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7.10.20 - Is America Heading For Civil War?

Gold last traded at $1,801 an ounce. Silver at $19.06 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose for the fifth consecutive week Friday on safe-haven buying and dollar weakness. U.S. stocks drifted lower, despite upbeat CV-19 treatment news, as investors worried about how record high pandemic infections might impact the economy.

Miserable Economic Outlook Could Yield Record Gold Prices -Wall Street Journal
"Gold prices ticked past $1,800 an ounce this week, and are now not far from the all-time highs reached in 2011, in the bleak aftermath of the financial crisis. New records could be ahead. Since the financial crisis, the movement of gold prices has been a near-mirror image of movements in the yield on 10-year Treasury inflation-protected securities, which this week touched a seven-year low of minus 0.78%. The ratio between the two assets’ price moves has varied, but the relationship hasn’t broken meaningfully during the past decade....Even with the current substantial fiscal support, the recovery in economic data seems to be leveling off, some Fed policy makers have noted. And that is before even considering what might happen in financial markets if would-be vaccine producers run into difficulties....Who is buying all this gold? Inflows into gold exchange-traded funds in the first half were the largest ever, and largely from North America. Flows into gold from institutional investors in developed markets have predominated....It is hard to see gold falling much, and it isn't unreasonable to believe it will reach new highs in the months ahead."

guns Is America Heading For Civil War? -Smith/Alt-Market
"In last week's article I discussed the issue of American 'balkanization' and the rapid migration of conservatives and moderates from large population centers and states that are becoming militant in their progressive ideology...Uprooting and moving to an entirely new place is not an easy thing to do, especially in the middle of a pandemic...That's how bad the situation has become - Rational and reasonable people are willing to leave behind their old life and risk it all to keep a margin of freedom. In my view it is clear that the political left has gone so far off the rails into its own cultism that there is no coming back. There can be no reconciliation between the two sides, so we must separate, or we must fight. I advocate for separation first for a number of reasons: First and foremost, conservatives are the primary producers within American culture. If we leave the leftists to their own devices there is a chance they will simply implode in on themselves and eat each other because they have no idea how to fill the production void. The recent developments in the defunct CHAZ/CHOP autonomous zone are a perfect example....Third, if the leftists decide they don't like that we have separated and are thriving on our own, and they attempt to antagonize or attack us where we live...I fully realize that the third outcome is the most likely...Why? Because collectivists and narcissists are never satisfied....I am often asked these days about my view of the 2020 election and how it will turn out....I am not convinced there will even be an election in November. With pandemic lockdowns surely returning as infections spike once again, the US economy will be in ruins by winter. Voting in a traditional fashion will be difficult or restricted in some states. And, mail-in or digital ballots will not be accepted by most conservatives because of their history of being used to rig election outcomes. Look at it this way: If Trump 'wins', or delays the election, the left will riot and a civil war will be triggered. Conservatives will have to deal with the violence of the left while also dealing with the potential for martial law (which we cannot tolerate or support either). If Biden 'wins', it will be perceived by many conservatives who still think elections matter as a stolen presidency engineered through fraudulent ballot practices....The truth is, in 2020-2021 we stand at a massive nexus point in human history. We are spiraling into a decade and a fight that will decide the fate liberty for the next century or more. On one side stands the global elites and the useful idiots on the hard left...On the other side stands the people that just want to be left alone; the free minds, the people that don't need or desire to have power over anybody. If humanity is to have a future at all, the second group must continue to exist and prosper." [image: Courtesy Alt-Market]

