Repo Commentary-5/17/19

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Paul McCartney-then and now
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Freddie Mercury-then and later
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Whitney Houston-then and later
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Hi everyone! Well, it took two months to rid myself of bronchitis, which had turned into pneumonia. Luckily, I was able to still sing my gigs and 6 MLB Spring Training games. I was also able to interview for jobs, edit the memoir I’ve been ghost-writing, and write some articles. The Repo Commentary took a nap for a bit (since 2/27/19). 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. I’m hoping to have one up there to entertain you every Friday.

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. Oddly, in the last two weeks, two other books for ghost-writing have landed in my lap, one will likely be a movie, but I haven’t decided what I want to do about them. I am still very interested in getting back into our Securities Financing industry in some capacity.

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. I’m trying a new format for historical data, so let me know what you think. As many of you know, it used to be a daily Repo Commentary back in the 80s and for a long time.

05/17 Holidays or Events:

• Endangered Species Day
• International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia
• International Defense Transportation Day
• International Virtual Assistants Day
• NASCAR Day
• National Bike to Work Day
• National Pizza Party Day
• O. Henry Pun-off Day
• Same Sex Marriage Day
• Syttende Mai
• World Hypertension Day
• World Telecommunications and Information Society Day
• World Neurofibromatosis Day
• National Cherry Cobbler Day
• National Mushroom Hunting Day
• National Walnut Day
• National Pack Rat Day
• Children’s Day in Norway
• Constitution Day in Nauru
• Norwegian Constitution Day
• Feast of ‘Azamat (Baha’I Faith)
• Galician Literature Day
• Liberation Day (Democratic Republic of Congo)
• Navy Day in Argentina

Tomorrow is Armed Forces Day, which is ironic because I will be driving up to Fort Bragg in North Carolina for a Special Forces/Green Beret graduation of a family member. A very rare honor for a true warrior.

Some Famous People Born 05/17 in History:

• 1155-Jien, Japanese monk, poet, historian
• 1490-Albert, Duke of Prussia, last Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights
• 1868-Horace Elgin Dodge-co-founded Dodge
• 1913-Hans Ruesch, Swiss race car driver and author
• 1934-Earl Morrall, American football player and coach
• 1934-Ronald Wayne, computer scientist who co-founded Apple Inc.
• 1936-Dennis Hopper, American actor and director
• 1938-Jason Bernard, American actor
• 1938-Pervis Jackson, American R&B bass singer (The Spinners)
• 1942-Taj Mahal, American blues singer-songwriter and musician
• 1944-Jesse Winchester, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer
• 1945-Tony Roche, Australian tennis player and coach
• 1955-Bill Paxton, American actor and director
• 1955-David Townsend, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
• 1956-Sugar Ray Leonard, American boxer
• 1956-Bob Saget, American comedian, actor, and television host
• 1957-Pasqual Perez, Dominican baseball player
• 1958-Paul Di’Anno, English rock singer-songwriter (Iron Maiden)
• 1960-Simon Fuller, English talent manager and producer, creator of American Idol.
• 1961-Enya, Irish singer-songwriter and producer
• 1962-Craig Ferguson, Scottish-American comedian, actor, and talk show host
• 1966-Danny Manning, American basketball player and coach
• 1970-Jordan Knight, American singer-songwriter and actor (New Kids on the Block)
• 1982-Matt Cassel, American football player
• 1982-Tony Parker, French-American basketball player
• 1985-Derek Hough, American actor, singer, and dancer
• 1985-Christine Nesbitt, Canadian speed skater
• 1985-Matt Ryan, American football player
• 1988-Nikki Reed, American actress, singer, and screenwriter

This Day in History (5/17):

• 1395-Battle of Rovine: the Wallachians defeat an invading Ottoman army.
• 1521-Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, is executed for treason.
• 1536-George Boleyn, 2nd Viscount Rochford, and four other men are executed for treason.
• 1536-Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn’s marriage is annulled.
• 1590-Anne of Denmark is crowned Queen of Scotland.
• 1673-Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette begin exploring the Mississippi River.
• 1792-the New York Stock Exchange is formed under the Buttonwood Agreement.
• 1805-Muhammad Ali becomes Wali of Egypt.
• 1809-Emperor Napoleon I orders the annexation of the Papal States to the French Empire.
• 1814-Occupation of Monaco changes from French to Austrian.
• 1814-the Constitution of Norway is signed and Crown Prince Christian Frederick of Denmark is elected King of Norway by the Norwegian Constituent Assembly.
• 1859-Members of the Melbourne Football Club codified the first rules of Australian rules football.
• 1863-Rosalia de Castro publishes Cantares Gallegos, the first book in the Galician language.
• 1865-the International Telegraph Union (later the International Telecommunications Union) is established in Paris.
• 1869-Imperial Japanese forces defeat the remnants of the Tokugawa shogunate in the Battle of Hakodate to end the Boshin War.
• 1875-Aristides wins the first Kentucky Derby. There was not a challenge or review.
• 1900-Second Boer War: British troops relieve Mafeking.
• 1900-the children’s novel “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum, is first published in the US. The first copy is given to the author’s sister.
• 1902-Greek archaeologist Valerios Stais discovers the Antikythera mechanism, an ancient mechanical analog computer.
• 1939-the Columbia Lions and the Princeton Tigers play in the United States’ first televised sporting event, a collegiate baseball game in New York City.
• 1940-WWII: Germany occupies Brussels, Belgium.
• 1943-WWII: Dambuster Raids commence by No. 617 Squadron RAF.
• 1954-the United States Supreme Court hands down a unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas.
• 1967-Six-Day War: President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt demands dismantling of the peace-keeping UN Emergency Force in Egypt.
• 1969-Venera program: Soviet Venera 6 begins its descent into the atmosphere of Venus, sending back atmospheric data before being crushed by pressure.
• 1973-Watergate scandal: televised hearings begin in the United States Senate.
• 1974-The Troubles: thirty-three civilians are killed and 300 injured when the Ulster Volunteer Force detonates four car bombs in Dublin and Monaghan, Republic of Ireland.
• 1977-Nolan Bushnell opened the first Chuck E. Cheese’s in San Jose, CA.
• 1983-the US Department of Energy declassifies documents showing the world’s largest mercury pollution event in Oak Ridge, TN (ultimately found to be 4.2 million pounds), in response to the Appalachian Observer’s Freedom of Information Act request.
• 1983-Lebanon, Israel, and the United States sign an agreement on Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon.
• 1987-Iran-Iraq War: an Iraqi Dassault Mirage F1 fighter jet fires two missiles into the US Navy warship USS Stark, killing 37 and injuring 21 of her crew.
• 1990-the General Assembly of the World Health Organization eliminates homosexuality from the list of psychiatric diseases.
• 1992-three days of popular protests against the government of PM of Thailand Suchinda Kraprayoon begin in Bangkok, leading to a military crackdown that results in 52 officially confirmed deaths, hundreds of injuries, many disappearances, and more than 3,500 arrests.
• 1994-Malawi holds its first multi-party elections.
• 1995-Shawn Nelson steals an M60 tank from the California Army National Guard Armory in San Diego and proceeds to go on a rampage.
• 1997-troops of Laurent Kabila march into Kinshasa. Zaire is officially renamed Democratic Republic of Congo.
• 2004-the first legal same-sex marriages in the US are performed in the state of Massachusetts.
• 2006-the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany is sunk in the Gulf of Mexico as an artificial reef.
• 2009-Minecraft release as what is now known as Minecraft Classic.
• 2014-a plane crash in northern Laos kills 17 people.

