three viruses are highlighted in yellow; dashed lines indicate the missing FCS. 

The unique genetic code of the SARS-CoV-2 furin cleavage site is evidence of genetic engineering

In coronaviruses, the blueprint for assembling proteins such as the surface spikes needed for infection lies in their RNA genome. The specific genomic sequence that encodes the short, all-important FCS within the SARS-CoV-2 spike is: CCU CGG CGG GCA CGU. Each three-letter bit of code (i.e., codon) dictates the specific amino acid to be used in building the FCS. Thus, CCU encodes “P” (for proline), CGG encodes “R” (for arginine), GCA encodes “A” (for alanine), and CGU also encodes “R.” 

As you can see, there is redundancy in the genetic code (e.g., there are six different codons that a virus can use to encode arginine). The odd feature of the SARS-CoV-2 FCS is the double CGG codons. In fact, CGG is one of the rarest codons in human coronaviruses, yet there just so happens to be two right next to each other in the FCS, one of the most important sequences in the entire 29,903 “letters” making up the SARS-CoV-2 genome. 

In fact, these are the only two CGG codons out of the 3,822 “letters” encoding the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, and they are the only instance of a CGG-CGG doublet in any of the closest relatives of SARS-CoV-2. Notably, an arginine-rich FCS enhances the ability of coronaviruses to infect cells. At this point, it should not surprise anyone that CGG codons are the preferred code for genetic engineers who wish to produce an arginine-containing protein in human cells. It’s hard to deny that the CGG-CGG in the SARS-CoV-2 FCS is “smoking gun”-level evidence of genetic tampering.  

Suspicious cut sites in the SARS-CoV-2 genome are evidence of genetic engineering

One method to create chimeric viruses utilizes specialized genome-cutting enzymes called “Endonucleases.” Endonucleases can be used to cut virus genomes in specific places, then the pieces can be strategically recombined to create chimeric viruses. Cut sites are randomly distributed in the genomes of natural viruses, but they can be precisely inserted or removed by scientists to make chimeric viruses in a laboratory. BsmBI and BsaI are two examples of endonucleases that co-authors of the DARPA grant used in previous work to make chimeric coronaviruses. 

When present, the distribution of BsmBI and BsaI cut sites in viruses isolated from nature (e.g., SARS-CoV-1) are randomly distributed throughout the genome. Meanwhile, the distribution of cut sites in SARS-CoV-2 appear to be non-random and suggest genetic manipulation in a laboratory (Fig. 3). Curiously, a previous study involving EcoHealth Alliance described the insertion of two BsaI cut sites in a bat coronavirus called “WIV1” (i.e., Wuhan Institute of Virology 1), allowing scientists to make changes to the spike protein (see S9 Fig. Spike substitution strategy). 

Two BsaI cut sites can be found in the SARS-CoV-2 genome (Fig. 3) in the same location as BsaI cut sites engineered into WIV1 back in 2017. The astronomical odds of this being coincidence cannot be overstated. According to the authors, “BsaI or BsmBI sites were introduced into the [spike]. Then any spike could be substituted into the genome of [lab engineered WIV1] through this strategy.” The same strategy might have been used in the construction of what would become the SARS-CoV-2 genome.

Fig. 3. Distribution of BsmBI and BsaI cut sites in the genomes of the two pandemic SARS viruses. SARS-CoV-1 is a natural virus with cut sites that are randomly distributed, while distribution of cut sites in the SARS-CoV-2 genome appear to be non-random. The black bar represents the location of the spike gene; the FCS region is highlighted in red. BsaI can be used to cut out and replace most of the SARS-CoV-2 spike, including FCS, to alter virus infectivity.

Strong circumstantial evidence supports the lab- leak hypothesis

Three years into the current pandemic, with thousands of animals sampled and millions of genome sequences analyzed, nothing close to SARS-CoV-2 has been found in nature. In stark contrast to 2003-2004, China’s early response to COVID-19 was “disappearing” scientists and journalists, obfuscation, and deflecting blame for starting the pandemic away from themselves onto everything from the US Army to imported frozen fish. This is exactly the type of behavior you might expect from a guilty party.

No one (except maybe the dishonest Chinese government) has ever denied that the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic is Wuhan, China. But what are the odds that such an explosive outbreak originated at the Wuhan market? This is just one market out of about 40,000 markets scattered around China, and it happens to be a few miles away from a lab that in 2017 became the first high-security virology lab on the Chinese mainland. 

Here, a counterargument is that SARS-CoV-1 was a natural spillover from a market, so there’s precedence. But even the far less transmissible SARS-CoV-1, not long after being brought into the lab for study, eventually “leaked” with fatal consequences

The origin of SARS-CoV-2 is the most important question of the pandemic, with implications that extend exponentially beyond scoring political points. At the start of the pandemic, even the journal Nature was sounding the alarm about the increasing role China’s military has been playing in secretive biomedical research in China. Yet, three years later all we have is obfuscation from China and Fauci and nothing even close to a natural ancestor of SARS-CoV-2. Throughout the pandemic, people parroted empty phrases like “Follow the science” without really following the science.

So, let’s do that, let’s “Follow the science” (and the logic), because the genetic and circumstantial evidence for lab leak is impossible for any reasonable person to deny. 

* * *

Pat Fidopiastis is a Professor of Microbiology at California Polytechnic State University,

Tyler Durden Sun, 02/05/2023 - 00:00
Published:2/4/2023 11:24:23 PM
[Markets] The Chinese 'Spy Balloon' Story As Manufactured Crisis: An Alternative Reading The Chinese 'Spy Balloon' Story As Manufactured Crisis: An Alternative Reading

Previous constant headlines of the Ukraine-Russia war were put on pause Friday into Saturday as the American public's attention and discourse got temporarily consumed by the bizarre Chinese 'spy balloon' saga, which grew more dramatic by the hour until it was shot down by the Pentagon over the Atlantic Ocean.

But few are currently asking the necessary deeper questions related to the timing. Given the last major balloon crisis to take over 24/7 network news coverage ended up being a complete hoax (remember the "balloon boy" stunt of 2009 which had the world breathless and on edge for a full news cycle?), the current context to the Chinese balloon story and the question of cui bono is worth a deeper dive...

Images: The Billings Gazette/AP

Entrepreneur and geopolitical commentator Arnaud Bertrand, who as a Westerner has spent many years living in China and frequently attempts to correct the often misleading analysis of mainstream press reports, offers an 'alternative view' of what's fast unfolding below [emphasis ZH's)...

* * *

"I took a bit of time to dissect the “spy balloon” story - both how it is portrayed in the US and China’s response," Bertrand begins a lengthy thread. As you'll see, the more you think about it, the more stunned you get at the sheer absurdity of the whole thing."

First, the US story.

China sent a “spy balloon” over highly strategic US sites. It chose to spy on these sites with a big visible balloon (reported as being “as big as multiple school buses”), that anyone can see with the naked eye from the ground, to “demonstrate it had the capability”, despite having a plethora of other more discreet ways to spy like satellites or stealth drones.

Unclear that anyone doubted China had mastered the technology of *check notes* hot air balloons and why it therefore needed to demonstrate this capability… China chose to do so on the eve of Secretary of States Blinken’s visit to China, where he was invited, and hours after signaling Blinken would also be meeting with Xi during his visit, a high-level meeting not granted to any US Secretary of States in years.

The story therefore being that China chose to disrupt a meeting with its own president and to sabotage its own efforts at détente in the US-China conflict... The Pentagon said it had been “tracking the balloon for quite some time” and that it wasn’t the first time such an incident occurred, but this time - for unclear reasons - it chose to do a public announcement. As a result, Blinken announced he was postponing his China trip.

Now the story from the Chinese side.

To them this is a fluke accident, the balloon being “a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes” that “deviated far from its planned course” because of strong “Westerlies” (wind that flows west to east) and “limited self-steering capability”, the main characteristic of a balloon being of course that it can only go up or down.

A piece in WaPo seems to confirm this, quoting “experts in national security and aerospace [who] said the craft appears to share characteristics with high-altitude balloons used by developed countries around the world for weather forecasting.”

(Source:… )

The Pentagon itself said that “the payload wouldn’t offer much in the way of surveillance that China couldn’t collect through spy satellites” and that “the balloon posed no serious physical or intelligence threat”. 

I.e. the Pentagon themselves say it would make zero sense for China to use a balloon like this for intelligence purposes when it has satellites. Kind of begs the question why they decided to make a big deal out of it in the first place… 

I'll let you decide for yourself which story makes more sense… The sheer ridiculousness of this Nth “red scare” episode is absolutely obvious to anyone with an iota of common sense. Except, sadly, common sense seems to be in critically short supply nowadays. 

Also, as often, the real story is probably why this story became a story in the first place.

And the important context here is of course Blinken’s visit to China, which could - one can always dream - have been a step towards some form of de-escalation in China-US rapports. It was quite easily foreseeable that a story like this one on the eve of the trip would have made it politically very difficult for Blinken to go.

So a plausible hypothesis is that this whole episode is an attempt by internal US forces to prevent any US-China détente. One alternative hypothesis, much less likely, is that it’s internal Chinese forces trying to do the same thing by sending this big balloon.

Unlikely because:

a) China has time on its side so it gains from reduced tensions with the US and there isn’t any obvious “faction” in China who believe the contrary

b) it’d be immensely risky for anyone in China to do something like this as it’d undoubtedly be seen as an act of high treason with grave consequences for themselves

c) again, balloons like this particular one basically can’t be steered so... 

To plan sending a balloon like this from China to a place over US land isn’t even doable in the first place. The last hypothesis, which I guess is also somewhat likely, is that this is a series of unfortunate events without any malice on either side.

1) Balloon deviates from course and gets in US airspace,

2) people see it and Pentagon feels it has to communicate about it

3) the media, wearing their usual “China bad” hat, decide to go all-in on the scare-mongering,

4) political opposition and China hawks jump on the bandwagon,

5) administration feels it has no other choice than to cancel the trip and doesn’t have the political courage to say “this is just a balloon that drifted off course”.

Well I guess in this scenario there is in fact malice on the media’s part and that of politicians and wider members of the blob but it’s “organic malice”, so to speak, jumping at a golden opportunity to scare-monger. 

Conclusion: however you see it, this story is absolutely shameful and a sad reflection of the insane times we live in, when rather than take the time to carefully consider facts, apply reason and common sense, we instead choose as a society to incite fear and hostility.

Tyler Durden Sat, 02/04/2023 - 22:30
Published:2/4/2023 9:54:47 PM
[Markets] Apple's Crash Detection Feature Triggers False 911 Calls At Ski Resorts Apple's Crash Detection Feature Triggers False 911 Calls At Ski Resorts

Apple's Crash Detection feature is causing severe headaches for emergency dispatchers around ski resort areas. 

Skiers and snowboarders, with supported iPhone and Watch models, have been hitting the slopes this season and occasionally take a tumble. Their devices, packed with high-tech sensors, like the accelerometer and gyroscope, as well as advanced motion algorithms, mistakenly believe the user has been in an automobile crash. 

Suppose skiers and snowboarders don't respond to the cash notification within 20 seconds. In that case, the devices will automatically call 911 with an automated message that indicates, "The owner of this iPhone was in a severe car crash." 

A report from NYT said emergency dispatchers in Colorado had been inundated with false distress calls due to the crash detection feature. 

Lately, emergency call centers in some ski regions have been inundated with inadvertent, automated calls, dozens or more a week. Phone operators often must put other calls, including real emergencies, on hold to clarify whether the latest siren has been prompted by a human at risk or an overzealous device.

"My whole day is managing crash notifications," said Trina Dummer, interim director of Summit County's emergency services, which received 185 such calls in the week from Jan. 13 to Jan. 22. (In winters past, the typical call volume on a busy day was roughly half that.) Ms. Dummer said that the onslaught was threatening to desensitize dispatchers and divert limited resources from true emergencies. -NYT 

Last year, Apple introduced Crash Detection for iPhone 14 models and Watch Series 8. False alerts started popping up at theme parks last summer when the devices thought people on rollercoasters experienced a car crash. And the same thing happened: The devices flooded 911 operators with false alerts. 

Apple needs to get a handle on this mishap or have its own call center if they want to continue with this feature. Bogging down emergency dispatchers with false alerts is a significant problem that needs to be fixed immediately. How did Apple technicians miss this? 


Tyler Durden Sat, 02/04/2023 - 19:30
Published:2/4/2023 7:02:34 PM
[Markets] Retirement Weekly: What happens to my youngest daughter’s share of my estate if I die before she’s 18? I share custody with my ex-husband and currently don't have a will. Published:2/4/2023 5:23:59 PM
[Markets] Crypto: Why NFTs saw $946 million in trading volume in January – the highest since June 2022 In a report from DappRadar, an online store for decentralized applications, 2023 began with a strong comeback for nonfungible tokens. Published:2/4/2023 4:32:20 PM
[Markets] Brett Arends's ROI: Wall Street to Jerome Powell: We don’t believe you Were we all listening to the same press conference? Published:2/4/2023 3:45:17 PM
[Markets] Biden gave order to shoot down balloon on Wednesday: Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin Biden gave order to shoot down balloon on Wednesday: Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin Published:2/4/2023 3:26:11 PM
[Markets] U.S. downs Chinese balloon over Atlantic, moves to recover debris U.S. downs Chinese balloon over Atlantic, moves to recover debris Published:2/4/2023 2:54:17 PM
[Markets] US Says Russian Athletes Should Compete Under Neutral Flag At Olympics, Resists Ban US Says Russian Athletes Should Compete Under Neutral Flag At Olympics, Resists Ban

Amid calls from Ukrainian officials to ban all Russian and Belarusian athletes from the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympic summer games, the White House has issued a statement saying it agrees with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) policy of allowing the two countries to compete under a neutral flag.

"In cases where sports organizations and event organizers, such as the International Olympics Committee, choose to permit athletes from Russia and Belarus to participate in sporting events, they should be absolutely clear that they are not representing the Russian or Belarus states," Biden press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday.

Via AP

She added that "the use of official state Russia and Belarus flags… should be prohibited as well." The IOC last week had ruled that this will be the policy moving forward due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

But Kiev has consistently demanded that it's for Russia to suffer "complete isolation" on the world stage, including at international sporting events. President Zelensky in a December phone call with IOC president Thomas Bach requested that Russia not even be able to participate as a neutral team.

"Since February, 184 Ukrainian athletes have died as a result of Russia’s actions," Zelensky said in the call. "One cannot try to be neutral when the foundations of peaceful life are being destroyed and universal human values are being ignored."

Bach had defended the committee's the position that "Athletes cannot be punished for acts of their government as long as they do not contribute or support it." He explained, "What we never did and we never want to do is prohibiting athletes from participating in sports only because of their passport."

Based on the latest IOC ruling, neither Russian nor Belarusian officials will be allowed to attend the games, and essentially all Russian or Belarusian national displays will be banned.

Tyler Durden Sat, 02/04/2023 - 15:30
Published:2/4/2023 2:34:21 PM
[Markets] Trump: Truth About "Fake News" Reporting On "Russia Hoax" Is Finally Coming Out Trump: Truth About "Fake News" Reporting On "Russia Hoax" Is Finally Coming Out

Authored by Janice Hisle via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Former U.S. President Donald Trump says he finally sees some truth emerging about “the fake news.”

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters after participating in a Thanksgiving teleconference with members of the U.S. military, in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington on Nov. 26, 2020. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

More than six years after the media began covering the former president’s alleged collusion with Russia–which Trump calls “the Russia, Russia, Russia” hoax–has been dissected from within journalism.

The Columbia Journalism Review (CJR), which calls itself “the most respected voice on press criticism,” recently published findings from an 18-month investigation: a 24,000-word expose’ entitled, “The Press Versus The President.”

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on his way to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, on May 14, 2020 (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Days later, Trump reacted with righteous indignation to the tactics of the press, as revealed in the CJR article.

It is a STAGGERING, detailed account of the lies, disinformation, and complete lack of journalistic integrity,” Trump wrote Feb. 2 on Truth Social, singling out “the purveyors of Fake News at the Washington Compost (sometimes known as the Washington Post), the Failing New York Times, and many others.”

Trump also decried the incalculable damage that dishonest coverage caused to his 2020 reelection bid.

“This Fake News, with all of its disinformation, had a huge impact on the 2020 Presidential Election, just one of the many ways that the Election was Rigged and Stolen,” he wrote in another Truth Social message. “This proves, once again, that the Corrupt, Woke, Radical Democrats stole the 2020 Election, making it impossible for that fact to be called ‘the Big Lie,’ as the Marxists and Communists in our Country attempt to portray it.”

Meanwhile, Trump’s allies cried out for media outlets to correct the record as his campaign to win back the White House gains momentum. Detractors, however, fault CJR for failing to put Trump himself far enough under the microscope.

Important but Too Long

CJR, in an introduction to its piece, wrote that the investigation’s findings “aren’t always flattering, either for the press or for Trump and his team.” CJR predicted that the article’s revelations would be “debated and maybe even used as ammunition in the ongoing media war being waged in the country.”

American computer analyst turned Russian citizen Edward Snowden, best known for leaking information about the National Security Administration’s spying on Americans, weighed in with a brief analysis on Twitter for people who may think the piece was “TL/DR,” an abbreviation for “too long, didn’t read.”

His summary of the CJR’s findings: Corporate media “knowingly suppressed facts that cut against popular narratives, ignored denials, eagerly laundered partisan attacks via ‘anonymous sources,’ and refuses to reflect on mistakes.”

CJR said its article raises issues that are “important, and worthy of deep reflection as the campaign for the presidency is about, once again, to begin.”

The publication also wrote: “No narrative did more to shape Trump’s relations with the press than Russiagate.”

That term refers to the FBI’s investigation of Trump, which began while President Barack Obama was in office and Trump was then running his first presidential campaign. Information later surfaced revealing that the federal government relied in large part on a “Trump-Russia dossier” to justify its investigation.

But that dossier was found to be of dubious origin. A former British spy, hired by people with connections to Trump’s political opponent, Hillary Clinton, used unverified information from people with ties to Russia.

Despite a 22-month investigation by former special counsel Robert Mueller, none of the 103 allegations in the dossier was declared valid.

Special counsel Robert Mueller speaks on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, at the U.S. Justice Department in Washington on May 29, 2019. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

Big Impact

Reporting on the allegations “resulted in Pulitzer Prizes as well as embarrassing retractions and damaged careers,” CJR noted. “For Trump, the press’s pursuit of the Russia story convinced him that any sort of normal relationship with the press was impossible.”

When Trump first announced his run for president in 2016, the real estate magnate/media personality was laughed off as a joke. But then he morphed into somewhat of a media darling. Everything Trump-related became clickbait. Before long, however, the media put Trump in its crosshairs; reporters were “going all in on efforts to catalogue Trump as a threat to the country,” CJR wrote.

The publication said journalist Jeff Gerth took an “encyclopedic look at one of the most consequential moments in American media history.” Gerth is an investigative reporter who worked for almost three decades at The New York Times. His investigation for CJR required interviews with dozens of insiders connected to Trump and media organizations.

Gerth wrote that the U.S. news media’s coverage of Trump helped sink the American people’s trust in journalists.

Read more here...

Tyler Durden Sat, 02/04/2023 - 12:00
Published:2/4/2023 11:13:05 AM
[Markets] The Fed: Economists worry that the Fed thinks inflation and job market are joined at the hip More economists think the relationship between inflation and the jobs market has broken down and are worried that the Fed doesn't seem to think so. Published:2/4/2023 11:13:05 AM
[Markets] Outside the Box: Tech stocks have been minting money this year, but many investors fear getting burned if they buy the rally now These 3 tech giants have stood out in this earnings season -- with mixed market reactions. Published:2/4/2023 10:11:51 AM
[Markets] The Big Move: I’m 66 and have $47,000 left in my 30-year mortgage. I’ll be 90 when it’s paid off. Should I refinance to a 15-year fixed? 'My interest rate is 3%, and it’s a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. I pay $136 a month.' Published:2/4/2023 9:22:43 AM
[Markets] Help Me Retire: I’m 64, make $1,500 a month driving Uber and get almost $5,000 a month in pensions and Social Security – should I pay off my mortgage before I retire? Have a question about your own retirement savings? Email us at Published:2/4/2023 7:13:56 AM
[Markets] Escobar: Ukraine War Is Desperate Move By US To Preserve Hegemony, & Prevent Multipolar World Escobar: Ukraine War Is Desperate Move By US To Preserve Hegemony, & Prevent Multipolar World

Authored by Finian Cunningham,

The war in Ukraine is not just about Ukraine and Russia with the U.S. and NATO acting as seemingly benevolent supporters of Ukraine, as the Western media portray.

The United States and its NATO allies are deeply involved in the conflict.

The military withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 – after 20 years of futile occupation – was a calculated “reorganization of firepower” against Russia, says Pepe Escobar.

Ukraine is merely a proxy and ultimately cannon fodder for American imperial planners.

This war is part of a bigger geopolitical confrontation between the U.S. and Russia, China and other nations that are pushing for the emergence of a multipolar world. That is a multipolar world no longer under the hegemony of U.S.-dominated Western capitalism.

Pepe Escobar assesses the bigger picture and outlines how the U.S. imperial state is in “panic mode” to shore up the collapsing American-controlled global capitalist system, and in particular the privileged position of the U.S. dollar.

Going to war with Russia presently and in the longer term against China is part of the desperate dynamic to prolong the dominant position of Washington that was established after the Second World War. That postwar imperial order – euphemistically called the “rules-based order” – is increasingly falling into disrepute from unbridled imperialist wars and abuse of financial controls.

The vast majority of the planet wants liberation from the U.S./Western warmongering system that underpins capitalist exploitation that only enriches a global elite. The war in Ukraine is but the manifestation of the breakdown in U.S. global power and the desperation to preserve the systematic inequality that defines capitalism.

This year is fraught with extreme danger, says Pepe Escobar. But if the psychotic U.S. deep-state planners can be contained by Russia and China without an all-out catastrophic war erupting then there is a chance of a more hopeful, peaceful and just world order emerging.

Tyler Durden Sat, 02/04/2023 - 07:00
Published:2/4/2023 6:27:46 AM
[Markets] : The perils of ultraprocessed food A growing body of research links ultraprocessed foods to an array of cancers and, in some cases, to cognitive decline. Published:2/4/2023 5:51:31 AM
[Markets] Victor Davis Hanson: 'Race' Everywhere Victor Davis Hanson: 'Race' Everywhere

Authored by Victor Davis Hanson via,

Recently an unarmed 29-year-old African American, Tyre Nichols, was brutally beaten to death by five black Memphis police officers. They were charged with murder. All belonged to a special crime unit known as the Scorpions. 

Both the victimizers and victim were black. The Memphis police chief is black. The assistant police chief is black. 

Nearly 60 percent of the police force is black. The white population of Memphis is about 25 percent. 

The now-disbanded Scorpion unit of mostly black officers was created as a response to grassroots appeals to stop spiraling crime in mostly black neighborhoods. 

The death of Tyre Nichols could be attributed to many things: a basic lack of humanity on the part of the officers, poor police training, lax administrative supervision, and lowered hiring standards.  

Instead, no sooner was the beating death announced than accusations of “systemic racism” surfaced. 

Van Jones, the former Obama Administration green czar and recent recipient of Jeff Bezos’ $100 million “courage and civility award,” pronounced on CNN that the black police oppressors were acting out white racism. 

Some claimed that charging the five black officers with murder was itself racist. Others alleged that creating the unit in the first place to reduce black-on-black crime was racist.  

Yet, when everything becomes racist, then nothing in particular can be racist.

About the same time, the city of San Francisco, along with the state of California, was exploring paying out huge cash reparations to its African-American residents for the ancestral sin of slavery. 

That evil institution was abolished some 158 years ago through a Civil War that killed some 700,000 Americans. 

Yet California was always a free state with no history of slavery. 

No resident of America in six generations has been either a slave or slave owner. 

Such multibillion-dollar payouts apparently are to be funded by a nearly bankrupt state facing a $25 billion budget shortfall. 

How do we quantify either current eligibility or culpability in multiracial California where 27 percent of the residents were not born in the United States? Whites make up only 35 percent of the state’s population. 

College campuses increasingly greenlight racially segregated resident housing. 

These reactionaries seem eager to return to “separate but equal” apartheid, supposedly outlawed nearly 60 years ago by the 1964 Civil Right Act. 

A recent National Association of Scholars study found that of some 173 schools surveyed, 42 percent provided racially segregated residences. Some 46 percent offered racially segregated orientation programs. An overwhelming 72 percent  hosted racially segregated graduation ceremonies.

So-called “safe spaces” on campus exclude students on the basis of race, especially whites who are reduced to stereotyped members of a toxic collective.

Race-based admissions have transmogrified from proportional representation—the entering class should reflect roughly the racial make-up of the nation—to reparatory or compensatory admittance. 

So, for example, Stanford University’s incoming class of 2026 lists white students at 22 percent of the enrolled, roughly one-third of their percentage of the nation’s general population. 

Ironically, current racial engineering resurrects the old quota systems used in the past to discriminate against Jews. 

“Whites”—to the extent we can determine any race in an intermarried, multiracial society—do not fit the now ossified definition of an exploitive majority. 

They no longer even compose a majority in most major American cities and in some states. 

They rank well behind many nonwhite ethnic groups in terms of per capita income and millions of working-class Americans certainly don’t fit the tired stereotype of “privileged.”  

In racist fashion, white males are often smeared as exhibiting collective “white rage.” 

Yet they commit suicide at double their demographics—and more than twice as frequently as blacks and Latinos. 

They were also killed in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq at twice their numbers in the general population. 

In terms of hate-crime offenders, whites are demographically underrepresented. The most overrepresented victims of hate crimes are whites of Jewish background.

Whites commit violent crimes against those of different races at rates below their percentages in the general population.

In sum, class, not race, remains the best litmus test of being underprivileged in America. It is no longer synonymous with race.

No wonder the identity politics industry now strains to attach prefixes such as “systemic” or “implicit” to “racism,” or “micro” to “aggression,” purportedly to ferret out bias that otherwise is not apparent. 

Pause to reflect that America is the only successful multiracial constitutional republic in history.

To survive in an increasingly dysfunctional and hostile world abroad, the unique idea of the United States requires concord. 

But national cohesion is only possible through citizens subordinating their tribal interests to a common culture. Only then do they cease being automatons of warring tribes and collectives. 

As the world becomes ever scarier, Americans must—as Benjamin Franklin once warned—hang together, or most certainly they will soon all hang separately.

