Repo Commentary-6/19/19

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I sang my 145th MLB game Thursday night in West Palm Beach. I was also able to interview for jobs, edit the memoir I’ve been ghost-writing, chair a conference, and write some articles. I am still looking to re-enter the Securities Financing Market, so if you hear of anything…

The Repo Commentary was on hiatus for a bit (since 5/17/19). One of the hardest issues in journalism, as a columnist and I were discussing just last week, is when to take the snapshot. Since my Repo Commentary is about a lot of general news, I want to make it the most accurate and most up-to-date information available. The conundrum is that the process of writing takes some time, during which the news or ideas that I am writing about change or evolve. So, you wind up stopping the process, researching the newer news, and editing your piece to include that newer news. But, as you are in that process, other news changes too, maybe even more important news. You could keep updating your piece an infinite number of times, maybe never even be able to punish it. So, you have to pick a window, a snapshot or cutoff day or time. In my case, I have to also resist that ‘trying to catch you up on what happened the last time I wrote’ temptation, which would make the process much longer and make my info much more dated. I have to assume that you have been keeping up yourselves, even without the help of the Repo Commentary. And, just because I have been busy with some other writing and job hunting and interviews, don’t think I haven’t been keeping up with our market. Because I am constantly speaking to potential employers, to customers, and to industry media (probably more than I did when I was selling my product), I have kept up with much of the developments and rumors in the market and may actually know more about what’s going on now than I did then. I actually started this Repo Commentary 5/17, but have come back to it at least 4 times and been pulled away, and have updated it today, 6/18 and 6/19.

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 at least each Friday or Monday.

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.

06/19 Holidays or Events:

• Day of the Independent Hungary
• Feast of Forest (Palawan)
• Juneteenth
• Labour Day (Trinidad and Tobago)
• Laguna Day (Laguna)
• Never Again Day (Uruguay)
• International World Sickle Cell Day
• Garfield the Cat Day
• National Eat an Oreo Day
• National Martini Day
• National Pets in Film Day
• National FreeBSD Day
• National Watch Day
• World Sauntering Day

Worth noting, Friday, 6/14, was not only Flag Day in the United States (when we adopted our official stars and stripes), but also the 244th Birthday of the US Army, and President Trump’s birthday.

Some Famous People Born 06/19 in History:

• 1301-Prince Morikuni-shogun of Japan
• 1566-James VI and I of the United Kingdom
• 1623-Blaise Pascal-French mathematician and physicist
• 1793-Joseph Earl Sheffield-American businessman and philanthropist
• 1816-William H. Webb-American shipbuilder and philanthropist, founder of the Webb Institute
• 1833-Mary Tenney Gray-American editorial writer, club-woman, philanthropist, and suffragette
• 1843-Mary Sibbet Copley-American philanthropist
• 1877-Charles Coburn-American actor
• 1883-Gladys Mills Phipps, American horse breeder
• 1897-Moe Howard, American comedian (Three Stooges)
• 1902-Guy Lombardo, Canadian-American violinist and bandleader
• 1903-Lou Gehrig, American baseball player
• 1922-Aage Bohr, Danish physicist and academic
• 1928-Tommy DeVito, American singer and guitarist (The Four Seasons)
• 1928-Nancy Marchand, Amerian actress
• 1930-Gena Rowlands, American actress
• 1947-Salman Rushdie, Indian-English novelist and essayist
• 1947-John Ralston Saul, Canadian philosopher and author
• 1948-Phylicia Rashad, American actress
• 1950-Ann Wilson, American singer-songwriter and musician (Heart)
• 1954-Lou Pearlman, American music producer and fraudster
• 1954-Kathleen Turner, American actress
• 1962-Paula Abdul, American singer-songwriter, dancer, actress
• 1972-Brian McBride, American soccer player and coach
• 1972-Robin Tunney, American actress
• 1975-Anthony Parker, American basketball player
• 1976-Anita Wilson, American singer-songwriter and producer
• 1978-Dirk Nowitzki, German basketball player
• 1978-Zoe Saldana, American actress
• 1983-Macklemore, American rapper
• 1988-Jacob deGrom, American baseball player

This Day in History (6/19):

