Repo Commentary-1/08/2019

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Happy New Year, everyone!

Okay, it’s time to focus back on work and the markets.

I announced in my 12/24/18 Repo Commentary that I am honored to have been selected to be the Chairman of the upcoming 25th (Silver Anniversary) IMN Beneficial Owners’ International Securities Finance & Collateral Management Conference 2/5-2/6 in Fort Lauderdale and to add my touch to make it fresh again. We are already shaking it up and including many more sectors of clients to participate, including pension funds, municipalities, money funds, hedge funds, asset managers, and GSEs. The focuses will be on alternative repo efforts, fintech, repo reinvestment AND securities lending, and women in the securities financing industry (although not necessarily in that order). I hope to see all of you there and I’ll be reaching out to many of you to participate, as it is less than a month away! I am very interested in adding 3 hedge fund panelists and a prime broker to a panel being moderated by a large Pension Plan, to discuss the demands in the hedge fund industry for borrowing securities from third-party lenders and their beneficial owners (like Pension Plans).

I was just informed that ISF Magazine put out an article on my Chairing the conference this morning on their website with a nice bio. Thank yuh very much!

My Repo Commentary is posted on my website: http://www.repocommentary.com. It also pops up on LinkedIn, the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website, and on CentralBanks.com as an op-ed.

If you need to reach me, my cell is still 646-753-1300, my email for work is jeffkidwell82@gmail.com, and you can also hit me up on LinkedIn.

Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my former firms 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 boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. 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.

01/08 Holidays or Events:

• Argyle Day
• Bubble Bath Day
• Earth’s Rotation Day
• National English Toffee Day
• National JoyGerm Day
• National Man Watcher’s Day
• National Poetry at Work Day
• Show and Tell Day at Work Day
• National Winter Skin Relief Day
• National Shop for Travel Day
• War on Poverty Day
• World Typing Day
• Midwife’s Day or Women’s Day
• Commonwealth Day in Northern Mariana Islands

I swear this is just a coincidence that I decided to write a Repo Commentary on what would have been Elvis Aaron Presley’s 84th Birthday and I happen to be an Elvis Tribute Artist since 1989. Pure coincidence! Elvis was born as a twin, with his brother Aaron dying during childbirth. You probably know that he was in 31 movies, has 711 recorded songs, sung nearly every genre from Gospel to Soul to Folk to Rock to Rock-a-billy to Opera to Country to Funk to Holiday, etc., had 18 No.1 hits (tying him with Madonna for the most), had 58 Gold or Platinum Records, and died at age 42 after accomplishing so much.

But, I just found out yesterday myself, from a very close musician friend who was in Gypsy Kings and was the lead guitarist for Jose Feliciano, that Elvis’s mother, Gladys, who he dearly loved, came from the Romani Smiths and the German Presslers, and when Roma first entered America, in fear of persecution, they called themselves the Black Dutch. So, Elvis has Gypsy blood in him on his mother’s side, which would explain his love for dance, his charm, his looks, his originality, and his Gypsy soul. It turns out that there have been many famous celebrities of Gypsy Romani blood, including actor Michael Caine, Charlie Chaplin, actor Yul Brynner, actor Bob Hoskins, painter Pablo Picasso, and Rita Hayworth.

Here are 6 other facts that you probably didn’t know about Elvis Presley:
• He failed his music class at Humes High School, but became the first person in his family to graduate high school, in 1953.
• Elvis had sandy blonde hair, which he began dyeing black in his late teens. Originally, he died it with black shoe polish, but when he came into stardom, began using a combination of Mink Brown by Paramount and Miss Clairol 51D Black Velvet.
• Elvis was only 22-years-old when he purchased Graceland, his Memphis mansion, for $102,500.
• During his lifetime, heavy-handed manager, Colonel Parker, allowed Elvis to only make one commercial endorsement, which was a 1954 ad for Southern Donuts. His close friend, Johnny Cash, also endorsed the donuts.
• Despite worldwide acclaim and global satellite-relayed concerts, like the Aloha Concert in 1973, Elvis never performed outside of the US during his career. The reason was that Colonel Parker wouldn’t allow him to, as Parker was afraid that he himself would not be allowed back into the US, as he was not a legal resident.
• The members of Led Zeppelin were huge Elvis fans and finally got to meet him in 1973 in Los Angeles. Bassist John Paul Jones and the rest of the band were speechless, so he complimented Elvis on his watch. Elvis responded by giving Jones the $5,000 watch and trading it for Jones’ watch, which was a Mickey Mouse watch that sold for about $5.

Some Famous People Born 01/08 in History:

• 1037-Su Dongpo, Chinese calligrapher and poet
• 1360-Ulrich von Jungingen, German Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights
• 1587-Johannes Fabricius, German astronomer and academic
• 1589-Ivan Gundulic, Croatian poet and playwright
• 1638-Elisabetta Sirani, Italian painter
• 1680-Sebastiano Conca, Italian painter
• 1735-John Carroll, American archbishop, founder of Georgetown University
• 1786-Nicholas Biddle, American banker
• 1792-Lowell Mason, American composer and educator
• 1812-Sigismond Thalberg, Swiss pianist and composer
• 1823-Alfed Russel Wallace, Welsh-English geographer, biologist, explorer
• 1824-Wilkie Collins, English novelist, playwright
• 1824-Francisco Gonzalez Bocanegra, Mexican poet and composer
• 1830-Hans von Bulow, German pianist and composer
• 1852-James Milton Carroll, American pastor and author
• 1854-Fanny Bullock Workman, American mountaineer, geographer, and cartographer
• 1860-Emma Booth, English author
• 1862-Frank Nelson Doubleday, American publisher
• 1865-Winnaretta Singer, American philanthropist
• 1867-Emily Greene Balch, American economist and author, Nobel Prize laureate
• 1879-Charles Bryant, English-American actor and director
• 1883-Pavel Filonov, Russian painter and poet
• 1885-John Curtin, Australian journalist and politician, PM
• 1891-Walther Bothe, German physicist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate
• 1894-Maximillian Kolbe, Polish martyr and saint
• 1896-Arthur Ford, American psychic, founded the Spiritual Frontiers Fellowship
• 1897-Dennis Wheatley, English soldier and author
• 1900-Merlyn Myer, Australian philanthropist
• 1904-Tampa Red, American guitarist and songwriter
• 1908-William Hartnell, English actor
• 1909-Ashapoorna Devi, Indian author and poet
• 1909-Evelyn Wood, American author and educator, founder of speed reading
• 1911-Gypsy Rose Lee, American actress, dancer, and author
• 1912-Jose Ferrer, Puerto Rican-American actor and director
• 1915-Walker Cooper, American baseball
• 1917-Peter Matthew Hillsman Taylor, American novelist and playwright
• 1920-Richard Benedict, American actor and director
• 1923-Larry Storch, American actor and comedian
• 1923-Giorgio Tozzi, American opera singer and actor
• 1923-Johnny Wardle, English cricketer
• 1924-Ron Moody, English actor and singer
• 1925-Mohan Rakesh, Indian author and playwright
• 1926-Hanae Mori, Japanese fashion designer
• 1926-Soupy Sales, American comedian and actor
• 1928-Luther Perkins, American country guitarist
• 1933-Charles Osgood, American soldier and journalist
• 1934-Gene Freese, American baseball player and manager
• 1934-Roy Kinnear, British actor
• 1935-Lewis H. Lapham, American publisher
• 1935-Elvis Presley, American singer, guitarist, and actor
• 1937-Shirley Bassey, Welsh singer
• 1938-Bob Eubanks, American game show host and producer
• 1939-Carolina Herrera, Venezuelan-American fashion designer
• 1940-Cristy Lane, American country and gospel singer
• 1942-Stephen Hawking, English physicist, futurist, and author
• 1946-Robby Krieger, American guitarist and songwriter
• 1947-David Bowie, English singer, songwriter, producer, and actor
• 1953-Bruce Sutter, American baseball player
• 1955-Mike Reno, Canadian singer and drummer
• 1959-Mike Harwood, Australian golfer
• 1959-Paul Hester, Australian drummer
• 1967-R. Kelly, American singer-songwriter, record producer, and former pro basketball player
• 1970-Rachel Friend, Australian actress and journalist
• 1971-Jason Giambi, American baseball player
• 1972-Paul Clement, English footballer, coach, and manager
• 1972-Giuseppe Favalli, Italian footballer
• 1973-Mike Cameron, American baseball player
• 1973-Henning Solberg, Norwegian race car driver
• 1973-Jason Stevens, Australian rugby league player and sportscaster
• 1976-Carl Pavano, American baseball player
• 1979-Sarah Polley, Canadian actress, director, and screenwriter
• 1982-Gaby Hoffmann, American actress
• 1984-Kim Jong-un, North Korean Supreme Leader
• 1986-David Silva, Spanish footballer
• 1992-Koke, Spanish footballer
• 2000-Noah Cyrus, American actress and singer

This Day in History (01/08):

