Repo Commentary-12/06/19

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First, I hope you and your families had a Happy Thanksgiving! 

 

I am still NOT retired.  Hopefully, I will have news about that very soon.  I enjoyed seeing many of you here in Boca Raton, FL at the RMA Conference in October.  It was the 37thRMA Conference and my 37th

 

 

We are having our Florida Winter this week, in the 60’s and 70’s, while many of you are experiencing brutal temperatures and 1-2 feet of snow up North. 

 

 

My Repo Commentary is posted free (it’s actually always been free) on my website:  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 frequent, but I’ve been swamped.

 

 

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

 

 

Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my former firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information.  I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested (70-80%) in entertaining you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures! Also, please send me feedback, as I want to make it better all the time. As many of you know, it used to be a daily Repo Commentary back in the 80s and for a long time. But, then again, I used to be younger. I don’t know how I typed this by hand (still do) every single day (and didn’t get fired) and even re-wrote some 200 song lyrics to current market activity.

 

 

Holidays or Events (12/06):

 

 

  • It is the 37thanniversary of me joining Morgan Stanley and entering the industry of Securities Financing.
  • Bartender Appreciation Day
  • Miners’ Day
  • Faux Fur Day
  • Mitten Tree Day
  • National Gazpacho Day
  • International Sweater Vestival
  • Put On Your Own Shoes Day
  • National Microwave Oven Day
  • International St. Nicholas Day
  • National Pawnbrokers Day
  • Constitution Day in Spain
  • Day of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies of Azerbaijan
  • Independence Day in Finland
  • National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada

 

 

Some Famous People Born on 12/06 in History:

 

 

  • 1285-Ferdinand IV of Castile
  • 1421-Henry VI of England
  • 1520-Barbara Radziwill, Queen of Poland
  • 1642-Johann Christoph Bach, German organist and composer
  • 1792-William II of The Netherlands
  • 1805-Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin, French magician
  • 1827-William Arnott, Australian biscuit manufacturer and founder of Arnott’s Biscuits
  • 1876-Fred Duesenberg, German-American businessman, co-founded the Duesenberg Automobile & Motors Company
  • 1896-Ira Gershwin, American songwriter
  • 1900-Agnes Moorehead, American actress
  • 1903-Tony Lazzeri, American baseball player and manager
  • 1908-Baby Face Nelson, American gangster
  • 1917-Irv Robbins, Canadian-American businessman, co-founded Baskin-Robbins
  • 1920-Dave Brubeck, American pianist and composer
  • 1924-Wally Cox, American actor
  • 1927-Jim Fuchs, American shot putter and discus thrower
  • 1928-Bobby Van, American actor, dancer, and singer (and inspiration for at least 5 steakhouses in Manhattan!)
  • 1944-Jonathan King, English singer-songwriter, record producer, music entrepreneur
  • 1945-Larry Bowa, American baseball player and manager
  • 1945-Dan Harrington, American lawyer and pro poker player
  • 1946-Frankie Beverly, American soul/funk singer-songwriter, musician, and producer
  • 1948-JoBeth Williams, American actress
  • 1953-Dwight Stones, American highjumper and sportscaster
  • 1953-Gary Ward, American baseball player and coach
  • 1955-Steven Wright, American actor, comedian, and screenwrither
  • 1956-Peter Buck, American guitarist, songwriter, and producer
  • 1967-Judd Apatow, American director, producer, and screenwriter
  • 1970-Ulf Ekberg, Swedish singer-songwriter, keyboard player, and producer
  • 1988-Adam Eaton, American baseball player
  • 1992-Johnny Manziel, American football player

 

This Day in History (12/06):

 

 

  • 963-Pope Leo VIII is appointed to the office of Protonotary and begins his papacy as Antipope of Rome.
  • 1060-Bela I is crowned King of Norway.
  • 1240-Mongol invasion of Rus’: Kiev under Daniel of Galicia and Volvode Dmytro falls to the Mongols under Batu Khan.
  • 1534-the city of Quito in Ecuador is founded by Spanish settlers led by Sebastian de Belalcazar.
  • 1704-Battle of Chamkaur: during the Mughal-Sikh Wars, an outnumbered Sikh Khasa defeats a Mughal army.
  • 1745-Charles Edward Stuart’s begins retreat during the second Jacobite Rising.
  • 1790-the US Congress moves from New York City to Philadelphia.
  • 1846-American and California forces clash at the Battle of San Pasqual.
  • 1865-Georgia ratifies the 13thAmendment to the US Constitution.
  • 1877-the first edition of The Washington Post is published.
  • 1884-the Washington Monument in Washington, DC is completed.
  • 1897-London becomes the world’s first city to host licensed taxicabs.
  • 1904-Theodore Roosevelt articulated his “Corollary” to the Monroe Doctrine, state that the US would intervene in the Western Hemisphere should Latin America governments prove incapable or unstable.
  • 1907-a coal mine explosion at Monongah, West Virginia kills 362 workers.
  • 1912-the Nefertiti Bust is discovered.
  • 1916-WWI: the Central Powers capture Bucharest.
  • 1917-Finland declares independence from Soviet Russia.
  • 1917-Halifax Explosion: a munitions explosion near Halifax, Nova Scotia, kills more than 1,900 people in the largest artificial explosion up to that time.
  • 1917-WWI: USS Jacob Jones is the first American destroyer to be sunk by enemy action, when it is torpedoed by German submarine SM U-53.
  • 1921-the Anglo-Irish Treaty is signed in London by British and Irish representatives.
  • 1933-US federal judge John M. Woolsey rules that James Joyce’s novel Ulysses is not obscene.
  • 1941-WWII: the United Kingdom and Canada declare war on Finland in support of the Soviet Union during the Continuation War. Camp X opens in Canada to begin training Allied Secret Agents for the War.
  • 1942-WWII: Stary Capielow and Rekowka German Genarmerie massacred 31 Poles for helping Jews, and killed 2 Jewish refugees in the murder.
  • 1947-the Everglades National Park in Florida is dedicated.
  • 1953-Vladimir Nabokov completes his controversial novel
  • 1956-a violent water polo match between Hungary and the USSR takes place during the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, against the backdrop of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.
  • 1957-Project Vanguard: a launchpad explosion of Vanguard TV3 thwarts the first US attempt to launch a satellite.
  • 1967-Adrian Kantrowitz performs the first human heart transplant in the US.
  • 1969-Attamont Free Concert: at a free concert performed by the Rolling Stones, eighteen-year-old Meredith Hunter is stabbed to death by Hells Angels security guards.
  • 1971-Pakistan severs diplomatic relations with India, iniating the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.
  • 1973-the Twenty-fifth Amendment: the US House of Representatives votes 387-35 to confirm Gerald Ford as Vice President of the US.
  • 1975-The Troubles: fleeing from the police, a Provisional IRA unit takes a British couple hostage in their flat on Balcombe Street, London, beginning a six-day siege.
  • 1989-the Ecole Polytechnique massacre (or Montreal Massacre): Marc Lepine, and anti-feminist gunman, murders 14 young women at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal.
  • 1991-Yugoslav Wars: in Croatia, forces of the Serb-dominated Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) bombard Dubrovnik after laying siege to the city for seven months.
  • 1992-the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, India, is demolished, leading to widespread riots causing the death of over 1,500 people.
  • 1995-Khabarovsk United Air Group Flight 3949 crashes into the Bo-Dzhausa Mountain, killing 98.
  • 1997-a Russian Antonov-An-124 Russian cargo plane crashes into an apartment complex near Irkutsk, Siberia, killing 67.
  • 1998-in Venezuela, Hugo Chavez is victorious in presidential elections.
  • 1999-A&M Records, Inc. V. Napster, Inc.: the Recording Industry Association of America sues the peer-to-peer file-sharing service for copyright infringement.
  • 2005-an Iranian Air Force C-130 military transport aircraft crashes into a ten-floor apartment building in a residential area of Tehran, killing all 94 on board and 12 more on the ground.
  • 2006-NASA reveals photographs by Mars Global Surveyor suggesting the presence of liquid water on Mars.
  • 2015-Venezuelan elections are held. For the first time in 17 years, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela loses its majority in parliament.
  • 2017-Donald Trump’s administration officially announces the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

 

 

 

 Daily Weird Facts:

 

 

Ostriches are the largest and heaviest birds in the world, they can outrun leopards, their kick is strong enough to kill a lion, male ostriches can roar like a lion, and they can see as far as 2.2 miles.

