Repo Commentary-01/19/21

I apologize, but this will not look like the normal Repo Commentary.  Unfortunately, on Friday, as I was getting ready to send out my new Repo Commentary and was preparing a magazine article, a marketing plan, and two projects for other clients, my clumsy right hand knocked a drink across my laptop keyboard and phone and the entire workstation desk I have created in my studio.  So, I have spent the weekend, recreating files and applications from my iPhone to a borrowed laptop. Unfortunately, I lost the entire Repo Commentary and have to revert back to the 1/07/21 Repo Commentary, and have also had to recreate my work for the 3 clients and magazine. But, no obstacle is too difficult, and I have gerry-rigged a system, until my laptop is repaired. There is a a backlog on Mac part orders I understand of about 2-3 weeks, due to the pandemic.  Maybe this is the perfect time for me to finally ‘streamline’ this Repo Commentary, and make it easier/quicker to read and easier/quicker to write.  Thank you all for understanding.  

It is Day 314 (on 01/19) since the official start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the day that the WHO declared it a ‘pandemic’ (3/11/20). 

I hope that you and your families are staying healthy and safe. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to take its literal mortal, economic, and mental toll on millions of people around the world. For many, unemployment benefits ended, for others (particularly my friends in gig industries) there were no benefits.  Some of us are still waiting for our second Stimulus check of $600 (including me).

In the last installment of the Repo Commentary (12/03), I wrote about my latest project. It was kind of a work of love, sort of like a 122,000-word book that I always wanted to write, about my 38 years in the Repo & Securities Lending industry.  In conjunction with Pierpoint Securities Finance Academy and sister company, Fintuition, I have compiled an 11-week state-of-the-art virtual training/education course on the Fundamentals of Repo. You can learn more about the course here: https://www.pierpoint.info/courses/the-fundamentals-of-repo. It is now available. I think you will find it a very informative, complete, and an entertaining version of distanced learning, with my usual humor and my experience sprinkled across some 149 PowerPoint presentations within a new state-of-the-art Teachable system, with hours of my voiceovers, as well as 10 videos, and an exam. The course has international accreditation from Chartered Institute For Securities and Investment (CISI).  I suspect many companies have already budgeted to subscribe and relieve themselves of the burden of training their people in Repo, and leave it to one of the OG Repo dinosaurs. Lol. But, first, check out my friend, Professor Moorah Choudhry’s, FREE 30-minute Primer on Repo (at the same address), which introduces my course. 

So, I am NOT RETIRED from the Securities Finance industry. I am consulting with 2 large firms about repo issues and business plans. As I said, I am writing a magazine article.  I am also consulting with an electronic trading platform, and making headway on providing a large electronic solution for several markets.  Kidwell Consultants, LLC is also available FOR HIRE as a consultant. So, if you need my 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. I am interested in entertaining you and taking your mind off the pressures you are under. 

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! 

I hope everyone had good holidays and a Happy New Year!!! I know that you will all see this on 01/07/21, which is the day before Elvis Presley’s birthday, so I wanted to wish the King of Rock n’ Roll an early Happy Birthday on 1/8. He would be 86-years-old. 

Holidays or Events (01/19:

• As I write this today (1/18), most US traders and exchanges are closed, because it is Martin Luther King Day here in the US, celebrating the great civil rights leader.

• Artist as Outlaw Day

• Brew a Potion Day

• Good Memory Day

• Gun Appreciation Day

• New Friends Day

• Printing Ink Day

• National Popcorn Day

• Rid the World of Fad Diet and Gimmicks Day

• Tin Can Day

• World Quark Day

• Tenderness Toward Existence Day

• Husband’s Day in Iceland

• Kokborok Day (Tripura, India)

• Theophany/Epiphany (Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxy)

Some Famous People Born on (01/19):

• 399-Pulcheria, Byzantine Empress and Saint

• 1200-Dogen Genji, founder of Soto Zen

• 1544-Francis II of France

• 1803-Sarah Helen Whitman, American poet, essayist, and romantic interest of Edgar Allan Poe

• 1807-Robert E. Lee, American general of the Confederate Army during the American Civil War

• 1809-Edgar Allan Pie, American short story writer, poet, and critic

• 1839-Paul Cezanne, French painter

• 1908-Ish Kabibble, American comedian and cornet player

• 1930-Tippi Hedren, American model, actress, and animal rights-welfare activist

• 1939-Phil Everly, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (Everly Brothers)

• 1942-Michael Crawford, English actor and singer, original Phantom in PHANTOM OF THE OPERA