• 325-the original Nicene Creed was adopted at the First Council of Nicaea.
• 1179-the Norwegian Battle of Kalvskinnet outside Nidaros. Earl Erling Skakke is killed and the battle changes the tide of the civil wars.
• 1279-King Louis IX of France orders all Jews found in public without an identifying yellow badge to be fined ten livres of silver.
• 1306-the Earl of Pembroke’s army defeats Bruce’s Scottish army at the Battle of Methven.
• 1586-English colonists leave Roanoke Island, after failing to establish England’s first permanent settlement in North America.
• 1846-the first officially recorded, organized baseball game is played under Alexander Cartwright’s rules on Hoboken, NJ’s Elysian Fields with the New York Base Ball Club defeating the Knickerbockers 23-1. Cartwright umpired.
• 1850-Princess Louise of the Netherlands marries Crown Prince Karl of Sweden-Norway.
• 1862-the US Congress prohibits slavery in United States territories, nullifying Dred Scott v. Sandford.
• 1865-over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, slaves in Galveston, TX are finally informed of their freedom. The anniversary is still officially celebrated in Texas and 41 other contiguous states as Juneteenth.
• 1867-Maximilian I of the Second Mexican Empire is executed by firing squad in Queretaro.
• 1875-the Herzegovinian rebellion against the Ottoman Empire begins.
• 1903-Benito Mussolini, then a radical Socialist, is arrested by Bern police for advocating a violent general strike.
• 1910-the first Father’s Day is celebrated in Spokane, WA.
• 1915-the USS Arizona is launched. It sank during the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941 and is where the Pearl Harbor memorial museum is located.
• 1934-the Communications Act of 1934 establishes the US FCC.
• 1943-the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL merge for one season, due to player shortages caused by WWII.
• 1944-WWII: the first day of the Battle of the Philippine Sea.
• 1949-the first ever NASCAR race was held at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
• 1953-Cold War: Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are executed at Sing Sing, in New York.
• 1961-Kuwait declares independence from the United Kingdom.
• 1964-the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is approved after surviving an 83-day filibuster in the US Senate.
• 1978-“Garfield”, holder of the Guinness World Record for the world’s most widely syndicated comic strip, makes its debut.
• 1990-the current international law defending indigenous peoples, Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention 1989, is ratified for the first time by Norway.
• 1990-the Communist party of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic is founded in Moscow.
• 1991-the Soviet occupation of Hungary ends.
• 2007-the al-Khilani Mosque bombing in Baghdad leaves 78 people dead and another 218 injured.
• 2009-mass riots involving over 10,000 people and 10,000 police officers break out in Shishou, China, over the dubious circumstances surrounding the death of a local chef.
• 2009-War in Northwest Pakistan: the Pakistani Armed Forces open Operation Rah-e-Nijat against the Taliban and other Islamist rebels in the South Waziristan area of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
• 2012-WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, requested asylum in London’s Ecuadorian Embassy for fear of extradition to the US after publication of previously classified documents including footage of civilian killings by the US Army.
• 2018-the ten millionth United State Patent is issued.

Daily Weird Facts:

Looking at cute animal pictures at work can make you more productive, a recent study claims. (that’s where my Commentary comes in!)

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“If everybody likes you, you’re pretty dull.”—Bette Davis

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
$63.28/barrel on 5/17
$54.07/barrel on 6/18

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 bringing oil prices down to $54/barrel.

Now, with OPEC having met without Iran, and American foreign policy crises in Venezuela, Iran, and Libya, oil prices have been again surging higher. Ironically, Saudi Arabia needs oil prices to be higher than $80/barrel, in order for it to balance its budget. Despite the rise of renewable energy and natural gas, coal is still king in 18 US state for power and jobs.

The price of gasoline at my new West Palm Beach station has dropped to $2.09/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
102.59 on 6/18

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
06/18 at $1.1825

One British Pound 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
06/18 at $1.3157

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
1.2740 on 6/18

Gold closed on 5/17 at $1275.90/ounce. Yesterday, it closed at $1350.10/ounce.

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
$9,088.59 on 06/18

It has rebounded dramatically, although certainly not to its $19,000 highs.

The federal government on Tuesday reapproved the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, a crude-oil export project that has pitted Alberta against the British Columbia government and oil industry supporters against environmentalists and Indigenous opponents… The Prime Minister said Trans Mountain Corp. told him it expects to begin construction this summer, although government officials said it could take several months for the federally owned company to get the permits and contracts that are needed to begin installing the pipe. The officials were granted anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the issue. The Globe and Mail

“OPEC+ Sets Date for Meeting, Ending a Month of Bickering: OPEC+ agreed to hold its next meeting to discuss oil-output cuts on the first two days of July, resolving a monthlong dispute that highlighted divisions within the group.” Bloomberg

Global Financial News:

Facebook is planning its own currency for more than 2 billion users. European leaders are reacting with alarm to this plan for a cryptocurrency, Libra. France’s FM said Libra must not “become a sovereign currency.” A German member of the European Parliament warned that Facebook could then become a “shadow bank”. Ah, there’s the endearing term I haven’t heard in a while! Bloomberg says that women are hardly represented in the clean energy workforce, despite it having some of the highest-growth industries in the US economy. International Renewable Energy Agency did a study which found that women make up 45% of administrative jobs, but only 28% of engineering and science jobs, a sign of more wage disparity. Bloomberg says that this is another sign that boys, more than girls, are encouraged “to study science, technology and engineering.” Today, the first issue of ISLA Daily came out, also distributed at the ISLA Securities Finance and Collateral Management Conference in Madrid this week. The conference co-chairs are Gilly Meth (my former colleague at Morgan Stanley Europe) and James Templeman. The issue also includes articles by HQLA, DTCC, and Comyno. Huwei is bracing for a $30 billion hit to revenue this year and next, as US sanctions kick in. According to Bloomberg, the Chinese telecom giant is bracing for a 40-60% drop in global smartphone shipments and has canceled the launch of its new laptop, due to US restrictions imposed by the Trump administration. 30 years after going public on the NYSE, Sotheby’s has been privately auctioned for almost $4 billion. It was acquired by BidFair USA, owned by telecoms entrepreneur and art collector, Patrick Drahi. Sotheby’s still ranks No.2 to Christie’s in worldwide revenue. A Bloomberg survey found that almost 50% of students at the top business schools around the world have borrowed at least $100,000 to finance their MBAs. Student loans continue to be the fastest growing segment of consumer debt in the US. In a recent survey, almost 50% of Americans say their financial situation hasn’t improved since the Great Recession. China is rolling out the red carpet for other countries, just as it increases tariffs on US goods. The US and China have reopened trade talks ahead of the G-20 meeting in Japan. There is report this morning that market participants need clarification from US government agencies on the regulatory, tax and accounting treatment of switching existing derivatives contracts from Libor to other interest rate benchmarks. Sovereign bond yields have turned negative and record lows, after the ECB signaled it might cut interest rates at a July policy meeting. The 10-year German bund is already down to -0.32% and the 30-year Swiss bond dropped to below 0%. Volatility for Asian tech stocks has surged by 300%. The SEC is taking public comment on its system for exempting securities from registration and how that system could be improved.