 

 

 

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

 

 

 

“This is a wonderful day, I have never seen this one before.”—Maya Angelou

 

 

 

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

$58.31/barrel on 9/10

$53.50/barrel on 10/2

$59.10/barrel on 12/6

 

 

 

Saudi Aramco IPO’ed. The world’s top oil producers are hinting at bigger production cuts. The price of gasoline at my new West Palm Beach station just jumped in the past week by 20 cents, probably because of Thanksgiving travel demand, to $2.42/gallon. Most of the other stations in the area are 30-70 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

101.72 on 9/10

102.16 on 10/02

102.96 on 12/06

 

 

 

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

09/10 at $1.1623

10/02 at $1.1504

12/06 at $1.1688

 

 

 

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

09/10 at $1.2959

10/02 at $1.2882

12/06 at $1.3819

 

 

 

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

1.2520 on 9/10

1.2560 on 10/02

1.2530 on 12/06

 

 

 

 

Gold closed on 9/09 at $1504.90/ounce.  On 10/02, it closed at $1498.70/ounce. Today, it closed at $1,464.40.

 

 

 

Bitcoin was trading at (Repo Commentary Dates):

 

$8,185.21 on 7/25

$6,350 on 10/5

$3,774.97 on 12/24/18

$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

$10,183.90 on 09/10

$8,235.46 on 10/02

$7,470.41 on 12/06

 

After rebounding dramatically since the beginning of the year, although certainly not to its $19,000 highs, Bitcoin hit a wall at the beginning of the Summer, rallied during the Summer, and recently has tumbled again in the past three months.

 

 

 

 

 

Global Financial News:

 

 

State-owned oil company’s, Saudi Aramco, raised $25.6 billion in world’s biggest IPO. This values the company at $17 trillion, short of what Riyadh was hoping for.  BlackRock’s stockpicking wiz, Mark Wiseman, once thought to have an inside track to be a possible successor to CEO Larry Fink, has been ousted over allegations of an inappropriate relationship.  A group of Russians have been charged over a global bank internet fraud.  The head of the syndicate has been accused of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars over the past 10 years and allegedly currently has a $5 million bounty on his head.  Gucci-owner Kering is exploring adding Moncler, an Italian maker of ski suits and jackets, to its luxury company. Canadian banks have started a round of layoffs, as profitability has dipped. French workers are protesting pensions in the biggest public sector strike since 1995.  The strikes have now shut down the trains and subway and closed Versailles.  A California man, Kyle Dennis, who was $80,000 in debt when he decided to invest every penny to his name in the stock market, has made $2.8 million trading from home.  More than $370 trillion of existing financial contracts use are pegged to LIBOR worldwide and $200 trillion of them are denominated in US dollars. The end of LIBOR is about 2 years away for everything from Swaps to mortgages to credit cards.  The leading candidate to replace it is SOFR. (see more in Federal Reserve section below)

 

 

US Market News:

 

The Dow Jones (global stocks as well), along with other stock indices, were enjoying record or near-record highs in late July 2019 (feeding off of earnings reports, US budget progress, and the Fed switching to easing monetary policy) but then corrected some 10% in August 2019, due to global political unrest and tariff/trade wars. Since August, it was turbulent, but then gave way to another strong rally.

 

 

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

26,793.09 on 9/10/19

26,229.31 on 10/02/19 down 343.73 points

28,015.06 on 12/06/20 up 337.27 points as I write this

 

 

S&P 500 also gave up its all-time high on 9/20/18 of 2,930.66, then marched back up to a new high on 7/24/19, only to correct to nearly 2,800 three times in August, before rising again to near the highs, 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

09/10/19 at 2,969.04

10/02/19 at 2,906.94 down 33.31

12/06/20 at 3145.91

 

 

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

09/10/19 at 8,043.58

10/02/19 at 7,809.22 down 99.46

12/06/20 at 8,656.07 up 142.05 at the close

 

 

 

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%

09/09/19 at 1.58%

10/01/19 at 1.56%

12/06/19 at 1.61%

 

 

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%

09/09/19 at 1.52%

10/01/19 at 1.51%

12/06/19 at 1.64%

 

 

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%

09/09/19 at 1.49%

10/01/19 at 1.51%

12/06/19 at 1.67%

 

 

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%

09/09/19 at 1.57%

10/01/19 at 1.59%

12/06/19 at 1.78%

 

 

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%

09/09/19 at 1.83%

10/01/19 at 1.65% dramatic drop in one month!

12/06/19 at 1.84% dramatic rise in two months!

 

 

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%

09/10/19 at 2.11%

10/01/19 at 2.11%

12/06/19 at 2.29%

 

 

US Treasury yields have risen, despite the Fed’s continued intervention in the target rate, to October levels.

                                                                                   

 

Housing News:

 

 

The NY Times officially declared the Manhattan real estate a “buyers’ market”.  However, in Florida, local newspapers of Palm Beach reported that the real estate market for high-end properties is up 20% in price and that a hedge fund manager/billionaire just purchased a mansion on “Billionaire’s Row” near President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago for $110 million, which is a new record high for Palm Beach County.  He purchased it from a beauty supply mogul (not the Nexus lady who has that gorgeous one that looks like the White House).  Of course, he already has a $90 million mansion in The Hamptons and a $60 million townhouse/mansion on Park Ave. in NYC.  It’s kind of funny that at the end of the article, they mentioned that the property had been listed for $200 million, yet it is cheered as a positive sign for local real estate.  Tudor and another hedge fund manager had already moved down here to Palm Beach, so the hedge fund exodus continues, as tax deduction limits in NY and CT, lack of Homesteading, and weaker divorce laws, push more folks to Florida. It also could just be, as Jerry Seinfeld said, “the law, everyone eventually has to move to Florida, God’s waiting room.”  I keep in touch with some of the over 10,000 real estate brokers here (oddly almost exactly the same number of lawyers) in Florida, and they tell me that they do see a shift from purchasing property to renting property.  Also, the international money that was scooping up the skyscrapers condos in Miami has started to dry up and vacancies are beginning to pile up, even before several new skyscrapers have yet to be completed. If you recall, in 2008, I told you about how many buildings stood incompleted in Miami after the Financial Crisis.  I’m actually looking out my balcony at an uncompleted hotel here.  By the way, in West Palm Beach, FL, both the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals finally completed the renovations to the hotels that they bought to house players and families during Spring Training.  Officially, UK average house prices climbed by 1% in November, compared to October. This is a 9-month high right ahead of the UK general election. Toronto-Dominion Bank has been added to the list of global systemically important banks (GSIBs).

 

 

Repo News:                              

 

 

 

I am guessing that this is the first time for many to actually scroll down to the Repo Market section of the Repo Commentary first, rather than Entertainment or Sports.  Well, I guess that’s understandable.  We have been experiencing those once-in-a-decade volatile periods in the Securities Finance Market that suddenly put the word “Repo” on the front pages of Bloomberg, WSJ, and NY Times, baffling hundreds of millions of people around the world.  I intended to write this Repo Commentary a month ago, but got a deluge of calls from clients, colleagues, and media about the current state of affairs. It’s nice to be needed and the first call when there is trouble in our Securities Financing industry, to an extent. The minutes of the FOMC meeting show that Fed officials had a long discussion about ‘putting in place a permanent Repo facility to be a backstop in case of future turmoil in the short-term lending market, to avoid the episode of rate volatility in September.  An alternative idea floated at the meeting was to start more frequent open market repo operations that could be increased in size if needed.  What they did agree on is that the don’t want to push the target range into negative territory.

