Repo Commentary-6/20/2018

Some of you, but probably not most of you, know that AVM, L.P. and I have mutually parted ways. My creation, Direct Repo is AVM’s service mark and their product. I still firmly believe in the direction of the securities financing market to ‘directed financing’ (which could be Direct Repo, peer-to-peer financing, all-to-all financing, CCP, etc.) between cash providers and collateral providers, whether they be traditional broker/dealers or non-dealers. After almost 36 years in the Repo & Securities Lending business and being one of the most outspoken leaders, I have no intention of leaving this business. So, I am exploring similar opportunities right now and will keep you posted.
In the meantime, I intend to write the Repo Commentary more regularly and just post it on my new website: I have tried to do a blast email to all 3,000 of you to inform you of that, but have been stymied by aol, gmail, and mailchimp, so I’ll do in lots of 100 or so of you, until the word gets out. Apparently, over 6,000 of you viewed it when I posted my intention on LinkedIn, so I’ll keep that communication going too. If you need to get hold of me, my cell is 646-753-1300, my email for work will be (backup is, and you can also hit me up on Bloomberg and LinkedIn.
Remember, as since 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any firm (well that’s easy to say at the moment) and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information. I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested (70-80%) in entertaining you than informing (20-30%) you. Hopefully, I’ll work out any kinks on this new Repo Commentary website and be able to automate some functions and news. I’m interested to see how the picture gallery displays. Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures. Also, please send me feedback, as I want to make it better all the time. I think it may start a little light on content, as I get comfortable with my format and my resources, but hopefully it will become something even better than it was. And, most of all, thank you for being, as Stephen King would say, a ‘constant reader.’
Today’s Holidays or Events:
• National Cherry Tart Day
• Garfield the Cat Day
• National Martini Day
• Juneteenth (which celebrates the Emancipation Proclamation)
• National Pets in Film Day
• World Sauntering Day
• National Eat an Oreo Day
• World Sickle Cell Day
• Free BSD Day
• International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict
• National Watch Day
• Day of the Independent Hungary
• Feast of Forest (Palawan)
• Labour Day in Trinidad and Tobago
• Laguna Day
• Never Again Day in Uruguay
• Surigao del Norte Day
• Surigao del Sur Day
Some Famous People Born Today in History:
• King James VI and I of the United Kingdom-1566
• Moe Howard-1897
• Guy Lombardo-1902
• Lou Gehrig-1903
• Alan Cranston-1914
• Tommy DeVito-1928
• Gena Rowlands-1930
• Salman Rushdie-1947
• Ann Wilson-1950
• Lou Pearlman-1954
• Kathleen Turner-1954
• Paula Abdul-1962
• Boris Johnson-1964
• Anthony Parker-1975
• Dirk Nowitzki-1978
• Macklemore-1983
• Jacob deGrom-1988
This Day in History:
• 325-the original Nicene Creed was presented at the First Council of Nicaea
• 1269-King Louis IX of France declared all Jews found in public without identifying yellow badge to be fined 10 livres of silver
• 1306-the Earl of Pembroke’s army defeated Bruce’s Scottish Army at the Battle of Methven
• 1586-English colonists left Roanoke Island, after failing to establish England’s first permanent settlement in North America
• 1846-the first officially recorded, organized baseball game is played under Alexander Cartwright’s rules on Hoboken, NJ’s Elysian Fields, with the New York Base Ball Club defeating the Knickerbockers 23-1. Cartwright umpired
• 1850-Princess Louise of the Netherlands married Crown Prince Karl of Sweden-Norway
• 1862-the US Congress prohibits slavery in the United States territories, nullifying Dred Scott vs. Sandford
• 1865-over 2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, slaves in Galveston, TX were finally informed of their freedom. The anniversary is still officially celebrated in Texas and 41 other contiguous states at Juneteenth
• 1867-Maximillian I of the Second Mexican Empire was executed by a firing squad in Queretaro, Queretaro
• 1875-the Herzegovinian rebellion against the Ottoman Empire began
• 1910-the first Father’s Day was celebrated in Spokane, WA
• 1915-the USS Arizona was launched
• 1934-the Communications Act of 1934 established the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
• 1943-the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL merged for one season due to player shortages caused by WWII
• 1944-WWII, the first day of the Battle of the Philippine Sea
• 1949-the first ever NASCAR race was held at Charlotte Motor Speedway
• 1953-Cold War, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed at Sing Sing in New York
• 1961-Kuwait declared independence from the United Kingdom
• 1964-the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was approved after surviving an 83-day filibuster in the US Senate
• 1978-Garfield, holder of the Guinness World Record for the world’s most widely syndicated comic strip, made its debut
• 1990-the Communist Party of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic was founded in Moscow
• 1991-the Soviet occupation of Hungary ended
Fun Fact of the Day:
The movie JACK AND JILL won an award in all 10 categories at the 32nd Golden Raspberry awards. Adam Sandler won in both worst actor and worst actress categories, which is highly unusual.
Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:
“The path to success is to take massive, determined action.”—Tony Robbins
International and Commodity Markets:
Oil closed yesterday at $65.03/barrel, about $3/barrel less than when I last wrote. That has allowed US gasoline prices to drift lower. My West Palm Beach gas station was at $2.64 gallon today, down 15 cents since I last wrote two weeks ago. The USD versus the Yen is trading at $110.04 today, up on the day. The USD is up versus the Euro at $1.1588. The USD is up against the GBP at $1.3173. Gold closed yesterday at 1,274.83ounce, which is down since I last wrote. Bitcoin, which is not getting its own Repo Commentary section this time around, is trading today at $6,632, significantly lower than where it has been in the past month, and dangerously near the magic $6000 level. President Trump has instructed the US Trade Rep Robert Lightizer to prepare a 10% tariff on and additional $200 billion in Chinese goods. The GBP weakened to a fresh 7-month low ahead of a key Brexit Bill vote in the House of Commons. The stakes are high for PM May. China’s yuan strengthened after the PBoC set its daily reference rate stronger than was expected.