• 307-Jin Huidi, Chinese emperor of the Jin Dynasty, is poisoned and succeeded by Jin Huaidi.
• 387-Siyaj K’ak’ conquers Waka.
• 871-Alfred the Great leads a West Saxon army to repel an invasion by Danelaw Vikings.
• 1297-Francois Grimaldi, disguised as a monk, lead his men to capture the fortress protecting the Rock of Monaco, establishing his family as the rulers of Monaco.
• 1454-the papal bull Romanus Pontifex awards the Kingdom of Portugal exclusive trade and colonization rights to all of Africa south of Cape Bojador.
• 1499-Louis XII of France marries Anne of Brittany in accordance with a law set by his predecessor, Charles VIII.
• 1547-the first Lithuanian-language book, “Simple Words of Catechism”, is published in Konigsberg.
• 1735-premiere performance of George Frideric Handel’s “Ariodante” at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
• 1746-in the Second Jacobite rising: Bonnie Prince Charlie occupies Stirling.
• 1790-George Washington delivers the first State of the Union address in NYC.
• 1806-Cape Colony becomes a British colony.
• 1811-an unsuccessful slave revolt is led by Charles Deslondes in St. Charles and St. James, Louisiana.
• 1815-in the War of 1812: Battle of New Orleans-Andrew Jackson leads American forces in victory over the British.
• 1816-Sophie Germain wins the Paris Academy of Sciences’ Grand Prize for her mathematical work on Elasticity (physics).
• 1828-the Democratic Party of the United States is organized.
• 1835-the United States national debt is zero for the only time.
• 1863-American Civil War: Second Battle of Springfield.
• 1867-African American men are granted the right to vote in Washington, D.C.
• 1877-Crazy Horse and his warriors fight their last battle against the United States Cavalry at Wolf Mountain, Montana Territory.
• 1889-Herman Hollerith is issued US patent #395,791 for the “Art of Applying Statistics”-his punched card calculator.
• 1904-the Blackstone Library is dedicated, marking the beginning of the Chicago Public Library system.
• 1912-the African National Congress is founded.
• 1918-US President Woodrow Wilson announces his “Fourteen Points” for the aftermath of WWI.
• 1920-the steel strike of 1919 ends in a complete failure for the Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel and Tin Workers labor union.
• 1925-the All-Woman Supreme Court met for the first time in Texas, the first all-female supreme court in the history of the US.
• 1926-Crown Prince Nguyen Phuc Vinh Thuy ascends to the throne, the last monarch of Vietnam.
• 1926-Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud was crowned King of Hejaz.
• 1936-Kashf-e hijab decree is enforced by Reza Shah ordering the police to physically remove the Hijab from any woman in public.
• 1940-WWII: Britain introduces food rationing.
• 1945-WWII: Philippine Commonwealth troops under the Philippine Commonwealth Army units enter the province of Ilocos Sur in Northern Luzon and attack Japanese Imperial forces.
• 1956-Operation Auca: five US missionaries are killed by the Huarorani of Ecuador shortly after making contact with them.
• 1961-in France, a referendum supports Charles de Gaulle’s policies in Algeria.
• 1963-Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is exhibited in the US for the first time, at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
• 1964-President Lyndon B. Johnson declares a “War of Poverty” in the United States.
• 1972-bowing to international pressure, President of Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto releases Bengali leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman from prison, who had been arrested after declaring the independence of Bangladesh.
• 1973-Soviet space mission Luna 21 is launched.
• 1973-Watergate scandal: the trial of 7 men accused of illegal entry into Democratic Party headquarters at Watergate begins.
• 1975-Ella T. Grasso becomes Governor of Connecticut, the first woman to serve as a Governor in the US other than by succeeding her husband.
• 1977-three bombs explode in Moscow, Russia, Soviet Union, within 37 minutes, killing seven. The bombings were attributed to an Armenian separatist group.
• 1979-Password Plus debuts on NBC.
• 1981-a local farmer reports a UFO sighting in Trans-en-Provence, France, claimed to be “perhaps the most completely and carefully documented sighting of all time.”
• 1982-the Breakup of the Bell System: AT&T agrees to divest itself of 22 subdivisions.
• 1989-Kegworth air disaster: British Midland Flight 92, a Boeing 737-400 crashes into the M1 motorway, killing 47 of the 126 people on board.
• 1994-Russian cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov on Soyuz TM-18 leaves for Mir. He would stay on the space station until March 22, 1995, for a record 437 days in space.
• 1996-an Anotove An-32 cargo aircraft crashes into a crowded market in Kinshasa, Zaire, killing up to 223 on the ground and two of six crew members.
• 2002-President George W. Bush signs into law the No Child Left Behind Act.
• 2003-Turkish Airlines Flight 634 crashes near Diyarbakir Airport, Turkey, killing the entire crew and 70 of the 75 passengers.
• 2003-Air Midwest Flight 5481 crashes at Charlotte-Douglas Airport, Charlotte, NC, killing all 21 people on board.
• 2004-the RMS Queen Mary 2, the largest ocean liner ever built, is christened by her namesake’s granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II.
• 2005-the nuclear sub USS San Francisco collides at full speed with an undersea mountain south of Guam, killing one man. The sub surfaces and is repaired.
• 2009-a 6.1-magnitude earthquake in northern Costa Rica kills 15 people and injures 32.
• 2010-gunmen from an offshoot the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda attack a bus carrying the Togo national football team on its way to the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, killing three.
• 2011-the attempted assassination of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and subsequent shooting in Casas Adobes, AZ, in which 5 people were shot dead.
• 2016-Joaquin Guzman, widely regarded as the world’s most powerful drug trafficker, is recaptured following his escape from a maximum security prison in Mexico.

Fun Fact of the Day:

In 2007, Mark Zuckerberg commissioned American street artist, David Choe, to paint murals for their office. Although he thought the Facebook business model was “ridiculous and pointless,” Choe, an avid gambler, chose to receive stock in lieu of cash. His shares of stock were valued at $200 million by the time of Facebook’s IPO in 2012.

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“There are only two occasions when Americans respect privacy, especially in Presidents. Those are prayer and fishing.”—President Herbert Hoover

International and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices on 10/5 closed at $74.34/barrel, $47.66/barrel on 12/23, and $48.63 yesterday (01/07). Although up about $1/barrel since Christmas, it still remains very low. The price of gasoline at my new West Palm Beach station, which was $2.02/gallon on 12/24, versus 10/5’s $2.77/gallon, was $1.86/gallon on 01/07! The USD has been taking a beating versus other currencies, due to the budget impasse and current US government shutdown. versus the Yen was trading at $112.20 on 12/24, but now is $108.60, much weaker. The USD was at $1.1426 versus the Euro on 12/24, but yesterday was at $1.1478, a bit stronger. The USD was at $1.2655 against the British Pound on 12/24, but now is at $1.2770, weaker. The USD versus the CAD was $1.3442 on 12/24, and is now at $1.3297, weaker. Gold closed 10/5 at $1204.10/ounce, 12/24 at $1256.70/ounce, and yesterday (01/07) at $1288.85/ounce, reflecting the continued uncertainty of the markets and flight to gold. Bitcoin was trading at $8,185.21 on 7/25, at $6,350 on 10/5, and $3,774.97 on 12/24. Now, it is at $4,109.96. and was still above the magic $6000 figure at $6,350 on 10/5. Well, that apparently has broken through, trading yesterday at $3,7774.97. Litecoin founder is stoking a debate over ‘Bitcoin Extremists’ Tweets. UK Crypto Exchange Coinfloor will launch trading of physically delivered Bitcoin Futures. Somehow, that strikes me as ironic. Argentina says the NEM Foundation will develop a blockchain-powered copyright system for journalists. In India, a fourth suspect has been arrested following an alleged $71.6 million crypto scam. A Paris “Treasure Hunt” has a Bitcoin prize worth $1000 up for grabs in a wall mural. A Hong Kong entrepreneur has been accused of cheating investors in a crypto mining investment scheme. The CEO of Epic Games, which owns Fortnite, said the Fortnite store’s acceptance of altcoin Monero was accidental. Japan is gauging interest in a Bitcoin ETF. Nevada has issued almost 1,000 digital Marriage Certificates on Ethereum, proactively using blockchain technology, but government acceptance varies across different agencies. In 2017, Nevada became the first state to exempt blockchain transactions from tax obligations. Yesterday, cryptocurrency hardware wallet firm, Ledger, unveiled a new Bluetooth-based wallet. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security reportedly raided the office of a Michigan-based science and tech center last month during a crypto-related investigation.