Tyler Durden Fri, 02/03/2023 - 23:40
Published:2/3/2023 11:14:59 PM
[Markets] The Human Cost: ‘It’s insulting. It’s sacrilege’: Asian Americans react to possible federal ban on gas stoves due to health risks and emissions How wok cooking — the method behind dishes from kung pao chicken to pad see ew — and Asian communities in the U.S. fit into the debate over gas stoves. Published:2/3/2023 10:11:02 PM
[Markets] Sales Of $10 Million-Plus Homes In Brooklyn Reach A Record In 2022 Sales Of $10 Million-Plus Homes In Brooklyn Reach A Record In 2022

While questions about the housing market in general continue to swirl and as we anxiously await how much deflation we are in store for in the housing industry, at least one area is on an upswing: Brooklyn.

This week it was reported that a "record" number of homes in the borough sold for $10 million or more in 2022, according to Bloomberg. It once again paints a picture of people trying to get out of the heart of U.S. cities - Bloomberg noted that people were drawn to the "family friendly" neighborhoods.

Last year there were 13 sales over $10 million, which was up from 3 in 2021, the report says, citing Compass. 

Leonard Steinberg, a broker at Compass, commented: “A decade or so ago, people went to Brooklyn as a secondary choice because of affordability. Nowadays, a wave of people are choosing
Brooklyn as a first choice and not even considering Manhattan. It has nothing to do with price. It has everything to do with quality of life, a sense of community and just that small town, big city feel that you can really only achieve there.”

Of the homes that sold, six were in Brooklyn Heights, three in Park Slope and one in Cobble Hill, the report says. 

Across the U.S., we are seeing a similar pattern from $10 million-plus markets. In places like Austin, sales of such homes were up from zero in 2021 to 5 in 2022. In North Florida, sales of similarly priced properties were up to four in 2022 from just one in 2021. 

“What we're seeing is that wealth is spreading and wealth is very comfortable being removed from big cities because creating the wealth and maintaining the wealth can be done from multiple locations,” Steinberg continued. 

Bloomberg noted that: "The most expensive deal in Brooklyn last year was at 88 Remsen St. in Brooklyn Heights, a brownstone with carriage house that traded for $18.3 million in September."

Steinberg attributes the rise in prices not just to demand, but also "inflation in the prices of luxury homes and goods".

“A lot of these homes have wonderful historic details that no one is going to recreate today. You'll pay an enormous premium for beautiful, move-in renovated homes,” he concluded. 

Tyler Durden Fri, 02/03/2023 - 21:20
Published:2/3/2023 8:40:09 PM
[Markets] The stock-market rally survived a confusing week. Here’s what comes next. Stocks are off to a stellar start in 2023, but there's a key conflict that must still be resolved. Published:2/3/2023 8:21:16 PM
[Markets] Watch: 14 Videos That Will Make You Want To Scream Out "Are You Kidding Me?" Watch: 14 Videos That Will Make You Want To Scream Out "Are You Kidding Me?"

Authored by Michael Snyder via,

Every day we continue to get even more evidence that our society is going completely and utterly insane. 

I really wish that this wasn’t true.  I really wish that we could just hit the rewind button and go back several decades to a time when most people tried to behave normally and there wasn’t rampant corruption all around us.  Unfortunately, our social decay has shifted into “turbo mode” over the past several years, and at this point a lot of Americans actually celebrate the evil that is gnawing away at the foundations of our society like cancer.  Some of the videos that I am about to share with you are really creepy, some of them are quite funny, and some of them are incredibly alarming.  But ultimately they all have something to say about where we currently are as a society.  The following are 14 videos that will make you want to scream out “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?”…

#1 This is the super creepy way that Bill Gates responded when a reporter recently confronted him about his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein…

Are you kidding me?

#2 “This is what leftism does to you”

Are you kidding me?

#3 “I’m old enough to remember when going to an airport was not reminiscent of bootcamp”

Are you kidding me?

#4 Joe Biden decided to get way too cozy with a female reporter…

Are you kidding me?

#5 What would you do if somebody did this to you?

Are you kidding me?

#6 “A transgender killer is identifying as a baby in order to get better treatment in prison”

Are you kidding me?

#7 “Biden documents scandal includes 1850 Boxes, enough to fill a tractor trailer, plus 415 GB of electronic records”

Are you kidding me?

#8 “If you don’t like your job, just quit”

Are you kidding me?

#9 MSNBC host Yasmin Vossoughian says that her myocarditis was caused by a “common cold”…

Are you kidding me?

#10 A public school teacher laughs about corrupting her students…

Are you kidding me?

#11 “You wanted equality, and now you are complaining that they don’t want to be in a relationship with you…”

Are you kidding me?

#12 I thought that you told us that the pandemic was “over”…

Are you kidding me?

#13 This is how they are recruiting new soldiers in Ukraine, and our leaders are apparently just fine with this…

Are you kidding me?

#14 Do you think that we will ever be able to get American kids to do this?

I was absolutely stunned by the precision that those Japanese students were able to achieve.

Here in the United States, many of our high school students can barely even read once they graduate from high school.

Of course we didn’t get here by accident.

Our society is a giant mess because our leaders have been making the wrong decisions for decades.

If we don’t reverse course, things will only get worse.

So hopefully America will wake up soon, because the clock is ticking.

*  *  *

It is finally here! Michael’s new book entitled “End Times” is now available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.

Tyler Durden Fri, 02/03/2023 - 19:00
Published:2/3/2023 6:27:14 PM
[Markets] Elon Musk has been found not liable in 'funding secured' Tesla tweet case Elon Musk has been found not liable in 'funding secured' Tesla tweet case Published:2/3/2023 6:02:55 PM
[Markets] Stock Market Investing Action Plan: Nasdaq's Best January in 22 Years A strong January for the stock market opens February on positive footing, with Disney earnings and a Jerome Powell speech on the schedule. Published:2/3/2023 5:40:25 PM
[Markets] Stock Market Rally Signals It's Not Another Bear Run; Here's What To Do Now The stock market rally powered higher again, signaling this isn't another short-term uptrend. Here's what investors should do now. Published:2/3/2023 4:28:53 PM
[Markets] Bond Report: Treasury yields jump after surge in U.S. job growth Treasury yields jump Friday after a much stronger-than-expected U.S. January jobs report clouded investor expectations for the Federal Reserve to end its interest rate hiking cycle in coming months. Published:2/3/2023 4:16:01 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Bear Market: This Industrial Stock Is a Smart Buy It finished the year down "only" 4%, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite fell 18% and 33%, respectively. Let's take a closer look at one component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average that looks like a smart buy in 2023: Dow Inc (NYSE: DOW). Dow reported its fourth-quarter earnings results on Jan. 26. Published:2/3/2023 4:16:01 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Closes On A Whimper; Apple Rebounds After Earnings, IPhone Production Resumption Dow Jones falls on strong jobs data, and Tesla sees record China sales in January. Meanwhile meme stock investor Cohen buys a stake in Nordstrom. Published:2/3/2023 4:09:20 PM
[Markets] GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks tumble, U.S. bond yields rise on strong jobs report A gauge of global stocks dropped more than 1%, while U.S. Treasury yields and the dollar rose on Friday after a shockingly strong U.S. jobs report renewed concerns the Federal Reserve may remain aggressive in its path of interest rate hikes as it tries to tame inflation. The report from the Labor Department showed nonfarm payrolls surged by 517,000 jobs in January, well above the 185,000 estimate of economists polled by Reuters, with data for December also being revised higher. Average hourly earnings increased 0.3%, as expected, down from the 0.4% in the prior month, while the unemployment rate of 3.4% was the lowest since 1969. Published:2/3/2023 3:47:45 PM
[Markets] US STOCKS-Wall Street ends down after stunning jobs growth raises Fed questions Major U.S. stock indexes ended lower on Friday after surprisingly strong jobs data sparked concerns about aggressive Federal Reserve action, while investors digested a mixed bag of megacap company earnings reports. The Nasdaq tallied its fifth straight weekly rise, its longest such streak since late 2021. Investors have been balancing hopeful signs that the economy could avoid a feared recession against concerns about how long the Fed will keep interest rates high to rein in inflation. Published:2/3/2023 3:29:01 PM
[Markets] More Recession Signs: Money Supply Growth Went Negative Again In December More Recession Signs: Money Supply Growth Went Negative Again In December

Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,

Money supply growth fell again in December, falling even further into negative territory after turning negative in November for the first time in twenty-eight years. December's drop continues a steep downward trend from the unprecedented highs experienced during much of the past two years. During the thirteen months between April 2020 and April 2021, money supply growth in the United States often climbed above 35 percent year over year, well above even the "high" levels experienced from 2009 to 2013. 

Since then, the money supply growth has slowed quickly, and since November, we've been seeing the money supply contract for the first time since the 1990s. The last time the year-over-year (YOY) change in the money supply slipped into negative territory was in November 1994. At that time, negative growth continued for fifteen months, finally turning positive again in January 1996. 

During December 2022, YOY growth in the money supply was at –2.4 percent. That's down from November's rate of –0.55 percent and down from December 2021's rate of 6.44 percent. 

The money supply metric used here—the "true," or Rothbard-Salerno, money supply measure (TMS)—is the metric developed by Murray Rothbard and Joseph Salerno, and is designed to provide a better measure of money supply fluctuations than M2.1

The Mises Institute now offers regular updates on this metric and its growth. This measure of the money supply differs from M2 in that it includes Treasury deposits at the Fed (and excludes short-time deposits and retail money funds).

In recent months, M2 growth rates have followed a similar course to TMS growth rates. In December 2022, the M2 growth rate was –1.3 percent. That's down from November's growth rate of –0.01 percent. December's rate was also well down from December 2021's rate of 12.5 percent. 

Money supply growth can often be a helpful measure of economic activity and an indicator of coming recessions. During periods of economic boom, money supply tends to grow quickly as commercial banks make more loans. Recessions, on the other hand, tend to be preceded by slowing rates of money supply growth. However, money supply growth tends to begin growing again before the onset of recession. 

Negative money supply growth is not in itself an especially meaningful metric. But the drop into negative territory we've seen in recent months does help illustrate just how far and how rapidly money supply growth has fallen in recent months. That is generally a red flag for economic growth and employment.

Money supply growth also appears to be connected to yield-curve inversion—itself a recession indicator. For example, the 3s/10s yield spread often heads toward zero as money supply growth moves in the same direction. This was especially clear from 1999 through 2000, from 2004 to 2006, and during 2018 and 2019, and beginning in 2022. This is not surprising because trends in money supply growth have long appeared to be connected to the shape of the yield curve. As Bob Murphy notes in his book Understanding Money Mechanics, a sustained decline in TMS growth often reflects spikes in short-term yields, which can fuel a flattening or inverting yield curve. 

It's not especially a mystery why short-term interest rates are headed up fast, and why the money supply is decelerating. Since January 2022, the Fed has raised the target federal funds rate from 0.25 percent up to 4.75 percent. 

This means fewer injections of Fed money into the market through open market operations. Moreover, although it has done very little to sizably reduce the size of its portfolio, the Fed has nonetheless stopped adding to its portfolio through quantitative easing and allowed a small amount (about 5 percent of $8.9 trillion) to roll off. 

It should be emphasized that it is not necessary for money supply growth to turn negative in order to trigger recession, defaults, and other economic disruptions. With recent decades marked by the Greenspan put, financial repression, and other forms of easy money, the Federal Reserve has inflated a number of bubbles and zombie enterprises that now rely on nearly constant infusions of new money to stay afloat. For many of these bubble industries, all that is necessary for a crisis is a slowing in money supply growth, brought on by rising interest rates or a confidence crisis. 

Numerous indicators now point toward recession along with the falling money supply and the inverted yield curve. The Leading Economic Index is in recession territory. Real wages have fallen for twenty-one months. Home builder confidence fell every month of 2022. The Philadelphia Fed's manufacturing index has been negative since September. Home price growth has been cut in half. The fact that the money supply is actually shrinking serves as just one more indicator that the so-called soft landing promised by the Federal Reserve is unlikely to ever be a reality. 

Tyler Durden Fri, 02/03/2023 - 16:20
Published:2/3/2023 3:29:01 PM
[Markets] U.S. stocks finish lower, but Nasdaq Composite, S&P 500 book consecutive weekly advance U.S. stock indexes finished lower on Friday after an unexpectedly strong surge in January nonfarm payrolls reversed the Wall Street's perception that the end of the Fed's rate increases is near. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was off 128 points, or 0.4%, to end at 33,925, while the S&P 500 declined by 1% and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.6%. For the week, the S&P 500 booked a weekly gain of 1.6%. The Nasdaq rose 3.3%, booking its fifth consecutive weekly advance and the longest winning streak Published:2/3/2023 3:22:31 PM
[Markets] : A pre-jobs report bet may have have netted trader $10 million profit, report says A bet on fed-funds futures just ahead of Friday's January jobs report may have netted a trader a $10 million profit, according to Bloomberg. Published:2/3/2023 3:13:53 PM
[Markets] Stocks close lower Friday after a 'wow' jobs report puts Fed back in play Stocks close lower Friday after a 'wow' jobs report puts Fed back in play Published:2/3/2023 3:13:53 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Keeps Fading; Apple Rebounds After Earnings, Analyst's Comments Dow Jones falls on strong jobs data, and Tesla sees record China sales in January. Meanwhile meme stock investor Cohen buys a stake in Nordstrom. Published:2/3/2023 2:31:21 PM
[Markets] GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks stumble, U.S. bond yields jump on strong jobs report A gauge of global stocks dropped more than 1%, while U.S. Treasury yields and the dollar shot higher on Friday after a shockingly strong U.S. jobs report renewed concerns the Federal Reserve may stay aggressive in its interest rate hike path as it tries to tame inflation. The report from the Labor Department showed nonfarm payrolls surged by 517,000 jobs in January, well above the 185,000 estimate of economists polled by Reuters, with data for December also being revised higher. Average hourly earnings increased 0.3%, as expected, down from the 0.4% in the prior month, while the unemployment rate of 3.4% was the lowest since 1969. Published:2/3/2023 1:50:27 PM
[Markets] Why Beazer Homes Stock Was Falling Today Beazer Homes USA (NYSE: BZH) saw its share price plummet on Friday, as it was down about 10.1% as of 1:50 p.m. ET. The major indexes were down on Friday, as the S&P 500 was down 39 points (-0.9%), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 169 points (-0.5%), and the Nasdaq Composite was down 142 points (-1.2%). Beazer Homes, a homebuilder based in Atlanta, fell Friday after it released fourth-quarter earnings on Thursday, Feb. 2. Published:2/3/2023 1:26:31 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones' Rebound Fades; Tesla Revs Up On Record China Sales, Surprise EV Tax Credit Dow Jones falls on strong job data; Tesla sees record China sales in January; meme investor Cohen buys stake in Nordstrom; Earnings deck. Published:2/3/2023 1:02:46 PM
[Markets] Stockman: What Inflation Would Look Like In A True Free-Market Economy Stockman: What Inflation Would Look Like In A True Free-Market Economy

Authored by David Stockman via,

There is nothing more substantive than Bernanke’s original finger-in-the-air proposition that the Fed needed a 200 basis point cushion in the inflation rate in order to steer the economy clear of the dreaded 0.0% inflation line, the other side of which allegedly amounted to a black hole of deflationary demise.

But here’s the thing. There is not a shred of historical evidence that the US economy needs a 2.00% inflation guardrail to thrive, or any fixed rate of inflation at all.

For instance, even during the most difficult period of the 20th century—from 1921 to 1946 when the US economy experienced the Roaring Twenties boom, the Great Depression bust and the WWII rebound—there was abundant net economic growth over the period as a whole, accompanied by zero inflation.

In fact, the US economy nearly tripled in size during that quarter-century period. Real GDP expanded at a robust 3.64% per annum rate, and real GDP per capita rose by 2.55% per annum.

By contrast, between the 2007 pre-crisis peak and 2021, real GDP grew at only half that rate (1.72% per annum), while per capita real GDP increased by just 1.04% per year. That was just two-fifths of the rate of annual gain during 1921-1946.

Needless to say, it didn’t take any 2.00% inflationary guard rails to generate the salutary outcomes cited above for 1921-1946. The CPI index shown below posted at 542 in February 2021 and 541 a quarter century later in May 1946.

Purchasing Power of the Dollar, 1921 to 1946

As it had unfolded, there was zero CPI inflation during the Roaring Twenties; a severe deflation during the Great Depression, which merely reversed the war inflation of 1915-1920; and then a return to the 1921 price level during the booming but regimented economy of WWII.

Still, by the spring of 1946 the dollar’s purchasing power was 100% of what it had been in early 1921. It had not taken any net inflation at all to generate a near tripling of the nation’s economic output.

The implication is straightforward. To wit, the Fed doesn’t need a pro-inflation target of 2.00% per annum. Nor does it need any of its other macroeconomic targets for unemployment, jobs growth, actual versus potential GDP or the rest of the Keynesian policy apparatus. All of those variables are the job of the people interacting on the free market, producing whatever outcomes their collective actions happened to generate.

Indeed, macro-economic outcomes are not properly the business of the state at all. The Fed’s job is far more narrow. As originally conceived by its great architect, then Congressman Carter Glass, its mission was to keep the purchasing power of the dollar as good as the gold to which it was to be linked, and the banking system liquid and stable, as driven by the free market of borrowers and lenders.

As we have explained on other occasions, Congressman Glass called this a “bankers’ bank” and the term could not be more diametrically opposed to the central planners’ bank of Greenspan, Bernanke, Yellen, Powell and Brainard.

As Carter Glass saw it, no academician needed to stick his finger in the air and divine an inflation target. Nor did any modeler need to goal-seek his/her equations until they suggested the optimum U-3 unemployment rate relative to an arbitrary inflation target.

The fact is, the free market operating with sound gold-backed money was never inflationary. In that context, interest rates were also not a policy “tool” of the central bank, but the result of a market-clearing balancing of supply and demand.

As Carter Glass had arranged it, the Fed was not allowed to own government debt, nor did it have an activist arm now known as the FOMC empowered to intervene in the money and capital markets by buying and selling debt securities.

To the contrary, its avenue of operation was the discount window at the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks. The latter were authorized to advance funds to member banks, but only at a penalty spread above the free market interest rate, and also only on the basis of sound, self-liquidating collateral in the form of commercial paper that matured within a matter of months.

Given this mechanism, the dynamics of Fed policy were the opposite of today. Under the Glassian arrangement, the Fed’s balance sheet was the passive consequence of free market activity by commercial bankers and main street borrowers, not a mechanism to proactively steer the level of aggregate commerce and business activity.

Accordingly, the Fed’s value added stemmed not from wild-ass guesses about the inflation rate by PhDs like Lael Brainard, but from the grunt work of green-eyeshade accountants. Their job was to verify that bank loan collateral presented for funding at the discount window represented the obligations of sound borrowers, not speculators and high flyers, who would reliably repay under the terms of the underlying bank loan, thereby ensuring that the Fed’s discount loans would be repaid at term, too.

What this meant was that the Fed’s balance sheet was intended to reflect the ebb-and-flow of decentralized commerce and production on main street, not a centralized judgment by 12 people gathered on the banks of the Potomac about whether inflation and unemployment were too high, too low or just right.

That is to say, under the bankers’ bank arrangement the free market put an automatic check on CPI inflation. That’s because unsound speculative loans could not be easily made in the first place, since they were not eligible for discount at the Fed window.

And if demand for even sound loans got too frisky, interest rates would rise sharply, thereby rationing available savings until more of the latter could be generated or demand for the former was curtailed.

*  *  *

The truth is, we’re on the cusp of an economic crisis that could eclipse anything we’ve seen before. And most people won’t be prepared for what’s coming. That’s exactly why bestselling author Doug Casey and his team just released a free report with all the details on how to survive an economic collapse. Click here to download the PDF now.

Tyler Durden Fri, 02/03/2023 - 13:00
Published:2/3/2023 12:12:44 PM
[Markets] Tesla? Generac? Barron’s stock picks have had a good week. Tesla? Generac? Barron’s stock picks have had a good week. Published:2/3/2023 11:43:39 AM
[Markets] FA Center: Many companies try to blame their poor earnings on the U.S. dollar. Don’t believe it. Using currency fluctuation to time the stock market is a losing bet. Published:2/3/2023 11:31:15 AM
[Markets] Stocks mixed following January jobs report, earnings Yahoo Finance Live’s Jared Blikre breaks down how stocks are trading. Published:2/3/2023 11:25:19 AM
[Markets] Mark Hulbert: Are we in a new bull market? Mark Hulbert: Are we in a new bull market? Published:2/3/2023 10:51:15 AM
[Markets] Front Office Sports: Phoenix expects $600 million windfall from Eagles-Chiefs Super Bowl $600 million is still not as much as Super BowlXLIX in 2015 in Phoenix. Published:2/3/2023 10:38:40 AM
[Markets] Coronavirus Update: CDC sees XBB.1.5 subvariant becoming more dominant in U.S. Coronavirus Update: CDC sees XBB.1.5 subvariant becoming more dominant in U.S. Published:2/3/2023 10:07:29 AM
[Markets] GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks fall, U.S. bond yields jump on strong jobs report A gauge of global stocks slumped while U.S. Treasury yields and the dollar shot higher on Friday after a surprisingly strong U.S. jobs report rekindled concerns the Federal Reserve may need to stay aggressive in its rate hike path in order to tame inflation. The report from the Labor Department showed nonfarm payrolls surged by 517,000 jobs in January, well above the 185,000 estimate of economists polled by Reuters, with data for December also being revised higher. Equities have rallied to start the year on expectations the Fed may be forced to pause or even pivot from its rate hikes in the back half of the year, growing more confident after comments from Fed Chair Powell on Wednesday that acknowledged the "disinflationary" process may have begun. Published:2/3/2023 10:07:29 AM
[Markets] Coronavirus Update: Omicron subvariant that’s dominant in U.S. extends lead over other variants in latest week, CDC data shows The omicron subvariant that became dominant in the U.S. several weeks ago continued to extend its lead over other variants in the latest week Published:2/3/2023 9:47:20 AM
[Markets] Stocks fall on strong jobs report Yahoo Finance Live’s Brad Smith breaks down how stocks are trading following the release of January jobs report. Published:2/3/2023 9:40:24 AM
[Markets] Jobs report sparks rise in odds for quarter-point Fed rate hikes in March and May An expected quarter-point rate hike by the Federal Reserve in March looks baked in the cake, while traders see increased prospects for another quarter-point boost in May. Published:2/3/2023 9:15:01 AM
[Markets] Charts Remain Strong, But Is the Party Over? All the major equity indexes closed higher yesterday except for the DJI posting a loss. All closed near their intraday highs on heavy trading volume as, again, all but the DJI closed above their respective resistance levels. As almost all the equity indexes closed near their highs Thursday and breadth remains strong as well, some of the market's data are sending tremors of caution. Published:2/3/2023 9:08:07 AM
[Markets] Punch-Drunk Investors Will Keep Ignoring Reality...Until It's Too Late Punch-Drunk Investors Will Keep Ignoring Reality...Until It's Too Late

Submitted by QTR's Fringe Finance

Back in January 2020, I was pointing out that the coronavirus was going to wreak havoc on markets weeks before it ever happened.

As I’ve noted many times on this blog, those days were immensely frustrating.

I waited for a collective market ethos that only viewed the news through a backward looking rearview mirror, with the attention span of a fruitfly and the collective IQ of a wooden ping-pong paddle, to catch up to a news story that was unfolding and evolving, by the second, right in front of their eyes. The news - and the ensuing chaos it would create - couldn’t have been more obvious if it was bludgeoning the market over the head with a wooden club, Bamm-Bamm Rubble style.

Can You Identify All 100 of These Classic Cartoon Characters? | Classic  cartoon characters, Classic cartoons, Bamm bamm

Ultimately, I was proven right in my prognostication when the market crashed in March, before the Fed came in and launched unlimited quantitative easing and the public started to wrap their head around the fact that Covid wasn’t necessarily a death sentence.

Current markets seem hell-bent not just on once again ignoring the obvious right now, but spitting the obvious back in the faces of those who use reality as a guide to their decision making. And the real kick in the nuts is that the Fed, the broadest influencer of our economy and market sentiment, isn’t even a tailwind this time. On the contrary, it is a massive headwind.

The market is simply still hanging around - like a Mortal Kombat character stunned, but still on his feet, waiting for the Fed to deliver the final blow.

Every Mortal Kombat Fatality Ever, Supercut Into One Gruesome Video - UNILAD

Old habits die hard. As I pointed out many times just over the last several weeks, it is difficult to break the psychology of market participants who have been conditioned to buy the dip without consequence for the last 15 years. So, in that respect, I’m not surprised the market is rallying despite economic reality. But to say that the market has been grasping for straws when it comes to reasons to rally would be a vast understatement.

Take this week for instance. The market is rallying based on nebulous words Jerome Powell used or omitted from his presser on Wednesday despite the fact that he very clearly stated that more rate hikes were on their way. Its tea leaf reading on top of tea leaf reading, ignoring the very stark reality that interest rates are nearing 5%. There’s nothing to guess or speculate about with rates - they’re most certainly at their highest levels in decades.

But instead of the market getting swallowing that pill in advance, we have seen short term whiplash higher in the form of a short squeeze, because there’s too many people that can’t believe the market isn’t responding to the obvious reality that our economy is slowing down and monetary policy isn’t going to help. In other words, these people got caught flat-footed by clearly seeing reality and being short the market as a result. Then, the market does the “wrong thing” by squeezing higher and all of a sudden these people have a crisis of confidence and are mired in FOMO, seduced by the idea that buying the dip is once again the comfort of investing strategy home that we can all return to, akin to a warm blanket and a fireplace on a wintry New England day.

And as I said earlier this week in a portfolio/macro update, perhaps, for the very long term, buying the dip is the right plan. Will markets be decidedly higher 10 years from now? Probably. It doesn’t mean that the currency is going to hold up though, but that’s another discussion for another day. I talk about how I invest for this anyways here.

But taking a mid-term view, I still believe that this week’s move is nonsensical.

Market behavior today centers around ignoring reality. This is a product of 40 years of Fed intervention in markets. When you constantly have somebody at the ready to bail out the market the first half second one person feels discomfort, it creates a foundation of irrational expectations from investors, namely that things are always better than they seem.

In my time in markets, I’ve listened to a decade of stories about how “king dollar will never die”, how the market will always go up and how the United States will continue to be the world’s super power, no matter what.  Those statements are made with certainty despite the fact that, mathematically, none of these things are certainties. In fact, just the opposite is true.

And so the only way we can try to gauge how close we are to something eventually “breaking” and sending markets lower is to continue to follow the news, objectively, and think critically about it on our own.

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Perhaps you are looking at the same group of facts that I am looking at and you have come to starkly different conclusions. If that’s the case, you likely made a lot of money over the last few weeks and I salute you – that’s what makes a market. However, the reality behind the scenes that the market continues to ignore doesn’t look as though it’s going to get any better anytime soon.

I’ll spare you guys the lecture about how 5% interest rates are eventually going to cause the economy to implode. I’ve prattled on about this way too much and continue to believe that it’ll be the case, and that it’s only a matter of time.

