Repo Commentary-03/24/20

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I hope you and your families are all safe and healthy. As the coronavirus pandemic takes its literal toll on thousands of people around the world, and its increasingly damaging toll on the global economy, and a worrying toll on people’s livelihood, it is also taking a toll on many peoples’ mental health. Doctors say that the symptoms of this latter toll are similar to PTSD, causing severe depression, mood swings, the desire not to get out of bed, the feeling of futility, mostly because our jobs, our pastimes, our social interactions have been taken away from us by the disease, and we don’t know why or when it will stop. The fear of the unknown and the divine plan in all of this, is making people ‘stir crazy.’ We are all in the same boat. Without our collective patience and caring, we won’t defeat the disease. There are ways to combat the mental health issues: create new routines, work out using the items you have in the house, home school your children, Face Time happy hours or movie binge watching with family or friends, etc. Most importantly, you have to get out of bed and create a purpose, one day at a time. Reach out to all of your family and friends by phone or text or email and reconnect. Maybe, the Plan is to put our external lives completely on hold, so we focus on our families (and pets) without distractions and focus on what’s really important in life. Meanwhile, I’m here to entertain you and give you some other insights. And, if you want to know what’s in every aisle of CVS, Home Depot, Publix, Target, and Whole Foods, I’ve wandered each of them now as a pastime, lol!

I am available for consulting on all things Repo and Securities Lending, while working on a Fintech solution. So, if you need my almost 38 years of Securities Financing expertise or access to my vast network of about 9000 clients, call my mobile (646-753-1300), email (jeffkidwell82@gmail.com), or hit me up on LinkedIn.

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. You are now seeing it more frequently again. With the virtual quarantine on, I’m able to write it once or twice per week.

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, to make it better!

Holidays or Events (03/24):

¥ American Diabetes Association Alert Day
¥ International Day for Achievers
¥ National Agriculture Day
¥ World Tuberculosis Day
¥ National Cocktail Day
¥ National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day
¥ National Cheesesteak Day
¥ Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice (Argentina)
¥ National Tree Planting Day (Uganda)
¥ Student Day (in Scientology)

Spring officially began just before midnight ET last Thursday, 3/19, in the Northern Hemisphere, and Autumn/Fall begins in the Southern Hemisphere. But, Friday was really the first full day of Spring. In Florida, we are in the high 80’s and moving to 90’s, so it feels suddenly like Summer, not Spring. And, I hear from all my friends in New England that Spring has been Cancelled there, along with many events because of Coronavirus, as they are looking at 30s and Snow.

Some Famous People Born on 3/24 in History:

¥ 1693-John Harrison, English carpenter and clock-maker, invented the Marine chronometer
¥ 1855-Andrew W. Mellon, American banker, financier, and diplomat
¥ 1874-Harry Houdini, Hungarian-Jewish American magician and actor
¥ 1875-William Burns, Canadian lacrosse player
¥ 1883-Dorothy Campbell, Scottish-American golfer
¥ 1887-Roscoe Arbuckle, American actor, director, and screenwriter
¥ 1893-George Sisler, American baseball player
¥ 1901-Ub Iwerks, American animator, director, and producer, co-created Mickey Mouse
¥ 1902-Thomas E. Dewey, American lawyer and politician
¥ 1909-Clyde Barrow, American criminal
¥ 1911-Joseph Barbera, American animator, director and producer, co-founded Hanna-Barbera
¥ 1930-Steve McQueen, American actor and producer
¥ 1940-Bob Mackie, American fashion designer
¥ 1951-Pat Bradley, American golfer
¥ 1951-Tommy Hilfiger, American fashion designer
¥ 1959-Renaldo Nehemiah, American hurdler and football player
¥ 1960-Kelly Le Brock, English-American actress and model
¥ 1962-Angele Dubeau, Canadian violinist
¥ 1962-Star Jones, African-American lawyer, journalist, and talk show host
¥ 1965-The Undertaker, American wrestler and actor
¥ 1970-Lara Flynn Boyle, American actress
¥ 1976-Peyton Manning, American football player
¥ 1977-Jessica Chastain, American actress
¥ 1982-Corey Hart, American baseball player
¥ 1984-Chris Bosh, American basketball player

This Day in History (03/24):

In the interest of speeding the publishing of this edition today, I am going to skip this section.

Daily Weird Facts:

A new study, prior to the Coronavirus outbreak, suggests that a lack of exercise is now causing as many deaths as smoking causes across the world.

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“I think we live in a world where the most important thing is daily life: sharing a space with your family, making meals, being with your people. It’s not only the idea of privacy, it’s the beauty of the moment, at a time in the world when everything goes really fast—too fast.”—Ana Tijoux

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
$35.92/barrel on 3/11
$27.15/barrel on 3/18
$29.90/barrel on 3/23

Oil prices are still low, down almost 57% in just one month! They are now the lowest in more than 17 years. This is crushing the economies based on Oil exports and hurting our fairly young shale domestic production and new wells. The price of gasoline at my West Palm Beach station grudgingly fell this weekend by 10 cents, to $1.95/gallon. Most of the other stations in the area are 20-60 cents more per gallon. I have heard that somewhere in Kentucky, gasoline is selling for less than $1.00/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
104.30 on 01/17/20
104.80 on 02/07/20
99.23 on 03/11/20
101.67 on 03/18/20
104.77 on 03/24/20

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
03/11 at $1.1937
03/18 at $1.1575
03/24 at $1.1400

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
03/11 at $1.354
03/18 at $1.2665
03/24 at $1.2231

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
1.3020 on 03/11
1.3540 on 03/18
1.3690 on 03/24

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/ounce. On 1/17, it closed at $1557.30/ounce. On 2/07, it closed at $1,576.20/ounce. On 3/11, it closed at $1,641/ounce. On 3/18, it is trading at $1,487.60. On 3/24 it is trading at $1,659.80, way up.

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
$7,871.60 on 03/11/20
$5,216.64 on 03/18/20
$6,728.03 on 03/24/20

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 had rallied in early in 2020. It has now given up all of those 2020 gains with the coronavirus contagion.

Global Financial News:

Global stock markets were down again on Monday. Some economists are forecasting that the Jobless Rate in the US may increase to 30% because of the Coronavirus. Some states are already reporting a 10-fold increase in weekly Unemployment Claims last week versus the prior weeks. Some states, like New Jersey, have actually decided to suspend even reporting Unemployment Claims, so as not to feed into the panic. According to real estate billionaire, Tom Barrack, the commercial mortgage market is under severe attack and in desperate shape. Commercial MBS security sales have flooded the market, amid requests for help from the US Government. He thinks that the impact to home owners, real estate developers, hotel operators, and possibly banks could dwarf the impact from the Great Depression. ISLA postponed its annual 2020 conference until 2021. The IMF, on Tuesday, forecast that the coronavirus pandemic would push the global economy into a recession in 2020 equal to or worse than the 2008 Great Recession.

US Market News:

The coronavirus pandemic and various governments’ efforts to contain it are having a dramatic effect on global equity markets. It is most apparent in the volatility of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, lately. One day, it’s down 1000 points, the next day up 1000 points, and the next day down 2000 points. These are huge, and in some cases, record movements, in terms of percentage and actual points. As I write this on 3/23, the DJIA closed down another 3% (582 points) on the Senate not passing the $2 trillion emergency stimulus package. Today, 3/24, we are up 1200 points. I don’t know why regulators don’t reinstate the Uptick Rule, which had been around since 1929 Great Depression, and silently disappeared about 12 years ago. That would impose that no one could sell a stock unless there was an uptick first, which would slow the plummet of the stock market and reduce the aggressive shorting by certain institutions.