 

Well, “repo” is the lubricant of the money market system, particularly the issuance of US Treasuries and other bonds, and it only comes up in conversation among non-participants when the gears start squeaking or fail to function, like yelling for WD 40.  And, the last time the general public heard about “repo” it was during the Financial Crisis.

 

I know you’ve seen many articles on the subject of current repo market illiquidity and volatility, I’ve read them too.  I think I can summarize them all and add my now 37 years of experience in the Securities Finance market to lay out the causes and possible solutions.

 

To look at the WHY, one need look at what has happened since the Financial Crisis. 

 

  • The regulators, particularly the Federal Reserve, instituted emergency liquidity programs for different sectors of the money market (CP, Corporate Bonds, Broker/Dealers, GSEs, etc.). They eventually unwound those many programs.
  • They opened up for a brief time the Discount Window to more participants and without the previous stigma attached, for collateral providers to access cash.
  • They put FNMA and FHLMC into conservatorship.
  • They began easing Monetary Policy massively for years.
  • They began Quantitative Easing and built up the Fed’s balance sheet to $4.5 trillion. They added to it by buying more securities every month from the paydowns on their MBS portfolio.
  • They propped up some broker/dealers, allowed some to fail, and helped others to consolidate/merge.
  • The Repo Market shrunk in the US from about $7 trillion to $3 trillion, before recent increase to about $3.6 trillion.
  • Regulators instituted mountains of new reforms, especially the 310 new rules of Dodd-Frank, globally to decrease the likelihood of systemic risk in the financial system and to force, particularly the broker/dealers and GSIB banks to hold more capital/reserves for liquidity.
  • The market began looking for alternatives to financing through broker/dealers via CCPs, peer-to-peer financing, Sponsored Repo, and electronic trading platforms.
  • The Fed began its much hailed RRP program, which added over 300 cash providers from the Repo market to finance the Fed’s balance sheet and provide ‘liquidity’ for those cash providers.
  • The Fed stopped QE and began reducing their balance sheet down to $2.5 trillion.
  • The US Treasury began ramping up issuance to the tune of about $1 trillion more, which is funneled through the 24 primary broker/dealers and the central banks.
  • The Fed began tightening monetary policy and tinkering with new measures of repo rates and LIBOR replacement. They also began tinkering with the Interest on Excess Reserves (IOER) from banks and credit unions, to try to create higher reserves.
  • The Fed did an about face and began easing monetary policy. They also lowered IOER.

That’s not everything that happened, but that gives you the broad strokes. And just in those bullet points, I see many of the contributing factors of the recent dislocation of the repo market.  And, by the way, that actually refutes Mr. Memani’s later comment that “Nothing much has happened in the money markets since financial crisis. A lot more happened in those 11 years than happened in the 26 years that I was in the money markets. 

 

I believe the reasons we had dislocations over the last week or so in repo rates, up as high as 10% the first day and 6% the second day, despite the Fed easing the target to 1.75%-2.00% the third day, and coming in with Overnight Open Market Operations (which they used to do daily—Customer RPs, System RPs, Match Sales—which was how we used to determined what they were doing with Monetary Policy, based on whether they were adding reserves or removing reserves and to what extent, but I won’t “bore” you), come down to a major imbalance of bank reserves, behavior not consistent with expectation, illiquidity in the repo market (rather than the highly touted increase in liquidity), concentration risk, a corporate tax date that removed cash from the repo market, humongous new supply of US treasuries being issued, many Repo market participants out of the Federal Reserve direct loop, and a mountain of hundreds of new regulations that broker/dealers (and others) are trying to still absorb and position reserves/capital, personnel, and trading strategies for.  As you can see, there are a lot of balls in the air!

 

I’m not sure why participants and regulators didn’t foresee an imbalance (lack of) bank reserves.  The piles of new regulations that regulators gave to the money markets fundamentally required banks to hold more reserves versus balance sheets (which repo is the major contributor to), the low yields may have encouraged banks to use reserves elsewhere in more profitable areas than repo (they are profit-motivated, as they should be), and the Fed lowered the IOER which may have disincented banks from depositing reserves at the Fed. The decrease in the Fed’s balance sheet came at the cost of the market absorbing those securities. The US Treasury issuing phenomenal amounts of securities that have to be taken by the 24 primary dealers (already full up on balance sheets they are trying to reduce) and the central banks/swfs (who already have $14 trillion of US Treasuries, should have been know as a potential clog in the system.  Plus, with the Fed lowering rates, the returns on those US Treasuries would be lower for those new owners.  And the central banks ownership of US Treasuries is another complicated story, one of ripple effects.  They can’t really sell US Treasuries into this market, without having some issue with the US Government, whichever branch.  But, yet, many of them need to support their currency, particularly against the US Dollar.  So, some of them enter the Repo market to repo the US Treasuries to receive US Dollars to then buy their own currencies with, propping up their currency by kicking the can somewhat down the road, until their GDP rises or oil prices rise (raising their specific GDP).  Layer over that macroeconomic soup a topping of trade wars and tariffs, it becomes rather complex to predict.  And, that brings me to my last observation, that unintended consequences arose from the hundreds of regulations foisted on the money market, mainly because market behavior is not that predictive.  Regulators thought that if they made the system safer, more investors would come in, but yet the repo market didn’t grow that much, but yet supply from the Fed and from the US Treasury increased dramatically.  Regulators thought that if the banks had more reserves and capital, they would pass that on to the buyside, but that didn’t take into account their profit motivations and individual bank idiosyncricies.  Lastly, the regulators didn’t expect the perfect storm of added supply, taxes withdrawn, cash out of the system, reserves lower, and tools that would work directly only on the 24 primary dealers and the 300 cash providers in RRP.  I’ve been remarking for years, since the RRP, that there was not a comparable program for collateral providers/leveraged players in the Repo market.  Steve Malekian went further to say, a year ago, that the newly touted liquidity of the Repo market was “only for Platinum accounts.” It was only for select buyside clients. 

 

So, the Fed needs to do something.  And, I don’t mean just the Overnight operations with the 24 primary dealers.  I can’t even predict what those dealers’ positions are or how the added liquidity would flow to the buyside clients.  The extra cash could be used to fund their Swaps desk, the Repo Desk, other outright traders, Platinum accounts, or speculatively with leveraged accounts (as a few savvy broker/dealers have seen that opportunity and gone short to reverse in at higher rates from leveraged accounts and supply balance sheet).  The point is that the mound of regulations and the open market operations and the tinkering with the IOER are supposed to impact banks and broker/dealers in such a way to induce certain behavior, but behavior is unique.  So, the Fed needs to go back to its ample toolkit (and get people who have been there at least 10 years) to:

  • Implement more term RPs, to give the market some faith and reduce Fed reputational risk
  • Purchase securities, either US Treasuries or Agency MBS, increasing the Fed balance sheet (although this may be difficult because there were probably several good reasons why they decreased it.)
  • Open the Discount Window to more participants, with NO stigma attached (it used to be how one in the market knew who was having a liquidity crisis), and other sectors represented.
  • Create a collateral provider facility, similar to RRP, or help reduce the hurdles, like CCLF for CCPs and Sponsored Repo type ventures to increase liquidity.
  • Tinker the IOER rate UP, rather than down, to increase the Reserves at the Fed.
  • Support/encourage Repo done outside of the 24 primary dealers, helping collateral providers find cash providers, when certain broker/dealers are balance sheet full and capital restrained from the very regulations that the Fed was involved in. I hope that didn’t come out too angry.  I think systemic risk reduction is a huge priority and I am worried about firesale risk (although I don’t think moving the sale down the road to 7 days or 30 days changes firesale risk, it just changes the date of the firesale).
  • Have the Fed be a permanent backstop to the Repo market.

The bottom line is that the money markets, particularly the securities finance market (Repo & Securities Lending) is still trying to find its footing, particularly as the Repo market has shrunk, while Treasury supply has increased.

 

 

 

 

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.  The US tariffs on China have strangely had little effect on Import Prices.

