Swiss America Blog Archive

Swiss America Blog Archive


7.29.20 - Currency Debasement to Drive Gold to $2,300

Gold last traded at $1,947 an ounce. Silver at $23.46 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices steadied Wednesday near all-time highs on a weaker dollar ahead of Fedspeak. U.S. stocks traded slightly higher as investors awaited a congressional hearing on antitrust in Big Tech as well as the Federal Reserve's latest policy decision.

Currency debasement to drive gold price to $2,300 in 12 months -Goldman Sachs/Kitco News
"A fear of rising inflation, growing government debt and concerns that the U.S. dollar is embarking on a new downtrend are all factors that will push gold much higher, according to commodity analysts at Goldman Sachs. In a report Tuesday, analysts at the financial firm reiterated their view that gold will be the currency of last resort; they also increased their forecast for the precious metal. The bank now sees gold prices pushing to $2,300 an ounce within 12 months and silver prices rising to $30 an ounce, up from the previous forecast of $2000 and $22, respectively....The analysts see the potential for higher inflation as governments debase their currencies to deal with burgeoning debt...'When discussing the drivers of investment demand for gold and commodities, it is important to distinguish between debasement and inflation. The key is that the current debasement and debt accumulation sows the seeds for future inflationary risks despite inflationary risks remaining low today,' the analysts said."

dollar Tactical Update: Whither Goest The Dollar -Calhoun/Alhambra
"The most important factors for asset allocation are growth and the trend of the dollar. The uncertainty around those two variables these days is not unprecedented, but the only other comparable time was 2008. That might seem disconcerting at first, but remember that we did recover from 2008. It wasn't a very robust recovery and it took a long time but we did recover. And we'll recover from this virus too. As I've said many, many times, we aren't in the business of predicting the future, because that is an impossible task, but we are trying to interpret the present and that isn't as easy as it sounds. But it is worthwhile because the payoff for getting the big trends right can be enormous. The dominant themes of the last decade are consistent with what we expect from a strong dollar environment outside of recession: US outperforming International, Growth outperforming Value, Large Cap outperforming Small Cap, Developed Markets outperforming Developing Markets, Technology outperforming Everything, Equities and Bonds outperforming Commodities/Real Assets, Stocks outperforming Real estate.Those trends are a result of a (mostly) strong dollar environment with fairly steady growth. Growth has waxed and waned over the last decade but until recently it just oscillated around a 2% trend....Since the panic phase of the virus recession passed, the dollar has been weakening back to the bottom of the range that has prevailed since 2015....We look to momentum in markets to confirm the dollar trend so we are not all-in on a weak dollar outcome. There are still strong dollar trends in place in some areas as shifts like this aren’t generally uniform. There are plenty of reasons, as our Jeff Snider is fond of pointing out, to believe this short-term downtrend will be just that – short-term. But a 9% drop in the space of four months cannot be ignored."

It Is Ironic That US "Tech Giants" Don't Actually Produce Anything -Rabobank/Zero Hedge
"Today is a Fed decision day. For the markets, the key question is 'What more can they realistically do at this stage?' Indicative that there is still more to do is the fact that the virus has not stopped raging across the US, and indeed much of the world...The Fed already took the step of announcing a day before their meeting finishes that seven of their nine emergency lending programs will be extended to the end of the year. The Fed today will be thinking about how to maintain as much consumption as possible going forwards and as much stock elevation as required....You will notice one thing missing above for the Fed to worry about: production. Which says a lot about where we stand today and why we stand there...Let other countries 'produce' stuff and we will just buy it, was the ruling economic philosophy in the States from 1945 to 2016, after all....There is another level on which 'the means of production' is relevant today - and that is because US tech giants are being called to testify to Congress against a backdrop of them becoming political footballs in an ever-more polarized society; something their many critics claim they help drive in various ways - have you seen the 'Antisocial media' T-shirts? In such a divided society - where 'cultural Marxism' and 'trained Marxist' are used as criticism and self-identification - it is ironic that most of these firms don't actually produce anything, and certainly not in the US: one lets you search for other things; most of the others have no content unless the users provide it or produce it (in which case, mostly from abroad again). There is no 'means of production' at all in that sense today. Yet clearly there is still vast power - and so an enormous ding-dong going on over who 'controls' them, and to what end."

The economy, not politics, should guide COVID-19 relief -Washington Examiner
"This upcoming COVID-19 fiscal relief package will likely be the last one Congress passes before the election, so it's important lawmakers get it right. The size and the shape of the package should not be pulled out of thin air or based on political wish lists, but rather designed to meet the needs of this crisis. While there is still a lot of uncertainty about how much more time and resources it will take to fight the virus and recession, lawmakers have a lot more economic data than they did in March to target those resources efficiently. Current projections are that the economic output gap due to the recession will be about $750 billion over the next six months. Looking out two years, the output gap could total $2 trillion - though the longer one looks out, the more uncertainty there is. Thus, the right starting point is to decide how much of that gap to fill in, over what time period, and how best to do so, rather than starting a political bidding war with lawmakers trying to outdo each other with how much they can spend. The next step is to determine the most pressing needs and most effective policies. One thing to consider is that every dollar wisely invested in mitigating the effects and spread of the pandemic, and finding a cure is potentially more effective than anything else would be....Here is what we should not do: We should not litter any package with political handouts that aren’t targeted to helping the immediate situation....Fighting the pandemic and supporting those harmed by the resulting recession are the top priorities. But we also can't ignore that our national debt is set to reach 100% of the economy in a matter of moments."

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7.28.20 - The Message Behind Gold's Rally

Gold last traded at $1,952 an ounce. Silver at $24.52 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices traded mixed Tuesday, with gold rising above $1,950/oz. and silver trading near $24.50/oz. on safe-haven buying despite a firmer dollar. U.S. stocks fell as lawmakers debated the next coronavirus relief while traders pored over the latest corporate earnings.

Investors Set Aside Coronavirus Worries, Driving a 'Melt-Up' in Markets -Wall Street Journal
"Stocks, bonds and commodities are heading for their strongest simultaneous four-month rise on record, highlighting the breadth of the market recovery during the 2020 economic slowdown....Investors and analysts attribute the broad rise in financial markets to faith in government and central-bank stimulus programs, hopes for vaccine development and wagers that the coronavirus crisis will spell opportunity for a number of large but nimble, well-placed companies at the expense of others whose struggles are deepening. The broad advance is prompting many investors who had been skeptical to pare back their cautious wagers and join the rally, giving it further fuel....Some analysts see recent signs of a 'melt-up' in some market niches, particularly around technology, in which investors are buying assets in large part simply because they are rising. Traders are riding the momentum in everything from large technology stocks such as Apple Inc. to the precious metal silver. Such powerful rises are a concern for analysts who worry that the investments will suddenly fall in tandem if markets or the global economy face a fresh shock....'People are hopping on the train, and they're also looking to get anything else in their portfolio for when the day of reckoning comes,' said Christopher Stanton, chief investment officer of Sunrise Capital Partners. Mr. Stanton is betting against the dollar, expecting Federal Reserve stimulus programs to continue weakening the currency, boosting investments from stocks to commodities that are priced in dollars. He warned that uncertainty about government or central-bank policies could hit markets, pointing to November’s presidential election as one possible spark for a reversal. Many investors fear presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden will raise corporate taxes if elected."

gold The Message Behind Gold's Rally: The World Economy Is in Trouble -Bloomberg/Yahoo Finance
"The virus has unleashed a torrent of forces that are conspiring to fuel relentless demand for the perceived safety from turmoil that gold provides. There's the fear of further government-ordered lockdowns; and politicians' decision to push through unprecedented stimulus packages; and central bankers' decision to print money faster than they ever have before to finance that spending; and the plunge in inflation-adjusted bond yields into negative territory in the U.S.; and the dollar's sudden decline against the euro and yen; and rising U.S.-China tensions. All these things, when taken together, have even triggered concern in some financial circles that stagflation - a rare combination of sluggish growth and rising inflation that erodes the value of fixed-income investments - could take hold across parts of the developed world....The main driver behind gold's latest rally 'has been real rates that continue to plummet and don't show signs of easing anytime soon,' Edward Moya, a senior market analyst at Oanda Corp., said by phone. Gold is also drawing investors 'concerned that stagflation will win out and will likely warrant even further accommodation from the Fed.'....Analysts have been predicting huge upside for gold for several months. In April, Bank of America Corp. raised its 18-month gold-price target to $3,000 an ounce. 'The global pandemic is providing a sustained boost to gold,' Francisco Blanch, BofA's head of commodities and derivatives research, said Friday, citing impacts including falling real rates, growing inequality and declining productivity. 'Moreover, as China's GDP quickly converges to U.S. levels helped by the widening gap in Covid-19 cases, a tectonic geopolitical shift could unfold, further supporting the case for our $3,000 target over the next 18 months.'"

More riots and lawlessness in cities across nation -Fox News
"Another night of rioting and lawlessness exploded in more than half a dozen U.S. cities Saturday night - with the mayhem including damage to federal buildings, local police precincts, and a fatal shooting in Austin, Texas. Similar protests and violent demonstrations have been seen across the country following the death of George Floyd, a Black man in Minnesota who died while in police custody. Floyd's death - as well as the police shooting death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, and other Black men and women - sparked widespread protests and demonstrations in the U.S. and across the world, which still continue in some cities to this day. Here's a recap of some of the developments in a sampling of cities. Portland, Ore.: Courthouse fence breached - A huge crowd that included the Wall of Moms and the Wall of Vets turned out for yet another day and night of rioting and lawlessness in Portland, Ore., a city that has seen more than 50 consecutive days of such behavior....Seattle: Explosive blows hole in precinct wall - At one point during Saturday's daylong protests in Seattle, rioters threw an explosive device that created an eight-inch hole in a wall of the police department's East District, police Chief Carmen Best said, according to the Seattle Times....Austin, Texas: Fatal shooting - During a protest in the city, police said a man carrying a weapon approached a vehicle - but a person inside the vehicle fatally shot the man, the Austin American Statesman reported....Oakland, Calif.: Courthouse fire - Hundreds of protesters marched through downtown Oakland, smashing windows of the city's police headquarters and setting a fire inside the Alameda County courthouse, according to reports."

Airline trade union says air travel won't recover before 2024 -The Hill
"The trade union for the airline industry predicted Tuesday that air travel will not recover to pre-pandemic levels until 2024.The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is delaying its original forecast by a year, citing slow containment of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. and developing countries....The group pointed to a sharp decrease in corporate travel and weak consumer confidence as reasoning for the slower recovery. IATA chief economist Brian Pearce told reporters in an online briefing that while airlines are seeing more travel since the lockdowns in April, the improvement is “barely visible,” according to The Associated Press. June’s air travel, measured in the distance traveled by all paying fliers, decreased 86.5 percent compared to last year, slightly better than May, which saw a drop of 91 percent compared to 2019....Planes reported filling 62.9 percent of capacity for domestic flights around the world, while international flights filled 38.9 percent of their seats."

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7.27.20 - Smart Money Loves Gold

Gold last traded at $1,930 an ounce. Silver at $24.39 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose sharply Monday, with gold touching all-time highs, as investors sought safe havens from a gaggle of economic uncertainties. U.S. stocks rose, led by major tech names, as investors braced for a week of corporate earnings and coronavirus stimulus negotiations.

The Smart Money Doesn't Like Stocks But Loves Gold -Bloomberg
"Gold is up 25% this year...Meanwhile, global stocks, as measured by the MSCI World index, have recovered almost all of the losses they suffered as the pandemic ushered the world economy into lockdown, and are within 5% of regaining their February highs. A look at where the smart money is going, though, suggests one of these rallies may prove unsustainable. In the first quarter, sovereign funds had reduced their exposure to equities to the lowest level since at least 2014, according to an annual survey published this week by Invesco Ltd. The investment management firm cited 'end of cycle concerns that led to decreasing strategic allocations' as the driving force for the diminishing appetite for stocks. That trend shows no signs of abating. More than a third of wealth funds plan to cut their equity holdings in the coming year, with 18% intending to trim by 5% or more. Contrast the mistrust of equities with a rising enthusiasm for gold. Its performance this year has been spectacular. Gold bugs applaud the precious metal as an insurance policy against financial fiddling by monetary authorities that will stoke runaway inflation one of these days. That interest has further to run. Some 18% of central banks plan to increase their gold holdings in the coming year, according to the Invesco report, while 23% of sovereign funds intend to boost their exposure....'It is only a matter of time' until gold reaches a record high, Citigroup Inc. analysts said in a report this week. Gold bugs can rejoice that the smart money of sovereign funds and central banks is with them. The cheerleaders for equities may want to think again."

free money Governments must beware the lure of free money -The Economist
"It is sometimes said that governments wasted the global financial crisis of 2007-09 by failing to rethink economic policy after the dust settled. Nobody will say the same about the covid-19 pandemic. It has led to a desperate scramble to enact policies that only a few months ago were either unimaginable or heretical. A profound shift is now taking place in economics as a result, of the sort that happens only once in a generation...The pandemic marks the start of a new era. Its overriding preoccupation will be exploiting the opportunities and containing the enormous risks that stem from a supersized level of state intervention in the economy and financial markets. This new epoch has four defining features. The first is the jaw-dropping scale of today’s government borrowing, and the seemingly limitless potential for yet more....The second feature is the whirring of the printing presses. In America, Britain, the euro zone and Japan central banks have created new reserves of money worth some $3.7trn in 2020. Much of this has been used to buy government debt, meaning that central banks are tacitly financing the stimulus. The result is that long-term interest rates stay low even while public-debt issuance soars....The state's growing role as capital-allocator-in-chief is the third aspect of the new age. To see off a credit crunch, the Federal Reserve, acting with the Treasury, has waded into financial markets, buying up the bonds of AT&T, Apple and even Coca-Cola, and lending directly to everyone from bond dealers to non-profit hospitals....The final feature is the most important: low inflation. The absence of upward pressure on prices means there is no immediate need to slow the growth of central-bank balance-sheets or to raise short-term interest rates from their floor around zero...accommodative monetary policy now costs so little to service that it looks like free money. Don't fool yourself that the role of the state will magically return to normal once the pandemic passes and unemployment falls....The new era also presents grave risks. If inflation jumps unexpectedly the entire edifice of debt will shake, as central banks have to raise their policy rates and in turn pay out vast sums of interest on the new reserves that they have created to buy bonds....The stakes are high. Failure will mean the age of free money eventually comes at a staggering price."

U.S. Dollar's Strength Is Sagging as America's Economic Model Declines -Hatheway/Barrons
"Few issues in economics more befuddle and divide the profession than figuring out what determines exchange rates....I spent many hours and a lot of course work in graduate school exploring the mysteries of exchange rates, to the point of writing a dissertation that my supervising committee somehow accepted. I surely didn't break the currency code, but when I finished I was more than ready to admit that, when it came to exchange rate determination, I knew vastly more about what didn't work than what did....Which brings me to today's topic: Are the U.S. dollar's days numbered? The question arises because the dollar has slipped over the past month in the world's foreign exchange markets...The dollar is trading near two-year lows against the euro and has fallen some 7.5% against the European single currency since mid-March. Something appears to be going on, but what is it?...Clues for recent dollar depreciation answer reside in prospective relative GDP growth rates and in relative asset returns....Before long the dollar may also suffer from shifting return expectations, particularly in global equity markets. U.S. corporate profitability, which is largely to thank for the 10-year U.S. bull market, is now challenged. The share of profits in GDP - a good proxy for corporate profit margins - has been falling for several years. A Democratic clean sweep in November, which polls suggest looks increasingly likely, would result in higher corporate income taxes and a hit to after-tax corporate profits. Covid-19 related economic weakness would hurt company earnings as well. If the U.S. relinquishes global equity market leadership, the dollar is likely to sag as well....The days of dollar strength look numbered."

No More Blank Checks From Congress for Coronavirus -Sen. Johnson/Wall Street Journal
"A near-record 158.8 million Americans were employed in February, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Then the novel coronavirus brought parts of the economy to a screeching halt. As of June, 142.2 million people were employed, a reduction of 16.6 million, or about 10.5%. Recent economic forecasts have predicted a decline in gross domestic product of between 4.6% and 8% for 2020. The damage from Covid-19 has been significant, but not catastrophic. Congress authorized $2.9 trillion of Covid-19 relief, which represents 13.5% of 2019's U.S. GDP. No one knows exactly how much of the Covid relief has been spent or obligated, but 60% ($1.75 trillion) seems to be a consensus figure in Congress. Let that sink in. We've authorized enough spending to replace 13.5% of annual economic output, and more than $1 trillion of it hasn't yet been spent or obligated. So why is Congress rushing to pass at least $1 trillion more? For Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her fellow Democrats, $1 trillion isn't enough. The House has passed an additional $3 trillion in Covid-19 relief, which would bring the total to $5.9 trillion, 27.5% of GDP....Since the Small Business Administration has disclosed recipients of Paycheck Protection Program loans greater than $150,000, news reports have revealed that the PPP lacked basic controls that any future program and expenditures must contain. Loan forgiveness shouldn't be granted to organizations that have the ability to repay. There is no doubt the PPP was a lifeline to many organizations and their employees. But there's also no doubt many groups that received loans - and will almost certainly have those loans forgiven - didn't need them. As the largest single expenditure of the Cares Act, the PPP deserves more scrutiny....Doesn’t it make more sense for Congress to evaluate what has been spent, determine what worked and what didn’t, and then redirect the balance based on what Congress finds? We shouldn't authorize another dime until we do so."

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7.24.20 - Battered Dollar 'Hanging by a Thread'

Gold last traded at $1,899 an ounce. Silver at $23.02 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices extended gains, with gold topping $1,900/oz, on rising geopolitical and economic worries. U.S. stocks added to a sharp decline from the previous session, as tensions between the U.S. and China keep rising and tech shares struggled once again.

Gold price tops $1,900 on longest winning streak since 2011 -Financial Times
"Gold was closing in on a record high on Friday, climbing above $1,900 a troy ounce as geopolitical tensions kept the haven metal on its longest winning streak since 2011. The commodity, used by investors as a store of value in times of stress, has rallied strongly as other safe assets have become less attractive, strategists say. The US dollar has weakened in recent weeks as America’s Covid-19 crisis deepens, while the inflation-adjusted yields available on benchmark government bonds have slumped well below zero. Gold rose almost $20 in afternoon trading on Friday to a high of nearly $1,906 an ounce, keeping it on course for a seventh straight weekly gain, as a deepening diplomatic row fed tensions between Washington and Beijing. The metal is now approaching its record intraday high of $1,921 set in September 2011, having risen about a quarter this year - making it one of the best-performing assets in 2020. 'Financial markets tend to move like a giant pendulum, and once it swings it is very hard to stop it. That's definitely the case in gold,' said Peter Grosskopf, chief executive of Sprott, a precious metals specialist with $12bn under management. 'The latest move is being driven by the Covid outbreaks we are seeing in the US, and the realization that the recovery is going to be longer and harder than many people were expecting a few weeks ago,' said Joe Foster, fund manager at VanEck in New York. 'The US dollar is also weak and silver has broken out, so that probably tells you some speculative money has come into the market.'"

Washington Battered U.S. dollar 'hanging by a thread' as coronavirus cases grow -Yahoo Finance
"A steady decline in the dollar has accelerated in recent weeks, as a resurgent coronavirus outbreak in the United States and improving economic prospects abroad sour investors on the currency. The buck is down 8% from its highs of the year against a basket of currencies and stands near its lowest level since 2018. Net bets against the dollar in futures markets are approaching their highest level in more than two years. 'The dollar is hanging by a thread,' said Mazen Issa, senior currency strategist at TD Securities in New York. 'At this point, the dollar-weakness mindset has become deeply entrenched.' A range of factors are driving the U.S. currency's decline....'Investors don't know what the U.S. is doing" regarding the coronavirus pandemic, said Richard Benson, co-chief investment officer at Millennium Global Investments in London. 'That has been a big drag on the U.S. dollar.'....Low U.S. yields have also raised the allure of investments such as gold, which normally struggles to compete with yield-bearing assets. Prices for the metal are up 23% for the year."

Millennials Flood Into Precious Metals: Is Gold The Next TSLA? -Zero Hedge
"As precious metals accelerated higher in the last few days, we joked (kinda) on Twitter that the surge in momentum would soon become a magnet for the new trading gurus manning their desks at home - whether in China or Chinatown - and send it to new all time highs. One day later, it's happening as Robinhood users flood into the gold and silver ETFs. For SLV, the number of RH users holding the ETF has surged from around 15,000 to 20,000 in the last few days.... making it the 16th most popular pick on Robinhood as of the past 24 hours....And in typical Robinhood fashion, every dip is being furiously bought. Does this spell disaster for the rally in precious metals? With momo chasers piling in at the margin? Well it didn't seem to hurt TSLA... And besides, there are plenty of fundamental drivers for re-allocation into precious metals (as opposed to the vapor underlying TSLA's acceleration), including the resurgence in global negative-yielding debt... The question is, will CNBC cheer the retail participation in gold and silver as loudly as they celebrate the millennials buying the most expensive stock market ever?"

Progressive Policies Keep Failing -Stossel/Reason
"I laughed when I saw The Washington Post headline: 'Minneapolis had progressive policies, but its economy still left black families behind.' The media are so clueless. Instead of 'but,' the headline should have said, 'therefore,' or 'so, obviously.' Of course, progressive policies failed! They almost always do. 'If you wanted a poster child for the progressive movement, it would be Minneapolis,' says Republican Minnesota Senate candidate Jason Lewis in my new video. 'This is the same city council that voted to abolish the police department.' The council, which has no Republicans, spends taxpayer money on most every progressive idea. They brag that they recycle most everything. They have a plan to stop climate change. They tell landlords to whom they must rent. They will force employers to pay every worker $15 an hour. They even tell supermarkets what cereal they must sell. Despite such policies, meant to improve life for minorities and the poor, the Minneapolis income gap between whites and blacks is the second highest in the country....Cam Gordon, a current Minneapolis councilman, tells me the city's economic 'disparities were caused by a long trail of historic racism.' He tweeted: 'Time to end capitalism as we know it.'....In the past 50 years, while progressives attacked profits, capitalism - the pursuit of profit - lifted more than a billion people out of extreme poverty....Sadly, today in America, the progressives are winning."

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7.23.20 - Insider Selling Soars Near Record Highs

Gold last traded at $1,882 an ounce. Silver at $22.76 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Gold prices reached toward fresh 9-year highs Thursday on safe haven buying and dollar weakness. Silver prices eased back on mild profit taking after hitting 7-year highs. U.S. stocks retreated on disappointing unemployment data and mixed reactions to the latest corporate earnings.

Silver Surges, Gold Nears Record in Flight to Havens -Bloomberg/Yahoo Finance
"Silver prices climbed to the highest in almost seven years and gold continued its march toward a record on expectations there'll be more stimulus to help the global economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic. Investors have flocked to the metals on surging demand for havens amid a resurgence in virus cases, slowing growth, negative real interest rates in the U.S., flaring political tensions and a weaker dollar. The vast amounts of stimulus unleashed by governments and central banks have also aided prices and, after the success of a European rescue package this week, the focus turns to negotiations on legislation to prop up the American economy. Silver jumped more than 8% on Wednesday - the biggest gain since March - and has been getting an added boost from supply concerns and optimism about a rebound in industrial demand. 'The closer gold gets to its record high the stronger the magnetic field will become and that could see it challenge that level before long,' said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank A/S. Silver should also continue its run as long as it has support from higher gold, as well as a weaker dollar and bets for more industrial demand, he said....Investors also weighed mounting China-U.S. tensions, with the Asian nation vowing to retaliate after the U.S. forced the closure of its Houston consulate...The fear of missing out is driving a flood of speculative money into gold, piling on top of January-June's heavy physical demand."

"Our Indicator Is Flashing A Warning Sign": Insider Selling Soars To Near Record Highs -Zero Hedge
"With the S&P now back to just a whisker away from all time highs, and a handful of tech stocks at never before seen levels...insiders have had enough and, confirming that valuations are in some cases even beyond dot com levels, have turned from rabid buyers into sellers with data from The Washington Service showing that nearly 1,000 corporate executives and officers have sold shares in their own companies this month, outpacing insider buyers by a ratio of 5-to-1. How big is this insider selling frenzy in context? According to Bloomberg, 'only twice in the past three decades has the sell-buy ratio been higher than now.'"

buyers

"A similar surge in selling in early 2020 and back in 2018 served as a handy indicator of imminent losses. 'Our indicator is now flashing a warning sign,' Moreland said. 'I'm not prepared to say everybody should sell everything and short the market because of the recent insider data. The way I’m using it is, I’m more comfortable selling some of my winners. We still don’t trust the market’s recent recovery.'....Amid the deluge of selling, some buying still remains, although that number has dropped to fewer than 200 corporate insiders who bought shares in July, compared with a full-month average of 1,160 during the first half of this year, according to the Washington Service data which also revealed that a total of $52.6 million of shares was sold last week while purchases reached a paltry $3.4 million."

U.S. Orders China to Close Houston Consulate -Wall Street Journal
"The U.S. ordered the abrupt closure of the Chinese Consulate in Houston, accusing China of extensive interference in domestic affairs and intellectual-property theft, an escalation of bilateral tensions that Beijing called outrageous and unprecedented. The State Department, in a statement on the closure, accused China of conducting 'massive illegal spying and influence operations throughout the United States against U.S. government officials and American citizens,' and said such activities have increased in recent years. The closure order, first made public by Beijing, coincided with Washington's unveiling on Tuesday of indictments against two hackers in China. They have been accused of targeting American firms involved in coronavirus research and stealing hundreds of millions of dollars in sensitive information from companies around the world while working on behalf of Beijing’s main civilian intelligence agency...Footage aired by local television stations purportedly showed people burning documents on the consulate's premises. Washington's demand opened a new front in President Trump's efforts to pressure China in a duel between the world's two-largest economies over trade, technological and military competition, geopolitical influence and the coronavirus pandemic....Beijing has countered each time with heated criticism and retaliatory measures, and did so again following the closure order against its consulate. 'This is a political provocation unilaterally launched by the U.S.,' Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Wednesday."

Covid-19 Vaccines With 'Minor Side Effects' Could Still Be Pretty Bad -WIRED
"On Monday, vaccine researchers from Oxford University and the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca announced results from a 'Phase I/II trial,' suggesting their product might be able to generate immunity without causing serious harm. Similar, but smaller-scale results, were posted just last week for another candidate vaccine produced by the biotech firm Moderna, in collaboration with the US National Institutes of Health. As both these groups and others push ahead into the final phase of testing, it's vital that the public has a clear and balanced understanding of this work - one that cuts through all the marketing and hype. But we're not off to a good start. The evidence so far suggests that we're getting blinkered by these groups' PR, and so seduced by stories of their amazing speed that we're losing track of everything else. In particular, neither the mainstream media nor the medical press has given much attention to the two vaccines' potential downsides - in particular, their risk of nasty adverse effects, even if they’re not life-threatening. This sort of puffery doesn't only help to build a false impression; it may also dry the tinder for the future spread of vaccine fearmongering....The first people to get vaccines are carefully picked to be the least likely to have a negative reaction....The press release for Monday's publication of results from the Oxford vaccine trials described an increased frequency of 'minor side effects' among participants...But moderate or severe harms - defined as being bad enough to interfere with daily life or needing medical care - were common too. Around one-third of people vaccinated with the Covid-19 vaccine without acetaminophen experienced moderate or severe chills, fatigue, headache, malaise, and/or feverishness. Close to 10 percent had a fever of at least 100.4 degrees, and just over one-fourth developed moderate or severe muscle aches. That's a lot, in a young and healthy group of people - and the acetaminophen didn't help much for most of those problems....There is already a high level of misinformation and distrust about fast-tracked Covid-19 vaccines in the American community. This week, a new preprint from Kin On Kwok and colleagues found that even a sizable proportion of nurses in Hong Kong would be hesitant to take one. We may have a vaccine soon, say the authors of that paper, but 'communities are not ready to accept it.' It won't help to overcome this skepticism if notable evidence of harms keeps getting pushed off to the side. It's much better to be straight up about what it's really like to take one of these vaccines. Why would anyone trust the experts otherwise?"

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7.22.20 - Gold, Silver Prices Surge to Highest Levels Since 2011

Gold last traded at $1,865 an ounce. Silver at $23.14 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose near 9-year highs Wednesday on rising uncertainty and a weak dollar. U.S. stocks traded mostly flat as traders grappled with renewed U.S.-China tensions.

Fed Nominees Shelton, Waller Confirmed by Senate Committee -Wall Street Journal
"The candidacy of Judy Shelton, an economic adviser to Mr. Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, for the Fed's Board of Governors was approved by the Senate Banking Committee in a party-line vote despite objections from Democrats. Her next and final stop will be a confirmation vote on the Senate floor, where Republicans hold a 53-47 majority. Senators on the panel also voted 18-7 to advance the nomination of St. Louis Fed director of research Christopher Waller to fill the remaining vacancy on the central bank’s seven-member board in Washington....Ms. Shelton has been a longtime proponent of a return to the gold standard, which would limit the Fed's ability to influence inflation and employment, and concedes that her views are outside the mainstream of economics....The nominations could take on extra significance if Mr. Trump wins reelection this year because he could tap a sitting governor to succeed Fed Chairman Jerome Powell when his four-year term expires in early 2022....'I spent a lot of time reading a lot of Dr. Shelton's works,' senator John Kennedy of Louisiana told reporters Monday. 'My criteria for judging any Federal Reserve nominee is: Does the nominee have the intellectual heft to do the job? And No. 2, will they be independent? And she satisfied both of those criteria.'"

TTAM Gold, silver prices surge to highest levels in years -Fox Business
"Spot gold rose $24.50 to $1,840.40 an ounce, its highest level since Sept. 9, 2011, while silver gained $1.34, hitting a more than 6-year high of $21.46 an ounce. At the same time, the U.S. dollar index slid 0.54 percent and neared its lowest point in two years....Precious metals have had a banner year in 2020 as the lockdowns ordered to slow the spread of COVID-19 led to drastic action from policymakers, devaluing currencies and prompting investors to turn to precious metals as a safer store of value....James O’Rourke, commodities economist at the London-based research firm Capital Economics, expects real yields to 'remain low' and interest rates to stay at current levels as the 10-year Treasury note will be 'firmly anchored by loose monetary policy.' He sees gold ending 2020 at $1,900 an ounce, and remaining 'elevated over the next couple of years.' While gold prices have garnered all of the attention lately, silver has been the big winner since precious metals bottomed in March. Back then, the gold/silver ratio was near 122 – it has since fallen to 85.74. 'Silver has been a misunderstood component of the reopening because the industrial part that held it back for months is now in its back, propelling it forward,' George Gero, managing director at RBC Global Wealth ManagementGe said, noting he sees the metal’s price climbing to as high as $22 by year-end and the gold/silver ratio falling to around 80." NOTE: Learn more about the wisdom of owning precious metals in Swiss America's free report The Timeless Truth About Gold and Silver

People are more likely to contract COVID-19 at home, study finds -Reuters
"South Korean epidemiologists have found that people were more likely to contract the new coronavirus from members of their own households than from contacts outside the home. A study published in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on July 16 looked in detail at 5,706 'index patients' who had tested positive for the coronavirus and more than 59,000 people who came into contact with them. The findings showed just two out of 100 infected people had caught the virus from non-household contacts, while one in 10 had contracted the disease from their own families. By age group, the infection rate within the household was higher when the first confirmed cases were teenagers or people in their 60s and 70s. 'This is probably because these age groups are more likely to be in close contact with family members as the group is in more need of protection or support,' Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) and one of the authors of the study, told a briefing. Children aged nine and under were least likely to be the index patient, said Dr. Choe Young-june, a Hallym University College of Medicine assistant professor who co-led the work...Children with COVID-19 were also more likely to be asymptomatic than adults, which made it harder to identify index cases within that group....Data for the study was collected between Jan. 20 and March 27, when the new coronavirus was spreading exponentially and as daily infections in South Korea reached their peak."

Building Work-Life Boundaries in the WFH Era -Harvard Business Review
"Remote work used to be an option for those employees who could convince their manager that it was a good idea. All that changed with the arrival of Covid-19. For many, the transition to remote work has been remarkably smooth, aided by technologies such as fast internet, smartphones, and video- and audio-based conferencing. Yet the technologies that have made remote work possible have also created a more permeable boundary between work and family roles. In many cases, employees must attend to email, Slack, and video meetings alongside family members who are also working or learning from home. Compounding this change is the fact that working from home was mandated seemingly overnight for many knowledge workers, rather than a thought-out plan that employees could adequately prepare for or opt into at their discretion. All of this makes it more difficult to psychologically detach and recover from work, and creates a need to more actively manage boundaries between work and family....Back when you worked at an office, maybe your family dropped by to visit you or you regularly took work home. Or you may have tried to separate home and family, taking work-related calls at work and family-related calls at home. These preferences - known as integration and segmentation - are key factors in the ways we navigate our daily boundaries. Integrators, as the first example above demonstrates, tend to blur work-family boundaries; segmentors, on the other hand, strive to preserve clear ones....Today, segmentors' strong desire to keep their office and family lives separate is almost impossible to satisfy while working from home. For integrators, the sudden and fully immersive blurring of work and home boundaries can be difficult if they've never felt the need to separate work and home in the past but might have to now. Here are ways both segmentors and integrators - and their managers - need to reconsider both time and space. Putting boundaries around your time is important regardless of whether you are an integrator or a segmentor. This might come easier to segmentors, who crave clear boundaries. Integrators might have to work harder at this skill by creating more schedules and routines....Whether you are an integrator or a segmentor, you need to select your work-from-home space carefully - but where you set up shop may be different. Integrators may be comfortable setting up their home office somewhere central, like the kitchen or dining room, where they can keep an eye on what is happening with family members. However, segmentors should choose a room with a door, if possible. They should also pay attention to what home-related items are in their office and consider moving them to another room, so that family members don't need to come in and look for items while they are working....By understanding how everyone works best from home, leaders can turn this unexpected crisis into opportunity as we develop new and better ways of working in the future."

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7.21.20 - US Companies Lose Hope for Quick Rebound

Gold last traded at $1,844 an ounce. Silver at $21.65 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices shot up Tuesday on safe haven buying, fresh Fed stimulus talk and a weaker dollar. U.S. stocks traded mixed on upbeat earnings as investor looked for clues on further U.S. fiscal stimulus.

It's 'Only a Matter of Time' Before Gold Hits a Record -Citi/Yahoo Finance
"Bullish factors building in the gold market are set to see prices take out the record set in 2011, according to Citigroup Inc. The metal is benefiting from loose monetary policy, low real yields, record inflows into exchange-traded funds and increased asset allocation, the bank's analysts including Ed Morse wrote in a report. Gold is expected to climb to an all-time high in the next six-to-nine months, and there's a 30% probability it'll top $2,000 an ounce in the next three-to-five months. 'Nominal gold prices have already posted fresh records in every other G-10 and major emerging market currency this year,' the analysts said. 'It is only a matter of time for fresh' highs in U.S. dollars, they said, adding that demand for a store of wealth should also lift silver, which touched a three-year high in New York on Monday. Citigroup is among a long line of market watchers in predicting bullion will either test or top its long-standing record as the resurgence of coronavirus cases in several parts of the world point to a prolonged and uneven global economic recovery. Spot gold has surged 19% this year to the highest since 2011 as the pandemic drove investors to havens, while easier monetary policy and other measures to shore up economies also supported demand....Citi sees silver rising to $25 in the next six to 12 months, with a potential for $30 based on the bank's bull case, additionally supported by a recovery in global economic activity."

spending U.S. Companies Lose Hope for Quick Rebound From Covid-19 -Wall Street Journal
"The fierce resurgence of Covid-19 cases and related business shutdowns are dashing hopes of a quick recovery, prompting businesses from airlines to restaurant chains to again shift their strategies and staffing or ramp up previous plans to do so. They are turning furloughs into permanent layoffs, de-emphasizing their core businesses and downsizing production indefinitely. Delta Air Lines Inc. curtailed plans to add more summer flights and said it doesn't expect business flying to recover to pre-pandemic levels. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. is adding staff and changing operations to accommodate more to-go business. Vox Media, the publisher of New York magazine and several news websites, said it would lay off 6% of its workforce as the company confronts a prolonged drought for its lucrative events business. 'We cannot defy gravity and continue with the business model we had before the pandemic,' Pret A Manger Chief Executive Pano Christou said on Friday as the sandwich chain reported an 87% drop in U.S. sales and announced plans to close nearly 20 stores. Executives who were bracing for a monthslong disruption are now thinking in terms of years. Their job has changed from riding it out to reinventing. Roles once thought core are now an extravagance. Strategies set in the spring are obsolete. 'It's going to be a different game,' said Bill George, former CEO of medical-device company Medtronic PLC and a senior fellow at Harvard Business School....'It's becoming increasingly clear that the second half of the year will not rebound anywhere near our pre-Covid forecasts,' Vox Media Chief Executive Jim Bankoff wrote in a memo to staff. 'Furthermore, as cases rise tragically across the country and many of our elected leaders avoid decisive action, we have very limited visibility into the timing or strength of a recovery.'"

Silver Hits $20 For The First Time Since 2016... And Why It Will Go Much Higher -Zero Hedge
"For the first time since September 2016, Silver futures just broke above $20...Just a few short months after dropping to the lowest since 2009. But, as tsi-blog.com explains, silver is set to continue outperforming over the next year. Gold is more money-like and silver is more commodity-like...In particular, gold, being more money-like, tends to do better than silver when inflation expectations are falling (deflation fear is rising) and economic confidence is on the decline. Anyone armed with this knowledge would not have been surprised that the collapse in economic confidence and the surge in deflation fear that occurred during February-March of this year was accompanied by a veritable moon-shot in the gold/silver ratio. Nor would they have been surprised that the subsequent rebounds in economic confidence and inflation expectations have been accompanied by strength in silver relative to gold, leading to a pullback in the gold/silver ratio....We are intermediate-term bullish on silver relative to gold. We don't have a specific target in mind, but...it isn't a stretch to forecast that at some point over the next three years the gold/silver ratio will trade in the 60s. Be aware that before silver commences a big up-move in dollar terms and relative to gold there could be another deflation scare."

Coronavirus in Arizona: Stick to data and stop media-induced panic -Rep. Biggs/Washington Examiner
"Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx continue to offer up interesting contradictions on COVID-19. Birx has told us that a rise in positive test results for the coronavirus indicates a spike in deaths to come. Fauci, on the other hand, says that the mortality rate is irrelevant. They're both wrong, and Arizona is demonstrating as much amid the current outbreak. By far, the largest spike in positive tests right now is in the 21-to-44 age group, which accounts for more than half of all cases and more than half of all new cases. If the rise in positive tests indicates a coming spike in deaths, one would expect within seven to 14 days a rise in the fatality rate among that age group. Fortunately, that isn't happening, according to data from the Arizona Department of Health Services. In fact, the death rate among that group is 0.22% now, with the rapidly rising number of nonlethal cases. Speaking of which, Fauci has said the death rate from COVID-19 is unimportant. Again, the case of Arizona suggests otherwise. The low and declining death rate mirrors a broader situation in which, although there are far more positive tests for the coronavirus, there is no reason to panic....But are the hospitals being overrun? Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego recently commented that Arizona hospitals are triaging patients, so short of facilities that they were sending people home to die. Fortunately, that was simply a politician's falsehood that was quickly checked and refuted by local journalists. Typically, Arizona's intensive care unit usage is at around 80% to 90%. That currently stands at about 88% to 90% for the past three weeks, and only about 60% of the ICU cases are COVID-19-related, although not all of those have confirmed COVID-19 diagnoses....The sad part of all of this is that some people, a lot of them in the media, prefer fear and loathing instead of having the humility to look at the data, accept that there will be risks, and determine how we can reasonably minimize them....The evidence so far suggests that children have virtually no chance of contracting COVID-19 or dying from it and that they are not superspreaders of the virus....Let's start telling the unvarnished truth and let people make decisions on how to live their lives."

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7.20.20 - Debt Fatigue is Destroying America

Gold last traded at $1,816 an ounce. Silver at $20.25 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose Monday on rising risk aversion and a weak dollar. U.S. stocks traded mixed as traders weighed the prospect of a potential coronavirus vaccine and more U.S. fiscal stimulus.

The COVID Economy In Suspended Animation -Global Macro-Monitor
"Summary: The U.S. economy is not real and in a current state of 'suspended animation.' The COVID rescue package has introduced significant distortions into the economy. The 'Corona Capitalists,' some very well capitalized and liquid corporations, have accounted for a large portion of the loan volume in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Almost 30 percent of renters and homeowners failed to make all or some of their payments in July. The buildup of rental and mortgage payment arrears is a very complicated and potentially menacing problem, threatening the very heart of capitalism, itself. Personal income is up almost 7 percent year-on-year, though wages and salaries are down 6 percent, the result of a 70 percent increase in government transfer payments. Personal savings skyrocketed from 7.9 percent of disposal personal income (DPI) in January to 32.2 percent in April, providing some of the jet fuel for a rocketing stock market. The Fed's digital printing press has financed most, if not all of the increase in the transfers and savings. Markets remain detached from economic reality....It's stunning to us that the markets continue to hold up, choosing to take the blue pill of bliss and ignorance, believing the Wizard of Oz, dressed up as the Federal Reserve, will always be there to bail them out no matter their level of stupidity. Then again, there really are no free markets left after the Fed has effectively nationalized just about anything that moves."

gold A Monetary System as Good as Gold -Salter/AIER
"John Maynard Keynes, the progenitor of modern macroeconomics, famously dismissed the gold standard as a 'barbarous relic.' Commodity monies have been held in low regard by economists ever since. The disdain has spread to noneconomists in policy making circles, as well. Dr. Judy Shelton is a rare exception. She is a well-known defender of the gold standard. For this reason, her nomination to the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors has been somewhat controversial....The low regard economists and policymakers have for the gold standard is unfounded. Sadly, many of these supposed 'experts' are almost completely innocent of monetary history...In practice, the gold standard provides a better anchor for inflation expectations without an obvious cost in terms of lower output or higher unemployment....If the gold standard were really so inferior to fiat money managed by modern central banks, you would expect it to show up in the historical time series. As it turns out, the evidence suggests the opposite....Rather than an antiquated holdover retarding economic performance, the gold standard was a crucial component of the impressive economic growth that occurred during the late 19th and early 20th centuries....The inescapable conclusion is that gold is no 'barbarous relic,' as Keynes maintained. If anything, it is a civilizing force...As my dissertation adviser, Lawrence White, puts it: The gold standard is still the gold standard among monetary systems."

Debt fatigue, not coronavirus, is destroying America -The Hill
"The United States is experiencing its worst crisis since World War II. No, it is not the coronavirus pandemic. New York and other states are demonstrating how to bend the coronavirus infection rate down, and other states will soon follow. The crisis that is destroying America is debt fatigue....Over the past half century governments at all levels have experienced debt fatigue. The federal government has again increased debt to levels exceeding our national income. Much of this debt was incurred in response to the 2008 financial crisis and the coronavirus pandemic. But the fundamental cause of this debt crisis is not these economic shocks, but rather debt fatigue. For decades, debt has been increasing as a share of national income. Although the federal debt crisis is widely acknowledged, less well understood is the state and local government debt crisis. Over the past five decades, most state governments have allowed debt to increase to more than 10 percent of personal income, a debt level that exposes them to risk of default. Most of this increase in debt at the state and local level in recent years is in unfunded liabilities in pension and other post-employment benefit plans....The Federal Reserve has now allowed the states to designate municipal governments and public enterprises to access emergency lending programs directly. This massive bailout of our state and local governments is not only bankrupting the federal government, it is undermining the future of the nation. If we can't rely on elected officials to pursue responsible fiscal policies, how can we solve this debt crisis? Countries that have been successful in solving their debt debacles, like Switzerland, have done so by imposing 'debt brake' rules. When debt levels exceed a debt tolerance level, the debt brake rules mandate a reduction in the rate of growth in government spending until debt is reduced below that debt tolerance level....If our country is to retain even a modicum of a federalist system, we must restore fiscal autonomy and responsibility at each level of government....At the federal level, a debt brake could be incorporated in a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. If Congress fails to propose such an amendment, citizens could enact the amendment through an Article V Amendment Convention."

Drive-thru job fair helping unemployed workers find new jobs -MSN/Fox 29
"A staffing company in West Palm Beach is making it easier for job seekers to find employment amid the coronavirus. Express Employment Professionals developed an innovative hiring event to get people back to work - a drive-thru job fair. 'We really wanted to try and think outside of the box and how we can attract new applicants,' said Cameron Smith of Express Employment Professionals....The process is simple yet effective. 'We're doing an interview kind of quick, a screening interview, and then we are basically trying to figure out what direction to head and have them go onto our website and fill out an application, send their resume and get them a place,' said Smith. The company works with a variety of local businesses - everything from warehouse jobs, administration work and information technology."

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7.17.20 - What if Gold Goes to $5,000 or $10,000?

Gold last traded at $1,800 an ounce. Silver at $19.57 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose Friday on strong demand and a weak dollar. U.S. stocks traded mixed as a sharp decline in Netflix shares pressured the rest of the market.

What if gold does go to $5,000 or $10,000? -Kitco
"With gold hitting nine-year highs this month - and staying above $1,800 - readers are asking for guidance on what to do if gold not only reaches new nominal highs, but blows by $2,000 and keeps going. What if it really does go to $5,000 an ounce, $10,000… or higher? And what if silver hits $100 and keeps rising?....I think we'd be seeing 1970s-style stagflation, and there would be great political and social unrest. I think it's unlikely someone with the guts Paul Volker had would step in to set things right. And I think there’s zero chance today's politicians would give such a person the power to do so. I don't think $10,000 gold would be the end of the story. If it does rise that high, I think the US would fall into a true hyperinflationary death spiral. At that point, the price of pretty much everything would be about to take off. At the same time, the actual value of many things would go into decline as people focus their spending on survival. In short, the real endgame would be a major financial and social reset - after a collapse. I hope I'm wrong. Or, if I'm right about what $10,000 gold implies, I hope we never get there. Just reaching Bank of America's now-famous $3,000 call would be more than enough to make fortunes for gold bugs like me. No need to wish for far greater misfortune befalling the rest of the world. But frankly, with the Republicans joining the Democrats in pulling out the control rods that keep the US economy from overheating and melting down… well, I don't want to predict a global collapse , but I think it would be foolish not to make contingency plans for the possibility."

debt ceiling The Covid Fiscal Crisis Is About Debt and Taxes -Sternberg/Wall Street Journal
"The only thing worse than how we'd pay for pandemic relief is what will happen when, inevitably, we don't. Alas, it's time to talk about what the coronavirus pandemic means for your tax bill...Policy makers and voters alike are waking up to the fact that those trillions of dollars and euros and pounds our governments spent were real money. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) last week pegged the federal budget deficit at $2.7 trillion for the October through June period....The conventional explanation for why this should alarm us is that taxes inevitably must rise to repay those debts. Such fearmongering has the virtue of being true. Expect politicians on the left to seize on high pandemic deficits and debt loads as an opportunity to overhaul taxation, and not for the better. A President Biden will welcome the excuse to reverse the 2017 Trump tax reform while sidestepping the boost the tax cuts gave to economic growth - 'because the deficit.'....An underappreciated aspect of our growing mountain of government debt is the political pressure it places on central banks, not least the Federal Reserve, to suppress interest rates for the purpose of making debt service affordable....The U.S. thus finds itself stuck in a debt trap, alongside the rest of the developed world. Economists at the Bank for International Settlements coined that term to describe a situation in which prolonged low interest rates induce the accumulation of so much unproductive government and private debt that to raise rates would risk a catastrophic financial-system or fiscal crisis...The path of least resistance instead becomes to keep rates low forever, in turn encouraging more debt....The result is a brittle economy that churns out too many houses, financial assets and overindebted retailers, and too few productive job opportunities - and creates one financial crisis after another. That's a fate worse than any tax hike. The worst part is we'll probably get both the taxes and the financial crisis before this pandemic-debt story is done."

The world's wealthy push for higher taxes, but few volunteer -Worstall/Washington Examiner
"The patriotic millionaires are at it again, insisting that they should be made - forced, I tell ya'! - to pay more in taxes to help pay for recovery from the coronavirus. No, it's not good economics, but more than that, it's not even what they themselves believe. It's entirely possible to pay more taxes any time you want, and there's no real evidence that the rich have been volunteering. The bad economics argument is that right now really, really isn't the time for tax increases. The Federal Reserve is creating money down in the basement as fast as it can - that's what quantitative easing is - and Congress is throwing it out the door in unemployment checks, pandemic schemes, and sheer free cash. The justification is to stop the recession from turning into a depression, and raising taxes to cover all of this would be exactly and precisely the wrong thing to do. Near every strand of economic thinking tells us this, too. But there's more to it than that. Economists insist that we shouldn't listen to what people say. If we want to know their true desires, we should instead watch what they do....Standard economics also tells us that wealth taxation is a really bad idea, as is taxing the income from investments. Perhaps that's an argument for the wonks requiring specialized knowledge of the subject, so how about a simple argument? When those millionaires and billionaires voluntarily pay higher taxes, they can bring us their thank you letters - yes you do get one, I checked - and then we'll talk."

"Probably By Year End" - Alasdair Macleod Warns "The Dollar Is On Its Way To Zero" -Zero Hedge
"Finance and economic expert Alasdair Macleod says the gold market is 'extremely dangerous as far as the bullion banks, swaps and trading desks' that, at some point soon, are going to have to deliver physical gold they do not have....Macleod thinks failure to deliver gold is coming soon where the contract will be settled in cash and not physical metal. How many times can the gold market do this? Macleod says, 'I think it will be the end of the futures market because nobody would trust it as a means of delivering gold. I mean it would have demonstrably failed. So, why would you play with it again? Of course, the failure of COMEX contracts is a very, very serious issue.' What happens to the price of gold? Macleod says, 'The price is already on its way to infinity or, put more accurately, the dollar is on its way to zero...Probably by the end of the year because we've got another thing happening in the background, and that is we have a banking crisis developing. This is the natural consequence of the contraction of bank credit. There is the effect of tariffs on top of that that turn a normal cycle of bank credit contraction into a 1929 to 1932 horror show. . . . If you have a banking collapse, then those assets values will just go down in the pan. The next thing, of course, bond yields start rising because of the inflationary implications of a financial collapse. At that stage, government financing becomes impossible because governments are in effect bankrupt.' Macleod says stocks, the dollar and bonds all go down together and explains, 'That is the lesson of history. Everything just goes away. If you destroy the currency, you destroy all the financial assets that are priced in it.'"

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7.16.20 - Hedge Fund Sees Gold Topping $3,000/oz.

Gold last traded at $1,800 an ounce. Silver at $19.57 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices eased back Thursday on normal short-term profit-taking. U.S. stocks fell, led by tech shares, as investors digested the latest corporate earnings reports and mixed U.S. economic data.

Doomsday Hedge Fund Sees Gold Topping $3,000 an Ounce -Bloomberg
"A hedge fund manager who returned 47% this year by betting on gold and Treasuries says the next decade is going to be marked by inflation that central banks are powerless to control. Diego Parrilla, who heads the $450 million Quadriga Igneo fund, says unprecedented monetary stimulus is fueling asset bubbles and corporate debt addiction - rendering interest-rate hikes impossible without an economic crash. In the ensuing market mania, the manager whose portfolio is loaded up with cross-asset hedges says gold could rise to $3,000 to $5,000 an ounce in the next three to five years, up from the current price of $1,800. 'What you're going to see in the next decade is this desperate effort, which is already very obvious, where banks and government just print money and borrow, and bail everyone out, whatever it takes, just to prevent the entire system from collapsing,' Parrilla said in an interview from Madrid. While traditional funds are tasked with generating steadily positive returns over time, Parrilla’s fund is predisposed toward hedging the next big crash while generating capital over time. Managers with a tail-risk bias position for extreme market events, typically bucking mainstream views on Wall Street."

covid Mis-Reporting of Virus Deaths From Alarmist Media -Real Clear Markets
"'Virus Deaths Climb as Cases Hit New High' was the original title of a recent front-page Wall Street Journal feature, later changed online to 'Deaths Begin Trending Higher.' Either title portends important news, but the only evidence is gibberish: 'The average daily death toll in the U.S. rose to 599 in the seven days through July 8, up from 510 deaths a day as of July 4, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.' July 4 is obviously one of the 'seven days through July 8' so the alleged 'rise' makes no sense. A correct apples-to-apples comparison would have said, 'The average daily death toll in the U.S. fell to 599 in the seven days through July 8, down from 786 in the seven days through July 1.' Those averages (599 and 786) are from the Wall Street Journal's own graph of 'Daily reported Covid-19 deaths.' But revealing the actual 35% drop in deaths over back-to-back seven-day periods would require rewriting the headline. In a remarkable understatement, the article admits 'deaths haven't surged in the same way the infections have.' In fact, nationwide deaths have fallen according to all of their own figures. The graph accompanying the article, reproduced here, shows a 7-day rolling average of daily cases and deaths expressed as an index number, where April 1=100. The death index jumped from 100 on April 1 to a peak of 284 on April 18. But it then fell steadily to 76 by June 23 - which was nearly two months after many states reopened for business from April 24 to May 4. There was then a brief uptick in the death index above 100 from June 25 to July 1, which appears consistent with a multi-week lag between infection and death following the late May Memorial Day activities and mass protests. Since July 4, however, the 7-day average of deaths has again fallen well below 100 - even as the number of positive tests keeps moving in the opposite direction....As the authors reluctantly concede, 'soaring case counts are partly attributable to expanded testing that is detecting asymptomatic or less severe cases, often among younger people.' Quite right. But that makes it deceitful to keep equating more positive tests with 'more infections' - as they do eight times....At the national level, the week ending July 4 was the 11th week in a row the CDC reported declining deaths from COVID-19, flu and pneumonia."