Okay, someone asked for this, here are the latest DJIA closes for the past month, just to demonstrate the massive volatility (granted there have been times in the past where volatility was greater in terms of percentage moves):

3/24/20 19,722.19 trading not closed
3/23/20 18,591.93
3/20/20 19,173.98
3/19/20 20,087.19
3/18/20 19,898.92
3/17/20 21,237.38
3/16/20 20,188.52
3/13/20 23,185.62
3/12/20 21,200.62
3/11/20 23,553.22
3/10/20 25,018.16
3/09/20 23,851.02
3/06/20 25,864.78
3/05/20 26,121.28
3/04/20 27,090.86
3/03/20 25,917.41
3/02/20 26,703.32
2/28/20 25,409.36
2/27/20 25,766.64
2/26/20 26,957.59
2/25/20 27,081.36
2/24/20 27,960.80
2/21/20 28,992.41
2/20/20 29,219.98
2/19/20 29,348.03
2/12/20 29,551.42 record high

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
23,553.22 on 03/11/20
21,237.38 on 03/17/20
18,591.93 on 03/23/20

S&P 500 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
03/12/20 at 2,480.64
03/17/20 at 2,529.19
03/23/20 at 2,237.40

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
03/12/20 at 7,201.80
03/17/20 at 7,334.78
03/23/20 at 6,860.67

US Treasury yields had continued lower in the front-end, but backed up significantly in the long-end, despite the Fed’s continued intervention in the target rate not causing them to move much before that. However, the massive buying by the Fed of US Treasuries and Agency MBS, has forced yields across the curve all down significantly from last week.

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%
03/11/20 at 0.50%
03/17/20 at 0.47%
03/23/20 at 0.28% wow!

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%
03/11/20 at 0.58%
03/17/20 at 0.54%
03/23/20 at 0.31% wow!

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%
03/11/20 at 0.66%
03/17/20 at 0.56%
03/23/20 at 0.38%

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%
03/11/20 at 0.78%
03/17/20 at 0.91%
03/23/20 at 0.63%

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!
03/11/20 at 0.82%
03/17/20 at 1.02% and back up again
03/23/20 at 0.76% 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%
03/11/20 at 1.30%
03/17/20 at 1.63% way up!
03/23/20 at 1.33% back down

Housing News:

Refinancing of mortgages is a hot topic right now, with consumers able to lock in some of the lowest rates in recent history. 30 year fixed rate mortgages are going at rates lower than 3.625% as of 3/23/20.

Repo/Securities Financing News:

To make this more legible and easier to follow, I will provide a first paragraph of the newest headlines in the Repo & Securities Lending market (I and others like to refer to as Securities Financing). For those reading online, I’ll write this in RED. The subsequent paragraphs of this section will include other issues and my thoughts on the market, for those who haven’t read them before. They will be updated, but won’t change as much as the first paragraph. At some point, I will assume people have read parts of those further paragraphs and will trim them from the Repo Commentary.

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin has approved a Financial Crisis-era backstop, the Primary Dealer Credit Facility, which will give the 24 primary dealers access for at least 6 months to cash through repos of up to 90 days. The Fed is also actively monitoring the Repo market and committed to provide up to $6 trillion to the Repo market if necessary. They are conducting overnight and term repo operations at least through April. They are even conducting Open Market Operations in the afternoon, after conducting them in the morning, on the same days. Not only is repo cash from typical cash providers in short supply because of the ‘basis-trade’ blowout, causing GC repo rates to be well-above the Fed’s desired Fed Funds target at least until the afternoon, but also because many of those money funds may have suffered redemptions from investors. Money Funds, as my pal Scott Skyrm points out, supply $1.35 trillion in cash to the funding market each day. One thing to watch is how 3/31 quarter-end goes, particularly in light of how difficult December was before the Fed injected some $255 billion into the repo market for year-end. Currently, the Fed is putting about $500 billion into the repo market. That Fed Funds target of 0%-0.25% means that we are likely to see some negative repo rates for Treasuries that go Special. That also means we will have to watch those TPMG fails rates. On Monday, Overnight GC traded at 0.04%, at the low end of the Fed Funds target range, but that was with an injection of $449 billion from the Fed. That injection, so far, has only helped the Overnight market, and the yield curve rises dramatically for term repo, as does the bid/offer spread, similar to post 2008. Of course, this is a different market than 2008, as we only have 24 Primary Dealers, and, as Skyrm points out, $23.5 trillion in US Treasury issuance, compared to $10 trillion in 2008.

Bill Foley has begun a new Securities Finance TV, SecFinHub, featuring interviews and discussions with experts. I am looking forward to participating remotely.

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 2 more 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

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. And, the last time the general public heard about “repo” it was during the Financial Crisis.

This is broadly 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, kind of like a P2P repo, which added over 300 cash providers from the Repo market to finance the Fed’s balance sheet and provide ‘liquidity’ for those cash providers. Of course, that didn’t help the Primary Dealers, who were using those cash providers to finance their balance sheets.
¥ 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 had also lowered IOER. They now have raised IOER in the last two FOMC meetings.
¥ The Fed effectively reinstated QE, injected at least $500 billion to buy US Treasuries again, $200 billion to buy Agency MBS again, and injected funds into the Dollar Roll market.
¥ They then began reinstating specific bailout/backstop programs of 2008.

I believe the reasons we had dislocations in Q4 2019 came 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 still trying to adapt to and position reserves/capital, personnel, and trading strategies for.

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 dis-incented 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 $16 trillion of the outstanding $23.5 trillion in US Treasuries), should have been seen 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 idiosyncrasies. 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. It is likely that the newly touted liquidity of the Repo market was “only for Platinum accounts.” Basically, it was only for select buy-side clients, who also provided those dealers with profits in other products.

I’m looking at this section that I wrote a few months ago as suggestions for the Fed to handle issues then, even before the coronavirus outbreak. It’s interesting how many of my suggestions the Fed has actually implemented now for the coronavirus crisis.

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-THE FED HAS SINCE DONE THIS
¥ 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.)- THE FED HAS SINCE DONE THIS
¥ 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.- THE FED HAS SINCE DONE THIS
¥ 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 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 FED HAS SINCE DONE THIS

The bottom line is that the money markets, particularly the securities finance market (Repo & Securities Lending) are still trying to find their 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,

Having just moderated a panel at the IMN Securities Financing Conference 2/12-2/13/20, my panel and I were able to share with the audience the current state of ETPs, CCPs, and P2P securities financing, and painted, in no particular order, a current map below (this is based on what we have been able to ascertain, but may not be accurate or complete):

CCPs:

Europe
• Eurex/Deutsche Borse/Clearstream (CCP)-has been doing predominantly European governments repo for some time now.
• LCH-Clearnet-London (CCP)-I do not have any info yet.
• LCH-Clearnet-Paris (CCP)-split out years ago, not because of Brexit.

Asia

• Shanghai Clearing House-China (CCP). I do not have any info yet.
North America

• OCC (CCP)-has hit daily volumes of $80 billion of repo and outright trading, with futures and options as well. It also still owns AQS/Quadriserve (ETP) for US securities lending.
• FICC/DTCC (CCP)-has hit high volume of $552 billion, increases coming from the 3 participant banks in Sponsored Repo, bringing their clients into the CCP, along with their standard dealer vs dealer repo. Has been around a while now.
• CDCC-Canada (CCP)-brand new CCP involving derivatives and repo.
CCPs:

Europe

• WeMatch.com (ETP)-fairly new, trades total return swaps.
• HQLAx (ETP)-securities financing, just started, uses blockchain tokens to represent trades.
• Liquidity Marketplace-LMX (ETP), I do not have any info yet.
• Asterisk (ETP)-brand new, focused first on government securities and equities financing.
• Treasury Spring (ETP)-fairly new, focused on European asset managers.

North America

• GLMX (ETP)-a Silicon Valley solution, primarily dealers and some asset managers.
• TradeWeb (ETP)-longtime system, primarily dealers and some asset managers.
• BNY DBVX (ETP)-fairly new and has changed, for internal BNY Mellon clients now.
• DealerWeb (ETP)-primarily for dealers.
• AFX/CBOE (ETP)-trades collateralized loans and futures.
• State Street Direct Access (ETP)-fairly new, has started securities financing for internal State Street clients.
One of many developments that I thought was really cool to hear about at the IMN conference (among other things I will share with you over time in the Repo Commentary or in consultation), was the newly formed Global Peer Financing Association created by 4 of my larger pension fund clients (CALPERS, HOOPP, OHPERS, SWIB) to promote peer-to-peer financing, not only among pension funds, but potentially with other sectors too (such as SWFs, Central Banks, Insurance Companies). It is of course near-and-dear to my heart, as I had many discussions with all 4 about peer-to-peer securities financing, over the past decade. I am very happy to see this development, which includes rate negotiation, standardization of legal documents, a credit vendor’s service, and some indemnification for certain clients from a securities lending agent. I am very supportive of this effort and hope to be involved in its evolution.