Fun Fact of the Day:

Serial killer Ted Bundy once worked at a Suicide Hotline Crisis Center and was described by co-workers and being kind, solicitous, and empathetic.

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”—Pablo Picasso

Currency and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices closed at:

$74.34/barrel on 10/5
$47.66/barrel on 12/23
$48.63 on 01/07
$52.31/barrel on 01/16
$55.26/barrel on 2/3
$55.41/barrel on 2/26
$73.77/barrel on 4/29, as President Trump announced that he would bring Iranian oil exports down to ZERO. He intends to end sanction waivers that had previously allowed 8 countries to purchase crude from Iran. The news shot oil prices up to their highest level since November 2018, when President Trump had thanked Saudi Arabia for brining oil prices down to $54/barrel.

Now, with OPEC about to meet in Jeddah today, without Iran, and American foreign policy crises in Venezuela, Iran, and Libya, oil prices are again surging higher. Ironically, Saudi Arabia needs oil prices to be higher than $80/barrel, in order for it to balance its budget.

Today, 5/17/19, oil is at $63.28/barrel.

The price of gasoline at my new West Palm Beach station has dipped to $2.44/gallon. Most of the other stations in the area are 10-30 cents more per gallon.

One USD versus the Yen was trading at (these are all Repo Commentary dates):

112.20 on 12/24
108.60 on 01/07
109.07 on 01/16
103.18 on 02/03
104.86 on 2/25
103.86 on 5/17

One Euro was trading on:

12/24 at $1.1426
01/07 at $1.1478
01/16 at $1.1396
02/03 at $1.2047
02/25 at $1.1955
05/17 at $1.1761

One British Pounds was trading on:

12/24 at $1.2655
01/07 at $1.2770
01/16 at $1.2880
02/03 at $1.3758
02/25 at $1.3728
05/17 at $1.3427

One USD versus the CAD at:

1.3442 on 12/24
1.3297 on 01/07
1.3255 on 01/16
1.2492 on 2/03
1.2492 on 2/25
1.2800 on 5/17

Gold closed 2/25 at $1330.20, reflecting the continued uncertainty (almost steady uncertainty) of the markets and flight to gold. Today, 5/17, it is trading at $1275.90.

Bitcoin was trading at (Repo Commentary Dates):

$8,185.21 on 7/25
$6,350 on 10/5
$3,774.97 on 12/24
$3,7774.97 on 01/07
$3,598.90 on 01/16
$3,421.10 on 02/06
$3,826.44 on 02/26
$8,100.00 on 05/16
$7,215.79 on 05/17

It has rebounded dramatically, although certainly not to its $19,000 highs. But, it also is showing its incredible volatility, even over the last 24 hours.

Global Financial News:

Department of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s top housing advisor and point person on GSE reform, my friend and former colleague at Morgan Stanley, Craig Phillips, reportedly is stepping down from his role as soon as next month. Speaking of which, the GSE (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac) patch in place is set to expire in less than 2 years. US Bank is now the latest bank in a growing list of mortgage lenders that unveiling a digital mortgage lending process. Facebook Coin is reportedly under development in Switzerland, under Libra Networks, which is working on its own payments and blockchain systems. US consumer sentiment has surged to the highest level in 15 years.

US Market News:

Today, marks the anniversary of the creation of the New York Stock Exchange in 1792.

The Dow Jones has been on a roller coaster ride for more than six months, affected by geo-political upheaval, US political investigations, global tariffs, and, naturally, company earnings reports. It peaked in September, then plummeted, nearly to Bear market 20% extent in December, rallied sharply in the first quarter, drifted lower in the second quarter, and has been struggling the past week to recover.

The Dow Jones closed at (Repo Commentary Dates):

26,656.77 on 9/20/18
26,447.05 on 10/5/18
21,792.20 on 12/23/18
21,712.53 on 12/26/18
24,207.16 on 01/16/19
25,063.89 on 2/06/19
26,106.47 on 2/25/19
25,862.68 on 5/16/19, up over 240 points.

S&P 500 also gave up its all-time high on 9/20/18 of 2,930.66, closing on:

10/5/18 at 2,885.58
12/26/18 at 2,467.70
01/07/19 at 2,549.69
01/16/19 at 2,616.10
02/06/19 at 2,706.53
02/25/19 at 2,799.34
05/16/19 at 2,876.32, almost recovered to that 9/20/18 high.

Nasdaq too gave up its 8/28/18 high of 8,030.04, closing on:

10/5/18 at 7,788.45
12/26/18 at 6,554.36
01/07/19 at 6,823.47
01/16/19 at 7,034.70
02/06/19 at 7,263.87
02/25/19 at 7,561.87
05/16/19 at 7,898.05, similarly back to near that record high.

US Treasury yields had gotten much higher on 9/20/18, 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. They have actually plummeted in the last few weeks, due to more talk of Fed rate CUTS, rather than Fed rate HIKES.

2 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 2.88%
12/18/18 at 2.65%
01/07/19 at 2.53%
01/16/19 at 2.55%
02/06/19 at 2.52%
02/22/19 at 2.48%
05/16/19 at 2.20%

3 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 2.99%
12/18/18 at 2.64%
01/07/19 at 2.47% (inverted to 2years)
01/16/19 at 2.53%
02/06/19 at 2.50%
02/22/19 at 2.46%
05/16/19 at 2.15%

5 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.07%
12/18/18 at 2.65%
01/07/19 at 2.49%
01/16/19 at 2.54%
02/06/19 at 2.51%
02/22/19 at 2.47%
05/16/19 at 2.18%

7 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.18%
12/18/18 at 2.74%
01/07/19 at 2.60%
01/16/19 at 2.62%
02/06/19 at 2.59%
02/22/19 at 2.55%
05/16/19 at 2.28%

10 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.23%
12/18/18 at 2.82%
01/07/19 at 2.70%
01/16/19 at 2.73%
02/06/19 at 2.70%
02/22/19 at 2.65%
05/16/19 at 2.40%

30 YEAR BONDS closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.40%
12/18/18 at 3.07%
01/07/19 at 2.99%
01/16/19 at 3.07%
02/06/19 at 3.03%
02/22/19 at 3.02%
05/16/19 at 2.84%

Housing News:

Just as the snowbirds have left for New York and other northern parts from Florida (typically ‘Season’ ends around Easter or Passover), news comes to me from the US Census Bureau that more people are ‘permanently’ leaving New York to come live in Florida. According to recent data, more people are leaving the state of New York, than any other state. Between July 2017 and July 2018, New York state lost 180,306 and only gained 131,746 new residents. 42 out of 50 counties in New York have seen a population decrease since 2010. Now, NYC population is still growing, increasing by almost 500,000 from 2010 to 2017, but more are leaving each day. Part of it is how expensive it is to live in NYC (I know, I did it for 26 years), how layoffs have increased (I know that part too), getting burnt out in the rat race (live to work, I am familiar with that), and the new tax laws’ impacts. Meanwhile, more Americans (not going to address the illegal immigrants hot potato) moved to Florida than any other state in 2018. From July 2017 to July 2018, Florida gained 1,160,387 people net from migration from other states. If you include birth, deaths, and international migration, Florida (322,513 new residents) only trailed Texas (379,128). Florida now has a population of 21,299,325, No.3 in the US. Another note, Miami-Dade county is growing much faster this decade than last decade. Chicago is improving public housing with libraries. CNBC reports that the incoming wave of millennial homebuyers is a major opportunity for the US housing market. An immigrant, who was a refugee and a public housing resident, will now lead the Minneapolis public housing board. The National Association of Realtors is predicting that New Home Sales will probably reach a 12-year high in 2019, but sales of Existing Homes will probably be flat. When Ben Carson assumed the role as HUD secretary, he and his wife spent $165,000 of HUD funds to bring the office and its décor up to standards, but did not get prior approval from Congress. The GAO says he violated the law. When Zillow acquired Mortgage Lenders of America last summer, it signaled that it is now going all-in on mortgage lending.

Repo News:

Let’s look forward in the regulatory crystal ball for the rest of 2019. So, after the Financial Crisis, and over 350 financial regulations initiated by Dodd-Frank, FSOC, FSB, G20, and other regulators, it seemed that things had cooled down on the regulatory front. But, things are heating up again. We just experienced the implementation of MiFID II and we have SFTR ahead of us to implement. SFTR, if you don’t know, is the FSB’s attempt again to address the elusive Shadow Banking, among other things. Most of the other regulatory initiatives now on the table to implement are related to Basel III and the completion of three major European projects: the Banking Union, the Capital Markets Union, and the Digital Single Market. We are also still addressing LIBOR replacement (particularly in the US with the development of SOFR) and reform of Euribor and Eonia reference indices (which the EU just decided to put off for 2 years). Of course, there is always fintech stuff to deal with and to regulate and, lest we forget, there is the mess of Brexit (or now potential for Brelay or Bremain). Financial regulation in 2008-2012 had a very unified global approach. But, that seems to have declined since, and jurisdictional differences are rearing up and making implementation more complicated. While the Banking Package in Europe has come along way regarding what are prudential measures and how to share risks in the banking industry for recovery and resolution, including backstop plans by the ECB and the EC, there has been little progress made on the Banking Union, except to establish a Single Resolution Fund through the ESM, but no agreement on the EDIS. Likewise, the Capital Markets Union effort has seen only small progress. Lastly, while the industry in 2018 saw consolidation of the digitalization of the financial sector, there has been no concrete regulatory framework negotiated to deal with the growing change. Plus, we still have that EU Reform deadline coming up 3/31, as iMoneyNet reminds me. So, until further notice, the Legal and Risk departments remain in charge.

I still 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. Not knowing who the other clients were and who could bring down the intermediary dealers was costly for many clients. Clearly, with that pipeline of intermediation 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 of their custodial clients, electronic all-to-all repo on a few electronic trading platforms like Elixium, GLMX, Tradeweb, 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, like Eurex, LCH, OCC, etc.). 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. Some of that balance sheet has returned, as I mentioned above, but may be for only select ‘platinum’ clients and may come at a higher bid/offer spread or in specific, more profitable products/securities.

Upcoming Repo Industry Conferences:
 

• Deutsche Borse/Clearstream is held its annual conference this week in Luxembourg, which I attended last year.
• IMN 25th Beneficial Owners International Securities Finance and Collateral Management Conference was held in Fort Lauderdale, FL on 2/5-2/6. I was chosen as the Chairperson.
• Finadium held a new conference on the Business of Collateral Trading in Frankfurt, Germany on 2/21.
• IMN held its annual Fixed Income Investor Network in Las Vegas on 2/24.
• iMoneyNet held its annual MMExpo in Middleburg, VA 3/4-3/6.
• PASLA/RMA held its 16th annual Conference on Asian Securities Lending in Sydney, Australia 3/5-3/7.
• GIOA held its 15th annual conference in Las Vegas 3/20-3/22.
• Crane Data held its annual Bond Fund Symposium in Philadelphia on 3/25-3/26.
• Finadium will held its 3rd annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference in NYC on 5/2-5/3.
• GFOA is holding its 113th annual conference in Los Angeles on 5/19-5/22.
• Securities Lending Times will hold its annual Securities Finance Technology Symposium in London on 5/9.
• 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.
• Crane Data will hold its annual Money Fund Symposium on 6/24-6/26 in Boston.
• 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.
• Crane Data will hold its annual European Money Fund Symposium in Dublin, Ireland on 9/23-24.
• 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:

The Fed Funds rate, which is still the target rate of Federal Reserve monetary policy and changes to which are made by and announced by the FOMC at regularly scheduled meetings, is currently set at 2.50%. However, the Effective Fed Funds Rate (EFFR), as reported by the NY Fed on its website, is only 2.39% as of 5/16/19.. it has drifted lower, averaging about 12bp below the actual target rate.. Now, Fed Funds don’t TRADE much like they used to, just between some regional banks and GSEs.

The Overnight Bank Funding Rate (OBFR), also published by the NY Fed to capture the volume-weighted median of overnight federal funds transactions, Eurodollar transactions, and the domestic deposits reported by banks. That rate on 5/16/19 was 2.38% and has been very constant throughout this month.

The Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) is supposed to be a broad measure of the cost of borrowing cash overnight collateralized by US Treasury securities. It is also reported by the NY Fed on its website. It has been controversial and has been considered as a possibly replacement for LIBOR. SOFR includes trades in the Broad General Collateral Rate of Repo plus bilateral Treasury Repo transactions cleared through the DVP services at CCP FICC, ostensibly filtering out issues trading Special. However, critics (and I am one) say that it only picks up the Offered Side of Repo (not a median), that it only picks up the small amount of DVP transactions cleared at FICC and Triparty Repo done at Bank of NY, ignoring the growing amount of bilateral (non-Triparty) repo being done peer-to-peer, dealer-to-dealer, and client-to-dealer, outside of FICC. It is a good representation of where Money Funds (except for a few savvy ones who trade peer-to-peer) are paid on their cash versus US Treasuries in Repo each day by broker/dealers. It almost completely ignores other sectors, particularly buyside clients with collateral. That all being said, the current SOFR reported by the Fed for 05/16/19 was 2.43%.

The next FOMC meetings are: 6/19/19, 7/31/19, 9/18/19, 10/30/19, 12/11/19, 1/29/20.

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (mostly banks, GSEs, and MMFs) is used as a tool by the Federal Reserve, along with its Fed Funds target-setting monetary policy, and OER for depository institutions, to help control short-term interest rates. 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 5/15/19, 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. So, if RRP is not extinct, it is certainly now dormant, occasionally coming out of hibernation for year-ends and quarter-ends, when liquidity becomes very strange.

So, last I wrote in the Repo Commentary, 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.

