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2.23.24 - Was America Just Attacked?

Gold last traded at $2,039 an ounce. Silver at $22.99 an ounce.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Was Thursday's communication disruption a fluke? Or was there a more sinister cause at the root? We will likely never know the truth but moments like these remind us how vulnerable we are, with other world powers having the capability to shut down our communications systems in a flash. That would affect every aspect of our lives, from our livelihood to our safety.

Was America Just Attacked? We Have Now Been Put On Notice That Our Communication Infrastructure Is Extremely Vulnerable -The Economic Collapse

cyberattack What would we do if we suddenly couldn’t use the Internet or our phones any longer? For a lot of people, such a scenario would be unthinkable. In fact, it felt like the “world is ending” for many AT&T customers on Thursday. The disruption to AT&T’s network only lasted for a few hours, but it created quite a frenzy. If we are going to see this much panic for an outage that happens for just a few hours, what would our society look like if Internet and phone communication was down for days, weeks or even months?

Once the outage began, federal authorities moved very rapidly to determine whether it was a cyberattack or not…

Federal agencies are ‘urgently investigating’ whether the massive cellular outage that plagued Americans on Thursday was a cyberattack.

The Federal Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are on the hunt to track down what disrupted service AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and a dozen other cellular providers.

While the agencies have not shared details, a security expert told that the outage has hallmarks of a hack. READ MORE

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2.22.24 - Avg US Household Costs: Up $1019 per month

Gold last traded at $2,024 an ounce. Silver at $22.75 an ounce.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This headline is something you'll never hear the talking heads in DC admit. Instead, they keep manipulating the numbers to make our economy seem rosier than it is. Anyone who feeds a family or heats a home knows differently. US households are spending over $1,000 MORE per month in expenses than they were just three short years ago. And it's unlikely to improve given our current trajectory.

The Average U.S. Household Is Spending $1,019 More A Month Just To Buy The Same Goods And Services It Did 3 Years Ago -The Economic Collapse

food prices It seems odd to talk about 2021 as “the good old days”, but the truth is that the cost of living was far lower just three short years ago. Earlier today, I did an interview with Sam Rohrer of Stand In The Gap Today in which we discussed how food prices have gotten wildly out of control. One example that I brought up was the fact that a Big Mac “value meal” can cost up to 18 dollars in some parts of the country. There is no way that I would shell out 18 bucks for a burger, some fries and a drink at McDonald’s. But this is the economic environment that we live in today.

Has your income gone up by more than a thousand dollars a month over the past three years?

If not, you are falling behind.

According to economist Mark Zandi, the average U.S. household is now shelling out an additional $1,019 a month just to purchase the exact same goods and services that it did three years ago…

The typical U.S. household needed to pay $213 more a month in January to purchase the same goods and services it did one year ago because of still-high inflation, according to new calculations from Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi.

Americans are paying on average $605 more each month compared with the same time two years ago and $1,019 more compared with three years ago, before the inflation crisis began. READ MORE

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2.21.24 - No soft landing

Gold last traded at $2,026 an ounce. Silver at $22.89 an ounce.

All Of The Elements Are In Place For An Economic Crisis Of Staggering Proportions -The Economic Collapse

Several sources - for several months - have suggested a crash is coming in 2024; but why now? The Fed can no longer contain the debt or bolster the economy with free money. The day of reckoning, for four years of reckless spending, may be nigh.

They were able to delay the U.S. economy’s day of reckoning, but they were not able to put it off indefinitely. During the pandemic, the Federal Reserve pumped trillions of dollars into the financial system and our politicians borrowed and spent trillions of dollars that we did not have. All of that money caused quite a bit of inflation, but it also created a “sugar rush” for the economy. In other words, economic conditions were substantially better than they would have been otherwise. Unfortunately, there will be a great price to be paid for such short-term thinking. From the federal government on down, our entire society is absolutely drowning in debt, and now it appears that our economic problems are about to go to the next level.

In early 2024, there are all sorts of signs that economic activity in the U.S. is really starting to slow down.

For example, we just learned that consumer spending “fell sharply” during the month of January…

Consumer spending fell sharply in January, presenting a potential early danger sign for the economy, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. READ MORE

No soft landing: The US economy is going to fall into recession in the middle of 2024, Citi's chief economist says -Yahoo! Finance

I think we all hoped for a soft landing - that our economy could recover once again; but that seems to be a fading dream given the reality of our current situation. Citi's chief economist is stating that by mid 2024, we will be in a recession. It may be time to buckle our financial seat belts.

by Aruni Soni

soft landing The soft-landing dream is over; instead, the US economy is headed for a recession in the middle of 2024, Citi says.

"There's this very powerful and seductive narrative around a soft landing, and we're just not seeing it in the data," Citi's chief US economist, Andrew Hollenhorst, said in a CNBC interview.

On the surface, the data looks great: The economy is benefiting from historically low unemployment, strong consumer spending, and robust GDP growth.

But there's more going on with the numbers than meets the eye.

"The question is where are these forward-looking indicators showing us that we're going to go," Hollenhorst said.