Securities Finance Industry Conferences: (subject to coronavirus-related postponements or cancellations)
 

• 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:

Similar to what I am doing for the Repo News section of the Repo Commentary, I will report news headlines in RED in the first paragraph of this Federal Reserve section (they used to be highlighted in the last paragraph of this section). That paragraph will be followed with other issues, timelines, and general information that will be updated, but will remain pretty constant, until I decide to trim them from the Repo Commentary.

The Fed announced on 3/23 that the amount of liquidity available for it to buy US Treasuries and Agency MBS in the outright markets is now UNLIMITED.

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 0.00-0.25% (remember, the Fed has been using a target ‘range’ for a while). The Federal Reserve posts an Effective Fed Funds Rate (EFFR).

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 3/20/20 was 0.20%.

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 the likely 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 buy-side clients with collateral. That all being said, the current SOFR reported by the Fed for 3/20/20 was 0.04%, same as today’s Treasury GC O/N repo rate.

The next FOMC meetings (and they are all two-day meetings so these are the second day, when they actually announce) are: 4/29/20, 6/10/20, 7/29/20, 9/16/20, 11/5/20, and 12/16/20. However, as we saw on 3/3/20, the FOMC can call emergency meetings at any time, even on weekends, especially during the Crisis we are facing now.

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.

A little historical information on Monetary Policy:

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 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. On 3/3/20, because of the global financial crisis effect from the coronavirus crisis, the Fed held an emergency FOMC meeting and cut the Fed target rate 50bp to 1.00-1.25%. Since then, the Fed lowered the target rate twice more, to its current 0.00%-0.25%.

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.

Just as the Federal Reserve felt it had done enough recently to provide liquidity to the Repo market and enough to Monetary Policy, a global pandemic has hit. On 3/4/20, the FRB approved a rule to simplify its capital rules for large banks, still preserving the strong capital requirements already in place. On 3/5/20, the FRB announced the termination of enforcement actions. It also postponed its 2020 National Interagency Community Reinvestment Conference because of coronavirus. On 3/6/20, the FRB published the Community Reinvestment Act. On 3/9/20, the Fed and other Governmental agencies encouraged financial institutions to meet financial needs of customers and members affected by coronavirus. The FOMC chose to have an unscheduled meeting and press conference on 3/3/20 (sort of like the old days), because of the coronavirus crisis. The FOMC set the Interest on Excess Reserves Rate (IOER) target to 1.10%, effective on 3/4/20. They also voted to authorize and direct the Open Market Desk at the FRB NY, until instructed otherwise, to execute transactions in the System Open Market Account (SOMA) as necessary to maintain the Fed Funds rate in a target of 1.00%-1.25%, down 50bp. The FOMC also instructed the Fed to continue purchasing Treasury bills at least into Q2 of 2020, to maintain over time ample reserve balances at or above the level that prevailed in early September 2019 (before the liquidity problems of year-end). The FOMC also directed the FRB to continue conducting term and O/N repo operations at least through April 2020 to ensure ample supply of reserves. The FOMC also directed the desk to conduct overnight Reverse Repo operations at an offering rate of 1.00% in amounts limited only by the value of Treasury securities in its SOMA account that are available for such operations and up to a per-counterparty limit of $30 billion per day. If that wasn’t enough, the FOMC also directed the desk to continue to reinvest P&I from MBS securities it owns in Treasury securities, up to $20 billion per month, and to engage in Dollar Rolls and Coupon Swap transactions as necessary to facilitate the market.

The US Treasury Department is making $10 billion available to support businesses’ liquidity through outright purchases of CP issued by highly rated companies. The CP Funding Facility will be managed by the Federal Reserve Bank of NY.

The Fed is encouraging banks to use capital buffers imposed by regulations to loan to borrowers hit by the coronavirus pandemic, but the Fed needs to clarify what is permitted.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

Last week, a 5.7-magnitude earthquake hit near Salt Lake City, Utah, knocking out the state’s Coronavirus hotline. It was the state’s largest earthquake since 1992. Monday, 5 earthquakes shook Croatia and caused building damage. Also, 7 earthquakes rattled Oklahoma on Monday. Other earthquakes above 4.5-magnitude, in the last 2 days:

03/24 4.8 Atka, Alaska
03/24 5.0 Ovalle, Chile
03/24 4.6 Kirakira, Solomon Islands
03/23 4.9 Arica, Chile
03/23 4.6 Ilioilio, Philippines
03/23 5.3 Fiji Islands
03/23 4.8 Ilioilio, Philippines
03/23 5.1 Aisen, Chile
03/23 4.6 Jayapura, Indonesia
03/23 4.6 Jayapura, Indonesia
03/23 4.6 Jayapura, Indonesia
03/23 4.7 San Antonio de los Cobres, Argentina
03/23 4.7 Finschhafen, Papua New Guinea
03/23 4.9 Nago, Japan
03/23 4.9 Tanaga Volcano, Alaska
03/23 4.6 Central East Pacific Rise
03/23 4.7 Saumlaki, Indonesia
03/23 4.8 Port-Olry, Vanuatu
03/23 4.7 Farallon de Pajar, Northern Mariana Islands
03/23 5.0 Farallon de Pajar
03/22 6.1 Central East Pacific Rise

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 getting hotter and luckily they haven’t ‘closed’ the beaches, although they don’t want more than 10 people to congregate together. We are in the mid-80s already and very sunny. I hear that the Midwest has risen to the 40s. But there is a storm right in that region, as well as rain in the Southwest. Just north of Los Angeles is a wildfire, forcing people to evacuate. They could use some of that rain to put out the fire.

Sports News:

Given that many sports have suspended or cancelled their events and seasons, this section of the Repo Commentary will have less, if any, changes. There are some things happening in ownership support of arena workers out of work and free agent market trades. I will update any changes in bold RED, so you can find them quickly. For those not seeing that colors, they will appear at the end of each sub-section, for example like today’s Olympic News. CDC’s latest recommendations could mean no professional sports until June.

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 had 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 I auditioned for both 2020 Spring Training for the Cardinals, Marlins, Astros, and Nationals. So, I’ve already had the honor to sing 3 National Anthems and “God Bless America”s this year, and I have at least 3 more to sing at. That will bring my total of MLB games, since 2003, to 156. I have noticed that the Astros’ games have had more players getting booed by the home crowd, hit by opposing pitchers, and even banging on trash cans. One amusing incident in their home park was when fans brought signs calling the Astros cheaters for their admitted sign-stealing electronically in 2017, when they won the World Series, and the Astros’ ballpark security took the signs from the fans. They just can’t help themselves from stealing signs! Lol! One clever fan got a sign through that said “Try Stealing This Sign!”

We were about halfway through Spring Training. For the third year in a row, all 30 MLB teams were to be in action at the start of the season on the same day, March 26th. But, the Coronavirus put an end to Spring Training and has delayed the start of the 2020 MLB regular season. It has also suspended all levels of MLB Minor League games. The 3 remaining Spring Training games that I was to sing the National Anthem at were also cancelled. All 30 MLB teams, today, each pledged $1 million to pay ballpark employees who aren’t able to work, until the season can open.

Joe Buck is reportedly broadcasting everyday life events, to stay sharp during the quarantine. Amy Cole brought the heat in a game of catch with husband Gerrit Cole. Trevor Bauer hosted a charity “Sandlot” game. MLB is considering cancelling the 2020 Draft. MLB is also considering neutral site playoffs for 2020.

Golf:

Tyrell Hatton, from England, won the PGA’s Arnold Palmer Invitational this last Sunday. It was his first PGA Tour title and it was followed by major drinking. He teed off in the first round, last Thursday, in the Players Championship though. The PGA Tour is going forward with this Major’s first round, on schedule, at Ponte Vedra (TPC Sawgrass and the island green). But, then it cancelled the tournament before Friday’s Round 2 and cancelled 5 other tournaments to come. It also announced that it was postponing the Masters in Augusta.

The European Tour’s Hero Indian Open, scheduled for this week, has been postponed due to coronavirus concerns, as have all other scheduled tournaments. 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

The PGA Tour intends to honor Kobe Bryant. The British Open is “proceeding as planned” according to organizers.