Trump’s New Round of Tariffs Likely Will Hit Consumers Directly. The White House proposal to apply tariffs to an additional $200 billion in Chinese imports—and possibly as much as $400 billion if China retaliates—would certainly hit many consumer products, from appliances to clothing to electronics, if enacted. WSJ

Millionaires revolt: B.C. homeowners fight new taxes on properties valued over $3-million. British Columbia’s plan to target owners of highly valued properties for extra tax revenue has triggered an uprising by millionaires who don’t feel rich. Thousands of B.C. properties, including more than 30,000 detached houses in the Vancouver region, will be hit by a new surtax to be imposed starting next year on homes valued above $3-million. Globe and Mail
“As Greece Ends a Decade of Bailouts, Problems Linger for Europe: As Greece prepares to emerge from one of the region’s most wrenching economic periods, its creditors are drawing up plans to ensure it is never a problem for the rest of Europe again. European Union officials will unveil a blueprint in Brussels on Thursday to help the beleaguered country stand on its own once it comes off its third financial bailout in August.” New York Times

Global Financial News:
The new FDIC chief, Jelena McWilliams, has announced her key objectives in a wide-ranging agenda. Pension funds, according to Bloomberg, have made a major shift into bonds, despite the equity market staying strong, which has probably contributed to the flattest US Treasury yield curve since 2007. Purchases of US Treasury STRIPS surged to a record $284 billion in May. General Electric will be removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average and replaced by Walgreens Boots Alliance. Ironically, industrial firms have become less important to the US economy, replaced in importance by health care, financial, technology, and consumer companies. Sen. Pat Toomey is widely expected to be the next chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, and he intends to focus on changes to housing finance in the next Congress. He has been particularly vocal about resolving the situation with mortgage providers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which has been stalled since 2008. The SEC is seeking public comments on a proposed 5-year plan that makes protecting Main Street investors the No.1 priority. US banks are questioning the conclusions of a recent Federal Reserve research paper that forecasts the switch to the current expected credit loss accounting standard will lessen how much reserves are overstated and understated during economic cycles, per Risk Magazine. JPMorgan unit is launching an ETF that invests in REITs.
US Market News:
The Dow Jones closed today (Tuesday 6/19) at 24,700.21, down 287.26 points. It has been volatile, following world news and economic news, maybe more so than earnings news. S&P 500 closed at 2763.50, down 2.75. Nasdaq closed at 7725.59, down 21.44 on the day. However, the US Treasury market market went the other way, with 2years closing up at 2.545%, 3years up at 2.650%, 5years up at 2.770%, 7years up at 2.857%, 10years up at 2.897%, and 30years up at 3.032%, in a curve flattener. The Central Bank of Russia has reportedly cut its US Treasury portfolio in half.
Repo News:  
We have a quarter-end coming up 6/30. Quarter-ends have always been crazy in the repo market, but with the addition of hundreds of regulations, suddenly month-ends also became important. The historical pattern of repo dealers grossing UP their repo matched book balance sheets in-between quarter-ends and then shrinking them for quarter-ends is long gone. Instead, CCAR, and other regulations and reporting have caused certain dealers to have to report balance sheets daily, monthly, or quarterly. Not everyone is on the same set of rules. It doesn’t help that we have Fed tightening expectations intertwined with quarter-ends. So, de-engineering what the GC Repo rate is pricing for quarter-end or for tightening becomes more difficult. Most people, as Scott Skyrm said, assume that the September FOMC Fed tightening of 25bp is almost assured. The market is also pricing another 50-60% of Fed tightening into the December FOMC meeting. So, with that all said, the GC repo rates have come down nearer to Fed Funds and don’t show a lot of pressure for 6/30 quarter-end. At least, at this point.

I see the Repo and Securities Lending market as having changed in many permanent ways. We traditionally had a credit intermediator, the broker/dealers (originally just the primary broker/dealers) and later prime brokers, who were the pipeline through their respective repo matched books for collateral providers to trade with cash providers, without the two sides ever knowing about each other or facing each other. That lack of knowledge of the other side of the repo matched book came at a couple of costs, first, the bid/offer spread that went to the dealers and second, the defaults of the Financial Crisis and the impact on some of the dealers that then cost their clients. Clearly, with that pipeline becoming severely crimped by post-Financial Crisis regulatory reforms, consolidation and bankruptcies, and the resulting drop of about 60% in balance sheets being used for broker/dealer respective repo matched books, new pathways/pipelines needed to be found for cash provider and collateral provider clients. AVM’s Direct Repo™ was the first of one of such pathways. Since then, other pathways to these markets have been created, including: the Federal Reserve’s RRP program with cash providers, peer-to-peer financing as reported on Treasury OFR’s website between MMFs and Insurance Companies, As Agent repo through seclending agents and now some prime brokers, direct lending from beneficial owner to hedge funds who are short, indemnified As Agent repo, buyside to buyside Triparty Repo through two international clearing organizations, electronic all-to-all repo on a few electronic trading platforms like Elixium and BNY DBVX, FICC’s sponsored repo and cleared repo products to entice certain sectors of the buyside into that CCP, and other Repo and/or Seclending CCPs (several still being worked on, particularly in Europe). I believe this evolution will continue and eventually we will see all of these pathways used, including the traditional pathway (to probably a lesser than historical degree) through the broker/dealers and prime brokers.

Upcoming Repo Industry Conferences: 
• ISLA will hold its 27th annual Securities Finance and Collateral Management Conference in Lisbon, Portugal on 6/19-6/21.
• MFA will hold its Forum 2018 in Chicago on 6/21.
• Crane’s will hold its Money Fund Symposium in Pittsburgh on 6/25-6/27. I am still thinking of attending, because I miss all of you.
• IMN will hold its 23rd annual European Beneficial Owners’ International Securities Finance & Collateral Management Conference in London, September 2018.
• IMN will hold its 24th annual ABS East Conference in Miami Beach, on 9/16-9/18.
• National Association of State Treasurers (NAST) will hold its Annual Conference in Scottsdale, AZ on 9/30-10/3.
• SIFMA-will hold its Annual Meeting in Washington, DC on 10/1-10/2.