Our Cash-Free Future Is Getting Closer -New York Times
"The pandemic is propelling a shift toward a cashless society in ways that no other single event has. Experts say that's not necessarily a good thing....Cash was already being edged out in many countries as urban consumers paid increasingly with apps and cards for even the smallest purchases. But the coronavirus is accelerating a shift toward a cashless future, raising new calculations for merchants and enriching the digital payments industry. Fears over transmission of the disease have compelled consumers to rethink how they shop and pay. Retailers and restaurants are favoring clicks over cash to reduce exposure for employees....Cash is certainly not dead. Before the pandemic, bills and coins were used for 80 percent of the transactions in Europe, and there are few signs that the pandemic is about to wipe it out. Yet for a growing number of people sensitized by Covid-19 quarantines, cash is a fading routine....Propelling the trend is a surge in online shopping as homebound consumers turn to digital tools for basic items. In the United States, 40 million customers went online for groceries in April....There is no medical evidence that cash transmits the virus. Nonetheless, 'perceptions that cash could spread pathogens may change payment behavior by users and firms,' the Bank for International Settlements said....Among those hoping to profit from the discomfort is Tappit, a British company that provides data gathering and cashless solutions such as wristbands and apps...Its sales pitch during the pandemic to promote 'No more dirty cash,' has experienced a surge in interest by sporting arenas, hotels and restaurants seeking to revive business quickly after lockdowns, said Jason Thomas, the chief executive....The authorities that manage the world's currencies say the dangers of going fully cashless are rife....Consumer groups warn that vulnerable people risk being marginalized....'Cash is not going to disappear,' said Mr. Jorgensen. 'But it will continue to decline, and Covid is accelerating that trend.'"

U.S. town creates local currency to boost coronavirus relief -Reuters
"Tucked away under lock and key in a former railroad depot turned small-town museum in the U.S. state of Washington, a wooden printing press cranked back to life to mint currency after nearly 90 dormant years. The end product: $25 wooden bills bearing the town's name - Tenino - with the words 'COVID Relief' superimposed on the image of a bat and the Latin phrase 'Habemus autem sub potestate' (We have it under control) printed in cursive. With the coronavirus pandemic plunging the United States into a recession, decimating small businesses and causing job losses across the country, some local governments are looking for innovative ways to help residents weather the storm....Tenino, a town of less than 2,000 people located about 60 miles (95km) southwest of Seattle, started printing the local banknotes in April, five weeks into Washington state's lockdown. Anyone with a documented loss of income as a result of the pandemic is eligible for up to $300 a month of the local currency....Businesses up and down the town's quaint Main Street accept the wooden note for everything except alcohol, tobacco, cannabis and lottery tickets. Tenino's city government backs the local currency, which merchants can exchange for U.S. dollars at city hall at a 1:1 rate....The tiny town founded around a sandstone quarry achieved national prominence in 1931 when civic leaders printed a wooden local currency to restore consumer confidence after the town's bank failed during the Great Depression....In April the city council approved the proposal to issue up to $10,000 in local scrip. So far, 13 residents have successfully applied for the funds and some $2,500 worth of wooden bills have been issued, with donations upping the total funds available to $16,000."

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7.9.20 - Gold Leaps Above $1,800

Gold last traded at $1,806 an ounce. Silver at $18.99 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices held near 9-year highs Thursday on rising economic uncertainty. U.S. stocks fell amid renewed concerns over the coronavirus and its impact on the economy.

Gold leaps above $1,800 for the first time since 2011 -Business Insider
"Gold spot prices broke above $1,800 per ounce on Tuesday afternoon for the first time since 2011, bolstered by record inflows and widespread risk-off attitudes. The precious metal continued trading above that level Wednesday morning. Safe havens are enjoying their time in the sun as the stock market's run-up slows. Spiking coronavirus case counts have fueled new concerns of a second plunge for risk asset prices. Federal Reserve officials warn the virus' resurgence could freeze an economic recovery, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development recently referred to the pandemic's labor market damage as 'far worse' than during the financial crisis. The wave of gloomy news has pushed investors back to gold at a blinding pace. Year-to-date inflows for exchange-traded funds tracking the metal reached 655.6 tons on Wednesday, Bloomberg reported, surpassing the full-year increase seen in 2009....Some analysts think gold has plenty of room to run. Goldman Sachs raised its 12-month price target for the popular hedge on June 19 to $2,000 per ounce, expecting gold to reach a record high amid lasting virus damage. With interest rates set to remain close to zero for years to come and the US dollar facing significant pressure, the metal's rally shows no signs of stopping, the bank's analysts said."