Global Financial News:

Although the newly sworn-in, Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, agreed on a new US budget last week, the stalemate between President Trump and the Republican Party versus the congressional democrats has continued into its 17th day, making this the 3rd-longest government shutdown in US history (so far). Congress is out of session until today (01/08). President Trump said he was prepared to continue the partial government shutdown for “months or even years” over a spending package to fund 9 government agencies, unless he gets more than $5 billion toward the construction of a barrier wall along the U.S. and Mexico border. President Trump also says that he now wants a “steel barrier”, rather than the concrete wall he had been asking for. Ironically, the Office of Management and Budget, on Sunday, said that the amount of money requested to build such a steel barrier would only fund about 234 miles of the nearly 2,000-mile border. President Trump confirmed to reporters in the Rose Garden on Friday that he had considered using extraordinary powers of the Presidency, such as declaring a national emergency, to redirect money for the Defense Department to the wall construction. As the shutdown drags on, more than 420,000 employees are working without a paycheck and 380,000 more have been furloughed from their departments, including NASA, FDA and the Commerce Department. These numbers do not include the 4.1 million government contractors (2017 figure), who also are impacted. Citadel is expanding its real estate in Park Avenue office tower, per the NY Post. Neiman Marcus settled their 2013 data breach case that affected thousands of customers for $1.5 million. Negotiators have decided to extend the US-Chinese trade talks for a third day. There is reportedly some progress in the talks, which is helping rally global stocks. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon sees the US economy slowing, but recession not looming. Federal Reserve’s December FOMC meeting minutes will be released today and heavily scrutinized. US Banks are beginning to issue contactless cards, which are common in other parts of the world. JPMorgan Chase says all its credit and debit cards will be contactless by year-end. Russell 2000 small-cap index is expected to see growth of nearly 16% in Q1 2019, compared with the same period last year, far ahead of S&P 500, according to data by Refinitiv and reported by WSJ. The index had a major, perhaps indiscriminate, pullback in December. It’s all the non-humans’ fault! Well, at least, that’s what an FT article purports, in saying that high-frequency trading without human intervention and perspective exacerbates market volatility, according to its active managers. JPMorgan Chase says that only about 10% of US trades are executed traditionally. World Bank says that India will remain the fastest-growing economy. GDP is forecast to expand 7.3% during this fiscal year and 7.5% in the following year, per its Global Economic Prospects report. After 2 years of significant catastrophic weather events in the US, investor appetite for catastrophe bonds appears to be waning, per the WSJ. The Supreme Court’s view on the Emulex case could set new M&A standards.

US Market News:

The Dow Jones closed at 26,656.77 on 9/20, closed at 26,447.05 on 10/5, and closed at 21,792.20 on 12/23. The slide continued, after I wrote the last Repo Commentary and as the US Government went into shutdown and the FOMC raised the Fed Funds target rate, hitting a low of 21,712.53 on 12/26. Since then, there have been some startling rebounds. On 12/27, it closed at 23,138.82, up the most I’ve ever seen it. It closed yesterday 1/7 at about 23,530, sort of finding some equilibrium. As I write this though, I see that the Dow is up 260 points today (1/8), Nasdaq is up 65 points today (1/8), and S&P 500 is up 20 points today (1/8). S&P 500 also gave up its all-time high on 9/20 of 2,930.66, closing on 10/5 at 2,885.58, then on 12/26 at 2,467.70, in bear market territory. Yet, as of yesterday, 1/7, it had rebounded to 2,549.69 close. Nasdaq too gave up its 8/28 high of 8,030.04, closing 10/5 at 7,788.45, then 12/26 at 6,554.36. Yet, as of yesterday (1/7), it too had rebounded to close at 6,823.47. US Treasury yields had gotten much higher on 9/20, in advance of the 9/26 FOMC meeting, rose still higher after the meeting and then plummeted with the drop in Equities, and have continued to drop and even invert since. On 10/5, 2years closed at 2.88%, closed 12/18 at 2.65%, and closed yesterday at 2.53%; on 10/5, 3years closed at 2.99%, closed on 12/18 at 2.64%, and closed yesterday at 2.47% (inverted to 2years); on 10/5, 5years closed at 3.07%, closed on 12/18 at 2.65%, and closed yesterday at 2.49%; on 10/5, 7years closed at 3.18%, closed at 2.74% on 12/18, and closed yesterday at 2.60%; on 10/5, 10years closed at 3.23%, closed at 2.82% on 12/18, and just closed yesterday at 2.70%; and on 10/5, 30years closed at 3.40%, closed at 3.07% on 12/18, and just closed yesterday at 2.99%. I can’t believe how flat the curve is now with 2years-30years at 46bp.

Housing News:

By all measurements, the housing market cooled in 2018, and 2019 looks like it may be a difficult year for both buyers and sellers, according to analysts. Most analysts are predicting higher interest rates (although as we just saw above with Treasury yields, they have dramatically dropped since October, some down nearly ½%) and higher home prices, mainly because of less supply and higher labor and material costs. Both of those would be difficult for the housing market, but expected continued economic growth and increase in employment are supposed to prop up demand. I guess, if the housing market gets too unpredictable, that probably helps the renovation of existing homes and the various industries that support that. Analysts say, despite the delay following the Great Recession, the Millenials are now the biggest homebuyer group, particularly for entry-level homes, although supply is very limited. One thing homebuyers should be considering, says the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is that they have a total debt-to-income ratio below 43%, when all is said and done. I think one thing to watch is the continued move from ownership to renting, houses and condos, as home price increases are likely to advance faster than wage growth. As 2018 ends, with lower existing and new home sales, as well as home prices, analysts still see the slowdown stopping short of a crash. Figures released Wednesday by the US Census Bureau show that almost 2.5 million people have moved to the state of Florida since 2010, up 13.3% in population. Florida remains the country’s 3rd most populous state. Florida’s growth rate in the last year was 1.5%, only surpassed by Nevada, Idaho, Utah, and Arizona.

Repo News:  

When I last wrote before Christmas, the repo market was showing resilience after yet another Fed tightening, with GC Overnight trading well-below the expected 2.60% rate, probably due to some GSE cash still being in the system. At the time, we were heading into year-end and were seeing some minor year-end balance sheet and funding pressures. Scott Skyrm saw the Turn at the time as 12/31-1/2 at 3.10%/3.00%.

Well, things didn’t TURN out that way at all. Liquidity, which everyone said was in abundance, shriveled up. Somehow, it shriveled up BOTH ways. Broker/dealers had difficulty financing and the O/N GC rate went north of 6.00%, and collateral providers struggled to find balance sheet at broker/dealers. But, somehow, at the same time, cash providers couldn’t find enough collateral at the broker/dealers and were forced to absorb rates that were so low, hundreds of bp away from 6.00%, that they actually went to the Fed’s dormant RRP program (averaging $11 billion and frequently near zero) and took down a hefty $43 billion at sub-repo rates. We haven’t seen such a disjointed year-end in years. And, it’s ironic that it came right after the regulators and the media went on about how liquidity had returned to the Repo market and everything was fine now.

Remember, on 12/24, I wrote this in the Repo Commentary, which now is prescient of what happened at year-end, and possibly what now actually exists:

“I will say that I saw a provocative piece by my old friend, Steve Malekian, regarding Liquidity Assumptions in the Repo Market. I have been seeing several articles about how 10 years now from the events of the Financial Crisis or Great Recession, we have now returned to some kind of ‘normalcy’. The banks are much better capitalized, forced to be so by over 300 regulations slapped on them and forced deleveraging to all market participants. Many people have been remarking how liquidity has returned to the market and is in abundant supply now. Now, I don’t know about you, but I see deleveraging and increased liquidity as an issue in semantics and timing. If you force people to slash their use of liquidity by as much as 60%, and it is still technically there, then there’s sort of more liquidity.

On the counterparty credit risk side, regulators certainly got things more transparent and eased questions about bank solvency, although the ‘too big to fail’ thing still lurks. There are less participants and the larger ones have crowded out some of the smaller ones. But, at what price was counterparty credit risk at banks reduced? Concentrating that risk into one, two, or three CCPs, may have reduced one counterparty credit risk, just to increase credit risk and concentration risk among only a few institutions. I remember one of the smartest money funds had told me that they now look at the CCPs’ membership lists and their waterfall provisions very carefully.

Anyway, Steve points out that bank balance sheets were slashed and client coverage was culled. As bank capital has been reallocated now back to the Repo Desks, for their smooth revenue stream, its allocation among clients is very different than it used to be. So, if you happened to be a client in the rare category of platinum (in terms of size and doing many of the product lines of that bank), you now are seeing more liquidity from that bank. But, if you are smaller or only doing repo or only doing thinner bid/offer spread repo, you are not receiving the prior liquidity or you are seeing much wider bid/offer spreads.

Remember that liquidity and balance sheet are fickle things that can change pretty suddenly. So, is liquidity overall up? Or, is this time different?

Anyway, I’ve paraphrased Steve, perhaps not perfectly, and added some of my own thoughts just to provoke discussion.”

Well, that’s scary, even to me! The problem seems to be that the Fed added all of these tools to provide liquidity but only to take cash out of the system with their RRP, not ADD cash to the system to keep rates down and to provide liquidity to collateral providers or to broker/dealers. Maybe, the liquidity really has moved to just the Platinum customers. I would also like to know more about how SOFR, a median of Triparty Repo rates from broker/dealers to cash providers missed by so much the actual average repo rate of the market? Is it because it missed the bilateral trades or is it because it only focuses on the Offer Side of the market, or both?

