Repo Commentary-02/07/2020

IMG_6054IMG_6053IMG_6056IMG_6057IMG_6058IMG_6059IMG_6060IMG_6061IMG_6062IMG_6063IMG_6064IMG_6065IMG_6066IMG_6067IMG_6068IMG_6069IMG_6070IMG_6072IMG_6079IMG_6075IMG_6078IMG_6080IMG_6085IMG_6087IMG_6088IMG_6089IMG_6090IMG_6091IMG_6094IMG_6092IMG_6093IMG_6095IMG_6096IMG_6098

I am still NOT retired. Sounds like the SNL Francisco Franco joke. You will see news about that very soon. Separately, I have been asked to moderate a panel at the upcoming IMN Securities Finance conference in Fort Lauderdale in February, so I hope to see many of you there.

My Repo Commentary is posted free (it’s actually always been free) 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 frequent, but I’ve been swamped with the holidays and guests.

If you need to reach me, my mobile is still 646-753-1300, my email for work is currently 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!

Holidays or Events (02/07):

¥ “e” Day (for mathematicians)
¥ National Periodic Table Day (for chemists)
¥ Ballet Day
¥ Give Kids a Smile Day
¥ National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
¥ International Clash Day
¥ National Wear Red Day (for American Heart Month)
¥ Rose Day
¥ Wave All You Fingers at Your Neighbors Day
¥ Send a Card to a Friend Day
¥ National Fettuccine Alfredo Day
¥ Bubble Gum Day
¥ Independence Day in Grenada

02/02/2020 was not only Ground Hog Day in the US (only 6 more weeks of Winter per Phil), Chris Kyle Day in Texas, and the Super Bowl (congratulations Kansas City Chiefs), but it was also a 900-year event in which the date was a Palindrome that could be read backwards and forwards the same way (as I’ve written it above).

Some Famous People Born on 02/07 in History:

¥ 574-Prince Shotoku of Japan
¥ 1102-Empress Matilda, Holy Roman Empress and claimant to the English throne
¥ 1804-John Deere, American blacksmith and businessman, founded Deere & Company
¥ 1812-Charles Dickens, English novelist and critic
¥ 1873-Thomas Andrews, Irish shipbuilder and businessman, designed the RMS Titanic
¥ 1885-Sinclair Lewis, American novelist, short-story writer, and playwright, Nobel Prize laureate
¥ 1887-Eubie Blake, American pianist and composer
¥ 1908-Buster Crabbe, American swimmer and actor
¥ 1920-An Wang, Chinese-American engineer and businessman, founded Wang Laboratories (my father’s friend)
¥ 1932-Gay Talese, American journalist and memoirist
¥ 1934-Earl King, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer
¥ 1953-Dan Quisenberry, American baseball player
¥ 1957-Carney Lansford, American baseball player and coach
¥ 1960-James Spader, American actor and producer
¥ 1962-Garth Brooks, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
¥ 1962-Eddie Izzard, English comedian, actor, and producer
¥ 1965-Chris Rock, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter
¥ 1978-Ashton Kutcher, American model, actor, and producer
¥ 1989-Isaiah Thomas, American basketball player
¥ 1990-Steven Stamkos, Canadian hockey player

This Day in History (02/07):

• 457-Leo I the Thracian becomes emperor of the Byzantine Empire.
• 1497-In Florence, Italy, supporters of Girolamo Savnarola burn cosmetics, art, and books in a “Bonfire of the vanities.”
• 1783-American Revolutionary War: French and Spanish forces lift the Great Siege of Gibraltar.
• 1812-The strongest in a series of earthquakes strikes New Madrid, Missouri.
• 1894-The Cripple Creek miner’s strike, led by the Western Federation of Miners, begins in Cripple Creek, Colorado.
• 1900-A Chinese immigrant in San Francisco falls ill to bubonic plague in the first plague epidemic in the continental United States.
• 1904-A fire begins in Baltimore, MD, destroying over 1,500 buildings in 30 hours.
• 1940-The second full-length animated Walt Disney film, PINOCCHIO, premieres.
• 1951-Korean War: more than 700 suspected communist sympathizers are massacred by South Korean forces.
• 1962-The US bans all Cuban imports and exports.
• 1974-Grenada gains independence from the United Kingdom.
• 1990-In the Dissolution of the Soviet Union: the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party agrees to give up its monopoly on power.
• 1991-Haiti’s first democratically elected President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, is sworn in.
• 1992-The Maastricht Treaty is signed, leading to the creation of the European Union.
• 1995-Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, is arrested in Islamabad, Pakistan.
• 1997-NeXT merges with Apple Computer, starting the path to Mac OS X.
• 1999-Crown Prince Abdullah becomes the King of Jordan, on the death of his father, King Hussein.
• 2009-Bushfires in Victoria leave 173 dead in the worst natural disaster in Australia’s history.
• 2013-the US state of Mississippi officially certifies the Thirteenth Amendment, becoming the last state to approve the abolition of slavery.
• 2014-Scientists announce that the Happisburgh footprints in Norfolk, England, date back to more than 800,000 years ago, making them the oldest known hominid footprints outside Africa.

Daily Weird Facts:

The Guinness Book of Records was originally published by Guinness Breweries as a reference for settling bar arguments.

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“I have nothing in common with lazy people who blame others for their lack of success. Great things come from hard work and perseverance. No excuses.”—Kobe Bryant

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 12/8
$58.81/barrel on 1/17
$54.39/barrel on 2/7

The US just supplanted Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the No.1 oil producing nation in the world. Did you know that coal is still king in 18 US states? The price of gasoline at my West Palm Beach station just slipped in the past week by 10 cents, to $2.29/gallon. Most of the other stations in the area are 20-60 cents more per gallon.
“Coronavirus Is Bruising America’s Oil Patch—How Badly Is the Question: Some already struggling energy companies may not be able to weather the drop in oil and gas demand.” Wall Street Journal

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
104.30 on 01/17/20
104.80 on 02/07/20

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
01/17 at $1.1721
02/07 at $1.1543

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
01/17 at $1.3753
02/07 at $1.3574

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
1.2390 on 01/17
1.2640 on 02/07

Gold closed on 9/09 at $1504.90/ounce. On 10/02, it closed at $1498.70/ounce. On 12/6, it closed at $1,464.40. On 1/17, it closed at $1557.30/ounce. Today, it closed at $1,576.20.