• 1943-Janis Joplin, American singer-songwriter

• 1944-Shelley Fabares, American actress and singer

• 1944-Thom Mayen, American architect and academic, designed the San Francisco Federal Building and Phare Tower

• 1945-Trevor Williams, English singer-songwriter and bass player

• 1946-Dolly Parton, American singer-songwriter and actress

• 1947-Paula Deen, American  chef and author

• 1949-Robert Palmer, English singer-songwriter and guitarist

• 1953-Desi Arnaz Jr., American actor and singer

• 1955-Paul Rodriguez, Mexican-American comedian and actor

• 1957-Ottis Anderson, American football player and sportscaster

• 1962-Jeff Van Gundy, American basketball player and coach

• 1966-Stefan Edberg, Swedish tennis player and coach

• 1969-Junior Seau, American football player

• 1971-Shawn Wayans, American actor, producer, and screenwriter

Daily Weird Facts:

Although both are sea waves, a tsunami is not a tidal wave. A tidal wave is the wave motion of the tides and is a shallow water wave caused by the gravitational interactions of the Sun, Moon, and Earth. A tsunami is a huge catastrophic wave that can cause enormous damage and fatalities. It is usually caused by severe storms or major earthquakes. 

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”—Martin Luther King, Jr.

Currency and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices closed at:

$74.34/barrel on 10/5/18 

$47.66/barrel on 12/23 

$48.63 on 01/07/19 

$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 1/17/20

$54.39/barrel on 2/7

$35.92/barrel on 3/11

$27.15/barrel on 3/18

$29.90/barrel on 3/23

$27.43/barrel on 3/27

$24.90/barrel on 4/01

$31.80/barrel on 4/12

$28.31/barrel on 4/17

$20.03/barrel on 4/27

$26.78/barrel on 5/04

$30.39/barrel on 5/09 

$35.69/barrel on 5/20

$39.78/barrel on 6/04

$43.37/barrel on 7/27

$43.17/barrel on 11/9

$45.13/barrel on 11/30

$50.73/barrel on 12/15

$50.70/barrel on 01/04

$52.92/barrel on 01/19

Oil prices have rallied back to pre-COVID-19 prices. The price of gasoline at my West Palm Beach station has risen 10 cents higher in the past 2 weeks, to $2.19/gallon.

One USD versus the Yen was trading at (these are all around 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

102.22 on 04/13/20

102.14 on 04/19/20

101.57 on 04/27/20

106.82 on 05/04/20

100.80 on 05/10/20

102.04 on 05/20/20

103.32 on 06/04/20

100.05 on 07/27/20 

105.26 on 11/10/20

104.38 on 11/30/20

103.55 on 12/16/20

103.15 on 01/04/21

103.92 on 01/19/21

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

04/13 at $1.1523

04/19 at $1.1394

04/27 at $1.1407

05/04 at $1.0903

05/10 at $1.1402

05/20 at $1.1522

06/04 at $1.1795

07/27 at $1.2314

11/10 at $1.1821

11/30 at $1.1925

12/16 at $1.2196

01/04 at $1.2246

01/19 at $1.2137

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

04/13 at $1.3143

04/19 at $1.3058

04/27 at $1.3052

05/04 at $1.2435

05/10 at $1.3005

05/20 at $1.2844

06/04 at $1.3136

07/27 at $1.3458

11/10 at $1.3255

11/30 at $1.3319 

12/16 at $1.3494

01/04 at $1.3571

01/19 at $1.3614

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

1.3250 on 04/13

1.3390 on 04/19

1.3350 on 04/27

1.4090 on 05/04

1.3250 on 05/10

1.3250 on 05/20

1.2850 on 06/04

1.2730 on 07/27

1.3014 on 11/10

1.3000 on 11/30 

1.2752 on 12/16

1.2787 on 01/04

1.2740 on 01/19

On 10/02/19, Gold closed at $1498.70/ounce. On 3/11/20 (one day after ‘pandemic’ declared), it closed at $1,641/ounce. On 07/27/20, Gold reached a record $1,944.71/ounce, as investors continued to pour money into the safe-haven. But, as of 11/10/20, it was trading at $1,880.30, having backed off the highs. It has continued to back off those highs, closed on 11/30/20 at 1,774.00. On 12/16/20, gold was back up to $1,858.20. On 01/04/21, it was up to $1,948.00. Today (01/19/21), it is trading at $1,839.02 per ounce.

