Repo Commentary-7/25/19

IMG_3118IMG_3034IMG_3037IMG_3044IMG_3045IMG_3046IMG_3056IMG_3057IMG_3060IMG_3061IMG_3064IMG_3066IMG_3072IMG_3077IMG_3080IMG_3081IMG_3082IMG_3083IMG_3086IMG_3089IMG_3090IMG_3092IMG_3098IMG_3100IMG_3102IMG_3103IMG_3104IMG_3107IMG_3108IMG_3106IMG_3115IMG_3119

I sang my 147th MLB game last Wednesday night in Jupiter, FL. I’m also still singing Elvis gigs with my 6-part harmony group, Generation Gap, all over Palm Beach County. I had an uneventful birthday on 7/11, the same birthday as my former partner at Cantor Fitzgerald, Tom Sapio. Happy Birthday, Tom!

I have also been interviewing for jobs, finished with the memoir I ghost-wrote (I think it’s finished), chaired a conference (although I just missed a lot of you at Crane’s), and wrote some articles. I am still looking to re-enter the Securities Financing Market, so if you hear of anything… I will likely be up in NYC to meet with folks in mid-August.

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 trying to make it more frequently than monthly.

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.

07/25 Holidays or Events:

• Carousel Day or Merry-Go-Round Day
• Hire a Veteran Day
• National Chili Dog Day
• National Intern Day
• National Refreshment Day
• International Red Shoe Day
• Thread the Needle Day
• Video Games Day
• Culinarians Day
• Feast of Saint James (Western Christianity)
• National Hot Fudge Sundae Day
• National Refreshment Day
• National Wine and Cheese Day
• Health and Happiness with Hypnosis Day
• Guanacaste Day (Costa Rica)
• National Baha’I Day (Jamaica)
• National Day of Galicia (Galicia)
• Puerto Rico Constitution Day (Puerto Rico)
• Republic Day (Tunisia)

Some Famous People Born 07/25 in History:

• 1109-Afonso I, King of Portugal
• 1165-Ibn Arabi, Andalusian Sufi mystic, poet, and philosopher
• 1394-James I, King of Scotland
• 1556-George Peele, English translator, poet and dramatist
• 1806-Maria Weston Chapman, American abolitionist
• 1894-Walter Brennan, American actor
• 1923-Estelle Getty, American actress
• 1934-Don Ellis, American trumpet player and composer
• 1935-Adnan Khashoggi, Saudi Arabian businessman
• 1941-Nate Thurmond, American basketball player
• 1954-Walter Payton, American football player, one of the greatest, and my favorite
• 1955-Iman, Somalian-English model and actress
• 1962-Doug Drabek, American baseball player and coach
• 1967-Matt LeBlanc, American actor and producer
• 1971-Billy Wagner, American baseball player and coach

This Day in History (7/25):

• 306-Constantine I is proclaimed Roman emperor by his troops
• 315-the Arch of Constantine is completed near the Colosseum in Rome to commemorate Constantine I’s victory over Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge
• 677-climax of the Siege of Thessalonica by the Slavs in a 3-day assault on the city walls
• 864-the Edict of Pistres of Charles the Bald orders defensive measures against the Vikings
• 1137-Eleanor of Aquitaine married Prince Louis, later King Louis VII of France, in Bordeux
• 1139-Battle of Ourique: the Almoravids, led by Ali ibn Yusuf, are defeated by Prince Afonso Henriques who is proclaimed King of Portugal
• 1261-the city of Constantinople is recaptured by Nicaean forces under the command of Alexios Strategopoulos, re-establishing the Byzantine Empire
• 1467-the Battle of Molinella: the first battle in Italy in which firearms are used extensively
• 1547-Henry II of France is crowned
• 1554-Mary I marries Philip II of Spain at Winchester Cathedral
• 1593-Henry IV of France publicly converts from Protestantism to Roman Catholicism
• 1603-James VI of Scotland is crowned King of England (James I of England), bringing the Kingdom of England and Kingdom of Scotland into personal union. Political union would occur in 1707
• 1609-the English ship Sea Venture, en route to Virginia, is deliberately driven ashore during a storm at Bermuda to prevent its sinking; the survivors go on to found a new colony there
• 1755-British governor Charles Lawrence and the Nova Scotia Council order the deportation of the Acadians
• 1759-French and Indian War: in Western New York, British forces captured Fort Niagara from the French, who subsequently abandon Fort Rouille
• 1783-American Revolutionary War: the war’s last action, the Siege of Cuddalore, is ended by a preliminary peace agreement
• 1788-Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart completes his Symphony No.40 in G minor
• 1799-At Abu Qir in Egypt, Napoleon I of France defeats 10,000 Ottomans under Mustafa Pasha
• 1814-War of 1812: an American attack on Canada is repulsed
• 1824-Costa Rica annexes Guanacaste from Nicaragua
• 1868-the Wyoming Territory is established
• 1894-the First Sino-Japanese War begins when the Japanese fire upon a Chinese warship
• 1898-in the Puerto Rico Campaign, the United States seizes Puerto Rico from Spain
• 1908-Ajinomoto is founded. Kikunae Ikeda of the Tokyo Imperial University discovers that a key ingredient in kombu soup stock is monosodium glutamate (MSG), and patents the process for manufacturing it.
• 1909-Louis Beiriot makes the first flight across the English Channel in a heavier-than-air machine from Calais to Dover, England in 37 minutes
• 1917-Sir Robert Borden introduces the first income tax in Canada as a “temporary” measure
• 1934-the Nazis assassinate Austrian Chancellor Engelbert Dolifuss in a failed coup attempt
• 1940-General Henri Guisan orders the Swiss Army to resist German invasion and makes surrender illegal
• 1942-the Norwegian Manifesto calls for nonviolent resistance to the German occupation
• 1943-WWII: Benito Mussolini is forced out of office by the Grand Council of Fascism and is replaced by Pietro Badoglio
• 1944-WWII: Operation Spring is one of the bloodiest days for the First Canadian Army during the war
• 1946-Nuclear weapons testing: Operation Crossroads: an atomic bomb is detonated underwater in the lagoon of Bikini Atoll
• 1956-45 miles south of Nantucket Island, the Italian ocean liner SS Andrea Doria collides with the MS Stockholm in heavy fog and sinks the next day, killing 51
• 1957-the Republic of Tunisia is proclaimed, under President Habib Bourguiba
• 1965-Bob Dylan goes electric at the Newport Folk Festival, signaling a major change in folk and rock music
• 1973-Soviet Mars 5 probe is launched
• 1976-Viking I takes the famous Face on Mars photo
• 1978-birth of Louise Joy Brown, the first human to have been born after conception by in vitro fertilization (IVF)
• 1979-another section of the Sinai Peninsula is peacefully returned by Israel to Egypt
• 1993-Israel launches a massive attack against Lebanon in what the Israelis call Operation Accountability, and the Lebanese call the Seven-Day War
• 1994-Israel and Jordan sign the Washington Declaration that formally ends the state of war that had existed between the nations since 1948
• 1996-in a military coup in Burundi, Pierre Buyoya deposes Sylvestre Ntibantunganya
• 2000-Concorde Air France Flight 4590 crashes at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, killing 113 people
• 2007-Pratibha Patil is sworn in as India’s first female president
• 2010-WikiLeaks publishes classified documents about the War in Afghanistan, one of the largest leaks in US military history