Well, things have done a 180-degree turn. Now, folks in the market, over the last couple of weeks, have been talking more about when the Federal Reserve is going to CUT interest rates, rather than RAISE them again.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

The USGS updated its 2005 rankings of the 161 volcanoes that pose the most threat to American lives. Since 2005, that total number has dropped by 8. The 18 very highest threat volcanoes are in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington. 39 other volcanoes are high threat, 49 are moderate, 34 are low, and 21 are very low threat. The United States is one of Earth’s most volcanically active countries. Since 1980, there have been 120 eruptions and 52 episodes of notable volcanic threat at 44 US volcanoes. Using 24 factors to determine the threat to people and evaluate the US volcanoes, the USGS came up with the entire list. Here are the 18 very highest threat volcanoes:
• Akutan Island-Alaska
• Augustine Volcano-Alaska
• Makushin-Alaska
• Redoubt Volcano-Alaska
• Mount Spur-Alaska
• Mount Baker-Washington
• Glacier Peak-Washington
• Mount Ranier-Washington
• Mount St. Helens-Washington
• Crater Lake-Oregon
• Mount Hood-Oregon
• Newberry Volcano-Oregon
• Three Sisters Volcano-Oregon
• Lassen volcanic center-California
• Long Valley Caldera-California
• Mount Shasta-California
• Kilauea-Hawaii
• Mauna Loa-Hawaii

The USGS is now very excited about its capabilities to better predict the most dangerous volcanoes, using the new National Volcano Early Warning System (NVEWS). The USGS is now using unmanned drones to “sniff” for escaping methane gas from thawing permafrost. President Trump has proposed a $983 million budget for fiscal year 2020 for USGS. He wants the agency to prioritize supporting American energy enterprise, national security, and natural hazard response efforts. Latest strong earthquakes (5.0 magnitude and above):

none

Weather:

The Atlantic Hurricane Season begins June 1st and ends November 30th. For 2018, Colorado State University experts had predicted an above average season of 14 named Tropical Storms, of which 7 would become Hurricanes. Both are above the averages of 12 and 6, respectively. But, there were 15 named Tropical Storms, of which 8 were hurricanes, and 2 of them major. So, they were wrong, but this time, not in a good way. Hurricane officials are warning Floridians to prepare in advance of the upcoming storm season. There are several national meteorological services and scientific agencies that forecast how many named storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes (above Category 3). TSR, CSU, and The Weather Company were similar numbers, while NCU was higher. CSU has been the most used and they forecast for 2019 a near-average season of 13 named storms, 5 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes. The National Hurricane Center is monitoring a system off of Bermuda that has a 30% chance of developing.

The Hurricane names for the 2019 North Atlantic season are:

Andrea
Barry
Chantal
Dorian
Erin
Fernand
Gabrielle
Humberto
Imelda
Jerry
Karen
Lorenzo
Melissa
Nestor
Olga
Pablo
Rebekah
Sebastian
Tanya
Van
Wendy

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

As for the weather, the US has been dealing with huge storms, flooding, hail, tornadoes, and very whacky temperatures. There has been snow in Denver in May, the Northeast is suffering through 40-degree temperatures and rain (about 35 degrees below where it was on this date last year), the South has had punishing daily rain and winds, and Florida has been seeing typical summer pattern of August, with temperatures in the 90s, high humidity, and daily thunderstorms and massive amounts of rain. The National Weather Service says that Friday will be Day One of five days of severe weather hitting multiple areas of the US, staring in the Pacific Northwest, Midwest, and Texas.

Sports News:

MLB:

The MLB regular season began 3/28 this year and the 2018 World Series Champion Red Sox did not start well, in last place, fumbling to a 2-12 record out of the gate. Technically, the current season began on 3/20-3/21, when the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics played each other in Tokyo. The Boston Red Sox will play the Yankees in London, for the first-ever MLB games in Europe, on 6/29-6/30. Anyway, back to the Red Sox and Yankees, both teams started out poorly, but both have recovered well and are now playing above .500 and closing in on improbable AL East first place Rays. What is not different is that the Orioles are already occupying the cellar of the AL East, having mortgaged their present for their future, dumping all of their star players, except slugger Chris Davis, and I still can’t figure that one out. Another team that is no surprise to be in the cellar, for exactly the same reasons, is the Marlins. Granted, we are early in the season, only about 40 games in or roughly 25%. Still, there are some trends that are re-emerging and some new surprises due to aggressive free agency work. In the AL East: the Rays have a half game lead on the Yankees and 4 game lead on the Red Sox, with the Orioles already 13 games back. By the way, star closer for the Red Sox, Kimbrel, is still a free agent and not playing baseball. In the AL Central: the Twins have been on fire (2nd best record in MLB) and hold a 4 ½ game lead over the Indians. Speaking of the Indians, their ace Kuebler is still a free agent and not playing baseball. The White Sox have been surprisingly pretty good, with all of their trades. The Royals have the cellar 13 ½ games back. In the AL West: the Astros have roared out of the gate (best record in MLB) and command an 8 game over the surprisingly good Mariners. No one really occupies the cellar for a change here. In the NL East: the Phillies were able to turn themselves around with aggressive spending, particularly on slugging and pitching, and hold a 1 ½ game lead over the Braves, who really didn’t do much in the off-season, and 3 ½ games over the Mets, who are playing better than expected. The Marlins are 13 games out and have by far the worst record in MLB, at 10-31. In the NL Central: the Cubs started slowly, but have managed to eke out a ½ game lead over the strong Brewers. The Cards and Pirates are right there just behind them. The Reds aren’t even doing that badly, for a change, 6 ½ games back. In the NL West: the Dodgers did well with their acquisitions and kept first place for now, 4 ½ games ahead of the Diamondbacks. The Padres are only 1 game back of that with Manny Machado. The Giants, once again seem to have not found the answers and are drifting to 9 ½ games back.

Giants ace Madison Bumgarner is being rumored for a trade. Mets OF Michael Conforto is expected to go on IL. Mets IF Jed Lowrie suffered a significant setback in his recovery from hamstring injury. Red Sox star 2B Dustin Pedroia barely played a game and is back on the DL with that tricky knee that sidelined him all season last year. The Brewers called up top prospect Keston Hiura to replace Travis Shaw who went on IL. MLB has put Dodgers’ Julio Urias on leave after domestic battery arrest. An unruly Braves fan was absolutely destroyed by a security guard. Yankees’ Chad Green is no longer a reliever, and he is relieved. The Rangers hit 5 HRs and scored 16 runs. The Rockies are calling up Brendan Rodgers amid star Trevor Story injury. Red Sox Chris Sale set a new personal record of 17 strikeouts, but still didn’t get a decision. He struck out 31 in combined back-to-back starts, nearly tying Kerry Wood’s record. The Red Sox set a franchise record of 10 consecutive hits in an inning. Yankees IF Miguel Andujar is likely out for the season with shoulder injury. Cubs’ Ben Zobrist remains on leave, as his wife files for divorce. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit is first 2 MLB HRs for the Blue Jays. Angels two-way player, Shohei Ohtani hit his first HR since his return. White Sox LHP Carlos Rodon is out for season after Tommy John surgery. Pirates starter Jameson Taillon has gone on 60-day IL. Twins star slugger Nelson Cruz just landed on the DL.