Bitcoin was trading at (around 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

$6,646.60 on 03/27/20

$6,443.44 on 03/31/20

$6,908.13 on 04/12/20

$7,128.45 on 04/19/20

$7,748.29 on 04/27/20

$8,775.36 on 05/04/20

$8,771.73 on 05/10/20

$9,525.54 on 05/20/20

$9,794.46 on 06/04/20

$10,849.00 on 07/27/20

$15,160.90 on 11/10/20

$19,411.50 on 11/30/20

$20,665.10 on 12/16/20

$31,592.20 on 01/04/21

$37,144.50 on 01/19/21 (it did hit $40,675 on 01/08, but has retreated a bit since then)

After rebounding in 2019 dramatically since the beginning of the year, although certainly not to its $19,000 high, Bitcoin hit a wall at the beginning of the Summer of 2019, then rallied during the Summer, and tumbled again in Q4, and had rallied in early in 2020.  It then gave up all of those 2020 gains with the COVID-19 contagion. On 3/13/20, it cratered at $3,867. It rallied sharply in the last few weeks before the ‘halving event’ on 5/12/20, its 3rd halving event.  But, Bitcoin then began replacing Gold as the safe-haven of choice for some investors from the weakening US dollar and risk of rising inflation. There was also growing interest from institutional investors. After sneaking up again to all-time record territory above $19,000, it broke through and rocketed to a new record, where it is in that territory now. Since I last reported two weeks ago, when it was 6-7 times higher than the low from March, it has more than doubled again (now nearly 10 times higher than that March low)! JPMorgan now says that Bitcoin could rally to $100,000! One market follower said on Twitter: “it’s not a rally. It’s not a bubble. It’s a chain reaction spreading like a fire in cyberspace.”

Brexit:

The UK technically left the EU on 1/31/20, but the subsequent deal between the two came into force 1/1/21. Most UK drivers will still be able to use their normal driving license while driving in EU countries. However, there are some exceptions, such as those with paper licenses and licenses issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man. Those people will need and additional International Driving Permit (IDP), which can be purchased at Post Offices. There are two types of IDPs, depending on which countries you will be driving in. As for car insurance, you will need to provide proof that you vehicle is insured while driving in Europe, which is in the form of a green card, which needs to be procured from your insurer before you travel to Europe. There are varying rules on whether you need a GB sticker on your license plate or not, depending on the plate you have and which country you are traveling to. 

The Guardian writes that Brexiters are waking up to the damage they have done. For Britain’s chemical industry, Brexit’s red tape is now beginning. Financial markets and firms’ shift to France and out of London, is beginning to accelerate, per Bloomberg. The Bank of France sees the chance to improve financial structure. Europe still needs to set up its own operations, including clearing houses. By the end of 2020, financial institutions had transferred about 2,500 jobs and EU 170 billion in assets to France from the UK. Germany’s Bundesbank says EU 400 billion in assets had been already transferred there. Morgan Stanley is reportedly shifting EU 100 billion in assets to Germany in the coming months. The ECB has estimated that when the dust settles, some 24 banks will move to the Eurozone and bring with them EU 1.3 trillion. Meanwhile, cross-channel Brexit cargo rejections are increasing, particularly hurting Scotland’s seafood and shellfish markets. Boris Johnson is promising GBP 23 million in compensation for exporters who have lost orders due to delays. Supermarkets in Northern Ireland are suffering lack of supplies from England. Some lorry drivers were shocked when they arrived in Amsterdam, as inspectors confiscated their ham sandwich lunches.  The new regulations are not just about the cargo in the back of the lorry, but also food products in the front cab. 

Global Financial News:

President Biden has nominated Rohit Chopra to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). He has also chosen Gary Gensler to lead the SEC, which signals tougher scrutiny. Rohit Chopra is from the FTC. JPMorgan Chase says its current cash holdings and marketable securities exceed regulatory requirements by about $450 billion, while Q4 earnings reports from Citigroup, PNC Financial Services and Wells Fargo also show that their cash assets have swelled. It appears that US banks are facing a dilemma of where to deploy these assets. The upcoming G-7 summit will take place in Cornwall, hosted by the UK.and will focus on the global economic recovery from COVID-19. Bank of America b eat profit expectations, but missed on revenue. It was still $20.2 billion in revenue, which Adam Sandler would say is “not too shabby”. A corporate bond rally has carried into 2021, as low borrowing rates and optimism on further economic relief, coupled with COVID-19 vaccines are bolstering confidence in companies withstanding the pandemic.  Financial firms are increasingly turning to digital labor to keep up with surging workloads and to adapt to changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. Broadridge has been discussing the role digital labor is playing in the financial services and how the pandemic is accelerating digital transformation across the industry. Blackrock has acquired a minority interest in data science and sustainable investing analytics firm, Clarity AI, which will be incorporated into its investment operations platform Aladdin. This will ultimately provide users information on the social and environmental impact of more than 30,000 companies. Fitch Ratings has formed a partnership with integrity rating firm Sigma Partners to improve its ability to quickly detect misconduct by banks. The new Congress could open the door to cannabis banking. Remember, one of the problems with the burgeoning cash industry, like in Colorado, is that growers and retailers can’t put the cash in federal or national banks, because it is not legalized nationally, only in specific states. Currently, that would violate federal banking laws. Wells Fargo will close about 250 branches in 2021, as part of its $8 billion cost-cutting plan.  Since the end of Brexit transition period, US platforms have benefited from up to 50% of Euro and Sterling interest rate swaps trading moving from Europe and UK to the US. 