• Risk Management Association (RMA) will hold the 35th annual RMA Conference on Securities Lending in Key Biscayne, FL on 10/8-10/11. I will be there, I don’t want to break my streak of attending every one of them!
• Finadium will hold its 2nd annual Rates & Repo conference in NYC in November.
• Association of Financial Professionals (AFP) is holding its annual Treasury & Finance conference in Chicago on 11/4-11/7.
• RISK USA will hold 24th annual conference in NYC, sometime in November.

Federal Reserve News:
Fed Funds, which trade mostly between some banks and GSEs, opened today at 1.90%.

The next FOMC meetings are: 7/26/17, 9/20/17, 11/1/17, 12/13/17, 1/31/18

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (16 banks, 14 GSEs, 101 money market funds from various fund families), is now set at the rate of 1.50%. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight. Remember when RRP was trading at year-end for $465 billion? Well, on 5/15, there was only $20 million in bids submitted. MMF cash and GSE cash has moved out of the Fed’s RRP and into the Repo market, but it hasn’t really brought down the GC repo rate, which is strange. Over month-end, RRP volume did pop up to $21.5 billion, but that’s one of the lowest month-end volumes in its history. I wonder which trades less volume now, Fed Funds or RRP?

Earthquakes and Volcanoes
Tokyo was rocked yesterday by a 6.1-magnitude quake. Guanagazapa, Guatemala felt a 5.6 quake on 6/18. Hirakata, Japan suffered a 5.5 quake on 6/17. A 4.4 was felt in Cherokee, OK on 6/9. Hundreds of Kilauea survivors have sought FEMA help, as the volcano rages on.
The Atlantic Hurricane Season began Friday, June 1st. For 2018, Colorado State University experts have predicted that this season will be a busy, above average hurricane season. They have predicted 14 named Tropical Storms, of which 7 will become Hurricanes. Both are above the averages of 12 and 6, respectively. But, remember, last year they were way off. Unfortunately, they were way off the wrong way, with way more storms. They had predicted 11 Tropical Storms, of which 4 would be Hurricanes. Instead, we had 17 Tropical Storms and had 10 Hurricanes. Here are the 2018 Storm names:
Alberto done

The Pacific Hurricane Season began on May 1st.
Let’s talk about weather, I was in Andover, MA last week to see family (and I was fortunate enough to see a few of you in Boston for meetings as well) and the weather was weird. One day was 80 and sunny, next was 50 and raining, and I understand tomorrow is going to 90 and sunny. Crazy weather you are having! Meanwhile, I left Florida’s 90s and horrible thunderstorms for 40 days (I started on my Ark), and returned to, lo and behold 93 and terrible thunderstorms. It didn’t rain yet today, but it feels like you are swimming when you walk. So, it appears that the northern US lost Fall and Summer and the southern US lost Fall, Winter, and Spring. Heavy storms this weekend created hazardous flooding in 3 US states, washing away roads and opening up some 60 sinkholes. Yesterday, Chicago, and other Midwest areas, were in the 90s and the heat index rose to over 100 degrees, breaking several records and impacting some 80 million people. That weather will now move into the Northeast.
Sports News:
The MLB season is nearly 50% done already! The Red Sox have played 73 games out of 162 games. Oddly, the Yankees have only played 69 games, so it depends on the team and the rainouts and snowouts. nd the Spring Training favorites are remaining strong. The Red Sox lead the MLB with 49 wins, but are mathematically tied with the equally hot Bronx Bombers for first place in the AL East. Meanwhile, the Orioles are in last place in MLB, having lost 50 games (20-50) already. They should have traded away Chris Davis, Manny Machado, and that closer, and gone for the rebuild. They are 27 ½ games behind the Sox and Yankees. In the AL Central, the Indians continue to dominate, 3 games ahead of the Tigers. The Royals have been abysmal, now also losing 50 games, along with the Orioles. In the AL West, things have been hot, with the World Champion Astros still in first place, but the Mariners chasing, only 2 games behind. The rest are not doing well, especially, and surprisingly, the Rangers, who are now 19 games back. Over in the NL, the East has become interesting for the first time in years, with the Braves returning to first place glory, but only 3 ½ games ahead of both the Nationals and the Phillies. Phillies? I know, you were probably expecting me to say Mets, but ah no. And, the Marlins, who gave away their best players, are now playing like they gave away their best players, occupying the cellar. The NL Central looks like it has for the past few years, with the Cubs tied for first place with the trade-happy Brewers, and the Cardinals and Pirates chasing. Also, not unusual, the Reds are in last place. Lastly, the NL West features the Diamondbacks and Dodgers slugging it out, currently with the D-Backs 2 games ahead. But, unlike previous years, the Giants, Rockies, and Padres are not far behind the leaders, so the field is wide open. All-Star game voting is in full swing. Astros’ Jose Altuve is leading, closely ahead of Red Sox Mookie Betts. NL underperformer this year, especially in front of his free agency for some $400 million contract, Bryce Harper, has shaved his long beard. Jason Giambi feels that his future is back in an MLB dugout. Fallout from the MLB Draft 2018, the Giants signed No.2 pick Joey Bart to a record $7 million deal. Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani will be re-evaluated for his injury in 2-3 weeks. The Nationals have acquired closer Kelvin Herrera from the Royals. The Red Sox and Orioles are rumored to be again discussing a trade for superstar Manny Machado. The Mets said they are willing to listen to offers for “virtually anyone on the team.” The Astros have won 11 straight games, including 10 on the road. Brewers’ pitcher Adrian Houser actually got sick twice on the field,, but continued to pitch. Royals’ Jorge Soler will be out at least 6 weeks with an injury. SANDLOT movie cast took over LA Dodgers Stadium for their 25th movie reunion.