Let’s only take a look at what’s new. On Thursday night, Apple - the bellweather for tech stocks - reported awful earnings that missed expectations, a rarity for them. Google and Amazon did the same. As far as a gauge for technology stocks goes, that’s about as clear of an indication that we are going to get of an economy that’s slowing down and a technology sector where things are not OK.

These reports stand at extremely stark odds with the 16% rally in the NASDAQ that has taken place to start 2023. For a restrictive monetary policy environment, these moves simply don’t make sense.

Perhaps it is my fault for expecting that the market would understand and process this and act rationally – after all, the market never acts rationally.

And I don’t want to prattle on again about the geopolitical risk I see heading into this year, either. But, for fuck’s sake, yesterday we found a goddamn Chinese spy balloon flying over Montana.

The balloon was discovered right about the same time U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns was talking about China’s ambitions towards Taiwan:

Burns said that the United States knew "as a matter of intelligence" that Xi had ordered his military to be ready to conduct an invasion of self-governed Taiwan by 2027.

"Now, that does not mean that he's decided to conduct an invasion in 2027, or any other year, but it's a reminder of the seriousness of his focus and his ambition," Burns told an event at Georgetown University in Washington.

"Our assessment at CIA is that I wouldn't underestimate President Xi's ambitions with regard to Taiwan," he said, adding that the Chinese leader was likely "surprised and unsettled" and trying to draw lessons by the "very poor performance" of the Russian military and its weapons systems in Ukraine.

His concluding remarks were notable: “Competition with China is unique in its scale, and that it really, you know, unfolds over just about every domain, not just military, and ideological, but economic, technological, everything from cyberspace, to space itself as well. It's a global competition in ways that could be even more intense than competition with the Soviets was.”

If you haven’t read my 2023 outlook, here it is summarized in two pieces: first is my 23 Stocks To Watch in 2023 which explains my macro view and what stocks I’m buying heading into the new year. The second is a piece I wrote a couple weeks ago about several catalysts unfolding that continue to act as waypoints, dictating to me that my thesis is on point - and a piece I wrote last Friday reaffirming additional waypoints.

As I have said in many of my pieces, I strongly believe markets in 2023 are going to be driven by both a residual crash coming from this year’s rate hikes and then an eventual Fed pivot, with a fair amount of geopolitical risk on the side.

When I put together the 23 Stocks To Watch In 2023 (Part 1 here, Part 2 here), I tried to keep all of this in mind - I wanted to create a somewhat diversified, risk adverse, plan for myself heading into the new year. Whether or not I’m right, we’ll know in about 12 months.

So, anyways, I digress. I guess we can just add both balloons (the Chinese spy one, and the stock market bubble) to the long list of things that markets will continue to ignore until they cross the line from prophecies into action.

Only at that point (when it’s too late) will the market be able to understand reality, and only because it is literally being forced into not ignoring it anymore. After all, how are you going to make the argument that China isn’t going to invade Taiwan while China is actually invading Taiwan?

When it’s too late, the market will finally get it. This is what happened with Covid in February 2020, this is what happened when Lehman Brothers went under and the housing market crashed and this is what happened leading up to the tech bubble crash in the 2000s. 

Markets never crash as warning beacons are making their way out. In the case of the housing market, the market didn’t crash when delinquencies started to tick higher, it just ignored it. In the case of the Covid crash, the market didn’t crash based on the news that Covid cases were spreading in the U.S., it just ignored it. In both cases, the market crashed once the the public was forced to confront the reality of what was happening, and I don’t expect 2023 to be any different.

Bulls can have their last couple of weeks and their great start to 2023 and celebrate. If you’ve been a short term trader and have made money off this move, I commend you – it’s part of the reason why I like having long exposure in certain select names and sectors. But I still hold firmly in the camp that we are in unprecedented monetary territory and, most importantly, we are there without the backing of the central bank.

We could argue over whether or not the next rate hike is going to be 25 basis points, 50 basis points or nothing at all, but it’s immaterial. Stocks are expensive on a PE and market cap/GDP bases, rates are already near 5%, and that’s that. Even cutting rates to zero tomorrow wouldn’t reverse a lot of the trends that have already started economically at this point - they would still have to play their way out of the system before the cut took hold of the economy.

Like I said, if you’ve been a bull while I’ve been a bear over the last couple of months, you’ve made money. Congratulations. There’s two ways to look at what the market is doing over the last couple of weeks: either we have firmly shifted into a new era, where we are at the beginning stages of a bull market once again and the fundamentals have changed (this, obviously, I don’t think is the case), or we are drifting further and further off the path of reality, which will eventually only lead to a bigger snap back when the time comes and the market can no longer turn its a blind eye to the obvious, wretched financial reality our country faces.

Thank you for reading QTR’s Fringe Finance. This post is public so feel free to share it: Share

QTR’s Disclaimer: I am an idiot and often get things wrong and lose money. I may own or transact in any names mentioned in this piece at any time without warning. This is not a recommendation to buy or sell any stocks or securities, just my opinions. I often lose money on positions I trade/invest in. I may add any name mentioned in this article and sell any name mentioned in this piece at any time, without further warning. None of this is a solicitation to buy or sell securities. These positions can change immediately as soon as I publish this, with or without notice. You are on your own. Do not make decisions based on my blog. I exist on the fringe. The publisher does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided in this page. These are not the opinions of any of my employers, partners, or associates. I did my best to be honest about my disclosures but can’t guarantee I am right; I write these posts after a couple beers sometimes. Also, I just straight up get shit wrong a lot. I mention it twice because it’s that important.

Tyler Durden Fri, 02/03/2023 - 09:45
Published:2/3/2023 9:02:20 AM
[Markets] Stocks open lower following blowout January jobs report Yahoo Finance Live anchors discuss how markets opened on Friday. Published:2/3/2023 9:02:20 AM
[Markets] China says Montana balloon is for meteorological research and blew off course China says Montana balloon is for meteorological research and blew off course Published:2/3/2023 9:02:20 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Slides On Strong January Jobs Report; Alphabet, Amazon, Apple Drop On Earnings The Dow Jones dropped 175 points Friday on a strong January jobs report. Tech titans Alphabet, Amazon and Apple all sold off on earnings. Published:2/3/2023 8:48:28 AM
[Markets] Stock market news live updates: Stocks sink after jobs report shocks, Big Tech results disappoint U.S. stocks cascaded Friday morning after government employment data showed more than half a million jobs were added in January — throwing a wrench in hopes for a pause on rate increases — while subpar earnings results from Big Tech giants weighed on investor sentiment. Published:2/3/2023 8:41:38 AM
[Markets] Nordstrom shares rocket 30% on reported activist stake Nordstrom shares rocket 30% on reported activist stake Published:2/3/2023 8:30:16 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures Slide On Strong January Jobs Report; Alphabet, Amazon, Apple Drop On Earnings Dow Jones futures dropped Friday on a strong January jobs report. Tech titans Alphabet, Amazon and Apple all sold off on earnings. Published:2/3/2023 7:47:42 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures Drop On Strong January Jobs Report; Alphabet, Amazon, Apple Drop On Earnings Dow Jones futures dropped Friday on a strong January jobs report. Tech titans Alphabet, Amazon and Apple all sold off on earnings. Published:2/3/2023 7:41:44 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures Fall Ahead Of January Jobs Report; Alphabet, Amazon, Apple Drop On Earnings Dow Jones futures dropped Friday morning of the January jobs report. Tech titans Alphabet, Amazon and Apple all fell on earnings. Published:2/3/2023 7:24:28 AM
[Markets] Why you should stop caring about the Dow Jones Industrial Average Have you ever wondered why trillions of investment dollars are indexed to the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index but almost nothing (relatively speaking) is tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average? Go no further than yesterday’s market. Published:2/3/2023 6:43:12 AM
[Markets] The Ratings Game: Clorox wins praise for ‘execution,’ but one analyst mulls further product price hikes Clorox powers past quarterly estimates for profit and revenue, while JPMorgan questions whether it can further raise product prices Published:2/3/2023 6:36:52 AM
[Markets] High-Altitude Chinese Spy Balloon Tracked In Montana Airspace Near ICBM Fields High-Altitude Chinese Spy Balloon Tracked In Montana Airspace Near ICBM Fields

US military commanders have advised President Biden against shooting down a Chinese spy balloon flying over the US. 

Reuters said the US military took "custody" of the "high-altitude surveillance balloon" and deployed military aircraft, including stealth fighter jets, to observe it. 

Such balloons operate at an altitude of 15-22 miles, well above commercial air traffic. The balloon's size is estimated to be equivalent to three buses. 

"The United States government has detected and is tracking a high-altitude surveillance balloon that is over the continental United States right now," Pentagon spokesperson Brigadier General Patrick Ryder told reporters Thursday. 

"The balloon is currently traveling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic and does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground," Ryder continued. 

Right now, the spy balloon appears to be occupying Montana airspace. This alarmed the state's Republican Senator Steve Daines, who sent an alarming letter to the Department of Defense (DOD). He said the spy balloon is a "concerning event": because Montana airspace includes "Malmstrom Air Force Base (AFB) and the United State's intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) fields." 

Daines wrote that given "the serious nature of the event," he is "requesting a full security briefing from the administration on this situation."

"It is vital to establish the flight path of this balloon, any compromised US national security assets, and all telecom or IT infrastructure on the ground within the US that this spy balloon was utilizing," he continued.

"As you know, Montana plays a vital national security role by housing nuclear missile silos at Malmstrom AFB," the senator said. 

Separately, Canada's defense ministry is monitoring a "potential second incident" but declined to give further details. 

News of the spy balloon followed CIA Director William Burns' speech at a Georgetown University event, where he called China the "biggest geopolitical challenge" facing the West. 

Tyler Durden Fri, 02/03/2023 - 06:55
Published:2/3/2023 6:18:03 AM
[Markets] Earnings Results: Harley-Davidson’s stock on track for highest close in almost two years after earnings crush estimates Iconic motorcycle maker's stock is up 9% and headed toward its best close since May 17, 2021. Published:2/3/2023 5:43:53 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Newswires: French industrial production defies high energy prices rising in December French industrial output defies high energy prices and interest rates, rising higher than expected in December, according to data published on Friday Published:2/3/2023 5:10:18 AM
[Markets] 3 Dow Stocks That Make for Screaming Buys in February Out of the Dow Jones Industrial Average's 30 components, there are three amazing deals hiding in plain sight. Published:2/3/2023 4:22:13 AM
[Markets] : TotalEnergies reveals $3.1 billion exposure to Adani TotalEnergies, a French energy company, has told investors it has a $3.1 billion exposure to Indian conglomerate Adani Group, representing a 2.4% of its worldwide investment activities. Published:2/3/2023 4:22:13 AM
[Markets] FTSE 100 lower as US tech earnings disappoint FTSE 100 made a subdued start to the day after yesterday’s strong gains. Published:2/3/2023 3:28:49 AM
[Markets] The Moneyist: ‘I always say yes’: How can I deal with aggressive salespeople? I’ve spent a fortune on gym classes. I even told a job interviewer I had no other offers. Help! 'Over the last two years, I have taken on credit-card debt to pay for these classes.' Published:2/3/2023 3:28:49 AM
[Markets] The EU's Response To Biden's Inflation Reduction Act Is Finally Here The EU's Response To Biden's Inflation Reduction Act Is Finally Here

Authored by Felicity Bradstock via,

  • Following the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act in the U.S., pressure grew on the EU to introduce its own legislation to help fund the clean energy push on the continent.

  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resultant energy security issues in Europe have only added to the pressure on EU politicians to solve the bloc's energy problems.

  • The EC’s new draft proposal is designed to encourage companies to remain in the EU rather than move operations to the U.S. to take advantage of IRA-related benefits.

When President Biden introduced his Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) last summer, he surprised the world with the extent of the climate commitments within it While supposedly aimed at inflation reduction, the legislation also provides extensive political support and funding for the green transition, providing tax cuts, subsidies, and other incentives for companies looking to use cleaner alternatives to fossil fuels. The EU has long been hailed as the leader in the switch to renewable energy, encouraging other countries worldwide to follow in its footsteps when it comes to climate pledges and policies. However, following the introduction of the IRA, pressure on the EU grew to introduce its own far-reaching, region-wide climate policy. After several months, it appears that the EU is ready to launch a transition policy that will provide the funding needed to keep up with the U.S. in the race to green.  The EU has announced plans to reduce restrictions on tax credits for renewable energy projects in response to Biden’s IRA. Following mounting public pressure to expand its climate policy following the introduction of the new U.S. law, the European Commission (EC) has stated that it aims to loosen state aid rules to encourage greater investment in production facilities in the green energy industry. However, this kind of major policy shift requires broad support from its 27 member states, which often slows down the introduction of new laws.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions on Russian energy, the EU and many other parts of the world have experienced severe energy shortages and rising consumer costs. This has led to greater pressure from the public and policymakers to accelerate the green transition, to ensure the future of the region’s energy security. The EC’s draft proposal reportedly proposes the redirection of some of the $869.8 billion in Covid-19 recovery funding to green tax credits. It states: “The provisions on tax benefits would enable member states to align their national fiscal incentives on a common scheme, and thereby offer greater transparency and predictability to businesses across the EU.” 

The EC appears to be following in the footsteps of President Biden, having seen a flurry of activity in the green energy industry following the introduction of the IRA. The leader of the EC, Ursula von der Leyen, stated in January at the World Economic Forum that the EU is planning to mobilize state aid and a sovereign fund for renewable energy companies through the introduction of a new Net-Zero Industry Act or Green Deal Industrial Plan. The introduction of an expansive new climate policy is hoped to encourage companies to remain in the EU rather than moving operations to the U.S., where they may be eligible to receive tax credits and other incentives for using renewable energy in their operations. 

This news will be encouraging for renewable energy firms that have been discouraged from expanding operations in recent months. Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the EU imposed revenue caps on wind and solar firms to protect consumers facing rising energy costs. In contrast, the IRA offers tax credits that boost U.S. wind and solar project profitability, making the U.S. a more attractive environment to develop new projects. 

At present, EU state aid rules do not allow countries to provide direct support for national companies, a rule that the EC is open to temporarily adapting to accelerate the green transition and boost the EU’s energy security. Explaining the plan, von der Leyen stated: “To keep European industry attractive, there is a need to be competitive with the offers and incentives that are currently available outside the EU.” However, for it to become a reality, the Net-Zero Industry Act needs to achieve broad support from EU member states. 

Pierre Tardieu, chief policy officer at lobby group WindEurope, believes the EC’s plan demonstrates “a conscious decision to emulate...rather than challenge” the IRA.

He believes it to be an extension of the 2022 REPowerEU strategy, which aims to reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian energy and speed up the green transition. The new climate Act would improve permitting procedures for clean-tech product sites across the region and simplify state-aid rules to provide both grants and subsidies. It would also help Europe to solidify its position in the global green energy transition, not only ensuring that it meets its climate targets but that the U.S. does not become the leading green energy hub for energy and manufacturing firms. However, clear action on von der Leyen’s aim of making “Europe the home of clean tech and industrial innovation” has yet to be taken. 

The introduction of a far-reaching climate policy by the EU would help position the region at the center of the global transition away from fossil fuels to renewable alternatives. Following the launch of President Biden’s IRA, the unveiling of a new policy from the EC would not be surprising, as it hopes to make the EU a favorable and competitive region for the development of green energy operations and technologies. Further announcements will likely be made to expand upon von der Leyen’s aims over the next few months, with a new EU climate policy on the horizon.

Tyler Durden Fri, 02/03/2023 - 03:30
Published:2/3/2023 3:20:05 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Newswires: CaixaBank sees forecast-beating profit thanks to higher net interest income The Spanish bank said net interest income stood at EUR2.07 billion, up 33% from a year earlier, and compared with EUR1.89 billion expected by analysts. Published:2/3/2023 2:18:19 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Newswires: Sanofi profit narrowly beats forecasts, sees stronger earnings growth in 2023 The French pharma majorFR:SAN SNY reported net profit of 1.46 billion euros ($1.59 billion) for the quarter, on sales that grew to EUR10.73 billion from EUR9.99 billion in the previous year. Published:2/3/2023 1:41:54 AM
[Markets] Escobar: The Trials And Tribulations Of The Collective West Escobar: The Trials And Tribulations Of The Collective West

Authored by Pepe Escobar,

Sit back, relax and enjoy a race to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The only question is who will get there first: the EU, NATO, or both...

One may be excused to imagine all sorts of amusement games unrolling at the HQ of the Russian General Staff as The Empire and NATO go literally bonkers. What crazy stunt will they come up with next – short of WWIII?

Here is a delightful put down of NATO’s dementia praecox. Everything so far has failed, from “crippling sanctions” to all sorts of wunderwaffen, while the whole Global South marvels at the exploits of Wagner PMC – now configured as the planet’s top urban fighting machine.

CIA mouthpiece Washington Post duly released how Washington, once again, had the Liver Sausage Chancellor Scholz for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The idea was floated by Secretary of State Tony Blinken: let’s announce we will deliver M1 Abrams to Ukraine in a hazy, unspecified future, thus providing cover for Scholz to release the Leopards now.

Don’t you just love German sovereignty in action?

Every military analyst with an IQ over room temperature knows all those Leopards will be duly incinerated – or better yet, captured, and dissected by Russian military specialists.

So what happens next is yet another vector of the – very successful so far – U.S.-unleashed German de-industrualization racket: the Americans will invade the German industrial military complex with their “much improved” Abrams – which may perhaps arrive in 2024, when only a rump Ukraine may still exist, or never arrive at all. So no need for the Abrams to prove themselves in actual combat – as in being captured and/or incinerated.

Rumors in Washington advance that the U.S. “strategy” in Ukraine – extensively detailed by endless think tank reports – had to be adapted. It’s not about “defeating Russia” anymore, but providing Kiev with the means to “scare” Russia. The Russian General Staff must be trembling in their boots.

Meanwhile, in real life, nearly every possible scenario gamed in Washington and Brussels finishes with NATO like a giant, armoured version of Wile E. Coyote plunging to the depths of the Grand Canyon. And that happens even if the much ballyhooded “Big Arrow” Russian offensive starts in a few days or weeks, or never starts at all.

Arguably the Russian General Staff has concluded a long time ago there’s no point in reducing Ukraine to rubble in a matter of hours – something they could easily accomplish. Thus the fabled mincing machine approach – offering no excuses for NATO to “escalate” (which they continue to do anyway, as Jens “War is Peace” Stoltenberg is so fond of parroting).

The trick is that NATO’s escalation overdrive, as it happens, is somewhat controlled by the Russian General Staff, which is always calculating which optimal maneuvers will consume NATO’s military hardware faster. Call it a Russian version of the popular axiom “frog in a boiling pot doesn’t realize it’s being cooked until it croaks.”

Attacking Russia-China-Iran

Absolute desperation is now graphically extrapolating into attacks on Iran. Both Russia and China have Iran as their key ally in West Asia for the whole, complex process of Eurasia integration; strategic partnerships interlink the trio.

So attacking the Ministry of Defense in Isfahan with drones – total fail – and bombing an IRGC convoy of humanitarian aid crossing from Iraq to Syria is a serious U.S.-Israel-coordinated provocation.

Essentially these are also attacks against Russia and China. Israel cannot lift its hand or foot without U.S. permission. Iranian intel may be able to establish how the Straussian neo-con and neoliberal-con cabal in charge of U.S. foreign policy authorized if not ordered these attacks, which of course are directly connected to NATO’s desperation in Ukraine.

When in doubt, just come back to Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski: “Potentially, the most dangerous scenario would be a grand coalition of China, Russia and perhaps, Iran, an ‘anti-hegemonic’ coalition united not by ideology but by contemporary grievances. It would be reminiscent in scale and scope of the challenge once posed by the Sino-Soviet bloc.”

And mirroring Ukraine/Russia there’s of course Taiwan/China.

As Credit Suisse strategist Zoltan Pozsar has extensively explained, if Taiwan manufactures chips for U.S. missiles Washington then sends to Taiwan for its “self-defense”, but Taiwan needs to wait because the missiles are needed in Ukraine instead, or chips can’t be shipped to the U.S. owing to a possible sea and air blockade imposed by China, the Americans will be operationally ill-equipped to support their two-front war against peer competitors Russia and China.

Bye bye Pax Americana. It’s the fear, actually paranoia, of a destroyed Taiwan – and the destruction in every scenario would be provoked by the Americans themselves – that has led the Straussian neo-con and neoliberal-con cabal to demand their chips be Made in USA.

On the energy front, since U.S. energy costs are low, Washington gambled that much of the deindustrialization of Germany would revert to American benefit. Yet since Iranian, Russian and Venezuelan oil prices are lower than the U.S., not much production may be shifting to the Hegemon: it will go to China.

To the bottom of the Grand Canyon!

The January 10 joint declaration between EU-NATO graphically shows how the EU is no more than the P.R. arm of NATO.

This NATO-EU joint mission consists in using all economic, political and military means to make sure the “jungle” always behaves according to the “rules-based international order” and accepts to be plundered ad infinitum by the “blooming garden”.

So in the end what’s left of “Europe”, when it’s NATO – actually Washington – that really rules?

“Europe”, according to relentless propaganda, means defending “our values” – as in peace, democracy and prosperity. The trick is that unelected elites forced the implicit identification of this imagined, practically sacred “Europe” with the European Union. And that’s how the EU has acquired a mythical identity.

Of course, in real life the EU – as in the real, politically organized “Europe” – has performed as a toxic instrument of division among European peoples.

Instead of peace, it has invested in all-out rabid war against Russia. The EU is arguably the most democratically irresponsible institution on the planet: spend a day in Brussels and you understand everything. And instead of prosperity, the EU has institutionalized austerity.

So sit back, relax and enjoy a race to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The only question is who will get there first: the EU, NATO, or both.

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/02/2023 - 23:50
Published:2/3/2023 12:01:41 AM
[Markets] MarketWatch First Take: Apple offers breadcrumbs for a forecast, but is that enough to reassure Wall Street? Needing to calm down Wall Street, Apple executives decided to bring back a forecast of sorts Thursday, though more breadcrumbs than hard numbers. Published:2/2/2023 10:53:01 PM
[Markets] If You're A Warehouse Worker. This Boston Dynamics Video Might Be An Ominous Sign If You're A Warehouse Worker. This Boston Dynamics Video Might Be An Ominous Sign

Warehouse automation continues to accelerate as millions of jobs are at risk of being displaced. The latest automation nightmare for warehouse laborers comes from a new video uploaded on YouTube by Boston Dynamics

In a press release, the US robotics firm announced that Deutsche Post DHL Group has successfully deployed the Stretch robot for loading and unloading boxes from tractor trailers at warehouse docks. 

"Unloading boxes is a strenuous, physically demanding work process which can impact an associate's ability to work efficiently. By automating this process, DHL Supply Chain explained, the operation not only addresses safety concerns but also the ongoing labor supply challenge by redirecting skilled labor to focus on value-add, strategic tasks in other areas of the warehouse," DHL wrote in a press release. 

Translation: DHL is automating its supply chain and won't need as many warehouse workers in the future. 

"The custom-designed, lightweight arm of the robot has seven degrees-of-freedom, which gives it the length and flexibility to reach cases throughout the trailer or container," DHL continued in the press release. 

By the end of this decade, DHL and other major companies, such as Amazon, are set to fully automate their warehouses. After all, robots don't strike over wages and working conditions. 

So for all those warehouse workers -- the video above is an ominous sign your job will be in jeopardy. 

Perhaps "learn to code," but that might be challenging to land a job at a major tech firm considering the mass layoffs. 

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/02/2023 - 23:30
Published:2/2/2023 10:41:06 PM
[Markets] Can Chat GPT3 Make Pennsylvania A Red State? Can Chat GPT3 Make Pennsylvania A Red State?

Authored by  Athan Koutsiouroumbas via RealClear Wire,

In the past three weeks, policymakers had their worlds rocked by generative artificial intelligence. The problem is that they don’t know it – yet.

First, a team of researchers demonstrated that Open AI’s Chat GPT3 can pass the stringent United States Medical Licensing Exam. Days later, Chat GPT 3 passed a bar exam. Finally, Chat GPT3 passed the prestigious Wharton Business School’s rigorous core examination.

The Wharton researcher writes, “OpenAI’s Chat GPT3 has shown a remarkable ability to automate some of the skills of highly compensated knowledge workers in general and specifically the knowledge workers in the jobs held by MBA graduates including analysts, managers, and consultants.”

Lawyers, doctors, administrators, managers, and consultants are some of the most highly compensated professionals in the United States. Generative artificial intelligence is banishing them to obsolescence.

With only 375 employees, the unprofitable Chat GPT3 was acquired by behemoth Microsoft at a valuation reportedly northward of $30 billion. For perspective, with over 42,000 highly educated healthcare employees, AmerisourceBergen is the largest company by revenue headquartered in Pennsylvania. Its valuation is $33.25 billion. So, with 99% fewer employees, the unprofitable Chat GPT3 is already worth nearly the same as the largest company in the Commonwealth.

Microsoft has already pledged $10 billion to optimize Chat GPT3 toward profitability. Tens of billions more dollars are coming.

The last time policymakers were presented with displacement on this scale was the globalization that decimated the American working class. The solution for Pennsylvania policymakers was to pivot the state’s economy to “Eds and Meds,” which now constitute 44% of total employment.

Those industries were chosen because spending is generated predominantly by the government, which is historically stable. To quote Ronald Reagan, “Government programs, once launched, never disappear.” Pennsylvania policymakers knew that they were making safe bets as those markets would almost always exist.

The pivot worked, with Pennsylvania stabilizing its population decline. Communities able to make the pivot, particularly in the suburbs, saw prosperity.

Once reliably Republican, the suburban voters employed by “Eds and Meds” now constitute the Democratic Party’s base. The rise of conservative populism, which pointed the finger at college-educated elites for the decline of the working class, accelerated the trend.

The reticence of suburban elites to choose Republican candidates is understandable, considering some in the GOP’s working-class base label them the enemy. For many in the working class, the contempt is personal, as they perceive the college-educated as having enriched themselves at their expense, via globalization.

But generative artificial intelligence is poised to inflict the same level of economic devastation on suburban elites as suffered by the working class through globalization. Some elites will undoubtedly find sure footing in the pending economy created by generative artificial intelligence. But many others will not.

The Rust Belt’s decline took decades to manifest. Its slow pace helped shield policymakers from criticism because gradual change enabled some Americans to find solutions on their own.

In contrast to globalization’s slow deindustrialization, however, technological adoption moves at lightning speed and is only getting faster. “Eds and Meds” suburbanites are unlikely to gain a reprieve through gradual transition. Profitable generative artificial intelligence business models may surface within a year. Suburban prosperity could be severely undermined before the next Winter Olympics. Policymakers need immediate solutions.

Political polarization rises during economic decline. A 20-point gap persists between the political affiliations of college-educated and non-college-educated Americans. It is one of the most pronounced cleavages in American politics.