COVID-19 Proved the U.S. Is Mired in Corruption -Bonner/Rogue Economics
"Today, let's continue exploring Lord Byron's formula for the cycle of empires. From freedom to glory... And when that fails... to wealth, vice, corruption... and finally, barbarism...You'll recall our corollary, too: that you can tell where you are in the cycle by watching the monuments...At a glance, we seem to be in the corruption stage. The vice stage, we reckon, commenced with the introduction of the fake, non-gold-backed dollar in 1971. It took a while to find the gas valve. But once the feds realized what they could do with an almost-unlimited amount of money, well… the sky was the limit. The federal government never ran a real surplus again. And then, with its no-limit credit card, it could squander $21 trillion on the War on Poverty… over $1 trillion on the War on Drugs… $7 trillion on the War on Terror… and, so far, $2.3 trillion (the CARES Act) on fighting COVID-19 and the Lockdown Recession....Each time, it took more hot air to levitate the bubble; the latest whoosh cost $3 trillion in the Fed’s new money… plus a $4 trillion deficit from the Trump team. And more hot air is on the way. Both Democrats and Republicans are reaching for the controls… one with a $3 trillion bill already in Congress; the other still working out the details on one that, says the president, could be even 'larger.'....Corruption takes many forms. For example, there is a whole army of Deep State careerists, posing as 'experts' and 'advisors,' making their fortunes by pretending to have useful knowledge....The Fed, meanwhile, has its own 'No Rich, Mismanaged Corporation Left Behind' program. So far, it's helped such big names as Berkshire Hathaway Energy, McDonald's, Southwest Airlines, CVS, AT&T, Boeing, Coca-Cola, ExxonMobil, Ford, Walmart, UnitedHealth Group, Philip Morris International, and many, many more borrow at lower rates....Corruption? Check! Barbarism lies dead ahead."

U.S. June Consumer Prices Rose Sharply -Wall Street Journal
"U.S. consumer prices rose sharply in June while states were broadening efforts to reopen, with costs snapping back for products and services that were hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. The consumer-price index - which measures what Americans pay for everyday items including groceries, clothing and shelter - rose 0.6% in June, the Labor Department said Tuesday. The index had fallen in each of the previous three months, with particularly sharp declines during the earlier part of the pandemic in March and April. 'June represented the beginning of a return to normal for prices, as most of the categories that had been depressed by the COVID lockdowns rebounded once the economy started to recover in earnest,' said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont, in a note to clients, referring to the illness caused by the coronavirus....Gasoline prices, which rose 12.3% last month, also drove the gains and accounted for more than half of the monthly increase in overall prices, according to the Labor Department...Prices for dining out also rose in June, by 0.5%, the biggest monthly gain so far in 2020."

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7.15.20 - The Case for Reopening Schools -WSJ

Gold last traded at $1,814 an ounce. Silver at $19.76 an ounce.

NEW SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose Wednesday supported by a weaker dollar and geopolitical tensions. U.S. stocks traded mixed despite a potential coronavirus vaccine and a record quarter for Goldman Sachs.

Silver to become the new gold -Credit Suisse/FX Street
"Strategists at Credit Suisse have noted a great silver performance lately and expect the white metal to look for the $26.22 resistance on a break above $21.14. What’s more, Gold/Silver ratio shows the latter is in line to extend its outperformance. 'Silver continues to push its way higher and there are seen clear similarities between price action now and that of gold last year. However, only above 19.65/21.14 would see a multi-year base confirmed, with next resistance then seen at $26.22. The Gold/Silver ratio is also back pressuring price and retracement support, beneath which would suggest silver can extend its current outperformance. At present though, this is still a correction within the longer-term gold outperformance trend.'"

fed Federal Reserve's $3 trillion virus rescue inflates market bubbles -Reuters/Yahoo Finance
"The Federal Reserve's $3 trillion bid to stave off an economic crisis in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak is fueling excesses across U.S. capital markets. The U.S. central bank has pledged unlimited financial asset purchases to sustain market liquidity, increasing its balance sheet from $4.2 trillion in February to $7 trillion today....'COVID-19 is now inversely related to the markets. The worse that COVID-19 gets, the better the markets do because the Fed will bring in stimulus. That is what has been driving markets,' said Andrew Brenner, head of international fixed income at NatAlliance. Here are some of the market bubbles that investors are attributing to the Federal Reserve's intervention. STOCK MARKET BONANZA - Near-zero interest rates and credit support for large swathes of Corporate America have driven yield-hungry investors back to the equity market....IPO FRENZY - Stock market euphoria has spilled over into initial public offerings (IPOs) and other stock sales to investors....DEBT BINGE - The Fed's bond-buying programs encouraged companies to tap credit markets and made the second quarter the busiest ever for debt issuance....Some $1.2 trillion of investment-grade paper was sold in the first half of the year, the highest issuance volume recorded by the Securities Industry."

The Case for Reopening Schools -Editors/Wall Street Journal
"Everything else about the coronavirus has become politicized in America, so why not a return to school as well? That's the depressing state of play as President Trump pushes schools to reopen while Democrats heed teachers unions that demand more federal money and even then may not return. The losers, as ever, would be the children. The evidence - scientific, health and economic - argues overwhelmingly for schools to open in the fall...According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 children under age 15 have died from Covid-19. In a typical year 190 children die of the flu, 436 from suicide, 625 from homicide, and 4,114 from unintentional deaths such as drowning....Parents and teachers understandably worry that children might spread the virus. But a recent retrospective study of schools in Northern France, from February before lockdowns, found that “despite three introductions of the virus into three primary schools, there appears to have been no further transmission of the virus to other pupils or teaching and non-teaching staff of the schools.”....These risks can be managed... Space desks six feet apart, stagger class periods, make kids wear face coverings when possible, keep them in the same cohort, and have them eat, play and learn outdoors as much as possible. Teachers can also wear face shields, and schools can use plastic barriers in higher-grade level classrooms to separate them from kids....Research outfit NWEA has projected that 'students are likely to return in fall 2020 with approximately 63-68% of the learning gains in reading relative to a typical school year and with 37-50% of the learning gains in math.' Another half-year or year of lost instruction will be impossible to make up. Achievement gaps will surely increase....Millions of parents can't return to work if their children can't attend school. Opening the schools is essential to the well-being of students, and teachers and administrators have a duty to make it happen."

Looming evictions may soon make 28 million homeless, expert says -CNBC
"Emily Benfer is a leading expert on evictions. She is the chair of the American Bar Association's Task Force Committee on Eviction and co-creator of the COVID-19 Housing Policy Scorecard with the Eviction Lab at Princeton University. CNBC spoke with Benfer about the coming eviction crisis and what can be done to turn it around. CNBC: How does the eviction crisis brought on by the pandemic compare with the 2008 housing crisis? EB: We have never seen this extent of eviction in such a truncated amount of time in our history. We can expect this to increase dramatically in the coming weeks and months...We’re looking at 20 million to 28 million people in this moment, between now and September, facing eviction. CNBC: You study the intersection of housing and health. What will all these evictions mean for people’s health during the pandemic? EB: Eviction negatively impacts the trajectory of an individual's life, and it can do that in a permanent way. Studies have demonstrated that eviction causes increased mortality and causes respiratory distress, which in the Covid-19 pandemic can put people in even greater peril. It results in depression, suicides and other poor health outcomes. And the primary response to Covid-19 has been to shelter in place. If there’s an increase in homelessness [one economist estimates homelessness could rise by more than 40% this year], that could spread the virus....CNBC: What can be done to make this eviction crisis less devastating? EB: As an immediate measure, we need a nationwide uniform moratorium on eviction, and it has to be coupled with financial assistance to ensure that the renter can stay housed without shifting the debt burden onto the property owner. The owners that are the most likely to be affected by the eviction crisis right now are those who have small properties and don't have the financial cushion to make ends meet over a period of months when they're not receiving that rent. Once that's in place, we really need to start addressing the root causes of the eviction crisis and the lack of affordable housing."

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7.14.20 - Round Two Of The Jobs Apocalypse

Gold last traded at $1,813 an ounce. Silver at $19.55 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices extended gains Tuesday on safe-haven buying and dollar weakness. U.S. stocks traded mixed as bank earnings rose but tech stocks stumbled amid speculation of overvaluation.

Gold gains above $1,800 per ounce as infection cases mount -CNBC
"Gold prices rose above the key $1,800 level on Monday, underpinned by surging coronavirus cases globally and concerns that they may slow down recovering economies. U.S.-China trade tensions and the record number of COVID-19 cases being reported on a daily basis are the underlying themes supporting the gold market, Kitco Metals senior analyst Jim Wyckoff said. 'Of course, there's going to be normal downside corrections, but the trend remains up.' Global coronavirus infections passed 13 million on Monday, according to a Reuters tally, marking another milestone in the spread of the disease which has killed more than half a million people in seven months. Driving inflows into the safe-haven asset further, China announced 'corresponding sanctions' against the United States on Monday after Washington penalized senior Chinese officials over the treatment of minority Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang....The yellow metal has risen over 19% so far this year due to massive stimulus from governments and central banks across the globe to revive coronavirus-hit economies...Silver climbed 3.1% to $19.25 per ounce after hitting $19.31, the highest since Sept. 5."

jobs The Second Jobs Apocalypse -Axios
"This week, United Airlines warned 36,000 U.S. employees their jobs were at risk, Walgreens cut more than 4,000 jobs, it was reported Wells Fargo is preparing thousands of terminations this year, and Levi's axed 700 jobs due to falling sales. We have entered round two of the jobs apocalypse. Those announcements followed similar ones from the Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott and Choice hotels, which all have announced thousands of job cuts, and the bankruptcies of more major U.S. companies like 24 Hour Fitness, Brooks Brothers and Chuck E. Cheese in recent days...The initial jobs apocalypse was due to the mandated and temporary closures of businesses across the country in an attempt to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Part two is the fallout from the decline in consumption that resulted and will likely include the wreckage from wide-ranging business closures and a reckoning for white collar jobs, experts say....'The pickup in COVID is going to increase uncertainty and make people cut back on spending, but ... even without that pickup in the pandemic, the economic weakness will lead to layoffs and failures from businesses that are only being indirectly hurt' by the pandemic, says Edelberg, who was previously chief economist at the Congressional Budget Office....More than 1 million Americans filed for traditional unemployment benefits last week for the 16th week in a row, the Department of Labor reported Thursday. But perhaps more distressing has been the increase in claims filed for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. First-time PUA claims rose above 1 million for the first time since the week of May 23 last week, while the number of people approved for and receiving PUA benefits increased to 14.4 million, as of June 20, the last week for which data are available."

Silver Soars, Outpacing Gains in S&P 500 and Gold -Wall Street Journal
"Silver prices climbed to their highest level in 10 months Monday, lifted by factory re-openings and soaring investor demand for precious metals. Silver metal rose 2.3% to $19.50 a troy ounce in New York, putting them on course for their highest settlement since September 2019. Silver prices have soared 66% since their nadir in mid-March, outstripping gold, the S&P 500 and an ICE BofA index of U.S. government bonds. Investors have snapped up precious metals in recent months, encouraged by the extraordinary steps central banks and governments have taken to shore up economic growth during the coronavirus pandemic. The drop in short-term interest rates and the Federal Reserve's purchases of a range of bonds have lowered yields in a swath of debt markets, reducing the opportunity cost of owning precious metals, which pay no income. Silver prices have also benefited from the reopening of factories in the U.S., China and elsewhere. Silver has widespread industrial applications in making solar panels, medical equipment and consumer electronics, among other goods. As a result, prices typically rise when economic growth accelerates, a key difference between silver and gold. 'You're flying on two engines, which are commercial demand and investor demand,' said Michael Widmer, a commodities strategist at Bank of America. 'That’s driving silver prices higher.'....'It's the more volatile brother of gold,' Ms. Boele said. 'The market is much thinner so when you get a move it’s generally big.' Giving prices an extra lift, the pandemic has disrupted mines in Latin America, the world's main silver-producing region."

China Renews Push for Increased Global Role for the Yuan -Bloomberg/Yahoo Finance
"Faced with the prospect of restricted access to U.S. dollars, China's answer is to get more people to use its own currency instead. The increasing spillover of Sino-American tensions into the financial sphere has ignited a fresh push by China to promote the global use of the yuan. A growing number of government officials and influential market watchers have in recent weeks urged greater efforts on the endeavor, which gained renewed significance after China’s new Hong Kong security law triggered the threat of retaliation from Washington. While such drastic action is far from being implemented by the U.S. - and could potentially do major damage to American interests and the entire global financial system - the risks alone have raised alarm bells. With almost a trillion dollars in offshore bonds and loans and $1.1 trillion in state-owned bank liabilities, access to the greenback is vital for Chinese companies and lenders. 'Yuan internationalization morphed from a desirable to an indispensable thing for Beijing,' said Ding Shuang, chief economist for greater China and north Asia at Standard Chartered Plc. 'China needs to find a replacement for the dollar amid the political uncertainty, otherwise the nation will see financial risks.'....Chinese regulators are building the China International Payment System to settle transactions outside the dollar-based platforms where the U.S. holds sway. Hong Kong, which supplies around half of the world's offshore yuan liquidity, is also aiming to become a more prominent yuan trading center."

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7.13.20 - $2,000 Gold is Now Even More Likely -Goldman

Gold last traded at $1,806 an ounce. Silver at $19.50 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose Monday on safe-haven buying and a weaker dollar. U.S. stocks rose as investors looked past record numbers in coronavirus cases from the weekend amid vaccine hopes and lower fatality rates.

Gold at $2,000 Is Now Even More Likely, Goldman Says. -Barrons
"An 'uneven recovery' lies ahead for commodities, but Goldman Sachs analysts are more confident than ever that gold will hit $2,000 an ounce. A scenario in which the U.S. is hit by a second wave of coronavirus cases, while China - the world's largest retail buyer - recovers strongly is 'ideal for gold,' the investment bank's commodities research team said in a note. The team said it now has 'even greater conviction' in its bullish 12-month target for the precious metal. Gold futures settled at a 9-year high of $1,820.60 per ounce on Wednesday....'Go long copper, silver and steel and stay long gold,' was their advice for investors...Silver stands to benefit from ongoing demand among investors for safe haven assets, as well as the Chinese industrial recovery, they said."

chaz The Brief And Strange History of CHOP (AKA CHAZ) -Counter Punch
"The end has come for CHOP - or CHAZ. At first the six-block area just east of downtown Seattle was called CHAZ. The area was occupied by protesters on June 8th after it was reluctantly ceded to them by Seattle Mayor Jennie Durkan and the police. That was the day that the Seattle Police Department vacated and locked up its East Precinct building on 12th Avenue. When the police left, the occupiers painted 'People' over the 'Police' in the sign, 'Seattle Police Department, East Precinct.' Then they declared the surrounding area the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, soon referred to simply as CHAZ. Whatever exactly it was, it had a name. Then some black community leaders suggested it be called Capitol Hill Organize Protest. Hence, CHOP, although CHAZ was still being used....The next day June 9th one of the protesters posted on a blog a list of thirty demands. That's a lot of demands. Soon four more would be added. For a nation used to the brevity of text messages and tweets even reading them was demanding. Among the demands foremost were the defunding or possibly the abolition of the Seattle Police Department and even the court system, the release of all protesters who had been arrested. then things followed like free health care, free college, free housing - I'll stop there. The shopping list of demand is really only germane to this essay as an indication of the confusion that was to follow....Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat dropped by CHOP on the 23rd, the day after the last of the three shootings. Westneat wrote: 'We can police ourselves!' a man was still insisting in one of the CHOP's intersections on Tuesday when I stopped by. 'The hell we can,' a woman responded under her breath. Whether the perpetrators of the shootings on Saturday and Sunday were gang members or rightwing militia members is unknown....The end of CHOP seemed in sight. On Monday June 22nd, Seattle Mayor Jennie Durkan said, 'It's time for people to go home.' To finally help CHOP go gentle into that good night, the mayor called for help from leaders of the black community in Seattle. Early the next morning June 23rd, another man was shot and wounded near the northeast corner of Cal Anderson Park....Regarding all the chaos, the violence and deaths Kshama Sawant said the violence was due to capitalism. Therefore, she and the protesters at CHOP bore no responsibility. It's true that Seattle shows some of the most egregious features of capitalism per Marx. It is the city of Jeff Bezos' global colossus Amazon and it is also a city where a full-time employee of the US Postal Service lives in a tent under a freeway ramp because she can no longer afford the lease on her apartment. But Sawant cannot blame capitalism for the naivete of many in CHOP who were oblivious to the possibility that criminal gangs and rightwing militias might exploit their social experiment with fatal consequences, nor can she blame capitalism for the attempted rape of the deaf woman by one of her confederates....On July 1st, Seattle Police in riot gear cleared CHOP with the help of the Bellevue Police. At 4:58 am Mayor Durkan issued an order to clear the area. At 5 am the police entered CHOP and ordered everyone to leave within eight minutes or they would be arrested. They arrested at least 32 people."

Covid-19 Is Bankrupting American Companies at a Relentless Pace -Bloomberg
"Retailers, airlines, restaurants. But also sports leagues, a cannabis company and an archdiocese plagued by sex-abuse allegations. These are some of the more than 110 companies that declared bankruptcy in the U.S. this year and blamed Covid-19 in part for their demise. Many were in deep financial trouble even before governors ordered non-essential businesses shut to help contain the spread of the virus. Most will reorganize and emerge from court smaller and less-indebted. The hardest hit, however, are selling off assets and closing for good. They include plenty of big, iconic names. Hertz and J.C. Penney and now Brooks Brothers, too. The vast bulk, though, are small and medium-sized businesses scattered across the country. Their downfall might not normally garner much attention, but it does underscore the full extent of the damage Covid-19 has inflicted on the economy. The list compiled for this story is based on court records, statements or interviews in which company executives explicitly linked the virus to their filing. It is only a snapshot of the thousands of corporate entities that have landed in bankruptcy court since the pandemic took hold in March."

The Press Is Already Trying To Whip Up A New Pandemic Panic -Issues & Insights
"Oh, no! With the planet still unlocking and some parts still tightly buttoned down, and with the world economy plummeting, 'China Researchers Discover New Swine Flu with Pandemic Potential,' blares CNN. 'Scientists Say New Strain of Swine Flu Virus Is Spreading to Humans in China,' shrieks the New York Times. Say it ain't so! Okay, it ain't so. Not in any meaningful way. The media should go back to 'murder hornets,' or find another asteroid with a chance in a zillion of hitting Earth....First, while the Times says the virus 'is spreading silently in workers on pig farms in China,' that means pigs-to-humans and that's been going on for so time. 'This is not a new new virus; it's been very common in pigs since 2016,' tweeted Carl Bergstrom, a professor of biology at the University of Washington. 'There's no evidence that G4 is circulating in humans, despite five years of extensive exposure. That's the key context to keep in mind.' Okay, but it’s a swine flu !!! Um, yes, pigs appear to play a role in most strains of flu, along with birds. Specifically, the massive swine farms of China are 'mixing bowls' to produce new flu strains....If G4 followed in the footsteps of its 'ancestor,' H1N1 (and the Times even admits that humans infected with G4 are showing no illness), and ended up actually saving a lot of lives, the WHO could (and of course would) declare it a pandemic. And given that the world seems to have decided that quarantining healthy people and destroying economies is a proper way of trying to reduce pandemic viral deaths, we could see a repeat of the horrors we're still experiencing. But that word 'pandemic' will set off alarms everywhere, as indeed G4 is already doing. At a Tuesday Senate hearing the ever-reliable National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci said G4 was not an 'immediate threat but something we need to keep our eye on just the way that we did in 2009 with the emergence of the swine flu.' Inevitably some flu virus will be antigenically different enough and widespread enough to qualify as a 'pandemic.' If we allow ourselves to forget how much damage we let the coronavirus cause, prepare for a sequel of what we're going through now. And gosh, like 'The Godfather II,' it may be even more powerful than the original."

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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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7.6.20 - The American Revolution Occurred in a Pandemic

Gold last traded at $1,783 an ounce. Silver at $18.26 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose Monday on safe-haven buying and a weaker dollar. U.S. stocks rose, led by strong gains in the tech sector, as Wall Street tried to shake off a continued rise in coronavirus cases.

Gold Gains 16% with an 8-Year High: Why It Will Continue to Rise -Yahoo Finance
"Gold is a highly valuable commodity. It tends to perform opposite stocks and bonds. Because the value of gold holds well, investors consider it a safe-haven, especially during turbulent economies. In the coronavirus crises, gold is a shiny asset that will likely soar in price in the coming weeks. Here are the reasons why. The global markets experienced severe declines early this year due to the COVID-19 outbreak. As fear creeps out on the second wave of coronavirus infections in different countries, risk-averse assets like gold are attracting more investors. South Korea is now experiencing what seems to be a second wave of coronavirus....Economists worry that there will be more debt and more money circulating. Interest rates and gold correlates negatively. To date, countries with rising infection cases are Iran, Algeria, Israel, and the USA. Confirmed coronavirus cases are now around 10 million, with nearly 500,000 deaths. The US is likely to force tariffs on $3.1 billion worth of UK and EU imports with duties of up to 100%....The heating US-China trade war contributed to the rising interest in gold, pushing its price further up."

MktRisk A $10 Trillion Rally Hinges on Earnings Nobody Has a Clue About -Bloomberg
"Remember last earnings season? When companies were reporting their worst quarter since the financial crisis. And nobody dared guess what the future held. Bankruptcy risk was everywhere. Oh, and stocks rallied so hard that $5 trillion got added to share prices. It's safe to say investors were in a forgiving mood back then...But stocks are also coming off their best quarter in 22 years, with valuations by some measures the most expensive in two decades. Add to that: earnings estimates proffered by analysts are even more speculative this time around, after 80% of companies refused to provide guidance over the last three months. 'Investors are going to start demanding a little bit more clarity - whether it's good or bad, they just want to know,' said David Lebovitz, a global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management. While there are nascent signs that the incessant downward revisions to earnings estimates may be over, with the worst of the cuts in the past, there’s nothing approaching clarity over what the path forward will look like....Aggregate sell-side estimates for S&P 500 companies expect profits to have declined 44% in the three months ended in June, with earnings seeing double year-over-year declines again in the third and fourth quarters, Bloomberg Intelligence data show. 'When we look at 2021 earnings, we feel those still need to come down quite a bit because they're basically saying next year's earnings will be like 2019,' according to Jerry Braakman, chief investment officer of First American Trust. 'That assumes a V-shaped recovery and I think the stats out there today tell you that maybe a V-shaped recovery is not necessarily what we're going to see,' he said."

Are Stock Investors ‘Irrationally Exuberant’ Again? -Hulbert/Wall Street Journal
"The term 'irrational exuberance' traces to a now-famous speech in December 1996 by Alan Greenspan, then chairman of the Federal Reserve. Persuaded by comments by Yale University professor Robert Shiller, Mr. Greenspan wondered, 'How do we know when irrational exuberance has unduly escalated asset values?' The comment caused a sensation among investors, and for years, the term and the date Mr. Greenspan uttered it was referenced whenever the press published stock charts on milestones in the markets. Though the warnings from Mr. Greenspan and Prof. Shiller were sounded early, they were remarkably prescient. In the 2½ years following the bursting of the internet-stock bubble, from March 2000 to October 2002, the Nasdaq Composite Index fell 78%. Years later, Prof. Shiller would be awarded the Nobel Prize in economics in part for the research that became the basis of his book 'Irrational Exuberance.' There of course is plenty of anecdotal evidence that individual investors today are rushing into the market in a way reminiscent of the late 1990s. Commission-free brokerage platforms have experienced a surge in new customers, for example. And we're seeing huge swings in individual stocks—sometimes, for little to no reason at all. Consider: In the two weeks after Hertz declared bankruptcy, the company's stock doubled, and investors appeared eager to participate in a secondary offering. The company subsequently withdrew its offering after security regulators vowed to review it. Though fracking company Chesapeake Energy indicated in May that it likely would have to declare bankruptcy, in just one session in early June its stock jumped more than 180%. The company in late June did formally file for chapter 11 protection. Given these examples, it is hard to argue that there aren't pockets of irrational exuberance in the market."

The American Revolution Occurred in the Middle of a Pandemic -Tucker/AIER
"One of the most marvelous books I've read this year is Donald Henderson's personal story of the eradication of smallpox. The book is Smallpox: The Death of a Disease: The Inside Story of Eradicating a Worldwide Killer. It's a brilliant and thrilling adventure story by a man who worked his entire life to make the world a better place. He was also the author (with others) of a mighty treatise against lockdowns that appears at AIER. He died in 2016, which is tragic because we could have used his wisdom in these crazy times. Smallpox is unknown to the current generation precisely because of Henderson's incredible work. It's a wicked disease. One in three who get it die. Many are left with lifetime scars. It's horrid. In the entire centuries-old battle against it, however, no one ever imagined that lockdowns had anything to contribute to its management. What eradicated this horror was a serious effort on the part of medical professionals. Smallpox was a huge player during the American Revolution. It was generally a greater threat to the troops than foreign armies. Here we are today celebrating this Revolution while an entire nation cowers in fear of a virus that is hardly a threat at all to 99.5% of the population while the average age of death is two to four years longer than the average lifespan. There is not a single verified case of reinfection in the world, which implies that the immunities are easily acquired and sustained so far. For soldiers in the Revolutionary War, COVID-19 would have been hardly noticed. Instead they dealt with something far more ghastly. And yet they fought. For freedom."

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7.2.20 - Joe Biden's Plan to Wreck the Economy

Gold last traded at $1,789 an ounce. Silver at $18.32 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices traded mixed Thursday on upbeat jobs data and a weaker dollar. U.S stocks rose as investors cheered a bigger-than-expected increase in jobs in June as the economy attempts to rebound from the coronavirus shutdown.

Gold Market Zeroes In on Curve Control After Futures Top $1,800 -Bloomberg
"Fresh from futures cracking $1,800 an ounce, the global gold market wants to know what the Federal Reserve may do next to rescue the U.S. economy, with minutes due Wednesday that are expected to shed light on the central bank’s willingness to embrace yield curve control. Gold futures eased after reaching the highest in more than eight years, with a focus on the central bank release and warnings about the coronavirus pandemic. Pinning U.S. yields down - if adopted - may aid bullion's allure. On the outbreak, Fed Chair Jerome Powell stressed on Tuesday that getting the virus under control was vital, while disease expert Anthony Fauci said new U.S. cases could spike. Gold's ascent this year has been underpinned by aggressive central bank action to counter the pandemic’s economic fallout, with U.S. real interest rates already negative. If 'the prospect of Yield Control Curve (YCC) draws closer and further green lights the hunt for yield,' gold will benefit, Eleanor Creagh, a market strategist at Saxo Capital Markets, said in a note. 'Alongside the hedge against debt monetization and central bank largesse is also the added kickers of persistent virus uncertainties and geopolitical tensions which continue to fuel upside momentum in gold.' A retest of gold's record high could happen before year-end, she said....Sprott's Grosskopf said control of yields may in effect be here already... 'In this situation, gold becomes a much more attractive asset as a hedge to other markets and store of purchasing power.'"

zombie America Is Turning Into A Zombie Economy -Bonner/Rogue Economics
"The big picture: The feds, state and federal, aimed to stifle the spread of COVID-19 by locking down the economy. But just last week, the U.S. reported a 'record number' of new infections. The infections are becoming more and more common, say the reports, among young people. And testing has revealed that the virus is, or was, more widespread than previously thought. But infections aren't deaths. And they aren't necessarily bad. If you can't stop a disease, you're better off when healthy people get it, and get over it, while the unhealthy people lay low. Then, with antibodies widespread, the virus finds fewer victims who can pass it on....So now, although the lockdown approach hasn't beaten the virus, it has flattened the economy. In the U.S., 47 million people applied for unemployment benefits after their jobs were terminated. An estimated 1 million businesses are expected to RIP. Permanently. Globally, as much as $5 trillion of GDP has given up the ghost....A year ago, it was estimated that about 10% of the world’s companies were already zombies, unable to earn enough money to pay the interest on their debt (but, thanks to the Federal Reserve and other global central banks, still able to buy back their own shares and pay generous bonuses to managers). So... what to do when these companies face bankruptcy in the COVID Crisis? Lend them more money, of course! Corporations are borrowing at a faster pace than ever before...So, welcome to the Zombie Economy. Giving COVID checks - to the quick and the dead… lending PPP money to zombie companies… No distinction is made between the living and the dead… between real money and fake money… between the just and the unjust… between Heaven and Hell… between getting rich by flimflam or making an honest dollar… People get fake money for not working. Companies get fake money for not turning a profit. The feds grow more powerful by making problems worse. And we all get poorer."

Biden's plan to wreck the economy -Worstall/Washington Examiner
"To the extent that anyone believes 'Sleepy Joe' is concocting policy for his campaign, someone needs to wake him up. Whoever it is that is actually making the policy proposals has put themselves into a difficult corner, one that will wreak havoc on the economy. Joe Biden seems to want to raise the capital gains tax to 40%. It's a bad idea, but not too bad. He also wants to increase the corporate income tax to 28%. Another bad idea, but not too bad. It's the combination of the two that is so terrible....Investment drives growth over the long term. This is why optimal tax theory actually insists that capital incomes, profits and the like, shouldn't be taxed at all. Tax them when they spend it, not when they earn it....The value of an investment is the post-tax income to be gained from it. And if we're to tax it at 40% at the corporate level, then 40% again at the individual level, then we're taxing at (not quite because of the math) something at about 80%, which is really going to encourage people to invest, isn't it? This becomes even clearer if that other idea of raising dividend taxes to the same level as the individual income tax gets added as well. The problem here is obvious enough. There are all these seemingly bright ideas floating around the left-hand side of the aisle. Some to many of them are in conflict with each other, or, when added together, lead to the above sort of economic disaster...Perhaps Biden and his economic advisers should wake up, smell the coffee, and get to work sorting out the good policies from the bad."

Trump will 'probably get re-elected' if 'we can reopen safely' -Gingrich/Just The News
"Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich tells Just the News that President Trump will 'probably get re-elected' if the U.S. economy re-opens 'safely with reasonable precautions' in place. However, Gingrich said Trump's re-election 'gamble' is pushing for re-opening and holding campaign rallies while Democratic challenger Joe Biden stays 'hiding' in his 'basement' out of the public eye. Gingrich said Trump 'probably won't' win if states shut down again and the 'economy goes back in the tank.'....Biden, a former vice president and senator, is leading Trump in recent national polls. Gingrich said that 'the challenge for the president is that he believes his re-election depends, in part, on people having a sense of normalcy' in their lives. 'So he wants to have baseball come back. He wants to have football in September, you know, and I think he's pushing the margins on the grounds that it may cost him right now, but that it won't cost him in the long run. It's a real gamble,' Gingrich said. 'Yes, for some people, they prefer safety to risk taking and it's very clear that Trump is a risk taker, and it's very clear that between the virus and the economy and the Chinese etc. we have a lot of risk out there right now. So it's conceivable that Biden, by hiding, looks passive, and looks non-threatening and that may be reassuring to people, they may say, 'Oh, wow, you know, Biden would never do any of these things.' Now, it's also true that Biden probably wouldn't do anything,' he also said. Gingrich argued that Biden 'would have been a disaster in the first couple months of the epidemic because it was Trump's entrepreneurial skill that convinced the American business community to retool and to produce so many masks and so many ventilators that we're now supplying the whole world, and that took a Trump kind of president.' Gingrich speculated that Biden campaign officials are telling the candidate to 'practice your putting game or play Solitaire, just stay quiet, stay out of it. Do as little as possible and let the world focus on Trump.'....According to Gingrich, Trump must do three things to win re-election. 'He has to get the economy growing, period, that is the base without which nothing else works. Second, he has to communicate what a Biden-Schumer-Pelosi world would be like, so people understand it's not just Biden but it's this entire movement that would radically change America in ways you and I can't imagine,' he said. Gingrich suggested a 12-month holiday from the payroll tax to help small businesses and put more money in Americans' pockets."

**Swiss America will be closed Friday in observance of Independence Day. We hope all of our readers have a wonderful holiday.**

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7.1.20 - Gold Prices Rally Above $1,800/Ounce

Gold last traded at $1,778 an ounce. Silver at $18.21 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices eased back Wednesday on profit-taking despite a weaker dollar. U.S stocks rallied early then faded amid upbeat coronavirus vaccine news from Pfizer.

Gold Rallies Above $1,800 to Cap Strong Quarter -Wall Street Journal
"Gold prices extended a recent rally Tuesday, closing out their best quarter in four years with uncertainty about the economic recovery and ultralow interest rates lifting demand for the haven metal...Prices ended the second quarter up 13%, their biggest quarterly advance since early in 2016. Tuesday's close marked gold's first close above $1,800 since September 2011, and prices are within about 5% of their all-time high of $1,891.90 from August of that year. Stocks and other areas of the market are rallying as the world economy reopens, but many investors remain bullish on gold because of the unknown direction of the coronavirus pandemic. 'There is undoubtedly risk hedging going on in gold and other precious metals right now, helped by the negligible opportunity cost of holding nonyielding precious metals in a world of negative real interest rates,' said Jonathan Butler, precious metals strategist at Mitsubishi, in a note....The expectation that governments and central banks will continue flooding the global economy with cash to support the recovery are also driving some concerns about a long-term pickup in inflation. That is pushing some investors to reach for gold, which is used by some as a hedge against a rise in consumer prices. A weakening dollar is also supporting precious metals by making them cheaper for overseas buyers."

Why Stocks Can Predict The Next President -LPL Financial Research
"Although the fight against COVID-19 continues to dominate the headlines and our thoughts are with those affected, this is an election year and as we get closer to November it will begin to garner more attention...Today we wanted to share a very interesting connection between the stock market and election. Turns out, since 1928, the stock market has accurately predicted the winner of the election 87% of the time and every single year since 1984. It is quite simple. When the S&P 500 Index has been higher the three months before the election, the incumbent party usually won, while when stocks were lower, the incumbent party usually lost."

stocks

“'Think about it; no one expected Hillary Clinton to lose back in 2016, no one except the stock market that is,' explained LPL Financial Senior Market Strategist Ryan Detrick. 'The Dow had a 9-day losing streak directly ahead of the election, while copper (more of a President Trump infrastructure play) was up a record 14 days in a row, setting the stage for the change in party leadership in the White House.' As shown in the LPL Chart of the Day, as we get closer to the election, how stocks are doing could signal who might win in November."

How risky is flying during the coronavirus pandemic? -Associated Press
"Flying can increase your risk of exposure to infection, but airlines are taking some precautions and you can too. Air travel means spending time in security lines and airport terminals, which puts you into close contact with other people. As travel slowly recovers, planes are becoming more crowded, which means you will likely sit close to other people, often for hours, which raises your risk. Once on a plane, most viruses and other germs don't spread easily because of the way air circulates, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Airlines also say they are focusing on sanitizing the hard surfaces that passengers commonly touch. Some airlines like Alaska, Delta, JetBlue and Southwest are blocking middle seats or limiting capacity. But even if every middle seat is empty you will likely be closer than the recommended distance of 6 feet to another passenger now that planes are getting fuller. American, United and Spirit are now booking flights to full capacity when they can. All leading U.S. airlines require passengers to wear masks. Lauren Ancel Meyers, an expert in disease outbreaks at the University of Texas, says that can help limit risk. For air travel, and all other types of transportation, the CDC recommends washing your hands, maintaining social distancing and wearing face coverings. Several airlines announced Monday that they will ask passengers about possible COVID-19 symptoms and whether they have been in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus in the previous two weeks."

Let Yourself Be Unproductive. At Least for a Little While. -Harvard Business Review
"I'm hearing other people describe similar struggles as we all experience this pandemic, this economic collapse, this awakening to the depth of racial injustice....I really don't like feeling all this. It makes me anxious. My instinctive drive to push past it kicks in. To plan and to-do list and schedule my way to productivity and achievement and forward progress. That, I know how to do. It's my comfort during uncertainty. But I also have an opposing impulse, a quieter voice, one that feels deeper, more profound, and even scarier: Stay unproductive. At least for a little while. Feel the sadness, the loss, the change. Sink into the discomfort of not moving forward, not getting things done. In a strange way, not progressing may be its own form of productivity. Something fruitful is happening, we're just not controlling it. In this moment, being unproductive seems important. I think it's what I must feel - maybe what we must feel - to allow for growth. To allow ourselves to pause in the liminal space, to linger with a question that this moment begs us to ask: How can I allow myself to be changed?....Can you allow this change in your world - deeply personal and vastly global - to wash over you, shift your worldview, change you?"

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6.30.20 - CV-19 to Impact Businesses Indefinitely

Gold last traded at $1,799 an ounce. Silver at $18.58 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices extended gains Tuesday nearing 8-year highs on safe-haven buying. U.S. stocks inched higher as investors shrugged off the rising economic impact from the global pandemic.

Top CEOs see business impact from coronavirus lingering until at least the end of 2021 -CNBC
"The chief executives of the nation's biggest companies expect the business impact from the coronavirus to linger until at least the end of 2021. Nearly a third of them fear it could persist beyond then....There had been hopes that the U.S. was on its way to recovery after fears and lockdown orders jolted the economy this spring. But cases of the coronavirus are back on the rise, and states like Texas have had to delay their reopening plans. On Friday alone, 45,255 additional cases were reported, bringing the country's seven-day average to more than 41% higher than the prior week. The Business Roundtable report referred to the growing infection rate, saying the new cases 'suggest the need for broader adoption of safety measures and for public officials to examine their reopening plans to ensure widespread use of masks, continued limitations on gathering size, and measures to keep vulnerable populations safe.'....The Business Roundtable's CEO Economic Outlook Survey - a composite index of chief executive plans for capital spending and hiring over the next six months -fell to 34.3, its lowest reading since the second quarter of 2009."

gold Gold prices top $1,800 an ounce, on track for highest finish since 2011 -Marketwatch
"Gold futures topped $1,800 an ounce on Tuesday, heading for their highest finish since 2011, as uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic fed the metal's appeal as a haven investment. 'Gold is one of the only major asset classes to have a positive [year-to-date] return,' said Jeff Klearman, portfolio manager at GraniteShares, which offers the GraniteShares Gold Trust. 'The demand destruction wreaked upon the U.S. and global economies and then the resulting unprecedented monetary and fiscal stimulus response here and abroad is the primary driving force behind gold performance this year.' Rising numbers of new cases of COVID-19 in Florida, Texas, California and Arizona have raised concerns about the potential shape of the economic recovery from recession in the U.S. and the rest of the world. 'Ongoing uncertainty on the effects of the coronavirus on U.S. and global economic recovery, increased stock market volatility, the upcoming U.S. presidential election, civil unrest in the U.S., global trade friction along with the continuation of massive monetary and perhaps fiscal stimulus all provide strong support for gold prices,' Klearman told MarketWatch. There's 'very little reason to see gold prices move lower in the near future.'....In the first half of this year, gold prices traded about 18% higher, over the quarter the commodity has gained nearly 13%...For the first six months of the year, silver prices have climbed 3.7%, but surged 31% over the quarter."

The Fed's reckless experiment -The Hill
"The quantity theory of money, the view that the money supply is the key determinant of inflation, is dead, or so today's mainstream economists tell us. The Federal Reserve is now engaged in a policy that will either put the nail in the quantity theory's coffin or restore it to the textbooks. Sadly, if the theory is alive and wins out, the economy is in for a very rough ride. The theory has had a long history of evidence in its support...In the early 1970s, Milton Friedman warned President Richard Nixon about expanding the money supply. His advice fell on deaf ears, and Nixon proceeded to pressure Arthur Burns, then chair of the Federal Reserve, to 'goose' the money supply. A horrendous decade of inflation followed as the Fed feebly applied its policy tools to avoid recession. Despite this, two recessions occurred, and the inflation rate worsened throughout the decade. It took Paul Volcker in 1980 to really slam on the money-supply brakes to get the inflation under control. Interest rates soared; the economy dropped into a serious recession, but inflation's back was finally broken....In the 49 days ending June 8, the money supply (M2) has increased by $1,018.6 billion. To put this into perspective, the money supply grew by $921 billion in all of 2019. The Fed is 'goosing' the money supply at rates previously thought foolhardy by any quantity theorist worth their salt....The Fed's wild purchase of financial assets, the cause of the exploding money supply, is great for financial markets in the short term, but its effect on employment is likely to be negligible if labor supply restrictions persist. Rather, if the Fed's experiment reignites inflation, we can expect a long and difficult path forward....On June 10, Chairman Jerome Powell announced that the Fed would do 'whatever we can for whatever it takes' to support the economy. Reversal may be a long time coming. Is the quantity theory dead? Did the Fed go too far for too long? Stay tuned."

Covid-19 Drug Remdesivir to Cost $3,120 for Typical Patient -Wall Street Journal
"Gilead Sciences Inc. detailed its pricing plans for Covid-19 drug remdesivir, saying it will charge U.S. hospitals $3,120 for a typical patient with commercial insurance. The drugmaker on Monday disclosed its pricing plans as it prepares to begin charging for the drug in July. The U.S. has been distributing remdesivir donated by Gilead since the drug was authorized for emergency use in May....The government price will be $390 per dose or $2,340 per patient for the shortest treatment course and $4,290 for a longer treatment course. Gilead said in the U.S. it will charge non-government buyers such as hospitals about $520 per dose, or a third more than the government price, for patients who are commercially insured. That works out to $3,120 for a patient getting the shorter, more common course of treatment, and $5,720 for the longer treatment duration....'This medicine is priced far below the value it brings to health-care systems and that's true for private payers and government payers,' Gilead Chief Executive Daniel O'Day said in an interview....The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on May 1 authorized emergency use of remdesivir through the course of the pandemic. Gilead plans to seek a full, permanent approval. In July, Gilead will start charging for the drug, but federal and state officials will continue deciding which hospitals receive it."

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6.29.20 - Homeowners Struggle, Consider Selling

Gold last traded at $1,781 an ounce. Silver at $17.96 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices steadied near 7-year highs Monday amid rising economic uncertainty. U.S stocks rose as Wall Street cheered news on Boeing and traders shrugged off the latest surge in coronavirus cases.

Gold Prices: Five Reasons Gold Is Set To Explode -Forbes
"The gold price hit a peak of $1,779 Friday as investors started to diversify their bets. Five key factors are likely to push gold prices higher in the coming days. 1) Coronavirus: Second Wave - New cases have started to surge. It was expected that there would be some spike in coronavirus cases as economies began to re-open. But what wasn’t priced in was that the situation would start to get out of control....2) Possible New Tariffs On Europe - Trump is weighing new tariffs on $3.1 billion of exports from the UK, Spain, France, and Germany. If tensions continue to rise on this issue...investors are likely to steer away from riskier assets....3) China-US Trade War - The Phase-one US-China trade deal has become immensely fragile due to coronavirus. China has reduced its Agriculture and poultry from the US. There has been confusion about the US-China trade deal, and Trump has also talked about 'decoupling' from China....4) The US Unemployment Claims - The weekly jobless claims data continue to paint a very dull picture for the US labor market. Sadly, with the regional shutdown of stores in the US, it seems the minor recovery we have seen so far could be under a significant threat....5) Earnings season - The third earnings quarter is currently wrapping up. But the emergence of the second corona wave is likely to trigger another cautionary note from US companies, and investors are not going to like it...Again, the risk-off mode is likely to spur interest in gold."

bear market The Biggest Disconnect Between Prices And Profits In Stock Market History? -Zero Hedge
"Everyone is talking about the massive disparity between stock prices and fundamentals right now. To paraphrase Jeremy Grantham, we now find ourselves in the top 1% of stock market valuations and the bottom 1% of economic outcomes (based on the annualized rate of decline in second quarter GDP)....Profit margins in recent years became extremely inflated. This serves to make stock prices over the past few years look less expensive than they otherwise would. So if we normalize profit margins (hat tip, John Hussman), we can see that stock prices today are more expensive than they were 20 years ago at the peak of the Dotcom mania. It turns out that the current disconnect between stock prices and sustainable profits is, in fact, greater than anything we have seen in modern history. The last time we saw prices and earnings disconnect in such an extreme way famously led to a 'lost decade' for the stock market from 2000 to 2010. Is it unreasonable to think the current extreme in valuations could lead to another 'lost decade,' especially if profit margins are only beginning to revert to their historical mean?"

U.S. Crossing 'Red Lines' Could Put Trade Deal at Risk -Wall Street Journal
"Beijing has begun quietly delivering a message to Washington: U.S. pressure over matters China considers off limits could jeopardize Chinese purchases of farm goods and other U.S. exports under the 'Phase One' trade deal. Chinese leaders have accused Washington of meddling in areas such as Hong Kong, where China is imposing a sweeping national-security law, and Taiwan, which Beijing considers as part of China. Last Thursday, the U.S. Senate passed by unanimous consent a bill that would put sanctions on Chinese officials, businesses and banks that undermine Hong Kong's limited autonomy from Beijing....While China's top diplomat, Yang Jiechi reiterated Beijing's commitment to carrying out the trade deal, he stressed that both sides had to 'work together,' said people familiar with the conversations. A Chinese official said that meant 'the U.S. side should refrain from going too far with meddling.' The official added, 'Red lines shouldn't be crossed.'....'You can't keep asking us to buy your stuff and at the same time keep beating up on us,' said Mei Xinyu, an analyst at a think tank affiliated with China's Commerce Ministry. 'That's not how it works.' Beijing has committed to boosting its purchases of American agricultural and manufactured goods, energy and services by $200 billion over two years, a more rapid and sustained pace than at any time since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001."

Half of U.S. homeowners struggle with mortgage due to COVID-19, consider selling home -Study Finds
"The coronavirus pandemic has been devastating for the United States economy. A new study finds the crisis could soon cause a big shakeup in the real estate market. As homeowners struggle to pay their bills, researchers say many Americans are thinking about putting up the 'For Sale' sign. A survey of 2,000 American homeowners found that 52 percent are constantly concerned about making their mortgage payment on time. Forty-seven percent of the poll say they're considering selling their home because they can't afford their mortgage anymore. Researchers say 35 percent of U.S. homeowners admit they've missed a mortgage payment during the pandemic. The same amount of respondents said they worry about losing their home because of the financial situation COVID-19 has put them in....More than half of the survey admit they've cut back on their basic expenses to afford paying off their home. Seventy-one percent of homeowners have significantly cut back on buying clothes. Other habits the tough financial times have cut into include buying take-out food (66%), paying for a streaming service (46%), and buying groceries (45%). The pandemic is also causing many in the survey to find new ways to make money. Nearly two-thirds of the poll say they've started a side project. Another 53 percent of homeowners are selling their own possessions to make extra income."

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6.26.20 - Gold Headed for All-Time High -BofA

Gold last traded at $1,781 an ounce. Silver at $18.00 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices inched toward fresh 7-year highs Friday on safe-haven buying. U.S. stocks fell amid concerns over the rising number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. and its impact on the economic recovery.

Bank of America backs gold for all-time high this year as precious metal surges -CNBC
"Gold has continued to rise of late as a resurgence of coronavirus cases, particularly in the U.S., has dented some of the investor optimism about the speed of a post-pandemic recovery....The precious metal is up by around 16% since the start of the year, and analysts see the broad rally continuing as uncertainty abounds over the virus and reemerging global trade tensions. Bank of America Chief Global FICC Technical Strategist Paul Ciana said the uptrend in gold prices is set to test the 2012 highs of $1,790-1,805/oz in the next week. Should it break through expected resistance at $1,800, bullion will then set its sights on the all-time high of $1,920.70 made in 2011, Ciana said in a note Wednesday. 'The breakout occurring now that is ending Q2 completes an eight week trading range that has resumed higher,' Ciana explained. 'The range breakout targets 1900 while the head and shoulders continuation confirmed in April targets 1947. These patterns say gold can make a new all-time high in the (second half of 2020) with Q3 on our mind.' Ciana suggested that a wave leading gold prices into the $2,000s is already underway, with an upside scenario of $2,114-$2,296."

gold Owning Gold is as Much about Diversification as it is about Capital Appreciation -Knowledge Leaders Capital
"Regular readers of our content know that we have been building the case for several years now on why gold deserves a place in diversified portfolios. Sure, we see significant upside in gold (unlimited upside, in fact), aided as I will show by the unprecedented rise in US dollar money supply in response to the COVID crisis. But the case for gold is much deeper than simply a story of potential capital appreciation. These days, gold as an asset class is in an entirely unique position to not only provide upside potential, but also provide a layer of diversification within a portfolio that neither stocks nor risk-free nominal bonds can achieve on their own or even together....Gold provides both capital appreciation potential as well as diversification to equity risk....The fundamental case for higher gold prices is really quite simple. While many view gold as an asset class that rises when inflation expectations or actual inflation rises, it's even simpler than that. The quantity of gold is relatively fixed. The quantity of money is not. Therefore, when the quantity of money rises, the price of gold as priced in terms of that form of money must also rise....With the fundamental case for higher gold prices out of the way, let's move onto gold's application as a portfolio diversifier. The reason it makes sense to form multi-asset portfolios vs all-equity portfolios is that equity risk hard to diversify away with a portfolio of…equities. Indeed, even as there exists idiosyncratic risk exposures of individual stocks, there are market forces of demographics, interest rates, productivity levels, economic growth rates, etc. that affect both public and non-public equities....Gold exhibits the same negative correlation with stocks that both the nominal bonds and TIPS do. However, unlike nominal bonds it has no theoretical upside. And unlike TIPS, gold may appreciate in price independent of actual or expected inflation trends....Indeed, gold has outperformed TIPS by 20% over the last 12 months."

The Wrong and Right Ways to Pursue Recovery from the Pandemic -Real Clear Markets
"When it comes to a once-in-a-century pandemic and the recession caused by lockdown efforts, not all policy responses are created equal. And unfortunately, while some good ideas have been put forward for transitioning to economic recovery mode, many bad ones have gained traction as well. First and foremost, policymakers must be aware that attempting to enforce a lockdown while simultaneously pursuing economic recovery is quixotic. While lockdowns are in place, the priority from an economic perspective is to keep businesses and workers afloat through the provision of relief from taxes and regulations as well as other forms of aid like bridge loans. Only when the course of the pandemic permits lockdowns to phase out should the policy priority shift to new growth. One popular idea for spurring economic growth is a massive new infrastructure package...Yet the cost-effectiveness of a massive infrastructure spend is questionable in the best of circumstances. Federally-directed infrastructure spending is often out of touch with the needs of the state, local and private owners of that infrastructure, and tends to be inefficiently directed....Smart infrastructure policy should focus on the longer term by removing government roadblocks to private investment and more efficient use of public dollars. Another idea that is beginning to take hold is the concept of a $4,000 'tourism tax credit' for travel expenses inside the United States. While it's easy to see the appeal of the proposal, a tax credit can only temporarily ease the financial concerns Americans have about traveling - not the worries about catching and spreading the virus....A potential payroll tax cut has also been an idea batted around since the crisis's inception...Providing a payroll tax credit for businesses to make their facilities safer for workers and customers could help as well....Federal unemployment subsidies should be phased out in concert with the end of lockdowns and hibernating businesses getting up and running....Reopening an economy after months of lockdowns is uncharted territory, and formulating a policy response may prove more difficult because of that. Yet there are some ideas we should be able to cross off - and add to - the list even at this point."

The Individual's Kingdom -Rossini/Mises
"If there is one word that accurately describes our physical world and our individual human lives, it is 'uniqueness.' Every grain of sand, every snowflake, every animal and every human being is exquisitely unique. One-of-a-kind. No copies....As CEO's of our individual kingdoms, we are tasked with choosing our own thoughts, what to dwell upon, our beliefs, valuations, choices, and actions. No one else can do any of these things for us. They can certainly suggest what we should think, choose, or do, but their power stops there. We individually must decide whether to listen to them or not....The great Ludwig von Mises said it perfectly: 'Only the individual thinks. Only the individual reasons. Only the individual acts.' If one is tasked with having to sum this extraordinary gift up into one word, that word would be - LIBERTY. Liberty is a part of human nature. America's Founders described it as a self-evident truth. Liberty just is, and like all of nature, human nature cannot be changed. It is....Since each individual has the natural right to his own life, liberty, property and pursuit of happiness, it necessarily means that individual liberty comes with built-in restraints. The restraint is other individuals and their natural right to their own life, liberty, property and pursuit of happiness. Our individual liberty extends to the liberty of others. It stops right there and goes no further. The moment we choose to harm another individual's person or property, we are choosing to act as a tyrant....Fortunately, the good life is only a choice away. Dealing with others through consent and voluntarism is just a choice, a simple choice. Let us each, individually, strive to make that choice on a daily basis."

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6.25.20 - Key Support for the Economy May Be About to Buckle

Gold last traded at $1,771 an ounce. Silver at $17.87 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metals traded mixed Thursday as investors digested the latest economic and jobs data. U.S. stocks cut earlier pandemic-inspired losses as banks jumped on news they will get easier regulations.

Gold: The new currency? -Economic Times
"A monetary system based on fiat money amounts to no more than a confidence game...The confidence is that the country's currency is 'valuable' because of the country's economic and military strength. This is what we have been made to believe in. Actually speaking, fiat currency is simply the printing of a currency out of thin air with no intrinsic value. If too much money is created the public will lose confidence in its purchasing power and the perceived value of the money can collapse....As a result, people will want to convert their cash / wealth to something that they believe in, something that can protect their wealth with, something that has intrinsic value and that has proved its worth over decades....Gold certainly suits the requirements. The sheer fact that it cannot be created at will by the central bankers. It possesses an intrinsic value and is free from any counterparty risk. It has decade's long history of being used as a form of currency. However, Gold won't be currency today - there isn't a political will to support it and also there isn't enough gold to support the return of the gold standard. Still, long-term trends in gold prices are driven by changes in the overall level...Fundamentally, gold is rightly increasing in nominal value, being the only currency whose supply is highly constrained. In simple words, gold is simply adjusting to changes in global monetary conditions. When a central bank increases their money supply, the price of other currencies adjusts upwards. This is true for all currencies including gold. Therefore, the one thing against which global currencies are truly perishing is the ultimate form of real monetary asset i.e. Gold. Make a strategic allocation to gold because it's the counterweight to paper money which is continuing to lose credibility as a store of value."

government Key Support for the Economy May Be About to Buckle -Wall Street Journal
"Spending by Americans with the lowest incomes has registered a far bigger bounce since the worst of the Covid-19 crisis than spending among the better off. That recovery may prove fleeting. The drop in spending that started in mid-March, as worries about the novel coronavirus pandemic became widespread, was swift and devastating....Spending by consumers who live in ZIP Codes in the bottom quarter of the U.S. by median income didn't fall quite as far, bottoming out with a 30% decline from January levels, and lately was down 2.8%. Spending by consumers who live in areas where median incomes are in the top quarter, on the other hand, fell by as much as 36%, and is still down 13.3%....Poorer people's spending held up better because they have less spending that can easily be cut than rich people...But with many stimulus checks already spent, and with unemployed Americans scheduled to stop receiving the extra $600 a week in jobless benefits on July 31, poorer Americans' wherewithal to spend is in danger of collapsing. Unless the job market is materially better by then, there is a risk of widespread financial distress among low-income Americans. That is bound to crimp spending, even among those who already limit most of their shopping to the bare necessities."