I’m hearing from several sources that the sponsored repo program at FICC, Direct Repo at AVM, Elixium electronic platform, GLMX electronic platform, EUREX CCP, peer-to-peer OTC financing, and BONY’s DBVX are all making headway and volumes are up, although still below 5% of the overall European and US repo markets. I’ll give you more of my thoughts on all that in the next Repo Commentary (otherwise, I’ll never finish this and all the other news will be old!). But, in the meantime, Risk ran an interesting article on a survey of banks that were hesitating to sign on to vendors who offered connections to electronic trading platforms because they don’t want additional services, such as order routing and analytics, which are often bundled in.

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:
 

• Finadium will hold a webinar on moving to SOFR, SONIA, and ESTER, the three principal LIBOR alternatives, on 1/15.
• IMN 25th Beneficial Owners International Securities Finance and Collateral Management Conference will be held in Fort Lauderdale, FL on 2/5-2/6. I have been chosen as the Chairman.
• Finadium will hold a new conference on the Business of Collateral Trading in Frankfurt, Germany on 2/21.
• IMN will hold its annual Fixed Income Investor Network in Las Vegas on 2/24.
• RMA will hold its 16th annual PASLA/RMA Conference on Asian Securities Lending in Sydney, Australia on 3/5-3/7.
• GIOA will hold its 15th annual conference in Las Vegas 3/20-3/22.
• Finadium will hold its 3rd annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference in NYC on 5/2-5/3.
• IMN will hold its annual Global ABS conference in Barcelona, Spain on 6/11-6/13.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income Leaders USA Summit in Philadelphia, PA on 6/18-6/20.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income & FX Leader Summit in Singapore on 9/17-9/19.
• IMN will hold its annual ABS East conference in Miami Beach, FL on 9/22-9/24.
• Finadium will hold its 3rd annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference Europe in London on 9/24.
• National Association of State Treasurers will hold its annual conference in Naples, FL on 10/6-10/9.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its Fixed Income Leaders conference in Barcelona on 10/7-10/9.
• RMA will hold its 37th annual Repo & Securities Lending Conference in Boca Raton, FL in October.
• American Financial Professionals (AFP) will hold its annual conference in Boston, MA on 10/20-10/23.
• Risk.net will hold its 25th annual Risk USA conference in NYC in November.
• SIFMA will hold its annual Meeting in Washington, DC on 11/18-11/20.

Federal Reserve News:

Fed Funds, which trade mostly between some banks and GSEs, opened today at 2.50%, where it had been set on 12/13 FOMC meeting tightening of 25bp.

The next FOMC meetings are: 1/30/19, 3/20/19, 5/1/19, 6/19/19, 7/31/19, 9/18/19, 10/30/19, 12/11/19, 1/29/20 (reflecting the Fed’s just announced tentative schedule for 2019).

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 1.75%. 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.

If you are wondering about RRP, it is nearly extinct. In July, excluding month-end, volume averaged only $2.8 billion per day. It has just become a mechanism for the Fed to supply collateral when its scarce for money market funds on month-ends and quarter-ends, as dealer balance sheets dry up at those times.

According to FOMC members, the Federal Reserve signaled that it would raise the benchmark Fed Funds rate to 2.50% at the December FOMC meeting, 3.00% in 2019, and 3.50% in 2020. If you are keeping score, the Federal Reserve raised the Fed Funds target rate on these dates so far:

12/15/15 to 0.50%
12/14/16 to 0.75%
3/5/17 to 1.00%
6/14/17 to 1.25%
12/13/17 to 1.50%
3/21/18 to 1.75%
6/13/18 to 2.00%
9/26/18 to 2.25%
12/13/18 to 2.50%

Quantitative Easing was ‘tapered off’ in 2013. The Fed still had $4 trillion of debt in 2017 on its books from that QE. In October 2017, it began allowing those holdings to gradually decline. For fun, the Fed Funds target rate was 5.25% before the Fed cut of 9/18/2007.

The Federal Reserve will propose a rule this year to simplify the stress tests for regional banks and to reduce their frequency, per Randal Quarles. The rule would apply to banks with $100 billion-$250 billion in assets. Nellie Lang, a former economist at the Fed, has withdrawn from consideration to be a governor at the Fed.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

I was looking at the USGS latest map on the largest earthquakes of the last 30 days, and they have mostly occurred in a ring around the Pacific Ocean. The latest earthquakes:

1/08/19 6.3 16km SSE of Nishinoomote, Japan
1/06/19 6.6 151km WNW of Tobelo, Indonesia
1/05/19 6.8 89km W of Taruaca, Brazil
1/01/19 5.0 11km NNW of Anchorage, Alaska
12/29/18 7.0 83km ESE of Pndaguitan, Philippines
12/27/18 4.9 17km NW of Anchorage, Alaska
12/27/18 5.5 5km ENE of San Diego, Venezuela
12/26/18 5.0 2km ENE of Trecastagni, Italy
12/23/18 6.4 94km N of Nuku’alofa, Tonga

Weather:

The Atlantic Hurricane Season began Friday, June 1st and ended November 30th. For 2018, Colorado State University experts had predicted that this season would be a busy, above average hurricane season. They had predicted 14 named Tropical Storms, of which 7 would become Hurricanes. Both are above the averages of 12 and 6, respectively. There were 15 named Tropical Storms, of which 8 were hurricanes, and 2 of them major. In 2017, they were way off the wrong way as well, 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 were the 2018 Storm names:

Alberto done
Beryl done
Chris done
Debby done
Ernesto done
Florence done
Gordon done
Helene done
Isaac done
Joyce done
Kirk done
Leslie done
Michael done
Nadine done
Oscar done
Patty
Rafael
Sara
Tony
Valerie
William

The Pacific Hurricane Season started 5/1/18 and ended 11/1/18.

As for the weather, those of you who are visiting Florida for the holidays have missed our brief two one-day cold fronts, which brought temps down to the 50s and 60s and had everyone here scurrying for ski clothes. Last week, we broke record highs, with temps in the mid-80s. This week, temperatures have returned to the high 70s and the wind has diminished quite a bit. However, we have 3 mini-cold fronts coming, starting tomorrow, which could bring the temps down to the 40s at night. The National Weather Service is calling for heavy snow for northern New England through tomorrow, along with very cold temperatures. You apparently have a ‘complex cyclonic vortex’ There is another disturbance coming from the Great Lakes eastward. Meanwhile, another very large and powerful Pacific Storm is expected to impact the West with more heavy rain, mountain snow, and gusty winds. Over the central part of the country, Chinook winds will bring a quick warm up in the northern High Plains. Moisture will gather across Texas and move into Oklahoma. Weather forecasting has been impacted by the US government shutdown, reducing all non-essential personnel at NOAA and at the National Weather Service, and blocking all the data that they would be collecting.

Sports News:

MLB:

The MLB regular season ended in November with the Boston Red Sox winning the World Series over the Los Angeles Dodgers. But, fear not baseball fans, as the MLB has announced the earliest Opening Day ever for 2019, with all 30 teams playing on 3/28/19. They are not counting the first game of the season, between the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics, that will occur in Tokyo on March 20-21. The World Series Champion Boston Red Sox will play the Yankees in London, for the first-ever MLB games in Europe, on 6/29-6/30. Spring Training will begin 2/21 with the first game between the Mariners and the A’s in the Cactus League. The Grapefruit League kicks off 2/22 with a game between the Rays and the Phillies.

Sporting News announced its MLB Player of the Year as Red Sox Mookie Betts. The offseason Free Agency Hot Stove has begun in full force. The two biggest star free agents and likely largest contracts are Manny Machado and Bryce Harper.

Two-time Cy Young winner, Corey Kluber, is all over the news in trade rumors from the Indians to as many as 5 teams, including the Yankees, Padres, Braves, Dodgers, and still the Indians. Are the Indians really going to trade an ace, like Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer? Nats free agent pitcher Kelvin Herrera has agreed to a deal with the White Sox. The White Sox also reportedly signed Manny Machado’s close friend Jon Jay. The White Sox are one of the teams to have a deal on the table for Manny Machado in the $220-270 million range. Is Manny Machado ever going to pick a team? The Phillies and Bryce Harper will meet face-to-face in Las Vegas. Is Bryce Harper ever going to get the money he thinks he deserves from the Phillies, Dodgers, White Sox, or Cubs? The Giants and Brewers are reportedly talking about a deal for Madison Bumgarner. The Mets sent catcher Kevin Plawecki to the Indians. There are many teams that would love Marlins’ catcher J.T. Realmuto and he wants to leave Miami, but the marlins don’t want him to go. It appears that Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel is becoming a little more reasonable and has stopped asking for a 6year/$100 million contract. MLB is partnering with DAZN to create live look-in show for baseball fans. David Wright will now join Mets front office as special adviser. The ballots have been cast by eligible BBWAA members by 12/31/18 for the Hall of Fame and we will find out the results on 1/22/19. Many people are wondering whether Oklahoma QB and Heisman Trophy winner, Kyler Murray, will choose MLB or NFL, after the A’s chose him with the No.9 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft and gave him a signing bonus of almost $5 million.