The displacement potentially caused by generative artificial intelligence could put college-educated voters back into electoral play for Republicans, presuming the GOP can deliver something for them.

The path to help these Pennsylvanians, one that would be exclusive to Republicans, is rapid reindustrialization. The prerequisites for rapid reindustrialization are affordable, abundant energy and school choice. Both are fundamental tenets of the GOP platform.

Pennsylvania is blessed with abundant natural resources and is a net exporter of energy. It has educational entrepreneurs pleading for the opportunity to create the most industrially skilled workforce on the planet. Products made in Pennsylvania can reach most of the continental United States or international waters within 24 hours. Among the 50 states, this “iron triangle” of energy-workforce-logistics may be unique to Pennsylvania.

Rapid reindustrialization is the path that unites all educational backgrounds to produce real, sustainable wealth. Instead of pitting the educational classes against one another, it makes them partners in success.

Pennsylvania Republican policymakers have the opportunity before them to accomplish what Ron DeSantis has achieved in Florida: a generational political realignment of a state.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania’s Republican Party leaders have proposed spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a 2022 midterm post-mortem. That’s fine. But the lesson of the 2022 midterm is that voters do not reward looking backwards.

A crisis has begun. The GOP will respond either by providing tomorrow’s leaders or being condemned by history for failing to rise to the challenge.

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/02/2023 - 22:30
Published:2/2/2023 9:54:03 PM
[Markets] Inside The Secret Government Meeting On COVID-19 Natural Immunity Inside The Secret Government Meeting On COVID-19 Natural Immunity

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Four of the highest ranking U.S. health officials—including Dr. Anthony Fauci—met in secret to discuss whether or not naturally immune people should be exempt from getting COVID-19 vaccines, The Epoch Times can reveal.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci during a Senate hearing in Washington on May 17, 2022. (Shawn Thew/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

The officials brought in four outside experts to discuss whether the protection gained after recovering from COVID-19—known as natural immunity—should count as one or more vaccine doses.

“There was interest in several people in the administration in hearing basically the opinions of four immunologists in terms of what we thought about … natural infection as contributing to protection against moderate to severe disease, and to what extent that should influence dosing,” Dr. Paul Offit, one of the experts, told The Epoch Times.

Offit and another expert took the position that the naturally immune need fewer doses. The other two experts argued natural immunity shouldn’t count as anything.

The discussion did not lead to a change in U.S. vaccination policy, which has never acknowledged post-infection protection. Fauci and the other U.S. officials who heard from the experts have repeatedly downplayed that protection, claiming that it is inferior to vaccine-bestowed immunity. Most studies on the subject indicate the opposite.

The meeting, held in October 2021, was briefly discussed before on a podcast. The Epoch Times has independently confirmed the meeting took place, identified all of the participants, and uncovered other key details.

Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a professor of medicine at Stanford University who did not participate in the meeting, criticized how such a consequential discussion took place behind closed doors with only a few people present.

“It was a really impactful decision that they made in private with a very small number of people involved. And they reached the wrong decision,” Bhattacharya told The Epoch Times.

An email obtained by The Epoch Times shows Dr. Vivek Murthy contacting colleagues to arrange the meeting. (The Epoch Times)

The Participants

From the government:

  • Fauci, the head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden until the end of 2022
  • Dr. Vivek Murthy, the U.S. surgeon general
  • Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the head of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Dr. Francis Collins, head of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, which includes the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, until December 2021
  • Dr. Bechara Choucair, the White House vaccine coordinator until November 2021

From outside the government:

  • Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and an adviser to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on vaccines
  • Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota and a former member of Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board
  • Akiko Iwasaki, professor of immunobiology and molecular, cellular, and developmental biology at Yale University
  • Dr. Peter Hotez, co-director of Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development and dean of the Baylor College of Medicine’s School of Tropical Medicine

Fauci and Murthy decided to hold the meeting, according to emails The Epoch Times obtained.

“Would you be available tonight from 9-9:30 for a call with a few other scientific colleagues on infection-induced immunity? Tony and I just discussed and were hoping to do this sooner rather than later if possible,” Murthy wrote in one missive to Fauci, Walensky, and Collins.

All three quickly said they could make it.

Walensky asked who would be there.

Murthy listed the participants. “I think you know all of them right?” he said.

Walensky said she knew all but one person. “Sounds like a good crew,” she added.

From top left, clockwise: Dr. Vivek Murthy, Dr. Francis Collins, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and Dr. Rochelle Walensky. (Getty Images)

‘Clear Benefit’

During the meeting, Offit put forth his position—that natural immunity should count as two doses.

At the time, the CDC recommended three shots—a two-dose primary series and a booster—for many Americans 18 and older, soon expanding that advice to all adults, even though trials of the boosters only analyzed immunogenicity and efficacy among those without evidence of prior infection.

Research indicated that natural immunity was long-lasting and superior to vaccination. On the other hand, the CDC published a paper in its quasi-journal that concluded vaccination was better.

Osterholm sided with Offit, but thought that having recovered from COVID-19 should only count as a single dose.

“I added my voice at the meeting to count an infection as equivalent to a dose of vaccine! I’ve always believed hybrid immunity likely provides the most protection,” Osterholm told The Epoch Times via email.

Hybrid immunity refers to getting a vaccine after recovering from COVID-19.

Some papers have found vaccination after recovery boosts antibodies, which are believed to be a correlate of protection. Other research has shown that the naturally immune have a higher risk of side effects than those who haven’t recovered from infection. Some experts believe the risk is worth the benefit but others do not.

Hotez and Iwasaki, meanwhile, made the case that natural immunity should not count as any dose—as has been the case in virtually the entire United States since the COVID-19 vaccines were first rolled out.

Iwasaki referred to a British preprint study, soon after published in Nature, that concluded, based on survey data, that the protection from the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines was heightened among people with evidence of prior infection. She also noted a study she worked on that found the naturally immune had higher antibody titers than the vaccinated, but that the vaccinated “reached comparable levels of neutralization responses to the ancestral strain after the second vaccine dose.” The researchers also discovered T cells—thought to protect against severe illness—were boosted by vaccination.

There’s a “clear benefit” to boosting regardless of prior infection, Iwasaki, who has since received more than $2 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), told participants after the meeting in an email obtained by The Epoch Times. Hotez received $789,000 in grants from the NIH in fiscal year 2020, and has received other grants totaling millions in previous years. Offit, who co-invented the rotavirus vaccine, received $3.5 million in NIH grants from 1985 through 2004.

Hotez declined interview requests through a spokesperson. Iwasaki did not respond to requests for comment.

No participants represented experts like Bhattacharya who say that the naturally immune generally don’t need any doses at all.

In an email obtained by The Epoch Times, Akiko Iwasaki wrote to other meeting participants shortly after the meeting ended. (The Epoch Times)

Public Statements

In public, Hotez repeatedly portrayed natural immunity as worse than vaccination, including citing the widely criticized CDC paper, which drew from just two months of testing in a single state.

In one post on Twitter on Oct. 29, 2021, he referred to another CDC study, which concluded that the naturally immune were five times as likely to test positive compared to vaccinated people with no prior infection, and stated: “Still more evidence, this time from @CDCMMWR showing that vaccine-induced immunity is way better than infection and recovery, what some call weirdly ‘natural immunity’. The antivaccine and far right groups go ballistic, but it’s the reality.”

That same day, the CDC issued a “science brief” that detailed the agency’s position on natural immunity versus the protection from vaccines. The brief, which has never been updated, says that available evidence shows both the vaccinated and naturally immune “have a low risk of subsequent infection for at least 6 months” but that “the body of evidence for infection-induced immunity is more limited than that for vaccine-induced immunity.”

Evidence shows that vaccination after infection, or hybrid immunity, “significantly enhances protection and further reduces risk of reinfection” and is the foundation of the CDC’s recommendations, the agency said.

Several months later, the CDC acknowledged that natural immunity was superior to vaccination against the Delta variant, which was displaced in late 2021 by Omicron. The CDC, which has made misleading representations before on the evidence supporting vaccination of the naturally immune, did not respond to a request for comment regarding whether the agency will ever update the brief.

Iwasaki had initially been open to curbing the number of doses for the naturally immune—”I think this supports the idea of just giving one dose to people who had covid19,” she said in response to one Twitter post in early 2021, which is restricted from view—but later came to argue that each person who is infected has a different immune response, and that the natural immunity, even if strong initially, wanes over time.

Osterholm has knocked people who claim natural immunity is weak or non-existent, but has also claimed that vaccine-bestowed immunity is better. Osterholm also changed the stance he took in the meeting just several months later, saying in February 2022 that “we’ve got to make three doses the actual standard” while also “trying to understand what kind of immunity we get from a previous infection.”

Offit has been the leading critic on the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, which advises U.S. regulators on vaccines, over their authorizations of COVID-19 boosters. Offit has said boosters are unnecessary for the young and healthy because they don’t add much to the primary series. He also criticized regulators for authorizing updated shots without consulting the committee and absent clinical data. Two of the top U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials resigned over the booster push. No FDA officials were listed on invitations to the secret meeting on natural immunity.

Fauci and Walensky Downplay Natural Immunity

Fauci and Walensky, two of the most visible U.S. health officials during the pandemic, have repeatedly downplayed natural immunity.

Fauci, who said in an email in March 2020 that he assumed there would be “substantial immunity post infection,” would say later that natural immunity was real but that the durability was uncertain. He noted the studies finding higher antibody levels from hybrid immunity.

In September 2021, months after claiming that vaccinated people “can feel safe that they are not going to get infected,” Fauci said that he did not have “a really firm answer” on whether the naturally immune should get vaccinated.

“It is conceivable that you got infected, you’re protected—but you may not be protected for an indefinite period of time,” Fauci said on CNN when pressed on the issue. “So I think that is something that we need to sit down and discuss seriously.”

After the meeting, Fauci would say that natural immunity and vaccine-bestowed immunity both wane, and that people should get vaccinated regardless of prior infection to boost their protection.

Walensky, before she became CDC director, signed a document called the John Snow Memorandum in response to the Great Barrington Declaration, which Bhattacharya coauthored. The declaration called for focused protection of the elderly and otherwise infirm, stating, “The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk.”

The memorandum, in contrast, said there was “no evidence for lasting protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2 following natural infection” and supported the harsh lockdown measures that had been imposed in the United States and elsewhere.

In March 2021, after becoming director, Walensky released recommendations that the naturally immune get vaccinated, noting that there was “substantial durability” of protection six months after infection but that “rare cases of reinfection” had been reported.

Walensky hyped the CDC study on natural immunity in August 2021, and the second study in October 2021. But when the third paper came out concluding natural immunity was superior, she did not issue a statement. Walensky later told a blog that the study found natural immunity provided strong protection, “perhaps even more so than those who had been vaccinated and not yet boosted.”

But, because it came before Omicron, she said, “it’s not entirely clear how that protection works in the context of Omicron and boosting.”

Walensky, Murthy, and Collins did not respond to requests for interviews. Fauci, who stepped down from his positions in late 2022, could not be reached.

Murthy and Collins also portrayed natural immunity as inferior. “From the studies about natural immunity, we are seeing more and more data that tells us that while you get some protection from natural infection, it’s not nearly as strong as what you get from the vaccine,” Murthy said on CNN about two months before the meeting. Collins, in a series of blog posts, highlighted the studies showing higher antibody levels after vaccination and urged people to get vaccinated. He also voiced support for vaccine mandates.

Read more here...

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/02/2023 - 21:10
Published:2/2/2023 8:24:28 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures: Apple, Google, Amazon Skid, Jobs Report Looms; Market Rally Due For Pullback? Apple, Google and Amazon fell late, with January's jobs report on tap. Is the hot market rally due for a pullback? Published:2/2/2023 7:53:18 PM
[Markets] 'The Scandal Would Be Enormous': Pfizer Director Worried About Vax-Induced Menstrual Irregularities 'The Scandal Would Be Enormous': Pfizer Director Worried About Vax-Induced Menstrual Irregularities

Project Veritas on Thursday released a new segment of undercover footage of Pfizer director Jordon Walker in which the Director of R&D within the company's mRNA operation expressed concern over how the COVID-19 vaccine may be affecting women's reproductive health.

"There is something irregular about the menstrual cycles. So, people will have to investigate that down the line," Walker told an undercover journalist he thought he was on a date with.

"The [COVID] vaccine shouldn’t be interfering with that [menstrual cycles]. So, we don’t really know," he added.

Walker also hopes we don't discover that "somehow this mRNA lingers in the body and like -- because it has to be affecting something hormonal to impact menstrual cycles," adding "I hope we don’t discover something really bad down the line…If something were to happen downstream and it was, like, really bad? I mean, the scale of that scandal would be enormous."



Tyler Durden Thu, 02/02/2023 - 19:30
Published:2/2/2023 6:50:19 PM
[Markets] Adani Races To Restore Confidence With Lender Talks As Corporate Empire Falters Adani Races To Restore Confidence With Lender Talks As Corporate Empire Falters

Losses in Gautam Adani's corporate empire surged to $108 billion on Thursday, sparking fears of a potential systemic implosion one day after the Indian conglomerate's flagship Adani Enterprises Ltd. scrapped a 200 billion-rupee ($2.4 billion) stock offering. 

The suddenness of the equity offering withdrawal reverberated across markets, politics, and business circles. One dealmaker told Bloomberg that he has never seen an equity offering canceled so quickly in his two-decade career.

Indian lawmakers are questioning and requesting a broader probe into the plunge in Adani Enterprises shares. Even the Reserve Bank of India is checking on banking exposure to ensure there's no systemic threat. 

In a separate report, Bloomberg said Credit Suisse and Citigroup have stopped accepting some bonds issued by Adani's companies as collateral for margin loans to high-net-worth clients. However, Goldman Sachs told investors Adani bond prices have likely hit a floor. 

A crisis in confidence plagues Adani and his corporate empire, and he is racing to plug the holes in his sinking ship.

A person familiar with the situation said Adani is in discussions with lenders to prepay and release pledged shares as he seeks to restore confidence,. 

Adani nor his companies have faced margin calls on these pledges and aiming for quick prepayment, the person said, adding the move is to dismiss concerns about margin calls. 

They noted Adani officials would address investors about the prepayment in the coming days.

This turmoil comes in the wake of Hindenburg Research's short-seller report. The US firm alleges Adani oversees a sprawling empire built on market manipulation and accounting fraud -- allegations he and his conglomerate have repeatedly denied.

Simultaneously, Adani's personal wealth has taken a massive hit. In just six trading sessions, the billionaire, but no longer Asia's richest person, has lost $52 billion in personal wealth. 

Adani's primary goal in the short term is to remove concerns about a wave of potential margin calls concerns and default risk as dollar bonds plunge to very distressed levels. 

There is no clear messaging (yet) from India's government if they will get involved in the fight between Hindenburg and Adani. 

"Adani and his officials are trying their best to paint it as a foreign conspiracy against the rise of India as an economic power," said Ashok Swain, head of the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University in Sweden. 

However, fund managers aren't buying that messaging: veteran emerging-markets investor Mark Mobius told Bloomberg that Adani Enterprises' massive debt load "scared us away" from participating in the share offering.

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/02/2023 - 18:50
Published:2/2/2023 5:58:00 PM
[Markets] Pentagon says it is tracking suspected Chinese spy balloon over U.S. Pentagon says it is tracking suspected Chinese spy balloon over U.S. Published:2/2/2023 5:46:42 PM
[Markets] Woman Charged With Stealing $1.5 Million In Chicken Wings From Chicago Suburb School District Woman Charged With Stealing $1.5 Million In Chicken Wings From Chicago Suburb School District

A 66-year-old woman was charged with stealing over $1.5 million worth of food - primarily chicken wings, while working as the Director of Food Services for a school district within a suburb of Chicago.

Bond was set at $150,000 Thursday for Vera Lidell, who began working for Harvey School District 152 in July 2020, placed hundreds of unauthorized orders for items between July 2020 and February 2022 - which included 11,000 cases of chicken wings through the school's primary supplier, Gordon Food Service.

Vera Lidell (Cook County State's Attorney's Office)

Liddell is accused of placing the orders alongside legitimate orders for the district.

"The massive fraud began at the height of COVID during a time when students were not allowed to be physically present in school. Even though the children were learning remotely, the school district continued to provide meals for the students that their families could pick up," according to prosecutors.

"The food was never brought to the school or provided to the students," reads the proffer.

Believing the orders were genuine, Gordon Food Service billed Harvey School District 152, which then paid for the food items, according to court records. Lidell would then allegedly use one of the school district's cargo vans to pick up and transport the stolen food.

A routine mid-year audit conducted by the district's business manager in January 2022 showed the food service department had exceeded its annual budget by over $300,000 despite only being halfway through the school year, prosecutors said. Prosecutors said Lidell was the only person responsible for placing food orders on behalf of the district. -Fox5NY

"Upon closer review, she discovered individual invoices signed by Liddell for massive quantities of chicken wings, an item that was never served to students because they contain bones," the proffer continues.

Gordon Food Service employees got to know Lidell "due to the massive amount of chicken wings she would purchase," while surveillance footage from the facility revealed that she would often arrive prior to them opening to pick up orders.

Lidell, whose bail is set at $150,000, is currently being held at Cook County Jail until she's scheduled to appear in court again on Feb. 22.

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/02/2023 - 18:10
Published:2/2/2023 5:25:51 PM
[Markets] Ohio Man Who Identifies As Female Faces Charges For Being Naked In Locker Room While Young Girls Were Present Ohio Man Who Identifies As Female Faces Charges For Being Naked In Locker Room While Young Girls Were Present

Authored by Mimi Nguyen Ly via The Epoch Times,

A man who identifies as a female has been charged with public indecency for allegedly being naked while in the presence of young girls, in the women’s locker room of a YMCA in Ohio.

The man, Darren C. Glines, 31, of Fairborn, was charged with three counts of indecent exposure for three separate incidents spanning 2021–2022 that were reported by three different people.

Glines has not had gender reassignment surgery. He identifies as transgender and uses the name Rachel, local station WHIO reported.

Under Ohio law, public indecency is a misdemeanor of the fourth degree.

The three incidents occurred on Sept. 26, 2021, Nov. 7, 2022, and between Nov. 30, 2021, and Nov. 30, 2022, according to the complaint (pdf) obtained by the Daily Caller.

In the third incident, the person who filed the complaint reported that “at least three female juveniles were present when the naked man was in their vicinity.”

Glines “was identified by the reporting persons and the Xenia police were able to identify the identification via their investigation,” according to the court document.

The president of the Xenia City Council, Williams Urshcel, shared at a recent public gathering that one of the women that complained was told by the front desk at the YMCA facility that Glines “is actually a woman, and that you shouldn’t be disturbed by this.”

But a spokesperson for the city said Urshel’s comments were not authorized by or on behalf of the rest of the City Council, the city mayor, the city manager, and the law director.

The city’s law department doesn’t plan to bring charges against the YMCA over the matter, the spokesperson added.

The YMCA of Greater Dayton told WHIO in a statement that it will comply with legal mandates but also continue to protect the privacy and safety of its members.

“Under no circumstance will we investigate an individual’s birth identity and then assign individuals to locker rooms,” the statement reads.

“That would be counter to the law, counter to respect for all people and it is not who or what we are as an organization.”

The YMCA of Greater Dayton told Dayton Daily News that non-discrimination laws in Ohio allow people to use facilities that align with their gender identity.

It added that locker room guidelines in its facilities ask people to “remain properly covered while in public areas of the locker room.”

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/02/2023 - 17:10
Published:2/2/2023 4:27:45 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures Fall As Apple, Google, Amazon Skid, Jobs Report Looms; Market Rally Due For Pullback? Apple, Google and Amazon fell on results, with January's jobs report on tap. Is the hot market rally due for a pullback? Published:2/2/2023 4:19:39 PM
[Markets] S&P 500 achieves first ‘golden cross’ in 2½ years, but this doesn’t guarantee more gains ahead The S&P 500 reaches its first "golden cross" in 2½ years, but that doesn't mean stocks are destined for more gains in the months ahead. Published:2/2/2023 4:11:43 PM
[Markets] Ford reports $2 billion loss in 2022, stock off 6% in late trading Ford reports $2 billion loss in 2022, stock off 6% in late trading Published:2/2/2023 4:05:00 PM
[Markets] ‘Please have some fixed income’: Why ETF investors poured capital into bonds, international stocks in January Asset flows into exchange-traded funds were a bit unusual last month, according to Elisabeth Kashner, director of global fund analytics at FactSet. Published:2/2/2023 4:05:00 PM
[Markets] Stocks are at Wall Street’s year-end target. It’s only early February. A sharp rally in technology stocks is driving U.S. stocks higher to start 2023. Were Wall Street strategists too pessimistic? Published:2/2/2023 3:59:09 PM
[Markets] GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks rally, U.S. yields flat on hope for central banks pause A gauge of global stocks climbed for a third straight day and longer-dated U.S. Treasury yields were flat on Thursday, as policy announcements from a host of central banks added to optimism that the cycles of interest rate hikes may be near an end. After the U.S. Federal Reserve raised rates by 25 basis points (bps) on Wednesday, as was widely expected, markets rallied following comments from Fed Chair Jerome Powell acknowledging the "disinflationary" process may have begun. The European Central Bank (ECB) and Bank of England (BoE) hiked by 50 basis points each on Thursday, with the BoE signaling the tide was turning against inflation and the ECB indicating at least one more hike was on the horizon. Published:2/2/2023 3:47:39 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Dips As Apple Helps Nasdaq Fly; Meta Stock Rockets After Mark Zuckerberg 'Surprise' The Dow Jones fell as the Nasdaq flew. Meta Platforms rocketed as Mark Zuckerberg shared a surprise. Microsoft and Apple stock jumped. Published:2/2/2023 3:35:18 PM
[Markets] Earnings Results: Qualcomm stock rises following slight earnings beat Qualcomm Inc. shares rose in the extended session Thursday after the chip maker beat Wall Street expectations slightly on earnings. Published:2/2/2023 3:19:17 PM
[Markets] Central Bank 'Pause' Panacea Prompts Massive Stock Short-Squeeze, Buying-Panic In Bonds Central Bank 'Pause' Panacea Prompts Massive Stock Short-Squeeze, Buying-Panic In Bonds

Tl;dr: Markets melted up after the following folding foursome:

  • Fed's Powell says "disinflation" 13 times

  • BOC pausing

  • BOE pausing

  • ECB one more and done, turns to "climate QE"

Most notably, Powell's "pussying out" of pushing back against market euphoria, drove US financial conditions to their 'loosest' since Jackson Hole... where he warned "more pain is coming", and most presciently to today's actions: "Restoring price stability will likely require maintaining a restrictive policy stance for some time. The historical record cautions strongly against prematurely loosening policy."

Source: Bloomberg

The market continued to shift Fed rate trajectory expectations in a dovish direction...

Source: Bloomberg

And that ripped stocks higher with Nasdaq leading the charge on the day (but we note that The Dow slipped lower on the day). Stocks all reversed lower together at 1400ET (no obvious catalyst), but the last hour saw the bid return with Nasdaq up over 3% (and The Dow desperately trying to end green)...

From the start of Powell's presser, Nasdaq is up almost 6%...

The Nasdaq came within a few ticks of being up 20% (a new bull market) from the December lows...

The P/E for the S&P (and Tech stocks) are at their highest since April...

Source: Bloomberg

"Most Shorted" stocks were up a stunning 13% from the start of the Powell presser yesterday as the short-squeeze continued through the cash open today. The basket reached all the way up to its post-Nov-CPI squeeze highs before rolling over a little late on...

Source: Bloomberg

Powell achieved the most-impressive short-squeeze yet of this tightening cycle...

Source: Bloomberg

Growth stocks are dominating Value stocks as an 'easier' Fed is eyed as imminent (fascinating that the Value/Growth pair reached all the way up to the moment when The Fed last unleashed its easy money spigot)...

Source: Bloomberg

There is no fear anymore apparently as the put-call ratio has collapsed...

Source: Bloomberg

With put volume plunging...

Source: Bloomberg

And no demand at all for downside protection as put vols crashed relative to call vols (upside crash demand jumps)...

Source: Bloomberg

VIX notably decoupled from stocks today, rising up near 19 as stocks rallied...

Source: Bloomberg

As Bloomberg's Cameron Crise noted, at one point, the SPX was up more than a percent and the VIX was up more than a vol. On a closing basis, that has only happened 16 times since the inception of the VIX in 1990. And on those occasions, the equity market has tended to decline over the ensuing month. The numbers since the Covid era, representing the modern market environment, are even more negative; on average, the SPX has tumbled 2.37% in the week after twin 1% rises.

Yesterday's Treasury bid extended gains with yields down across the curve and the belly outperforming (5Y -4bps, 2Y and 30Y -1.5bps) but yields reversed higher after Europe closed...

Source: Bloomberg

The 2Y Yield plunged back towards 4.00%, reaching its lowest since October...

Source: Bloomberg

Jay Powell's favorite yield curve indicator plunged to its most inverted ever...

Source: Bloomberg

Christine Lagarde's even easier-sounding press conference prompted a bloodbath for EU sovereign bond bears with yields collapsing everywhere...

Source: Bloomberg

And perhaps most notably, the core 10Y Bund yield crashed by the most since 2011...

Source: Bloomberg

Additionally, US Mortgage rates have tumbled for the 4th straight week to the lowest since Sept 2022...

Source: Bloomberg

The dollar retraced a lot of yesterday's drop after the ECB was more dovish than The Fed...


Source: Bloomberg

With the Euro roundtripping the move too, ending notably lower today...

Source: Bloomberg

Bitcoin was once again rejected at $24k...

Source: Bloomberg

Gold ended the day lower - erasing all of yesterday's gains - despite an even more dovish ECB after yesterday's dovish Fed

And despite the exuberance about The Fed being 'one and done', oil prices tumbled again with WTI back to a $76 handle...

Finally, broadening participation and brightening prices improve the probability that October’s low is the one that sticks for US large-cap equities, yet signs of excessive optimism started to emerge with the January rally, Bloomberg Intelligence strategists Gina Martin Adams and Michael Casper said in a note Thursday.

The BI Market Pulse index continued its climb further into manic territory, signaling elevated risk-taking and more-volatile equity markets likely in the short term.

And as Nomura's Charlie McElligott noted, the panic-grab into stocks yesterday was among the most aggressive ever...

...and historically, in the short-term, has not ended well.