The PGA Tour completed its 2nd Major, at the US Open, held at famous Shinnecock on Long Island, near Southhampton. The course was, as usual, set up ridiculously hard, highlighting not pro players making birdies and eagles, but rather struggling with 4-putts and duffed shots. Tiger Woods’ pain finally ended on Friday, after multiple four-putt greens. I think he needs to go back to coach Butch Harmon. Not only did the course have prevailing 20 mph winds, but it was lengthened to 7,440 yards and they created false backs for nearly every green, making any long shots into the green roll way over and go into the rough. We caught site of something you never see in a professional tournament, Phil Mickelson chasing after an errant putt on a green and hitting it again as it was moving (and still missing). That was a costly 10 he received on that hole. I actually am surprised that Phil wasn’t disqualified for that egregious offense. I know that I would have been tortured for weeks by my amateur (at best) golf buddies for doing something like that. It appears that that egregious offense may have cost him his usual place on the Ryder Cup, giving way to Webb Simpson. Anyway, for the second year in row, the winner was over par, not your usual -15 to -20, but +1. Palm Beach Gardens, FL’s own Brooks Koepka won. In fact, the top 5 finishers were +1, +2, +3, +4, +5! There is something uncomfortable about watching professional golfers hack their way around a course like we would. Golf Channel talked about how the USGA and player relationships are finally at the breaking point.
Saturday night’s Javier Fortuna vs Adrian Granados bout was a nasty fight, that turned scary in the end. In the 4th round, Granados shoved Fortuna out of the ring, where Fortuna seemingly hit his head on the camera box structure outside the ring apron. However, multiple slow-motion views show his head just missing the box, so the fight-stopping injury is controversial. The fight was ruled a no-contest and Fortuna was put in a neck brace and on a stretcher. Errol Spence Jr. floored Carlos Campo in his bout. I used to be a huge boxing fan, then took up with MMA/UFC, and now am kind of not watching either, but I know some of you are still interested, so I’m doing this for you. Here are upcoming reportedly important fights:
Claressa Shields vs Hanna Gabriels-vacant IBF/WBA Women’s Middleweight titles
Christina Hammer vs. Tori Nelson-Hammer’s WBC/WBO Women’s Middleweight titles
Lucas Matthysse vs. Manny Pacquiao-Matthysse’s WBA Welterweight title
Moruti Mthalane vs. Muhammad Waseem-vacant IBF Flyweight title
Carlos Canizales vs. Bin Lu-Canizales’ WBA Junior Flyweight title
Dillian Whyte vs. Joseph Parker-heavyweights
Kell Brook vs. Brandon Cook-junior middleweights
Mikey Garcia vs. Robert Easter Jr.-WBC/IBF Lightweight title unification
Sergey Kovalev vs. Eleider Alvarez-Kovalev’s WBO Light Heavyweight title
Dmitry Bivol vs. TBA-Bivol’s WBA Light Heavyweight title
Sullivan Barrera vs. TBA-Light heavyweights
Carl Frampton vs. Luke Jackson-Frampton’s WBO interim Featherweight title
Tyson Fury vs. TBA-Heavyweights
UFC 225 is estimated at 250,000 pay-per-view buys. It featured two title matches. The LA Times actually estimated the actual buys at a low 150,000, which has started a whole out-of-the-octagon controversy. Robert Whittaker faced Yoel Romero and Rafael dos Anjos faced Colby Covington as the two title fights. Undercards were strong, with Tai Tuivasa against Andrei Arlovski and crowd-favorite Holly Holm against former pro wrestling star CM Punk. Bellator has signed a 6-foot-8 heavyweight prospect. UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov has vowed to “destroy” Conor McGregor in their upcoming fight. 33-year-old Jake Ellengerger has lost 3 straight matches inside the Octagon but says he won’t retire.
The French Open has ended. On the Women’s side, Simona Halep faced Sloane Stephens (not Serena Williams at 36 or Maria Sharapova at 31), with Halep prevailing over Stephens on her comeback. On the Men’s side, there was more familiarity, as Rafael Nadal remained superior on the clay, defeating Dominic Thiem. It was only Nadal’s 11th French Open championship win. Okay, he set a few records. He became only the second player in history to win 11 singles at a single Grand Slam event, equaling Margaret Court’s record set at the Australian Open, when she won 7 straight titles. So, that also makes Rafa (he and are on nickname terms) the only man ever to win 11 titles at the same event. Oh wait, he tied another guy, himself, at Monte-Carlo (11 times) and Barcelona (11 times). He also won at Chicago (12 times) but that isn’t a Grand Slam Event.
After winning the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, both in very sloppy conditions, Justify completed the Triple Crown at the 1 ½-mile long Belmont Stakes in Long Island on 6/9. He went wire-to-wire in the victory, easily winning, and becoming only the 12th horse in history to complete the rare honor. Ironically, it was the second Triple Crown winner in the last two years, but also only the second Triple Crown winner in the last 40 years. It turns out that Justify is somehow connected distantly through his mother to the great Secretariat, also a Triple Crown winner, and known for his 33-length victory at Belmont and his unusually large heart. There was some post-race controversy about the trainer’s other horse in the race perhaps blocking out some competitors of Justify’s. incidentally, long shot Gronkowski, named for Patriots’ TE Rob Gronkowski, who is part-owner and was there at the race, surprisingly came in 2nd place.
Danica Patrick’s driving career is now over, after 68 laps into Indy 500. Kyle Busch won the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on 5/27.
NCAA Baseball:
The 2018 College World Series is closing in. The super-regionals are now done, leaving Oregon State, North Carolina, Washington, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Texas, Texas Tech, and Florida to battle it out in Omaha, NE. Florida is the defending champion and surprisingly the only Florida team left in the tournament. The CWS began Saturday, 6/16. The championship begins 6/25.
NCAA Basketball:
Anne Donovan, former basketball star and coach, has died at age 56. HOF Larry Brown has been hired to coach Italian professional basketball team. John Beilein will stay at Michigan, as Pistons’ courtship ends. HOF coach and administrator, C.M. Newton, has died at 88.
NCAA Football:
College football season is still 73 days away, but who’s counting? Just a reminder, Alabama won the National Championship last season. It seems that I can never remember who won the previous season in any sport, despite investing a lot of time in watching them. Oklahoma has rewarded Lincoln Riley and staff with hefty pay raises. Josh Jackson will remain with Virginia Tech. Texas Tech has added a giant 7-foot offensive lineman. Fomer Oregon LB Fotu Leiato died in a car accident at age 21. Texas Tech starting WR Quan Shorts has been kicked off team after arrest. Maryland OL Jordan McNair has died after being hospitalized from workout.