NFL:

The 100th NFL season ended last year, in Miami, in an entertaining 31-20 comeback victory for the Kansas City Chiefs over the San Francisco 49ers. The Chiefs had not won a Super Bowl since Super Bowl IV, 52 years ago, snapping the longest drought of any NFL team. Teams are now focused on the Free Agency start date of 3/18/20 and the Draft Day after that. The Bengals have the No.1 pick in the Draft. On Tuesday, Patriots 20-year QB and GOAT, Tom Brady, announced that his NFL journey would continue elsewhere and he is believed to be signing in Free Agency with the Tampa Bay Bucs for 2years/$60 million guaranteed, plus $9 million in incentives. Apparently, one of the reasons for the 42-year-old QB’s decision to leave the Patriots after 20 years is because of the souring relationship between him and coach Bill Belichick. The Patriots reportedly did not ‘pursue’ Brady the way he expected them to and he was still annoyed (as was Bill) at the way Belichick wanted to keep QB Garroppolo for long-term, while owner Bob Kraft ordered Bill to trade him away. The Bucs will likely give up on current starting QB Jameis Winston, as had been expected. There are rumors that Winston may go to the Steelers. Now, the Patriots are in dire need of a QB, and, luckily there are plenty to choose from in Free Agency or trade, and many to choose from in this year’s Draft. They apparently passed on QB Teddy Bridgewater, QB Phil Rivers, QB Andy Dalton, and QB Martin Mariota, who all signed elsewhere. The Patriots have 12 Draft picks this year and could trade up to get Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, especially since his coach, Nick Saban, is a close friend of Pats’ Bill Belichick. I think they might go for other QBs Jalen Hurts, Love, or Jake Fromm in the Draft. I guess Derek Carr may now be available, as the Raiders took Martin Mariota. Jameis Winston and Cam Newton are still out there. Jacoby Brissett, the former Patriots QB and understudy to Brady, may now be available, with the Colts signing Phil Rivers. P.J. Walker and Teddy Bridgewater are expected to compete for the starting QB job on the Panthers, as the team parted ways with star QB Cam Newton. Bridgewater signed for 3year/$63 million. QB Drew Brees did re-sign with the Saints for 2year/$50 million. WR Amari Cooper re-signed with the Cowboys for 5year/$100 million with $60 million guaranteed. QB Marcus Mariota leaves the Titans to sign with the Raiders. QB Case Keenum agreed to terms with the Browns for 3year/$18 million. QB Kirk Cousins agrees to a 2year contract extension with the Vikings. QB Ryan Tannehill re-signs with Titans for 4year/$118 million contract extension. The Rams revealed their new team logos, and Twitter is not happy. In other Free Agency news: WR Emmanuel Sanders signed with the Saints for a 2year/$16 million, RB Melvin Gordon signed with the Broncos for 2year/$16 million, TE Eric Ebron signed with the Steelers for 2year/$12 million, S Andrew Sendejo signed with the Browns for one year/$2.25 million, RB Todd Gurley signed with the Falcons on a one-year/$5 million (one day after being released by the Rams), DT Michael Pierce signed with the Vikings for 3year/$27 million, CB Desmond Trufant signed with the Lions for 2year/$21 million, QB Philip Rivers agrees to terms with the Colts on a one year/$25 million. There goes QB Jacoby Brissett, maybe back to the Patriots? In Trading: the Ravens and Steelers agreed to a trade sending DL Chris Wormley and a 2021 7th round pick to the Steelers, in exchange for a 2021 5th round pick, the Lions traded Darius Slay to the Eagles, who signed him for 3year/$50 million, and the Jaguars agreed to trade QB Nick Foles to the Bears for a 4th round pick.

The XFL 2020 season begins began, 12 weeks beginning in February 8th, and running through April. There were to be 43 games, including playoffs which would 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. That all stopped, when the NFL cancelled the season for the safety of the fans and the players, because of Coronavirus.

Tennis

In a surprise move to all of the Tennis Tours (ATP, FFT, WTA), French Open officials announced Tuesday night that the French Open, the red clay Major, will be postponed from May 24th to late September, due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The late change may cause the French Open’s biggest winner, with 12 French Open titles, Rafael Nadal, to boycott the tournament. Apparently, the decision from leftfield by the Federation Francaise de Tennis was made without consultation with other stakeholders. There may be a schedule ripple effect on the US Open, which is currently scheduled to finish just a week before, so the French Open may lose players, and the Laver Cup, which was supposed to be played in the same week that the French Open is moving to. The potential boycott from Nadal comes, not only because he may also choose to play in the US Open instead, but also because he and Roger Federer are the ones who champion the Laver Cup exhibition team competition, with the leading players of the world, a fan favorite. Federer is actually more likely now to skip the French Open, as he is returning from knee surgery at Wimbledon, and has been leaning away from clay tournaments. If enough top-ranked players skip the French Open, can it still be considered a ‘Major’? The WTA suspended its tour until 5/2, amid the coronavirus outbreak. The ATP suspended its matches for six weeks. Carla Suarez Navarro, amid tennis shutdown, announced that she had intended to retire in 2020, but since it was not a full season, she is extending her retirement plan by one more year. The US Open announced that it would be changing its hard-court brand for the first time since the 1970s.

Olympics

The head of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics insisted that the Games are on track, despite the Coronavirus outbreak. There has been significant pressure being applied to the IOC to postpone the Summer Olympics, by individual athletes and by countries. On Monday, Canada and Australia announced that they would not compete, out of health concerns for their teams and fans. With the mounting pressure, on Monday afternoon, the IOC finally announced that the Summer Olympics, which were to start in July 2020, will be postponed.

Soccer

Soccer’s 2020 European Championship, scheduled for Russia, has been postponed for a year because of the outbreak of the virus among the Norwegian and Swedish football associations, on Tuesday.

Cricket

In cricket, the Women’s T20 World Cup concluded with Australia defeating India in the Final. Player of the Match was Alyssa Healy.

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. Coronavirus has caused the NCAA to cancel all spring men’s and women’s sports.

Here is the post-bowls, 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 were seeing Cornell University (my alma mater) and North Dakota as legitimate national title contenders to be in the Frozen Four. Cornell is currently ranked No.1 in the nation. That all froze, when the NCAA cancelled the college hockey season due to the Coronavirus.

NCAA Basketball

The Coronavirus is having a huge impact on college basketball. As teams entered their week of Conference Championship Tournaments, prior to the Committee’s decision on the 68 seeds for the National Championship (also known as March Madness), it all came to halt. One after another conference cancelled their tournaments and the NCAA cancelled the National Championship, before it every started. I know this is a little weird, but Kentucky is No.1 on the early 2020-2021 Coach’s Poll basketball rankings. Gonzaga is No.2, followed by (in order) Baylor, Creighton, FSU, Villanova, Virginia, Duke, Iowa, and Texas Tech.

Here was the current AP Top 25 for the regular season:

1. Kansas 28-3
2. Gonzaga 29-2
3. Dayton 29-2
4. FSU 26-5
5. Baylor 26-4
6. San Diego State 30-2
7. Creighton 24-7
8. Kentucky 25-6
9. Michigan State 22-9
10. Duke 25-6
11. Villanova 24-7
12. Maryland 24-7
13. Oregon 24-7
14. Brigham Young 24-7
15. Louisville 24-7
16. Seton Hall 21-9
17. Virginia 23-7
18. Wisconsin 21-10
19. Ohio State 21-10
20. Auburn 25-6
21. Illinois 21-10
22. West Virginia 21-10
23. Houston 23-8
24. Butler 22-9
25. Iowa 20-11

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.

We were approaching the long postseason, after 82 games, which should have ended again in June, and here were the current standings. In the Eastern Conference: in the Atlantic Division, the Bruins are in first with a smoking 44-14-12 record (best in NHL with 100 points) after breaking the Flyers win streak of 9 games Tuesday night on Tuuka Rask’s birthday, with the Lightning in second (tied for 2nd best record); in the Metropolitan Division, the Capitals are in first with a 41-20-8 record ( tied for 3rd best in the NHL), followed by the Flyers in second. In the Western Conference: in the Central Division, the Stanley Cup Champion Blues are in first place at 41-19-10 (tied for 2nd best in NHL), followed by the Avalanche in second (tied for 3rd best in NHL) and the surprising Stars in third; in the Pacific Division, the Golden Knights lead with a 39-24-8 record, and the Golden Knights are just ahead of the Oilers in second place. The Canucks, who had been leading the Division through most of the season, have dropped to 4th place. The worst team in the NHL continues to be the Red Wings, boasting a dreadful 17-49-5 record. This too, all came to an end, with the season at least being suspended, with no games to be played for a while.