US Market News:

A boom in employee bonuses handed out by some companies in the wake of the 2017 tax cuts appear to have been temporary, according to Labor Department data released yesterday. Employee bonuses contracted 24% in Q1 2019, the most since 2005. One bright spot is that companies increased spending on vacation and other paid time off by 3.3%, the most of any benefit category. This news, along with falling business orders and slower hiring, are making some prognosticators believe that the US economy is cooling and may enter a recession. Another scary sign comes in a survey of Americans, 29% of whom say they have more credit card debt than emergency funds, up 8% from 2018. A recent BOA/Merrill Lynch survey shows fund managers are turning bearish on equities.

5/17 marked 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 struggled in May to recover. But, now it’s back near the September/October highs.

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
26,465.54 on 6/18/19

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
06/18/19 at 2,917.75, now right at the 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
06/18/19 at 7,953.68, right there near that 8/28 high again

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 month, due to more talk of Fed rate CUTS, rather than Fed rate HIKES. What did you guys do to yields? I turn my head away for a month and you took them down 35bp!

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%
06/18/19 at 1.86%

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%
06/18/19 at 1.80%

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%
06/18/19 at 1.83%

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%
06/18/19 at 1.93%

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%
06/18/19 at 2.06%

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%
06/18/19 at 2.55%

Housing News:

US housing starts declined in May, but not by as much as expected. California is in the midst of a housing crisis. Google said it will commit $1 billion to try to provide more affordable housing in the San Francisco Bay Area, where big tech firms have been blamed for putting home prices way out of reach for most people. Zillow says that new low interest rates/mortgage rates (the lowest in about 18 months) could bring buyers back to housing. New federal tax rules are creating an advantage for REITs. Homebuilder sentiment has dipped, despite the increase in demand for single-family homes. Mortgage lender Quicken Loans says it has seen record loan volumes. Housing experts expect remodeling spending to slow. Here’s a sign of the times, as home flippers are hiring Uber and Lyft drivers to scout out potential properties.

Real estate agents in Vancouver have noticed something unusual in the past few weeks. For the first time in recent memory, the number of Hong Kong Chinese attending open-house showings has exceeded that of mainland Chinese buyers, who have been a visible presence in the city’s real estate market over the past decade. The people arriving at home showings in Vancouver offer a vivid example of the global dislocations under way as Hong Kong finds itself newly immersed in fear that its unique status under China’s one-country, two-systems framework is under threat. The Globe and Mail

Repo News:

I hear there may be some upcoming consolidation in the financial industry conference space, as some firms are trimming sponsorship and there are a lot of conferences. Meanwhile, there has been considerable movement in the all-to-all, peer-to-peer, CCP, electronic platform space for Repo & Securities Lending. One firm has been going gangbusters on Total Return Swaps for their electronic platform, another has had to lay of some people, another electronic platform shut down its London effort and trimmed US marketing, Sponsored Repo is reportedly running into a constraint of now some $100 billion in CCLF charges, while one electronic platform is rumored to be having issues, and another one has suddenly popped up for collateralized loans. Meanwhile, peer-to-peer between the insurance companies and money funds is increasing, and peer-to-peer within the pension fund peer group and within the hedge fund peer group may be gaining some traction.

I was honored 6/5/19 by Global Investor/ISF Magazine to be interviewed and included in their massive “Securities Finance Americas Guide 2019” on pages 60-61. Their link is: https://www.globalinvestorgroup.com/articles/3692602/americas-securities-finance-guide-2019. 
I’m fortunate to have been included. I believe they ran an article online about my thoughts also on 6/15/19 on their website.

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. My former baby, 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 Agented repo through seclending agents and now some prime brokers to buyside clients, direct lending from beneficial owners to hedge funds who are short via their agents, 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, BNY DBVX, State Street’s Cash Cross), FICC’s sponsored repo and cleared repo products for certain sectors of the buyside into that CCP, dealer to dealer and some clients electronic trading platforms (like GLMX, HQLA, and Tradeweb), other Repo and/or Seclending CCPs (particularly in Europe, like Eurex, LCH, OCC, CME, etc.), total return swaps platforms (like WeMatch.com), and collateralized loan exchange AFX/CBOE. 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.

