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[Markets] The New Normal In 'Virtual Classrooms': Porn, Guns, & Racism? The New Normal In 'Virtual Classrooms': Porn, Guns, & Racism? Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 22:00

While classrooms across the Chicago Public School (CPS) district are empty, due to the virus pandemic, remote learning between teachers and their students has been met with challenges, especially with virtual classes, some of which have been interrupted by hackers, pranksters, and or disorderly students, reported Chicago Tribune

"The kids were in the class and all of a sudden you see porn, you see things that they shouldn't see," said Valerie Carroll, a parent whose child attends Chicago's Nicholson Elementary. 

Carroll said on the first day of virtual class, her daughter was exposed to porn and guns via the live feed. 

 "They learned about porn, guns and threats, when they should have been learning about science, math, literacy," she said. 

Carroll said someone with access to the Google Meets link commandeered the virtual classroom from the teacher. Similar incidents have been reported in the last few weeks across the school district. 

"They're supposed to have this stuff on lockdown," Carroll said of CPS. "That is something that kids are not supposed to be seeing. ... What are you doing about it? How are you protecting your students?"

Besides hackers, prankers, and or even unauthorized people disrupting virtual classes, not just at Nicholson Elementary but at several other CPS schools, there was one incident of a higher schooler brandishing a firearm during a virtual class. 

CPS spokesman James Gherardi told The Tribune "a number of disruptive incidents" have occurred "in virtual classrooms" during this "unprecedented school year." 

Gherardi added, "the district has provided school staff with guidelines on how to prevent disruptions and is working with Google to expand functionality to allow for additional controls during class time."

CPS noted that "hacking" into virtual classes wasn't the issue; it resulted from "improperly shared links to virtual classrooms." 

Similar breaches have been reported at suburban schools in Chicago and all over the country. 

Take, for, example, KIRO-TV Seattle reported hackers broke into a virtual Zoom classroom at a school in the Edmonds School District, located in Lynnwood, Washington State, messaged students the "n-word" during one virtual class. 

Another incident was at a New York City school, where one parent tweeted graphic scenes of porn her child saw the first day of classes: 

"Day one of remote learning. 5 minutes into my daughter's Google meet with her first class, and several "students" have hijacked the meeting, the first posting Trump pics, and then someone streamed PORN!!" 

In New Jersey, according to ABC7 New York, hackers hijacked online classes with pornography and waged threats against teachers. 

The malicious hack attacks, bombing virtual classes with mostly porn, appears to be widespread, even happening on a university level. 

John Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, outlines a whole list of other dangers virtual classes posses on America's youth.  

Published:9/18/2020 9:17:55 PM
[Markets] McConnell: Trump pick to replace Ginsburg on Supreme Court will get Senate vote McConnell: Trump pick to replace Ginsburg on Supreme Court will get Senate vote Published:9/18/2020 8:47:49 PM
[Markets] A DARPA-Funded Implantable Biochip To Detect COVID-19 Could Hit Markets By 2021 A DARPA-Funded Implantable Biochip To Detect COVID-19 Could Hit Markets By 2021 Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 21:40

Authored by Raul Diego via MintPressNews.com,

The most significant scientific discovery since gravity has been hiding in plain sight for nearly a decade and its destructive potential to humanity is so enormous that the biggest war machine on the planet immediately deployed its vast resources to possess and control it, financing its research and development through agencies like the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and HHS’ BARDA.

The revolutionary breakthrough came to a Canadian scientist named Derek Rossi in 2010 purely by accident. The now-retired Harvard professor claimed in an interview with the National Post that he found a way to “reprogram” the molecules that carry the genetic instructions for cell development in the human body, not to mention all biological lifeforms.

These molecules are called ‘messenger ribonucleic acid’ or mRNA and the newfound ability to rewrite those instructions to produce any kind of cell within a biological organism has radically changed the course of Western medicine and science, even if no one has really noticed yet. As Rossi, himself, puts it: “The real important discovery here was you could now use mRNA, and if you got it into the cells, then you could get the mRNA to express any protein in the cells, and this was the big thing.”

It was so big that by 2014, Rossi was able to retire after the company he co-founded with Flagship Pioneering private equity firm to exploit his innovation, – Moderna Inc., attracted almost a half billion dollars in federal award monies to begin developing vaccines using the technology. No longer affiliated with Moderna beyond his stock holdings, Rossi is just “watching for what happens next” and if he’s anything like the doting “hockey dad” he is portrayed to be, he must be horrified.

Remote control biology

As early as 2006, DARPA was already researching how to identify viral, upper respiratory pathogens through its Predicting Health and Disease (PHD) program, which led to the creation of the agency’s Biological Technologies Office (BTO), as reported by Whitney Webb in a May article for The Last American Vagabond. In 2014, DARPA’s BTO launched its “In Vivo Nanoplatforms” (IVN) program, which researches implantable nanotechnologies, leading to the development of ‘hydrogel’.

Hydrogel is a nanotechnology whose inventor early on boasted that “If [it] pans out, with approval from FDA, then consumers could get the sensors implanted in their core to measure their levels of glucose, oxygen, and lactate.” This contact lens-like material requires a special injector to be introduced under the skin where it can transmit light-based digital signals through a wireless network like 5G.

A penny aside a 3D printed hydrogel model of a lung-mimicking air sac in Rice University’s Houston BRC lab. Melissa Phillip | Houston Chronicle via AP

Once firmly implanted inside the body, human cells are at the mercy of any mRNA program delivered via this substrate, unleashing a nightmare of possibilities. It is, perhaps, the first true step towards full-on transhumanism; a “philosophy” that is in vogue with many powerful and influential people, such as Google’s Ray Kurzweil and Eric Schmidt and whose proponents see the fusion of technology and biology as an inevitable consequence of human progress.

The private company created to market this technology, that allows for biological processes to be controlled remotely and opens the door to the potential manipulation of our biological responses and, ultimately, our entire existence, is called Profusa Inc and its operations are funded with millions from NIH and DARPA. In March, the company was quietly inserted into the crowded COVID-19 bazaar in March 2020, when it announced an injectable biochip for the detection of viral respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.

A wholly-owned subsidiary

In July, a preliminary report funded by Fauci’s NIAID and the NIH on an mRNA Vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 was published in The New England Journal of Medicine, concluding that mRNA-1273 vaccine. provided by Moderna for the study, “induced anti–SARS-CoV-2 immune responses in all participants, and no trial-limiting safety concerns were identified,” and supported “further development of this vaccine.”

A month earlier, the NIH had claimed a joint stake in Moderna’s mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, citing a contract signed in December, 2019, stipulating that the “mRNA coronavirus vaccine candidates [are] developed and jointly owned” by both parties. Moderna disputes the federal government’s position, stating that the company “has a broad owned and licensed IP estate” and is “not aware of any IP that would prevent us from commercializing our product candidates, including mRNA-1273.”

A poster seeking volunteers to take part in a COVID-19 vaccine study by the NIH and Moderna Inc., July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. Hans Pennink | AP

The only obstacle is a delivery system, which though Moderna claims to be developing separately, is unlikely to get FDA approval before the federal government’s own DARPA-developed hydrogel technology, in tandem with Profusa’s DARPA-funded light sensor technology, which is expected to receive fast track authorization from the Food and Drug Administration by early 2021 and, more than likely, used to deploy a coronavirus vaccine with the capacity to literally change our DNA.

In addition, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is currently investigating Moderna’s patent filings, claiming it failed to disclose “federal government support” in its COVID vaccine candidate patent applications, as required by law. The technicality could result in the federal government owning a 100 percent stake in mRNA-1273.

Published:9/18/2020 8:47:49 PM
[Markets] The Conversation: Ruth Bader Ginsburg played a pivotal role in the women’s-rights era — and that was before she joined the Supreme Court Decades before she joined the court, Ginsburg’s work as an attorney in the 1970s fundamentally changed the Supreme Court’s approach to women’s rights, and the modern skepticism about sex-based policies stems in no small way from her lawyering.
Published:9/18/2020 8:16:17 PM
[Markets] Are The COVID-Lockdowns An Election 2020 Ransom Note? Are The COVID-Lockdowns An Election 2020 Ransom Note? Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 21:00

Authored by John Tamny via RealClearMarkets.com,

“We don’t realistically anticipate that we would be moving to either tier 2 or reopening K-12 schools at least until after the election, in early November.”

Those are the words of a west coast health director. No in-person schooling until after the election? Hmmm.

Please think about what was said. It reads as kind of a ransom note. Vote for science-reverent candidate Joe Biden, or else...

Really, what else could the utterance mean? What does November 3rd have to do with re-opening schools? Why would it be safer to open on the 4th of November versus the present?

Unless the implicit point is that corona-reverence is far more political than the believers have previously felt comfortable admitting. If so, what’s happening borders on child abuse. Kids will be held hostage by an election?

Think about what this means.

For one, not every parent can afford a babysitter. More than some want to acknowledge, there’s a “day care” quality to schooling. And when school isn’t in person, parents without the means to hire babysitters either must reduce work hours, leave their kids without supervision, or quit work altogether.  

Day care aside, what about the kids? While there’s an argument that the learning aspect of education is a tad overstated, does anyone think virtual learning will be very effective? With kids? For the adult readers done with school, think back to how attentive you were on substitute teacher days. Does anyone think a lot of learning is happening remotely?

What about kids with disabilities? How can they be instructed effectively via Zoom?

On a Frontline episode from last week titled “Growing Up Poor In America,” one of the impoverished kids had an ADHD problem. She was expected to learn virtually. Anyone want to guess how this will turn out? Some may respond that ADHD says much more about young people than it does a specific affliction, which is precisely the point. Young people need the structure of a classroom. They need to know they could be called on in class only to face the stares of fellow students if they lack an answer. Pressure concentrates the distracted mind.

The girl with attentiveness problems has an older sister. Understand that the Frontline episode followed three poor families during the spring. Her older sister was supposed to attend the prom. It was going to be her first date. Compassionate politicians and teachers took this exciting first from her.

Is the point that public school teachers don’t feel safe? If so, isn’t the right answer to give those uncomfortable returning to work an out, as opposed to discontinuing in-person schooling altogether?

Of course, if teachers don’t feel safe, a not unreasonable question is why they don’t? It’s not unreasonable to ask simply because retailer Target recently reported its strongest quarterly sales growth in decades. Target was “allowed” to remain open during the lockdowns, and while the political picking of winners and losers brings new meaning to reprehensible, the fact remains that Target has done very well amid the economic contraction forced on us by witless politicians. Translated more clearly, Target stores have at times been very crowded. So have Walmarts, Safeways, Ralph’s, Whole Foods, etc. etc. etc.

That they have raises an obvious question: have workers at those stores been falling ill or dying with any kind of frequency? Half-awake readers know the answer to this question, as should teachers reluctant to return to the workplace. Those employed at the major retailers have largely avoided illness and death. If they hadn’t, media members and politicians desperate to promote a blood-in-the-streets narrative would be letting us know the horrid stories in detail.

Who knows why, but it probably goes back to the statistics reported by the New York Times deep within articles that are proceeded by alarmist headlines, but those who pass with the virus tend to be quite a bit older. Or in nursing homes. According to the Times, over 40 percent of U.S. coronavirus deaths have been associated with nursing homes. The latter isn’t meant to minimize the cruelty of a virus as much as at least as of now, virus deaths skew toward the much older who also have pre-existing conditions. In short, just as retail workers have largely been spared illness and death, so logically would teachers who would be exposed to exponentially fewer people each day than retail workers. There’s also the distance thing. Instructors tend to be at the front of a classroom. Get it?  

One more thing about businesses that have remained open: another impoverished child profiled in the aforementioned Frontline episode talked of missing being with his friends. Missing playing sports with them. It’s not allowed. There’s that distance thing. One bright spot in his day is McDonald’s. The one near his family’s home in The Plains, OH offers free lunches for school-age kids. Hopefully readers have this truth internalized the next time some know-nothing decries big business, or “excessive profits,” or calls for increased taxation on the big and successful.

They somewhat uniquely have the means to help those who can’t always help themselves.

Back to the quote that begins this piece, some with the ability to keep schools closed are literally tying their re-opening to the presidential elections. This is shameful on too many levels to list; the most obvious being that kids shouldn’t be the victims of political brawls. It’s really very sickening.

And it yet again raises a question about the why behind the continued limits placed on people, schools and businesses. They’ve never made sense in consideration of how thankfully rare death (or even serious illness) has been as a consequence of the virus, especially in recent weeks. 

Unless it’s always been political; as in, the most actively corona-reverent have been stoking ongoing virus fear as a veiled ransom note. If so, those who would mess with people, schools and businesses for political reasons are truly the sick ones. 

Published:9/18/2020 8:16:17 PM
[Markets] Trump pick to replace Ginsburg will get Senate vote: McConnell Trump pick to replace Ginsburg will get Senate vote: McConnell Published:9/18/2020 8:16:17 PM
[Markets] Minneapolis Voters Line Up To Cast Ballots As Early Voting Begins In Several States Minneapolis Voters Line Up To Cast Ballots As Early Voting Begins In Several States Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 20:40

Minneapolis voters lined up on Friday to cast their ballots ahead of the first presidential debate, as early voting began in several states including Minnesota.

In the first 30 minutes alone, some 44 people cast ballots in Minneapolis' lone polling center, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, voters in Wyoming, South Dakota and Virginia cast in-person ballots on Friday. Virginia elections officials in Fairfax and Arlington counties reported heavy turnout and lines out the door, while voters in Minnesota said they wanted to avoid Election Day crowds and get an early jump on the process.

"I just wanted to come get it done," said 33-year-old painter Jason Miller, who lined up to cast a vote for Biden, according to Reuters - who didn't interview any Trump supporters.

"I was a little inspired to come here the first day," Miller added. "In fact, probably 3-1/2 years ago I thought I would be here the first day I could."

All of the voters lined up in Minneapolis wore masks to help protect against the spread of the coronavirus.

Margie Rukavina, 72, said she was “revved up” to vote for Biden but also was concerned about voting on Election Day given health concerns.

We want to come early to avoid a super-spreader event, like our president is so happy to do,” she said. Trump has been criticized for holding crowded campaign rallies, often with people not wearing masks. -Reuters

If one is inclined to believe the polls, Trump trails Biden in both national polls, as well as in Minnesota, which he lost to Hillary Clinton in 2016 by just 1.5 percentage points.

On Friday evening, Trump will hold a rally at an airport in Bemidji, MN, while Biden will tour a union training center in Duluth before delivering a speech.

Published:9/18/2020 7:45:58 PM
[Markets] Chicago Logs Whopping 52% Jump In Homicides From 2019: 'Five Times Any Prior Year' Chicago Logs Whopping 52% Jump In Homicides From 2019: 'Five Times Any Prior Year' Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 20:00

A new disturbing investigation by USA Today this week found that Cook County in Chicago has seen homicides spike by a whopping 52% compared to the same time frame last year.

What's more is that this second largest county in the country has seen more homicides already this year than in all of 2019, and still with months to go. Alarmingly this includes dozens of children under 10 who were gunned down, often in gang-related cross fire incidents, according to police records. 

USA Today wrote that among the jump in 2020 homicides, the majority, as much as "95% – were people of color, the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office announced this week."

Image source: Chicago Sun-Times

Chicago witnessed also the single largest mass shooting in recent history this summer — though one might not have noticed by major media network coverage, or lack thereof — when 15 people were shot at a funeral. 

One community anti-crime activists cited in USA Today, Katya Nuques, said that COVID-19 combined with rampant unemployment is taking its toll: "Facing illnesses, facing deaths, facing also the higher rates of unemployment and loss of income in our communities has also, unfortunately, played a role in the levels of violence we've seen throughout the year," she said.

Simultaneously new FBI figures also confirm a significant jump in murders in Chicago, but interestingly a drop in other violent crimes:

According to the FBI crime report, 335 murders reported in Chicago from January to June 2020, a huge increase from the 244 murders tallied during that time period a year ago. Arson in Chicago is up even more: a 52.9% increase from 2019. Aggravated assault and burglary in Chicago are also up over last year.

Other crime categories tracked by the FBI were actually down: including rape and robbery, enough so that the overall violent crime number in Chicago is down 1.4%.

Commentators cited in the USA Today report not only chalk up the increase in homicides to unemployment and harsher conditions brought on by pandemic lockdowns and restrictions, which literally means more people loitering around what are known as high crime streets and caught up in crossfire, but that repeat felons are being released to the streets.

Police Superintendent David Brown told a press conference Monday:

"There's not a comparable year. That’s five times any previous year anyone can recall," he said. "We’re risking everything."

Analysts have tracked a noticeable uptick in re-arrests of repeat offenders let out of jail early. Brown confirmed this during his prior statements: "Violent offenders need to spend more time in jail in this city," he said. "They need to be held more accountable."

Ironically and disturbingly, this also comes as months of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests and unrest have sought to put front and central the unjust deaths of people of color. Yet the grim trend out of Chicago of black on black shootings seems to have gone unnoticed by the movement.

Published:9/18/2020 7:16:49 PM
[Markets] When Government Incompetence And Overreach Turns Deadly When Government Incompetence And Overreach Turns Deadly Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 19:40

Authored by Simon Black via SovereignMan.com,

Are you ready for this week’s absurdity? Here’s our Friday roll-up of the most ridiculous stories from around the world that are threats to your liberty and risks to your prosperity.

Today, we are starting with some stories that are not amusing, but simply tragic.

Unborn baby dies due to absurd Covid lockdown rules

This one highlights the sad reality of crushing people’s basic rights.

An Australian woman was in childbirth a few weeks ago when it became clear she needed highly specialized medical care.

Unfortunately her small town of Ballina, located in the Australian state of New South Wales, did not have sufficient medical care options to treat her pregnancy complications.

Ballina is very close to the border of the neighboring state of Queensland, where two much larger cities– Gold Coast, and Brisbane– are fairly close by.

And prior to Covid, the woman would have simply been quickly transported to one of those two cities in the neighboring state for a multitude of top quality medical options.

But now Australians are no longer able to travel across their own state lines without special permission from the government.

The woman was told that she would have to undergo a 14-day quarantine, simply for crossing the state line, before she could access medical care in Queensland. Incredible.

This was obviously unacceptable. So her next best option was to fly to Syndey (which is at the opposite end of New South Wales, a state that’s bigger than Texas). Except that the next flight was SIXTEEN HOURS later.

Needless to say, she didn’t receive the care she needed in time, and one of her twin babies died as a result of the travel restrictions.

They say all the lockdowns are worth it if it saves just one life.

What about the lives the lockdowns take?

Click here to read the full story.

American facing $569,000 fine and six months jail for sightseeing in Canada

Canada is currently closed to most Americans due to COVID.

But an exemption allows Americans to drive through Canada to reach Alaska.

The rules state that the traveler must take the most direct route to their destination, and only stop for essentials like food and gas.

But one criminal mastermind did not take the most direct route, and instead decided to check out a national park along the way

He was arrested after his car with Ohio plates was reported to police at a sightseeing gondola at Sulphur Mountain.

So clearly some brave hero spotted this nefarious terrorist, and saved his fellow Canadians by ratting the man out to authorities.

And now he is facing a $569,000 fine, plus six months in jail. Because he stopped at a park.

Click here to read the full story.

University professor cancelled for watching a pro-police rally

Students at Skidmore College are boycotting an art professor, David Peterson, and demanding he be fired.

His crime? Watching a “back the blue” pro-police protest for about 20 minutes.

Peterson was not actually attending the rally, holding signs, or wearing a pro-police shirt. He simply listened to the pro-police protesters (AND the counter protesters) in his own community for a bit, and then went out to dinner with his wife.

So, simply just listening to an unwoke opinion is now a thoughtcrime. And that is all it takes these days to lose a career.

Click here to read the full story.

Court awards unmarried woman $50,000/month in alimony

An Ontario court granted a woman $50,000 per month for the next decade in spousal support.

The strangest part though, is that she didn’t have a spouse. There was no divorce, because she was never married to the man who must now pay her alimony.

This woman and the wealthy businessman she fleeced dated for years, but they were never married.

They never lived together, and have no kids together.

But the court said they were “common law married” anyway.

Ironically, the court used the fact that he had spent so much money on her during their time as a couple as proof that he should be forced to continue his support.

Click here to read the full story.

US Customs & Border Patrol seizes ‘counterfeit’ Apple earbuds

Relax and breathe easy, your government is on the case protecting you from evil dangers lurking around the world.

According to an official press release from US Customs and Border Patrol, “officers seized 2,000 counterfeit Apple Airpod Earbuds from Hong Kong destined for Nevada at an air cargo facility located at John F. Kennedy International Airport [in New York City].”

CBP went on to brag via their Twitter account that these ‘counterfeit’ earbuds would have been worth nearly USD $400,000.

But it turns out that the earbuds are, in fact, NOT counterfeit. In fact they’re not even Apple earbuds.

These earbuds are specific to another mobile phone manufacturer called OnePlus. You’d think that the CBP officers would have been able to figure that out given that the earbuds actually have “OnePlus” Buds” printed on the freaking boxes!

It’s unclear whether the officers who seized these earbuds are completely illiterate, or cannot imagine a world where there are other mobile phone companies besides Apple.

(OnePlus is actually a pretty good sized company and generated $1.4 billion in revenue last year…)

But rather humorously, OnePlus responded to CBP’s Tweet earlier this week saying “Hey, give those back!”

You’d think the story would end there, and CBP would admit its mistake. But no.

Now CBP is saying, in its sole discretion, that the earbuds violate Apple’s trademark, so they’re keeping the seized product.

This is completely ridiculous, and I’m not sure if this agency even understands what a trademark actually is. And if ‘trademark’ was even the issue here, then the agency’s initial press release would have stated so. But instead they called the earbuds counterfeit.

It’s also rather interesting that there has been no court injunction against OnePlus, no warrants, and not even a lawsuit.

Yes, not even Apple (whose ‘trademark’ has supposedly been violated) thinks this is a problem. Apple has earbuds. OnePlus has earbuds. Big deal.

Click here to read the full story.

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On another note… We think gold could DOUBLE and silver could increase by up to 5 TIMES in the next few years. That's why we published a new, 50-page long Ultimate Guide on Gold & Silver that you can download here.

Published:9/18/2020 6:45:50 PM
[Markets] Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died Published:9/18/2020 6:45:50 PM
[Markets] "Inflation" And America's Accelerating Class War "Inflation" And America's Accelerating Class War Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 19:00

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

Those who don't see the fragmentation, the scarcities and the battlelines being drawn will be surprised by the acceleration of the unraveling.

I recently came across the idea that inflation is a two-factor optimization problem: inflation is necessary for the macro-economy (or so we're told) and so the trick for policy makers (and their statisticians who measure the economy) is to maximize inflation in the economy but only to the point that it doesn't snuff out businesses and starve workers to death.

From this perspective, households have to grin and bear the negative consequences of inflation for the good of the whole economy.

This narrative, so typical of economics, ignores the core reality of "inflation" in America: it's a battleground for the class war that's accelerating. Allow me to explain.

"Inflation" affects different classes very differently. I put "inflation" in italics because it's not one phenomenon, it's numerous phenomena crammed into one deceptively simple word.

When "inflation" boosts the value of homes, stocks, bonds, diamonds, quatloos etc. to the moon, those who own these assets are cheering. When "inflation" reduces the purchasing power of wages, those whose only income is earned from their labor suffer a decline in their lifestyles as their wages buy fewer goods and services.

They are suffering while the wealthy owners of soaring assets are cheering.

The Federal Reserve and federal authorities are not neutral observers in this war. The Fed only cares about two things: enriching the banking sector and further enriching the already-rich.

The banking sector makes money by lending newly created currency to borrowers. No borrowers or new loans--banks go broke. So the Fed must generate the right kind of "inflation": it must lower the cost of borrowing money (deflating the cost of borrowing) by reducing the rate of interest borrowers pay, and it must "inflate" the market value of the collateral banks and Wall Street need to support more debt: commercial buildings, homes, stocks, bonds, etc.

This "inflation" of asset valuations makes those who already own these assets richer, while impoverishing those who must buy them with wages that are losing purchasing power. The Fed doesn't care if small businesses go broke or households slide into poverty; the Fed's only concerns are maintaining "inflation" in asset valuations and "deflation" in the cost of borrowing, so that debt-serfs, zombie corporations, local and federal government--everyone--can borrow more money, further enriching banks and Wall Street.

This is the sole goal of the Fed. Everything else is distracting PR.

There are downsides to this, of course, but they fall on "the little people" so economists, the Fed and federal officials don't bother to even track the downsides. Thus we have the nonsensical games government statisticians play to keep official measurements of "inflation" low. This serves to obscure the reality that real-world "inflation" in the cost of education, childcare, health insurance, rent, and so on--all the big-ticket household costs--is soaring, stripping away the purchasing power of wages.

Here's an example of how wages and purchasing power can be understood. Back in the day, I could rent my own studio apartment for half a week's pay. I was young and not well-paid, but I could still rent a crummy apartment for half a week's pay: 2.5 day's wages.

Try finding an apartment for half a week's pay in a major city. Young workers are paying two week's pay just to rent a room. This is a massive loss in the purchasing power of labor.

Meanwhile, those with the right kind of assets are experiencing fantasic increases in their unearned income. These increases in income (and wealth) far exceed the modest impacts of real-world inflation on these owners of the right kind of assets.

Let's start with the the wrong kind of asset: a savings account. Where savers earned 5.25% on their savings as a regulatory requirement in the 1960s, now they earn less than nothing: even the bogus "official inflation" is 2%, while savers get 0.1% or less on savings. So savers lose money every day.

Those who bought bonds and stocks and real estate--the right kind of assets--have scored enormous gains in wealth and income. There's just one little tiny problem with the right kind of assetsthe vast majority are owned by the top 5% of households, with the top 1% owning 40% and the top 0.1% owning 20%--more than the bottom 80% own.

There aren't just wealth-income classes --those who own these assets and those who don't-- there are demographic and age classes, too. Young wage earners are mostly priced out of buying these assets with wages, unless they borrow staggering sums of money and devote most of their income to servicing their debts (student loans, auto loans, mortgage, etc.).

Retirees have been forced into gambling their retirement funds in the Fed-rigged casinos, which just so happen to crash every decade or so, wiping out the naive punters who believed "the Fed has our backs."

"Inflation" isn't an abstract debate --it's class war. And it's not just between two classes, those who depend on wages/earned income and those reaping the trillions in unearned income and wealth; there are warring classes fractured by age, demographics, political loyalties and issues of who's hoarding whatevery one of these fractured classes is competing for scarce resources, scarce income and scarce security.

Those who don't see the fragmentation, the scarcities and the battlelines being drawn will be surprised by the acceleration of the unraveling. As noted here previously, The banquet of consequences is being laid out, and there won't be much choice in the seating.

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Published:9/18/2020 6:16:37 PM
[Markets] Schumer, Warren Introduce Resolution To Cancel $50,000 In Student Loans To "Close Racial Wealth Gaps" Schumer, Warren Introduce Resolution To Cancel $50,000 In Student Loans To "Close Racial Wealth Gaps" Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 18:40

Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) rolled out a proposal on Thursday which calls for the next president of the Untied States to cancel up to $50,000 in student debt in 2021.

The plan would call on the next president to "take executive action to administratively cancel up to $50,000 in Federal student loan debt for Federal student loan borrowers using existing legal authorities..."

The plan would also call on the next president to ensure "no tax liability for Federal student loan borrowers resulting from administrative debt cancellation." Moreover, it asks the next president to pause student loan payments and interest accumulation "for the entire duration of the COVID-19 pandemic."

Doing so, according to the plan, would "ensure that administrative debt cancellation helps close racial wealth gaps."

According to The Hill, the Democrats are essentially handing Joe Biden a talking point - as President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have flatly opposed earlier attempts to forgive student debt. 

"We know that President Trump and [Education] Secretary [Betsy] DeVos have been totally against things like this. We understand that. But the next president could easily do this," said Schumer, adding "We want to start getting people focused on this issue as a major issue that could be dealt with early next year."

The $3.4 trillion HEROES Act passed in May included a provision to cancel up to $10,000 of student debt for a limited number of people. 

The measure introduced by Warren and Schumer Thursday calls on the president to take executive action to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student debt for every borrower in the United States, which would wipe out the student debt obligations for more than three-quarters of Americans who owe them.

An estimated 44 million Americans owe about $1.6 trillion in student loans. 

Schumer said the plan would protect student loan borrowers from having to pay taxes on forgiven loans.

“The president can use the IRS code to ensure federal student loan borrowers won’t have tax liabilities resulting from administrative debt cancellation,” he said. -The Hill

Warren raised the issue last Thursday during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing, noting that the committee had yet to hold any discussions on "the student debt crisis."

"I think we ought to focus on how to deal with the $1.6 trillion dollars in debt that is crushing millions of people," she said.

As Jonathan Turley also warns, the proposals may be a foreshadowing of a greater push to use unilateral executive powers under Joe Biden if he wins the election.

The senators insisted that the Secretary of Education has “broad administrative authority” granted by Congress to cancel federal student loan debt under section 432(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965. Thus, they are arguing for the president to simply wipe out the debt by taking “executive action to broadly cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt.”

I have long been critical of such unilateral executive actions to order massive increases in debt or the negation of federal laws. We need a serious debate over the leveraging of the future on the mounting debt for this rising generation. I am worried about this college debt but I am also worried about these students facing decades of debt that must be paid off by the government. We need a comprehensive debt plan.

Politicians are casually referring to trillion dollar increases in a variety of different packages. Many long-standing goals are being refashioned as “stimulus measures” but they would pile more debt on an economic recovery that could already be difficult after the pandemic.

Published:9/18/2020 5:46:00 PM
[Markets] Daily Briefing - September 18, 2020 Daily Briefing - September 18, 2020
Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 18:10
Real Vision CEO and co-founder, Raoul Pal, is joined by senior editor, Ash Bennington, to look forward to the future of markets as well as Real Vision. After they evaluate how the market interpreted the Fed’s latest FOMC meeting, Raoul broadens the conversation beyond equities to make sense of the flatness in bond yields and credit spreads. Raoul and Ash then discuss the upcoming two-week exploration on Real Vision, “Has Everything Changed,” as well as discuss how Real Vision’s new platform, “The Exchange,” is allowing Real Vision members to connect with each other and form a “hive mind.” In the intro, Jack reviews market price action and gives a sneak peak of “Has Everything Changed.”
Published:9/18/2020 5:14:04 PM
[Markets] 5 Best Stocks in the Dow This Week The top five best-performing stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average over the past week included Walgreens, 3M and Unitedhealth among others. Published:9/18/2020 4:43:57 PM
[Markets] Therese Poletti's Tech Tales: IPO like it’s 1999: Snowflake and other software stocks pop as market nears dot-com-boom levels As the importance of cloud software has grown in the global pandemic, cloud-software companies have become the most stark example of initial public offerings reaching dot-com-boom levels — and beyond.
Published:9/18/2020 4:43:57 PM
[Markets] A Textbook Case Of Treason A Textbook Case Of Treason Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 17:40

Authored by Mike Whitney,

A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself.”

Marcus Tullius Cicero

The Transition Integrity Project (TIP) is a shadowy group of government, military and media elites who have concocted a plan to spread mayhem and disinformation following the November 3 presidential elections.

The strategy takes advantage of the presumed delay in determining the winner of the upcoming election, (due to the deluge of mail-in votes.) The interim period is expected to intensify partisan warfare creating the perfect environment for disseminating propaganda and inciting street violence. The leaders of TIP believe that a mass mobilization will help them to achieve what Russiagate could not, that is, the removal Donald Trump via an illicit coup conjured up by behind-the-scenes powerbrokers and their Democrat allies. Here’s a little more background from an article by Chris Farrell at the Gatestone Institute:

“In one of the greatest public disinformation campaigns in American history — the Left and their NeverTrumper allies (under the nom de guerre: “Transition Integrity Project”) released a 22-page report in August 2020 “war gaming” four election crisis scenarios:….The outcome of each TIP scenario results in street violence and political impasse.

Is it possible that the leadership of the American Left, along with their NeverTrumper allies, are busy talking themselves into advocating and promoting street violence as a response to a presidential election?

The answer is: Yes…. expect violence in the aftermath of the election, because now that is the new ‘normal.”

- (“How to Steal an Election”, Gatestone Institute)

Farrell is right. As we can see from the many articles that have recently popped up in the media, the American people are being prepared for a contested election that will fuel public anxiety and revolt. This all fits with the overall strategy of the TIP. Selected journalists will be used to provide bits of information that serve the interests of the group while the people will be told to expect a long and drawn-out constitutional crisis. Meanwhile, the media, the Democrat leadership, trusted elites and elements in the Intelligence Community will put pressure on Trump to step down while firing up their political base to take to the streets. TIP’s 22-page manifesto makes it clear that mass mobilization will be key to any electoral victory. Here’s an excerpt from the text:

“A show of numbers in the streets-and actions in the streets-may be decisive factors in determining what the public perceives as a just and legitimate outcome.” 

- (“Preventing a Disrupted Presidential Election and Transition” The Transition Integrity Project)

In other words, the authors fully support demonstrations and political upheaval to achieve their goal of removing Trump. Clearly, this scorched earth approach did not originate with Joe Biden, but with the cynical and bloodthirsty puppetmasters who operate behind the curtain and who will do anything to advance their agenda.

This is a full-blown color revolution authored and supported by the same oligarchs and deep-state honchoes that have opposed Trump from the very beginning. They’re not going to back down or call off the dogs until the job is done and Trump is gone. And when the dust settles, Trump will likely be charged, tried, sentenced and imprisoned. His fortune will be seized, his family will be financially ruined, and his closest advisors and allies will be prosecuted on fabricated charges. There’s not going to be a “graceful transition” of power if Trump loses. He will face the full wrath of the scheming mandarins he has frustrated for the last 4 years. These are the men who applauded when Saddam and Ghaddafi were savagely butchered. Will Trump face the same fate as them?

Trump has less than two months to rally his supporters, draw attention to the conspiracy that has is presently underway, and figure out a way to defend himself against the coup plotters. If he is unable to derail the impending junta, his goose is cooked.

It’s worth noting, that the Transition Integrity Project (TIP) has no legal authority to meddle in the upcoming election. They were not appointed by any congressional committee nor did any government entity approve their intrusive activities. This is entirely a “lone wolf” operation designed to exploit loopholes in campaign laws in order to undermine public confidence in our elections and to express their unbridled hostility towards Donald Trump. That said, there analysis will probably influence those who share their views. In the first page of their “Executive Summary” they say:

“We assess with a high degree of likelihood that November’s elections will be marked by a chaotic legal and political landscape. We also assess that the President Trump is likely to contest the result by both legal and extra-legal means, in an attempt to hold onto power.” 

- (Ibid)

This short statement provides the basic justification for the group’s existence. It presents the participants as impartial observers performing their civic duty by objectively analyzing exercises (war games?) that indicate that Trump will challenge the election results in a desperate attempt to hold on to power. Not surprisingly, the group provides no evidence that the president would react the way they think he would. In fact, their hypothesis seems extremely far-fetched given the fact that Trump has no militia, no private army, and very few allies among the political class, the Intelligence Community, the FBI, the military or the deep state. Who exactly does the group think would help Trump hold on to power: Bill Barr, Larry Kudlow, Melania??

There is nothing “impartial” about this analysis. It is partisan gibberish aimed at discrediting Trump while creating a pretext for launching a coup against him. Here is another sample of TIP’s “objective analysis” from page 1 of the manuscript:

“The Transition Integrity Project (TIP) was launched in late 2019 out of concern that the Trump Administration may seek to manipulate, ignore, undermine or disrupt the 2020 presidential election and transition process. TIP takes no position on how Americans should cast their votes, or on the likely winner of the upcoming election; either major party candidate could prevail at the polls in November without resorting to “dirty tricks.” However, the administration of President Donald Trump has steadily undermined core norms of democracy and the rule of law and embraced numerous corrupt and authoritarian practices. This presents a profound challenge for those –from either party –who are committed to ensuring free and fair elections, peaceful transitions of power, and stable administrative continuity in the United States.” 

- (Ibid)

Got that? In other words (to paraphrase) “Trump is a corrupt dictator who hates democracy and the rule of law, but that is just our unbiased opinion. Please, don’t let that influence your vote. We just want to make sure the election goes smoothly.”

As we noted, the hatred for Trump permeates the entire 22-page document and that, in turn, undermines the credibility of the author to portray his project as an impartial examination of potential problems in the upcoming election. There is nothing evenhanded in the approach to these issues or in the remedies that are recommended. This is a partisan project concocted by malicious elites who despise Trump and who plan to remove him from office by hook or crook.

So, do we know who the leaders of this (TIP) group are?

Well, we know who their two main spokesmen are: Rosa Brooks– Georgetown law professor and co-founder of the Transition Integrity Project, and Ret. Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Government and Public Policy at the College of William & Mary, and chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell. According to an article by Whitney Webb:

(Rosa) Brooks… was an advisor to the Pentagon and the Hillary Clinton-led State Department during the Obama administration. She was also previously the general counsel to the President of the Open Society Institute, part of the Open Society Foundations (OSF), a controversial organization funded by billionaire George Soros. Zoe Hudson, who is TIP’s director, is also a former top figure at OSF, serving as senior policy analyst and liaison between the foundations and the U.S. government for 11 years.

OSF ties to the TIP are a red flag for a number of reasons, namely due to the fact that OSF and other Soros-funded organizations played a critical role in fomenting so-called “color revolutions” to overthrow non-aligned governments, particularly during the Obama administration. Examples of OSF’s ties to these manufactured “revolutions” include Ukraine in 2014 and the “Arab Spring”…..

In addition to her ties to the Obama administration and OSF, Brooks is currently a scholar at West Point’s Modern War Institute, where she focuses on “the relationship between the military and domestic policing” and also Georgetown’s Innovative Policing Program. She is a currently a key player in the documented OSF-led push to “capitalize” off of legitimate calls for police reform to justify the creation of a federalized police force under the guise of defunding and/or eliminating local police departments.Brooks’ interest in the “blurring line” between military and police is notable given her past advocacy of a military coup to remove Trump from office and the TIP’s subsequent conclusion that the military “may” have to step in if Trump manages to win the 2020 election, per the group’s “war games” described above.

Brooks is also a senior fellow at the think tank New America. New America’s mission statement notes that the organization is focused on “honestly confronting the challenges caused by rapid technological and social change, and seizing the opportunities those changes create.” It is largely funded by Silicon Valley billionaires, including Bill Gates (Microsoft), Eric Schmidt (Google), Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn), Jeffrey Skoll and Pierre Omidyar (eBay). In addition, it has received millions directly from the U.S. State Department to research “ranking digital rights.” Notably, of these funders, Reid Hoffman was caught “meddling” in the most recent Democratic primary to undercut Bernie Sanders’ candidacy during the Iowa caucus and while others, such as Eric Schmidt and Pierre Omidyar, are known for their cozy ties to the Clinton family and even ties to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.”

- (““Bipartisan” Washington Insiders Reveal Their Plan for Chaos if Trump Wins the Election“, Unlimited Hangout)

Is it safe to say that Rosa Brooks is a Soros stooge overseeing a color revolution in the United States aimed at toppling Trump and replacing him with a dementia-addled, meat-puppet named Joe Biden?