Golf:

Golf Digest has released its latest list of America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses. Stephen Curry’s golf event next fall has been scrapped by the PGA Tour, citing too short a timeframe to find a title sponsor. Vijay Singh has finally settled his lawsuit with the PGA Tour. The PGA Tour season began with its swing through Hawaii. They just played the Sentry Tournament of Champions event at Kapalua in Maui. It was won by Xander Schauffele, with an astounding 62 on Sunday. This week they play the Sony Open in Oahu in Honolulu at the Waialae CC. Padraig Harrington has been chosen as Europe captain for 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Kohler, WI.

NCAA Basketball:

The college basketball season is nearly at its halfway point, about 13-15 games in. UNC’s Cameron Johnson left the game vs NC State with an injury. Former Arizona assistant Book Richardson reached a plea deal in bribery case. Kansas is considering pulling redshirt off of 4-star freshman Ochai, as Kansas center Udoka Azubuike will miss the rest of the season with a hand injury. Duke’s Zion Williamson rates his crazy 360-degree dunk this week as just a ’7 or 8’. No.6 Nevada was routed by unranked New Mexico in first loss of season. No.5 Kansas was stunned by unranked Iowa State. Powerful UCLA boosters want Rick Pitino as coach. UCLA fired basketball coach Steve Alford. Former USC assistant Tony Bland entered guilty plea. A TCU basketball game was canceled after the death of a player on the schedule opponent team. Larry Brown has parted ways with the Italian professional team. Purdue paid tribute to late superfan Tyler Trent with emotional video. No.18 Arizona State handed No.1 Kansas its first loss. No.19 Kentucky beat No.9 UNC. Here is the AP Poll as of 01/06/19 (which does not include Michigan State’s drubbing of Purdue last night, or UNC’s beating of rival NC State last night):

1. Duke (13-1)
2. Michigan (15-0)
3. Tennessee (13-1)
4. Virginia (13-0)
5. Gonzaga (14-2) up from No.7
6. Michigan State (14-2) up from No.8
7. Kansas (12-2) down from No.5
8. Texas Tech (14-1) up from No.11
9. Virginia Tech (13-1) up from No.10
10. Nevada (14-1) up from No.6
11. Auburn (11-2) up from No.12
12. North Carolina (12-3) up from No.15
13. FSU (12-2) down from No.9
14. Mississippi State (12-2) up from No.17
15. NC State (13-2) up from No.18
16. Ohio State (12-2) down from No.14
17. Houston (15-0) up from No.19
18. Kentucky (11-3) down from No.13
19. Buffalo (14-1) up from No.20
20. Iowa State (12-3) up from unranked
21. Marquette (12-3) down from No.18
22. Indiana (12-3) down from No.21
23. Oklahoma (12-3)
24. St. John’s (14-2) up from unranked
25. TCU (12-1) up from unranked
On the women’s side, UConn women fell to Baylor in their first regular-season loss since 2014.

NCAA Football:

College football season kickoff was on 8/25 and is finally over with last night’s upset in the CFP Championship by No.2 Clemson over No.1 Alabama, 44-16. Alabama was just no match for the offense of Clemson and Alabama’s QB Tua threw 2 crucial interceptions that led to 14 points. I watched the game and many of the bowl games. Most of the bowl games were actually boring, low-scoring affairs.

As of 12/1, the official AP Poll is (they have not produced the final poll yet):

1. Alabama (13-0)
2. Clemson (13-0)
3. Notre Dame (12-0)
4. Oklahoma (12-1)
5. Ohio State (12-1)
6. Georgia (11-2)
7. UCF (12-0)
8. Michigan (10-2)
9. Washington (10-3)
10. Florida (9-3)
11. LSU (9-3)
12. Washington State (10-2)
13. Penn State (9-3)
14. Texas (9-4)
15. West Virginia (8-3)
16. Kentucky (9-3)
17. Syracuse (9-3)
18. Mississippi State (8-4)
19. Fresno State (12-2)
20. Utah (9-4)
21. Texas A&M (8-4)
22. Army (10-2)
23. Boise State (10-3)
24. Missouri (8-4)
25. Iowa State (8-4)

Here is your 2018-19 College Football Playoff and Bowl schedule:

12/29 4:00pm College Football Playoff Semifinal
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
No.2 Clemson vs. No.3 Notre Dame

12/29 8:00pm College Football Playoff Semifinal
Capital One Orange Bowl
No.1 Alabama vs No.4 Oklahoma

01/07 8:00pm College Football Playoff National Championship
Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA

12/15
Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl
North Carolina A&T 24
Alcorn State 22

New Mexico Bowl by Progressive
Utah State 52
North Texas 13

AutoNation Cure Bowl
Tulane 41
Louisiana 24

Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl
Fresno State 31
Arizona State 20

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
Georgia Southern 23
Eastern Michigan 21

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Appalachian State 45
Middle Tennessee 13

12/18
Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl
UAB 37
Northern Illinois 13

12/19
DXL Frisco Bowl
Ohio 27
San Diego State 0

12/20
Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl
Marshall 38
South Florida 20

12/21
Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl
FIU 35
Toledo 32

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
BYU 49
Western Michigan 18

12/22
Jared Birmingham Bowl
Wake Forest 37
Memphis 34

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
Army 70
Houston 14

Dollar General Bowl
Troy 42
Buffalo 32

SoFi Hawai’I Bowl
Louisiana Tech 31
Hawaii 14

12/26
SERVPRO First Responder Bowl
Boston College vs. Boise State
CANCELLED BECAUSE OF LIGHTNING

Quick Lane Bowl
Minnesota 34
Georgia Tech 10

Cheez-It Bowl
TCU 10 (OT)
California 7

12/27
Walk-On’s Independence Bowl
Duke 56
Temple 27

New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Wisconsin 35
Miami 3

Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl
Baylor 45
Vanderbilt 38

12/28
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
Auburn 63
Purdue 14

Camping World Bowl
Syracuse 34
West Virginia 18

Valero Alamo Bowl
Washington State 28
Iowa State 26

12/29
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
No.10 Florida 41
No.7 Michigan 15

Belk Bowl
Virginia 28
South Carolina 0

NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl
Nevada 16 (OT)
Arkansas State 13

CFP Semifinal Cotton Bowl
No.2 Clemson 30
No.3 Notre Dame 3

CFP Semifinal Orange Bowl
No.1 Alabama 45
No.4 Oklahoma 34

12/31
Military Bowl by Northrop Grumman
Cincinnati 35
Virginia Tech 31

Hyundai Sun Bowl
Stanford 14
Pittsburgh 13

Redbox Bowl
Oregon 7
Michigan State 6

AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Oklahoma State 38
Missouri 33

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl
Northwestern 31
Utah 20

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl
Texas A&M 52
NC State 13

O1/01
Outback Bowl
Iowa 27
Mississippi State 22

VRBO Citrus Bowl
Kentucky 27
Penn State 24

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl
No.11 LSU 40
No.8 UCF 32

Rose Bowl presented by NWML
No.6 Ohio State 28
Washington 23

Allstate Sugar Bowl
No.15 Texas 28
No.5 Georgia 21

01/07
CFP National Championship
No.2 Clemson 44
No.1 Alabama 16

NFL:

The 99th NFL regular season is nearing its end, as we just completed the Wild Card playoffs weekend. They weren’t very exciting, frankly.

On Saturday, the Colts continued their hot streak, beating the Texans 21-7 in the AFC. Later that day, the Cowboys squeaked out a victory 24-22 over the Seahawks in the NFC. On Sunday, the Chargers held off the Ravens for a 23-17 victory in the AFC. Later that day, the Bears were stunned by the Super Bowl Champion Eagles 16-15 in the NFC, as the Bears’ kicker, Cody Parker, donked his 6th field goal attempt off the upright this season, which would have been the last second game-winner. That must be some kind of record?

Coming up this weekend:
On Saturday, the Colts will play at the Chiefs in the AFC and the Cowboys will play at the Rams in the NFC.
On Sunday, the Chargers will play at the Patriots in the AFC and the Eagles will play at the Saints in the NFC.
The winners of these 4 games will go to the AFC Championship and NFC Championship to decide the two teams for the Super Bowl. Rams RB Todd Gurley is still nursing a knee injury but is expected to play against Cowboys. Sarah Thomas will become the first woman NFL referee to ref a playoff game, in the Chargers vs. Patriots game.

There were 8 NFL head coaches that lost their jobs this season. Patriots OC Josh McDaniels says he is staying in New England this time. Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome has decided to retire. The Cardinals have already hired a new head coach in Kliff Kingsbury. The Bucs are focused on Bruce Arians as next head coach. A report says that Freddie Kitchens has “good chance of being Browns’ next coach. The Broncos have narrowed their coach search down to 2 candidates. Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones reportedly just splurged on a $250 million superyacht. Jadeveon Clowney says he wants to remain a Texan. Texas WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey has decided to forgo his senior season and go into the NFL Draft. Steelers’ WR JuJu Smith-Schuster has replaced WR Antonio Brown in the Pro Bowl. Because of the early season trade with the Raiders, the Bears’ loss gave the Raiders a better first-round draft pick.