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/02/2023 - 16:02
Published:2/2/2023 3:11:24 PM
[Markets] Nasdaq posts best daily gain since Nov., S&P 500 closes up 1.5% The Nasdaq posted its best day of gains since November on Thursday, as stock-market bulls cheered the Federal Reserve's decision a day before to raise interest rates by a smaller 25 basis point increment and embraced hints that a pause in rate hikes could be coming in a few months. The S&P 500 index rose about 1.5%, while the Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 3.3%, its best daily percentage gain since Nov. 30, according to Dow Jones Market Index. Both stock-market gauges surged in the final moments Published:2/2/2023 3:11:24 PM
[Markets] Fed meeting signals ‘better days are indeed ahead for the markets’: Strategist Hennion & Walsh CIO Kevin Mahn joins Yahoo Finance Live to talk about the Fed's forward outlook on interest rate hikes in 2023, inflationary concerns on U.S. consumers, and the weight of recession woes on the market. Published:2/2/2023 2:50:43 PM
[Markets] Hunter Biden $55,000 Offer For Russian Oligarch Info Falls Under Fresh Scrutiny Hunter Biden $55,000 Offer For Russian Oligarch Info Falls Under Fresh Scrutiny

An email from Hunter Biden to US aluminum company Alcoa is raising fresh concerns over the first son's access to classified documents which were recently discovered in his father's home in Wilmington, Delaware, as House Republicans kick off investigations into allegations of influence peddling.

The emails which date back to 2011 reveal Hunter Biden offering to trade information on Russian oligarchs to Alcoa for $55,000, according to the NY Post's original October 2021 report.

Specifically, Hunter - while his father was Vice President - offered to provide a "statistical analysis of political and corporate risks, elite networks associated with Oleg Deripaska, the Russian CEO of Basic Element company and United company RUSAL."

Deripaska had notably just signed a metal supply agreement with Alcoa - which Hunter also offered a "list of elites of similar rank in Russia, map of [Deripaska’s] networks based on frequency of interaction with selected elites and countries."

Oleg Deripaska

Now, in light of the fact that classified documents have been found all over the house that Hunter was living at, the Alcoa revelation raises new questions over Hunter's access to sensitive information.

The deeply detailed proposal has come under sharp scrutiny given recent revelations that Hunter Biden had access to the Delaware lake-front home where secret papers from his father’s time as vice president were discovered in a garage, basement and library — combined with Republicans taking control of the House of Representatives.

Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), the high-profile former chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, told The Post that the Alcoa solicitation fits within a broader picture. -NY Post

"The Biden family is the most corrupt family in the history of American politics," said Banks. "The biggest question facing Republican investigators: Where to begin?"

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) has also raised the question over whether Hunter used classified documents found at the 6,850 sqft mansion in his business dealings.

Specifically, Johnson referenced an April 12, 2014 email from Hunter to his business partners about Ukraine, which looked "suspiciously" like it could have contained classified information.

"It reads like one of those scene-setters — highly detailed information in terms of Ukraine," Johnson told Fox News on Tuesday.

The email, from Hunter to partner Devon Archer, includes a 22-point memo which he described as "thoughts after doing some research." It included predictions such as the election of former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, as well as "some sort of decentralization will likely occur in the East."

"If it doesn’t the Russians will continue to escalate there [sic] destabilization campaign, which could lead to a full scale take over of the eastern region most critically Donetsk," Hunter wrote. "The strategic value is to create a land bridge for RU[ssia] to Crimea."

Next week kicks off fresh hearings in the House Oversight Committee, which will investigate Hunter's alleged influence peddling - including cashing in on his ties to his father in order to rake in millions from foreign companies.

"We have evidence that … we’ll continue to be transparent with as we start our hearings next week, where this family is taking in millions of millions of dollars from our adversaries," said Rep. James Comer (R-KY), Chairman of the committee. "And I think we need to determine what was that money for [and] who supplied that money?"

"Why did the FBI, according to Elon Musk and the Twitter Files … the FBI was implying to them that that laptop was Russian disinformation," Comer continued. "It’s not, and what’s concerning is the FBI had the laptop. Why were they doing that?"

"The New York Post is fourth biggest newspaper in America; they’re a credible news organization. They’ve done extensive reporting on on the hard drive," Comer said, adding that the committee must dispel "a lot of misconceptions about the laptop."

"So we’re gonna start with with the hard drive, because there’s a lot of evidence on the hard drive that would suggest that Joe Biden knew very well what his family was involved in."

"There’s emails from some of these people’s texting and emailing Hunter Biden saying, ‘Thanks for setting up the meeting with your dad. This is why we’re investigating – we want to make sure that our national security is not compromised," Comer continued, adding that Hunter's international business dealings are particularly suspicious given the services he was providing to foreign agencies.

"We’d like to know what that consulting was. I feel like if China or anyone pays you millions of dollars they expect to get a return on that investment," said Comer. "If they would explain that, then think that a lot of these problems would subside a little bit, but all they do is just like roll their eyes or the audacity of Republicans to ask these questions."

The oversight committee has pressed Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to release more than 150 suspicious activity reports filed by banks regarding foreign transactions and wires to and from Hunter Biden, his businesses and associates. -NY Post

"Right now, we just want the bank records. Those suspicious activity reports were created to help Congress and everyone communicate about foreign suspicious foreign transactions," said Comer. "If you do a major foreign transaction with a country, the bank is probably going to write a suspicious activity report to cover themselves for liability."

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/02/2023 - 15:08
Published:2/2/2023 2:33:18 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Dips As Nasdaq Flies; Meta Stock Rockets Amid Mark Zuckerberg 'Surprise' The Dow Jones fell as the Nasdaq flew. Meta Platforms rocketed as Mark Zuckerberg shared a surprise. Microsoft and Apple stock jumped. Published:2/2/2023 2:27:17 PM
[Markets] High mortgage rates: the one reason it’s so hard for the Fed to shed trillions of dollars in housing debt Much of the Federal Reserve's mortgage bond holdings are tied to the pandemic boom it helped create. Getting repaid is going slower than expected. Published:2/2/2023 2:20:42 PM
[Markets] UnitedHealth stock can be blamed for most of the Dow's decline, while the rest of the stock market rallies The Dow Jones Industrial Average's selloff, in the face of a big rally in the broader stock market, is mostly the fault of one company's stock. UnitedHealth Group Inc. shares tumbled 5.7% in afternoon trading, in the wake of lower-than-expected Medicare Advantage rates proposed in 2024. The health insurer's stock price drop of $28.41, which would be the second-biggest in its history behind only the record $47.00 selloff on March 16, 2020, was shaving about 187 points off the Dow's price. Meanwhi Published:2/2/2023 2:00:36 PM
[Markets] GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks rally, U.S. yields flat on hopes for central banks pause A gauge of global stocks climbed for a third straight day and longer-dated U.S. Treasury yields were flat on Thursday, as policy announcements from a host of central banks added to optimism that the cycles of interest rate hike cycles may be near an end. After the U.S. Federal Reserve raised rates by 25 basis points (bps) on Wednesday, as was widely expected, markets rallied following comments from Fed Chair Jerome Powell acknowledging the "disinflationary" process may have begun. The European Central Bank (ECB) and Bank of England (BoE) hiked by 50 basis points each on Thursday, with the BoE signaling the tide was turning against inflation and the ECB indicating at least one more hike was on the horizon. Published:2/2/2023 1:47:36 PM
[Markets] MSNBC Anchor Hospitalized With Severe Myocarditis, Pericarditis MSNBC Anchor Hospitalized With Severe Myocarditis, Pericarditis

Authored by Jack Phillips via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

An MSNBC anchor revealed in a recent segment that she was hospitalized with heart inflammation in December, leading her to miss work for about a month.

Yasmin Vossoughian is seen in a file photo (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Yasmin Vossoughian said that the health scare started on Dec. 20 when she started to experience chest pains that “waxed and waned over a period of 10 days.” Those pains “continued to get worse” over the coming days, she added.

The anchor, who hosts a weekend program on the left-wing network, said she went to urgent care on Dec. 30 and was told she had acid reflux. A day later, she woke up with severe chest pains and pain in her left shoulder, leading her to believe she was suffering from a heart attack.

Vossoiughian, 44, said she went to the emergency room. Doctors diagnosed her with pericarditis, or inflammation of the lining of the heart. They claimed it was caused by “a literal common cold,” she said.

She added that she doesn’t smoke, she runs several miles per week, does yoga, doesn’t eat meat, and drinks occasionally. “I’m a pretty healthy person,” she said.

After she was admitted to the hospital, she spent several days there before she was released on Jan. 4, Vossoiughian said.

“But that was not the end … three days later, I was readmitted when I felt a flutter in my heart like a butterfly,” she said. Doctors then informed her that she developed myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle, and she spent another five days in the hospital.

Vossoiughian then said that it was “just the cold that was doing … all the inflammation in and around my heart.”


With Vossoiughian’s confirmation that she suffered pericarditis and myocarditis, there was widespread speculation on social media that it may have been caused by a COVID-19 vaccine or booster. The MSNBC host did not make mention of COVID-19 or vaccines during her segment, and she said her doctors blamed it on the common cold virus.

Both pericarditis and myocarditis are considered side effects of mRNA vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna, according to the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But, according to Johns Hopkins University, while rare, myocarditis can be caused “by an infection in the body,” including the common cold, influenza, and COVID-19. Bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections can also lead to myocardial inflammation.

The Myocarditis Foundation, meanwhile, says that “viral infections are the leading cause of myocarditis,” but it notes that “a wide range of infections, diseases, and substances may cause this condition.”

And the UK National Health Service says that “pericarditis often follows a viral infection, such as a sore throat or cold.”

In 2021, Vossoiughian wrote on social media that she was fully vaccinated for COVID-19. “We are both vaccinated…that was confirmed before this pic!” she said in April of that year. Comcast’s NBCUniversal also mandated that its employees, including those working at MSNBC, get the vaccine before returning to the office in early 2022.

Read more here...

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/02/2023 - 14:05
Published:2/2/2023 1:32:59 PM
[Markets] Washington Watch: State of the Union: 5 key challenges for Biden as he delivers his speech Here are five big issues that President Joe Biden is facing ahead of his primetime State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress. Published:2/2/2023 1:07:44 PM
[Markets] US STOCKS-Nasdaq soars more than 3% on Meta boost, Fed relief The Nasdaq rose to a near five-month intraday high as Meta Platforms surged on rigorous cost controls, while a dovish message from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell boosted appetite for risky assets. The Facebook parent soared 26.9% to a near eight-month high after it announced a new $40 billion share buyback and said it would cut costs in 2023 by $5 billion to between $89 billion and $95 billion. Published:2/2/2023 1:01:28 PM
[Markets] Leftists Triggered By Old Mister Rogers' "Boys Are Boys, Girls Are Girls" Clips Leftists Triggered By Old Mister Rogers' "Boys Are Boys, Girls Are Girls" Clips

Authored by Steve Watson via Summit News,

Old clips of Mister Rogers, a children’s TV show from the 1980s, have gone viral on social media after leftists were triggered by the character in the show singing a song about ‘boys being boys and girls being girls’.

Fred Rogers, who hosted Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood for decades, is seen in the footage singing a song explaining to children that there are two genders, that boys and girls are different, but that everyone is equal.

“Boys are boys from the beginning, girls are girls right from the start. Everybody’s fancy, Everybody’s fine. Your body’s fancy and so is mine,” Rogers sings.

Further stanzas of the song include the assertions “If you were born a boy, you stay a boy,” and “Only girls grow up to be the mommies, only boys can be the daddies.”

The message was considered entirely wholesome, even up until the show aired its last episode in 2001, yet now in our 2023 reality the message is being labelled triggering and upsetting.

In an appearance on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Rogers expanded on the meaning of the song, explaining to some laughter in the audience that it is an important societal responsibility to define gender roles to children:

Of course, in a world of “gender-based care,” (puberty blockers and child genital mutilation surgery) this little ditty is now ‘offensive’:

To the majority though, it’s merely a reminder that at some point we moved into living in a make believe fantasy world.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Thu, 02/02/2023 - 13:29
Published:2/2/2023 12:49:51 PM
[Markets] The Ratings Game: The $100 billion Facebook rebound: Meta stock set for best day since 2013 Meta changed its narrative in a big way this week, and that's resonating on Wall Street Published:2/2/2023 12:44:08 PM
[Markets] Powell's "We Will See" Is Enough For The Markets Powell's "We Will See" Is Enough For The Markets

By Ven Ram, Bloomberg markets live reporter and strategist

On Wednesday, Fed Chair Jerome Powell often peppered his answers by intersplicing Let’s see.”

As it turned out, that provided enough comfort for the markets.

You could parse his entire post-meeting remarks and why Treasuries rallied, but here’s what I took away.

This is what he essentially said:

“It’s a forecast of slower growth, some softening in the labor market and inflation moving down steadily, but not quickly...

...If the economy performs broadly in line with those expectations, it will not be appropriate to cut rates this year...

...If inflation comes down much faster, we’ll be seeing that, and that will be incorporated into our thinking...we’ll see.”

The markets read it thus:

“Well, essentially, let’s invert what you just said:

if the economy goes pear-shaped and inflation comes down a lot, you are willing to cut. We will bet our last farthing that inflation will come off rapidly.”

So what will decide who wins that tussle between the markets and the Fed?

There are plenty of indicators to look at, including core PCE ex-housing, which he emphasized.

For me, I will be watching core PCE inflation - now at 4.4% to come down to the 3.5% penciled in by the Fed for this year - before holding my breath.

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/02/2023 - 12:47
Published:2/2/2023 11:57:48 AM
[Markets] Cash is no longer trash: Hedge-fund heavyweight Ray Dalio changes his tune Cash is no longer trash: Hedge-fund heavyweight Ray Dalio changes his tune Published:2/2/2023 11:39:26 AM
[Markets] Coronavirus Update: WHO recorded some 20 million new COVID-19 cases in January Coronavirus Update: WHO recorded some 20 million new COVID-19 cases in January Published:2/2/2023 10:55:41 AM
[Markets] Stock market news live updates: Tech leads post-Fed rally, heavyweight earnings loom U.S. stocks were mixed at the open on Thursday, with tech stocks leading the way up following the Federal Reserve’s latest interest rate hike and ahead of another batch of corporate earnings, most prominently from technology titans. Published:2/2/2023 10:55:41 AM
[Markets] GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks climb, U.S. yields fall on central bank pause hopes A gauge of global stocks rallied and U.S. Treasury yields mostly fell on Thursday, as policy announcements from a string of central banks fueled optimism that interest rate hike cycles may be nearing an end. After the U.S. Federal Reserve raised rates by 25 basis points (bps), as was widely expected, on Wednesday, markets rallied following comments from Fed Chair Jerome Powell acknowledging the "disinflationary" process may have begun. Published:2/2/2023 10:49:12 AM
[Markets] Crypto Community Mocks Charlie Munger Over Obsession With China's Bitcoin Ban Crypto Community Mocks Charlie Munger Over Obsession With China's Bitcoin Ban

Authored by Helen Partz via,

The online community has expressed bewilderment over how China’s crypto ban aligns with the United States’ proclaimed principles of freedom...

The cryptocurrency community has ridiculed well-known Bitcoin critic Charlie Munger, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, for calling the United States to follow in the footsteps of China and ban crypto.

In an op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal, the 99-year-old investment veteran has once again slammed crypto, calling a cryptocurrency a “gambling contract with a nearly 100% edge for the house.”

Munger also said that a cryptocurrency is “not a currency, not a commodity, and not a security,” adding that “obviously” the U.S. should enact a new federal law that would ban crypto.

According to Munger, the best way to approach crypto is to follow the example of China, which put a blanket ban on crypto in September 2021.

The Berkshire Hathaway vice chairman stated:

“What should the U.S. do after a ban of cryptocurrencies is in place? Well, one more action might make sense: Thank the Chinese communist leader for his splendid example of uncommon sense.

The community was quick to react to Munger’s latest anti-crypto arguments, with many expressing bewilderment about how measures like China’s crypto ban stack up with the United States’ proclamations that it supports freedom.

“The battle lines are being drawn. Freedom or tyranny. Non-custodial wallets are the hill we can’t surrender,” NFT APE author Adam McBride wrote on Twitter.

Others also mocked Munger for not understanding that crypto is virtually unbannable.

Indeed, even after “banning” crypto in 2021, China has continued to be the second-largest Bitcoin miner in the world, and possessing crypto is apparently still legal.

Moreover, the idea of lifting the crypto ban has been floating around in China for a while.

Given that Munger called cryptocurrency a “gambling contract,” it’s worth noting that gambling is legal under U.S. federal law, despite people losing significant money from it.

According to data from the American Gaming Association, U.S. casinos and mobile gaming apps hit a record $54.93 billion in revenue during the first 11 months of 2022. The revenues came at the cost of Americans losing more money on gambling than ever before by the first quarter of 2022.

Many European countries also allow at least some gambling, with about 420,000 British gamblers losing more than $2,000 per year.

Despite casinos causing significant losses for investors, Europe and the U.S. have not followed in the footsteps of China, which banned most forms of gambling back in 1949.

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/02/2023 - 11:30
Published:2/2/2023 10:40:43 AM
[Markets] The Most Important Thing to Know About the Latest Market Action As you contemplate this market action, the most important thing to remember is that strong momentum tends to stay sticky to the upside. There are pullbacks and dips, but those that missed out on the run and shorts that are being squeezed will jump in quickly on minor weakness and help to hold things up. There are a couple of notable things about the action Thursday morning. Published:2/2/2023 10:25:13 AM
[Markets] MarketWatch Live: S&P 500 on track to achieve bullish ‘golden cross’ MarketWatch Live: S&P 500 on track to achieve bullish ‘golden cross’ Published:2/2/2023 10:13:10 AM
[Markets] : Health-insurance stocks drop after Medicare Advantage proposes lower rates for 2024 Humana's stock was down 3.3% in trading on Thursday, while shares of UnitedHealth Group, Elevance Health and Cigna Corp. also fell. Published:2/2/2023 10:13:10 AM
[Markets] US STOCKS-Nasdaq jumps more than 2% on Meta surge, Fed relief The Nasdaq rose more than 2% on Thursday to hit a near five-month intra-day high as Meta Platforms surged on rigorous cost controls, while a dovish message from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell boosted bets of a softer landing for the U.S. economy. Meta Platforms Inc soared 21.1% to a near eight-month high after the Facebook-parent announced a new $40 billion share buyback and said it would cut costs in 2023 by $5 billion to between $89 billion and $95 billion. Published:2/2/2023 10:05:09 AM
[Markets] Meta Skyrockets 20%; Tesla China Ramps Up; Apple's Base Case, Analysts' View Dow Jones rose after Meta beat revenue targets; Tesla ramps up Shanghai production; Apple, Amazon and Google-Parent Alphabet on deck. Published:2/2/2023 9:58:52 AM
[Markets] U.S. factory orders rose 1.8% in December — fourth gain in past five months U.S. factory orders rose 1.8% in December — fourth gain in past five months Published:2/2/2023 9:12:51 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Falls 275 Points After Jobless Claims; Meta Soars 20% On Strong Sales, $40 Billion Buyback The Dow Jones fell Thursday after initial jobless claims. Meta stock soared 20% on a $40 billion stock buyback. Published:2/2/2023 8:55:39 AM
[Markets] Ferrari Shares Accelerate On Strong 2023 Outlook Despite "Complex Global Macro" Turmoil Ferrari Shares Accelerate On Strong 2023 Outlook Despite "Complex Global Macro" Turmoil

Despite the stock, bond, and crypto turmoil last year, Italian supercar maker Ferrari posted full-year profits up 13% year-over-year and revealed an even stronger outlook for 2023. The CEO said robust supercar sales were fueled by "persistently high demand for our products worldwide." 

For the fourth quarter, Ferrari reported earnings per share of $1.33 from sales of $1.5 billion. Wall Street analysts were satisfied with the earnings. 

"Last year ended with outstanding financial results that met and exceeded our guidance and set new records across all metrics, such as a net profit of €939M and an industrial free cash flow generation of €758M. These figures provide the base for an even stronger 2023, fueled by a persistently high demand for our products worldwide." 

"Despite a complex global macro scenario, we look ahead with great confidence, encouraged by the many signs and achievements of an evolving Ferrari," CEO Benedetto Vigna said. 

Ferrari shipped an impressive 13,221 vehicles in 2022, up 19% from 2021. This was a new record for the company. 

US-listed shares of Ferrari were up nearly 5% in premarket trading. Shares traded near 2021 highs. 

Analysts from Credit Suisse were surprised by the strong 2023 outlook. Morgan Stanley analysts said the guidance was solid and supportive. 

Ferrari is bucking the trend as the overall auto industry wanes. High-interest rates have sparked an affordability crisis, while average folks with high monthly car payments struggle to service their debts

What's impressive with robust Ferrari sales and a strong outlook for this year is that demand has yet to be impacted by market turmoil. Last fall, we noted that "crypto bros" were panic-selling G-Wagons and McLarens while Bitcoin tumbled to a low of $15,500. 

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/02/2023 - 09:35
Published:2/2/2023 8:49:11 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Falls After Jobless Claims; Meta Soars 20% On Strong Sales, $40 Billion Buyback The Dow Jones fell Thursday after initial jobless claims. Meta stock soared 20% on a $40 billion stock buyback. Published:2/2/2023 8:43:23 AM
[Markets] Stock futures trade higher following Fed’s 25 basis-point rate hike Yahoo Finance Live’s Brad Smith breaks down how stock futures are trading following the Fed’s most recent rate hike. Published:2/2/2023 8:26:09 AM
[Markets] Economic Report: U.S. productivity rebounds in fourth-quarter U.S. productivity rose at a 3% annual clip in the fourth quarter, while labor cost gains slowed, the Labor Department said Thursday. Published:2/2/2023 8:26:09 AM
[Markets] The groundhog saw its shadow. Historically, that's bad news for stocks. The groundhog saw its shadow. Historically, that's bad news for stocks. Published:2/2/2023 8:18:57 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures Reverse After Jobless Claims; Meta Soars 19% On Strong Sales, $40 Billion Buyback Dow Jones futures reversed higher Thursday after initial jobless claims. Meta stock soared 19% on a $40 billion stock buyback. Published:2/2/2023 8:05:05 AM
[Markets] Bed Bath & Beyond said to have missed $28 million in interest payments Bed Bath & Beyond said to have missed $28 million in interest payments Published:2/2/2023 7:43:54 AM
[Markets] Spot The Odd One Out (Jobs Edition) Spot The Odd One Out (Jobs Edition)

While 'soft' survey data (and hard industrial data) have disappointed recently, the last few months have seen an oddly positive surge in labor market indications, serially outperforming analysts' expectations...

Source: Bloomberg

From initial claims (near record lows) to JOLTS (near record highs) to ADP (slowing pace of job additions but "because of the weather") and of course BLS (which refuses to stop trending higher), establishment indications of the labor market are anything but what The Fed wants to see from its mammoth rate-hikes... especially in the face of massive layoffs that have spread from some of the larger tech companies to more industrial (FedEx as the latest example).

For example, this morning's initial claims print tumbled to its lowest since April 2022 (near its record lows)...

Completely decoupling from the 'tightening monetary policy plan' of The Fed...

All of which is a long-winded way to get to a discussion of today's labor market data, from Challenger, Gray & Christmas which showed US employers in January announced the most job cuts since 2020.

Businesses reported 102,943 cuts in the month, more than twice those announced in December and up 440% from January 2022. The technology sector made up 41% of the planned reductions...

For some context, can you see the odd one out in the chart below...

“We’re now on the other side of the hiring frenzy of the pandemic years,” Andrew Challenger, senior vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., said in a statement.

“Companies are preparing for an economic slowdown, cutting workers and slowing hiring.”

So, if you want to believe in the B(L)S, that's fine, but as even Goldman Sachs admitted recently, both claims and JOLTS data is misrepresenting the underlying economic reality in an overly cheerful manner.

While the world and his pet rabbit is now sold (by Powell) on 'peak Fed', we wonder at what point does the establishment unleash the real picture of the labor market, that will then 'allow' The Fed to shift tone from 'higher for longer' to 'shit, we need rate-cuts or the world will end?'

Maybe the market is on to something after all...

credittrader Thu, 02/02/2023 - 08:17
Published:2/2/2023 7:43:54 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures Fall After Jobless Claims; Meta Soars 19% On Strong Sales, $40 Billion Buyback Dow Jones futures dropped Thursday after initial jobless claims. Meta stock soared 19% on a $40 billion stock buyback. Published:2/2/2023 7:43:54 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures Fall Ahead Of Jobless Claims; Meta Soars 19% On Strong Sales, $40 Billion Buyback Dow Jones futures dropped Thursday ahead of initial unemployment claims. Meta stock soared 19% on a $40 billion stock buyback. Published:2/2/2023 7:26:37 AM
[Markets] MarketWatch First Take: Zuckerberg and Intel are shipping the proceeds from their layoffs straight to Wall Street Wall Street long groused about cash-generating tech companies refusing to pay dividends and buy back stock. That is no longer a problem, in multiple respects. Published:2/2/2023 7:15:05 AM
[Markets] Bank of England lifts key interest rates by half a point Bank of England lifts key interest rates by half a point Published:2/2/2023 6:47:28 AM
[Markets] Pound Tumbles After BOE Hikes 50bps In 7-2 Vote, Signals Pause At Lower Rate Of 4% Pound Tumbles After BOE Hikes 50bps In 7-2 Vote, Signals Pause At Lower Rate Of 4%

In the first of two big central bank decisions today, moments ago the Bank of England hiked by 50bps - as expected - raising the overnight rate for a 10th time to 4%...

... in a 7-2 vote (the two doves on the committee Swati Dhingra and Silvana Tenreyro voted for no hike) which was a two-way split and not a repeat of December's bizarro three-way.

Looking at the statement, the Committee continued to judge that the risks to inflation are skewed "significantly to the upside"

At the same time the committee dropped language in its statement saying it could act “forcefully” in future, adding that further rate rises would only be needed if there were new signs that inflation would stay too high for too long, i.e., this was struck down: "the Committee continues to judge that if the outlook suggests more persistent inflationary pressures, it will respond forcefully, as necessary."

The BOE also said that If there "were to be evidence of more persistent pressures, then further tightening in monetary policy would be required" vs the previous comment that a "majority" of the Committee judges that further increases in Bank Rate may be required for a sustainable return of inflation to target.

The new statement, which makes further increases conditional on bad inflation news, suggests interest rates might peak at the new rate of 4%, lower than the 4.5% expected by financial markets.

Discussing the economy, the statement said that:

  • Both private sector regular pay growth and services CPI inflation have been notably higher than forecast in the November Monetary Policy Report.
  • Labor market remains tight and domestic price and wage pressures have been stronger than expected suggesting risks of greater persistence in underlying inflation
  • Some survey indicators of wage growth have eased, alongside a gradual decline in underlying output
  • The increases in Bank Rate since December 2021 are expected to have an increasing impact on the economy in the coming quarters.

Looking at the BOE's MPR Forecasts, the 2023 inflation forecast was revised down, while 2023 growth view was revised up.