 

 

Securities Finance Industry Conferences:

 

 

 

  • Deutsche Borse/Clearstream held its annual conference this week in Luxembourg, which I attended last year.
  • IMN 25thBeneficial 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 16thannual Conference on Asian Securities Lending in Sydney, Australia 3/5-3/7.
  • GIOA held its 15thannual 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 113thannual conference in Los Angeles on 5/19-5/22.
  • Securities Lending Timesheldits 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 held its Rooftop Social in NYC on 6/27.
  • Worldwide Business Research held its annual Fixed Income & FX Leader Summit in Singapore on 9/17-9/19.
  • IHS Markit in conjunction with Opal Group held a Securities Finance Forum in NYC on 9/17.
  • IMN held its annual ABS East conference in Miami Beach, FL on 9/22-9/24.
  • IMN held its annual European Securities Finance conference in London on 9/25-9/26.
  • Crane Data held its annual European Money Fund Symposium in Dublin, Ireland on 9/23-24.
  • Finadium held its 3rd annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference Europe in London on 9/24.
  • National Association of State Treasurers held its annual conference in Naples, FL on 10/6-10/9.
  • Worldwide Business Research held its Fixed Income Leaders conference in Barcelona on 10/7-10/9.
  • RMA held its 37thannual Conference on Securities Finance and Collateral Management in Boca Raton, FL on October 14-17. I saw many of you there/here.  It was my 37thRMA I’ve attended.
  • American Financial Professionals (AFP) held its gigantic annual conference in Boston, MA on 10/20-10/23. I want to go to one of these some time.
  • Finadium held its Rates & Repo conference in New York on 11/4
  • net held its 25thannual Risk USA conference in NYC on November 5-6.
  • SIFMA held 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 1.50-1.75% (remember, the Fed has been using a target ‘range’ for a while), after the FOMC lowered it on 7/31/19 and again on 9/18/19 and again on 12/4/19. The Effective Fed Funds Rate (EFFR), as reported by the Federal Reserve, was 1.88% on 10/1/19.

 

For you youngsters, particularly the ones freaking out about the Fed doing daily RP operations, the Federal Reserve used to not telegraph what it was doing in monetary policy.  It would simply come in (and not on scheduled dates like FOMC meetings) and add or drain reserves by announcing a Customer RP, System RP, or Matched Sales. We would then all scramble, as the market absorbed the news, and try to figure out how much they did and where the Fed Funds rate would settle.

 

The Overnight Bank Funding Rate (OBFR), is 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 10/1/19 was 1.85%.

 

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 possible 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 10/1/19 was 1.88%.

 

The next FOMC meetings (and they are all two-day meetings so these are the second day, when they actually announce) are: 1/29/20, 3/18/20, 4/29/20, 6/10/20, 7/29/20, 9/16/20, 11/5/20, and 12/16/20.

 

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 IOER 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 2018, 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%

 

But, then the Federal Reserve paused.  Suddenly, on 7/31/19, the Fed eased the Fed Funds target rate to 2.25%, and then did another rate cut by 0.25% to 2.00% on 9/17/19. Technically, that rate is the top end of a 25bp rate spread that the Fed considers its current target rate (1.75%-2.00%).  The reversal in monetary policy is expected to continue, with perhaps one more rate cut by the Fed in 2019.  The FOMC actually held an unscheduled meeting on 10/4/19, but did not change monetary policy at that meeting.  But, on 12/11/19, the Fed, somewhat expectedly, lowered the Fed Funds target range to 1.50-1.75%, down another 25bp.

 

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 reference, the Fed Funds target rate was 5.25% before the Fed cut of 9/18/2007, at or near the beginning of the Financial Crisis.

 

I personally think the Federal Reserve (and the US Treasury) could use an industry consultant with nearly 37 years of experience in the securities financing market and who has worked extensively in sell-side, buy-side, and vendor firms, giving him/her a unique and neutral perspective.  I know someone like that.

 

Economists say that the Federal Reserve is “super-glued” to its seat until after the Election, after a great labor market report today.  The Fed Beige Book saw a slight pickup in the US economy. Brainard is calling for a major overhaul in how the Fed sets the level of interest rates. Fed’s Powell was upbeat on the US economy and said that low inflation is allowing them to keep low interest rates.  After Wednesday’s FOMC meeting, during which the Fed voted 8-2 to lower the target rate range by another 25bp (mostly expected by the market), Powell signaled a pause in his press conference.

 

 

 

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

 

 

An earthquake in northwestern Albania killed at least 50 people and injured more than 800 others. These are just the earthquakes over the last 3 days!  There have been 43 over the last 30 days. Latest strong earthquakes (5.5 magnitude and above):

 

12/6 5.7 173km NW of Hihofo, Tonga

12/6 6.0 184km WNW of Hihofo, Tonga

12/5 5.6 Mindanao, Philippines

12/5 5.5 Kuril Islands, Russia

12/4 6.0 Vanuatu Islands

12/3 5.5 Kuril Islands, Russia

12/3 6.1 Near coast of Northern Chile

12/2 6.0 60km E of Amatignak Island, Alaska

 

 

 

Weather:

 

The Atlantic Hurricane Season began June 1stand 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 underestimated.

 

For the 2019 storm season, CSU, which has been the most used, forecast a near-average season of 13 named storms, 5 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes.  It has turned out to be the 4thyear in a row of above-average damaging seasons.  We have already had 18 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes.  It has become the 7thyear that there were multiple Category-5 hurricanes in one season.

 

The Hurricane names for the 2019 North Atlantic season are:

 

Andrea-x

Barry-x

Chantal-x

Dorian-x

Erin-x

Fernand-x

Gabrielle-x

Humberto-x

Imelda-x

Jerry-x

Karen-x

Lorenzo-x

Melissa-x

Nestor-x

Olga-x

Pablo-x

Rebekah-x

Sebastian-x

Tanya

Van

Wendy

 

 

The Atlantic basin has no storm activity to currently report.

 

 

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

 

Eastern North Pacific currently has no activity to report.  Central North Pacific currently has no activity to report.

 

 

 

 

As for the weather, Florida finally has moderate temperatures after record heat.  We are in the 70s and going down to 50s at night.  Heavy rain and snow are expected across the country during the peak Thanksgiving travel time. And once the weekend has past, a second storm system will arrive around Tuesday. There are heavy rain warnings for most of New England and for California. Heavy snow could hit from Denver to Minneapolis. There will be other storms with strong winds from Texas to Missouri.

 

 

 

Sports News:      

 

 

MLB:

 

 

The MLB regular season began 3/28 this year and ended on 9/30 (more than 6 months).  The World Series went 7 games, and the Washington Nationals, who were in the Postseason for the first time, beat the Houston Astros, who won the World Series in 2017,  4 games to 3 games.  The cool thing, from my perspective, is that they share the same brand new Spring Training facility right here in West Palm Beach, FL, and I sing the National Anthem for both teams several times during Spring Training. The Red Sox president admitted it will be “difficult” to keep both Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, as the latter had an option for 3 more years and was expected to leave for Free Agency, but surprised management and fans by taking his option and staying with the team.  That leaves Mookie Betts, the former MVP, who has one more year of $20 million salary on his contract and a Red Sox management that says they want to get down to the $208 million salary cap to avoid any more luxury tax.  Analysts speculate that they will probably look to trade Betts, arguably one of their best players in decades.  This Sunday, the Hall of Fame Committee will decide the next class of inductees.  Is it finally going to be time for Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds?  Probably not yet. The Modern Baseball Era ballot features 10 candidates for consideration:

 

Dwight Evans (one of my favorites)

Steve Garvey

Tommy John

Don Mattingly (another favorite of mine)

Marvin Miller

Thurman Munson (beloved)

Dale Murphy

Dave Parker

Ted Simmons

Lou Whitaker

Matt Kelly

 

“Modern Baseball” is one of four rotating eras considered by the Hall of Fame’s Veteran Committee, not the writers.  It evaluates candidates whose primary contributions to baseball came between 1970-87.  The list was compiled by 11 veteran baseball historians.  Now, a 16-member group of veterans will decide.  You need 75% of the vote to get in.