Daily Weird Facts:

A Finnish soldier fought for Finland (against the Russians) earned the Mannerheim Cross, the Nazis (against the Russians), and the first US Army Special Forces. He escaped a British POW camp, earned a Bronze Star, five Purple Hearts, and disappeared in Vietnam in 1965. In 1999, his remains were found and identified. He had died on a Special Forces military mission when his helicopter crashed. His name was Lauri Torni, and later Larry Thorne. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“If she’s amazing, she won’t be easy. If she’s easy, she won’t be amazing. If she’s worth it, you won’t give up. If you give up, you’re not worthy…Truth is, everybody is going to hurt you; you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for.”—Bob Marley

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
$55.96/barrel on 7/24

President Trump’s verbal war (so far) with Iran continues to have a direct impact on oil prices. As the sanctions against countries purchasing oil from Iran has increased the volatility of the price of oil.

The price of gasoline at my new West Palm Beach station has risen again in the last week to $2.49/gallon. Most of the other stations in the area are 20-40 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
102.43 on 7/24

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
07/24 at $1.1740

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
07/24 at $1.3070

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
1.2480 on 7/24

Gold closed on 6/18 at $1350.10/ounce. Yesterday, it closed at $1425.60/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
$11,919.30 on 06/25
$9,790.37 on 07/24

After rebounding dramatically since the beginning of the year, although certainly not to its $19,000 highs, bitcoin has reversed over the last month.

Global Financial News:

Boris Johnson won the election for British PM. Now, he has 100 days to deal with Brexit. He has already demanded the removal of the Irish backstop for the Brexit deal. The IMF sent a warning about that, that a no-deal Brexit will pose a threat to world economy.UBS earnings were less than expected, driven by under-performance in main businesses. The IMF has said that trade tensions are driving a slowdown in global trade and downgraded global economic forecast to 3.2% growth this year, down .1% from April. The first tech stocks to launch on Shanghai Star market enjoyed an unprecedented rally. Bank of America and UBS have joined other banks’ fundraising work in the private company deals. ECB’s Draghi has hinted at new measures to help the Eurozone economy. He said a “significant degree” of monetary stimulus is necessary and that risks surrounding Eurozone growth remain tilted to the downside. German manufacturing reports industry is way down. Hedge fund Caxton is moving its headquarters to London. The Turkish central bank cut its main lending rate by 4.25%, as the new governor takes control. German bond yields bounced off record lows, after Draghi said recession risk is “pretty low”. Greek 10-year yield fell under 2% for the first time ever, actually below the US 10-year yield. What financial crisis? JGBs rose as the weak Eurozone data supported global monetary easing. During a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee, some Representatives expressed concern that the merger of BB&T and SunTrust banks will create a “mega-bank” that may be difficult to regulate and could pose a systemic risk to the financial system. Bank officials deflected the concerns and highlighted the benefits. Internal government watchdogs are warning of the FDIC and Federal Reserve cybersecurity shortcomings, which could lead to theft of sensitive financial data. An ECB survey shows that many Eurozone banks have boosted criteria for most business and personal loans during Q2. However, standards for approving mortgages remained unchanged from Q1. Bank of America said that the public and investors are losing confidence in the Bank of England’s economic forecasts, which could lead to more erratic monetary policy. Santander Bank hired Timothy Wennes, formerly West Coast president of MUFG Union Bank, as its new president and CEO of the US division. The House of Representatives has approved a bill to rescue multiemployer pension funds close to collapse. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that with at least six financial regulators looking at the risks of cryptoassets, additional rules are likely to emerge. Face-to-face US/Chinese trade talks will resume next week in Shanghai. Christine Lagarde is still awaiting confirmation to replace Mario Draghi. A Federal Reserve study finds that ownership of leveraged loans is concentrated among banks, S&Ls, mutual funds, and insurance companies. WesBanco, Inc. and Maryland-based Old Line Bancshares, Inc. are merging in a $500 million deal expected to close in 2-3 years.

US Market News:

The Dow Jones (global stocks as well) was happy with most earnings reports, monetary policy outlook, and US budget progress. The central bank meetings are causing some defensive positioning in US Treasuries. Kyle Bass says you’re going to see softness in the US economy in 2020.

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
26,465.54 on 6/18/19
27,269.97 on 7/24/19 down 79 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
06/18/19 at 2,917.75
07/24/19 at 3,019.56 new all-time 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
07/24/19 at 8,321.50 new all-time high

US Treasury yields have been in free-fall since hitting highs in October 2018.

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%
07/24/19 at 1.83%

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%
07/24/19 at 1.79%

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%
07/24/19 at 1.82%

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%
07/24/19 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%
07/24/19 at 2.05%

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%
07/24/19 at 2.58%

“The Municipal-Bond Market Is Now Controlled by Just a Few Firms: There has been a mammoth shift in the $4 trillion muni market over the past decade as investors have increasingly used professional money managers to invest in both high- and low-grade state and local government debt. Mutual-fund holdings of municipal bonds now total $738.6 billion, according to Federal Reserve data, a more than 50% increase since 2009.” Wall Street Journal

Housing News:

Almost 40% of home in the US are mortgage-free. HUD has suspended the down payment assistance rule change for FHA loans “until further notice”, on Tuesday. New Home Sales in June rose, after two months of declines. But the 7% gain in June came with further downward revisions to the three prior months. Meanwhile, MBA purchase applications fell for the second consecutive week. There are now mortgages available for borrowers without credit scores.

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. Month-end repo rates have been hairy lately, as has liquidity, and unusual setting of SOFR rates to the dealer offer-side of triparty repo. This month-end is currently trading 2.82/2.80. That is a lot of funding pressure for a July month-end, much more than over the last few years, some 32bp, according to Scott Skyrm.

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 ALL 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 dealers’ repo matched book came at a couple of costs, first, the bid/offer spread that went to the dealers, which has been volatile but certainly widened since the Financial Crisis, and second, the defaults of the Financial Crisis, which not only subjected clients to dealer defaults and wider spreads, but in many cases directly impacted clients by making them suddenly the outright traders of repo collateral. Some of that collateral, on top of it, was very illiquid. Not knowing who the other clients were on the other side of the dealers’ repo matched book, and who could potentially bring down those intermediary dealers was costly for many clients. Clearly, with that pipeline of is intermediation becoming severely crimped by post-Financial Crisis regulatory reforms, consolidation and bankruptcies, and the resulting drop of about 60% in balance sheets (which has recovered partially with new entrants to the market and international banks’ increases due to regulatory arbitrage) being used for broker/dealer respective repo matched books, new pathways/pipelines needed to be explored for cash provider and collateral provider clients. My former baby, AVM’s Direct Repo™, was the first of one of such pathways, over 10 years ago. Since then, many other liquidity 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 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 exchanges like AFX/CBOE. There have still been other firms that have created some king of product that mimics a repo, but yet doesn’t show up on dealers’ balance sheets (so helps them), and/or provides better credit counterparties (so helps clients), and can take many forms. I believe this overall evolution will continue and eventually we will see all of these pathways used in some part, 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 maybe for only select ‘platinum’ clients and may come at a higher bid/offer spread or in specific, more profitable products/securities, as other market observers/experts have said.