  • Says in projections conditioned on the alternative assumption of constant interest rates at 4%. the unemployment rate rises by slightly more in the medium term than in the MPC s forecast conditional on market rates
  • In projections conditioned on the alternative assumption of constant interest rates at 4%. CPI inflation is projected to be 0.8% and 0.2% in two years’ and three years' time respectively, slightly lower than the Committee's forecasts at the same horizons conditioned on market rates.

GDP Growth Forecasts:

  • 2022 GDP 4.0% (prev. 4.25%)
  • 2023 GDP -0.5% (prev.-1.50%)
  • 2024 GDP -0.25% (prev-1.00%)
  • 2025 GDP 0.25%(prev. 0.50%)

Unemployment Rate Forecasts:

  • 2022 Unemployment Rale 3.75% (prev. 3.75%)
  • 2023 Unemployment Rale 4.5% (prev. 5.00%)
  • 2024 Unemployment Rale 4.75% (prev. 5.75%)
  • 2025 Unemployment Rale 5.25% (prev. 6.50%)

CPI Inflation Forecasts:

  • 2022 CPI: 10.75% (prev. 10 75%)
  • 2023 CPI: 4.00% (prev. 5.25%)
  • 2024 CPI: 1.50% (prev. 1 50%)
  • 2025 CPI: 0.50% (prev. 0 00%)

Since a 50 basis-point hike wasn’t fully priced in, the news offered some support to sterling at least initially. Yet it’s mostly the comments on inflation persistence and the vote split that sent the UK currency higher on knee-jerk flows. Cable briefly erased losses and now stands 0.2% lower on the day at 1.2348; it fell as much as 0.5% to 1.2311 before the policy decision.

Still not everyone was convinced the BOE decision was purely hawkish, with Vanda's Vitaj Patel noting that while the headlines are hawkish, the "key word in the statement is "IF there is more persistent price pressures... further tightening will be required". I think that's a pause & pivot from the BoE. Not entirely clear though. Presser will tell us more $GBP"

And indeed, after the initial hawkish reaction, markets realized that there was no attempt by the BoE to suggest that financial markets were misguided in expecting interest rate cuts later this year (not very much unlike Powell yesterday), even as the committee made it clear it needed to see evidence that underlying inflation was coming down and it was not yet declaring victory.

As a result, after initially spiking, cable has since dumped to session lows with markets starting to price in the possibility that the BOE's hiking cycle is now over.

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/02/2023 - 07:26
Published:2/2/2023 6:33:57 AM
[Markets] Why The End Of The Petrodollar Spells Trouble For The US Regime Why The End Of The Petrodollar Spells Trouble For The US Regime

Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,

On January 17, the Saudi minister of finance, Mohammed Al-Jadaan, announced that the Saudi state is open to selling oil in currencies other than the dollar. “There are no issues with discussing how we settle our trade arrangements, whether it is in the US dollar, whether it is the euro, whether it is the Saudi riyal,” Al-Jadaan told Bloomberg TV.

If the Saudi regime does indeed embrace substantial trade in currencies other than the dollar as part of its oil-export business, this would signal a shift away from the dollar as the dominant currency in global oil payments. Or measured another way, this would signal the end of the so-called petrodollar.

But how large of a shift is this? With the increasingly frequent Saudi comments about trading in nondollar currencies, we’ve also seen an increasing number of pundits announcing the “collapse” of the dollar or the imminent implosion of the dollar’s currently outsized global power.

Will a shift away from the dollar in the global oil trade really lead to a big relative decline in the dollar? Probably and eventually. But a number of other dominoes would need to fall first, most especially the domino we call “Eurodollars.”

On the other hand, it would be foolish to simply dismiss the potential end of the Saudi preference for the dollar with hand-waving. The end of the petrodollar would indeed weaken the dollar, even if this would not be a mortal blow in itself. Moreover, it is especially foolhardy to ignore the status of the petrodollar because that status also has geopolitical implications. Saudi comments on the dollar signal that the Saudis no longer consider its alliance with the United States to be as important as it has been since the 1970s. What’s not an immediate economic problem for the US regime or the dollar may nonetheless be an immediate geopolitical problem.

In context, probably the best way to look at the potential end of the petrodollar is to see it as one piece of the dollar-based portion of the global economy. Since the 1950s, the dollar has experienced an immense amount of support in terms of global trade and investment and in terms of dollar reserves held by foreigners. This has greatly propped up demand for US debt and for dollars, and this has had enormous disinflationary effects in the domestic US economy. That is, newly created dollars are soaked up by foreigners who both want and need dollars to pay off dollar-denominated debt and to pad bank reserves. But if global dollar dominance truly is in decline, we could potentially expect both higher domestic price inflation and higher interest rates than what Americans have become accustomed to over the past thirty years. In other words, as the dollar declines, the US regime will no longer be able to monetize debt and heap up immense new deficits without fear of high price inflation or falling Treasury prices. The end of the petrodollar is not a reason to panic right now, but it is the latest sign that the US regime’s power via the dollar is being reined in.

What Is the Petrodollar?

The petrodollar is the result of US efforts to secure access to Middle Eastern oil while also lessening the slide of the dollar in the early 1970s.

By 1974, the US dollar was in a precarious position. In 1971, thanks to profligate spending on both war and domestic welfare programs, the United States could no longer maintain a set global price for gold in line with the Bretton Woods system established in 1944. The value of the dollar in relation to gold fell as the supply of dollars increased as a byproduct of growing deficit spending. Foreign governments and investors began to lose faith in the dollar.

In response to these developments, Richard Nixon announced that the US would abandon the Bretton Woods system. The dollar began to float against other currencies. Not surprisingly, this devaluation did not restore confidence in the dollar. Moreover, the US had made no effort to rein in deficit spending. So the US needed to continue to find ways to sell government debt without driving up interest rates. That is, the US needed more buyers for its debt. Motivation for a fix grew even more after 1973, when the first oil shock further exacerbated the deficit-fueled price inflation Americans were enduring.

But by 1974, the enormous flood of dollars from the US into Saudi Arabia, the top oil exporter, suggested a solution. Nixon secured an agreement in which the US would buy oil from Saudi Arabia and provide the kingdom military aid and equipment as well. In return, the Saudis would use their dollars to purchase US Treasurys and help finance US budget deficits.

From a public finance point of view, this appeared to be a win-win. The Saudis would receive protection from geopolitical enemies, and the US would get a new place to unload large amounts of government debt. Moreover, the Saudis could park their dollars in relatively safe and reliable investments in the United States. This became known as “petrodollar recycling.” By spending on oil, the US was creating new demand for US debt and US dollars.

As time went on, thanks to Saudi Arabia’s dominance in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the dollar’s dominance was extended to OPEC overall, which meant that the dollar became the preferred currency for oil purchases worldwide.

This petrodollar arrangement proved to be especially important in the 1970s and 1980s, when Saudi Arabia and the OPEC countries controlled more of the oil trade than they do now. It also closely tied US interests to Saudi interests, ensuring US enmity toward the kingdom’s traditional rivals, such as Iran.

The Petrodollar Is a Type of Eurodollar

In terms of its economic role, however, the petrodollar has always just been a type of Eurodollar.

What is a Eurodollar? According to Robert Murphy:

The term Eurodollar actually refers to any US dollar-denominated deposit held at a financial institution outside of the United States, or even a USD deposit held by a foreign bank within the US. It thus has nothing to do with the euro currency, and is not restricted to dollars held in Europe; they are dollar deposits that are not subject to the same regulations as US dollars held by American banks, nor are they guaranteed by FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) protection (and hence they tend to earn a higher rate of return).

The trade in Eurodollars is huge, although it’s difficult to quantify exactly how huge. One estimate puts Eurodollar assets at around $12 trillion. For context, we can consider that all assets in US banks total about $22 trillion. Or put another way, “offshore dollar banking now amounts to about half of the US total.” So, the Eurodollar economy is very large, and this “dollar zone” is also a key component of many of the world’s leading economies, given that half or more of the world economy lies in that zone.

In contrast, in 2020, the petrodollar trade amounted to less than $3.5 trillion annually. That’s not insignificant, of course, but even a sizable reduction in this amount will not on its own cause global demand for the dollar (relative to other currencies) to collapse. With so many trillions in dollar-denominated loans floating around the global economy, the petrodollar remains only a piece of a larger pie.

Nevertheless, we could also conclude that the end of the petrodollar is part of a larger and important trend away from the dollar. The relative size of the Eurodollar market has decreased since 2008, dropping from a peak of 87 percent of the size of the US banking system to under 60 percent. Meanwhile, the share of US dollars in the reserves of foreign central banks has fallen, dropping from 71 percent twenty years ago to 60 percent today. This is a twenty-five year low. Russia, China, and India all have shown interest in freeing the global economy from the dollar.

Even if this trend continues, demand for the dollar will most certainly not disappear next week or next month, or next year. There is still a hoard of trillions of dollars’ worth of dollar-denominated debt in the global economy, and—for now, at least—that means continuing demand for dollars. Moreover, the dollar remains one of the safest currencies to keep on hand, given that the central banks in Japan, Europe, the United Kingdom and China, are hardly embracing “hard money.” Given that the US economy remains enormous, and US Treasurys remain at least as safe as other regimes’ bonds, foreigners will still keep a lot of dollars on hand to buy American assets. This is also true because—in spite of the myth that “America doesn’t make anything anymore”—foreigners also buy US products and services.

This certainly doesn’t mean everything is just fine for the dollar, though. A movement away from the dollar—even in slow motion—will mean a rising cost of living for Americans. With fewer foreigners holding on to dollars, the US regime’s current runaway monetary inflation will create more domestic price inflation. In other words, movement away from the dollar will mean the US regime must engage in less monetization of the nation’s debt if it wishes to avoid runaway inflation. It also likely will lead to a need to pay higher interest rates on US government bonds, and that will mean a need for more taxpayer money to service the debt. It will mean that  it will become more difficult for the US regime to finance every new war, program, and pet project that Washington can think up.

The Geopolitics of the Petrodollar

The more obvious short-term effects of the move away from the petrodollar will be in geopolitics rather than in the currency order. In addition to signaling that it is no longer wedded to the dollar, Saudi Arabia has also recently announced its openness toward Russia and a willingness to join the Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) nations. This shift in strategic interests for Saudi Arabia potentially poses an immediate threat to US strategic interests, in that the US regime has become accustomed to dominating the entire Persian Gulf region through the US’s Saudi ties. A Saudi turn away from the petrodollar will magnify this shift. That will be enough to further threaten the American standard of living, but not enough in itself to end the dollar. After all, the pound sterling did not cease to exist after its own fall from its vaunted position as the preferred global reserve currency. But it did become far less powerful. The dollar is headed in the same direction.

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/02/2023 - 06:30
Published:2/2/2023 5:48:08 AM
[Markets] Tech Futures Jump On Meta Spike After 'Gratifying' Fed Rally; Apple, Amazon, Google Earnings Next Tech futures leapt as Meta spiked on its results, following the Fed's "gratifying" market rally. Apple, Amazon, Google earnings are next. Published:2/2/2023 5:42:17 AM
[Markets] Tech Futures Jump As Meta Spikes After Gratifying' Rally Fed chief Powell said it's "gratifying" to see inflation cooling despite tight labor markets, spurring a market rally. Meta stock soared late. Published:2/2/2023 5:35:07 AM
[Markets] Could Ukraine Actually Get F-16s? Could Ukraine Actually Get F-16s?

Authored by Mandiner via Remix News,

Ukraine’s request for F-16 fighter jets represents a new level of support the U.S. should not entertain...

Very shortly after the announcement of the decision to supply Western tanks, the Ukrainian leadership came up with the idea that it now wants F-16 aircraft.

A fighter-bomber is a completely different category in every respect than the weapons promised and/or delivered so far.

Let’s start with the price. The F-16 costs between $13 million and $80 million, depending on the version, and its operating cost per hour flown is between $7,000 and $20,000. In light of the above, it can be seen that the air force is clearly the most expensive of the modern armed forces.

And this begs the question: What would be the purpose of these machines? Air superiority?

For a modern fighter aircraft flying twice the speed of sound, i.e., Mach 2, a runway 1.5-2 kilometers long is essential. A runway is a large and immovable target, just like the Russian supply bridges. Ukrainian air defenses, already struggling, would thus have to defend additional targets.

In addition, a significant and well-trained ground support staff is required for jet fighters because, like all Western technology, the F-16 has significant maintenance requirements.

This begs yet another question:

If they wanted modern fighters, why didn’t they ask for Swedish Gripen fighters, which can operate from improvised airfields, as opposed to F-16s?

According to an article in Business Insider in December, Russia has so far deployed over 770 modern fighter-bombers of the fourth generation or higher to Ukraine, out of the nearly 1,200 available. To succeed against this significant number, Ukraine would need hundreds more combat vehicles. Let’s face it, the chances of this are extremely slim.

And this raises a question to which we have no good and/or morally acceptable answer. What is NATO’s plan? More precisely: What is the plan of the current U.S. leadership, because Europe is irrelevant, militarily insignificant.

Getting away with defending Ukraine on the cheap? Not provoking the Russians too much? If Ukraine’s victory is so important, and some, like Denmark, are already acting at the expense of their own defense capabilities — why did they not hand over the assets constantly demanded for Ukraine’s defense earlier, say at the beginning of the conflict? As a reminder, the Danes donated all 19 of their French CAESAR self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine without reimbursement.

The prerequisite of any consistent military equipment support to Ukraine — whatever the numbers so far — should be to clearly define the strategic objective NATO (and more pertinently, the United States) has regarding the war and the two countries involved in it. We have yet to see that definition.

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/02/2023 - 05:00
Published:2/2/2023 4:20:53 AM
[Markets] Market Snapshot: U.S. stock futures point to further gains as Meta results, Powell press conference provide cheer U.S. stock futures were pointing to a stronger start Thursday, buoyed by upbeat results from Facebook parent Meta Platforms as well as the after-glow from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's press conference. Published:2/2/2023 4:20:53 AM
[Markets] FTSE 100 higher as Bank of England set to raise interest rates to 4% Interest rates are today expected to rise another 0.5% to 4%. Published:2/2/2023 3:50:08 AM
[Markets] FTSE 100 higher as Bank of England set to raise interest rates to 4% Interest rates are today expected to rise another 0.5% to 4%. Published:2/2/2023 3:15:03 AM
[Markets] Any Military Action Against Iran Deemed Declaration Of War: UN Mission Any Military Action Against Iran Deemed Declaration Of War: UN Mission

Via The Cradle,

The Iranian Permanent Mission to the UN issued a warning following the drone attack on a military facility in Isfahan, saying that any military action by the US against Iran would be regarded as a declaration of war and would be met with reprisal.

"In Iran’s perspective, the use of the military option at any level means US entry into the war. For now, Iran considers such a possibility to be weak," Iran’s Permanent Mission to the UN told Newsweek on Tuesday.

Sunday drone strike in Iran. image: West Asia News Agency

According to the mission, if the US "miscalculates and launches a war," it would only be able to hold itself responsible for the "consequences for the region and the globe,” adding that Iran would be able to protect its own interests and defend itself.

Washington has rejected and denied involvement in the Isfahan drone strike, which is also believed to be an Israeli-instigated attack.

"We’ve seen the press reports but can confirm that no US military forces have conducted strikes or operations inside Iran. We continue to monitor the situation but have nothing further to provide," a Pentagon spokesperson was quoted by the magazine.

This comes after the Iranian Defense Ministry said in a statement on 29 January that air defense troops stopped a drone strike on a military facility in Isfahan. "One of the drones was hit by the … air defense, and the other two were caught in defense traps and blew up … Fortunately, this unsuccessful attack did not cause any loss of life and caused minor damage to the workshop’s roof," the statement read.

Videos circulating on social media show the moment one of the drones was repelled by the facility’s defense systems, resulting in a blast. The attack "has not affected our installations and mission … and such blind measures will not have an impact on the continuation of the country’s progress," the statement added.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reported that Israel used drones to attack an advanced weapons systems factory in Isfahan. The Iranian Defense Ministry offered no information on who it suspected behind the attacks. However, Israel is likely to be the main suspect, as it has in the past been found to be behind many acts of sabotage against the Islamic Republic.

Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian condemned a "cowardly drone attack." Tehran also said it would not halt its progress on a "peaceful nuclear program."

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/02/2023 - 03:30
Published:2/2/2023 2:56:00 AM
[Markets] Shell quarterly profit of $9.8 billion beats forecasts Shell quarterly profit of $9.8 billion beats forecasts Published:2/2/2023 2:24:58 AM
[Markets] EU Corruption Scandal: Socialist MEP Lived "Lifestyle Of A Movie Star" EU Corruption Scandal: Socialist MEP Lived "Lifestyle Of A Movie Star"

Via Remix News,

The Qatargate corruption scandal that has sent shockwaves through Brussels has also revealed that the key suspect, a “socialist” politician, enjoyed the “lifestyle of a movie star,” according to Hungarian newspaper Origo.

In this photo provided by the European Parliament, Greek politician and European Parliament Vice-President Eva Kaili, right, speaks during the European Book Prize award ceremony in Brussels, Dec. 7, 2022. (European Parliament via AP)

Caribbean holidays, glamorous parties in the clubs of Athens with supermodels, and luxury apartments. MEP Eva Kaili, the current star of the Brussels corruption scandal, appeared to have it all. Kaili turned out to not just be a socialist, but also a socialite who enjoyed a level of luxury quite out of place with the working-class principles that were once typically associated with the left.

Kaili bought a 169-square-meter luxury apartment in Psychiko, near Athens, Greece, in 2019 for €260,000, Alpha newspaper reported. Regarding the property, real estate consultant Paris Rigopoulos said that its objective value is estimated at €659,000 euros, while its market value is between €850,000 and €900,000.

As reported by Rena Kouvelioti, a journalist for Alpha, the MP’s apartment is located on the third and fourth floors and its price is estimated at €4,000 per square meter. According to press reports, the fourth floor of the apartment is used as an office and is connected to the floor below by an internal staircase.

According to her statements, Kaili bought the property in question after selling another apartment in the municipality of Anixi. The initial apartment, a 250 square meter property, was reportedly bought in 2009 for €291 000. Nine years later, she sold the property for €340,000. However, the tax office valued the property at only €214,000.

The significant difference of more than €100,000 she received and what the property was actually worth could raise questions in light of the corruption case.

Kaili has also bought three other properties. One is a 44 square meter apartment in Skoufa Street in Kolonaki, which she bought in 2005 for €66,000, where her company, founded on Nov. 30, had its headquarters. The apartment is currently valued at €52 215. Kaili also owns a house of 120 square meters in Thessaloniki, which she bought in 1997. She also owns a 53-square-meter apartment in Belgium, which she bought in 2015 for €175,000.

Coming back to the corruption scandal, the Financial Times mentions Kaili, who tried to represent the interests of Qatar in the European Parliament including visa-free travel for Qataris to Europe, as an insider of the other main suspect, Pier Antonio Panzeri. Her meetings with Qatari officials in Brussels, her visits to the Arab country, and her efforts to sabotage negative votes on Qatar may have been motivated by bribe money.

However, some MEPs argue that the bribes have had no real effect on EU policy.

“I have the impression that the (Panzeri) team tried to show the Qataris that they were working hard on their behalf, that’s why they made these efforts,” said Brando Benifei, head of the Italian Socialist delegation of the Democratic Party (PD), adding that he believed “they did not achieve any real results.”

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/02/2023 - 02:00
Published:2/2/2023 1:49:01 AM
[Markets] Infineon profit, revenue climb on automotive, industrial chip demand Infineon profit, revenue climb on automotive, industrial chip demand Published:2/2/2023 1:28:03 AM
[Markets] Deutsche Bank posts forecast-beating $1.98 billion profit as revenue rises Deutsche Bank posts forecast-beating $1.98 billion profit as revenue rises Published:2/2/2023 12:57:13 AM
[Markets] Escobar: A Panicked Empire Tries To Make Russia "An Offer It Can't Refuse" Escobar: A Panicked Empire Tries To Make Russia "An Offer It Can't Refuse"

Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Cradle,

Realizing NATO’s war with Russia will likely end unfavorably, the US is test-driving an exit offer. But why should Moscow take indirect proposals seriously, especially on the eve of its new military advance and while it is in the winning seat?

Those behind the Throne are never more dangerous than when they have their backs against the wall.

Their power is slipping away, fast: Militarily, via NATO’s progressive humiliation in Ukraine; Financially, sooner rather than later, most of the Global South will want nothing to do with the currency of a bankrupt rogue giant; Politically, the global majority is taking decisive steps to stop obeying a rapacious, discredited, de facto minority.

So now those behind the Throne are plotting to at least try to stall the incoming disaster on the military front.

As confirmed by a high-level US establishment source, a new directive on NATO vs. Russia in Ukraine was relayed to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Blinken, in terms of actual power, is nothing but a messenger boy for the Straussian neocons and neoliberals who actually run US foreign policy.

The secretary of state was instructed to relay the new directive – a sort of message to the Kremlin – via mainstream print media, which was promptly published by the Washington Post.

In the elite US mainstream media division of labor, the New York Times is very close to the State Department. and the Washington Post to the CIA. In this case though the directive was too important, and needed to be relayed by the paper of record in the imperial capital. It was published as an Op-Ed (behind paywall).

The novelty here is that for the first time since the start of Russia’s February 2022 Special Military Operation (SMO) in Ukraine, the Americans are actually proposing a variation of the “offer you can’t refuse” classic, including some concessions which may satisfy Russia’s security imperatives.

Crucially, the US offer totally bypasses Kiev, once again certifying that this is a war against Russia conducted by Empire and its NATO minions – with the Ukrainians as mere expandable proxies.

‘Please don’t go on the offensive’

The Washington Post’s old school Moscow-based correspondent John Helmer has provided an important service, offering the full text of Blinken’s offer, of course extensively edited to include fantasist notions such as “US weapons help pulverize Putin’s invasion force” and a cringe-worthy explanation: “In other words, Russia should not be ready to rest, regroup and attack.”

The message from Washington may, at first glance, give the impression that the US would admit Russian control over Crimea, Donbass, Zaporozhye, and Kherson – “the land bridge that connects Crimea and Russia” – as a fait accompli.

Ukraine would have a demilitarized status, and the deployment of HIMARS missiles and Leopard and Abrams tanks would be confined to western Ukraine, kept as a “deterrent against further Russian attacks.”

What may have been offered, in quite hazy terms, is in fact a partition of Ukraine, demilitarized zone included, in exchange for the Russian General Staff cancelling its yet-unknown 2023 offensive, which may be as devastating as cutting off Kiev’s access to the Black Sea and/or cutting off the supply of NATO weapons across the Polish border.

The US offer defines itself as the path towards a “just and durable peace that upholds Ukraine’s territorial integrity.” Well, not really. It just won’t be a rump Ukraine, and Kiev might even retain those western lands that Poland is dying to gobble up.

The possibility of a direct Washington-Moscow deal on “an eventual postwar military balance” is also evoked, including no Ukraine membership of NATO. As for Ukraine itself, the Americans seem to believe it will be a “strong, non-corrupt economy with membership in the European Union.”

Whatever remains of value in Ukraine has already been swallowed not only by its monumentally corrupt oligarchy, but most of all, investors and speculators of the BlackRock variety. Assorted corporate vultures simply cannot afford to lose Ukraine’s grain export ports, as well as the trade deal terms agreed with the EU before the war. And they’re terrified that the Russian offensive may capture Odessa, the major seaport and transportation hub on the Black Sea – which would leave Ukraine landlocked.

There’s no evidence whatsoever that Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the entire Russian Security Council – including its Secretary Nikolai Patrushev and Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev – have reason to believe anything coming from the US establishment, especially via mere minions such as Blinken and the Washington Post. After all the stavka – a moniker for the high command of the Russian armed forces – regard the Americans as “non-agreement capable,” even when an offer is in writing.

This walks and talks like a desperate US gambit to stall and present some carrots to Moscow in the hope of delaying or even cancelling the planned offensive of the next few months.

Even old school, dissident Washington operatives – not beholden to the Straussian neocon galaxy – bet that the gambit will be a nothing burger: in classic “strategic ambiguity” mode, the Russians will continue on their stated drive of demilitarization, denazification and de-electrification, and will “stop” anytime and anywhere they see fit east of the Dnieper. Or beyond.

What the Deep State really wants

Washington’s ambitions in this essentially NATO vs. Russia war go well beyond Ukraine. And we’re not even talking about preventing a Russia-China-Germany Eurasian union or a peer competitor nightmare; let’s stick with prosaic issues on the Ukrainian battleground.

The key “recommendations” – military, economic, political, diplomatic – were detailed in an Atlantic Council strategy paper late last year.

And in another one, under “War scenario 1: The war continues in its current tempo,” we find the Straussian neocon policy fully spelled out.

It’s all here: from “marshaling support and military-assistance transfers to Kyiv sufficient to enable it to win” to “increase the lethality of military assistance transferred to include fighter aircraft that would enable Ukraine to control its airspace and attack Russian forces therein; and missile technology with range sufficient to reach into Russian territory.”

From training the Ukrainian military “to use Western weapons, electronic warfare, and offensive and defensive cyber capabilities, and to seamlessly integrate new recruits in the service” to buttressing “defenses on the front lines, near the Donbass region,” including “combat training focusing on irregular warfare.”

Added to “imposing secondary sanctions on all entities doing business with the Kremlin,” we reach of course the Mother of All Plunders: “Confiscate the $300 billion that the Russian state holds in overseas accounts in the United States and EU and use seized monies to fund reconstruction.”

The reorganization of the SMO, with Putin, Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, and General Armageddon in their new, enhanced roles is derailing all these elaborate plans.

The Straussians are now in deep panic. Even Blinken’s number two, Russophobic warmonger Victoria “F**k the EU” Nuland, has admitted to the US Senate there will be no Abrams tanks on the battlefield before Spring (realistically, only in 2024). She also promised to “ease sanctions” if Moscow “returns to negotiations.” Those negotiations were scotched by the Americans themselves in Istanbul in the Spring of 2022.

Nuland also called the Russians to “withdraw their troops.” Well, that at least offers some comic relief compared with the panic oozing from Blinken’s “offer you can’t refuse.” Stay tuned for Russia’s non-response response.

Tyler Durden Thu, 02/02/2023 - 00:05
Published:2/1/2023 11:48:37 PM
[Markets] Tax Guy: ‘I just started renting my house out on Airbnb’: What income-tax deductions can I claim on this property? 'Can somebody count part of the mortgage as a deduction? What about utilities and cable?' a reader asks. Published:2/1/2023 11:42:44 PM
[Markets] Chinese Companies Dominate Among Global AI Patents Chinese Companies Dominate Among Global AI Patents

Chinese enterprises increased patent filings for artificial intelligence products rapidly in the past couple of years.

As Statista's Katharina Buchholz notes, the companies holding the most active AI and machine learning patent families are now tech giant Tencent and search engine provider Baidu, ahead of U.S. firm IBM, South Korea’s Samsung, Chinese insurance provider Ping An and former AI patent leader Microsoft.