There's a wave of selling estimated to be in the billions that's about to hit the stock market -CNBC
"The final day of June is a week away, and Wall Street is already speculating that there's the potential some asset allocators, like pension funds, could take the big gains from the stock market and move them into bonds. There's a wide range of views about how much selling could hit the stock market, but some strategists say the resulting market move may not be that big after all because of prior selling and action in the derivatives market. 'The end of the quarter is going to be pretty interesting, given how much the market has moved during this quarter. There could be volatility here. We already witnessed it and there's potential for more, as we move toward the end of Q2,' said Dan Deming, managing director at KKM Financial....'We estimate that U.S corporate pensions will move about $35 billion into fixed income,' said Michael Schumacher, director of rates strategy at Wells Fargo....'There's been more bizarre behavior in 2020 than in the last 10 years combined.'"

Ignore the Signal - Listen to the Noise -O'Rourke/American Consequences
"The protests all across America are obvious, but what's most obvious about them is not what's most important...The message is more fundamental than the mess....The protesters' demands - justice, ending racism, and eliminating violent, bigoted, and incompetent behavior by the authorities - are so inarguable they almost cause a consensus headache. People of goodwill have been trying to achieve these goals for hundreds of years. In the case of the first demand - justice - people of goodwill have been trying to achieve it for thousands of years....We are a Big Bang society, with the American singularity flying apart in every direction at the speed of light. Three enormously powerful forces are causing America to be blown to smithereens. 1. A disconnect between the government and the governed...A black hole of bureaucracy has been created, sucking every aspect of government accountability into its dense and incomprehensive abyss....2. A disconnect between our economy and our home economics...The business of making a living has been divorced from work. The work has been shipped overseas where people are willing to do it for pesos or renminbi or rupees instead of money. Money has lost any relationship to value....3. A disconnect I wish we could make...The Internet's pandemonium keeps the voices of reason and sense from rising above the clamor of the mob. Everyone is handed a bullhorn and no one is given a pulpit. Leadership is trivialized by the Internet....Without leadership, we're right here where we are now."

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6.24.20 - Gold Prices Highest Since 2012

Gold last traded at $1,778 an ounce. Silver at $17.70 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices steadied near 8-year highs Wednesday on rising economic uncertainty. U.S. stocks fell sharply as traders grew worried about the increasing number of coronavirus cases, which raised concern about economic reopening and recovery.

Gold prices highest since 2012 as US dollar stumbles -New York Post
"Gold prices surged to their highest since October 2012 on Tuesday, driven by a weakness in the US dollar and widespread monetary stimulus packages by central banks as a jump in coronavirus cases dents the economic outlook...'The tsunami of stimulus coming in from everywhere is not only inflationary but also painting a weaker picture for the economy and making gold look attractive,' said Edward Meir, analyst at ED&F Man Capital Markets. Gold has gained nearly 16 percent this year supported by global stimulus measures since the non-yielding metal is considered a hedge against inflation and currency debasement....Gold's gains came despite a rise in equities driven by encouraging economic data and after President Trump tweeted the US-China trade pact was 'fully intact.' 'Gold's biggest enemy right now is if other markets grab attention and capital,' said Tai Wong, head of base and precious metals derivatives trading at BMO. 'Barring a poor close under $1,750 in the coming days the October 2012 high of about $1,800 should only be a matter of time, a week, perhaps less.'"

money The Heart of the Nation's Corrupt Money System -Bonner/Rogue Economics
"Fun, fun, fun, 'til her daddy takes the T-bird away - The Beach Boys - We begin with a look at what happens when the fun stops. That is, when the T-Bird gets taken away. Here's MarketWatch: 'Stephen Roach, Yale University senior fellow and former Morgan Stanley Asia chairman, has a warning for U.S. dollar bulls. The prominent economist says that the era of the U.S. buck may be coming to an end and is forecasting a 35% decline soon in the U.S. currency against its major rivals, citing increases in the nation’s deficit and dwindling savings.' The dollar is a kind of 'circuit breaker,' the weakest link in the whole fake-money chain. The feds have almost unlimited power. They can pay off their cronies and make the rich richer. They can give $1,200 checks to everyone. They can build bridges… attack poor foreign countries… hand out free money to poor people… provide bread and circuses for the masses...In short, they can do almost any damn fool thing they want – as long as they can pay for it. But all of these transactions take place in U.S. dollars. And while they can produce as many dollars as they want, they can't force people to take them seriously. Generally and eventually, the more you 'print,' the less they are worth. As the fake dollar goes, so goes the empire. That is, they go down together....Meanwhile, the rot at the heart of the system is causing Americans to move to the extremities. Red or Blue… conservative or liberal… for or against. And the two sides are moving farther and farther away from each other....The one policy that both left and right agree on is money-printing....Where does all this money-printing lead? What happens when the T-Bird gets taken away? Stay tuned..."

6 steps to handling money in a recession -Fox Business
"The recession is officially here. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, after an unprecedented 128-month expansion, the economy peaked in February and has been going downhill ever since. The big question now is, how long will it last? Unfortunately, no one can be sure, as there are many variables that can affect the economy, and many of these are unknown. Here are six smart tips you can use now to make sure you survive the recession and come out the other side with your money intact. 1. Revisit your investments - This current recession has probably taught you a lot about your portfolio diversification....2. Don't panic-sell - Fact: You only lose money in the stock market when you sell....3. Tighten your budget - There's no better way to generate free cash than to review your expenditures and eliminate - even temporarily - items that aren't essential....4. Apply for a home equity line of credit - You generally need about 20% equity to qualify, but if you do, you'll have a credit line with a low interest rate at your fingertips in case you ever need it....5. Review your insurance policies - You may find lots of cash lurking in their nooks and crannies. Consider raising your deductibles, which could lower your premiums substantially....6. Invest for the recovery - In times of recession, there are many ways to handle your money and generate new possibilities for now and the future. "

Who Wants to Be a Cop? -McGurn/Wall Street Journal
"Rising from weeks of protests against police brutality and racism, one 'reform' now dominates discussion: 'Defund the police.' This is the solution endorsed by the Minneapolis City Council, the demand of Black Lives Matter, and the message painted in large yellow letters on a street across from the White House. But there's a more fundamental threat to policing, seldom even mentioned: What happens if men and women of character and ability conclude that being a police officer these days just isn’t worth it? 'I'm keenly aware of how low morale can affect how police do their jobs,' says Detroit Police Chief James Craig. 'It's a big concern for me. Good police morale translates into lower crime.'....In 2009 he took the chief's job in Portland, Maine, and two years later he became Cincinnati's first African-American police chief. In 2014 he returned home as Detroit's top cop, leading a force that is majority black....Good policing, he says, is rooted in trust. Officers have the right to expect their leaders to back them up when things get tough. But it's a two-way street. Cops have to show they will hold their bad apples accountable and build relationships with the community before tragedies happen....Policing isn't for everyone. The life is hard on families. Officers go to work every day with the possibility they won't be coming home. They deal with people at their worst, sometimes in the wake of unspeakable tragedy. And they are expected to keep their cool even when spat on or subjected to the vilest insults. 'The average person could not put up with what cops are expected to put up with,' Mr. Craig says. 'We are held to a higher standard.'....Going forward, any effort to address police brutality must begin with honest distinctions. Mr. Craig rightly distinguishes between protesters and criminals. Similarly, America's national debate over policing must begin by resisting efforts to lump the majority of police, who do their jobs well and humanely, in with those like the Minneapolis cop in that horrific video."

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6.23.20 - What Democrats' Socialism Looks Like

Gold last traded at $1,781 an ounce. Silver at $18.06 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal price hit fresh 7-year highs Tuesday on safe-haven buying and a weaker dollar. U.S. stocks inched higher amid growing concern over the U.S.-China trade deal.

The Democrats' socialism looks more like Venezuela than Scandinavia -D'Souza/New York Post
"One might think that our experience with the coronavirus has given Americans a scary foretaste of radical socialism. Empty shelves, shortages and limits on basic commodities, economic stagnation, and all of this combined with a sustained assault on our privacy, our freedom of assembly and our religious freedom. We have endured on a temporary basis what some socialist societies typically provide on a permanent basis. Yet the socialist gang is still out there - Bernie and the Squad - touting the virtues of socialism. And they're pulling the Democratic Party in their direction, with Biden now climbing on the free college bandwagon and embracing the socialist agenda packaged in the Green New Deal. Democratic socialists like Bernie and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez insist that their brand of socialism is modeled not on the failed socialisms of the past, but rather on the one place where socialism seems to work: Scandinavia. But upon examination the Scandinavian or Nordic model is not what the Left is proposing here. Scandinavian countries are pro-capitalist in wealth creation and socialist in wealth distribution....Corporate taxes in Scandinavian countries are around 20 percent, no higher than in the United States. There is no minimum wage in Scandinavia. Companies can hire and fire workers for any reason....Scandinavia is far removed from George Bernard Shaw's maxim that 'Any country that robs Peter to pay Paul can always count on Paul's support.' Yet that principle is precisely what drives the socialist Left in this country. The appeal of socialism, especially to young people, is the appeal of 'free stuff.'....The American Left's socialist model is in fact more akin to Venezuela than Scandinavia....Bottom line: The Left keeps telling us it wants to take us to Stockholm, but its policies point in the direction of Caracas. Venezuela was once a prosperous country, but its divisive brand of socialism destroyed it. We can't allow the same to happen here."

gold Gold price surges to 7.5-year high as coronavirus concerns mount -Fox Business
"Gold prices rallied to a more than 7.5-year high on Monday as investors continued to buy the precious metal amid concerns over the strength of the economic recovery and that unprecedented stimulus would lead to inflation down the road...The precious metal has gained 15.83 percent this year. With worries over North Korea, trade with China and the U.S. election, buyers are keeping 'gold on the buy list,' wrote George Gero, managing director at RBC Global Wealth Management and a member of the COMEX board of directors. He pointed to continued buying of exchange-traded funds and the reopening of malls and New York City’s Diamond District. Gold has surged this year as investors have sought safety in the precious metal amid the economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic....The U.S. Congress in March passed the $2.2 trillion CARES Act which extended $1,200 checks to most Americans, in addition to providing relief for health care providers and businesses. Those policy actions are likely to support the precious metal, according to the Commodities Research team at Goldman Sachs, which last week raised its 12-month price target to $2,000 an ounce."

Today's 'Present Danger' is China -Real Clear History
"Forty years ago, Norman Podhoretz, then editor of Commentary magazine, wrote a book entitled The Present Danger. It was a small book - a little over a hundred pages - but its influence was substantial and its principal themes were profound....Podhoretz warned that if U.S. leaders did not reverse course 'it would signify the final collapse of an American resolve to resist the forward surge of Soviet imperialism.'....The same year that The Present Danger was published, Ronald Reagan, who embodied the 'new nationalism' that Podhoretz wrote about, and who did not shy away from the word 'communism' and understood the nature of the Soviet threat, was elected President. Reagan abandoned détente and implemented an offensive policy that brought down the Soviet empire. The 'present danger' today is another communist power on the Eurasian landmass - China. It, too, wishes to create a new international order in which it would be the dominant power. China has engaged in a military build-up similar to the Soviet build-up in the 1970s. It has acted aggressively in the South China Sea and seeks to extend its geopolitical influence throughout Eurasia via the Belt and Road Initiative. It has cracked down on the freedom of the people in Hong Kong and has rattled sabers at Taiwan. China's economic power and its geographical access to the sea make it in some ways a more dangerous rival than the Soviet Union was in the 1970s and 1980s. However, the 'culture of appeasement' in this country still exists. Much of the foreign policy establishment and much of the Democratic Party leadership counsels engagement with China and warns against a new Cold War. There is not yet a bipartisan consensus for a policy of containment of China. We need only to follow Norman Podhoretz’s advice in The Present Danger to 'energize . . . our determination to marshal the power we will need 'to assure the survival and the success of liberty' in the new and definitely more dangerous age ahead.'"

How Exactly Do You Catch Covid-19? There Is a Growing Consensus -Wall Street Journal
"Six months into the coronavirus crisis, there's a growing consensus about a central question: How do people become infected? It's not common to contract Covid-19 from a contaminated surface, scientists say. And fleeting encounters with people outdoors are unlikely to spread the coronavirus. Instead, the major culprit is close-up, person-to-person interactions for extended periods. Crowded events, poorly ventilated areas and places where people are talking loudly - or singing, in one famous case - maximize the risk. These emerging findings are helping businesses and governments devise reopening strategies to protect public health while getting economies going again. That includes tactics like installing plexiglass barriers, requiring people to wear masks in stores and other venues, using good ventilation systems and keeping windows open when possible....Based on this emerging picture of contagion, some policies are changing. The standard procedure for someone who tests positive is to quarantine at home. Some cities are providing free temporary housing and social services where people who are infected can stay on a voluntary basis, to avoid transmitting the virus to family members. The CDC recently urged Americans to keep wearing masks and maintaining a distance from others as states reopen. 'The more closely you interact with others, the longer the interaction lasts, the greater the number of people involved in the interaction, the higher the risk of Covid-19 spread,' said Jay Butler, the CDC's Covid-19 response incident manager."

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6.22.20 - Goldman Ups Gold Forecast on Debasement Fears

Gold last traded at $1,769 an ounce. Silver at $17.94 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose Monday on safe-haven buying amid downbeat housing data and a weaker dollar. U.S. stocks traded mostly lower as investors assessed an uptick in coronavirus cases and the pace of the economic recovery.

Goldman hikes gold price forecast on debasement fears and a weaker dollar -CNBC
"Goldman Sachs analysts are backing gold to rally further on the back of debasement fears and a weakening dollar....in a note Friday, Goldman Sachs updated its three-, six- and 12-month gold price forecasts to $1800/1900/2000/oz from $1600/1650/1800/oz and maintained its long December 2020 gold trading recommendation. Goldman analysts attributed the recent indecision to a conflict between the negative 'wealth' shock to emerging market consumers and a positive 'fear-driven' investment demand in developed markets....Year-to-date gold coin demand is up 30%, total weight of gold in ETFs (exchange-traded funds) is up 20% year-on-year and there is a large amount of latent gold demand, Goldman's commodities researchers Jeff Currie, Mikhail Sprogis and Daniel Sharp highlighted....'Gold investment demand tends to grow into the early stage of the economic recovery, driven by continued debasement concerns and lower real rates,' the note said...Debasement refers to a depreciation in the value of a currency....HSBC Chief Precious Metals Analyst James Steele suggested in a note Friday that the broad economic recovery will inevitably weigh on gold, but the fundamental drivers of gold prices should be the low yield environment, substantial fiscal and monetary stimulus and the inflationary impact on asset prices."

stocks Stock-market legend who called 3 financial bubbles says this one is the 'Real McCoy,' this is 'crazy stuff' -Marketwatch
"Jeremy Grantham, co-founder and chief investment strategist at Boston-based money manager Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co., is offering up a stark warning to speculators driving the stock market to new heights amid the greatest pandemic of the past century. 'This is really the real McCoy, this is crazy stuff,' said Grantham...Gratham painted a very dire picture of the investment landscape in the U.S., suggesting that rampant trading by out-of-work investors and speculative fervor around bankrupt companies, including car-rental company Hertz Global Holdings Inc., reflects a market that may be the most bubblicious he's seen in his storied career. 'It is a rally without precedence,' he told CNBC, noting that the run-up comes amid a period in which U.S. economic health is at a low point, with millions of people out of work and bankruptcies likely to continue to rise due to a slowdown in business activity and closures that have come in the aftermath of lockdowns implemented to curb the spread of the deadly COVID-19 pathogen....Grantham is worth paying attention to due to his prescient calls over the years. He said that stocks were overvalued in 2000 and again in 2007, anticipating those market downturns, the Wall Street Journal reports. Grantham also signaled that elements of the financial market had become unmoored from reality leading up to the 2008-09 financial crisis. Asked what level of exposure investors should have to U.S. equities...'I think a good number now is zero - and less than zero might not be a bad idea if you can stand that.'"

The Economic Boom You Heard About Never Really Was -Snyder/Real Clear Markets
"What do you think a roaring stock market signals to the ten maybe fifteen million missing out of the labor force since the first (21st century) global financial crisis? It tells them the system must be rigged, that this booming economy they keep hearing about must only apply to a limited set that purposefully excludes them and nearly everyone they know. And then to champion Federal Reserve Chairmen, one after another, for this 'accomplishment.'....CHAZ, or CHOP, if you prefer, didn't just happen overnight. As repugnant and as outwardly nasty as Occupy Wall Street had been, why is it still around now in this mutated format?....The unemployment rate said the economy last year was in the best shape it had been since 1969, but that should've been reconciled with an economy that also was, at its last peak in Q4 2019, still $5.1 trillion off its pre-crisis pace....Millions upon millions of workers never got back to work, never got to work, and then just disappeared silently into the cracks of the unemployment rate's suspect denominator. Maybe the financial media hadn't noticed, but a hell of a lot of people sure have. And now you notice them....Had the Great 'Recession' been a recession, real GDP in the US would've been somewhere around $24.7 trillion (in 2012 $s) when the BEA calculates that it was instead just $19.2 trillion. Occupy Wall Street and the Seattle barricades don't happen if that $5 trillion currently missing had happened. Now COVID-19, perhaps one too many negative factors....The protestors are united in believing in their call for an end to capitalism because all they know of capitalism is post-2008. Understand why, don't just dismiss; you don't have to agree with their idea of a solution, or the historical illiteracy from which these ideas arise, reach instead for humanity and charity."

Most Enjoyable Jobs for Older Workers -U.S. News
"Older workers who are 50 to 65 aren't so different from their younger counterparts. Flexible schedules and meaningful work are priorities that transcend generations, and 94% of talent professionals say the employee experience is becoming more important, according to the Global Talent Trends 2020 report from LinkedIn. That means relationships with colleagues, work environments and the work itself will all become key to attracting and retaining workers. 'As people of any age, we thrive when we have purpose and direction. We languish without it,' says Sharon Duncan, a certified financial planner and president of Selah Financial Services, which has two locations in the Houston area. However, older Americans may be in a better position to pursue their dream job. With years of workplace experience under their belts, they may already have savings, benefits and retirement plans from earlier jobs as well as the insight to know what type of work appeals to them. Whether you want an encore career, or are simply looking to make some extra money while semiretired, here are 10 jobs that workers age 50 and older may find enjoyable. Clergy. Counselor. Retail salesperson. Administrative supervisor. Teacher. Insurance sales agent. Landscaper or groundskeeper. Floral designer. Health care worker. A job that captures your imagination....If you love your current career, you may be able to work part time or as a consultant. Retirement also provides an opportunity to move into a different field if you want to try something new. Any job can be an enjoyable job for older workers, and everyone needs to figure out what that occupation is for him or herself."

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6.19.20 - 46 Million Americans Jobless Since Lockdown

Gold last traded at $1,754 an ounce. Silver at $17.86 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose sharply Friday as concern over rising virus cases lifted demand. U.S. stocks rose on upbeat news that China was set to up its purchases of U.S. farm products to comply with the phase one trade deal.

World's ultra-wealthy go for gold amid stimulus bonanza -Reuters
"As stock markets roar back from the coronavirus-led rout, advisers to the world's wealthy are urging them to hold more gold, questioning the strength of the rally and the long-term impact of global central banks' cash splurge. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, most private banks recommended their clients hold none or just a tiny amount of gold. Now some are channeling up to 10% of their clients' portfolios into the yellow metal as the massive central bank stimulus reduces bond yields - making non-yielding gold more attractive - and raises the risk of inflation that would devalue other assets and currencies. While gold prices have already risen 14% since the start of the year to $1,730 an ounce, many private bankers bet that gold - a hedge for both inflation and deflation - has further to run. 'Our view is that the weight of monetary supply, expansion, is going to ultimately be debasing to the dollar, and the Fed commitments, which (are) anchoring real rates, make the case for gold pretty sturdy,' said Lisa Shalett, Chief Investment Officer, Wealth Management at Morgan Stanley. Nine private banks spoken to by Reuters, which collectively oversee around $6 trillion in assets for the world's ultra-rich, said they had advised clients to increase their allocation to gold. Of them, four provided forecasts and all saw prices ending the year higher than they are now. UBS, the world's biggest wealth manager, said gold could hit $1,800 by year-end in its base-case scenario, driven by ultra-low interest rates and investors seeking gold to hedge their portfolios, or even touch a record high of $2,000 in the event of a second wave of novel coronavirus infections. 'With the recent equity rally, people have become more nervous. People are actively seeking out portfolio hedges that might perform well in a range of scenarios,' said Kiran Ganesh from UBS’s chief investment office....The boost in demand could be a self-fulfilling prophecy for the metal's price, as any shift in allocation from bond and equity markets, estimated at up to a combined $200 trillion, has a much larger impact on the smaller gold market, estimated at less than $5 trillion."

Almost 46 Million Americans Have Now Filed For Unemployment Claims Since Lockdowns Began -Zero Hedge
"Despite the hope-restoring nonfarm payrolls 'recovery' and the over-hyped bounce in retail sales (ignoring the lack of 'V' in industrial production), in the last week 1.508 million more Americans filed for unemployment benefits for the first time (notably worse than the 1.29mm expected). That brings the thirteen-week total to 45.7million, dramatically more than at any period in American history. However, as the chart above shows, the second derivative has turned the corner (even though the 1.508 million rise this last week is still higher than any other week in history outside of the pandemic). Continuing Claims did drop very modestly but hardly a signal that 're-opening' is occurring! And definitely not confirming the payrolls data."

jobless claims

"What is most disturbing is that in the last thirteen weeks, more than twice as many Americans have filed for unemployment than jobs gained during the last decade since the end of the Great Recession... (22.13 million gained in a decade, 45.714million lost in 13 weeks)....But, hey, there's good news... stocks are near record highs and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he anticipates most of the economy will restart by the end of August. Finally, it is notable, we have lost 388 jobs for every confirmed US death from COVID-19 (117,717). Was it worth it? The big question remains - what happens when the $600 CARES Act bonuses stop flowing?"

The Fed Can't Revive the Dead, But It Can Delay Their Recovery -Tamny/Real Clear Markets
"Federal programs rarely die, mostly they grow, so it's a safe bet that money continues to flow into a part of the U.S. that remains at or close to the bottom of the U.S. in terms of economic opportunity. It's a reminder that governments can consume the wealth of others with abandon, but they can't force the wealth consumed to stay. Translated, investment is what drives economic progress....The inability of Congress to make prosperous what isn't requires mention ahead of any discussion of the Federal Reserve's efforts to buy individual corporate bonds. Up front, it should be made clear that the Fed's buying will prove superfluous....A Fed that's well exceeded its initial mandate as 'lender of last resort' to solvent banks is now, according to a Wall Street Journal editorial, planning to 'underwrite corporate debt to prevent a cascade of bankruptcies.' It will fail. Just as Congress can't force capital to remain where it's not treated well, the Fed can't force investors to buy that which is hopeless....In truth, the Fed cannot decree low rates for businesses, for individuals, or even governments....Subsidies enable delayed error realization. In short, the Fed's decision to underwrite corporate debt won't boost the economy, but could certainly hold it back."

'Uncle Tom' Documentary Explores What It's Like to Be a Minority Within a Minority Group, a Black Conservative -Newsweek
"For moviegoers curious to know what it's like being a minority within a minority - a black conservative, in this case - filmmakers are wrapping a documentary feature sure to be controversial not only for its content but also its title: Uncle Tom. The title, of course, comes from the name of the lead character in Harriet Beecher Stowe's seminal 1852 novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin, which portrays him as both hero and goat, as he gives his life to assist escaped slaves while acting subservient to the slaveholders. In modern times, the heroic part is widely ignored, though not in this movie, where some black conservatives are seen wearing the 'Uncle Tom' moniker as a badge of honor....'An Uncle Tom is someone who sold out and embraced the white man by rejecting the idea that you're a victim,' radio host Larry Elder says towards the top of the movie, a rough-cut of which was reviewed exclusively by Newsweek. Elder was initially one of the stars of the film, though he later came aboard as a writer and executive producer. The film, from director Justin Malone, also features former congressman Allen West, 2012 presidential candidate Herman Cain and TV pundit Candace Owens, who jokes that the most ridiculous thing she has been called is 'a black white supremacist.' The movie also stars a host of prominent people via news clips, including President Barack Obama, John Legend, Jay-Z, Denzel Washington and Trevor Noah....According to Pew Research, only about 8 percent of African Americans in the U.S. are registered Republicans, but Elder figures conservatives of every race are his demographic - and hopefully a few curious liberals, as well. 'The message could not be more important or more timely,' says Elder. 'Why does merely questioning the black allegiance to the Democratic party make you a 'sell-out,' a 'self-loather' or an 'Uncle Tom'?" Editor's Note: According to the film's website, www.UncleTom.com, the public can view several trailers or watch the entire 106 minute documentary 'on demand' for $19.95 starting Friday, June 19, 2020.

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6.18.20 - Gold Price to Break Record by Year-End

Gold last traded at $1,730 an ounce. Silver at $17.52 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices consolidated recent gains Thursday on mild profit-taking and a firmer dollar. U.S. stocks traded mostly lower after U.S. weekly jobless claims rose a higher-than-expected 1.5 million last week.

Gold price to break record by year-end -Hug/Kitco
"Gold prices could see 2011 highs of $1,920 an ounce or higher, said Peter Hug, global trading director of Kitco Metals, who noted that a full economic recovery won't materialize until later next year. While seasonal softness is expected for the yellow metal during the summer months, the medium term trajectory is still constructive, Hug said. 'Short-term, especially given the seasonal factors, [gold prices] have a bit of softness, but by year-end I think the 2011 high in gold, which is $1,920, will be there or higher,' he said. Pandemic fears are still far from over, Hug said, and many fundamental risks to economic growth are likely to remain until at least next year, noting that unemployment unlikely to fall below 10% by year-end, in contrast to the Federal Reserve’s projection of 9% by year-end. Prolonged damage to the economy could see another correction in equities, he added, and should another correction take place for risk assets, gold may be pulled down with stocks before another rally were to take place. 'I don't think that would be bullish for the metals. I think the initial reaction for the metals would be lower as people begin to panic and start to raise cash,' he said."

money It's time to get rid of your $20 bills... -Black/Sovereign Man
"When values change, names change. Zambia used to be called Northern Rhodesia. But after they gained independence they no longer wanted to be named after their imperialist ruler. That's hardly controversial. Similarly, nearly every major city in India changed its name in the 1990s and early 2000s; Bombay became Mumbai, Calcutta became Kolkata, Madras became Chennai, etc., all to shake off their colonial roots. Again, this is perfectly reasonable. There's been a broad movement lately of people wanting to rename streets, bridges, airports, buildings, etc. And this too is hardly controversial. Our social values are remarkably different than they were when many of those landmarks were built. And it's not unusual for names to change to keep up with the times...(There IS, however, supposed to be a peaceful, democratic procedure to change names and remove monuments. Only a fool with no intelligent argument resorts to violence and vandalism.)....The problem with renaming stuff, however, is that it can be a bottomless rabbit hole. If we are supposed to judge everyone who has been dead for hundreds of years against the values that we hold dear today, then there really is no end. Just look at the currency of the United States: $1 bill-George Washington... who, despite being the single-most important factor in winning the American Revolution, also happened to be a slave owner. $2 bill- Thomas Jefferson... also a slave owner. $5 bill- Abraham Lincoln... who emancipated the slaves, yet also made numerous racist comments. $10 bill- Alexander Hamilton. Yes, he has a catchy musical in his honor that promotes him as an abolitionist. But Hamilton married into a prominent slave-owning family, handled transactions regarding the purchase of slaves on the family's behalf, and even once demanded that a runaway slave be returned to captivity. $20 bill- Andrew Jackson. HARDCORE racist. Major slave owner. (which means he'll probably be the first one to be replaced. So don't stock up on too many $20 bills…) $50 bill- Ulysses S. Grant... who actually fought (and won) the Civil War. Yet technically did own a slave at one point in his life. $100 bill- Benjamin Franklin... also a slave owner....The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was named after the slave owner William Penn...The State of Louisiana is named after the King Louis XIV of France, who presided over the enslavement of countless natives across his global dominion. And let's not forget that the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, along with two continents, are named after Amerigo Vespucci - a man who enslaved thousands of people. Do we rename cities and states? Do we rename the country?....So, yes, it's not unusual or controversial to rename anything. But to judge everyone from the past based on the values of today - there truly is no end to how much of history would need to be erased."

Dollar crash is almost inevitable -Roach/CNBC
"The stronger dollar era may be on borrowed time. Stephen Roach, one of the world's leading authorities on Asia, is worried a changing global landscape paired with a massive U.S. budget deficit will spark a dollar crash. 'The U.S. economy has been afflicted with some significant macro imbalances for a long time, namely a very low domestic savings rate and a chronic current account deficit,' the former Morgan Stanley Asia chairman told CNBC's 'Trading Nation' on Monday. 'The dollar is going to fall very, very sharply.' His forecast calls for a 35% drop against other major currencies. 'These problems are going from bad to worse as we blow out the fiscal deficit in the years ahead,' said Roach, a Yale University senior fellow....'At the same time, America is walking away from globalization and is focused on decoupling itself from the rest of the world,' said Roach. 'That's a lethal combination.' The big question: Will it happen quickly or gradually? His timeline is rough - over the next year or two, maybe more. However, Roach suggests a crash virtually inevitable, and it's a risk investors shouldn't ignore."

When Workers Can Live Anywhere, Many Ask: Why Do I Live Here? -Wall Street Journal
"The coronavirus is challenging the assumption that Americans must stay physically tethered to traditionally hot job markets - and the high costs and small spaces that often come with them - to access the best work opportunities. Three months into the pandemic, many workers find themselves in jobs that, at least for now, will let them work anywhere, creating a wave of movement across the country. Recessions tend to damp migration. Americans typically move with a new job already in hand, and hiring plummets during downturns. The 2008 financial crisis limited Americans' mobility because millions of homeowners found themselves underwater on their homes, unable to sell without taking a loss. But this time might be different. Home prices haven't yet taken a major hit. And the forces at play are novel. Confronted with the prospect of not being able to easily fly in for a visit with an elderly parent, grown children are suddenly questioning why they live so far away in the first place. Many newly remote workers are finding they prefer somewhere closer to family or fresh air. Others are giving up on leases they can't afford, chasing opportunities in states that are reopening faster or heading back to hometowns....Telecommuting is fueling many of the moves. Companies like Twitter Inc. and Facebook Inc. are already declaring their monthslong experiment with remote work a success, giving many workers permanent permission to detach themselves from the office. Other companies that just six months ago would have scoffed at letting employees work from home are embracing it. Still, not everyone expects to see millions of Americans packing their bags. 'It's obvious that the number of remote workers is going to jump up,' said Thomas Cooke, a demographic consultant who recently retired as a geography professor at the University of Connecticut. 'But it's not so clear-cut that it's going to be this huge transformation.'"

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6.17.20 - Time to Get Aggressive in Gold

Gold last traded at $1,735 an ounce. Silver at $17.72 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices traded mixed Wednesday on bargain-hunting despite a firmer dollar. U.S. stocks struggled for direction as investors were unclear whether or not the worst is over for the world’s largest economy.

Now is the time to get aggressive in gold as Fed keeps rates at 0% until 2022 -Sprott CEO/Kitco
"The Federal Reserve is not looking to raise interest rates from its zero-bound target for the next two years and according to Peter Grosskopf, CEO of Sprott Inc., this is now the time for investors to be aggressive in the gold market. In an interview with Kitco News, Grosskopf said that in the current environment where inflation is expected to pick up in a low interest rate environment, a 5% to 10% allocation to gold will become a necessity for all investors; however, he added that he is a lot more comfortable holding 30% of his portfolio in gold. 'Eric Sprott would be a hundred percent weighted,' he said. 'I think it's time to be quite aggressive with your bullying allocations, just given how much of a credit crisis we're really still in.'....'We think that the central banks have no choice other than to anchor rates at zero for the foreseeable future. This is a long-term need for them now,' he said. To achieve their goal of lower-for-longer interest rates, Grosskopf said that it will only be a matter of time before the Federal Reserve embarks on a yield-curve-control program. He added that this will create a positive environment for gold....He said that he does not think that the optimism, for a sharp economic recovery, driving equity markets can be sustained."

inflation If Inflation Is Coming, the Market Isn't Ready -Wall Street Journal
"Investors are convinced that inflation will remain subdued, even as central banks and governments make unprecedented stimulus commonplace...A new inflationary era might be on the way, and if it is, the markets have got it completely wrong. There are two standard cases for inflation. The simple case is easy to understand and probably wrong for well-functioning modern economies: When central banks finance governments…well, duh. Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Weimar Republic, say no more. Just buy gold....This time the instruments are more extreme, but they are still reliant on lending by commercial banks to create private money. On its own, central-bank money creation merely swaps assets for central-bank reserves within the financial system. This leads into the second, more sophisticated argument for inflation, made by Russell Napier, an independent strategist and founder of research platform ERIC...who wrote a book about major market slumps. Napier now predicts inflation above 4% next year in developed markets due to government loan guarantees. Governments, he thinks, have finally found a way to ensure that commercial banks lend: promise to cover bad debts. Heads, the banks collect the (slim) interest; tails, the government ends up with the losses. Of course banks will lend. 'It's pure politicization of credit,' Mr. Napier said. 'This is the magic money tree.'....The downside is that the more the government is involved in supporting lending, the more pressure there is to direct the loans to politically popular causes, or at least away from unpopular ones....Inflation is both the result of out-of-control private money-creation financing consumption, and the easiest cure for excessive debt....The natural winners - gold and Treasury inflation-protected securities, known as TIPS - have performed very well this year."

Poll: Americans are the unhappiest they've been in 50 years -Associated Press
"It's been a rough year for the American psyche. Folks in the U.S. are more unhappy today than they've been in nearly 50 years. This bold - yet unsurprising - conclusion comes from the COVID Response Tracking Study, conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago. It finds that just 14% of American adults say they're very happy, down from 31% who said the same in 2018. That year, 23% said they'd often or sometimes felt isolated in recent weeks. Now, 50% say that. The survey, conducted in late May, draws on nearly a half-century of research from the General Social Survey, which has collected data on American attitudes and behaviors at least every other year since 1972. No less than 29% of Americans have ever called themselves very happy in that survey. Most of the new survey's interviews were completed before the death of George Floyd touched off nationwide protests and a global conversation about race and police brutality, adding to the feelings of stress and loneliness Americans were already facing from the coronavirus outbreak....The public is less optimistic today about the standard of living improving for the next generation than it has been in the past 25 years....About twice as many Americans report being lonely today as in 2018, and not surprisingly given the lockdowns that tried to contain the spread of the coronavirus, there's also been a drop in satisfaction with social activities and relationships....Jonathan Berney, of Austin, Texas, said that the pandemic - and his resulting layoff as a digital marketing manager for a law firm - caused him to reevaluate everything in his life. While he admits that he's not exactly happy now, that's led to another uncomfortable question: Was he truly happy before the pandemic? '2020 just fast forwarded a spiritual decay. When things are good, you don't tend to look inwards,' he said."

Avoiding a coronavirus second wave is up to each of us -New York Post
"No one really knows the odds of a second coronavirus wave as the nation leaves lockdown, but the best bet is that it depends on how people behave. Some states are seeing a rise in cases, which just crossed the 2 million mark nationwide. That's most often a reflection of more testing. But Arizona, for one, seems to be seeing an increase in the percentage of tests that come back positive - and that's true in scattered other areas, too. Overall, though, new cases nationally last week grew at the slowest rate since March. And many predictions of doom are falling far short: Pundits were sure Florida's restart, with even salons and gyms reopening, would lead to disaster. Hmm: Cases there have risen about 28 percent in the last two weeks - but testing is up 37 percent, so the key rate is falling. Most important, the national rates of hospitalizations and deaths also continue downward....The real bottom line: It's up to each of us and all of us to maintain social distancing and wear face masks when we can't, wash hands obsessively - and, yes, avoid large crowds. Now more than ever, the country's health is in its people's hands."

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6.16.20 - Gold: What Stock 'Disconnect' Implies

Gold last traded at $1,736 an ounce. Silver at $17.67 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose Tuesday on safe-haven buying despite a firmer dollar. U.S. stocks rose in volatile trading as investors cheered upbeat retail sales in May.

What Does The Great Disconnect Imply for Gold? -Yahoo Finance
"It seems that global stock markets have disconnected from the fundamental reality. They have been rising since the end of March despite the collapsing economies and soaring unemployment. Why? And what does it imply for the gold prices?....China - and Western countries as well - can forget about the V-shaped recovery...Instead, we could see a U-shaped recovery, which is deeper and more prolonged, or even a L-shaped recovery, which is even slower...Or, there might be actually a mix of V, U, and L: in some industries the recovery will be quicker, while in certain industries - think airlines - it will be slower. Another possibility is that the recovery will look like W, i.e., there will be a rebound in one or two quarters, followed by another dip because of the second wave of epidemic. The W-shaped recovery seems to be the most positive scenario for the gold market, as the second wave of injections would imply renewed worries and shaky economy....However, the performance of the global equity markets suggests that investors are rather optimistic about the future, at least this is the popular interpretation...We know that the stock market is not the real economy and that stock markets are forward-looking and do not want to fight the Fed, but the disconnect is troubling. After all, Mr. Market is not always correct - for example, it overlooked the risk of Covid-19 pandemic....The rebound in the S&P 500 was driven by selected few companies, i.e., Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, and Facebook - the relative winners during the Great Lockdown that forced people to shift into the online world. Moreover, the behavior of cyclical commodities and bond yields suggest rather weak recovery. What does it mean? Well, the fundamental outlook does not bode well for equity markets....investing in the stock market seems to be risky right now given that the V-shaped recovery is unlikely and given elevated equity valuations, so adding gold, which is good portfolio's diversifier, to the portfolio might be a smart move."

markets Schizophrenia? A Record 78% Of Wall Street Professionals Think Stocks Are Overvalued As They Flood Back Into Markets -Zero Hedge
"After two months of downright apocalyptic sentiment on Wall Street as revealed by the monthly Bank of America Fund Manager Surveys, the latest poll of 212 panelists managing $598 billion conducted by BofA Chief Investment Strategist Michael Hartnett showed a sharp reversal in sentiment with i) growth expectations jumping, ii) cash levels collapsing, and iii) risk appetites surging; Yet despite this surge in economic optimism, not even Wall Street's traditional bulls can reconcile just how far ahead the market has lept, with the largest number of investors since 1998 - some 78% of respondents - saying that the stock market is 'overvalued.' Also, even as doomsday sentiment ebbs, only 18% if Wall Street pros expect a V-shaped recovery vs 64% expecting U- or W-shaped according to the latest FMS; and while 37% now say 'it's a bull market', 53% majority still say 'it's a bear market rally'. According to Hartnett, sentiment shifted as GDP & EPS expectations jumped as lockdowns ended, resulting in a big drop in fears of prolonged recession which dropped to just net 46% in June (vs 93% in April)."

The Economic Consequences of Disrupted Global Supply Chains -Project Syndicate
"The strain on global supply chains partly reflects the turn by many governments toward protectionist policies since the openness of the world economy peaked in 2011. And now, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a supply-shock recession. The related uncertainty may slow the expansion of global value chains by at least 35%. Indeed, world trade is no longer expanding faster than world GDP. If this continues, companies will reshore manufacturing from Asia and elsewhere. It's clear that shrinking production at firms worldwide will create a recession...Given the importance of broken supply relationships in the current downturn, this recession is likely to be unique. Firms are vulnerable in other ways. For example, suppliers affected by a lockdown impose substantial output losses on their customers when the input they produce is specific to the customer and embodies a high level of research and development and intellectual property. In such cases, switching to another supplier is costly and slow....It is also likely that this recession will generate lower trend GDP growth. After all, global supply chains were a major driver of productivity growth in many countries in the 1990s and for most the aughts....The pandemic poses a huge challenge to economic policymakers. Like it or not, engineering any recovery, much less a V-shaped one, will require governments to set aside issues that would be of utmost importance in ordinary times. Their credo should be Hippocratic: First, do no further harm."

Neighborhood-based friendships making a comeback for kids in the age of coronavirus -The Conversation
"I can't walk down the sidewalk without stepping on chalk drawings or hopscotch boards. There are children jumping rope and playing ball. In the eight years I’ve lived here, I've never witnessed this before. As a clinical psychologist who studies children's friendships, I am fascinated by this development. Children's social worlds have been upended by the suspension of school and extracurricular activities due to the pandemic. Many older children and adolescents have been able to maintain their friendships over social media. But, for younger children, this approach is less likely to be available to them and less likely to meet their social needs. In some places, a silver lining of COVID-19 may well be the resurgence of childhood friendships in American neighborhoods. Over the last 30 years, children's friendships have been largely forged in the classroom and during extracurricular activities...These settings provide not only an environment for learning, but also opportunities to make friends, learn about what is expected social behavior and build skills for social relationships. But in the not-too-distant past, children's friendships were formed and maintained within the American neighborhood. Friends on average lived less than a quarter-mile apart and were predominantly from the same neighborhood. Children who lived close to one another were found to have high-quality friendships that were more frequent, emotionally intimate and longer-lasting than those that did not. Research shows neighborhood-based play may have distinct advantages, as it is often characterized by mixed-age peer groups....Children with positive friendships feel less lonely, depressed and anxious and are less likely to get into trouble in their communities. In the coming months, encouraging children to find friendships close to home, may combat feelings of social isolation and support feelings of social fulfillment. For some parents, this may feel reminiscent of their own childhoods, when rousing outside games of kick the can or red rover were interrupted only by parents' shouts from the front porch that it was time for dinner. Parents can support a shift to neighborhood friendships by helping their children understand how to stay physically distant while socially and emotionally engaged...These approaches may allow children to ride out this crisis and, in the process, possibly revive the American neighborhood and revitalize the benefits of friendship that are found within it."

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6.15.20 - Investors Approaching Retirement Face Painful Decisions

Gold last traded at $1,734 an ounce. Silver at $17.53 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices eased back Monday on profit-taking as global stocks declined. U.S. stocks fell as investors grappled with signs of a second wave of coronavirus cases as the U.S. economy reopens.

"Just A Huge Bear Market Rally?" Stocks Tumble On Fears Of Second Virus Wave -Zero Hedge
"In a continuation of the selloff that started overnight, US equity futures and world stocks are plunging on Monday on signs that a second wave of the pandemic is emerging in parts of the United States and China, dousing investor hopes of a quick economic rebound that had powered the Nasdaq to record levels last week....After dropping as much as 1,000 points, Dow futures were down about 600 points at last check, with S&P futures dropping as much as 3.4% in early London trading in what some have dubbed "Meltdown Monday", although S&P 500 futures managed to trim their losses in half, last down about 1.6%. Travel stocks which were hit hard as passenger numbers dwindled due to travel restrictions, slumped on Monday with retail favorites such as United Airlines Holdings Inc, American Airlines Group, Carnival Corp, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd down between 5.1% and 7.4% in pre-market trading....'Any further sell off from here will likely see some larger unwinds of the more price and momentum driven investment styles,' said James Athey, a money manger at Aberdeen Standard Investments.'People will then start openly asking the question again,'Was that just a huge bear market rally?'"

gold survey Wall St., Main St. expect gold prices to keep on shining -Kitco
"Wall Street and Main Street look for gold prices to continue their recovery in the week ahead....The metal rose sharply last week as buying emerged on the price dip and accelerated around mid-week when equities corrected sharply lower and Federal Open Market Committee policymakers indicated that they don’t envision hiking interest rates any earlier than 2022. Of the 14 Wall Street professionals who took part in this week's survey, none predicted gold would fall next week. Ten, or 71%, called for higher prices, while four respondents, or 29%, were either neutral or said they expect a sideways market. A total of 1,285 votes were cast in an online Main Street poll. Of these, 792 respondents, or 62%, looked for gold to rise in the next week. Another 308, or 24%, said lower, while 185, or 14%, were neutral....Sean Lusk, co-director of commercial hedging with Walsh Trading, said gold will be 'definitely up' for as long as the Federal Reserve keeps pumping money into the economy...He cautioned that there will be bouts of selling in the form of traders booking profits. However, he also looks for some market participants to use price dips as buying opportunities."

Investors Approaching Retirement Face Painful Decisions -Wall Street Journal
"The coronavirus pandemic has created a crisis that some economists believe could take the country nearly a decade to recover from. Individuals...now face perhaps one of the most difficult investing decisions they will make in their lifetimes: whether to wait out a potentially long rebound or exit the market altogether. Data from Fidelity Investments suggests millions of individuals have decided to do the latter. Nearly a third of investors ages 65 and up sold all of their stock holdings some time between February and May, compared with 18% of investors across all age groups....For the most part, financial planners and advisers recommend that individuals who are approaching retirement gradually reduce their exposure to riskier assets, like stocks, while increasing exposure to more conservative investments."

How should we fight racism? Not with Marxism -Ponte/WND
"Amid today's protests over African American George Floyd - likely murdered because of a personal vendetta by a white Minneapolis policeman - the Pentagon announced days ago that it is now 'open' to considering renaming 10 military bases named for Confederate generals and leaders. One is Fort Lee Army Base in Virginia, named for Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee....Letting radicals re-write history, as in George Orwell's dystopian novel '1984,' gives them the power to make everything they disapprove of vanish. 'Those who control the present control the past,' wrote Orwell, '[and] those who control the past control the future.' History is written by the winners, but Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci advocated control of schools, universities and media to brainwash the young to turn society Marxist. Poet Allen Ginsberg wrote, 'He who controls the symbols controls the race.' Today radicals destroy Confederate names and statues. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants more than a dozen statues in the Capitol destroyed. Pelosi's statues should be destroyed, not only because they depict Confederates and racists - but because all are of Democrats, the party of the slave owners and Ku Klux Klan....I am much less afraid of slave owners who died 100 years ago than I am of leftists trying to enslave us today. Wrote P.J. O'Rourke: 'Liberalism is just Marxism sold by the drink.'"

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6.12.20 - US 'Can't Shut Economy Down Again'

Gold last traded at $1,738 an ounce. Silver at $17.55 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices headed for their biggest weekly gain since April on a growing bearish economic outlook. U.S. stocks attempted to claw back some of the sharp losses from Wall Street's worst day since March.

As second wave hits, look for gold to breach $1,800 -Wagner/Kitco
"Gold prices could be expected to surpass the $1,800 an ounce mark by third or fourth quarter of this year, with near term signals remaining bullish, this according to Gary Wagner, editor of TheGoldForecast.com. Wagner's comments come as the Federal Reserve announced Wednesday to keep rates near zero until at least 2022, and stocks fall on fears of a second wave of the coronavirus. It is unlikely that economic growth will surprise to the upside anytime soon, forcing the Fed to change their dovish stance, Wagner said....Wagner noted that while an economic recovery is in the opening innings, we have yet to see the full repercussions of quantitative easing. 'Regardless of when they turn that switch, we have not even begun to encompass or feel that economic fallout that will come from the moves made by the Treasury department and the Federal Reserve,' he said. Meanwhile, a second wave of the virus has just been reported to begin sweeping across the U.S., as the overall count of infections has just passed 2 million. 'If there wasn't a second wave, I would be very surprised. I think there almost has to be because of the large masses of people that came together without masks, and without social distancing,' Wagner said, referencing the recent mass demonstrations taking place around the world in response to the death of George Floyd. Gold prices are showing upwards momentum, and this should continue until the end of the year, Wagner said."

uncle sam Mnuchin says US 'Can't shut down the economy again' if coronavirus has another spike -The Sun
"Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on Thursday the US should not shut down the economy again if there is another wave of the coronavirus outbreak. Mnuchin said Americans have 'learned that if you shut down the economy, you're going to create more damage.' He said on CNBC: 'Not just economic damage, but there are other areas and we’ve talked about this: medical problems and everything else that get put on hold.' 'We can’t shut down the economy again.'...'I think it was very prudent what the president did, but I think we've learned a lot.'....A Reuters analysis released this week showed 21 states have seen spikes in coronavirus cases as businesses have started reopening. On Monday, a committee with the National Bureau of Economic Research determined the US economy entered a recession in February as the coronavirus pandemic hit the country. 'The unprecedented magnitude of the decline in employment and production, and its broad reach across the entire economy, warrants the designation of this episode as a recession,” the panel said."

The Illusion of a Rapid US Recovery -Galbraith/Project Syndicate
"America's economy - based on global demand for advanced goods, consumer demand for frills, and ever-growing household and business debts - was in many ways prosperous. But it was a house of cards, and COVID-19 has blown it down....Demand for many US-made capital goods now depends on global conditions. Orders for new aircraft will not recover while half of all existing planes are grounded. At current prices, the global oil industry is not drilling new wells. Even at home, though existing construction projects may be completed, plans for new office towers or retail outlets won't be launched soon. And as people commute less, cars will last longer, so demand for them (and gasoline) will suffer. Faced with radical uncertainty, US consumers will save more and spend less...What they do not know is when the next job offer - or layoff - will come along...And the many millions of workers in America's vast services sector are realizing that their jobs are simply not essential. Meanwhile, US household debts - rent, mortgage, and utility arrears, as well as interest on education and car loans - have continued to mount...Falling sales- and income-tax revenues are prompting US state and local governments to cut spending, compounding the loss of jobs and incomes.America’s economic plight is structural....'Reopen America' is therefore an economic and political fantasy. Incumbent politicians crave a cheery growth rebound, and the depth of the collapse makes possible some attractive short-term numbers. But taking them seriously will merely set the stage for a new round of disillusion."

Why coronavirus hits men harder -Science Magazine
"In January, one of the first publications on those sickened by the novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China, reported that three out of every four hospitalized patients were male. Data from around the world have since confirmed that men face a greater risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 than women and that children are largely spared. Now, scientists investigating how the virus does its deadly work have zeroed in on a possible reason: Androgens - male hormones such as testosterone - appear to boost the virus' ability to get inside cells. A constellation of emerging data supports this idea, including COVID-19 outcomes in men with prostate cancer and lab studies of how androgens regulate key genes. And preliminary observations from Spain suggest that a disproportionate number of men with male pattern baldness - which is linked to a powerful androgen - end up in hospitals with COVID-19. Researchers are rushing to test already approved drugs that block androgens' effects, deploying them early in infection in hopes of slowing the virus and buying time for the immune system to beat it back. 'Everybody is chasing a link between androgens … and the outcome of COVID-19,' says Howard Soule, executive vice president at the Prostate Cancer Foundation...Epidemiological data from around the world have confirmed the early reports of male vulnerability. In Lombardy in Italy, for example, men comprised 82% of 1591 patients admitted to intensive care units (ICUs) from 20 February to 18 March, according to a JAMA paper. And male mortality exceeded that of women in every adult age group in another JAMA study of 5700 New York City patients hospitalized with COVID-19....Women are being included in the trial, she adds, because they have androgens, although at lower levels than men, and because estrogens have been shown to help heal acute lung injury."

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6.11.20 - The Looming U.S. Bank Collapse

Gold last traded at $1,739 an ounce. Silver at $17.88 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose Thursday on safe-haven buying amid rising economic uncertainty. U.S. stocks fell sharply as coronavirus cases increased in some states, dashing investor hopes for a smooth reopening of the economy.

A Scramble for Gold Is Redrawing the Map of the Market -Wall Street Journal
"New York faces a gold rush after the pandemic threw precious-metal markets into disarray, setting off a scramble by traders to cut their losses. Bullion vaults approved by the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange house a record 29.7 million troy ounces, according to FactSet data. Almost three quarters of that gold - weighing as much as nine, fully loaded Boeing 737-700 airplanes - has arrived in the past three months. The displacement was set off by dysfunction in the market in March and early April, caused by fears of a breakdown in ordinarily frictionless gold supply chains. It has reversed the normal flow of bullion from west to east, redrawing the map of the international gold market. Conventional gold routes could take months to resume because demand has been crimped in two major buyers of bullion, China and India. 'Gold has reached America from all over the world,' said Allan Finn, commodities director at Malca-Amit, a company that transports gold securely. 'The flows into New York are unprecedented.' The scramble to get gold to New York stemmed in part from the demand among U.S. investors for the precious metal, seen as a safe store of wealth by many. Gold prices have climbed almost 15% this year, and rose 1.3% Thursday to $1,745.30 a troy ounce."

chart We Have Reached The Silly Phase of the Bull Market -Calhoun/Real Clear Markets
"Have we entered a new bull market? Was the 35% pullback in the S&P 500 in March the fastest bear market in history? Or is this just a continuation of the bull market that started in 2009, interrupted by a rather large correction? Bull markets and bear markets are about behavior, about the human emotions of fear and greed. While we got a brief bout of fear in March, greed has since overwhelmed all sense, common and otherwise. What we're seeing in the casino…er, market….today is not beginning of a bull market behavior. What has been going on in markets over the last two months is the most glorious episode of human greed I’ve seen since 1999...There are silly things going on, new 'traders' doing stupid things and getting away with it because that's what happens in the end stages of a bull market that has been going on for a decade. Hertz, the rental car giant, filed for bankruptcy on May 22 and its stock hit a low of $0.40 a few days later. Earlier this week it traded as high as $6.25. That's a gain of over 15 times your money if you bought at the low. In 12 days. Did Hertz cancel its bankruptcy? Did Hertz get a last minute rescue from the Trump administration? No and no. Hertz is still bankrupt. And my quick math says they have $19 billion in debt and maybe $15 billion in assets. The stock is almost certainly worth zero. And yet hundreds of millions of shares are changing hands every day. This is not investing....To get a real handle on the speculative activity you need to wander over to the options market. Option traders bought a stunning 35.6 million new call option positions last week with over half of that coming from small traders buying fewer than 10 contracts. According to Jason Goepfert of Sentimentrader, the last time that happened was in 2000. For those of you too young to remember, that was the top of the dot com bubble. Particularly galling - at least to me - is that some portion of this speculation was funded by taxpayers. Some of those stimulus checks Congress sent out - $290 billion of them - ended up in Robinhood or ETrade accounts....This is the silly phase of the bull market. It will end eventually and all these new 'investors' will discover that it isn't easy and stocks don't just go up."