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
$8,876.87 on 01/17/20
$9,793.18 on 02/07/20

After rebounding in 2019 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 tumbled again in Q4, and has rallied in early in 2020.

Global Financial News:

The United Kingdom has officially left the European Union and has begun an 11-month Transition period. Now, the heat is on to determine how passporting will work, how trades need to be repapered, what the jurisdictional differences of agreements are, and how the surviving two geographical entities will work together in the future. Tidjane Thiam has resigned as CEO of Credit Suisse, amidst the bank’s spying scandal. Yahoo reported that banks are rethinking their brick-and-mortar networks and Citizens Bank is now focusing on 3 digital initiatives: Citizens Access, a web-based savings service; a digital student loan product; and partnering with retailers on point-of-sale financing. SEC’s Peirce has proposed allowing crypto firms to sell digital tokens for 3 years before crypto rules are in place. The CBOE announced that profits slid 3%. Sources say, according to Reuters, that Goldman is raising $8 billion for a buyout fund. CME Group President Durkin is stepping down in May. VanEck is launching the first sustainable muni bond ETF. Nick Leeson, the infamous ‘rogue trader’, who has spent time in a Singapore prison after leading Barings Bank to bankruptcy in the 1990s, is offering to share his tips on trading in a monthly subscription and one-on-one mentoring. France, Germany, Italy, and Poland want the EC to move swiftly to overhaul antitrust policies. Those countries would like the path to be easier for mergers of large companies, so they can compete fairly with US and Chinese rivals. Euronext is following the London Stock Exchange and consulting next month on a proposal to shorten the trading day. The PBOC says that the Chinese economy will recover from the hit from the coronavirus outbreak. The global economy was already struggling with the trade war and the virus is another blow. Germany’s industrial production fell 3.5% in December, the biggest decline since 2009. Nationwide strikes in France squashed its output in December, down 2.8%. This data is increasing market rumblings about whether the ECB will be easing further. Hedge fund Elliott Management has reportedly built a SoftBank stake, per WSJ.

US Market News:

The coronavirus, along with weak European data, continue to put a scare into global equity markets, including the US, and sent even the Dow down sharply. But, US markets have recovered with strong US economic news and the Impeachment acquittal. US initial unemployment claims just hit the lowest level in 9 months.

The Dow Jones (global stocks as well), along with other stock indices, were up this morning, after yesterday’s record highs, eclipsing the records set in July 2019.

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
28,015.06 on 12/06/19
29,348.10 on 01/17/20
29,185.07 on 02/07/20 down 194.70 points today

S&P 500 has had a long upward climb with very little volatility. It has risen 27% during the past 12 months. It has risen or fallen less than 1% since mid-October, showing one of the longest periods of low volatility. It has closed 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
12/06/19 at 3,145.91
01/17/20 at 3,329.62
02/07/20 at 3,335.27 down 10.51 from 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
09/10/19 at 8,043.58
10/02/19 at 7,809.22
12/06/19 at 8,656.07
01/17/20 at 9,388.95
02/07/20 at 9,555.96 down 16.19 from new all-time high

US Treasury yields have been in free-fall since hitting highs in October 2018. The US Treasury announced that it will start selling a 20year bond during the first half of 2020, in an attempt to help with the budget deficit.

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%
01/17/20 at 1.58%
02/06/20 at 1.44%

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%
01/17/20 at 1.58%
02/06/20 at 1.43%

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%
01/17/20 at 1.63%
02/07/20 at 1.45%

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%
01/17/20 at 1.74%
02/06/20 at 1.56%

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!
01/17/20 at 1.84%
02/06/20 at 1.65% and back down again!

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%
01/17/20 at 2.29%
02/06/20 at 2.11%

US Treasury yields finally plummeted over the few weeks, despite the Fed’s continued intervention in the target rate not causing them to move much before that.

Housing News:

According to Freddie Mac, the average interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage in the US has reached a 3-year low of 3.45%. In other Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae news, acceptance of Adjustable-Rate mortgages linked to LIBOR will cease by year-end 2020 at both GSEs, and the companies will soon take mortgages based on the Secured Overnight Funding Rate (SOFR), per WSJ interview of my former colleague/partner, Tom Wipf.

Repo News:

In the Securities Financing industry, we are again facing a tsunami of acronyms in regulations and events, much like during the Financial Crisis. ESMA is delaying rules on failed trades by 3 months. LEI rules are being postponed for emerging market securities, as nearly 50% of them still don’t have LEIs. Even 10% of European securities don’t have LEIs.

ESMA’s SFTR Level 3
Brexit
EU Crypto Regs
FCA Crypto Regs
EC Cyber-attack Guidelines
FCA Financial Services Duty of Care Bill/MiFID II
CSDR
LIBOR replacement (SOFR, SOIA, EuSTAR)
EISF
ISLA/ICSF/ESG and short selling
MUR

The Federal Reserve has pumped billions of dollars into the Repo market to keep the short-end liquid, especially through the year-end volatility. They have not only been doing overnight repo operations, but also have an aggressive schedule for term repo operations. These have not only pushed GC repo rates lower, but also have narrowed the spread between GC repo and Fed Funds, below the recent norm of 13-15bp. Recently, the Fed began letting these market operations roll off, reducing the amount of reserves it was pumping into the Repo market. So far, GC repo rates have remained stable. Of course, half of the participants thing that’s because the hot money hasn’t left yet and there is still a problem and the other half of participants thing the structural problem has been solved.