Securities Finance Industry Conferences:
 

• Deutsche Borse/Clearstream 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 held its 3rd annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference in NYC on 5/2-5/3.
• GFOA held its 113th annual conference in Los Angeles on 5/19-5/22.
• Securities Lending Times held its annual Securities Finance Technology Symposium in London on 5/9.
• IMN held 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.
• ISLA is holding its Securities Finance and Collateral Management conference in Madrid this week.
• Crane Data will hold its annual Money Fund Symposium on 6/24-6/26 in Boston.
• Hedge Fund Association is holding its Rooftop Social in NYC on 6/27.
• 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 Conference on Securities Finance and Collateral Management in Boca Raton, FL on October 14-17, as they just announced.
• 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 (today), 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 since I last wrote. Now, folks in the market, over the last couple of months, have been talking more about when the Federal Reserve is going to CUT interest rates, rather than RAISE them again. The WSJ reports that investment banks remain skeptical that the Federal Reserve will reduce interest rates this summer, despite the markets having priced one 25bp cut in. We will all be waiting to see what the FOMC does this afternoon and maybe, more importantly, what it says in the press conference. There is talk that we may get more information on plans for a new repo facility, designed to address episodes of upward pressure on the effective Fed Funds rate. Up to now, the Fed was just changing the IOER relative to the target Fed Funds rate, to smooth these episodes. But, IOER used to sit 25bp above the upper rate of the range and now it sits 15bp below that upper rate.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

A magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck Sichuan Province near Changning, China on 6/17/19, where the homes are mostly unreinforced brick with mud and adobe block construction. Latest strong earthquakes (4.5 magnitude and above):

5.3 6/18 198km ESE of Tadine, New Caledonia
4.6 6/18 77km W of Nikol’skoye, Russia
5.2 6/18 132km NE of L’Esperance Rock, New Zealand
5.4 6/18 128km E of L’Esperance Rock, New Zealand
4.5 6/18 16km ESE of Pamandzi, Mayotte
4.8 6/18 49km W of Sardinal, Costa Rica
4.9 6/18 48km W of Sardinal, Costa Rica
5.9 6/18 135km ENE of L’Esperance Rock, New Zealand
4.5 6/18 37km NNW of Murakami, Japan
4.9 6/18 267km W of Saumlaki, Indonesia
6.4 6/18 31km WSW of Tsuruoka, Japan
4.7 6/18 SE of Easter Island
4.8 6/18 8km NE of Sambelia, Indonesia
4.9 6/18 255km SSE of L’Esperance Rock, New Zealand
5.5 6/18 South of the Fiji Islands
5.1 6/18 121 ENE of L’Esperance Rock, New Zealand
4.6 6/18 84km WNW of San Antonio de los Cobres, Argentina
5.1 6/18 165km ENE of L’Esperance Rock, New Zealand

Weather:

The Atlantic Hurricane Season began 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 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.

There are currently no tropical cyclone activity expected during the next 48 hours in Atlantic or Pacific. As for the weather, the US has been dealing with huge storms, flooding, hail, tornadoes, and very whacky temperatures. There was snow in Denver in May. The Mid-Atlantic, while I was up in North Carolina, got an unprecedented May heat wave, sending temperatures above 100 degrees in some areas. The threat for severe weather and flash flooding continues for several areas in the US, particularly Kansas, Texas, and the Mid-Atlantic. Since May, Florida has been getting daily rain late in the day and extreme heat and humidity, with temperatures in the 90s and daily heat indices between 100 and 110. The thunderstorms have been intense with many lightning strikes and low lightning. One motorcyclist last week was hit by lightning and killed, while riding on I-95 near West Palm Beach, FL. Also, in WPB, you can read about the giraffes below. Today will likely be the hottest day of the year so far in Oklahoma, NYC, and Chicago.

Sports News:

MLB:

Is was hard to get into baseball, with the NBA and NHL FINALS still going, almost to mid-June. Now, that that’s over, we can focus on baseball (and soccer, golf, and tennis). Of course, the other issue is that the MLB season goes from March until November and 162 regular season games, so you still won’t miss much. 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. They are now both playing above .500, but the Yankees have soared to first place, while the Red Sox seem to be having a hard time catching them. 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 71-74 games in or roughly 45%. Still, there are some trends that are re-emerging and some new surprises due to aggressive free agency work. In the AL East: the Yankees started out rough, lost several key sluggers to injuries, but righted the ship and are in first place, 17 over .500, 1 ½ games ahead the Rays, followed by the Red Sox 5 1/2 games back. The Orioles are a dismal 21-51, 23 ½ games back of the Yanks. In the AL Central: the Twins have tenaciously held on to first place, despite a charge by the Indians, who are 10 games back now and without key ingredients. The White Sox started out strong, but have faded to 12 ½ games back. The cellar here is occupied by the Royals, who are also a stellar 24-48 and 23 ½ games back. In the AL West: the Astros are back in their familiar spot, in first place, leading the resurgent Rangers by 8 ½ games. The A’s, after their super strong start, have faded to 11 games back, and Mariners who started the season on fire, look smoked at 31-45 in the cellar by 18 ½ games. In the NL East: the Phillies free agency and trades seemed to have paid off, as they went from near worst to first, however, they are now 3 games behind the surging Braves, who are 8 1/2 games ahead of the Mets and 9 games ahead of the Nats. The only non-surprise is that the Marlins are in last place, with a 25-45 record and 16 1/2 games back. In the NL Central: the Cubs finally made it to first place, now securing the help of closer ace Craig Kimbrel (formerly of the Red Sox), but then fell a half game behind the red-hot Brewers. The Brewers lead the surging Cardinals by only 2 ½ games, the Reds by 7 games, and the Pirates by 7 ½ games. This is again a close division! Lastly, in the AL West: the Dodgers did a lot of work offseason in trades and free agency, which paid off putting the losing World Series team in 2018 back in first place with a scorching 23 games over .500 best record, 10 games ahead of the Rockies and the Diamondbacks. The Giants are in last place again.