Now, the 2020 BBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot features 32 candidates.  Results from this vote will be announced on 1/21/20.

 

 

 

Soccer:

 

In Association Football, the Copa Libertadores concludes with Flamengo defeating River Plate in the final.

 

 

Golf:

 

 

At the RSM Classic, Tyler Duncan beat Webb Simpson in a playoff.  Brandon Todd won his second PGA Tour event in as many starts at the Mayakoba Golf Classic. Jin Young Ko finished off her dominant LPGA season, by sweeping major season-long awards with here finish Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship. Jon Rahm has risen to world No.3 after the Spaniard left Dubai with a pair of trophies.  Stanford’s men’s golf team and Duke’s women’s golf team visited the White House, for a special ceremony to honor their NCAA Championships.

 

The European Tour unveiled its schedule for 2020 season:

 

  • 11/28-12/1/19 Hong Kong Open
  • 11/28-12/1/19 Alfred Dunhill Championship
  • 12/5-12/8/19 Afrasia Bank Mauritius Open
  • 12/19-12/22/19 Australian PGA Championship
  • 1/9-1/12/20 South African Open
  • 1/16-1/19 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
  • 1/23-1/26 Omega Dubai Desert Classic
  • 1/30-2/2 Saudi International
  • 2/6-2/9 ISPS Handa Vic Open
  • 2/20-2/23 WGC-Mexico Championship
  • 2/27-3/1 Oman Open
  • 3/5-3/8 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters
  • 3/12-3/15 Magical Kenya
  • 3/19-3/22 Hero Indian Open
  • 3/25-3/29 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play
  • 4/9-4/12 The Masters
  • 4/16-4/19 Maybank Championship
  • 4/23-4/26 Volvo China Open
  • 4/30-5/3 Estrella D. Andalucia Masters
  • 5/9-5/10 GolfSixes Cascals
  • 5/14-5/17 US PGA Championship
  • 5/21-5/24 Made in Denmark
  • 5/28-5/31 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open
  • 6/4-6/7 Trophee Hassan II
  • 6/11-6/14Scandinavian Invitation
  • 6/18-6/21 US Open
  • 6/25-6/28 BMW International Open
  • you have to believe that I had no idea this would be so long and that I just wanted to be helpful/informational…
  • 7/2-7/5 Open de France
  • 7/2-7/5 WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational
  • 7/9-7/12 Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open
  • 7/16-7/19 The 149thOpen (British Open)
  • 7/30-8/2 Betfred British Masters
  • 7/30-8/2 Olympic Men’s Golf Competition
  • 8/6-8/9 UK event
  • 8/20-8/23 D+D Real Czech Masters
  • 8/27-8/30 Omega European Masters
  • 9/3-9/6 Porsche European Open
  • at least I can keep this in the Commentary and just update it for the next year…
  • 9/10-9/13 BMW PGA Championship
  • 9/17-9/20 KLM Open
  • 9/25-9/27 The 2020 Ryder Cup
  • 10/1-10/4 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship
  • 10/8-10/11 Italian Open
  • 10/15-10/18 Mutuactivos Open de Espana
  • 10/22-10/25 Portugal Masters
  • 10/29-11/1 WGC-HSC Champions
  • 11/5-11/8 Turkish Airlines Open
  • 11/12-11/15 Nedbank Golf Challenge
  • 11/19-11/22 DP World Tour Championship

 

 

 

 

NFL:

 

The 99thNFL regular season ended with the New England Patriots beating the Los Angeles Rams in a defensive battle 13-3 in the Super Bowl.  The 100thNFL season is approaching its 12thweek of the regular season. It has already been remarkable for low-scoring defensive battles, a few blowouts, many missed field goals and points-after, and a remarkable number of starting QB injuries.  It has also featured more than the usual number of bad record/bad teams. Currently, there was one winless team, the Cincinnati Bengals, with several others that are just flailing. However, the Bengals finally got their first victory against the lowly Jets.  This, so far, has been a season that LACKS parity, maybe because of free agency or weird events.  WR Antonio Brown has still not been hired by an NFL team.  WR Josh Gordon did find a new home. Thursday night began Week 14 of the regular season.

 

So, let me tell you what I think about each team, so far.

 

 

AFC East-the Patriots are in first place and 10-2. But, they are doing it with defense, rather than their typical offense.  QB Tom Brady has fewer targets to throw to and worse blocking, which also affects the running game. But, they have found a way to win low-scoring close battles. They stumbled again in a close game with the Texans. The Patriots still have another test upcoming against the Chiefs. The Bills are 1 game behind.  The Dolphins are 3-9.

 

AFC North-the Baltimore Ravens have established themselves with a strong Flacco-less offense, and have a comfortable lead in the Division at 10-2.  They are right up there now with the 49ers and Patriots overall in the NFL, and have bragging rights over the Patriots after beating them. The Bengals are 1-11.

 

AFC South-the Houston Texans, also expected to be stronger, stumbled out of the gate, but are now 8-4 and leading the division, one game over the Colts.  The Jaguars are 4-8.

 

AFC West-the KC Chiefs have become more human, since the beginning of the season and are now 8-4, but lead the Division. The Raiders’ rally failed and they are now 6-6. The Broncos and Chargers are both 4-8, and looking for answers.

 

NFC East-there were high expectations for the Cowboys and the Eagles, and they are currently in first place and second place, respectively.  But, they are 6-7 and 5-7, respectively. The Cowboys were soundly beaten by the Bears last night. The Giants are 2-10.  Rumors are swirling that former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer may become the Cowboys next coach.

 

NFC North-the Packers have been surprisingly strong and looked like they were going to run away with the division again.  But they had a loss to their rival Vikings.  They also just faltered against the 49ers. So, the Vikings are one game behind the 9-3 Packers. The Lions are 3-8-1, and just hard to watch.

 

NFC South-the Saints have QB Drew Brees back from injury and lead the division comfortably at 10-2, but they did lose to their rival (1-7) Falcons, which you don’t expect from a then 7-1 team. Everyone else is underperforming in this division.  The Falcons are 3-9.  The Panthers fired coach Ron Rivera.

 

NFC West-the 49ers have become the real deal, rebuilding in just 2 years, undefeated up until two weeks ago, when they lost in OT to the Seahawks. Even with the loss, the 49ers are 10-2.  The Seahawks are also now 10-2 and have the upper hand, having beaten the 49ers. The Cardinals are 3-8-1.

 

 

 

We had our annual feast of 3 NFL games on Thanksgiving Day!  And if you wanted to ask me whether the Cleveland Brown who clubbed the Pittsburgh Steeler QB with his own helmet, after ripping it off of his head, should be banned for life, I would say ‘yes’.

 

 

NCAA Football:

 

We have now played 15 weeks of the 15-week regular season.  It was really weird starting out without Alabama on top of the AP Top 25 poll, where they perennially start at No.1.  But, since Clemson won the BCS National Championship last year, they were No.1 to start the season.  However, Alabama climbed back there at No.1 again.  However, keeping Heisman Trophy candidate QB Tua in a lopsided victory, cost them dearly, ending his season and maybe his career. Subsequently, they faltered and fell out of the BCS College Playoff picture.  Some serious excitement already, especially with news of California’s Fair Pay to Play Act, which will allow college athletes to be paid for endorsements (profiting off their name, image, and likeness), sell autographs and merchandise, accept endorsement deals, and hire agents, starting in 2023. Maybe the most important/profitable part will be that they can sell their image to appear in a college sports video game.  The last licensed college football video game came out in 2013.  The last licensed college basketball video game came out in 2009.  We are watching conference championship games this weekend, and then the NCAA will sort out the dozens of bowl games.