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. (It looks like the Fed implemented some of my suggested 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. (I’ll be discussing this more at the IMN Conference.)
¥ 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. They now raised IOER by 5bp in the last FOMC meeting.
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 last quarter 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 (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, HQLAx, LMX, BNY DBVX, DealerWeb, and Tradeweb), other Repo and/or Seclending CCPs (like Eurex, LCH Clearnet, OCC, FICC, CDCC, and SCH), total return swaps platforms (like WeMatch.com), and collateralized loan exchanges (like AFX/CBOE.) There have still been other firms that have created some kind 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.

Brink published an interesting article on the State of the Financial Services Industry, saying that banks and investors say digital/electronic is important in their strategies, but its implementation is less visible. The report listed 5 reasons for lackluster performance: opposing priorities, lack of experts in C suites, no solid implementation plan, risks in a modular system, and stoppage of work after launch.

Securities Finance Industry Conferences:
 

• Deutsche Borse/Clearstream/Securities Lending Times held their annual GFF Summit in Luxembourg, 1/28-1/30/20, which I attended two years ago.
• IMN 26th Beneficial Owners International Securities Finance conference will be held in Fort Lauderdale, FL on 2/12-2/13/20. I was the Chairperson in 2019 and will be a moderator this year. I hope to see many of you there!
• iMoneyNet/Informa has yet to announce its annual MMExpo, after the merger. I have spoken at this one several times.
• PASLA/RMA will hold its 17th annual Conference on Asian Securities Lending in Tokyo, Japan on 3/3-3/5/20.
• GIOA will hold its 16th annual conference in Las Vegas 3/18-3/20/20. I have spoken (and sung) at this one. I may attend.
• Crane Data will hold its annual Bond Fund Symposium in Boston, MA on 3/23-3/24/20.
• IHS Markit will hold its annual Securities Finance Forum in London, England on 3/24/20.
• Finadium will hold its 4th annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference in NYC on 5/13-5/14/20. I’ve spoken and sponsored this one.
• GFOA will hold its gigantic 114th (wow!) annual conference in Los Angeles on 5/17-5/20/20. I have attended this one in the past.
• IMN/AFME will hold its annual Global Bank ABS (West) conference in Barcelona, Spain on 6/16-6/18/20.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income Leaders USA Summit in Nashville, TN on 6/8-6/10/20.
• ISLA will hold its 29th Annual Securities Finance and Collateral Management conference in Vienna, Austria on 6/23-6/25/20. I have spoken (and sung) at this one before.
• ICMA/Securities Lending Times will hold their annual AGM and conference also in Vienna, Austria, on 6/24-6/26/20.
• Crane Data will hold its annual Money Fund Symposium on 6/24-6/26/20 in Minneapolis, MN. I heard there were 580 attendees in Boston last year. I have spoken at this conference before.
• National Association of State Treasurers will hold its annual conference in San Diego, CA on 9/13-9/16/20. I’ve spoken and sung at this one.
• IMN will hold its annual European Securities Finance conference in London, England on 9/15-9/16/20. I’ve attended this before.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income & FX Leader Summit in Singapore on 9/22-9/24/20.
• IMN will hold its annual ABS East conference in Miami Beach, FL on 10/5-10/7/20. I’ve attended this before and might again.
• Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income Leaders 2020 conference in Barcelona, Spain on 10/12-10/14/20.
• RMA will hold its 38th annual Conference on Securities Finance and Collateral Management in Amelia Island, FL on October 12-15. I saw many of you last year in Boca Raton. It was my 37th RMA I’ve attended.
• Crane Data has yet to announce its annual European Money Fund Symposium.
• Finadium has yet to announce its 4th annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference Europe.
• American Financial Professionals (AFP) will hold its large annual conference in Las Vegas, NV on 10/18-10/21/20.
• Finadium has yet to announce its Rates & Repo conference in New York. I’ve spoken and sponsored this one.
• Risk.net has yet to announce its 26th annual Risk USA conference. I’ve chaired this one.
• SIFMA has yet to announce its annual Meeting.

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 2/6/20 was 1.58%.

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 2/07/20 was 1.59%.

The next FOMC meetings (and they are all two-day meetings so these are the second day, when they actually announce) are: 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. They only raised the IOER by 5bp on 1/29, but didn’t change the Fed target rate.

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.

The Fed’s vice chair Quarles suggests that policymakers could adopt several options that would allow financial firms flexibility on liquidity requirements, such as making it easier for banks to treat US Treasuries like bank reserves. That would probably have an impact on the liquidity issues seen in Q4 2019, when reserves were much lower than the Fed expected, retained by banks, and not in the system. The Fed had to supply massive amounts of reserves to the system to alleviate the situation. The Fed says it wants to now look at leveraged loans and collateralized loan obligations in bank stress testing, and see how these significant trading operations cope with a recession.

“Fed’s Randal Quarles Calls Current Stance on Interest Rates Appropriate: Federal Reserve Vice Chairman for Supervision Randal Quarles said Thursday he sees no imminent need to alter the Fed’s short-term interest rate target, in remarks that took stock of how regulators can improve liquidity in money markets.” Wall Street Journal

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

Last month’s major 6.4 earthquake (and subsequent aftershocks) in Puerto Rico, which knocked out power again on the island again, was a very rare occurrence, something that happens in 75-450 years. Yet, we just had another 7.7 earthquake west of Puerto Rico and south of Cuba this week. This second Caribbean quake in as many weeks is being felt in Miami and up the East coast of Florida. We prepare for hurricanes and lightning, but are not used to earthquakes here. I’m looking at a global map of the teutonic plates and I see that much of the activity is down the entire west side of the Pacific plate and northwestern South American plate. This is just 2 days of earthquakes 4.5 and above magnitude:

2/07 5.5 Drake Passage
2/07 4.5 Caburan, Philippines
2/07 4.5 Ndoi Island, Fiji
2/07 4.6 Vanuatu region
2/07 5.0 Macquarie Island
2/07 4.6 Al Aunfidhad, Saudi Arabia
2/07 5.0 Enarotali, Indonesia
2/07 4.9 Agrihan, Northern Mariana Islands
2/07 4.7 Palaikastron, Greece
2/07 4.6 Caburan, Philippines
2/07 4.5 Nehe, China
2/06 4.6 Grande Anse, Guadelupe
2/06 4.8 Pisangkemeng, Indonesia
2/06 4.5 Tobelo, Indonesia
2/06 4.8 Sarangani, Philippines
2/06 6.0 Pondaquitan, Philippines
2/06 5.3 Takahagi, Japan
2/06 5.1 L’Esperance Rock, New Zealand
2/06 5.2 Neochorion, Greece
2/06 4.9 Abepura, Indonesia

Weather:

The Atlantic Hurricane Season begins June 1st and ends November 30th. 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 turned out to be the 4th year in a row of above-average damaging seasons. We had 18 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. It became the 7th year that there were multiple Category-5 hurricanes in one season.