Political analyst Paul Craig Roberts seems to think so. Here’s what he said in a recent post at his website:

“I have provided evidence that the military/security complex, using the media and the Democrats, intends to turn the November election into a color revolution… The evidence of a color revolution in the works is abundantly supplied by CNN, MSNBC, New York Times, NPR, Washington Post and numerous Internet sites funded by the CIA and the foundations and corporations through which it operates.. … All of these media organizations are establishing the story in the mind of Americans that Trump will not leave office when he loses or steals the election and must be driven out.

…With Antifa and Black Lives Matter now experienced in violent protests, they will be unleashed anew on American cities when there is news of a Trump election victory. The media will explain the violence as necessary to free us from a tyrant and egg on the violence, as will the Democrat Party. The CIA will be certain that the violence is well funded….

… What is a reelected President Trump going to do when the Secret Service refuses to repel Antifa and Black Lives Matter when they breach White House Security? …

American Democracy is on the verge of being ended for all times, and the world media will herald the event as the successful overthrowing of a tyrant.” (“America’s Color Revolution”Paul Craig Roberts)

Another of the leading spokesmen for TIP is Retired Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson who made this revealing statement in a recent interview:

“Let me just say some of the things that we’re putting out there. Among those things, one that is very important is the media, particularly the mainstream media. They cannot act as they usually act with regard to elections. They have to play a coup on election night. They can’t be declaring some state like Pennsylvania for one candidate or the other. When Pennsylvania probably has thousands upon thousands of votes yet to come in and count. So, the media has to get its act in order and it has to act very differently than it normally does.”

(NOTE: In other words, Wilkerson does not want the media to follow the normal protocols for covering an election, but to adjust their reporting to accommodate the aims of the coup-plotters. Does that sound like someone who is committed to evenhanded coverage of events, or someone who wants reporters to shape the news to meet the specifications of his own particular agenda? Here’s more from Wilkerson:)

“Second, ….we also have learned that poll workers have to be younger. And we’ve started a movement all across the country to train young people. And we’ve had really good luck with the volunteers to do so, to be poll workers. Because we found out in Wisconsin, for example, poll workers are mostly over 60. And many of them didn’t show up because they were afraid of COVID-19. And so Wisconsin went from about one 188 polling places, to about 15. That’s disastrous.” (“This ‘War Game’ Maps out what happens if the President contests the Election”WBUR)

Why is Wilkerson so encouraged by the young people he’s trained to act as poll workers? Doesn’t that sound a bit fishy, especially from a dyed-in-the-wool partisan who’s mixed up with a group whose sole aim is to beat Trump? And why are the authors of the TIP manifesto so eager to reveal their true intentions. Take a look:

“There will likely not be an “election night” this year; unprecedented numbers of voters are expected to use mail-in ballots, which will almost certainly delay the certified result for days or weeks. A delay provides a window for campaigns, the media, and others to cast doubt on the integrity of the process and for escalating tensions between competing camps. As a legal matter, a candidate unwilling to concede can contest the election into January.…..”

- (Ibid)

So, that’s the GamePlan, eh? The coup plotters want a contested election that drags on for weeks, deepens divisions among the population, undermines confidence in the electoral system, instigates ferocious street fighting in cities across the country, and gives the Biden camp time to mobilize its political resources in Congress to mount a Constitutional attack on Trump.

Can we at least call this treachery by its proper name: Treason - “the crime of betraying one’s country by trying to overthrow the government?”

If the shoe fits...

Published:9/18/2020 4:43:57 PM
[Markets] Stocks End Lower as Tech Slides in Volatile Trading Stocks finish sharply lower amid signs of a patchy U.S. recovery and as global coronavirus infections have begun surging again. Published:9/18/2020 4:17:47 PM
[Markets] South Dakota: America's Sweden South Dakota: America's Sweden Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 17:00

Authored by Amelia Janaskie via The American Institute for Economic Research,

Most people know South Dakota for the distinguished faces carved onto the side of the Black Hills mountain. Mount Rushmore reminds us of four American leaders who instilled values of freedom and hope in this country. 

These values are under attack in our tumultuous coronavirus days. Lockdowns have assaulted core values that we believed were sacrosanct: property rights, in the right to run a business; freedom of association and movement, in the right to travel, gather, work, consume, have fun, and so on. In short, the right to pursue happiness. 

Under the leadership of South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, however, the Great Plains state has effected a fortress of liberty and hope protected from the grasps of overbearing politicians. And interestingly enough, South Dakota policies echo many of the same values and approaches as Sweden, and both have uncoincidentally experienced positive outcomes.

Recently, Governor Noem has been subjected to media lashings over an incredulous report regarding the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota, alleging that it is connected to 266,000 Covid cases. Despite pushback, Noem continues to protect the individual freedoms of South Dakotans against the speculative study, calling it “fiction” owing to faulty assumptions, data, and questionable academic modeling approaches.

Noem has rejected the familiar draconian Covid-19 mandates seen in places like California and the UK in favor of a mostly hands-off approach. 

In a similar sense, Sweden’s state epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, supported a relaxed Covid response with the country never going into lockdown despite strong pressure to do so from the European Union. While the Swedish Constitution bars politicians from intervening, expert agencies instead take charge of providing the public with noninvasive recommendations.

The coronavirus response in South Dakota and Sweden have been consistently noninterventionist in nature, leaving individual trust and common sense to direct citizens’ choices.

At the start of the pandemic, Governor Noem requested some initial restrictions, such as closing schools on March 16 while still allowing in-person check-ins for small groups. Noem also previously encouraged remote working and social distancing and recommended businesses to limit indoor capacity to 10 people when social distancing was not feasible (as recommended by the CDC). In so doing, the Governor was deferring to the prevailing policy ethos. It must have made her uncomfortable given her own commitment to freedom as a first principle. 

She withdrew the initial recommendations in April in order to “[put] the power in the hands of the people, where it belongs” in prioritization of liberty.

Early on, South Dakota introduced a compulsory stay-at-home plan for those aged 65+ in two counties with high case numbers, which was rescinded May 11. Still, she never mandated stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders, masks, or imposed bans on church gatherings, daycares, business openings, or travel.

Sweden, like South Dakota, made suggestions for precautionary measures, such as working from home and social distancing when necessary. Sweden banned gatherings of more than 50 people, temporarily closed secondary education and universities, and prohibited visitors from nursing homes. Otherwise, trust was placed on individuals to make prudent decisions in slowing the spread of the virus. 

Tegnell explains how trust and transparency have played a role in Sweden’s response:

“Having sort of a conversation with the public, putting a lot of trust in the public and giving a little responsibility to the individuals, which is exactly what our communicable disease laws are telling us to do. And by following the pattern. Doing this, we could keep the number of cases down, and we could keep our health services working.”

Similarly, South Dakotans relied on trust and open information; Noem states:

“Now my approach to this virus was to provide South Dakotans with all the information that I could and then trust them to exercise their freedom to make the best decision for themselves and for their families.”

Noem avoided imposing aggressive restrictions, deferring to citizens to use common sense: practicing good hygiene and social distancing when necessary. She is keeping schools open throughout the fall based on the need to support young people’s educational and social needs and the low risk associated with their contracting Covid. A shocking 30% of all SD children never logged online to participate in remote learning in the spring of 2020. This statistic, coupled with the questionable effectiveness of online learning, makes a return to the classroom all the more urgent.

Noem also believes that masks do not need to be required for children, but is permitting local jurisdictions to make their own decisions in that regard. She is concerned that masks will create more issues for children:

“They’re constantly touching [the mask], taking it off, dropping it on the floor. Those all increase rates of infection, and it is certainly not an environment that is going to help them stay safe.”

On a similar note, Sweden has not enforced public mask use due to the lack of evidence supporting its effectiveness and other issues presented by widespread mask wearing. Both Tegnell and Noem believe that a side effect of widespread, mandatory masking is obscuring epidemiological problems: fostering the idea that there are easy solutions, which in turn foments further issues. 

Tegnell reasons:

“We are worried (and we get at least tales from other countries) that people put on masks and then they believe they can go around in society being close to each other, even going around in society being sick. And that, in our view, would definitely produce higher spread than we have right now.”

Governor Noem echoes that sentiment:

    “People should have the freedom to wear masks if it makes them feel safe, but the science on masks is very mixed.”

Despite their generally laissez-faire responses to the novel coronavirus pandemic, South Dakota and Sweden have observed low infection and death rates relative to their neighboring states and countries, respectively. Although there has been an upward tick in the number of cases, deaths still remain low, and both economies are performing well. Stockholm is additionally alleged to be one of the first places in the world to have achieved herd immunity.

South Dakota and Sweden have realized economic benefits by defending individual liberty. 

As more economic and financial data emerge, the economic triumphs of both South Dakota and Sweden are becoming evident. While we cannot draw definitive conclusions at this point, even now it is fairly clear that states that imposed stringent mandates are comparatively facing greater economic hardships than those which did not. 

Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

In its first quarter, the Bureau of Economic Analysis found that South Dakota’s GDP shrunk by the second smallest amount compared to other states, by only 2.2%. This percentage is lower than the US first-quarter GDP drop of 5% and the second quarter, which fell deeper by an estimated 32.9%. Sweden, even after announcing there would be no full lockdown, experienced a Q1 GDP increase of 0.1%

Sweden’s GDP growth for the year ended 2020 has been projected to be between -5.3% to -7.8% depending on the source. Yet, these forecasts are less concerning than those for other countries with stricter Covid restrictions. The US GDP is projected to shrink by about 7.3 to 8.5% and the UK by a disheartening 11 to 14%. Between April and June, Sweden’s economy contracted by 8.6%, which is still below the European Union’s 11.6%, Spain’s 18.5%, and France’s 13.8%.

Employment

South Dakota’s labor market has also rebounded and its unemployment rate has consistently remained below the national average. Job openings are up by 4.7% since SD’s pre-pandemic peak in job openings on March 19. According to the Minneapolis Fed, South Dakota also had the fewest low-income job losses of any state in its region.

South Dakota’s unemployment rate reached its height in April at 10.9% but has lowered since to 6% in July. Although Sweden’s unemployment rate appears to be on an upward trajectory with its highest point being just above 9%, the Nordic country and Great Plains state do not come close to the US unemployment rate peak of 14.7% or California’s at 16.4%, both having much higher stringencies than Sweden and South Dakota.

Tourism

While other states are experiencing significant declines in tourism, South Dakota faced the third lowest decline in domestic bookings behind Montana and Wyoming. Governor Noem acknowledged South Dakota’s achievement, commenting that city life is not perfect, inviting people from around the world to visit South Dakota.

Despite South Dakota’s low population density, South Dakotans have mitigated the Covid-19 spread and seen positive economic outcomes. States with stricter pandemic restrictions, on the other hand, are experiencing slower (if any) economic recoveries.

The table below compares eight states with varying stringency indexes and aims to show the different metrics that may be correlated with state stringency. The stringency index demonstrates states’ levels of severity in response to Covid-19 on a scale of 0 to 100 with 100 being the most severe. 

The indexes below represent each state at its highest stringency point.

Unlike South Dakota, states including Washington, Oregon, Maine, New York, California, and Idaho chose to implement many Covid restriction policies including statewide stay-at-home orders and mandatory indoor masking, yet nevertheless have experienced higher case and death counts per capita. Although it would be fair to say that South Dakota has low figures because of its low population density, other states with low population densities – Oregon, Maine, and Idaho for example – are experiencing worse economic outcomes.

Oregon and Idaho have seen almost twice the amount of Covid-19 cases, more than twice the amount of deaths, and higher death rates compared to South Dakota. Oregon’s Q1 GDP decreased by 4.4% and Idaho’s by 4.1% (compared to South Dakota’s 2.2% decrease). 

Agriculture is the top industry for Oregon and South Dakota. South Dakota’s agricultural industry saw a 0.67% increase in Q1, whereas Oregon’s decreased by 0.13% and Idaho’s by -0.57%. The stock prices of Oregon’s three top companies—Intel, Nike, and Columbia Sportswear—have plummeted as well.

Although Maine has maintained a low infection rate, the state’s economy is suffering with a Q1 2020 GDP decline of -6.30% and a slightly higher unemployment rate of 6.50% (compared to South Dakota’s 6.30%).

Month-over-month unemployment rates differ between states as well. Oregon’s unemployment peaked in April at 14.9%, which is higher than both the United States’ peak of 14.7% in April 2020 and South Dakota’s of 10.9%. While Idaho is an outlier in maintaining a generally low unemployment rate, more stringent states are experiencing greater rates of unemployment. 

Iowa, which was also never locked down, shows an unemployment rate that is low; close to South Dakota’s. California, at the higher end of the stringency index (75) with indefinite lockdowns imposed on an economy the size of France’s, suffered an unemployment rate topping 16.4%.

The table above illustrates another relevant point. Although only 0.7% of Oregon’s population has been sick with coronavirus, the damage to GDP and high unemployment may over time outweigh their relative Covid-19 mitigation. South Dakota and Iowa, with slightly higher infection rates, are seeing more robust economic outcomes and fewer social effects.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the accommodation and food services and the arts, entertainment, and recreation industries all suffered greatly in Q1 2020. The table below also suggests a link between higher stringency policies and consequent decreases in industry GDPs.

Encouraging the gathering and dissemination of local information, in order to facilitate personal risk assessments – all the while encouraging the truly vulnerable to protect themselves – is producing better economic and social outcomes: in South Dakota as compared to other US states, and in Sweden among nations.

Public officials at the local, state, and national levels frequently fail to realize that policies require making tradeoffs: not least of which when instituting disease mitigation measures. This has been profoundly illustrated during the course of the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. The perceived lockdowns have incurred tremendous economic and social costs which, it is increasingly clear, are outweighing and will over time continue to outweigh their purported benefits. Among those difficult to see and long-term costs: widespread, substandard educational outcomes; parents and extended families sacrificing work and consumption to care for children; long-term unemployment and underemployment; the irrevocable destruction of capital and know-how; rising divorce rates; child and spousal abuse; addiction (alcohol and drug abuse), and increases in the rate of suicide.

South Dakotans and Swedes, nevertheless, have understood – even if not completely, but better than nearly anywhere else – that the costs of stringent coronavirus policies are immense compared to the benefits. All states but seven issued stay-at-home orders in some capacity, and the US is bearing the costs associated with them. The BEA currently estimates that US Q2 2020 GDP fell by a staggering 32.9%.

Now more than ever, Americans need to follow and cite the examples set by both South Dakota at home and Sweden abroad: examples steeped in our founding traditions of liberty, trust, and common sense.

Published:9/18/2020 4:17:47 PM
[Markets] "We House-Arrested Some Folks!" "We House-Arrested Some Folks!" Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 16:20

Authored by Tom Luongo via Gold, Goats, 'n Guns blog,

Being a vandal and a politician, but I repeat myself, means having zero shame.

Case in point the leadership of the City of Nashville. They were caught red-handed suppressing the data of COVID-19 transmissions to support their draconian business closure edicts.

And yet they still persist in demanding citizens commit economic hari kiri and cover their faces to keep them from losing theirs.

Having first implemented contact tracing measures of dubious legality and then finding out that bars and restaurants were not major vectors of virus transmission the Mayor’s Office chose to keep this information from the public, according to a report from local FOX 17 news.

This is yet another example of a Democrat Mayor in a major U.S. city acting suspiciously during a public health situation which has turned our entire society upside down.

And it is not hard to believe that it was done for purely political purposes.

Mayor Bill DeBlasio in New York City still doesn’t want the city to return to any semblance of normalcy because he’s still hoping that the second wave of COVID-19 will sweep through, like the Angel of Death during Passover, and smite all the non-believers into oblivion, or at least scare them enough not to vote for Donald Trump.

It is truly sickening to watch this pathetic psycho-drama play out and it means there should be criminal charges filed against cities and states which caused material harm to millions of Americans during this sad period of U.S. history.

Trump the Second doesn’t go far enough in his condemnation of this behavior. It isn’t just jobs and/or businesses. Those jobs and businesses represent significant portions of people’s lives.

Property isn’t just some artificial construct of the patriarchy it is truly a physical manifestation of a person’s past decisions with his most precious natural resource… time.

And the Mayor’s office of Nashville decided to value that time and effort of countless people as worth nothing in the face of his political needs to oust Donald Trump from power.

Criminal charges for the Mayor and his staff is a bare minimum for this. Then the civil suits to bankrupt him and his staff to make the barest minimum of restitution.

This story broke at the same time that Attorney General, William Barr put these lock downs in their proper legal and historical context. Barr understands just what was done here and is willing to say what needs to be said.

Barr’s point isn’t just valid it is the only reasonable way to look at the willful destruction of millions of lives by government edict. Like it or not slavery was a feature of the time it was practiced in the U.S.

It’s still practiced today in parts of the world, FYI. But all we can do here in the U.S. is screech incoherently about rectifying a past through some adolescent purity test.

But, slavery is also fundamentally alive in the misbegotten ideas behind the social contract which states that the society has a claim against another man’s labor that isn’t accounted for in his previously-engaged economic transactions.

It is patent nonsense promulgated through neo-Keynesian economists and neo-Marxists who argue government’s role is to account for unpaid externalities of the free market.

What they fail to mention is that it is government itself which creates those unpaid externalities by writing rules which allow actors — be they corporations, city governments or individuals — to be exempt from the harm they cause and socializing the costs.

It is this fundamental tautology that under-girds the entire edifice of the Progressive’s obsession with taxes. Moreover, by creating these centralized systems of regulation they remove the free market’s ability to accurately price any of these so-called unpaid externalities in the first place.

This is why, in the end, every government intervention into the free market eventually necessitates a even greater one in the future to fix the mess created by the previous one.

No other institution of modern society is more indicative of this than the government’s police forces. And it is for this reason that I’m happy to have the conversation about reforming and re-imagining our policing practices here in the U.S.

Not the least of which reason is that it gives shameless vandals like Bill DeBlasio untold power to inflict mindless tyranny on a citizenry he openly despises.

Slavery is an abhorrent institution. No man should have to live under the boot heel of another. It doesn’t all of a sudden become the height of morality because 50.001% of a population showed up at a particular time to pick a person to decide on who holds society’s shackles.

Now, Bill Barr is no raging libertarian or anything but he is fundamentally right when he says that locking down entire populations, putting them effectively under house arrest is wrong. It’s not for the government to decide how much risk you can or should take in any situation like this.

And Barr holding up this end of the argument is frankly refreshing, because while there may have been truly terrifying consequences had COVID-19 turned out to be close to as deadly as advertised, the long-term costs for those who survive it are immeasurable and, frankly, unacceptable in any way if we are to still consider ourselves a free and liberal society.

And it’s clear from the hysterics over his comments that his political opponents are more than happy to throw that freedom under the bus to achieve their political goals, i.e. ousting him and President Trump from power.

Having destroyed a lot of the connective tissue of the U.S. economy and society the vandals in charge of this operation continue their shameless pursuit of leveraging their unpriced externalities to the limit to exercise their power.

It is everywhere we look today and it’s why I continue to tell people that the only way out of this is through it, to continue looking for inflection points in the Culture War that are resonant and keep stocking up on those things you can control and which only you are responsible for.

And you wonder why this blog is called Gold Goats ‘n Guns?

*  *  *

Join my Patreon if you know what it truly is to be a slave and want to free your mind. Install the Brave Browser to throw off the shackles of Google’s evil.

Published:9/18/2020 3:44:27 PM
[Markets] The Fed: Fed’s Kashkari decries ‘absurd’ U.S. financial system that needs bailout every 10 years Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari on Friday called for meaningful banking and financial system reform.
Published:9/18/2020 3:44:27 PM
[Markets] Stocks Suffer Longest-Losing Streak In Over A Year As Dollar Dump Continues Stocks Suffer Longest-Losing Streak In Over A Year As Dollar Dump Continues Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 16:00

Stocks are down for the 3rd week in a row - yeah we know!!! - leaving levered-call-buying RH'ers facing something they likely haven't seen in their trading careers (this is the longest losing streak since August 2019)...

The Dow ended the week almost perfectly unchanged.

This leaves The Dow down over 3% YTD and the S&P 500 up just over 2% YTD...

Source: Bloomberg

Is it time for The Fed to start "getting back to work" on their balance sheet now that rates are impotent...

Source: Bloomberg

All that 'work' and "you get nothing"...

The Nasdaq 100 is down over 12% from record highs (so much for BTFD)...

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed below their 40DMAs. Small Caps managed to bounce off the 50DMA (after breaking below) and The Dow bounced perfectly off it...

FANG Stocks plunged to their lowest since late July (down 17% from the highs)...

Source: Bloomberg

Very choppy week in quant-factor land with Value and momentum swapping places day after day...

Source: Bloomberg

Notably, Quad Witch sparked some shenanigans in the vol-stock complex today...

Source: Bloomberg

And the Gamma pivoted around 270 Strike for Nasdaq QQQ...

Despite equity weakness, Treasury yields rose very modestly on the week...

Source: Bloomberg

The Dollar Index fell this week, after two weeks of gains...

Source: Bloomberg

Cryptos were largely higher on the week (Litecoin lower), led by Bitcoin

Source: Bloomberg

Bitcoin was, however, unable to hold on to $11k...

Source: Bloomberg

Oil dominated commodity-land with copper also higher and PMs marginally so...

Source: Bloomberg

Gold remains increasingly range bound...

And a big reversal in WTI (back above $41)...

Ags had a huge week as Corn, Soybeans soared on China chatter...

Source: Bloomberg

Finally, 1930 called again...

Source: Bloomberg

Published:9/18/2020 3:13:24 PM
[Markets] Dow ends down over 200 points Friday, capping weekly losses for Wall Street Dow ends down over 200 points Friday, capping weekly losses for Wall Street Published:9/18/2020 3:13:24 PM
[Markets] Bitcoin & The Tragedy Of Monopolized Fiat Money Bitcoin & The Tragedy Of Monopolized Fiat Money Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 15:35

Authored by Jeffrey Wernick, op-ed via CoinTelegraph.com,

Why the government should make a monetary transition to Bitcoin, and the problems that cryptocurrency would help solve, such as preemptive war and national debt.

image courtesy of CoinTelegraph

As an anarcho-capitalist, I hold that property rights are sacred and that violence is acceptable only when our natural rights, as embedded and enshrined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, are under a direct and imminent threat, and only in self-defense. I might be the first anarchist, anarcho-capitalist, or minarchist you’ve ever met. Those labels may sound scary to some — that’s fine.

Democrats and Republicans call each other scary names all the time, too. But all my labels mean is that I believe in a monetary system that presumes freedom more consistently than that which is advocated by a typical Libertarian. I identify as such due to a moral judgment I made, one that I arrived at after observing the results of our country’s fiat paper money, odious debt and central banking system. After analyzing these with reference to foundational concepts and principles of economics, I think others will see the generally accepted alternative of Democrat socialism vs. Republican capitalism as I do.

Since it is no longer backed by a valuable commodity such as gold, our currency is subject to manipulation and valuation based on the level of “trust” in its value. That, in large part, means trust in government. But upon what record of honesty and integrity do you trust the government? Most people who have witnessed government mismanagement and corruption of all matters — big and small — are rightfully skeptical. But they do not often view the money in their wallet with the same degree of skepticism. And that’s a mistake.

A lack of skepticism about fiat money

Two recently published studies produced by Brown University estimate the cost of the War on Terror since Sept. 11, 2001 at $6.4 trillion and more than 800,000 lives, half of which were civilians. Adding indirect deaths as a consequence of the war, the number of lives lost climbs to 3.1 million. If they knew these numbers at the time of deciding to go to war, would Congress and the American people still have believed our actions would produce the most cost-effective results, worthy of that human sacrifice? Surely not. We were all manipulated, during a time when our emotions were prepotent and information was scarce, we were pressured by patriotism, and we believed our fiat paper currency could help us afford it. We were wrong.

Hard money regimes are abandoned in wartime, because the debasement of money is a prerequisite of most wars. An honest currency system backed by Bitcoin (BTC) or gold would require Americans to explicitly consent and confirm their willingness to pay for military aggression, as well as all other routine functions of government and the private sector.

An honest currency demands that, when we go to war, we have skin in the game. It’s a small sacrifice to write an IOU for other people’s money, but people more carefully reflect upon the cost and benefits of a purchase when they see their budget shrink in real time.

Bitcoin functions as a reserve currency, denationalized and therefore detached from government manipulation. When it first emerged during the 2008 global financial crisis, banks did not trust each other’s balance sheets and would not lend to each other, which exposed the fragility of markets for traditional fiat currency. If our markets were not manipulated by the central bank, the time preference of money would not be perverted, and our preferences for consumption today vs. saving for tomorrow would be reflected in interest rates.

Prior to the creation of the Federal Reserve, the government did not spend much as a portion of gross domestic product, and private savings rates were high. People invested, bought real estate and deposited money in the bank, accumulating wealth through the power of compound interest. Inflation and interest were under control. However, since 1971, we have abandoned all sense of market discipline and substituted central bank discretion in its place. And fiscal policy, no longer encumbered by its tie to a supply of physical gold, became more interventionist: Governments borrowed more, companies borrowed more. As a result, we all owed more, because all debt eventually flows down to the individual. We may not feel it, but we pay it.

What economists say about money

John Exter, ex-vice-president of the New York Federal Reserve, wrote in 1971:

“Today no money in the world fully performs all three services. National currencies are being used as means-of-payment and standard-of-value money, but none in this inflationary age is an assured store-of-value money. [...] Commodities like gold and silver, which are being used as store-of-value money, are not being used as either means-of-payment or standard-of-value money.”

Other economists agree. Adam Smith, the father of the modern political economy, said:

“All money is a matter of belief.”

When he was a congressman of Nebraska, Howard Buffett, father of Warren Buffet, argued that “paper money systems have always wound up with collapse and economic chaos.” Further, a recent Bank for International Settlements report concluded that the unprecedented growth in central banks’ balance sheets has had an adverse impact on the functioning of capital markets.

In other words: Financial markets are dysfunctional, they no longer price risk appropriately, and they pervert the allocation of capital. They exacerbate inequality and, at the same time, make us all poorer.

Why use Bitcoin?

If all Americans had used Bitcoin in 2001, we would have had to consent to taxation in order to fund the war-on-terror, therefore immediately feeling the impact of that decision. On the flipside, the value of savings would also be realized, allowing us to better appreciate the effect of adopting a sensible energy policy along with a more efficient allocation of other resources. Prices would again function as a representation of our individual preferences rather than government promises.

Most importantly, using Bitcoin forces us to weigh the options of war and welfare. Using the figures stated above, for example, we would have had to decide if it was worth spending $800,000 per person killed.

With respect to debt manipulation, note that not all debts are the same. Some debt lays the foundation for future returns that will exceed the cost of infrastructure. Other debts will never be repaid, referred to as odious debt.

All debt issued by the U.S. government is odious debt. According to Alexander Nahum Sack in 1927, odious debt is issued by the state to strengthen its power and repress the population. The central bank is aware, as are Wall Street banks, that the spending is profligate, especially hostile debt incurred to prosecute wars. Few believe we can grow ourselves out of this hole, and some want to roll it over into perpetuity. Many advocates of Free Lunch economics believe the State can continually issue debt without limit, because there is no limit to future cash flows collected through increased taxes.

While the debate rages on, so does the debt. And, for many people, the size of the debt no longer has any meaning. The numbers are too large to grasp. They’ve never been asked to sacrifice anything as a result of it, and they cannot imagine what their quality of life would be, living in a country without it.

How can so many Democrats and Republicans believe that there is no limit to indebtedness? No limit to the growth of central banks’ balance sheets? That, somehow, increased market concentration and further concentration of economic and political power combined with very little investment and low productivity growth, will make us wealthy?

Fiat paper money exists only through the monopolistic force of the state. Paper money is dishonest, corrupt, deceitful, and is managed by a cartel. Distrust and power are its currency. The use of fiat money requires permission. It is always subject to confiscation and surrender.

Bitcoin does not allow odious debt and debt that is not explicitly agreed to. It has other attractive features as well: immutability, decentralization, privacy and scarcity; easy to divide and easy to transfer; there’s no need for an intermediary, no need for permission; no one can debase it and no authority controls it; and lastly, the ledger does not lie.

I believe we are in the early stages of forming a new social consensus — a trust revolution. It will be a global one, independent of geography, religion, nationality, culture, ethnicity or gender.

Denationalized money like Bitcoin is an investment in social consciousness. It fosters voluntary trade, it forces the market to celebrate wins and acknowledge losses, and brings more individual control over how we assign prices to the things we value — including our very lives.

Published:9/18/2020 2:44:45 PM
[Markets] How the Trump administration ban on TikTok could create a security problem for users The same order is blocking downloads of WeChat, owned by Tencent Holdings, also based in China.
Published:9/18/2020 2:44:45 PM
[Markets] Facebook Sued In Federal Court For "Spying" On Instagram Users Through Camera  Facebook Sued In Federal Court For "Spying" On Instagram Users Through Camera  Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 14:50

In August, Facebook was accused of illegally harvesting the biometric data of users from its photo-sharing app Instagram. Now the social media giant is being sued again, this time for spying on Instagram users through their smartphone cameras, reported Bloomberg.

The new lawsuit, filed Thursday (Sept. 17) in federal court in San Francisco by Instagram user Brittany Condi, claims Facebook gained access to Instagram users' smartphone cameras without their permission. She alleges Facebook spied on users to collect "lucrative and valuable data on its users that it would not otherwise have access to."

By "obtaining extremely private and intimate personal data on their users, including in the privacy of their own homes," Instagram and Facebook collected "valuable insights and market research," the complaint said. 

The suit follows media reports from July when a "bug" in Instagram's code led users to believe the app was turning on their cameras without permission.  Some users, according to The Independent's story in July, said they noticed a green indicator (seen below) at the top of their iPhone's Control Panel that showed the camera was activated. Users believed Instagram had been spying on them. 

Instagram was quick to debunk the spying, indicating it was merely an error: 

"We only access your camera when you tell us to — for example, when you swipe from Feed to Camera. We found and are fixing a bug in iOS 14 Beta that mistakenly indicates that some people are using the camera when they aren't," a spokesperson told The Verge in mid-July. 

"We do not access your camera in those instances, and no content is recorded."

In another suit, in August, Facebook was accused of using facial-recognition technology to collect biometric data of users. Facebook has denied the accusations. 

And what is Facebook really up to? Is Facebook really harvesting biometric data and spying on users? 

We pointed out as early as December 2017 that Facebook could be using users' phones and microphones to spy on users.

And in 2018, the creep factor with Facebook increased, as they wanted to spy on people by hiding inaudible messages in TV ads.

Stay tuned. The pending lawsuits against Facebook could provide valuable insight into what social media companies are really doing with users' private data... 

Published:9/18/2020 2:13:05 PM
[Markets] Hold on tight as we enter the last hour of trading on a quadruple witching day Hold on tight as we enter the last hour of trading on a quadruple witching day Published:9/18/2020 2:13:05 PM
[Markets] Earnings Outlook: Nike earnings preview: Orders canceled and retail partnerships cut but Nike is a ‘winner,’ analysts say Analysts say demand is high for Nike merchandise, which bodes well for fiscal year 2021.
Published:9/18/2020 2:13:05 PM
[Markets] Here's what the Trump administration's ban on TikTok will mean for you Here's what the Trump administration's ban on TikTok will mean for you Published:9/18/2020 1:42:50 PM
[Markets] Goldman Made $100 Million Trading Tesla Options, Converts In Recent Months Goldman Made $100 Million Trading Tesla Options, Converts In Recent Months Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 14:30

Over the past 6 months, special attention has been paid to Tesla and - more specifically - euphoric call-buying in the name that undoubtedly helped propel a gamma squeeze that has seen Tesla's equity scorch higher since the beginning of the year (something we discussed first in May in "Are Mysterious Call Option Purchases Forcing Tesla Stock Higher?").

Weeks ago we learned that Softbank was helping along the broader market rally with a strategy of buying OTM call spreads in a handful of high beta tech stocks - a strategy that netted Softbank upwards of $4 billion.

Goldman CEO DJ-Sol

Now it appears as though Goldman Sachs may be cashing in on a similar strategy.

According to IFR Reuters, the investment bank made about $100 million trading Tesla alone over the last several months. The bank was engaged in trades that included "stock options, providing financing secured against Tesla’s shares, and buying and selling its convertible bonds," according to Bloomberg.

Goldman's equity trading desk doesn't deal with retail investors. But the sizeable revenues it raked in show how the investment bank's traders still managed to profit from these extraordinary market moves, in part through using derivatives to position for an upswing in Tesla shares, sources said.

In addition to making buck in Tesla calls, the vampire squid also made it rain buying and selling Tesla converts (which have a face value of over US$4bn), whose prices climbed sharply this summer as the company's shares rocketed. Goldman bankers also made money providing financing secured against shares in the company, or as it is also known, "corporate equity derivatives deals" involving Tesla. That is an umbrella term for a range of transactions – including margin loans, or lending money against a company's shares – which usually involve providing financing against large equity stakes, IFR reported.

The action from Softbank acted as a "tailwind" for the company - and ultimately for Goldman, as well - as option missiles fired across the tech sector helped the broader market rise before the NASDAQ dropped about 12% from highs earlier this month. 

According to the report, in a time when single stock option volumes exploded 3x in the second quarter compared to the same period last year, the surge in Tesla option volumes was even more remarkable - $1.45 trillion in July, up more than 10x from $124 billion in July of last year. Amazon was the "second largest beneficiary" of the options trading, Reuters notes, seeing activity rise from $632 billion to $1.48 trillion over the same period. 

These imbalances occurred over the summer, where volume is notoriously low in equity markets. In simple terms, as best as we can understand: major financial institutions seem to be undertaking equity manipulation via the relfexivity of options market (where the tail literally wags the dog) as an actual trading strategy now.

Call us old fashioned, but whatever happened to the good old days of banks simply trading on material non-public information?

Published:9/18/2020 1:42:50 PM
[Markets] In One Chart: Wall Street home loans aren’t looking great in this crisis Delinquencies on home loans made by Wall Street lenders to borrowers with spotty credit aren't performing so well during the pandemic.
Published:9/18/2020 1:42:50 PM
[Markets] Wall Street Losses Accelerate as Tech Slides in Volatile Trading Stocks fall sharply amid signs of a patchy U.S. recovery and as global coronavirus infections have begun surging again. Published:9/18/2020 1:13:06 PM
[Markets] Massive Sell Program Slams S&P500 Below 3300 Massive Sell Program Slams S&P500 Below 3300 Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 13:59

Just as were bringing readers a warning from BMO technician Russ Visch that a drop below 3,310 in the S&P would breach the mid-September support and open a door for a retest of 3,233...

... a massive selling program hit at exactly 1:30pm, which sent the NYSE TICK index (number of securities trading on an uptick less trading on a downtick) to session lows of -1,713...

... which together with yesterday's morning wholesale dump which saw the TICK open the puke-like -1,897, was the biggest program selling going all the way back to the mid-June dump.

Curiously, just moments before the sell program hit, the VIX - which had been trading rangebound all day despite the market weakness in yet another quirk of quad-witching - spiked, potentially triggering the sharp cross-asset selloff and while bonds remain unchanged even the dollar is starting to move (higher).

The 1:30pm sell program was notable because coming on the already twitchy quad-witching day, it pushed the S&P below 3,300 - almost as if that was the intention - with the EMini suddenly dumping 20 points in bidless action before the S&P future recovered around 3,280, the lowest level since early August.

And so with 3,300 now in the rearview mirror, the onus is now on the Robinhood BTFD crew to show that they can prop up the market in a time when the Fed's dedication to the bullish cause is suddenly in question.

Published:9/18/2020 1:13:06 PM
[Markets] Why are older workers staying on the job longer? The answer isn't what you think Why are older workers staying on the job longer? The answer isn't what you think Published:9/18/2020 12:43:05 PM
[Markets] "We Are Headed For The Worst Of The Worst" Week For Markets "We Are Headed For The Worst Of The Worst" Week For Markets Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 13:35

Earlier today we laid out the views of Nomura's Charlie McElligott who discussed why 270 in the QQQs is the "line in the sand" for dealers, as a drop below this "trigger" level could open a trapdoor for markets leading to "things getting sloppy to the downside into next week."

BMO's Russ Visch picks up on the theme of imminent market weakness, and on Friday morning writes that "we are in the worst calendar month of the year for equities both here and in the U.S. and it’s not even close. In addition, the week following the September quadruple witching has also been one of the most consistently negative weeks of the year with the S&P 500 closing lower nearly 80% of the time over the past 30 years."

So, as he puts it, "we’re headed right into the worst of the worst, so to speak."

Looking at a chart, this means that to expect more downside "since momentum gauges remain mostly negative" and should the S&P close below the mid-September low at 3310, that would open the door for a test of next support at 3233:

Similarly for the Nasdaq, should support at 10,850 fail (as it has already done today), a drop to 9,838 is possible:

But before BMO's clients freak out and dump everything, Visch has some soothing words: the pain won't last, and the market's trend in the medium-term remains up: 

The reality is that so far, the correction that’s been underway since the beginning of September has played in the manner we’ve expected. It’s driven largely by the wildly overextended mega-cap growth names which are having an outsized impact on the major averages (SPX: - 6.43%, Nasdaq -9.64%) while the vast majority of stocks are holding up just fine. (Russell 2000 -3.32%, NYSE Composite -2.64%.)

In essence, Visch concludes, "the market is letting some “steam” out of the areas that need it the most." And while he would still allow for more weakness in line with seasonal headwinds that stretch out into October, "so far nothing about this pullback has us concerned about the broader, bullish backdrop."

 

Published:9/18/2020 12:43:05 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Sinks as Analyst Warns on Apple and Microsoft Valuations; Home Depot Stock Slumps on Slowdown Fears Apple and Microsoft stocks are historically expensive, and Home Depot's epic sales growth may not last. Published:9/18/2020 12:43:05 PM
[Markets] Tesla Wins Lawsuit Against Former Employee And Whistleblower Martin Tripp Tesla Wins Lawsuit Against Former Employee And Whistleblower Martin Tripp Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 13:00

Tesla has won a court case against whistleblower Martin Tripp, who was fired from the company for hacking company data and transferring it to third parties. 

Tripp was a former Tesla process engineering technician who claimed that Musk had defamed him after he revealed problems at the company's Gigafactory and filed a whistleblower complaint with the SEC.

Tesla filed suit against former employee Tripp in 2018, alleging that he had admitted to writing software that hacked Tesla's vehicle operating system, according to Reuters. Tripp then transferred several gigabytes of data to third parties and made false claims to the media, Tesla alleged. 

Tripp had also sued Musk for defamation - but U.S. District Judge Miranda Du rejected Tripp’s arguments and granted Tesla's motion to dismiss, according to Bloomberg. Tripp had failed to establish actual malice on the part of Elon Musk, the court said. The court also said that Tesla could not hold Tripp responsible for drops in the company's stock price. 

The U.S. district court of Nevada also said it will grant Tesla's motions to seal the case “because compelling reasons support them, and they are unopposed.”

The court denied Tripp's motion for leave to file an additional reply. 