Well, the MLB had their Draft Day. 2019 MLB All-Star Game voting is open. 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. He has decided to take a leave from the team. I fear his playing days are over. He’s had a great, albeit short career, with an MVP, 3 World Series rings, Silver Sluggers, and Gold Gloves, but his body betrayed him. The Nationals made history with 4 consecutive HRs on 7 pitches against the Padres. It was the second time in less than 2 years that the Nationals had done that. It’s only happened 9 times in MLB history and Nats have done it twice. In contrast, to show you how rare it is, there have been 23 perfect games and 15 unassisted triple plays (I just watched a montage of the latter feat). Speaking of HRs, the Twins just clubbed 4 on Sunday, routing the Mariners 12-2, and on pace for the season HR record. The season record, set just last year by the Yankees, is 267 HRs. The Twins are on pace for 316. The Yankees have spoken to the Blue Jays about Marcus Stroman. Red Sox former legend, David Ortiz, was shot in the back during at a bar Sunday night, by a motorcyclist (part of 6 people that allegedly were involved in the assassination attempt), in his home country, the Dominican Republic, and is in stable condition. The bullet did not hit any vital organs, but it did injure his liver and gall bladder and did force him to have surgery on his colon. He is expected to make a “full recovery” and the Red Sox sent down their team plane to pick him up and fly him to Boston for further treatment. David Ortiz’s condition was upgraded to “Good” on Tuesday. Prosecutors are set to reveal the motive and the plot. Nationals ace, Max Scherzer, was taken to the locker room on Tuesday, after bunting a ball off his face in batting practice. Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton has been activated from the DL after a shoulder injury. The MLB Umpires Association has released an bizarre Twitter statement on Padres’ Manny Machado’s one-game suspension, which used 12 different hashtags to protest his contact with an umpire over balls and strikes and violently throwing his bat against the backstop. Somehow, the MLBUA made it “violence in the workplace” and with “absolutely no regard to anyone’s safety.” 36-year-old Edwin Encarnacion made his Yankees debut on Monday night, two days after being traded from the Mariners. The Yankees demoted Clint Frazier to make room. Dallas Keuchel, the Braves new starter, who signed a one-year deal worth $13 million, is expected to start this week, after 8 months on the free-agent market and not appearing in a game since last October for the Astros. Gary Cohen announced his 2,000th Mets TV game. The Nationals say they are not thinking about trade Max Scherzer “right now”. The Cubs are considering opening a sportsbook at Wrigley Field. The Angels are about to activate slugger Justin Upton, who will make his season debut. The Blue Jays hit a season high 5 HRs in 12-0 win over the Astros. Cubs starter Yu Darvish makes his first start at Dodger Stadium since the four losses he pitched in the World Series for the Dodgers and the veteran players are urging the fans to not boo him. Two baseball teams, the White Sox (Guaranteed Rate Field) and the Astros, are intending to put up more measures to protect fans from serious injury at games, particularly extending safety netting to the foul poles. MLB in 2005 recommended that teams extend netting to the end of the dugouts by 2018, and all 30 teams complied. There have been many fans in recent years that have been injured or killed by foul balls or flying bats. Most recently, a young girl was struck by a foul in May in Houston, just beyond the dugout, and a woman was hit by a foul on 6/10 in Chicago and died. In 2017, three different fans were hit by a broken bat, 105-mph foul ball, and another 105-mph foul ball, all at Yankee Stadium.

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:

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 No.6 as he played at the PGA Championship at Bethpage. 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 played just okay at this weekend’s 3rd major, the US Open at Pebble Beach, where his pal, Phil Mickelson, still hasn’t one (the only Major Phil hasn’t won). Brooks Koepka, the defending US Open champion, tried to become the only golfer to win 3 US Opens in a row, and was in the hunt, but came up short to Gary Woodland. Gary put an exclamation point on his victory, by making a long birdie putt on the 18th hole to win by 3 strokes. His caddie, Brennan Little, celebrated his second major win. Also celebrating was his super-fan buddy Amy Bockerstette. In second place in the US Open was Justin Rose. Amateur Viktor Hovland broke Jack Nicklaus’ US Open scoring record as an amateur, with a 4-under total of 280 over 72 holesA record for tour victories with 9.

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. Saints’ Ted Ginn says he will race anyone for $10,000. 49-year-old Brett Favre says he is coming out of retirement and returning to NFL play. Social media isn’t buying it though. He did retire after the 2007 season only to “unretired” and play 3 more seasons, before walking away at age 41. John Fox said the Bears have had the NFL’s worst offseason. Trainer has confirmed that Rams’ Todd Gurley has an ‘arthritic component’ to his injury. QB Josh McCown has retired after 16 NFL seasons and joined ESPN as an analyst. Jaguars fined Telvin Smith $88,000 for missing minicamp. Cowboys’ Rico Gathers has been suspended by the NFL one game for violating its substance abuse policy. Texans ended their pursuit of Nick Caserio and the Patriots dropped their tampering charge. Former NFL player Kellen Winslow II will be retried on 8 charges. Cowboys’ QB Dak Prescott’s agent floated $34 million per year?