I’ve had to field this question a lot lately, so let me try to clarify. The Red Sox won the World Series in 2018 and the entire MLB season is within that calendar year. The New England Patriots won the NFL’s Super Bowl in 2019, although the majority of the season is in 2018. So, overlooking that Foxboro is in the Boston-area and not actually Boston, that would mean that 2 of the 4 major team sports in the US (not globally) were won by Boston; baseball and football in the same season year. It has happened a few times in sports history and the NFL in the US has only been around since 1920. No city or metropolitan area (like San Francisco, Boston, New York/New Jersey, etc.) has ever won 3 of the major team sports in the US in the same year. This is a point that many people like to argue. For instance, both the Boston Celtics (NBA) and Boston Bruins (NHL) are playing in the playoffs right now. And, although both of their 82-game seasons BEGAN in 2018, the majority of their seasons and their championships (Stanley Cup and Finals, respectively) occur in 2019. So, if they were both to win their respective championships, they would not be in the same ‘SEASON YEAR’ as the 2018 Red Sox and 2018 Patriots. However, Boston could have claimed all 4 as the “current” reigning champions of their respective sports of the CALENDAR YEAR, at least until the 2019 World Series and the 2020 Super Bowl. Now, for an update. The Celtics’ locker room squabbles with Kyrie Irving helped them out the exit door from the playoffs against the Bucks. So, the all 4-team sport reigning champion dream was dashed. However, the Bruins have surged on, and with last night’s sweep of the Hurricanes, have made the Stanley Cup Finals. So, there is a potential 3-team sport reigning champions in play for Boston. That has only been done once by Detroit, in the 1930s, when it had 3 team sports (NBA, NFL, and MLB) as reigning champions in the same CALENDAR YEAR (but not SEASON YEAR).

The MLB announced the class of the six 2019 inductees into the Hall of Fame and they are: Harold Baines, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez (finally), Mike Mussina, Mariano Rivera, and Lee Smith. The ceremony will be on 7/21 in Cooperstown, NY. Baines and Smith were elected to the Hall of Fame by the Today’s Game Era Committee. Baines, an ESPN analyst, will go in as a White Sox, Halladay will go in without a logo, Martinez will go in as a Mariner (kind of insuring that his fellow DH, David Ortiz, will make it too), Mussina will go in without a logo (I’m surprised), Rivera (the greatest reliever of all-time) will go in as a Yankee, and Smith (one of the greatest relievers of all-time) will go in as a Cub.

Golf:

The PGA Tour season began with its swing through Hawaii. Then they landed on the continent in California and moved over to Arizona, then stopped in Mexico, before hitting Florida, moving to Augusta, and now up to my old course, Bethpage in Long Island, NY. Sung Kang won his first PGA Tour title last Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson. Tiger Woods has been the main topic this season, like the old days, in his remarkable comeback, moving up from No.668 world ranking in 2018, to now No.6 as he plays at the PGA Championship at Bethpage this week. He won a tournament, then won an improbably 5th Masters Tournament at Augusta (15th Major), and has had several top 10 finishes this year. He didn’t start well at Bethpage yesterday, posting a 72, 2 over, as his chipping and putting were rusty. He only played 9 holes of practice since his Masters victory a month ago. He missed all 5 of putts he had from 5-10 feet (normally pros make 60-40% of those, with 40% for 10 footers). It probably didn’t help that one of his playing partners, Brooks Koepka, scorched the course record with a 63 (-7). The top 70 golfers will make the cut and Woods starts today at no. 58. Watching between paragraphs, I see that Koepka is now -10, Spieth is making a run, Adam Scott is making a run, Danny Lee fell dramatically, and both Day and McIlroy had bad rounds. There have been 1,142 bogeys or worse this week so far at Bethpage (over 7 per golfer), but Koepka hasn’t had one, yet. Of course, the minute I wrote those words, defending champ Koepka bogied his 28th hole. Coaches and competitors at the NCAA Women’s Championship were informed that the official yardage books were non-conforming.

NCAA Basketball:

The college basketball season closed out in March, with my Michigan State Spartans just missing a National title and coming in third. They lost to Texas Tech, who then lost to Virginia. Virginia had beaten Auburn to get to the Finals. Here is the AP Final Poll:

1. Virginia (35-3)
2. Texas Tech (31-7)
3. Michigan State (32-7)
4. Duke (32-6)
5. Auburn (30-10
6. Gonzaga (33-4)
7. Kentucky (30-7)
8. Purdue (26-10)
9. North Carolina (29-7)
10. Tennessee (31-6)
11. Michigan (30-7)
12. Houston (33-4)
13. FSU (29-8)
14. Virginia Tech (26-9)
15. LSU (28-7)
16. Kansas (26-10)
17. Buffalo (32-4)
18. Wofford (30-5)
19. Kansas State (25-9)
20. Villanova (26-10)
21. Oregon (25-13)
22. Maryland (23-11)
23. Nevada (29-5)
24. Wisconsin (23-11)
25. Iowa State (23-12)

NFL:

The 99th NFL regular season ended with the New England Patriots beating the Los Angeles Rams in a defensive battle 13-3 in the Super Bowl. It was QB Tom Brady’s 6th Super Bowl victory. Patriots owner Robert Kraft has made the news down here in southern Florida, where he owns a condo in Palm Beach, for allegedly soliciting sex twice at a massage parlor in Jupiter, FL. Several massage parlors were involved in the police sting which netted at least 105 ‘Johns’ and network of human trafficking. It’s disgusting behavior, if true, and will likely be met with NFL fines or sanctions. Just yesterday, a judge threw out the video evidence as inadmissible, probably because patrons didn’t know they were being videotaped. I had heard that it was only video and not audio, so it would be hard to convict without hearing him. The Raiders have reached an agreement to play in Oakland next season. The Ravens are releasing veteran WR Michael Crabtree. Falcons owner Arthur Blank just bought a $180 million yacht, according to a report. Buccaneers RB Peyton Barber reportedly had his car broken into and his playbook stolen. The NFL is considering banning players from leaving sidelines to join celebrations. The Panthers have released defensive captain Munnerlyn and Mike Adams. Kyle Long tweeted “Bear for Life” after contract was reportedly restructured. Cowboys COO finally admitted in discussing coach Jason Garrett that “everybody’s back is against the wall.” Packers team president says QB Aaron Rodgers has to “embrace” change. Jets are reportedly interested in WR Donte Moncrief. NFL’s Randy Gregory has been suspended indefinitely for substance abuse violation. Saints’ Ted Ginn says he will race anyone for $10,000.

Although the NFL season is over, the shortest season of the big 4 team sports in the US, the NFL has a new league, the Alliance of American Football (AAF) League, that had already started playing, which includes players who went undrafted, players trying to make a comeback, and players who are on NFL practice squads. The NFL hopes to make this league into kind of developmental league, like MLB’s minor leagues and NBA’s D-League. It was co-founded by Charlie Ebersol. Here are your AAF teams, who are heading into Week 4 (there are a total of 10 weeks plus playoffs, extending the season to 4/27):

Arizona Hotshots
Atlanta Legends
Birmingham Iron
Memphis Express
Orlando Apollos
Salt Lake Stallions
San Antonio Commanders
San Diego Fleet

Newsflash: the NFL suspended play of the new league, just 6 games into the inaugural season, and stopped paying players. Well, so much for that.
The AAF is not to be confused with the XFL, which was launched 17 years ago, by Dick Ebersol of NBC, Charlie’s father. Former Seahawks QB Jim Zorn has been named coach and GM of Seattle’s XFL franchise.