NHL:

The puck dropped on the regular season, for some teams, on 10/3. We are just past the halfway point now. Nick Schmaltz of the Coyotes will be out for the rest of the season. Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson is out with an MCL sprain. Penguins’ star Sidney Crosby rewarded heckling fan with a signed hockey stick. The NHL announced today that Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevkiy, who has been out a month with a foot injury and returned, will replace Canadiens goalie Carey Price in the 2019 All-Star Game in San Jose, CA. Alex Ovechkin says he will skip the All-Star game. The NHL and NHLPA will meet this week to discuss CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement). At the 2019 World Under-20 Juniors, one team was decidedly missing from the medal stand, Canada. They won the gold medal last year. This year, Finland rallied with a tying goal in the final minute of regulation and a winning goal in OT to eliminate Canada in Vancouver. It marked the first time that Team Canada did not earn a medal in the 13 times they have hosted the popular event. In the last 10 years, Canada has only won gold twice, while the Russians and Americans have won gold 5 times and 4 times respectively, and are still in the mix for a medal this year. Top-seeded Sweden was also upset, by Switzerland. In case you missed New Year’s Day’s Winter Classic outdoor game between the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks at Notre Dame Stadium, the stadium ran out of food and beer during the game. Huge lack of preparation, eh? They had a sellout crowd of 76,126 fans, who ran out of provisions after the first intermission, between periods 1 and 2. By the way, my Bruins won.

Looking at the current, just past halfway standings, in the Eastern Conference: the Lightning continue to run away with it, followed by the Leafs, Capitals, and Bruins/Penguins; and in the Western Conference: it’s the Flames, followed by the Knights, Predators, and Sharks. The cellars are occupied by the Senators and the Kings.

NBA:

The NBA season officially began on 10/3 as well and it has been all about LeBron James’ debut with the Lakers. The NBA trade deadline is 2/7. Free Agency is upon us now though. Teams have inquired about 76ers star Jimmy Butler. Cavs Kevin Love says he doesn’t want to be traded. The Raptors approached Thunder about DeMar DeRozan-Paul George trade last offseason. Celtics Jayson Tatum is being talked about in a trade to the Pelicans. Stephen Curry was called for a ‘traveling violation’ for a James Harden-like stepback into a 3-pointer, Harden’s signature move that never gets called. Meanwhile, James Harden has been red hot. Kyrie Irving is happy to be back playing for the Celtics. The Bulls waived Michael Carter-Williams after acquiring him from the Rockets. Mutliple teams have inquired about Knicks Enes Kanter. Cavs waived Patrick McCaw. Next year, the Nets and Lakers will play preseason games in China. We are almost halfway through the season and currently the Eastern Conference is led by the Bucks, then Raptors, Pacers, and 76ers; while the Western Conference is led by the Nuggets, Warriors, Thunder, and Clippers. The two cellars are occupied by the Cavaliers (shocking!) and Suns. The Cavs have lost 9 games in a row.
Darts:

In darts, Michael van Gerwen defeated Michael Smith to win the PDC World Championship. I watched a bit of that.

Racing:

Last year’s champion, his first, for the NASCAR Cup Series was Joey Logano, who beat Martin Truex Jr. in the final 15 laps of the final race at Homestead. Truex Jr. won the crown in 2017. NASCAR’s 2019 season is about to start with Daytona 500 to kick it off, as it does every year. Stewart-Hass Racing has signed Daniel Suarez to drive No.41 car. Dale Earnhardt Jr. still has “the itch to race.” Kurt Busch signed with Chip Ganassi Racing after leaving Stewart-Haas. Here is the schedule of races just released for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup in 2019 (they don’t have the sponsors or formal names of all of them yet):

2/17 Daytona 500 at Daytona International in Florida
2/24 Atlanta
3/3 Las Vegas
3/10 ISM Raceway
3/17 Auto Club
3/24 Martinsville
3/31 Texas
4/7 Bristol
4/13 Richmond
4/28 Talladega
5/5 Dover
5/11 Kansas
5/18 All-Star Open Charlotte
5/26 Charlotte
6/2 Pocono
6/9 Michigan
6/23 Sonoma
6/30 Chicago
7/6 Daytona
7/13 Kentucky
7/21 New Hampshire
7/28 Pocono
8/4 Watkins Glen
8/11 Michigan
8/17 Bristol
9/1 Darlington
9/8 Indianapolis
9/15 Las Vegas playoff
9/21 Richmond playoff
9/29 Charlotte playoff
10/6 Dover playoff
10/13 Talladega playoff
10/20 Kansas playoff
10/27 Martinsville playoff
11/3 Texas playoff
11/10 ISM Raceway playoff
11/17 Miami-Homestead final playoff

Formula One begins with F1 Car Launch Dates for the various teams from 2/12 through 2/15 for Renault, Racing Point, McLaren, and Ferrari. That is followed by Pre-Season Testing schedule 2/18-2/21 and 2/26-3/1, both in Catalunya, Spain. Here is the 2019 Formula One 21 Race calendar:

3/17 Australia Grand Prix in Melbourne
3/31 Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir
4/14 China Grand Prix in Shanghai (this will be the 1000th Grand Prix)
4/28 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku
5/12 Spain Grand Prix in Barcelona
5/26 Monaco Grand Prix in Monaco
6/9 Canada Grand Prix in Montreal
6/23 France Grand Prix in Le Castellet
6/30 Austria Grand Prix in Spielberg
7/14 Great Britain Grand Prix in Silverstone
7/28 Germany Grand Prix in Hockenheim
8/4 Hungary Grand Prix in Budapest
9/1 Belgium Grand Prix in Spa
9/8 Italy Grand Prix in Monza
9/22 Singapore Grand Prix in Singapore
9/29 Russia Grand Prix in Sochi
10/13 Japan Grand Prix in Suzuka
10/27 Mexico Grand Prix in Mexico City
11/3 USA Grand Prix in Austin, TX
11/17 Brazil Grand Prix in Sao Paulo
12/1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in Yas Island

Then, there is the IndyCar Racing circuit and its 2019 calendar (Indy cars are generally considered faster than F1 car along straight lines, mostly because their races are on oval tracks, while F1 tracks are more intricate, requiring better brakes and more aerodynamic grip than Indy cars):

3/10 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
3/24 Circuit of the Americas
4/7 Grand Prix of Alabama
4/14 Grand Prix at Long Beach
5/11 Grand Prix of Indianapolis
5/26 Indianapolis 500
6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 1
6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 2
6/8 Texas Grand Prix
6/23 Road America
7/14 Honda Indy Toronto
7/20 Iowa 300
7/28 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio
8/18 Pocono Grand Prix
8/24 Gateway Grand Prix
9/1 Grand Prix of Portland
9/22 Grand Prix at Laguna Seca

Travel News:

A train accident on the Great Belt Fixed Link in Denmark killed 8 passengers. Another drone has disrupted flights at another UK airport. Gatwick and Heathrow say they will now deploy anti-drone technology. Scientists believe that our Milky Way galaxy is on a course to collide with another galaxy, the Large Magellenic Cloud (is there no protocols for naming galaxies?), which will cause “cosmic fireworks”. If you are setting your watch for the event, that will be in 2 billion years, give or take. There is a South African Airbnb where you can sleep surrounded by over 70 lions. The cheapest ticket to Disneyland is now over $100, thanks to an unexpected price increase. Flights to Canada are about to get much cheaper. Flying is expected to get more dangerous, according to the Pilots Association, during the US government shutdown. Many of the TSA employees are now working without pay, and some of them are refusing to work, which should make security at airports more difficult. American Airlines somehow put people back on the same airplane after a mid-air electrical malfunction and then flew it again. Real Housewives of New York’s star Bethenny Frankel’s severe fish allergy forced a flight to turn around. Herb Kelleher, the beloved founder of Southwest Airlines, has died at age 87. A dream job is up for grabs to run an island off the coast of San Francisco for $130,000/year. The world’s largest truck stop is an oasis in Iowa. Hawaiian Airlines has dro0pped the Boeing 767. United Airlines is now flying the Boeing 787-10. Sun Country is expanding its routes by 19 and 7 cities. Oceania Cruises has ordered 2 new ships. Good news, stomach bug outbreaks, like Norovirus, are near a multiyear low. EDM cruise passengers were arrested on drug charges. Joshua Tree National Park will completely shut down during US government shutdown.