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. There is talk that Johnny Manziel will play in XFL.

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. It ended in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals on 6/12, when the St. Louis Blues beat my Boston Bruins 4-1, and 4-3 in the Finals. The Blues were in last place in their division in January and wound up winning it all. There was plenty of controversy and bad referee calls. One game that the Blues won 2-1, had the penalty been called and the obvious goal allowed, would have been 2-1 the other way. But, alas, such is the game. Bruins’ Zdeno Chara took a slapshot off the jaw, breaking it in two places, requiring plates and screws, but still played the next 2 games. Both goaltenders were outstanding and every game was exciting. It was the Blues first Stanley Cup Championship and they hadn’t been in the Cup Finals since being ousted by the Bruins 4-0 in 1970. 41 other pro teams are still looking for their first championships. The Conn Smythe Trophy for MVP of the Playoffs went to Blues’ Ryan O’Reilly, who played with cracked ribs since the first game. Now, we look to the NHL Draft. Meanwhile, there is plenty of trade news and free agency news. The Capitals signed Carl Hagrelin to a 4-year extension. The Ducks hired Dallas Eakins as new head coach. Penguins GM confirms that the team is not shopping Phil Kessel. The Caps sent Matt Niskanen to the Flyers for Radko Gudas. The Sharks signed star Erik Karlsson to an 8-year deal. The Blackhawks acquired Olli Maata from the Penguins for Dominik Kahun. The Kings bought out the contract of defenseman Dion Phaneuf. The Rangers acquired Jacob Trouba from the Jets. He NHL’s free agent period begins on 7/1. Some of the top free agents are: Matthew Tkachuk, Brock Boeser, William Karlsson, Timo Meier, and Kevin Labanc. Blue Jackets hired Rick Nash as special assistant to GM.

NBA:

The NBA season officially began on 10/3 as well. It officially ended with the underdogs, the Toronto Raptors ousting the favorite Golden State Warriors in six games. Although the Warriors had won the championship 3 times in the last 4 years, they were hampered by injuries to Thompson and Durant. The Raptors’ Kawhi Leonard was on fire. He is also now a free agent, expected to return to the Raptors or go to the Clippers. Many people thought that the Lakers would pry Anthony Davis from the Pelicans, and they managed to do it, but at significant cost, in a a blockbuster trade Saturday. After the trade, the Lakers are left with 2 of the top 10 players in the NBA, but not a lot to put a starting five team together. Other notable free agents are Jimmy Butler, Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving, Bojan Bogdanovic, Danny Green, Darren Collison, DeMarcus Cousins, Derrick Favors, Jeremy Lamb, JJ Redick, Malcolm Brogdon, Marcus Morris, Nikola Mirotic, Patrick Beverley, Paul Millsap, Terrence Ross, Austin Rivers, Carmelo Anthony, Joakim Noah, Justin Holiday, Rajon Rondo, Reggie Bullock, Seth Curry, and Trevor Ariza. Free Agency moratorium ends on 7/6. The Draft is now on peoples’ minds and the Knicks are seriously considering taking Darius Garland over RJ Barrett. He would be the No.3 or No.4 pick. Reportedly, Minnesota, Boston and Chicago are also teams looking at potentially trading up to No.4 to get Garland. The Hawks are interested in trading up for Jarrett Culver. The Knicks already met with Ja Morant, but the Grizzlies have reportedly locked in on Morant at No.2. There are also a lot of trades and trade rumors out there. There’s trade rumors about Rockets’ Chris Paul. Hassan Whiteside is expected to ask Heat to move him. The Wizards are not pursuing Masai Ujiri as president reportedly.

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 completed their unprecedented English version of the Triple Crown by winning the FA Cup Final (or the Cup Final in England) against Watford in the Premier League, 6-0. Two players for Man City scored 2 goals each. The margin of victory tied the record for an FA Cup Final with a match in 1903. The teams had two musicians in each teams’ corners, with Elton John there to root on Watford and Oasis’ Noel Gallagher to root on Man City. Okay, now the world has, or at least I have, turned our focus on the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Obviously, the US Women’s National Soccer team is quite popular, the reigning World Cup champions, with Alex Morgan arguably its biggest star, with 3.25 million Twitter followers. Carli Lloyd was named FIFA Best Women’s Player three years ago. Also, expected to make a huge impact is Julie Ertz a No.6 who debuted 4 years ago at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Team USA made a huge splash by beating Thailand a record 13-0, in their opening match. After then beating Chile 3-0, team USA won their grouping.

Tennis:

After beating Roger Federer in the semis, Rafael Nadal went on to beat Dominic Thiem (who had upset Novak Djokovic in the semis) in the Finals to win his 13th French Open. The clay master was brilliant! The tennis world will now focus on the grass season, leading up to Wimbledon. Perth will host Fed Cup final between Australia and France.