The Pacific Hurricane Season starts 5/1/20 and ends 11/1/20.

As for the weather, Florida is cool 60s and 70s and very windy. Antarctica set a record high temperature (64.9 degrees) and yesterday’s high was more like the average for San Diego or Houston.

Sports News:

MLB:

The 2019 MLB regular season began 3/28 last 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, and have just auditioned for both 2020 Spring Training for the Cardinals, Marlins, Astros, and Nationals.

Speaking of Spring Training, catchers and pitchers report February 11th, and Spring Training games start in March. But, the face of baseball has forever changed. MLB, which had been investigating allegations of cheating by the 2017 World Series champion Houston Astros and 2018 World Series champion Boston Red Sox, came down with harsh punishments for the Astros: a fine of $5mm, loss of their next first round and second round draft picks, and suspension for one year of their manager and their GM. The Astros immediately fired both men, after the announcement. That will have a huge impact on the team that came in 2nd place in 2019. The common denominator between the 2017 Astros and 2018 Red Sox was then Astros’ bench coach and now Red Sox manager, Alex Cora. He was allegedly instrumental in the method of cheating using technology to steal signs from other teams, and brought that method and lack of respect for the game of baseball with him to the Red Sox in 2018. Red Sox management obviously feels so too, as they just fired him, even before he is disciplined by MLB. There are many analysts who think he should get a lifetime ban (including Hank Aaron), like Pete Rose received for probably a lesser offense. MLB is definitely showing that it means business and will not tolerate this type of cheating, with huge consequences if any team does. It is having more ripple effects too, as Carlos Beltran, a former Astros’ player in 2017, and new coach of the Mets, resigned even before his first season as coach. He was the only player who was named as allegedly participating in the cheating while with the Astros. I was about to tell you all the new MLB managers for this season, and then suddenly 2 get fired and one quits. Hard to replace a manager (and a GM) right before Spring Training. There is a rumor that the Red Sox may pick their former catcher and captain, Jason Varitek, to manage. Another crowd favorite would be Dustin Pedroia, but he still wants to play again. By the way, at the end of the season, the Red Sox also fired their President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, because of their poor 2019 season. Chaim Bloom replaced him and now has to hire a manager. The Astros have interviewed Buck Showalter for the manager job. The Twins have landed 3B Josh Donaldson from the Braves for 4years/$92 million. The Pirates’ new manager is Derek Shelton. The Giants’ new manager is Gabe Kapler. The Red Sox, one of the most prosperous franchises in sports, in an effort to simply reduce their luxury tax by $20 million (and not deal with Free Agency in a year), broke my heart and dealt arguably the 2nd best player in baseball, former MVP Mookie Betts, along with ace David Price, to the Dodgers in a 3-team deal. The Red Sox will receive OF Alex Verdugo, a couple of prospects, and a hot dog vendor. The Twins get starter Kenta Maeda from the Dodgers. The Red Sox, in turn, get a pitching prospect from the Twins. The Dodgers beat out their rival Padres in the Betts’ sweepstakes, but it is only a one year contract in their hopes to beat the Nationals in the NL this year. After that, Betts becomes a free agent and will likely become the next $300 million (or even $400 million) contract player. Hopefully, not with the Yankees, which would just add salt in my wound. I can’t help but see the move by new GM Chaim Bloom as the Red Sox wholesale dumping of players to rebuild. I see them possibly trading away DH J.D. Martinez, CF Jackie Bradley, Jr., and ace Nathan Evaldi in the near future. And they still don’t have a manager, right before Spring Training. The winter has seen Astros’ ace Gerrit Cole get a big deal from the Yankees, Dodgers’ slugger Anthony Rendon to the Angels (where the best player, Mike Trout plays) for 7years/$245 million, and World Series MVP ace Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals deciding to stay with the Nats for 7years/$245 million. The Mets failed to sell their team, which probably means the Wilpons will just frustrate their fans again. The Rays are still planning to play in two cities.

The Hall of Fame Committee decided the 2020 class of inductees. It was almost guaranteed that Derek Jeter would be unanimously inducted on his first year of eligibility. But some unknown BBWAA voter of 397 voted ‘no’ upsetting the unanimous vote. Jeter missed by one vote his teammate (Mariano Rivera’s) 2019 unanimous vote. The 2020 BBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot featured 32 candidates. Results from this vote were announced on 1/21/20. Only Jeter and Larry Walker received enough votes to become part of the 333 elected members of the Hall of Fame. 134 of those members have come through the BBWAA ballot method.

The Modern Baseball Era ballot featured 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. A 16-member group of veterans decided in December. You needed 75% of the vote to get in. They gave enough votes for Marvin Miller and Ted Simmons, so they will be inducted in July 2020.

Golf:

Canadian Nick Taylor currently leads the 3 course AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. He is tied with Chris Baker, one stroke ahead of Jason Day. Ernie Els will not return as Presidents Cup captain for the International team in 2021. The USGA has declared that distance increases must stop, after a two-year study of how far the golf ball is flying. They want to put an end to the continuing cycle of ever-increasing hitting distances and golf course lengths. Maybe they should use those distance-reduced golf balls at many golf ranges, Top Golf, and Drive Shack. Jordan Spieth is about to fall out of the World Top 50! The Honda Classic is coming to Palm Beach Gardens, FL soon at PGA National.