Signs Stock Rally is Doomed to End After $21 Trillion Rebound -Bloomberg/Yahoo Finance
"As a sense of euphoria sweeps through global equity markets propelling stocks to regain $21 trillion in value from a March low, the asset class is looking increasingly frothy. While stock luminaries who had advocated for a bull zone look like winners in hindsight, the debate goes on about whether the rally is a bear market bounce, doomed to end. 'This rally is a function of government support being thrown behind the economy,' said Paul Sandhu, head of multi-asset quant solutions and client advisory for Asia Pacific at BNP Paribas Asset Management. 'There are key risks that could lead to more volatility ahead over the short term.'....'The risk of a correction will rise if investors continue to price in a rapid recovery, especially for sectors that are vulnerable to another wave of infections or an escalation of tensions between the U.S. and China,' said Tai Hui, chief Asia market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management. In another sign that the rally is stretched, global share-price gains in the past month have purely come from multiple expansion as earnings forecasts have barely budged since May. Meanwhile, speculative excess has surged to the highest in at least 20 years among U.S. options traders, a negative for stocks over the medium term, according to Sundial Capital Research Inc."

The Looming Bank Collapse -Partnoy/The Atlantic
"The U.S. financial system could be on the cusp of calamity. This time, we might not be able to save it. After months of living with the coronavirus pandemic, American citizens are well aware of the toll it has taken on the economy: broken supply chains, record unemployment, failing small businesses. All of these factors are serious and could mire the United States in a deep, prolonged recession. But there's another threat to the economy, too. It lurks on the balance sheets of the big banks, and it could be cataclysmic. Imagine if, in addition to all the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, you woke up one morning to find that the financial sector had collapsed. You may think that such a crisis is unlikely, with memories of the 2008 crash still so fresh. But banks learned few lessons from that calamity, and new laws intended to keep them from taking on too much risk have failed to do so....To prevent the next crisis, Congress in 2010 passed the Dodd-Frank Act. Under the new rules, banks were supposed to borrow less, make fewer long-shot bets, and be more transparent about their holdings...The reforms were well intentioned, but they haven't kept the banks from falling back into old, bad habits. After the housing crisis, subprime CDOs naturally fell out of favor. Demand shifted to a similar - and similarly risky - instrument, one that even has a similar name: the CLO, or collateralized loan obligation...There are more than $1 trillion worth of leveraged loans currently outstanding. The majority are held in CLOs....Unless you work in finance, you probably haven’t heard of CLOs, but according to many estimates, the CLO market is bigger than the subprime-mortgage CDO market was in its heyday. The Bank for International Settlements...estimated the overall size of the CLO market in 2018 at $750 billion....There were more in April than ever before...It will only get worse from there....To prevent another crisis, we also need far more transparency, so we can see when banks give in to temptation. A bank shouldn't be able to keep $1 trillion worth of assets off its books."

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6.10.20 - Disconnect Between Wall St. and Main St.

Gold last traded at $1,731 an ounce. Silver at $17.99 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices steadied Wednesday on dollar weakness ahead of Fedspeak. U.S. stocks fell as investors await news on further stimulus from the central bank.

Federal Reserve Now Zimbabwe -Williams/USAWatchdog
"While the country was distracted with the Covid-19 lockdown and economic crisis, the Federal Reserve made a huge banking requirement change never before done in history. The Fed cut '. . . reserve requirement ratios to zero percent effective March 26, 2020. This action eliminated reserve requirements for all depository institutions.' What does this profound change mean? Economist John Williams says, 'The system is bankrupt, and they are just spending the money to prevent an immediate collapse as opposed to having it collapse right now. They have cut reserve rates back to 0%. The bailout of the banking system of the 'Great Recession' didn't work. So, now, they are just printing money and bailing out whatever they have to. People have done this throughout history including the Weimar Republic (Germany hyperinflation) and Zimbabwe (also had hyperinflation). . . . We effectively have a Zimbabwe Fed.' So, the Fed is going to print all the money it needs to bail out every bank that needs one? Williams says, 'That's exactly what they said they are going to do, and not only any bank, but any financial institution, the stock market, and with infinite money, you can do all sorts of things. But guess what? You also get a hyperinflation. They have crossed the line. That's why you want to own physical precious metals.' On the economy decimated by the forced Covid 19 lockdown, Williams, who is the founder of Shadowstats.com, computes data without all the accounting gimmicks to make things look better than they really are. Williams says, 'We have about 40 million unemployed... which is about a 40% unemployment rate (using Shadowstats.com methods) and not 13% claimed by the government.... The pandemic collapsed economy took very heavy hits. The April numbers on industrial production had its worst drop in its 101 year history....Williams says not to worry about the hits on price crashing manipulations on gold and silver, especially in the face of massive record money printing. Williams says, 'The price manipulation is to try to kill it. Central banks hate gold (and silver) because it shows they are not doing their job. I measure unemployment the way it used to be measured by the government, and I also measure the way inflation used to be measured....Gold kept up with actual inflation and your actual out of pocket expenses. Gold is going up right along with real inflation."

dolalrs A Crash in the Dollar Is Coming -Roach/Bloomberg
"The era of the U.S. dollar's 'exorbitant privilege' as the world's primary reserve currency is coming to an end...Already stressed by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, U.S. living standards are about to be squeezed as never before. At the same time, the world is having serious doubts about the once widely accepted presumption of American exceptionalism. Currencies set the equilibrium between these two forces - domestic economic fundamentals and foreign perceptions of a nation's strength or weakness. The balance is shifting, and a crash in the dollar could well be in the offing....The culprit: exploding government budget deficits. According to the bi-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the federal budget deficit is likely to soar to a peacetime record of 17.9% of gross domestic product in 2020 before hopefully receding to 9.8% in 2021....Intense downward pressure is now building on already sharply depressed domestic saving. Compared with the situation during the global financial crisis, when domestic saving was a net negative for the first time on record, averaging -1.8% of national income from the third quarter of 2008 to the second quarter of 2010, a much sharper drop into negative territory is now likely, possibly plunging into the unheard of -5% to -10% zone. And that is where the dollar will come into play...Reserve currency or not, the dollar will not be spared under these circumstances."

May 2020 Jobs Report Highlights Disconnect Between Wall Street, Main Street -Bonner/Rogue Economics
"It was like waking up from a bad dream. As if the last 90 days had never happened...No COVID-19… no lockdown… no 20 million job losses… no market crash… no $3 trillion in new money-printing… no $4 trillion budget deficit…But on Friday, we opened our eyes… and thank God, the nightmare had come to an end… There, in the headlines… everything was back to normal. The Dow, the S&P 500, the Nasdaq, bonds… all just as we left them in February. Birds were singing in the trees, restaurants were full of diners, the sun was shining… even the price of oil was back up to $40. And in the seven hours of trading time from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., ET, on Friday, June 5, 2020, an investor with $100,000 in Dow stocks made $3,150, or $450 per hour. But wait. In that same time, a waitress in Tennessee would have made $91… if her restaurant had not been shut down by order of the feds. One country. Two systems. One of those systems is open for business, and - thanks to 'whatever it takes' in new money from the Federal Reserve - is 'recovering' nicely, thank you very much. But the other? The people who have to work for a living. The people who don't own stocks. How are they doing?....If you look only at Wall Street, you'd think all that has happened over the last three months was just a bad dream. But in the real, Main Street economy? The nightmare continues."

How the Protests Have Changed the Pandemic -Dr. Khullar/New Yorker
"Mass gatherings, even those held outdoors, even with precautions, are potential super-spreader events - opportunities for a virus to explode through a population. In the past week, tens of thousands of Americans have taken to the streets in scores of cities to protest racial injustice and police brutality; by Wednesday, more than nine thousand had been arrested. Many of the cautious, phased reopening plans state governments had put in place have been upended. As a matter of racial justice, the case for protest is unequivocal: Floyd's killing was grotesque, and the latest in a series. From a public-health perspective, however, the situation is more complex. Fragile progress toward containing the coronavirus has been threatened. Last month, we debated how far the virus could travel when we speak loudly, and how close together tables at restaurants should be; this month, we may learn how much virus is expelled from the nose and mouth when pepper spray irritates the lungs. Even before the protests, confirmed coronavirus cases were holding steady or increasing in many parts of the country - including in cities such as Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and Atlanta, which saw some of the largest protests. Last week, Minnesota recorded its highest single-day covid-19 death toll to date. The state's health commissioner, Jan Malcolm, warned that the protests would 'very predictably accelerate the spread' of the coronavirus; the mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, advised demonstrators that they 'probably need to go get a covid test this week.'....As a doctor who is caring for those who are seriously ill with covid-19, I find myself returning to the words 'I can't breathe.' Eric Garner and George Floyd said them; they're also uttered each day by many covid-19 patients...The urgency with which we've striven to mitigate the pandemic's social and economic damage - to reopen salons, to restart schools, to hold sporting events, to dine in restaurants, to soothe investors, to support businesses - has not inspired a similar societal commitment to reduce our gaping health disparities."

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6.9.20 - Forget Stocks, Gold is the Way to Go

Gold last traded at $1,719 an ounce. Silver at $17.77 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices traded sharply higher Tuesday on safe haven buying and a weaker dollar. U.S. stocks fell as investors took some money off the table amid a recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Forget Stocks, The Gold Short Squeeze Is Intensifying -Seeking Alpha
"Is what's happening now in equities the mirror universe of the dotcom bubble of 20 years? It looks that way to Jim Bianco, head of Bianco Research, interviewed by Jim Grant of Grant's Interest Rate Observer last week....20 years ago, retail investors were indeed chasing upside momentum in tech stocks. Now, they are chasing momentum to the downside....After all, if you're a bank and you have all this new money from the Federal Reserve, where are you going to put it? In the real economy now rioting and destroying small businesses? Or back directly into financial assets being supported by the Federal Reserve? So, yes, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq are rallying because there's nowhere else for the new money to go right now. Even so, I'm not keen on playing the indexes here as I have done in the past. I'd rather buy the recent weakness in gold....The gold bull market since 2015 is only just getting started, and that is the way to go considering the wild uncertainties in the world today....The bullion banks are now being squeezed by speculators demanding delivery, and miners withholding supply."

recession The U.S. entered a recession in February, according to the official economic arbiter -CNBC
"The worst U.S. downturn since the Great Depression is now officially a recession, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. Though it seemed a foregone conclusion, the NBER, the official arbiter of recessions, made the declaration Monday as the nation tries to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. 'The committee recognizes that the pandemic and the public health response have resulted in a downturn with different characteristics and dynamics than prior recessions,' the NBER's Business Cycle Dating Committee said in a statement. In making the declaration, the committee determined that a 'clear peak in monthly economic activity' occurred in February. The peak in quarterly activity happened in the fourth quarter of 2019....U.S. GDP fell 5% in the first quarter and is likely to post the worst decline in history for the second quarter - possibly more than 50%. The recession brings to an end the longest expansion in U.S. history, which the NBER, a private, nonprofit research organization, dated as lasting 128 months, or nearly 11 years."

Virus, Unemployment, Riots: When Shocks Multiply, the Effects Usually Last -Wall Street Journal
"When does a country reach a tipping point - a point when the citizenry concludes that things are simply spinning out of control, and that something different is required? The question arises as protests and looting spread across America in the wake of the brutal police killing of a black man - shocking scenes that have come atop a once-in-a-century pandemic and a Depression-like economic slide. In a moment of crisis, it's hard to tell when such events will simply fade away in a return to the status quo, and when they will produce lasting change in political and social structures. Yet a look back at recent history suggests that it is precisely at moments like this, when shocks pile on in succession from different directions, that Americans can choose a new course. 'Nothing is more difficult for the historian than to differentiate the ephemeral from the lasting events, even with the advantage of hindsight,' says historian Ron Chernow...He adds, 'My guess is that we are seeing a situation that is of the deep and lasting variety.'....A look back at two recent moments in American history may offer some guidance. They came in 1968 and 1979, both times when, like today, the jolts to the American system seemed to come in waves. In 1968, the Vietnam War was going badly, and the conflict hung over the country like a dark cloud....A similar feeling of helplessness took hold in 1979, during Jimmy Carter's presidency. A brutal period of 'stagflation' - simultaneously high economic stagnation and inflation - was clobbering the nation....Perhaps feelings of economic inequality and racial injustice are combining before our eyes to produce a turn to the left politically. Or perhaps Americans will simply demand a better performance from the whole political system...'Relations are so poisonous and so polarized between the parties that we are not seeing the kind of bipartisan meetings on Capitol Hill that typically occur at times of crisis. Hence, the feeling of things spiraling out of control,' says Mr. Chernow."

Sizing The Commercial Real Estate Bust -Zero Hedge
"So how big is the impending commercial real estate bust in the US? Bigger than the residential mortgage bust of the 2000s and also bigger than the commercial real estate wipe out of the 1990s, including the aftermath of the Texas oil boom of the late 1970s and 1980s. Commercial real estate as a mortgage asset class is half the size of the $11.5 trillion market for residential homes, but the losses this cycle could be far larger per dollar of assets. That's big. Both markets are fundamentally affected by interest rates above all. The US has not experienced a really nasty deflation in commercial real estate prices since the 1990s and, before that, the bust in the Texas oil patch in the late-1970s....Equity REITs own more than $2 trillion of physical real estate assets in the U.S. including more than 200,000 properties in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, NAREIT reports. This particular bust in commercial property is very different from the 1990s, but in common with that era also includes a large energy component. The difference is that, due to COVID19 and the more recent looting in major cities, the valuation of once solid urban commercial and residential properties held by equity REITs is now very in much question....The New York Times reports, 'Faced with plunging sales that have already led to tens of millions of layoffs, companies are trying to renegotiate their office and retail leases - and in some cases refusing to pay - in hopes of lowering their overhead and surviving the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression....We think that net charge offs on commercial loans could rise to 2-3x the peaks of the 1990s, with loss rates at 100% percent or more in some cases, and remain elevated for years for come as the workout process proceeds."

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6.8.20 - Stock Surge Not Helping Many Americans

Gold last traded at $1,703 an ounce. Silver at $17.89 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose Monday on bargain-hunting and a weaker dollar. U.S. stocks rose amid optimism over the economy reopening.

'Misclassification error' made the May unemployment rate look better than it is. -Washington Post
"When the U.S. government's official jobs report for May came out on Friday, it included a note at the bottom saying there had been a major 'error' indicating that the unemployment rate likely should be higher than the widely reported 13.3 percent rate. The special note said that if this 'misclassification error' had not occurred, the 'overall unemployment rate would have been about 3 percentage points higher than reported,' meaning the unemployment rate would be about 16.3 percent for May. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the agency that puts out the monthly jobs reports, said it was working to fix the problem. 'BLS and the Census Bureau are investigating why this misclassification error continues to occur and are taking additional steps to address the issue,' said a note at the bottom of the Bureau of Labor Statistics report....The BLS admitted that some people who should have been classified as 'temporarily unemployed' during the shutdown were instead misclassified as employed but 'absent' from work for 'other reasons.'....Economists said the big takeaway is that it's hard to collect real-time data during a pandemic and that while the unemployment rate remains high - likely more than 16 percent - it has declined a little from April....Economists wish people would focus on the fact that 21 million Americans are currently unemployed and over 2 million have permanently lost their jobs."

gold coin First U.S. Gold Coin May Fetch $15 Million in Private Sale -Bloomberg
"One of the world's most coveted coins is coming to the market. The Brasher Doubloon, the first gold coin struck in the U.S., is being offered privately at a $15 million asking price, according to numismatic adviser Jeff Sherid. His firm, Los Angeles-based PCAG Inc., is marketing the coin on behalf of a collector he would only identify as a former Wall Street executive. The doubloon is dated 1787 - 11 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed, the same year the Constitution was written and five years before the federal mint opened in Philadelphia. Metalsmith Ephraim Brasher, George Washington's next-door neighbor on New York's Cherry Street, privately minted a small batch of the coins and punched this unique version with his hallmark 'EB' on the eagle's breast. The soon-to-be president almost certainly handled it, according to longtime numismatist John Albanese, founder of Certified Acceptance Corp....Uncertainty surrounding the coin's original purpose adds to its mystique. Historians believe it may have been intended for circulation, though some theorize it could have been a prototype or souvenir. Seven examples survive but the others, including one in the Smithsonian, are stamped on the eagle's wing rather than in the middle. The coin also has a place in pop culture. Private eye Philip Marlowe hunted it in Raymond Chandler's 1942 novel 'The High Window' and a subsequent movie version, 'The Brasher Doubloon'....The auction record for a single coin was set in 2013, when a 1794 Flowing Hair silver dollar sold for $10 million. The Brasher Doubloon will probably become the first $100 million coin someday, Albanese predicts."

Wall Street’s latest surge isn’t benefiting many Americans -CNBC
"While the U.S. economy is showing signs of life as businesses reopen and job growth rebounds, the gap between the real economy and the stock market remains unusually wide. 'The words recession and recovery can't begin to capture the magnitude of pain trigger(ed) by this crisis and the risks that widespread suffering will persist if we can't blunt the headwinds still ahead,' wrote Grant Thornton chief economist Diane Swonk....'Even with the mild improvement in May, the unemployment rate of all groups is still higher than the highest level the overall unemployment rate hit at the height of the Great Recession, when it reached 10.0% in 2009,' said Elise Gold, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute....'Research has shown that historically higher unemployment rates, lower wages, higher poverty rates, and lower liquid savings make job losses even more devastating for African American workers and their families,' Gold said....'There's a lot of people that got out of this market and are staying out, making the assumption that we either have to test that low again or things are actually going to get worse, not better,' said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities."

What Leading with Optimism Really Looks Like -Harvard Business Review
"When there is negative news everywhere you look and unprecedented financial and logistical challenges facing so many companies, it can be tough to advise people to stay positive. Many leaders we work with worry, especially now during the global pandemic, that trying to emphasize positivity and happiness will make them look out of touch - and rather than helping their people, it will backfire. The findings from our multi-year research project at a hospital system in Iowa indicate quite the opposite. It's precisely in the midst of a setback or challenging time, that leaders should be actively encouraging positivity because it will help teams weather the storm. Three years ago, Genesis Health System, which is comprised of five hospitals and a regional health center, was not profitable...Jordan Voigt, president of Genesis Medical Center-Davenport was facing a conundrum. He wanted to infuse more positivity into the culture at the medical center, but they were about to undergo two rounds of massive cost reductions and layoffs. Still, he felt it was important to focus on the company's culture and hypothesized that positivity could help the center at this crucial time...Each department designed positive changes tailored to their subculture spanning from gratitude exercises, increased praise and recognition from managers, and team-based conscious acts of kindness. The color 'orange' was adopted to symbolize positive changes...When moms have new babies, the staff give the big brothers and sisters plush orange frogs called baby Sparks as a symbol of the kind character of the department. Employees receive a Spark Award for spreading happiness through a kind act. You can even find orange hair nets and orange oxygen carts in some departments....As happiness researchers, we expected the departments exposed to the interventions to do better, but even we were surprised by the extent. For the individuals who had not yet been exposed to the positive intervention, only 23% of the team members reported they were 'very expressive of optimism at work.' That jumped to 40% after participating in the positive psychology culture training....Even in the face of dire circumstances, you can create a positive mindset at your company - one that will help your people and your customers."

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6.5.20 - Did CV-19 Lockdown Help Fuel Riots?

Gold last traded at $1,685 an ounce. Silver at $17.47 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices dipped Friday on profit-taking and a firmer dollar. U.S. stocks rallied after the latest U.S. jobs report raised hopes that the economy is starting to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Dollar at Risk of a Hyperinflationary Collapse -Corsi Nation
"The ultimate fate of the current U.S. dollar is now at serious risk of a hyperinflationary collapse, with the COVID-19 pandemic crisis providing the trigger. This warning is being sounded by economist John Williams, the creator of the widely followed website ShadowStats.com. 'Decades of gross financial mismanagement by the federal government, gross monetary system mismanagement by the Federal Reserve, and conflicted, albeit related joint government and Fed mismanagement of the economy and banking system are being laid bare, exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown of the U.S. economy and related societal turmoil,' Williams wrote in his subscription newsletter published on June 4, 2020. As a traditional economist, Williams worries that the recent multi-trillion dollars spent in various federal stimulus programs amounts to a simple formula for inflation: namely, too much money thrown at too few goods tends to trigger rising prices. Williams notes Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation in the United States from 1970, the last year of the gold-backed U.S. dollar, to date has been 561 percent. At the same time, the increase in the U.S. dollar price of gold from 1970 to date has been 4,314 percent....'When a currency is debased, precious metals function as stores of wealth,' Williams warns. 'Over the millennia, gold and silver have served investors – those holding the physical precious metals – with a stable, liquid and portable store of wealth against inflation or monetary turmoil, as well as often providing a vehicle for financial and personal survival in times of political and social upheaval.'....Williams concluded his analysis commenting that gold and silver prices remain the 'canary in the coal mine’ of hyperinflation,' especially in the economics of the current COVID19 pandemic, when Congress contemplating multi-trillion dollar 'economic stimulus' laws seems strangely business as normal."

bullish Breaking Bad - Valuations Are Screaming "Danger" -Zero Hedge
"I am surprised how effective central banks have been in squeezing markets higher again. I thought after 10 years of this monetary nonsense they would finally lose effectiveness in their ability to manipulate markets. Clearly I was wrong. But then I also didn't see $3 trillion in Fed balance sheet expansion coming in a matter of a few months. So one has to clearly acknowledge central banks continue to hold complete control over these markets. But it comes at a price that will remain ignored for now, but nevertheless I'm aiming to highlight some of the issues I see. In my view central banks, in their quest to conduct a successful rescue operation, are killing the patient in the process....The distortions have become more extreme than expected and can be seen and measured in a number of ways. First off, the most obvious but also most ignored: Valuations are SCREAMING danger: Yesterday stocks closed at 145.6% market cap to GDP...These are not only historically extreme valuations they are also entirely incompatible with any valuation history in context of the economic backdrop we have: 20% unemployment, massively regressive earnings, you name it. And the layoff announcements keep coming...2020 has seen the largest expansion in wealth inequality yet. Jay Powell may deny all he wants that the Fed's policies are contributing to wealth inequality, but that's just a lie....If he hasn't noticed, but America is Breaking Bad. While the current protests in America were triggered by a specific event, the horrid killing of George Floyd, the protests represent something deeper: Anger and anxiety and a sense of injustice in general....The protests on the streets of America are the real economy and the voices we're hearing are saying: We can't breathe....This rally is crystal blue meth. Consider with caution."

Did COVID-19 Lockdown Orders Help Fuel Riots Nationwide? -Reason
"Millions of people out of a job and stuck at home for months is a recipe for civil unrest. The lockdown orders imposed by America's governors and mayors already inspired one wave of 'reopen' protests explicitly aimed at lifting those restrictions. There's also good reason to think these same heavy-handed shelter-in-place mandates helped to fuel the anti-police protests currently sweeping the nation....This basic play-by-play - where protests spring up in response to the police killing of an unarmed black man, and then later degenerate into riots and violent police crackdowns - is hardly unheard of in recent American history. In 2014, we had Ferguson. This was followed by the Baltimore riots a year later. Neither required a global pandemic nor a near-total shutdown of the economy to happen. And yet, while these killings sparked large-scale 'Black Lives Matter' protests across the country, serious rioting and property damage were mostly contained to the cities where the shootings actually happened. Not so in the case of the Floyd killing, which has prompted intense protests, riots, and police violence in almost every major American city....Given the circumstances leading up to these protests and riots, this probably shouldn't be surprising. Jobless claims passed the 40 million mark last week....Business closures also mean that there are fewer shopkeepers keeping an eye on their stores, and fewer patrons out on the street, all of whom could play some role in suppressing violence just by being out, about, and law abiding. That leaves the police as the only feasible means of law enforcement. Given the anti-police nature of the protests and the cops' own penchant for overreaction, that's obviously going to escalate things further....Government lockdowns have shuttered much more of the economy than was necessary, and have kept it closed for longer than it needed to be. That might not have caused the current wave of protests and riots, but it has almost certainly helped fuel them."

The Season of the 'Gray Champion' Arrives! -Medium
"Do you feel like America is progressing from one crisis to the next? Are we headed toward tragedy, or triumph?....By studying American history, economic cycles, psychology and a variety of ancient wisdom traditions, authors William Strauss and Neil Howe draw amazing parallels between the four seasons in nature and the four seasons (or generations) in a typical human lifespan in their 1997 bestselling book The Fourth Turning...According to Strauss and Howe the cycle of Four ‘Turnings’ follow this sequence; 'First comes a 'High', a period of confident expansion as a new order takes root after the old order has been swept away. Next comes an 'Awakening', a time of spiritual exploration and rebellion against the now-established order. Then comes an 'Unraveling', an increasingly troubled era in which individualism triumphs over crumbling institutions. Last comes a 'Crisis' - the Fourth Turning - when society passes through a great and perilous gate in history. Together, the four turnings comprise history's seasonal rhythm of growth, maturation, entropy, and rebirth.' Amazingly these four 'turnings' repeat every 80–90 years throughout American history....The Fourth Turning, or Crisis era historically can be sparked either by a succession of seemingly small events, or by one major event such as; a fiscal crisis, a terrorist attack, or a pandemic which could lead to a mandatory quarantine. And in recent years we've seen all three occur!....A generation ago the authors announced their best hope for a positive outcome in the next Crisis era, would come from the bottom up, not the top down - and be led by a growing army of wise, modern elders from the Baby Boomer generation....'During The Fourth Turning America will need to embrace both personal sacrifice and a restoration of public authority,' according to Strauss and Howe. 'Whichever political party can best accommodate both will be best suited to lead.' This is particularly relevant given that 2020 is an major election year....'Raising the savings rate in both private and public sector are vital, as well as diversification of assets so that no one market crisis can wipe out your wealth.' Holding assets with intrinsic value, such as physical gold and silver, is a wise means of preserving wealth for future generations. 'Think of your family as your ultimate fourth turning safety net,' Strauss and Howe advise. 'As public support weakens, family support will become vital.'....Yes, the season of the famed American writer Nathanial Hawthorne's Gray Champion is now upon us. May we rise to the occasion with a fresh sense of destiny and renewed compassion toward our posterity."

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6.4.20 - America: Marked by Emergency, Unrest

Gold last traded at $1,725 an ounce. Silver at $18.10 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose on bargain-hunting and a sharply weaker dollar. U.S. stocks drifted lower on downbeat jobs data which may prompt more central bank stimulus.

Gold Prices Are Headed for New Highs Amid Unrest. What Investors Should Do. -Barrons
"As America burns, gold shines. The traditional feel-good asset in times of economic duress is nearing a 52-week high as protests continue to erupt across the nation in response to the recent death of George Floyd while he was in police custody in Minneapolis....So far, the financial markets have mostly shrugged off the protests. Major stock indexes are still advancing, but there are emerging signs in gold trading, and even with the Cboe Volatility Index, or VIX, that some investors are preparing for more difficult days. In the options market, investors have amassed GLD ETF call positions in September 2020, likely positioning for volatility to tick higher in one of the most tumultuous months of the trading year....To be sure, GLD is always a strange creature to trade....GLD's options tend to always indicate a bullish bias and a bearish bias. The peculiarity reflects the always passionate debate about the true value of gold...We know investors are concerned about the global economy, civil unrest, and the future of monetary policy. All of that leads them to gold, which should bode well for anyone who is positioned into the historically volatile fall trading months."

unemployment America: Marked by Health Emergency, Economic Recession, Social Unrest -Bonner/Rogue Economics
"A health crisis… an economic meltdown… and now a social breakdown! Half of the U.S. states have called out the National Guard. The President went into hiding in an underground bunker...Riots, protests, looting - 4,400 people arrested, as the president urges local government to 'get tough.' What gives?....You'll remember our dictum: 'When the money goes, everything goes.' Huh? You wonder. What's this got to do with money? Isn't this just about racism and police brutality? In short, we wish....Now every crisis, every calamity, and every disaster, caused by the feds themselves, will be met with more money-printing… and more war. The war on terror… the Mortgage Finance Crisis of ’08-’09… the war on COVID-19 … Each time, the feds go back to doing the only thing they know how to do… the only thing that increases their power and enriches their friends - running the printing press. And each time, they make the situation worse. The current round of riots and lawlessness, for example, are probably not just a reaction to another killing by the police...Instead, they are an inchoate reaction by millions of Americans to an inherently corrupt and unfair system....Money represents time… and life. And when people can't trust it, they lose faith in their institutions, in the system, and in each other. The center cannot hold. The masses become more extreme in their opinions… some wanting to tear down the 'capitalistic' system… others wanting to protect it at all cost....As the money-printing continues and the financial calamity worsens, it will cause more and more dissension, kvetching, and insurrection… This will lead to more softening in the center and hardening on the edges. Riots are inevitable. Lawlessness is just part of the process. It gives the authorities another 'war' to fight… another reason to assert their authority… and spend more money...and to put the nation under house arrest."

A lost decade looms for America's economy -Riley/CNN Business
"It could take the US economy most of the next decade to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, the Congressional Budget Office said on Monday. The CBO warns in a new analysis that the pandemic will reduce cumulative economic output over the next 10 years by $7.9 trillion, or 3% of GDP during the decade, compared to its projections from January. Without accounting for inflation, the damage totals $15.7 trillion, or 5.3% of GDP. Recent legislation, which includes more than $2 trillion in stimulus, will only partially mitigate the economic fallout caused by the pandemic, the CBO said....The report from the highly respected government number crunchers further challenges hopes for a speedy economic recovery from the pandemic, which had been a common talking point in the early days of the crisis....The 2008 global financial crisis took a much smaller bite out of GDP than what experts expect to see as a result of the pandemic. But 10 years after the Great Recession began, labor force participation rates for prime-age workers remained depressed in the United States, and household wealth had only started to recover. Neil Shearing, the group chief economist at Capital Economics, said that most major economies are in a similar position....'Most economies are still likely to be below their pre-virus paths of GDP by the end of our central forecast horizon in 2022,' he wrote in a research note on Monday. Shearing cited three big reasons why a recovery in high frequency data doesn't tell the whole story. Reason 1: The recovery follows an extreme economic shock. 'The fact that activity is recovering needs to be seen in this context of the huge loss of output incurred during lockdowns. Output in most major economies is still running at somewhere between 15% and 25% of pre-virus levels.' Reason 2: High frequency data doesn't tell us much about what's going on with demand - one of the biggest factors in any rebound....Reason 3: Governments and central banks still need to figure out how to transition from crisis mode to recovery, and to reopen their economies in ways that don't do more damage."

Alternative Community: Devotion at the Center -CAC.org
"As Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–1968) observed, 'one of the most segregated hours in the United States still occurs on Sunday mornings when we attend church services.' Yet as early as the 1940s, African-American writer Howard Thurman (1899–1981) was seeking to build a worshiping community across racial differences. In 1944, along with his white co-pastor Alfred Fisk (1905–1959), Thurman co-founded the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples, the country's first interracial, interfaith congregation. Reverend Thurman describes how the collective experience of God became the center of the community's life, unifying people from many different backgrounds and cultural expressions. 'Fellowship Church was a unique idea, fresh, untried. There were no precedents and no traditions to aid in structuring the present or gauging the future. Yet [my wife] Sue and I knew that all our accumulated experiences of the past had given us two crucial gifts for this undertaking: a profound conviction that meaningful and creative experiences between peoples can be more compelling than all the ideas, concepts, faiths, fears, ideologies, and prejudices that divide them; and absolute faith that if such experiences can be multiplied and sustained over a time interval of sufficient duration any barrier that separates one person from another can be undermined and eliminated. We were sure that the ground of such meaningful experiences could be provided by the widest possible associations around common interest and common concerns. Moving out from this center of spiritual discovery many fresh avenues of involvement emerged....The sense of Presence was being manifest which in time would bring one to his or her own altar stairs leading each in [their] own way like Jacob's ladder from earth to heaven....What had I learned about love? One of the central things was that the experience of being understood by another was of primary importance. Somewhere deep within was a 'place' beyond all faults and virtues that had to be confirmed before I could run the risk of opening my life up to another. To find ultimate security in an ultimate vulnerability, this is to be loved.'"

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6.3.20 - Politicians Are The Biggest Looters

Gold last traded at $1,704 an ounce. Silver at $17.95 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices eased back Wednesday on profit-taking and rising investor risk appetite. U.S. stocks rose on better-than-expected economic data bolstered by optimism over the recovery from coronavirus shutdowns.

The secret behind gold's stunning surge -Yahoo Finance
"Go figure. The otherwise safe-haven known as gold is rallying right alongside an equities markets surprisingly chock-full of momentum even as protests sweep the U.S. and deaths from COVID-19 continue to climb. Or is it really a shock to see gold prices with an upside bias right now as investors bid up equities? 'Both asset classes are responding well to the fiscal and monetary stimulus programs that have been put out since the COVID-19 crisis in March. It's the same exact playbook we saw in 2008 when after the financial crisis we saw similar extremely high levels of stimulus put into the market, which benefited both the stock market and gold,' said GraniteShares CEO Will Rhind on Yahoo Finance's The First Trade...The price of the yellow metal has rocketed by 18% over the past six months. Besides government stimulus lighting a fire under gold, the recent plunge in the U.S. dollar is also supporting the commodity's market pros say. In such a dollar weakening backdrop, gold is usually viewed as a good store of value. Experts like Rhind believe the gold rally has legs left. 'You go all the way back to 1980, which was the previous high in gold before the high we reached in 2011, and in 1980 gold prices reached about $800 an ounce. So inflation adjusted, that price is about $2,500 today. If you look at the all-time high for gold we’re nowhere near that today. And in 2011, the nominal all-time high was over $1,900. Remember gold has not gotten back to that level even right now. So from that perspective, gold is not like other asset classes that are trading at or near all-time highs. So I think there's still room to go,' Rhind added."

fire The Real Looters are the Politicians -Bovard/AIER
"The brutal killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police spurred widespread protests which have been followed by looting in dozens of American cities. CNN's Don Lemon compared looters who plundered Neiman Marcus and other upscale stores to those at the Boston Tea Party. But far more Americans likely agreed with Quinta Caylor, a black North Carolina nurse on Twitter, who denounced the looters who 'THUGGED OUT in 1 day' businesses that owners had worked long and hard to build...Total losses may range in the tens of millions of dollars or perhaps in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The pillaging has been especially ruinous to many small family-owned businesses, some of whom may not have insurance to cover their losses. Many cities have responded to violent rampages by imposing curfews and other severe restrictions on movement. Many such edicts are remarkably similar to the 'shelter-in-place' COVID dictates imposed by many state governments. In Portland, Oregon, 'rioters have broken into Portland's main mall in downtown and began looting the Louis Vuitton. Youths ran out with designer bags. They shouted about expropriation,' as Andy Ngo tweeted. But that state suffered far more from Gov. Kate Brown's edict that banned residents from leaving their homes except for essential work, buying food, and other narrow exemptions, and also banned all recreational travel, even though much of the state had few if any COVID cases. Almost 400,000 Oregonians have lost their jobs after Brown’s shutdown. In Grand Rapids, Michigan, looters pillaged a shoe store and many other businesses. But the damage they inflicted was not even pocket change compared to the wreckage produced by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. She prohibited anyone from leaving their home to visit family or friends. Whitmer severely restricted what stores could sell; she prohibited purchasing seeds for spring planting in stores after she decreed that a 'nonessential' activity (unlike buying state lottery tickets)....In the District of Columbia, looters pillaged an Apple Store. 'I bet this is about the [COVID] contact tracing in the latest upgrade,' quipped one wag on Twitter. But Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser has inflicted vastly more damage on the city with a lockdown order that helped destroy almost 100,000 jobs....The recent riots may have destroyed hundreds of businesses. But forecasts predict that millions of businesses could be forced to close or file bankruptcy because of the pandemic disruptions. The people who pillaged stores in recent days deserve vigorous prosecution, and the deluge of Twitter plundering-in-progress videos could make it easier to identify culprits. It remains to be seen whether mayors will have the gumption to throw the book at the thieves. But it is even less likely that the politicians and other government officials who inflicted far greater damage on the economy will ever be held liable."

Assaulted & Vilified, The Cops Save The Cities -Buchanan/Zero Hedge
"On the fifth night of rioting, looting and arson in Minneapolis, the criminal elements were driven from the streets. By whom? By the same cops who had been the constant objects of media derision and mob hatred. Without the thin blue line, far larger sectors of dozens of America's cities would be in ruins, burned to the ground by the mobs that showered police and their vehicles with rocks, bricks, bottles, Molotov cocktails and any debris that could be thrown at them. Because they were the first responders in these riots, the cops were the first targets of criminal assault and the last line of defense of the law-abiding. Wherever they had to draw back or pull back, anarchy ensued. Consider the decision of Mayor Jacob Frey and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo to surrender and abandon the 3rd Precinct. As police cars pulled out and the cops fled, the exhilarated rabble invaded, pillaged and burned the precinct. And America saw, in astonishment, a triumph of anarchy....Frey, who ordered the surrender, is a far-left Democrat. Gov. Tim Walz is a liberal Democrat, as are both U.S. senators including Amy Klobuchar. Minneapolis Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is a soul sister of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez....Query: How does 'systemic racism' permeate a blue state dominated for decades by liberal Democrats? What explains the failure of Democrats who have long run Minnesota to root out racism? Why have liberals failed to exorcise racism where they rule? Are even good Minnesota liberals infected with the virus? What we witnessed this week in Minneapolis is a failure of liberalism. The leadership of the city and state could not persuade the protesters it claims to represent to remain peaceful. And when rioting, looting and arson erupted, and attacks on police began, that leadership sat morally and politically paralyzed....Because of the failure to condemn that criminality, and the paralysis of Minnesota's political leadership class, the black community in Minneapolis has lost hundreds of businesses - some forever - that had provided them with the necessities of a decent life. Liberals may equate the term 'law and order' with racism, but without law and order, there is no justice and no peace."

Why cash has become the new Typhoid Mary -LA Times
"'This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private.' That's what it says right under 'Federal Reserve Note' and 'The United States of America.' But legal tender won't be accepted to play at one of the city of Los Angeles' dozen public golf courses. Or for the $15 charge to enter the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens in Arcadia. More than 30 Armstrong Garden Centers around California also ask for 'touchless' payment options, as does the Beehive clothing boutique in Manhattan Beach and the Munch Company sandwich shop in South Pasadena. The almighty dollar has lost some of its might in the time of COVID-19. While most struggling businesses will take payment in any form to make ends meet during the economic downturn, a minority reject cash, fearing that it could be a transmission vehicle for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Some experts predict that the pandemic will accelerate a steady flight by American consumers away from dollars and cents....A shift to other forms of payment has been encouraged by government agencies, such as the California Department of Public Health, which suggests the use of debit and credit cards. Reopening plans for multiple counties also recommend 'contactless' payment systems. The retreat of cash comes with an advance of electronic payment systems such as Square, created by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, and PayPal, also the parent of Venmo. 'I think what's happened with the pandemic is it's taken a three- to five-year time frame that it would have taken for digital payments to hit a tipping point and fast-forwarded it to reach that tipping point literally within months,' PayPal Chief Executive Daniel Schulman said in an interview."

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6.2.20 - Is COVID-19 Death Count Accurate?

Gold last traded at $1,735 an ounce. Silver at $18.33 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices eased back on short-term profit-taking. U.S. stocks rose slightly as traders grappled with civil unrest around the country along with the reopening of the economy from the coronavirus pandemic.

Speculators Dump Gold But Price Goes Up Anyway -Mish/TheStreet
"Judging from futures and alleged jewelry demand, the price of gold ought to be falling. But it isn't. Let's explore what's happening with the price of gold and why. In the futures world, for every long there is a short. Contracts net to zero. The commercials are producers who sell their gold and the broker-dealers who are hedged. Note that commercials are down 111,290 contracts since February. This is not 'covering shorts' as often claimed. Rather it reflects speculators dumping contracts. Managed money dumped 125,456 contracts. Yet, the price of gold rose from $1,644.60 to $1,751.70....Normally when speculators add contracts, the price of gold rises and when speculators are liquidating contracts, the price falls. But not even that is happening now."

NYSE Stock market playing in its own Magic Kingdom -The Big Picture/Briefing.com
"Of all the news heard this week, it's not an exaggeration to suggest that the news that mattered most to a lot of people, both in the market and outside the market, is that Walt Disney is planning to begin a phased reopening of its Florida parks, beginning July 11 for the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom and July 15 for EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. It was an important announcement, as it promises to save the summer vacation plans for some travelers (certainly not all) who had designs on visiting the Disney parks before COVID-19 hit. It was also important for its symbolism, as the Disney parks reopening is a reflection of the confidence that is emerging in the thought that the worst of the COVID-19 experience is behind us. The latter is certainly the hope, which some epidemiologists might dispute...That hope springs eternal, too, in the stock market, which has been flying high since March 23 with some help from the Fed, some help from science, and some help from all 50 states implementing plans to get business going again. In fact, there is so much hope in the stock market right now, you might think Wall Street has moved to Disney World's Main Street where everything is perfect all of the time - and that's just not possible....In brief, the stock market is on a ride like the halcyon 'It's a Small World' where everyone gets along in a sing-songy kind of way and the ride itself is smooth. Yeah, that's a utopian fantasy only Disney can create. The stock market sure is emulating it, though, trading at 21.8x forward twelve-month earnings (44% premium to 10-yr average) at a time when more than 40 million people have lost their jobs, politics are getting nasty again, and the coronavirus has still not met its vaccine match....It's living in Tomorrowland where everyone is back to work and there is a vaccine....The stock market has been living in its own Magic Kingdom where problems have been washed away by the Fed's fire hose of liquidity, where everyone's dreams come true, and where everything is perfect on Main Street. Unfortunately, it's a vision from Fantasyland."

Just How Exaggerated Is The COVID-19 Death Count? -Editors/Issues&Insights
"As the 'official' tally of COVID-19 deaths tops 100,000 in the U.S., we keep hearing how that number is likely a low-ball estimate. But there's far more evidence that the death count has been knowingly exaggerated - possibly by a very wide margin. A recent Seattle Times article pretty much lays out the charade going on....'The rapid onslaught of this coronavirus forced officials to part from their normal process of counting deaths. … Their goal was to get the data out as quickly as possible, 'in near-real time so immediate decisions could be made to protect the health of Washingtonians.' The story goes on to say that the state's dashboard 'reflects anyone who died, that tested positive for COVID, irrespective of cause of death.' Basically, the state has been matching up the names of those who died this year with a database containing names of people who tested positive for COVID-19. A review of the data by the Olympia-based Freedom Foundation found that of all the deaths attributed to the virus, 5% didn't list COVID-19 as the cause of death on their death certificates. Another 13% involved people who had at one time tested positive for the disease, but the virus wasn't 'listed on death certificates as either causing or contributing to death.' Five of the state's 'coronavirus deaths' actually died from gunshot wounds. The Freedom Foundation findings came after Colorado's public health department was forced to admit that nearly a quarter of those listed as dying from COVID-19 didn't have the disease listed on their death certificates. 'The death figure CDPHE has been providing for weeks is more accurately described as the number of people with COVID-19 who have died - for any reason,' noted the Colorado Sun....In late April, Pennsylvania removed more than 200 deaths from its count - which amounted to 12% reduction at the time - after reviewing the data. Assuming that all states are tallying numbers the way these states had been, the national count is almost certainly off by a very wide margin - possibly in the tens of thousands....If the death toll from COVID-19 is actually in the range of 75,000, then it's more like a bad seasonal flu than an epidemic requiring a once-thriving economy to shut down. The cost of the lockdown in lives could easily be higher - and possibly much higher - than the deaths attributed to the virus."

How Tech billionaires are plotting to boost Joe Biden -VOX
"Joe Biden has a problem. Silicon Valley billionaires think they have a solution. Election Day is less than six months away, and Democrats are scrambling to patch the digital deficits of their presumptive nominee. And behind the scenes, Silicon Valley’s billionaire Democrats are spending tens of millions of dollars on their own sweeping plans to catch up to President Donald Trump's lead on digital campaigning - plans that are poised to make them some of the country's most influential people when it comes to shaping the November results. These billionaires' arsenals are funding everything from nerdy political science experiments to divisive partisan news sites to rivalrous attempts to overhaul the party's beleaguered data file. This is all unfolding as the pandemic forces campaigns to pivot away from door-knocks and packed rallies and toward data mining and influencer marketing - which in many ways play to the strengths of these tech titans, making them even more influential at a time when many in the Democratic Party are uneasy with just how powerful some in tech have become....In Silicon Valley's new political moment, four billionaires in particular - LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs, and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt - have the most ambitious plans, according to Recode's interviews with over 20 donors and operatives. The chess moves of this power set are instrumental to fulfilling Democrats' - and much of Silicon Valley's - four-year quest to oust Donald Trump. And yet each of these billionaires is moving their pieces with varying levels of secrecy, and often with minimal disclosure, scrutiny, or accountability....The Silicon Valley set is uniquely seeking to build a digital world optimized for 2020, drawing lessons from the right-wing media ecosystem that conservatives built and Trump capitalized upon in 2016. 'For far too long right-wing media has dominated our discourse and Facebook news feeds,' said Tara McGowan, the founder of Acronym, a political group backed by Powell Jobs and Hoffman. 'We can't sit by another cycle and watch a one-sided battle play out online.'....For all these billionaires' best-laid plans to help-desk the Democratic Party's digital woes before Election Day, Democrats fret that the coronavirus is dividing their attention and convincing some of them to reroute funds from political causes to charitable ones."

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6.1.20 - Amid Protests, US Businesses Close

Gold last traded at $1,750 an ounce. Silver at $18.76 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose Monday on safe-haven buying and a weaker dollar. U.S. stocks struggled as investors digested the impact protests may have on reopening the U.S. economy.

Retailers and restaurants across the U.S. close their doors amid protests -Houston Chronicle
"It had only been two days since Lilliannia Ayers reopened her Queen Hippie Gypsy store in downtown Oakland, Calif., before her front window was smashed and her storefront was spray painted Friday. On Saturday night, she and neighbors stayed up all night to protect their stores - hopeful the protest movements across the U.S. would not destroy her business so soon after it suffered a devastating hit from the pandemic shutdown. Similar scenes of destruction have created chaos and concern along the path of the nation's protests over the death of a black man in police custody in Minneapolis. That's pushed brick-and-mortar retail and restaurant industries, already hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, to the center. Retailers and other businesses in cities across the U.S., including the Bay Area, the District of Columbia, New York, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Minneapolis, experienced broken windows, thefts and other violence over the weekend. The actions prompted a number of businesses to shut their doors and raised questions about how exactly the actions relate to the protesters, many of whom were peaceful. Walmart on Sunday closed several hundred stores due to potential protests. Amazon said it had adjusted routes or scaled back delivery operations in some cities, while Apple closed an unspecified number of stores on Sunday. Target said it temporarily closed six stores in California, Minnesota, Illinois and Pennsylvania. The Mayor of Philadelphia ordered all retailers to shut down Sunday. Destruction is adding a new economic wrinkle for businesses already struggling. But the actions across the U.S. in protest of police brutality has also prompted many affected businesses to speak out in support of the protests."

gold prices In Gold We Trust -Incrementum AG
"As gold investors, we are naturally very interested in the question of how the gold price might develop over the course of the coming golden decade....We use two parameters to calculate the price target, namely money supply developments and the implicit gold coverage ratio. Our expectation for the gold price at the end of the decade is around $4,800. The distribution is clearly skewed to the right. This means that significantly higher prices are far more likely than lower ones. Of course, quantitative models of this kind always have a certain degree of fuzziness. However, we believe that we have taken a conservative approach to calibrating the scenarios. Not least because of the unique global debt situation described in detail in this year's In Gold We Trust report, growth figures for M2 in the decade that has just begun are not implausible at the same level as in the 1970s. In this case, the model suggests a gold price of $8,900 by 2030. As you have gathered from our comprehensive report, we expect significant upheavals in the new decade with positive effects on the gold price. What is the reason for our unbroken trust in gold? First and foremost, our fondness for gold is based on our understanding of monetary history. Milton Friedman put it aptly when he said that there is nothing more permanent than a temporary government program. Richard Nixon's announcement in 1971 that gold convertibility would be temporarily suspended turned out to be a seemingly permanent provisional solution. This temporary solution has now lasted for almost half a century....At 'The Dawning of a Golden Decade' we still say: IN GOLD WE TRUST.

Do You Feel $9,000 Richer, Punk? -Welch/Reason
"As Congress squabbles over the next multitrillion-dollar phase of coronavirus relief, it's worth asking the question: Do you feel $9,000 richer since March? Unless you were an early investor in the vaccine-chasing Moderna Therapeutics, the answer is likely 'no.' And yet the estimated $3 trillion price tag on the first four batches of COVID-19 stimulus, divided by 330 million increasingly underemployed U.S. residents, equals $9,000 per capita, which has ended up where government payouts usually go: to entities with better connections than you. There was the $50 billion to airline companies - $25 billion in loan guarantees, $25 billion in grants - which promptly slashed worker hours while burning fuel on empty flights at the government's request. There were the concierge-service clients of banking behemoths Citibank, U.S. Bank, and J.P. Morgan Chase, who got to the front of the line for the feds' $349 billion loan program for small businesses. And don't forget the Federal Reserve, which is propping up Wall Street by doing what Fed Chair Jerome Powell recently characterized on 60 Minutes as 'a multiple of the programs that were done during the last crisis.'....'Millions of Americans are seeing that the government spent trillions of dollars and still didn't get it right,' Rep. Justin Amash (L–Mich.) told me last month, during his brief flirtation with the Libertarian Party presidential nomination. 'They didn't get help to the people who need it most. Instead, most of the assistance went to people who have great connections, who run big corporations. Those people, they got it really fast.' Why does this happen every time? As economists like to say, incentives matter. Sure, Congress could have just mailed us each a $9,000 check - or maybe $7,000, spending the rest on medical system capacity. But then the two major parties wouldn't have been able to go back to their favored and most supportive constituencies and brag about their special treatment....So what does Congress do for an encore? House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) wants to double down on another $3 trillion. No, we'll need $10 trillion to stave off another great depression, they tell us in The Atlantic."

Masks Versus No-Masks: Is This The New Symbol Of Tribalism? -Luther/Zero Hedge
"Masks have become a symbol of which 'side' you're on in the coronavirus debate in the United States and for some folks, whether you choose to wear one or not says a lot about you. If you don't wear a mask, you're seen as a callous brute who doesn't care whether you spread your germs and kill grandma. If you do wear a mask, you're seen as a quivering sheep, someone who has been willingly muted by the government. Rationally, we know there's a lot more to it than that, however, rational thinking is rarely at the forefront when tempers are flaring. Whether or not you choose to wear a mask is an incredibly visible sign that many will read as an alliance to one 'side' or the other. It's becoming almost tribal. There are a lot of folks who come down on the side of wearing a mask. Why? Most of them say it's to protect others from them in case they're unwittingly carrying and spreading the virus....The data regarding the cloth masks that most people are wearing doesn't really support their use....On the other side of the debate we have those who refuse to wear masks. Some folks won't do business in stores that require them. Others try to enter the establishments that require masks without adhering to the requests. Others just stay at home because they refuse to comply. Why won't they wear masks? Some of it goes back to the Surgeon General's early recommendation that masks were not helpful in stopping the spread of the coronavirus. There are a couple of other reasons, too. First, many feel based on the information above that the masks are not effective. If they don't work, why should they go through the discomfort and for some, the difficulty breathing that mask-wearing brings? Some see it as a symbol of weakness....I strongly believe we should be responsible for our own health and therefore make these choices ourselves. At the same time, I support the right for businesses to choose whether or not to serve people who refuse to wear masks. If you, as a customer, feel strongly about not wearing a mask, you should vote with your wallet and go to stores that don't require it. This is a purely libertarian point of view. It's about personal responsibility and the free market. Personally, I keep a mask tucked into my purse and wear it if the establishment I'm visiting has a policy requiring it."

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5.29.20 - $5,000-$9,000 Gold Within 10 Years

Gold last traded at $1,751 an ounce. Silver at $18.53 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose Friday on safe-haven buying and a weaker dollar. U.S. stocks fell as traders braced for an upcoming news conference on U.S.-China relations from President Donald Trump.

Gold to see $5,000-$9,000 price levels in 10 years -In Gold We Trust Report/Kitco
"The yellow metal could be looking at nearing the $5,000 an ounce price tag in a decade and that is a conservative estimate, according to the annual In Gold We Trust Report published by Incrementum AG. The 14th annual report made some pretty bold predictions for the gold market, forecasting prices to, at least, approach $5,000 an ounce and possibly even push towards $9,000 an ounce by 2030, Incrementum AG fund managers and authors of the report Ronald-Peter Stoeferle and Mark Valek wrote on Wednesday. The difference between whether gold will be near $5,000 an ounce or $9,000 an ounce will depend on the global debt situation as well as inflation. 'The proprietary valuation model shows a gold price of $4,800 at the end of this decade, even with conservative calibration. Should money supply growth develop in a similar inflationary manner to that of the 1970s, a gold price of $8,900 is conceivable by 2030,' the report stated. The monetary systems in their current form all have an expiration date, the authors of the report said. 'Due to the expected economic and monetary turbulences, the coming years will hold many challenges for investors,' Stoeferle and Valek wrote."

covid COVID-19 Stimulus Packages Take Away Post-Lockdown Job Incentives -Bonner/Rogue Economics
"For the last 10 years - or longer - Wall Street and big business have been in high clover. But it's been barren ground for the average working man. Big banks, big business, and big investors have been able to get credit from the feds at or below the rate of consumer price inflation. The EZ money acted like Miracle-Gro in the stock market; prices rose 300%. But the economy, in which the little guys live and earn their money - suffered a long drought, growing only a piddly 50% in 10 years....And now, with 43 million unemployed… the grumbling gets louder. Menacing, even. In desperation and frustration, voters might even elect Joe Biden.But the feds are no dopes. They're applying the same techniques that worked so well with the cronies to silence the proletariat. That is, they are paying them off. As strange as it seems, the Paycheck Protection Plan does more than protect a man's income. Instead, it enhances it....State unemployment benefits of $400 per week, average, are already not bad for many of these workers. Add on the $600 per week that the feds are chipping in and you have an income which, in many cases, is more than double what the fellow was earning before the crisis. Many wage-earners are delighted to be laid off - they make more money!....Who will want to go back to work… and earn less? Workers will be reluctant to return to the office or the factory floor. (There might be germs there!) This will obviously delay a recovery. And they will expect higher pay (thus reducing employers' desire to take them back). What to do?....White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow recently said the administration is interested in back-to-work bonuses for the unemployed. He mentioned $450 per week in addition to any wages those individuals would make....More damaging in the long run, average Americans will now begin to see the feds - not honest work - as the best source of wealth."