The Oilers signed F Raphael Lavoie to an entry-level contract. Flames signed Connor Mackey. Canadiens prospect Cole Caufield announced that he will stay another year at Wisconsin.

NBA:

This year, the NBA season did not start until 10/22/19, 18 days later than last year. We were nearing the playoffs. Coronavirus is having an impact on the NBA now, as the League suspended the NBA regular season indefinitely.

There was only a little over a month left in the 2019-20 NBA regular season and teams were still jockeying for a playoff position. 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 Jazz, No.5 Thunder, No.6 Rockets, and No.7 Mavs, and the rest are well behind.

Among several other NBA players (including 4 from the Nets), Kevin Durant tested positive for the Coronavirus, but says he feels fine. According to Pelicans’ VP Griffin, cancelling the NBA season is “not at all” on NBA’s mind. Shaq surprised some first-graders by joining their online class. Celtics’ Marcus Smart tested positive for coronavirus. The head of the NBPA said it would be “irresponsible” to not test players for COVID-19, this amid outrage by the American public over too few tests and how rich ballplayers are all getting them. In fact, the NYC major has slammed the Brooklyn Nets for all getting COVID-19 tests ahead of “the sick” public. On Monday, the Mayor of NYC blasted the Brooklyn Nets for being all tested for COVID-19, before first responders have been tested. There is a growing public outrage that if you have a lot of money, even the kits are in short supply, you can get tested for COVID-19.

Horse Racing:

For the first time since WWII, the Kentucky Derby is being postponed.

Racing:

NASCAR finally chose not to do ‘fan-less’ races and, instead, chose to postpone its race events through May 3, in accordance with safety protocols recommended by the CDC in response to Coronavirus. Of the 3 major racing circuits, the NASCAR one has the potential to lose the most races in the 2020 schedule, perhaps as many as 10.

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. Three F1 team members have been placed in isolation over coronavirus fears. The opening of the season has been delayed at least until 5/3, although they refuse to confirm date change for that race to later, despite the likelihood that the Dutch Grand Prix probably can’t be staged on 5/3. F1 is considering having an abbreviated 19 race season, when it begins. It was set to have a record 22-race season, when pre-season testing ended and the Australia Grand Prix was about to run. Then, Coronavirus, upset the race schedule and also took down F1’s (FWONK) share price, initially down 25%, and now down 40% from it January 2020 high of over $48.00/share. 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

IndyCar Racing also hit the brakes on the 2020 season, due to the Coronavirus. So, instead of the first race running in mid-March, the first race is now scheduled for 5/9, basically losing 4 races from the 2019 schedule. Here is the updated 2020 schedule (unless it gets changed again because of the pandemic):

5/09 GMR Grand Prix, Indianapolis, IN
5/24 104th Indy 500, Indianapolis, IN
5/31 Chevrolet Duel in Detroit, MI
6/06 Genesys 600 in Texas
6/21 Rev Group Grand Prix at Road America
6/27 Indy Richmond 300
7/12 Honda Indy Toronto
7/18 Iowa 300
8/16 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio
8/22 Bommarito Automotive Group 500
9/06 Grand Prix of Portland
9/20 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey

Travel News:

The US government has taken unprecedented steps with respect to TRAVEL in response to the increasing public health threat posed by this new coronavirus:

• Foreign nationals who have been in China or iran within the past 14 days cannot enter the US.
• US citizens, residents, and their immediate family members who have been in China or Iran within the past 14 days can enter the US, but they are subject to health monitoring and possible quarantine for up to 14 days.
Other than that, there has yet to be an intra-United States travel ban. Airline travel in the US tracked for this past weekend, was 13% below the same weekend one year ago, according to FlightRadar.com. This morning, Princess Cruises announced some pretty alarming news, that they had found Coronavirus still alive on surfaces of one of their cruise ships, 17 days after it had been cleaned. There has been a debate about how long the virus can live on different surface materials. Some doctors originally thought up to 30 days, but the majority of experts said 14 days.

GM, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler closed all of their US factories. North Carolina has closed its schools until 5/15. Like many other states, it also announced the closure of gyms, movie theaters, and other businesses. By Wednesday, hair and nail salons, and barbers, will close, because of the inability to perform “social distancing.” Non-essential businesses are closing in Massachusetts, Maryland, and Michigan. They have announced a stay-at-home advisories or shelter-in-place orders. NYC, in an effort to help bars & restaurants approved last week takeout alcohol, along with takeout food. Florida immediately adopted the same rule, although we have had alcohol shipment via Shipt at ABC Liquors for a year or so. This takeout alcohol, after I researched it, allows one to order bottles of liquor (and wine and beer) from any liquor store, but also allows you to pick up takeout food (or have it delivered) from your favorite restaurants AND also pickup cocktails/mixed drinks, which will be capped for you to drive with. It’s probably going to be a fine line between capped and open beverage in vehicles, which police will have to deal with. I noticed that an app, Drizly, has just popped up on the App Store. Many hotels in the US have been ordered closed. Apparently, drive-sharing services, like Uber and Lyft, are suffering greatly, as most destinations have been shut down, and customers are afraid of the lack of social distancing in a stranger’s car.

Health News:

More than 1.5 billion people around the world have been asked or ordered to stay-at-home because of the pandemic. The WHO has named COVID-19 (Coronavirus) a “Pandemic”. The WHO is announced Monday that the pandemic is “accelerating”. By 3/23, globally, more than 16,000 people had died from Coronavirus. More than 367,000 people have been infected with Coronavirus. The WHO says the virus has spread to over 160 countries. Given that there only about 190 countries on the Earth, that’s pretty much the entire Globe, except Antarctica. Several countries have experienced large outbreaks (including China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, Spain, and France). Italy, in particular, has now suffered the worst, with a death toll of 6,077 as of 3/23, now above the death toll of China, and total confirmed cases in Italy of 63,927 as of 3/23. Italy has said that 99% of those deaths have been people who had other illnesses or weakened immune systems. At least 15 doctors and 60 priests have died in Italy. I think that the there are three possible contributors to the alarming death toll and infection rate in Italy: delayed initial response by the government there; delayed move to close its very open borders and implement ‘social distancing’ for what is generally a very social culture; and the fact that many fashion designers and factories in Italy have been purchased by Chinese companies in the last decade, who have used the “Made in Italy” label to charge comparably higher prices to other Italian fashion and fabrics, while still sourcing and importing those materials from China to Italy, importing workers from China who are housed in close quarters in Italy (particularly near Milan, the epicenter in Italy for Coronavirus), and having management flying between China and Milan frequently. Spain’s death toll has now topped 2,000, as of 3/23, with over 33,000 diagnosed cases. Spain’s hospitals are overrun and people are laying in the hospital hallways and some are dying in those hallways. Belgium has instituted a nationwide shutdown. China reports that it’s new cases stopped last week, about 55 days from the beginning of the outbreak in that country. However, generally, Asia is stepping up its efforts, as a second wave of infections is reportedly striking. Oddly, Wuhan, China is still finding symptom-free cases. Although the mortality rate from Coronavirus was originally reported by authorities to be about 3.4%, many of those authorities believe now that it is really below 2%. The alarming part of the data though, as NBC reported last week, is that for those who wind up on a ventilator from coronavirus, the mortality rate could be as high as 50%. There is a fake rumor that Coronavirus has a “patent”, which supposedly proves that it is a manufactured virus. There is no evidence of that, at this time. Some life insurance companies, like NWML, due to the growing concern regarding Covid-19, are offering people 65 and under life insurance up to $5 million and disability insurance without an initial medical exam. In the UK, the government reached out to retired and private doctors to join in the fight against Coronavirus in the hospitals, and over 4,500 doctors answered the call and reported to NHS.