 

The current AP Top 25 Poll:

  1. Ohio State 12-0
  2. LSU 12-0
  3. Clemson 12-0
  4. Georgia 11-1
  5. Utah 11-1
  6. Oklahoma 11-1
  7. Baylor 11-1
  8. Wisconsin 10-2
  9. Florida 10-2
  10. Penn State 10-2
  11. Auburn 9-3
  12. Alabama 10-2
  13. Oregon 10-2
  14. Michigan 9-
  15. Notre Dame 10-2
  16. Iowa 9-3
  17. Memphis 11-1
  18. Minnesota 10-2
  19. Boise State 11-1
  20. Cincinnati 10-2
  21. Appalachian State 11-1
  22. USC 8-4
  23. Virginia 9-3
  24. Navy 9-2
  25. Oklahoma State 8-4

 

 

 

 

NCAA Basketball

 

The college basketball season tipped off, with No.1 Michigan State facing No.2 Kentucky and losing by 5 points. It’s like déjà vu all over again, as this seems to be MSU’s recipe every year, playing a Top 3 team and losing by 5 points. Coach Izzo thinks this prepares his guys for March Madness and they won’t fear these teams when they face them.  I don’t know if I agree, although his record speaks for itself.  What I see is that they lose and plummet in the rankings. They just lost to Duke, another brutal opponent. To add insult to injury, rivals Michigan and Ohio State are now ranked above MSU.  Here is the current AP Top 25 in this young (7 games) season:

 

  1. Louisville
  2. Kansas
  3. Maryland
  4. Michigan
  5. Virginia
  6. Ohio State
  7. UNC
  8. Kentucky
  9. Gonzaga
  10. Duke
  11. Michigan State
  12. Arizona
  13. Oregon
  14. Auburn
  15. Memphis
  16. Seton Hall
  17. Florida State
  18. Baylor
  19. Dayton
  20. Colorado
  21. Tennessee
  22. Washington
  23. Villanova
  24. Butler
  25. Utah State

 

 

 

NHL:

 

The puck dropped on the regular season, for some of the 31 teams, on 10/3/18. 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. The Blues gave their superfan, Laila Anderson, a Stanley Cup championship ring.

 

This season began 10/2/19. The Bruins and Blues started out this season how they ended last season, currently with the best records in this young season. Toronto’s Alexander Kerfoot was suspended 2 games for violent cross-check on Erick Johnson.  Speaking of the Maple Leafs, they already fired their coach, Mike Babcock. Sheldon Keefe is now the coach of the Maple Leafs. Calgary Flames’ GM Brad Treliving blames himself for his team’s woes. Bruins’ David Backes is back after 3 weeks on disabled list after a scary collision.  Predators’ Vikto Arvidsson will be out 4-6 weeks with an injury. Blues’ Robert Bortuzzo has been suspended 4 games for cross-checking. Lightning’s star Steven Stamkos is out with a lower body injury.

 

I know that the season is 82 games, followed by a seemingly endless playoff that should end in May, but here are the current/early standings. In the Eastern Conference: in the Atlantic Division, the Bruins are in first with a smoking 20-3-6 record (2ndbest in NHL), with the surprising Panthers in second; in the Metropolitan Division, the Capitals are in first with a 21-4-5 record (best in the NHL), followed by the surprising Islanders in second. In the Western Conference: in the Central Division, the Stanley Cup Champion Blues are in first place at 18-6-6, followed by the surprising Avalanche in close second at 18-8-2 and the Jets in third with 17-10-2 record; in the Pacific Division, the shocking Coyotes (one of or the worst teams in NHL for past several seasons) lead with a 17-9-4 record, followed closely in second by the surprising Oilers 17-10-3.  I notice some names doing well (Panthers, Islanders, Coyotes, Oilers) who have not been on the leader board in a long time.  A bizarre Hurricanes goal was overturned due to broken netting. Penguins star Sidney Crosby will be out six weeks with and injury.  Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin will be out indefinitely. Leafs Andreas Johnsson and gone on IR. The World Junior Championship 2020 has announced its schedule. The Devils fired coach John Hynes.  Alaine Nasreddine has been named interim coach.

 

 

 

 

NBA:

 

The NBA season officially began on 10/3/18 as well. It officially ended with the underdogs, the Toronto Raptors, ousting the favorite Golden State Warriors in six games. This year, the NBA season did not start until 10/22/19. The Rockets will file a protest of Spurs loss, citing James Harden dunk in time, which refs agreed with after the game. This could be the only game I’ve ever seen in the 4 professional team sports in the US, in which a victory could be overturned. I’m leaving out the Pine Tar game between Yankees and Royals, as well as the Black Sox scandal. Carmelo Anthony’s Trail Blazers contract will become fully guaranteed, according to reports. College phenom, Zion Williamson is still out with an injury.  The Raptors are interested in Cavs forward Tristan Thompson. The Bucks and Lakers (both surprises to me) are looking like championship contenders here early in the 82-game season. The Celtics lead the Atlantic Division, the Bucks lead the Central Division, the Heat lead the Southeast Division, the Nuggets lead the Northwest Division, the Lakers lead the Pacific Division, and the Mavericks lead the Southeast Division.

 

 

 

Olympics:

 

US Olympian Lindsey Vonn said, “nothing in my final season with the way I’d hoped.”

 

 

 

Tennis:

 

 

A new Davis Cup format will bring out a new Rafael Nadal in Madrid. A Federer-Zverev exhibition match in Mexico City, over the weekend, broke the record for the largest tennis crowd ever, 42,517 fans.

 

 

 

 

Horse Racing:

 

 

The Kentucky Equine Drug Research Council has voted to support partial Lasix use, which is a reversal of their previous position. Bodexpress is leading the list of late-developing 3-year-olds. Del Mar horse racing has been cancelled on Thanksgiving Day, because of weather forecasted there. Dennis’ Moment is an early favorite for the 2020 Kentucky Derby.

 

 

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.  The 2019 regular season has just completed and the Playoffs are in full gear.  Here is the complete 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, Gander RV 400-Denny Hamlin

8/4 Watkins Glen, GoBowling at The Glen-Chase Elliott

8/11 Michigan, Consumers Energy 400-Kevin Harvick

8/17 Bristol, Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race-Denny Hamlin

9/1 Darlington, Bojangles’ Southern 500-Erik Jones

9/8 Indianapolis, Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard-Kevin Harvick

9/15 Las Vegas playoff-South Point 400-Martin Truex, Jr.

9/21 Richmond playoff-Martin Truex, Jr.

9/29 Charlotte playoff-Chase Elliott

10/6 Dover playoff-Kyle Larson

10/13 Talladega playoff-Ryan Blaney

10/20 Kansas playoff-Denny Hamlin

10/27 Martinsville playoff-Martin Truex Jr.

11/3 Texas playoff-Kevin Harvick

11/10 ISM Raceway playoff-Denny Hamlin

11/17 Miami-Homestead final playoff-Kyle Busch

 

The NASCAR Cup Series concluded, with Kyle Busch winning the championship. Jimmie Johnson, 7-time NASCAR Champion, has announced his last full-time season will be 2020.  He began his career in 2001.  Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have saluted Johnson, as other drivers also react to the news. NASCAR racing begins again 2/9/2020 with The Clash.

 

 

 

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 1000thGrand 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-won by Max Verstappen

8/4 Hungary Grand Prix in Budapest-Lewis Hamilton

9/1 Belgium Grand Prix in Spa-Charles Leclerc

9/8 Italy Grand Prix in Monza-Charles Leclerc

9/22 Singapore Grand Prix in Singapore-Sebastian Vettel

9/29 Russia Grand Prix in Sochi-Lewis Hamilton

10/13 Japan Grand Prix in Suzuka-V. Bottas

10/27 Mexico Grand Prix in Mexico City-Lewis Hamilton

11/3 USA Grand Prix in Austin, TX-V. Bottas

11/17 Brazil Grand Prix in Sao Paulo-M. Verstappen

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).  The season just ended, with Josef Newgarden coming in 8thin the last race, to just edge out Simon Pagenaud for championship:

 

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-Scott Dixon

8/18 Pocono Grand Prix-Will Power (I love that name!)