Big Bankruptcies Sweep the U.S. in Fastest Pace Since May 2009 -Yahoo Finance
"In the first few weeks of the pandemic, it was just a trickle: companies like Alaskan airline Ravn Air pushed into bankruptcy as travel came to a halt and markets collapsed. But the financial distress wrought by the shutdowns only deepened, producing what is now a wave of insolvencies washing through America's corporations. In May alone, some 27 companies reporting at least $50 million in liabilities sought court protection from creditors - the highest number since the Great Recession. They range from well-known U.S. mainstays such as J.C. Penney Co. and J. Crew Group Inc. to air carriers Latam Airlines Group SA and Avianca Holdings, their business decimated as travelers stayed put. In May 2009, 29 major companies filed for bankruptcy, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. And year-to-date, there have been 98 bankruptcies filed by companies with at least $50 million in liabilities - also the highest since 2009. Few people believe bankruptcies have by any means hit a peak. 'I think we're going to continue to see filings of at least the level we're seeing for a while,' said Melanie Cyganowski, a former bankruptcy judge now with the Otterbourg law firm....'If you know someone at the bankruptcy courts, be sure to thank them,' Duston McFaul, a partner at law firm Sidley Austin, said in an email. 'They're already over-stretched and we're only in the first inning.'"

In virus chaos, some find solace, purpose in helping others -Associated Press
"In April, as the coronavirus was ravaging New York, Susan Jones learned her older brother had been diagnosed with a blood cancer. His supervisor at work launched a GoFundMe page to help with costs, and Jones shared it on Facebook...She was stunned to see scores of colleagues - some she didn't even know that well, and didn't even know she had a brother - donating, despite their own economic challenges in a struggling dance community. Jones found herself asking: Would the response have been the same just two months earlier, before the pandemic? She's fairly certain it wouldn't. Instead, she thinks the instinct to help shows, along with simple kindness, how people are striving to make a difference. At a time of helplessness, she says, helping others makes a mark on a world that seems to be overwhelming all of us....Helping others can feel good is not just an anecdotal truth but an idea backed by research, says Laurie Santos, psychology professor at Yale University and teacher of the school's most popular course to date: 'Psychology and the Good Life.' 'The intuition that helping others is the key to our well-being right now fits with science,' Santos says. 'There's lots of research showing that spending our time and money on other people can often make us happier than spending that same time or money on ourselves.'....When the pandemic struck, Blake Ross, a 37-year-old mother of a toddler in New York, was testing the waters to re-enter the job market - in the field of event programming, as it happens....She hit on the idea of a website to connect people who wanted to help with those who need it. Taking a cue from her theater-industry background, she called her site 'Kindness of Strangers' after the line in Tennessee Williams' 'A Streetcar Named Desire.' Some 500 people from New York and around the world have signed on...Ross has partnered with Enlivant, which runs senior homes in 20 states, and has set up an adopt-a-grandparent program. 'The essence of volunteering is that you feel wonderful after giving of yourself,' Ross says. 'You certainly get as much as you give.'"

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5.28.20 - Jobless Stats May Not Tell Full Story

Gold last traded at $1,723 an ounce. Silver at $17.87 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose Thursday on safe-haven buying and a weaker dollar. U.S. stocks rose as traders see the latest data as a signal the economy may be nearing the bottom.

Gold gains as simmering US-China tensions boost demand -CNBC
"Gold prices rebounded on Thursday as deteriorating U.S.-China relations over Beijing's move to impose a national-security law in Hong Kong fanned concerns over quick economic recovery and drove investors towards the safe-haven metal....'The tensions between U.S. and China continue to be on the high side. Overall, the market is a bit worried about the situation geopolitically and also economically,' said Afshin Nabavi, senior vice president at precious metals trader MKS SA. China's parliament approved a national security legislation for Hong Kong on Thursday, fueling fears it could jeopardize its special autonomy and freedoms. The new security law on Hong Kong has lead to an escalation in trade tension between the United States and China amid Washington ramping up criticism of China over the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. The escalating tensions have increased interest in gold, which is seen as a safe investment during times of political and financial uncertainty."

jobless claims Jobless Numbers May Not Tell Full Story -New York Times
"More than 40 million people - the equivalent of one out of every four American workers - have filed for unemployment benefits since the coronavirus pandemic grabbed hold in mid-March, the government reported on Thursday, an astounding tally that rivals the bleakest years of the Great Depression. The latest batch of claims - the 2.1 million people who filed a new jobless claim last week - may not be only a result of fresh layoffs, but also evidence that states are working their way through some of the choking backlog. 'We're still catching up,' Diane Swonk, chief economist at the accounting firm Grant Thornton, said of the newest claims. 'The lags have been long.' The Labor Department report marks the eighth week in a row that new jobless claims dipped from the peak of almost 6.9 million - but the level is still far above any other historical highs....'It's unclear if states are including duplicate claims due to error, fraud or the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program,' Mr. Tedeschi said. That same system is most likely missing millions of other laid-off workers. Even now, three states have not put the pandemic unemployment insurance program into effect, and several others have yet to report any claims....The way 'initial claims' are counted may also vary by state, with some excluding claims that have not been processed."

The "future of work" is here, thanks to Covid-19 -Quartz
"As the Covid-19 crisis has unfolded, corporate leaders have scrambled to develop radical new strategies for accessing customers, maintaining supply chains, and salvaging revenue streams. Many of their solutions have been strikingly innovative. Yet when it comes to the ins and outs of the white-collar work environment - where, when, and how we work each day - the changes are exactly what I would've expected...In some ways, this crisis has merely catapulted them directly into a future we've all been inching toward for years: the so-called future of work. As dean of Columbia University's School of Professional Studies, and a professor of human capital management, my research and teaching both focus on the future of work domain...Though I never would've wished for a pandemic to be the catalyst, I do believe our suddenly new ways of working are here to stay. As leaders adjust to this, here are four future-of-work pillars...Pillar 1: Flexible hours - Since the outbreak of the pandemic, our definition of the word 'office' has changed dramatically...The definition of the 'workday' has changed, as well; it is no longer limited to a certain subset of hours that all employees share....Pillar 2: Data-based employee metrics - Leaders don't need to stop evaluating employee performance - far from it. They'll simply need to create new metrics of success...Once the metrics are set, leaders must make their new expectations crystal clear....Pillar 3: Social impact - Forward-thinking leaders will continue to prioritize corporate social impact. They will build long-term relationships with nonprofits, offering resources, funding, and volunteer opportunities, and will cultivate a workplace culture that invests in more than just the bottom line. Pillar 4: Authentic relationships -Now that we're experiencing a season of global crisis together, the last semblances of formality have been stripped away. The term 'business casual' has taken on new meaning, as we've literally seen into each other's homes and met each other's partners, pets, and children....I believe the smartest business leaders won't rush back to the constraints of unnecessary formalities, cubicles, or commutes. Instead, they will accept that the future of work has already arrived - and, in doing so, will prepare themselves and their teams for whatever comes next."

A Plainer People in a Plainer Time -Noonan/Wall Street Journal
"We're easing up. Good, it's time. Spring is here, summer's coming. You can pass any well-meaning restriction and do your best to enforce it, but great leaders work with human nature, not against it. People need to be together, out in the air, in the sun, and if you don’t let them they'll find a way anyhow, and then everybody will have to fight. All 50 states are to varying degree unlocking. How citizens do this will determine the size and severity of second and third waves. It's almost all in our hands....What we did - essentially shut down a great, complex, modern nation for two months out of concern that people would become sick - had never been tried before. It's something new in history. We will look back on it, however it turns out, with a certain wonder. In those two months we learned a lot. How intertwined and interconnected our economy is, how provisional, how this thing depended on that....But the biggest things I suspect we learned were internal. No matter what you do for a living, when you weren't busy introspection knocked on the door and settled in...They've been conducting a kind of internal life review, reflecting on the decision that seemed small and turned out to be crucial, wondering about paths not taken, recognizing strokes of luck. They've been thinking about their religious faith or lack of it, about their relationships....Here is what I am certain of. We will emerge a plainer people in a plainer country, and maybe a deeper one. Something big inside us shifted...We're getting pared down. We're paring ourselves down."

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5.27.20 - The Real Reason Gold is Rising

Gold last traded at $1,711 an ounce. Silver at $17.78 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices traded mixed Wednesday on rising investor risk tolerance. U.S. stocks also traded mixed as traders grappled with the economy reopening and a big drop in tech shares.

Here's the Real Reason Gold Has Been Rising -Bloomberg
"Gold goes up when interest rates go down...If you adjust the price of gold for inflation, you see it falling in the early part of the past decade as the real yield on government bonds rose. (Real means adjusted for inflation.) More recently, the opposite has been happening: The inflation-adjusted price of gold has risen, while the real interest rate on 10-year Treasury notes has fallen. This relationship makes sense. Gold pays no interest, so it's unattractive at a time when the real interest paid on bonds is high. In economists' terms, the opportunity cost of holding gold is high at such times. In contrast, at times such as this, when the yield to be had from Treasuries is actually negative, gold looks pretty good. In short, gold isn't going up because of inflation. It's going up because the Fed and other central banks are slashing interest rates to fight the opposite risk - deflation caused by the deep Covid-19 recession. Of course, gold would also do well if inflation surged and the Fed went easy on raising rates as the economy regained steam. The fear of that scenario is probably behind some investors' gold-buying...Deflation, not inflation, is the motor behind gold's rise."

covid Coronavirus apps' fatal flaw: Almost everyone has to use them or they won't work -Fortune
"A team in Switzerland today became the world's first to introduce a contact-tracing app built on a protocol jointly designed by Apple and Google...Contact-tracing apps work by automatically recording other nearby devices that have the same app installed. Users who later test positive for COVID-19 can use the app to automatically send alerts to those other people they were in contact with, advising them to self-isolate for 14 days or to get tested themselves....But, unfortunately, there's a hidden flaw in these contact-tracing apps - in fact, in all contact-tracing apps - that means they are unlikely to live up to their promise: To work effectively, they require adoption rates of well over half the population, which few mobile apps, even the most viral and fun, ever achieve. The Apple-Google protocol is popular with civil liberties groups that fret about the Big Brother implications of governments collecting in a central database citizens' location information and records of everyone they've met. The Apple-Google solution works without holding this information centrally....A widely cited study by a team at Oxford University found that apps must be adopted by 56% of people to have a dramatic impact on coronavirus transmission rates....Assuming the app's use can't be mandated, privacy does become an important issue. If people are worried about the government having access to their location data and insights into their contacts, they will be less likely to download and use the app."

Getting A Sense of the Economy's Current Hole and How the Government's Measures To Fill It (Don't) Add Up -Snyder/Alhambra
"The numbers just don't add up. Even if you treat this stuff on the most charitable of terms, dollar for dollar, way too much of the hole almost certainly remains unfilled. That's the thing about 'stimulus' talk; for one thing, people seem to be viewing it as some kind of addition without thinking it all the way through first....Everyone forgets the last time when the government tried this, impressing markets and the media with its huge numbers, that after it was over its proponents complained how it wasn't big enough....What we are dealing with today is an economic disruption the proportions of which are an historical outlier. That means an unfathomable number of workers are not getting paid and therefore consumers not spending, businesses don't collect that revenue which destroys their profit levels, and then business investment which doesn't get done on top of both consumers and businesses far more likely to save and act differently than before....The stock market like many commentators are all saying the government's done more than enough, perhaps too much (inflation). That all depends first upon the scale of the hole....For Q2 alone, the gap is $2.1 trillion - as a starting point. Two point one TRILLION in lost direct economic output. Not an annual rate, not seasonally-adjusted, gross nominal dollars. If we tally up the rest of the year, quarters one through four, this scenario leaves us expecting just $18.9 trillion in total output compared to the $22.3 trillion under our 4% growth baseline - for a yearly difference in lost activity of somewhere around $3.4 trillion...Using less moderate estimates, the gap really does tally $4 trillion or more....Even if we assume dollar for dollar the government's spending hits the real economy in gross nominal output, that still leaves a deficit of substantially greater than $1 trillion."

The Healing Power of Proper Breathing -Wall Street Journal
"Breathing is not an activity that anyone is feeling confident about right now. We spend our days covering our mouths and noses with masks, struggling to inhale and exhale. We toss and turn at night, worried that we might be feeling a cough coming on or some tightness in our chests. Covid-19 has turned us into a planet of breath-obsessed people. But as hard as it might be to fathom now, there is a silver lining here: Breathing is a missing pillar of health, and our attention to it is long overdue. Most of us misunderstand breathing. We see it as passive, something that we just do. Breathe, live; stop breathing, die. But breathing is not that simple and binary. How we breathe matters, too...The way that we take in that air and expel it is as important as what we eat, how much we exercise and the genes we've inherited...Breathing properly can allow us to live longer and healthier lives. Breathing poorly, by contrast, can exacerbate and sometimes cause a laundry list of chronic diseases: asthma, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, hypertension and more....The first step in healthy breathing: extending breaths to make them a little deeper, a little longer. Try it. For the next several minutes, inhale gently through your nose to a count of about five and then exhale, again through your nose, at the same rate or a little more slowly if you can. This works out to about six breaths a minute...Just a few minutes of inhaling and exhaling at this pace can drop blood pressure by 10, even 15 points....The second step in healthy breathing: Breathe through your nose. Nasal breathing not only helps with snoring and some mild cases of sleep apnea, it also can allow us to absorb around 18% more oxygen than breathing through our mouths. It reduces the risk of dental cavities and respiratory problems and likely boosts sexual performance. The list goes on....It costs nothing and takes little time and effort. It's a therapy our ancestors self-administered for thousands of years with only their lips, noses and lungs."

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5.26.20 - Gold May Reach a Record by Year End

Gold last traded at $1,706 an ounce. Silver at $17.61 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices eased Monday on profit-taking despite a weaker dollar. U.S. stocks rose sharply as markets cheered signs of economies reopening and a potential new coronavirus vaccine.

Gold may reach a record by year end as investor need creates 'more demand than the market can handle' -Marketwatch
"Gold prices could reach a record by year end, but don't expect to see a smooth ride to the top, even as measures to offset the pandemic-hit economy support the precious metal's appeal as a haven....The most significant supportive factor for gold is the 'amount of debt being created to fund the various global monetary and fiscal deficits,' says Peter Grosskopf, chief executive officer at Sprott Inc. Against that backdrop, gold is experiencing a broad rally, with 'participants ranging from state funds to pensions to [high-net-worth] clients to hedge funds.....'More investors need to add gold as a protection asset in their portfolios,' Grosskopf says. That will 'create more demand than the market can handle,' he says, and with the increasing amounts of monetary accommodation and fiscal deficits, gold could move through its past highs - to $1,900 or $2,000 - by the end of 2020. He refers to gold as a chameleon, as well as an 'anti-confidence thermometer' that 'attaches itself to themes and…does equally well during periods of extreme deflation and inflation.'"

test Should You Get Tested For COVID-19? -Zero Hedge
"What is a 'confirmed case' of COVID-19? No. This is not a trick question. It's someone who has tested positive for COVID–19. Meaning, you can be perfectly healthy, test positive, and become a 'confirmed case.' (You are therefore classified as 'asymptomatic.') Everything, therefore, hinges on the PCR tests - the most widely used method today - being accurate. Of course, 100% accuracy is impossible in anything. But the question is, how accurate are they? The rub? Testing an uninfected population will produce only false-positives and no false-negatives....The FDA has approved 33 different PCR tests from separate manufacturers. Problem #1: There's no single standard on what to detect. Some of the FDA–approved tests require only one segment to be present in order to test positive. Others require two. Others require two, but only one needs to be present. Others require three but require two to be present. Others insist all three. Which works best? We have no clue. They're all approved. Problem #2: There's no single standard for cutoff. When used as a test, the PCR technique doesn't produce a binary negative/positive result....The Biggest Problem: We are using these tests as the basis of every decision - local and national. And there's little consistency. In the hospital, for example, the moment someone with symptoms tests positive, they are treated as if they have COVID–19/SARS. This can lead to doctors and nurses jumping to invasive and aggressive treatments, all of which could have serious side-effects....Conclusion: So, until there's some uniformity, sanity, and clarity on the tests… Consider carefully whether or not you actually need one."

Only 50% of Americans believe it's a good time to buy a home, an all-time low -Gallup/Marketwatch
"Americans have quickly soured on the prospects of the nation's real-estate market as the coronavirus pandemic has swept the country. Only 50% of Americans said that now is a good time to buy a home, according to a survey of roughly 1,000 people released Friday by polling firm Gallup. That represents the lowest share of Americans to have a positive view on the country's housing market in the time that Gallup has tracked people's sentiments on real estate...The previous low was set back in 2006 when only 52% of Americans thought it was a good time to buy amid the subprime mortgage-fueled housing bubble. Additionally, only 40% of Americans think that the average price of a home where they live will increase over the next year, down from 62% a year ago....Home sales have come close to a standstill in many parts of the country. Social-distancing recommendations have significantly complicated real-estate agents' ability to market homes, and home buyers face a more complicated process completing all the paperwork needed to buy a property. It has also gotten more difficult to get a mortgage. Sellers, meanwhile, have refrained from listing their homes or pulled them from the market to avoid the possibility of needing to sell at a lower price."

How Upbeat Vaccine News Fueled a Stock Surge, and an Uproar -DNyuz
"When the biotech company Moderna announced early last Monday morning positive results from a small, preliminary trial of its coronavirus vaccine, the company's chief medical officer described the news as a 'triumphant day for us.' Moderna's stock price jumped as much as 30 percent. Its announcement helped lift the stock market and was widely reported by news organizations, including The New York Times. Nine hours after its initial news release - and after the markets closed - the company announced a stock offering with the aim of raising more than $1 billion to help bankroll vaccine development. By Tuesday, a backlash was underway. The company had not released any more data, so scientists could not evaluate its claim. The government agency leading the trial, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had made no comment on the results. And the stock sale stirred concerns about whether the company had sought to jack up the price of its stock offering with the news. The Moderna episode is a case study in how the coronavirus pandemic and the desperate hunt for treatments and vaccines are shaking up the financial markets and the way that researchers, regulators, drug companies, biotech investors and journalists do their jobs....'You have these wild swings, based on incomplete information,' said David Maris, managing director of Phalanx Investment Partners, and a longtime analyst covering the pharmaceutical industry. 'It's a crazy, speculative environment, because the pandemic has caused people to want to believe that there's going to be a miracle cure in a miracle time frame.'"

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5.22.20 - Silver Price Begins To Accelerate

Gold last traded at $1,730 an ounce. Silver at $17.64 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose Friday on safe-haven buying due to rising China tensions, despite a firmer dollar. U.S. stocks fell on investor worry after the Senate passed a bill that would potentially delist Chinese stocks from U.S. exchanges.

Silver Begins To Accelerate Higher Faster Than Gold -FX Empire/Yahoo News
"Precious metals have been on our radar for many months and, if you’ve been paying attention, you probably already know our research suggests Gold and Silver are one of the best investments you can make right now....Both Gold and Silver are making bigger upside price moves with Silver up over 3% while Gold is up 1.3%. We believe this nearly 250% faster Silver advance may be the start of what we have been predicting for many months - an incredible parabolic upside price advance in BOTH Gold and Silver....Our earlier research suggests when this move/setup begins, we could begin to experience a nearly 250% to 350% rally in gold, targeting $3750 or higher, and a 550% to 650% rally in Silver, targeting over $70, over a 12+ month span of time...We believe this SETUP is happening right now and the upside rally in precious metals should begin to really accelerate over the next 5+ months....In 2009, the Gold to Silver ratio level began to collapse from 85 to 32 - well over 50 points (58%). The current Gold to Silver ratio high is nearly 120. Another 58% collapse from that level would suggest the Gold to Silver ratio could fall to 50 (or further) which would indicate that both Gold and Silver could rally extensively throughout the next 12+ months....We don't know where you are going to find many opportunities that beat this setup in Precious Metals right now. This is the trade/setup of your lifetime."

Follow This Investment Trend to Secure Your Wealth for Decades -Dyson/Rogue Economics
"If you've been reading my recent essays, you’ll know that I've been promoting a simple exchange: Sell stocks, buy gold....We are using gold primarily as money - a safe haven - and not as a speculation on higher gold prices. This is why I've put the bulk of my money into physical gold. It's a way to keep us safe while the investment markets correct. This chart shows what I'm talking about. It shows stocks (specifically the Dow Jones Industrial Average) priced in gold. As you can see, the primary trend in the stock market has been DOWN since October 2018, when it peaked at around 22. It's currently around 14. And it's on its way back down to below 5. By owning gold, we set ourselves up to buy stocks at some point in the next five to 10 years at much lower valuations than they are at today. And as such, the only thing that matters is how gold performs relative to stocks. Its nominal price of $1,700 - or whatever it is today - is irrelevant. So if you're worried that you've missed the boat, keep in mind that this trend still has a long way to go. So for the moment, I have the bulk of my portfolio in physical gold....I'm sitting on the sidelines in gold, where I will remain until stocks are ready to beat gold again. And I'll know the time is right by keeping an eye on the Dow-to-Gold ratio....If I'm right about this - and if I time my zigzag correctly - my family will never have to worry about money again."

Will government mandate COVID-19 vaccinations? -The Hill
"If the government determines that vaccinations are essential to stemming the spread of the disease, would it - could it - mandate vaccination compliance? Apparently, it can - and it might. Many medical experts believe that developing one or more COVID-19 vaccines is the key to reopening the economy and returning to our normal lives. For example, the Mayo Clinic says, 'A vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is perhaps the best hope for ending the pandemic.'....The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages adults to be immunized for a range of diseases. The flu vaccine leads the CDC's list that includes tetanus and diphtheria every 10 years, shingles, pneumonia and several others. Consider the flu vaccine. It is one of the most affordable and accessible vaccines available, and yet the CDC reports the adult vaccination rate over the past decade has ranged between 40 and 45 percent....While a small percentage of Americans oppose vaccinations on religious or medical grounds, most of the unvaccinated apparently just choose not to. Will a coronavirus vaccine see a higher uptake rate? Maybe. There is a lot of fear among the public, and that may persuade most adults to be vaccinated...If the COVID-19 vaccination rate is low, will the federal or, more likely, state governments step in and mandate vaccination?....Government mandated vaccinations for adults would be a major and controversial step. But then government has taken a number of major and controversial steps recently, such as shutting down the economy. But just because government can do something doesn't mean it should."

Americans Have Rediscovered Self-Reliance -Reason
"When state and local governments first issued pandemic lockdown orders as part of their efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 pundits debated whether supposedly individualistic Americans would knuckle under. As it turns out, many people initially obeyed, but a lot of us quickly got fed up as restrictions killed jobs and smothered social interactions. If anything, pandemic restrictions fed oxygen to the embers of the individualist, anti-authoritarian tradition. Likewise, the lockdowns have fueled old habits of self-reliance, prompting Americans to relearn skills and revive almost-forgotten habits in ways that, for better or worse, may shape the future. Cooking at home was the first skill to gain new life in a nation that had become increasingly accustomed to take-out, fast food, and sit-down restaurant meals. 'Until recently, learning how to cook, or learning how to cook better, as an adult was considered an aspirational skill akin to learning how to ski - could be nice, might be fun, but would be daunting and could come with potentially expensive start-up costs,' reports the Washington Post....Canning supplies and online lessons in food preservation also took off, as people realized they have to use or store anything they grow....'Sewing machines are one of the top 20 items in demand during this pandemic,' Singer apologetically tells customers wondering about their delayed orders. While they wait for those sewing machines to arrive, Americans are repairing gutters and building shelving units. Confinement at home with time but little money on our hands has 'made us all very handy,' says The New York Times. 'For many homeowners across the country, the coronavirus-imposed quarantine has presented an opportunity to head over to the local hardware store and launch a few D.I.Y. projects around the house.'....Uncertain about the future, Americans are holding on to money rather than spending. The personal savings rate is now 13.1 percent, the highest level since 1981. Worried about the future and stashing cash as a hedge against risk, many - not all, but certainly a good number - of Americans will continue cooking, baking, brewing, gardening, and repairing....In the wake of the crisis will be hard-learned skills and the confidence and sense of self-reliance for using them."

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5.21.20 - Will Americans Submit to 2nd Lockdown?

Gold last traded at $1,724 an ounce. Silver at $17.44 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices eased back Thursday on short-term profit-taking and a firmer dollar. U.S. stocks fell, led by the tech sector, as investors digested rising weekly unemployment data.

Odey Says Governments May Make Private Gold Ownership Illegal -Bloomberg/Yahoo Finance
"Crispin Odey, one of Europe's highest-profile hedge fund managers, said that governments may ban private gold ownership if they lose control of inflation in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. 'It is no surprise that people are buying gold. But the authorities may attempt at some point to de-monetise gold, making it illegal to own as a private individual,' Odey wrote in a letter to investors seen by Bloomberg. 'They will only do this if they feel the need to create a stable unit of account for world trade.'....Fear of government confiscation is a common theme among some of gold's most ardent supporters, who point for precedent to the U.S. government's forced purchases of private bullion holdings in 1933 as part of a devaluation of the dollar. The price of gold was raised from $20.67 an ounce to $35, where it remained until the U.S. ended the gold standard in 1971....Odey, who has previously compared the current pandemic to the Great Depression of the 1930s, argued that central banks would fail to contain inflation as the economy eventually recovers from the impact of global lockdowns. 'History is filled with examples where rulers have, in moments of crisis, resorted to debasing the coinage,' he wrote. Odey is not alone in betting that gold will benefit as high inflation follows the coronavirus crisis."

snake Will Americans submit to a 2nd lockdown? -Buchanan/WND
"The country, as a whole, is, and has been, opening up. Sunday's New York Times reports that, for weeks now, more than two-thirds of the states have been relaxing restrictions as Trump had urged. The reasons: weariness with the lockdown and sheltering in place, a growing belief that the worst of the pandemic is behind us and undeniably positive news from several fronts in the coronavirus war....The number of deaths has fallen from 2,200 a day in April to closer to 1,400 a day in mid-May...As of Friday, the rate of new cases of the coronavirus was declining in 19 states and rising in only three....Clearly, the opening in many states has been driven by popular protest and public demand. Crowds have ignored social distancing to demonstrate for an end to the shutdown...The protesters seem to be saying: We deplore the losses and know the risks, but we cannot live our lives behind closed doors in our homes until the elites tell us, as though we were children, when we may go out in the yard. Hence, the next question we are all likely to confront: If there is a sudden resurgence of the coronavirus, a second wave, and the media elite and blue-state governors demand a new shutdown...will the people of this republic comply with those demands or defy them? Will the nation answer back to the elites: We did that...But, now, with the shutdown having put 36 million Americans on unemployment and sunk our GDP to Depression-era levels, we're going back to work....The proponents of a second shutdown will be liberal governors and mayors, the mainstream media and the Nancy Pelosi wing of Congress. It should not go unmentioned that the latter's political interests are best served the longer the shutdown endures and the worse the economic situation on Nov. 3. If the economy has failed to begin a robust recovery by fall, the greater the odds that Joe Biden wins the White House. Yet, even if the pandemic returns in the fall, the establishment cannot keep the country closed indefinitely."

Nearly Half of U.S. Households Have Lost Income Since Lockdowns Started -Wall Street Journal
"Nearly half of American households have lost income in the two months since the coronavirus pandemic led to a nationwide economic shutdown and more than a third expect to lose income over the next four weeks, the Census Bureau said in a new report....The first round of results showed the breadth of the economic dislocations attributable to efforts to slow the spread of the pandemic. They also show an expectation that the pandemic will continue to hurt households despite the steady reopening of economic activity in states across the country. Among the hardest hit were states heavily reliant on tourism or the energy industry, industries that have seen sharp declines as a result of the pandemic....Younger households and those with lower incomes or education levels were also more likely to report they lost income, the data showed. Earlier this month, the Labor Department said roughly 20.5 million jobs disappeared in April, pushing up the unemployment rate to a record 14.7%."

Let's Make This Crisis the (Grand) Mother of Invention -Freedman/Philanthropy
"'Stay home, stay safe.' When it comes to the heightened vulnerability of America's elders in the face of Covid-19, these are often wise words. But the unwritten injunction might as well be 'Stay home, stay safe, and stay out of the way.'...The insidious implication is that older people are exclusively the objects of service, helpless not helpers, anything but essential. What a contrast to the thousands of older doctors, nurses, and health care workers who are working the front lines, many of them coming out of retirement to do so. Reminders, all of them, of older adults' vast reservoir of experience and how desperately it's needed today. Nowhere is the need more dire than in the lives of America's children. Already acquiring the moniker of Generation C (for Covid), millions of young people have had their schooling upended....Where to turn for help? The one natural resource in this country that is both untapped and growing: older people. The ones who have no interest in staying out of the way...It's a match as old as time. Researchers have shown that the needs and assets of the generations fit together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle....The Harvard Study of Adult Development shows that these bonds are a key to happiness in later life. Older people who connect with younger ones, the study shows, are three times as likely to be happy as those who fail to do so. And happiness is just the start. Other research underscores that older mentors, tutors, and 'community grandparents' - unrelated but no less devoted - reap significant gains to their physical and mental health from spending time with kids....With so many grandparents unable to hug their grandchildren - it might be hard to envision how older people can step up to nurture millions of other people's kids. But crisis can be the (grand) mother of invention. To help stop learning losses - the so-called Covid slide - caused by school shutdowns, nonprofits across the country are working hard to move tutoring and mentoring programs online. Mentor and iCouldBe have joined forces to create the Virtual Mentoring Portal, a free tool to help nonprofits move mentoring relationships online....Our generation has not done all we can for the next one. But it's not too late to turn that around - with innovative ideas, programs and technologies, and the power of millions of people who want to stay safe but refuse to stay out of the way any longer. Let's come forward, roll up our sleeves, and help young people navigate the rocky road ahead."

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5.20.20 - Cash Under Suspicion

Gold last traded at $1,750 an ounce. Silver at $17.99 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose Wednesday amid economic uncertainty and a sharply lower dollar. U.S. stocks rose on upbeat retail earnings, as traders continue to grapple with market volatility this week.

Gold gains as recession looms even as economies reopen -CNBC
"Gold prices rose on Tuesday on uncertainty over how economies would emerge from a deep slowdown...'All the fundamentals for gold have never been better in history. Unless we have more optimism about the vaccine, we will begin to see an upward momentum to a new high,' said Jeffrey Sica, founder of Circle Squared Alternative Investments. 'There's continued concern about these pockets of outbreak around the world... any news of a setback in re-integration of businesses into the economy will ultimately lead gold higher.' Massive global stimulus measures to limit the economic damage caused by lockdowns and business suspensions to limit the spread of the coronavirus have supported gold, since it's widely viewed as a hedge against inflation and currency debasement....'We're looking at a weaker economic outlook, massive central bank measures and tensions on the geopolitical front, which should keep gold prices high,' said Saxo Bank analyst Ole Hansen."

chart Four Long Cycles Align: Our Fate Is Sealed, Vaccines Won't Matter -Charles Hugh Smith Blog
"We like to think we're in charge and that technology conquers all, but history moves in cycles that are larger than any person, corporation, elite or (gasp) technology...The study of cycles is the study of human nature as it plays out in long-term social, political and economic dynamics....The Covid-19 pandemic is the final kick into the abyss. Triggers of collapse can overlap, of course, accelerating the final decline, and hence our interest in long-wave cycles that align in the present era. All complex, tightly bound systems are intrinsically fragile and prone to disruption; we don't see the fragility or vulnerabilities until the decline has reached the terminal phase. The higher up the wealth-power pyramid the observer is, the more prone they are to a magical-thinking belief that the status quo is forever, even as it is crumbling around them. Let's consider the four overlapping/aligning cycles depicted on this chart... The four cycles depicted are: 1. The cycle of credit expansion and contraction, which is now in the final blow-off stage of unsustainable credit expansion (bubble) which will inevitably lead to renunciation of debt (credit collapse) and global depression. 2. The generational cycle (4 generations or approximately 80 years) of American history which leads to nation-changing social, political and economic upheaval (The American Revolution: 1781 +80 years = Civil War, 1861 +80 years = 1941, World War II + 80 years = 2021) as described in the book The Fourth Turning. 3. The 100+ year cycle of price inflation and stagnation of wages' purchasing-power, which began around 1901 is now reaching the final stage of widespread turmoil, shortages, famine, conflict and crisis. 4. The demographic cycle: the workforce stops expanding and starts shrinking while the population of dependent elderly explodes higher, triggering a decline in earnings and the tax base just as taxes must increase to pay for the care of the rising population of elderly.....The future won't be as placid, secure and predictable as the status quo would have you believe."

Cash, long a refuge in uncertain times, now under suspicion -Associated Press
"In troubled times, people have been known to hoard currency at home - a financial security blanket against deep uncertainty. But in this crisis, things are different...This time cash itself, passed from hand to hand across neighborhoods, cities and societies just like the coronavirus, is a source of suspicion rather than reassurance. No longer a thing to be shoved mindlessly into a pocket, tucked into a worn wallet or thrown casually on a kitchen counter, money's status has changed during the virus era - perhaps irrevocably. The pandemic has also reawakened debate about the continued viability of what has been the physical lifeblood of global economies: paper money and coins. From the supermarkets of the United States and Japan to the shantytowns of Africa to the gas stations of Tehran, a growing number of businesses and individuals worldwide have stopped using banknotes in fear that physical currency, handled by tens of thousands of people over their useful life, could be a vector for the spreading coronavirus. Public officials and health experts have said that the risk of transferring the virus from person to person through the use of money is minimal. That hasn't stopped businesses from refusing to accept currency, and some countries from urging citizens to stop using banknotes altogether....'Cash combined with courage in a crisis is priceless,' billionaire investor Warren Buffett says."

30% Of Americans Have Raided Retirement Savings During Coronavirus Lockdown -Study Finds
"The coronavirus lockdown has caused an economic crisis that's taking a toll on many Americans. Not only are their wallets getting thinner but a new survey shows that three in ten Americans have dipped into their retirement savings to help cover their expenses. MagnifyMoney commissioned a survey of 1,239 Americans who have retirement accounts...The survey shows that 30% of Americans have withdrawn an average of $6,757.20 from their retirement savings from about March 1 through May 1. Another 19% responded that they have not taken money out yet but they plan to do so. About a third of respondents have tapped into another investment account instead of retirement. Just over 50% of the people who are making withdrawals from their retirement accounts are doing so to help cover their expenses during the lockdown. A quarter of respondents are withdrawing money after losing their job....The survey also reveals how people have been spending the retirement money they're withdrawing. Sixty percent are using their savings pay for groceries, 42% to pay for bills, 31% on rent and mortgage payments and 27% on debt payments....Nearly half of the people who normally save for retirement have changed their savings plan during this time. About one in five (21%) have reduced their retirement contributions and another 26% have put their contributions on pause. Analysis by generation shows that 53% of baby boomers, the generation closest to using their retirement savings, have stopped contributing entirely."

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5.19.20 - Gold: Longest Winning Streak Since 2011

Gold last traded at $1,744 an ounce. Silver at $17.87 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose Tuesday on safe-haven buying and a weaker dollar. U.S. stocks fell ahead of testimony by Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and Fed Chairman Powell to Congress on the economic response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Gold Soars as Fed Sounds Warnings on Asset Prices, US Recovery -FX Empire/Yahoo
"Bullion has now gained about 11.7 percent since March 31 and is set to post a 7th straight quarterly gain, which is the longest such streak since 2011. From a fundamental perspective, the gold surge appears to have been triggered by warnings out of the Federal Reserve about potential asset price declines if the coronavirus 'pandemic takes an unexpected course, the economic fallout prove adverse, or financial system strains reemerge'. Fed chair Jerome Powell also mentioned in a recent interview that the US economy's recovery might last through the end of 2021, provided a reliable Covid-19 vaccine can be rolled out by then. Such comments out of the world's most influential central bank adds to the risk aversion among global investors who are clearly flocking to the safety that Bullion offers....Bullion bulls are relishing any opportunity to push gold prices higher, with $1800 appearing to be just around the corner."

world The U.S. Is in a Generational Economic Cycle -Bonner/Rogue Economics
"In the Panic of 1857, the yield on the U.S. 10-Year Treasury Note rose to 6.6%. It took a lifetime for it to reach the next top, in 1920. Then, another 61 years passed before the next top came along. In other words, these are generational trends. One generation learns....Now, we learn - again - why, for 180 years, U.S. dollars were linked to gold, rather than simply to promises from the U.S. government. In a nutshell, it's because the generation of 1791 (when the U.S. dollar first appeared) knew something the generation of 2020 has forgotten: Power corrupts. And the power to create 'money' is so irresistible that no race, no nation, no genius, and no government official has ever resisted it for long....First, they created an impaired economy, already on fake-money life support. Then, they shut it down in order to stop the spread of a virus. As a result, sales, profits, earnings, jobs, tax revenues - all are collapsing. We've already seen that the Universal Lockdown was one of the most monstrous mistakes ever made by public officials. The odds of death are 1,000 times greater for an 80-year-old man than for a 30-year-old female. It would have been relatively easy to protect the vulnerable groups (including your editor) until the threat had passed. Simply tell them the truth! Most of the codgers are already retired anyway...It would have cost the economy very little....Retail sales figures for April show the biggest drop in 70 years....Bar and restaurant incomes have been cut in half. One out of four restaurants is not expected to ever reopen. Private schools and universities, too… towns, counties, and state governments… households - Chapter 11 is going to be the most searched-for term on Google....Neither Wall Street nor Washington has even begun to reckon with the damage. But all of that is just prelude to the real catastrophe. Next up: We find out that printing fake money to cover the losses is an EVEN WORSE idea. America’s paper money system began on August 15, 1971, when Richard Nixon somberly announced the end of the Bretton Woods system that fixed the U.S. dollar to gold. We're 49 years into it already. In 10-20 years, the cycle should be complete. By then, prices should be rising at 50% or more per year. And if we're right, the fake dollar - the green piece of paper that is in your wallet - should be history."

The Pandemic's Geopolitical Aftershocks Are Coming -The Altlantic
"With most European countries confident that they are past the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, their attention is turning to the chance of its resurgence once society returns to some semblance of normal...The geopolitical second wave, and its power is already starting to concern Western leaders. Imagine a scenario: Just as Europe and the United States begin to feel as if they have the coronavirus under control, it takes hold in the developing world. Exhausted, indebted, and desperate for their own economies to get back up to speed, richer countries are too slow to help. Panic ensues...Somewhere, a state defaults on debt held largely by Western financial institutions. In the chaos, an autocrat eyes an opportunity for a land grab. A United States already unwilling to take the lead leaves China to step into the void....The array of possible second-wave consequences is dizzying: the prospect of the disease taking hold in a developing G20 country - think India - which could see the virus quickly doubling back to Europe and the U.S.; the uncertain impact of technological advances in fields such as artificial intelligence as they are used to help combat the disease's spread; a recession pulling at the ties between the European Union's poor south and wealthy north....More than anything, though, for Western governments there is a simple underlying reality to the geopolitical second wave: cash, or a lack of it. 'You've got more problems but less money to deal with them,' one senior adviser to the British government, who asked for anonymity to speak candidly about internal deliberations, told me....Whether the pandemic brings about revolutionary change or simply accelerates the currents already working under the surface, the fact is that the epidemiological second wave isn't the only one we need to worry about."

Moderna's coronavirus vaccine shows encouraging early results -Washington Post
"Moderna, the Massachusetts biotechnology company behind a leading effort to create a coronavirus vaccine, announced promising early results from its first human safety tests Monday. The company plans to launch a large clinical trial in July aimed at showing whether the vaccine works. The company reported that in eight patients who had been followed for a month and a half, the vaccine at low and medium doses triggered blood levels of virus-fighting antibodies that were similar or greater than those found in patients who recovered. That would suggest, but doesn't prove, that it triggers some level of immunity....The data released Monday by Moderna is encouraging, but represents only a first step in a long process to bring a vaccine to market. It comes from an interim report on dozens of patients followed over weeks, whereas vaccine studies require broad testing in thousands of patients followed over many months or years....The interim data comes from a clinical trial aimed at showing the safety of its experimental vaccine and helping the company select the correct dose. The company has not yet picked the final dose, or announced the size or length of the large trial that it will start in July, which will be the key one that regulators consider to decide whether the vaccine is safe and effective."

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5.18.20 - Will CV-19 Force You To Retire Early?

Gold last traded at $1,736 an ounce. Silver at $17.49 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose Monday on safe-haven buying and a weaker dollar. U.S. stocks rebounded as news from a Moderna trial stoked investor optimism about a potential coronavirus vaccine.

Gold, Silver Higher on Fear of Second Virus Wave -Bloomberg
"Gold jumped toward its peak in April, when prices hit the highest since 2012, after bleak U.S. government data underscored how hard coronavirus-related shutdowns have hit the world's largest economy. Friday gold futures posted the highest close to a week since October 2012 after U.S. factory production plummeted in April by the most in records back to 1919, and a gauge of U.S. retail sales plunged through the record set just a month earlier. 'Everybody must have realized it, but it's just more evidence that the reality is this is a pretty bleak economic picture right now,' Phil Streible, chief market strategist for Blue Line Futures LLC, said by phone. 'People are continuing to pile into gold because that weak economic picture is going to continue to drive interest rates lower.' Silver also got a stronger bid, rallying to the highest in over two months. The two precious metals have been lifted after Fed Chairman Jerome Powell warned last week that the pandemic will take a heavy toll on the economy. ....Nations that enjoyed success quelling the virus, including South Korea and China, now face a rising number of infections. In the U.S., Texas saw its deadliest day and its biggest jump in new cases since the start of the outbreak. That comes two weeks after controversial moves to reopen the state's economy."

work Will You Be Forced To Retire Early Because Of The Coronavirus? -Forbes
"We are being asked to stay home thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. This disease may be forcing many worker to stay home for much longer than they want, perhaps turning a layoff into a forced retirement....Under normal circumstances, millions of Americans have had to retire early. With the economy at a near standstill due to the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, many workers may be forced into early retirement. Most people think the full retirement age is 65...Seventy is the target for those looking to get the absolute largest monthly retirement income from Social Security. As a financial planner, I am fortunate to be working with many business owners who plan to never retire because they have so much passion for what they do....According to a recent survey by Allianz Life titled, '2020 Retirement Risk Readiness Study,' many Americans won't have much flexibility in choosing when they leave the workforce and enter retirement. More than half of workers will be forced out of the workforce earlier than expected and for reasons out of their control. By the way, the survey was conducted in January 2020 before the full weight of the coronavirus hit the U.S. economy. From the study, 34% of respondents said they left the workforce because of an unanticipated job loss...Another 25% percent of respondents listed health issues as the reason for retiring....People are worried about running out of money in retirement. According to the survey, 60% of respondents said that was their biggest concern while 55% of non-retirees were concerned they wouldn't have enough saved by the time they retired. I was not surprised to see that worry wasn't translated into action....There is no better time than now to get started planning for your dream retirement. Social Security will not provide enough income for most of you to live comfortably."

Pandemic Bills Are So Big That Only Money-Printing Can Pay Them -Bloomberg/Yahoo Finance
"Forced into record spending by the threat of another Great Depression, policy makers are blurring the lines between borrowing the money they need and simply creating it...Those barriers began to look porous after the financial crisis of 2008. And in the coronavirus slump, they've all but disappeared. With entire industries shuttered and unemployment soaring, only public spending is keeping millions of households and businesses afloat. The governments on the hook for this relief effort are running up some of history's biggest budget deficits. 'We've had a merger of monetary and fiscal policy,' says Paul McCulley, the former chief economist at Pacific Investment Management Co. 'We've broken down the church-and-state separation between the two.'....Behind the longstanding taboo against what is known as 'monetizing debt' lies the fear of inflation. History is full of episodes when politicians grabbed control of the printing presses and splashed too much money around the economy, causing prices to spiral out of control and eroding the real value of all kinds of savings, from bank accounts to bond portfolios....There was no real alternative, according to Stephen Roach, a senior lecturer at Yale. 'The economy is in the biggest hole it's ever been in, so we need massive fiscal stimulus,' he said. 'The central bank has to be brought in to fund it.' That doesn't mean there are no consequences, said Roach, a former nonexecutive chairman of Morgan Stanley in Asia. In the U.S., the Fed-backed spending spree means that 'inflation is likely to begin moving up post-virus,' he said."

U.S. Adults Report Less Worry, More Happiness -Gallup
"As many states have begun to reopen their economies and many more are making plans to do so, Americans are reporting improvements in their emotional health. Although the coronavirus crisis persists, less than half of U.S. adults (47%) now say they worried a lot of the previous day - down from 59% in late March/early April, when Gallup recorded an unprecedented increase in self-reported worry. In addition to the 12-percentage-point drop in worry, boredom has dipped five points, to 41%, and happiness has edged up five points, to 72%....These findings are from an online, probability-based Gallup Panel survey that has tracked Americans' emotional wellbeing during the coronavirus pandemic since March 23. The latest data are from interviews conducted April 27-May 10, as a number of states started lifting stay-at-home orders and business restrictions. Just as Americans' views of many aspects of the COVID-19 situation differ by demographic subgroup, so too do their emotions during this unprecedented crisis. In particular, the greatest differences in emotions are seen by household income, party identification, marital status and gender. Bottom Line: The pandemic has taken an emotional toll on the public, as self-reported worry soared during the first month of restrictions put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19. In recent weeks, however, Americans have experienced less negative emotions and have reported an increase in happiness. Although much of the country is now taking steps to embark on a path to some kind of normalcy, more than 80,000 Americans have lost their lives as a result of the disease, and COVID-19 cases are still on the rise in a handful of states. The trajectory of Americans' emotional wellbeing may depend greatly on what happens with the disease as restrictions are eased."

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5.15.20 - Billionaires Sounding Alarm About Stocks

Gold last traded at $1,751 an ounce. Silver at $17.00 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose further Friday on safe-haven buying and a weaker dollar. U.S. stocks traded mixed following a record 16.4% plunge in April retail sales and rising trade tensions between China and the U.S.

Powell Sends a Message With Love for Gold -FX Empire/Yahoo Finance
"Jerome Powell gave a speech yesterday at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. The Fed Chair acknowledged the unprecedented depth of the coronavirus crisis, and its disastrous impact for the US labor market....There are three key takeaways from Powell's speech...1) The Fed Chair rejected the idea of negative interest rates. He noted that the evidence on the effectiveness of these monetary policy experiments conducted by the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank 'is very mixed'....2) Powell acknowledged...the V-shaped rebound is unlikely and there are important downside risks on the way to recovery...'The path ahead is both highly uncertain and subject to significant downside risks.' These grim words pushed the stock markets down on Wednesday. Importantly, Powell noted that the longer the recession takes, the more problematic it might become, as 'the passage of time can turn liquidity problems into solvency problems.' The implication is that the safe-haven demand for gold should remain robust for a while, and gold is still a good portfolio's diversifier....3) Powell suggested that the Fed's policy toolkit could expand in the future. He said that while the Fed's response to the crisis 'has been both timely and appropriately large, it may not be the final chapter'....It means that we could see more fiscal deficits and even higher federal debt in the near future."

stocks Wall Street Heavyweights Are Sounding Alarm About Stocks -Bloomberg/Yahoo Finance
"The biggest names in finance are coming around to a view that seemed unlikely a few weeks ago: Stocks are vastly overvalued. Legendary investors Stan Druckenmiller and David Tepper were the latest to weigh in after a historic market rebound, saying the risk-reward of holding shares is the worst they’ve encountered in years. Druckenmiller on Tuesday called a V-shaped recovery - the idea the economy will quickly snap back as the coronavirus pandemic eases - a 'fantasy.' Tepper said Wednesday that next to 1999, equities are overvalued the most he's ever seen. It's a notion catching on among Wall Street money managers. And it's coming as investors start to suspect that the Federal Reserve's support, as well as $3 trillion in Treasury stimulus, may not be enough to compensate for soaring unemployment, a wave of bankruptcies and no end in sight to the pandemic. Managers including Bill Miller, Paul Singer and Paul Tudor Jones have all voiced doubts about markets or the economy. Such bearishness starkly contrasts with the optimism that pushed the S&P 500 Index up 26% from its March low....Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, Trump's pick for the job, outlined a doom-laden scenario with mass bankruptcies and unemployment in a speech delivered Wednesday....Tepper, who runs the $13 billion Appaloosa hedge fund, told CNBC on Wednesday that valuations are 'nuts' for some individual stocks on the Nasdaq....Other marquee investors also have taken more defensive stances recently. Tudor Jones, who runs Tudor Investment Corp., told clients in early May he was investing in gold."

What the Pandemic Revealed: a Morally Bankrupt Culture -Charles Hugh Smith Blogspot
"What was 'normal' for the past two decades was to turn a blind eye to the moral and financial bankruptcy of the American culture, the rot at the heart of its social, political and economic orders. The pandemic has shredded the putrid facade and revealed the rot....What's been absolutely verboten is to call legalized pillage and predation what they really are: evil....By stripping fraud and predation of moral consequence, we've covered the putrid rot with a thoroughly modern amorality which we can summarize as anything goes and winner takes all....The greater the outrage of the technocrats and monopolists at being called what they are - evil - the greater the confirmation that the accusation is spot-on. The predators, looters and exploiters must strip away any moral assessment of their actions, as even the smallest shred of moral or karmic justice threatens their empires....Monopolies and cartels are evil because they are exploitive by their very nature. This is why the political system imposed anti-trust legislation in the early 20th century....Dear shareholders and monopolists: the banquet of consequences is being served. Don't choke on the cold serving of karma."

Creativity Flourishes, Even Amid a Pandemic -Reason
"It was going to be the party of the year: my 50th birthday. I rented a fantastic place, picked a great menu, and sent funny invitations...I was counting down the weeks. Then COVID-19 hit. Lockdowns were ordered. No party for me. Yet what replaced it was the purest expression of the best that humanity has to offer, springing from creative forces that neither this virus - nor other negative forces - can kill....And what replaced the party was so much more meaningful and amazing because it was fueled by my friends' love and creativity, and by the amazing innovators who make coping with the isolation more tolerable. When I woke up, I was greeted by a video from my oldest friend in France: a fun musical performance of the 'Happy Birthday' song performed with a piano and homemade instruments, recorded on an iPhone and sent over the Atlantic Ocean in mere seconds, free of charge. None of that would have been possible had I turned 50 in 2007. Then came the Zoom family reunion with cousins in three countries, three continents, and two hemispheres. While Zoom was created in 2011, the company has quickly become a household name and a business essential during the pandemic....Remarkably, I drank in this love and well-wishing all from the comfort of my bed. I soon discovered another gift at 11 a.m...As I opened my front door, I discovered a beautiful sign wishing me a happy birthday. It was festooned with balloons and cupcakes right there in my front yard, all orchestrated by my loving friends Ashley and Kevin....In the end, nothing surprised me more than the way my friends managed to reinvent my birthday celebration in this time of pandemic with a giant drive-by caravan of honking, decorated cars filled with cheering from people I cherish....I will never forget it, and I will always marvel at people's endless ability to love, connect, and create."

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5.14.20 - Lockdown: A Luxury Many Americans Can't Afford

Gold last traded at $1,738 an ounce. Silver at $16.13 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose Thursday on safe-haven buying amid downbeat economic data. U.S. stocks fell sharply - extending their steep losses this week - as investors digested the coronavirus' devastating toll of 36 million lost jobs in the past eight weeks.

Companies' Next Coronavirus Challenge: Getting Cash-Strapped Shoppers to Spend -Wall Street Journal
"Companies like Kellogg, Hershey and Nestle are tapping the lessons of the last recession as they seek ways to keep newly frugal consumers from trading down. The makers of shampoo, cereal, frozen pizza and other supermarket staples are working to woo shoppers who are cutting back on spending, as tough economic times set in....'We've studied what worked well and what did not in past recessions and how this one could be different,' Kellogg's Chief Executive Officer Steve Cahillane recently told investors. 'We're preparing ourselves.' Preparing for a downturn this time around is tougher, executives say, because the potential for wider spread or a second occurrence of the new coronavirus isn't yet known. Consumer-products companies are already scrambling to meet surging demand for household essentials while operating factories at lower capacity because of worker sickness or social distancing....The Covid-19 recession is expected to be deeper and more global than the financial crisis of 2008-09. The International Monetary Fund has forecast the world economy would shrink by 3% this year, compared with a contraction of 0.1% in 2009....'A significant number of American households are not working and experiencing meaningful financial pressures,' said CEO Michele Buck. 'Their shopping priorities have changed.'....'Some of the mistakes made across categories in recessions is a hunkering-down mentality,' said Kellogg's Mr. Cahillane. 'People still want good news. People want fun. They want to try things in an affordable way.'"

gold chart Why Gold Is Your Best Bet -Dyson/Rogue Economics
"Why gold? Have a look at this chart. It tracks the gains in gold prices and the Dow since 2000… You can see that since valuations started their long walk down the mountain in 2000, gold has outperformed stocks 5-to-1....The Dow-to-Gold ratio is the ultimate barometer of systemic 'health.' It tracks the 30 Dow Jones stocks, as priced in gold. And it tells us the best time to buy gold… and the best time to buy stocks....For example, the high in the Dow-to-Gold ratio in 1999 (when it took more than 40 ounces of gold to buy the Dow) mirrors the towering peak in stock valuations… right before the dot-com crash in 2000. At its most recent high in October 2018, the Dow-to-Gold ratio was just above 22. It's been falling ever since… a signal that the system is going to break soon. Maybe it's started to break already? Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the government has gone into hyperdrive trying to 'manage' the economy - with more financial engineering, more unsound money, bigger deficits, and more soothing words…As I write, the Dow-to-Gold ratio is at 13.9. I expect it to fall below 5 - what Bill Bonner calls its 'rendezvous with destiny' - in the next five to 10 years. Until then, we're sticking with gold."