As more people are getting tested, naturally, the number of people infected is growing rapidly, simply because authorities have more information. New York coronavirus cases surged 38% on Sunday night, to 20,875. NYC reached out to private and retired healthcare providers to help out in its hospitals, and more than 1,000 answered the call and came. Also on Sunday night, New York Governor Cuomo joined other states in a “stay-at-home” order, with few exceptions, forcing most businesses to send 100% of their workers home, allowing grocery stores and pharmacies to stay open but enforce six-foot separations among customers, allowing restaurants to still offer drive-thru and takeout/delivery food, banning gatherings (including house gatherings), and forcing vulnerable people to stay indoors. The states with similar bans on non-essential businesses or residents ordered to shelter in place include California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Ohio, Oregon, Nevada and Pennsylvania. Today, despite beach closures and ‘shelter-in-place’ rules in California, there were pictures posted of thousands of people on Southern California beaches this weekend. The US Surgeon General expects this week to be a particularly bad one. In the US, diagnosed cases of Coronavirus have jumped to 41,500. As of 3/23, 499 Americans have died from Coronavirus. Two drugs, normally used to treat malaria, are being used in the US in trials for Coronavirus treatment. There has been early promising results for Chloroquine, in particular, a drug that is derived from Quinine, which in large doses in poisonous, so still banned by the FDA. But, despite reports by President Trump in his update address on Sunday night, there has not been enough data yet to say that Chloroquine is a cure for Coronavirus. In fact, on Monday, it was reported that 3 people in Nigeria had died from Chloroquine overdoses and that ads for the medicine, which has increased dramatically in price there, have mentioned that President Trump says that it works. In fact, Chloroquine in the US costs over $6 per pill from Big Pharma, while it only costs 4 cents per pill in developing countries and Latin America (and wholesale). Another problem with Chloroquine in high doses, is that it can attack the retinas and cause permanent blindness. So, this particular drug will have to be handled very carefully and prescribed very carefully, if it even pans out to be a cure. Doctors now believe that once you have had Coronavirus, you are probably immune to it for about a year. Several doctors think that we may be dealing with this virus annually and seasonally. Hospitals are running out of necessary supplies and necessary personnel. Hospitals are trying to figure out how to ration ventilators or re-use items. Drug maker, Gilead, has reportedly abruptly shut its emergency access, leaving patients in limbo. A hiker survived a 200-foot fall during a Mount Washington descent.

Public Service Announcement:

The CDC says the following are symptoms which may appear 2-14 days after exposure:

• Severe sore throat that moves to the lungs.
• Severe headaches (although not everyone is presenting with headaches)
• Fever (although not everyone is presenting with a fever)
• Cough (for Asthmatics, this would be a dry cough as opposed to the damp cough they are accustomed to)
• Shortness of breath
• Last night, doctors added a new symptom that does not always present and that’s loss of smell and/or taste
The CDC says the following are symptoms which are EMERGENCY WARNING SIGNS REQUIRING IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ATTENTION (this list is not all inclusive):

• Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
• Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
• New confusion or inability to arouse
• Bluish lips or face

With the WHO globally and the CDC domestically urging “social distancing” to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, they recommend the following steps (obviously certain states, cities, and countries have adopted even more severe measures):

• Stay home if you are mildly ill with COVID-19, except to get medical care. Do not visit public places.
• Stay in touch with your doctor. Call before you get medical care, so that the office can protect themselves and other patients. Be sure to get emergency care if you worsen or have any of those symptoms.
• Avoid public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
• Stay away from others, as much as possible, including people in your home. Try to do as much ‘home isolation’ as possible, staying in a designated “sick room” with a separate bathroom, if available, and away from other people in your home.
• Limit contact with your pets and animals. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals contracting COVID-19 from humans, it is still recommended for those with the virus to limit contact with animals, until more information is known.
• When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you have COVID-19. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you have COVID-19, wash your hands before and after you interact with them.
• If you are sick, you should wear a facemask when you are around other people and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office.
• If you are caring for others who are sick, you should wear a facemask. Visitors, other than caregivers, are not recommended.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw used tissues in a lined trash can. Wash hands immediately with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. On average, we touch our nose and mouth about 90 times per day, without realizing it.
• Do not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people in your home. After using these items, wash them thoroughly with soap and water or clean in a dishwasher.
• Daily clean disinfect high-touch surfaces (phones, remote controls, counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables) in your “sick room” and bathroom. Let someone else clean and disinfect surfaces in common areas of your home, but only you in your “sick room” and bathroom. If a caregiver must clean and disinfect a sick person’s bedroom or bathroom, they should do so on an as-needed basis. The caregiver should wear a mask and wait as long as possible after the sick person has used the bathroom.
• Per the CDC, people with COVID-19 may discontinue home isolation if:
o You will have a test to determine if you are still contagious
♣ You no longer have a fever without the use of medicine that reduces fevers.
♣ AND other symptoms have improved.
♣ AND you received 2 negative tests in a row, 24 hours apart.
o Or, if you will not have a test to determine if you are still contagious, then these 3 things must happen, before ending home isolation:
♣ You have had no fever for at least 72 hours, without the use of medicine that reduces fevers.
♣ Other symptoms have improved (cough, shortness of breath, etc.)
♣ AND at least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals. Rarely, do animal coronaviruses infect people and then spread between people (referred to as zoonotic), but those diseases have gained the most media attention and panic over the last couple of decades, including: MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, Swine Flu, H1N1 Bird Flu, and this SARS-CoV-2. The MERS and SARS viruses have their origins in bats, although the transfer of MERS was from dromedary camels and the original SARS via civet cats.

Animal News:

Interesting news on the Animals front, as the Coronavirus has caused more humans to stay-at-home, either by choice or order, those who typically work or go to school, it has been a boon to pets. I’m sure they don’t understand why their humans are home, but they are loving the extra attention. The pets are probably interrupting online schooling, remote work, and yoga for extra cuddling. There is a benefit to the humans too, as the virus and the lockdown and the job losses have caused mental health issues for many of the humans, and the close affection of the pets is easing that burden, much like they do for PTSD victims. Another positive outcome of this dreadful pandemic, is that adoption shelters in many places have run out of animals to adopt, as humans find this extra time at home the perfect time to get NEW pets, solving an age-old problem for shelters. Maybe, that’s part of the divine plan too. As humans retreat from what were other animals’ habitats and into their homes, some of those animals are reportedly reclaiming their territories. With the lockdown in Italy, canals in Venice are seeing the return of native dolphins, who haven’t been seen in the canals in almost 100 years, probably because of the usual extreme boat and gondola traffic in the canals. Other animals have come in from the forests into parks around the world. Okay, I need to out a hoax. Over the last few days, there have been videos and pictures of a lion, along with a news headline that “Russian President Putin has dropped over 800 lions and tigers into populated areas to force people to abide by quarantine restrictions.” This is simply not true, although alarming. The pictures are of a lion which was used illegally for a movie shoot in Africa in 2017.

Entertainment News:

The great country balladeer and pop-crossover legend, Kenny Rogers, decided “when to fold them” and passed away Sunday at the age of 81. He was a Country Music Hall of Fame icon, best friend of Dolly Parton, and a musician who charted more than 120 hit singles, in multiple genres (jazz, folk, pop, rock, and country). He began his recording career in the late 1950s with the Houston-based group, The Scholars. Later, he joined the folk ensemble, the New Christy Minstrels, which morphed into First Edition. Ironically, on Sunday, I watched 2 movies that involved Kenny Rogers music. I saw, for the first time, 2019’s RICHARD JEWELL, about the security guard who saved dozens of lives by finding the pipe bomb at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, in which Kenny Rogers was the featured show at the Olympics. And, I had seen earlier in the day, for about the fifth time, the cult classic THE BIG LEBOWSKI, in which there is an old 60’s hippie song, “Just Dropped In (to see what condition my condition was in)”, not realizing that it was written and sung by a young Kenny Rogers with New Edition. It was the first of many top-selling movie soundtracks that featured his music. Star professional musicians have taken to streaming free online live concerts to the public on a daily basis. So far, P!nk, Chris Martin, John Legend, Dave Foster & Katherine McPhee, and others have joined the trend to perform sort-of unplugged concerts of their top songs live-streamed over the Internet, Instagram, Facebook, and other sites. The latest to join the trend, was Neil Diamond (who re-wrote the words to “Sweet Caroline” for the Coronavirus) and Garth Brooks. The Boston band, The Dropkick Murphys, did an online concert on St. Patrick’s Day. Tom Hanks and his wife, Kelly Preston, have returned to the US, after recovering from coronavirus. Madonna called coronavirus the “great equalizer” in her bathtub video. Judge Katy Perry was brought to tears, as an American Idol contestant suffered a seizure. Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood’s live-streamed concert crashed Facebook Live. African saxophone legend, Manu Dibango, has died of COVID-19 in France at age 86. Eric Weissberg, one of the “Dueling Banjos” died yesterday at age 80. The Supreme Court sided with Comcast over Byron Allen in his racial discrimination case against the cable company. Amazon is making kids’ shows free to stream to all customers, during this lockdown. Italian actress Lucia Bose died yesterday at age 89. Woody Allen’s memoir, “Apropos of Nothing”, has been released with a new publisher, and is already causing controversy, particularly the description of his passion for his adopted daughter. The ACM Awards have been rescheduled for September. Harvey Weinstein has tested positive for coronavirus, although showing no symptoms yet, and has been placed in isolation. Meanwhile, Los Angeles prosecutors are taking the first step to extradite Weinstein to California from New York State Prison. I hope what happened to Jeffrey Epstein in isolation (whatever it was, suicide or murder) happen to Weinstein in isolation, and he faces his trial and punishment. The Rosie O’Donnell Show will return for one-night special. I’m really getting tired of Manifest and its multiple loose plot ends. Lionel Ritchie said he thinks it’s time to bring back the unifying hit “We Are the World”, written by the late Michael Jackson. Actress Sophia Myles revealed that her dad died of Coronavirus. Anna Camp is dating again one year after divorce. Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern practiced social distancing while hiking. Ryan Reynolds just shared a funny coronavirus PSA. Ellen DeGenerous challenged Michelle Obama to planking contest. Ben Affleck is cozying up to another co-star, Ana de Armas. Adam Rodriguez and wife Grace welcome a son. Warner Brothers confirms that WONDER WOMAN 1984 will go to theaters, not straight to DVD. Little Women: LA star Christy McGinity’s premature baby daughter, Violet Eva, has died. Bethenny Framnkel is donating over 1 million masks to hospitals. Taylor Swift is breaking her silence on leaked Kanye video. Pixar’s animated movie ONWARD is being released early On Demand, since theaters are shut down. BLACK WIDOW release date has been delayed because of coronavirus concerns. AVATAR sequel has shut down production in New Zealand. Warner Brothers announced that BIRDS OF PREY, sequel to SUICIDE SQAD, will be released early on On Demand. FROZEN 2 will stream on Disney+, 3 months ahead of schedule. The Bachelor’s Madison and Connor are sparking relationship rumors. Owen Wilson revealed why he’s never hosted Saturday Night Live. Maren Morris and Ryan Hurd welcome baby boy. Zelda Williams is sharing candid photos of her late father, Robin Williams. Hilaria Baldwin says Alec didn’t kiss her for first 6 weeks of dating. Halsey and Evan Peters are rumored to be breaking up. Matthew McConaughey offered an inspiring message during coronavirus pandemic. Hulk Hogan has settled $110 million lawsuit over leaked sex tape. Daniel Craig said he doesn’t plan to leave his fortune to his kids. Michelle Williams and Thomas Kail secretly married. Amanda Bynes announced that she’s pregnant. Olga Kurylenko says she is “completely recovered” from coronavirus. Reese Witherspoon received virtual birthday wishes from famous friends. Mark Wahlberg is reflecting on his criminal past and his second chance in life. Miley Cyrus is speaking out on why she left her church. An intruder was arrested at Jennifer Lawrence’s LA home. Meghan McCain has announced her pregnancy. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his pets are urging people to stay home. WEST SIDE STORY has revealed photos of its all-star cast. Brittany Snow married Tyler Stanaland in romantic ceremony. Cannes is denying French media reports that it will cancel the film festival.

This past weekend’s box-office did not happen, as the US government finally shut down movie theaters, along with public gyms. Only 18 theaters were open.

The prior weekend’s box-office, weekend 11 of 2020, was pretty strong, considering coronavirus fears of large gatherings. I think the numbers were BEFORE theaters were closed by authorities. ONWARD held on to the top spot in its second week, with $10.6 million in box-office. BLOODSHOT debuted at No.2, with $9.2 million. I STILL BELIEVE debuted at No.3 with $9.1 million. THE INVISIBLE MAN dropped to No.4, with $5.9 million, in its third week. THE HUNT debuted at No.5, with $5.3 million.

Opening last Friday, although I think in very limited release, with all the theater closings: I AM PATRICK, BLUE STORY, DOSED, A DOG CALLED MONEY, HUMAN CAPITAL, DEERSKIN, THE INFILTRATORS, HOOKING UP, and POSTI.

Technology & Space News:

According to President Trump, in his address on Sunday night, he has formed a Task Force with several of the largest technology companies and NASA to increase the availability of technology resources to find a coronavirus treatment and vaccine. NASA just opened up its entire media library copyright free and publicly accessible. Tesla, which has certainly been suffering from the latest short-selling, which, in fact, led Elon Musk to attack the short-sellers and securities lenders, which, in turn, led to the latest debate on ESG in our market, got a reprieve on 3/13 from the Delaware court, where a trial over its 2016 acquisition of SolarCity, was delayed due to worry about coronavirus. Amazon’s Prime delivery service has pushed back its estimates for a vast amount of packages, some as long as one month. Amazon is also raising overtime pay for some of its warehouse workers. Professional Internet hackers have now targeted WHO with cyberattacks. While you probably spent the weekend worrying about an entirely different Doomsday scenario, an asteroid zoomed by Earth at a distance of 90,000 miles. To put that in perspective, the Moon is only 239,000 miles from Earth. The Observer reports that old tech is making a comeback in this quarantine environment. They mention old-fashioned milk delivery with electric milk trucks and re-usable glass bottles; PageOne, the country’s last remaining service provider, says that the pager remains the most reliable and cost-effective way to send out thousands of messages at a time, with greater coverage than the mobile phone network, and are still used by fire departments, ambulance crews, hospitals, doctors, and the NHS; Google Glass from 2013 for medical research; cassette tapes and vinyl records (which now outsell CDs); checks versus transfers, online payments, chip and pin (the Fed found that consumers use checks for 10% of purchases, more than electronic payments, which accounted for 8.9%); Dictaphones, calculators, and maps (I actually used a pen-recorder, like a Dictaphone, for interviews for my book); DVD rentals; faxes; analog film; public payphones; and Polaroids.

US News:

The White House declared a National Emergency to free up funds and powers, to deal with Coronavirus. The White House also resurrected the Defense Act, not used since WWII. This gives the President even greater powers to re-purpose factories and increase production of necessary health-related items (like N-95 masks, surgical gloves, gowns, ventilators, etc.), as well as other powers over industry. So far, the response from the nation’s industries has been fantastic, and voluntary. Many factories have re-purposed and one is already producing hand sanitizer (from an alcoholic beverage company), several are increasing production of ventilators, and another has re-purposed to N-95 masks.

The White House is supporting a massive economic stimulus package of $2 trillion, which would include sending direct cash payments (estimated now at $2000 per person, roughly approximating two weeks’ pay) to Americans, an idea which originated in Congress, but is now being blocked by Democrats in the Senate. On Day 3 of the surprising filibuster, Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic representatives, who felt the previous bill had too many bailouts to big business without accountability, have developed a new $2.5 trillion plan, that they intend to unveil today in a Pelosi press conference. This legislation would also include support for businesses, huge bailouts for different industries (including airlines, auto manufacturers, hospitality, travel, restaurants, etc.), and many other measures to try to stabilize the economy. In addition, the US Treasury and IRS announced that they will delay the 4/15/20 tax payment deadline by 90 days, and have now delayed the Filing deadline by 90 days. So, you don’t have to pay taxes you owe (up to $1,000,000 for individuals and $10 million for corporations, for a total of $300 billion) for 90 days, without penalty or interest. On Day 3 of the surprising filibuster, Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic representatives, who felt the previous bill had too many bailouts to big business without accountability, have developed a new $2.5 trillion plan, that they intend to unveil today in a Pelosi press conference. Apparently, the legislature has just too many large egos, blinding them from the impacts that the pandemic is having on the general public, who voted them in, and the devastation to the US economy. I don’t really understand how the politics can be larger than what is important for the common good and how we got to a ‘mine is bigger than yours, which means I care more’ situation.