Let’s look at the new NFL Hall of Fame class, which includes Tony Gonzalez, Ed Reed, Kevin Mawae, Champ Bailey, Johnny Robinson, Pat Bowlen, Gil Brandt, and Ty Law.

NHL:

The puck dropped on the regular season, for some teams, on 10/3. We are currently in the semifinals of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and it has been a crazy playoff season. For the first time ever, all 4 division winners were ousted in the first round. My Bruins (2nd best record in NHL) just swept in 4 games the Hurricanes (3rd best record in NHL). The Blues and Sharks are still battling for the Western Conference spot in the Stanley Cup Finals, after a bad call in OT gave the Sharks a 2-1 edge in their best of 7 series. Once again, the President Trophy curse continued, as the Lightning, who had the best record in NHL, were knocked out in the first round. Of the 39 years that they have been awarding the President Trophy for the best record in the NHL, only 9 teams went on to win the Stanley Cup.

NBA:

The NBA season officially began on 10/3 as well. We are also in the semifinals of those playoffs. We saw a weird early exit by the Celtics, who were in the Finals last year, as the Bucks swept them. The Bucks are now playing Warriors, who lost Kevin Durant to injury and shocked the world by beating the Rockets in Houston in Game 6 to take that series without Durant.

Soccer:

Manchester City is arguably the best team in the world right now, at least in English terms, having completed the most dominant two seasons ever, winning back-to-back titles in the Champions League, beating rival Man United. They also retained the Carabao Cup this year. They could complete their version of the Triple Crown by now winning the FA Cup Final against Watford in the Premier League. They have two musicians in each teams’ corners, with Elton John there to root on Watford and Oasis’ Noel Gallagher to root on Man City.

Tennis:

Serena Williams has invested in a plant-protein based food brand. Australian tennis pro Nick Kyrgios threw a chair onto court during the Italian Open. Andy Murray became Sir Andy Murray as he got his knighthood. Nadal has reached the Rome semis, while Federer and Osaka withdrew with injuries.

MMA:

Legend Georges St-Pierre announced his retirement, but still left the door open for a UFC comeback. He had failed to secure a super-fight with lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and decided to call it a career. Nurmagomedov is serving a 9-month suspension from the Nevada State Athletic Commission for his post-fight brawl following his UFC 229 victory over Conor McGregor in October. Nurmagomedov took to Twitter to try to dissuade St-Pierre from retirement and to offer to fight him in November. St-Pierre (26-2) turns 38 in May and holds the record for most welterweight title defenses in UFC history with 9 and is widely considered one of the greatest competitors in the sport’s history. In UFC 236, Israel Adesanya will fight Kelvin Gastelum for interim middleweight title. In UFC Phoenix, heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez made his much heralded return, after a 31-month layoff for back surgery and the birth of his son. He came out strong in front of a rowdy crowd, missed two head kicks and a takedown, and took a short uppercut to the jaw, just as his knee buckled. Ngannou jumped on him and unleashed a series of hammerfists, and the return was over, after just 26 seconds. In Bellator 216, Michael ‘Venom’ Page got a unanimous decision over fellow Brit Paul Daley in a grudge match. Everyone expected a boxing match, but instead, a wrestling match broke out.

Horse Racing:

Well, the most exciting two minutes in sports, the Kentucky Derby, became a controversial 20 minutes in sports, as for the first time the winner of the race, by a lot, Maximum Security, was disqualified for moving at least two lanes to the right and dangerously obstructing another horse, tangling legs. That gave the second place horse, a 59-1 longshot, Country House, the win. It was the second-largest odds for a Kentucky Derby winner. Gary West, owner of Maximum Security, filed a grievance and was denied and decided he won’t run in this week’s 144th Preakness on Saturday in Pimlico in Maryland. He also offered up $20 million of his own money, in an unprecedented move in thoroughbred racing, to the owners of Country House, War of Will, Long Range Toddy, and Bodexpress if any of those horses finish ahead of Maximum Security the next time any of them race against him through 12/31/19. The Preakness favorite is currently Improbable. There were 20 horses racing in the Kentucky Derby, but only 13 entered in the Preakness.

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 started with Daytona 500 kicking it off, as it does every year. A big crash with 10 laps remaining, knocked out many of the frontrunners. No one was injured in the 18 car pileup, but Denny Hamlin came away with the win. We have also already run in Atlanta. 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, won by Denny Hamlin
2/24 Atlanta, QuickTrip 500, won by Brad Keselowski
3/3 Las Vegas-Joey Logano
3/10 ISM Raceway-Kyle Busch
3/17 Auto Club-Kyle Busch
3/24 Martinsville-Brad Keselowski
3/31 Texas-Denny Hamlin
4/7 Bristol-Kyle Busch
4/13 Richmond-Martin Truex Jr.
4/28 Talladega-Chase Elliott
5/5 Dover-won by Martin Truex Jr.
5/11 Kansas-won by Brad Keselowski
5/18 All-Star Open Charlotte-won by Austin Dillon
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

Matt Damon and Christian Bale have been named honorary Indy 500 starters. 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:

Miami just revealed a multi-billion-dollar plan to remake the Miami International Airport for 80 million passengers. Also, the commissioner has proposed building a transit system from Miami’s Airport to Seaport. That would make it a lot easier for passengers to catch their cruise ships. The FAA has approved Miami’s Sunny Isles condos to complete its two tallest towers ever at 700 feet. Miami International Airport is considering gutting it in-terminal hotel to make into a shared office space. In the far north of Alaska, near Prudhoe Bay oil field, an international research consortium, using a test well, confirmed two high-quality gas hydrate reservoirs in the Alaska North Slope. Gas hydrate is a potential alternative new fuel source. Two people were killed after they were caught in a rip current at Atlantic Beach, NC. A family inherits a filed of forgotten Ferraris. How come that stuff never happens to me? The NTSB ruled that a Tesla Autopilot was engaged before a fatal Florida crash.

Health News:

704 individual cases of measles have now been confirmed in 2 states. This is the greatest number of cases reported since 1994 and since measles was declared eliminated in the US in 2000, through vaccinations. Many of the illnesses are among children, as a growing population of the US is going without the vaccination, due to fear of it causing other conditions, religious reasons, and because they are recent immigrants. People born before 1989 may also need to update their measles vaccine. This particular measles outbreak began in the Portland, OR area. The world’s first surviving octuplets are now 9-years-old. Research on more than 2.8 million adults suggests that being obese is linked to a significantly higher chance of serious disease and early death than being a healthy weight. Presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Glasgow, Scotland, the study found that people with a body mass index (BMI) of 30-35 were at 70% higher risk of developing heart failure than healthy weight people. Even a BMI of 25-30 increased the risk by 20%, and a BMI of 35-40 more than doubled the risk. A BMI of 25-30 also increased the risk of Type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea by more than 200%, and a BMI of 30-35 increased the risk of Type 2 diabetes by 500% and sleep apnea by 600%. Scientists say they may have found a way to solve the world’s $2.5 trillion problem of plastic pollution, as they have discovered a new way to assemble plastics that takes recycling into consideration at the molecular level. Suicides are rising among young girls. Texting while walking could soon be a crime in NYC. Researchers say that air pollution now damages “every organ in the body.”.