8/24 Gateway Grand Prix-Takuma Sato

9/1 Grand Prix of Portland-Will Power (that’s all it takes)

9/22 Grand Prix at Laguna Seca-Colton Herta

 

 

Travel News:

 

 

LAX is preparing the expected heavy traveler traffic for Thanksgiving holiday, by providing free public transportation during the holidays.  Thousands of Venetians gathered to protest Cruise ships, after historic flooding. Tyler Perry is helping the American couple held “hostage” in Mexican hospital, by paying their $14,000 bill. You can now rent a cabin designed by Matthew McConaughey in Australia.  This Sunday is “Small Brewery Sunday” which celebrates craft beer. Thousands of passengers were delayed up to 24 hours, due to British Airways technical glitch. Cities around the world are cracking down on E-Scooters.

Frontier Airlines accidentally sent an email saying thousands of flights were cancelled. As the 2019 model year closes, 10 popular cars will be discontinued, so it’s ‘last call’: Volkswagen Beetle, Cadillac CTS, Ford Taurus, Chevrolet Volt, Cadillac ATS Coupe, Lincoln MKT, Volkswagen Gulf SportWagen, Buick Cascada, Chevrolet Cruze, and Ford Fiesta. You may have heard a lot of positive news about our new luxury train service here in Florida, Brightline, which was purchased recently by Richard Branson and Virgin Atlantic.  It’s a phenomenal way to get around down here at 85mph and beating traffic! It currently runs from West Palm Beach to a station in Fort Lauderdale and another station in Miami.  They are adding a station at the cruise ship piers in Miami and are negotiating with the city of Boca Raton to build a station there. They also have begun expansion to Orlando.  Not all the news has been positive, however.  The AP, looking at 821 railroads, named Brightline as the deadliest rail service (the worst per-mile death rate) in the US, due to 40 deaths on this short route in its 2 years.  The company noted that 21 of the deaths were suicides, in which the person deliberately ran out on the track.  So, the company is dealing with this problem, by educating the public, putting up better warnings and barriers, and looking into preventive measures along the track. They have announced a participation in a campaign to prevent suicides by train. Florida has just committed $60 million in bid to curb railroad crossing deaths.  This is another issue entirely, as motorists try to beat trains at railroad crossings. There are 17 electric vehicles hitting the market in 2019-20. A German WWI wreck has been discovered off the Falklands.

 

 

 

Health News:

 

 

A new study says that 1 in 8 people with heart conditions avoid or ration meds due to the high cost. Experts are saying it’s important to treat obesity in teenage years, before the health issues become worse in adulthood. Experts say that pellet and other types of toy guns are more powerful than they used to be and that people must wear protective eye gear. There are a number of reasons why children also need to take mental health days, including performance pressure and family trauma. Flu activity continues to increase across the country (I got the shot in September).  Already, there have been five pediatric deaths and number of mortalities amongst older adults. There are now estimated to be over 10,000 mental health apps available offering mental therapy. People who have experienced what they claim are serious eye problems after getting LASIK surgery have formed groups to get the word out on the procedure. A former official at the FDA says LASIK surgery should be taken off the market because of post-operation complications. However, current FDA officials say less than 1% of people who have LASIK surgery have long-term consequences. An update on the vaping lung disease, over 2,200 cases have been reported.  Products containing THC, the compound in cannabis that produces a “high”, remain the leading culprit, particularly those obtained off the street. Experts are now saying the best protection against measles for infants is for everyone around them to be vaccinated, as measles immunity for infants may only last 3 months, not 1 year. Maybe you have heard of “Dopamine fasting”? Apparently, it’s popular in Silicon Valley, with some people in the area striving to reset their dopamine levels by completely abstaining from anything that would be pleasurable. Fasters believe that the more we’re exposed to the exhilaration of dopamine, the more we will need to pursue higher levels of stimulation to get the same effect. In a sense, they believe the brain will reset and restore itself. Some experts say that the science doesn’t work quite that way. Global food prices have climbed to a two-year high, as African swine fever is being felt in pig herds in China.  A 34-year-old British woman is alive and well after her heart stopped for 6 hours. A 16-year-old with the flue, who died in Border Patrol custody, was reportedly collapsed on floor in pool of blood for several hours. Cannabis stocks’ prices have gone up in smoke.  The 2019 slide shows little signs of easing. Did you know that Seltzer and Club Soda are not the same thing? One has minerals and carbon added during processing.  The world’s “first male birth control shot” is debuting.  More than 140,000 people died from measles last year, as the number of cases has surged once again globally.  Most of the tragedies occurred to children under age 5. In 2018, the UK, Albania, Czech Republic, and Greece lost their measles elimination status.  The US is now reporting the highest number of cases in 25 years.  There are large outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, and Ukraine. Samoa has declared a state of emergency and forcing unvaccinated families to hang red flags outside their homes.

 

 

 

Animal News:

 

 

Japan’s oldest elephant died after spending 60 years alone in an enclosure devoid of grass, trees, or other elephants.  Many Australian birds have been displaced by the bush fires there. The Australian forest fires may have claimed as many as 350 koalas, according to wildlife officials.  A dream job in London has just become available.  For $38,000, they would like a candidate to live and take care of a six-story townhouse in the upscale London neighborhood of Kensington, while also watching two beautiful golden retrievers. The person would be sort-of full-time caretaker, housekeeper, and sometimes vegan cook, according to the listing with Silver Swan Recruitment. There is a Mexican forest which turns orange every Fall because of Monarch butterflies.  President Trump signed into law yesterday an anti-cruelty to animals ban, which makes animal cruelty a Federal felony now. A Florida man’s dog put his car in reverse and managed to circle a cul-de-sac for an hour. Given that it was Florida, I wonder if he had his left turn signal on for the entire time! A cat lost in Oregon was found in New Mexico. Some health labs are now looking into using up to 10,000 old dogs for research. A tiny deer-like species has been spotted for the first time in 30 years. An orangutan was granted “personhood” legally.  It has relocated to Florida. The FDA approved cheaper meds for dogs with separation anxiety.  A

California man who stole a lemur from zoo has been sentenced to 3 months in prison. President Trump has just honored at the White House the military ‘hero dog’ (Conan) injured in the ISIS al-Baghdadi raid by US military. Wild hogs killed a Texas woman, according Sheriff.

 

 

Entertainment News:

 

 

Today show host, Hoda Kotb, shocked viewers by announcing that she had just gotten engaged to boyfriend of 6 years.  A former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, is suing Fox News over an alleged Trump tryst story. Jason Derulo responded to Instagram banning his underwear photo. Jennifer Garner accidentally bought a truly massive Christmas tree.  I wonder if she has the same Amazon Prime affliction I have?  John Travolta just gave an interview about the night he danced with Princess Diana, which was orchestrated by Nancy Reagan. Quibi has partnered with Comedy Central on “Reno 911!” revival. Harvey Weinstein, clutching a cane and looking enfeebled, appeared in Court ahead of his rape trial. Kanye West announced a new opera, “Mary”, his second, to premiere in Miami this weekend. I’ve got to get Netflix (not the stock, the channel), as THE IRISHMAN garnered 17.1 million US viewers on Netflix in the first 5 days, according Nielsen. Radio host Delilah, known for her counseling and love songs during her radio show (which I think sometimes have been actually depressing) is talking on The Dr. Oz Show about overcoming feelings of “rage” following the deaths of her two sons.  Her 12-year-old son died from complications of sickle cell anemia and her 18-year-old son committed suicide recently. Taylor Swift had dropped a new holiday song, “Christmas Tree Farm” and a music video with home footage. Jeff Goldblum hijacked Jeopardy! Category and Twitter went nuts Thursday.  He apparently was giving video clues to questions. Speaking of the show, host Alex Trabek is saying that he will continue to host until the cancer treatments make him less than perfect as host.  Pink! Has shared a photo of her new buzzed head, after shaving off all her hair. R. Kelly has been charged with bribing government employee to marry 15-year-old Aaliyah.  Country music star John Rich has joined Fox Nation. Supposedly, a tarot card reading given to Mick Jagger predicted the Rolling Stones’ Altamont disaster exactly 50 years ago. Darlene Love says she was “snubbed” by producers of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting.  The annual event was broadcast live on Wednesday night on NBC. Justin Timberlake issued a public apology to his wife, Jessica Biel, and son after he was photographed holding hands with his co-star Alisha Wainwright.  Hugh Grant posted his infamous 1995 mug shot to shut down people trolling him. Julianne Hough is commending Gabrielle Union for “speaking her truth” about America’s Got Talentalleged bad treatment, when her contract was not renewed.  Former AGTjudge, Howard Stern, fanned the flames of the controversy himself, calling out Simon Cowell and producers.  Maggie Smith says her DOWNTON ABBEY and HARRY POTTER roles weren’t “satisfying”. The official MULAN trailer has won positive reviews, but is not quelling the controversy surrounding Disney’s live-action remake. Tom Hanks $18,675 Scion Xb.  Really? The guy has been in a ton of blockbusters, although I wouldn’t travel with him (or his characters).  Sylvester Stallone drives a $166,000 Mercedes-Benz G550. Jason Momoa drives a $16,070 Cadillac. Celine Dion drives a $500,000 Maybach G2.  Bradley Cooper drives a $220,000 Mercedes-Benz G500.  John Cena drives a $300,000(?) Chevrolet Camaro.  He actually has 23 customized American muscle cars. Julia Roberts drives a $53,000 Mercedes-Benz GI320. Guy Fieri drives a $166,000 Chevrolet Chevelle.  I thought the restored SS Camaro that he drives on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives was his car?  I love that show!  Paris Hilton drives a $285,000 Bentley GT Continental. 89-year old Clint Eastwood revealed that he drives a $25,000 1974 Ford truck.  I wonder if that was his truck in the MULE movies? By the way, he is only worth about $375 million.