Published:9/18/2020 12:12:39 PM
[Markets] Coronavirus update: Global case tally tops 30 million, and controversial CDC testing guideline changes were reportedly not made by CDC scientists The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 rose above 30 million on Friday, and the death toll rose above 946,000, with the U.S. death toll edging closer to 200,000, or almost a fifth of the global tally.
Published:9/18/2020 12:12:39 PM
[Markets] Coronavirus update: Test-policy shift alleged to have been 'dropped' on CDC site Coronavirus update: Test-policy shift alleged to have been 'dropped' on CDC site Published:9/18/2020 11:42:33 AM
[Markets] Stocks Drop To Session Lows After Pelosi Says She Is Sticking To $2.2 Trillion In Stimulus Bill Demand Stocks Drop To Session Lows After Pelosi Says She Is Sticking To $2.2 Trillion In Stimulus Bill Demand Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 12:25

A 4th fiscal deal remains far off according to Nancy Pelosi who spoke on Bloomberg TV and said that she is sticking to her demand for at least $2.2 trillion in the next covid relief bill, clarifying that "state and local" is critical and adding that "something is not necessarily better than nothing" on aid, an argument which both millions of people and markets may have an argument with.

And speaking of the latter, stocks legged lower, and after staging a modest rebound in the past hour, dropped back under the 50DMA and to session lows following Pelosi's comments, while QQQs continuing to slide below the 270 critical level.

Some other headlines from the interview:

  • *PELOSI SAYS STIMULUS NEEDS ARE ONLY GROWING AMID PANDEMIC
  • *PELOSI SAYS WORKING OUT DETAILS ON STOPGAP FUNDING BILL
  • *PELOSI: HOPE TO HAVE STOPGAP TODAY, BRING TO FLOOR NEXT WEEK

As a reminder, two days ago Trump made it clear that the White House is now willing to settle at the $1.5 trillion package which was introduced by the Problem Solver caucas, urging Senate republicans to raise their $500BN skinny deal, although Larry Kudlow yesterday said GOPs have sought to cap aid package at $1 trillion. The reason: republicans believe more stimulus would bail out poorly run democratic states, and the delta between the latest GOP bid of $1.5 trillion and the Democratic ask of $2.2 trillion - which would go to fund various states - remains a key sticking point.

In short, the US remains far from any imminent fourth stimulus deal, something which Goldman noted earlier when it said that "the prospects for further fiscal stimulus have dimmed further, as another week has gone by without any progress. At this point, a major stimulus package before the election looks like a long shot and we expect Congress to leave at the end of September without extending the extra unemployment insurance payment, approving another round of stimulus payments, or providing additional support to small businesses or state and local governments."

As a result of this downbeat admission that it was wrong - again - Goldman conceds that the 9adverse) outcome of the fiscal debate is likely to mean (downward) changes to its forecast for Q4:

Our current forecast assumes a $1 trillion package, including partial extension of the extra unemployment benefit and additional PPP loans. Failure to pass any additional fiscal measures would likely lead us to downgrade our growth estimates for Q4. By contrast, enactment of the sort of package that President Trump or Speaker Pelosi have both endorsed would likely lead us to upgrade our view for Q4.

That said, Goldman concludes that "there is still a fairly good chance for additional stimulus, eventually." The catalyst: "If Democrats win the White House and both chambers of Congress, we expect them to pass a large fiscal stimulus package, similar to the $2.2 trillion proposal Speaker Pelosi has endorsed, as one of the first orders of business in 2021. This would be in addition to Vice President Biden’s longer-term fiscal expansion plans. Some additional fiscal relief would also be possible under divided government, though the magnitude would likely be much smaller."

In short, while a stimulus bill may be delayed - at least until the election - it is only a matter of time before it passes, with the final bill likely to be far greater than the $2.2 trillion some have tentatively priced in, just as Charlie McElligott noted earlier today.

Published:9/18/2020 11:42:33 AM
[Markets] Stock Markets Head Lower -- Is "Quadruple Witching" to Blame? The stock market has started to show signs of rising concern in September, with investors no longer seeing major benchmarks moving straight up. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC) fell 22 points to 3,335, and the Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX: ^IXIC) lost 94 points to 10,816. Today, for instance, market participants are referring to something called "quadruple witching" as having a possible impact on stocks. Published:9/18/2020 11:42:33 AM
[Markets] : How long will the Silicon Valley employees who can’t work from home keep getting paid? Cafeteria workers, janitors, security guards and shuttle drivers have mostly avoided layoffs as tech firms continue to push back their return to campuses, but that is starting to change
Published:9/18/2020 11:12:40 AM
[Markets] Feds Launch Probe Into Princeton "Based On Its Admitted Racism" Feds Launch Probe Into Princeton "Based On Its Admitted Racism" Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 12:10

Authored by Jezzamine Wolk via Campus Reform,

The Department of Education has launched an investigation into Princeton University following a controversial open letter from University President Christopher Eisgruber claiming racism is “embedded” in the institution.

According to a letter obtained by the Washington Examiner, the admission “raises concerns” about possible violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

It states that "no person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." The authenticity of the letter was confirmed by a Department of Education spokesperson to Campus Reform.

Meanwhile, Princeton has received tens of millions of dollars in federal funding.  The main point of contention is if the university, in accordance with receiving federal funds, lied in its promise to not uphold racist standards.

"Based on its admitted racism, the U.S. Department of Education ('Department') is concerned Princeton’s nondiscrimination and equal opportunity assurances in its Program Participation Agreements from at least 2013 to the present may have been false," the letter read.

"The Department is further concerned Princeton perhaps knew, or should have known, these assurances were false at the time they were made.”

The Department of Education sent a formal records request to pursue this investigation. The department is seeking what evidence the university used to determine it is racist, all records in relation to the President’s letter, and a spreadsheet identifying those subjected to discrimination. In addition, under oath, the president and a designated representative will sit for interviews and the school must respond to written questioning.

The president’s letter with plans to “combat systemic racism” was in response to a July letter from hundreds of faculty members demanding he take anti-racist action.

However, his words were met by criticism by other faculty members. 

Campus Reformreported that one Mathematics professor, Sergiu Klainerman, stated in a Newsweekop-ed, “Princeton is not in the least racist.”

Campus Reform reached out to Princeton University for a statement but did not hear back in time for publication.

Published:9/18/2020 11:12:40 AM
[Markets] Dow Trades Lower, S&P 500 Declines for a Third Day Stocks trade lower amid signs of a patchy U.S. recovery and as global coronavirus infections have begun surging again. Published:9/18/2020 10:42:20 AM
[Markets] Kashkari Explains Why He Dissented Against The FOMC's Decision Kashkari Explains Why He Dissented Against The FOMC's Decision Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 11:37

While the latest FOMC announcement on Wednesday was generally in line with expectations (even as the market strongly hints that it could have been far stronger in terms of supporting risk assets) there was one notable surprise in that not one but two FOMC voters dissented. This is what we said at the time:

Feeling the urge to explain himself further, Kashkari earlier today published a blog titled "Why I Dissented", in which he admits he "would have preferred the Committee make a stronger commitment to not raising rates until we were certain to have achieved our dual mandate objectives."

In other words, the Fed - which is buying $120BN in securities each month, including corporate bonds and ETFs and has rates pegged at zero until at least 2023 - wasn't dovish enough.

To justify his uber-dovish bias, in the first part of the essay Kashakri provides a rehash of the Fed's admission that the Phillips curve has been broken for years. Discussing the broken linkage between "maximum employment" and the inflation it was supposed to spur, Kashkari first reviews what he learned from the recent tightening cycle that began in 2015, and writes that "that policy tightening was predicated on the Committee’s view that the labor market was reaching maximum employment and therefore inflation was around the corner. When I first became an FOMC voter, I dissented against all three of the Committee’s rate hikes in 2017 because, as I wrote then: “We are still coming up short on our inflation target, and the job market continues to strengthen, suggesting that slack remains.”  Recently, Governor Brainard commented: “had the changes to monetary policy goals and strategy we made in the new [monetary policy strategy] been in place several years ago, it is likely that accommodation would have been withdrawn later, and the gains [to the labor market] would have been greater.”  We misread the labor market and, as a result, the tightening cycle that we embarked upon was not optimal to achieving our dual mandate goals of maximum employment and stable prices."

He then notes that "in recent years, we have repeatedly believed we were at or beyond maximum employment only to be surprised when many more Americans reentered the labor market or chose not to leave, increasing the productive capacity of the economy without causing high inflation. To me, maximum employment is the point at which the labor market is just tight enough to deliver 2 percent inflation in equilibrium. If we were to push the labor market harder, we would end up with inflation greater than 2 percent. By this definition, even in January 2020, we had not yet reached maximum employment."

Of course, regular readers will know what the issue is here: it was back in... oh 2010, or a decade ago, when we first noted that as a result of America's transformation into a part-time worker society, corporations had learned to get away with paying the absolute minimum as well as avoiding full time hiring in order to maximize profits. This meant that even as employment hit the so-called "maximum", wages failed to keep up. Yet the Fed - which targets 2% inflation for the purely optical purpose of "ensuring" rising wages as it serves as the "budget constraint" to maximum employment - failed to grasp this simple fact, and kept insisting that ever lower unemployment rates - which were the result of record hiring in minimum and low paid jobs such as the record surge in waiters and bartenders under the Obama administration - would eventually lead to higher wages and, hence, inflation.

That never happened. So in his next discussion of why the Fed "consistently made this error", Kashkari writes that:

"First, we heard repeatedly from businesses who complained that they couldn’t find workers. Some said we had a “historic worker shortage.” At the same time, wages were only rising modestly. I learned that businesses want qualified workers at wages they are used to paying. If they can’t readily find workers at historical wage levels, then they declare a worker shortage. The fact that wages weren’t climbing more quickly helped me to see through their complaints and realize that there was likely still slack in the labor market.

Well that's truly insightful - after years of reading Fed beige books in which the recurring lament was a shortage of qualified workers, yet an unwillingness by employers to raise wages and find qualified workers - something finally clicked in the Fed's collective head, and it may have had to do with the fact that despite "maximum employment" there were 100 million people not in the labor force who gladly would jump right back into the labor force (courtesy of the Fed's crusade to destroy savers with ZIRP and soon NIRP), and who persistently kept wages low on the margin.

In other words, it only took Kashkari (and the Fed) 10 years to catch up to what we said in 2010.

Kashkari then gets to the crux of the issue, and in highlighting the FOMC's new "outcome-based" forward guidance...

“The Committee expects it will be appropriate to maintain this target range until labor market conditions have reached levels consistent with the Committee’s assessments of maximum employment and inflation has risen to 2 percent and is on track to moderately exceed 2 percent for some time.”

... he writes that while he supports the adoption of outcome-based forward guidance "as an important step forward for the Committee’s approach to setting monetary policy" his preference "would have been for this new forward guidance to be stronger."

Specifically, this new language still relies on the Committee to assess whether we are at maximum employment and whether inflation is expected to climb. As I just reviewed, those are difficult judgments to make in real time. For example, what would have happened had the FOMC adopted this forward guidance in 2012, when it first adopted its 2 percent inflation target? Inflation briefly crossed 2 percent in January 2017 before falling back down. Given that we believed at the time we were at or beyond maximum employment, this new forward guidance would likely have deferred liftoff from December 2015 to January 2017, a little more than one year later. While that would have been an improvement over what the Committee actually did, we still would have been lifting off based on a misreading of the labor market and a false signal that underlying inflation had really returned to target. Hence, we still may not have achieved our dual mandate goals of maximum employment and 2 percent inflation.

This reminds us of what we wrote at the end of August, when referring to a speech by Fed vice chair Richard Clarida who made the same point, we said that the Fed's 2015-2018 tightening cycle may have cost Hillary Clinton the election, something the Fed is clearly disappointed about (and as ex-NY Fed president Bill Dudley scandalously mused last year, the "apolitical" Fed may well have to spark a major market selloff to get rid of Trump; indeed still has 6 weeks to make good on this plan).

So what does Kashkari propose? Why delaying tightening until the Fed succeeds in doing something it has failed to do for the past decade: wait until there is a "sustained" increase in inflation above 2% - arguably as a result of rising wages - before hiking, to wit:

In June 2019, I proposed forward guidance that I continue to believe would better assist the FOMC in achieving its dual mandate goals. Specifically, I propose the following: “The Committee expects to maintain this target range until core inflation has reached 2 percent on a sustained basis.” By eliminating both the direct reference to our assessment of maximum employment and any forecast of inflation climbing, this proposed language guards against the risk of underestimating slack in the labor market. We would only lift off once we had demonstrated that we really were at maximum employment, because core inflation would have had to actually hit or exceed 2 percent on a sustained basis in order to lift off. Policymakers will have a range of opinions about what constitutes a sustained basis, but for me in this environment, it means roughly a year.

In short, capitalizing on the Fed's recent transition to an Average Inflation Targeting framework, Kashkari is doubling down as the de facto AIT voice at the Fed, and arguing that no hikes should take place until "average" inflation is sustainable above 2%. Of course, as we noted a few weeks ago, Bank of America calculated that for that to happen and for the AIT regime to offset years of inflation misses, the Fed would have to be at ZIRP for, drumroll, 42 years!

Which of course is perfectly find with Kashkari.

So "What might go wrong?" as the Minneapolis president muses in the conclusion to his essay, and "under what scenario might the Committee regret adopting the forward guidance I propose?"

As he explains, "if inflationary pressures are building, we might have to raise rates to keep inflation expectations anchored at 2 percent. Once core inflation crosses 2 percent on a sustained basis, my proposal allows the Committee to do exactly that. This scenario should not be a concern. We heard in the last expansion that there might be nonlinearities in the inflation process — that once inflation started climbing, it might accelerate, requiring a very strong policy response to control it. At the time, I called such theories ghost stories, because there was no evidence they were true but they also couldn’t be ruled out. I believe that characterization is still appropriate today. The FOMC has powerful tools to combat high inflation but only limited tools to combat low inflation. Persistent low inflation is posing challenges to advanced economies around the world. If this new forward guidance helped to generate higher inflation that the FOMC then had to respond to by raising rates, I think we would consider that a high-class problem."

Right, just ask Paul Volcker his "easy" it was to combat runaway inflation with the Fed's "powerful tools" - while several generations of Americans were not even born yet, the stagflation of the 1970s and early 1980s remains a most horrid memory. It is precisely this stagflation that the Fed wants to - and will - unleash on the US with its average inflation targeting, even without adopting Kashkari's even more dovish framework.

Furthermore, there was one scenario that "might go wrong" that Kashakri conveniently decided to ignore: the Fed sparking an even bigger asset bubble than the one we have now. As a reminder, while the Fed has indeed failed to spark higher wages and promote benign inflation in the "real economy", it has been tremendously successful in creating runaway asset inflation as the following Goldman chart shows.

Keeping rates at zero for years (or decades) only assures that what is already the world's biggest asset bubble will only get bigger. Which for a trickle-downer former banker such as Kashkari is what it's all about, and explains why it never even crossed his mind that such a scenario is among the alternative of "what might be wrong."

In any case, while Kashkari entire rationalization is just a strawman to keep rates at zero (or lower) in perpetuity merely to prop up risk assets and stock prices (never forget that Kashakri is first and foremost a Wall Street proxy at the Fed, having worked at both Goldman and Pimco before inexplicably taking over the Minneapolis Fed), he did need some economic justification to make his uber-dovish position felt, especially since the next administration - whether a continuation of Trump or Biden - will need the biggest dove it can find to monetize deficits that will make this year's record $3 trillion seems like amateur hour.

Consider Kashakri's "dissent explanation" his informal application for the role of Fed Chair under the 46th president of the United States.  

Published:9/18/2020 10:42:20 AM
[Markets] Need to Know: Stock markets have now seen the ‘peak of Fed stimulus’ unless these two things happen Investors were left disappointed by the Federal Reserve’s action - or lack of - late Wednesday as the central bank failed to indicate any new stimulus.
Published:9/18/2020 10:42:20 AM
[Markets] Moderna Says COVID-19 Vaccine Won't Be Widely Available Until 2021 As US Deaths Near 200,000: Live Updates Moderna Says COVID-19 Vaccine Won't Be Widely Available Until 2021 As US Deaths Near 200,000: Live Updates Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 11:07

Eight months after the coronavirus infected the first person on US soil, America is heading toward a morbid new milestone: the number of deaths attributed to the coronavirus is on track to pass 200,000 as soon as Monday.

With a total of 197,696 deaths, the US could cross the threshold on Sunday if deaths spike over the weekend. If the pace of deaths slows, however, more time will likely be needed.

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed cases in the US is nearing 6.75 million, with 6,677,516 cases in total. The US reported more than 44,000 cases yesterday, a sign that numbers are climbing again as more students head back to classrooms, and more states - including Texas and Hawaii - unveil plans for more reopenings of gyms and restaurants.

Globally, the world officially passed the 30 million mark, as we noted yesterday.

A surge of new cases in India has pushed the global daily figures back above 300,000.

While global deaths are on the cusp of topping 950k, with 5,456 counted yesterday.

After releasing a tome-like report yesterday outlining the protocols for the company's 'Phase 3' trials of a COVID-19 vaccine, Moderna on Friday revealed that the company expects to have between 500 million and 1 billion vaccine doses manufactured by the end of next year, but only 20 million by the end of 2020.

President Trump earlier this week insisted that a coronavirus vaccine will be widely available within 'weeks', even as the head of the CDC said that while data and approval might come later this week, most Americans won't have access to a vaccine until the middle of next year.

With the UK reporting more than 3k new COVID-19 cases a day, the highest rate since HMG finished reopening the country, Boris Johnson is reportedly weighing a plan to impose short-term nationwide restrictions across England, what he is tentatively calling a "circuit breaker".

The UK's reproduction "R" number, a measure of the rate of spread, found that the rate of new infections in the country has risen to a range of 1.1-1.4 from last week's figure of 1.0-1.2.

"An R number between 1.1 and 1.4 means that on average every 10 people infected will infect between 11 and 14 other people," a government report read.

The temporary closures would help create "a breathing space" in the battle against coronavirus, government sources have reportedly said.

Meanwhile, London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Friday announced the cancellation of the city's New Year's fireworks during an interview with LBC radio. He also admitted that another 'localized lockdown' targeting London is a possibility that is under discussion.

As London mulls what would be its second lockdown, Israel's second lockdown began on Friday, Israel entered its second lockdown, inspired by a surge in new cases in the small Mediterranean country.

While the Netherlands recorded a new 24-hour record of cases, the French city of Nice imposed new restrictions, including reviving a ban on gatherings with more than 10 people.

Published:9/18/2020 10:11:37 AM
[Markets] Weekend Sip: Try this vermouth for your next ‘quarantini’ Noilly Prat, a French favorite, is back in style
Published:9/18/2020 10:11:37 AM
[Markets] Minneapolis Fed's Kashkari labels runaway-inflation warnings 'ghost stories' Minneapolis Fed's Kashkari labels runaway-inflation warnings 'ghost stories' Published:9/18/2020 9:42:06 AM
[Markets] Metals Stocks: Gold futures climb, headed for a second weekly gain Gold futures rise Friday, headed for a second weekly gain in a row, even as prices failed to score a big boost from Federal Reserve policy that signals a lower-for-longer path for interest rates for the next three to four years.
Published:9/18/2020 9:42:06 AM
[Markets] China Buzzes Taiwan With Unusually Large Show Of Force Involving 18 Aircraft China Buzzes Taiwan With Unusually Large Show Of Force Involving 18 Aircraft Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 10:35

Another top American official is on a three day visit to Taiwan, and China has made its anger known by once again buzzing the island with fighter jets. But this time it was an almost unprecedented show of air power in recent times.

Just a day after US Undersecretary for Economic Affairs Keith Krach arrived in Taipei for talks on Thursday, China sent what it called a “necessary response” in the form of an usually large group of 18 jets flying near the island.

Taiwan confirmed it was 18 fighters, which defense officials said was far more than prior such encounters, in response to which Taiwan scrambled its own fighters.

The defense ministry described in an English statement: “September 18, two H-6 bombers, eight J-16 fighters, four J-10 fighters and four J-11 fighters crossed the midline of the TaiwanStrait and entered Taiwan’s southwest ADIZ.” And further: “ROCAF scrambled fighters, and deployed air defense missile system to monitor the activities.”

From a prior February encounter involving a Chinese H-6 bomber in Taiwan's airspace, via AFP.

China's defense ministry described of the latest provocative action over the island it claims as it's own:

“They are a reasonable, necessary action aimed at the current situation in the Taiwan Strait and protecting national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

In response, Taiwan said it loaded some of its F-16 fighters with missiles to be ready for possible escalation.

US Undersecretary for Economic Affairs Krach is the most senior US official who has visited the island in decades. But Beijing is apparently attempting to lay down a 'red line' over fears Washington may be readying an even more visible top US delegation diplomatic trip.

Hu Xijin of China's state-run Global Times wrote of the scenario, “If the US secretary of state or defense secretary visits Taiwan, People’s Liberation Army fighters should fly over Taiwan island, and directly exercise in the skies above it.”

Published:9/18/2020 9:42:06 AM
[Markets] U.S. stocks mixed as final session of choppy week gets underway U.S. stocks mixed as final session of choppy week gets underway Published:9/18/2020 9:11:44 AM
[Markets] Quad-Witch Trigger: "Staggering Gamma Collapse" Opens Market Trapdoor If QQQ Slides Below 270 Quad-Witch Trigger: "Staggering Gamma Collapse" Opens Market Trapdoor If QQQ Slides Below 270 Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 09:54

The relentless gamma meltup of late August, early September is now ancient history, and following today's "quad witch" expiration, Nomura's Charlie McElligott writes that the "Nasdaq is open to a MUCH larger trading range coming-out" following what he calls a "staggering collapse" in dealer gamma, with 63% running off and now totaling a negative -$564.5mm, which is not only the lowest since late 2018 when the market suffered its first mini bear market of the post crisis period, but is also just a 2.3 percentile since 2014...

... while dealer Delta is -$15.5B, just 2.8%ile since 2014...

And unlike just two weeks ago, when spot was solidly in positive gamma territory, dealers are now near the extremes of "short gamma" territory vs spot, with QQQ spot at $272...

... far below the "gamma neutral" line at $281.64.

To McElligott, this matters "because the QQQ $270 strike probably needs to and probably will be well-defended today by market-makers short this monster in size", but if selling persists and the $270 "trigger" in QQQs is taken out, that's when "things could get sloppy to the downside into next week."

Away from the Nasdaq, the Nomura cross-asset strategist believes that the S&P seems "safe" as it is currently pinning around the “gamma neutral” level of ~3380 (3360 spot ref).

A few more observations as we head into this key for market volatility day, first looking at factors, where McElligott notes that the last few days look pretty "gross-down-ish" which he views as "rational" in the risk-management sense, as books trade through VaR limits in light of the recent vol events and need to be reduced. This is important because what on the surface may look like "Value over Growth" rotation "is really about the mechanical realities of reducing partial of your longs and covering a portion of your shorts."

Meanwhile, in volatility, Charlie recently discussed the disconnect and dysfunction in the vol space imminently prior to the crash and noted that "smart guys were taking-advantage of the rich implieds in the Tech bellwether single-names and began to short vol again because the demand drivers were blown out of the market, thus effectively putting on “buy the dip” market expressions thereafter, and those vols have since been SMASHED."

Looking at vol now, the Nomura strategist says that it now seams reasonable again to look at going long some vol/gamma/owning optionality into pending risk event catalysts (the election, trade deal, vaccine and earnings), especially since Dealers are increasingly unable to go sizeably short gamma or vega into that wall of “risk events” and as they look to protect themselves from a risk-management PNL perspective.

Next, picking up on the recent discussion of vol control funds, McElligott notes that the switch he anticipated from Vol Control moving from the 3m- to 1m- realized as their allocation input has been a critical shift in flows, "as we removed what had been a source of almost daily latent buying to one that has now turned a local incremental “seller” with -$18.3B over the past 2w since the vol shock event."

As a result, Nomura we would anticipate a sell in almost every circumstance: only a flat 0% return would see a small “buy” (+$0.3B), while -2% is a sale of -$5.4B and +2% is a sale as well (-$5.1B).

Finally, Charlie mentions increasing market chatter "among a handful of clients that contrary to the rapid shift in consensus that a new stimulus (4.0) deal would not happen before the election, "could be caught flat-footed, with a few folks believing that this year’s election “October Surprise” might not be vaccine-related (as speculated by some), but instead, potentially about a stimulus “deal” getting done by mid/late Oct as a potential monster pain-trade catalyst for a “pro-cyclical” risk-ON and bear-steepening/reflation catalyst" into what is already a powerful year-end seasonal going forward. And since so many have now given up hope of this possibility, the market implications could be profound.

Published:9/18/2020 9:11:43 AM
[Markets] Stocks Fluctuate With Wall Street on Pace for Weekly Gain Stocks trade mostly lower amid signs of a patchy U.S. recovery and as global coronavirus infections have begun surging again. Published:9/18/2020 9:11:43 AM
[Markets] Fed’s Kashkari says warnings of uncontrollable inflation are just ‘ghost stories’ Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari said Friday that warnings of higher inflation are just “ghost stories.”
Published:9/18/2020 9:11:43 AM
[Markets] Institutional Demand Will Drive Gold Ever Higher, Von Greyerz Warns "Central Banks Are Panicking" Institutional Demand Will Drive Gold Ever Higher, Von Greyerz Warns "Central Banks Are Panicking" Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 09:34

Authored by Egon von Greyerz via GoldSwitzerland.com,

Embrace uncertainty has long been one of my personal mottos. Because from this moment on, everything is uncertain whether it is your personal health, the stock market or the economy. Sure, we work with probabilities and the most likely is that the sun will rise tomorrow again and that I won’t die today. But we are now at a point in history when trend extrapolation is going to be not only precarious but also both foolish and impossible.

END OF A MAJOR CYCLE

That we are at the end of a major economic and social cycle is totally clear in my mind. But cycles don’t end overnight, if the world isn’t hit by a massive meteorite or nuclear bomb. Whether we are at the end of a 300 year cycle or a 2,000 year cycle, only future historians can tell the world. What is clear, at least to me, is that the end of this cycle started in 1971 when Nixon closed the gold window. Since then global debt has gone up exponentially and now we are in the very final stage of the cycle. This end of the end, that we are now in, was first evidenced by gold turning up at the beginning of this century.

This significant trend change in gold that started 20 years ago was a clear indicator that we are now seeing the end of the fiat money system. Even though manipulated through a corrupt paper market, gold still reveals the deceitful actions of governments and central banks. There is no better evidence than the fall of fiat in this century.

CENTRAL BANKS ARE PANICKING

Central banks are failing and they are panicking. The price of gold is telling us this. Since 2000, most major currencies are down circa 85% against gold. That is a total condemnation of the central banks and their failed experiments in creating unlimited money that has ZERO value. The fall of fiat money started in earnest in 1971 and since then all currencies have lost 97-99% of their value.

But as the table shows, only in this century, most currencies have lost more than 80%/

THE US ROAD TO PERDITION

The road to perdition for the US really started in 1913 with the creation of the Federal Reserve – a private bank set up for the benefit of private bankers under the disguise of a national bank. The Fed never had the intention of keeping the money supply and the debt under control. Instead their private agenda was always to create as much money as possible for their own benefit.

It is for that reason that the US federal debt has increased virtually every single year since 1930 when the debt was $17b. There have been 4 years with insignificant reduction of the debt (1947-8, 1956-7). But except for those four years, the US has lived above its means for 90 years. Everybody believes the Clinton administration’s rhetoric that they created major surpluses in 1998-2001. One of the objectives of governments is to mislead the people and the Clinton administration certainly succeeded with that. I haven’t met one American who is aware that there were no real surpluses in the Clinton years. Not only did they report surpluses but they were also talking about totally eliminating debt in ensuing years.

Very few people are aware that during the years 1998-2001 when the Clinton administration reported major surpluses, the actual federal debt increased every one of those years. So fake surpluses were created above the line and the actual deficits below the line were never reported. But the increase in debt revealed it all.

Not only were there no surpluses in the final Clinton years but the pipe dream of eliminating the debt didn’t just go up in smoke, but caught fire. Clinton exited with a debt of $5.7t and today it is 5x higher at $26.750t.

US DEBT DOUBLING EVERY 8 YEARS

When Trump was elected president in November 2016, I published the debt and tax revenue graph below. US debt had on average doubled every 8 years since Reagan rose to power in 1981. Thus, I made the simplistic forecast that 8 years after Trump’s victory, the debt would double from $20t to $40t and after the first 4 years the debt would be $28t. Not many believed that forecast. A $8t increase in debt in 4 years seemed totally outrageous. My forecast obviously included a severe economic downturn and this is exactly what the US is in now. Currently the debt is $26.750t and is up $3.5t since the end of March. An increase by $1.25t to at least $28t by the time the new president enters office in January 2021 seems very likely to fulfil my forecast.

As the graph above shows, tax revenue has increased 6x since 1981 whilst the debt has gone up 31x. So here we have a country that has been running a real budget deficit virtually every year since 1930 and can only increase taxes at a fraction of the rate of the deficit growth. How can anyone believe that the US economy, with the real deficit going up every year for 90 years, has a chance of survival.

GOLD IS THE GUARDIAN OF TRUTH

Yes of course the US could maybe survive for yet a few years by massive money printing, bigger deficits and exponentially higher debt. But the real problem will be the dollar. It is already down 98% since 1971 and 85% since 2000. These falls are measured in real terms which is gold of course. The US government can try to fool the people with the so-called strong dollar policy but gold stands as the guardian of the truth and reveals governments’ deceitful actions.

TOTAL DOLLAR ANNIHILATION INEVITABLE

The petrodollar and a strong military has so far prevented the dollar from total destruction in the last 50 years. Still a 98% loss of value since 1971 is as near annihilation as you can get. And the dollar has now started its final journey to ZERO. It has only got 2% to go, measured form 1971 but we must remember that the 2% means a 100% fall from now.

No one must believe that the dollar will avoid the same destiny as the Denarius in the Roman Empire between 190 and 290 AD or the French Franc’s collapse in the 1720s. There are dozens of other examples where currencies have gone to zero, like Weimar, Zimbabwe, Venezuela etc.

The demise of the petrodollar could also be accelerated by massive improvements in battery technology. The Quantum Glass Battery invented by the Nobel Prize winner John Goodenough could be revolutionary. This battery is capable of storing considerable more energy than the lithium-ion battery and can be charged in a fraction of the time. Several companies are now developing the glass battery including Panasonic, Samsung, Tesla & Albemarle. Virtually every car manufacturer in the world is now producing electric cars. As the Quantum Glass Battery comes into production, this will change the transport industry dramatically and put an end to piston engines as well as the petrodollar. It will also fatally wound the oil industry. In the US for example, 70% of all oil consumed is used for transportation. So it won’t be that long before every car, truck and bus will be battery driven.

INSTITUTIONAL GOLD BUYING

Until recently, virtually no major investor has bought gold or gold stocks in quantity. But Warren Buffett broke the ice with his $600 million investment in Barrick Gold. It didn’t take long for the next institutional gold investor to follow. The Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund recently announced that they are investing 5% of their $16b fund into gold. That means a $800 million investment in gold. The interesting question is if they are going to buy futures, an ETF like GLD or physical gold. Few institutions or advisors understand that futures or ETFs are as far from physical gold as you can get. I have discussed the dangers of investing in these instruments in many articles and most recently in my article “Buyer Beware – Gold ETF’s Like GLD Own No Gold”. Many institutional investors don’t yet understand that gold is not just an investment but it is also the ultimate form of wealth preservation. This is why it should not be held in paper form but in physical gold held outside a precarious financial system. If you hold gold futures or a gold ETF like GLD, you don’t hold physical gold but just a promise to settle in fiat money. It is similar to holding lumber futures rather than investing directly into physical forests.

The interesting point is that institutions have until now not understood gold and not known that it has been the best performing asset class in this century. The first two investments into gold this year by institutional investors are likely to be followed by a flood of funds into the gold sector. Institutions are now smelling inflation and must therefore hedge against this. The problem is that there is neither enough physical gold available nor gold and silver stocks to satisfy the coming demand.

THERE IS NOT ENOUGH PHYSICAL GOLD IN THE WORLD

The 21.7 metre cube below represents all the gold ever mined in history amounting to 197 thousand tonnes or $12 trillion in value. Out of this amount, only 21% or 43 thousand tonnes are investment gold. The rest is gold for jewellery, gold held by central banks, or for industrial use. The gold available for investment has a value of $2.6 trillion.

Total above-ground stocks (end-2019)
Total above-ground stocks (end-2019): 197,576 tonnes

  1. Jewellery: 92,947 tonnes, 47.0%

  2. Private investment: 42,619 tonnes, 21.6%

  3. Official Holdings: 33,919 tonnes, 17.2%

  4. Other: 28,090 tonnes, 14.2%

  5. Below ground reserves: 54,000 tonnes

Annual production of gold is around 3,000 tonnes ($187b) and expected to decline. As the cube above shows, the total gold reserves available underground is 54,000 tonnes which is only 27% of all gold ever mined which means that the world has reached peak gold.

FUTURE GOLD DEMAND CANNOT BE SATISFIED AT THE CURRENT PRICE

If we assume that world financial assets are $500 trillion, the total investment gold of $2.6t represents 0.5% of this amount. The Ohio Police Fund is investing 5% of its fund into gold. If 5% of world financial assets were to be invested into physical gold that would be $25 trillion which is 10x all the investment gold today. Most of his gold is of course not available and certainly not at the current price. But even if just 1% total assets went into gold, that would be $5 trillion which is 2x all the investment gold today. It would be totally impossible to acquire this amount of gold at current prices.

In my view, it is a virtually certain that institutions will be forced by trustees or their boards to inflation proof their assets by holding some gold. The figures above prove that the gold they need is not available at current prices. The only way to satisfy institutional demand will be with a much higher price. So what will happen is that an institution which decides to invest $1 billion in gold will not get it at the current price of $1,940 per ounce but instead at say 10x that price or more. So instead of getting 16 tonnes at $1,940 per ounce, the institution will receive 1.6 tonnes at $19,400 per ounce for the $1 billion invested.

The paper market in gold is likely to collapse at some point in the not too distant future. There is no possibility to deliver physical gold against the outstanding paper claims which are 100-300x times the available physical. Therefore institutions who are intending to buy gold would be extremely unwise to buy anything but physical gold in their own possession.

The combination of institutional gold buying and private buying will drive the gold price to levels that few can imagine. The $19,400 price example given above is most probably much too low, especially with the amount of money printing that the world will experience.

Gold at $1,970 today is clearly an absolute bargain.

Published:9/18/2020 8:44:53 AM
[Markets] Nasdaq opens higher as tech selloff calms Published:9/18/2020 8:44:53 AM
[Markets] Rabo: In Our K-Shaped World, Some Hum "Wannabe" While Others Air-Guitar "War Pigs" Rabo: In Our K-Shaped World, Some Hum "Wannabe" While Others Air-Guitar "War Pigs" Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 08:55

By Michael Every of Rabobank

Fifty years ago today a slice of musical genius was released unto the world. Not only does it still sound great today, it still sounds incredibly relevant. I am talking about Black Sabbath’s classic second album ‘Paranoid’, and two tracks in particular – the track of the same name, and ‘War Pigs’. The album opens with the latter, and 2020 is a year which for many reflects that initial air-raid siren over an awesome, spine-chilling guitar groan, building up to a riff that walks up to you and smacks you in the face, the intro to Ozzy’s haunting voice singing these lyrics:

Generals gathered in their masses; Just like witches at black masses; Evil minds that plot destruction; Sorcerer of death's construction

In the fields, the bodies burning; As the war machine keeps turning; Death and hatred to mankind; Poisoning their brainwashed minds

Oh lord, yeah!

And oh Lord, yeah, indeed! Then there’s ‘Paranoid’ with its own classic riff and lyrics, which many tell me presents itself as a potential theme-tune for this Daily. I think that’s a bit unfair, as I do aim to find the humour in all this as much as I can, but that aside:

Finished with my woman; 'Cause she couldn't help me with my mind; People think I'm insane; Because I am frowning all the time

All day long I think of things; But nothing seems to satisfy; Think I'll lose my mind; If I don't find something to pacify

Can you help me occupy my brain? Oh yeah

I need someone to show me; The things in life that I can't find; I can't see the things that make true happiness; I must be blind

Black Sabbath (or ‘The Sabbs’) were quintessentially English, Brummie, and working class. Their music literally came from the sounds of metal being bashed together, or in the case of lead guitarist Tommy Iommi, of it slicing one of his fingertips off entirely. In his 2010 memoir, singer Ozzy writes: “In those days, the working person’s mentality went like this. You got what little education you could, you found an apprenticeship, they gave you a **** job, and then you took pride in it even though it was a *** job. And then you did that same **** job for the rest of your life. Your **** job was everything.”

With labor markets so very much on the minds of everyone, including central banks, that seems to have as much reverb today as their guitar sound. The difference between then and now, of course, is that first you get an expensive degree in something, and then you get that job; and for too many even the above jobs aren’t for the rest of their lives: in the marvellous, magical gig economy of tech disruption and swipe-rightery, sometimes it is not even for the rest of the week.

The 1970s saw high inflation, by the way. Today doesn’t (Japanese CPI was 0.2% y/y in August and -0.4% core, for example). Want inflation? Think ‘War Pigs.’

On which note, let’s get back to other normal aspects of 2020. For example, the US stating it will imminently be enforcing secondary sanctions on anyone who violates the arms embargo on Iran. The rest of the world may say that the embargo ends in October as scheduled because the US left the Iran nuclear deal, but if they want to act on that belief then they face US wrath – or at least under current management. Or we have the US selling USD7bn of arms to Taiwan in one go, including mines, cruise missiles, and drones, and another US official visiting Taipei against a backdrop of China carrying out military exercises nearby.

Or we have Israel entering a full second lockdown for three weeks (and maybe longer), as 10m in the UK are also told they can’t go to the pubs and restaurants and offices they were actually being paid to go to just a few weeks ago. Or the BOE edging closer towards negative rates, perhaps as soon as February say the markets. Let’s hope they do a better job on the preparations for that than the government has done on its test and trace scheme.

Yet never forget many in markets are not feeling Paranoid or War Piggish at all. Indeed, as they gather in their masses for central banks in their black masses to provide masses of liquidity, they are actually more like….the Spice Girls - another brashly working-class British ‘musical’ act, who encompassed the sugary, credit-driven, globalisation and neoliberalism are great 1990s as well as The Sabbs summed up the grim, 3-day-week-and-power-cuts 1970s. Indeed, the current markets-to-central banks holler-back is more like their first single, ‘Wannabe’:

Yo, I'll tell you what I want; What I really, really want

So tell me what you want; What you really, really want

I'll tell you what I want; What I really, really want

So tell me what you want; What you really, really want;

I wanna, I wanna; I wanna, I wanna; I wanna really, really, really

Zigazig ah!

And that is basically what markets want, and basically what they then get, upwards sloping zigazig lines on screens - and as needed, because as The Girls sagely add:

If you want my future, forget my past; If you wanna get with me, better make it fast

Now don’t go wasting my precious time; Get your act together we could be just fine.

So, to summarize, in our K-shaped world some still hum ‘Wannabe’ daily, and not in any ironic way, and others are air-guitaring their way through ‘War Pigs’ to try to find a way to satisfy. Just out of interest, ‘Paranoid’ sold 10m copies back in the days when people actually bought music; the album ‘Wannabe’ was on, ‘Spice’, sold 23m copies.