The European Tour 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
¥ 6/11-6/14 Scandinavian 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 149th Open (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 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. The 100th NFL season ended Sunday night, in Miami, in an entertaining 31-20 comeback victory for the Kansas City Chiefs over the San Francisco 49ers. The win was coach Andy Reid’s 222nd victory as an NFL head coach (Eagles, Packers, Chiefs) and first Super Bowl victory! Chiefs’ QB Patrick Mahomes became the youngest QB to ever win a Super Bowl. Chiefs’ Rashad Fenton won the Super Bowl in the very same stadium where he used to work in a concession. The Chiefs had not won a Super Bowl since Super Bowl IV, 52 years ago, snapping the longest drought of any NFL team. It was a rocky start for the Chiefs, with Mahomes throwing his first 2 interceptions in 160 passes and in the Playoffs, and the 49ers taking a 10-point lead into the final 9 minutes. But, Super Bowl MVP Mahomes led the Chiefs to 3 consecutive TD drives in that last 9 minutes and the Chiefs’ wound up picking off 49ers QB Jimmy Garrappolo twice. See my singing review in the Entertainment section. The Bengals have the No.1 pick in the Draft.

The XFL 2020 season begins shortly, 12 weeks beginning in February 8th, and running through April. There will be 43 games, including playoffs which will determine the champion of the restarted 8-team football league. The XLF East includes the D.C. Defenders, New York Guardians, St. Louis Battlehawks, and Tampa Bay Vipers. The XLF West includes the Dallas Renegades, Houston Roughnecks, Los Angeles Wildcats, and Seattle Dragons. Fox, ABC and ESPN will carry all the games. If you are missing football that much, you will recognize some former college and NFL players.

NCAA Football:

After about 100 bowl games (it seems) over many weeks, the College Football Playoffs came down to 4 teams: No.1 and unbeaten LSU made easy work of No.4 Oklahoma 63-28 on 12/28, and No.3 Clemson won a close battle over No.2 Ohio State 29-23, on the same day. That left LSU to play Clemson for College Football National Championship, which they did this week on Monday. Despite LSU playing in the New Orleans Superdome (so, a home field/crowd advantage), and having the Heisman Trophy-winning QB Joe Burrow, they were down in the 2nd quarter 17-7 to Clemson star QB Trevor Lawrence, but came roaring back by halftime, and won 42-25, winning their first National Title since 2007. Seven LSU players already are entering the NFL Draft. Clemson won the National Title last year and this was their 4th time in 5 years of being in the Finals. Virginia Tech’s Fuente is out of running to coach Baylor. LSU’s coach Ed Orgeron won Bryant Award as top college coach. To pour salt in my wounds, underachieving Michigan State’s legendary coach, Dantonio, has retired.

Here is the post-bowl, final AP Top 25 Poll:

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

NCAA Hockey

Near the halfway point of the college hockey season, analysts are seeing Cornell University (my alma mater) and North Dakota as legitimate national title contenders to be in the Frozen Four. The beanpot tourney in TD Garden in Boston will feature a final of Northeastern and Boston University.

NCAA Basketball

The college basketball season is rushing towards March Madness. Pre-season No.1 ranked Michigan State just lost to Penn State, their 6th loss, tumbling them down in the rankings. There have been a lot of favorites and high-ranked teams upset this year. Here is the current AP Top 25 about two-thirds through this regular season:

1. Baylor 19-1
2. Gonzaga 23-1
3. Kansas 18-3
4. San Diego State 23-0
5. Louisville 19-3
6. Dayton 20-2
7. Duke 18-3
8. FSU 18-3
9. Maryland 17-4
10. Villanova 17-4
11. Auburn 19-2
12. Seton Hall 16-5
13. West Virginia 17-4
14. Oregon 18-5
15. Kentucky 16-5
16. Michigan State 16-6
17. Iowa 16-6
18. LSU 17-4
19. Butler 17-5
20. Illinois 16-6
21. Creighton 17-5
22. Penn State 16-5
23. Arizona 15-6
24. Colorado 17-5
25. Houston 17-5

NHL:

Last season 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 puck dropped on this season on 10/2/19. The All-Star Games (it is a round-robin event now over 2 days) were held, and although the Eastern Conference-Atlantic Division lost in the finals, it’s Captain, Bruins’ Pastrnok took home the MVP trophy.

I know that the season is 82 games (we are more than halfway point), followed by a seemingly endless playoff that should end again in June, but here are the current standings. In the Eastern Conference: in the Atlantic Division, the Bruins are in first with a smoking 33-10-12 record (best in NHL), with the Lightning in second; in the Metropolitan Division, the Capitals are in first with a 36-13-5 record (2nd best in the NHL), followed by the Penguins in second. In the Western Conference: in the Central Division, the Stanley Cup Champion Blues are in first place at 32-15-8 (the 3rd best in the NHL), followed by the Avalanche in second and the surprising Stars in close third; in the Pacific Division, the Canucks lead with a 30-20-5 record, and the Golden Knights are just ahead of the Oilers for second place. The worst team in the NHL right now are the Red Wings, boasting a dreadful 13-38-4 record. Ovechkin is just two goals away from scoring his 700th goal. Leafs’ goalie Andersen will miss at least 2 games with neck injury. Leafs’ Ceci will be out indefinitely with ankle injury. Wild’s Parise will play in his 1000th game against Stars. Trade rumors have begun. The Rangers are meeting with Kreider about his future with the team and the Leafs and Lightning could be interested. Glennie, a longtime Maple Leaf, died at age 73. Golden Knights’ goalie Fleury just passed Lundqvist for 5th on NHL wins list with 460. The Lightning have moved past the Penguins and Blues to No.3 in power rankings. The Blue Jackets jumped 4 spots, while the Panthers fell 5 spots. Blues’ Steen played in his 1000th game. The NHL and NHLPA will resume negotiations on a collective bargaining agreement.