crisis The U.S. Is On a Downward Spiral -Bonner/Rogue Economics
"Freedom to glory… and when that fails, to wealth, vice, corruption… and finally, barbarism. That was how the 19th-century English poet, Lord Byron, described the cycle of empires....You can tell where you are in the cycle by checking the monuments. They go up in the glory stage… they come down as you get close to barbarism....Our rough guess is that the 'freedom' stage came to an end for America at the beginning of the 20th century....Being a great nation seems to chaff against being a good one. A world power needs to throw its weight around. And for that, it needs the heft of unhedged support from compliant people. And it needs institutions that set up the government as master of them, not as servant. These institutional changes came in a rush in 1913. Changes to the Constitution created a powerful central bank - the Federal Reserve - along with federal income tax and the direct election of U.S. senators....The glory stage was next. But it was short-lived. It probably peaked out in World War II. The U.S. won in both theaters - against Germany and against Japan - leaving it with undisputed control of the Pacific and the Atlantic....As the glory failed, the pursuit of wealth became paramount. For the first three decades after World War II, American industries turned out some of the best products in the world - the best cars… the best houses… the best movies....But then, vice was already sneaking into the Empire in the form of fake money. The post-1971 dollar no longer had any connection to the gold or silver that the Constitution seemed to require. First, stocks fell. Next, stagflation took hold, with a slumping economy and, by 1979, double-digit inflation....Manufacturing centers, such as Detroit, Michigan and Gary, Indiana, fell hard as new centers of money and power - Manhattan and Washington, D.C. - rose up. Wall Street flourished. By 1999, the dot-coms were all the rage. Stocks had gotten so high that it took 44 ounces of gold to buy all the Dow stocks....It now stands at only 14 ounces of gold… a two-thirds loss over 20 years. And the wealth of the 90% of the population that sells its time by the hour, the week, or the month has fallen along with the real value of stocks...It would take the typical working stiff two whole weeks of work to buy an ounce of gold….Wealth peaked out 20 years ago…All that is left are corruption and barbarism."

New Coronavirus Surges Slow Economic Recovery -Wall Street Journal
"The nation's fledgling economic recovery is losing momentum, as a new wave of coronavirus infections causes businesses to scale back or reshutter in several big states and consumers to retreat anew. Restaurant seating rates have fallen of late in Florida, California, Arizona and Texas. Foot traffic to businesses has ebbed in some states since late June. Google searches for 'file for unemployment' in Arizona and Florida are rising. The new economic disruptions are concentrated in the three most populous states - California, Texas and Florida - and Arizona, all of which have seen a rise in infections in recent weeks. Together, those states make up about 30% of all U.S. economic output, according to Moody's Analytics. State and city leaders have imposed new restrictions on businesses to prevent further spread, though many consumers had already voluntarily stopped going out, according to foot-traffic data....The shape of the recovery will be jagged rather than a V signifying a sharp drop in activity followed by a similarly sharp rebound. Moody's now projects U.S. output to grow at an annual rate of 17% in the third quarter, far less than what is needed to get the economy back to its pre-pandemic state and below the company's prior estimate of 20%. 'While it's only begun to bear out over the past week, there are some early signs that the recovery may be losing steam,' said Matt Sigelman, CEO of Burning Glass Technologies, a labor-market data analytics software firm....Individuals' choice to stay home to avoid the virus was a much larger driver of the economic collapse during the pandemic than government-mandated restrictions, according to research from the University of Chicago's Becker Friedman Institute."