US Market News:

At levels above the magic 30,000, the Dow is now well above its pre-pandemic peak of 29,569. The Dow jumped 200 points today on better-than-expected Goldman Sachs earnings, China GDP, Facebook upgrade, and further US stimulus hopes. The market is now focusing on this week’s President Biden inauguration. 

Here are the latest DJIA closes, just to demonstrate the massive volatility:

01/18/21   30,814.26

12/15/20   30,199.31

12/01/20   29,823.92

11/09/20   29,157.97

07/24/20   26,469.89

07/23/20   26,652.33

07/22/20   27,005.84

07/21/20   26,840.40

07/20/20   26,680.87

07/17/20   26,671.95

07/16/20   26,734.71

07/15/20   26,870.10

07/14/20   26,642.59

07/13/20   26,085.80

07/10/20   26,075.30

07/09/20   25,706.09

07/08/20   26,067.28

07/07/20   25,890.18

07/06/20   26,287.03

07/02/20   25,827.36

07/01/20   25,734.97

06/30/20   25,812.88

06/29/20   25,595.80

06/26/20   25,015.55

06/25/20   25,745.60

06/24/20   25,445.94

06/23/20   26,156.10

06/22/20   26,024.96

06/19/20   25,871.46

06/18/20   26,080.10

06/17/20   26,119.61

06/16/20   26,289.98

06/15/20   25,763.16

06/12/20   25,605.54

06/11/20   25,128.17

06/10/20   26,989.99

06/09/20   27,272.30

06/08/20   27,572.44

06/05/20   27,110.98

6/04/20     26,281.82

6/03/20     26,269.89

6/02/20     25,742.65

6/01/20     25,475.02

5/29/20     25,383.11

5/28/20     25,400.64

5/27/20     25,548.27

5/26/20     24,995.11

5/22/20     24,465.16

5/21/20     24,474.12

5/20/20     24,575.90

5/19/20     24,206.86

5/18/20     24,597.37

5/15/20     23,685.42

5/14/20     23,625.34

5/13/20     23,247.57

5/12/20     23,764.76

5/11/20     24,221.99

5/08/20     24,331.32

5/07/20     23,875.89

5/06/20     23,664.64

5/05/20     23,883.09

5/04/20     23,749.76

5/01/20     23,723.69

4/30/20     24,345.72

4/29/20     24,633.86

4/28/20     24,101.55

4/27/20     24,133.78

4/24/20     23,775.27

4/23/20     23,515.26

4/22/20     23,475.82

4/21/20     23,018.88

4/20/20     23,650.44

4/17/20     24,242.49

4/16/20     23,537.68

4/15/20     23,504.35

4/14/20     23,949.76

4/13/20     23,390.77

4/10/20     market closed

4/09/20    23,719.37

4/08/20     23,433.57

4/07/20     22,653.86

4/06/20     22,679.99

4/03/20     21,052.53

4/02/20     21,413.44

4/01/20     20,943.51

3/31/20     21,917.16

3/30/20     22,327.48

3/27/20     21,636.78

3/26/20     22,552.17

3/25/20     21,200.55
3/24/20     20,704.91 

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

S&P has regained everything it lost since 3/11 pandemic announcement, and more, breaking above the high set in early September 2020.  It set a record on 12/8 of 3,702.25, and is now hovering just above that. 

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 

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

03/26/20 at 2,630.07

03/31/20 at 2,584.59

04/09/20 at 2,789.82

04/17/20 at 2,830.88

04/24/20 at 2,854.65

05/08/20 at 2,929.80

05/19/20 at 2,922.35

06/03/20 at 3,130.94

07/24/20 at 3,215.63

11/09/20 at 3,550.50

12/01/20 at 3,662.45

12/15/20 at 3,647.49

01/18/21 at 3,768.25

Nasdaq proposed rules that would require firms listed on the exchange to name 2 or more diverse members to the board, or explain why they haven’t done so. Nasdaq is now at record high. Nasdaq closed 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 

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

03/26/20 at 7,797.54

03/31/20 at 7,700.10

04/09/20 at 8,153.58

04/17/20 at 8,650.14

04/27/20 at 8,730.16

05/08/20 at 9,121.32

05/19/20 at 9,185.10

06/04/20 at 9,615.81 don’t look now, but we have set a new record high, above the previous high of 2/07/20!