The latter company has been seeing one of its major AI investments come to fruition recently, as conversational AI bot ChatGPT by Microsoft partner OpenAI has been making waves. Microsoft swiftly announced another round of funding for OpenAI, rumored to be to the tune of $10 billion.

Infographic: The Companies With the Most AI Patents | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

As this chart based on the LexisNexis PatentSight directory shows, Tencent and Baidu became the largest patent owners in machine learning and AI in 2021, each holding more than 9,000 active patent families. A family is a set of patents covering the same technical content. IBM owed more than 7,000 families that same year, while Microsoft held just under 6,000 – rank six. Between 2012 and 2019, it was Microsoft which owned the most AI patents, according to LexisNexis.

Even bigger than the rise in filings by Tencent and Baidu was the AI patent frenzy unleashed by Chinese insurance and banking giant Ping An. The number of patent families it owns grew from fewer than 50 to more than 6,000 just in the past five years. years. Among the AI tools recently developed by the company is software for analyzing facial micro-expressions (i.e. eye blinks, involuntary twitches), which Ping An uses to assess insurance claims its policyholders send in by video.

Tyler Durden Wed, 02/01/2023 - 23:45
Published:2/1/2023 11:07:09 PM
[Markets] Asian markets rise after Fed sees inflation improving Asian stock markets gained Thursday after the Federal Reserve said the U.S. economy is moving toward lower inflation but more interest rate hikes are planned. Published:2/1/2023 10:30:20 PM
[Markets] Will ATF Perform "Compliance Checks" With An Expanded Registry? Will ATF Perform "Compliance Checks" With An Expanded Registry?

Submitted by Gun Owners of America,

The Biden Administration's so-called "Ghost Gun" rule released last year provided everything ATF now needs to confiscate millions of pistols equipped with stabilizing braces.

With the gun registry expansion rule enacted, the Biden Administration has created a complete national gun registry of every commercial firearm transaction in the last twenty years. This illegal gun registry can easily be used by ATF to enforce compliance with their pistol brace ban.

President Biden has initiated a pistol brace ban via executive action—formally an ATF rule entitled "Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached 'Stabilizing Braces'"—because ATF is in its strongest position yet to begin systematically confiscating firearms from gun owners.

This rule regulates pistols equipped with stabilizing braces, which ATF approved previously and were designed and intended to allow disabled shooters to hold certain firearms with one hand.

Even though these guns were acquired lawfully and with prior ATF approval, these pistol owners will now face a choice: reconfigure their pistols at personal cost, register them with the federal government as short-barreled rifles (SBRs), turn them in, or destroy them.

The ATF has referred to this program as Biden's "Amnesty Registration of Pistol Brace Weapons" plan. All of these so-called "options" infringe on the right to keep and bear arms.

The Biden Administration is using the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record (NFRTR) as established by the antiquated National Firearms Act of 1934 to formally register these pistols with the federal government. But an illegal gun registry of Firearm Transaction Records will help ATF enforce this new ban with disturbing precision and legal consequences for gun owners.

As mentioned earlier, the Biden Administration's "Ghost Gun" rule also empowers the ATF to use Forms 4473 or Firearm Transaction Records, kept by FFLs after gun sales, to create a complete gun registry.

Now, the ATF has guaranteed that there is a complete record of every firearm transferred since at least August 24th, 2002, including firearms equipped with stabilizing braces which first hit the markets in the last decade.

This means all ATF-approved and commercially-sold pistol braced firearms have a paper registration trail for the ATF to trace at local gun stores or are already present in ATF's digital and searchable out-of-business records gun registry, which had nearly a billion records even prior to its expansion by Biden's ATF.

While ATF will not be able to use its gun registry to find those who purchased a stabilizing brace and attached it to their firearms at home, the same cannot be said for the millions of gun owners who commercially purchased or transferred many of these brace-equipped pistols.

ATF's gun registry includes an extraordinary amount of information about each firearm an individual has purchased. ATF's out-of-business registry is, in fact, searchable by make, model, serial number, and weapon type. Therefore, the ATF can efficiently create a list of all gun owners' AR-15 pistols to create a door-to-door confiscation list, complete with home addresses and firearm serial numbers.

GOA already caught the Biden Administration using commercial sales records to go door-to-door to enforce the "Ghost Gun" rule's solvent trap provision last year.

Gun owners also found ATF going door-to-door, asking gun owners to verify the serial numbers on their recent gun purchases without a warrant. ATF surely plans to do the same for President Biden's pistol brace ban.

In fact, there is little more the Biden Administration could do to make the ATF's illegal gun registry more useful than it already is for confiscating pistol AR-15s and other such firearms.

The implementation of the ATF's gun registry and "ghost gun" crackdown was strategically implemented to make sure that Biden's Pistol Ban would be as successful as possible. Gun owners should beware that this unconstitutional database of all their commercial firearm transactions is ready to be used against them to confiscate their lawfully acquired pistols.

Watch: Will ATF Perform Brace "Compliance Checks" With It's Expanded Registry?

*   *   *  

We'll hold the line for you in Washington. We are No Compromise. Join the Fight Now.

Tyler Durden Wed, 02/01/2023 - 23:05
Published:2/1/2023 10:18:01 PM
[Markets] Two Insurance Companies Stop Providing Coverage For Hyundai And Kia Car Models Two Insurance Companies Stop Providing Coverage For Hyundai And Kia Car Models

Authored by Naveen Athrappully via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Top insurers State Farm and Progressive are refusing to provide insurance coverage for certain models made by South Korean car firms Kia and Hyundai, with reports claiming that the vehicles are easier to steal due to a lack of proper anti-theft technology like electronic immobilizers.

“State Farm has temporarily stopped writing new business in some states for certain model years and trim levels of Hyundai and Kia vehicles because theft losses for these vehicles have increased dramatically,” the insurer said in a statement to CNN. “This is a serious problem impacting our customers and the entire auto insurance industry.”

At left, the logo of Kia Motors, in Seoul, South Korea, on Dec. 13, 2017 (AP Photo); and at right, the Hyundai logo displayed on a brand-new Hyundai Santa Fe SUV at a Hyundai dealership in Colma, Calif., on April 7, 2017. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Progressive claimed that certain car models of the brands have seen theft rates more than triple in the past year. “In some markets, these vehicles are almost 20 times more likely to be stolen than other vehicles,” the insurance company said in a statement to the outlet.

Due to the “explosive increase” in theft of these cars, Progressive finds it “extremely challenging” to offer insurance to such vehicles. As such, the company has raised insurance rates and restricted the sale of insurance policies in some regions for certain Hyundai and Kia models.

To individuals of these cars who have already taken a policy at the company, Progressive is continuing to provide insurance. Neither firm has revealed which states or cities have been affected by their policy decisions.

The Epoch Times has reached out to State Farm and Progressive for comment.

Hyundai, Kia Theft

According to an analysis of 2021 insurance claims by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), a few models of Hyundai and Kia were found to be the top targets. Among 2015–19 model-year vehicles, the chances of theft claims were twice as common when compared to other manufacturers, HLDI found.

Car theft spiked during the pandemic,” said HLDI senior vice president Matt Moore, according to a Sept. 22nd post by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). “These numbers tell us that some vehicles may be targeted because they’re fast or worth a lot of money and others because they’re easy to steal.”

“Our earlier studies show that vehicle theft losses plunged after immobilizers were introduced … Unfortunately, Hyundai and Kia have lagged behind other automakers in making them standard equipment.”

Electronic immobilizers prevent criminals from easily breaking in and bypassing a car’s ignition. In 2015, immobilizers were found to be a standard feature among 96 percent of car manufacturers, except for Hyundai and Kia. Among the two brands, only 26 percent of the models were found to have immobilizers.

Wisconsin was one of the worst affected states when it came to the theft of Hyundai and Kia vehicles. In 2021, the amount paid on theft claims per insured vehicle year jumped to over 30 times compared to 2019, according to IIHS.

Insured vehicle year refers to one vehicle insured for a period of one year, two vehicles insured for a period of six months, and so on.

Lawsuits, Company Responses

Both Hyundai and Kia are battling multiple lawsuits for the security failure of their models. Last week, Seattle city attorney Ann Davison filed a lawsuit against the manufacturers at a federal court for failing to install “anti-theft technology” in some of their vehicles, according to a news release on Jan. 25.

“Kia and Hyundai chose to cut corners and cut costs at the expense of their customers and the public. As a result, our police force has had to tackle a huge rise in vehicle theft and related problems with already stretched resources,” said Davison, according to the release.

Now Seattle taxpayers must shoulder the burden of the increase in theft … Kia and Hyundai need to take responsibility for the public safety hazard that they created.”

In September, MLG Attorneys at Law filed a national class-action lawsuit against Hyundai and Kia, alleging that cars manufactured between 2011 and 2021 by the firms came without an “engine immobilizer,” according to a press release on Sept. 21, 2022.

Read more here...

Tyler Durden Wed, 02/01/2023 - 22:05
Published:2/1/2023 9:28:32 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Newswires: BOJ’s Wakatabe: Commitment to monetary easing hasn’t changed Bank of Japan Deputy Gov. Masazumi Wakatabe said Thursday that the central bank's easy stance and its commitment to achieving sustainable 2% inflation remain unchanged. Published:2/1/2023 9:10:19 PM
[Markets] : Pinterest reportedly lays off about 150 workers Pinterest Inc. reportedly laid off about 150 workers Wednesday, becoming the latest tech company to cut jobs amid economic worries. Published:2/1/2023 8:32:10 PM
[Markets] The Four Worst Ways To Attack Bitcoin The Four Worst Ways To Attack Bitcoin

Authored by Joakim Book via,

In his latest book, Nouriel Roubini demonstrates the worst ways to try and attack Bitcoin...

Finding fault with Bitcoin and Bitcoiners is easy. Every schmuck, stick, know-it-all pundit, wise-ass and establishment elite has a handful of complaints readily available.

Bitcoin uses too much electricity; its fixed money supply schedule makes interventions from a benevolent central bank impossible; it doesn’t have enough inflation for a growing economy; it is used by pesky criminals; and its mean, technobabbling users hurt my brittle feelings.

The objections get tiresome about as quickly as they get recycled.

One fantastic example is the doomspeaker economist Nouriel Roubini, known for his bombastic and bearish declarations — frequently nicknamed “Dr. Doom” by the financial press. In his own mind, he is merely “realistic,” which every madman would say about himself when queried. In his latest book, “Megathreats: The Ten Trends That Imperil Our Future, And How To Survive Them,” he insists that most people overlook something about this infamous nickname:

“Those who label me Dr. Doom fail to see that I examine the upside with as much rigor as the downside. Optimists and pessimists both call me contrarian. If I could choose my nickname, Dr. Realist sounds right.” 

The Bitcoin obituaries site lists our beloved economist hater 12 times, but Googling finds plenty more Bitcoin denouncements from this outspoken character — in every outlet that’ll have him, it seems, from Twitter to the Financial Times.

To Roubini, bitcoin was a bubble in 2013, a “Ponzi game” and “not a currency” in 2014, a “gigantic speculative bubble” in 2017, almost all transactions were fake in 2019 and, most tastefully, in 2020 a little bit of everything:

What his new book does so well is outline the world’s many macroeconomic troubles. For five mesmerizing chapters, he describes the debt problems, the demographic impossibility that is the bankrupt Ponzi (sorry, “pension”) schemes of Western nations, the easy money disaster and the boom-bust cycle that it gives rise to. Stagflation in the 2020s did not come as a surprise to him, and he locates the blame precisely where it should be: “We poured massive amounts of money and fiscal stimulus into a financial and economic system already awash in cash and credit.” With a short-term view and politically-captured central banks, we get disastrously easy money because “that is what voters want and leveraged markets need to avoid crashing.”

He even comes down on the correct side of the 2022 blunder to use the dollar payment rails to sanction a G8 economy: “This sort of weaponizing of currency for the pursuit of national security goals is the latest frontier of the mission creep of central banks, starting with the Fed” (ignoring that the Federal Reserve doesn’t make sanction decisions).

As a rule, whatever Bitcoin’s flaws are — as a money, as a protocol, as a usable tool, as a community — it gets better, relatively speaking, when the incumbent monetary system gets worse. Whatever your position on Bitcoin was three, five or 10 years ago, you must look at it more favorably today: the monetary system in place has gotten so much worse, with inflation, anti-money-laundering bureaucracy, clown-world behavior and frozen accounts being just the worst offenders. All is not well in the world of money; that makes Bitcoin a more tempting prospect, all things equal.

So, is Roubini a Bitcoiner now? Has the ultimate Bitcoin bear, diligently at it for a decade, finally come around? Seeing clearly the monetary madness of the world, it wouldn’t be the strangest thing for Dr. Doom to at last tone down his criticism of Bitcoin.

Instead, we got Groundhog Day.

The single chapter dedicated to financial instability spends a dozen or so pages on Bitcoin, unbelievably dedicating most of them to “crypto,” “DeFi,” “stablecoins” and central bank digital currencies. Sigh.

Still, even here we had potential: The rise of crypto, explains Roubini, “exposes our collective wilting faith in the ability of governments to back the money they issue.” Hear, hear.


“Ugh, so he calls me up and he’s like ‘I still love youuu’, and I’m like ‘I just… I mean, this is exhausting, you know? Like, we are never getting back together. Like, ever.’”

–Bitcoin philosopher Taylor Swift

If you are to critique Bitcoin — something you certainlycertainly can do — here are some things you should do:

First, get your monetary attributes in order.

There are three — store of value, unit of account, medium of exchange — not five. You can’t invent new ones and duplicating previous ones isn’t useful. Roubini introduces “single numeraire,” which is exactly the same thing as a unit of account, and splits store of value into stable value against “market value” and against “an index of the price of goods and services.” Try carving out a difference. This is silly word play.

Second, make sure your criticism is levied against Bitcoin, not “crypto.”

Most people think of bitcoin as merely the first “cryptocurrency,” the most famous among tens of thousands of scammy shitcoins. It’s not. What holds and happens in the la-la land of vaporware tokens rarely has anything to do with Bitcoin: Sam Bankman-Fried’s shenanigansTerra’s implosion or the Cryptoqueen scam do in no way detract from Bitcoin’s core, its principles or operations. When Roubini cites “BaconCoin,” quotes LoanSnap’s founder or reports negative comments by DogeCoin’s creator, he does not undermine Bitcoin’s promise.

Bitcoin is a one-off monetary invention, separated from every other money or “crypto” by a Great Wall of categories and concepts: it doesn’t have a company or founder running it, like every other shitcoin does; it doesn’t have counterparty risk nor is it subject to censorship like every other fiat currency. Bitcoin has no CEO and no marketing department; it has the strongest Lindy and the highest hash rate.

Third — and this is a hard one — make sure your points haven’t already been debunked, answered and relegated to the dustbin of unimpressive, erroneous jabs at Bitcoin.

Repeating an outdated accusation makes you look stupid, not Bitcoin. Roubini goes for the vast wealth inequality in Bitcoinland, believing it to be “worse than that of North Korea.” It’s not, and as flawed as these investigations are, UTXO ownership seems to become less and less unequal over time — as you’d expect for an emerging money that gets distributed in use.

Unsurprisingly, it uses too much energy, as much as a small country and therefore “will blunt urgent climate initiatives to slow down global warming.” It doesn’t and it won’t: if anything, Bitcoin unlocks stranded energy, contributes to balancing the grid and miners are more renewable than most major economies.

Fourth, make sure that the property of Bitcoin that you’re attacking isn’t worse in the legacy system.

Warren Buffet often makes this error, thinking that hacks, fees or the fact that bitcoin doesn’t generate “yield” dooms it to failure. Nevermind that paper money doesn’t either (unless you count seigniorage to the central bank); nevermind that his ridiculing of bitcoin as a Ponzi applies equally well to apartments or Uncle Sam’s pension schemes.

The most absurd accusation arrives with Roubini’s silly soda shitcoins: If you need Coke coins to buy Coke and Pepsi coins to buy Pepsi, how could you ever establish (relative) value?! How could you ever know what either of them are worth?

Makes you wonder how Americans could ever buy things when they’re abroad, how pound-based customers (i.e., British residents) can ever acquire anything sold in euros or spend their melting currency on Fifth Avenue. There’s a publicly-displayed market price for you to “convert” value into the monetary system that you’re familiar with; and there’s a publicly-traded market that the banks on either side of your and your vendor’s transaction can trade and settle such that international trade works.


His currency risk examples are illustrative — and disingenuous. Apparently vendors can’t “price” goods in bitcoin since “an overnight fall in value might wipe out the [seller’s] profit margins.” That’s true as far as it goes, but holds equally so for any cross-currency transaction in the legacy world: imports or export or any supply chain more complicated than your local currency area. Besides, if you worry about the currency exposure in your sales, there is a liquid market that provides hedges for you. Many stores that accept bitcoin through various third-party solutions instantly exchange them for dollars, thus mitigating the risk.

In the very next sentence, Roubini considers the downside of the opposite risk:

“Were someone to write a mortgage with principal and interest in bitcoin, a spike in the value of bitcoin would cause the real value of the mortgage to skyrocket. If default then likely occurs, the lender loses money, and the borrower loses her house.” 

I suppose no American therefore owns property in New Zealand or Mexico, no European has debt contracts in USD-dollars. These are not novel risks, but ordinary financial risks that firms and households deal with already.

What’s so fascinating is Roubini’s lack of symmetry: If margins can get obliterated by an overnight drop, then margins can also be doubled by an equal overnight rise. Symmetric risk. If bitcoin’s exchange rate for dollars falls — which Roubini is so certain it will — a bitcoin-denominated mortgage will wipe out itself by becoming easily repayable with appreciating dollars. This isn’t to say that he’s wrong to point out these risks, but that they’re reduced to what economists call “risk aversion.” Unhedged bitcoin transactions or debt contracts are bad if households worry about the downside more than the upside — which, in the real world, seems to be true only to some extent.

The honest conclusion isn’t Roubini's “bitcoin is incapable of being money,” since many established currencies with volatile values between one another can serve that function, but that an emerging bitcoin economy would have this added, minor layer of business risk.

It’s like Roubini went out of his way to be up to date on all his other macro worries, only to lay forth criticism of Bitcoin that was outdated by the time he first voiced it in the mid-2010s.

Most devastatingly of all: Can anyone really be taken seriously when they slap a plural “s” on the uncountable noun “bitcoin”?

The better you understand the faults of the current way of doing monetary things, the better Bitcoin looks.

When you look at the many macro ills that Bitcoiners are so well attuned to, the pit of your stomach should churn in anxiety. When you look at the debts (public and private) that rampage the system, you should be feeling nauseous. All of this Roubini captures expertly, and much of his writing could even have been featured on these pages. Our beloved economist hater gets the problem, better and more vocally than most. Still, no dice.

It’s unfathomable that someone so attuned to the world’s catastrophic macro problems as Roubini cannot see the master-key solution that is Bitcoin.

Tyler Durden Wed, 02/01/2023 - 20:45
Published:2/1/2023 8:06:19 PM
[Markets] Poll Shows More Americans Believe 'Too Much' Aid Going To Ukraine Poll Shows More Americans Believe 'Too Much' Aid Going To Ukraine

Earlier we quoted former UK Defense Minister Sir Gerald Howarth who posed in a recent television interview: "Are western citizens willing to fight and die for Ukraine?  It's highly unlikely..."

Opinion polls are continuing to show waning public support for the West's deepening involvement in the Ukrainians' fight against Russia, given the obvious fears of sliding toward nuclear confrontation. While the opening months of the invasion last year resulted in 24/7 headlines, and a frenzy of social media posts displaying the Ukrainian flag and pledges of support, this trend has waned, and what many have dubbed "Ukraine fatigue" has long set in.

As billions in US weaponry is being shipped to eastern Europe at unprecedented pace, an increasing number of Americans see the support at taxpayer expense as now 'too much'.

"About a quarter of Americans, 26 percent, think the U.S. support of Ukraine is too strongaccording to a new Pew Research Center poll," The Hill reports this week. "It is a percentage of people that has steadily grown since the Russian invasion of Ukraine last year and has jumped 6 points since September."

And in particular more and more Republicans are souring on the record-setting support levels to Ukraine...

"the poll of 5,152 people, with a margin of error of 1.7 percent, found that Republican voters are following along. A total of 40 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents think the U.S. is providing too much support, according to the poll. That is up from 32 percent in September and from nine percent directly after the invasion."

Further, as The Hill reports of the Pew survey, "In March 2022, Republicans were more likely to see the invasion as a direct threat to the U.S., but now Democrats are more likely to hold that opinion, with 43 percent holding that belief."

Ukraine news fatigue began setting in by the end of the first two months of war...

You will find more infographics at Statista

Pew also details that it remains mainly Democrats who support Biden's handling of the invasion: "In the Center’s new survey, about four-in-ten U.S. adults (43%) say they approve of the Biden administration’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while about a third (34%) disapprove. About two-in-ten (22%) say they are not sure. Views of the Biden administration’s response have changed little since May 2022, the last time this question was asked."

Pew finds that "Democrats are more than twice as likely as Republicans (61% vs. 27%) to approve of the Biden administration’s response to the Russia invasion."

Tyler Durden Wed, 02/01/2023 - 19:05
Published:2/1/2023 6:16:44 PM
[Markets] Living With Climate Change: Ron DeSantis pushes permanent ban on Florida sales tax on gas stoves Florida Gov. DeSantis waded into the debate over gas stoves Wednesday, using the state budget to push for a sales-tax exemption to boost demand for gas stoves. Published:2/1/2023 4:38:00 PM
[Markets] Fed Chief Jerome Powell Triggers 'Gratifying' Market Rally; Meta Stock Spikes On Earnings Fed chief Powell said it's "gratifying" to see inflation cooling despite tight labor markets, spurring a market rally. Meta stock soared late. Published:2/1/2023 4:06:32 PM
[Markets] US STOCKS-Wall St rallies as Fed's Powell nods to easing inflation after rate hike The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq closed sharply higher on Wednesday after Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell acknowledged that inflation was starting to ease, in remarks he made following a quarter-point rate hike by the U.S. central bank. Wall Street's major indexes had lost ground immediately after the Fed announced its rate hike decision. Published:2/1/2023 4:00:29 PM
[Markets] Pfizer CEO Made 'Misleading' Statements On Vaccinating Children Against COVID-19: UK Watchdog Pfizer CEO Made 'Misleading' Statements On Vaccinating Children Against COVID-19: UK Watchdog

Authored by Lily Zhou via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has made “misleading” and unsubstantiated statements on the merit of giving COVID-19 vaccines to young children, according to a case report published by a UK pharmaceutical watchdog on Jan. 27.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla in Davos, Switzerland, on May 25, 2022. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images)

During an interview with the BBC published on Dec. 2, 2021, Bourla was asked whether he believed it was likely that 5- to 11-year-olds in the UK and Europe would be vaccinated against COVID-19 and whether it was a good idea.

The interview was published after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorised the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for young children, but the UK’s medicines regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), didn’t approve the product for the same age group until Dec. 22, 2021.

While acknowledging that it was up to the UK authorities to decide whether or not to approve and deploy the vaccines, Bourla replied, “I believe it’s a very good idea.”

He cited disruptions in education and the potential of developing so-called long-COVID, saying, “so there is no doubt in my mind about the benefits completely are in favour of doing it.

Syringes in front of displayed Biontech and Pfizer logos on Nov. 10, 2020. (Dado Ruvic/Illustration/Reuters)

Following complaints from UsForThem—a children’s welfare campaign group founded in response to the COVID-19 lockdowns—a panel from the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA) ruled that Bourla’s statements breached a number of rules in the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) code of practice.

After Pfizer appealed against the ruling, an appeal board upheld five counts of breaches of three ABPI codes that require information and claims to be accurate, balanced, capable of substantiation, not raising unfounded hopes of successful treatment, and not be misleading with respect to the safety of the product.

The PMCPA described Bourla’s statements as being of a “strong unqualified nature.” It also said they inferred there was “no need to be concerned about potential side-effects of vaccination in healthy children aged 5-11” and that the implication was “misleading and incapable of substantiation.”

The PMCPA said it has received an undertaking from Pfizer to prevent similar breaches in the future.

Code breakers are charged for administrative costs, but the self-regulatory body does not have the power to impose fines or other legal sanctions.

Bourla was initially found to have also breached the code for promoting the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the 5–11 age group when it was not authorised by the MHRA, but the appeal board overturned the ruling, agreeing with Pfizer that its CEO was asked a specific question and it was not unreasonable to talk about the issue in principle. The board also noted that two other COVID-19 vaccines were also under investigation for the age group.

The appeal board also overturned previous rulings that said Pfizer had failed to maintain high standards and brought discredit upon the industry.

Most Serious Rulings

Pfizer didn’t respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment. In a previous statement to The Telegraph in November 2022, when the newspaper obtained the unpublished ruling, a spokesman for Pfizer said the company was “committed to the highest levels of integrity in any interaction with the public.”

We are pleased the UK’s PMCPA Appeal Board found Pfizer to have maintained high standards and upheld confidence in our industry, the two most serious rulings in this complaint from a UK campaign group,” the statement reads.

“In the UK, we have always endeavoured to follow the principles and letter of our industry Code of Practice throughout. We will review the case report in detail when we receive it, to inform future activity,” it added.

Speaking to The Epoch Times on Tuesday, Ben Kingsley, head of legal affairs at UsForThem, said he was “thrilled” the regulator ultimately agreed with them that the Pfizer CEO’s statements were misleading and unsubstantiated after the pharmaceutical giant opposed their claims “with all of the resources at its disposal” throughout the process.

Commenting on Pfizer’s previous statement on the ruling, Kingsley said the group “found it quite surprising” that Pfizer would consider the rulings about maintaining high standards and upholding confidence in the industry the “most serious” of all.

“I think to the average member of the public, we’d regard misleading us about the safety of their product to be plenty more serious than bringing the repute of the pharmaceutical industry down,” he said.

“So I think it tells you something about the mindset and the priorities of pharma executives that they regard the abuse of the industry as being a more serious matter than misleading the public.”

Read more here...

Tyler Durden Wed, 02/01/2023 - 16:45
Published:2/1/2023 3:53:26 PM
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[Markets] Stocks, Bonds, & Gold Soar As Powell Shrugs Off Loosening Financial Conditions Stocks, Bonds, & Gold Soar As Powell Shrugs Off Loosening Financial Conditions

After some initial volatility, US equity markets are charging higher...

...and bond yields lower...

After Fed Chair Powell appeared to shrug off the fact that financial conditions have dramatically loosened recently...

Specifically, Powell noted that financial conditions have tightened very significantly over the past year, and that "it is important that overall financial conditions reflect" monetary policy (which they don't), but added that "our focus is not on short-term moves, but on sustained changes” to financial conditions.

Additionally, gold is extending its gains...

This is anything but the 'hawkish' rhetoric the market was expecting.