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 held its Securities Finance and Collateral Management conference in Madrid this week.
• Crane Data held 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.
• IMN will hold its annual European Securities Finance conference in London on 9/25-9/26.
• 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.
• Finadium will hold its Rates & Repo conference in New York on 11/4
• 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: 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.

In December, at the FOMC meeting, 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.

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. 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. Many people believe or hope that the FOMC will vote for a rate cut at next week’s meeting. TIAA Bank EVP John Pataky said a rate cut at the meeting next week might boost the housing market.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

Latest strong earthquakes (4.5 magnitude and above):

7/22 4.2 16km S of Twentynine Palms, CA
7/19 5.3 3km NNW of Magoula, Greece
7/16 4.3 12km WSW of Byron, CA
7/16 5.7 36km SSE of Kendalrejo, Indonesia
7/14 7.3 102km NNE of Laiwui, Indonesia
7/14 6.6 202km W of Broome, Australia
7/12 4.9 8km ENE of Ridgecrest, CA
7/12 4.6 Three Lakes, WA
7/08 5.7 28km SE of Masjed Soleyman, Iran
7/07 6.9 132km WSW of Kota Ternate, Indonesia
7/06 7.1 Ridgecrest, CA

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 is currently no tropical cyclone activity expected during the next 48 hours in Atlantic. Storm 3 just passed by the East coast of Florida with no impact. In the Eastern North Pacific, Tropical Depression Dalila continues to weaken.

As for the weather, the US has been dealing with huge storms, flooding, hail, tornadoes, and very whacky temperatures. The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic and parts of the Midwest had triple digit heat indices, followed by cold rain and winds. A tornado hit Cape Cod and tore off a hotel roof. When I lived in Massachusetts 1960-1978, there was only one tornado and it was in Nashua, NH. Meanwhile, here in Florida, where we expect heat and humidity, May was an all-time record hot May for the state, and was followed by a record hot June for the state. July could follow suit, as the heat index here seems to have been 100-110 every day, and the temperature in Palm Beach County has been between 90-99 degrees. You can’t do anything strenuous outside for more than 2 hours, without risking heat stroke or heat exhaustion. The good news is that for the first time in years, the state does not have a drought, as we have had heavy thunderstorms every afternoon. There is a critical fire weather risk forecast by the National Weather Service across portions of the Northern Rockies. Cooler temperatures have slid down over parts of the country from Alaska. Internationally, Paris, London, and Berlin could see record high temperatures today, as the summer extreme heat wave continues to roast the area. Earlier this Summer, Paris hit a all-time record high of 114.6 degrees F. Today, Paris will be hotter than Cairo, Egypt. London is expected to be about 105 degrees F.

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 and have been struggling. In a way, their rival Yankees are burning up the field and the standings this year, just the way the Red Sox did last year. The Red Sox begin a critical 14 games stretch with first place Yankees and second place Rays (they won the first 2 games and lost the third on Wednesday). We are about 96-102 games in of the 162-game regular season, so people are starting to watch the Standings and the Wild Card races. Let’s take a look: AL East-Yankees are solidly in first place, despite their rash of hitter injuries, 9 ½ games ahead of the Rays and 10 ½ games ahead of the Red Sox. The Orioles are no longer the worst team in baseball though. AL Central-Twins are still clinging to first place, 3 games ahead of the Indians, but everyone else has fallen off the charts. The Tigers now have the worst MLB record at 30-66. AL West-Astros are in first place, 6 ½ games ahead of the A’s. NL East-the surprising Braves (without the big splashes their rivals made in free agency) are in first place, 5 games ahead of the Nationals and 6 ½ games ahead of the faltering Phillies. NL Central-Cubs are in first place, but tenuously ½ game ahead of the Cardinals and 2 games ahead of the Brewers. The Reds and Pirates are also still within striking distance. NL West-Dodgers are in first place by a mile, 14 ½ games ahead of Giants and 15 ½ games ahead of Diamondbacks.

The Cubs optioned Addison Russell to Triple-A. They also demoted Carl Edwards Jr. Yankees Gary Sanchez has returned to IL with groin strain. Tigers’ asking price for pitcher Matthew Boyd could prevent a deal. A Sandy Koufax statue is part of a $100 million Dodger Stadium renovation. Struggling Triple-A Tim Tebow has been placed on IL with a cut hand. The Dodgers are among teams interested in Orioles reliever Mychal Givens. They need bullpen help, as do the Red Sox (after losing their 2 closers Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel), and the Indians and Braves. The Angels celebrated “genuine and caring” Tyler Skaggs at memorial service. A fan walked onto the field at PNC Park and tried to shake a Phillies’ player’s hand. Astros’ Yordan Alvarez is giving the Astros a historic lift in his MLB career start. He had 35 RBIs through his first 30 games, better than anyone else in baseball history. He also has 11 HRs this season.

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:

The Open (we call it the British Open) has ended and an Irishman, Shane Lowery, won the tournament, pretty much wire-to-wire, on Ireland soil at Royal Portrush. Sergio Garcia threw his driver at his caddie on Sunday. Jason Day, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson face a potential million dollar shootout. This week, the PGA is at TPC Southwind, at the WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational. A 6-year-old Utah girl died after being struck in the head by her father’s errant tee shot.

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. NFL training camps have opened for the 100th NFL season. The NFLPA has sent players a “work stoppage ready” plan after CBA talks. Panthers’ Cam Newton should be “ready to roll” for camp, per coach Ron Rivera. Browns’ Duke Johnson won’t be traded, per Freddie Kitchens. Chargers’ Melvin Gordon won’t report to training camp reportedly. Packers to release Mike Daniels at DT. Jaguars’ Jalen Ramsey arrived at training camp in armored money truck. Falcons are optimistic about Julio Jones contract talks. The Cowboys released Allen Hurns.