Why Restarting the Global Economy Won't be Easy -Georgia Tech
"As the world contemplates ending a massive lockdown implemented in response to COVID-19, Vinod Singhal is considering what will happen when we hit the play button and the engines that drive industry and trade squeal back to life again. Singhal, who studies operations strategy and supply chain management at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has a few ideas on how to ease the transition to the new reality. But this pandemic makes it hard to predict what that reality will be....COVID-19 represents a new kind of mystery when it comes to something as complex and critical to the world's economy as the global supply chain, for a number of reasons that Singhal highlighted: 1) The global spread of the virus and duration of the pandemic. 'We have no idea when it will be under control and whether it will resurface,' Singhal said....2) Both the demand and supply side of the global supply chain are disrupted. 'We're not only seeing a lot of factories shutting down, which affects the supply side, but there are restrictions on demand, too, because you can't just go out and shop like you used to, at least for the time being,' he said....3) Longer lead times. 'We get close to a trillion dollars of products annually from Asian countries, about $500 billion from China,' Singhal said...Logistics and distribution has been disrupted and needs to ramp up again will increase lead time....4) Supply chains have little slack, and little spare inventory...Small and medium sized companies in China 'have less than three months of cash. Many of these companies may go bankrupt,' he added."

The coronavirus lockdown is a luxury many Americans can't afford -New York Post
"This month there has been a distinct dissonance in the national atmosphere - even more so than usual, which is saying something. It went from resigned despair to collective rage and protests. Protests which, for the most part, are not unreasonable....People like Texas salon owner Shelley Luther - who peacefully opened her hair salon in Dallas despite a stay-at-home order in a state with 34,000 cases of COVID-19 and 946 deaths. She was sentenced to seven days in jail and a $7,000 fine but the judge told her he would commute her sentence if she admitted her actions were selfish - to which she replied (while wearing a face mask): 'I have to disagree with you, sir, when you say that I am selfish because feeding my kids is not selfish. I have hair stylists that are going hungry because they'd rather feed their kids'…..Luther was jailed although the state's attorney general and governor called for her release, which came two days later. AG Ken Paxton said: 'I find it outrageous and out of touch that during this national pandemic, a judge, in a county that actually released hardened criminals for fear of contracting COVID-19, would jail a mother for operating her hair salon in an attempt to put food on her family's table.'....Working-class and blue-collar people, many of whom live month to month, are destitute right now. Mortgages and rent are due and there are miles-long lines for food banks in several states....Since COVID hit, 33 million Americans have sought unemployment....I am scared of COVID-19. But I am even more terrified about what is coming after the rage of millions tears this country apart. Because for many Americans, the lockdown is a luxury they can't afford."

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5.13.20 - TRACE Act: Devilish Gov't Surveillance Plot?

Gold last traded at $1,718 an ounce. Silver at $15.69 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose Wednesday on Fed's promise of additional stimulus plans. U.S. stocks traded mostly lower following downbeat remarks from Fed chairman Jerome Powell amid jitters about reopening the economy.

Gold Prices: Undervaluation, Smart Money Piles Up -Market Realist
"In times of uncertainty and fear, gold usually rises due to its safe-haven demand. Currently, to avoid the looming slowdown due to COVID-19, central banks engage in an easy money policy...The move will have ripple effects through economies, most of which are positive for gold. On one hand, economic stimulus packages will lead to currency devaluations, which should prop gold up. On the other hand, easy money, without any corresponding rise in output, will lead to inflation. This scenario is positive for gold. Now, hedge funds have also started jumping into gold....According to Financial Times, Elliott Management’s Paul Singer told his clients that gold was 'one of the most undervalued' assets currently and its fair value is 'multiples of its current price.' Many other market participants including ANZ bank also think that gold is undervalued and could push higher. Gold prices are undervalued compared to equities....Apart from hedge fund managers, analysts are also making a case for gold. Bank of America expects gold prices to reach $3,000 per ounce in 18 months."

boats After Coronavirus, Government Will Have to Shrink -Harper/Wall Street Journal
"In the response to the coronavirus pandemic, leftists see a model for the future. 'Not only will America need a massive dose of big government to get out of this crisis,' one wrote, 'but we will need big, and wise, government more than ever in its aftermath.' As a conservative, I'm going to argue the opposite...A new era of big government in the economy is unlikely, undesirable and far from inevitable....So why doesn't this herald a new age of big government? It's simple: All this intervention has been economically ruinous. No amount of money can fully compensate for social-distancing actions whose effect is to shut down large segments of the economy. Tens of millions have lost jobs, and many thousands have lost businesses. In most cases, compensation from the state is a fraction of what they were earning. Many of the measures are necessary to combat Covid-19, although we will be able to evaluate them with any certainty only after the crisis. Yet there's little doubt that the economic damage is staggering....When focus shifts from the pandemic to the economy, it will need to shift from a lot more government action to a lot less. People turn to government for security. Conservatives understand that security is fundamental to why government exists. Right now, as in wartime, we face extreme needs for physical and financial security. But as needs shift to jobs, growth and wealth creation - and those needs will be enormous - it will require more market activity and a bigger private sector, not more intervention and bigger government....'Modern monetary theorists' will prattle on about how with low interest rates and monetary expansion this does not matter. Their core belief - that governments can never really run out of money - is nonsensical....Despite the unsustainable nature of today's spending, opposition this time may even be stronger. Many workers have been reduced to limited stipends by government-ordered shutdowns, leading to renewed calls for a 'guaranteed minimum income.'....Governments that resist restoring free enterprise and fiscal responsibility will experience recession and stagnation. Those that do the right things will lead their countries to a far more prosperous future."

'First bonds, then stocks' - Investors could get hit with two crashes by end of the year -Fund Manager/Marketwatch
"On Feb. 27, Michael Gayed called for a double-digit drop on the S&P 500. He followed that timely prediction in March with a forecast for a melt-up in stocks at the end of the month....If he's got it right again, the pain is far from over for investors. 'Risk-off is about to return in two waves - first bonds, then stocks. Two crashes,' Gayed, who also publishes the Lead-Lag Report, told MarketWatch. He explained that he sees a 'significant risk' that the yield curve steepens in a way that will shock markets and trigger a crash in Treasurys. 'Reflation bets are increasing everywhere, and oil printing a negative price in the face of that suggests there is a very real feeling that global central banks and governments will stop at nothing to counter the deflationary forces of staying at home,' Gayed said...'Combined with unlimited QE, which in the past has caused yields to rise, it looks like bonds collapse first before stocks.'....As for the timeline, Gayed said it could all take place before year's end. 'This feels like a home construction project. It's going to cost more money and take longer than any estimates,' he said of the pandemic. 'In the absence of a vaccine, behavior's changed in a way that will make any longer-term gains unjustified no matter how much money Papa Powell prints.'"

H.R. 6666 a devil of a COVID-19 government surveillance plot -Washington Times
"A House resolution from Illinois Democrat Rep. Bobby Rush that would put Big Government in charge of tracking citizens' movements as they relate to COVID-19 mitigation efforts - even sending health bureaucrats to 'individuals' residences, as necessary,' as the legislation states - has a most apt number: 6666....After all, what's more devilishly un-American than launching one of the most massive government surveillance programs of private citizens in U.S. history, all under the guise of protecting people from the coronavirus? That’s the 'COVID-19 Testing, Reaching, And Contacting Everyone (TRACE) Act' in all its $100 billion grant giveaway glory. According to H.R. 6666's text: The taxpayer funds will be used to 'trace and monitor the contacts of infected individuals, and to support the quarantine of such contacts, through mobile health units and, as necessary … at [citizens'] residences.' That means government comes to your home, taps on your door and demands you take a COVID-19 test. And if you test positive, that means the government makes sure you stay at home. How? Good question....'Reopening our economy and getting back to normal will be all but impossible if we do not step up our testing efforts and implement robust and widespread contact tracing,' Rush said in a statement on his House webpage....Be afraid; be very afraid. The resolution has dozens of cosponsors."

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5.12.20 - Economic Recovery Won't Be V-Shaped

Gold last traded at $1,706 an ounce. Silver at $15.70 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose Tuesday on safe-haven buying and a weaker dollar. U.S. stocks traded mixed as investors evaluated the latest attempts to reopen the economy.

Gold To Shine One Way Or The Other -Seeking Alpha
"Gold has put up stellar returns since 2000 thanks to the exponential growth of central bank largess....For bearish investors who think the worst is yet to come, gold historically delivered precious returns when stocks raced from peak to bottom....During the worst S&P500 drawdowns of the last century...gold clearly has proved a precious hedge during the market selloffs....The real interesting observation is that gold performed better during the recovery phase after the stocks bottomed than during the sell-off phase. This is evident when looking at the absolute returns: median gold return during the recovery phase: 73% vs. 6-12% median return during the selloff....Therefore, gold can be a good portfolio allocation for both market bulls and bears because they don't need a crystal-ball-forecast of the stock market bottom. Nobody has a crystal ball."

acrobat Strangeness of the day: For Americans, an in-between moment -Associated Press
"In coming years, when they write the narrative histories of the 2020 pandemic - those paperweight-level volumes that reconstruct these strange days in painstaking and vivid detail - the past week in American life will be a particularly curious moment to unpack. It was unlike what came before, and almost certainly unlike what is still ahead....Job numbers confirmed what everyone already suspected: the worst unemployment rate since the Great Depression. The face mask evolved from a piece of protective equipment into a political litmus test....Right now, Americans are the insects, caught in amber, suspended for an uncertain moment between the isolation of a national shutdown and the revving up of a much-disputed return....The utter weirdness of this part of the COVID-19 storyline is its own distinct kind of crazy, where the road map has run out and the next page of the script is blank....Part of the problem, of course, is that those very circumstances have left many millions of people stuck in their homes with a lot of opportunity to contemplate their lot - and contemplate, and contemplate, and contemplate....Of course, the very existence of an in-between moment suggests two bookends. The first has already been laid down - and, for the fortunate, lived through. The second lies ahead. Will it provide clarity? That depends on this uniquely curious moment, and where it leads."

Why the Economic Recovery Will Be More of a 'Swoosh' Than V-Shaped -Wall Street Journal
"Until recently, many policy makers and corporate executives were hoping for a V-shaped economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic: a short, sharp collapse followed by a bounce back to pre-virus levels of activity. Now, however, they expect a 'swoosh' recovery. Named after the Nike logo, it predicts a large drop followed by a painfully slow recovery, with many Western economies not back to 2019 levels of output until late next year - or beyond. The sobering new view reflects the depth of the contraction now being recorded for the spring, as well as more evidence that soaring joblessness and months or years of social distancing will depress economic activity well into next year. 'This is not going to be a quick recovery,' said Mark Schneider, chief executive of Nestle SA, the world's biggest packaged foods maker, recently. 'This is going to be a several-quarter, if not several-year kind of process.'....Consumer goods companies anticipate that shoppers will switch to cheaper items and forgo splurges, likely remaining tightfisted long after lockdowns end. Some corporations have already announced fresh layoffs for the fall, prolonging the joblessness surge that has already left more than 30 million Americans unemployed....According to a survey by market research group Coresight Research, more than 70% of Americans expect to avoid some public spaces after the lockdowns ease, with more than half saying they expect to stay away from shopping malls...The outlook is so uncertain that a string of large companies have suspended financial guidance for the year....'There is no such thing yet as a new normal. Nobody has the faintest idea of what the new normal looks like,' said Unilever CEO Alan Jope....It's a fair bet that the global economy is going to be deeply challenged in the years ahead."

Which Covid-19 Data Can You Trust? -Harvard Business Review
"The Covid-19 pandemic has created a tidal wave of data. As countries and cities struggle to grab hold of the scope and scale of the problem, tech corporations and data aggregators have stepped up, filling the gap with dashboards scoring social distancing based on location data from mobile phone apps and cell towers, contact-tracing apps using geolocation services and Bluetooth...In the face of uncertainty, these data can provide comfort - tangible facts in the face of many unknowns....However, incomplete or incorrect data can also muddy the waters, obscuring important nuances within communities, ignoring important factors such as socioeconomic realities, and creating false senses of panic or safety, not to mention other harms such as needlessly exposing private information. Right now, bad data could produce serious missteps with consequences for millions. While you may not be qualified to evaluate the particulars of every dashboard, chart, and study you see, there are common red flags to let you know data might not be reliable. Here's what to look out for: 1) Data products that are too broad, too specific, or lack context....Even data at an appropriate spatial resolution must be interpreted with caution - context is key....2) The technologies behind the data are unvetted or have limited utility. Tech solutions such as mobile phone-based contact tracing have untested potential, but only as part of a broader comprehensive strategy that includes a strong underlying health system....3) Models are produced and presented without appropriate expertise. Well-meaning technologists and highly influential consulting firms are advising governments, and consequently businesses and general populations around the world, on strategies to combat the epidemic....This pandemic has been studied more intensely in a shorter amount of time than any other human event...It is inevitable that there will be bad as well as good data in that mix. These massive, decentralized, and crowd-sourced data can reliably be converted to life-saving knowledge if tempered by expertise, transparency, rigor, and collaboration. When making your own decisions, read closely, trust carefully, and when in doubt, look to the experts."

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5.11.20 - 3 Reasons Gold Prices Are Exploding

Gold last traded at $1,698 an ounce. Silver at $15.68 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices held steady Monday despite a firmer dollar. U.S. stocks fell amid investor jitters about reopening the economy too soon.

3 Reasons Gold Prices Are Exploding - And Why the Party Isn't Over Yet -CCN
"Since careening below $1,500 an ounce on March 19, the price of gold has been rising steadily. It's already surged past $1,700, and some analysts believe it could set a new record above $2,000 within the imminent future. Here are three reasons why the yellow metal is soaring in 2020 - and why the party isn't over yet. 1. Gold Is (Still) a Safe-Haven Asset Against Global Uncertainty - Many investors view gold as a safe haven during crises like the coronavirus. Fear of a global economic downturn is driving investors towards the safety of the yellow metal....2. Fed's Stimulus Measures Fuel the Yellow Metal - The U.S. Federal Reserve's massive stimulus to support the economy is another factor that promises to drive gold prices higher. When central banks print more money in an attempt to stimulate the economy, it can increase inflation....3. Fears of a U.S.-China Trade War Make Gold a Solid Long-Term Hedge - Global political tensions should provide long-term support for gold prices even after the coronavirus crisis is over...As Trump and Beijing play the COVID-19 blame game, a trade war is becoming a growing possibility."

doors Americans Need Hope as Well as Safety -Noonan/Wall Street Journal
"Our economy is experiencing a great contraction...it's becoming smaller, tighter, more airless. As a nation we have rightly focused on the illness that caused all this and the fight to beat it back. That fight can't let up. When the disease goes down in one place it shows up in another, and a second or third wave is likely; viruses like this don't knock on the door just once. But the economic contraction will have repercussions as destructive as the virus itself. People will die and sicken because of lost jobs, lost income and a feeling of no opportunity, no possibility. Alcoholism, drug abuse, anxiety, suicide, strife within families - all these things will follow. And there's a feeling of terrible generational injustice. My generation is on pause, but the young are on stall, and it's no good for them....We have to see the unfolding economic calamity in a new, more present and urgent way, and think about its impact on our culture, our ability to fund things, our standing in the world, our morale....The bias now should be toward opening, doing everything we can to allow the economy to become itself again, to the degree that's possible. Toward that end, two thoughts from two wise men. The first is that we must unleash the creativity of businessmen and women, an uncalled-on brigade in this battle. Not only doctors and scientists will get us out of this, business must be on the lines, too. Second, we have to cooperate by doing the things that contain the illness so that businesses can stay open and functioning....The first wise man is George Shultz, a participant in and observer of history to whom I spoke by phone...'We have a potentially vibrant private sector. There's an immense amount of energy and ingenuity and fresh thinking there...We have to open things up and say to the private sector, 'Do your job.' They have creativity, they want to get things up and going again.' The second wise man: Ken Langone, a founder of Home Depot...'There is a bigger risk in business not being open than in staying closed,' he said by phone...'It isn't safety or business, it's safety right now which allows business.'....I want to get back to the national morale. All these dreadful economic numbers - you can't let people sink into defeatism...People need hope. Americans live on it. We must return to life. That is where the bias must be."

The Fairy Tale of Monetary Control -Snider/Real Clear Markets
"In the thirties, the government and central bank together took square aim at creating inflation so as to prevent further widespread deflationary economic damage. They never achieved it, nor did they measure a proper recovery. In the sixties, they took square aim at creating tightening so as to prevent further widespread inflationary economic damage. They never achieved that one, either, nor did they properly measure the monetary system for all its 'missing money.'....What was so striking, to me, in seeing A Controlled Expansion of the Currency in the Senate record is the fairy tale of control, how long it has been around and how it can be taken right to the extreme. It lingers in human imagination because we all want to believe, at times desperately, that it's within our collective grasp to tame wild forces we don't necessarily understand and mostly don't appreciate....For many, the very ideal of technocracy and therefore the possibility of utopia is more than a dream. Why on Earth anyone today would associate those with a central bank, particularly our central bank, defies everything logical and rational....There are now only really two mainstream sides to the current predicament; first, that the government and the Fed are going to push too far and unleash the inflationary monster because, well, they can and they want to....On the other side are those who think officials will thread the needle perfectly, and that the current 1932-style contraction we'll easily transit because of the finely crafted, expertly executed policies of those who don't mind telling you they learned everything they know from studying the Great Depression....When the government does everything in its legitimate power, and a great deal that isn't, to create inflation so as to get out of deflation, the deflation wins. When the government does everything in its legitimate power, and a great deal that isn't, to defeat inflation it didn't see coming, the inflation wins....The technocracy, to say nothing of its methods (statistical models), has always been a total sham."

We Need National Service. Now. -Brooks/New York Times
"There is now a vast army of young people ready and yearning to serve their country. There are college graduates emerging into a workplace that has few jobs for them. There are more high school graduates who suddenly can't afford college. There are college students who don't want to return to a college experience. This is a passionate, idealistic generation that sees the emergency, wants to serve those around them and groans to live up to this moment. Suddenly there is a wealth of work for them to do: contact tracing, sanitizing public places, bringing food to the hungry, supporting the elderly, taking temperatures at public gathering spots, supporting local government agencies, tutoring elementary school students so they can make up for lost time. Dr. Tom Frieden, former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has said we will need as many as 300,000 contact tracers alone....There's a good bill winding its way through the Senate to do precisely that, led by Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware...As a young man, Coons launched one of the first AmeriCorps programs, leading 150 members in 15 cities who tutored students in inner-city schools. Later, he created another AmeriCorps program with a local volunteer fire department in Delaware. 'It was the most inspiring thing I've ever been a part of,' Coons told me. His bill would double the current number of AmeriCorps volunteers in its first year, from 75,000 to 150,000. Then for years two and three it would double the number again, to 300,000. It would also increase AmeriCorps stipends, which are now as low as $15,000 a year, so the volunteers can have a living wage. The Coons bill is an excellent start. But it needs to be bigger and bipartisan. Under AmeriCorps, the federal government provides money for the volunteers, matched by private funding....There's no reason this shouldn't happen. Eighty-eight percent of Democrats and 74 percent of Republicans support voluntary national service. According to a Columbia University study, every dollar invested in national service produces about $4 in benefits. The number of young people who want to take part in national service always vastly exceeds the number of slots....As my mentor William F. Buckley once put it, 'Materialistic democracy beckons every man to make himself a king; republican citizenship incites every man to be a knight.' We have a generation of knights in waiting."

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5.8.20 - "Cash Is Trash" In Post-COVID World

Gold last traded at $1,713 an ounce. Silver at $15.79 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices gave back some of their recent gains Friday despite a weaker dollar. U.S. stocks rose as investors looked beyond record high 14.7% unemployment and bet that the worst had now passed and more stimulus is coming.

Gold jumps 2% as US jobs data adds to slowdown fears -CNBC
"Gold prices jumped 2% on Thursday after a string of weak economic data, including surging unemployment in the United States, heightened fears over a coronovirus-induced global downturn, while investors turned their attention to nonfarm payrolls for further cues....'You had high unemployment (numbers) that came out....That's still telling people to maybe look for the safety trade,' said Michael Matousek, head trader at U.S. Global Investors. Millions more Americans sought unemployment benefits last week, suggesting layoffs broadened from consumer-facing industries to other segments of the economy and could remain elevated even as many parts of the country start to reopen. Another set of data on Thursday showed worker productivity dropped at its fastest pace in more than four years in the first quarter amid the largest drop in hours since 2009. The host of gloomy economic data has bolstered expectations of more stimulus measures from central banks and governments around the world to cushion economic damage from the virus....The outbreak has infected more than 3.71 million people globally, battered global growth and prompted investors to seek safe havens such as gold."

cash "Remember, Cash Is Trash" In A Post-COVID World -Zero Hedge
"There's been a concerted effort recently among the oligarchs I like to call The Davos Crowd to demonize cash. From hedge fund manager Ray Dalio pronouncing 'Cash is trash' earlier this year to the fear-mongering surrounding COVID-19 making people fearful of dealing in cash because it might be tainted the anti-cash rhetoric has been amped up to eleven. And it's been no secret that the elite of the world want us to stop transacting in cash because it is something they can't track....But the reality is that the push for removing cash from society is to put all of our financial dealings in databases which gives authorities a record of everything you do...The reason for this demonization of cash has as much to do with the understanding that the current global financial system is broken and will need a global coordinated bailout....The dollar reserve standard is in the process of dying. The great financialization of the world and the multiple levels of credit bubbles its engendered are bursting. People are open to alternatives. And in the great game of global capital a country only has to be slightly better than the current dominant player to attract the lion's share once the outflows begin. China is positioning itself to be a bigger player here but the IMF, governed and controlled by the U.S., is not the solution....The easiest way to effect that is to be able to create digital money at the stroke of a keyboard....And it will be the discipline of cash tied to real assets, birthed from human toil but free from human manipulation that will return sanity to our markets and local economies. That's what a hard currency is."

The economy is in free fall. So why isn't the stock market? -Vox
"The stock market is doing fine, even though everything else is definitely not. Earlier in the coronavirus crisis, Wall Street had a meltdown. Stocks plunged amid fears of the disease's spread and its potential impact on the global economy, sometimes to the point that trading was halted altogether to rein in the chaos...And given the state of the world - a deadly global pandemic with no end in sight, 30 million Americans recently out of jobs, an economy that's fallen off of a cliff - a relatively rosy stock market is particularly perplexing. Sure, the stock market isn't the economy, but right now, it seems particularly divorced from what's happening on the ground. 'The gap between markets and economic data has never been larger,' wrote Matt King, global head of credit strategy at Citigroup....The Federal Reserve and, to a perhaps lesser but still significant extent, Congress have taken extraordinary measures to pump money into the economy and prop up markets....Moreover, investors don't really have a lot of places to go with their money - government bonds are offering super-low returns, if much at all. Among some on Wall Street, there's a fear of missing out, and it appears retail investors have been playing the markets while in quarantine. To be sure, there's no guarantee this market rally will last, nor that investors have it right....One theme of the coronavirus crisis is that anyone who tells you they know what's about to happen next is lying, and that holds when it comes to the stock market....'Beware of the oddity in this bear rally,' Andrew Lapthorne, global head of quantitative research at Societe Generale, wrote in a recent note. 'Given the overall negative undertone from the economic challenges ahead, the dramatic reversal of global markets after the pandemic lows is more puzzling.'... 'There's a very real possibility that people could get washed out, not just retail investors, but everybody.'"

Students To Get Graduation Pomp At Drive-In Theater -NPR
"Amid all the disappointments and cancellations for high school seniors this year because of COVID-19, many schools around the nation are scrambling to salvage at least some sort of graduation for the class of 2020. Many are considering holding ceremonies online or staging some sort of drive-by celebration. 'To not have [graduation] just doesn't seem right to us,' says Ken Freeston, schools superintendent in North Salem, N.Y. North Salem High School Principal Vince DiGrandi agrees. 'Absolutely, they've earned it,' he says...They started brainstorming last month for ways to get seniors some pomp, despite the circumstance...Eventually, they came up with another, more novel idea - to hold graduation at a venue about an hour north of the school....As soon as they inked the contract, the school released a video announcing the plan. On the screen, DiGrandi calls for a drumroll, describes the news as bigger than 'Armstrong landing on the moon,' and cuts to the two senior class advisers singing along to 'Stranded at the Drive-In' from the movie Grease. North Salem High School graduation 2020 will take place at a drive-in theater on June 22. 'Oh, my God! That's awesome!' senior Kayley Decina squealed, and immediately declared the plan even more fun than a regular graduation. 'I've literally been crying every day about not having a graduation and not seeing my friends,' she said. 'So I think having this last hurrah is really going to help. And it means a ton.' Kids are already planning to decorate their cars. They are limited to one per family, and if they have a sunroof they can pop through to cheer and toss their caps. The valedictorian's speech will blare from the drive-in's 56-foot-wide screen in high definition...And while North Salem's 103 graduates may not get to walk, DiGrandi plans to march from car to car, passing out diplomas from a proper social distance....It didn't take long to settle on which movie would be most appropriate to show. 'Groundhog Day,' exclaimed DiGrandi. 'Because it kind of feels that way for these kids.'"

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5.7.20 - "Gold About to Surge" - Hedge-Fund Billionaire

Gold last traded at $1,725 an ounce. Silver at $15.59 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose sharply Thursday on safe-haven buying and a weaker dollar. U.S. stocks rose above break-even for the year driven by tech sector gains as investors bet the U.S. economy would reopen soon.

Disconnect Between Markets And Reality Hits Idiotic Levels -Zero Hedge
"One month ago, with the S&P500 staging an impressive V-shaped rebound from the March 23 lows after the Fed unleashed a nuclear bomb of monetary stimulus, we showed that forward stock multiples had surged right back 19.4x, which was just above the level the S&P500 held on Feb 19 when it was trading at an all-time high above 3,330. In other words, at in the first week of April, stocks were valued the same as they were at the February all time highs. Fast forward one month when two things have happened: stocks have risen further, with the S&P rising just shy of 3,000 last week, while earnings expectations across the entire world have continued to slide...19.4x forward P/E is now even more idiotic...Deutsche Bank's Torsten Slok said: 'It is difficult to think about the E in the P/E ratio when the economy is shut down and half of blue-chip companies don't want to provide guidance on full-year earnings because of all the uncertainty. The Fed probably doesn't worry much about if the forward multiple is 18, 20, or 25, their clear goal is to support markets.'...The 'disconnect between markets and data is the largest on record'."

gold The stock market may get cut in half, but this ‘most undervalued’ asset is about to surge, billionaire investor says -Marketwatch
"Paul Singer, the hedge-fund billionaire behind Elliott Management, warned last month that the ultimate path of global stock markets is a drop of at least 50% from February highs. What's an investor to do in the face of such a grim outlook? Load up on gold...After all, according to a report this week from the Financial Times, that's what the smart money's doing. Gold, advised Singer, is 'one of the most undervalued' assets available and it's worth 'multiples of its current price' due to the 'fanatical debasement of money by all of the world's central banks.' His fund gained about 2%, the FT reported, thanks primarily to profits from its gold position. Andrew Law's Caxton Associates and Danny Yong's Dymon Asia Capital have joined Singer in seeking protection in their gold positions amid further loosening monetary policy. 'Gold is a hedge against unfettered fiat currency printing,' said Yong, whose fund is up 36%."

Stay Shut Down or We'll Sue -Editors/Wall Street Journal
"Governors are moving to reopen their economies, and Congress could at least do its part. That includes passing the liability protections that business owners need to feel confident they won’t be looted by lawsuits as they get back to work. The plaintiff bar is trying to cash in almost as quickly as the coronavirus has spread. Trial lawyers are filing suits against emergency-supply manufacturers (false advertising), colleges (refusal to refund student fees), cruise lines (emotional distress), retailers (wrongful death), nursing homes (negligence), and governments (denial of hazard pay)—and much more. There is little point in lifting lockdowns if employers don't open for fear of lawsuits. A number of governors used emergency powers to grant liability protections to health-care workers. But trial lawyers will attempt to get friendly state courts to invalidate them...The better answer is for Congress to pass legal protections related specifically to the pandemic and economic recovery that set a national standard and limit the trial bar's ability to forum shop class actions in friendly state courts....The answer is to restrict lawsuits to individuals who sustain 'serious physical injury' - perhaps defined as a permanent impairment of health, or situations that require medical intervention to preclude such an impairment....Also needed are protections for health providers, including those who use new treatments in their frantic efforts to save lives. Lawsuits should have to prove gross negligence....Congress has passed nearly $3 trillion in virus spending for hospitals, struggling businesses and state and local governments. The money should be used to save jobs and businesses, not be siphoned into trial-lawyer bank accounts. The government lockdowns put the economy into a deep recession. Now government has a duty to help businesses reopen without fear of crippling litigation."

COVID-19 is redefining what it means to be professional -Fast Company
"It's hard to maintain a level of professionalism when you work from home, especially when you have young kids or pets...COVID-19 has put us all in the same situation, juggling work and family while trying to appear competent. And things are loosening up as a result. 'What does professionalism mean when our personal lives are in turmoil?' asks Jason Wingard, dean and professor of the School of Professional Studies at Columbia University and author of Learning to Succeed: Rethinking Corporate Education in a World of Unrelenting Change. 'Many of us are working from basements and kitchens. We're caring for kids and, in some cases, parents. And we're all experiencing this surreal time together.' 'Being on Zoom with leadership teams sitting in odd places like attics with dogs barking and kids walking in - on one hand it's weird, and on the other hand it's refreshing,' says Mike Robbins, author of We're All in This Together: Creating a Team Culture of High Performance, Trust, and Belonging....While corporate culture has been evolving and relaxing over the past 5 or 10 years, COVID-19 is accelerating the process for industries that have stuck to traditional formalities, says Robbins....Seeing a more complete picture of your coworkers can promote empathy and understanding within teams. 'Maybe we'll all feel more comfortable sharing insights of our lives in a way we hadn't done before - more than simply a picture of our family on our desk,' says Wingard. Working from home has also forced people to be more creative and flexible. 'On video you can't hide,' says Robbins...The more authentic you feel in your work environment, the freer you are to create, says Robbins....The old ideas of what it means to be professional may be gone forever. 'This is a new normal, and we have to accept it,' says Wingard. 'The more kids, doorbells, cats, and dogs that become an operational part of our day, the more acceptable it will become. Keeping that separate is not realistic.'"

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5.6.20 - Gold: An Investment For Times Like These

Gold last traded at $1,691 an ounce. Silver at $15.08 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices slipped Wednesday on profit-taking and downbeat jobs data. U.S. stocks traded flat after ADP reported private payrolls were cut by 20.2 million last month.

Gold as an investment is made for times like these -Dillian/Marketwatch
"You absolutely do want to own some gold, especially now....I'll be frank: I would like the U.S. to return to a gold standard, but that is never going to happen. So we're stuck in a world of unlimited quantitative easing (QE) and other Fed funny business. Which means this is a world where you want to own gold....The fact is, gold has maintained its purchasing power over a huge span of history, and that isn't likely to change....And, given the government's reckless monetary actions - including its foray into modern monetary theory (MMT) - it's going to perform well long after the acute phase of this crisis passes....Gold is bound to keep rising in this environment. Because the Fed can print an infinite number of dollars, but it can't print gold....Gold has a lot going for it: QE, inflation fears, and a giant budget deficit, to name a few. However, the biggest reason to own gold is that it smooths out the volatility in your investment portfolio. Add a little bit of gold, and you'll pretty much get the same overall returns. But you'll cut your volatility in half. This is why I encourage my readers to allocate 20% of their investment portfolios to gold."

cubicle Welcome Back to the Office. Your Every Move Will Be Watched. -Wall Street Journal
"Many Americans heading back to the factory and the office as the coronavirus pandemic eases will soon begin to notice that their every move is being watched or recorded. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP said it is preparing to launch this month a phone app for employers that traces contacts by analyzing workers' interactions in the office...Advertising giant Interpublic Group of Cos . is exploring dividing its 22,000 U.S. employees into three separate groups, according to perceived health risks, which could include age. Workers could be asked to disclose medical and other personal information about themselves and, in some cases, family members....The arrival of Covid-19 is taking surveillance to a higher level, with some employers planning to track movements and gather personal information like never before in Western democracies. It marks a new chapter in the debate over privacy, and the trade-offs people are willing to make for safety. Some companies now see the measures as perhaps the only way to reopen offices without risking a new rise in infections, at least until a vaccine becomes available....Massachusetts-based health-care software company Athenahealth Inc. is considering checking the temperatures of employees but doesn't want to track their movements. 'We trust our employees,' said Fran Lawler, Athenahealth's chief human resources officer. 'I think our employees would feel like that is a bit invasive.'....Existing employment laws that protect against discrimination by age or disability still apply in a pandemic, and asking all employees to disclose health information could open a company to legal liability, said Jennifer Merrigan Fay, an employment-law partner at Goodwin Procter LLP."

Some retailers are too broke to go bankrupt -CNN Business
"The coronavirus pandemic is making retail bankruptcies more likely. But, ironically, it could also make bankruptcies more difficult, and lead to delayed filings. With much of the United States still limiting nonessential businesses, and with shoppers nervous about visiting open stores, closing sales are much more difficult to hold. On Monday, J.Crew became the first national retailer to file for bankruptcy during the crisis. Experts say they're certain it won't be the last. But they also say many retailers are likely holding off filing until they are able to make plans for the stores they need to close during bankruptcy....Numerous national retailers are reported to be close to a bankruptcy filing. JCPenney (JCP) disclosed on April 15 that it missed a debt payment...According to published reports Neiman Marcus also is close to filing....Most major companies that file for bankruptcy do so intending to stay in business. But many fail, including Toys 'R' Us and Sports Authority. Once a company files for bankruptcy, the clock is ticking on its effort to win approval of the bankruptcy court to stay alive....The problems facing traditional brick-and-mortar stores didn't start with the Covid-19 crisis. A record 9,275 major retail stores announced closings last year, according to CoreSight Research. Things will only be tougher for traditional retailers in the months ahead, with many customers struggling during a period of record job losses. The growing use of online shopping during stay-at-home orders doesn't help either."

How people react to the threat of disease could mean COVID-19 is reshaping personalities -The Conversation
"The effects of the coronavirus pandemic will be 'imprinted on the personality of our nation for a very long time,' predicted Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases....Psychological research suggests that concerns about COVID-19 and social distancing are likely to affect how much people want to socialize with others, what they desire in partners and relationships, and their preferences for more conventional thinking over openness to new experiences....Like the physiological immune system, the psychological behavioral immune system is flexible - when you perceive some infection risk, it triggers responses to minimize the danger. One such response is withdrawing from other people and becoming less social....Cultural norms and practices provide guidelines for how to behave to prevent the spread of disease. Whereas prior to COVID-19 a person sneezing in public might receive a polite 'gesundheit,' now it elicits fear. Break the 'six feet' rule and you risk an angry exchange, or worse. The risk of coronavirus is highlighting people's ability and willingness to follow guidelines for the sake of the community, promoting individuals' collectivistic side....The U.S. is only a couple months into social distancing. But COVID-19 is already shaping behavior. People are less social. Dating patterns are disrupted. Effects are emerging even in people's closest, most established relationships. The longer the coronavirus threat lingers, the more these changes may reflect not just changes in momentary behaviors, but changes to more enduring aspects of people's personalities."

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5.5.20 - Why U.S. Coronavirus Data is Terrible

Gold last traded at $1,716 an ounce. Silver at $15.17 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices traded mixed on safe-haven demand despite a firmer dollar. U.S. stocks rose with oil prices as investors bet the U.S. economy could start to reopen again.

Gold: Planting The Seeds Of Inflation And Food Shortages -Seeking Alpha
"We are seeing a lot of volatility because of some recent fundamental news that just came out...The crisis is unmatched since the 1930s. There is growing pressure to lift restrictions that are choking the economy. We are beginning to see the ripple-effect damage of this economic bomb caused by the pandemic...There are glimmers of hope. Some new testing of a drug, Remdesivir, is showing promise for treating COVID-19....Now we are beginning to see more buyers coming into the gold market...It is a very good level to start buying the market. A buy signal has been activated in gold....You have to understand the difference between the physical and paper markets. The two are separate. The paper market is the futures market and is based on contracts for 100 ounces of gold, supposedly....The physical gold market, however, has now completely separated itself from the paper market. There are a large number of open interest positions in gold, which are looking to take delivery of physical gold through the futures market. COMEX is in a jam because the number looking to take delivery are at record numbers, so they are scrambling to find the gold to meet their obligations....Central bankers can no longer manipulate the price of gold. The world is looking to take delivery of physical gold, which is more than offsetting attempts to suppress the price of gold via the paper market. When hyperinflation hits, it will happen overnight. Be prepared."

vaccine How Long Will a Vaccine Really Take? -New York Times
"A vaccine would be the ultimate weapon against the coronavirus and the best route back to normal life....We've never released a coronavirus vaccine for humans before. Our record for developing an entirely new vaccine is at least four years - more time than the public or the economy can tolerate social-distancing orders. But if there was any time to fast-track a vaccine, it is now. Normally, researchers need years to secure funding, get approvals and study results piece by piece. But these are not normal times. There are already at least 254 therapies and 95 vaccines related to Covid-19 being explored. Despite the unprecedented push for a vaccine, researchers caution that less than 10 percent of drugs that enter clinical trials are ever approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The rest fail in one way or another: They are not effective, don't perform better than existing drugs or have too many side effects....The potential Covid-19 vaccines now in the pipeline might be more likely to fail because of the swift march through the research phase, said Robert van Exan, a cell biologist who has worked in the vaccine industry for decades. He predicts we won't see a vaccine approved until at least 2021 or 2022, and even then, 'this is very optimistic and of relatively low probability.'....So researchers might produce a viable vaccine in just 12 to 18 months, but that doesn't mean you're going to get it....Once we have a working vaccine in hand, companies will need to start producing millions - perhaps billions - of doses, in addition to the millions of vaccine doses that are already made each year for mumps, measles and other illnesses. It's an undertaking almost unimaginable in scope."

Coronavirus Data in the U.S. Is Terrible, and Here's Why -City Lab
"Every day now comes with a new set of coronavirus data: numbers for positive tests, negative tests, deaths, patients hospitalized, ventilator shortfalls and hospital beds occupied...These numbers enable epidemiologists, officials, journalists and the public around the world to track the evolution of Covid-19 in almost real time, making it the first 'data-driven pandemic.' There's a lot at stake in these numbers, and there's a major problem: The data on which we are basing decisions is imperfect and incomplete....U.S. test results offer more of a 'window to the past' rather than an assessment of the present situation. On February 29, the Food and Drug Administration loosened the regulations on the development of Covid-19 tests, effectively allowing labs other than those of the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionto use their own tests...Before this date, all tests had to be conducted by the CDC for a case to be counted as a 'confirmed positive' case of Covid-19....By April 22, the FDA had granted over 40 Exceptional Use Authorizations (EUA) for test kits....In addition, with any test there is a risk of 'false negatives' - someone testing negative for Covid-19 when she is in fact sick. This can happen if medical staff mishandle swabs, which may have to do with the way the test is administered....While it's impossible to readjust the entire country's data structure amid a pandemic, health departments nationwide can publish more complete metrics, following the advice of the COVID Tracking Project and trying to stick to its checklist. Some kind of standard as how to present the data to the public would be helpful."

What American life will look like after the coronavirus crisis ends -The Hill
"A new age is dawning on our nation....This novel disease has had more impact on the average American than the largest stories of the last two decades, including wars in the Middle East, September 11th, and the real estate crash....Consumer spending fell by around 18 percent over the first quarter...The brick and mortar model is not only running independent stores into the risk of default but could also decimate many of the 1,100 malls all across the country...Total online sales have increased 49 percent since the pandemic started. Physical sales outside of food have been heaviest in alcohol sales, increasing by a whopping 75 percent. The housing market has shifted dramatically as well. One third of renters missed their payments last month, and things do not look any better for home buyers. Lenders expect 15 million homeowners will default on their mortgage payments....For many, this crisis has been a rude awakening. An age of true austerity with government control, swinging prices, and the possible rationing of health care all part of our potential future. Hopefully, a combination of effective therapeutics and reopening the economy will offer us a chance to avoid a global depression....But for all of our current struggles, there is an opportunity for each of us to persevere. Only our actions will show how we will ultimately define this period. We must not let the coronavirus define us."

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5.4.20 - Gold's 'Growing Potential' to Break $1,800

Gold last traded at $1,710 an ounce. Silver at $14.86 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices steadied Monday on safe-haven demand despite a firmer dollar. U.S. stocks traded mostly lower as traders weighed the reopening of the economy along with brewing tensions between China and the U.S.

Gold has 'growing potential' to break $1,800 an ounce -UBS/CNBC
"Gold prices could 'break the highs' seen earlier this year...according to UBS Investment Bank's Joni Teves. 'There is growing potential (for gold) to break $1,800 (per ounce) in my view,' Joni Teves, precious metal strategist at UBS Investment Bank, told CNBC's 'Squawk Box Asia' on Monday. In the near term, the firm has a target price for gold at $1,790 per ounce. That comes as 'investor interest continues to grow in this environment of uncertainty and negative real rates,' Teves said....Last week, the World Gold Council released its first-quarter 2020 demand trends report for the precious metal, where it highlighted that the global coronavirus outbreak was 'the single biggest factor influencing gold demand.' 'As the scale of the pandemic - and its potential economic impact - started to emerge, investors sought safe-haven assets,' the report said. 'Gold ETFs saw the highest quarterly inflows for four years amid global uncertainty and financial market volatility.' For her part, UBS' Teves said the move in gold had been drive by a 'pickup in investor interest, particularly from institutional investors.' 'Gold is becoming attractive in this environment where uncertainty is very high, growth is expected to weaken, and at the same time you have negative real rates which make gold attractive to hold as a diversifier in investor portfolios,' Teves said."

road Making Sense of the Future After Losing a Job You Love -Harvard Business Review
"Losing a job is deeply shocking. It is a loss of livelihood: the ability to support ourselves and often our families. But the emotional impact goes beyond financial stress....But perhaps most significant is the impact of job loss on our identity or sense of self. For many, work is not only a large part of our waking hours but also who we feel we are. Even in good times, a job loss is often one of life's most stressful events, coming close after bereavement, marital difficulties, and personal injury....But there's a path forward. In research I conducted over 10 years with people forced to leave the work they cared deeply about, I heard about their emotional responses first-hand - and how many of them found a way through....In my research I found that most people who are forced out of a career do manage to create meaningful futures and even feel more fulfilled than they did before. This happens as they come to terms with their disrupted identities and start to see new possibilities....Those who successfully created new futures for themselves tended to move through their grief and growth in three phases: 1. Regulate emotions - It's hard to think straight when your system is flooded with emotion, and there’s a lot to feel emotional about at the moment....2. Engage in sense-making - From a more emotionally regulated place, you can now start to figure out what has happened, why, and what it means for you. Psychologists call this sense-making....3. Experiment and integrate - Sense-making is more than a way of thinking...identities can be greatly enriched, strengthened, or expanded through difficult experiences....If you have been laid off in this time of unprecedented challenge, take heart - this may be an unexpected chance to rethink what you want and who you are, and start building a path towards a job more enlivening than the one you lost."

Coronavirus threat to 401(k)s: Some savers are making these big money moves -CNBC
"It's been a roller coaster for the stock market, and that's certainly had an impact on investors' 401(k) accounts and other employer-sponsored retirement savings plans. Several major 401(k) providers, including Fidelity, Vanguard and T. Rowe Price, said the overwhelming majority of their 401(k) investors stayed the course and did not trade or change their asset allocation last month, as the S&P 500 lost 30% of its value from its record highs. Yet new data from Alight Solutions 401(k) Index, which tracks investment activity of about 2 million 401(k) participants, tell another story...The total amount of money transfers, as a percentage of an account's starting balance, was the highest it's been since October 2008, in the middle of the Great Recession....Unfortunately, many 401(k) investors don't have a financial plan and may not have reviewed their retirement investments in years, prior to the March market slide....Under the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package, it is easier now for savers to take money out of their retirement plans. Under the CARES Act, beginning March 27, 2020, and up to 180 days after, you can borrow up to $100,000 from your 401(k)....Some advisors worry that this could cause more retirement savers to tap their 401(k), putting their long-term financial security in greater jeopardy."

FDA authorizes remdesivir for emergency use as coronavirus treatment -CBS News
"The Food and Drug Administration has authorized the antiviral drug remdesivir for emergency use in treating coronavirus cases, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn announced in an impromptu Oval Office meeting on Friday afternoon. Daniel O'Day, the CEO of Gilead Sciences, which produces the drug, also attended the meeting with administration officials. O'Day said that Gilead would continue to work with the administration and said the company is working to increase its supply of IV remdesivir, which does not cure the disease but may help shorten its duration. Hahn thanked O'Day for the company's collaboration with the administration and praised FDA officials for work in responding to the pandemic. 'This is an important clinical advance,' Hahn said about remdesivir, calling it 'the first authorized therapy for COVID-19.' Dr. Deborah Birx, the leader of the White House coronavirus task force, also praised O'Day and the drug, which shortened the recovery time for some coronavirus patients in a recently completed clinical trial. 'This is our first really positive step forward,' Birx said....Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease specialist, expressed his optimism Wednesday about the ability of remdesivir to shorten the time it takes seriously ill patients to recover from a COVID-19 infection....However, a separate study on a smaller group of patients in China, published in the peer-reviewed journal The Lancet the same day, did not find statistically significant benefits from the drug for those with 'severe' COVID-19."

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5.1.20 - Gold Prices Are Going to "Pop" to $2,700

Gold last traded at $1,705 an ounce. Silver at $14.99 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose on safe-haven buying and a weaker dollar. U.S. stocks slumped as shares of Amazon led the major indexes lower on the month's first day of trading following mixed first-quarter results.

Gold prices going to "pop" to $2,700, easily -Holmes/Kitco
"Despite a weakened economy, stocks continue to rise on the back of monetary stimulus, which is bound to push gold prices even higher, this, according to Frank Holmes, CEO of U.S. Global Investors. Stocks are going up 'because of the trillions and trillions of dollars of money printing from the helicopters of central bankers. The G20 central bankers, the G20 finance ministers, that's a cartel, like OPEC,' Holmes told Kitco News. Fundamentally, gold's supply deficit should also provide tailwinds, Holmes said. 'Last year, as I've mentioned, everyone was surprised that palladium could go from $1,000 to $2,700, and I said short-term, why can't gold do that?' he said. 'We're going to see gold pop. $2,700 is easy for me to see that.' Holmes added that the gold miners should also perform exceptionally well during periods of upward bullion price movements."

system A Broken System: Trader Warns "The Fed Has Poisoned Everything" -Zero Hedge
"The Fed poisons everything, and I mean everything. From markets, the economy...But as much as the Fed poisons everything, this crisis here again reveals a larger issue: The system is completely broken, it can't sustain itself without the Fed's ever more monumental interventions....So how does the Fed poison everything? Let's start with the Fed actual process of working towards its stated mission: Full employment and price stability. How does it do that? Well, for the last 20 years mainly by extremely low interest rates and balance sheet expansion sprinkled with an enormous amount of jawboning. The principle effect: Asset price inflation. It's not a side effect, it's the true mission. The Fed has been managing the economy via asset prices even though Jay Powell again insisted on saying the Fed is not targeting asset prices. This is a lie....It was not until the Fed flooded markets with cheap money creating the housing bubble that the equation changed dramatically...There is no alternative. Forcing money into equities to manage the economy with a rising stock market....And the entire market knows this. Wall Street knows this. Why? Because the market is a follow the Fed machine long trained to jump back into equities at any sign of Fed action jawboning and promises. It's no accident that 'don’t fight the Fed' is a popular mantra....Recklessly widening the wealth inequality equation in the process. What happens when you have a slow growth recovery for 10 years and all the wealth benefits going disproportionally to the top 1% who own most of the assets that are targeted, while real wage growth stagnates? For one you have a sizable portion of society that doesn't have a pot to piss in, behind in bills, struggling to pay rent, little to no savings or retirement, taking on multiple low paying jobs with no benefits while real estate prices keep rising as the wealthy keep squeezing people out of neighborhoods....The end results: With inequality is skyrocketing even further as millions are unemployed and many more are losing incomes while the shareholders and executives and those with larger retirement funds can take solace that the damage to them is minimized....The system is not broken, it's designed to function exactly as it is, because it benefits precisely the very same people that control it."

Rent is Due Today, but Many Tenants Can't - or Won't - Pay -Wall Street Journal
"May is shaping up as a clash between renters and landlords, as soaring unemployment could leave millions of tenants unable to pay, and some organizers of rent strikes urge even those with means to hold back....Many more are worried about keeping their jobs, and housing activists in at least 15 cities, including New York and Chicago, are organizing rent strikes....'We thought [unpaid rent] stabilized, but then who knows if everyone's going to go on a rent strike,' Joseph DePaolo, the head of Signature Bank, a prominent lender to multifamily landlords in New York, said....The best estimates of how many people fail to pay on time this month won't be available for at least a week, but early polls suggest that many Americans are unsure they can pay in full....National real estate trade groups have recommended landlords create payment plans for struggling tenants. Renter households had a median income of $40,500 in 2018, according to the Census Bureau, compared with $78,000 for owner households....The federal stimulus law halted evictions for 120 days for renters who live in properties financed by federally backed mortgages. At least 28% of rental properties in the U.S. are estimated to fall under these rules, according to the Urban Institute....Some Democrats in the House of Representatives, as well as in state and local legislatures, have called for 'canceling rent' in solidarity with the rent strike movement."

Americans are hoarding cash: The savings rate hit its highest level since 1981 -CNN
"Americans are so nervous about the state of the economy that they are stashing cash in the bank at a rate not seen since the first year of Ronald Reagan's presidency. The United States government's Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Thursday morning that the savings rate surged to 13.1% in March - up from 8% in February. That's the highest savings rate since November 1981....Consumers are putting more money away at a time when bank savings, money market accounts and Treasury bonds are yielding next to nothing after the Federal Reserve slashed rates to zero last month and launched numerous lending programs in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. At a press conference on Wednesday, Fed chair Jerome Powell was asked about what savers should do since rates are at zero. He conceded that for people 'really just relying on their bank savings account earnings, you're not going to benefit from low interest rates.'....Still, consumers may be saving more because they are spending less - a lot less, in fact. The BEA also said Thursday that consumption expenditures fell 7.5% last month, led by a nearly $935 billion drop in spending on goods and services....One economist theorized that perhaps Americans were preparing for an inevitable downturn...'Speculation is people were bracing for the next recession,' said Robert Frick, corporate economist with Navy Federal Credit Union."

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4.30.20 - Gold Soars in April on Central Bank Stimulus

Gold last traded at $1,694 an ounce. Silver at $14.97 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose in April as investors were drawn to the metal’s proven store of value qualities. U.S. stocks fell on downbeat economic data as the CV-19 pandemic pushed U.S. jobless claims above 30 million in the last six weeks.

Gold Soars in April as Top Central Banks Fight Pandemic's Damage -Bloomberg
"Gold is heading for the biggest monthly gain since 2016 as top economies ramp up stimulus to repair the damage from the coronavirus pandemic, boosting the metal’s allure as a store of value. Bullion traded near the highest since 2012 after the U.S. Federal Reserve voiced concern Wednesday the crisis could leave permanent scars on the U.S. economy, while leaving interest rates near zero....Gold has rebounded after a sell-off last month, when investors rushed to raise cash. There was also some delayed quarterly portfolio rebalancing pushed back due to those late-March falls, Rhona O'Connell, head of market analysis for EMEA and Asia at INTL FCStone, said by email. 'Additional liquidity in the system benefited gold,' she said. 'The risks in the system do point to further gains.'....Overall sentiment for gold is still high, as investors seek havens amid the economic downturn, and monetary and fiscal stimulus, according to State Street Global Advisors. Gold will trade between $1,700 and $1,800 an ounce for the next few weeks, with a skew to the higher end of that range, Robin Tsui, Asia-Pacific gold strategist, said in an interview. 'The low interest rate factor is going to drive gold prices forward.'"

tp We Are Fighting a Public Health Crisis, Not a War -Bonner/Bonner And Partners
"Steve Mnuchin: 'We need to spend what it takes to win the war.' It is a scam on several levels. First, the 'war' is fake. This is a public health crisis, not a war. Calling it a 'war' is just a way to get people to salute the leaders....Second, the feds are not fighting the virus. Doctors, nurses, and hospitals are fighting the virus. The feds turned a natural disaster into a man-made economic disaster. Third, they are now desperately trying to save a failed financial system… and taking advantage of the crisis to bail out cronies, reward campaign donors, expand the Deep State, and enhance their own power. Fourth, the feds have no money saved to give in 'aid' or 'stimulus.' Every penny must come from the people they pretend to be aiding. Fifth, the money they give out is fake… In its most tangible form, it is nothing more than paper with green ink on it. It represents no goods, no services, no earnings, no wealth, and no savings. Sixth, like a phony claim ticket at a hat-check booth, this kind of fake money merely entitles the people who get it - the cronies, the chislers, the insiders - to take someone else's coat. Seventh, providing an economy with fake money does not cause it to produce more goods and services. Instead, it sours the whole system… misleads investors and consumers… and reduces real output. Eighth, the most common and destructive effect of this scam is inflation. First, asset prices are inflated. Later, consumer prices rise, too, eventually washing out every penny of stimulus spending - and more....Today, stocks are moving up as investors anticipate trillions in new money… and an easing of the lockdown conditions...Stocks could soar, as they did in Zimbabwe and Venezuela. But in real money terms (that is, in terms of gold) stock prices will almost surely go down - along with the dollar… the economy… and the American Empire."

Wall Street veteran's explanation of weird investor behavior: gambling -Yahoo Finance
"DataTrek's Jessica Rabe wrote that some mom and pop investors might be day-trading the market more because casinos professional sports have shut down and casinos have closed. Across certain segments of the 'regular people' investment landscape - Vanguard and Fidelity, for example - there hasn't been much in the way of panic selling as many customers seem to have internalized the 'stay the course' messaging that followed the last financial crisis...In fact, many of these retail investors have bought equities as markets plunged...March daily trade volumes were around three times that of Q4's daily volume - which has continued into April....Rabe called the 'tremendous rush of retail investors into US equities over the last 8 weeks' one of the 'most surprising financial market features of the COVID crisis.'....This list of most traded stocks is interesting, Rabe points out, because with the exception of Disney, they are all cheap and very volatile stocks that can move up and down 10% in just a few days. Why are so many people drawn to them? The explanation Rabe lands on sounds wild, but compelling. 'This shoves us to a strange, but we think useful, conclusion,' Rabe writes. 'The rush of retail investors into U.S. equities is at least partly a function of a world with no casinos, no sports betting to speak of (horses and ping-pong aside), and little to do outside the home.'"