Tyler Durden Wed, 02/01/2023 - 14:50
Published:2/1/2023 1:57:10 PM
[Markets] US STOCKS-Wall Street down but off session lows after Fed rate hike, trading choppy U.S. stock indexes were lower on Wednesday in choppy trade, bouncing off session lows hit when the Federal Reserve increased interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point and said it expects "ongoing increases" in borrowing costs as it keeps battling high inflation. “The economy is still growing, which is comforting as (the Fed is) not worried of an impending recession.” Published:2/1/2023 1:45:17 PM
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[Markets] U.S. stocks whipsaw as Fed raises rates by 25 basis points, says hikes will continue U.S. stocks whipsawed Wednesday as the dollar strengthened and short-term Treasury yields climbed after the Federal Reserve delivered a 25 basis point interest-rate hike and asserted that more would likely follow. The S&P 500 (SPX) was off 12 points, or 0.3%, at 4,086 shortly after 2 p.m., according to FactSet data. The mixed reaction in stocks followed as investors had anticipated that Fed Chairman Jerome Powell would try to dispel expectations for a rate cut later this year. Published:2/1/2023 1:26:29 PM
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[Markets] 'PayPal Peril': Twitter Prepping For Payments, Could Include Bitcoin 'PayPal Peril': Twitter Prepping For Payments, Could Include Bitcoin

Authored by 'BTCCasey' via,

Elon Musk is going head to head with his old company PayPal as Twitter gears up to become an online payments business.

  • Twitter is prepping for payments, and bitcoin might be in the mix.

  • According to a Financial Times report, Elon is open to adding BTC and crypto to its Twitter payments vision.

  • While the “super app” vision would prioritize fiat, its future will likely include the alternative payment method.

Elon Musk’s Twitter has reportedly begun applying for regulatory licenses across the U.S. in apparent preparation to begin facilitating payments through the app.

People close to the company stated that Twitter “has started to map out the architecture needed to facilitate payments on the platform with a small team,” which could potentially include functionality for cryptocurrency payments, the Financial Times reported.

While Twitter had set up a subsidiary, Twitter Payments LLC, in August last year before Musk took over the company, Musk recently appointed Esther Crawford, Twitter’s director of product management, as the chief executive of Twitter Payments.

According to the FT source, Musk has stated that he wants Twitter to serve fiat payments first, but be made with the ability to enable cryptocurrency later on.

This would not be the first time that Elon Musk's businesses have facilitated bitcoin transactions.

Musk has previously accepted bitcoin for his Tesla electric vehicles, but later retracted the ability due to concerns about renewable energy.

While there are no firm plans to implement this interoperability, Musk has firmly reiterated since his taking over of the social media firm that he wants to see it become more of a generalized “super app.”

This multifunctionality approach would benefit greatly from the increased functionality of cheap, instantaneous payments using a platform like the Bitcoin Lightning Network.

Twitter previously tested “tipping” through the Bitcoin Lightning Network via Jack Mallers’ Strike, later adding the ability for users to add a Bitcoin address to directly receive their tips. 

Tyler Durden Wed, 02/01/2023 - 13:15
Published:2/1/2023 12:26:27 PM
[Markets] DC Townhouse Linked to Fallen FTX Founder Sam Bankman-Fried Is Listed for $3.3M Since the implosion and bankruptcy filing of FTX in November, its founder Sam Bankman-Fried has experienced some dramatic life changes. Published:2/1/2023 12:18:52 PM
[Markets] Just Make it Up: Job Openings Unexpectedly Soar As Labor Department Now Guessing What The Number Is Just Make it Up: Job Openings Unexpectedly Soar As Labor Department Now Guessing What The Number Is

What a coincidence: just yesterday we presented the latest report from UBS economists showing that the job openings "data" collected and presented by Biden's Department of Labor is at best wrong (and at worst, manipulated propaganda meant to make the labor market appear stronger than it is), and that the reality is far worse than the BLS suggests, with real openings down 30% from the March 2022 peak and only 25% higher than the 2019 average.

Of course, this latest confirmation that the Bureau of Labor Statistics is making up data as it goes along comes at a time when the Philly Fed showed that the Biden admin's payrolls number was overstated by over 1 million in Q2 2022, and that the number of layoffs was far higher than the DOL shows, as Goldman calculated.

So faced with a difficult choice: either come clean about the real labor numbers - now that US corporations are averaging one mass layoff announcement every 45 minutes - or just double down and keep reporting increasingly bigger lies, the Biden admin's labor department has sadly but predictably decided to do what it does best by picking option two, and as today's latest JOLTs report shows, it intends to keep digging and making the hole ever bigger.

To wit: after job openings dropped modestly for the previously two months into the waning months of 2022, in December (recall JOLTS is one-month lagged to the NFP report), and completely out of the blue,  job openings exploded by a massive 572K, the most since July 2021 when the US was indeed on a crazy hiring spree, and pushing total job openings to just above 11 million, the highest since July 2022.

This was the fourth consecutive beat of expectations in the series, and an unprecedented 12 of the past 13 prints, just another garden variety six-sigma event by the "never political" BLS.

According to the BLS, in December, the largest increases in job openings were in accommodation and food services (+409,000), retail trade (+134,000), and construction (+82,000). The number of job openings decreased in information (-107,000). Ah yes, the neverending hiring spree of waiters and bartenders: the key anchor of every solid economy...

The latest surge in job openings means that after a two month break, there are once again 5.3 million more jobs than unemployed workers, not that far off from the all time high of 5.9 million in March 2022.

Said otherwise, there were 1.92 job openings for every unemployed worker, up from 1.74 last month. Needless to say, this number has a ways to drop to revert to its precovid levels around around 1.20...

And while job openings unexpectedly soared, the BLS finally noticed what we had been discussing in recent months, namely that after hiring inexplicably tumbled in recent months to the lowest since February 2021, in December it spiked higher surging by 131K to 6.165MM, the highest since August 2022. More importantly, the jump in hiring took place as quits declined, and finally the two series have converged after mysteriously diverging for much of the past two years.

Incidentally, it was the drop in quits - traditionally know as the "take this job and shove it" indicator as it reflects confidence that a worker can find a better paying job elsewhere (or else they wouldn't quit voluntarily) - that attracted the attention of the WSJ's Fed mouthpiece Nick Timiraos who specifically noted the drop in the quits rate to 2.9% from 3.0% in Nov and 3.3% a year ago.

So what to make of this 'data' which as not only UBS, but also the NFIB...

... and Opportunity Insights...

... discredit as fake news?

The answer is simple: well over half of it - or some 70% to be specific - is guesswork. As the BLS itself admits, while the response rate to most of its various labor (and other) surveys has collapsed in recent years...

... nothing is as bad as the JOLTS report where the actual response rate has tumbled to a record low 30.6%!

In other words, more than two thirds, or 70% of the final number of job openings, is estimated!

And at a time when it is critical for Biden to maintain the illusion that the labor market remains strong when everything else in Biden's economy is on the verge of recession, we'll let readers decide if the admin's Labor Department is plugging the estimate gap with numbers that are stronger or weaker.

Tyler Durden Wed, 02/01/2023 - 12:42
Published:2/1/2023 12:01:24 PM
[Markets] On the economic-data docket for Thursday: jobless claims, factory orders, more On the economic-data docket for Thursday: jobless claims, factory orders, more Published:2/1/2023 11:49:47 AM
[Markets] The Tell: ‘Won’t get fooled again’?: Nasdaq jumped over 10% in January. Here’s what history shows happens next to the tech-heavy index Bespoke Investment Group examined how the Nasdaq has performed historically following a monthly gain of at least 10% after being down in the prior 12 months. Published:2/1/2023 11:24:22 AM
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[Markets] Democrats Quietly Panic Over Kamala Harris' 2024 Ambitions Democrats Quietly Panic Over Kamala Harris' 2024 Ambitions

A growing number of Democrats have admitted to the Washington Post that they are "worried" about the prospect of Kamala Harris running for president - or even Vice President again, in 2024.

After interviewing more than "a dozen Democratic leaders in key states," the Post's Cleve R. Wootson found prominent party members quietly panicking over Harris' political future based on her dismal display as VP.

"Harris’s tenure has been underwhelming, they said, marked by struggles as a communicator and at times near-invisibility, leaving many rank-and-file Democrats unpersuaded that she has the force, charisma and skill to mount a winning presidential campaign," writes Wootson.

Within the party, they add, the vice presidency has often been a steppingstone to the presidential nomination. Every sitting or former vice president who has sought the Democratic nomination since 1972 has gotten it.

Still, Biden is the only one of those who went on to capture the White House. Walter Mondale lost to Ronald Reagan in 1984, and Al Gore fell short against George W. Bush in 2000.

Harris’s critics also question her basic political skills on the national stage. In 2016, she won her Senate seat against weak opposition, they say. In 2019, her presidential run ended before a single ballot was cast, doomed by an uneven performance on the campaign trail, weak support, faltering resources and turmoil among her advisers. -WaPo

We would submit that her constant cackling and transparently fake persona aren't helping.

The report comes days after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) sent clear smoke signals that she's not happy about the prospect of Harris running next year.

"I really want to defer to what makes Biden comfortable on his team," Warren said on Friday. "I’ve known Kamala for a long time. I like Kamala. I knew her back when she was an attorney general and I was still teaching and we worked on the housing crisis together, so we go way back. But they need — they have to be a team, and my sense is they are — I don’t mean that by suggesting I think there are any problems. I think they are."

Warren then issued a statement on Sunday 'clarifying' her position, that "I fully support the president’s and vice president’s re-election together, and never intended to imply otherwise."

The Post suggests that concerns over Harris' electability fall into two categories; America is two racist and sexist to elect a woman of color as president, or that "Harris herself lacks the political skills to win a national race."

"And given the increasingly hard-edge tone of the Republican Party, they add, few Democrats are willing to roll the dice," writes Wootsen.

Critics have also slammed Harris for her hands-off approach to just about everything, including an awkward 2021 interview with NBC's Lester Holt in which "she awkwardly downplayed the urgency of visiting the U.S.-Mexico border."

According to Wootsen, "That moment sparked a debate among senior members of the vice president’s team about whether such interviews hurt more than they help, Harris’s advisers said privately. For months afterward, Harris treated such interviews warily, arguably depriving her of a wider audience and a bigger impact."

Tyler Durden Wed, 02/01/2023 - 11:30
Published:2/1/2023 10:58:52 AM
[Markets] GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks dip, dollar falls as Fed decision looms A gauge of global stocks dipped on Wednesday while the U.S. dollar and Treasury yields fell after economic data showed signs of a softening labor market and boosted hopes a pause to the Federal Reserve's interest rate-hiking cycle could be on the horizon. U.S. private employment increased by 106,000 jobs last month, the ADP National Employment report showed on Wednesday, short of the 178,000 estimate of economists polled by Reuters, although the drop was attributed to bad weather in some parts of the country. Other data showed that job openings rose to 11.012 million in December from 10.44 million in the prior month, suggesting the labor market remains strong. Published:2/1/2023 10:45:06 AM
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[Markets] This Dow Jones Stock Is a Genius Buy for Dividend Growth You might be familiar with Honeywell; the company has its name on some thermostats and other residential products, but most of its business is in industrial and aerospace applications. It's time to get more familiar with Honeywell; it could be a sneaky good dividend stock over the coming years. Honeywell isn't exactly new to the dividend scene; the company's already raised its dividend for 12 consecutive years, following a freeze enacted during the financial crisis in 2009-2010. Published:2/1/2023 9:56:00 AM
[Markets] Economic Report: U.S. construction spending falls in December U.S. construction spending fell 0.4% in December, the Commerce Department reported Friday. Published:2/1/2023 9:38:48 AM
[Markets] "Objectivity Has Got To Go": News Leaders Call For End Of Objective Journalism "Objectivity Has Got To Go": News Leaders Call For End Of Objective Journalism

Authored by Jonathan Turley,

We previously discussed the movement in journalism schools to get rid of principles of objectivity in journalism. Advocacy journalism is the new touchstone in the media even as polls show that trust in the media is plummeting. Now, former executive editor for The Washington Post Leonard Downie Jr. and former CBS News President Andrew Heyward have released the results of their interviews with over 75 media leaders and concluded that objectivity is now considered reactionary and even harmful. Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, editor-in-chief at the San Francisco Chronicle said it plainly: “Objectivity has got to go.” 

Notably, while Bob Woodword and others have finally admitted that the Russian collusion coverage lacked objectivity and resulted in false reporting, media figures are pushing even harder against objectivity as a core value in journalism.

We have been discussing the rise of advocacy journalism and the rejection of objectivity in journalism schools. Writerseditorscommentators, and academics have embraced rising calls for censorship and speech controls, including President-elect Joe Biden and his key advisers. This movement includes academics rejecting the very concept of objectivity in journalism in favor of open advocacy.

Columbia Journalism Dean and New Yorker writer Steve Coll decried how the First Amendment right to freedom of speech was being “weaponized” to protect disinformation. In an interview with The Stanford Daily, Stanford journalism professor, Ted Glasser, insisted that journalism needed to “free itself from this notion of objectivity to develop a sense of social justice.”

He rejected the notion that journalism is based on objectivity and said that he views “journalists as activists because journalism at its best — and indeed history at its best — is all about morality.” 

Thus, “Journalists need to be overt and candid advocates for social justice, and it’s hard to do that under the constraints of objectivity.”

Lauren Wolfe, the fired freelance editor for the New York Times, has not only gone public to defend her pro-Biden tweet but published a piece titled I’m a Biased Journalist and I’m Okay With That.” 

Former New York Times writer (and now Howard University Journalism Professor) Nikole Hannah-Jones is a leading voice for advocacy journalism.

Indeed, Hannah-Jones has declared “all journalism is activism.” Her 1619 Project has been challenged as deeply flawed and she has a long record as a journalist of intolerance, controversial positions on rioting, and fostering conspiracy theories. Hannah-Jones would later help lead the effort at the Times to get rid of an editor and apologize for publishing a column from Sen. Tom Cotten as inaccurate and inflammatory.

Polls show trust in the media at an all-time low with less than 20 percent of citizens trusting television or print media. Yet, reporters and academics continue to destroy the core principles that sustain journalism and ultimately the role of a free press in our society. Notably, writers who have been repeatedly charged with false or misleading columns are some of the greatest advocates for dropping objectivity  in journalism.

Now the leaders of media companies are joining this self-destructive movement. They are not speaking of columnists or cable hosts who routinely share opinions. They are speaking of actual journalists, the people who are relied upon to report the news.

Saying that “Objectivity has got to go” is, of course, liberating. You can dispense with the necessities of neutrality and balance. You can cater to your “base” like columnists and opinion writers. Sharing the opposing view is now dismissed as “bothsidesism.” Done. No need to give credence to opposing views. It is a familiar reality for those of us in higher education, which has been increasingly intolerant of opposing or dissenting views.

Downie recounts how news leaders today

“believe that pursuing objectivity can lead to false balance or misleading “bothsidesism” in covering stories about race, the treatment of women, LGBTQ+ rights, income inequality, climate change and many other subjects. And, in today’s diversifying newsrooms, they feel it negates many of their own identities, life experiences and cultural contexts, keeping them from pursuing truth in their work.”

There was a time when all journalists shared a common “identity” as professionals who were able to separate their own bias and values from the reporting of the news.

Now, objectivity is virtually synonymous with prejudice. Kathleen Carroll, former executive editor at the Associated Press declared “It’s objective by whose standard? … That standard seems to be White, educated, and fairly wealthy.”

Outlets like NPR are quickly erasing any lines between journalists and advocates. NPR announced that reporters could participate in activities that advocate for “freedom and dignity of human beings” on social media and in real life.

Downie echoes such views and declares “What we found has convinced us that truth-seeking news media must move beyond whatever ‘objectivity’ once meant to produce more trustworthy news.”

Really? Being less objective will make the news more trustworthy? That does not seem to have worked for years but Downie and others are doubling down like bad gamblers at Vegas.

Indeed, the whole “Let’s Go Brandon” chant is as much a criticism of the media as it is President Biden.

If there is little difference between the mainstream media and alternative media, the public will continue the trend away from the former. MSM has the most to lose from this movement, but, as individual editors, it remains popular to yield to advocates in their ranks. That is what the New York Times did when it threw its own editors under the bus to satisfy the mob.

As media outlets struggle to survive, these media leaders are feverishly sawing at the tree branch upon which they sit.

Tyler Durden Wed, 02/01/2023 - 10:17
Published:2/1/2023 9:32:43 AM
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[Markets] Dow opens 200 points lower as Fed policy decision looms MARKET PULSE U.S. stocks opened lower on Wednesday as investors braced for a 25 basis point rate hike from the Federal Reserve at the close of its two-day policy meeting. The S&P 500 (SPX) shed 9 points, or 0. Published:2/1/2023 8:44:33 AM
[Markets] OPEC+ committee recommends no change to output quota: reports OPEC+ committee recommends no change to output quota: reports Published:2/1/2023 8:14:31 AM
[Markets] US STOCKS-Wall St set to open lower ahead of Fed decision; AMD rises on outlook U.S. stock indexes were set to open lower on Wednesday as investors cautiously awaited the Federal Reserve's decision on interest rates later in the day, while chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices climbed on an upbeat outlook. The Fed is widely seen as raising its target interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point in its first policy meeting of the year, after the rapid increases in 2022 to tame decades-high inflation. "Consensus is that the Fed is going to talk very hawkish today even though it's only doing 25 basis points," said Thomas Hayes, chairman at investment firm Great Hill Capital. Published:2/1/2023 8:14:31 AM
[Markets] Turmoil Lurks Around The Corner Turmoil Lurks Around The Corner

Authored by Michael Lebowitz via,

On October 12, 1987, a week before Black Monday, the Wall Street Journal warned of the potential for significant market turmoil. Per the article: The use of portfolio insurance “could snowball into a stunning rout for stocks.” Today, we are increasingly alarmed that another trading tool similar to portfolio insurance could set markets up for a bout of turmoil. 

The quote above and a detailed analysis of Black Monday can be found in a Federal Reserve white paper entitled A Brief history of the 1987 Stock Market Crash.

Despite the growing risk to foster market turmoil, 0DTE is a term few investors have heard of.

0DTE stands for zero days to options expiration. These are put-and-call options on individual stocks and indexes that expire within 24 hours. 0DTE options may seem like speculative YOLO (you only live once) bets at first glance. However, when one appreciates how brokers hedge options, they then grasp the potential for these options to generate significant volatility in individual stocks and the market. 

Before exploring 0DTE options, it’s worth briefly discussing portfolio insurance’s role in Black Monday 1987.

1987 Portfolio Insurance

One of our first reactions to hearing of the recent popularity of 0DTE trades was to recall Black Monday and the 22.6% crash of the Dow Jones Industrial Average on October 19, 1987. There are several causes for the turmoil, but the factor that significantly amplified the decline was portfolio insurance.

At the time, institutional investors were buying portfolio insurance from Wall Street brokers to help protect against losses. During market declines, the brokers’ computer algorithms would automatically sell S&P 500 futures contracts short. As the market sold off further, the algorithms would sell more contracts.

As the programs sold, they pushed markets lower, necessitating more portfolio insurance-related selling. Selling begat selling, and a correction turned into an avalanche of panic.

The following quote is from a Wall Street Journal article rehashing the turmoil:

The strategy backfired, probably because too many institutions were doing the same thing at more or less the same time. They pushed stock prices into free fall and individual investors under the bus.

0DTE Options

The popularity of 0DTE options is rising precipitously. As the graph below shows, half of the volume of options on S&P 500 futures are 0DTE. That dwarfs the 5-10% share existing before the pandemic.

Individual and institutional investors are using options that have a very short time until expiry for speculative and hedging purposes. It is also likely investors may be using 0DTE options to manipulate markets. Regardless of the objectives, 0DTE options have a similar feature as portfolio insurance; they can significantly intensify market moves.

To reiterate the WSJ quote: “The strategy backfired, probably because too many institutions were doing the same thing at more or less the same time.” Sound familiar?

How Manipulation Creates Significant Instability

To help better appreciate the risk of 0DTE options, we walk through a hypothetical example using Tesla stock. This case uses data from the early afternoon on January 25, 2023. After the close that day, Tesla reported its quarterly earnings.

Hypothetical hedge Fund ABC owns 100,000 shares of Tesla stock (TSLA). TSLA was trading for $144, which meant ABC had a $14,400,000 investment in TSLA. With earnings due shortly, ABC wanted a low-cost trade to juice their returns if earnings were better than expected.

One such way is 0DTE options. To do so, they could buy calls with a $160 strike that expired in a day. At the time, the price per 0DTE call was $1.36. Each call option controls 100 shares. If they chose, buying 1,000 calls would give them the right to purchase 100,000 shares at $160. The options cost was $136,000 or about 1% of their total Tesla investment. If TSLA shares flopped on earnings, they would lose 1% on the options. If the stock rose, they would likely sell the options and could easily double or triple their return. More importantly, their calls could force significantly more buying if the stock rose.

Delta Hedging Begets Delta Hedging

As frequently occurs, ABC indirectly buys calls from a Wall Street dealer. Most dealers run managed books meaning they have limited risk-taking tolerance. Accordingly, they often hedge their risks. In this case, the dealer’s risk is an increase in the price of Tesla.

Dealers use a hedging method called delta hedging. An option’s delta estimates how much an option’s value may change for a $1 move up or down in the underlying security. The delta at the time of the trade was .15. For each $1 that TSLA shares rose, the options would increase by 15 cents. The delta increases toward 1.0 as the price approaches the strike price and falls toward zero as the price declines.

The dealer might initially delta-hedge the calls in our scenario by buying 15,000 shares (.15*100,000). As the price rises or falls, the number of shares they own will change according to the delta. The table below approximates the delta for Tesla shares on that day for a range of prices.

If the hedge fund is right and Tesla has excellent earnings, the stock will jump and force the dealer to buy more Tesla. The further it rises, the more shares they must buy. As the dealer and other dealers increase their hedges, the buying pressure on Tesla shares increases and pushes the delta higher. Buying begets buying.

Options on The Market

The Tesla 0DTE example pertains to the movement of one stock. While Tesla’s price may be more volatile than it would have been without 0DTE options, its effect on the broad market is limited.

More concerning, investors are buying 0DTE calls and puts on the S&P 500 and other indexes. Often such options are purchased in advance of potentially market-moving events. Recently, CPI, Fed meetings, and employment reports have drawn sizeable interest from 0DTE traders.

Suppose 0DTE volume is large enough, and options buyers are betting on the same directional market move. In that case, the environment becomes ripe for significant market instability if dealers are forced to aggressively delta hedge. Adding strength to such an event, investors become irrational when markets fall precipitously. A considerable downward move could trigger other investors to panic sell. Selling could beget selling, and a few percent loss could quickly turn into a severe decline.


If you take one thing away from this article, it is that for every option, there is likely a bank/dealer on the other side of the trade. Risk management protocols force dealers to buy or sell up to 100 shares of the stock or index for each option. It takes little money for a hedge fund to manipulate stock or index prices and, therefore, little money to create market turmoil.

Unlike portfolio insurance, delta hedging is limited as the delta can only go to one or zero. However, a heavy dose of delta hedging could cause panic selling among other market players. Fear can beget fear!  

Closing Note

When we calculated the TSLA 0DTE example, Tesla closed the day at $144.43 just minutes before the company reported its Q4 earnings. Its shares shot 10% higher the next day on the most volume in six months.

0DTE certainly helped TSLA shareholders!

Tyler Durden Wed, 02/01/2023 - 08:30
Published:2/1/2023 7:49:58 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures Fall Ahead Of Fed Rate Hike Decision, Powell Comments; Tesla Rallies On China Production Increase Dow Jones futures fell Wednesday ahead of the Federal Reserve's rate hike decision later today. Tesla stock rallied on higher China output. Published:2/1/2023 7:31:49 AM
[Markets] Key Words: Brace for ‘tinderbox-timebomb’ market crash worse than 1929, Universa hedge fund manager says Universa CIO Mark Spitznagel told investors in its latest letter to brace for a market crash resembling the 1930’s Great Depression as debt balloons globally. Published:2/1/2023 7:12:43 AM
[Markets] Stock market live news updates: Stock futures mixed ahead of Fed decision Stock futures were little-changed early Wednesday as investors await the Fed's latest policy announcement due out this afternoon. Published:2/1/2023 7:06:52 AM
[Markets] Adani Stock, Bonds Meltdown As Credit Suisse Halts Margin Loans Adani Stock, Bonds Meltdown As Credit Suisse Halts Margin Loans

Turmoil remerged in the Adani group Wednesday after a top Swiss bank stopped accepting bonds from companies tied to Gautam Adani's corporate empire for margin loans. 

Bloomberg reported Credit Suisse Group AG halted the acceptable of bonds of Adani's companies as collateral for margin for banking clients. This news led to further declines in Adani shares and dollar bonds. 

The Swiss lender's private banking arm has assigned a zero lending value for notes sold by Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone, Adani Green Energy and Adani Electricity Mumbai Ltd., according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. It had previously offered a lending value of about 75% for the Adani Ports notes, one of the people said.

When a private bank cuts lending value to zero, clients typically have to top up with cash or another form of collateral and if they fail to do so, their securities can be liquidated. --Bloomberg 

Shares of Adani Enterprises crashed, closing down by more than 28%. Market cap losses across all Adani companies hit $93 billion since US short-seller Hindenburg Research accused it of corporate fraud one week ago. 

Hindenburg's allegations sparked a crisis of confidence for Adani despite Adani Enterprises completing a $2.5 billion follow-on stock sale Tuesday, which briefly calmed investors. 

"Caution on Adani group stocks has increased after the news on action taken by Credit Suisse. 

"This can put a financing hurdle for the group's further growth," said Sameer Kalra, founder of Target Investing in Mumbai. 

Dollar bonds of Adani Group also plunged. 

Peter Garnry, head of equity strategy at Saxo Bank A/S, said the problem now is "the dynamics are becoming a self-reinforcing negative feedback loop and investors are now just dumping the shares and asking questions later."

Garnry added: "This is potentially a bigger problem for Indian equities which have done so well during the pandemic as China pursued its zero Covid policy. The long-term ramifications could be quite negative."

The worsening rout in Adani weighed on India's broader equity benchmarks. 

The contagion has been quick, and so has the wipeout of Adani's personal wealth, plummeting by $44 billion to about $72 billion in one week, according to the latest Bloomberg data. 

Adani is no longer the richest person in Asia. 

Tyler Durden Wed, 02/01/2023 - 06:55
Published:2/1/2023 6:23:20 AM
[Markets] Economic Report: Mortgage demand falls 9% despite rates falling for fourth week in a row Mortgage applications fell 9% in the latest week, the Mortgage Bankers Association said. The average rate for a 30-year mortgage is 6.19% Published:2/1/2023 6:17:33 AM
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