NBA:

This year, the NBA season did not start until 10/22/19, 18 days later than last year. We are more than halfway through the season already. The Warriors traded D’Angelo Russell to the Timberwolves for Andrew Wiggins. The NBA Trade Deadline is today. Danny Ainge and the Celtics did nothing. The Grizzlies traded Iguodala to the Heat. The Rockets will face challenges without a center. Westbrook joined the 20,000-point club. The All-Star game is coming. The Cavs acquired Andre Drummond. LeBron and Giannis draft their rosters. A Kobe Bryant memorial has been set for 2/24 at the Staples Center, where he spent his career.

The current standings are: Eastern Conference has No.1 Bucks, No.2 Raptors, No.3 Celtics, No.4 Heat, No.5 Pacers, No.6 76ers, and the rest are well behind; Western Conference has No.1 Lakers, No.2 Clippers, No.3 Nuggets, No.4 Rockets, No.5 Jazz, No.6 Thunder, No.7 Mavs, and the rest are well behind.

Fighting:

Conor McGregor returned to UFC to beat Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone at UFC 246. UFC 247 weigh-in has already happened. WBA/IBF bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue was named Boxer of the Year by the Japan Boxing Commission. The big fight between heavyweights, undefeated Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce, is on for 4/11 at The O2 in London. The PayPerView rematch between WBC heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder and former champion Tyson Fury will be 2/22 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Tennis:

In Match in Africa 6, for charity, Roger Federer and Bill Gates beat Rafael Nadal and Trevor Noah, in Cape Town Stadium.

Horse Racing:

Hall of Fame rider Prado is only 10 wins away from catching Icon Cordero.

Racing:

In the NASCAR Cup Series of 2019, Kyle Busch won in the last race at Homestead. In 2018, the winner 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 2020 regular season will begin in February with the Daytona 500. Here is the complete schedule of races for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup in 2020 and the results:

2/16 Daytona 500
2/23 Las Vegas, Jiffy Lube Pennzoil 400
3/1 Auto Club 400
3/8 Phoenix, FanShield 500
3/15 Atlanta, Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500
3/22 Homestead, Dixie Vodka 400
3/29 Texas, O’Reilly Auto Parts 500
4/5 Bristol, Food City 500
4/19 Richmond, Toyota Owners 400
4/26 Talladega, GEICO 500
5/3 Dover, NASCAR Cup Race at Dover
5/9 Martinsville, NASCAR Cup Race at Martinsville
5/16 Charlotte, NASCAR All Star Open
5/24 Charlotte, Coca-Cola 600
5/31 Kansas, Kansas 400
6/7 Michigan, FireKeepers Casino 400
6/14 Sonoma, Toyota/Save Mart 350
6/21 Chicagoland, Chicagoland 400
6/28 Pocono, Worry-Free Weather Guarantee 350
7/5 Indianapolis, Big Machine Vodka 400
7/11 Kentucky, Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart
7/19 New Hampshire, Foxwoods Resort Casino 301
8/9 Michigan, Consumers Energy 400
8/16 Watkins Glen, Go Bowling at The Glen
8/23 Dover, Drydene 400
8/29 Daytona, Coke Zero Sugar 400
playoffs:
9/6 Darlington, Southern 500
9/12 Richmond, Federated Auto Parts 400
9/19 Bristol, Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race
9/27 Las Vegas, South Point 400
10/4 Talladega, Alabama 500
10/11 Charlotte, Bank of America ROVAL 400
10/18 Kansas, Hollywood Casino 400
10/25 Texas, Texas 500
11/1 Martinsville, NASCAR Cup Fall Race
11/8 Phoenix, NASCAR Cup Series Championship

Formula One begins with F1 Car Launch Dates for the various teams from 2/12 through 2/15 for Renault, Racing Point, McLaren, and Ferrari. That will be followed by Pre-Season Testing schedule. 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). I will be posting the 2020 Formula One calendar in the next Repo Commentary:

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-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 8th in the last race, to just edge out Simon Pagenaud for the championship. I will be posting the 2020 calendar in the next Repo Commentary:

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:

Boeing’s woes continue. US officials and US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin expect US GDP growth to dip below 3% because of the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max jets. A fire broke out today at California’s Disneyland near Main Street. A Singapore couple were forced to attend their own wedding via Livestream due to coronavirus fears. Virgin Voyages is swapping key cards for bands made from recycled ocean plastic. New Yorkers can no longer apply for Global Entry. At least 3 people are dead, after a Pegasus Airlines plane skidded off a runway and broke into pieces with 177 people on board. 8 Americans on Princess cruise ship tested positive for coronavirus. Guam has barred Holland-America cruise ship, Westerdam, sailing from Singapore. It was also turned away from the Philippines, Taiwan, and Taipei. On Thursday, 5 ports in Japan announced that it would not allow the 30-day cruise ship to dock. Currently, the ship is sailing through the East China Sea. Holland America said it was in discussions with the US State Department, the US Navy, and the Dutch government to try and find a solution. Passengers spent $10,000-20,000 for the month-long cruise. In Hong Kong, 3,600 people aboard the World Dream cruise liner have been under quarantine for 3 days, after a number of passengers from a FORMER voyage tested positive for the coronavirus. There is now a Japanese cruise ship, the Diamond Princess, being used as a coronavirus quarantine and passengers are scared and angry. Some of the passengers are American and described ambulances lined up on land ready to receive the increasing toll of passengers diagnosed with the deadly virus. There are more than 3,700 people on board, including 2,600 passengers, of whom 428 are American. So far, 61 passengers have tested positive. One passenger, author Gay Courter, contacted Medjet, her insurance company, which is willing to send a crisis extraction team to evacuate her. However, the US and Japanese governments won’t allow that to happen. Travelers from mainland China will be isolated for 14 days in new efforts by Hong Kong to stem the coronavirus.