We few. We lucky few.

Published:9/18/2020 8:12:26 AM
[Markets] CDC didn't write or approve changes to coronavirus testing guidelines: report CDC didn't write or approve changes to coronavirus testing guidelines: report Published:9/18/2020 8:12:26 AM
[Markets] NewsWatch: Tech bubble? Credit Suisse strategists say ‘no’ but say it’s time to get pickier with these stocks Strategists at Credit Suisse say the word "bubble" isn’t appropriate for the tech sector, but say it's time to get pickier.
Published:9/18/2020 8:12:26 AM
[Markets] U.S. Commerce Department issues order blocking WeChat, TikTok activity U.S. Commerce Department issues order blocking WeChat, TikTok activity Published:9/18/2020 7:42:53 AM
[Markets] "Powerful" Hurricane Teddy Strengthens To Cat 4 With Canada In Crosshairs; Tropical Depression 22 Forms In Gulf "Powerful" Hurricane Teddy Strengthens To Cat 4 With Canada In Crosshairs; Tropical Depression 22 Forms In Gulf Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 08:35

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is closely monitoring "powerful" Hurricane Teddy as it continues to churn in the Atlantic Ocean and could make landfall in Canada early next week. 

As of 0500 ET Friday, Teddy is generating 130 mph winds (Category 4) while moving northwest at 12 mph and located about 900 miles southeast of Bermuda. The system is expected to make landfall near Nova Scotia, Canada, as a Category 2, on Tuesday/Wednesday.

Chief meteorologist Cindy Day of SaltWire Network, a Canadian newspaper, said Teddy "would come into Canadian waters late Monday night, and we'd start to get impacted Tuesday afternoon in Nova Scotia, Wednesday in Newfoundland."

"It's still quite a distance out and a lot of things could happen between now and then. 

"It looks like it's going to intensify to a 4 maybe by the end of the afternoon (Friday), so it's a powerful system. The danger with this system is that it's not tracking over or close to land. When systems do that, the outer bands … when they start to brush up against coastline or land, it weakens the storm system. There's no land around. It's out in the mid-Atlantic and it's just churning and the sea surface temperatures are warmer than normal. So right now, there's nothing to weaken this system," said Day. 

Day said some weather models have Teddy taking a northwest turn before heading for Nova Scotia, indicating landfall could be between Yarmouth and Halifax.

"That's how I see the path unfolding, but again a little shift in the system over the Labrador Sea and the high coming in from Quebec and that could get squeezed further to the left or further to right. It looks like there's going to be some impact, but how significant and where landfall is going to be – it's a little bit too soon to say just yet." 

As Teddy churns in the Atlantic on Friday, the remnants of Hurricane Sally are moving offshore from the Southeastern/ Mid-Atlantic region. 

In another NHC update, Tropical Depression 22 could strengthen into a hurricane over the weekend with models forecasting a South Texas strike. 

Readers may recall the reason behind the super active hurricane season is La Nina.

All eyes on Hurricane Teddy and Tropical Depression 22 this weekend. 

Published:9/18/2020 7:42:53 AM
[Markets] Bond Report: U.S. Treasury yields inch lower in range bound trade U.S. Treasury yields fell slightly in early Friday trade but remain in a tight range in the wake of the Federal Reserve's policy meeting on Wednesday.
Published:9/18/2020 7:42:53 AM
[Markets] Commerce Department Plans To Block Downloads Of TikTok, WeChat In US Commerce Department Plans To Block Downloads Of TikTok, WeChat In US Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 07:46

With the White House still ratcheting up the pressure on ByteDance and China, Reuters has just confirmed American millennials' worst fears: That is, if a deal for American control of TikTok isn't completed by Sunday evening in the US, the Commerce Department will move to block any future downloads of the apps in the US, a critical step toward shutting them down in the US, as President Trump has insisted.

Moments later, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told journalists that WeChat - another Chinese app targeted in one of Trump's executive order - will be "shut down in the US" by Sept. 20 if a deal isn't struck. He also said talks between TikTok and CFIUS are "ongoing", suggesting that the deal is far from finished.

Reports from late last night suggested that Beijing would be comfortable with the TikTok-Oracle-White House deal, so long as TikTok's content-recommendation algorithm isn't transferred to the US.

With deal talks coming down to the wire, the Commerce Department is also reportedly preparing to issue an order on Friday barring anyone in the US from downloading the Chinese-owned apps - both WeChat and TikTok - starting on Sept 20, unless President Trump rescinds the order by late Sunday evening.

According to Secretary Ross, the Department of Commerce will announce prohibitions on transactions relating to both mobile applications on Friday.

"The Chinese Communist Party CCP has demonstrated the means and motives to use these apps to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and the economy of the U.S," the Department of Commerce said in a statement to the press, released just moments ago.

Though the comments also introduced more confusion, as the administration has apparently kicked the can once again, saying that TikTok will have until Nov. 12 before a total ban, giving the negotiators more space to hash out a deal.

US social media companies like Snap and Facebook rallied on the news. Notably, Reuters reported that the new directive wouldn't impact US companies interactions with these apps outside the US, a provision that American corporates doing business in China had insisted upon, since WeChat is the dominant communications platform for people inside China.

Published:9/18/2020 7:11:22 AM
[Markets] Need to Know: Tech bubble? Credit Suisse strategists say ‘no’ but say it’s time to get pickier with these stocks Strategists at Credit Suisse say the word "bubble" isn’t appropriate for the tech sector, but say it's time to get pickier.
Published:9/18/2020 7:11:22 AM
[Markets] Futures Flat Ahead Of Quad Witching Volume Surge Futures Flat Ahead Of Quad Witching Volume Surge Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 07:32

US equity futures were flat after trading in a narrow overnight range, and European and Asian markets drifted in a volume-light session ahead of Friday's traditionally volatile quad witching session, when the expiration of options and futures send volumes soaring as big derivatives positions roll over. As Bloomberg notes, "there may be more attention than usual after a month where the red-hot trade in tech stocks wavered and options activity dominated headlines" however since there are fewer expirations this time, it may mute the impact.

Tesla rose 2.1% in premarket trading after two analysts raised their price targets on the electric carmaker's shares ahead of its highly anticipated "Battery Day" event next week.

Nasdaq futures rebounded after a sharp two-day selloff in technology stocks while worries about rising coronavirus cases and the economic recovery weighed on S&P 500 and Dow futures. The S&P and Nasdaq have also come under pressure from investors rotating out of high-flying tech-related stocks and into industrial and transportation firms after Powell failed to reassure investors that more monetary stimulus was on deck. Of the 11 major S&P indexes, industrials, materials and energy have gained more than 2% so far this week, while communication and consumer discretionary posted the biggest declines.

Europe's Stoxx 600 Index was little changed after opening modestly lower, with the gauge weighed down by declines in travel and leisure shares on the threat of wider restrictions to stem the spread of coronavirus. Although activity on major gauges was modest, there were bigger moves in single-name stocks swept up in a bout of M&A.

Asian stocks gained, led by materials and IT, after falling in the last session. Most markets in the region were up, with Shanghai Composite gaining 2.1% and Japan's Topix Index rising 0.5%, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 dropped 0.3%. The Topix gained 0.5%, with Alleanza Holdings Co Ltd and Sysoft rising the most. The Shanghai Composite Index rose 2.1%, with Shuangliang Eco-Energy Systems and Qibu posting the biggest advances.

Investors remain on the lookout for more U.S. fiscal stimulus after the Federal Reserve disappointed stimulus junkies even as it indicated that interest rates will stay low for at least 3 years. Meanwhile, as Bloomberg notes, data continues to show a patchy recovery path around the world as coronavirus infections surge. France’s daily cases rose by more than 10,000 to the highest since the end of lockdown in May.

"The market is somehow uninspired following recent central bank meetings,” said Robert Greil, chief strategist at Merck Finck Privatbankiers AG. “It is waiting for the next support step, be it from their side or regarding the U.S. fiscal program to be agreed finally."

In rates, treasuries gained led by the long-end of the curve as cross-market flows emerge over Asia session, adding support. Yields were lower by up to 2bp across long-end of the curve with front-end broadly anchored, flattening 2s10s, 5s30s by 1.2bp and 0.8bp; 10-year yields around 0.672% and trading in line with bunds and gilts. The IG credit issuance slate is empty today with nearly $1.6 trillion in deal priced YTD - an all time high; nine deals brought $6.4b Thursday to push weekly volume past $40b projected.

In FX, the dollar was mixed against G10 peers and in tight ranges as traders wait for U.S. data releases amid a thin calendar and low volumes. Interbank desks look to sell dollar rallies versus the euro, the pound and the yen, Bloomberg said citing three Europe-based traders. The pound was little changed around $1.2980 as pressure from Bank of England communique fades given Brexit uncertainty remains; options-related interest in cable circa 1.2950, with sizable bidding interest just below 1.2900.

In commodities, WTI and Brent futures trimmed overnight gains and trade flat during early European hours, with little by way of fresh catalysts to induce the pullback. Still, oil is poised for its  biggest weekly advance since early June. Futures in New York are up almost 11% this week as Saudi Arabia ratchets up the pressure on OPEC+ members to adhere to the group's production cuts.

Looking at the day ahead, we’ll get the preliminary September reading of the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index, the August leading index, as well as the Q2 current account balance. In terms of central bank speakers, we’ll hear from the ECB’s de Guindos, Schnabel and Hernandez de Cos, along with the Fed’s Bullard and Bostic.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures little changed at 3,348.25
  • STOXX Europe 600 down 0.1% to 370.84
  • MXAP up 0.5% to 173.94
  • MXAPJ up 0.5% to 570.32
  • Nikkei up 0.2% to 23,360.30
  • Topix up 0.5% to 1,646.42
  • Hang Seng Index up 0.5% to 24,455.41
  • Shanghai Composite up 2.1% to 3,338.09
  • Sensex up 0.3% to 39,076.05
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.3% to 5,864.50
  • Kospi up 0.3% to 2,412.40
  • Brent futures up 0.2% to $43.39/bbl
  • German 10Y yield rose 0.3 bps to -0.488%
  • Euro up 0.04% to $1.1853
  • Italian 10Y yield fell 1.4 bps to 0.749%
  • Spanish 10Y yield rose 1.2 bps to 0.276%
  • Gold spot up 0.5% to $1,953.88
  • U.S. Dollar Index down 0.1% to 92.86

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock declined to rule out a second national lockdown and said the acceleration of coronavirus cases and hospital admissions across the U.K. represents a “big moment” for the country
  • The U.K. government said a round of informal EU trade talks this week were “useful,” as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the Financial Times she’s “convinced” a deal is possible
  • European regulators are moving closer to lifting a de-facto ban on bank dividend payments at the start of next year. Several members of the European Central Bank’s supervisory board, who supported initial requests that banks forgo dividends, see further extensions of the ban doing more harm than good, according to people familiar with the matter
  • The volume of goods sold in U.K. stores and online rose 0.8% from July, the Office for National Statistics said Friday. It marked a fourth month of growth following an unprecedented slump in April, after the government ordered most stores to close to help fight the spread of coronavirus. Sales excluding auto fuel rose 0.6%, stronger than economists forecast
  • France’s daily coronavirus cases rose by more than 10,000 to the highest since the end of lockdown in May and Health Minister Olivier Veranwarned that the disease “is again very active” in the country

A quick look at global markets courtesy of NewsSquawk

Asian equity markets were mildly positive after shrugging off the weak lead from the US where the Nasdaq led the retreat once again to extend on the losses following the FOMC policy announcement and heading into quadruple witching. ASX 200 (-0.3%) and Nikkei 225 (+0.2%) were rangebound after failing to build upon opening momentum with strength in Australia’s commodity-related sectors offset by losses in the broader market including the top-weighted financials, while the Japanese benchmark treaded water amid a lack of fresh catalysts to instigate price action and with the latest inflation data all conforming to expectations. Hang Seng (+0.5%) and Shanghai Comp. (+2.1%) were initially indecisive with outperformance eventually seen in the mainland following the PBoC’s liquidity efforts in which it utilized both 7-day and 14-day reverse repos for the first time this month, although some cautiousness remains after recent mixed reports concerning the Oracle-TikTok deal heading into President Trump’s verdict which sources suggested could be within the next couple of days, while substantial pressure was also seen in Tencent shares due to recent underperformance in the tech sector and with its gaming stakes said to draw US national security scrutiny. Finally, 10yr JGBS were higher after recently breaking through the stubborn resistance at the 152.00 level, but with gains limited by the improving risk tone and following slightly weaker demand at the enhanced liquidity auction for 2yr-20yr JGBs.

Top Asian News

  • Tesla Battery Maker’s Split-Off Angers Korean Retail Investors
  • Foreign Judge Resigns Amid Hong Kong Security Law Concerns
  • Taiwan Dollar Rises Most in 6 Months as Central Bank Eases Grip
  • Thailand Reports First Coronavirus Death Since Early June

Stocks in Europe see a mixed session thus far (Euro Stoxx 50 -0.1%), whilst US equity futures also see no conviction amid a somewhat of a similar lead from APAC, with fundamental news-flow light on quadruple witching day (full schedule available on the headline feed). The regional bourses see a mixed performance, with Switzerland’s SMI (+0.5%) outperforming as the Healthcare sector is propped up by Pharma-giants Roche (+2.1%) and Novartis (+1.8%), with the former announcing its phase III EMPACTA study met primary endpoints in regards to COVID-associated pneumonia, whilst also rolling out a new antibody test for countries accepting the CE mark. On the other side of the spectrum resides Spain’s IBEX (-1.5%), weighed on by the banking sector in the aftermath of the formal merger agreement between Caixabank (-1.5%) and Bankia (-4.3%); with Caixabank’s CEO stating it is out of question that the merger with Bankia will allow for potentially higher dividend. Meanwhile, Banks more broadly saw fleeting upside on reports that EU regulators have moved closer to lifting the ban on dividends in 2021, nonetheless the sector remains in the red. Overall, European sectors trade mixed with no risk profile to be derived. In terms of individual movers, Covestro (+6.9%) holds onto a bulk of its opening gains amid speculation that Apollo is said to be mulling a USD 10bln takeover bid for the group, albeit the Co. said it is not in any discussions. Sticking with M&A, LSE (+0.7%) has accepted Euronext’s (+4.8%) bid for Borsa Italiana, despite it being the lowest offer, but the deal did offer a sweetener as Euronext teamed up with Italy's sovereign wealth fund CDP and Intesa Sanpaolo (-0.1%) on its bid, with Rome keen to keep a tight grip on Borsa Italiana. Finally, Ryanair (-5.2%) is pressured after cutting its October capacity by a further 20% on top of the already announced 20% in mid-August with similar capacity cuts potentially in the pipeline for winter – also weighing on the likes of easyJet (-8.3%), IAG (-12.1%), Lufthansa (-4.7%) and Air France-KLM (-3.9%) in sympathy, with the airline sector already bearing the brunt of the European COVID-19 resurgence.

Top European News

  • Tesla Battery Used For First Time to Balance U.K. Power Grid
  • ECB Moves Closer to Lifting Bank Dividend Ban by Next Year
  • France Warns Virus ‘Very Active’ as Cases Rise Across Europe
  • Giant Glencore Coal Mine Faces Threat as Fund Refuses Backing
  • Hancock Refuses to Rule Out New Lockdown as Covid Surges in U.K.

In FX, the rationale or catalyst is far from clear, but disappointment in wake of NZ Q2 GDP has been relatively short-lived for the Kiwi, and remarks from Finance Minister Robertson overnight noting that the economy is rebounding from contraction may have helped along with his assurance that the RBNZ is committed to maintaining the OCR at 0.25% until Q1 next year when it will reassess the situation. Confirmation of the latter could come from next week’s policy meeting in addition to any response to the latest review of pandemic containment measures in Auckland and the rest of the country. Nzd/Usd has extended its recovery to just shy of 0.6800 vs almost 0.6600 last Wednesday, while Aud/Nzd has retreated through 1.0800 as the Aussie stalls above 0.7300 against its US counterpart following somewhat contrasting comments from Treasurer Frydenberg downplaying Thursday’s stellar jobs data by describing the labour market as still very challenging. Note also, Aud/Usd may be feeling the gravitational pull of 2.4 bn option expiry interest at the 0.7300 strike.

  • JPY/DXY – Not the biggest index component, but the Yen continues to exert considerable influence on the broad Dollar and DXY as it probes a Fib retracement level ahead and 104.50 following this month’s respective Fed and BoJ policy meetings, even though Japan’s Finance Minister contends that monetary easing has helped Usd/Jpy to stabilise within a 105.00-110.00 range. However, the Buck is unwinding more of its fleeting FOMC gains vs G10s in general and July 31’s 104.20 trough looms as the DXY hovers below 93.000 and not far from last week’s 92.695 base between 92.772-973 parameters.
  • GBP/EUR – Modest m/m beats on the UK retail sales front may be propping up the Pound, but is appears that Cable’s latest look at 1.3000 and Eur/Gbp’s pull-back from yesterday’s highs are due to renewed hopes of a Brexit trade deal given European Commission President von der Leyen’s purported confidence that an accord can yet be forged. Indeed, the short end of the UK yield curve is still tipped in favour of sub-zero rates after guidance from the BoE, while the Euro is also on a firmer footing against the Greenback, albeit tethered to 1.1850 with decent option expiries capping the upside at 1.1900 and 1.1950, while the 100 HMA is in close proximity at 1.1844.
  • CAD/CHF – The Loonie has pared more lost ground vs its US rival to straddle 1.3150 before Canadian retail sales, while the Franc is idling just above 0.9100 and looking further forward to September’s quarterly SNB policy review for any tweaks to the language of currency’s valuation.
  • EM – The Rand has extended post-SARB upside towards 16.1000 vs the Dollar with some extra impetus from the SA Government pledging Zar 10.5 bn extra funds to state carrier SAA, but the Rouble is treading cautiously into the CBR amidst expectations for a 25 bp rate cut and the Lira has slipped to another all time low. Elsewhere, the NBH has launched its first Eur/Huf swap funding facility.

In commodities, WTI and Brent front month futures have trimmed overnight gains to the point futures trade somewhat flat during early European hours, with little by way of fresh catalysts to induce the pullback. Prices yesterday saw support from the Saudi Energy Minister’s commentary, who noted that OPEC does not have to wait until December to react and will be pro-active, whilst warning oil speculators not to bet against the oil producers. Elsewhere, Tropical Depression 22 resides in the western Gulf of Mexico and is forecast to evolve to a Tropical Storm later today; although, current projections show the Depression to become a short-lived hurricane but will steer clear of major oil and gas infrastructures. WTI Nov retains a USD 41/bbl handle but resides closer to session in proximity to the psychological levels, whilst its Brent counterpart trades sub-43.50/bbl having printed a current range of USD 43.12-80/bbl. Elsewhere, precious metals eke mild gains amid the softer Buck, with spot gold meandering just north of the USD 1950/oz mark and spot silver holding onto the USD 27/oz handle. Meanwhile, LME copper hit an over-2yr peak due to the softer Dollar and optimism surrounding Chinese demand, whilst Dalian iron ore snapped a three-session loss streak as industrial data showed that the pace of portside inventory builds slowed.

 

US Event Calendar

  • 8:30am: Current Account Balance, est. $160.0b deficit, prior $104.2b deficit
  • 10am: U. of Mich. Sentiment, est. 75, prior 74.1; Current Conditions, est. 83.1, prior 82.9; Expectations, est. 67.2, prior 68.5
  • 10am: Fed’s Bullard Discusses the Covid Recovery Challenge
  • 12pm: Fed’s Bostic Discusses Racial Justice
  • 3pm: Fed’s Kashkari Discusses Too Big to Fail

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

Global equity markets continued to lose ground yesterday as weak economic data coupled with renewed concerns over the coronavirus dampened investor sentiment. In the US, the S&P 500 fell -0.84% in its second straight decline, with 20 of 24 industry groups finishing lower. The NASDAQ saw an even larger -1.27% decline as tech stocks underperformed the broader index. However the two indices were -1.66% and -2.41% respectively at the lows so there was a recovery especially in the last hour of trading. Earlier in Europe the STOXX 600 fell -0.51% as the index came off its one-month high the previous day.

There wasn’t a single headline that sent stocks lower, though a drip-feed of negative data didn’t help. The weekly initial jobless claims from the US through September 12 came in at 860k (vs. 850k expected), while the previous week’s number was revised up by 9k. In addition, both housing starts at 1.416m (vs. 1.488 expected) and building permits at 1.47m (vs. 1.512 expected) came in lower than consensus. Meanwhile in Europe, new EU car registrations fell -18.7% yoy in August, having been down just -5.7% yoy in June and July. With the hard data for August coming in weaker than hoped, this has added to investor jitters about the state of the global economy moving into the winter months in the northern hemisphere.

Asian markets are largely trading higher this morning outside of the Nikkei (+0.02%) and Kospi (-0.04%) which are broadly flat. The Hang Seng (+0.31%), Shanghai Comp (+0.57%) and India’s Nifty (+0.37%) are all up. However, futures on the S&P 500 are down -0.26% while those on the Nasdaq are flat. In Fx, the onshore yuan is up +0.11% to 6.7565 while the British pound is down -0.12% to 1.2958. In terms of data, Japan’s CPI and Core CPI both came in line with consensus at +0.2% yoy and -0.4% yoy respectively.

In overnight news, the Fed has said that it will decide in the next two weeks whether to prolong the limits on dividend payments and share buybacks that it imposed on the biggest US banks. Meanwhile, Bloomberg has reported that the White House has asked gaming companies where Chinese technology giant Tencent Holdings is a major shareholder, to provide information about their data-security protocols.

In terms of the coronavirus, there were further concerning signs out of Europe. Here in the UK, where there’ve been issues with testing capacity, the head of the NHS Test and Trace program said that the numbers calling the helpline and visiting the website were around 3-4 times the number of tests available. It came as a further 3,395 cases were reported yesterday, which sent the 7-day average up to its highest level since May 17. One of the biggest problems in the U.K. is that as people have been encouraged back to school and work they’ve been exposed to more minor ailments that can share Covid type symptoms. As such many have been trying to get tests to rule out Covid and to stop them being forced to self isolate. This has overwhelmed the laboratory system’s ability to process all the tests and therefore tests are effectively being rationed - albeit at relatively high daily levels still but clearly not high enough for demand.This is a warning sign of the type of things to come in the coming months.

Meanwhile in Portugal, 770 new cases were reported, which was the highest number since April, albeit with higher testing now. Over in Austria meetings indoors were restricted to a maximum of 10 people, and the Czech government officials sought tighter social-distancing measures after the country posted a daily record of 2100 new infections. France reported over 10,000 daily cases for the second time in the last week, while the 7-day average of new cases per day has steadily risen over the past month to a pandemic-high of 8800. French Health Minister Veran noted that they are, “now seeing the number of Covid patients in intensive care go up in a worrying way,” though they still remain far behind the initial springtime surge.

In the US, New York City delayed the reopening of classes for in-person learning until September 29 for elementary school students and October 1 for middle- and high-school students. Cases in NY state have been stable since mid-June, with cases increasing by between 0.15% and 0.2% on average per day. Elsewhere, Texas eased some restrictions across much of the state, citing rapidly falling hospital occupancy. Restaurants, retail stores, office buildings, factories, gyms and museums will all be allowed to function at 75% of capacity starting next Monday (Sept 21). There were more worrying signs out of Florida, where weekly cases have risen to 19,300 – the highest since the start of September. The uptick aligns with overall cases in the US rising slightly over the past two weeks after falling for much of the previous two months. These trends are possibly tied to schools and colleges reopening. Meanwhile, Reuters has reported overnight that the US government is planning to authorize more than 6 rapid antigen tests by the end of October in a bid to rapidly increase overall testing capacity to more than 200mn by year end. This will likely enable schools and workplaces to significantly expand testing.

Steadily rising global cases was the backdrop as Moderna released the details of its plan to offer increased clarity into the study of its vaccine. The CEO Bancel noted that they, “want to make sure the general public has trust in vaccines by being transparent.” Bancel added “it is extremely unlikely” everyone in the US could get vaccinated by the end of the first quarter of 2021. Overnight, Bancel told CNBC that Moderna may not be able to examine Phase 3 data until December but added that the most likely scenario currently was an interim analysis to be available in November. Hewrapped up saying “Our best plan is October. I think it’s unlikely but it is possible.” This came as President Trump continued to push that the US would be distributing a vaccine to at least some part of the public by early November or just around the election.

President Trump also made headlines by again pushing Republican lawmakers to take up the $1.5 trillion stimulus bill that was put forth in recent days. Though there was again pushback from leading Republicans, with Senate Finance Chairman Grassley saying the President “better be careful of that because I don’t think that will get through the United States Senate.” While the upcoming election is clearly slowing the process, the recent worsening economic data out of the US may eventually focus lawmakers minds more.

From central banks, the main news yesterday came from the Bank of England’s decision, who unanimously voted to keep policy unchanged. Sterling fell after the announcement however, moving to an intraday low of -0.79% as the minutes showed that the MPC had been briefed on plans to “explore how a negative Bank Rate could be implemented effectively”, and that the BoE and the Prudential Regulation Authority would “begin structured engagement on the operational considerations in 2020 Q4.” So there likely won’t be any moves in that direction this year given talks will only start in Q4, but a sign nonetheless that they’re being considered as an option.

Following the meeting, our UK economist Sanjay Raja has now moved up his call for more QE to November, having previously thought December more likely. This is because tighter social restrictions and increased tensions on Brexit in the coming weeks will offer enough ammunition to pull the trigger on additional stimulus earlier than expected. Speaking of Brexit, sterling reversed its losses following the BoE announcement after an FT headline came out saying that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was “convinced” that a trade deal with the UK could still be agreed. The big question now is what happens to the UK’s internal market bill. It’s still going through the House of Commons where the government has an 80-seat majority, but the big question is what will happen in the House of Lords, where the government are likely to face fierce resistance.

Over in fixed income, gilts outperformed following the BoE yesterday, with 10yr yields down -2.6bps. Other sovereign bond yields also moved lower, with yields on 10yr Treasuries (-0.8bps) and bunds (-0.7bps) falling back as well. Separately, oil prices continued to make solid gains, with Brent crude up a further +2.56% yesterday, which brings its advance over the last 3 sessions to +9.21% – the best 3-day performance since May. Crude was helped by comments from both Saudi Arabian and Russian officials critiquing noncompliance of some OPEC+ members to agreed upon quotas.

To the day ahead now, and the data highlights include UK retail sales for August, German PPI for August, and the Euro Area current account balance for July. From the US, we’ll get the preliminary September reading of the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index, the August leading index, as well as the Q2 current account balance. In terms of central bank speakers, we’ll hear from the ECB’s de Guindos, Schnabel and Hernandez de Cos, along with the Fed’s Bullard and Bostic. Finally, the Central Bank of Russia will make their latest monetary policy decision.

Published:9/18/2020 6:41:34 AM
[Markets] Market Snapshot: Dow futures slip early Friday but S&P 500 and Nasdaq aim to rebound to end the week U.S. stock-index futures trade mixed early Friday as investors look to cap a week that has seen further weakness in technology-related sectors.
Published:9/18/2020 6:41:34 AM
[Markets] Dow Futures Slip As Markets Key On Rising COVID infections, Weakening US Data Quadruple witching hour could provide a late-morning spike in market volatility Friday, but markets look set to close out the week on a sour note. Published:9/18/2020 5:42:04 AM
[Markets] Outside the Box: America first? Our standard of living hinges on immigration and engagement with the world Regardless of how the election turns out, Americans should begin thinking about what it means to be second, especially if economic and demographic trends continue.
Published:9/18/2020 5:42:04 AM
[Markets] Wall Street Bankers Push For Bonuses Ahead of Possible Biden Win Wall Street Bankers Push For Bonuses Ahead of Possible Biden Win Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 06:30

Big Wall Street firms may pay out bonuses to employees earlier this year as executives are preparing for a potential scenario where Joe Biden becomes president and a Democrat-controlled Senate would result in higher taxes.

"Employees may ask to receive year-end incentives before the end of 2020 instead of early next year, when they would typically get the bonuses," said Alan Johnson, president of Johnson Associates Inc., a New York-based compensation consulting firm, who was quoted by Bloomberg

"You're going to hear about, 'This firm did this, and that firm did that,'" Johnson told firms at a virtual industry conference Monday. "You don't want to be caught unaware."

A major concern for Wall Street if President Trump doesn't win is the possibility of higher corporate taxes by a Biden administration. Biden has pledged to roll back Trump's tax cut legislation, which boosted corporate profits in the last couple of years. If passed, the amount of bonuses Wall Street receives on a per annum basis could be significantly reduced from the roughly $30 billion set aside each year. Biden's plan also calls for increased taxes for annual incomes over the $400,000, along with higher capital gains taxes. 

Johnson has advised firms to prepare for tax increases no matter who wins the election, given the federal government's desperate need for revenue following the virus pandemic. He said states like New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and California have already signaled tax increases in the year ahead. 

"Firms in the past have accelerated bonus payments in response to changes in tax policy. President Donald Trump's tax plan, passed at the end of 2017, limited the amount of federal tax deductions high earners could claim for their state and local taxes, prompting some firms to hand out bonuses before the end of the year," said Fred Farkouh, a partner at New York-based accounting firm Farkouh Furman & Faccio LLP.

Farkouh added, "moving up incentive payments wouldn't affect finances for many companies, as they would have already planned to record year-end bonuses in their accounting for 2020, even if they were expecting to distribute them in 2021." 

Wall Street appears to be preparing for a possible Biden presidency. If so, does that also mean increased corporate taxes could result in a stock market crash? 

 

No matter what, the prospects of higher taxes could certainly sink stocks ahead of the election.  

Published:9/18/2020 5:42:04 AM
[Markets] VIX Uprising VIX Uprising Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 06:00

Authored by Sven Henrich via NorthmanTrader.com,

As long time readers know I’m a big fan of $VIX technical structures and compression patterns. Often dismissed as non-chartable I think we’ve successfully to put that argument to bed a long time ago.

Recently in “Key Charts” I again outlined the $VIX as one of the key charts to watch and it’s been interesting to say the least here during this OPEX week and hence I wanted to outline an update as a pattern is forming that suggests a major $VIX uprising may be in the cards this fall.

Yes, $VIX again came under pressure into monthly $VIX futures monthly contract roll-over, but interestingly it didn’t manage to fill the August gap which would have been standard fare if you will:

The good news for bulls may be as now 3 open gaps have formed on the futures contract. As ultimately all $VIX gaps fill there is something to look forward to eventually for bulls. But for now the $VIX keeps telling a larger story that’s a lot more ominous.

In a way I regard the $VIX an expression of central bank control and their self declared mission to “calm” markets. During the most successful times of central bank interventions in recent years the $VIX was very much compressed and contained. Yet, despite trillions of interventions and the deceiving highs on indices such as $SPX and $NDX volatility has remained stubbornly high, all a reflection that perhaps central bank control is not as strong as it appears. The $VIX is anything but calm.

And so we can observe that following the latest breakout of the $VIX (and leading up to the compression phase of this OPEX week) $VIX again broke out of a smaller compression pattern:

In recent months $VIX has gotten crushed during every Friday like clockwork and perhaps it will again this Friday.

That’s not the issue.

The issue is that all of these repetitive structures are forming what could be a much more ominous pattern that could even exceed my previous 46 target.

The structure? A potential larger inverse pattern:

First point to make: This pattern at this stage is unconfirmed and it’s likely going to take some time to build fully. But this week’s low in the $VIX matches up nicely with the July left shoulder and this summer’s low volume rally and summer lows in the $VIX have formed a very clean head structure and the recent surge to 38 and subsequent drop this week have begun the process of forming a right shoulder.

How can this play out? What would confirm it? There are many possibilities of course. Since we’re just at the beginning of the right shoulder formation we may, for example, have a quick spike toward the neckline, and then another rally in markets from there compressing the $VIX again. All of this would ironically firm the structure and make it potentially very potent into the October and November time frame, i.e. into the US election.

The potential fire power of the pattern will have to be monitored as the pattern develops, but currently it suggests a $VIX spike into the 55-70 range if the pattern confirms which would come with a break above the neckline.

This is journey and patterns need time to develop and patterns can of course get invalidated. I suggest everyone keep an eye on a potential $VIX uprising of size. We certainly are keeping close watch for sure.

*  *  *

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Published:9/18/2020 5:12:59 AM
[Markets] Dow Futures, Coronavirus, Unity Software - 5 Things You Must Know Friday Stock futures are mixed amid signs of a patchy U.S. recovery and as global coronavirus infections surge again; Unity Software raises $1.3 billion in its initial public offering. Published:9/18/2020 4:40:24 AM
[Markets] The Ultra Wealthy Are Selling Billions Of Dollars In Stock The Ultra Wealthy Are Selling Billions Of Dollars In Stock Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 05:30

As the market has "rebounded" off its lows back in March, the world's super wealthy are jumping at the chance to offload billions of dollars in stock while global central banks - and most notably the Federal Reserve - keeps a bid under the market and acts as a Mr. Magoo-like counterparty.

Many investors have been prompted to sell by market volatility over the last two weeks, which appears as though it could be signaling an end to the V-shaped recovery. This has likely helped spook the ultra wealthy into take some cash off the table. 

Seo Sang-young, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities Co. in Seoul noted: “Stock-market valuations have climbed considerably regardless of fundamentals. Volatility has been increasing.”

Knorr-Bremse AG's Heinz Hermann Thiele took the bump up in the market as an opportunity to sell about $1.2 billion in stock, while Adyen NV co-founders Pieter van der Does and Arnout Schuijff joined a group of executives that sold $821 million of stock in the payment company, according to Bloomberg. Fortive Corp.'s Mitchell and Steven Rales also sold about $1 billion. 

Glovemaker Kossan Rubber Industries Bhd. founder Lim Kuang Sia also sold more than $30 million in stock in August. Lee Wai Keong of glovemaker Riverstone Holdings raised $45 million in a share placement earlier in September. Leslie Wexner of L Brands sold $89 million of his stock in August, as well. 

Bloomberg notes that during the week ended September 11, insiders sold $473 million in shares while only buying $9.5 million. 

Many of the world's super rich have their wealth disproportionately tied up in company stock. For example, Jeff Bezos' Amazon shares are worth $172 billion of his $186 billion net worth. For Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook stock makes up almost all of his $103 billion net worth. 

Claire Madden, managing partner of Connection Capital concluded: “It’s the first time most people have lived through something as real, sharp and sudden as this. It does make you reevaluate.”

Recall, back in February of this year we wrote a piece showing exactly how the 1% was dumping their stock to daytrading Robinhood millennials with dreams of getting rich. We noted that February was the start of the the point in the bull market where the "smart money" dumps their equities to the unsuspecting and excitable, yet horribly uninformed, retail crowd.

The first chart shows the top 1% dumping as the market falls entering recession. Of late, we can see that selling has happened in spurts by the top 1%:

For the bottom 90% it's just the opposite: the vast majority of unsophisticated retail investor start to chase momentum at the worst possible time, as they buy stocks en masse just as a recession begins, which in turn craters the market. In the Goldman chart below, we can see that the share of equities owned by the 90% jumps just as recession begin.

In laymens terms, the rich dump their stock to the poor just before the market crashes.

The technical term is "distribution."

Published:9/18/2020 4:40:24 AM
[Markets] Death, Taxes, & COVID-19: Things That Cannot Be Avoided Death, Taxes, & COVID-19: Things That Cannot Be Avoided Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 05:00

Submitted by Louis-Vincent Gave of GaveKal

In March, when Covid-19 began to rear its ugly head across the western world, national policy responses differed widely.

  • Denmark was the first European country to go on full lockdown, before the virus even really emerged in the country. As soon as news broke that Italian hospitals were being overwhelmed, Denmark shut its borders (in defiance of European Union laws), and shortly after, on March 11th, confined its population at home. Within two months, however, by May 11th, the Danish authorities gave shops, restaurants, bars, sports clubs etc. the green light to reopen.

  • France imposed possibly the most stringent lockdown in the western world. For two months, French citizens were only allowed to leave their homes for essential shopping—and only within a limited radius. Anyone stopped on the street had to produce a pass showing the time of departure from home, with no one allowed outside for more than an hour.

  • Sweden, in contrast, argued that lockdowns were a medieval response to the health problem. Instead of cowering behind closed doors, communities should look to build “herd immunity”. An economic shutdown would trigger other problems (suicide, alcoholism, drug abuse etc.) while locking people inside their homes could also trigger longer term difficulties (child abuse, domestic violence etc.).

  • Switzerland, like Sweden, never embraced the dramatic lockdowns imposed by other European countries, preferring to trust individual citizens to do the “right thing”. Heavy social pressures and public campaigns meant that most elderly stayed at home, even though it was not mandatory.

  • In the US, the federal structure of government meant that the responses varied greatly between regions, from lockdowns in New York, to full freedom in Arkansas.

These different policy choices carried different economic costs. In the second quarter of 2020, Sweden (usually one of the more volatile OECD economies given its integration into the global industrial supply chain and its limited domestic consumer base) outperformed all other OECD countries. Unsurprisingly, France delivered the worst economic performance, its GDP falling by almost a fifth.

But the declared priority in France, as in other countries that embraced full lockdowns, was to save lives; the government always acknowledged that such altruistic behavior would have economic costs. In short, President Emmanuel Macron, like many other policymakers around the world, accepted the certainty of massive economic loss for the chance of saving an indeterminate, but potentially large, number of lives.

At the risk of sounding horribly cynical, it is time to ask whether the tradeoff was worth it. With six months of data behind us, we can now count the economic costs of the lockdown (see the chart above), and we can also attempt to estimate the number of lives saved.

Comparing Covid-related death rates between countries is challenging, not least because different countries have adopted different standards for reporting Covid-related deaths—did the patient die of Covid, or with Covid? As a result, the least controversial way to review the impact of Covid on a country’s population is to look at the country’s total weekly deaths, and see how the numbers compare both to past years, and to the total numbers of deaths in other countries. Given the absence of wars and natural disasters, the assumption is that any “excess deaths” this year are mostly linked to Covid.

This approach is reasonable, because death, like taxes and policymakers’ responses to Covid, is one of those things that simply can’t be avoided—and governments are actually fairly competent at tracking the numbers of deaths that occur within their borders. In short, total death numbers are hard to fudge. Of course, the populations of Denmark, France, Sweden Switzerland and the US are vastly different. So to put every country on an equal footing, the data in the chart overleaf shows weekly numbers of deaths for each of these five countries indexed to 100 in 2013.

The chart is interesting for a number of reasons.

  • In general, more people tend to die in winter. Notably, however, these winter peaks tend to be less pronounced in Sweden and Denmark than in other countries. My best guess is that this shows how effectively the Scandinavians have adapted to their long and inclement winters.

  • When lots of people die in the winter, fewer die in the summer: the taller the winter’s death peak, the shallower the following summer’s trough tends to be. When the Grim Reaper has your number, your number is going to get called. And if by chance your number doesn’t get called in the winter, the chances are greater it will get called in the summer. Here, the 2020 divergence between Sweden and Denmark is interesting: Sweden had an abnormally high death rate over the winter, while Denmark had a “normal” death rate. Fast forward to this summer, and Sweden registered a record low death rate, while Denmark registered a normal death rate. This would seem to indicate that a significant number of the people who died of Covid last winter may well have died of other causes come the summer.