Civil rights groups are now asking the NFL to reverse its new National Anthem policy (allowing players who protest the National Anthem in the locker room during its playing, but all must stand if they are on the field). I know I’ve always strived to be neutral in the Repo Commentary, but this issue is just so divisive and it doesn’t have to be. The reporters interview all the players after every game and they can say into the microphone whatever they please and whatever issues they want to bring to the publics’ attention, and I do think there are issues that need to be brought to light. I just think disgracing the National Anthem (which I sing for MLB) and in turn the flag of the United States (and in turn, the soldiers who fought to defend such flag and freedoms, which include the right to free speech to vent such issues) isn’t the right forum to bring those issues to the public’s attention. I think it would be better to say it on the microphone, so there is less misunderstanding and confusion with these other issues and interests.
The NFL is still seeing some late off-season signings, just before training camp. The Browns signed former No.2 pick Greg Robinson. This just in, 44-year-old former NFL star Terrell Owens just ran a 4.43 40-yard=dash! OMG! The son of former Cowboys Pro Bowl lineman Erik Williams has been charged with murder. Broncos’ QB Paxton Lynch said “I’ll be ready” to be Case Keenum’s backup. Bengals’ top pick, center Billy Price, has been “fully cleared for football”. The Texans appear to be slow-playing Jadeveon Clowney’s contract extension. The Vikings will induct the late Dennis Green, their longtime coach into the Ring of Honor. Colts’ QB Andrew Luck is rehabbing nicely, and the team will limit his workload during training camp. Falcons’ Julio Jones is stil holding out for a new contract. Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger won’t let his kids play contact football. The Seahawks expect WR Brandon Marshall’s hamstring to be ready by camp. QB Johnny Manziel sat out his CFL Tiger-Cats’ opening loss. Giants’ WR Odell Beckham Jr. reportedly will not be a training camp holdout. Eagles’ QB Carson Wentz looks nearly recovered and already throwing the football. The Eagles did a really nice thing, presenting a Super Bowl ring to longtime employee fired by coach Chip Kelly. Browns’ offensive lineman Donald Stephenson has been suspended by the NFL for 2 games. Patriots’ returning WR Julian Edelman has been suspended by the NFL for 4 games. Here we go again! And, they just lost all these RBs and WRs. Cowboys’ DL David Irving has also been suspended for 4 games, also for NFLs’ performance enhancing drug abuse. The Titans visited police academy and shooting simulator to end their minicamp. The Raiders are worried that WR Martavis Bryant may be facing an NFL suspension. Two-time 49ers’ All-Pro tackle Keith Fahnhorst has died at 66. Former Patriots, now Giants’ Nate Solder tweaked his knee at the end of minicamp. Former Jets’ QB and now free agent, Christian Hackenberg was seen visiting the Patriots. The Saints have signed veteran RB Terrance West, formerly of the Ravens. Texans’ QB Deshaun Watson says “the knee is doing good.” Cowboys’ Zack Martin has become the NFL’s highest-paid guard. The Packers have still not agreed to terms with QB Aaron Rodgers on a contract extension. The Broncos have hired DeMarcus Ware as a pass-rush consultant. There is a report that the Patriots actually called some teams about a TE Rob Gronkowski trade ahead of the NFL Draft, not knowing if he would actually rejoin the team. Former Colts GM Ryan Grigson will join the Seahawks’ front office. A former Cowboys’ cheerleader’s suit alleges that she was paid less than the mascot was paid. The Rams have been ordered to pay former NFL RB Reggie Bush $12.5 million due to a slip on their slippery concrete surface behind visiting team’s bench during a game, that led to a torn ACL for the star and, perhaps, the demise of his career. Free-agent RB Jamaal Charles has visited the Saints.
In association football, the UEFA Champions League concluded with Real Madrid, led by man of the match, Gareth Bale, defeating Liverpool in the final to win their third consecutive title. The entire world is now watching World Cup qualifying matches every day, seeing who will play for the World Cup in Moscow. The Saudi Arabian World Cup team’s plane caught on fire in midair, as it travelled on Russian Airlines to Rostov to face Uruguay on Wednesday. Thankfully, the plane landed safely. Massive swarms of bugs have been invading the World Cup venues. President Vladimir Putin is reportedly carrying out a ruthless crackdown on hooligans. Meanwhile, FIFA has charged Mexico after its fans allegedly chanted anti-gay slurs during an upset win over Germany, and have begun disciplinary hearings against the country.
The NHL regular season began on 10/12. It finally ended in June, with the Washington Capitals finally getting the monkey off their back and winning it all, defeating the brand new Las Vegas Knights. Alex Ovechkin, after 14 seasons, finally won a Stanley Cup. Nathan Walker became the first Australian hockey player to win the Stanley Cup. Despite the Caps finally winning the Stanley Cup, Barry Trotz is leaving the Caps, to coach another team, like the Islanders. The Islanders just fired coach Doug Weight. The Senators have traded Mike Hoffman amid cyberbullying allegations against his fiancée. Senators’ ‘rock bottom’ has hit new lows amid disturbing legal matters. Oilers have interest in Senators’ Erik Karlsson. The Canadiens acquired Max Domi from Coyotes for Alex Galchenyuk.
The NBA Finals also mercifully ended in June, after starting that season in October. The Warriors beat the Cavaliers and sent LeBron James off to free agency. Enes Kanter’s father was sentenced to at least 5 years in Turkish prison. Puma basketball has reportedly announced Jay-Z as President. Puma also signed Zhaire Smith to endorsement deal. Rudy Gay is opting out of his contract with Spurs. Former NBA player J.J. Hickson has been arrested and charged in a home invasion. Jamal Crawford had declined option with Timberwolves and will also enter free agency. Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard is getting interest from Celtics, Lakers, Cavs, and 76ers. However, the Suns say they won’t trade their No.1 pick for Leonard. A San Francisco brewery is trolling Cavs’ star LeBron James with a beer called ‘. LiAngelo Ball reportedly worked out for the Warriors. What, he doesn’t want to play in Lithuania anymore for his father? Kings’ Zach Randolph’s brother was killed in a shooting in Indiana. Rockets forward, Trevor Ariza, is reportedly looking for a deal for $50-60 million in free agency. The NBA will honor Oscar Robertson with 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award. The Raptors have hired Nick Nurse to be the next coach.