Although the NFL season was over, the shortest season of the big 4 team sports in the US, the NFL had 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 hoped 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. The NFL then shut down the league just 6 games into the season and stopped paying players. Here were your AAF teams:

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

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 Bruins 4-3 in the Finals. The Blues were in last place in their division in January and wound up winning it all. We are in the middle of free agency now. Off the list is one of the biggest names, Erik Karlsson, who signed an 8-year/$92 million mega-contract to stay with the Sharks. The Flyers also did a trade-and-sign to get Kevin Hayes. Here is the list of the top 25 unrestricted free agents, their 2018-2019 team, and who signed and who hasn’t:

1_ Artemi Panarin, Blue Jackets (signed by Rangers 7years/$81.5 million)
2_ Matt Duchene, Senators/Blue Jackets (signed by Predators 7years/$56 million)
3_ Sergei Bobrovsky, Blue Jackets (signed by Panthers 7years/$70 million)
4_ Joe Pavelski, Sharks (signed by Stars 3 years/$21 million)
5_ Corey Perry, Ducks (signed by Stars 1 year/$1.5 million)
6_ Robin Lehner, Islanders (signed by Blackhawks 1 year/$5 million)
7_ Wayne Simmonds, Flyers/Predators (signed by Devils 1year/$5 million)
8_ Mats Zuccarello, Rangers/Stars (signed by Wild 5years/$30 million)
9_ Marcus Johansson, Devils/Bruins (signed by Sabres 2years/$9 million)
10_ Gustav Nyquist, Red Wings/Sharks (signed by Blue Jackets 4years/$22 million)
11_ Tyler Myers, Jets (signed by Canucks 5years/$30 million)
12_ Jake Gardner, Maple Leafs (UNSIGNED)
13_ Anders Lee, Islanders (Islanders 7years/$49 million)
14_ Ryan Dzingel, Senators/Blue Jackets (Hurricanes 2years/$6.75 million)
15_ Anton Stralman, Lightning (Panthers 3years/$16.5 million)
16_ Michael Ferland, Hurricanes (Canucks 4years/$14 million)
17_ Patrick Marleau, Maple Leafs (UNSIGNED)
18_ Semyon Varlamov, Avalanche (Islanders 4years)
19_ Joe Thornton, Sharks (UNSIGNED)
20_ Petr Mrazek, Hurricanes (Hurricanes 2years/$6.25 million)
21_ Brett Connolly, Capitals (Panthers 4 years/$13 million)
22_ Brandon Tanev, Jets (Pengurins 6years/$21 million)
23_ Brian Boyle, Devils/Predators (UNSIGNED)
24_ Cam Talbot, Oilers/Flyers (Flames 1year/$2.75 million)
25_ Justin Williams, Hurricanes (UNSIGNED)
There are a lot of unsigned restricted free agents, like Mitch Marner, Mikko Rantanen, Brayden Point, Patrick Laine, Kyle Connor, Brock Boeser, Matthew Tkachuk, etc. Seattle NHL franchise has named HOF Ron Francis as GM. Capitals Alex Ovechkin will travel to China as NHL ambassador. The Blue rewarded backup goalie Jordan Binnington with a 2-year deal after winning the Stanley Cup.

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. Since then, trades and free agent signings and broken contracts have been dominating the sports newswires. I had speculated in the Repo Commentary last year that Duke star Zion Williamson’s blowout of his Nike sneaker, which led to a knee injury, was going to have a major impact on Nike and the other sports shoe companies. Now that Zion has become a Pelican in the NBA Draft, on Tuesday, he finally announced that he had signed an endorsement deal with Jordan Brand, believed to be worth about $1 billion. The brand’s founder is Michael Jordan and the brand is owned by Nike Inc., but has morphed into a distinct brand since its creation in 1984. It is the most lucrative endorsement deal for a rookie ever in NBA history. Steve Kerr has called out the Lakers for recruiting Anthony Davis, the new habit of superstars getting other superstars to join their team to make it unstoppable, saying “it’s bad for the league.”. Kevin Love is the latest NBA star to withdraw from Team USA, before the FIBA World Cup pool and 2020 Summer Olympics. Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Bradley Beal, Zion Williamson, and Tobias Harris pulled out of Team USA before that. The Lakers are reportedly keeping a roster spot open for free agent Andre Iguodala. The Celtics ‘quickly’ rejected an offer for Gordon Hayward. Celtics’ asking price for Jasyon Tatum is reportedly “insane.” Marcus Morris pulled out of an agreement with Spurs and signed with the Knicks. Tim Duncan is returning to Spurs as assistant coach. The Bucks signed Kyle Korver to 1-year deal. The Wizards are offering Bradley Beal an $111 million max extension. The Wizards have also picked Tommy Sheppard as GM and added Sashi Brown to the front office. The NBA is investigating this summers free agent frenzy. The big winners in free agency and the offseason were the Clippers, Nets, and Lakers.

Olympics:

The hype for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo has officially begun. You may have already heard that there will be some new sports added and some sports returning. Many USA Olympic stars will be returning, including the World Cup Champion USA Women’s soccer team.

Tennis:

Wimbledon ended with a surprise on the Women’s side and a record-amazing match on the Men’s side. Serena Williams was upset by Simona Halep in the Final, who outplayed her in every aspect. Then, on Sunday, I watched an amazing 5-set tiebreaker that went a record 4 hours and 57 minutes (for a Wimbledon men’s final), between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, that was epic! Djokovic won the first set in a tiebreaker, was crushed in the second set 6-1, won the 3rd set in a tiebreaker, lost the 4th set 6-4, then won the first ever fifth set tiebreaker, after nearly losing on two championship points! It was Djokovic’s 5th trophy at the All England Club. It was also Djokovic’s 14th major, as he chases that record. John Isner has inked the first professional tennis CBD endorsement deal with Defy sports drink. Currently, in the tennis rankings that are being targeted for revamping by the ATP and WTA tours, the No.1 is Djokovic, the No.2 is Nadal, and No.3 is Federer. Had Federer beaten Djokovic in the Wimbledon Final, he would have moved to No.2 ahead of Nadal.

Fighting:

28-year-old Russian boxer Maxim Dadashev has died from brain injuries suffered in a fight with Subriel Matias.

Horse Racing:

Los Angeles could soon be the first major city to ban horse racing. The Breeders Cup will be at Santa Anita Park 11/1 and 11/2.

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 for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup in 2019 and the results:

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, Save Mart 350-won by Martin Truex Jr.
6/30 Chicago, Camping World 400-won by Alex Bowman
7/7 Daytona, Coke Zero 400-won by Austin Haley
7/13 Kentucky, Quaker State 400-won by Kurt Busch
7/21 New Hampshire, Foxwoods Resort Casino 301-won by Kevin Harvick
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 began with F1 Car Launch Dates for the various teams from 2/12 through 2/15 for Renault, Racing Point, McLaren, and Ferrari. That was 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 and results (it might be easier to just say which races were not won by Lewis Hamilton):

3/17 Australia Grand Prix in Melbourne-won by V. Bottas
3/31 Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir-won by Lewis Hamilton
4/14 China Grand Prix in Shanghai (this will be the 1000th Grand Prix)-won by Lewis Hamilton
4/28 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku-won by V. Bottas
5/12 Spain Grand Prix in Barcelona-won by Lewis Hamilton
5/26 Monaco Grand Prix in Monaco-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/9 Canada Grand Prix in Montreal-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/23 France Grand Prix in Le Castellet-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/30 Austria Grand Prix in Spielberg-won by Max Verstappen
7/14 Great Britain Grand Prix in Silverstone-won by Lewis Hamilton
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