One place the economy is showing a weakness is the labor market. January had a blowout jobs report, adding 353,000 jobs to the economy. But Hollenhorst noted that if you scratch beneath the surface, the number of hours worked is falling, the number of full-time workers has decreased, and sectors such as the restaurant industry have stalled on hiring.

"That's the key to the economy — what happens in the labor market," Hollenhorst said. "If the unemployment rate stays low, people continue to spend, the economy holds up." But he added that the unemployment rate was expected to start rising, which would be "the sign that we're going to have a more material decline in the US economy." READ MORE

A US Bank Is Now Making Unexpected Account Closures -Frank Nez

2023 was filled with a lot of negative banking news and a lot of uncertain depositors. We saw bank closures, seizures of cash with no explanation, unexplained account closures, etc. It would appear that this trend is continuing into 2024.

A US bank is now making unexpected account closures after a fuming customer said the bank told her a reason was not required.

A customer warned others on social media not to open an account with Varo Bank after her account was abruptly closed without warning.

The fuming customer posted a video on social media, informing her audience of the bank’s suspicious activity, reports The-Sun.

In a video by TikTok user Nikki Nicole (@nikiyanicole85), she encouraged her audience to “get your money and run.”

“If you have Varo Bank, leave them alone,” she heeded.

“Get your money out your account. Close your accounts immediately.”

The user claimed the bank was closing their customer’s account without reason.

“[The bank will] send you emails saying that they don’t have to have a reason to close your account.” READ MORE

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2.20.24 - Gold at $3,000 and oil at $100 by 2025?

Gold last traded at $2,024 an ounce. Silver at $23.00 an ounce.

EDITOR'S NOTE: It looks as though gold has a fantastic future ahead; this according to Citi. Citi analysts are weighing in on the yellow metal as they assess the current condition of the world and foresee some major gains on the horizon. They also see some aggressive gains being made in oil prices. The time to position in these areas is today!

Gold at $3,000 and oil at $100 by 2025? Citi analysts don’t rule it out -CNBC

by Lee Ying Shan

gold map Gold prices could soar to $3,000 per ounce, and oil to $100 per barrel within the next 12 to 18 months subject to any one of three possible catalysts, according to Citi.

Gold, which is currently trading at $2,016, could surge by about 50%, if central banks sharply ramp up purchases of the yellow metal, a possible stagflation, or in case of a deep global recession, Aakash Doshi, Citi’s North America head of commodities research, told CNBC.

Central bank’s gold rush

“The most likely wildcard path to $3,000/oz gold is a rapid acceleration of an existing but slow-moving trend: de-dollarization across Emerging Markets central banks that in turn leads to a crisis of confidence in the U.S. dollar,” Citi analysts including Doshi wrote in a recent note.

That could double central bank’s gold purchases, challenging jewelry consumption as the largest driver of gold demand, Doshi elaborated.

Central banks’ gold purchases have “accelerated to record levels” in recent years, as they seek to diversify reserves and reduce credit risk, Citi said. China and Russian central banks are leading gold purchases, with India, Turkey, and Brazil, also increasing bullion buying.

The world’s central banks have sustained two successive years of more than 1,000 tons of net gold purchases, the World Gold Council reported in January.

“If that goes again [to] double very quickly to 2,000 tons, we think that would be actually very bullish for gold,” Doshi told CNBC via phone. READ MORE

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2.16.24 - Bezos Unloads Another $2 Billion of Amazon Stock

Gold last traded at $2,013 an ounce. Silver at $23.39 an ounce.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Jeff Bezos is selling off a few billion dollars worth of his stock. This is all part of what is known as a planned and disclosed sale of stock. The question is, why? And why now? As the talks of an overvalued market on the verge of crash continue, insiders selling off their stock tend to signal that it's time to get out.

Bezos Unloads Another $2 Billion of Amazon Stock in Latest Sale -Yahoo! Finance

by Kristine Owram

Amazon (Bloomberg) -- Jeff Bezos has unloaded another 12 million shares of Inc. valued at $2 billion, bringing the total sold in the past week to more than $6 billion.

He sold the latest tranche on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to a filing. The sales are part of an already disclosed plan to dispose of as many as 50 million shares of the company he founded.

In total, he’s now sold about 36 million shares. Bezos hasn’t explained why he’s selling, but the timing of when he instituted the trading plan may provide a clue. He announced on Nov. 2 he was moving to Miami from the Seattle region and adopted a so-called 10(b)5-1 plan on Nov. 8.

The move to Florida has now likely saved Bezos about $430 million in taxes. Washington state recently implemented a 7% levy on capital gains, while Florida has no such tax. READ MORE

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2.15.24 - Stock market flashing crash?

Gold last traded at $2,003 an ounce. Silver at $22.93 an ounce.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Watching the stock market lately feels like suspended reality. The bullish euphoria feels at odds with all that is happening around us. We've sadly seen this too many times before to not know how this story ends. Not with a whimper but with a bang; an abrupt and sharp one - just like 2000 and 2008.

The stock market is looking a lot like it did before the dot-com and '08 crashes, top economist says -Yahoo! Finance

by Jennifer Sor

market crash he stock market is flashing the same warning signs of "speculative mania" that preceded the crashes of 2008 and 2000, according to economist David Rosenberg.