Health News:

Lessie Brown, the oldest person in the US, has died at age 114. She had attributed her longevity to eating a sweet potato nearly every single day of her life. Cancer killed fewer people in the US. We have had 25 straight years of falling cancer death rates. Doctors believe that the steady decline has been helped by anti-smoking campaigns, early detection protocols, and new treatment methods. One piece of bad news is that prostate cancer death rates, which had been also declining for two decades, have leveled off. Does that have anything to do with the 2011 health officials decision to stop recommending routine testing of men using the PSA blood test? The first child death from the flu has been reported in New Jersey. NYC has guaranteed health care for all its residents. The plan will not be funded by a tax increase and is not health care insurance. It plans to reduce costs by reducing emergency room visits and will focus on services such as geriatrics, pediatrics, OBGYN, and mental-health care. Reuters had a report that your insurance premiums may be going up due to climate change. I learned from a Millennial two weeks ago that they have changed the term “swingers” to “poly-amorous”. Somehow, he thought that was more socially acceptable sounding. Obesity surgery, according to a new study, has led to the emergence of new microbial strains. Researchers have discovered supplementing a normal, carbohydrate-rich diet with specific ketogenic agents may significantly delay tonic-clonic seizures. Researchers have now proven that the myth of Mona Lisa’s gaze, the Mona Lisa Effect, in which there is an impression that the eyes of the person portrayed in an image seem to follow the viewer as they move in front of the picture, is not true. A new study conducted on laboratory animals shows that exposure to cannabis and stress during adolescence may lead to long-term anxiety disorders in adulthood. Researchers report that adding a lysophospholipid form of EPA (LPC-EPA) to the diet can increase levels of EPA (Omega 3 Fatty Acid) level in the brain 100 times. Researchers have created a wireless, battery-free, biodegradable blood flow sensor. Academics have found that low functional connectivity of the lateral orbitofrontal cortex that is associated with the tendency to smoke is associated with increased impulsiveness and has high connectivity to another area of the brain, the reward-related medial orbitofrontal cortex, which in drinkers may increase the tendency to consume alcohol. A behavioral intervention procedure including the computer game Tetris could help people with PTSD. Costco is now selling a tub of Nutella that weighs almost 7 pounds, which you can store in your pantry next to the 5-gallon mustard. On the other side of the debate, minimalists like Marie Kondo say that cleaning out clutter and stuff is healthful, and most psychologists tend to agree. The first nudist restaurant in Paris, which just opened, is already clothing down. Herbalife’s stock plunged after CEO resigned. Oral-B Glide dental floss has been linked to toxic PFAS chemicals, per a new study. The US military is hoping that 3-D printing of bones can help injured veterans.

Animal News:

A new analysis of a nearly 200-million-year-old Jurassic-period sea-monster skull has surprised scientists because of the enormous size of its teeth and its apparent fake bones. Thousands of female penguins are being stranded in South America, washing up on the shores from Antarctica. A rare flying reptile (pterosaur) with a mouthful fangs trolled the Jurassic period skies, according to scientists. Scientists found the fossil of a dinosaur-era shark who had nabbed a flying reptile and lost a tooth in the encounter. Japan plans to leave the International Whaling Commission so that it can resume commercially hunting whales again, according to several news sources. The bee mite arrival in Hawaii is causing pathogen changes in honeybee predators. Scientists have also found the elusive mutation in honeybees that turns them from altruistic helpers to selfish behavior, called thelytoky syndrome. The CRISPR-based method is effectively sterilizing male insects. CRISPR is a revolutionary gene editing technique that may be helpful in combating some human diseases, such as muscular dystrophy. There is a new bat-borne virus related to Ebola. A new study suggests that surface mining of mountaintops in Appalachia also removes timber rattlesnakes’ habitat. A new species of treefrog was discovered at a remote mountain in the Ecuadorian Andes that has an extraordinary characteristic: claw-like appendages. An extensive social study has shown that human contact with monkeys and apes has a spillover effect to humans’ health through animal diseases. In other news, the critically endangered Grauer’s gorilla has recently lost genetic diversity and has experienced an increase in harmful mutations, say researchers who have sequenced 11 genomes. A new study of interbreeding between two species of howler monkeys in Mexico is yielding insights into the forces that drive new species formation.

Entertainment News:

I still have not seen A STAR IS BORN, FIRST MAN, or BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY, but I did see the Golden Globes on Sunday night, or at least part of it. Pete Davidson appears to have moved on to Kate Beckingsale. NBC will be airing a 50th anniversary special to commemorate Elvis Presley’s famous ’68 Comeback Special aired on NBC in 1968. This show will be hosted by Blake Shelton and will air on 2/17. Yes, today is Elvis Presley’s birthday, but it is also the birthday of singers Shirley Bassey and David Bowie. You can now enjoy some of Bowie’s previously unreleased songs on a “new” box set that features 9 songs Bowie recorded in the 1960s. At the National Board of Review awards in NY, best actress winner Lady Gaga revealed about re-opening old wounds of personal trauma that drove her role in A STAR IS BORN. After 3 women had come forward to report that super-chef Mario Batali sexually assaulted them years ago at 2 Manhattan restaurants where he was an owner or an investor, police are said to close the sexual allegations of the chef, because police could not find enough evidence to make an arrest, per the NYPD yesterday. As you’ve probably noticed, the new mini-season has begun on network TV, so the shows that ended for the summer, have come back. I’m getting frustrated with Manifest, as it appears that the writers are deliberately trying to be evasive about everything, to the point that it never seems to move forward. Plus, the messed up relationships are also stuck in neutral, never resolving themselves. I’ve tried to watch The Rock’s new Titan Games but it’s just too much like American Ninja, which wore me out with repeats and different iterations. Below Deck Caribbean (which is actually in Tahiti this season) has been entertaining, but I had a conversation with a real superyacht Captain, who said that stuff would never happen on a real yacht. There is no drama and everyone is professional or they are replaced. So, the TV boat is a made-for-TV experience filled with drama and poorly-trained professionals. So far, I’ve steered clear of all of the Housewives series, catching pieces of the Reunion shows and some of Vanderpump Rules. I seem to be watching a lot more of the Iron Chef shows, Chopping Block, Flip or Stay, and Million Dollar Listings of L.A. I did try to keep up with Chicago Med, Chicago P.D., and Chicago Fire, but moving them all to Wednesday night and not having them crossover much, wreaked havoc. So, I only see one of them every now and then. About the only things, besides NFL, news, and college basketball, that I’ve been following well have been 20/20, Entertainment Tonight, and Dateline. Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds and wife are “rebuilding” their marriage after split. Jamie Lee Curtis is blasting Fiji Water for their Golden Globes promotions, which included having one particular model with bottles photo-bombing nearly every celebrity photo. By the way, those were fake flu shots that the Golden Globe hosts were distributing to the audience. Kim Kardashian just spent $9000 on Louis Vuitton bags for her babies. Sumner Redstone has reached a settlement with former live-in girlfriend. Longtime Cosmopolitan publisher, Donna Kalagian Lagani, is stepping down to take Hearst Foundations post. Gannett is looking outside the newspaper industry for a new CEO. I’m right here! Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” was the bestselling hardcover book in 2018. The Stan Lee “Excelsior!” tribute, hosted by Kevin Smith, will take place 1/30 at Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre. CardiB and Drake are dominating the iHeartRadio Music Awards nominations. Ivanka Trump was once asked to be The Bachelorette. Jordan Peele’s film US will premiere as the opening film at SXSW.

This week’s box-office was weak, perhaps due to the holiday hangover. AQUAMAN, in its 3rd week, retained the No.1 spot, making another $31 million (total now of an astounding $260 million); No.2 was the debut of ESCAPE ROOM, which made $18.2 million (not bad for a budget of $9 million); No.3 was MARY POPPINS RETURNS, in its 3rd week, pulling in another $15.9 million (total of $138.8 million so far, just clearing its $130 million budget); No.4 was BUMBLEBEE, dropping from No.3, in its 3rd week, taking in another $13.2 million (total of $97.6 million on a budget of $135 million); and No.5 was SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE, in its 4th week, taking in another $13.1 million (total of $134 million on budget of $90 million). At his first fashion show in Rome, Moschino creative director Jeremy Scott paid homage to the films of director Federico Fellini. PATRIOT’S DAY, the movie starring Mark Wahlberg about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing received a $16 million subsidy from the State of Massachusetts, new records show. The state issued nearly $90 million film tax subsidies in 2016, a new record. After Friars Club raid, executive director has pleaded guilty to filing false tax returns. Bob Saget and John Stamos went on a double date in West Hollywood.

The number of movies coming out this week picks up from the number the last 2 weeks: PETTA, MODEST HEROES, A DOG’S WAY HOME (I’m going to have to see), AGAINST THE CLOCK, ALONE IN THE DEAD OF NIGHT, ASHES IN THE SNOW, DO DOONI PANJ, DRY BLOOD, IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK, JACK EM POPDY, ON THE BASIS OF SEX (looks interesting), PERFECTOS DESCONOCIDOS, PLEDGE, REPLICAS, SGT. WILL GARDNER, TALL TALES, THE ACCIDENTAL PRIME MINISTER, THE ASPERN PAPERS, THE UNTOLD STORY, THE UPSIDE, URI, WHAT MEN WANT, and F2: FUN AND FRUSTRATION.