Here is the IndyCar Racing circuit and its 2019 calendar and results (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-Alexander Rossi
7/14 Honda Indy Toronto-Simon Pagenaud
7/20 Iowa 300-Josef Newgarden
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:

Not only has peer-to-peer Repo been a hot topic of mine and the industry, but peer-to-peer parking has now become a thing. I if someone pays a weekly, monthly, or annual fee for a parking space, they can rent it out to others when not using it. Sort of Airbnb for parking. Outside Magazine says that fewer kids are now riding bicycles, missing valuable life lessons. Harley-Davidson had to reduce its export forecast, due to the impact of tariff increases. One area of employment that has declined, despite overall increases in jobs in the US, is the railway industry. The parents of a toddler who fell to her death from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship are blaming the company for their daughter’s death. In North Carolina, a 37-year-old father of 6 died after an “intense ocean wave” hit him, breaking his neck, in what authorities are calling a “freak accident”. His family followed his wishes and donated his organs to 55 people. A GoFundMe campaign has since raised more than $160,000 for the family. Another 35-year-old father, recently relocated to NC from Detroit, with his wife and 7 children, drowned Sunday at Wrightsville Beach, as he tired to save two of his children from rough waters while walking on a submerged jetty. He jumped in and managed to save one child, went back for the second and he and the second child went under. The child was rescued and survived. It’s very strange to see 2 similar beach deaths in NC, as well as the previous 3 shark attacks there. USA Today reports that officials are trying to determine where the next deadly wildfires will strike, and of the small communities across 11 states, more than 526 have a higher wildlife hazard potential than Paradise, CA. In Paradise, CA, 85 people died and nearly 19,000 buildings were destroyed in California’s deadliest wildfire in its history, the Camp Fire. Pacific Standard online reports that there will be fewer firefighters fighting fires this year. The truck driver responsible for the deaths of 7 ex-Marine motorcyclists last month, when he crossed a double-yellow line in rural NH, has been charged. Now the trucking company he worked for is being investigated. He was on his third day of working for the company and had been charged with drunken-driving in CT the month before. Ford’s electric F-150 towed a million pounds in a publicity stunt. Tuesday, a tornado ripped off the roof of a Cape Cod hotel. Not typical for the Northeast to see tornadoes. 35 passengers were injured on an Air Canada flight to Australia, due to severe turbulence. The plane was a Boeing 777-200. This follows last week’s news that an Air Canada traveler claimed to have woke up on a “freezing cold,” “pitch black” and empty plane as it sat on the tarmac near the hangar. Somehow, the crew missed that she was still on the plane asleep. On Southwest, a mother had to pay $75 to have her toddler sit with her. Southwest has updated its safety cards to avoid the Max 8 airplane confusion. Southwest has also just pulled out of Newark Airport due to 737 Max groundings. Beijing Auto has bought a stake in Daimler. TSA PreCheck may be coming to a festival or ballpark near you soon. In the meantime, TSA alerts travelers that some 45,000 TSA PreCheck memberships expire in February. “Jurassic World-The Ride” has arrived at Universal-Hollywood’s them park. Disney World Resorts is now offering mermaid school. A sky-high observation deck is being built in NYC. A Florida federal appeals court has now ruled that a lawsuit against Royal Caribbean can move forward over allegations that in 2015, a teenage ship passenger was plied with alcohol and then gang-raped in a cabin on one of its ships. 24/7 magazine has listed the 20 largest cruise ships in the world (based on maximum non-crew passengers they can accommodate):

20. MSC Fantasia-3,274, launched 2008
19. World Dream-3,348, launched 2017
18. Majestic Princess-3,560, launched 2017
17. Carnival Dream-3,646, launched 2009
16. Britannia-3,647, launched 2015
15. Carnival Breeze-3,690, launched 2012
14. Carnival Vista-3,934, launched 2016
13. Norwegian Bliss-4,004, launched 2018
12. MSC Meraviglia-4,500, launched 2017
11. Freedom of the Seas-4,515, launched 2006
10. Independence of the Seas-4,560, launched 2008
9. Ovation of the Seas-4,905, launched 2016
8. Costa Diadema-4,947, launched 2014
7. Costa Venezia-5,100, launched 2019
6. MSC Seaview-5,179, launched 2018
5. AIDAnova-5,200, launched 2018
4. Spectrum of the Seas-5,622, launched 2019
3. MSC Bellissima-5,686, launched 2019
2. Symphony of the Seas-6,680, launched 2018
1. Harmony of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, and Allure of the Seas (all tied)-6,780, launched 2016

Ah, Florida is paradise, although you have to overlook the sweltering heat, the hurricane potential, the shark attacks, the lightning strikes, the gators and crocodiles, bears and panthers, Burmese pythons and 5 indigenous poisonous snakes, poisonous spiders, Red Tide and Blue Green Algae, and now flesh-eating bacteria. A Georgia man was hospitalized this month after contracting a flesh-eating bacteria vacationing in Panama City, FL. In June, a 77-year-old Florida woman died from a flesh-eating bacteria she contracted at Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island in Florida. Also in June, a 12-year-old Indiana girl contracted a flesh-eating bacteria on a family vacation in Destin, FL. All 3 cases come after an alarming report published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, which suggested a flesh-eating bacteria called Vibrio vulnificus may be spreading to regions non-endemic to the microorganism due to unusually warm water. Atlantic-side Florida beach water temperature currently is between 82-85 degrees, very warm. The bacteria has an extremely high mortality rate, and must be accurately diagnosed, followed by rapid antibiotic administration and prompt surgery. The disease can be spread through seawater or undercooked seafood, usually enters through an open wound or scratch, and presents early symptoms of fever, dizziness or nausea, soon after an injury. The Environment America Research and Policy Center report rated the dirtiest beaches in 29 coastal and Great Lakes states. They specifically looked at number of days that bacteria counts exceeded EPA standards in 2018 (not at trash and debris). According to EARPC, these were the dirtiest (most bacteria days in 2018) beaches in these states:

ALABAMA
Fairhope Public Beach, Baldwin (21 days)

CALIFORNIA
Inner Cabrillo Beach, Los Angeles (85 days)
Coronado Ave. Beach, Los Angeles (62 days)

CONNECTICUT
Byram Beach (South), Fairfield (6 days)
Byram Beach (North), Fairfield (6 days)

DELAWARE
Slaughter Beach, Sussex (16 days)

FLORIDA
Bayou Texar, Escambia (24 days)
Sanders Beach, Escambia (23 days)
Crandon Park on Key Biscayne, Miami-Dade (17 days)
Bird Key Park, Sarasota (17 days)

GEORGIA
St. Simons Island Lighthouse, Glynn (6 days)

HAWAII
Keehi Lagoon (North), Honolulu (11 days)

ILLINOIS
South Shore Beach, Cook (93 days)
63rd Street Beach, Cook (91 days)
Foster Avenue Beach, Cook (90 days)
Calumet South Beach, Cook (89 days)
Rogers Avenue Park Beach, Cook (89 days)