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 wouldn’t run in the 144th Preakness at 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. Maximum Security suffered his second loss of his career Sunday in the Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park. The Preakness favorite was currently Improbable. There were 20 horses racing in the Kentucky Derby, but only 13 entered in the Preakness. More controversy followed, as the horse who had been “impeded” by Maximum Security, War of Will, actually won the Preakness. Country House did not compete in the race because of a virus. More drama, as Bodexpress reared at the start and threw his jockey, John Velazquez, from his mount, and then went on to complete the race without a jockey. That brought us to the third leg of the Triple Crown in ho-hum year, the Belmont Stakes. Sir Winston, an 8:1 horse, won the Belmont. Once again, neither Maximum Security nor Country House competed in this race. War of Will did but finished out of the money. The next race is the Royal Ascot this week.

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. 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, Coca-Cola 600-won by Martin Truex Jr.
6/2 Pocono, Pocono 400-won by Kyle Busch
6/9 Michigan, Firekeepers Casino 400-won by Joey Logano
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-won by V. Bottas
3/31 Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir-won by L. Hamilton
4/14 China Grand Prix in Shanghai (this will be the 1000th Grand Prix)-won by L. Hamilton
4/28 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku-won by V. Bottas
5/12 Spain Grand Prix in Barcelona-won by L. Hamilton
5/26 Monaco Grand Prix in Monaco-won by L. Hamilton
6/9 Canada Grand Prix in Montreal-won by L. Hamilton
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 were 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-Josef Newgarden
3/24 Circuit of the Americas-Colton Herta
4/7 Grand Prix of Alabama-Takuma Sato
4/14 Grand Prix at Long Beach-Alexander Rossi
5/11 Grand Prix of Indianapolis-Simon Pagenaud
5/26 Indianapolis 500-Simon Pagenaud
6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 1-Josef Newgarden
6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 2-Scott Dixon
6/8 Texas Grand Prix-Josef Newgarden
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. Greg Norman and his son just opened a water park called “Shark Wake Park 561” adjacent to Okeeheelee Park in West Palm Beach, FL. 10 people were sent to the hospital, after wild turbulence slammed a flight attendant into the plane’s ceiling, on an ALK Airlines B-737 flight over France. Boeing has signed its first deal for the B-737 Max jet since the deadly crashes grounded the plane worldwide. Boeing made the announcement at the Paris Air Show this week. They announced that International Airlines Group, the parent company of British Airways and other carriers, signed a LOI for 200 of the aircraft, which could be worth as much as $24 billion. Ethiopian Airlines had a 737 Max crash in March and another 737 Max, flown by Lion Air, crashed last year in Indonesia. Rival Airbus also announced sales at the show, to IAG for A321XLR jets for Aer Lingus and Iberia, as well as Delta Air Lines, Saudi Arabia Airlines, and Atlantic Airways. By the way, Qatar Airways won best airline in the world for the 5th time, at the Paris Air Show. Qatar is where the next World Cup is supposed to be, but more about that later in the Repo Commentary. Dollywood is completing its long-awaited expansion. Disneyworld has just announced significant increases in prices of annual passes for Florida residents in all categories except the Select category. Ford has revealed the horsepower and torque for its new Mustang Shelby GT500, saying it will be the “most powerful street-legal Ford ever.”

Health News:

The NJ Department of Health has reported another potential measles exposure at Newark Liberty International Airport. Reportedly, an international traveler who has been diagnosed with measles was at the airport on 5/29. The measles outbreak began in October and the CDC says there have already been 1,044 individual cases reported in 28 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.”. A helicopter crashed into a skyscraper in Manhattan last Tuesday in rain and fog, killing one person and burning up. Authorities are trying to figure out what happened and why that helicopter was in Manhattan in a no-fly zone. A 116-year-old Italian great grandmother, who was Europe’s oldest living person, has died. Researchers are saying that 60% of all the plastic ever created in the world is now lying in landfills and other natural surroundings and that only about 9% of it is actually being recycled. I saw this story a couple of weeks ago on TV news and it was alarming how Americans are separating their bottles and boxes for recycling, but those trucks are simply dumping at landfills, because they don’t have the capacity at recycling plants and they don’t have the technology to make the items recyclable (removing caps, labels, etc.). It has been a complete farce pulled on the public. This has led to new scientific research at the molecular level by several labs to create plastics that will biodegrade themselves. That is the opposite mission for plastic, which was originally designed to never break down. In this particular article, it also says that a recent study shows that humans eat a credit card worth of plastic each week!

Animal News:

I was very psyched, after growing up wanting to be a zoologist (then finding out that they make zero money), I got to visit an animal rescue ranch in North Carolina a couple of weeks ago that has jaguars, tigers, lions, cougars, leopards, etc. The lions were lazy in the hot sun, but the tigers were on full display. 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 suggests the number of attacks by Nile crocodiles was between 275 and 745 per year, with about 63% proving fatal. A week after a father saved his daughter’s life off a North Carolina beach by continually punching a shark’s nose to release her leg, another child has been bitten on a North Carolina beach. The doctors think it’s a miracle that the 17-year-old girl survived her attack, although they had to remove one leg above the knee, because her blood loss was so severe. So, there have been 3 shark attacks this month, when NC usually only sees on average 2 shark attacks per year. We are in the middle of shark breeding season, so we are seeing hundreds of blacktip sharks off of Florida, and several tracked hammerheads, tigers, bull sharks, and great whites, as well. The 2018 worldwide total of shark attacks was 66 confirmed, while the average over 2013-2017 was 84 incidents annually. Now, those are “unprovoked shark attacks on humans” per the International Shark Attack File. There were also 34 “provoked attacks on humans”. The 1975 movie JAWS, which ruined my beach going experience forever, was set in a ficticious town of Amity on Cape Cod in Massachusetts (although there is a real town named Amityville in Long Island), but residents of Cape Cod are now learning to deal with a rising population of great white sharks. The reason is that the population of seals is booming there. So, experts advise, do not swim on beaches that are posted with the purple flag and a picture of a shark on it, do not wear shiny jewelry in the water, avoid excessive splashing, swim in groups (not alone), avoid any areas that have seals, and stick close to shore. As people are taking emotional support animals everywhere, many states are cracking down on abusers. Okay, this is odd, an award-winning dairy farm apparently fed dairy cows coffee creamer, which produced tastier milk.