Health News:

The WHO declared the outbreak of respiratory disease from a novel coronavirus to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. That is the 6th time the WHO has used that measure since the H1N1 bird flu pandemic of 2009. The outbreak began in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province. People developed pneumonia without a clear cause and for which existing treatments were not effective. The virus has also shown evidence of human-to-human transmission and, it is believed, that transmission can occur from those humans not even showing symptoms of the disease. The disease can be fatal and has an incubation period of 2 to 14 days. Thousands of cases have now been reported in several countries across Europe, North America, and Asia-Pacific. As of 2/6/20, there were 31,526 cases confirmed, including in every province of China. 613 deaths have so far been confirmed. In response, Chinese cities with a combined population of over 57 million people, which includes Wuhan and 15 other surrounding cities, were placed on full or partial lockdown, and public transportation and outward transport was suspended. Hong Kong also raised its infectious disease response level to the highest level and declared an emergency, closing its schools until March and cancelling its New Year celebrations. The Chinese doctor who sounded the alarm on the Coronavirus has died of the virus. President Trump signed a $1.8 billion autism funding bill. New research that CRISPR-Edited immune cells survive for months and still kill cancer, making scientists optimistic that this gene-editing technology could eventually be used to help the human immune system to cure cancer. “Memory Cafes” in actual cafes, parks, libraries, and community buildings, are helping people with Dementia, as well as their caregivers. Experts say that Flavonoids, found in many foods, such as apples, have anti-inflammatory effects that can help with heart health, cancer risk, and brain health. A new study shows that shower curtains typically have the most germs in your bathroom, not the toilet. The FDA has approved the first drug for children’s peanut allergies. So, not only did I get the flu vaccine this year, but I got all of the other vaccines. A new study shows that there has been an increase in the number of high school and middle school students who vape and many more teens are vaping E-cigarettes than smoking regular cigarettes. 40% of Americans say they’re sleep-deprived after the Super Bowl. I bet there is a significant percentage who lied about not being sleep-deprived.

Animal News:

A tour guide off of Knysna, near Capetown, South Africa, filmed two orcas (killer whales) hunting and killing a large great white shark. Scientists believe that this is becoming more common and has led to a decrease in the number of sightings of great white sharks off Capetown. Killer whales eat the liver of the great white sharks. So, who’s top of the food chain now? Australia’s newest National Park has sea lions, 90 species of seabirds, and some of the clearest water on Earth. According to new research, penguins speak like people. A Chiefs player paid fees for all dog adoptions at Kansas City shelter to celebrate his Super Bowl win. Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of Winter on Groundhog Day. You may have seen that ad during the Super Bowl about the yellow Labrador that survived cancer to promote animal health. That ad cost $6 million and was purchased by the dog’s owner to thank the veterinarian. ‘Joe Exotic’ was sentenced to 22 years in plot to kill animal rights activist. The Transportation Department said it will start cracking down on pets as service animals. A mountain lion attacked a 3-year-old in a California park. A father choked a coyote to death after attacks in New Hampshire. Botswana is holding elephant hunting auctions. A ‘bat tornado’ invaded an Australian town.

Entertainment News:

Basketball legend and major philanthropist, Kobe Bryant, 41, died in a crash of his helicopter near Calabasas, CA, along with his 13-year-old daughter and 6 other passengers and pilot. Weather conditions were poor and foggy at the time of the crash. The devastating loss of one of the best basketball players of all time and a major figure in charity work was felt by many fans, many teammates, and many other celebrities. Lizza did a good job of singing “America The Beautiful”. Demi Lovato sang the National Anthem at the Super Bowl. She sang beautifully. Unfortunately, despite her being an excellent a cappella singer, someone decided that Lovato should have a marching band accompany her on the National Anthem. That part sounded awful and was probably very distracting for her. It was clear that the band, particularly the horns were not on the same key as her and it just sounded like bad noise behind her. I felt badly for her. Next up was the Halftime Show. I have two answers for the Halftime Show, as you no doubt have heard two strong opinions about it. There are many people, particularly parents of teenagers, who are very unhappy with the way Shakira and JLo performed scantily clad in risqué dance moves to their American and Latin hits, which included some kind of twerking by Shakira and a pole dance (perhaps a nod to her latest movie, HUSTLERS) and crotch-grabbing (sort of like Michael Jackson) by Jennifer Lopez. I understand that it was probably over-the-top and crossed a line for family-friendly football watching. As for the performances, Shakira, 43, did such a good job singing and dancing very intricate steps with a huge troupe, that I thought she was lip-synching. But, she wasn’t! JLo, who started as a dancer herself, was up to the challenge, despite being 50-years-old, and did a great job on her own songs and then together with Shakira. I thought it was odd that the committee chose these 2 artists to do the Halftime, but watching it, I saw that it was perfect for the mixed Latin and American cultures that are represented by the city of Miami. However, I do understand that it was probably not family-appropriate viewing for all ages, particularly in primetime.
Rush Limbaugh has announced that he is battling an aggressive form of lung cancer. One of the last icons of the Golden Age of Hollywood, Kirk Douglas, died Wednesday at the age of 103. Douglas’ life was “like a movie”. He came from abject poverty to become a film legend and renowned philanthropist. He is as well known for his epic roles in 90 films and TV shows, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s, in the films ACE IN THE HOLE, THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, PATHS OF GLORY, THE VIKINGS, LONELY ARE THE BRAVE, and SPARTACUS, as he is for his famous actor son, Michael Douglas, and his daughter-in-law, Catherine Zeta-Jones. With the film SPARTACUS, which Douglas starred in, produced, and raised the whopping (at the time) $12 million for, Douglas gave a break to young director Stanley Kubrick and scriptwriter Dalton Trumbo, who at the time was on the Hollywood Communist blacklist. The films overwhelming success directly led to the end of the blacklist, something for which Douglas remained proud the rest of his life. Actor Gary Sinise, “Lieutenant Dan” of FORREST GUMP, was given the Patriot Award from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, for his passionate support of US military veterans. Warner Music’s new IPO filing has signaled a music industry revival. Manifest is losing me as a viewer, with its poor acting and shark-jumping plot twists. Brian Wilson is calling on fans to boycott the Beach Boys over a hunting event with Donald Trump Jr. Friends cast is in ‘final negotiations’ to appear in a one hour reunion special, in which they are interviewed by Ellen DeGeneres, that could earn them $2.25 million each! Jessica Simpson is promoting her new memoir book, “Open Book.” Ireland Baldwin has mended her relationship with father, Alec. Jennifer Aniston is teasing Matt Perry for finally joining Instagram. The Oscars are this Sunday.