For people with dementia, the coronavirus pandemic is a nightmare -The Economist
"People with every stage of dementia are at particular danger from the virus not just because of the difficulty they may have in understanding the threat or in remembering safety precautions. They are also likely to be subject to other risk factors. The most obvious is that dementia is predominantly a syndrome of the elderly, the group for whom covid-19 is most likely to be fatal...By some estimates, 2% of 65- to 69-year-olds have dementia, and its prevalence doubles every five years to the age of 90. In another widely quoted estimate, between a third and a half of 85-year-olds have dementia....Looking after people with dementia is a hands-on, labor-intensive task. For those at home, that can become almost impossible if social-distancing guidelines are adhered to. And much of the usual support system - regular visitors and day-care centers, for example - will be unavailable....Professor Livingston of the London School of Economics says that the 'memory clinic' where she works decided to shut, as the doctors concluded 'it was more risky to see people than for them not to have a diagnosis for a short period of time.' But the longer the delay goes on, the greater dangers people living with undiagnosed dementia pose to themselves, and perhaps others, if, say, through forgetfulness they start a fire, or continue to drive when they can no longer do so safely....As life expectancies lengthen, especially in the developing world, the numbers of people with the condition will shoot up, to around 80m by 2030 and 150m by 2050. As population growth slows, there will simply not be enough people to care for them. No country has a good plan for how to deal with this problem, or how to finance the care of such large numbers of people. Optimists point to the current pandemic to argue that it shows how much can be done when the scale of an emergency is recognized."

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4.29.20 - War on Cash Kicking Into Overdrive

Gold last traded at $1,716 an ounce. Silver at $15.44 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices eased Wednesday on profit-taking despite a sharp drop in U.S. economic activity. U.S. stocks rose on positive data from a potential coronavirus treatment from Gilead Sciences.

'Government stupidity' may bring new gold price highs -Forbes/Kitco
"Regardless of how bad the economic fallout from COVID-19 and subsequent government response will be, one thing is clear: gold will retain its status as a hedge asset and is a must-own in every investor's portfolio, according to Steve Forbes, chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media. In a podcast published on Forbes magazine last Friday, the media mogul outlined several economic scenarios, all pointing to tailwinds for the yellow metal. 'The trillions of dollars being spent to save our virus-battered economy are stoking fears of inflation,' he said. 'Gold has always been a hedge against government's economic blunders.' Forbes added that government policies enacted now could lead to disaster that has the potential to send gold prices soaring, like in the 1970s. He joins a host of analysts who have said that fundamentals are about to push gold prices much higher than current levels. Bank of America was among the Wall Street analysts who have turned bullish on gold, recently calling for prices to target $3,000 in 18 months....Comparing gold to stocks, Forbes outlined the metals' superior performance during market downturns. 'If you'd put say $10,000 in the stock market a year ago, you have about $9,000 today. If you put that $10,000 in gold you have $13,500 today. That's over $4,500. Since stocks reached their highs in February, gold has outperformed them by a good margin,' he said."

cashless War on Cash Kicking Into Overdrive -Rickards/Daily Reckoning
"The global elites and deep state actors always have a laundry list of programs and regulations they can't wait to put into practice. They know that most of these are deeply unpopular and they could never get away with putting them into practice during ordinary times. Yet when a crisis hits, citizens are desperate for fast action and quick solutions. The elites bring forward their rescue packages but then use these as Trojan horses to sneak their wish list inside. The USA Patriot Act that passed after 9/11 is a good example. Some counterterrorist measures were needed, of course. But the Treasury had a long-standing wish list involving reporting cash transactions and limiting citizens' ability to get cash. They plugged that wish list into the Patriot Act and we've been living with the results ever since, even though 9/11 is long in the past. Obviously, the effort to eliminate cash is hardly new. It has been going on for many years and in many forms. The U.S. discontinued the use of large-denomination bills in the late 1960s. Until 1969, $500, $1,000, $5,000 and even $10,000 bills were issued, even though they were printed decades earlier. Today the largest bill is a $100 bill, but it has lost 80% of its purchasing power since 1968, so it's really just a $20 bill from those days....This crisis is even larger and scarier than the 2008 crisis, which gives elites even more opportunity to ram their agendas through without serious opposition. They don't intend to let it go to waste. Sure enough, government agents and tech vendors are now claiming that cash is 'dangerous' because it could contain traces of the coronavirus. While that's not impossible, it's highly unlikely and no more likely than getting the virus from 100 other sources including package deliveries and shopping carts. Should we ban cardboard boxes and shopping carts too?....The time to protect yourself is now. The best way is to keep a portion of your wealth outside of the banking system. I strongly recommend that you own physical gold (and silver). I recommend you allocate 10% of your investable assets to gold. If you really wanted to be aggressive, maybe 20%....I see gold going to at least $10,000 an ounce ultimately...When the next panic hits, and it will hit, there won't be any gold available at any price."

What It Might Look Like to Safely Reopen Schools -KQED/Mindshift
"Three-quarters of U.S. states have now officially closed their schools for the rest of the academic year. While remote learning continues, summer is a question mark, and attention is already starting to turn to next fall....Here are nine key ideas - drawn from interviews with public health experts, education officials and educators around the country - for what reopening might look like. 1. Stepped-up health and hygiene measures - So the first order of business, says Michael Mulgrew, the head of the New York City teachers union, is 'How do you make sure there's a plan in place to make sure the people walking in are not spreading anything?'....2. Class sizes of 12 or fewer - In an attempt to balance safety with the impact on families and the economy, Maria Litvinova, a researcher at the Institute for Scientific Interchange in Turin, Italy, recommends reducing social contact by putting children in the smallest groups possible....3. Staggered schedules - Reducing class size this drastically would probably mean staggering schedules....4. Younger kids first? Denmark reopened its day cares and primary schools first. Norway started with kindergartens, and Israel with special education kindergartens....5. New calendars - To make up for the learning lost while schools are closed, there have been suggestions of starting school sooner, or continuing through next summer, or both....6. Different attendance policies - Schools can open up, but some parents might still choose to keep their children at home....7. No assemblies, sports games or parent-teacher conferences - Students can't mix in large groups, and parents probably won't be allowed in school buildings either....8. Remote learning continues - Every expert NPR spoke with predicted that the need for remote learning would continue because of staggered schedules, schools prepared to close again for future waves of infection....9. Social, emotional and practical help for kids - Developmental experts say disruption from the pandemic constitutes an 'adverse childhood experience' for every American child."

The Bearer of Good Coronavirus News -Wall Street Journal
"Defenders of coronavirus lockdown mandates keep talking about science...But scientists are almost never unanimous, and many appeals to 'science' are transparently political or ideological. Consider the story of John Ioannidis, a professor at Stanford's School of Medicine. His expertise is wide-ranging - he juggles appointments in statistics, biomedical data, prevention research and health research and policy. Google Scholar ranks him among the world's 100 most-cited scientists. He has published more than 1,000 papers, many of them meta-analyses - reviews of other studies. Yet he's now found himself pilloried because he dissents from the theories behind the lockdowns - because he's looked at the data and found good news. In a March article for Stat News, Dr. Ioannidis argued that Covid-19 is far less deadly than modelers were assuming. He considered the experience of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was quarantined Feb. 4 in Japan. Nine of 700 infected passengers and crew died. Based on the demographics of the ship's population, Dr. Ioannidis estimated that the U.S. fatality rate could be as low as 0.025% to 0.625% and put the upper bound at 0.05% to 1% - comparable to that of seasonal flu. 'If that is the true rate,' he wrote, 'locking down the world with potentially tremendous social and financial consequences may be totally irrational.'....Scientific studies are often infected by biases. 'Several years ago, along with one of my colleagues, we had mapped 235 biases across science. And maybe the biggest cluster is biases that are trying to generate significant, spectacular, fascinating, extraordinary results,' he says. 'Early results tend to be inflated. Claims for significance tend to be exaggerated.'....Dr. Ioannidis and colleagues at Stanford last week published a study on the prevalence of coronavirus antibodies in Santa Clara County. Based on blood tests of 3,300 volunteers in the county - which includes San Jose, California's third-largest city - during the first week of April, they estimated that between 2.49% and 4.16% of the county population had been infected. That's 50 to 85 times the number of confirmed cases and implies a fatality rate between 0.12% and 0.2%, consistent with that of the Diamond Princess....In part he blames the media: 'We have some evidence that bad news, negative news [stories], are more attractive than positive news - they lead to more clicks, they lead to people being more engaged. And of course we know that fake news travels faster than true news. So in the current environment, unfortunately, we have generated a very heavily panic-driven, horror-driven, death-reality-show type of situation.'"

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4.28.20 - Free-Market Agenda for Post CV-19 Rebuilding

Gold last traded at $1,721 an ounce. Silver at $15.28 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices eased again Tuesday as signs of lockdown easing lifted risk appetite. U.S. stocks traded mixed as as shares of the so-called FANG tech companies declined.

For Retirees Seeking an Inflation Hedge, Here's How to Add Gold -Barrons
"Gold has again excelled in its role as a safe haven and portfolio diversifier, with the precious metal near 7½-year highs after rallying around 10% since early March while stocks tumbled during the coronavirus-driven market tumult. Looking ahead, gold figures to play a starring role as a store of value as investor expectations on future inflation climb amid global stimulus efforts that have put a flood of cash into the financial system. For retirees on a fixed income, inflation can be a killer especially as interest rates remain low. But how much should retirees allocate to gold and how to include in a portfolio?....Kristina Hooper, chief global market strategist at Invesco, says gold is appropriate in anyone's portfolio as part of the alternatives allocation since the metal can offer portfolio diversification and be an inflation hedge over the long run...Depending on the person’s risk tolerance, gold can take up a 5% or less portfolio allocation, she says....Frank Holmes, CEO of U.S. Global Investors, which issues precious metals mutual funds and exchange-traded funds, says gold becomes a true store of value when the inflation rate starts to outpace interest rates. In gold markets, investors look at 'real' interest rates, subtracting the benchmark rate from the inflation rate. If that rate turns negative, as it has recently, gold shines. Negative inflation-adjusted interest rates were behind gold's last run between 2008 and 2011, when gold hit a nominal all-time high of just over $1,900 an ounce. Gold started to retreat when those 'real' rates turned positive, he says. With benchmark rates near zero, this could work in gold's favor again. He recommends gold holdings up to 10%."

tech Tech giants are profiting - and getting more powerful - even as the global economy tanks -Washington Post
"Tech titans spent much of the last year playing defense, fending off dozens of federal and state antitrust investigations and a public wary of their power. But the global coronavirus pandemic is prompting a dramatic reversal of fortune for the tech giants. Amazon and Facebook are capitalizing on the fact that they are viewed as essential services for a public in lockdown, while Google and Apple are building tools that will enable state health departments to provide a critical public service, tracing the course of potential new covid-19 infections....While the global economy faces potential unemployment and contraction not seen since the Great Depression, the tech giants - and a handful of medium-size tech firms - are already benefiting from new consumer habits initiated during the lockdowns that analysts believe will turn into longer-term shifts in how people shop, work and entertain themselves. The broader stock markets tanked in recent weeks, but share prices of Amazon and Microsoft hit at or near records. Facebook is moving to acquire high-skilled talent, announcing the hiring of 10,000 new workers this year....'There are really two Americas right now,' said Scott Galloway, a marketing professor at the New York University Stern School of Business and author of 'The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google.' 'There is Big Tech and there is everyone else. They can do what very few companies can do, which is play offense in the middle of a pandemic.'....At the same time, the public is becoming more reliant on tech giants' services, while governments outsource critical work to them...As the economic contraction continues and start-ups die off, the largest firms may also be some of the only companies in the position to do any hiring. In a recent interview, Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, made a point of highlighting that the company would create 10,000 new positions this year in engineering and product roles."

Debt, wealth destruction and lower pay will be coronavirus' legacy -Marketwatch
"Post-pandemic recovery will experience effects that persist after the initial cause - the coronavirus - cease to have an impact. There are several operative elements to consider: 1. The crisis will continue to destroy wealth: During the Great Recession, the U.S. lost around $10 trillion from drawdowns in savings, falling values of houses and investments. After the COVID-19 crisis, depleted savings will affect consumption levels....2. The crisis will leave a legacy of debt: Household, business and government, many already highly indebted, will experience sharp rises in borrowing to cover cash-flow shortfalls...Slower rebounds in real estate and financial asset prices will exacerbate the damage. A decade after the 2008 crisis, millions of homeowners still had mortgages greater than the value of their homes....3. Business will be slow to recover: Most smaller businesses lack reserves to meet expenses for more than a month or, at most, a quarter. Invested capital will be lost...Reversing this loss takes time....4. There will be persistent negative effects in the labor market: Lacking any realistic prospects of getting work, many will leave the workforce....5. Increased state involvement and higher government debt will be difficult to reverse: Benefits provided in the COVID-19 crisis may be difficult wind back....6. Expect behavioral changes in people: Scarring from the crisis will affect family formation and fertility, which will alter demographics and accelerate the impact on societies with aging populations."

A free-market agenda for rebuilding from the coronavirus -Action Institute
"On June 18, 1940, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill steeled his people for the Battle of Britain with a stirring speech in the House of Commons that concluded: 'Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’' The present coronavirus crisis calls for Churchillian statesmanship, yet few, if any, democratically elected leaders have proven equal to the task so far. This is decidedly not our finest hour. The leaders of the world's democracies have virtually shut down democratic capitalism in an attempt to save lives...Unemployment and government debt are spiraling to levels not seen since the Great Depression and World War II....The point is that free markets and working economies are absolutely essential in order to effectively mobilize the resources required to take on COVID-19 and other public health problems. Without essential liberty, there is no safety, to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin. What would courageous and prudent statesmanship look like in the present crisis?....Let me suggest a few key elements: 1) Make a strong moral case for medical liberty, healthcare innovation, and healthcare investment as core pillars of democratic capitalism and a culture that values every human life. 2) Reopen the economies and borders of the world's democracies immediately while closely monitoring COVID-19 hot spots and applying locally driven restrictions as necessary. 3) Prioritize supply-side tax cuts and deregulation over bailouts and unemployment benefits in order to quickly get the economy back on its feet. 4) Launch an ambitious free-market healthcare reform agenda, removing bureaucratic obstacles to private sector innovation and investment in healthcare. 5) Create a transatlantic free trade area for healthcare, giving American healthcare innovators greater access to European and Canadian health systems and vice versa."

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4.27.20 - Reopening Has Begun. What Happens Next?

Gold last traded at $1,726 an ounce. Silver at $15.31 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices eased back Monday on short-term profit-taking as lockdown easing boosted risk appetite. U.S. stocks rose as investors mulled over the possibility of re-opening the economy after the coronavirus outbreak.

Pandemic Triggers a Wave of Distress, Bankruptcy in Corporate America -Wall Street Journal
"Stay-at-home orders and the shutdown of nonessential business have driven broad swaths of the economy into panic mode. In industries that were already in a precarious position before the crisis, including retail and energy, the coronavirus pandemic has tipped many companies over the edge. A host of oil companies have sought chapter 11 protection, while J.C. Penney Co. and Neiman Marcus Group Inc. are expected to file for bankruptcy soon. Companies in areas that were previously stable, such as the automotive, travel and leisure industries - and even health care - may soon face similar pressures. U.S. corporate debt downgraded to selective default, meaning a borrower has failed to meet one or more of its obligations, totaled $64.1 billion for the 12 months ended April 17, according to S&P Global Ratings....In the coming months, that figure could top the roughly $340 billion reached at the height of the financial crisis, according to the worst-case scenario estimates from S&P. Even in a less grim scenario, the figure could approach levels reached after the dot-com bust in the early 2000s. Companies of all stripes are scrambling to avoid a painful reorganization of their capital structures and operations, default or bankruptcy....Should the recession prove deeper than envisioned, there could be a second - potentially bigger - wave of corporate distress later this year as companies labor under the weight of additional debt taken on during the shutdown, advisers warn."

gold chart Since Inception, The Euro Has Devalued 85% Against Gold -Zero Hedge
"Technically, the euro was launched on January 1, 1999, although euro notes and coins started circulating in January of 2002. The first gold price recorded in 1999 was €7.88 euros per gram. By now, the gold price has crossed €51 euros per gram. A new all-time high. Over the course of 20 years, the price of gold in euros has increased by 555%. From a historic perspective the euro is a young currency, but already lost 85% of its value against gold. This reveals the instability of fiat money....In 1999 it took 0.13 gram to buy one euro; today only 0.02 gram. The result is that the euro lost 85% of its value versus gold. In the chart you can see the euro's descent versus gold since 1999....Gold's purchasing power, on average, has increased by a staggering 350% over 20 years. The gold price can be volatile at times, but over longer periods of time it preserves its purchasing power, with the benefit that it doesn't have any counterparty risk, so it withstands every crisis."

Reopening Has Begun. No One Is Sure What Happens Next. -New York Times
"The economy shut down almost overnight. It won't start back up that way. Politicians and public health experts have sparred for weeks over when, and under what circumstances, to allow businesses to reopen and Americans to emerge from their homes. But another question could prove just as thorny - how? Because the restart will be gradual, with certain places and industries opening earlier than others, it will by definition be complicated. Georgia and other states are beginning the reopening process. But even under the most optimistic estimates, it will be months, and possibly years, before Americans again crowd into bars and squeeze onto subway cars the way they did before the pandemic struck. 'It's going to take much longer to thaw the economy than it took to freeze it,' said Diane Swonk, chief economist for the accounting firm Grant Thornton. And it isn't clear what, exactly, it means to gradually restart a system with as many interlocking pieces as the U.S. economy. How can one factory reopen when its suppliers remain shuttered? How can parents return to work when schools are still closed? How can older people return when there is still no effective treatment or vaccine?....'The biggest risk is that you open too fast, too broadly, and you have another round of infections, a second wave,' said Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Analytics. 'That's the fodder for an economic depression. That would just completely undermine confidence.'....Economists say the government's role is only beginning. Businesses will need help weathering a period of reduced sales. State and local governments will need help, too, or they will have to cut programs to offset a sharp drop in tax revenue. Individuals will need unemployment benefits, food assistance and other aid to make ends meet in a recession that will almost certainly outlast the pandemic."

It's Time to Flatten the Loneliness Curve for Older Americans -Freedman/Gomperts/Next Avenue
"Just as the nation's population of people over 65 is about to skyrocket, we face the intersection of two deadly epidemics: COVID-19 and loneliness. One is deadly now, the other a slow-motion threat of equal consequence. Even before the current crisis, we were in a social recession, as evidenced by dramatic increases in loneliness and isolation. Now we're in danger of entering a social depression that might last for years. And here, too, older people - the canaries in the loneliness coal mine - are most at risk. Research from the University of California, San Francisco shows that 43% of adults over 65 feel lonely, which puts them at higher risk for poor health. And AARP researchers traced social isolation to nearly $7 billion in additional Medicare spending every year. To get us on the road toward being a stronger, more caring and connected society, we need a social stimulus plan as bold and encompassing as the fiscal one. It should start with alleviating, even preventing, loneliness. And here's some good news: We don't have to start from scratch....The United States could establish our own equivalent, a cabinet-level position tasked with creating a comprehensive plan to connect people in ways that prevent isolation and mitigate it when it does occur....Next, we'll need an infusion of resources equal to the need and the task. Here we can take inspiration from Singapore, a tiny nation with a grand plan to transform aging, provide purpose for its rapidly growing aging population and create intergenerational connection....Education offers many opportunities for community connection...Volunteering is such an important health intervention for older adults that Dr. Linda Fried, dean of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, has suggested that Medicare 'prescribe and support' programs like AARP Experience Corps, a tutoring and mentoring effort matching older adults and K-3 students in under-resourced public schools. That kind of public health investment could save money in the long run, as older adults stay healthier longer and children get a better start with the confidence that comes from having more caring adults in their corner...The tragedy of the COVID-19 pandemic and the necessity of social distancing underscore the growing social isolation crisis that is sapping far too many lives of meaning, joy and contribution. As the population of older people grows and the risk of disconnection grows along with it, it's time to think about how we can flatten the loneliness curve and put in place policies and measures that will carry us through this crisis into a new era of interdependence."

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4.24.20 - Paying Americans Not to Work -WSJ

Gold last traded at $1,739 an ounce. Silver at $15.30 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose Friday heading toward a strong week driven by Fed stimulus measures. U.S. stocks mostly flat as investors faced another volatile week featuring unprecedented moves in the oil market.

Gold heads for weekly gain as growth fears boosts demand -CNBC
"Gold prices edged higher Friday and was on track for a strong weekly rise, driven by central bank stimulus measures and investor appetite for a safe haven as fears mount over the economic damage caused by the novel coronavirus....'Gold is holding up well and it's not surprising given the continuing volatility in other markets and people looking for safe havens,' Commerzbank analyst Eugen Weinberg said. 'In euro terms, gold has risen to an all-time high, which is definitely yet another proof of the continuing safe-haven demand and decreasing trust in central bank money.'....More than 2.7 million people have been reported to be infected by the virus globally. Central banks have adopted massive monetary measures to limit the economic damage as most countries extend lockdowns to curtail its spread....Gold tends to benefit from widespread stimulus measures from central banks because it is widely viewed as a hedge against inflation and currency debasement. 'In this new world in which both the European Central Bank and the U.S. Federal Reserve continue to unleash new stimulus packages, dramatically increasing the liquidity of cash, combined with a lot of uncertainty, gold will remain in high demand and play a key role in any investor’s portfolio,' ActivTrades chief analyst Carlo Alberto De Casa said in a note."

inflation U.S. Is Following in Argentina's Economic Footsteps -Bonner/Bonner And Partners
"There's an advantage to spending time in a place like Argentina....Economists like to study Argentina. It's the only country in the world to go from one of the world's richest… to sh*thole status… thanks entirely to government policy....The Argentines can't borrow because no one will lend them money. The Americans can't borrow, either, because nobody's got that kind of money. And if they had it, they wouldn't be fool enough to lend to someone on such a reckless spending binge. The only possible source for so much financing is the Federal Reserve. And the Fed's only source is the 'printing press.' So, in other words, the U.S. is following in Argentina's tracks… but on a much bigger scale....Argentina's inflation rate is already over 50%. But that's nothing compared to its inflation of the 1980s...when prices rose an average of about 300% per year. That kind of inflation does to an economy approximately what the coronavirus does. Things shut down. Businesses can't make plans. They can't invest for the future. They let workers go. People stay home. Their money loses value so fast, they try to get rid of it as soon as possible. This feeds even further price increases… and less production....When it comes to making a mess of an economy, the Argentines are pros....'Here in Argentina, we know we're crazy,' says our neighbor, Ramon. 'Now, we're glad to have company.'"

Paying Americans Not to Work -Editors/Wall Street Journal
"Much of the harm from the coronavirus is unavoidable, but it would be nice if politicians didn't compound the damage by ignoring the laws of economics. The worst blunder so far on that score is the $600 increase in federal jobless benefits that is already undermining the economic recovery. On Wednesday we ran an op-ed from Kurt Huffman, whose Portland, Ore., company helps chefs run and staff their restaurants. Because of the coronavirus, he had to lay off 700 people. But some restaurants have adapted with takeout and delivery, so he needs to hire some back. Some extra unemployment insurance is necessary, but the rich extra compensation from the $2.2 trillion Cares Act is encouraging those employees to stay home....We're hearing similar stories from around the country as small business owners look to reopen on a tentative or partial basis. Employees say they'll take the unemployment check for as long as they can make more money by not working....Democrats will try to extend the $600 for another few months, and then a few more after that, as they describe anyone who disagrees as heartless...The Democratic 2020 campaign strategy is to blame Republicans for the health and economic damage from the virus. Republicans need to be able to point to an economy that is growing again by the autumn, and that means not giving Americans an incentive not to work."

Will oil's price slump be worse for the economy than the effects of the coronavirus? -NBC News
"The prospect of cheaper gas at a time when most Americans are holed up at home is not much of a silver lining to the coronavirus pandemic. Energy analysts say there is little upside to the unprecedented plunge in oil prices that sent crude oil futures spiraling into negative territory on Monday, spooking Wall Street. Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, predicted that the national average gas price could drop below $1.50 a gallon in the coming weeks, noting that a few states have already hit this benchmark. But he said drivers shouldn't expect to see gas fall as sharply as crude prices. 'Unfortunately for motorists, it may not fully make it to the pump, given that stations are trying to keep the doors open - even with volume down 50 to 70 percent,' he said....Oil prices tumbling into negative territory is a symptom of a very real problem: With demand for everything from gasoline to jet fuel plummeting, producers are literally running out of places to store oil once it leaves the ground....If prices don't regain stability, analysts' biggest fear is that the U.S. energy sector won't be able to bounce back. 'The longer oil remains this low, the more risk there is that when demand rebounds, oil production won't,' DeHaan said....'It's not just drilling wells and producers, it's everything that goes downstream… pipelines, refineries, petrochemicals, oil field services,' said Peter McNally, global energy sector lead at investment and research firm Third Bridge. 'There are much broader economic implications this time. It's not just oil seeing demand drop - it's pretty much every industry,' McNally said."

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4.23.20 - Is the Coronavirus Killing Off Cash?

Gold last traded at $1,747 an ounce. Silver at $15.34 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices continued climbing Thursday on safe haven demand and a weaker dollar. U.S. stocks rose with oil prices as investors digested the latest downbeat U.S. unemployment and earnings data.

Gold surges nearly 2%, fueled by hopes of stimulus boost -CNBC
"Gold prices jumped as much as 1.9% on Wednesday on expectations for more fiscal and monetary stimulus measures amid massive economic damage due to stay-at-home and business shutdown orders around the world to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus....'This is the perfect storm for gold... Perpetual buyer is buying gold because of all the global stimulus going on,' said Michael Matousek, head trader at U.S. Global Investors. 'Gold is in a bull market. You'll be hard pressed to find something else that has this type of price action and this trend going on right now so you naturally have people gravitating towards it.' Gold tends to benefit from widespread stimulus measures from central banks, as it is often seen as a hedge against inflation and currency debasement....'Technically, the gold bulls have the firm overall near-term technical advantage amid price uptrends in place on the daily, weekly and monthly charts,' Kitco Metals senior analyst Jim Wyckoff said in a note. 'Bulls' next upside price objective is to produce a close in June futures above solid resistance at $1,800.'"

ATM Is the Coronavirus Killing Off Cash? -Politico
"Stores are shuttering all over the United States, and many of those still open are balking at cash. Shoppers are switching orders to Amazon and Walmart.com. Many restaurants that have stayed open won't take cash, and operate without any contact at all, requiring customers to pay first online. What once seemed like the oldest, most reliable way of paying now seems fraught: A physical object changing hands, bringing people closer than 6 feet, covered in who knows what. 'Do I want to grab the thing that you were just holding in your hand? No,' says Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff, who has advocated for a less-cash society, and predicts the crisis 'is absolutely going to drive people to prefer credit and debit to cash.' Filling the void, in many cases, are digital payments that are quick, clean and easy. That sudden shift is a huge opportunity for tech firms such as online payments giant PayPal, which also owns the Venmo app....Now, in the U.S., the government has been moving in this direction of its own accord, discouraging paper checks in a rush to get stimulus money out to Americans. But the sharp jag away from cash also worries those who look out for older and poorer Americans - groups that tend to be more reliant on paper money either for lack of tech savvy, out of habit or because they don't participate in the formal banking system....There's an ideological component as well: Among cash's strengths is that it's universally accepted and difficult to track, giving Americans a just about anonymous way to, say, donate to their preferred church or live out their life as a persecuted minority or back a dissident group. 'Some of us still use cash because we think it's nobody’s business,' says Jim Harper, a visiting fellow with the libertarian-leaning American Enterprise Institute. For more than 200 years, paper cash has been at the heart of the American economy. How close could coronavirus come to killing off cash - and if it does, is society ready?....Of course, there's another possibility. And that's that cash comes roaring back after coronavirus, perhaps something like the handshake, a practice that seemed odd, even foolhardy during the pandemic but that we return to out of habit or, as it turns out, it still has its place."

Our sleep is linked to how we process coronavirus dread -Quartz
"Whether it's insomnia, strange dreams, or even sleeping too much, sleep disturbances are part of our body's response to trauma and anxiety. Everyone will react to these situations differently - but experts have helpful information to share about ways to improve your rest. 'We are in the midst of collective trauma,' says Christy Beck, a therapist based in State College, Pennsylvania. 'And sleep disturbance is a common trauma response, along with anxiety and depression.' Beck says that stress can cause a variety of sleep disorders, including insomnia - not being able to fall asleep - and its opposite, hypersomnia....Here are some of the strategies that may help you get a better rest: 1) Keep a regular schedule. Go to sleep and wake up at the same times each day....2) Exercise regularly. Incorporate some form of physical activity into your routine....3) Self-care. Spend more time on mindfulness, coping, and taking care of yourself....4) Avoid stressors. Limit the amount of Covid-19 news you are consuming....5) Assign spaces. If possible, keep the bedroom space for sleeping....6) Be easy on yourself. Doing deep abdominal breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or thinking of soothing imagery as you fall asleep."

Our Restaurants Can't Reopen Until August -Huffman/Wall Street Journal
"My company works with local chefs to open and operate their restaurants. We are currently a partner in more than 20 of them. We closed our dining rooms March 15, two days before the governor mandated we do so, and had to lay off some 700 employees...Although our limited operations leave us at only 30% of our usual revenue, takeout and delivery has worked better than expected at most locations. After two weeks of getting the systems in place and understanding the challenges of a different business model, we realized that we needed to hire back some of our staff to help with the demand. That proved harder than we expected. We started making the calls last week, just as our furloughed employees began receiving weekly Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation checks of $600 under the Cares Act. When we asked our employees to come back, almost all said, 'No thanks.' If they return to work, they'll have to take a pay cut. The starting wage for a line cook in one of our restaurants is $15 an hour. These cooks receive at least $1 an hour in tips, so at a minimum they make $16 an hour, or $640 before taxes for a 40-hour week. The overwhelming majority of our laid-off cooks qualified for Oregon unemployment compensation of 1.25% of their annual gross wages weekly, or $416 in our example. The extra $224 a week provides a strong incentive to return to work. But as of this week, that same employee receives $1,016 a week, or $376 more than he made as a full time employee. Why on earth would he want to come back to work?....And it will persist at least until July 31, when the unemployment bonus expires. I'd have to offer my cooks $25.40 an hour to match what the government is paying them not to work....We plan to open our dining rooms on Aug. 1, once the government stops paying people $15 an hour, on top of standard unemployment compensation, to stay home."

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4.22.20 - Gold to Reach $3,000 -Bank of America

Gold last traded at $1,735 an ounce. Silver at $15.28 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices resumed their upward climb Wednesday on safe-having buying. U.S. stocks rose for the first time in three days as crude prices tried to stabilize after a record plunge.

Gold to Reach $3,000 - 50% Above Its Record, Bank of America Says -Yahoo Finance
"Bank of America Corp. raised its 18-month gold-price target to $3,000 an ounce - more than 50% above the existing price record - in a report titled 'The Fed can't print gold.' The bank increased its target from $2,000 previously, as policy makers across the globe unleash vast amounts of fiscal and monetary stimulus to help shore up economies hurt by the coronavirus. 'As economic output contracts sharply, fiscal outlays surge, and central bank balance sheets double, fiat currencies could come under pressure,' analysts including Michael Widmer and Francisco Blanch said in the report. 'Investors will aim for gold.' BofA expects bullion to average $1,695 an ounce this year and $2,063 in 2021. The record of $1,921.17 was set in September 2011....'Beyond traditional gold supply and demand fundamentals, financial repression is back on an extraordinary scale,' the report said."

SP500 The Extremely Overvalued & Top Heavy U.S. Stock Market -Global Macro Monitor
"After the Fed effectively fully nationalized the financial markets by bailing out junk bonds on April 9th, turning Wall Street into a Soviet Sausage Factory, almost any type of analysis, which was on its way out anyway, was rendered completely meaningless. The new rocket scientists on Wall Street are the market Kremlinologists, who try to guess the new ranges where the Politburo will set yields and how many notes and bonds the Kommissar of Free Money is going to buy in order to monetize a $4 trillion-plus deficit and help rollover existing maturities. All good until it isn't. The monetary authorities had little choice but to try and keep the ship afloat to fight another day, but junk bonds? With the funky action going on in crude, the markets could use a few less drillers, ergo less supply, but that is less likely as their junk debt is now backstopped. Here's to hoping there is an adjustment to policy after the panic subsides....The market does appear to be looking forward to the other side. The new world looks like one with a few high tech giants in a less mobile (physical), work from home world. Maybe. Not sure if that is good, sustainable or the body politic will stand for it....This BofA chart comes to us via the great Kiwi analyst, Callum Thomas...As of the Friday close, the big five alone make up 17.97% of the value of almost all publicly traded stocks in the United States as measured by the Wilshire 5000. Stunning....Unless we are on the road to runaway inflation, not a zero probability with all the monetization that is coming, this bounce is an incredible gift to rebalance, take some risk off, go to the virtual beach and wait this thing out....We like to buy low, sell high. Most prices are way too high...Still sitting on the couch with cash and gold."

Senate Passes Bill for More Small-Business Stimulus -Wall Street Journal
"Congressional leaders struck a deal with the White House Tuesday to send hundreds of billion of dollars in fresh aid to small businesses and hospitals, the federal government's latest effort to keep pace with the twin economic and public health crises created by the coronavirus pandemic. The Senate on Tuesday evening passed the $484 billion bill by a voice vote, sending it to the House for an approval expected Thursday...The package, which lawmakers dubbed an interim emergency bill, also includes funding to ramp up the country's testing for the new coronavirus, but doesn't include funding sought by Democrats for hard-hit state and local budgets. Top Republicans signaled that concerns over the mounting debt would play a bigger role in talks about future stimulus aid, setting up a sharp divide with Democrats worried that Congress has done far from enough. Congress has operated in emergency mode during the outbreak, last month passing a $2.2 trillion package by consensus with minimal debate.....'At the core of our agreement is $320 billion more for the Paycheck Protection Program, which is already saving millions of small-business jobs and helping Americans get paychecks instead of pink slips,' Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said on the Senate floor Tuesday....The bill tasks the Trump administration with outlining how the U.S. can further expand its testing capacity in a plan that will be updated every 90 days.States and localities will also be required to submit their own testing plans to the federal government."

Nobody's Talking About the Banks -Morningstar
"In the single month of October 2008, Wachovia Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds of London, UBS, and National City Bank vanished, being either seized by their governments or acquired at fire-sale prices by their competitors. Bank failures were the economic story of autumn 2008 - which is why that year's stock bear market is widely known as the 'global financial crisis.' Not so much in 2020. The COVID-19 crisis has elicited much discussion about widespread unemployment, gyrating stock prices, and grim prospects for companies that depend upon travel (along with bright forecasts for firms that deliver their goods or services to households). Absent from the news have been the banks. Thus far, they have steered clear of the headlines....More than half the loans of America's four largest banks - (JPMorgan Chase), (Bank of America), (Citigroup), and (Wells Fargo) - are either to businesses or for residential mortgages. Many of the former will soon default, because companies that are shuttered will likely defer their bills....Bank stocks, predictably, have been whacked. Morningstar's Diversified U.S. Banks Index has dropped 35% for the year to date, as opposed to a mere 11% for the S&P 500....The enormous uncertainty about when and how the global economy can resume something approaching normalcy overwhelms the analysis."

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4.21.20 - What's Next for Gold -The Aden Sisters

Gold last traded at $1,687 an ounce. Silver at $14.87 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices stepped back Tuesday on short-term profit-taking to help alleviate investor liquidity demands. U.S. stocks fell sharply once again as oil prices continued their unprecedented wipeout.

What's Next for Gold -Aden Sisters/Yahoo Finance
"Yes, the economy is going to suffer, but we don't yet know how bad it's going to be. For now, the world's big central banks and governments are doing all they can to keep the financial system working and intact. Emergency financing is needed all over the world. The Fed, for instance, is printing money like mad. They're also buying tons of U.S. government bonds, mortgage backed securities and now corporate bonds....It'll end up fueling a big inflation down the road...The bottom line, this is a major event that's going to change many things. So keep your gold and be prepared for whatever comes our way....The ratio of gold to stocks jumped up above its mega 80-month moving average, to favor gold for the first time since its high area in 2011. The trend since 1999 and this ratio have confirmed a mega trend change favoring gold. With gold above $1536, it's on its way to the 2011 highs! And indeed if gold breaks and stays above $1700, this target could be reached sooner than we think! Gold will surely be volatile as the pandemic evolves, but look at this as time to get set for the major rise should weakness occur. Gold is the strongest precious metal...It reached a record high versus silver and platinum. And it's positioned to rise in a several year rise ahead. This year will likely continue to see volatile moves with the ebbs and flows of the virus, and don't be discouraged by this."

market Dow plunges 700 points, bringing two-day losses to nearly 1,300 points -CNBC
"U.S. stocks fell sharply again on Tuesday as oil prices continued their unprecedented wipeout. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 700 points, or more than 2%. Tuesday's losses brought the Dow's two-day decline to nearly 1,300 points. The S&P 500 dropped 3.3% while the Nasdaq Composite fell 3.9%. Traders were focused on the strange happenings with oil futures once again, which raised concern about deep losses for the energy industry hitting the U.S. economy even further. On Monday, the May contract for oil futures expiring Tuesday fell to zero and then went to an actual negative price, meaning producers would pay for someone to take the oil off their hands. The bizarre move has to do with the fact that because of the coronavirus shutdowns, big buyers of oil like refineries don’t need any more oil because their tanks are nearly filled....More concerning to traders on Tuesday was the selling now occurring in later month contracts for oil futures. The more actively traded June oil contract was down 35% at $13.27 Tuesday....Investors continued to monitor the coronavirus pandemic and the country's plan to reopen the economy. Signs have emerged that New York is past the worst of its outbreak...'Market volatility remains intense, as subtle changes in the tone of the news drives dramatic shifts in investor sentiment,' said Mark Hackett, Nationwide's chief of investment research."

Bets Against the Stock Market Rise to Highest Level in Years -Wall Street Journal
"Short sellers have revived their wagers against the stock market in recent weeks, taking their most aggressive positions in years. Bets against the SPDR S&P 500 Trust, the biggest exchange-traded fund tracking the broad index, rose to $68.1 billion last week, the highest level in data going back to January 2016, according to financial analytics company S3 Partners. That was up from $41.7 billion at the beginning of 2020 and $41.2 billion a year ago. Short sellers borrow shares and sell them, hoping to repurchase them at lower prices and keep the difference as profit. Among the individual companies they have targeted in recent weeks are travel-related firms, including Carnival Corp., Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., Marriott International Inc. and Wynn Resorts Ltd. Those bets come during a wild year for investors who are struggling to reconcile the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the population and economy. The S&P 500 suffered its fastest drop from a record to a bear market in history - ultimately falling 34% between Feb. 19 and March 23....'We've really seen a significant bounceback in the last three weeks at levels that I think are too quick,' said Jerry Braakman, chief investment officer at First American Trust....Investors are bracing for the possibility of more volatility this week, as earnings reports from companies including Coca-Cola Co., Netflix Inc. and Delta Air Lines Inc. give another glimpse at how the coronavirus is reshaping the landscape for U.S. business."

Why Walking Matters - Now More Than Ever -Wall Street Journal
"Why does walking make us feel good?...Walking is especially important now, with gyms and team sports shut down. It's one of our few accessible forms of exercise but also one that is directly affected by stay-at-home orders....Walking is somehow more 'mindful' now. What we probably don’t realize is that walking can be a kind of a behavioral preventive against depression. It benefits us on many levels, physical and psychological. Walking helps to produce protein molecules in muscle and brain that help repair wear and tear. These muscle and brain molecules - myokines and neurotrophic factors, respectively - have been intensively studied in recent years for their health effects....Walking upright is one thing that sets humans apart; no other animal does it, but we can't do without it....Movement through the world changes the dynamics of the brain itself. Recent experiments show that walking increases the strength of the signals in parts of the brain concerned with seeing and other senses, such as touch....Recent experiments show that as few as three or four days of inactivity reduces muscle mass in the legs, starting to replace muscle with deposits of fat. This isn't much of a problem when you're 30, but it is when you are 60...The cure? Get up, walk about and fight the frailty that can come with aging. Walking is the movement that we all profit from...Walk we must, and walk we should, to keep our mental and physical worlds open and to stop the walls from closing in."

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4.20.20 - Can America's Safety Net Be Fixed?

Gold last traded at $1,710 an ounce. Silver at $15.53 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose Monday on safe-haven buying despite a firmer dollar. U.S. stocks fell as investors weighed the latest coronavirus news along with a decline in U.S. crude prices.

Why people consider gold to be a ‘safe haven’ in crises like the coronavirus -CNBC
"'Gold is a way of going long on fear,' renowned investor Warren Buffett once said....Investors' fear levels are particularly high right now, as the coronavirus pandemic turned a global health crisis into an economic one. And it’s uncertain when the world will recover from either of these crises. It is in such times of uncertainty that gold is touted as a 'safe haven' for those looking for shelter from more traditionally volatile investments, like stocks. 'Compared to an investment in stocks, where even the biggest blue chip companies can (and have) failed, an investment in gold often seems less risky,' said Adam Vettese, market analyst at investment platform eToro. As the world's earliest form of currency, gold's physical properties have meant it has long been considered a reliable store of value. It is widely available enough to trade but is in finite supply, so is rare enough to be considered valuable and unlike some metals it is not corrosive, making it durable....Gold is also considered a good hedge against the risk of inflation because the rising cost of goods and services tends to erode the value of the dollar."

oil Oil Futures Crash By Most On Record, Tumbling To $11 Per Barrel -Zero Hedge
"Oil future prices crashed the most on record with the May WTI futures contract hitting its lowest level since 1999, plunging as low as $11 or down 38%, as nobody wants to take actual physical storage amid widespread fears crude storage will soon be full; meanwhile companies prepare to report the worst quarterly earnings since the financial crisis, while tens of thousands of people continue to get sick every day with the coronavirus...The sell-off was exaggerated by the contract's Tuesday expiry because no one wants to be left long to take delivery as there is nowhere to put the physical product. In any case, the 37% drop was the biggest one-day drop on record!....Meanwhile, with a record 198MMb/d now stored offshore, the volume of oil held in U.S. storage, especially at Cushing is rising as refiners throttle back activity in the face of weak demand. 'As production continues relatively unscathed, storage is filling up by the day. The world is using less and less oil and producers now feel how this translates in prices,' said Rystad’s head of oil markets, Bjornar Tonhaugen....After starting off higher, U.S. equity futures fell alongside European and Asian stocks on Monday as investors grappled with everything from the spread of the coronavirus to oil's collapse and the next raft of corporate earnings."

Social Distancing Has Made All of Us Helpers -Elemental/Medium
"The world is a frightening, uncertain place right now. But like Mr. Rogers said, when scary things happen, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' In our current reality, helping looks different than it normally does. Instead of giving a friend a hug, bringing a neighbor soup, or volunteering in the community, it means staying home in order to flatten the curve. Stanford psychology professor Jamil Zaki, PhD, author of the book The War for Kindness: Building Empathy in a Fractured World, says that rather than making people act more selfishly, disasters bring out the altruistic urge in all of us. Elemental spoke with Zaki to understand how altruism is playing a role in the response to the coronavirus pandemic and find out how to strengthen feelings of empathy if you find yourself lagging....Jamil Zaki: Something like social distancing - I prefer the term physical distancing - would be a collective action problem. It's something where people have to work together and make sacrifices to assure a much more important, larger optimal outcome for a group. I think a media narrative that we hear often is that disasters bring out the worst in people and create social disorder...But when those norms go away, we revert to super-selfish, almost violent animalistic urges to protect and get whatever we want. It turns out that narrative is almost entirely backwards. During disasters, people are actually much kinder and more prosocial toward each other - not even kinder than they are cruel, but kinder than they are typically...We're all sharing this experience, and that shared experience is a vast conduit to kindness and altruism....My book is all about the idea that empathy is a skill, one we can learn through practice. And I think that is a really interesting part about this moment...the fact that we're all stuck in this new normal together, gives us the opportunity to create shared bonds that could last for a really long time."

Covid-19 shows where America's safety net is broken. Maybe now we can fix it. -Quartz
"Tens of millions of workers and their families are facing economic catastrophe. Along with the risk of contracting Covid-19, they are contending with cut hours, furloughs, and record-breaking job losses...As Americans are forced to confront both a health and economic crisis, many are relying on a safety net that is inadequate, inequitable, and antiquated....The coronavirus has shown a spotlight on these challenges, and increases the urgency to develop new and better systems that can help all workers, and not just those fortunate enough to work for a specific employer or meet specific eligibility requirements....As the economy eventually recovers, the job search and re-employment requirements for those receiving unemployment benefits need to be revised to consider the range of ways people work in the 21st century. Unemployment insurance typically requires recipients to demonstrate that they are actively seeking full-time work. Evidence from prior recessions suggests that available jobs are likely to include part-time, occasional, and independent arrangements. Taking advantage of these options can be an on-road in the short term to badly needed income and, in the long term, to more traditional employment....In times of economic crisis, unemployment insurance has a critical role to play in helping people who are struggling to afford rent, food, and other basic expenses. Important short-term reforms have been made to address the long-standing holes in the system. The question remains, however, whether unemployment insurance can be modernized into a 21st-century program that provides benefits to all workers, or whether the crisis will pass and a critical part of the safety net will be forgotten again until the next crisis emerges."

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4.17.20 - What's Behind the Push for a Cashless Society?

Gold last traded at $1,694 an ounce. Silver at $15.29 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices eased back Friday on profit-taking despite a weaker dollar. U.S. stocks rose amid rising hope that a Gilead Sciences drug would prove to be an effective treatment of the coronavirus.

Gold's Transformation To A Currency Has Begun -Seeking Alpha
"It appears that the bubble has been broken, and the facade of manipulation by the Feds has been revealed. The system was very fragile and risky. All we needed was something like COVID-19 to push us over the edge. Gold is transforming from a commodity into an alternative currency of a sort. We are looking at a paradigm shift in relation to interest rates. The government has suppressed the price of gold and many other assets. This has distorted the financial system, and we are now looking for the markets to find the real prices of various assets...The volatility we are seeing from stocks to commodities to bonds is a reflection of this attempt to re-calibrate the prices of all of these assets. No one really knows what is going to happen at this stage. We are in the midst of a major economic transformation. We have a triple threat of an economic, health, and political crisis all at once....The precious metals are becoming a real safe-haven asset once again. It is one of the ways to hedge against the potential crises that we are facing. This huge adjustment to the crisis also presents massive opportunities, such as in the precious metals markets....Silver is the most oversold asset. The price does not reflect the current economic condition which we are in. It has been suppressed, just as gold has been....With some fears that cash may be infected with the coronavirus, it may be a time to introduce a virtual currency backed by gold. Maybe. We believe that the precious metals markets, and especially gold, are going to do very, very well during and after the current crisis. Gold may be the way to restore confidence in the monetary system."

get well Gilead data suggests coronavirus patients are responding to treatment -Stat News
"A Chicago hospital treating severe Covid-19 patients with Gilead Sciences' antiviral medicine remdesivir in a closely watched clinical trial is seeing rapid recoveries in fever and respiratory symptoms, with nearly all patients discharged in less than a week, STAT has learned. Remdesivir was one of the first medicines identified as having the potential to impact SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19, in lab tests. The entire world has been waiting for results from Gilead's clinical trials, and positive results would likely lead to fast approvals by the Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory agencies. If safe and effective, it could become the first approved treatment against the disease. The University of Chicago Medicine recruited 125 people with Covid-19 into Gilead's two Phase 3 clinical trials. Of those people, 113 had severe disease. All the patients have been treated with daily infusions of remdesivir. 'The best news is that most of our patients have already been discharged, which is great. We've only had two patients perish,' said Kathleen Mullane, the University of Chicago infectious disease specialist overseeing the remdesivir studies for the hospital....In scientific terms, all the data are anecdotal until the full trial reads out, meaning that they should not be used to draw final conclusions. But some of the anecdotes are dramatic."

COVID-19 and the War on Cash: What Is Behind the Push for a Cashless Society? -Whitehead/Global Research
"Cash may well become a casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic. As these COVID-19 lock downs drag out, more and more individuals and businesses are going cashless (for convenience and in a so-called effort to avoid spreading coronavirus germs), engaging in online commerce or using digital forms of currency (bank cards, digital wallets, etc.). As a result, physical cash is no longer king. Yet there are other, more devious, reasons for this re-engineering of society away from physical cash: a cashless society - easily monitored, controlled, manipulated, weaponized and locked down - would play right into the hands of the government (and its corporate partners). To this end, the government and its corporate partners-in-crime have been waging a subtle war on cash for some time now....Much like the war on drugs and the war on terror, this so-called 'war on cash' is being sold to the public as a means of fighting terrorists, drug dealers, tax evaders and now COVID-19 germs. Digital currency provides the government and its corporate partners with the ultimate method to track, control you and punish you. In recent years, just the mere possession of significant amounts of cash could implicate you in suspicious activity and label you a criminal....It's not just cash that is going digital, either. A growing number of states are looking to adopt digital driver's licenses that would reside on your mobile phone. These licenses would include all of the information contained on your printed license, along with a few 'extras' such as real-time data downloaded directly from your state's Department of Motor Vehicles. Of course, reading between the lines, having a digital driver's license will open you up to much the same jeopardy as digital cash: it will make it possible for the government to better track your movements, monitor your activities and communications and ultimately shut you down....If there’s one entity that will not stop using cash for its own nefarious purposes, it's the U.S. government. Cash is the currency used by the government to pay off its foreign 'associates.' For instance, the Obama administration flew more than $400 million in cash to Iran, reportedly as part of a financial settlement with the country. Critics claim the money was ransom paid for the return of American hostages....So when government economists tell you that two-thirds of all $100 bills in circulation are overseas - more than half a trillion dollars' worth - it's a pretty good bet that the government played a significant part in their export."

The Pandemic of Fear and Agony -Brooks/New York Times
"Last week I asked you to tell me about your mental health - how you are faring in this hard time...There have been over 5,000 replies so far, and while many people are hanging in there, there is also a river of woe running through the world - a significant portion of our friends and neighbors are in agony. A college student in State College, Pa., wrote that at first the lockdown seemed like a lark - a chance to get out of certain obligations. But 'now almost a month into staying here, I've been gripped by a deep depression. My appetite is very low. I'm sleeping far too much to feel as lethargic as I do. My future, which seemed so bright a few months ago as I anticipated graduating in May, now seems bleak and hopeless: How will I find a job with the economy tanking? How will I pay hundreds of dollars per month when my loan bills kick in during August?'....Senior citizens are especially hard hit, particularly the widows and widowers. For many, it’s the painful sense of missing their grandkids, the precarity of living with a disease that could kill them at any time. For others, it's the wrenching loneliness. 'The combination of isolation and stress is having compounded impact. I am 65, and a single woman with no nearby family. My surviving sibling lives several hours away.'....Some people are active for days, frantically cleaning the house, and then one day they just shut down and cry. A person from Denver is worn down by being so suspicious of others and asked, 'Why am I suddenly afraid of the mail carrier or the food delivery?'....There's a heroism in the vulnerability you display in these letters, a courageous willingness to share your fears...spiritual growth pulses through the paragraphs. An atheist wrote that he prays daily, though he doesn't know to whom. Many people are reading Viktor Frankl. 'I am looking at this as a type of monastic retreat. I am hoping that we come out of this crisis as a nation with a renewed sense of perspective, a new sense of our dependence on each other.' I'm reminded that this is a time to practice aggressive friendship with each other - to be the one who seeks out the lonely and the troubled. It's also true that character is formed in times like this. People see deeper into themselves, bravely learn what their pain is teaching them, and become wiser and softer as a result."

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4.16.20 - How Coronavirus Is Eroding Privacy

Gold last traded at $1,735 an ounce. Silver at $15.64 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose again Thursday on safe-haven buying despite a firmer dollar. U.S. stocks traded mixed in volatile trading as Amazon and Netflix reached record levels, while investors digested data reflecting the economic devastation from the coronavirus pandemic.

Gold rises 1% as central bank stimulus fuels investor interest -CNBC
"Gold prices rose more than 1% on Thursday as a raft of stimulus measures from central banks to counteract the coronavirus crisis drove investors into bullion as a safe store of value, while sombre U.S. economic reports stoked fears of a global recession....'The main factor supporting gold at the moment is the extraordinary amount of stimulus from central banks. I don't think it's been fully priced in yet,' OANDA analyst Craig Erlam said. 'The record highs hit in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, and even higher, look perfectly reasonable, under the circumstances. The $1,800 level does not seem very far away.'....Gold, which is often used as a safe store of value during times of political and financial uncertainty, is highly sensitive to interest rates, as lower rates reduce the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding bullion. Central banks have rolled out a wave of fiscal and monetary measures to ease the economic damage from the virus, which has infected more than 2 million people globally and killed 136,667....'While gold will continue to be in demand, sometimes investors need funds to cover their margin calls, so losses in other financial assets might lead to falls in the gold price,' said John Sharma, economist at National Australia Bank."

watching How Coronavirus Is Eroding Privacy -Wall Street Journal
"The Covid-19 pandemic is ushering in a new era of digital surveillance and rewiring the world's sensibilities about data privacy. Governments are imposing new digital surveillance tools to track and monitor individuals. Many citizens have welcomed tracking technology intended to bolster defenses against the novel coronavirus. Yet some privacy advocates are wary, concerned that governments might not be inclined to unwind such practices after the health emergency has passed. Authorities in Asia, where the virus first emerged, have led the way. Many governments didn't seek permission from individuals before tracking their cellphones to identify suspected coronavirus patients...In Europe and the U.S., where privacy laws and expectations are more stringent, governments and companies are taking different approaches. European nations monitor citizen movement by tapping telecommunications data that they say conceals individuals' identities. American officials are drawing cellphone location data from mobile advertising firms to track the presence of crowds - but not individuals. Apple Inc. and Google recently announced plans to launch a voluntary app that health officials can use to reverse-engineer sickened patients' recent whereabouts - provided they agree to provide such information....Data flowing from the world's 5.2 billion smartphones can help identify who, where and how people get infected - and lasso in those who might. The extent of tracking hinges on a series of tough choices: Make it voluntary or mandatory? Collect personal or anonymized data? Disclose information publicly or privately?....Surveillance efforts this time around have a new ally: public-health experts. They say some form of digital tracking will be necessary in the months ahead, even as people return to more normal lives after city lockdowns relax....Lawmakers are learning that voluntary contact-tracing apps that claim to preserve users' privacy, such as the one proposed by Apple and Google, aren't effective without high levels of participation."