Animal News:

I am very psyched, after growing up wanting to be a zoologist (then finding out that they make zero money), I get to visit an animal rescue ranch in North Carolina next week that has jaguars, tigers, lions, cougars, leopards, etc. I can’t wait! National Geographic says that half of all amphibian species are at risk of extinction. Italy and Malta are the centers of songbird poaching. Dogs can tune out noise. A white beluga whale was found in the North Sea and is believed to have been trained to spy on NATO forces by Russia. Asiatic lionesses must shield their cubs from killer male lions. A woman has been charged with animal cruelty after a tiger was found in a ‘rinky-dink’ cage by Houston authorities. Animal rights group has accused Fellsmere farm workers of animal cruelty. Tourists’ exciting video shows an alligator biting a bigger, bellowing gator in Florida. A 7-foot snake scares an Oklahoma man as it pokes its head out of dryer vent. A fisherwoman in Ireland reeled in a 15-foot/1,200-lb shark after a 90-minute struggle. It was measured and documented and released. It was a rare bluntnose sixgill shark, also known as a cow shark. Researchers say an Australian dinosaur had natural “high-heel”. A “Summit of the Bear” is being held between Spain and France, after bears attacked sheep. A 27-year-old man was killed in Zimbabwe by a huge crocodile, while fishing with his brother. A recent study suggest the number of attacks by Nile crocodiles was between 275 and 745 per year, with about 63% proving fatal.

Entertainment News:

Phil McCormack, the lead singer of Molly Hatchet, died at the age of 58, on 4/26. Dave Samuels of Spyro Gyra died 4/22 at the age of 70. John Singleton, the director of the movie BOYZ N THE HOOD, has died at age 51. Fashion world’s Met Gala is coming up 5/6 in NYC. Larry King suffered a heart issue last week but is now recovering. Apparently, I missed an epic battle scene in Game of Thrones. Prince William and Kate Middleton are celebrating their 8th wedding anniversary. There also is rumored to a feud between Prince William and brother Prince Harry. It could be because of Harry’s wife’s Meghan’s non-royal actions. Buckingham Palace is reportedly considering separating the Princes, stationing Harry in South Africa. Anne Hathaway has been recalling her doubts about making it in Hollywood. She is also talking about a possible sequel to PRINCESS DIARIES. Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles will sing the National Anthem at the 2019 Kentucky Derby on 5/4. I didn’t get the call again! Actor Rami Malek credits his role on TV series “Mr. Robot” for landing him his Oscar-winning role in BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. He is excited about his next movie role as the bad guy in the 25th James Bond movie, which has begun filming with Daniel Craig, who says it will be his last James Bond movie. “The Simpsons” celebrated their 35th anniversary. Kourtney Kardashian has reignited John Mayer romance rumors. There are a lot of questions and rumors about the six-episode of the 90’s hit “90210 Reboot” with Jason Priestley, Tori Spelling, Shannen Doherty, Jennie Garth, Ian Ziering, Gabrielle Carteris, Brian Austin Green, but without Luke Perry, who passed away last month. Natalie Morales is leaving Access Hollywood and Access Live. Vanessa A. Williams is heading back to Days of Our Lives. Jana Kramer and Mike Caussin are sounding off on Olivia Culpo and Danny Amendola’s messy split. Jenni “JWoww” Farley is slamming her ex Roger Mathews. Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin are still in the spotlight for allegations of their briberies to get their kids into college. It’s official now, Woodstock 50 concert, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the iconic music concert in upstate New York that changed the world, has been cancelled. Producer Andy Cohen had to physically separate Jax and James in the dramatic Vanderpump Rules reunion show, being aired now. Although I never liked Jax, I never liked James even less. Wait, does that make sense? Kim Kardashian had a CBD-themed shower for Baby No.4. Don’t worry, the baby is being carried by a surrogate, not Kim. Kim and Kanye West hilariously surprised a Hollywood tour bus. Halima Aden has made history as the first model to wear a hijab and burkini for Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue. We have lost a number of stars this week, including comedian Tim Conway, famous for the Carol Burnett Show, at age 85, Laura Bush’s mom Jenna Hawkins Welch, at age 99, Twin Peaks actress Peggy Lipton, at age 72, and legendary actress/singer Doris Day, at age 97. The Jeremy Kyle UK tabloid talk show has been cancelled, after the death of a guest. Elsa Patton from Real Housewives of Miami died at the age of 84. POWER RANGERS actor Pua Magasiva died at age 38. The star of the new movie about Elton John, Taron Egerton, lived with Elton John before filming ROCKETMAN. Robert Pattison celebrated his birthday with his Twilight costars. He is in negotiations to play the next movie BATMAN. Nick Viall says he will stand by Hannah Brown, “regardless of who criticizes her.” Young and Pregnant’s Jade replaced Jenelle Evans on TEEN MOM 2. The original Beverly Hills 90210 writers and producers were “alienated” from the new reboot. The new writers quit on Tori Spelling’s birthday. Keanu Reeves revealed he had a crush on SPEED costar Sandra Bullock. Meredith, Alex, and Richard just got fired on Grey’s Anatomy. No doubt due to some of the fallout from its star’s alleged faking of his own attack in Chicago, the show Empire has now been cancelled. Ellen Pompeo slammed Bachelor producer over Kelly Ripa salary dig. You probably have noticed that Southern Charm is now missing former Congressman and convicted felon Thomas, who is now facing rape charges from his nanny. Survivor just completed its Season 38. Britney Spear’s manager is clarifying his comment about her possibly never performing again. Jon Gosselin is publicly reacting to ex-wife Kate’s new dating show. Game of Thrones finale will be streaming 5/19 on HBO Now. I am hearing from fans of the show how deeply disappointed they are in this season 8, the last season. 10.7 million Americans are expected to skip work on Monday, after Sunday’s finale. Joe Rogan calls AI that replicated his voice “terrifyingly accurate”. Kroft has exited 60 Minutes after 30 years.

2018 was a record year at the domestic box office. Ticket sales were almost $11.9 billion, of which Disney pulled in a record $3.092 billion with BLACK PANTHER ($700mm), AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR ($678.8mm), and INCREDIBLES 2($608.6mm). JURASSIC WORLD 2 pulled in $417.7mm and AQUAMAN pulled in $320mm.

This past week’s box-office was extremely strong, as the last Marvel AVENGERS movie shattered the previous opening weekend record. It shattered a number of other records too:

• Largest Thursday Preview: $60 million (beat $57 million STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS)
• Widest Opening: 4,662 theaters (beat 4,529 theaters for DESPICABLE ME 3)
• Largest Friday/Opening Day/Single Day Box: $156.7 million (beat $119.1 million STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS)
• Largest Saturday: $109 million (beat $82.1 million AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR)
• Largest Sunday: $84.3 million (beat $69.2 million AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR)
• Domestic Opening Weekend: $350 million (beat $257.69 million AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR)
• #1 Movie Market Share: 90% (beat 84.5% AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON)
• Largest International Opening: $859 million (beat $443.15 million THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS)
• Worldwide Opening Weekend: $1.2 billion (beat $640.5 million (AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR)
It was also the Highest Per Theater Average, Largest April Opening, Largest Spring Opening, Largest PG-13 Opening, largest 3-Day Gross, Biggest Weekend Overall ($389 million), Fastest to $100 million, Fastest to $200 million, Fastest to $250 million, Fastest to $300 million, Fastest to $350 million, Global 4DX Format Opening Record, Global 3D Opening Record, and Global IMAX Opening Record.