This past weekend’s box-office was pretty weak, up against the Super Bowl. BAD BOYS FOR LIFE took No.1 spot with $17.7 million, in its 3rd week, for a total gross of $148 million. No.2 was 1917 (still want to see this), which made $9.5 million in its 6th week, for a total gross of $119.1 million. No.3 was DOLITTLE (I would also like to see), which made $7.6 million, for a total of $55.1 million in its 3rd week. No.4 was the debut of GRETEL & HANSEL, which made $6.1 million. No.5 was JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL, which made $6 million, in its 8th week, for a whopping total of $291.2 million!

Opening this Friday (today): BIRDS OF PREY, UNCUT GEMS, MALANG, JAANU, THE LODGE, THE MAN STANDING NEXT, ZAKHMI FAMILY MAN, AND THEN WE DANCED, 2/1, WAITING FOR ANYA, COME TO DADDY, DREAM ROUND, CANE RIVER, THE BODY REMEMBERS WHEN, GOD OF GODS, and JIANG ZIYA.

Technology & Space News:

NASA astronaut Christina Koch returned to Earth after record-breaking mission. She spent nearly 11 months in space, the longest ever spaceflight by a woman. Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) announced it is no longer seeking a deal with eBay. eBay had never responded to their entreaties. iPhone manufacturer, Foxconn, has started making surgical masks to help with the coronavirus response.

US News:

President Trump gave his State of the Union address on Tuesday night and, for the first time since the 1700s, protocol was broken. The President, as is custom, handed a signed copy on special bond, enclosed in a leather folio, to the Speaker of the House, as the ‘We the People’s representative, to give to The People. Nancy Pelosi, instead, tore the speech in half, in front of the President. In effect, she destroyed public property. It was not the only bad news for the Democrats on Tuesday night, as their first primary, the Iowa Caucus, became a shambles, as the voting machines didn’t work properly and they were unable to tabulate the votes and declare a winner. On Thursday, officials ordered a recanvassing of the voters. Also on Thursday, President Trump was acquitted on both charges in the Impeachment process, as the Senate voted against it, along party lines (with the exception of Republican Mitt Romney). In less political news, during the State of the Union address ceremony, President Trump, honored the 100-year-old Tuskegee Airman, Charles, McGee, who had just presented the commemorative coin used for the coin toss at the Super Bowl on Sunday (honored along with 3 other WWII veterans who were 100-years-old at the Super Bowl), by promoting the Colonel to Brigadier General. The famed African American pilot, some of the first in history to fly in the US Air Force, flew more than 130 combat missions against the Nazis in WWII. When the armed forces were officially integrated, McGee served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Ironically, McGee, was born on 12/7, 24 years to the exact day of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Also honored at the State of the Union ceremony, was Rush Limbaugh, with a Medal of Freedom. Just as happened in 2015, a bizarre essay on Rape written by Bernie Sanders in 1972, has resurfaced and has captured the attention of the media and has been verified by Snopes.com. Tycoon Douglas Hodge was found guilty of bribing top US colleges with nearly $850,000, to get 4 of his 7 children into those schools, in the latest in the admissions scandal. The former investment firm CEO was sentenced to 9 months in prison. An El Paso, TX gunman has been hit with 90 Federal hate charges.

International News:

President Trump announced that US forces have killed another terror group leader, this time Qassim al-Raymi, the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), in a counter-terrorism operation in Yemen. Russian FM is visiting Venezuela, bolstering Maduro. The reporter who exposed Chechen gay purge was attacked. Fire-struck Australia is now facing ‘dangerous’ downpours and flooding. Another airliner was “nearly hit” by Syria anti-aircraft fire. Russian media have hinted at US coronavirus conspiracy. Spanish police have shut down the cardboard gag, which is accused of shipping waste worth EU 10 million from Madrid to Asian countries. Global firms are pressuring China to re-open factories, closed because of the coronavirus.

Florida:

I may have to revive my Floriduh section…The Florida Highway Patrol arrested two men, after a routine traffic stop in Florida’s panhandle for speeding. The officers added additional charges when they found a variety of illegal drugs (Meth, GHB, cocaine, MDMA, and fentanyl) in a bag clearly labeled on the outside as “Bag Full of Drugs” on the backseat.

The snowbirds are firmly entrenched here in Florida again, and they are making travel and restaurant reservations tough. But, is a boon for Florida, which relies on tourism. As long as they don’t come sick, we are ecstatic to welcome them!

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 had many gigs in November and December. That has quieted down some, although now we may be getting into more private parties and weddings, and away from restaurants. 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 in 2019, and these are expected to come in 2020 (below). A public service announcement about the outdoor amphitheater in West Palm Beach (currently adjacent to the South Florida Fair), it has been very confusing with all the name changes, and it has happened again. It was originally called the Coral Sky Amphitheater, then was changed to the Cruzan Rum Amphitheater, then to Perfekt Vodka Amphitheater, then back to Coral Sky Amphitheater, and was changed again this week to iThink Financial Services Amphitheater. None of the names have been particularly catchy and all those changes occurred only in the last 11 years!

SOUTH FLORIDA 2020 SCHEDULE (next 2 months):

Celine Dion-Miami, January 17
Queensryche-Fort Lauderdale, January 17
Brian Wilson-Miami, January 17
Mary Wilson-Bonita Springs, January 19
Starship-West Palm Beach, January 22
Steve Martin & Martin Short-Hollywood, January 25
Guns N Roses-Miami, January 31
Jason Aldean,Riley Green,Morgan Wallen-Orlando, January 31
Maroon 5-Miami, February 1
Zac Brown Band-Sunrise, February 1
Styx-Port St. Lucie, February 1
Andrea Bocelli-Miami, February 11
Kool and the Gang & Village People-Key West, February 21
John Fogarty-Fort Lauderdale, February 22
Foreigner, Kansas, and Europe-West Palm Beach, September 6
 

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