The Rosenberg Research president — who called the 2008 recession and who's been a vocal bear on Wall Street amid the latest market rally — pointed to the "raging bull market" that's taken off in stocks, with the S&P 500 surpassing the 5,000 mark for the first time ever last week.

The benchmark index has soared around 22% from its low in October last year, clearing the official threshold for a bull market. The index has also gained for the last five weeks and has been up for 14 of the last 15 weeks — a winning streak that hasn't been seen since the early 1970s.

But the stellar gains are a double-edged sword for investors, as the market looks dangerously similar to the environment prior to the dot-com and 2008 crashes, Rosenberg wrote in a note on Monday.

"With each passing day, this has the feel of being a cross between 1999 and 2007. It is a gigantic speculative price bubble across most risk assets, and while AI is real, so was the Internet, and so were the high-flying stocks that populated the Nifty Fifty era," he said, referring to the group of 50 large-cap stocks that dominated the stock market in the 60s and 70s, before falling by around 60%. READ MORE

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2.14.24 - Beneath the Skin of CPI Inflation

Gold last traded at $1,991 an ounce. Silver at $22.34 an ounce.

BRICS: Will Mexico Join The Bloc and Abandon US Dollar in 2024?

It would appear our neighbors to the South are considering making the same move as several other nations and joining the BRICS alliance. If Mexico were to make this move alone, it wouldn't be much of an impact; however a lot of financially smaller nations combined with several larger ones could be crippling to the US.

by Michael Grullon

One of the most speculated nations on the brink of joining BRICS and abandoning the US dollar in 2024 is Mexico. The nation has been working to strengthen ties with its North American counterpart United States, therefore, many doubt that the sudden jump to BRICS is in Mexico’s future.

Mexico was long rumored to have an interest in joining BRICS last year. However, before the alliance’s August summit, Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador firmly stated that Mexico would not participate. Since that declaration, Mexico hasn’t appeared to change its mind on the alliance.

Both Mexico and the BRICS bloc would benefit if the country were to join the alliance in 2024. For example, The move could impact Mexico’s relations with other countries, including its neighboring the U.S. and Canada. The U.S. dollar’s global status will also be challenged if Mexico accepts the upcoming BRICS currency.

Mexico would have access to larger markets and greater bargaining power in international affairs. With the number of nations interested in and already involved with BRICS, Mexico’s economy will also have access to work in tandem with other top nations across the ocean. In addition, Mexico accepting BRICS currency for international trade could pave the way for Latin American countries to cut ties with the U.S. dollar. The BRICS currency could capture the Latin American markets making other nations end reliance on the U.S. dollar. READ MORE

Beneath the Skin of CPI Inflation, January: Powell’s Gonna Have a Cow when he Sees the Spike in “Core Services” Inflation-Wolf Street

Inflation continues to fight for top headlines. There was really no reason to believe inflation was waning; other than the empty assurances from overly optimistic Wall Street pundits and vote-seeking politicians.

by Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET

chart We’ll start with the “core services” CPI (services minus energy services) because this is so crucial, and because Powell keeps talking about it. We have been concerned here for months about the refusal of core services inflation to ease off, and we’ve found the acceleration in the fall last year “very disconcerting.” But that’s how inflation is – it tends to serve up nasty surprises. And now it did.

“Core services” CPI jumped by 0.66% in January from December, or by 8.2% annualized (blue). In this inflation cycle, only three months were worse (April, June, and September 2022). It includes housing, insurance, health care, subscriptions, etc., but not energy services. Core services is where consumers do the majority of their spending – and it’s re-heating from already hot levels.

The three-month moving average, which irons out the month-to-month squiggles, jumped by 0.50%, or by 6.2% annualized (red), the worst since March 2023. All this according to the CPI data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. VIEW CHARTS AND READ MORE

Bank of America Warns Customers of Data Breach -Retail Wire

Another data breach in the banking system has occurred. Data breaches are not a new thing but they are most definitely increasing in intensity and frequency. Banks have traditionally been a safe place to keep our money, but that narrative seems to be rapidly changing.

by Dennis Limmer

Bank of America has alerted its customers to a data breach after one of its service providers, Infosys McCamish Systems (IMS), was hacked last year.

The breach exposed customers’ personally identifiable information (PII), including names, addresses, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and financial details like account and credit card numbers. The Attorney General of Texas received these details.

Bank of America serves around 69 million clients across more than 3,800 retail financial centers and 15,000 ATMs in the United States, its territories, and over 35 countries.

When contacted for comment, a Bank of America spokesperson declined to provide additional details and directed inquiries to Infosys McCamish.

While the exact number of affected customers has not been disclosed by Bank of America, a breach notification letter filed with the Attorney General of Maine revealed that 57,028 people were directly impacted.

IMS experienced a cybersecurity event around Nov. 3, 2023, resulting in the unauthorized access of IMS systems and the non-availability of certain applications. On Nov. 24, 2023, IMS informed Bank of America that data related to deferred compensation plans may have been compromised, although Bank of America’s systems remained unaffected. READ MORE

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