So, AVENGERS: ENDGAME easily won the No.1 spot, with $357.1 million debut. No.2 was, ironically, CAPTAIN MARVEL, with $8.3 million in its 8th week (don’t feel badly, it has grossed $413.8 million already). No.3 was THE CURSE OF LA LLorona, with $8 million, in its 2nd week. No.4 was BREAKTHROUGH with $6.8 million, in its 2nd week. No.5 was SHAZAM!, which made another $5.5 million, bringing its total to $131.2 million on a budget of $100 million, it its 4th week.

The number of movies coming out this week is very low, with: EL CHICANO, THE INTRUDER (Dennis Quaid), UGLYDOLLS, LONG SHOT (Seth Rogen, Charlize Theron), ASK DR. RUTH, BOLDEN, THE CONVENT, MEETING GORBACHEV, NON-FICTION, SAVAGE, and SHADOW.

Technology & Space News:

After fatal airplane accidents and pilot difficulties on the new B-737 MAX aircraft, they were pulled from service by the FAA and the airlines that flew them. Boeing says it has completed the software update. It has logged 207 test flights lasting 360 hours and is now ready to release the fix to the flight control system under investigation for two fatal crashes. Do you remember Grumpy Cat, who sparked smiles and memes all over the Internet? Well, the cat has died. The EU competition commissioner says that a Facebook breakup would be “last resort”. Hewlett-Packard Enterprise says it plans to acquire Seattle-based Cray to beef up supercomputing power. On May 7, the US Department of Energy announced that it was working with Cray and AMD to build one of the world’s most powerful computers, called Frontier, due to arrive in 2021. It will have a performance of 1.5 exaflops, or 1.5 quintillion calculations per second, a little faster than my Texas Instruments calculator. That is 50% faster than the supercomputer that Cray is working on with Intel called Aurora. Microsoft and Sony will partner on game streaming and AI. China’s lunar rover reportedly made a discovery on the far side of the moon. Pink Floyd already told us about it though. iPhone 11R leaks show fresh new colors and larger camera bump. Apple has also unleashed its latest versions of iOS, MacOS, WatchOS, and TVOS ahead of its annual developer conference in June. Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world, has unveiled a $9,999 electric car. NASA is creating the world’s first all-electric airplanes powered by “holy grail” frozen hydrogen fuel. Oh, we are still in a helium drought. Microsoft has harnessed AI to make Word politically correct. I might need that. Jeff Bezos of Amazon has unveiled an ambitious plan to send a spaceship to the Moon. Did you know that a rare Apple-1 computer could fetch as much as $650,000 at auction. Elon Musk told Tesla employees he will review all of company’s expenses in new cost-cutting plan.

US News:

75% of Americans are against a plan to let every prisoner have the right to vote. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin says he won’t comply with subpoena for President Trump’s tax returns. CNN attempted to shame the White House, as a snarky reporter said the podium has gone dusty from lack of press briefings. A Michigan state legislator accused of offering to sell his vote over text says he should have phoned instead. He may not be getting the point. Bikers have embarked on a cross country National Veterans Awareness Ride. You know, on average, 23 veterans commit suicide every day. I have been more involved lately performing and welcoming home veterans from Honor Flights to Washington, D.C., which was originally for WWII vets, but has been expanded to Korean War and Vietnam War veterans. Thousands of people show up at the airport and the veterans seem to like the Elvis outfit. The College Board president who is now pushing for a new SAT testing policy was also the architect of the controversial Common Core program. A Tennessee death row inmate died in prison today, less than 3 months before his scheduled execution and less than a day after a fellow inmate was executed. He was pronounced dead of natural causes at age 64. A man has been sentenced for death threats to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and his family over net neutrality rollback. The man in Wisconsin shooting faced drug charges as well. ICE is reportedly moving 225,000 illegals across the country. More will be coming to South Florida. On the heels of Alabama signing into law a total abortion ban, with no exceptions for incest or rape, Missouri is now closer to doing the same. There is a movement to kick Chicago out of Illinois? A one-armed man is suing police after they handcuffed his wrist to his ankle..

International News:

As the US moved a large aircraft carrier group into the Persian Gulf, Iran has issued a new threat to the US, escalating tensions further. Iran has told Middle East militias to prepare for proxy war. Iraq is once again also caught up in escalating those tensions. The Pentagon has deployed missiles that can ‘fry’ weapons. TA Chinese family who paid $6.5 million in college admissions scandal claims they were duped. Basque separatist chief has been jailed in France. Cuba is betting on tourism, as President Trump restrictions take hold. A new Chinese armored vehicle can now launch swarms of killer drones. Russia is hailing its new “science fiction” secret military lasers. The collapse of Venezuela’s government and economy is the worst outside of war in decades.

Florida:

If you are interested in seeing more famous bands or solos in concert than my Generation Gap or Elvis Presley performances (and I have been singing once or twice per week), there are many acts coming to Florida, perhaps when you will be visiting (I’ve added some concerts since the last Repo Commentary):

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 16 (I would like to go)
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 (it was fantastic!)
Sara Mclachlan-March 1, West Palm Beach
Paul Anka-Fort Lauderdale-March 4
Elton John-Sunrise, March 16
Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band-Sunrise, March 17
Steve Miller Band-Hollywood, March 17
Tony Bennett-Miami, March 21
Palm Beach International Boat Show-West Palm Beach, March 28-March 31
Jackson Browne-West Palm Beach, April 3
Abba The Concert-Miami Beach, April 4
The Rolling Stones-Miami, April 20
Whitesnake-Fort Lauderdale, April 25
Slayer-West Palm Beach, May 11
Rascal Flatts-West Palm Beach, May 23
Ariana Grande-Orlando, May 29
Ozzie Osbourne & Megadeth-Sunrise, May 31
Hootie & the Blowfish-West Palm Beach, June 8
Florence and The Machine-Miami, June 9
Train & Goo Goo Dolls-West Palm Beach, July 6
Hugh Jackman-Sunrise, July 6
Jeff Lynnes’ Electric Light Orchestra-Sunrise, July 9
New Kids on the Block, Salt N Pepa, Naughty by Nature-Sunrise, July 14
Iron Maiden-Sunrise, July 18
Dave Matthews Band-West Palm Beach, July 26
Jennifer Lopez-Miami, July 26
Korn & Alice in Chains-West Palm Beach, July 28
Shawn Mendes-Miami, July 28
Queen & Adam Lambert-Sunrise, August 17
Florida Georgia Line-West Palm Beach, August 29
Peter Frampton-West Palm Beach, September 6
Dane Cook-Fort Lauderdale, September 28

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