How Businesses Have Successfully Pivoted During the Pandemic -Harvard Business Review
"The nearly instantaneous economic recession triggered by the Covid-19 shutdown has wreaked havoc on businesses large and small. Our very way of life is also said to be threatened....Accordingly, the recipe for survival is supposed to be a thorough transformation of the entire company - or else a bankruptcy filing. The reality of how companies are dealing with the crisis and preparing for the recovery tells a very different story, one of pivoting to business models conducive to short-term survival along with long-term resilience and growth. Pivoting is a lateral move that creates enough value for the customer and the firm to share. Consider Spotify, the global leader in music streaming. In principle, this type of platform has all the ingredients for success in the lockdown economy....One pivot Spotify made in response was to offer original content, in the form of podcasts. The platform saw artists and users upload more than 150,000 podcasts in just one month, and it has signed exclusive podcast deals with celebrities and started to curate playlists....Let's examine the world of restaurants. They have been battered by the lockdown, with many owners pondering whether to close for good...Eat-in, take-out, delivery, and catering are just the tip of the iceberg. One pivot would be to offer a flat rate for a set number of meals per week or per month, with limited menu choices. Restaurants could increase their margins as they learned how to manage captive demand....Not all pivots result in good business performance. Three conditions are necessary for such lateral moves to work. First, a pivot must align the firm with one or more of the long-term trends created or intensified by the pandemic, including remote work, shorter supply chains, social distancing, consumer introspection, and enhanced use of technology....Second, a pivot must be a lateral extension of the firm's existing capabilities, cementing - not undermining - its strategic intent...Third, pivots must offer a sustainable path to profitability, one that preserves and enhances brand value in the minds of consumers. The economic crisis triggered by the pandemic does not necessarily spell the end of entire industries or companies. It does weed out business models that fail to pivot toward the new reality."

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7.8.20 - A Mob's Monumental Failure

Gold last traded at $1,818 an ounce. Silver at $19.13 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose to fresh 9-year highs Wednesday on safe-haven buying and dollar weakness. U.S. stocks traded mostly lower as investors weighed the latest, troubling U.S. coronavirus data and its impact on the economic recovery.

Gold at $1,800: 'There's little to stop the gold-up trajectory' -Bloomberg Intelligence/Kitco
"Gold is heading to $1,900 an ounce, and little can stop the precious metal from reaching its all-time high in U.S. dollars, according to the latest Bloomberg Intelligence’s commodity outlook. 'It's logical to expect gold to outperform most assets in an environment of unparalleled central-bank easing, and we foresee the precious metal maintaining the upper hand in most scenarios. There's little to stop the gold-up, copper-down trajectories, in place well before the coronavirus struck,' wrote Bloomberg Intelligence senior commodity strategist Mike McGlone. Slow economic recovery is going to put pressure on commodities, except for gold, which will head to its record high of $1,900 an ounce, McGlone pointed out. 'Depression-like global conditions should press the BCOM below the 2016 trough and gold above its all-time high, about $1,900 an ounce,' he said....Gold has been trading above its new base level of $1,700 an ounce since mid-April. And the longer it can stay above that level the more prepared the precious metal will be to head to higher levels. 'Every day that passes above this level builds a firmer base for the metal to make the next move in its stair-step rally,' McGlone wrote. In the meantime, a V-shaped recovery is looking more and more unlikely, which is boosting the case for $1,900 gold."