 

 

 

At Disneyworld, on the new STAR WARS ride, passengers were stranded when, on opening day, the ride broke down. In related news, Disneyworld says that the immersive STAR WARS experience, that just opened in California’s Disneyland location, will open at Florida’s Disneyworld in 2021.

 

This weekend broke Thanksgiving Day records.  Disney scored once again.  I haven’t heard the song yet for this one, but if it’s like the last one, I’ll be hearing it constantly for about 2 years.  FROZEN II delivered all that it was expected to, breaking the 3-day ($85.2 million) and 5-day ($123.7 million) Thanksgiving weekend box-office records, with a 10-day total of $287 million in US and $739 million globally, and a debut at No.1.  That 10-day total was only topped by INCREDIBLES 2.  Amazingly, the film is already the 17thhighest grossing animated film ever, and it just came out. But it wasn’t all just a small world after all, as Lionsgate’s KNIVES OUT murder mystery exceeded expectations with a 5-day total of $41.7 million. This movie, which looks a little like a star-studded mash-up of THE ORIENT EXPRESS and the board game “Clue”, received an A- from always critical CinemaScore and an 8.1 out of 10 rating by IMDb.  Fox’s FORD V FERRARI continues to show horsepower, coming in at No.3 in its 2ndweek with $13.2 million (3-day) and $19 million (5-day) (total gross now $81 million).  No.4 was Sony’s A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD, with an estimated $11.8 million (3-day) and $15.8 million (5-day).  No.5 was Universal’s QUEEN & SLIM with $11.7 million (3-day) and $15.8 million (5-day. This film also received an A- from CinemaScore.

 

This weekend has only one wide release in the animated PLAYMOBIL.

 

 

Technology & Space News:

 

 

Uber lost its London license over passenger safety concerns. Uber announced that more than 3,000 sexual assaults occurred during rides in the US in 2018. Analysts say the best deals this holiday weekend (Black Friday, Cyber Monday) weren’t on electronics and clothes. Russian hacking group, Evil Corp, members are living an absurdly lavish lifestyle, complete with baby lions, stacks of cash, and Lamborghinis. Two Russian hackers are thought to be the “most prolific cybercriminals”, as they have ben charged with stealing $70 million. Astrophysicists think there’s a black hole in our solar system. Jeff Bezos now has 3 women in his elite S-Team executive squad, although they are still massively outnumbered by 19 men. Best Buy stock jumped on Earnings news, but failed to hold the level.

 

 

US News:

 

 

The impeachment inquiry into President Trump continues. Schiff says the evidence from the impeachment hearings is “overwhelming”. The California Democrat wouldn’t “foreclose the possibility” of calling more witnesses.  The attorney for an indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani said his client was willing to tell Congress that Nunes met with Shokin of Ukraine about investigating the Bidens. Nunes dodged questions about reports that he met with Shokin. The Supreme Court blocked a subpoena for President Trump’s financial records. A judge has ruled that Don McGahn must testify before the House Judiciary Committee. Giulani is blasting the impeachment inquiry. House Democrats will draft impeachment charges against President Trump.  Nancy Pelosi said that the President has “left the House no choice.”  In related news, President Trump supposedly spoke with Rudy Giuliani on unsecured cellphone lines that were likely tapped by Russia spies. In other political news, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has thrown his hat in the ring for 2020 Presidential race. It is not his first Presidential rodeo. There was an airspace violation in Washington, DC that put the White House on temporary lockdown. After 36 years in prison, 3 men were cleared in death of a Baltimore teenager. A Chicago man has been charged with strangling college student in campus garage.  Financial Times reported that two-thirds of American citizens are not feeling the benefit of the Wall Street markets’ rally. The Feds announced that they had arrested more than 60 Latin Kings members along the US East coast.

 

International News:

 

I have to say, I’m surprised, maybe at how naïve I have been, to think that Russia, since 1991 and the Soviet Union broke up, has continued the Cold War-type spies, tapping and intrigue, along with newer cyber hacking.  In Hong Kong, the pro-democracy camp won control of 17 of the 18 district councils in local elections. Amid protests against fuel rationing and price hikes in Iran, dozens of protesters were killed and the government restricted access to the Internet. Pope Francis has made an historic trip to Japan.  Queen Elizabeth has fired her son, Prince Andrew, from all royal duties and his approximately $300,000/year salary. She also just cancelled his birthday celebration.  All of this stems from the blowback due to his poor handling of an interview on TV regarding his relationship with accused sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein. Leaked documents are showing a chilling look inside Chinese detention camps. The Power of Siberia pipeline began operations, delivering Russian natural gas to China. In Iraq, PM Adil Abdul-Mahdi resigned amidst ongoing protests. Luis Lacalle Pou of the National Party was elected President of Uruguay. Angela Merkel said we must remember Nazi crimes and expressed Germany’s “deep shame” on her first trip to the Auschwitz death camp.  Firefighters are battling to contain a “mega blaze” 60 km long north of Sydney, saying it is “too big to put out”.  Protesters are putting pressure on Madrid climate talks, with about 500,000 people assembled outside the UN negotiations. Police kill suspects in India vet rape-murder case. An Indian woman was shot for “pausing dance” at wedding.

 

Florida:

 

 

 

 

There have been several high-profile killings in Florida over the past week.  Last night, 2 armed men carjacked a UPS truck and wound up in a shootout with police right in the middle of I-95. The 2 thieves, the UPS driver, and a bystander were all shot and killed.  It turns out that the 2 robbers were freed from prison in 2017. In Pensacola, today, an armed Saudi student opened fire on a Naval Air Station base, killing three people in a classroom, before killing himself.  It was the second shooting at a US Navy base this week.  President Trump will be in Broward County this weekend, at Miami’s Turnberry.

 

I am usually singing a National Anthem, singing in my 6-part harmony group Generation Gap, and/or doing an Elvis Presley gig, each week here in Palm Beach County, FL. I think I had 3 gigs this week and more to come, and I did finally break down and buy a performance wig, because of the receding grey hair.  However, if you were inclined to see much more famous bands or solos in concert than my Generation Gap or Elvis Presley performances, there were many acts which came to Florida this year, perhaps when you were visiting (I should be getting updated schedules for each venue soon for Q4 and 2020):

 

 

 

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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