  • The number of total weekly deaths is now hitting decade lows in Sweden, Switzerland and the US. France is not at a new low, but is close to one (France suffered a couple of significant heat waves over the summer, and unfortunately heat waves tend to take their toll of frailer old folk). So, for all the continued panic about the spread of Covid and the rising number of cases, it seems the pandemic is no longer killing people as it did back in the winter. This fall in the number of deaths may indicate that the virus is becoming less deadly (which is common with respiratory viruses), or that health systems have found ways to treat the disease, such as steroid injections. But whatever the reason, it seems that on the scale of the broad population, Covid is no longer the mass murderer it was. So, do we really need to maintain economically-crippling and socially-debilitating anti-Covid measures?

  • Covid has undeniably caused excess deaths. But the March-April peak was of the same order of magnitude as recent “bad winters”. In Switzerland, which adopted a light touch approach to lockdowns, total weekly deaths at the peak of the crisis were similar to numbers at the worst of the 2015 winter. For France, Sweden and the US, the peaks were more pronounced, although not statistically dramatic (as Didier Darcet highlighted in April, see Modeling Projections For The Covid-19 Epidemic). In other words, it seems likely that in the age before social media, 2020 would have been considered a “harsh winter,” much like 1968-69 with the Hong Kong flu, or 2009 with the H1N1 pandemic. Most of us would have simply gone on with our lives.

  • It seems that France has managed not only to deliver the worst economic results, but the worst death toll. This may be a harsh assessment; the differences in the Danish, Swedish, Swiss, US and French death peaks are not that significant statistically. But despite following different policies, four out of these five countries delivered roughly the same outcomes. The exception was Denmark, which shut down much earlier than anybody else. This would seem to indicate that shutting the economy down only makes sense if it is done early. Otherwise, there is little point in closing the stable door when the horse has already bolted.

Aside from imposing a preventative early shutdown, the various differences in policy responses seem to have had little impact, neither reducing nor multiplying fatalities. This seems partially to vindicate the Swedish position that taking away civil liberties and shooting your economy in both feet made little sense, whether on human, economic, political or social grounds. The only exception appears to be if you do all these things very early on in the evolution of the disease. As the example of France (or the US, or the UK) shows, lockdowns do not appear to work if done too late.

Another important point to highlight is that the disease has been (but no longer appears to be) a potent killer of old folk, but has broadly left children and working-age adults unaffected. The charts below show the data for France, but the data for other major western countries look broadly the same.

1). Thankfully, there is genuinely no sign that the Covid outbreak has had any impact on weekly deaths among French children.

2). There also seems to be no surge in deaths among France’s working-age population (most people in France, at least those that do not work at Gavekal, tend to retire at around 60).

3) This means that the great surge in deaths occurred among retired folks. As the chart above makes clear, the statistically meaningful peaks in death rates occur in the 70-90-year-old age brackets, with the largest increase in deaths occurring among those aged over 90 (but that appears to be a feature of every winter).

So, given that death rates are now at long-term lows, and that the disease only seems disproportionately to kill folks coming to the natural end of their lives, why are policymakers still bickering about the reopening of schools (the UK), whether restaurants should be allowed to welcome patrons (New York), whether kids should be forbidden to go trick-or-treating this Halloween (Los Angeles), whether organized sports should even take place, and over the resumption of a dozen other everyday activities?

1) The first possible explanation is that policymakers are consciously making the choice to protect the old, even at the economic expense of the young. And they are doing this out of political calculation, because old people are more likely to vote than the young. However, this explanation runs counter to Hanlon’s razor, which states: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

2) The second possible explanation is that policymakers, having stumbled into this crisis, have now seized on the Rahm Emmanuel dictum “never let a good crisis go to waste.” For the last decade, lackluster growth across the western world has led to events as unfortunate (for policymakers) as the Brexit vote, Donald Trump’s election, the rise of the French yellow jacket movement, and the rise of the AfD in Germany and of Matteo Salvini in Italy. In other words, the sort of “pre-revolutionary” grumblings Gavekal warned of almost a decade ago (see Are We Entering Revolutionary Times?) are becoming ever-louder.

Disconcerted by this increasing roar, a number of policymakers have concluded that western economies are suffering from a lack of government intervention, combined with a shortage of fiscal spending, and insufficient money-printing. But cometh the crisis, cometh the moment to embark on the sort of Keynesian orgy Anatole has lately been applauding (see Why I Was Wrong To Turn Bearish and Why I Was Right To Turn Bullish). If to a hammer every problem looks like a nail, then to a large section of western policymakers, the answer to every problem increasingly seems to be more money-printing and more money-spending.

Of course, the real problem may not be Covid, but something else entirely. But then policymakers will use the pandemic as the pretext to embark on policies to fix the “something else”. This means they need to keep Covid humming in the background. How else could they justify the gradual introduction of some form of universal basic income funded by modern monetary theory or MMT (the magic money tree)? Combine this with a healthy dose of Parkinson’s Law at work, and governments have little incentive to walk back on any of their panic-mongering. Now that government commissions have been formed and funded to deal with the pandemic, are these commissions going to be in any rush to declare the pandemic over? Or are they more likely to insist that Covid remains a major threat, and that they need more funding to counter it?

3). Finally, the third and most likely explanation is that western governments were panicked into taking dramatic decisions. This panic was likely driven partly by the increased weight of social media in decision-making. Not that the absence of social media in the early years of the 21st century helped the US government take the right decisions in the aftermath of 9/11; the invasion of Iraq was one of the greatest policy failures in a generation. Now it is likely the Covid lockdowns will rank alongside Iraq in the policy failure “hall of shame”. We know from Adam Smith’s remark that “there is a great deal of ruin in a nation.” But at what  point do repeated policy failures start to take their toll?

Staying with the Iraq analogy, one sure giveaway that policymakers realize lockdowns were a mistake is their insistence that they will not go down the full lockdown path again. And they say this even as they argue that the first lockdowns were essential to save countless lives. To me, this sounds a lot like Tony Blair’s insistence that the Iraq war was necessary, even as he claimed that if he had to make the same decision over, he would not send troops to Iraq again.

Another way in which the Iraq parallel may be appropriate is that policymakers do not know how to get out of the mess they’ve created. By invading Iraq, the US and the UK got involved in a war they soon found they could never fully “win”. And it was a war that drained large amounts of blood and treasure, at least until the US government decided to turn its back, and move on to the next thing. Today, policymakers face a similar problem: how can they declare victory over Covid and move on? Having stirred up fear and paranoia to new heights (dwarfing fears that Saddam Hussein could unleash chemical weapons against Europe), how do they now walk the fear back?

All this brings me to three possible conclusions:

  1. For whatever reason, the virus, which now no longer seems to be killing people in anything like the numbers of last spring, flares up again, sending disproportionate numbers to (somewhat) early graves (let’s not forget that so far Covid has only been disproportionately deadly for older folk). However, given the recent data, there are no obvious reasons to think that this is a big risk.

  2. Policymakers accept that they made a mistake and start to roll back their restrictions on civil liberties, schools, sports, businesses and so on. If so, voters could either (i) accept that the politicians meant well and let them off the hook, or (ii) decide to punish the incumbent politicians at the polls, with the democratic system continuing to gently tick over, ensuring that the incompetents are regularly thrown out of office (to be replaced by a different bunch of incompetents).

  3. Instead of accepting that their restrictions are no longer relevant to the situation on the ground, Western politicians refuse to accept that they may have panicked at precisely the wrong time. But as the costs of doing business continue to rise and profits disappear, as parents stay stuck at home attempting to school their children, as families and friends find it impossible to gather, resentment against laws and regulations that no longer make sense starts to grow. This fosters disrespect for the government, disrespect for the regulators, and disrespect for the rule of law. Among a growing segment of the population, the maintenance of nonsensical Covid rules feeds the pre-revolutionary discontent that was already mounting in the years preceding Covid. It further fuels the anger in the countryside and second tier cities which already feel culturally, politically, and socially distant from the major cities were power resides and decisions are made.

* * *

My fear is that most Western countries, including my own—France—are now heading firmly down this third avenue: continued lockdowns, at the risk of engendering ever more contempt for government institutions. To put it simply: for politicians to pursue policies that ever-growing proportions of their populations are bound to reject is bad politics. We saw that much in last weekend’s yellow jacket demonstrations in Paris.

Still, against this bleak assessment, the one saving grace has to be that in most Western countries, today’s “swing voter” happens to live in the very countryside and second tier manufacturing cities that seem most inclined to reject the Covid-related laws handed down from on high. The hope has to be that democracy will continue to work, and that the policymakers who, like bad money managers, refuse to cut their losses and instead continue to “double when in trouble” will eventually find themselves fired at the ballot box.

Published:9/18/2020 4:10:42 AM
[Markets] Autotrader: The 2021 Toyota C-HR: Sweet handling with a stylish cabin It’s unlike any other subcompact SUV/crossover—it’s more of a raised hatchback, but with lots to like.
Published:9/18/2020 4:10:42 AM
[Markets] Biden Threatens Boris Johnson: 'No US Trade Deal Unless Good Friday Accord Respected' Biden Threatens Boris Johnson: 'No US Trade Deal Unless Good Friday Accord Respected' Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 04:15

In a sign of just how dire the situation is getting for the EU, which has last pretty much all of its leverage over UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson now that he has put down yet another Tory rebellion and marshalled the support he needs to pass the Intermarket Bill.

Johnson struggled mightily earlier this werk, as Sir Richard Keen, a Tory MP and advocate general for Scotland quit the government, saying he found it increasingly difficult to reconcile the government's goals with the existing law, and nearly 2 dozen Tories said they would oppose the so-called Intermarket Bill - which effectively allows the government to bypass the Brexit withdrawal treaty when it comes to the treatment of Northern Ireland - unless BoJo agreed to a Parliament "lock" - that is, another emergency vote later on down the road that would allow Parliament to trigger the law.

Speaking to the FT, a reported top EU official allegedly said that the EU opposes the Intermarket Bill in its entirety, and that a parliamentary lock simply wouldn't cut it. "No, no no," the official said Brussels wanted BoJo to remove all the offending powers, not just "put them in an 'emergency use only box'".

The bill still has a long way to go before it becomes law, with a more critical phase beginning next week. And Johnson must still contend with the House of Lords, which sees itself as a guardian of the rule of law, and doesn't take kindly to potentialbreaches of international treaties.

But in a sign of just how shaken up Brussels is over Johnson's take-no-prisoners approach, they've brought in former Vice President Joe Biden to try and reason with the prime minister. And they managed to bring Biden in by drawing on America's role in the Northern Ireland peace process.

In a series of tweets, the Democratic presidential candidate warned the UK that it must honour Northern Ireland’s 1998 peace agreement as it withdraws from the EU. If it doesn't, Biden will ensure that the UK won't get a trade deal with the US.

Biden (or more likely, Biden's staff) were responding to a push from Democrat Eliot Engel, the leader of the House Foreign Relations Committee.

The PM, meanwhile, argues that London must violate parts of the withdrawal agreement if it hopes to preserve the 1998 peace accord. Of the two agreements, the Good Friday Accords are clearly the more critical, Johnson argued.

"The PM has been clear throughout that we are taking these steps precisely to make sure that the Belfast Agreement is upheld in all circumstances and any harmful defaults do not inadvertently come into play," a spokesman for the PM said.

Brussels is threatening to walk away from talks should the UK pass the Intermarket Bill, even with the agreed upon amendments. According to strategists at Societe Generale, this looks inevitable. In a research note published Thursday, the team offered a glimpse of what UK-EU trade under WTO terms would look like.

What would trading under WTO terms look like?

  • A No-Deal Brexit means the EU would trade with the UK under the WTO terms from 1 January 2021. The first obvious implication is that tariffs will apply to goods as defined by the relevant Most Favoured Nation clause. The EU average tariff rate is 5%, but this masks large sectoral differences: 8.9% for consumer goods (and up to 42% for dairy products) vs 2.8% for capital goods – with some goods at 0% (e.g. cotton). However, the tariffs are only part of the problem. Non-tariff barriers will have much larger negative consequences:
  • For goods, customs formalities will apply (supervisions, declarations and controls); VAT will be due for all goods imported in the EU but exempted if exported to the UK; the Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary standards will no longer be in place, therefore livestock and food products would have to be checked at the border. As a result, even though contingency measures are likely to be taken, chaos at the borders and supply chain disruptions look unavoidable, possibly leading to food, medicine or other goods shortages.
  • Services would be subject to several barriers to trade (vs. cross-border trade in the Single Market) ranging from non-recognition of professional qualifications to non-regulatory equivalence. As a result, several sectors will face much larger trade restrictions than currently, in particular in transport, insurance, accounting or legal services. Again, the EU may unilaterally decide to temporarily waive these restrictions.

Source: SocGen

That leaves odds of 'No Deal' at 80%, the highest they've been during the yearslong trudge toward an EU exit for the UK. But Wall Street banks are all over the place when it comes to Brexit. Analysts at Goldman Sachs, an American bank that doesn't have the home-field advantage in Europe that SocGen enjoys, has taken the opposite approach, arguing that the market is overpricing the odds of a 'no deal' exit.

Traders could make a tidy profit if they'd be willing to sit through some short-term volatility, GS has said.

Then again, Goldman's FX calls haven't always worked out so well for its clients.

Published:9/18/2020 3:40:24 AM
[Markets] Key Words: Dr. Fauci: ‘We may be able to put this coronavirus outbreak behind us’ — but says the American public must play a critical role COVID-19 has now infected more than 30 million people worldwide.
Published:9/18/2020 3:40:24 AM
[Markets] Europe Markets: European travel stocks slump amid rising concerns over second wave of coronavirus as M&A chatter lifts Covestro European stocks were struggling for traction on Friday, with concerns over rising coronavirus cases weighing on airlines. Deal news drove down shares of CaixaBank and up shares of Covestro.
Published:9/18/2020 3:11:35 AM
[Markets] How Xinjiang "Interferes" With The EU-China Deal How Xinjiang "Interferes" With The EU-China Deal Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 03:30

Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Asia Times,

A Beijing-Brussels-Berlin special: that was quite the video-summit.

From Beijing, we had President Xi Jinping. From Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel. And from Brussels, President of the European Council Charles Michel and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. The Chinese billed it as the first summit “of its kind in history”.

It was actually the second high-level meeting of the Chinese and European leadership in two months. And it took place only a few days after a high-level tour by Foreign Minister Wang Yi encompassing France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Norway, and the visit by the powerful “Yoda” of the State Council, Yang Jiechi, to Spain and Greece.

The Holy Grail at the end of all these meetings – face-to-face and virtual – is the China-EU investment treaty. Germany currently heads the EU presidency for six months. Berlin wanted the treaty to be signed at a summit in Leipzig this month uniting the EU-27 and Beijing. But Covid-19 had other plans.

So the summit was metastasized into this mini videoconference. The treaty is still supposed to be signed before the end of 2020.

Adding an intriguing note, the mini-summit also happened one day before Premier Li Keqiang attended a Special Virtual Dialogue with Business Leaders, promoted by the World Economic Forum (WEF). It’s unclear whether Li will discuss the intricacies of the Great Reset with Klaus Schwab – not to mention whether China subscribes to it.

We are “still committed”

The mini EU-China video summit was quite remarkable for its very discreet spin. The UE, officially, now considers China as both an essential partner and a “strategic rival”. Brussels is adamant on its will to “cooperate” while defending is notorious human rights “values”.

As for the investment treaty, the business Holy Grail which has been under negotiation for seven years now, Ursula von der Leyen said “there’s still much to be done”.

What the EU essentially wants is equal treatment for their companies in China, similar to how Chinese companies are treated inside the EU. Diplomats confirmed the key areas are telecoms, the automobile market – which should be totally open – and the end of unfair competition by Chinese steel.

Last week, the head of Siemens, Joe Kaeser, threw an extra spanner in the works, telling Die Zeit that “we categorically condemn every form of oppression, forced labor and threat to human rights”, referring to Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

That caused quite a stir. At least 10% of Siemens business is generated in China, where the company is present since 1872 and employs over 35,000 people. Siemens was forced to publicly state that it is “still committed” to China.

China has been Germany’s top trade partner since 2017 – ahead of France and the US. So it’s no wonder alarm bells started to ring, on and off. It was in January last year that the BDI – the Federation of German Industries – first defined China as a “systemic competitor”, and not only as a “partner”. The concern was centered on market “distortions” and the barriers against German competition inside China.

The mini video-summit took place as the trade war unleashed by Washington against Beijing has reached Cold War 2.0 proportions. EU diplomats, uncomfortably, and off the record, admit that the Europeans are caught in the middle and the only possible strategy is to try to advance their economic interests while insisting on the same panacea of human rights.

Thus the official EU demand this Monday – unreported in Chinese media: allow us to send “independent observers” to Xinjiang.

Those Uighur jihadis

So we’re back, inevitably, to the hyper-incandescent issue of Xinjiang “concentration camps”.

The Atlanticist establishment has unleashed a ferocious, no holds barred campaign to shape the narrative that Beijing is conducting no less than cultural genocide in Xinjiang.

Apart from United States government rhetoric, the campaign is mostly conducted by “influencer” US thinks tanks such as this one, which issue reports that turn viral on Western corporate media.

One of these reports quotes “numerous firsthand accounts from Uighurs” who are defined as “employed” to perform forced labor. As a result, the global supply chain, according to the report, is “likely tainted with forced labor”.

The operative word is “likely”. As in Russia is “likely” interfering in US elections and “likely” poisoning opponents of the Kremlin. There’s no way to verify the accuracy of the sources quoted in these reports – which happen to be conveniently financed by “multiple donors interested in commerce in Asia.” Who are these donors? What is their agenda? Who will profit from the kind of “commerce in Asia” they are pushing?

On a personal level, Xinjiang was at the top of my travel priorities this year – then laid to rest by Covid-19 – because I want to check by myself all aspects of what’s really goin’ on in China’s Far West.

As it stands, US copycat “influencers” in the EU are having free reign to impose the narrative about Uighur forced labor, stressing that the clothes Europeans are wearing “could” – and the operative word is “could” – be made by forced laborers.

Don’t expect the Atlanticist network to even bother to offer context in terms of China fighting terrorism in Xinjiang.

In the old al-Qaeda days, I visited and interviewed Uighur jihadis locked up in a sprawling prison set up by the mujahideen under commander Masoud in the Panjshir valley. They had all been indoctrinated by imams preaching in Saudi-financed madrassas across Xinjiang.

More recently, Uighur Salafi-jihadis have been very active in Syria: at least 5,000, according to the Syrian embassy in Beijing.

Beijing knows exactly what would happen if they return to Xinjiang, as much as Moscow knows what would happen if Chechen jihadis return to the Caucasus.

So it’s no wonder that China has to act. That includes closing madrassas, detaining imams and arresting – and “re-“educating” – possible jihadis and their families.

Forget about the West offering context about the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), which declared an Islamic Emirate, ISIS/Daesh-style, in November 2019 in Idlib, northwest Syria. TIP was founded in Xinjiang 12 years ago and has been very active in Syria since 2011 – exactly the same year when they claimed to be responsible for a terror operation in Kashgar which killed 23 people.

It’s beyond pathetic that the West killed and displaced Muslim multitudes – directly and indirectly – with the “war on terror” just to become oh so worried with the plight of the Uighurs.

It’s more enlightening to remember history. As in the autumn of 821, when princess Taihe, sister of a Tang dynasty emperor, rode in a Bactrian camel, her female attendants following her in treasured Ferghana horses, all the way from the imperial palace in Chang’an to the land of the Uighurs.

Princess Taihe had been chosen as a living tribute – and was on her way to wed the Uighur kaghan to cement their peoples’ friendship. She came from the east, but her dress and ornaments were from the west, from the Central Asian steppes and deserts where she would live her new life.

And by the way, the Uighurs and the Tang dynasty were allies.

Published:9/18/2020 2:40:48 AM
[Markets] Australia Pushes New Measure To Detain COVID "Conspiracy Theorists"  Australia Pushes New Measure To Detain COVID "Conspiracy Theorists"  Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 02:45

Weekend demonstrations have flared up in Australia over the last month, as Aussies have vented their frustrations and attempted to take back control of their communities after a surge in virus cases prompted the government to re-implement some of the world's most draconian social-distancing measures.

And if there is one thing that terrifies increasingly tyrannical governments, it's a loss of control of the narrative, which is why the Australian government is getting a jump start on curbing any so-called "conspiracy theorists" daring to spread information that questions the fear-mongering being used to keep Aussie citizens under lock and key.

A new bill is expected to be debated by the Victorian government in the State Parliament this week. It gives local authorities the power to detain "conspiracy theorists" and people who refuse to self-isolate, reported Caldron Pool

If passed, the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) allows the government to detain anyone labeled as a "high risk" or likely to spread COVID-19 negligently.

A state government spokesman told The Age that the rule could be applied to "conspiracy theorists who refuse to self-isolate or severely drug-affected or mentally impaired people who do not have the capacity to quarantine." Those arrested under the new rule will be housed in quarantine facilities. 

Attorney-General Jill Hennessy said the new bill would "allow us to continue responding to the challenges the pandemic presents, so we can keep protecting Victorians and delivering the services they rely on."

So far, many of the anti-lockdown demonstrations have been held on the weekends. At least 200 people were fined and 74 arrested at a protest in Melbourne on Sunday. If the bill is passed, some protesters would be rounded up and arrested, and could spend time in a quarantine facility. 

Clearly, the government's intent to extend powers and detain conspiracy theorists and those who pose a risk of spreading the virus should be alarming to readers.

In a glimpse of what is ahead, authorities have already arrested a Melbourne woman for allegedly writing pro-anti lockdown posts on social media. 

Notably, after widespread social media account deletions, TheConversation notes that QAnon has attracted a lot of followers in Australia, so what comes next? 'Re-education centers' for QAnons? 

Published:9/18/2020 2:10:00 AM
[Markets] Economic Report: U.K. retail sales rise for a fourth straight month U.K. retail sales rose 0.8% in August, which is a gain of 4% on pre-pandemic levels.
Published:9/18/2020 2:10:00 AM
[Markets] Lord Sumption: Boris Johnson's "'Rule Of Six' Is Pointless, Arbitrary, And Unnecessary" Lord Sumption: Boris Johnson's "'Rule Of Six' Is Pointless, Arbitrary, And Unnecessary" Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 02:00

Via 21stCenturyWire.com,

This week former UK Supreme Court justice took to the airwaves to strongly criticise the government’s latest laws designed to tighten restrictions on social interactions which came into force on Monday.

According to Lord Jonathan Sumption, the government’s cryptic ‘Rule of Six’ law which prevents more than six people, children, from gathering socially in both indoor and outdoor settings, and homes, gardens, pubs and parks – is “pointless, arbitrary and unnecessary.”

“This one size fits all approach is deeply destructive... it’s much more efficient for everybody to make their own decisions in a responsible way,” says Lord Sumption.

On the issue of legality of the government’s policy he remarked,

“I think it’s very unlikely that the courts are going to decide whether it’s necessary because this is not only a difficult question – a technical and scientific question, but it has to be weighed against all sorts of other social considerations unrelated to health – the social damage, the collateral medical damage, the educational, and economic damage, and so on.

This is an exercise which courts are not well placed to carry out and I suspect that the courts will recognize that.”

Watch his recent segment with TalkRadio host Julia Hartley-Brewer:

Published:9/18/2020 1:10:24 AM
[Markets] Netflix's "Cuties": It's Not The First Attempt By Hollywood To Normalize Pedophilia Netflix's "Cuties": It's Not The First Attempt By Hollywood To Normalize Pedophilia Tyler Durden Fri, 09/18/2020 - 00:00

Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.com,

After studying and exposing the agendas of establishment elites for the past 14 years, I can say with some authority that by watching these people you quickly begin to understand the reality of evil. Anyone who dismisses the concept of evil as nothing more than a “social construct” or a matter of “perception” is suffering from either naivety or bias.

They have either been lucky enough to have avoided a run-in with the resident psychopaths in their town, or, they have certain secret tendencies they will not reveal.  One thing that I have found most disturbing is the habit of evil people to quickly come to the defense of other evil people they don't even know.  That is to say, I was initially shocked to discover the extreme level of fraternity predatory people feel and display when other predatory people are being exposed.  It is as if they are an unspoken brotherhood, and they don't like it when their kinsmen are being punished for their crimes.

Yes, there are such things as ignorance, greed, jealousy, unhealthy desire, etc., and all of these frailties can lead to evil deeds. That said, in the majority of cases you will find that MOST people feel guilt, regret, empathy and remorse that prevent them from following through with their basest instincts. This is what we commonly call “conscience”, and a greater number of people have it. Without it, our species would have self-destructed and gone extinct thousands of years ago.

With psychopaths, however, it's not only about a complete lack of empathy and conscience; they also often take JOY in the destruction, debasement and exploitation of others. Standard sociopaths harm people in the process of getting what they want because they do not have the capacity to care. Psychopaths harm people because THAT IS THEIR GOAL. Think of it as a kind of kink; they lust after control over others, they get high from it. And, their most sought after drug of choice is the violation of innocence.

In my lifetime I have met epic liars, con-men, rapists, murderers and even pedophiles, and their habits and mannerisms all tend to be the same. With every encounter you receive a crash course in evil and begin to learn how to identify them by their character ticks and broken thought processes. It gets to the point where they actually become boring and predictable.

While Hollywood loves to romanticize psychopaths as eternally interesting, in real life they are more like robots or mindless machines. Most of them are good at what they do, which is to be predatory or parasitic, but it's their ONLY skill set - It's the only thing that defines them. Otherwise, they have no capacity for imagination or creativity and all of their thoughts and ideas are stolen from others and recycled. In fact, you will find that if you are near a psychopath for an extended length of time, he/she will start to talk and act just like you.  This is what they do; they seek to blend in.

Some people have a hard time grasping the nature of psychopathy and evil because they have lived sheltered lives and remain blissfully unaware of the danger.

It is certainly possible to bumble through life without encountering such aberrant individuals. Full blown psychopaths (also known as narcissistic sociopaths) are rare in the grand scheme of human society. They represent around 1% of the population statistically, with narcissists and people with sociopathic tendencies representing around 5% of the overall public. And it's a good thing, because a stunning majority of violent crimes tend to be committed by pyschopathic people. They are, by far, the primary drain on criminal justice resources and the biggest threat to social stability and safety.

If someone really wanted to change humanity for the better they could NOT do it without first removing psychopaths from the equation. This means, most importantly, removing them from positions of power and cultural influence. The problem is, there is no way to accurately and easily test for psychopathic traits preemptively.  Extensive psychological observation in a controlled environment is required.

Standard psychological tests can be fooled, and brain-scan tests are highly suspect (there are people who have tried to make a career out of the pyschopath brain-scan game but there is still no proof that the tests do anything to preemptively identify such traits). Ultimately, psychopaths have to be judged on their actions and behavior over time by someone who is very familiar with their universal personality traits.

That said, once these people identify themselves through action something has to be done about them. If they are allowed to continue without resistance they will follow their path to its natural conclusion, which means terror and carnage for anyone they come in contact with.

In order to protect themselves and their activities, psychopaths do indeed organize together. It has happened over and over again through history and the more intelligent or cunning members usually group together within the upper echelons of society by infiltrating institutions of power. Again, the concept of the “lone psychopath” is a Hollywood creation that does not represent real life. As long as there is mutual gain to be had and there are plenty of victims to go around, psychopaths can easily unify.

Hollywood has proven itself over the years to be a haven for evil people. Not so much in terms of the celebrities (though many of them are narcissistic and sociopathic), but more in terms of the people that control the industry. The entire edifice was designed as a haven for subhuman tendencies. They have celebrated this openly in the past, though these days they pretend as if they are cleaning house.

The machine of Hollywood is a vampire's trap, a shining beacon luring in talented (or at least hopeful and starstruck) people, draining them of all life and then spitting them out once the feeding has finished. This is particularly true of children, and the number of cases of child abuse in the industry is staggering.  If it were any other business, the media would be up in arms in terms of the number of convictions and allegations.  If the fast food industry had as many pedo charges as Hollywood, the MSM would be writing thousands of articles a year admonishing the burger barn molestation epidemic.  But when it comes to Hollywood, mainstream journalists rabidly defend the people at the top and attack critics as "conspiracy theorists".

The propensity for psychopaths to value children as their most sought after targets is well known. It's not necessarily always sexual, sometimes it's only physical or mental abuse. But, children are a delicacy to them none-the-less. What could be more enthralling to evil than to destroy the life of a purely innocent person and take their childhood away?

It is only in recent years that pedophilia in Hollywood has been taken more seriously by the general public. The Hollywood elites that dominate high level corporate positions have been the purveyors and controllers of America's cultural expression for almost a century, and yet they are rarely subject to scrutiny. It is their own actions that have created the recent groundswell movement to root out organized child abuse.

Psychopaths are driven by crooked and twisted desires, but they are also driven by a desperate need to “prove” that the rest of society is as evil or as disturbed as they are if given the right “push”. This is one of their greatest weaknesses, because it causes them to make mistakes and expose their true natures.

Enter the Netflix film 'Cuties'...

I have now watched portions of this film, including dramatic story scenes to get a fair sense of the total content as well as come clips of the notorious scenes that have enraged the public. And, I can say WITHOUT A DOUBT, this film is in fact child pornagraphy according to the Department of Justice's legal definition.  A warning - I do NOT recommend watching this movie yourself, but if you do, be warned that the content is highly upsetting.

If you heard from the mainstream media that the reaction to this film was “overblown” and part of a “right wing conspiracy”; then I'm here to tell you that you were lied to. While I continue to hold to my position that Qanon is a joke and a psyop that has been wrong about almost every single prediction they have made, you don't have to be a part of the Q-cult to see the attempt to normalize pedophilia at the foundation of Cuties.

Arguments made by the predominantly social justice media have exposed where they really stand on the issue of evil, and they are all for it!  Once again, the hard political left exposes its true nature when it comes to the defense of terrible content.  There have been hints of this in previous campaigns by the media, such as left-wing outlet Salon and an article they published in defense of pedophilia written by a self-professed pedophile.  Their argument?  That pedophilia should be treated with more empathy as long as pedophiles do not act on their impulses.  Salon later took down the article, but other media outlets argued that they should have left it published.

Initially, the criticism of the Cuties movie trailer was met with jeers from media pundits, the only people who had yet seen the film in its entirety. They claimed that critics had no idea what they were talking about and that the trailer did not convey the true message of the film, which is supposedly that sexual exploitation of children is “bad”. Yet, when the film was released it became clear this was a lie.

You can wrap child porn in as many declarations of “art” and “discourse” as you like, but at the end of the day it's still child porn. The fact that it was directed by a woman from western Africa that migrated to France is irrelevant. African women migrants can be pedophiles and psychopaths, too. And yes, anyone that would expose 11 year old girls to this kind of filmmaking is indeed a psychopath.

The cinematography methods and camera angles are what give it away, and anyone that has studied film understands how this works. Sexualized film subjects tend to lend themselves to a certain form of cinematography which is designed to glamorize and entice.

For example, watch the film 'Dancing At The Blue Iguana' (a disturbing movie which I actually like), a movie about the sordid lives of strippers trying to survive in Los Angeles. Take note of the camera work in that movie, and then, if you can stomach it, compare it to the dance scenes in Cuties. The camera work is THE SAME, hovering over certain body parts voyeuristically. The difference is that 'Dancing At The Blue Iguana' stars ADULT WOMEN, not 11 year old girls.

Cuties is often defended by the media as being a Sundance “award winning” film; meaning, if the art-house elites sign off on it, it is therefore socially and morally acceptable material. It's just “too smart” for the plebeians to grasp, right? Well, I am a long-time film buff myself and I know when I am looking at “art” and when I am looking at exploitation, and Cuties is clear-cut exploitation.

It should also be noted that the co-founder of the Sundance Film Festival plead guilty to child sex abuse charges only a year ago. So, maybe having the Sundance award emblem on a film is not a free pass for pedophilia.

Of course, the movie Cuties is not the first time Hollywood has tried to normalize the sexualization of children. In 1932 and 1933, right at the onset of the Great Depression, producer Jack Hays and director Charles Lamont released a series of at least eight films which would be dubbed “Baby Burlesque”. The films featured extremely young actors and actresses, including Shirley Temple before she was a box office juggernaught, acting out adult stories and scenes, dressed in adult costumes.  The movies contained pervasive sexual overtones, and if you are familiar with the ways Temple was viciously abused by Hollywood producers during her time as an actress the films have an added darkness to them.

The formula for Baby Burlesque movies was to portray young actors in adult situations and then label it "parody".  This included a young Temple playing a hooker dressed in revealing "street clothing" and discussing how much she costs.  Temple's later films would portray a young child, often an orphan, adopted by or spending the entire film with a rich benefactor. Parents usually do not make an appearance in the films or are killed in some tragic way, leaving the child alone and vulnerable. The dances and even songs in the movies are semi-erotic, especially for the era. The relationships between the children and the adult benefactors is bizarre, and is usually portrayed as an almost romantic interaction instead of a normal adult/child caretaker interaction.

Hollywood has been doing this for a LONG time.  Cuties is nothing more than a modernized version of Baby Burlesque.

To be clear, Netflix did not make the film, they only bankrolled the distribution of it.  That said, their promotional trailer for the movie directly showcased the sexual elements and not much else, which indicates to me what they REALLY cared about, and it wasn't the story.  Once the movie was released to the public it became obvious that the trailers for the film didn't even scratch the surface of the actual pedophilic content.

The casting for the film took 6 months to complete and over 700 girls were "auditioned" for the starring roles.  Director Maïmouna Doucouré continues to defend the film, calling it a "feminist" project.  This is not surprising; the unhinged and mentally disturbed nature of the social justice movement lends itself to all kinds of disorders.  The biggest problem is their infatuation with moral relativism and their ability to rationalize any number of crimes in the name of "diversity" or "equality" or "intersectionality".  These are hollow buzzwords made up by hollow people; they don't excuse bad behavior.

As with Baby Burlesque, child pornography is often masked as something else.  In the case of Cuties, child exploitation is masked as a loose commentary on child exploitation.  Is it blind irony?  No, not really.  Rather, in my opinion, it was planned.

I do find it interesting that the pedophile networks in Hollywood seem to choose the most unstable moments in history as a springboard for introducing child sexualization into the public consciousness.  They flooded the entertainment market with Baby Burlesque films right at the beginning of the Great Depression.  Now they are pushing the envelope even further during a pandemic, riots and economic crisis today.  My theory?  They see the widespread weakness and uncertainty in our society and view it as an opportunity to fundamentally change our moral boundaries.  The elites really want us to look at films like Cuties and say "Gee, this pedophilia thing isn't as bad as it's made out to be...and maybe it's not wrong to be aroused by 11 year old children..."  Some people are in fact saying this on YouTube right now as they come to the defense of the film.

Bottom line:  If you are aroused by 11 year old children then you are psychologically defective and should be separated from the rest of society for the good of all.  There are certain behaviors that cannot and should not ever be adopted by society as tolerable.  This is one of them.

If there is anything positive to be had from the elitist establishment's obsession with getting us to accept child abuse as “normal”, it is that they continue to expose the demons that they are. Luckily, it seems America and much of the world has rejected Cuties outright, and any interest in the film seems to be due to morbid curiosity about how such a disaster could have been produced and distributed.  Hollywood is NEVER going to convince the public that child abuse is okay, but they will continue to try until we put them out of business.

*  *  *

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Published:9/17/2020 11:09:10 PM
[Markets] 'Virtual School' Dangers: The Hazards Of A Police State Education During COVID-19 'Virtual School' Dangers: The Hazards Of A Police State Education During COVID-19 Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 23:20

Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

“There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.”

- George Orwell, 1984

Once upon a time in America, parents breathed a sigh of relief when their kids went back to school after a summer’s hiatus, content in the knowledge that for a good portion of the day, their kids would be gainfully occupied, out of harm’s way, and out of trouble.

Back then, if you talked back to a teacher, or played a prank on a classmate, or just failed to do your homework, you might find yourself in detention or doing an extra writing assignment after school or suffering through a parent-teacher conference about your shortcomings.

Of course, that was before school shootings became a part of our national lexicon.

As a result, over the course of the past 30 years, the need to keep the schools “safe” from drugs and weapons has become a thinly disguised, profit-driven campaign to transform them into quasi-prisons, complete with surveillance cameras, metal detectors, police patrols, zero tolerance policies, lock downs, drug sniffing dogs, school resource officers, strip searches, and active shooter drills.

Suddenly, under school zero tolerance policies, students were being punished with suspension, expulsion, and even arrest for childish behavior and minor transgressions such as playing cops and robbers on the playground, bringing LEGOs to school, or having a food fight.

Things got even worse once schools started to rely on police (school resource officers) to “deal with minor rule breaking: sagging pants, disrespectful comments, brief physical skirmishes.”

As a result, students are being subjected to police tactics such as handcuffs, leg shackles, tasers and excessive force for “acting up,” in addition to being ticketed, fined and sent to court for behavior perceived as defiant, disruptive or disorderly such as spraying perfume and writing on a desk.

This is what constitutes a police state education these days: lessons in compliance meted out with aggressive, totalitarian tactics.

The COVID-19 pandemic has added yet another troubling layer to the ways in which students (and their families) can run afoul of a police state education now that school (virtual or in-person) is back in session.

Significant numbers of schools within the nation’s 13,000 school districts have opted to hold their classes online, in-person or a hybrid of the two, fearing further outbreaks of the virus. Yet this unprecedented foray into the virtual world carries its own unique risks.

Apart from the technological logistics of ensuring that millions of students across the country have adequate computer and internet access, consider the Fourth Amendment ramifications of having students attend school online via video classes from the privacy of their homes.

Suddenly, you’ve got government officials (in this case, teachers or anyone at the school on the other end of that virtual connection) being allowed carte blanche visual access to the inside of one’s private home without a warrant.

Anything those school officials see—anything they hear—anything they photograph or record—during that virtual visit becomes fair game for scrutiny and investigation not just by school officials but by every interconnected government agency to which that information can be relayed: the police, social services, animal control, the Department of Homeland Security, you name it.

After all, this is the age of overcriminalization, when the federal criminal code is so vast that the average American unknowingly commits about three federal felonies per day, a U.S. Attorney can find a way to charge just about anyone with violating federal law.

It’s a train wreck just waiting to happen.

In fact, we’re already seeing this play out across the country. For instance, a 12-year-old Colorado boy was suspended for flashing a toy gun across his computer screen during an online art class. Without bothering to notify or consult with the boy’s parents, police carried out a welfare check on Isaiah Elliott, who suffers from ADHD and learning disabilities.

An 11-year-old Maryland boy had police descend on his home in search of weapons after school officials spied a BB gun on the boy’s bedroom wall during a Google Meet class on his laptop. School officials reported the sighting to the school resource officer, who then called the police.

And in New York and Massachusettsgrowing numbers of parents are being visited by social services after being reported to the state child neglect and abuse hotline, all because their kids failed to sign in for some of their online classes. Charges of neglect, in some instances, can lead to children being removed from their homes.