statues A Mob's Monumental Failure to Understand -Wall Street Journal
"My elegant old hometown of Bristol, England, made world headlines when it kicked off the statue-bashing craze that swept many Western cities. Amid the uproar of argument, the central consideration remains overlooked: No country or culture's historical record is spotless. The vital question is whether, at each stage of evolution, the balance of good over bad was sufficiently decisive to build a civilization that advances humanity generally....The statue toppled on June 7 depicted Edward Colston (1636-1721), Bristol's slave-trading philanthropist. That may seem an easy moral win for iconoclasts. By the same criterion, however, one should also destroy copies of the Magna Carta for guaranteeing the rights and property of English barons against royal encroachment while they owned entire villages, including the people in them. Yet the pact King John signed (reluctantly) in 1215 launched the long march toward parliamentary democracy and the rule of law...Some cultures learn from their wrongs and painstakingly evolve toward enlightenment....Statues like Colston's deserve to endure because they celebrate the right kind of historical process, one that consistently delivers a present broadly better than the past....The mobs don't seem to understand how hard it is to get to this point, or how the monuments embody an arc of achievement. In Russia or China, when citizens look back on past monuments, they generally see symbols of disruption and tyranny like Stalin or Mao or more-benign figures who failed to establish enduring institutions. Any historical character in the West whose statue is under threat doesn't fall into those categories. Even Confederate leaders in the U.S. advanced civilization by losing. Whether it be Colston, Cecil Rhodes, Churchill or Jefferson, each overtopped his flaws with sufficient idealism or altruism to make our present better - not only for us in the West but for everyone who can aspire to replicate our standards."

The stock market is poised for a 40% drop, warns economist -Marketwatch
"'I think we've got a second leg down and that's very much reminiscent of what happened in the 1930s where people appreciate the depth of this recession and the disruption and how long it’s going to take to recover.' That's A. Gary Shilling, longtime economist and president of A. Gary Shilling & Co., again delivering a gloomy take on what's next in a recent CNBC interview. 'Stocks are [behaving] very much like that rebound in 1929 where there is absolute conviction that the virus will be under control and that massive monetary and fiscal stimuli will reinvigorate the economy,' he said, adding that the market could drop as much as 40% over the next year....Shilling laid out his prediction in more detail earlier this year, explaining in a Bloomberg News op-ed that while many economists are looking for a V-shaped, or quick, rebound to deliver a sharp recovery in the second half of the year, he remains much more skeptical. 'This pandemic is likely to be the most disruptive financial and social event since World War II with equally long-lasting consequences,' Shilling wrote, citing the stark unemployment numbers at the time. 'Many will no doubt restrain spending in future years to rebuild savings, especially since the crisis caught them at a time of high debts and short financial reserves.'"

The impending retail apocalypse -Axios
"Because of the coronavirus and people's buying habits moving online, retail stores are closing everywhere - often for good. Malls are going belly up. Familiar names like J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus and J. Crew have filed for bankruptcy. Increasingly, Americans' shopping choices will boil down to a handful of internet Everything Stores and survival-of-the-fittest national chains. A research report from UBS predicts that 100,000 brick-and-mortar U.S. retail stores will close by 2025, in a trend that started before the pandemic and has accelerated amid coronavirus-related shutdowns. Indoor malls - which were turning into ghost towns even before the pandemic - are being converted into apartment complexes....A relatively new retail model - buy online, pick up in-store - is gaining traction....The retail sector lost about 1.2 million jobs between March and June, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics figures released last week. Many COVID-19 store closures that were supposed to be temporary will wind up being permanent. Among household names that have announced they're shuttering some stores for good: Nordstrom, Bath & Body Works, Gap, and Zara....Budget retailers Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Five Below are bucking the trend - they plan to open hundreds of stores."

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7.7.20 - CV-19 Not About Red vs. Blue

Gold last traded at $1,809 an ounce. Silver at $18.66 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose Tuesday on safe-haven buying despite a firmer dollar. U.S. stocks traded mixed as investors digested jobs data and tried to determine how bumpy the pandemic recovery might be.