Money Is Losing Its Meaning -Bloomberg/Yahoo Finance
"Doing 'whatever it takes' to save the global economy from the coronavirus pandemic is going to cost a lot of money. The U.S. government alone is spending a few trillion dollars, and the Federal Reserve is creating another few trillion dollars to keep the financial system from collapsing....These numbers are so large that they no longer have any meaning; they are simply abstractions. It's been some time since people thought about the concept of money and its purpose...Former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker once said in an interview that 'it is a governmental responsibility to maintain the value of the currency they issue. And when they fail to do that, it is something that undermines an essential trust in government.' The dollar has no real intrinsic value, backed only by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. Under a fiat currency system, the government says that a dollar is a dollar. Its value relative to things such as other currencies and gold is determined on global markets. Gold is considered to be an objective store of value, and the metal's rise in dollar terms can be expressed another way, which is that the dollar fell in gold terms. The three main functions of a currency are as a unit of account, a medium of exchange and a store of value. It is that last function that is most important....Nobody really knows how this is going to turn out. In smaller economies, runaway government spending has resulted in hyperinflation and social unrest, such as well-documented cases in Venezuela and Zimbabwe. Many think that wouldn't be possible in the U.S. given the dollar's role as the world's primary reserve currency. Perhaps, but it's not one of those questions we'd really want to experiment with. If all this money that's being created does spark inflation, it will be difficult - if not impossible - to reverse....Throughout Venezuela's economic crisis, we saw images of Venezuelans tossing their useless bolivars in the streets. That is what happens when money has lost all meaning."

This is the end of the office as we know it -Vox
"If and when you return to your office after the novel coronavirus pandemic, you'll probably notice some differences. Upon entering your building, the doors may open automatically so you don't have to touch the handles. Before you board your elevator, you might tell the elevator where you'd like to go, rather than pressing the many buttons within the elevator. When you reach your floor, you could walk into a room full of dividers and well-spaced desks instead of the crowded open floor plan you're used to. In common areas like meeting rooms and kitchens, expect to see fewer chairs and posted documentation of the last time they were cleaned....Of course, this is all assuming you go back to your old office at all. As the coronavirus takes a steep toll on the economy and the workforce, many won't have jobs to go back to. Some who are still employed will now permanently work from home, and some employers will choose to downsize their leases or look for flexible office space rather than long-term leases....Just as policies around telehealth and liquor have quickly shifted, the Covid-19 crisis will force swift and permanent changes in both commercial real estate and work culture itself. The office as we know it will never be the same. According to a new MIT report, 34 percent of Americans who previously commuted to work report that they were working from home by the first week of April due to the coronavirus. These new numbers represent a seismic shift in work culture. Prior to the pandemic, the number of people regularly working from home remained in the single digits, with only about 4 percent of the US workforce working from home at least half the time....Regardless of how prepared they were, people have done what they had to do to make working from home work. In doing so, they moved the needle on what's acceptable in the at-home office. 'It added some humanity to us,' said Kate Lister, president of consulting firm Global Workplace Analytics. 'You don't have a choice: The dog is going to walk through the meeting, your child is going to walk through. Period. We've just relaxed our standards to that. Maybe it will bring us closer.'"

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4.15.20 - A Second Round of Coronavirus Layoffs Has Begun

Gold last traded at $1,744 an ounce. Silver at $15.61 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices consolidated recent gains Wednesday on mild profit-taking and a firmer dollar. U.S. stock resume their decline as dismal economic data and weak bank earnings fueled concerns over the coronavirus’s impact on the U.S. economy.

A gold price rally to $2,000 would not be a surprise -Sprott/Kitco
"Gold prices have pushed to nearly an eight-year high, and this is only the start as investors should keep an eye on the precious metal's long-term outlook, according to one gold fund executive. In a telephone interview with Kitco News, Peter Grosskopf, chief executive officer at Sprott Inc., said that the gold market's future looks bright as the global economy deals with unprecedented stimulus during a time of unprecedented uncertainty. 'Investors should continue to consider gold as a unit of currency or a purchasing power that can maintain its value against other assets,' he said.....'Gold has been acting very well in the last month. All the technicals show that its uptrend will be maintained in the short, medium and long term,' he said. 'We would expect to see prices over $2,000 by sometime early next year. That is not a surprise, fundamentally either, in the current environment.'....He added that there is scope for gold to do well in both an inflationary and deflationary environment. 'If you get deflation and you get a real crash in the financial system, want to be holding some gold,' he said. 'And if you get the recovery, you will now have an extra $6 or $7 trillion floating around financial markets. That is when you really want to hold some gold to protect against inflation."

bear Why the stock market is nowhere near a bottom -Marketwatch
"Stock prices have rebounded on the news that the COVID-19 pandemic is improving in New York and other parts of the U.S., and on the news that the Fed unveiled another $2.3 trillion bazooka of liquidity. Despite these positives, several important factors, including long-term market psychology, technical-cycle analysis, valuation, and smart investor behavior, suggest that this bear market has not yet seen its low point. 1. Investors are too bullish - Instead of fear, investors are exhibiting signs of greed. Investor psychology just doesn't behave that way at major market lows. 2. No technical signs of a long-term bottom: I see no signs of a long-term bottom....Market bottoms are also characterized by changes in leadership. Bear markets are forms of creative destruction. 3. Valuation headwinds: The S&P is currently trading at a forward P/E ratio of 17.3, which is above its 5-year average of 16.7 and 10-year average of 15.0....The 2002-2003 bottom saw a forward P/E ratio of about 14...The 1987, 1990, 2009, and 2011 bottoms all saw forward P/E ratios of about 10. 4. What are smart investors doing? ...What has Berkshire done now? It is raising cash. Unless a population were to acquire herd immunity, either allowing COVID-19 to run rampant through its people, or through some medical treatment that controls the outbreak, governments are going to be playing the game of whack-a-mole with this virus for some time."

The End of Cash? -BloombergQuint
"Do we still need cash? Humans have used all sorts of things as stores of value - rare metals, strings of shells, even jugs of whiskey. Over time the objects have become more ephemeral, from coins to paper to digital forms....As the coronavirus pandemic spread in early 2020, some merchants in Seattle and Sydney tried to stop accepting cash altogether, calling it unsanitary. (Some U.S. cities have made cashless stores illegal to prevent discrimination.)....Some economists say that without cash, central banks could fight recessions more effectively because they’d have an effective way to impose negative interest rates - basically a tax on savings meant to spur spending. Critics say that in a digital-only economy, governments and banks could take control of your financial life, leaving you penniless with a flick of a switch....For governments, getting rid of cash would cut minting and distribution expenses and make it easier to crack down on tax evasion and drug trafficking. Stores could save on cash-handling costs, reduce theft and possibly earn more if faster checkouts led to more transactions per hour, as some salad chains found in a trial...The Fed has stayed on the sidelines, saying there are 'substantial' issues around cybersecurity to be resolved. For the world's poor, going cashless would cut both ways."

A Second Round of Coronavirus Layoffs Has Begun -Wall Street Journal
"The first people to lose their jobs worked at restaurants, malls, hotels and other places that closed to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Higher skilled work, which often didn't require personal contact, seemed more secure. That's not how it's turning out. A second wave of job loss is hitting those who thought they were safe. Businesses that set up employees to work from home are laying them off as sales plummet. Corporate lawyers are seeing jobs dry up. Government workers are being furloughed as state and city budgets are squeezed. And health-care workers not involved in fighting the pandemic are suffering. The longer shutdowns continue, the bigger this second wave could become, risking a repeat of the deep and prolonged labor downturn that accompanied the 2007-09 recession. The consensus of 57 economists surveyed this month by The Wall Street Journal is that 14.4 million jobs will be lost in the coming months, and the unemployment rate will rise to a record 13% in June, from a 50-year low of 3.5% in February....The biggest wild card in the jobs outlook is how long it will take for jobs to bounce back, which depends heavily on how long the pandemic and social distancing measures last. The consensus among the economists surveyed by the Journal is for employment to return to its February 2020 level in 27 months."

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4.14.20 - Morgan Stanley Publishes COVID-19 Timeline

Gold last traded at $1,768 an ounce. Silver at $15.95 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose again sharply Tuesday on safe-haven buying and a weaker dollar. U.S. stocks rose as investors grew more optimistic about the coronavirus outlook while bracing for the start of the corporate earnings season.

Coronavirus Economic Reopening Will Be Fragile, Partial and Slow -Wall Street Journal
"Executives around the world who rapidly overhauled operations when the coronavirus struck, and the politicians who made them do it, are now focused on restarting the economy and their own businesses. That restart, according to interviews with leaders across a range of industries, suggests that back to normal will be anything but. The re-emergence over the coming weeks and months will be fitful, fragile and partial - and a bit dystopian, with frequent temperature checks, increased monitoring of employees and customers, and, potentially, blood tests to determine whether workers have likely immunity to the virus. Officials and business leaders predict that operations won't fully return to normal until an effective vaccine hits the market, estimated at least a year away....In many ways, companies are at the mercy of local and national governments to ensure that the reopening doesn't reinvigorate the virus, which has so far infected nearly 1.8 million people world-wide and caused at least 110,000 deaths. Large-scale testing and tracing programs will become the norm, placing the average person under much greater scrutiny by the state....'Testing capacity, which we still have to develop, that is going to be the bridge from where we are today to the new economy in my opinion,' New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday. 'It's going to be a testing-informed transition to the new economy.'....School systems and colleges are planning scenarios for a hoped-for return to campus in the fall, if not earlier. 'Do we thin the number of people on campus? Does it mean more online instruction? We're planning for any and all of those, including a very different type of year next year,' said David Greene, president of Colby College a private liberal-arts college in Waterville, Maine."

gold Gold's Powerful Rally Brings $1,800 Into View -Bloomberg
"Gold extended its rally to hit the highest in more than seven years on concern that the coronavirus pandemic will have a deep effect on the global economy, hammering corporate earnings while supercharging demand for havens. Gold prices in New York moved closer to $1,800 an ounce, a level last seen in 2011. Spreads between futures and spot prices remain wide, suggesting thinner liquidity, which is further exacerbating price dislocation. 'Liquidity conditions are challenging and market participants are understandably cautious,' said precious metal strategist Joni Teves....Bullion has soared this year as the global heath crisis tipped economies toward recession and spurred central bank interventions....Overall, gold still has room to run, according to Hans Goetti, founder and chief executive officer of HG Research. 'What's happening here is that the Fed is expanding its balance sheet and every other central bank in the world is doing the same,' he told Bloomberg TV. 'What you're looking at is massive currency debasement in the long term. That's the major reason why gold is higher, and I would think that over the next few weeks or months, we'’re probably going to retest the high that we saw in 2011.'"

Morgan Stanley Publishes Full Timeline Of Upcoming Coronavirus Milestones -Zero Hedge
"Now that it has become clear that every day that the US economic shutdown continues as a result of the coronavirus pandemic means billions in economic losses and untold damages to the social fabric of the United States where over 20 million people will soon be unemployed, what all analysts - and frankly everyone else - want to know is 1) when will the US reach the peak of the coronavirus curve and 2) when will the US start reopening. Addressing the first, the latest JPMorgan coronavirus 'curve' showed the US fast approaching the peak of the curve, i.e., the end of the 'late accumulation' phase, and sliding into recovery. Yet while the first wave of the pandemic appears to be approaching its zenith, the big concern is that a second, even more powerful wave may emerge afterwards if the Spanish flu pandemic is any indication....Morgan Stanley's chief biotech analyst Matthew Harrison writes that 'recovering from this acute period in the outbreak is just the beginning and not the end' and 'the path to re-opening the economy is going to be long. It will require turning on and off various forms of social distancing and will only come to an end when vaccines are available, in the spring of 2021 at the earliest.'....'This view on the delayed peak and slow return to work has led our US economists to revise their US forecast to a return to pre-COVID-19 levels not until 4Q21,' Harrison writes, but concludes on a positive note, pointing out that there are promising antivirals and antibody therapies in the pipeline with data starting in April and continuing through the late summer."

Coronavirus economy could burst America's big-city rent bubble -NBC News
"The gridlocked coronavirus economy could upend housing from coast to coast, bursting national apartment rents that have risen by 150 percent over the last decade, experts say....More than half of the 600 concerned landlords on a conference call Wednesday with the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles said they have tenants who haven't fully paid their April rent, according to Executive Director Daniel Yukelson. 'It does show you the impacts the crisis is having on both owners and renters,' he said by email. Overheated rents are blamed in part for the rise in homelessness and 'deaths of despair,' as well as the need for 13 million Americans to take on more than one job. More than a third of U.S. homes are rented....'Rents will fall,' said David Shulman, a senior economist with the Anderson Forecast at UCLA. 'But income is going to drop.' The months ahead could bring a construction slowdown caused by a skittish luxury market, while landlords could face their own cash crunches as renters default, said Whitney Airgood-Obrycki, a research associate at Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies. It's also likely that many renters will move in with family and friends and that homelessness will continue to rise, she said. 'With this pandemic, what is likely to happen is people will lose a significant portion of income, so we're likely to see more doubling up for housing,' she said. 'We're also going to see rent discounting and a lot of rent concessions.'....Some Airbnb hosts affected by the freeze on travel and tourism say they're considering opening their units to long-term renters, which could increase supply and, theoretically, depress rents....Some experts believe the impact of the coronavirus on the economy could upend housing in the U.S., with density pressure in markets like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco giving way to renewed migration to the suburbs."

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4.13.20 - Virus Has Transformed How Americans Spend

Gold last traded at $1,767 an ounce. Silver at $15.64 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose sharply Monday on continued safe-haven buying despite a firmer dollar. U.S. stocks resumed their decline as investors continued to weigh the coronavirus outlook along with a historic oil production cut.

Why Gold Continues to Make Higher Highs -McCullough/Hedgeye
"The runway for gold is clear to make its fourth set of higher highs from the low end of where we got it. For a lot of you who are new to our process, we've been buying gold since $1200 back in October of 2018. That's when the peak of the U.S. Economic Cycle was in. Now you know that historical fact. That's when you should have started buying Treasuries, buying Gold, and buying Utilities. There are four specific ramps in Gold going to new highs, and you could have risk managed them the whole way. Now some people who are new to this, and some people who don't do what I tell them to do...Then they turn to me and say 'Keith I'm not getting the low end of the range!' Well that's really not my problem. Unfortunately you weren't following us back in 2018. This has been a core position and it's all systems go."

earnings Looming Earnings Season Offers Next Test for Stock Market -Wall Street Journal
"The kickoff of earnings season this week will give investors a first glimpse of the impact of the coronavirus shutdown on corporate profits - and potentially clues about the outlook for the rest of the year....The pandemic is expected to cause a severe economic contraction and a sharp decline in corporate earnings in 2020. What remains unknown is the extent of the damage. Companies from General Electric Co. to FedEx Corp. and Starbucks Corp. have warned they can no longer forecast their own results in a period of such uncertainty. Businesses across the country say revenue has evaporated following stay-at-home orders and the closure of nonessential businesses, leading them to furlough employees and drastically cut spending as they try to stay afloat....Some analysts worry the stock market is on the cusp of a reckoning and another painful selloff could be in store if corporate profits plunge. Others fear Wall Street's current earnings estimates don't fully reflect the extent of the expected damage....FactSet projects a 9% year-over-year decline in earnings for all of 2020, based on analysts' expectations for individual companies in the S&P 500, a sharp reversal from the 9.2% growth anticipated as last year ended."

Fed's Kashkari Says U.S. May Face 18 Months of Rolling Shutdowns -Bloomberg
"Without an effective therapy or a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, the U.S. economy could face 18 months of rolling shutdowns as the outbreak recedes and flares up again, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis President Neel Kashkari said. 'We're looking around the world. As they relax the economic controls, the virus flares back up again,' Kashkari said Sunday on CBS's 'Face the Nation.' Kashkari is a voter in 2020 on the Fed's policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee. 'We could have these waves of flareups, controls, flareups and controls until we actually get a therapy or a vaccine. I think we should all be focusing on an 18-month strategy for our health care system and our economy.'....Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday on CNN's 'State of the Union' that a partial reopening of the economy could possibly begin in May, but cautioned that the outbreak could flare up again in the fall....The economic pain is already severe. Almost 17 million people have filed for U.S. unemployment benefits in the last three weeks, implying a jobless rate of around 13% or 14%, with output in the second quarter expected to shrink sharply."

How the Virus Transformed the Way Americans Spend Their Money -New York Times
"The coronavirus has profoundly altered daily life in America, ushering in sweeping upheavals to the U.S. economy. Among the most immediate effects of the crisis? Radical changes to how people spend their money. In a matter of weeks, pillars of American industry essentially ground to a halt. Airplanes, restaurants and arenas were suddenly empty. In many states, businesses deemed nonessential - including luxury goods retailers and golf courses - were ordered closed. 'This is the sharpest decline in consumer spending that we have ever seen,' said Luke Tilley, chief economist at Wilmington Trust....Some companies like Walmart, Amazon and Uber Eats have seen spikes in purchases. But customers of many other businesses have simply stopped spending, the data shows....Beyond contributing to a record surge in unemployment claims, the ruined restaurant industry is likely to aggravate the country's broader economic woes. 'The service economy has traditionally been the thing that has helped keep the downturn from going too low,' Mr. Tilley said. 'In this case, the forced stoppage of consumer spending on these things is precipitating the economic crisis.'....For many, working from home has meant an end to commuting. As a result, taxis, ride sharing companies like Uber and Lyft, mass transit and parking services have all seen precipitous declines in sales....Spending is even down broadly across the health care industry for now, as those who conduct elective procedures, dentists and specialists not working on the coronavirus response are doing less business. Some hospitals, faced with lower revenues from canceled nonemergency work, have furloughed or cut the pay of doctors, nurses and other staff members."

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4.9.20 - You Need Gold! -Forbes

Gold last traded at $1,731 an ounce. Silver at $15.80 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices shot up 2% Thursday as expanding Fed stimulus weakened the dollar. U.S. stocks rose as investors cheered the latest Fed efforts to support the economy and financial markets.

The U.S. Desperately Needs Inflation And You Need Gold -Haber/Forbes
"The United States fiscal and monetary worlds have entered a paradigm shift. Hard money, the Gold standard, fiscal austerity, the Federal Reserve as liquidity provider at a penalty rate with strong collateral: all of these are now squarely in the rear-view mirror. We have further moved on from ZIRP (Zero Interest rate policy), past Quantitative Easing (QE - AKA money printing), and have entered the world of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). What is MMT? The federal government, through the Federal Reserve, prints as much money as politicians need for whatever purpose, and when you get inflation you tax the rich to slow it down....For years, prognosticators and politicians looking at the ballooning debt and deficits thought we could grow or tax our way out of trouble. Not anymore: The only way out of our ballooning fiscal crisis is to engender some inflation....We came into this virus war with $23T of federal debt and we will probably exit the fiscal 2020 year at close to $30T...The effects of this recession will lay bare these problems and only one solution: Make a trillion seem like a $100 bn through inflation....If the Fed wants more inflation, I want more gold. Our portfolios have had 5-10% for a while now and we are moving up to 15% - but 20% is not out of the realm of possibilities. I want it before the inflation arrives. The great hockey player Wayne Gretsky said 'skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been'. Gold will be where the money supply (m2) and inflation will take it....The CEO of Canadian gold miner Novagold recently said; 'What we've seen in the gold industry is that gold production has effectively peaked'. We have a good shot at new highs soon, after which we will go as far as the Fed is willing to take us. Prepare for the new paradigm."

chopper Fed Announces New Facilities to Support $2.3 Trillion in Lending -Wall Street Journal
"The Federal Reserve unveiled an array of programs Thursday that it said would provide $2.3 trillion in loans, expanding the Fed's operations to reach small and midsize businesses and U.S. cities and states. The Fed also said it would include some classes of riskier debt that had been excluded....They take the Fed well beyond the lender-of-last-resort functions it played in 2008 to prevent a financial panic from deepening the economic downturn....'Our country's highest priority must be to address this public-health crisis, providing care for the ill and limiting the further spread of the virus,' said Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell in a statement. The Fed said it would allow new classes of debt in the previously announced Term Asset-Backed Securities Lending Facility, or TALF, that were excluded from that facility when it was used after the 2008 financial crisis to support consumer and business credit markets. The Fed will now accept triple-A rated tranches of existing commercial mortgage-backed securities and newly issued collateralized loan obligations. Under TALF, the Fed lends money to investors to buy securities backed by credit-card loans and other consumer debt....After firing its arsenal at funding markets last month to prevent a public-health crisis from morphing into a financial crisis, the Fed later said it would throw another kitchen sink at credit markets that have broken down."

Great Depression Is Closest Parallel to Pandemic -Odey/Bloomberg
"The global economy is slipping into a 'different era' as the devastation in industries from oil to services roils markets, hedge fund manager Crispin Odey cautioned his investors. 'This is not like 2008-9, nor 2001-2, nor even 1989-92,' Odey wrote in a letter to clients seen by Bloomberg. 'The fall in global gross national product for this year will echo 1931-2.' The warning follows a 21% gain in his flagship Odey European Inc. fund in March, the biggest monthly increase in 11 years, according to the letter....The services industry faces defaulted customers and no revenues for months as the spread of the deadly coronavirus continues to lock-down countries across continents. The outbreak's impact was exacerbated by the oil war, Odey wrote. The money manager, who has long been a vocal critic of central banks and government policies, also turned his attention to decisions by some of Britain's biggest lenders to cancel dividend payouts. 'The idea that shareholders should be sacrificed to allow banks to make unprofitable loans to the private sector to help them through a difficult period shows just why governments have no idea how to incentivize the right behavior to get the right outcome,' Odey wrote."

Rand Paul says he has recovered from COVID-19 and is volunteering at a hospital -Kentucky.com
"Wearing a smile, a beard and a doctor's smock, Kentucky U.S. Sen Rand Paul posted on his Twitter page that he no longer has the coronavirus and is volunteering at a Bowling Green hospital. 'I appreciate all the best wishes I have received. I have been retested and I am negative.,' Paul said. 'I have started volunteering at a local hospital to assist those in my community who are in need of medical help, including coronavirus patients. Together we will overcome this!' Paul, a Bowling Green Republican and an ophthalmologist, announced March 22 that he tested positive for COVID-19. His office said then he was asymptomatic and was tested out of an abundance of caution due to his extensive travel and event schedule. Paul, 57, said he was not aware of direct contact with anyone infected. Paul attended a fundraiser for the Speed Art Museum in Louisville on March 7, which was attended by a woman who later tested positive for COVID-19....Paul was the first U.S. Senator to test positive for COVID-19. His lung was damaged after a 2017 assault by a neighbor."

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4.8.20 - Gold is Cheap; Prices Could Hit $5,000

Gold last traded at $1,684 an ounce. Silver at $15.23 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices consolidated recent gains Wednesday on a firmer dollar. U.S. stocks rose after Bernie Sanders announced he is dropping out of the presidential race.

Gold is cheap; prices to hit $5,000 in medium-term -Economist/Kitco
"Gold prices could climb to $5,000 in a few years, this according to John Butler, author of 'The Golden Revolution.' Butler attributed this price growth to the longevity of loose monetary and fiscal policies that will come as a result of COVID-19, as well as gold's historical performance during periods of declining economic growth. 'Based on the historical pattern of the 1970s, and stagflation, and other times these sorts of things have come about, I think gold is going to rise, by orders of magnitude,' Butler told Bilal Hafeez on the Macro Hive podcast. 'I think it is perfectly realistic to see gold closer to $5,000 than where it is today in a few years' time.' On the lasting effects that the pandemic will leave on the economy, Butler said that policy reforms are here to stay...As Milton Friedman said decades ago, 'there is nothing more permanent than a temporary emergency government program.'.... Although gold has already hit historically high valuations, Butler said that simply looking at the price in nominal terms may not give the full picture. 'You have to ask yourself the question 'is the nominal price of gold really that meaningful?' I'm not sure it is, because if you look at gold deflated by the CPI, or a stock market index deflated by the CPI, or for that matter a credit index deflated by the CPI, and you start comparing gold to these other traditional stores of value, actually, gold arguably looks cheap,' he said."

CNBC Greed takes over fear in the stock market, but don't be lured into this short-lived rally -Marketwatch
"In short order, greed in the stock market has mostly taken over fear after reports of slowing new coronavirus cases in New York and Europe. Is it prudent to chase the rally? The answer is 'no' without knowing where you belong in the protection band. The best way to analyze the stock market is through multiple time frames....Charts show that 60% of the rally is driven by a short-squeeze. In a short-squeeze, short-sellers feel compelled to buy to cover. This is artificial buying, and sooner or later it exhausts itself....There is about $6 trillion worth of monetary and fiscal stimulus. In the short term that is helpful to the stock market. Are there no consequences in the long term of printing and borrowing money? Investors have said there was no warning of the coronavirus. That's untrue. On Jan. 22, The Arora Report's call was that the coronavirus could cause a drop in the market. After finding that investors continued to buy stocks, I wrote on Jan. 30 that arrogance and greed among momentum investors 'may prove to be dangerous for investors.' Other than a potential cure, the course of the stock market rally will depend on the behavior of naked investors."

Stop the panic. Don't let the coronavirus win. -USA Today
"In response to the coronavirus pandemic, democratic governments across the world have implemented unprecedented peacetime lockdowns. One California city is even using night vision equipped drones to enforce it. A city in Washington encourages citizens to snitch on those who violate the 'stay home' order. Let's pause a moment to consider the serious ramifications of what we are doing. To combat a virus, some state and local governments have ordered everyone, including perfectly healthy people, to stay home for an undefined period of time. Travel has been curtailed. Americans abroad (like me) are stuck, not knowing when we can return home. The consequences of such draconian measures are potentially devastating and irreversible. With little to no public input, we eagerly have given up our basic rights, decided that economic health is entirely subservient to public health, and radically altered how our society functions....Mild or asymptomatic cases are undercounted, artificially inflating the case-fatality rate. The best data we have comes from South Korea, which screened nearly 400,000 people. That country's case-fatality rate is 1.7%. In Germany, it's 1.3%....Second, U.S. critical care infrastructure is vast. The U.S. has 34.2 critical care (ICU) beds per 100,000 people - the highest in the world - compared to 12.5 in Italy (and 29.2 in Germany)....Third, infectious disease models, which attempt to predict how widespread and how deadly COVID-19 will be, vary considerably....But we also must consider the unintended consequences of our actions. James Bullard, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, predicted that we are facing an unemployment rate of 30% and an unprecedented drop in GDP of 50%. Those numbers are worse than what we experienced during the Great Depression."

Government and Businesses Turn Attention to Eventual Reopening of $22 Trillion U.S. Economy -Wall Street Journal
"Government officials and business leaders are turning their attention to a looming challenge in the fight against the new coronavirus pandemic: Reopening a $22 trillion U.S. economy that has been shut down like never before. With some preliminary signs that infections from the virus are slowing, the whole nation is hopeful to get back to business as soon as possible. But a host of questions arise: Under what conditions should people be allowed back to work and stay-at-home orders be lifted?....A sharp reduction in new infections is a critical first step, but health experts say other steps will be needed to prevent another devastating outbreak that shuts the economy down all over again. 'It isn't like a light switch on and off,' said Anthony Fauci, a member of President Trump's task force on the pandemic. 'It's a gradual pulling back on certain of the restrictions to try and get society a bit back to normal.' Dr. Fauci said a first condition is a steep drop in the number of cases....Mr. Trump said Saturday that he is considering a second coronavirus task force focused on reopening the country. The administration's current social distancing guidelines run through April....Roughly one out of every 300 people in the country is now being tested, based on federal data, compared to about one out of every 100 people in Germany. Testing is hampered by delays and shortages that limit who can get tested. It is unlikely that the problems will be resolved by the end of April, according to one person familiar with the planning."

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4.7.20 - COVID-19 Being Used in The War on Cash

Gold last traded at $1,679 an ounce. Silver at $15.38 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices eased Tuesday after reaching 7-year highs on safe-haven buying. U.S. stocks rose for a second day as investors grew more optimistic about a slowdown in new coronavirus cases.

Gold and silver about to undergo a major rally -CNBC
"Gold and silver each have tremendously bullish technical setups that cannot go ignored. Furthermore, there are a number of fundamental tailwinds to help bring higher prices. The Federal Reserve has cut rates to zero and unleashed a massive QE-infinity asset purchase program. They are not alone, as central banks around the world have done much of the same. On top of that, Washington passed its third fiscal bill, a historic $2.2 trillion measure. The world has known easy money for more than a decade, but not to this scale. The result of such will almost certainly bring rampant inflation later this year (bullish gold and commodities). With the global economy contracting, currencies around the world all devalued at the same time, and U.S Treasury yields hitting record lows, this reinvigorates not only safe-haven characteristics for gold but its reserve currency characteristics....If you look back to 2008, during the great financial crisis, gold lost 34% from its peak before bottoming and silver 60%. Each bottomed in October 2008 upon the Federal Reserve launching QE1 and Washington passing TARP shortly thereafter. The rallies that ensued were historic. At their heights in 2011, gold nearly tripled and silver rallied almost 500%....The late week rally has gold on the brink of a breakout, one that needs silver to join the party...This aligns a needed close above $15 in silver to not only break out of the bull-flag pattern but regain the 2001 trend line and fuel a massively bullish rally in gold, one that we would expect silver to join."

This Is What Happens After We Pass The Virus Peak -JPMorgan/Zero Hedge
"Yesterday, when giving an update on the global coronavirus infection curve, and highlighting where various nations currently reside on the curve, we said what has become conventional wisdom, namely that 'with every passing day, the world - most of which is currently on lock down - gets closer to the infection inflection point, and as the updated JP Morgan 'corona curve' chart shows, all the nations that were in the exponential rise phase (acceleration), are now moving into the stage of infection growth rate slowdown (accumulation), suggesting that a peak for most countries is now just a matter of time, at which point the number of new cases will start slowing down aggressively. This means that while US cases continue to soar, the light at the end of the tunnel is now visible."

infection curve

"....The bank's MW Kim writes that the first apex is just the beginning, and then - as China is learning now as it reports the most new cases in a month. So what's really going on? First let's do the good news, which as JPM's MW Kim notes, have to do with the slowdown in global infections which grew 62% w/w to 1,275,542, while infection growth momentum has slowed compared to ~95% w/w ten days ago....Now, the not so good news: MW Kim cautions that his findings on COVID-19 so far include (1) the lack of a vaccine makes it difficult to clear the virus; (2) social distancing is an expensive strategy in terms of economic/ social cost perspective; (3) it may perhaps prove challenging to build popular acceptance of stricter social distancing for more than a month. Therefore, and this is the key part, JPMorgan...'Cannot rule out the possibility that global infection curves propagate secondary waves, shaped similar to seismic aftershocks until a vaccine is broadly available.'"

COVID-19 Is Being Used To Scare You Away From Using Cash -Zero Hedge
"Cash has been the target of the banking and financial elites for years. Now, the coronavirus pandemic is being used to frighten the masses into accepting a cashless society. That would mean the death of what's left of our free society. CBS News, CNN, and other mainstream outlets are fearmongering again. Alarmism is nothing new in the media world, but this time, it's not about triggering panic buying or even pushing a political agenda. The war on cash is about imposing a new meta-narrative. As economist Joseph Salerno explains, the cashless society forces all payments to be made through the financial system. It doesn't end with monopoly control over transactions, though. Being bound to computers for transactions kicks the door wide open to hardcore surveillance of personal activity and location data. Being eternally on the grid means relentless taxation and negative interest rates, which the Federal Reserve is already gearing up for. None of this bothers the well-heeled boosters of a cashless society or their lackeys in the media. They want Americans reading about the threat of coronavirus cooties on their cash, which is absurd. Germs, of course, can loiter all over credit and debit cards, smartphones, ATMs, and every other cash alternative device."

Passover, Easter and Ramadan Become Virtual Holidays of Renewal -Bloomberg
"As Jews, Muslims and Christians enter one of the holiest times of the year, with Easter, Ramadan and Passover all celebrated this month, leaders of these religions with ancient roots find themselves giving thanks to the internet. With roughly half the world locked down, keeping the holidays communal will be a struggle....With mosques in most of the world adhering to bans on large gatherings, even conservative imams are finding ways to stream prayers and sermons, she said. At the epicenter of the disease in the U.S., viewers of Sunday masses on the website of the Archdiocese of New York went from 600 at the start of the epidemic to 26,000. More are expected on Easter, a spokesman said....Religious leaders say the pandemic, however painfully, has breathed fresh meaning into these holidays, all rooted in hardship and renewal. 'The coronavirus reminds us that man's greatest enemy is death,' said Robert Jeffress, one of the U.S.'s most influential evangelical pastors as head of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. 'And next Sunday I will be reminding our congregation of the words of Jesus in John 11:25: 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he dies, will live again.'"

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4.6.20 - The High Cost of Low Interest Rates -WSJ

Gold last traded at $1,703 an ounce. Silver at $15.24 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose sharply Monday on safe haven buying and a flat dollar. U.S. stocks opened higher following a sharp sell-off last week amid signs of stabilization in global coronavirus hospital cases.

Gold rises over 1% as coronavirus hits global economies -CNBC
"Gold prices jumped 1.5% to a more than three-week high on Monday as worries over a global economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic drove investors to the safe-haven metal. 'The virus's impact on the global economy and the unprecedented amount of stimulus going through the veins of the financial system should keep supporting gold,' OANDA analyst Craig Erlam said. 'Gold seems to have its eye on $1,700 per ounce and I wouldn't be surprised to see it push higher.' The pandemic has infected more than a million people, killed over 68,000 and prompted countries to extend lockdowns to curb its spread, paralyzing large swathes of the global economy....'From a long-term standpoint, gold will still remain the preferred asset as the environment of low interest rates and virus-induced global slowdown would support a prolonged rally,' said Sugandha Sachdeva, vice-president, metals, energy and currency research at Religare Broking Ltd."

central banks The High Cost of Low Interest Rates -Grant/Wall Street Journal
"It took a viral invasion to unmask the weakness of American finance. Distortion in the cost of credit is the not-so-remote cause of the raging fires at which the Federal Reserve continues to train its gushing liquidity hoses. But the firemen are also the arsonists. It was the Fed's suppression of borrowing costs, and its predictable willingness to cut short Wall Street's occasional selling squalls, that compromised the U.S. economy's financial integrity....Perhaps never before has corporate America carried more low-grade debt in relation to its earning power than it does today. And rarely have equity valuations topped the ones quoted only weeks ago. Interest rates are the critical prices that measure investment risk and set the present value of estimated future cash flows. The lower the rates, other things being equal, the higher the prices of stocks, bonds and real estate - and the greater the risk of holding those richly priced assets....The Fed commandeered investment values into the government's service. It seeded bull markets in the public interest. But investment valuations don't exist to serve a public-policy agenda. Their purpose is to allocate capital. Distort those values and you waste not only money but also time - human heartbeats....In a bubble, performance is the name of the investment game. Over the past 10 years, skeptics of our debt-financed prosperity have had to fall in line....Negative nominal bond yields are a 4,000-year first, according to Sidney Homer's 'A History of Interest Rates'...Deceived by ultralow interest rates, Americans borrow and lend in the kind of false economy that candidate Donald Trump properly condemned in 2016. Covid-19 will sooner or later beat a retreat. For the sake of honest prices and true values, it would be well if the central bankers did the same."

Forget about returning to jobs as usual after coronavirus -New York Post
"In the last two weeks, new applications for unemployment benefits have reached an incredible 9.9 million. That's 6 percent of the entire workforce. That's about as many job losses as there were in the entire 2008-2009 ­recession....But more than the immediate pain, this crisis is likely to reshape the economy permanently. In good times, when business is profitable and getting more so, many bosses avoid making hard choices. Inefficiencies are ignored, new labor-saving technology is not installed, under-performing employees are tolerated. But when the bad times inevitably come, suddenly executives have no choice but to run the tightest ships possible and labor costs are usually one of the easiest variables to control. And those lost jobs don't come right back after the economy once again turns up....Some jobs are just not going to come back. Most restaurants in the country are closed right now, at least for in-house dining. A fair number in all likelihood will never reopen....We live in economically revolutionary times with the ongoing digitalization of the world. Some of the expediencies that have been resorted to in the pandemic, such as increased working from home and teleconferencing, may well turn out to be simply a better way to do things. That will have consequences. If, for instance, a significant portion of the working population - and their bosses, of course - find they can work just as well from home, they are likely to increase doing so. That, in the long run, will mean fewer jobs for transportation workers as the volume of commuters declines....On the plus side, however, Americans today are far richer than they were, say, in the 1930s, and a far higher percentage of families have substantial financial assets and credit lines to see them through the crisis."

An even bigger war: The one against expanding government -Ponte/WND
"Our expanding battle against the COVID-19 coronavirus conceals a bigger war: the imperial assault by politicians to wrest power from the people and permanently expand the government. A major weapon used against us in this war, as syndicated radio talk-show hosts Armstrong and Getty mentioned days ago, is what psychologists and brainwashers call an 'availability cascade,' a self-reinforcing cycle of repeated claims designed to alter society's collective beliefs by replacing skepticism with irrational certitude and emotional acquiescence. This technique to control us by stampeding the 'herd' mentality in our heads with endless repetition (i.e., 'availability') has been used by ideologues to create conformity of thought on such issues as global warming and gun control. One sign that propagandists are attacking your brain with an 'availability cascade' is the pretense that their position is supported by 'the experts' and/or by the overwhelming majority of your fellow citizens. Their position is also depicted as a dire emergency - something that you should react to with fear, even panic....Politicians have long invoked or created emergencies to increase their power....'The people never give up their liberties, but under some delusion,' said British statesman Edmund Burke. 'The whole aim of practical politics,' wrote journalist H.L. Mencken, 'is to keep the populace alarmed and hence clamorous to be led to safety … by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins. …' 'You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,' said Rahm Emanuel, the chief of staff for President Barack Obama, in 2008. 'Crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things that you could not do before.'....Government may have valid reasons for martial law powers to fight the coronavirus, or to free jailed violent criminals, or to close gun stores and churches while keeping liquor and marijuana stores open as 'essential' services, or for tripling government spending. But power-grabbing government policies that could become permanent are not being rationally debated; they are simply imposed by authority and justified by fear of a killer disease. Will freedom and limited government ever return after this plague?"

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4.3.20 - Gold Glitters as Crisis Intensifies

Gold last traded at $1,646 an ounce. Silver at $14.49 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose Friday on safe-haven buying despite a firmer dollar. U.S. stocks fell after March job data was the worst since the last financial crisis.

Gold Glitters as Coronavirus Crisis Intensifies -Yahoo Finance
"The aggravation of coronavirus pandemic with each passing day has left investors scurrying for safe-haven assets as they remain apprehensive regarding the recovery of global economic growth and its consequent impact on stock markets. This, in turn, has triggered a demand for gold, which is considered as a key investment option during times of financial turbulence....Buying pressure on gold is likely to remain robust with investors focusing on precious metals as a store of wealth and hedge against market turmoil at least for the next few months. The present scenario of gold price soaring despite a surge in U.S. dollar index has left several economists and financial experts perplexed. Usually, a strong U.S. dollar weakens demand for other dollar-denominated gold bullion. However, the northbound movement of both safe-haven assets highlights the impact of coronavirus on investor confidence."

the end When Bulls Are This Over-Anxious To Catch The Rocketship Higher, The Bottom's Not Close -Smith/Zero Hedge
"The classic Bull Market reason to get extremely bullish is, yes, bearish sentiment: sentiment is terrible, and bearish sentiment is the surefire marker of a stock market bottom. The more bearish the sentiment, the more reasons to get bullish and start buying with abandon....Since only those of us with gray hair have actually lived through a real Bear Market, younger participants cannot imagine sentiment is bearish because conditions are bearish. The last real Bear Market was in the 1970s and early 1980s, about years ago. By 'real' I mean deep, enduring and pervasive. Each of the recessions / Bear Markets since 1982 have been relatively brief....A real Bear Market is different. It's systemic, i.e. it can't be reversed with 'the Fed has our back' tricks; it's pervasive, i.e. it affects every sector of the economy, and because it's systemic, it's enduring - it doesn't end in a quarter or two, or even a year or two. Real Bear Markets end not when sentiment gets extremely bearish, but when all the mal-investments, inefficiencies, excesses and institutionalized skims/scams are squeezed out of the system....An abundance of Bulls over-anxious to 'buy the dip' to catch the rocketship higher is not evidence of a bottom, it's evidence of a top. At the bottoms of real Bear Markets, few are anxious to buy the dip because sentiment is bearish....Everyone with any position in today's market will be able to say they lived through a real Bear Market. The trick is to survive the bullish echo chamber and have some capital left to deploy when all the bulls so anxious to buy the dip will have vanished."

March Job Losses Signal Bigger Collapse -Wall Street Journal
"Employers shed 701,000 jobs in March, the start of a labor-market collapse that could push the U.S. unemployment rate to record highs. The unemployment rate for March rose to 4.4% from 3.5% in February. It was the largest one-month increase in the rate since January 1975. The data doesn't yet fully reflect the millions of unemployment-insurance claims individuals filed in the last two weeks of March due to the coronavirus pandemic....The near shutdown of swaths of the U.S. economy due to the new coronavirus pandemic - from corner restaurants to manufacturing plants to international tourism - is inflicting damage on the labor market that economists say dwarfs the most significant economic downturns of the post-World War II era. And it is playing out in a matter of weeks, rather than years....The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Thursday that the unemployment rate would exceed 10% in the second quarter....'There's no comparison to this shock,' said Gregory Daco, Oxford's chief U.S. economist. 'The sudden drop in economic activity is like what you'd see in an area after a natural disaster or a terrorist attack, but it's occurring across the entire country.'....Beth Ann Bovino, S&P Global's chief U.S. economist, projects 17 million jobs will be shed in the coming months and the unemployment rate will touch 13.5%. She expects it will take the economy until late 2022 to recover those lost jobs, and, given population growth, the unemployment rate won't return to recent lows until 2023."

COVID-19: A Time to Make Substantive Life Changes -Conley/Next Avenue
"What if the world is meant to take a 'gap year' as a result of the coronavirus?...First off, let's acknowledge that many of us are now working even harder from home, whether it's due to the industry we're in or the difficult fate our companies are facing. But many others are feeling idle and confused. If you're one of them, how could you use this global timeout as an opportunity to make some substantive life changes? During this unusual time, some of us may be getting an early glimpse into what our retirement might look like....Here are three questions that might help you address these issues during the pandemic, and bring back a deeper sense of meaning in your life: 1. What's something that gives me a sense of purpose? Is it a political or social issue, your children's or grandchildren's education, your thriving religious community, art, service, entrepreneurship?....2. How can I connect with people even though I can't see them in person? Make a practice of writing a daily list of three people you care about but haven't talked with in a while (from your past and present). Reach out to them by email, phone or video call. Re-establish a connection....3. Who can be my accountability partner to help create more structure in my life? Do you have a friend who, like you, also wants to lose 10 pounds or cut down on alcohol or break the habit of taking sleeping pills at night? Call this crisis what you will - a gap year, unexpected retirement or a momentary pause. It may also be an opportunity in disguise."

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4.2.20 - China Asserts Global Leadership Claim

Gold last traded at $1,641 an ounce. Silver at $14.62 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose sharply Thursday following record high U.S. jobless data. U.S. stocks shrugged off downbeat employment while focusing on expectations Saudi Arabia and Russia will ease oil market pressures.

Investors should have up to 10% in this 'hedge against the unexpected' says 'Godfather' of gold -CNBC
"George Milling-Stanley has sometimes been referred to as the 'Godfather' of the gold business. While at the World Gold Council, he was among a small group that helped create the SPDR Gold Trust in 2004, now the world's largest gold exchange-traded fund with over $50 billion in assets. He is now chief gold strategist at State Street Global Advisors. CNBC: What do you think will happen with gold prices in the next few months? Milling-Stanley: I am expecting gold to continue to make strides. Gold jewelry demand may drop, but I am expecting a large increase in investment. This is what happened in 2008: Jewelry demand dropped but gold investment increased. If you look at flows into GLD, we saw significant inflows - just shy of $1 billion in the last week. We have had $3.8 billion in inflows year to date. Coronavirus is going to continue to be a concern. Brexit is still an issue. There are problems in the Korean peninsula. Investors have shifted from, 'Is there going to be a bear market' to 'How long will the bear market last?' All of this is positive for gold. CNBC: The Federal Reserve is again expanding its quantitative easing program. Does this have any impact on gold pricing? Milling-Stanley: It likely will. When the Fed began its QE program in 2008, the Fed balance sheet went up. Gold went up 8% a year on average during that period from December 2008 to October 2014. CNBC: In the first few weeks of March, gold dropped about 15% along with the stock market. What was going on there? Milling-Stanley: Gold did what it was supposed to do in this sort of environment. It came to the aid of investors when other investments were going south. In order to meet margin calls, gold was there to be sold, and it was indeed sold. This happened in 2009 and in 2002. CNBC: And yet, gold bounced back again in the second half of March. Milling-Stanley Yes. Gold was sold, and then having done its job investors tend to buy it back again, so gold tends to recover. CNBC: What part of an investment portfolio should gold be? Milling-Stanley: Our research indicates anywhere from 2% to 10%, depending on your risk tolerance and liquidity needs."

China China Asserts Claim to Global Leadership -Wall Street Journal
"China, the country where the virus first appeared and claimed its first several thousand lives, is now using the global spread of the disease to bolster an increasing vocal, assertive bid for global leadership that is exacerbating a yearslong conflict with the U.S. Combined with deliveries of essential goods, this public-relations push has enabled China to stake a claim to a void on the global stage left by an inward-looking America - while also helping Chinese leaders distract attention at home from criticism they mishandled the early stages of the outbreak. Over a two-week period in March, Chinese government agencies, companies and charities donated more than 26 million face masks, 2.3 million testing kits and other supplies to 89 countries, according to a review of state media reports and government and company statements....Pushing beyond material aid, China's government has sent experts and teleconferenced guidance to medical staff in countries across Europe and Asia, in an international role similar to the one the U.S. played during the 2014 Ebola epidemic...'The United States is not offering leadership. Europe doesn't exist….For the first time in decades, West is lost,' said Francesco Sisci, an Italian Sinologist and columnist for the Catholic newspaper Settimana News. 'In this vacuum, China's offering an example. They are there, and they are helpful.'"

Fed Takes on Role of World's Central Bank by Pumping Out Dollars -Yahoo Finance
"The Federal Reserve is acting as central banker to the world by seeking to provide the global financial system with the dollar liquidity it needs to avoid seizing up. In its latest measure to combat the economic fallout from the coronarvirus pandemic, the Fed said Tuesday it was establishing a temporary repurchase agreement facility to allow foreign central banks to swap any Treasury securities they hold for cash. That's yet another step beyond the actions it took in the 2008 financial crisis....Emerging-market borrowers are especially at risk. Encouraged by low U.S. interest rates, they've loaded up on a dollar-denominated debt in recent years. They now face a squeeze as their exports plummet due to economic shutdowns worldwide to combat the coronavirus contagion. A significantly stronger dollar can also hurt the U.S. by tightening financial conditions and making American exports more expensive on world markets....The Fed is having to take on the mantle of world central banker because of the dollar's dominant role in the world economy and the critical importance of the Treasury debt market to the global financial system."

Feed the soul: In chaotic times, gardening becomes therapy -Associated Press
"As spring's arrival in the Northern Hemisphere coincides with government stay-at-home orders, the itch to get outside has turned backyard gardens into a getaway for the mind in chaotic times. Gardeners who already know that working with soil is a way to connect with nature say it helps take away their worries, at least temporarily. 'I love to see things grow,' Lindsay Waldrop said. 'It's incredibly therapeutic.' Now more than ever. Waldrop, a resident of Anaheim, California, has an anxiety disorder. Exercise is supposed to help, but her new job as a college biology professor had prevented her from getting into a routine. Her grandfather, who introduced her to gardening by showing her how to plant seeds, died about a year ago. 'Sometimes I just like to sit and dig holes in the quiet with my own thoughts,' she said. 'Outside, it takes my mind off. It gives something for my hands to do. It gives you a separate problem to think about than whatever else is going on. It gets you off of social media.'"

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4.1.20 - Recession: A Marathon, Not a Sprint

Gold last traded at $1,601 an ounce. Silver at $14.03 an ounce.

NEWS SUMMARY: Precious metal prices rose Wednesday on safe-haven buying despite a firmer dollar. U.S. stocks fell after President Trump issued a stark new warning on the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S.

Gold price heading to new highs, beating copper, oil and equities -Bloomberg Intelligence/Kitco
"Gold remains the commodity to own, and investors should expect to see prices hit new all-time highs driven by unprecedented monetary stimulus and deficit spending, according to one market analyst. In a report Tuesday, Mike McGlone, senior market analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, said that the price action in the gold market continues to resemble what happened during the 2008 financial crisis. Although gold prices suffered from a more than 20% decline in the midst of the crisis, prices quickly recovered and within three years reached an all-time high at $1,900 an ounce. 'With base rates at zero or negative, and the Federal Reserve embarking on seemingly unlimited monetary stimulus akin to 2008, we see gold extending its $1,900-an-ounce peak as the next in a stair-step recovery process,' McGlone said in the report. 'If following the script from the 2008-09 financial crisis, the term 'recovery' portends new highs for gold. About $1,000 was the initial threshold then. In today's climate, it's comparable to $1,900.'....McGlone said that the yellow metal will be the asset to own as the spreading coronavirus pushes the global economy into a sharp recession. He added that the precious metal will outperform both oil and base metals....U.S. equity market is seeing its worst quarterly performance since 2008 but McGlone said that this could be just the start."

bear market Bear Market/Recession: A Marathon, Not A Sprint -Calhoun/Alhambra Partners
"Stocks rose last week, a breathtaking, nearly 20% run off the recent lows before a pullback Friday trimmed the gain for the week to about 11%...This is what bear market rallies look like. They come out of nowhere, they run much further than anyone thinks they should and, more than anything, they engender hope; hope that the bear is finally over...False dawns are the norm, not the exception. In the last two bear markets, there were numerous, breathtaking stock market rallies that ultimately proved to be nothing more than selling opportunities before new lows. In the 2001 - 2002 bear market, there were three rallies of more than 15% and two others that ran to nearly 10%. The S&P 500 didn't make its final bear market low until October 9th, 2002 at 776.76...That bear market spanned over 2 years and by the end, nobody wanted stocks. In the 2008/09 bear market there were two big rallies similar to last week's. We didn't make the final low until March 9th, 2009. That bear market was fairly short compared to the 2001/2 bear and I think the memory of that one is influencing how investors are thinking of this one...I think it makes a lot more sense to start thinking in terms of the 2001/2 bear. This is not going to end quickly and it is going to be painful....Meanwhile, the economy continues to deteriorate at a rapid pace. One thing we should all learn from this is how interconnected our economy is. Thinking you can shut it down and restart it without significant, lasting damage is fanciful....In the last two recessions, the S&P 500 fell about 50% at the lows. This recession will be worse than either of those. Why wouldn't we expect stocks to fall at least that far again?...Right now, the only things in an uptrend are Treasuries and gold....I expect this recession and bear market to be a marathon, not a sprint. Last week's rally was nice but unlikely to signal anything other than noise."

An FDA Breakthrough on Treatment -Editors/Wall Street Journal
"The Food and Drug Administration on Sunday green-lighted two malaria medicines that have shown some promise treating the novel coronavirus, and the emergency approvals couldn't come soon enough. Expanding their use could bring quicker relief to patients and hospitals while allowing scientists to better assess their efficacy. The malaria drugs hydroxychloroquine (HC) and chloroquine have been around for more than five decades, so their safety is well documented. New evidence suggests that they could also help fight the novel coronavirus. Hydroxychloroquine nowadays is often prescribed for the autoimmune conditions lupus and rheumatoid arthritis that result from the body's immune system attacking its own cells. Scientists have also documented an overreactive immune response in severely ill coronavirus patients. Notably, a study in France of 80 coronavirus patients given HC and azithromycin, an antibiotic for upper respiratory infections, documented 'a clinical improvement in all but one 86 year-old patient who died, and one 74 year-old patient still in intensive care unit.' Doctors have also reported anecdotal evidence of the malaria drugs' efficacy. More study is needed, and a clinical trial of the two drugs involving 1,100 patients started last week in New York. But the FDA's emergency authorization will let more doctors prescribe the drug outside of clinical trials....The Department of Health and Human Services reported Sunday that Novartis has donated 30 million doses of HC, and Bayer has contributed one million doses of chloroquine to the federal government, which can distribute the drugs to areas with the highest need."

Most Americans Say Coronavirus Outbreak Has Impacted Their Lives -Pew Social Trends
"As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to rise and schools, workplaces and public gathering spaces across the United States remain closed, a new Pew Research Center survey finds that the coronavirus outbreak is having profound impacts on the personal lives of Americans in a variety of ways. Nearly nine-in-ten U.S. adults say their life has changed at least a little as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, including 44% who say their life has changed in a major way....How are people adapting their behavior in light of the outbreak? Four-in-ten working-age adults ages 18 to 64 report having worked from home because of coronavirus concerns - a figure that rises to a majority among working-age adults with college degrees and upper-income earners. Still, despite current circumstances, about two-thirds of adults with children under 12 at home say it's been at least somewhat easy for them to handle child care responsibilities. The virus also has impacted Americans' religious behaviors. More than half of all U.S. adults (55%) say they have prayed for an end to the spread of coronavirus. Large majorities of Americans who pray daily (86%) and of U.S. Christians (73%) have taken to prayer during the outbreak - but so have some who say they seldom or never pray and people who say they do not belong to any religion (15% and 24%, respectively)....Four-in-ten regular worshippers appear to have replaced in-person attendance with virtual worship (saying that they have been attending less often but watching online instead)."

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