President Trump is reportedly weighing easing the stay-at-home orders for the country to lessen the economic devastation. That’s a very tricky balancing act. He said that they will check to see what has happened two weeks from now and make a decision then on what direction they want to take. He is very concerned that the cure, economic shutdown and stay-at-home tolls, may be worse than the pandemic toll itself. I don’t really know how anyone is supposed to decide how many people should be allowed to die versus starting up businesses again. Perhaps, we are taking this ‘pandemic is a war’ analogy too far and accepting ‘collateral damage’ like in a war. I hope this doesn’t push him to let our guard down too early, like it apparently has done in Hong Kong and possibly other parts of Asia. I also hope that he isn’t simply listening to one Fox News reporter’s advice, as the Democrats have said.

The President announced that he is re-commissioning two sister military hospital ships of the US Navy, with enormous capacity, one to be moved into NY harbor and the other into San Francisco bay. What he didn’t mention was that one ship was in dry dock to be refitted and the other was in a scrap yard. So, both ships will take about 4 weeks to ready for use and to be restocked with equipment and personnel. Once floated into position, they should provide thousands of beds for coronavirus patients. I also want to interject that the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic demonstrated that treating patients outdoors and in sunlight, as 2 doctors did, moving the patients out of hospitals to mobile medical tents, reduced the fatality rate and the length of symptoms. The worst mortality rate of that pandemic were people confined to cabins on the interior of hospital ships, probably because of the recycled air and lack of sunlight. Minnesota’s Governor is self-quarantining, as he has tested positive for coronavirus. Amy Klobuchar’s husband has tested positive for coronavirus. Throughout the US, courts are effectively closed for non-essential business/cases. Although not discussed much, the US has closed all military bases, except for essential personnel, until 5/11. There has been talk of the Federal Government possibly deploying National Guard, and military vehicles have been seen in California and in NYC. Under the Defense Act, the President and the state Governors have the power to mobilize both National Guard or Reserves, as well as active US military.

In unrelated news, the FBI has arrested the chair of Harvard University’s chemistry department, accusing him of lying about his work for a Chinese university, and charged 2 others who worked in the Boston area for aiding China’s efforts to steal scientific research. US officials reportedly said the activity was part of a years-long effort by the Chinese government to steal intellectual property and technology to compete in the global marketplace. Gun stores across the country are still open and having record sales. Many large retail chain stores (like Saks, Macy’s, American Eagle, Sears, etc.) have closed their doors. In most states, grocery stores, banks, and pharmacies are open. Also, most states still have restaurants open for takeout or delivery, and fast-food restaurants are open for drive-thrus. There are estimates that some 33% of restaurant workers could lose their jobs. Not all businesses are negatively affected by the coronavirus. Some industries are actually hiring, such as online-learning (now that all universities and most public schools have gont to online-learning from home), shipping (Amazon needs 100,000 workers), warehousing, food-delivery services, hospitals, pharmacies (CVS needs 50,000 workers), Pizza Hut needs 30,000 permanent workers, Walmart is looking for 150,000 workers, Dollar Tree wants 25,000 workers, 7-Eleven plans to hire 20,000 new workers, Domino’s is hiring more than 10,000 workers, grocery chains, and Lowe’s and Home Depot. Local police departments are beginning to use drones to spot lockdown violators. Inspired by Italian residents, some Dallas residents are now singing from their balconies and porches. A Detroit landlord is offering free rent until July.

International News:

US border agents, last week, arrested 600 Mexican cartel members in one sweep, one of the largest such arrests ever. The UK has now tightened its lockdown policy to stop the spread of coronavirus, issuing an order to stay-home and giving police the power to enforce the new rules. No surprise here, Iran accuses the US of creating coronavirus. Venezuela has prohibited company layoffs and suspends credit collections. The King of Saudi Arabia has imposed a curfew. Russia is invoking a “fake news” law. Hong Kong appeared to have coronavirus under control, relaxed measures, and a new wave appears to be striking.

Florida:

The passenger who boarded a flight from NYC’s JFK Airport on Jet Blue, knowing ahead of time that he had tested Positive for the Coronavirus, forcing Florida health authorities to meet the plane at Palm Beach International, bringing the illness to Palm Beach County for the first time, and forcing his many fellow passengers into quarantine, is now facing criminal prosecution, along with likely civil prosecution. He has also been banned for life by Jet Blue. The Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, announced Monday that he is not happy, as he sees a trend of New Yorkers fleeing NYC for Florida, to swap the ‘stay-at-home’ pandemic order by New York Governor Cuomo, issued Sunday night, for the lighter rule in Florida. He is not only concerned about people ‘getting around’ the NY rules, but also concerned that this influx of people will bring with it more infected people and the coronavirus. So, he is considering having all people flying in from the tri-state area ordered to “stay-at-home” for 14 days when they arrive in Florida. I’m not sure how he is going to enforce this, or if he will include that they need to be tested. I think he should have them tested at the airports, the point of entry to Florida, and then quarantine those that have the virus. That seems to me to more enforceable. Of course, there aren’t enough tests because of the NBA. By now, you have heard about the Spring Breakers from up North, 9 of home tested positive for COVID-19 after hanging out on crowded Fort Lauderdale beaches, despite orders to stay in groups of less than 10 people, which led to the beaches being closed by the Governor. Well, 4 more University of Tampa students on Spring Break (and probably rest of the year break) also tested positive for COVID-19, after defying the beach closures and partying on the beach.

Health officials here have mentioned that the coronavirus droplets that are passed on do not survive as well in heat and humidity. A new report here has shown that the virus does not transmit or survive in chlorinated water, such as swimming pools. Many South Florida people, intending to cheer up their neighbors, have been putting up their Christmas lights again. Most shopping malls in Florida have been closed, including Sawgrass Mills outlets mall. However, the Palm Beach outlet mall still has some individual stores which are open. The March International Boat Show in West Palm Beach was postponed to 5/14-5/17. After seeing Spring-breakers defy City and State orders to not congregate in groups of more than 10 people, Saturday, the Governor closed all Florida public beaches, and is having police patrol them. Also, due to a large boat gathering, Boca Bash, in Boca Raton, the Governor, on Sunday, ordered all public boat ramps for recreational boats closed. Except for the Palm Beach Par 3, Palm Beach County golf course remain open. A local Palm Beach Gardens restaurant, Coolinary Café and its sister bar Parched Pig, have taken the new pandemic rules to the next step, reworking the food menu to sandwiches, soups, and small bites, and creating a cocktail menu, so that customers can order ahead and pickup curbside their sandwiches and capped cocktails and drive away, with little or no social un-distancing.

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, quieted down in January, but had picked up again with private gigs and 6 MLB Spring Training games. However, that all came to a halt when MLB CANCELLED Spring Training and Florida authorities limited gatherings to less than 50, particularly for events and restaurants, then closed the restaurants, except for Delivery and Takeout. 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 in 2019, and these are expected to come (or have come) in 2020 (below), although the sooner ones have been postponed due to Coronavirus. 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 to iThink Financial Services Amphitheater. None of the names have been particularly catchy and all those changes occurred only in the last 11 years! Because of the coronavirus, some events, such as fairs and boat shows in Florida have been cancelled or postponed. So, please check ahead of time to see if the concert you are going to is still being held.

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
Paul Anka-West Palm Beach, March 13
Harry Connick Jr.-Fort Lauderdale, March 18
Cher-Miami, March 24
America-Fort Lauderdale, March 24
YES and Alan Parsons Project-Fort Lauderdale, March 25
Little River Band-Fort Lauderdale, March 26
The Who-Fort Lauderdale, April 21
Elton John-Miami, May 30
Def Leppard and Motley Crue, Miami Gardens, July 7
Nickelback-West Palm Beach, August 15
Foreigner, Kansas, and Europe-West Palm Beach, September 6

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