You see what this is, don’t you?

This is how a seemingly well-meaning program (virtual classrooms) becomes another means by which the government can intrude into our private lives, further normalizing the idea of constant surveillance and desensitizing us to the dangers of an existence in which we are never safe from the all-seeing eyes of Big Brother.

This is how the police sidestep the Fourth Amendment’s requirement for probable cause and a court-issued warrant in order to spy us on in the privacy of our homes: by putting school officials in a position to serve as spies and snitches via online portals and virtual classrooms, and by establishing open virtual doorways into our homes through which the police can enter uninvited and poke around.

Welfare checks. Police searches for weapons. Reports to Social Services.

It’s only a matter of time before the self-righteous Nanny State uses this COVID-19 pandemic as yet another means by which it can dictate every aspect of our lives.

At the moment, it’s America’s young people who are the guinea pigs for the police state’s experiment in virtual authoritarianism. Already, school administrators are wrestling with how to handle student discipline for in-person classes and online learning in the midst of COVID-19.

Mark my words, this will take school zero tolerance policies—and their associated harsh disciplinary penalties—to a whole new level once you have teachers empowered to act as the Thought Police.

As Kalyn Belsha reports for Chalkbeat, “In Jacksonville, Florida, students who don’t wear a mask repeatedly could be removed from school and made to learn online. In some Texas districts, intentionally coughing on someone can be classified as assault. In Memphis, minor misbehaviors could land students in an online ‘supervised study.’”

Depending on the state and the school district, failing to wear a face mask could constitute a dress code violation. In Utah, not wearing a face mask at school constitutes a criminal misdemeanor. In Texas, it’s considered an assault to intentionally spit, sneeze, or cough on someone else. Anyone removing their mask before spitting or coughing could be given a suspension from school.

Virtual learning presents its own challenges with educators warning dire consequences for students who violate school standards for dress code and work spaces, even while “learning” at home. According to Chalkbeat, “In Shelby County, Tennessee, which includes Memphis, that means no pajamas, hats, or hoods on screen, and students’ shirts must have sleeves. (The district is providing ‘flexibility’ on clothing bottoms and footwear when a student’s full body won’t be seen on video.) Other rules might be even tougher to follow: The district is also requiring students’ work stations to be clear of ‘foreign objects’ and says students shouldn’t eat or drink during virtual classes.”

See how quickly the Nanny State a.k.a. Police State takes over?

All it takes for you to cease being the master of your own home is to have a child engaged in virtual learning. Suddenly, the government gets to have a say in how you order your space and when those in your home can eat and drink and what clothes they wear.

If you think the schools won’t overreact in a virtual forum, you should think again.

These are the same schools that have been plagued by a lack of common sense when it comes to enforcing zero tolerance policies for weapons, violence and drugs.

These are the very same schools that have exposed students to a steady diet of draconian zero tolerance policies that criminalize childish behavior, overreaching anti-bullying statutes that criminalize speech, school resource officers (police) tasked with disciplining and/or arresting so-called “disorderly” students, standardized testing that emphasizes rote answers over critical thinking, politically correct mindsets that teach young people to censor themselves and those around them, and extensive biometric and surveillance systems that, coupled with the rest, acclimate young people to a world in which they have no freedom of thought, speech or movement.

Zero tolerance policies that were intended to make schools safer by discouraging the use of actual drugs and weapons by students have turned students into suspects to be treated as criminals by school officials and law enforcement alike, while criminalizing childish behavior.

For instance, 9-year-old Patrick Timoney was sent to the principal's office and threatened with suspension after school officials discovered that one of his LEGOs was holding a 2-inch toy gun. David Morales, an 8-year-old Rhode Island student, ran afoul of his school's zero tolerance policies after he wore a hat to school decorated with an American flag and tiny plastic Army figures in honor of American troops. School officials declared the hat out of bounds because the toy soldiers were carrying miniature guns.

A high school sophomore was suspended for violating the school's no-cell-phone policy after he took a call from his father, a master sergeant in the U.S. Army who was serving in Iraq at the time. In Houston, an 8th grader was suspended for wearing rosary beads to school in memory of her grandmother (the school has a zero tolerance policy against the rosary, which the school insists can be interpreted as a sign of gang involvement).

Even imaginary weapons (hand-drawn pictures of guns, pencils twirled in a “threatening” manner, imaginary bows and arrows, even fingers positioned like guns) can also land a student in detention. Equally outrageous was the case in New Jersey where several kindergartners were suspended from school for three days for playing a make-believe game of "cops and robbers" during recess and using their fingers as guns.

With the distinctions between student offenses erased, and all offenses expellable, we now find ourselves in the midst of what Time magazine described as a “national crackdown on Alka-Seltzer.” Students have actually been suspended from school for possession of the fizzy tablets in violation of zero tolerance drug policies. Students have also been penalized for such inane "crimes" as bringing nail clippers to school, using Listerine or Scope, and carrying fold-out combs that resemble switchblades.

A 13-year-old boy in Manassas, Virginia, who accepted a Certs breath mint from a classmate, was actually suspended and required to attend drug-awareness classes, while a 12-year-old boy who said he brought powdered sugar to school for a science project was charged with a felony for possessing a look-alike drug.

Acts of kindness, concern, basic manners or just engaging in childish behavior can also result in suspensions.

One 13-year-old was given detention for exposing the school to “liability” by sharing his lunch with a hungry friend. A third grader was suspended for shaving her head in sympathy for a friend who had lost her hair to chemotherapy. And then there was the high school senior who was suspended for saying “bless you” after a fellow classmate sneezed.

In South Carolina, where it’s against the law to disturb a school, more than a thousand students a year—some as young as 7 years old—“face criminal charges for not following directions, loitering, cursing, or the vague allegation of acting ‘obnoxiously.’ If charged as adults, they can be held in jail for up to 90 days.”

Things get even worse when you add police to the mix.

Thanks to a combination of media hype, political pandering and financial incentives, the use of armed police officers (a.k.a. school resource officers) to patrol school hallways has risen dramatically in the years since the Columbine school shooting (nearly 20,000 by 2003). What this means, notes Mother Jones, is greater police “involvement in routine discipline matters that principals and parents used to address without involvement from law enforcement officers.”

Funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, these school resource officers (SROs) have become de facto wardens in the elementary, middle and high schools, doling out their own brand of justice to the so-called “criminals” in their midst with the help of tasers, pepperspray, batons and brute force.

The horror stories are legion.

One SRO is accused of punching a 13-year-old student in the face for cutting in the cafeteria line. That same cop put another student in a chokehold a week later, allegedly knocking the student unconscious and causing a brain injury.

In Pennsylvania, a student was tased after ignoring an order to put his cell phone away.

A 12-year-old New York student was hauled out of school in handcuffs for doodling on her desk with an erasable marker. Another 12-year-old was handcuffed and jailed after he stomped in a puddle, splashing classmates.

On any given day when school is in session, kids who “act up” in class are pinned facedown on the floor, locked in dark closets, tied up with straps, bungee cords and duct tape, handcuffed, leg shackled, tasered or otherwise restrained, immobilized or placed in solitary confinement in order to bring them under “control.”

In almost every case, these undeniably harsh methods are used to punish kids for simply failing to follow directions or throwing tantrums.

Very rarely do the kids pose any credible danger to themselves or others.

For example, a 4-year-old Virginia preschooler was handcuffed, leg shackled and transported to the sheriff’s office after reportedly throwing blocks and climbing on top of the furniture. School officials claim the restraints were necessary to protect the adults from injury.

6-year-old kindergarten student in a Georgia public school was handcuffed, transported to the police station, and charged with simple battery of a schoolteacher and criminal damage to property for throwing a temper tantrum at school.

This is the end product of all those so-called school “safety” policies, which run the gamut from zero tolerance policies that punish all infractions harshly to surveillance cameras, metal detectors, random searches, drug-sniffing dogs, school-wide lockdowns, active-shooter drills and militarized police officers.

Yet these police state tactics did not made the schools any safer.

As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, police state tactics never make anyone safer so much as they present the illusion of safety and indoctrinate the populace to comply, fear and march in lockstep with the government’s dictates.

Now with virtual learning in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic, the stakes are even higher.

It won’t be long before you start to see police carrying out knock-and-talk investigations based on whatever speculative information is gleaned from those daily virtual classroom sessions that allow government officials entry to your homes in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

It won’t take much at all for SWAT teams to start crashing through doors based on erroneous assumptions about whatever mistaken “contraband” someone may have glimpsed in the background of a virtual classroom session: a maple leaf that looks like marijuana, a jar of sugar that looks like cocaine, a toy gun, someone playfully shouting for help in the distance.

This may sound far-fetched now, but it’s only a matter of time before this slippery slope becomes yet another mile marker on the one-way road to tyranny.

Published:9/17/2020 10:39:49 PM
[Markets] Esper Touts China Is Too Far Behind US Navy Superiority To Ever Close The Gap Esper Touts China Is Too Far Behind US Navy Superiority To Ever Close The Gap Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 23:00

In Wednesday remarks Secretary of Defense Mark Esper touted complete US naval superiority over China, stating firmly, "I want to make clear that China cannot match the United States when it comes to naval power."

Esper addressed a RAND Corporation event and underscored the major communist power which the US Navy is increasingly butting up against in the South China Sea is ultimately too far behind to close the gap in terms of maritime capability, despite it leading the world in simple ship numbers. He reminded his audience that numbers aren't everything.

"Even if we stopped building new ships, it would take the [People's Republic of China] years to close the gap when it comes to our capability on the high seas," Esper said. "Ship numbers are important, but they don't tell the whole story."

The destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (foreground) and aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. Image: US Navy

"They do not address the types of ships and the capabilities of the vessels being counted; the skill of the crews that operate them; the prowess of the officers that lead them; or the ways in which we fight and sustain them," Esper added.

He further emphasized that the Department of Defense remains resolved in maintaining that clear dominance, as there are navy plans to expand its overall number of ships, saying "We must increase funding for shipbuilding and the readiness that sustains a larger force."

On the future of unmanned military vehicles, he said: "This fleet will need to be made up of more and smaller surface combatants; optionally manned, unmanned, and autonomous surface and subsurface vehicles; unmanned carrier-based aircraft of all types; a larger and more capable submarine force; and a modern strategic deterrent."

His comments raised eyebrows also given it's widely acknowledged that China has the largest navy in the world, as the Pentagon's recently issued annual China Military Power report underscored.

"China has already achieved parity with — or even exceeded — the United States in several military modernization areas," the Pentagon report stated. "The PRC has the largest navy in the world, with an overall battle force of approximately 350 ships and submarines including over 130 major surface combatants," the report said.

USS Carl Vinson, DoD/US Navy file image.

The report said that China is "the top ship-producing nation in the world by tonnage."

But considering aircraft carriers alone, for example, it's easy to visualize America's superiority.

The US Navy has 21 total aircraft carriers, among these 11 large nuclear-powered fleet carriers, while China has a mere two with a third on the way.

Published:9/17/2020 10:11:58 PM
[Markets] Goldman CEO David Solomon Tries For Second Time In 3 Years To Sell $25 Million Aspen Mansion Goldman CEO David Solomon Tries For Second Time In 3 Years To Sell $25 Million Aspen Mansion Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 22:20

Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon is hoping to "sell the rip" in the suburban real estate market that has taken place as wealthy families move further out of major U.S. cities.

The investment banking CEO, who doubles as a nightclub DJ, is attempting to sell his massive estate in Aspen for the second time in 3 years.

The property was built to look like a typical log cabin, but features enormous outsized windows that open up to the view of "sweeping vistas". 

The 83 acre home has an "estimated value of $25 million" according to Bloomberg. Solomon has been speaking to potential buyers over the course of the summer, according to the report.

The property is 13,000 square feet and was completed in 2009 after Solomon purchased it in 2005 for $4 million. It boasts 7 full bathrooms and two half baths.

The property's listing in 2017 called the house both "classy" and "comfortable". It also has a cinema, pool, sauna and hot tub. 

As we noted, Solomon is having his second go at trying to sell the property - recall, he tried to sell his home for $36 million back in 2017. Perhaps he is hoping to take advantage of a real estate market that is seeing an exodus from cities and crowded areas as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

This shift seems to have lifted property values in Aspen. Bloomberg noted that the "dollar value of single-family home sales in Aspen surged 440% in August from a year earlier". 

Solomon was unable to find buyers at the $36 million listed price in 2017.

Perhaps with trillions of dollars in PPP money floating around the nation, he'll have better luck this time. 

Published:9/17/2020 9:38:45 PM
[Markets] The Wall Street Journal: Trump accused of sexual assault at 1997 U.S. Open A former model has accused President Trump of sexually assaulting her at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in 1997.
Published:9/17/2020 9:11:57 PM
[Markets] How Much Money Do Communications Majors Make? How Much Money Do Communications Majors Make? Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 22:00

Submitted by Priceonomics,

For those who are considering a career in communications, a key question to understand is how much money you'll be making when you graduate. Furthermore, will that salary be sufficient to pay for the debt involved with getting your degree?

While predicting one's future income is subject to uncertainty, especially in the current economic climate, there is luckily a lot of data out there. Along with Priceonomics customer MastersInCommunications.org, we analyzed and collected data by the US Department of Education about how much money communications majors earn.

Using data from the College Scorecard, a data resource about the earnings and debt of graduates of US colleges, we looked at which undergraduate communications programs produced the graduates with the best and worst financial prospects.

We found that communications majors from Georgia Tech and the University of Pennsylvania have the highest earnings while Shaw University has the lowest-earning graduates. Colleges like Devry and Grambling State University produce communications graduates with the highest debt while the City University of New York (CUNY) has graduated with the lowest levels of debt.

***

Before beginning the analysis of colleges where communications graduates earn the most and least, let's look at the overall data. According to the most recent data from the US Department of Education College Scorecard, the median college graduate with a communications degree earns $31,400, approximately the same as the median US worker.

Not all communications programs are created equal, however. And you have ample reason to consider an online masters in communication program. Below shows the distribution of undergraduate communications programs segmented by median annual salary:

55.6% of graduates from college communications programs earn between $30K and $40K per year. In total, nearly 95% of communications majors earn under $40K per year. No undergraduate institution reported communications majors earning above $60K per year. Which colleges produce communications majors that earn the most and least? The following chart shows the schools reporting the highest median earnings among their undergraduates who studied communication:

Communications majors from Georgia Institute of Technology earn the most in the country with a median salary of $57,600 per year. In second place is the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League school where graduates earn just under $50,000 per year. In third place is the Mitchell Technical Institute, a technical college in South Dakota.

Communication graduates from Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina earn just $14,900 per year, the lowest in the country. SUNY Broome and Technical Career Institute graduates earn the second and third lowest salaries respectively.

When it comes to debt, which schools communication graduates emerge with the highest and lowest burdens?

Communications majors from Devry University emerge with $42,430 in debt, the highest in the country. Grambling State and Lane College communications majors also graduate with more than $40,000 in debt. On the other hand, a number of community colleges graduate communications majors with less than $10,000 in debt.

Having high levels of debt can be a problem, but that can be made up for with having a high income. Which colleges produce communications majors with high debt to income ratios and which ones come out with high incomes relative to their debt? The chart below shows the schools with the best and worst debt to income ratios (Total Debt / Annual Income):

Some of the schools whose students graduate with debt also have the least favorable debt to income ratios. Grambling State University and Shaw University produce communications graduates with the highest debt to income ratios by a considerable margin. On the other hand, schools that produce graduates with low debt relative to their income are a mix of community colleges (CUNY), lower-priced private schools (Brigham Young), higher-priced private schools (Cornell), and state schools (University of California). For a communication major who looks to graduate with a strong income relative to debt, all types of schools may fit the bill.

Published:9/17/2020 9:11:57 PM
[Markets] Biden's Gun Control Claims At Odds With Crime Stats Biden's Gun Control Claims At Odds With Crime Stats Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 21:20

Authored by John Lott Jr. via RealClearPolitics.com,

After two Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies were shot and critically wounded on Saturday, Joe Biden warned, “Weapons of war have no place in our communities." And within just hours of the attack, Biden tweeted in praise of the original bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, which lasted from 1994 to 2004. “These bans saved lives, and Congress should never have let them expire,” he wrote.

handgun, not an assault rifle, was used to shoot the deputies. But it seems that Biden never misses an opportunity to deceptively complain about “weapons of war.”

In the past, Biden and vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris have applied this label to AR-15 semi-automatic rifles.  But these guns function exactly as small-game, semi-automatic hunting rifles. Though it looks like the M16 machine gun made famous in the Vietnam War, no military in the world uses the AR-15.

Gun control advocates commonly pose the question:

"Why do people need a semi-automatic AR-15 to go out and kill deer?"

The answer is simple: It is a hunting rifle. It has just been made to look like a military weapon. Semi-automatic weapons are also used to protect people and save lives. Single-shot rifles that require you to physically reload the gun may not do people a lot of good when their first shot misses or fails to stop an attacker. Or, for that matter, if they are facing multiple assailants.

What about Biden’s claims that the assault weapons ban saved lives?

Since the ban expired in September 2004, murder and overall violent crime rates have fallen. In 2003, the last full year before the law expired, the U.S. murder rate was 5.7 per 100,000 people. The murder rate never returned to that level, and fell to 5.0 per 100,000 people by 2018.

If the ban had any effect, one would think that it would reduce the number of murders committed with rifles. But the percentage of firearm murders that were committed with rifles was at 4.8% prior to the ban starting in September 1994, and averaged 4.9% from 1995 to 2004. In the 10 years after the ban, the figure averaged just 3.9%. This pattern is the opposite of what gun control advocates predicted.

Many academic studies have examined the original federal assault weapons ban.  

They consistently found no statistically significant impact on mass public shootings or any other type of crime. Clinton administration-funded research by criminology professors Chris Koper and Jeff Roth confirmed as much in a 1997 report for the National Institute of Justice.

“The evidence is not strong enough for us to conclude that there was any meaningful effect (i.e., that the effect was different from zero),” they wrote. 

Koper and Roth suggested at the time that it might be possible to find a benefit after the ban had been in effect for more years. In 2004, they published a follow-up NIJ study with fellow criminologist Dan Woods.

“We cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence,” they concluded.

“And, indeed, there has been no discernible reduction in the lethality and injuriousness of gun violence.”

Gun control advocates often cite work by Louis Klarevas, but his non-peer-reviewed methodologies are highly flawed. For one thing, Klarevas looks only at the total number of mass public shootings, whether they were committed with assault weapons or with other types of guns. While the share of mass public shootings that utilized assault weapons fell during the ban, it fell even more sharply in the 10 years after the ban ended in 2004. And any reduction that the ban caused in attacks with assault weapons may simply have meant more attacks with other types of guns.

Biden’s tweet also touted large-capacity ammunition magazine bans. Contrary to common perception, ordinary hunting rifles can hold just as large a magazine as "assault weapons.” Any gun that can hold a magazine can hold one of any size. That is true for handguns as well as rifles. Magazines are basically metal boxes with springs, and are easy to make and virtually impossible to stop criminals from obtaining. The 1994 legislation banned magazines that could hold more than 10 bullets, yet had no effect on crime rates.

Biden is making it clear that gun control is near the top of his agenda. So it’s little wonder that gun control zealot Michael Bloomberg just pledged to spend at least $100 million in Florida alone on behalf of the Biden campaign. But no matter how much Biden wishes it were true, guns bans won’t make American’s safer. With Democrats promising to eliminate the Senate filibuster if they win, gun bans will be an integral part of the radical agenda that they will quickly enact. To his credit, Biden is not hiding it.

Published:9/17/2020 8:38:21 PM
[Markets] The Wall Street Journal: New TikTok plan would see Oracle, Walmart, others give U.S. companies majority stake Backers of a proposed new entity to take over Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok are working to create an ownership structure that would give U.S. interests a majority stake, in an effort to ease the Trump administration’s security concerns.
Published:9/17/2020 8:38:20 PM
[Markets] Election: Biden says he won’t downplay threats to U.S. at Pennsylvania town hall Joe Biden said Thursday that he wouldn’t downplay any serious threat to the United States, like President Donald Trump did with COVID-19, during a Thursday night town hall that was largely focused on the coronavirus pandemic early on.
Published:9/17/2020 8:08:14 PM
[Markets] World Bank Warns Recovery Could Take "Five Years" World Bank Warns Recovery Could Take "Five Years" Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 21:00

Global economic activity around the world has stabilized in mid-September, though far below pre-COVID-19 levels as recoveries risk reversing if monetary and fiscal stimulus is not continued at rates seen in the first half of 2020. We noted Wednesday, a new OECD report offered some hope the global downturn is not as severe as previously thought but is still viewed as an "unprecedented" decline. 

We also noted the OECD report is problematic for policy-makers who have unleashed easy-money policies during the pandemic to artificially inflate economies and boost risk assets, as policy support in the second half of the year might not be as great as what was seen earlier in the year (as is currently playing out in Washington with the prospect of a slimmed-down stimulus bill getting slimmer).

So with waning support from central banks and fiscal stimulus from governments, the quick rebound seen in the global economy has likely stalled, and the shape of the recovery will no longer resemble a "V" but more of a "W" or "U" or "L."  

For more color on the shape of the global recovery, or rather perhaps how long the recovery will last, chief economist of the World Bank, Carmen Reinhart, warned Thursday, a full recovery could take upwards of five years, reported El País.

"There will probably be a quick rebound as all the restriction measures linked to lockdowns are lifted, but a full recovery will take as much as five years," Reinhart said, while speaking at a conference in Madrid, Spain. 

Carmen Reinhardt, Chief Economist at the World Bank

Reinhart said (as quoted by Reuters), "the pandemic-caused recession will last longer in some countries than in others and will increase inequalities as the poorest will be harder hit by the crisis in rich countries and the poorest countries will be harder hit than richer countries."

"Central banks have tried to provide liquidity to avoid affecting more households. But as much as central banks give support, there are businesses that will not return, there are closed restaurants or stores that will not reopen, there are homes that will take a long time to find employment, there are airlines or hotels that will not survive a long period without normal mobility. There are going to be a lot of bankruptcies: if you look at the credit rating agencies, S&P, Moody's, Fitch, the amount of reduction in credit quality that has been seen since the beginning of the year, both at the corporate and sovereign levels, has been a record. And central banks are not all-powerful either: no matter how much credit support is given, at some point you have to face the deterioration in the financial system, and that is not a criticism: it is inevitable because of the deep drop in the economy. Under these conditions, we have to think about cuts that allow new credits for recovery," she said. 

She added, "this crisis did not start as a financial crisis. But given the depth of this decline we are experiencing, it is turning into a financial crisis. For very obvious reasons: many households have lost a job that they will not get back, they have difficulties in paying their debts, many businesses have closed their doors and will not reopen them, the shopping centers are paralyzed and half empty." 

This comes as 29.7 million people around the world have been infected with COVID-19 and 938,820 have died, according to the latest Johns Hopkins University figures. High frequency data (via Bloomberg) is showing the recovery around the world has stabilized but risks a reversal if more policy support, if that is from central banks or governments is not seen. 

Readers should be asking: What happens when Wall Street misreads the shape of the recovery?

To answer that, Gary Shilling, the president of A. Gary Shilling & Co., told CNBC's Elizabeth Schulze in a July interview that once investors realize the shape of the recovery is an "L" rather than the overhyped "V," it would trigger a 1930s stock market decline. 

Published:9/17/2020 8:08:14 PM
[Markets] Black Lives Matter Protesters In Pittsburgh Charged After Harassing, Cursing Out Diners Black Lives Matter Protesters In Pittsburgh Charged After Harassing, Cursing Out Diners Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 20:20

Three Black Lives Matter protesters in Pittsburgh are now facing charges from police after they were identified as people involved in viral videos that showed them cursing out diners at an outdoor restaurant. One protester even chugged a person's beer, according to Fox News

Pittsburgh police brought the charges on Monday against Shawn Green, Kenneth McDowell and Monique Craft for the incident that took place at a restaurant called Sienna Mercato. 

"Activist" Monique Craft shown chugging someone's beer

In video of the incident, Craft can be seen wearing a shirt that says "Nazi Lives Don't Matter", walking up to an older white couple, grabbing their beer off the table, and chugging itThat should help move along race relations in the country! Great thinking, Monique.

For his/her efforts (Craft is non-binary), Monique was issued a summons for theft, conspiracy and simple trespass. Craft told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the video "only shows one side of the story".

McDowell - who screamed obscenities at diners using a megaphone - was charged with possessing instruments of a crime, conspiracy, harassment and two counts of disorderly conduct. A complaint against McDowell says he swore at diners and gave them the middle finger. 

You can watch video of the "protest" from CBS here:

Published:9/17/2020 7:38:46 PM
[Markets] : Uber hires new tech chief from Amazon Amazon veteran is heading to the ride-hailing giant to fill a position that has been vacant since May.
Published:9/17/2020 7:38:46 PM
[Markets] Unity Software prices IPO at $52 to raise at least $1.3 billion Unity Software prices IPO at $52 to raise at least $1.3 billion Published:9/17/2020 7:10:05 PM
[Markets] How COVID-19 Is Transforming The World's Sovereign Wealth Funds How COVID-19 Is Transforming The World's Sovereign Wealth Funds Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 20:00

Authored by Oxford Business Group via SafeHaven.com,

The IMF predicts that the global economy will contract by 4.9% this year, down from growth of 2.9% in 2019, while the World Bank has forecast a fall of 5.2%, the worst contraction since the Second World War.

With national economies suffering from revenue shortages, and populations in need of additional government support to mitigate the impacts of the crisis, SWFs have in many cases seen their roles transformed.

As a result of reduced income, many governments have been tapping SWFs to help balance budgets and provide stimulus to businesses or households.

This development has changed the conventional wisdom surrounding SWFs, which have combined assets estimated of around $6trn globally.

Before the pandemic the funds were seen as having limited – or a total lack of – liabilities. However, Covid-19 has seen SWFs called on to meet the implicit liabilities associated with economic shocks.

Among some SWFs, there is a growing realisation that they are no longer standalone institutions, but rather fiscal policy tools that are fully integrated into the macroeconomic management of their respective countries.

This shift has also brought about significant challenges for SWFs as they adapt to the new economic environment.

For commodity-based funds, many of which are underpinned by significant hydrocarbons exposure, the reduction in economic activity associated with Covid-19 has combined with persistently low oil prices to create twin challenges.

Meanwhile, for funds primarily based on trade surpluses, the deceleration in global trade and subsequent logistical and transport challenges have created similar hurdles.

Asset sell-off

Covid-19 has forced many of the less liquid SWFs to offload assets to generate cash.

The trend is expected to be particularly prevalent in countries with a heavy reliance on oil revenue.

For example, in Norway, where the government expects net cash flows from petroleum activities to fall by 62% this year to the lowest level since 1999, the country is expected to withdraw some $37bn in assets from its SWF, more than four times the previous record of $9.7bn in 2016.

This development is also expected to affect the Middle East, where funds will be called on to bridge fiscal deficits, which international credit ratings agency Fitch expects to constitute between 10% and 20% of GDP this year.

In Abu Dhabi, where the deficit is forecast to total 12% of GDP, the agency expects a $20bn drawdown on sovereign savings, while in Oman, tipped for a 19% fiscal deficit, analysts say as much as $8bn could be withdrawn from its SWFs.

In light of this, JP Morgan estimates that SWFs in the MENA region could dump up to $225bn in equities this year.

In addition to selling off assets to pay for budgetary spending, some SWFs have been called on to make other forms of investment.

In June Temasek, Singapore’s SWF, recapitalised domestic shipbuilding and repair conglomerate Sembcorp Marine with $1.5bn. This came after the fund channelled $13bn into flag carrier Singapore Airlines.

Such investment is a prime example of the increasing attention SWFs are paying to their home markets since the outbreak of the pandemic. While most investments remain international, domestic deals are increasing in size and frequency.

According to the International Forum of SWFs (IFSWF), domestic deals accounted for 21% of the total value of SWF investment in 2019, with this trend increasing over the past six months.

Opportunities amid disruption

While some funds have sought to offload assets, others are looking to take advantage of lower share prices during the pandemic.

Among them is Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which – despite the downturn in the global hydrocarbons industry and its stated goal of spurring diversification – has recently made investments in international energy giants.

In April the PIF acquired around $1bn worth of stakes in European energy majors Royal Dutch Shell, Eni and Total, which was followed by a $200m investment in Norway’s Equinor.

The fund also acquired stakes in other sectors affected by the pandemic, including an 8.2% stake, valued at $369m, in US cruise ship operator Carnival, and a $300m investment in events company Live Nation.

The PIF is not the only active investor among SWFs in this difficult environment. According to data from capital markets data company PitchBook, SWFs poured $17bn into venture capital companies in the first half of the year, exceeding the 2019 full-year levels.

Chinese tech companies Tencent and Kuaishou were both significant beneficiaries, while Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Company put $3bn into Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving technology arm.

Among some funds, there has been a broader shift towards tackling issues related to the pandemic. 

“We reshuffled our priorities based on Covid-19,” Ayman Soliman, CEO of the Sovereign Fund of Egypt, told OBG.

“We looked at the issues that were emerging in the region – food security, medical security and medical supplies – and realised that these should be our top priority.”

Looking ahead

Although it can be difficult to assess the losses accrued by SWF portfolios since the outbreak of the pandemic given the opaque nature of their investments, in April JP Morgan estimated that funds would suffer total equity losses of around $1trn.

However, this recent contraction seems to be accelerating a pre-existing trend that has seen the amount of equity invested by SWFs fall from $54.3bn in 2017 to $35bn in 2019, according to the IFSWF.

In a report released in August, Bernardo Bortolotti and Veljko Fotak from the Sovereign Investment Lab, along with Chloe Hogg from the London School of Economics, wrote that “the golden age of SWFs is over”.

“Declining oil prices, mounting protectionism and increasing barriers to international capital flows have halted the spectacular rise of SWFs of the last two decades. The double whammy of the Covid-19 shock and of the new macroeconomic reality represents a quintessential challenge for an industry,” the trio wrote.

“Yet, with $6trn under management, SWFs remain major players in global finance and have the potential to mitigate some of the worst financial consequences of the current crisis.”

As countries recover from the economic recession, recent developments suggest the funds will be seen as a key tools in building resilience against future economic shocks.

Published:9/17/2020 7:10:05 PM
[Markets] President Trump's Ban On Critical Race Theory, Explained President Trump's Ban On Critical Race Theory, Explained Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 19:20

Authored by Dan Sanchez, Tyler Brandt, and Brad Polumbo via The Foundation for Economic Education,

Does Critical Race Theory promote racial harmony or does it "sow division" as the Trump administration claims? And what is its relation, if any, to Marxism?

With the November election just around the corner, it’s only to be expected that President Trump would seek to rally conservative voters and drive his supporters to the polls. So, when his administration, on September 4, instructed the federal government to eliminate all training in “Critical Race Theory,” some thought it was just a red-meat stunt to excite the Republican base. Others saw it as an act of right-wing censorship and an obstruction of racial progress.

In truth, there’s much more to this development than mere politicization and censorship.

Here’s a breakdown of what the administration is doing and why it’s a welcome move.

“It has come to the President's attention that Executive Branch agencies have spent millions of taxpayer dollars to date ‘training’ government workers to believe divisive, anti-American propaganda,” Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought wrote in the executive memorandum.

“Employees across the Executive Branch have been required to attend trainings where they are told that ‘virtually all White people contribute to racism’ or where they are required to say that they ‘benefit from racism,’” Vought explained.

“According to press reports, in some cases these training [sic] have further claimed that there is racism embedded in the belief that America is the land of opportunity or the belief that the most qualified person should receive a job.”

The order instructed federal agencies to identify and eliminate any contracts or spending that train employees in “critical race theory,” “white privilege,” “or any other training or propaganda effort that teaches or suggests either that the United States is an inherently racist or evil country or that any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil.”

How did it "come to the President's attention," and what press reports is Vought referring to?

Well, President Trump is known to watch Tucker Carlson's show on Fox News. And days before the memo was issued, Carlson had on journalist Christopher Rufo to discuss his multiple reports uncovering the extent to which Critical Race Theory (CRT) was being used in federal training programs.

"For example, Rufo claimed, the Treasury Department recently hired a diversity trainer who said the U.S. was a fundamentally White supremacist country," wrote Sam Dorman for the Fox News web site, "and that White people upheld the system of racism in the nation. In another case, which Rufo discussed with Carlson last month, Sandia National Laboratories, which designs nuclear weapons, sent its white male executives to a mandatory training in which they, according to Rufo, wrote letters apologizing to women and people of color."

Rufo challenged President Trump to use his executive authority to extirpate CRT from the federal government.

CNN's Brian Stelter (as well as Rufo himself) traced Trump's decision directly to the independent investigative journalist's self-proclaimed "one-man war" on CRT, of which the recent Carlson appearance was only the latest salvo.

Selter characterized Trump's move as a reactionary attack on the current national "reckoning" on race. He cited the Washington Post's claim that, "racial and diversity awareness trainings are essential steps in helping rectify the pervasive racial inequities in American society, including those perpetuated by the federal government."

So which is it? Is CRT "divisive" and "toxic" or is it "rectifying" and "anti-racist"?

To answer that, it would help to trace CRT to its roots. Critical Race Theory is a branch of Critical Theory, which began as an academic movement in the 1930s. Critical Theory emphasizes the "critique of society and culture in order to reveal and challenge power structures," as Wikipedia states. Critical Race Theory does the same, with a focus on racial power structures, especially white supremacy and the oppression of people of color.

The "power structure" prism stems largely from Critical Theory's own roots in Marxism—Critical Theory was developed by members of the Marxist "Frankfurt School." Traditional Marxism emphasized economic power structures, especially the supremacy of capital over labor under capitalism. Marxism interpreted most of human history as a zero-sum class war for economic power.

“According to the Marxian view," wrote the economist Ludwig von Mises, "human society is organized into classes whose interests stand in irreconcilable opposition.”

Mises called this view a "conflict doctrine," which opposed the "harmony doctrine" of classical liberalism. According to the classical liberals, in a free market economy, capitalists and workers were natural allies, not enemies. Indeed, in a free society all rights-respecting individuals were natural allies.

Critical Race Theory arose as a distinct movement in law schools in the late 1980s. CRT inherited many of its premises and perspectives from its Marxist ancestry.

The pre-CRT Civil Rights Movement had emphasized equal rights and treating people as individuals, as opposed to as members of a racial collective. “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” Martin Luther King famously said.

In contrast, CRT dwells on inequalities of outcome, which it generally attributes to racial power structures. And, as we’ve seen from the government training curricula, modern CRT forthrightly judges white people by the color of their skin, prejudging them as racist by virtue of their race. This race-based “pre-trial guilty verdict” of racism is itself, by definition, racist.

The classical liberal "harmony doctrine" was deeply influential in the movements to abolish all forms of inequality under the law: from feudal serfdom, to race-based slavery, to Jim Crow.

But, with the rise of Critical Race Theory, the cause of racial justice became more influenced by the fixations on conflict, discord, and domination that CRT inherited from Marxism.

Social life was predominantly cast as a zero-sum struggle between collectives: capital vs. labor for Marxism, whites vs. people of color for CRT.

A huge portion of society’s ills were attributed to one particular collective’s diabolical domination: capitalist hegemony for Marxism, white supremacy for CRT.

Just as Marxism demonized capitalists, CRT vilifies white people. Both try to foment resentment, envy, and a victimhood complex among the oppressed class it claims to champion.

Traditional Marxists claimed that all capitalists benefit from the zero-sum exploitation of workers. Similarly, CRT "diversity trainers" require white trainees to admit that they "benefit from racism."

Traditional Marxists insisted that bourgeois thoughts were inescapably conditioned by "class interest." In the same way, CRT trainers push the notion that “virtually all White people contribute to racism” as a result of their whiteness.

Given the above, it should be no wonder that CRT has been criticized as “racist” and “divisive.”

Supporters of CRT cast it as a force for good in today’s “rectifying reckoning” over race.

But CRT’s neo-Marxist orientation only damages race relations and harms the interests of those it claims to serve.

In practice, the class war rhetoric of Marxism was divisive and toxic for economic relations. And, far from advancing the interests of the working classes, it led to mass poverty and devastating famines, not to mention staggering inequality between the elites and the masses. 

Today, the CRT-informed philosophy, rhetoric, and strategy of the Black Lives Matter organization (whose leadership professed to be “trained Marxists”) is leading to mass riots, looting, vandalism, and assault. The divisive violence has arrested progress for the cause of police reform, destroyed countless black-owned small businesses, and economically devastated many black communities.

Those who truly wish to see racial harmony should dump the neo-Marxists and learn more about classical liberalism. FEE.org is the perfect place to start.

So much for CRT being a force for good. Of course, even horrible ideas are protected by the First Amendment. The government should never use force to suppress people from expressing ideas, speech, or theories it dislikes.

Critics insist that President Trump is engaged in this kind of censorship by targeting CRT.

Not so.

No one is banning White Fragility, the blockbuster CRT manifesto. No one is locking up those who preach CRT or ordering mentions of it stripped from the internet.

The memo simply says that taxpayer dollars will no longer be spent promulgating this theory to federal government employees. As heads of the executive branch, presidents have wide latitude to make the rules for federal agencies under their control. Deciding how money is spent certainly falls under their proper discretion—and it is always done with political preferences in mind, one way or the other.

It is not censorship for Trump to eliminate funding for CRT, anymore than it was “censorship” for the Obama administration to choose to tie federal contracts to a business’s embrace of LGBT rights.

Elections have consequences, one of the most obvious being that the president gets to run the executive branch. If we don’t want the president's political preferences to be so significant in training programs, then we should simply reduce the size of government and the number of bureaucrats.

In the meantime, stripping the federal government of the divisive, toxic, and neo-Marxist ideology of Critical Race Theory is a positive development for the sake of racial justice and harmony.

*  *  *

Join us in preserving the principles of economic freedom and individual liberty for the rising generation. Support FEE here...

Published:9/17/2020 6:37:49 PM
[Markets] "Not Ideal" - Fox Offers Non-Apology To Newt Gingrich After Awkward George Soros Rebuke "Not Ideal" - Fox Offers Non-Apology To Newt Gingrich After Awkward George Soros Rebuke Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 19:00

Fox News host Harris Faulkner addressed an awkward moment on Wednesday, when former House Speaker Newt Gingrich correctly pointed out that billionaire George Soros has influenced local races for district attorney around the country, who have in turn been soft on leftist criminals causing violence and mayhem throughout the country.

"Look, the number one problem in almost all these cities is George Soros-elected, left-wing, anti-police, pro-criminal district attorneys who refuse to keep people locked up," said Gingrich, adding "Just yesterday they put somebody back on the streets who’s wanted for two different murders in New York City."

"You cannot solve this problem — and both [Kamala] Harris and [Joe] Biden have talked very proudly out what they call ‘progressive district attorneys’. Progressive district attorneys are anti-police, pro-criminal, and overwhelmingly elected with George Soros’s money," he added. "And they’re a major cause of the violence we’re seeing because they keep putting the violent criminals back on the street."

Gingrich was then shut down, after commentator Melissa Francis interjected "I'm not sure we need to bring George Soros into this."