Travel News:
Okay, this is my Florida Public Service Announcement: I know that only Florida kids have gotten out of school so far, but soon, the rest of the nation’s kids will get out of school and I just wanted to mention that DisneyWorld, to my surprise, is $145/per adult per day (by the way, it’s only $6 cheaper per day for a kid) AND it’s currently in the 90s with 90% humidity, so heat index kinda near 105 degrees. Just a PSA. Volvo says that its self-docking yacht will launch in 2020. The Audi CEO has been arrested in the diesel probe. I think it means that Service C, E, and O may be due now. The Department of Homeland Security is reportedly busily collecting data on peoples’ tattoos, voice data, DNA, scars, etc. A new luxury suite hotel, SLS LUX has opened in Brickell, in downtown Miami, just in time for the RMA Conference in Key Biscayne. In 2013, there were 47,000 for-hire cars in Manhattan, NY, most of them taxicabs. Now, there are over 100,000 for-hire cars in Manhattan and two-thirds of them are Uber cars. NBC reported last night that six taxicab drivers recently committed suicide in Manhattan and their families blamed the influx of Uber cars and the unfair different policies and licensing for the two parts of that sector. A Tesla caught on fire on Santa Monica Boulevard, while it was being driven by its producer owner with his actress wife in the car. Firefighters at the scene thought that it could have started with the lithium battery under the car and the NTSB is investigating, as is Tesla, which has been dealing with several recent obstacles, including an investigation in some deaths surrounding self-driving models, delayed productions, and layoffs. The wait time at California DMVs now tops 5 hours! I recently was looking at SUVs, for the first time, and noticed several that were more like high-performance sports cars, which also had, unfortunately, very high price tags. But, here are the top 10 most powerful SUVs (although I’m not sure why one would need this to tote kids and camping gear at 150 mph):
10. Mercedes AMG G63-563 hp, 561 pound-feet of torque, 5.5 liter V8 engine with twin turbochargers, that goes from 0-60 in 5.3 seconds, top-ends at 130 mph, and costs $142,800.
9. BMW X5 M-567 hp, 553 lb-ft of torque, twin turbo 4.4-liter V8, 0-60 in 4.0 seconds, and costs $100,700.
8. Porsche Cayenne Turbo S-570 bp, 590 lb-ft of torque, twin turbo 4.8-liter V8, which goes 0-60 in 3.8 seconds, hits 176 mph, and costs $161,600.
7. Land Rover Ranger Rover Sport SVR-575 hp, 516 lb-ft torque, supercharged 5.0-liter V8, which goes 0-60 in 4.3 seconds, also hits 176 mph, and costs $133,600.
6. Mercedes AMG GLS 63-577 hp, 561 lb-ft of torque, with 5.5 liter twin turbo V8, which gets it 0-60 in 4.5 seconds, and costs $125,300.
5. Mercedes AMG GLE 63 S-577 hp, 561 lb-ft of torque, 5.5 liter twin turbo V8, which goes 0-60 in 4.2 seconds, and costs $102,550.
4. Bentley Bentayga-600 hp, 664 lb-ft of torque, 6.0-liter W12 twin turbo, which takes it from 0-60 in 4.0 seconds and top ends at 187 mph, but costs $235,000.
3. Tesla Model X P100D-fully electric, 603 hp, 713 lb-ft torque, takes it from 0-60 in just 2.9 seconds (quicker than a Corvette Z06), and costs $138,800.
2. Yet another Mercedes, the AMG G65-621 hp, 738 lb-ft torque, with a 6.0-liter twin-turbo V12, but a heavy 5,924-pounds, so it only does 0-60 in 5.3 seconds and top ends only at 143 mph, which costs $220,700.
1. Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk-(I actually tried to find one to test drive, unsuccessfully) 707 hp, 645-lb-ft torque, 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V8, which takes the heavyish (5,300-pounds) most powerful SUV ever made 0-60 in just 3.5 seconds, topping out at 180 mph, and costing a mere $86,995. That’s still a lot, but it’s the least on the list.
Health News:
Starbucks may be losing a steam, as it announced last night that it will be closing 150 stores next year. Its CEO recently stepped down and last month, the chain closed all 8,000 stores to re-train employees to be more sensitive to customers and to deal with prejudice. While we are on restaurants, how can we not talk about the bizarre 180-degree shift by International House of Pancakes (IHOP), which has specialized in several different flavors of pancakes for decades. They recently announced and just started advertising on TV that they are changing the name to IHOB, with the ‘B’ standing for ‘burgers’. A Tennessee couple has adopted an embryo from 1992, which was finally just born, making the adoptive mother only 18 months older than the embryo. That’s odd. Don’t touch the plant, giant hogweed! The weed can cause 3rd degree burns, blisters, scars, and blindness. The sap from the plan can also make skin extremely sensitive to the sun. It is originally from the Caucasus region, between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, where Europe and Asia come together. It was introduced in the US as an ornamental garden plant, as it has white flower head which can reach two-and-a half feet in diameter. At least 30 plants have been found for the first time in Virginia, in Clarke County. I was watching an ad for MBC (Metatastic Breast Cancer) and I wondered when did health issues suddenly become all acronyms? I remember my Dad had emphysema, but that’s now called COPD. Some guys have ED, or at least that’s what all the spam emails are about. Even longtime recognized illnesses like Multiple Sclerosis and Muscular Dystrophy are now better known by their acronyms MS and MD. I keep seeing ads for IBS. Maybe it started with STDs, somehow hiding behind an acronym. I don’t know, I was just pondering it. Consumer Reports has ranked the best mattresses (where you spend about 1/3rd of your life) from researching 116 different models, from $400-$4400. Casper mattress can be ordered online flat and inflated, basically a bed in a box. I just read a report that party dips could spread herpes? Clearly, there’s some double-dipping going on. New studies of classroom attendance patterns in undergraduate students have shown that attendance and performance among students go hand in hand. In other words, good attendance equals good grades. A new combo malaria vaccine cut cases by 91%. In opiod overdoses, methadone and buprenorphine are being used. Methadone was the standard treatement for heroin overdoses, I heard, back in the day. Gene mutations have recently been linked to pancreatic cancer. New ‘smart stents’ have the ability to detect narrowing of arteries for surgeons. Scientists have identified novel genes associated with a specific form of infantile schizophrenia. A new study suggests that breast cancer could be prevented by targeting epigenetic proteins. Researchers are now looking at the common fruit fly (like I did in school) for the way they deploy a protein that plays a critical role in their immune responses to invading bacteria. A new study suggests that deep-sea marine sponges may hold a key to antibiotic drug resistance. Low vitamin D levels have been associated with scarring lung disease. Scientists have recently designed the first neurosurgical robot system capable of performing bilateral stereotactic neurosurgery inside an MRI. A new study suggests that hypnosis may help reduce fear of cancer treatment in children. How are those New Years’ Resolutions going? Well, an analysis of small molecules called ‘metabolites’ in a blood sample may be used to determine whether someone is following a prescribed diet.