INDIANA
Jeorse Park Beach I, Lake (40 days)
Jeorse Park Beach II, Lake (38 days)

LOUISIANA
North Beach, Calcasieu (11 days)
Cypremort Point State Park, St. Mary (10 days)
Fontainbleau State Park, St. Tammany (10 days)

MAINE
Goose Rocks Beach-Site 5, York (14 days)
Goose Rocks Beach-Site 1, York (9 days)

MARYLAND
Camp Pecometh, Kent (9 days)

MASSACHUSETTS
Nahant Bay at Eastern Ave, Essex (39 days)

MICHIGAN
St. Clair Shores Memorial Park Beach, Macomb (26 days)

MINNESOTA
New Duluth Boat Club Landing, St. Louis (16 days)

MISSISSIPPI
Gulfport East Beach, Harrison (44 days)

NEW HAMPSHIRE
State Beach-Left, Rockingham (5 days)

NEW JERSEY
Berkeley Township/Beachwood Beach West, Ocean (14 days)

NEW YORK
Tanner Park, Suffolk (48 days)
Woodlawn Beach State Park, Erie (47 days)

NORTH CAROLINA
Sound access at the intersection of E.Main Street/Tooley Street, Belhaven, Beaufort (11 days)

OHIO
Bay View West, Erie (48 days)
Maumee Bay State Park-Inland, Lucas (43 days)

OREGON
Sunset Bay State Park Beach/Big Creek, Coos (11 days)

PENNSYLVANIA
Beach 11 West in Thompson Bay, Erie (17 days)
Beach 11 East in Thompson Bay, Erie (17 days)

RHODE ISLAND
Easton’s Beach, Newport (10 days)

SOUTH CAROLINA
Withers Swash, Horry (32 days)
Myrtle Beach at 24th Avenue N, Horry (30 days)

TEXAS
Cole Park-Site 3, Nueces (52 days)
Ropes Park-Site 2, Nueces (43 days)

VIRGINIA
North Community Beach, Norfolk City (7 days)

WASHINGTON
Sooes Beach, Clallam (7 days)

WISCONSIN
Cupertino Park, Milwaukee (40 days)

Health News:

Researchers of a new study show that they found structural changes in the brains of diplomats who had served in Cuba compared with a similar control group, and the diplomats showed damage to multiple parts of the brain, commonly associated with concussion or mild traumatic brain injuries. This is part of the investigation into the allegations that the US Embassy in Havana, Cuba was submitted to constant “sonic attacks,” during 2016 and 2017. There were a variety of major changes in the brain of all 40 patients, including differences in volume of white matter and imaging differences in the cerebellum. The diplomats previously reported that they had suffered problems with coordination, balance, equilibrium, dysfunction in eye movement, nausea, dizziness, and memory problems. There is also skepticism of the “sonic attack” theory among other scientists, who debunk the creation of a sonic weapon, microwaves, or infection. New research has found that millions of US adults (including me) that are currently taking an aspirin a day under the mistaken impression it will help their heart, may be doing something more dangerous. Healthcare providers do recommend the practice to some of their patients, but no longer recommend daily use of aspirin to all of their patients, because taking aspirin daily can also increase the risk of bleeding and other cardiovascular issues. That change occurred after 3 studies in 2018 which showed that aspirin isn’t always beneficial for our health. The current American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology guidelines explicitly state that adults older than 70 who haven’t had a heart attack and people who have a higher bleeding risk shouldn’t take aspirin. Doctors now believe that the first prenatal visit should involve a Hepatitis B test, to identify the infection early. Researchers say taking leftover antibiotics or medication purchased online can actually make an infection worse. More women are reportedly using cannabis while pregnant, which is worrying some health experts. New research out of the University of Pittsburgh found that even after a decade of effective treatment, HIV cells can hide in spinal fluid. Experts say the increasing antibiotic resistance of urinary tract infections is becoming a serious public health issue. Researchers say that low iron levels can cause anemia, but high iron levels, while boosting heart health, can also increase stroke risk. Researchers believe that they can catch autism symptoms in babies before their first birthday, by using an eye-tracking technique for early diagnosis.

Animal News:

Llamas are becoming popular guests/photo props at weddings. In Yellowstone National Park, a few days ago, a 9-year-old girl from Florida (and her family) ignored signs posted everywhere that warn people to stay at least 75-100 feet away from all wildlife, and suffered the consequences. She was an estimated 5-10 feet away from a full-grown male bison, which then turned on her, ran her down, and tossed her in the air with his horns, flipping her in mid-air about 15 feet high. She was lucky to suffer no major injuries. Last year, a woman who got too close to a bison in the park wound up being gored but survived. People don’t realize that the two-ton animal can jump 6 feet high and charge at 30 mph. They also don’t give much warning when they are agitated. A wasp spray has led to 3 deaths in West Virginia, after being used as an alternative form of methamphetamine. There are half as many African lions than there were 25 years ago. Although the great white shark is considered at the apex of marine predators, scientists now believe that Orcas (Killer Whales) may actually rule the oceans, as they have been observed on several occasions attacking and eating great white sharks. Great white shark carcasses have been washing up in South Africa and sightings have been made of Orcas attacking great white sharks and eating their livers. Also, the mere presence of Orcas scares great white sharks away from the elephant seal colonies in the Farallon Islands, which benefits the seals, a staple of the great white sharks. Shockingly, after a 1997 attack by Orcas on 5 great white sharks, the entire great white shark population, about 100 animals, skipped their annual feast on seals at the Farallon Islands the following year. Now, here’s the weird part, the Orcas have somehow honed this feeding behavior to perfection, as they may almost a perfect surgical slice between the pectoral fins of the shark and suck out the shark’s liver, leaving the rest of the carcass intact. Goats can perceive each other’s emotions from their voices. Masai giraffes have been declared endangered, as the population in Kenya and Tanzania has declined by nearly 50% in the last 30 years due to poaching and land encroachment.