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. Larry King suffered a heart issue but is now recovering. Apparently, I missed an epic battle scene in Game of Thrones. Prince William and Kate Middleton celebrated their 8th wedding anniversary. There also is rumored to be 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 sang the National Anthem at the 2019 Kentucky Derby on 5/4. I didn’t get the call again! That was the last ‘normal’ moment of THAT Kentucky Derby. 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. She is also still on The Talk, rival to The View. 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. Although I never liked Jax, I never liked James even less. Wait, does that make sense? And, wait, new news on Vanderpump Rules, producer Lisa Vanderpump is furious with Andy and Bravo TV and is threatening to take her show to another network. This is all bubbling up from the feud on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, in which she allegedly sold a story to TMZ about how one of the other wives returned a dog that she had purchased from Lisa’s rescue foundation, which also broke up longtime friendship between Kyle and Lisa and some silly lie-detector test. Lisa Vanderpump has already quit Real Housewives of Beverly Hills over the scandal and all the cast pointing fingers at her. 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. Speaking of the Kardashians, OJ Simpson has just gotten a Twitter account and is controversially sounding off on every topic, including that he never had an affair with mother Kardashian, wife at the time of his late lawyer Robert Kardashian and his wife’s (Nicole Brown Simpson’s) close friend. Okay, that’s now 2 people at least that I think shouldn’t have Twitter accounts! 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. This morning, fashion icon Gloria Vanderbilt died at age 95. 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. Jennifer Morrison has joined “This Is Us”. Nike has 11 of the 15 highest paid endorsement deals in sports. The have just signed LeBron James to a lifetime contract that is worth upwards of $1 billion. But, they don’t have Stephen Curry, although they tried. He did sign with them out of college for 4-years, until 2013. Nike pitched him in 2013 and mispronounced his name in the meeting. During the presentation, one of the Powerpoint slides had Kevin Durant’s name on it, instead of Curry’s.

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.

It was another disappointing weekend for a pair of summer sequels, as MEN IN BLACK INTERNATIONAL and SHAFT failed to meet expectations. MEN IN BLACK INTERNATIONAL opened at No.1, with $30 million (although it cost $110 million to make and was supposed to debut above $50 million); THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2 came in No.2, in its second week, with $24.4 million (hitting $92.7 million for a film that cost $80 million to make); No.3 was ALADDIN, with $17.3 million in its fourth week (total now $264 million for a cost of $183 million); No.4 was ROCKETMAN, in its third week, coming in with $9.4 million; and No.5 was DARK PHOENIX, in its second week, taking in $9.3 million. The other major debut, SHAFT, came in No.6 with only $8.9 million, just beating out GODZILLA.

I want to go and see ROCKETMAN, JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3-PARABELLUM, A DOG’S JOURNEY, and MEN IN BLACK.

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. For that one client who asked, a Tesla uses 18650 cells for power, with each cell being just slightly larger than a AA battery. However, they have double the volume, more than double the output voltage, and 8 times the amperage. Here’s something that puzzles me: my iPhone 8 Plus no longer has a headphone jack (I have to use an adaptor or Bluetooth), but Apple’s iPod touch and MacBook still have headphone jacks.

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, 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.. ICE is averaging only 7,000 deportations per month. Nonprofits are reporting that Americans are less charitable this year. A boom in employee bonuses handed out by some companies in the wake of the 2017 tax cuts appear to have been temporary, according to Labor Department data released yesterday. Employee bonuses contracted 24% in Q1 2019, the most since 2005. One bright spot is that companies increased spending on vacation and other paid time off by 3.3%, the most of any benefit category. The US Air Force has armed bombers with hypersonic missile for the first time.

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. Ironically, Americans make up Mexico’s largest demographic of immigrants. There are fears for Angela Merkel’s health, after she violently shook during a ceremony. Iran is seeking to rally international support against pressure from the US. After year after the US pulled out of the Iran nuclear agreement, the deal itself is at risk of collapse, with the EU caught in the middle. China and North Korea are looking to strengthen ties as Chinese president travels to North Korea, amid US disputes. Boris Johnson is building a lead in his race to be the next UK Prime Minister. There was a massive blackout in Argentina that covered 3 nations. Hong Kong protesters are not happy with their leader’s apology and demand that she quit. Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, was buried yesterday, after his dramatic collapse and death inside a courtroom. France has detained 1980s soccer great Platini in a probe of the stunning decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. Kazakhstan has now arrested nearly 4,000 protesters.

Florida:

President Trump officially launched his 2020 run for President in Miami last night. 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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