Animal News:
On today’s Today Show, experts explained that if a service dog comes up to you without an owner, it is seeking help. You can say ‘what?’ or ‘where?’ and the dog will lead you to their owner, who is likely in distress. This behavior was highlighted by a post yesterday on social media, in which a woman who was approached by a service dog, shooed the dog away, not understanding the implications. Unfortunately, service dogs are typically trained to seek out the nearest human and don’t necessarily make the best choice of human and usually don’t know to go to a second human, if the first refuses to respond. Anglers in Stuart, FL yesterday photographed a large great white shark near their boat. They estimated the shark was at least 15-feet-long. On Saturday, a central Indonesian woman was swallowed whole by a 23-foot-long python. Meanwhile, an Indian forest ranger posing for a selfie with a python was nearly strangled by the 90-pound creature, in West Benghal. He was called to a school in Sahebbari on Sunday, when the huge 30-foot Indian rock python swallowed a goat alive near the school. Rescuers attempting to rescue a pit bull swimming in a river in Tampa, FL, were shocked to discover a large creature behind the scared dog, which was trying to scale a high wall to get out of the river. The rescuers had to call in a police Marine Patrol Unit to see if they could help the struggling dog. The large creature floating behind the dog was not an alligator, but a huge manatee, which seemed to be keeping a watchful eye on the dog to make sure it made it back to safety. When are they going to stop using/abusing animals in circuses? A brown bear forced to ride a skateboard in a Russian circus, jumped off the skateboard and attacked the circus handler, who was beating it with a stick, right in front of the live audience. The handler survived, as two other handlers beat the bear with their sticks and dragged the handler away. The crowd sat just feet away without any barrier. A bizarre deep-sea creature washed up on a Texas beach, Padre Island National Seashore in Corpus Christi last week. Authorities finally determined that the creature was a thick-tailed batfish.
Entertainment News:
Comedian, Tiffany Haddish, claims that she propositioned Leonardo DiCaprio, but he turned her down. Michael J. Fox is joining the hit ABC show, Designated Survivor, for at least 6 episodes. 20-year-old, controversial rapper, XXXTentacion was left with “no pulse” after being shot in Miami. It has recently been revealed that SOUND OF MUSIC, one of the greatest films of all time, about a real Von Trapp family, featured stars Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews as partners, yet the two couldn’t stand to be around each other. Christopher Plummer, instead, had an intense affair with the young actress, Charmian Carr, who played his daughter Liesl in the movie. After 10 years at No.1, CBS has been unseated as the most watched television network. Melrose Place actress Heather Locklear has been hospitalized after threatening to kill herself. Michael Oher, who now plays for BLIND SIDE, which was about him. Ursula Andress, the very first of the original James Bond women, is now 82. Workers at the print newspaper, Washington Post, are demanding a raise. Norman Pearlstine has been named top LA Times editor. Okay, I’ve been skimming America’s Got Talent and saw that amazing performance of Janis Joplin by the 13-year-old shy girl from England, wow!!!! It was similar to how Susan Boyle wowed the British version of the show, X Factor, when she sang a song from Les Miserables. It was amazing! I also caught a piece of the new show, Four, yet another musical talent show, hosted by Fergie (who I still haven’t forgiven for her awful rendition of the National Anthem), 50 Cent, and others. The woman who lost was so un-gracious and petty in loss, that it completely turned me off of the show. I have been too busy lately to catch up on Below Deck: Mediteranean, unfortunately, but I love that show. I have been struggling through Southern Charm and that new girl has to go! I have also struggled with Ryan’s Sell Like Ryan show, especially as I am suddenly an unemployed salesman for only the second time in my almost 36-year career in the Securities Financing business. Of course, it’s very different and I have several potential opportunities, yet…I feel their pain. I’m enjoying Million Dollar Listing New York again. For some reason, probably baseball or work stuff, I haven’t caught up on any of the other non-reality series, like Shades of Blue, which is back for its final season. I just saw Ray Liotta on a quitting-smoking ad, which I thought was VERY appropriate. I think he smokes in every single movie I’ve seen him in and in Shades of Blue. Gwyneth Paltrow is marrying Brad Falchuk at her Hamptons home. Disney is said to be near US approval on $71 billion Fox assets purchase, which would be a blow to Comcast.
At the box-office this past weekend, things were rocking: animated INCREDIBLES 2 opened with a (animated record) $182.7 million box-office; OCEAN’S 8 was knocked out of No.1 down to No.2, with $19 million in its second week; TAG debuted at No.3, with $14.9 million at the box-office; SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY fell from No.2 to No.4, with just $10 million (still, it has made a total of $193.8 million) in its 4th week; and DEADPOOL 2 fell from No.3 to No.5, with just $8.7 million, it its 5th week. SUPERFLY had a strong debut at No.6 with $6.9 million. GOTTI debuted at No.11 and RACE 3 debuted at No.12.