I’m running this story again, in case you missed it the first time, and then I’ll remove it. Okay, I’m not usually an alarmist, and I know that shark attacks on humans were down in 2018 (66 confirmed unprovoked) from 2017 (84 such incidents). I know that more people die taking selfies than by shark attacks. Since 1959, you are 6 times more likely to die of a lightning strike than a shark attack. There are more than double the number of fatalities from alligator attacks than from shark attacks. I think I read that more people die from having vending machines fall on them than by shark attacks. But, the recent spate of attacks and sightings has been, for want of a better word, alarming. It started with Cape Cod reporting many great white sharks sighted near beaches, because the seal population has exploded. Unfortunately, that’s where they decided to make the fictional town in the movie JAWS. Then, action moved to Florida, where helicopters filmed the annual migration of about 250 black tip sharks off of Broward County and Palm Beach County beaches, as they move up the coast. Mind you, the water temperature here, because of the record land temperatures is suddenly 84 degrees, very hospitable for sharks. Then the shark-watching agency announced that of the sharks they tagged and track, a couple dozen large great white sharks, tiger sharks, bull sharks, and hammerheads are off both coasts of Florida. Then, North Carolina. North Carolina beaches average 2 shark attacks per year, and we saw three in a span of 2 weeks. Despite all the attacks and sightings, it is rare for there to be a human fatality involved with a shark (unprovoked). But, on Tuesday, a 21-year-old girl vacationing in the Bahamas from California, was killed when she and her mother were snorkeling in a common snorkeling area, and attacked by 3 sharks. Shark attacks in the Bahamas are “extremely rare”, according to a marine biologist on ABC News. Typically, experts say that sharks attack humans unprovoked because they get confused by scuba suits, splashing, or silhouette that resembles a seal or turtle. Experts say they don’t really have any interest in humans. However, in this case, it sounds like the 3 sharks hunted the girl. My guess, and I’m no expert, is that the sharks were the very aggressive bull sharks. Annually, the global average is 6 fatalities per year. The fatal shark attack last year off of Cape Cod was the first in Massachusetts since 1936. I just watched a video of a 15-foot great white shark filmed in just 3 feet of water off the coast of Mexico in 2017. The best source of information on worldwide shark attacks is the International Shark Attack File (ISAF) which is part of the Florida Museum of University of Florida.

So, it bears repeating, no matter where you are, in California, North Carolina, Cape Cod, the Gulf of Mexico, the Dead Sea, the Mediterranean, the Bahamas, etc.:

• Swim in groups (probably more than 2, as having the mother there did not help this girl)
• Do not wear shiny jewelry
• Do not splash unnecessarily
• If snorkeling or diving, have a spotter
• Do not swim off any beaches near seals
• Do not swim near or with bait fish, which you can spot where birds are diving
• Do not swim at any beaches with posted purple flag with picture of a shark
• Stay close to shore
• Avoid being in the water at dusk or dawn, feeding times for sharks
• Avoid being in the water during darkness
• Do not enter the water if bleeding in any way, as shark’s olfactory ability is astounding
• Avoid waters with effluents or sewage
• If porpoises are present, that does not mean there aren’t sharks as well, as they feed on similar bait fish
• Avoid bright color clothing, as sharks see contrast particularly well
• Do not allow pets in the water because of their erratic splashing
• Exercise caution swimming in areas between sandbars or near steep drop-offs, as those are favorite hangouts for sharks
Okay, ISAF suggest the following if attacked by a shark:
• Be proactive, hit the shark on the nose, which will temporarily curtail attack and may allow you to get out of the water
• Repeatedly hit the shark on the nose, which unfortunately will become increasingly less effective
• If bitten, claw at its eyes or gill openings, two sensitive areas
• Never act passively, “as sharks respect size and power”

Entertainment News:

Quartz is now writing what I’ve been saying for years, that “Hollywood has hit a creative brick wall”. It has been churning out successful franchise sequels and prequels and spinoffs, or remakes. But, suddenly, blockbuster franchises are “in flux”, such as Avengers, Men In Black, Fast And Furious, James Bond, and even Star Wars, in which they are either ending, indefinitely pausing, or dealing with creative problems. Hollywood desperately needs fresh content for the public. They are running out of comic books to trot out as films. Naysayers say that there is little motivation for movie companies to produce original stories when the old stuff is creating so much profit, in some cases 50-70% of firm’s expenses. Supermodel Liya Kebede’s brand Lemlem is offering Ethiopian craftsmanship that has become very popular, a sustainable approach, while sponsoring her foundation for African women. The Bachelor TV franchise is going to air its first same-sex romance. R.Kelly rep has resigned after a shocking interview. The trailer has been released for the movie in which Tom Hanks plays Mister Rogers.

Hollywood’s (and Wall Street’s) billionaire friend and Palm Beach and NYC resident, Jeffrey Epstein, was denied bond, as a ‘flight risk’. More allegations have arisen, following the charges of sex trafficking. Deutsche Bank reportedly uncovered suspicious transactions in which Epstein moved money out of the US and reported those transactions to a watchdog Federal agency. Epstein had been a longtime client of JPMorgan’s private-banking division from the late 1990s until about 2013, according to the NY Times. He had pleaded guilty to state prostitution charges in 2008. Now, he is being accused of operating a sex-trafficking ring involving dozens of victims, some as young as 14-years-old. There may be other charges coming. Huffington Post reports that Epstein’s New Mexico ranch, known as the Zorro Ranch, has also been linked to sex trafficking. LATEST UPDATE: last night Epstein was found curled up in his jail cell in a fetal position with marks on his neck. Prison guards are not sure whether they were self-inflicted or he had been attacked, but as a precaution, they have put him on suicide watch.

Bindi Irwin is engaged to Chandler Powell. I think Bindi is the late Steve Irwin’s daughter. Lisa Vanderpump has officially quit the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and also did not show up for the 3-part finale. It’s all over some story she leaked to Radar Online about one of the women returning an adopted dog to a shelter, which Lisa denies. She is threatening to take her spinoff Vanderpump Rules to another network, leaving Bravo. Jennifer Lopez celebrated her 50th birthday (around the same time as my birthday) with boyfriend Alex Rodriquez. The years-long feud between Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell has reignited. The late Robin Williams’ youngest son got married on his father’s birthday. Kim Kardashian’s photographer has been accused of sexual misconduct. Darn, I was trying to get through one Repo Commentary without any Kardashian news! The two Little Big Lies women who bribed colleges to admit their children may face jail time. Britney Spears has sparked engagement rumors, after wearing a ring at a premiere. Taylor Swift has dropped a new song, “The Archer”. Adam Levine and Behati Prinsloo returned to Mexico for their 5-year wedding anniversary. Demi Moore is releasing her memoir. The opening for ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, with Brad Pitt and Leonardo di Caprio is getting a lot of hype and rave reviews. It turns out that Quentin Tarantino considered having Tom Cruise play Brad Pitt’s part. Wesley Snipes says he is fine and “it’s all good” about Marvel rebooting the BLADE franchise and having Mahershala Ali taking his part. Valerie Harper’s husband says he won’t put her in Hospice care despite doctors’ advice.

It would have been another disappointing weekend for Hollywood at the box office, if it hadn’t been for another Disney film. It was the first weekend of the last six that managed to top the same weekend of last year. THE LION KING remake with lifelike animals and special effects (sort of both live-action and animated), topped the weekend box office with a record $185 million, surpassing the total gross for the same weekend last year all on its own. Disney had other good news too, as AVENGERS: ENDGAME finally surpassed AVATAR to become the highest grossing worldwide release of all-time. THE LION KING set the record for highest opening weekend for the month of July in history and was the second largest opening of the year so far and seventh largest all-time. The debut was also the largest ever for a PG-rated film. If you were to consider it an “animated film”, then it is the largest opening for an animated film ever, topping INCREDIBLES 2 ($182.6 million). Disney refers to THE LION KING as “Live Action Reimaginings” which somehow sounds like one of the parts of their theme parks. Internationally, this LION KING has taken in another $269 million so far. Okay, enough about the LION KING for now. No.2 at the box-office was SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME, which took in $21 million (total now $320 million), in its 3rd week. No.3 at the box-office was TOY STORY 4, with $14.6 million (total now $375 million and globally $860 million), in its 5th week. It is now the 5th highest worldwide release for Pixar all-time. No.4 at the box office was CRAWL, which made only $6 million, in its 2nd week. No.5 at the box office was YESTERDAY, which made just over $5 million, in its 4th week.