"He paid for it!" shot back Gingrich, adding "I mean, why can’t we discuss that fact that millions of dollars…."

"No he didn’t," insisted Marie Harf, another panelist - adding "I agree with Melissa. George Soros doesn’t need to be a part of this conversation."

"Okay, so it's verboten," Gingrich replied. Awkward silence ensued...

Watch:

 On Thursday, host Harris Faulkner addressed the incident - saying "So, we had a little incident on the show yesterday that was not smooth."

"And while I was leading that segment we had interruptions and I sat silently while all of that played out, also not ideal."

"Our guest, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is beloved and needed to be allowed to speak with the openness and respect that this show is all about, was interrupted," Faulkner continued. "Do we debate with fire here? Yes! But we must also give each other the space to express ourselves. As the only original member of this six-year-old amazing daytime ride known as Outnumbered — I especially want to rock and roll with every voice and perspective at the table."

Faulkner ended with "We don't censor on this show."

Meanwhile, Gingrich was right. As we reported in 2016, Soros openly expressed his intention to 'reshape the American justice system' by pouring funds into 'powerful' District Attorney races.

As we noted at the time: "So far, Soros has funneled $3 million into seven local DA races over the past year but his support is "expected to intensify in the next few years, thanks to longer-term planning and candidate recruitment."  In general, Soros looks to fund progressive DAs running on platforms to "reduce racial disparity in sentencing" and support prison "diversion programs" for drug offenders instead of trials that could result in jail time."

So why is it "verboten" to discuss?

Published:9/17/2020 6:07:45 PM
[Markets] More Than 380,000 Applied For A Job At Amazon In One Day More Than 380,000 Applied For A Job At Amazon In One Day Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 18:20

Can Amazon fix the U.S. job market all by itself? In case anyone needed proof that Amazon isn't just taking over the entire retail space (and trying to do the same with cloud), but also dominating the U.S. job market, the company said  this morning that over 300,000 job-seeking people attended its Amazon Career Day 2020 yesterday and over 380,000 people applied for jobs with the e-commerce giant.

Amazon, which on June 30 of this year employed 900,000 workers...

... said that the virtual job fair, conducted completely online, was a resounding success. Amazon noted: "In the span of 24 hours, Amazon recruiters completed over 20,000 1-on-1 career coaching sessions with participants, and another 6,000 people joined group breakout sessions"

The fair was attended by Americans in all 50 states, including D.C. and Puerto Rico. 

Beth Galetti, Senior Vice President of HR at Amazon said: “Our vision for Career Day was to help job seekers from all walks of life and career stages fulfill their professional goals, using our scale to support those who need it the most.”

"We have tens of thousands of jobs available – from roles in finance, robotics, software development or AI, to entry-level positions with highly competitive pay and benefits across our operations network. We’re looking forward to welcoming many Career Day participants to Amazon as full-time employees in the coming months."

The numbers reveal the unprecedented thirst for jobs in the U.S. as a result of massive wave of layoffs and bankruptcies due to the coronavirus-lockdown induced recession that the country has suffered from over the last 6 months.

Additional highlights from the event, per Amazon, included:

  • Over 300,000 job seekers attended the event and discovered new tools to navigate the job market and learn about the 33,000 corporate and tech roles available at Amazon, as well as the 100,000 open positions across the company’s operations network.
  • Participants joined from all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico – with over 55,000 attending from California alone.
  • Since announcing Career Day on September 9, Amazon has received more than 384,000 job applications for roles at the company in the U.S. and Canada – 38 job applications every minute.
  • Amazon recruiters conducted 20,000 1-on-1 career coaching sessions to help attendees prepare for their next job, providing a total of 6,600 hours of advice. Job seekers filled the 20,000 slots within 12 hours of Amazon making them available.
  • More than 3,600 attendees participated in interactive coding review workshops hosted by senior Amazon software development engineers, and 2,600 joined breakout sessions dedicated to hourly opportunities at Amazon’s fulfillment centers and physical stores.
  • Attendees asked more than 7,000 questions to the participating HR experts, career coaches, and industry leaders.

Given this staggering turnout, one wonders if Amazon's unprecedented growth will also make it a monopolist in the US jobs market.

Published:9/17/2020 5:37:34 PM
[Markets] Jonathan Burton's Life Savings: Billionaire investor Ray Dalio on capitalism’s crisis: The world is going to change ‘in shocking ways’ in the next five years Veteran hedge-fund manager says capitalists don’t divide the economic pie well, so the system isn’t working effectively for all.
Published:9/17/2020 5:37:34 PM
[Markets] "Antifa Is A Real Thing": FBI Director Wray Rebuts Democratic Claims That Antifa Is A "Myth" "Antifa Is A Real Thing": FBI Director Wray Rebuts Democratic Claims That Antifa Is A "Myth" Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 18:00

Authored by Jonathan Turley,

I recently testified on Antifa and the growing anti-free speech movement in the United States. I specifically disagreed with statements by Democrats denying that Antifa was playing a role in protests or, as House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler claimed, Antifa is a “myth.” 

This afternoon, FBI Director Chris Wray pushed back on similar claims and declared that “Antifa is a real thing” and that the FBI has various cases of self-identified Antifa members involved in criminal conduct.

As I have written, Antifa is more of a movement than a specific organization. However, it has long been the “Keyser Söze” of the anti-free speech movement, a loosely aligned group that employs measures to avoid easy detection or association. 

Wray stated “And we have quite a number - and I’ve said this quite consistently since my first time appearing before this committee - we have any number of properly predicated investigations into what we would describe as violent anarchist extremists and some of those individuals self-identify with Antifa.

Wray was adamant: “Antifa is a real thing. It’s not a fiction” and, while it is not a conventional organization as opposed to a movement, they have arrested people who admit that they are Antifa.

I have repeatedly emphasized that extreme right groups are also responsible for recent violence.  Moreover, I have opposed declaring Antifa a terrorist organization.  We have ample laws to deal with such extremist violence from the far left or far right. We do not need to rely on terrorism laws or most recently suggested sedition laws.

My greatest concern is that we need to take Antifa seriously as a virulent anti-free speech organization.  There is a fair criticism of some politicians who have refused to denounce the group or even support it.  Former Democratic National Committee deputy chair Keith Ellison, now the Minnesota attorney general, once said Antifa would “strike fear in the heart” of Trump. This was after Antifa had been involved in numerous acts of violence and its website was banned in Germany. His own son, Minneapolis City Council member Jeremiah Ellison, declared his allegiance to Antifa in the heat of the protests this summer.

Again, I am less focused on Antifa’s role in recent rioting. It is clearly involved but there are many such groups working behind the scenes.  My focus is on Antifa’s increasing presence on our campuses and faculty who are now espousing anti-free speech views or views that either support or rationalize violent conduct.

George Washington University student Jason Charter has been charged as the alleged “ringleader” of efforts to take down statues across the capital. Charter has been an active Antifa member on campus for years. Following his arrest, he claimed the “movement is winning.” It is winning. It is winning mostly since people remain silent. Silence kills free speech. Antifa knows that.

Published:9/17/2020 5:07:18 PM
[Markets] CityWatch: As yellow taxi drivers struggle, city announces six-month pause on new licenses The city’s cabdrivers felt the full force of the coronavirus pandemic in New York, with trips plummeting 84%.
Published:9/17/2020 5:07:18 PM
[Markets] China, Russia Have "Weaponized Space": US Defense Secretary China, Russia Have "Weaponized Space": US Defense Secretary Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 17:20

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times,

China and Russia have introduced weapons to space, including killer satellites, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Wednesday.

“In space, Moscow and Beijing have turned a once peaceful arena into a warfighting domain,” Esper said.

“They have weaponized space through killer satellites, directed energy weapons, and more in an effort to exploit our systems and chip away at our military advantage.”

Directed energy weapons use converted chemical or electrical energy and focus it on a target, resulting in physical damage. Weapons used by the U.S. military include systems that use high energy lasers.

Directed energy weapons can be very effective against swarm attacks, a Pentagon official said in 2018.

“We often think about directed energy as large lasers, and I’ve certainly been involved with some of that for decades, but we also have high power microwaves which can be very effective as what we call an electronics kill,” Dr. Michael D. Griffin, under secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, said at the time.

“That sort of thing—it’s really hard to envision handling swarming attacks by purely kinetic means—so that’s one of the future threats that I think we face.”

Killer satellites are satellites with the capability to kill and destroy.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson inspects new technologies being developed and tested at the High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility and USS Desert Ship, a land-based launch facility designed to simulate a ship at sea, at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., on Jan. 25, 2017. (Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Elliott Fabrizio)

Esper said America’s competitors and adversaries “exploit cyberspace to undermine our security without confronting our conventional strengths.”

They do this all in an increasingly gray zone of engagement that keeps us in a perpetual state of competition. The national defense strategy guides us as we adapt the force to this challenging complex security environment by status quo and continue outpacing the competition,” he added.

But strong investment is enabling the military to move forward with developing hypersonic weapons and other modern tools.

“Thanks to our largest research and development budget in the department’s history, we are advancing critical technologies to maintain our military edge in areas such as hypersonic weapons, directed energy and autonomous systems,” Esper said.

Esper was speaking during the Air Force Association’s Virtual Air, Space & Cyber Conference.

Following an increase of $3.6 billion, the Department of Defense’s budget for research and development was $95.3 billion in fiscal year 2019, according to its financial report (pdf).

President Donald Trump’s administration officially launched Space Force late last year, establishing it as a sixth branch of the military.

“Amid grave threats to our national security, American superiority in space is absolutely vital,” Trump said when signing legislation that included funding for the branch.

The Defense Space Strategy, released earlier this year, outlines what the United States needs to do to achieve a “comprehensive military advantage” in space within 10 years.

(R) Gen. Jay Raymond, chief of Space Operations, and (L) Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman, with Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett, present President Donald Trump with the official flag of the United States Space Force in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, on May 15, 2020. (Samuel Corum-Pool/Getty Images)

Three key objectives are identified for the Space Force: to maintain America’s space superiority; to provide space support to all joint military operations; and to “ensure space stability”—or to deter aggression and uphold international agreements in space with a persistent presence, similar to how the Navy polices international waters.

Esper said he’s proud of the progress made in implementing the strategy, which will “ensure our dominance across all domains.”

Esper spoke a day after Gen. John Raymond, who heads Space Force.

Raymond revealed that the force’s Space Based Infrared System satellites were used to detect Iranian missiles aimed at American war planes in January.

Raymond praised the 2nd Space Warning Squadron at Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado.

“They operated the world’s best missile warning capabilities and they did outstanding work, and I’m very very proud of them,” he said at the conference.

Trump had said “an early warning system that worked very well” helped avoid U.S. casualties, but didn’t disclose the nature of the system.

Published:9/17/2020 4:37:16 PM
[Markets] Capitol Report: Bill decriminalizing marijuana no longer on Democratic-run House’s schedule for next week Top House Democrats are delaying having a vote on a bill that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, after previously saying a vote would come next week.
Published:9/17/2020 4:37:16 PM
[Markets] Can the Fed Save the Stock Market Again? Many market participants attributed today's declines to the latest comments from the Federal Reserve. Although the press conference from Fed chair Jerome Powell started before the market closed on Wednesday afternoon, it appears that it took a global reaction to the implications of the Fed's position to persuade U.S. investors that there could be something to worry about. Published:9/17/2020 4:06:56 PM
[Markets] This Is Why Inflation Will Rip Everyone's Face Off This Is Why Inflation Will Rip Everyone's Face Off Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 16:40

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

This is why inflation will rip everyone's faces off: production will continue to stagnate no matter how many trillions the Federal Reserve prints and throws around.

This is how market capitalism is supposed to work: consumers decide (for whatever reason) to buy more toilet paper. This increase in demand strips the shelves of TP and pushes the price up as demand exceeds supply.

In response, capital flows to enterprises that ramp up production of TP to meet this new demand / scarcity of supply. Price returns to equilibrium.

Yea for our wunnerful market capitalism ... but oops, this isn't what actually happens in our economy. What actually happens is less of a happy story. As correspondent A.P. explained in Our Wile E. Coyote Economy: Nothing But Financial Engineering (June 12, 2020), the real money in the American economy isn't made by increasing production of goods and services or making better quality products; it's made with debt that funds financial trickery like stock buy-backs.

The "business" is just the facade used to justify the corporate bonds, loans, stock buy-backs, etc. Corporate America has perfected this game, and so have Wall Street and SillyCon Valley, which produces one money-losing unicorn after another that IPOs for tens of billions of dollars, all based on the pixie dust of future profits and valuations.

Production is for losers. Financial engineering is for winners. Simply put, capital has no interest in gambling on building factories and training employees. Not only is that risky, it's a low margin endeavor, which makes it of zero interest to capital.

How many billionaires have been minted in America in the past 20 years for building anything? Billionaires become billionaires by either hijacking the human mind's receptors for attention and addiction or by selling corporate bonds and leveraging the debt to skim billions of dollars.

Not only is capital not available to boost production, neither is the expertise or labor. A great many of the people with the hands-on experience needed to build stuff and manage complex production processes have retired or will soon retire, and there isn't a second team ready to take the field.

If production is absolutely necessary, then Corporate America will have it done on the cheap overseas. Sure, the quality is terrible but the American consumer will buy without question; that's why corporations went to all the trouble of establishing a heavily moated monopoly or cartel: the consumers have either no choice or a false choice between members of a cartel offering the same lousy quality and high prices.

But Corporate America's go-to solution to everything--globalization--is running out of rope, and the cliff beckons.

Corporate America's tired trick of offering a couple bucks more per hour for the opportunity to double your workload no longer works because the issue isn't the couple bucks per hour; it's that the workforce no longer has the requisite skills because our educational system and Corporate America have failed.

The Federal Reserve can conjure up trillions of dollars out of thin air to further enrich the nation's parasitic scum, but they can't print experienced, motivated workers or people with entrepreneurial skills.

Corporate America gave up training its workforce a long time ago, and SillyCon Valley has perfected the art of poaching employees from competitors rather than invest in training.

As for the underpaid workforce who's supposed to do the real work-- as I've noted here many times, the pandemic has given many workers an opportunity to reassess their options, and some consequential percentage (including many small business owners) have concluded that the wisest course of action is to follow Johnny Paycheck's suggestion to Take This Job and Shove It.

The top 5%--speculators, technocrats, managers and the chattering classes-- haven't grasped that America is now a variation on the old Soviet joke: The Soviet joke was we pretend to work and you pretend to pay us. In America, the joke is: we work like crazy to make you rich and you pretend to pay us.

This is why inflation will rip everyone's faces off: production will continue to stagnate no matter how many trillions the Federal Reserve prints and throws around. With capital addicted to financial engineering and the purchasing power of labor's wages in permanent decline, we're about to reap the consequences of hollowing out our real economy to benefit the most parasitic and socially useless sociopaths at the top.

*  *  *

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Published:9/17/2020 4:06:56 PM
[Markets] Key Words: AG Barr comment about the coronavirus lockdown is ‘the most ridiculous, tone-deaf, God-awful’ thing one lawmaker has ever heard Attorney General William Barr spoke at Hillsdale College on Wednesday and drew backlash (and cheers) with his response to a question from the event's host about the "constitutional hurdles" in keeping churches closed during the pandemic.
Published:9/17/2020 4:06:55 PM
[Markets] Dow snaps 4-session win streak, but closes off day's lows Dow snaps 4-session win streak, but closes off day's lows Published:9/17/2020 3:36:53 PM
[Markets] Facebook Moves To Censor Internal Debate As More Employees Quit In Protest Facebook Moves To Censor Internal Debate As More Employees Quit In Protest Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 16:20

After a handful of employees quit so they could speak out about Facebook's insufficient internal 'woke'-ness, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has finally decided how he's going to handle what has been described as an internal rebellion.

The surge of anti-management sentiment within the company was likely provoked by accusations, spread by the mainstream press, about Facebook's alleged role in spreading "Russian" disinformation to help sway the election to President Trump, a narrative that the New Yorker - a publication that's almost revered by American intellectuals - quietly admitted was b***s*** just a few days ago.

Though Facebook has, like other social media companies, picked on conservatives, there's little question that conservative voices are given more space on the company's platform. That's not wrong; it's simply in keeping with American principles about freedom of the press.

Zuck showed surprising resoluteness in handling these accusations, until recently, when he finally caved, ordering a so ineffective-it's-almost-humorous "ban" on new political ads during the final week of campaign season.

And now, the company has informed employees in a memo that was also promptly leaked to the press, that it has decided on a new strategy for handling internal dissent. Because while the US is governed by the Constitution, inside Facebook, Zuck calls the shots. And he's decided that he will essentially silence all discussion about "sensitive" topics on the company's internal messaging system, CNBC reports.

Ironically, Zuckerberg reportedly described these new rules, which will explicitly identify where conversations about certain topics can be held, as giving the company's employees more freedom, not less. Facebook is couching this as giving employees "the option" of joining certain debates, rather than have them thrust into their feeds.

Even when these conversations are held, they will be "carefully monitored".

"We deeply value expression and open discussion. What we’ve heard from our employees is that they want the option to join debates on social and political issues rather than see them unexpectedly in their work feed," said Facebook Spokesman Joe Osborne to CNBC.  "We’re updating our employee policies and work tools to ensure our culture remains respectful and inclusive."

From now on, inside Facebook so-called "tense conversations" - as Zuckerberg himself described them - will simply not be held. Then, employees won't have anything to get angry about.

Because that's how we do things in contemporary America.

The news comes as Bloomberg's Businessweek publishes a profile of Zuckerberg essentially lampooning him for Facebook's alleged role in spreading "disinformation".

Published:9/17/2020 3:36:53 PM
[Markets] Personal Finance Daily: Why the CDC’s moratorium on evictions won’t solve America’s looming $100 billion rental crisis and mortgage rates remain near record lows Thursday’s top personal finance stories
Published:9/17/2020 3:36:53 PM
[Markets] Bond Report: U.S. Treasury yields tick lower following Fed dovish update, humdrum data U.S. Treasury yields fell Thursday after the Federal Reserve underlined its commitment to keeping interest rates near zero for the next few years and after a round of lackluster economic data
Published:9/17/2020 3:07:04 PM
[Markets] "Sell All The Things!" - Tech Wrecked, Dollar Dumped, & SNOW Flaked "Sell All The Things!" - Tech Wrecked, Dollar Dumped, & SNOW Flaked Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 16:00

Since Powell dropped his statement yesterday - explaining what The Fed hopes will happen but not how it will make it happen - investors have switched into sell-all-the-things mode with the dollar, stocks, bonds, and gold all lower...

Since The FOMC Statement, Nasdaq was down almost 4% overnight, leading the drop among all the major US equity indices (The Dow is the least bad, down around 1%)...

SNOW no mo'...

And MOMO no mo'...

Source: Bloomberg

"Sell, Sell, Sell!"

Nasdaq continues to notably underperform, now at one-month lows relative to Small Caps...

Source: Bloomberg

Also of notes is the fact that, as Bloomberg points out, strip out megacap technology stocks and the S&P 500 Index is doing fine this month.

Source: Bloomberg

The equal-weighted version of the benchmark widened its monthly performance spread over its cap-weighted peer to 3.3 percentage points on Wednesday, enough to put it on track for the best relative gain since April 2009.

Source: Bloomberg

~50% of the NASDAQ-100 Index is now below the 50-day moving average. Trend is over, had the blowoff a few weeks back. Doesn't mean it has to go down 50% like people want, but it's not going back above the highs for awhile.

Source: Bloomberg

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq both ended back below the 50DMA...

Source: Bloomberg

Don't forget, tomorrow is quad witch...

Treasury yields chopped around all day today but ended up very modestly higher in yield on the week...

Source: Bloomberg

Yields tumbled overnight but reversed higher as stocks sold off during the US session (bonds and stocks degrossed?)

Source: Bloomberg

The Dollar was clubbed like a baby seal today after extending its post-Powell gains overnight (perfectly tagging unchanged on the week before dumping)...

Source: Bloomberg

Breaking down to 3 week lows...

Source: Bloomberg

The Yuan is back at its highest since May 2019...

Source: Bloomberg

You can also see the election risk in the term structure of the yuan, which is sensitive to potential changes in U.S. trade policy. The gap between the yuan’s two-month and one-month implied vol is near a record high.

Source: Bloomberg

The Yen is surging (as Abe leaves)...

Source: Bloomberg

The annual weekly correlation between S&P 500 and USD/JPY has flipped to negative, meaning a decline in stocks has been accompanied by depreciation of the yen vs the dollar.

In this new era of lower-for-longer rates, correlation breakdowns may become more common, as Jens Nordvig at Exantedata, noted:

In a world of generally zero rates, it is logical that correlations that were normal for decades, will no longer apply. The world has changed, and risk properties associated with currencies are evolving too.

Cryptos mixed again with Bitcoin leading the week and Litecoin lagging...

Source: Bloomberg

There was something that was bid today - oil! With WTI surging back above $41...

But as oil surged, NatGas was monkeyhammered lower...

Finally, on the one-year-anniversary of the repo crisis, Gold shipments from Switzerland, Europe’s refining hub, to China resumed in August after a five-month break...

Source: Bloomberg

And the 1930 dead-cat-bounce called...

Source: Bloomberg

Published:9/17/2020 3:07:04 PM
[Markets] Ex-JPMorgan Trader Sentenced To 8 Months In Prison For FX Bid-Rigging Ex-JPMorgan Trader Sentenced To 8 Months In Prison For FX Bid-Rigging Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 15:25

Two years after former HSBC head of currency trading, Mark Johnson, became the first person to be convicted in a global crackdown of currency rigging and was sentenced to two years in a U.S. prison, moments ago a former JPMorgan trader became the second person to be sentenced to eight months in prison for his role in a foreign-exchange bid-rigging scheme.

Bloomberg reports that Akshay Aiyer was sentenced Wednesday by Manhattan District Judge John Koeltl. Last November, Aiyer was found guilty of conspiring with traders at other banks in chat rooms, on telephone calls and at social gatherings to coordinate bids and fix prices of African, European and Middle Eastern currencies while leading customers to believe they were competing with each other.

In 2017, Johnson was convicted of front-running a $3.5 billion client order, but as Bloomberg reminds us, a U.K. court declined to extradite Johnson’s underling, Stuart Scott, and three British traders accused of similar conduct were acquitted by a jury in New York in 2018. U.K. investigators dropped a criminal probe into individual traders after determining they didn’t have enough evidence.

Even though Aiyer's sentence was lower than that sought by prosecutors, the conviction was a victory for the government, which has a mixed record of prosecuting foreign-exchange traders. In addition to the prison term, Aiyer was also sentenced to two years of supervised release and a $150,000 fine.

Aiyer, a native of India who worked at JPMorgan from 2006 until he was fired in 2015, had requested that the judge sentence him to a term of probation with a period of home confinement. His lawyers argued that he had no criminal history and was convicted of a crime in connection with conduct that was "widespread in the foreign-exchange industry." So just like in the case of the gold rigging discussed earlier, we again learn that market manipulation were "widespread" begging the question - just what do regulators do all day?

Prosecutors had asked the judge to sentence Aiyer to as many as 46 months behind bars as recommended by federal sentencing guidelines, saying a prison term was necessary to “reflect his guilt of a serious crime.” They argued that he and his co-conspirators worked to rig the market “in order to line their own pockets, with no regard for the victims they left in their wake,” and that Aiyer had shown no remorse for his conduct. As Bloomberg adds, at his sentencing Aiyer asked the judge to show compassion, saying he has suffered a lot over the last six years and that the experience has been the worst of his life. "I’ve lost my job, I’ve ruined my career."

Johnson and Aiyer are just two of the more than half a dozen traders charged by the US in relation to misconduct in the currency markets; banks around the world have paid more than $10 billion in FX rigging penalties since the crackdown began. Citigroup, Barclays, RBS and JPMorgan all pleaded guilty in 2015 to rigging currency exchange rates and agreed to pay about $2.5 billion to the Justice Department as part of a $5.8 billion settlement with regulators.

Aiyer's attorney, Martin Klotz, said prosecutors overstated the impact of his trading activity at nearly $277 million, saying Aiyer himself likely gained only thousands of dollars and any profits to JPMorgan probably coming in under $1 million.

In other words, steal $1 million on Wall Street and get a wrist-slap and a few months in Club Fed. Steal $1 million anywhere else, and get ready for an extended stay in Federal pound me in the ass prison.

Prosecutors relied on testimony from two alleged conspirators, former Citigroup trader Christopher Cummins and ex-Barclays banker Jason Katz, who pleaded guilty and testified for the government. Defense lawyers argued that Cummins and Katz had been colluding with other traders for years before they even met Aiyer and were simply trying to avoid prison.

Published:9/17/2020 2:36:38 PM
[Markets] : One way to end coronavirus aid standoff? Add parts of a deal to stopgap funding bill So why not put them together and pass some of the stimulus with the must-pass government funding bill? That idea remains on the shelf, at least for now, but could find renewed interest as the clock ticks closer to the end of the federal government's budget year and a potential shutdown.
Published:9/17/2020 2:36:37 PM
[Markets] Walmart Announces Pay Raises For 165,000 Hourly Workers As It Eliminates Their Quarterly Bonuses Walmart Announces Pay Raises For 165,000 Hourly Workers As It Eliminates Their Quarterly Bonuses Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 14:55

Walmart announced sweeping changes to staffing in its U.S. stores, which include restructuring the leadership roles at its Supercenters and raising pay for some of its salaried and hourly employees, according to a company press release on Thursday.

The retail giant announced the following new positions: store lead (formerly co-manager), coach (formerly assistant manager) and team lead (formerly department manager). Walmart said its new "team-based operating model" is similar to one implemented Sam’s Club over the past year and in Neighborhood Market stores this year. According to Walmart, the move will increase cross-training opportunities for employees.

Across the store, we’re creating small teams of associates who will be cross-trained and given ownership of the work and their area for everything from in-stock to visual standards. This means they’ll gain more skills and be able to support associates who want to take time off or just need extra help during a busy shift. For example, associates who prepare fresh food will be trained to maintain pricing and standards in their area – giving them broader skill sets that allow them to help customers and grow their own careers.

Additionally, Walmart will raise wages for its salaried digital, asset protection and auto care center assistant manager employees. The new wage for the hourly team lead roles start at between $18 and $21 an hour and can go up to $30 an hour in Supercenters. Minimum wages for hourly associates in the deli and bakery areas are going up from $11 an hour to $15 an hour or higher. Pay will also be raised for several hourly auto care center roles with most getting an increase of $1 or more per hour.

In total, about 165,000 hourly staffers will see a raise, Walmart said in a memo outlining the move, but the program will also trim the ranks of leaders per store, and could prompt some to leave. That said, the company clarifies that all current employees will continue to be able to work at Walmart, even if they are not selected for one of the new roles.

“For example, associates who prepare fresh food will be trained to maintain pricing and standards in their area – giving them broader skill sets that allow them to help customers and grow their own careers,” the release said.

As Bloomberg  notes, the changes are part of a broader rethinking of how to most efficiently deploy Walmart’s 1.5 million-person U.S. workforce in a more digital age. The pandemic, which has spurred demand for groceries and household essentials, shocked supply chains and boosted e-commerce, has tested workers’ patience, with some shoppers railing about missing items and others refusing to adhere to mask-wearing mandates. "Once-mundane tasks, like store cleaning, have become critical."

For affected employees, the pay raises will be implemented in October, taking the place of an annual increase typically received in February or April. Of course, there is a catch, because while WalMart is hiking base wages it will also eliminate quarterly bonuses for most workers: for workers in these hourly roles, the increase will take the place of Walmart’s regular quarterly bonus and become part of their base pay going forward.

"These associates will continue to be eligible to receive quarterly bonuses for Q3 and Q4 of this year. When we’ve asked associates, the overwhelming majority say their hourly wages are the most important part of their pay, well ahead of quarterly bonuses,” Walmart said in its release.

Furthermore, not everyone will benefit: But not everyone will benefit. U.S. Chief Operating Officer Dacona Smith declined to estimate how many associates won’t be selected for one of the new roles, but said they can remain in a “similar position” and their current pay won’t be adjusted until October 2021.

"I don’t anticipate us having a large problem" of losing staff because of the changes, Smith said.

Published:9/17/2020 2:08:13 PM
[Markets] Stocks Stumble as Federal Reserve Points to U.S. Recovery Risks Stocks decline after the Federal Reserve signals it will keep interest rates low through at least 2023. Published:9/17/2020 1:40:21 PM
[Markets] A Word from the Experts: Dr. Offit: Prepare to wear masks and socially distance even after getting COVID-19 vaccine Dr. Paul Offit, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a co-inventor of the rotavirus vaccine, told friends not to worry about the coronavirus. “I am on the record as being dead wrong about this,” he said.
Published:9/17/2020 1:40:21 PM
[Markets] Masks and distancing will be with us even after a COVID vaccine, Dr. Offit says Masks and distancing will be with us even after a COVID vaccine, Dr. Offit says Published:9/17/2020 1:40:21 PM
[Markets] TikTok Reportedly Plans To Launch IPO In About A Year If Trump Approves Deal With Oracle TikTok Reportedly Plans To Launch IPO In About A Year If Trump Approves Deal With Oracle Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 14:32

Update (1422ET): More details are leaking to the press as representatives from ByteDance, Oracle and the Administration work together to try and come up with a modified agreement that might win presidential (and CFIUS) approval, while also abiding by new restrictions imposed by Beijing.

According to the latest Reuters report, one obstacle is that Oracle acting as both a "trusted partner" and a shareholder in the newly independent TikTok might not be enough for CFIUS, which typically prefers oversight duties to be handled by third parties.

CFIUS typically calls for parties responsible for security arrangements to be independent of the companies they oversee. For example, when CFIUS allowed China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co Ltd to acquire of U.S. insurer Genworth Financial Inc two years ago, it negotiated installing a U.S.-based, third-party service provider to manage Genworth’s U.S. policyholder data. That provider had no stake in Genworth’s business.

"For CFIUS to get comfortable with a third party having both an ownership stake and a security responsibility, they would have to have a firm basis for trusting the U.S. business partner, conclude that the security measures would be technically effective, and be convinced that it is possible for the business to be commercially successful even while strictly adhering to the security measures,” Mir said.

ByteDance is referring to Oracle as a “trusted technology partner”. CFIUS previously rejected the use of trusted technology partners when considering whether ByteDance should divest TikTok, the video app disclosed in an Aug. 24 lawsuit against the United States challenging Trump’s order to ban it.

But this doesn't mean CFIUS can't make an exception.

Meanwhile, CNBC's David Faber reported that TikTok and Oracle are planning to take TikTok's global business public within a year if the deal wins Trump's approval.

Another CNBC reporter, Sarah Eisen, apparently talked to Treasury insiders, who are claiming that ByteDance has accepted a list of revised terms - but it's not exactly clear what they entail.

* * *

Update (1130ET): In yet another fundamentally meaningless report on negotiations between ByteDance, its investors, Oracle, Wal-Mart and the Trump Administration, Bloomberg reports that TikTok and Oracle have both "accepted" a new "term shee" that "addresses national security concerns."

The Treasury Department, TikTok owner Bytedance Ltd. and Oracle Corp. have tentatively agreed to terms for Oracle’s bid for the U.S. operations of the social-media service, according to people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg News reports.

Treasury sent Bytedance a revised terms sheet late Wednesday and the company and Oracle accepted it, the people said. They described the changes as addressing national security concerns about the transaction and asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Earlier, ByteDance said the deal wouldn't involve selling or turning over any of its key technology to Oracle or the US. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin is said to be pulling for the deal, though President Trump is presently being persuaded by the China hawks in his administration.

We wonder: will the deal include an agreement to pay some kind of dividend to the Treasury, as Trump once complained about wanting to do.

* * *

With a  presidential briefing scheduled for Thursday, President Trump is expected to make his final decision on the deal to spin off TikTok into an independent US-based company within 24-36 hours, which would leave another 36 hours of 'wiggle room' before the Sept. 20 deadline set by the administration - a deadline that Trump has insisted on keeping.

Following the latest round of lobbying by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a small but growing group of GOP senators, a new batch of details about the deal, and the breakdown of various ownership stakes, has been leaked to CNBC.

As was first reported days ago, Walmart is also expected to partner with Oracle in the deal; the size of WMT's stake isn't clear, but CNBC said Oracle's is roughly 20%.

President Donald Trump is expected to make a decision on TikTok’s fate in the U.S. in the next 24-36 hours, sources told CNBC’s David Faber. Walmart is also expected to partner with Oracle in a deal where Oracle would own roughly 20% of the social media app, according to the sources.

Trump has been meeting with cabinet members and other advisers as he decides whether or not to approve the deal, according to others familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named because the talks are private.

Trump said Wednesday he objected to the idea that ByteDance would retain a majority stake in TikTok’s U.S. operations. Still, people familiar with the matter say the ownership stake percentages haven’t been a topic of negotiation and are unlikely to change. Walmart chief executive officer Doug McMillon is expected to have a board seat on the newly formed board of directors for TikTok’s U.S. operations. Walmart didn’t immediately respond for comment.

“From the standpoint of ByteDance we don’t like that,” Trump said of the Chinese company retaining a majority stake in the business during a press conference yesterday. “I mean, just conceptually I can tell you I don’t like

Faber said he's reasonably confident that Wal-Mart is involved in the deal in some way.

"I’m pretty confident that Walmart has rolled in in some fashion to this deal," he said

He went on to explain that Oracle would also secure a new deal as TikTok's "web hoster".

We've previously noted that the joint venture structure being championed by the Trump Administration is similar to the forced joint ventures American firms encounter when they enter the Chinese market.

A revised deal that would spin off TikTok as an independent, US-headquartered company was first revealed earlier this week.  However, ByteDance's insistence on retaining majority Chinese ownership (roughly 40% of the company is owned by US investors, mostly VCs, but the majority control still rests mostly with employees and BD founder Zhang Yiming, who personally owns more than 20% of the company.

This has become a point of friction, since Beijing recently imposed new rules requiring BD to obtain the CCP's blessing before selling TikTok's algorithm to a US buyer. It's not really clear whether China might step in at the last minute to sabotage this deal. At this rate, they may not need to, since China Hawks within Trump's own administration appear intent on killing the deal, and forcing a shutdown of the trendy social media app, which boasts some 100 million American users.

Published:9/17/2020 1:40:21 PM
[Markets] These 5 stocks will outperform the S&P 500, Goldman says. But there's a catch. These 5 stocks will outperform the S&P 500, Goldman says. But there's a catch. Published:9/17/2020 1:07:56 PM
[Markets] West Coast Wildfires Causing "Smoky Skies" As Far East As New York City West Coast Wildfires Causing "Smoky Skies" As Far East As New York City Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 13:45

Just days ago, we posted photographs of just how stunning the effects of the California wildfires had gotten on the west coast. The photos showed bright orange skies, painting a scene that looked more suited for Mars than the United States. 

Now the effects of the wildfires are becoming so profound they can be seen all the way across the country in New York City. Photos posted yesterday to Gothamist show "advancing plumes of smoke" as a result of the wildfires. They have turned the skies smokier looking than usual.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that smoke from the fires moved east this week and meteorologists expect that the effects will be even worse throughout the week, until dissipating on Friday due to an incoming cold front. 

The smoke is traveling between 15,000 and 20,000 feet overhead, according to New York Metro Weather. This means that ground-level area shouldn't be impacted. The NWS has said there could be a "yellow or brown tinge" to the sky. 

Recall, eerie, dark orange clouds enveloped San Francisco and the Bay Area last week as a result of nearby wildfire smoke entering the atmosphere. Stunning photos were posted by SF Gate last Wednesday showing what looks like a Martian skywhich was yellow on Tuesday, but darkened in color overnight to orange as a result of smoke being pushed inland off the Pacific Ocean. 

According to the, at 10:45 AM local time, "it looked as if it were dawn".

UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain said on Twitter: "Extremely dense & tall smoke plumes from numerous large wildfires, some of which have been generating nocturnal pyrocumulunimbus clouds ('fire thunderstorms), are almost completely blocking out the sun across some portions of Northern California this morning."

Published:9/17/2020 1:07:56 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Down Nearly 300 Points Despite Apple Stock Price Target Bump; Salesforce Scores on Snowflake IPO Apple stock sank despite analyst optimism, and Salesforce followed suit even after a big one-day gain on its stake in Snowflake. Published:9/17/2020 1:07:56 PM
[Markets] IPO Report: Unity Software IPO: 5 things to know about the videogame-engine company Unity Software Inc. is known for making software to create videogames, but the company hopes to make the world more like a videogame by pushing its platform to designers from nongaming fields.
Published:9/17/2020 1:07:55 PM
[Markets] 3 things you need to know about Tesla's 'battery day' 3 things you need to know about Tesla's 'battery day' Published:9/17/2020 12:44:09 PM
[Markets] After 6 Months Of Pandemic Lockdowns... There's Still A Long Way To Go After 6 Months Of Pandemic Lockdowns... There's Still A Long Way To Go Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 13:27

Authored by Wolf Richter via WOLF STREET,

The US economy is completing the sixth month of the Pandemic. So how is the recovery going, as seen by the near-real-time indicators that have sprung up as a result of the Pandemic? The raw unadjusted data of these indicators compare daily or weekly data this year to how it was just before the Pandemic, or how it was at the same time last year.

There is some roughness in this data. For example, this year, Labor Day fell on September 7; last year, it fell on September 2 (prior week). So there are some wild fluctuations as Labor Day data gets compared to non-Labor Day data. Independence Day was similar. But that’s raw data.

Restaurants, “seated diners”: -49%

Online reservation service OpenTable provides daily data on “seated diners” – how many people actually sit down in restaurants to eat and drink compared to the same weekday in the same week last year – including walk-ins and those who made reservations online or by calling. This data is based on thousands of restaurants in the US that share that information with OpenTable. I used a 7-day moving average to smoothen out the day-to-day fluctuation. The date-mismatch of Labor Day caused the spike in the chart below. Currently, after six months of Pandemic, “seated diners” are still down 49% through September 14, from where they’d been last year at this time:

In the chart above, that plunge to -100% (meaning zero seated diners) occurred during the lockdown when sit-down restaurants were closed. Then the recovery took off in its uneven manner, including some backtracking after Independence Day.

According to OpenTable data, about 70% of the restaurants that took reservations before the pandemic are now taking reservations again, up from zero percent in April, and there has not been any improvement over the past three weeks, and not a lot of improvement since early July (chart via OpenTable):

Airlines, Airports, & Related Businesses: -68%.

The air passenger count entering the security zones of US airports is still down over 68% (-69.7% on September 14), according to TSA airport screenings. Airport operations, restaurants and shops at airports, airport rental cars, and the rest of the airport ecosystem are on a similar trajectory. Beyond the date-mismatch around Labor Day, demand has improved only slightly since early July:

Going to the Office: -74.4%.

This is a measure of the shift to work-from-home mixed with employment reductions of office workers, and sheds light on what all the businesses face that cater to office workers, such as cafes, restaurants, shops, barbershops, hair saloon, and the like. And it sheds light on what the office segment of commercial real estate is facing.