Gold Markets Continue to Look Strong -FX Empire
"Gold markets went back and forth during the trading session on Monday, as we continue to see a lot of back and forth in this market overall. However, we do have more of an upward trend, so I certainly do not have any interest in trying to short gold. The $1800 level above should continue to be massive resistance, but if we can get a daily close above that level, we could then start to see the market take off to the upside, perhaps reaching towards the $2000 level over the longer term....At this point in time, I buy dips and I do not short this market although I do recognize that the market is probably going to continue to find trouble above at the $1800 level. I think that every time we pull back after rising towards that area we have continued to chip away at the resistance, and it is only a matter of time before gives way due to plenty of central bank monetary policy and of course the whole host of potential negative headlines out there."

bear market The Bear Market in Happiness -A Wealth of Common Sense
"For years researchers have been showing through the science of happiness that experiences give you a bigger bang for your buck than material purchases. Experiences make us happier because they involve sights, sounds, social interactions and nostalgia. A trip, a concert, a sporting event, a special night out on the town or a party with close friends will make you much happier than spending money on stuff....This is one of the reasons the uncertainty around the pandemic is so troubling. It's almost impossible to anticipate good times right now because there is a dark cloud hanging over the majority of the best experiences....Our species has of course been through much worse than this and come out the other side, but we happen to be in a massive happiness bear market right now. The entire concept of happiness is often counterintuitive even during normal times. According to Jonathan Rauch in his book The Happiness Curve: People who live in fast-growing economies are less happy than people in slower-growing economies. Rapid change typically makes people very unhappy....Rauch's research shows gratitude can increase optimism, happiness and even physical well-being. Grateful people have been known to be healthier and even sleep better. The simple act of writing a thank you letter or email can improve two lives - the sender and the receiver."

Media refuse to admit the coronavirus doesn't care about red vs. blue -New York Post
"With coronavirus cases surging in the United States, the media were quick to blame: 'Several Republican-led states that moved quickly to reopen this spring at the urging of President Trump have seen new cases explode,' The New York Times reported. Yet hyper-Democratic California is actually seeing the highest number of new cases. Yes, GOP-led Arizona, Florida, Georgia and Texas are also seeing issues. But the red-v.-blue template doesn't fit reality. Last week, the United States saw a single-day record of more than 52,000 new COVID-19 cases....Six states including Cali saw record highs in cases on Wednesday - but Florida wasn't one. Why not flag that? Much of California fears hospitals will be overwhelmed, with Los Angeles County saying it could run out of hospital and ICU beds in two to three weeks. In response, Gov. Gavin Newsom restored restrictions in counties that hold more than 70 percent of the state population - closing bars entirely and shutting down indoor dining and even zoos....In all, 37 states are concerned after seeing their coronavirus cases rise week-over-week last week. The good news is that deaths so far aren't surging in the same way, while hospitalizations aren't lasting as long. In April, the national daily death toll was often above 2,000. Now it's around 600 and continues to drop. So the national surge in cases is concerning but not alarming. One reason for the disparity is that younger people - for whom the virus is far less deadly - are driving the numbers."

7 Social Security mistakes that could cost you a fortune -USA Today
"By taking the time to claim your benefits the right way for you, it maximizes the money you get from Social Security. To ensure you don't cost yourself, here are seven mistakes that are easy to make but important to avoid. 1. Failing to make sure your earnings record is correct - if your earnings record is incorrect, you might not get credit for all of the wages that you paid Social Security tax on....2. Underreporting your income - will reduce your Social Security benefits since the size of your check is based on your average wage....3. Working for too few years - the agency calculates average wages based on the 35 years in which your earnings were highest....4. Quitting work at the peak of your earnings potential - If you're making a lot more late in life, staying on the job a few extra years could let you replace several low-earning years....5. Claiming your benefits at the wrong time - Think about what makes sense for you, and don't make your choice until you understand how your age will affect your benefit amount....6. Failing to explore all the benefits available to you - Spousal and survivors benefits could be available if you're married or widowed...even after a divorce....7. Not understanding the rules before you act - By taking the time to claim your benefits the right way for you, it maximizes the money you get from Social Security so your retirement will be more financially secure."

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