Opening this week in theaters: the widely-anticipated ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, THE GROUND BENEATH MY FEET, HONEYLAND, MIKE WALLACE IS HERE, SEE YOU SOON, and TEL AVIV ON FIRE. I’m still way behind on movies, although catching up slowly through On Demand. I’m currently confused about whether I’ve seen all the DOG’S purpose, way home, life, etc. franchise.

Ad Age did a study of the last 50 years of successful advertising campaigns and found that the most successful were those that dared to be brave and bold.

Technology & Space News:

Riviera Beach, FL, which is adjacent to West Palm Beach, FL and I can see out my window, two weeks ago had a massive cyber attack on the city’s computer systems and decided to pay a $600,000 ransom to get control back of its computer systems. This week, the city was just hacked again. We just celebrated the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s landing on the Moon and Neil Armstrong’s famous one small step and one giant leap. I had to go back to a YouTube video of astronaut Buzz Aldrin punching out a guy who didn’t believe he walked on the Moon and called him “a liar, coward and thief.” Microsoft had impressive earnings and revenue in Q4, announced last week. However, a troubling spot in the earnings report was a 10% annual decline in revenue in its gaming business, with Xbox hardware sales plunging 48% annually. They also mentioned that they were feeling the pressure from lower sales of a comparable third-party software title. That title is believed by analysts to be Epic Games’ FORTNITE, which may be seeing its popularity wane and gamers spending less cash in the free-to-play game that was all the rage in recent years. It’s been a rough year for Facebook, as the social media platform was slapped with two massive fines for the breach of its users’ privacy by allowing Cambridge Analytica to access personal information without consent. The fines came from the FTC and the SEC. Speaking of massive settlements, Equifax, due to the massive data breach it suffered in September 2017 that compromised more data than any other data breach in the world (nearly half the population of the United States, 147 million people), since it is the repository for the most sensitive financial information of the public (Social Security numbers, addresses, credit car and driver’s license information, birthdates, etc.), denied any wrongdoing and there was no judgment or finding of wrongdoing, agreed on Monday to pay a $575-$700 million settlement. The settlement is to compensate US victims of hackers who stole the data from Equifax customers and was negotiated with the FTC. Payments to customers include covering costs to recover from the security breach, the theft of their identity, unauthorized charges to their accounts, and the cost of protecting themselves from future identity theft. The settlement is a little complicated and requires customers to do some work, as it will include a $300 million fund to compensate, $175 million to state and districts affected, $100 million penalty to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and possibly another $125 million if the $300 million isn’t enough. Customers could share in the settlement with free credit-monitoring, identity-theft protection services, cash payments, legal fees, free help recovering from identity theft, or free credit reports for 10 years. A former Equifax executive was sentenced to 4 months in prison for insider trading after the data breach. After the breach, the GAO discovered that 4 US agencies don’t properly verify your data. The EU is urging an alliance with the US to counter Chinese technology dominance. France is planning to use lasers to blind enemy satellites. Tesla posted worse than expected losses. I saw an article that Florida is considering charging owners of hybrid and electric cars a surcharge for using Florida’s roads and not paying their share through gasoline taxes, as they consume less gasoline. That’s crazy! So, people who are doing the right thing by the environment and leaving a smaller carbon footprint are going to be penalized for doing the right thing, AFTER they spent the money for those cars? I guess the state has felt the less infrastructure tax revenue in gasoline sales, and they claim that the infrastructure is a fixed cost that all are using. That’s why they have toll roads. In order to charge people who bought those cars, without toll roads or a way to determine mileage used on Florida roads, they are going to have to charge flat fees for owners of those types of cars, which really doesn’t count usage at all. That’s not fair. Also, it’s not fair for people who bought those cars to save money on gasoline to suddenly have to pay a portion of what they saved for having bought those cars. Dr. Dre (and others) sold Beats to Apple for $600 million. They were burning through startup capital. INSEAD’s annual Global Innovation Index ranks Switzerland as the most innovative country in the world. Sweden, the US, the Netherlands and the UK round out the top five. The FTC announced that it was fining Facebook $5 billion and forcing the social media giant to use new management protocols. There is a 3-part series on PBS called “Ancient Skies” that goes into how humans have viewed space since ancient times. Cybercrime group FIN8 is using new malware, Badhatch, to penetrate networks and scrape credit card information. Badhatch is launched with phishing emails delivering a Microsoft Word document with scripts that install a back door for malware.

US News:

The US debt just hit a record $22 trillion. In June 2018, China owned $1.18 trillion of the US debt and Japan owned $1.03 trillion, about one-third of foreign holdings. President Trump announced that he has struck a Federal budget deal with Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats that would raise Federal spending by $320 billion. Mark Esper was confirmed at US Secretary of Defense. A Department of Justice letter has warned Robert Mueller not to stray from his 448-page Russian election interference report’s written conclusions at his 5-hours of testimony and Q&A in front of 2 House of Representatives committees on Wednesday. A body was found behind a walk-in cooler at a Council Bluffs, Iowa supermarket and it turned out to be an employee who had vanished 10 years ago. He is believed to have fallen from the top of the freezer 12 feet and gotten wedged in an 18-inch gap between the wall and the back of the freezer, near the motors which were very loud. If you thought it would be easy to figure out how much an FBI agent makes, you were wrong. There are 15 grades in the General Schedule and 10 steps within each grade. 16 US Marines were arrested on Thursday for alleged human smuggling and drug charges.

International News:

Iran appears to be forcing things militarily, as it captured 18 men who it says were CIA spys working in Iran and says some or all may be executed, and its commandos captured a British oil tanker, which was simply sailing in international waters. Elsewhere, South Korean jets fire shots at Russian military aircraft. This aerial attack follows the first joint Chinese-Russian long-range air patrol over Asia. Electricity is slowly returning to Venezuela, after a major blackout. The Maduro’s government naturally blamed an “electromagnetic attack” on a dam for the outage. Pressure for change is building in Germany, according to FT. They also say that Syrians in Lebanon are facing mounting hostility. The Governor of Puerto Rico is under major pressure from the public to resign, after a public march of some 1.5 million residents, following reports of widespread corruption in his administration. Ukraine has detained a Russian tanker involved in a naval clash.

Florida:

I am usually singing a National Anthem and doing an Elvis gig each week here in Palm Beach County, FL. If you are interested in seeing more famous bands or solos in concert than my Generation Gap or Elvis Presley performances, there are many acts coming to Florida, perhaps when you will be visiting:

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s