The data from Kastle Systems, provider of access systems for 3,600 buildings and 41,000 businesses in 47 states, represents a large sample of how many people are entering offices each day. Its “10 City Average” of office occupancy is currently at 24.6% of the pre-Pandemic level in early March, and has not significantly improved in over the past few months, meaning it’s still down by 75.4% (the available average data only goes back to June):

The weekly “Back to Work Barometer” by Kastle shows each of the 10 metros separately: At the high end, the Dallas metro (38.3% of pre-Pandemic) and the Los Angeles metro (32.4% of pre-Pandemic); at the low end, the San Francisco metro (13.7% of pre-Pandemic) and the New York metro (13.8% of pre-Pandemic), meaning that office occupancy in those 10 metros is still down between 61.7% (Dallas) and 86.3% (San Francisco). I added the black horizontal line, reflecting the current value of the top-10-city average (click on chart to enlarge):

To get a feel for what San Francisco’s office situation looks like visually, here are the haunting photos I took during the morning rush hour of the spookily empty Financial District.

Consumer and worker visits to “Places of Commerce.”

How many people are going to stores, malls, restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, airports, hospitals, other places of commerce, and other points of interest, and to work locations? The AEI’s weekly Foot Traffic Index for 40 metro areas tracks this based on cellphone GPS data from Safegraph.com.

Each line, representing one of the 40 metros, compares foot traffic in the current week to where visits were in the week ended January 15. A value of 100% would mean foot traffic is back to the January “old normal.”

The top bold redlines are Kansas City, Jacksonville, Riverside-San Bernardino, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, in that order, with Kansas City being the red line at the top (77%) and San Francisco being the green line at the bottom (45%). This means visits to places of commerce in Kansas City are 77% of where they were in the week ended January 15; and in San Francisco, visits are 45% of where they were (click on the chart to enlarge it):

These near-real-time measures don’t track the entire economy, such as manufacturing, oil-and-gas drilling, financial services, insurance, and many other aspects. But the data show that certain physical aspects of the economy – where people are physically going to do business in some manner – are still very far from the “old normal.”

*  *  *

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Published:9/17/2020 12:44:09 PM
[Markets] GE stock is surging Thursday toward its best 2-day rally in 6 months GE stock is surging Thursday toward its best 2-day rally in 6 months Published:9/17/2020 12:10:42 PM
[Markets] Billionaire Richard Branson joins SPAC craze with plans to raise $400 million VG Acquisition will search for deals in consumer-facing industries in U.S. and Western Europe.
Published:9/17/2020 12:10:42 PM
[Markets] Moderna Publishes COVID-19 Vaccine Trial "Blueprint" To Quiet Concerns About Rushed Approval Moderna Publishes COVID-19 Vaccine Trial "Blueprint" To Quiet Concerns About Rushed Approval Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 13:05

With the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine study still paused in the US, reports about a sickened patient in the UK have undermined credibility with the public at an extremely delicate time. Vaccine maker are trying to achieve emergency regulatory approval, then produce hundreds of millions of doses, all by mid-next year, at the latest.

In reality, nobody can say for certain how long it will take for a vaccine to be widely. But in the meantime, companies like Moderna, which has seen its share price explode this year after taking nearly $1 billion in US taxpayer money (though that hasn't stopped it from considering a price per dose at the upper end of the range), are doing everything they can to build back that trust.

So Dr. Tal Zaks, Moderna’s chief medical officer, consulted an outside expert, who recommended that the company be more "transparent to the point of discomfort."

In keeping with that mantra, the company has released a 130+ page status report on its Stage 3 trials.

“If what you want to do is see the protocol - here,” Dr. Zaks said.

Moderna hopes competitors like Pfizer, which is developing a vaccine candidate in a joint project with Germany's BioNTech, will adopt a similarly "transparent" approach. The company announced earlier this week that it's trials have been running swimmingly.

The release of the company's vaccine trial protocols coincided with a call to investors on Thursday.

Not all the feedback was positive. One independent research quoted by the NYT said Moderna risks exaggerating the vaccine's effectiveness with how it processes the data.

Dr. Eric Topol, a clinical trial expert at Scripps Research in San Diego, gave the company “big kudos” for sharing the information, but said that he was disappointed by some of the details. For example, the company intends to include in its data people who developed relatively mild cases of Covid-19. Dr. Topol said more compelling evidence of the vaccine’s effectiveness would be produced if the company counted only moderate to severe cases.

In addition, the protocol allows for the possibility of stopping the trial early after a relatively small number of cases. Stopping early could lead to an exaggerated perception of the vaccine’s efficacy, and could also miss safety problems that could turn out to be significant later if the vaccine is given to millions and millions of people.

“Take the time, the extra weeks,” Dr. Topol said. “No shortcuts. Nobody will regret it. I’ve been doing clinical trials for decades. I don’t know if there’s ever been a more important one than this one. I’d like to see it done right, and not stopped early.”

Dr. Zaks added that he's "proud" of what's going on: "I’m proud of doing that...I don’t think there’s much there that we’re disclosing that hasn’t already been spoken to, but let the public be the judge of that."

Below, we have summaries of the most important takeaways from the protocols, culled from a NYT report on the release (text courtesy of the NYT).

  • The company’s coronavirus vaccine, developed in collaboration with scientists from the National Institutes of Health, was the first to be tested in humans. The Phase 3 study now underway has enrolled more than 25,000 of its intended 30,000 volunteers, and Dr. Zaks said the enrollment should be complete in the next few weeks.
  • About 28 percent of the participants are Black, Latino or from other populations that have been particularly hard hit by the disease. A diverse enrollment has been considered essential to make sure that the findings apply to people from as many backgrounds as possible.
  • Half the participants receive the vaccine, and half a placebo shot consisting of salt water, with neither the volunteers nor the doctors treating them knowing who gets which. Two shots are needed, four weeks apart. Then the participants are monitored to see if they develop symptoms of Covid-19 and test positive for the virus.
  • Side effects of the vaccine are also tracked, with participants recording symptoms in electronic diaries, taking their own temperatures, making clinic visits and receiving periodic phone calls to assess their condition. In earlier studies the vaccine has caused transient reactions like a sore arm, fever, chills, muscle and joint pain, fatigue and headaches.
  • To determine the vaccine’s efficacy, Covid-19 cases are counted only if they occur two weeks after the second shot. Some patients are already two weeks beyond the second shot, but Dr. Zaks said he did not know if any trial participants had contracted the disease yet.
  • A total of 151 cases — spread between the vaccine and placebo groups — would be enough to determine whether the vaccine is 60 percent effective. The Food and Drug Administration has set the bar at 50 percent.

(Source: NYT)

According to the NYT's vaccine tracker, 9 companies, including Moderna, have sheparded their vaccine efforts into Phase 3 - the final phase.

Source: NYT

Moderna is developing a vaccine based on a new technique that uses messenger RNA to produce viral proteins in the body that would help it fight off the virus. 

Why do vaccine-makers feel the need to justify these projects like this? Well, if you don't know, try asking Bill Gates.

Published:9/17/2020 12:10:42 PM
[Markets] Mike Ditka Tells NFL Players: "If You Can't Respect This Country, Get The Hell Out Of It" Mike Ditka Tells NFL Players: "If You Can't Respect This Country, Get The Hell Out Of It" Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 12:25

It was just days ago that we noted the NFL's ratings for Sunday Night Football this past week tanked significantly. We noted that this year's NFL season seems to be more about social justice and Covid precautions instead of; well, playing football.

It appears that legendary coach Mike Ditka agrees. Ditka appeared on Newsmax this week to talk about the state of the NFL, offering up a scathing critique of how he believes that the league has lost its way. 

Ditka told the host: "Football’s football. It’s not a complicated thing. You’re playing the game, you’re enjoying the game. You don’t like the game, get out of it. It’s not for protesting one way or the other. What color you are, what you think, this or that. You play football. That’s it."

He continued: "You’re privileged. You got a gift from God that you can play the game because you got a body you can do it with. I don’t really understand what you’re protesting. I played the game. I coached the game for a long time. It makes no sense to me."

"You ought to get down on your hands and knees and thank God every day that you can make the kind of money that you can make playing football, or playing any sport," Ditka added.

He continued: “I would tell those players go to another country and play football there. You don’t have to come out. You don’t have to come out if you go to another country. You can’t! Because the game’s only played in this country."

“If you can’t respect this country, get the hell out,” he concluded.

You can listen to Ditka's full comments on NewsMax here:

Published:9/17/2020 11:36:17 AM
[Markets] Dow Under Pressure as Federal Reserve Points to U.S. Recovery Risks Stocks decline after the Federal Reserve signals it will keep interest rates low through at least 2023. Published:9/17/2020 11:36:17 AM
[Markets] : ETF Wrap: How to think about – and play – the wave of M&A activity ETF Wrap is a briefing of what investors need to know in the exchange-traded sector, including exclusive commentary and interviews on the industry from MarketWatch
Published:9/17/2020 11:36:17 AM
[Markets] Coronavirus update: Trump disparages masks, contradicts CDC director on vaccine Coronavirus update: Trump disparages masks, contradicts CDC director on vaccine Published:9/17/2020 11:08:06 AM
[Markets] The Wall Street Journal: Ford to expand its largest factory to make electric pickup trucks Ford Motor Co. is expanding its largest and oldest factory to make electric pickup trucks, a high-profile manufacturing investment in a key battleground state where jobs remain a focus on the campaign trail.
Published:9/17/2020 11:08:06 AM
[Markets] Peter Schiff Warns The World Is Ready To Reject The Dollar Standard Peter Schiff Warns The World Is Ready To Reject The Dollar Standard Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 12:05

Via SchiffGold.com,

Peter Schiff recently did a presentation at the Endeavour Silver Town Hall Webinar. He talked about the state of the economy, the US dollar, and gold and silver. Peter said he thinks we’re about to see a gold bull market rivaling the 1970s because the world is going to reject the dollar standard and go back to a gold standard.

Peter said we had a peak in gold and silver prices in 2011 because the Federal Reserve managed to convince the world that it could “do the impossible.”

That it could actually normalize interest rates after having kept them at zero for many many years, and it could shrink its balance sheet back down to normal after blowing it up to four-and-a-half trillion.”

The Fed made an effort to normalize monetary policy, but it had to reverse course in the fall of 2018. From there, we saw three rate cuts and a return to QE last year. The debt-ridden bubble economy couldn’t bear 2.5% interest rates.

That’s the problem. When the Fed creates a phony recovery by levering everybody up with debt, they can’t remove the debt. You can’t prop the economy up and then remove the prop.”

When COVID came, the Fed went straight to zero and launched QE infinity.

This backs the Fed into a corner. At this point, there’s no way anybody is going to believe the central bank even if it tries to bluff that it’s going to raise rates or shrink its balance sheet.

So, that is what saved the dollar and put a short-term top on gold. Well, we’ve now built a huge bottom in gold over the last decade and we’re about to explode higher. And the dollar is about to get killed – not only agianst gold, but against all the other world’s fiat currencies. And there’s nothing that’s going to stop it. Because unlike 1980, when that bull market stopped with $800 gold, interest rates were allowed to go to 20% to stop that. They can’t even go to 2% now. We already proved that. Two percent is too high. How are we going to go to 20? So, the Fed is never going to be able to allow rates to rise because of all the debt it enabled everybody to accumulate by keeping them so low for so long.”

The Fed has effectively taken fighting inflation off the table.

The Fed has to surrender to inflation. Inflation wins. It’s a knockout.”

Peter said the dollar will be sacrificed to prop everything else up.

What is about to happen is the world is going to reject the dollar standard and go back to the gold standard. That’s where we’re going. Gold beats all of these fiat currencies hands-down. And so gold was the reserve before the dollar and it will be the reserve after the dollar. That’s the only monetary system that works.”

Peter goes on to explain how this is going to happen.

Published:9/17/2020 11:08:06 AM
[Markets] Coronavirus update: Global cases near 30 million; Trump contradicts CDC head on vaccine timetable and again derides face masks The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 worldwide continued to head toward 30 million on Thursday, and the U.S. case tally climbed above 6.6 million, as President Donald Trump contradicted the head of the main U.S. public health agency to insist a vaccine would be ready in weeks.
Published:9/17/2020 10:36:58 AM
[Markets] Watch: Australians Chant "Freedom!" As COVID Riot-Cops Shut-Down Food Market Watch: Australians Chant "Freedom!" As COVID Riot-Cops Shut-Down Food Market Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 11:30

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

A remarkable video out of Australia shows people chanting “freedom!” as a food market is forcefully shut down by COVID riot cops.

The clip shows dozens of police on horseback and armed with riot gear facing off against market sellers and customers.

Chants of “freedom, freedom!” then break out as one officer directs the riot police to move in.

Cops armed with shields then begin charging and pushing people away while one man is singled out and dragged away by officers.

The state of Victoria has enforced one of the most draconian coronavirus lockdowns in the developed world, with authorities giving themselves the powers to enter homes without a warrant and also seize people’s children.

As we highlighted earlier this month, a pregnant woman was arrested in her home in front of her own kids for the crime of posting about the protest on Facebook.

Police in Melbourne also announced that they would be using surveillance drones to catch people who don’t wear masks and to keep track of cars that travel further than 5km from home.

Journalist Avi Yemini was also dragged to the ground and arrested for merely covering an anti-lockdown protest in Melbourne.

Numerous videos have also emerged of people being forcibly arrested by police for not wearing masks.

*  *  *

In the age of mass Silicon Valley censorship It is crucial that we stay in touch. I need you to sign up for my free newsletter here. Also, I urgently need your financial support here.

Published:9/17/2020 10:36:58 AM
[Markets] Stocks Off Lows as Federal Reserve Points to U.S. Recovery Risks Stocks decline after the Federal Reserve signals it will keep interest rates low through at least 2023. Published:9/17/2020 10:06:08 AM
[Markets] What investors should know as UPS and FedEx soar: Barron's on MarketWatch What investors should know as UPS and FedEx soar: Barron's on MarketWatch Published:9/17/2020 10:06:08 AM
[Markets] NYC Mayor Delays Start Of School For 2nd Time; Global COVID-19 Cases Near 30 Million: Live Updates NYC Mayor Delays Start Of School For 2nd Time; Global COVID-19 Cases Near 30 Million: Live Updates Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 11:04

Summary:

  • NYC Mayor delays school reopening for 2nd time
  • Global COVID cases approach 30 million
  • India posts another daily record
  • China reported nine new cases
  • Trump insists vaccinations just weeks away; disputes CDC chief
  • South Korea confirms another 153 new cases

* * *

Update (1045ET): New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is once again caving to the teacher's unions by delaying the start of school for a secont time, while also changing up the plan.

According to the New York Times, the city will instead start bringing kids back "on a rolling basis", beginning next week.

Instead, the city will phase students back into classrooms on a rolling basis, starting with the youngest children, who will report to schools next week. Students in pre-K classes and students with advanced special needs will return on Monday.

On Sept. 29, elementary schools will open, and middle and high schools will open on Oct. 1.

The sudden shift comes just three days before the nation’s largest school district was set to reopen. It is the second time that Mayor Bill de Blasio has delayed the start of in-person classes, which were originally set to begin on Sept. 10.

The NYT says de Blasio will explain more during a Thursday press briefing, but with NYC's cases and hospitalizations and deaths all still near their all-time lows, we can't imagine a clear-cut data-driven argument for doing so.

Looks like one more sop to the teacher's unions.

* * *

One day after crossing the 5 million-case threshold, India has reported yet another record single-day jump in coronavirus cases, with 97,894 reported in the last 24 hours, bringing the country's total to 5.12 million, as the world is roughly one day away from topping the 30 million case mark.

Indian cases are now climbing at roughly double the rate of the US.

Perhaps the biggest news on Thursday is that Chinese vaccine maker Sinovac Biotech plans to start a clinical trial of its experimental coronavirus vaccine with children and adolescents later this month, yet another round of final-stage testing, as China races to beat both the US and Russia in the race to a mass-produced, internationally-accepted vaccine. In the US, Moderna CEO Stephan Bancel appeared on CNBC's "Squawk Box" once again Thursday morning as vaccine-makers generally engage in a PR campaign to try and 'rebuild trust with the public' after a patient was reportedly sickened during Phase 3 trials of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine candidate. US authorities are looking into the issue, but Oxforx said earlier this week that the patient wasn't sickened during the trial.

Last night, President Trump responded to questions about testimony from CDC Director Robert Redfield, who told Congress that COVID-19 vaccines wouldn't be widely available until next year during testimony earlier in the day. Trump chalked it up to a misnderstanding, and once again insisted that the first vaccinations were just weeks away.

China reported nine new cases on Wednesday, down from 12 a day earlier, as the border city of Ruili, situated near Myanmar, remains on lockdown.

In a note to clients published Thursday, analysts at JPM noted that the rise in daily confirmed coronavirus cases in Europe has not shown signs of leading to a rapid increase in hospitalizations across the continent, which is an important sign that this wave likely won't be anywhere near as deadly.

As is the case in the US and elsewhere around the world, more young people are becoming infected as older individuals keep contact with others to a minimum.

"The disconnect between new cases on the one hand, and hospitalisations and deaths on the other, remains very evident everywhere," said JPM economist David Mackie.

Finally, South Korea confirmed 153 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, up from 113 a day eariler, bringing the country's total infections to 22,657, along with 372 deaths. Kia Motors suspended operations at two plants in its Sohari Factory near Seoul, as 10 cases were confirmed among the automaker's employees and families.

Published:9/17/2020 10:06:08 AM
[Markets] Trump’s crackdown on ‘critical race theory’ training leads to cancellation of Justice Department ‘unconscious bias’ program Earlier this month, the Office of Management and Budget said ‘critical race theory’ was ‘divisive, false and demeaning.’
Published:9/17/2020 10:06:07 AM
[Markets] Pelosi Gets Lifeline After Trump Tweet On Stimulus; Meadows Clarifies Pelosi Gets Lifeline After Trump Tweet On Stimulus; Meadows Clarifies Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 10:22

After coming under fire from her own party for rejecting a $1.5 trillion 'moderate' bipartisan stimulus deal supported by 50 House lawmakers, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was seemingly thrown a lifeline Wednesday thanks to a tweet from President Trump urging GOP lawmakers to "Go for the much higher numbers" amid stalled coronavirus negotiations.

Trump followed up at a White House press conference, saying he liked "the larger numbers" contained in the $1.5 trillion plan, saying "I agree with a lot of it."

Regardless, Pelosi is digging her heels in at $2.2 trillion, while Republican leaders who say that's far too high proposed a substantially smaller, $650 billion "skinny" package last week.

Pelosi's rejection of the subsequent $1.5 trillion bipartisan compromise supported by 50 members of her chamber - leading to a rare public rebuke from rank-and-file Democrats.

Then, Trump fired off his Wednesday tweet urging Republicans to consider a larger package, taking the heat off Pelosi - who conflated Trump's support of the $1.5 trillion plan with support of her plan in a Wednesday joint statement with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) which pitted Trump's comments against Senate Republicans, who they say are "shortchanging" the American people.

According to Politico's Jake Sherman, attention began to shift back to Pelosi on Wednesday evening, with some GOP considering forcing a "quixotic vote" on removing Pelosi from the speakership - a symbolic move which would be sure to fail.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows added a bit of clarity to Trump's seeming-support of Pelosi, saying on Thursday that the president would support a bill that supports airline workers and prevents layoffs, and that there are no plans for discussions with Pelosi and Schumer on Thursday regarding further stimulus. On Wednesday, Meadows said that the $1.5 trillion figure in the compromise package wasn't a "show-stopper."

Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the party’s No. 2 in the chamber, said that $1.5 trillion would cause “a lot of heartburn” for GOP members. His colleague Ron Johnson of Wisconsin underlined that last Thursday’s $650 billion bill, was the right size. That legislation was blocked by Democrats who called it insufficient. -Bloomberg

Meadows also encouraged lawmakers to work on the deal, saying on Thursday "Take your cameras to DCA today because you're gonna see members of Congress leaving Washington to go home and pretend like they are working hard on this particular deal."

Regardless, as Politico's Sherman concludes, Pelosi's "adversaries in the White House and on Capitol Hill seem to be unable or unwilling to let her flail."

Published:9/17/2020 9:35:50 AM
[Markets] Metals Stocks: Gold prices tumble by 1% as traders react to Fed policy Gold futures retreat on Thursday as commodity investors reacted to the monetary policy statement from the Federal Reserve, which indicated it intends to keep key interest rates near zero through 2023.
Published:9/17/2020 9:35:49 AM
[Markets] Deutsche Bank Gold Manipulator: "Spoofing Was So Commonplace I Figured It Was OK" Deutsche Bank Gold Manipulator: "Spoofing Was So Commonplace I Figured It Was OK" Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 09:51

We first brought you the fascinating story of Deutsche Bank's gold spoofer David Liew back in June 2017, when we revealed that the former precious metals-trader turned government star informant was responsible for busting a massive ring of gold manipulators that resulted in numerous arrests and multi-million penalties paid by banks including Deutsche Bank, UBS and HSBC. For those who need a refresher read "Deutsche Bank Trader Admits To Rigging Precious Metals Markets" in which we showed such internal chat board excerpts as the following:

And of course this:

Fast forward to today, when the Former Deutsche Bank analyst David Liew told a Chicago jury he learned how to manipulate gold and silver prices from the two successful senior traders he admired and worked with for about three years. As Bloomberg reports, Liew "said he wanted to be a team player and make money after joining the bank’s Singapore office, so he began doing “spoof” trades the way he was taught by Cedric Chanu and James Vorley" two other Deutsche Bank gold traders who were perp walked in January 2018 as the crackdown on spoofers hit.

According to Liew, "the senior traders often placed buy and sell orders they never intended to execute, a strategy intended to influence prices so they could reap illegal profits."

David Liew

"I saw Mr. Vorley and Mr. Chanu do it," Liew, the prosecution’s star witness, said Wednesday in federal court. Liew, who has already pleaded guilty to spoofing charges and is cooperating with the government, said he sat next to Chanu in Singapore from 2009 to 2012 and communicated daily on a live video chat with Vorley in London.

And the punchline: while Liew knew manipulating prices was wrong, he said spoofing trades were "so commonplace" in the market and among his co-workers that he figured it was OK.

Indeed it was, and it's why so many precious metals traders would fume at the irregular price action in precious metals in the 2008-2013 period when the abovementioned banks had honed their manipulation to an art.

As a reminder, Vorley and Chanu are on trial for fraud and conspiracy, accused of issuing multiple bogus trade orders between 2008 and 2013. The case is the latest prosecution of “spoofing” trades brought by the U.S., which has been cracking down on the practice since the so-called “flash crash” a decade ago, according to Bloomberg

Liew described one of the countless trades in which he worked with Vorley to manipulate the gold price:

On Aug. 26, 2010, Liew said he put in an order to sell 15 futures contracts, valued at around $1.8 million based on prices at the time, while Vorley placed an order to buy 80 contracts, which would have been worth about $9.9 million. When prices rose, Vorley canceled his buy order and Liew executed his sell order, Liew said adding that Vorley and Chanu would often help Liew with his spam trades.

If they saw he had an open sell order, they would put in a buy order to help him get a better price, exhibits presented at the trial show. Such coordinated spoofing could also be done by a lone trader placing orders on each side of the market.

It gets better: Liew said he became so familiar with spamming that he could tell when his colleagues were doing it. One day, he noticed Chanu was making such a trade, and Liew sent him a message saying, “be careful ... don’t let the buy orders get into the market," according to a chat log and Liew’s testimony.

In their defense, Vorley and Chanu claim their actions were legal, and that canceling orders is an accepted bluffing strategy in the competitive world of high-frequency trading, where computers use algorithms to execute massive trades in milliseconds. Of course, that's a lie, but it's just yet another inadvertent confirmation that the entire edifice of high frequency trading is built on manipulation. The defense lawyers also argued that none of the traders’ actions were flagged by Duetsche Bank’s compliance department. Which speaks volumes about just how rampant and accepted gold manipulation was on Wall Street - even legal departments turned a blind eye.

Another argument used by the defense lawyers was their attempt to discredit the claim that Chanu and Vorley intentionally canceled trades. Liew acknowledged that there might be all sorts of situations that would result in a cancellation, including if the trader goes to lunch or the bathroom. "There’s no button that says what intent is," defense lawyer Matthew Mazur said while questioning Liew. Of course, that particular line of defense would not fly with spoofing HFT algos which, last time we checked, don't have bathroom breaks.

In another bizarre defense tactic, Mazure said that Liew must have been aware that his own price-manipulating strategies weren’t legal. In an Aug. 8, 2010, chat message to Chanu, Liew wrote: "Cause Dodd Frank gonna get me fired, Ha Ha,” according to a transcript of the conversation shown to jurors. Well, yes, and that's why Liew is now a star cooperating witness for the prosecution.

Published:9/17/2020 9:10:01 AM
[Markets] Stocks Slide as Federal Reserve Points to Risks to U.S. Recovery Stocks decline after the Federal Reserve signals it will keep interest rates low through at least 2023. Published:9/17/2020 9:10:01 AM
[Markets] Dow off sharply in reaction to lackluster U.S. economy data and Fed rate pledge Dow off sharply in reaction to lackluster U.S. economy data and Fed rate pledge Published:9/17/2020 9:10:01 AM
[Markets] Trump Today: Trump claims election results ‘may never be accurately determined’ due to mail-in voting President Donald Trump on Thursday launched another tirade against mail-in voting, claiming without evidence that the results of the Nov. 3 election may never be accurately known.
Published:9/17/2020 8:35:02 AM
[Markets] Barclays Latest Global Megabank To Suffer Trading Floor COVID-19 Outbreak Barclays Latest Global Megabank To Suffer Trading Floor COVID-19 Outbreak Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 09:22

As JP Morgan struggles with another COVID-19 outbreak as it prepares to order more workers back to its offices in NYC and London, Barclays has just become the latest global mega-bank to suffer a flareup of its own.

Dow Jones-owned Financial News, a London-based news organization, reported Thursday that "Barclays sent some staff home from its London trading floor after two employees tested positive for COVID-19."

What's more puzzling, the outbreak come as the City of London reportedly remains a ghost town, which, apparently, hasn't dissuaded local officials and the British government from considering another "localized" lockdown as cases in the UK continue to climb as PM Boris Johnson continues to reopen the economy.

The infected traders reportedly worked on Level 2 of Barclays' 5 North Colonnade office.

"Earlier this week, two colleagues based on level 2 of 5 North Colonnade received this confirmation" of having contracted the virus, Barclays' head of markets Stephen Dainton wrote in a memo sent to employees on 2 September. The North Colonnade building in Canary Wharf houses the Barclays investment bank and trading floors.

Here's the rest of the statement, courtesy of FN:

"The colleagues who tested positive began a period of self isolation," said the memo, which was seen by Financial News. "Anyone who interacted with the affected individuals was notified and advised to self-quarantine for 14 days."

"The relevant desks and the entire trading floor underwent a deep clean, including common spaces such as lobbies and bathrooms," the memo continued. "The health, safety and security of all colleagues remains our number one focus."

"We remain in close contact with the individuals, to offer support to them and their family."

FN noted that US investment banks have been "among the most active" in ordering workers back to the office. JPM's office space is already at 35% occupancy in its Canary Wharf office. Citigroup has achieved 20% occupancy at its Canada Square headquarters. Most European banks have been more hesitant.

Cases in the UK have spiked to their highest levels since May. The UK reported 4,007 new cases yesterday, according to Johns Hopkins data, the highest reading since May 1.

Though fortunately deaths remain well below their peak levels, especially in London.

Deutsche Bank has told staff in the US that they won't have to return to the office until 2021. Meanwhile, JPM has reportedly stopped reimbursing junior bankers for Uber rides, forcing them to rely on driving or public transit like the subway.

As more banks move to call bankers back to the office, how many more outbreaks will people tolerate before it starts impacting the career decisions of America's top talent? Tech companies aren't bringing workers back to the office until late next year, or possibly never.

Published:9/17/2020 8:35:02 AM
[Markets] U.S. new-home construction slowed in August U.S. new-home construction slowed in August Published:9/17/2020 8:04:41 AM
[Markets] Salesforce Gets Added to Dow Jones Industrial Average. Is it Time to Buy or Sell? Salesforce just got added to the prestigious index, but can it keep up with its breakneck growth pace forever? Published:9/17/2020 8:04:41 AM
[Markets] SNOW Drops, Tech Tumbles, Bonds Bid SNOW Drops, Tech Tumbles, Bonds Bid Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 08:54

But, but, but... The 'very successful' IPO of Snowflake now has everyone who bought after its release yesterday now underwater...

The Nasdaq is leading the plunge post-Powell...

And bond yields are tumbling

And don't forget, tomorrow is quad-witch options expiry so hold on to your hats for a gamma-geddon in stocks and vol.

Published:9/17/2020 8:04:41 AM
[Markets] NewsWatch: Stock markets have now seen the ‘peak of Fed stimulus’ unless these 2 things happen Investors were left disappointed by the Federal Reserve’s action — or lack of — late on Wednesday, as the central bank failed to indicate any new stimulus.
Published:9/17/2020 8:04:41 AM
[Markets] Biden to Brexit Britain: No trade deal with U.S. if you renege on Ireland Even though London recently signed a trade deal with Japan, the prospect of a quick deal with the U.S. is waning.
Published:9/17/2020 7:38:58 AM
[Markets] 860,000 Americans Filed For First-Time Jobless Benefits Last Week 860,000 Americans Filed For First-Time Jobless Benefits Last Week Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 08:34

While some may celebrate the fact that initial jobless claims was below 1 million for the 3rd week in a row, the fact remains that a stunning 860,000 Americans filed for first time unemployment benefits last week...

Source: Bloomberg

That is more than four times the pre-COVID 'normal' and well above any peak week during the great financial crisis collapse.

And this is 7 months after the lockdowns began! Maybe it's time for Governors to start opening these states!!

Published:9/17/2020 7:38:58 AM
[Markets] Pound Tumbles After BOE Said It Discussed Implementation Of Negative Rates Pound Tumbles After BOE Said It Discussed Implementation Of Negative Rates Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 07:34

There were no initial surprises when the first headlines hit from the BOE's decision this morning in which, just like the Fed and the BOJE hours before it, the central bank kept its rates on hold and its QE program unchanged at GBP745BN in a 9-0 decision, both as expected.

Echoing the Fed, which pledged not to hike rates until at least 2023, the BOE repeated it pledge not to tighten until U.K. inflation, currently at 0.2%, is sustainably moving to its 2% target. Economists also predict the QE program will be expanded by 50 billion pounds in November.

However, after an initial kneejerk move higher, cable quickly tumbled after algos read all the way to the final bullet #52 in the Monetary Policy Minutes which revealed that the Monetary Policy Committee had been briefed on plans to explore how a negative rate could be implemented effectively should the outlook for inflation and output warrant at some point during this period of lower equilibrium. The Committee had discussed its policy toolkit, and the effectiveness of negative policy rates in particular, in the August Monetary Policy Report, in light of the decline in global equilibrium interest rates over a number of years. Here is the section in question:

The Committee had discussed its policy toolkit, and the effectiveness of negative policy rates in particular, in the August Monetary Policy Report, in light of the decline in global equilibrium interest rates over a number of years. Subsequently, the MPC had been briefed on the Bank of England’s plans to explore how a negative Bank Rate could be implemented effectively, should the outlook for inflation and output warrant it at some point during this period of low equilibrium rates. The Bank of England and the Prudential Regulation Authority will begin structured engagement on the operational considerations in 2020 Q4

In response, the pound clumped to an intraday low, trading down 0.6% at $1.2892.

Officials also said that while recent data has been a little stronger than expected, they still think there is “a risk of a more persistent period of elevated unemployment than in the central projection.”

"The Committee will continue to monitor the situation closely and stands ready to adjust monetary policy accordingly to meet its remit," the BOE said.

STIR traders were caught offside, as moments before the announcement money markets trimmed bets on interest rate, with traders pricing in the next 10bps rate cut in June compared with February on Wednesday just before the decision, and about 13bps of easing is priced at the end of 2021.

Some more highlights from the report, courtesy of NewsSquawk:

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS

  • 2020 Q3 as a whole, Bank staff expect GDP to be around 7% below its 2019 Q4 level, less weak than had been expected in the August Report
  • CPI inflation is expected to remain below 1% until early 2021, albeit slightly higher than expected at the time of the August Report.
  • Overall, the Committee judged that inflation expectations remained well anchored and consistent with inflation close to the 2% target.
  • The outlook for the economy remains unusually uncertain. The MPC’s central projections in the August Monetary Policy Report assumed that the direct impact of Covid-19 on the economy would dissipate gradually

BREXIT

  • Market contacts had also reported renewed concerns over recent Brexit developments.
  • The sterling exchange rate index has fallen by around 2%, in part reflecting recent Brexit developments.
  • The Committee would consider economic issues relating to Brexit within the context of its wider forecast discussions ahead of the November MPC meeting.

GUIDANCE

  • As in the August Report, there remains a risk of a more persistent period of elevated unemployment than in the central projection.
  • The Committee will continue to monitor the situation closely and stands ready to adjust monetary policy accordingly to meet its remit.
  • The MPC will keep under review the range of actions that could be taken to deliver its objectives.
  • The Committee does not intend to tighten monetary policy until there is clear evidence that significant progress is being made in eliminating spare capacity and achieving the 2% inflation target sustainably.

The U.K. has been facing a resurgence in virus infections and restrictions, as well as fears unemployment could spike when government aid programs are withdrawn next month. Concurrently, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s threats to redraw his Brexit deal with the European Union could scupper any chance of a trade accord before the Dec. 31 deadline, further boosting economic turmoil.

Published:9/17/2020 7:05:06 AM
[Markets] Market Snapshot: Dow futures point to losses early Thursday as investors digest Fed policy guidance and await jobless claims U.S. stock-index futures pointed to losses early Thursday as investors processed the Federal Reserve’s economic outlook and its decision to hold benchmark interest rates at superlow levels for at least the next three years.
Published:9/17/2020 7:05:06 AM
[Markets] Pound slumps as Bank of England discussed how it could implement negative rates Pound slumps as Bank of England discussed how it could implement negative rates Published:9/17/2020 6:35:08 AM
[Markets] The Ratings Game: Kraft Heinz stock upgraded twice with analysts upbeat about ongoing business transformation Kraft Heinz laid out its strategy during its investor day, including a focus on efficiency that has already yielded $2 billion in cost cuts
Published:9/17/2020 6:35:08 AM
[Markets] Trump Administration Forces Qatari News Network Al Jazeera To Register As 'Foreign Agent' Trump Administration Forces Qatari News Network Al Jazeera To Register As 'Foreign Agent' Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 06:46

Earlier this year, the Trump Administration started forcing Chinese state media outlets operating in the US to register as foreign agents. Twitter and other social media companies followed suit by labeling accounts linked to Chinese and Russian state-funded media companies with tags warning of "state affiliated media".

Pretty soon, Jack Dorsey might be slapping a similar label on accounts associated with Al Jazeera, after the Trump Administration branded the popular media company, which publishes in English and Arabic, as a foreign agent.

Many Americans were first introduced to Al Jazeera in the days after 9/11, as Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden leaked tapes taking credit for the attacks to the news network, which is financed by the Emir of Qatar. Its international headquarters is in Doha,

Al Jazeera tried to spin the demand as if it were somehow part of a separate deal, signed on Tuesday and brokered by the Trump administration, in which the UAE - Qatar's biggest regional rival - normalized relations with Israel. However, the UAE ambassador in the US told the NYT that this wasn't accurate.

Leftwing Magazine Mother Jones broke the news earlier this week.

In its letter, the DoJ alleged that AJ+, primarily a social-media outlet that produces short videos for social media in English as well as Arabic, French and Spanish, engages in "political activities" on behalf of Qatar’s government, which provides practically all of AJ's financing, and should therefore be subject to the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Qatar also appoints the network's board of directors.

"Journalism designed to influence American perceptions of a domestic policy issue or a foreign nation’s activities or its leadership qualifies as 'political activities' under the statutory definition," said the letter, which was signed by Jay I. Bratt, the chief of the Justice Department’s counterintelligence division, “even,” the letter added, "if it views itself as 'balanced.'"

Mother Jones first reported the letter Tuesday afternoon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published:9/17/2020 6:10:16 AM
[Markets] : Bank of England keeps interest rates and QE program unchanged The Bank of England on Thursday unanimously decided to keep interest rates and its bond purchase program unchanged, giving the central bank two more months to decide whether to provide more stimulus to the U.K. economy.
Published:9/17/2020 6:10:16 AM
[Markets] The Conversation: Polio immunization in the 1950s offers clues of how coronavirus vaccines might be rolled out Lessons learned in medical history are worth considering as the race to develop Covid-19 vaccines proceeds.
Published:9/17/2020 5:35:13 AM
[Markets] Carnival Shares Tumble 4% As Cruise Cancellations Extended Through Spring 2021 Carnival Shares Tumble 4% As Cruise Cancellations Extended Through Spring 2021 Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 06:19

On Tuesday, Carnival Crop announced plans for a $1 billion stock offering, while warning investors about a $2.9 billion loss for Q3, typically its busiest quarter. The latest offering adds to the growing mountain of billions in debt and equity that Carnival has raised since the beginning of March, as the embattled cruise-ship operator struggles to 'stay afloat' - no pun intended.

Six months into the pandemic pause, Carnival shares are down 4% in European trading Thursday morning after the international cruiseline operator revealed late Wednesday night that it would extend cancellations through the spring of 2021.

In keeping with the company's "ongoing ship enhancement program", Carnival is delaying the return of four ships until enhancements are complete, leading to cancellations into April 2021.

"As we continue to work through issues related to our eventual return to operations, we are committed to providing our guests and travel agent partners with certainty where we can, although we regret disappointing our guests," said Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy in a release provided by spokesperson Vance Gulliksen.

Here's a rundown of which ships will be impacted (courtesy of USAToday):

Carnival Magic

  • Itineraries from Miami are canceled until March 13.

Carnival Paradise

  • Itineraries from Tampa are canceled until March 19.

Carnival Valor

  • Itineraries from New Orleans are canceled until April 29.

Carnival Spirit

  • Itineraries from Brisbane are canceled through May 16.
  • The first sailing will be the Singapore to Brisbane voyage on June 12.

The premarket move brought shares back to their August lows.

Although the company is couching these cancellations as "routine maintenance", it sounds like something the company probably should have probably disclosed to investors a couple of days ago. Though the company is also in the process of selling 18 of its ships amid its unprecedented financial struggles that have become an industry-wide problem.

Published:9/17/2020 5:35:13 AM
[Markets] : 60% of Yelp businesses that closed during the pandemic will stay shut permanently, report finds Business closure rates have been highest in metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco, where rent tends to be high and more stringent health protocols have been put in place compared to suburban and rural regions.
Published:9/17/2020 5:07:04 AM
[Markets] Portland Protester Jailed For Injuring Officer With 'High-Powered Laser' Capable Of Burning Clothes Portland Protester Jailed For Injuring Officer With 'High-Powered Laser' Capable Of Burning Clothes Tyler Durden Thu, 09/17/2020 - 06:05

A Portland man has been indicted by a grand jury for an attack on a police officer using a high powered laser during protests last month.

36-year old Bryan Kelley allegedly pointed a laser into an officer's eyes that so powerful it can cause permanent blindness, and possibly strong enough to burn through clothing and protective equipment.