Technology & Space News:
The President today said he was ordering the establishment of a sixth branch of the military to clear the way for American dominance of the final frontier, space. Amazon’s Bezos is now worth $141.9 billion. To put that in perspective, he is now $49 billion ahead of Bill Gates and $60 billion ahead of Warren Buffett, not that it’s a competition though. Bezos is under fire from nearly twenty groups of Amazon shareholders to stop selling facial recognition real-time face-tracking software, Rekognition, to police. The Supreme Court has now taken on the Apple antitrust case, regarding its App Store. TRONC is abandoning its name. Tesla’s Elon Musk emailed his employees Sunday night alleging “extensive and damaging sabotage” by an employee. He claimed that the employee tweaked code on internal products and sent company data out without authorization. This is interesting, 4 in 10 Americans have deleted social media in the past year. The White House is aiming at reducing satellite clutter in space. Google has reportedly created an AI model that predicts if a a hospital patient will pass away 24 hours after admission. A mysterious Mars rock formation from the 1960s has finally been explained by NASA. They said it was likely caused by volcanic activity on the planet billions of years ago. Hey, what about the snow on Mars? Apple CEO Tim Cook recently announced his company’s intentions to make a major capital investment in a heartland state.
Political News:
President Trump reiterated that the United States would not become a “migrant camp”, continuing to talk tough on illegal immigrants. Meanwhile, Michelle Obama lashed out on the policy of separating immigrant children from their families at the border. In the meantime, President Trump has escalated his fight with sanctuary cities, asking the Supreme Court to narrow a lower court’s order preventing the federal government from denying grants to those cities. The newest weekly Gallup poll shows that President Trump’s presidential job approval has tied its highest rating for his presidency. A Massachusetts court has struck down a “millionaire tax” ballot question. Peter Strzok, under fire over anti-Trump texts, has been escorted from the FBI building.
US News:
Quietly, the iconic retailer, Sears has been closing 72 stores, as its sales have tumbled. Revenues dropped more than 30% for the quarter to $2.9 billion. Sears has already closed 166 stores earlier this year. Sears also hinted as more closures to come. 100 years of data on names in America has revealed that the most common male name has been James and the most popular female name has been Mary. Runnerup names have been John and Patricia. Police are investigating another mysterious explosion in Bucks County, PA, after a tractor cutting grass struck an explosive device. The worker was not hurt and there was no damage to the tractor. Police say that more than 20 explosions during the early-morning hours are the reason for the booms happening in the area since 4/2. A study shows that millenials are the cheapest of any generation when it comes to tipping. A man who tried to seduce teen boy with Sprite and chicken Alfredo has been sentenced. A “hurricane-proof” home is selling for $4.9 million in South Carolina. A Chick-fil-A worker chased a customer who forgot his sandwich in the drive-thru, dodging traffic to get to the motorist. An unhappy nail salon customer dragged worker across a lot with BMW, according to NY police.
International News:
Spain is removing dictator Francisco Franco’s remains from its mausoleum. Israel has arrested former government minister for Iran for spying. The Chinese government allegedly has found a new form of leverage, reportedly last year preventing several US citizens from leaving China, including a pregnant woman, according to email correspondence obtained the The Daily Beast. 300 migrants who were taken in by Spain, after Italy and Malta turned away their rescue ship, have immediately asked for asylum in France. North Korea is sending the US remains of up to 200 American service members from the Korean War, according to US officials. Kim Jong Un visited China again following summit with Trump.
If you are coming down to Florida soon, you missed my rare solo concert on 6/8 (Friday) at Zuccarellis Restaurant in West Palm Beach, 7-10pm, Elvis Unplugged, where I sang over 3 hours of just Elvis songs. I had to change my outfit 3 times, as I was singing outdoors in the 90-degree heat and humidity. If you were here on 6/17 (Sunday), as Bob Manning was, you saw me sing with my 5-part harmony group, Generation Gap, at Cucina Cabana in North Palm Beach, 1-3-pm, Gospel Brunch, where I featured 12 Elvis Gospel and non-Gospel songs. Bill Powers was surprisingly n the audience, as were a number of other Trump organization people, so I think the videos went out to some 187,000 Facebook supporters.
But, if you are more interested in seeing the more professional musicians, there are many coming to Florida, perhaps when you will be visiting:
Maroon 5 & Julia Michaels-Sunrise, June 17
Styx and Joan Jett-Tampa, June 17
Luke Bryan, Jon Pardi & Morgan Wallen-West Palm Beach, June 21
Hall & Oates with Train-Sunrise, June 24
Charlie Daniels Band-Hollywood, FL, July 3
Barenaked Ladies, Better Than Ezra & KT Tunstall-St. Augustine, July 6
Erasure-St. Petersburg, July 7
Sam Smith-Miami, July 14
KC and the Sunshine Band-Hollywood, FL, July 20
Chicago & REO Speedwagon-West Palm Beach, July 20
Steve Miller Band and Peter Frampton-Hollywood, July 21
Rascal Flatts, Dan and Shay & Carly Pearce-West Palm Beach, July 21
Rod Stewart & Cyndi Lauper-Hollywood-July 24
Smashing Pumpkins-Miami-July 24
Sugarland, Frankie Ballard & Lindsay Eli-Pensacola-July 26
Don McLean-Ponte Vedra Beach-July 27
Britney Spears-Hollywood-July 27-29
Dave Matthews Band-West Palm Beach-July 28
Miranda Lambert & Little Big Town-West Palm Beach,-August 4
Pentatonix-West Palm Beach-August 7
Imagine Dragons-West Palm Beach, August 9
Shakira-Sunrise-August 15
Def Leppard & Journey-Sunrise, August 17
Shakira-Miami, August 17-18
Taylor Swift-Miami, August 18
Lindsey Stirling & Evanescence-Jacksonville, August 20
Jeff Beck, Paul Rodgers & Ann Wilson-West Palm Beach, August 25
Paul Simons-Sunrise, September 8
Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker & Russell Dickerson-West Palm Beach, September 29
Ed Sheeran-Tampa, November 7
Willie Nelson-Estero, November 12
Elton John-Sunrise, November 23 (I’m there)
Elton John-Miami, November 24
Fleetwood Mac-Sunrise, February 20
Elton John-Sunrise, March 16
Photo Gallery:

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