Technology & Space News:

Elon Musk has broken ground at Tesla’s new Shanghai Gigafactory. Apple has cut its Q1 iPhone production by 10%. A new walking vehicle, called Elevate, has been unveiled at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics trade show, which is a 4-wheel drive vehicle that can drive autonomously and also walk on four wheels over rough terrain, perhaps to be used for emergency vehicles. It is still a concept car, only in its 3rd phase, at this time. Space X, last week, launched 3 more satellites for the US Air Force from NASA’s Cape Canaveral. The U.S. is currently experiencing one of the tightest labor markets in history, with unusually low unemployment rate (lowest in 50 years), and many say, a skills gap. Americans also quit their jobs last year at the highest rate since 2001. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. currently has over 7 million unfilled jobs. This has forced some companies to become more open-minded about hiring candidates. Companies, including Google, Apple, IBM, and Bank of America no longer require applicants to have a college degree. Tech companies, in particular are rather shifting towards a focus on skills. LinkedIn, after analyzing hundreds of thousands of job postings, said that these are the top 10 soft skills and hard skills in demand for 2019 (LinkedIn is also matching these skills with LinkedIn Learning courses for the month of January):

Top 5 Soft Skills:
1. Creativity
2. Persuasion
3. Collaboration
4. Adaptability
5. Time Management

Top 5 Hard Skills:
1. Cloud Computing
2. Artificial Intelligence
3. Analytical Reasoning
4. People Management
5. UX Design

WalletHub recently compared 182 cities, including the 150 most populated in the U.S. and at least 2 of the most populated in each state, across 30 job market and socioeconomic variables, to rank the 10 best places to find a job in 2019:
1. Scottsdale, AZ
2. Columbia, MD
3. Orlando, FL
4. San Francisco, CA
5. Colorado Springs, CO
6. Portland, ME
7. Plano, TX
8. Washington, D.C.
9. Boston, MA
10. Chandler, AZ

I think I wrote about the “Amazon effect” in the Repo Commentary before, if not, maybe it was in the book I just wrote. Anyway, in a weirdly related story, Google has turned an old shopping mall into an office. Amazon has been blamed by the media for killing brick-and-mortar stores and shopping malls, with its online shopping and acquisitions. It would be interesting if it or its tech giant brethren find a creative way to turn those empty shopping malls into their offices. There are now bounty hunters to find lost cellphones? The China National Space Administration’s Chang’e 4 became the first spacecraft to land on the far side of the moon. Ah, the romance of the technology age, as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie announced their divorce on Twitter.

US News:

President Trump issued an executive order last Friday that froze federal workers’ salaries for 2019. On 01/02/19, a single person in Glen Head, Long Island, NY won the Mega Millions’ jackpot of $425 million. That person gets to choose between taking the annuity spread over 30 years or a lump sum of $254.6 million. Of course, they will have to pay Federal tax withholding of 24% ($61.1 million) and NY State tax of 8.82% ($22.5 million). And, come next year’s tax time, the winner will owe an additional 13% Federal Tax (as they withheld 24% this year and the top tax rate is 37%). Altogether, the tax crunch will take more than 45% of the amount, unless they employ certain tax strategies. Speaking of taxes, a White House official said that, despite the current US government shutdown, tax refunds WILL be sent out. President Trump was on TV last night from the Oval Office to speak with the public about the need for a border wall. Newly sworn-in CA governor Newsom proposed $105 million in new spending to prevent, fight, and escape wildfires, following one of the state’s worst fire seasons. Judge Brett Kavanaugh issued his first (unanimous) opinion in an obscure arbitration case. A teacher seen dragging a boy with autism through Wurtland Elementary School has been fired. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is leaving his post at the Department of Justice. A second man has now been charged in the drive-by shooting death of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes, who was laid to rest yesterday. Police believe the shooting may have been a case of ‘mistaken identity’. Sears stores will stay open another week, as a late deal staved off the threat of liquidation, but the auction is set for Monday. The company’s chairman has an opportunity to sweeten his $4.4 billion offer to keep 400 stores operating and buy the company. A Rhode Island discount retailer, Job Lot, is doing well and is now taking over 7 former Toys R’ Us sites in Pennsylvania. A rare 1943 Lincoln penny was found in a Massachusetts school cafeteria more than 70 years ago by a teenager, who recently died, and is expected to fetch $1.7 million at auction. It was one of only 20 pennies accidentally minted in copper that year, during the war effort. All of the other pennies that year were made of zinc-coated steel, to preserve copper for shell casings and other WWII implements. In Phoenix, police are seeking DNA samples from workers at a facility where a woman in a coma gave birth. The house of the gunman in the Las Vegas mass shooting has sold for $425,000.

International News:

Seven people are dead in a shooting at a Mexican bar in Playa del Carmen. Otto Warmbler’s parents have won their $500 million Wrongful Death lawsuit against North Korea for their son’s 2017 death after finally being released from captivity and torture. Unfortunately, there is no mechanism to force North Korea to pay them. However, the Warmblers could go after North Korea’s assets in the US. It currently does have $63 million in assets frozen in the US. It may also have assets abroad through one of its clandestine trading methods in a country that is friendly to the US. In 2015, a US judge awarded $330 million to the family of missionary Rev. Kim Dong-Shik, who was tortured and killed in North Korea, and the family went after North Korea’s international assets, like shipping vessels that had been confiscated by Mexico and Panama. Another way that the Warmblers could get paid is by appealing to the US Department of Justice, which has a Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund, which compensates families of victims of state terror. It is made up of fines imposed on financial institutions who continued to do business with countries that the US has sanctioned. But, that would only cover the compensatory damages, of $21 million, not punitive damages. A “fatberg” made up of wet wipes, grease, and oil, some 200 feet in length, is blocking a sewer in a seaside town in England. Saudi woman who is seeking asylum might find it in Australia. Secretary of State Pompeo made a surprise stop in Iraq. Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople granted autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine in the ongoing schism within Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Moshe Arens, Israeli statesman and ex-defense minister, has died at age 93. The FBI revealed that the viral online footage showing “El Chapo” grilling a man chained to a pole about his competitors is indeed Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the cartel boss, helping solidify the case against him. The video was first uploaded to LiveLeak.com in 2015. Ironically, the interrogation was also caught on an FBI digital wiretap, as someone nearby attempted to place a call, and the recording of that call matches the video word for word. There have been no assurances from Turkey on safety of Kurdish allies in Syria, as the US plans to remove its troops from Syria. A new Saudi Arabia law requires women to be notified if their husbands divorce them. Thai police say they won’t deport Saudi teenager barricaded in hotel. Gabon has foiled an attempted military coup and arrested 4 military officers. An Escape Room fire killed 5 teenage girls in Poland. Hackers have posted personal information about hundreds of German politicians on Twitter. A Chinese “Jack the Ripper” has been executed for murdering 11 girls and women. Emotional and Psychological Abuse are now crimes in Ireland. Saudi Arabia says that 5 suspects now face the death penalty in Jamal Khashoggi killing.

Florida:

If you are interested in seeing more famous bands or solos in concert than my Generation Gap or Elvis Presley performances, there are many coming to Florida, perhaps when you will be visiting:

Air Supply-Pompano, FL, January 11
Franki Valli and the Four Seasons-Fort Myers, January 11
New Order-Miami Beach, January 12
Englebert Humperdinck-Fort Myers, January 15
Bernadette Peters-Naples, January 16
Memories of Elvis-Fort Myers, January 17
Righteous Brothers-Fort Lauderdale, January 17
Rick Springfield-Coconut Creek, January 18
Cher and Chic-Sunrise, January 19
Arlo Guthrie-Fort Lauderdale, January 19
Andrea Bocelli-Miami, February 14 (saw it, was awesome)
Fleetwood Mac-Sunrise, February 20
Tony Orlando-Stuart, January 23
Gladys Knight-Fort Lauderdale, January 24
America-Fort Lauderdale, January 24
Smokey Robinson-Hollywood, January 25
Peter Cetera and Blood, Sweat, and Tears-Miami, January 26
Toni Braxton-Hollywood, January 29
The Temptations-Fort Lauderdale, January 31
Don McLean-Immokalee, January 31
Michael Bolton-Fort Lauderdale, February 2
The Four Tops and the Temptations-West Palm Beach, February 2
Melissa Manchester-Aventura, February 8
Michael Bolton-West Palm Beach, February 8
The Commodores-Miami, February 9
Patti LaBelle-Fort Myers, February 11
Duran Duran-Miami Beach, February 12
Franki Valli & the Four Seasons, Hollywood, February 14
Andrea Bocelli-Miami, February 14
Dave Mason-Fort Lauderdale, February 15
Little River Band-Fort Myers, February 15
Michael Buble-Sunrise, February 15
Alan Parsons Project-Fort Lauderdale, February 18
Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes-Bonita Springs, February 20
Art Garfunkel-Fort Lauderdale, February 20
Fleetwood Mac-Sunrise, February 20
Sarah Brightman-Hollywood, February 20
PGA Honda Classic-PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, February 28-March 2
Pink-Sunrise-March 1 (I might have to go)
Paul Anka-Fort Lauderdale-March 4
Elton John-Sunrise, March 16
Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band, March 17
Palm Beach International Boat Show-West Palm Beach, March 28-March 31
The Rolling Stones-Miami, April 20
Train & Goo Goo Dolls-West Palm Beach, July 6
Queen & Adam Lambert-Sunrise, August 17

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