07/24/20 at 10,363.18 we continue in uncharted territory

11/09/20 at 11,713.78 just off the record high on 11/05/20

12/01/20 at 12,355.11 

12/15/20 at 12.505.06

01/18/21 at 12,998.50

The US Treasury curve has steepened even more Wednesday, on the heels of news that Democrats had won the first of two Senate runoffs, which immediately raised 10year Treasury yields over the 1.00% mark, for the first time since March 2020. 

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!

03/26/20 at 0.30%

03/31/20 at 0.23%

04/09/20 at 0.23%

04/17/20 at 0.20% 

04/27/20 at 0.24%

05/10/20 at 0.16% historic low

05/19/20 at 0.17%

06/03/20 at 0.19%

07/24/20 at 0.14% new historic low

11/09/20 at 0.17%

12/01/20 at 0.17%

12/15/20 at 0.11% wow really low!

01/04/21 at 0.11%

01/15/21 at 0.13%

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!

03/26/20 at 0.36%

03/31/20 at 0.29%

04/09/20 at 0.29%

04/17/20 at 0.26%

04/27/20 at 0.29%

05/10/20 at 0.21%

05/19/20 at 0.22%

06/03/20 at 0.26%

07/24/20 at 0.17% wow!

11/09/20 at 0.25%

12/01/20 at 0.22%

12/15/20 at 0.18% 

01/04/21 at 0.16% wow!

01/15/21 at 0.20%

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% 

03/26/20 at 0.51%

03/31/20 at 0.37%

04/09/20 at 0.41%

04/17/20 at 0.36%

04/27/20 at 0.41%

05/10/20 at 0.33%

05/19/20 at 0.35%

06/03/20 at 0.38%

07/24/20 at 0.27% wow!

11/09/20 at 0.44%

12/01/20 at 0.42%

12/15/20 at 0.37%

01/04/21 at 0.36%

01/15/21 at 0.46%

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% 

03/26/20 at 0.72%

03/31/20 at 0.55%

04/09/20 at 0.60%

04/17/20 at 0.53%

04/27/20 at 0.56%

05/10/20 at 0.53%

05/19/20 at 0.54%

06/03/20 at 0.59%

07/24/20 at 0.44%

11/09/20 at 0.70% back to near pre-COVID level

12/01/20 at 0.68%

12/15/20 at 0.64%

01/04/21 at 0.64%

01/15/21 at 0.78% what a jump!

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

03/26/20 at 0.83%

03/31/20 at 0.70%

04/09/20 at 0.73%

04/17/20 at 0.65%

04/27/20 at 0.67%

05/10/20 at 0.69%

05/19/20 at 0.70%

06/03/20 at 0.77%

07/24/20 at 0.59%

11/09/20 at 0.96% back to pre-COVID level

12/01/20 at 0.92%

12/15/20 at 0.92%

01/04/21 at 0.93%

01/15/21 at 1.11% over the magic 1%

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

03/26/20 at 1.42%

03/31/20 at 1.35%

04/09/20 at 1.35%

04/17/20 at 1.27%

04/27/20 at 1.29%

05/10/20 at 1.39%

05/19/20 at 1.43%

06/03/20 at 1.56%

07/24/20 at 1.23%

11/09/20 at 1.73% back to pre-COVID level

12/01/20 at 1.66%

12/15/20 at 1.65%

01/04/21 at 1.66%

01/15/21 at 1.85% what a jump!

Housing News:

2020 was a rough housing market year. The year began and COVID-19 shut construction down. It shut production of materials for construction. It left developers, builders, brokers, and mortgage bankers in a weird limbo as ‘non-essential’ workers. Five weeks into the pandemic, demand in the US housing market cratered due to the economic impact on the citizens. However, according to HousingWire, demand began to climb again after about 9 weeks. Unfortunately, there was little product to meet the demand. HousingWire says that there won’t be a Housing crash in 2021, despite media warnings to that effect, because the moderation of some housing data metrics, because home prices are still climbing at 6%, we would need a lot of forced selling and foreclosures (which could have happened since most forbearance plans for COVID-19 were due to end at the beginning of 2021) but the Biden administration is already proposing extending the national moratorium on evictions and foreclosures until 9/30/21. As we have seen, yields in the 10year-30year area have already begun climbing in the US Treasury market and so have mortgage rates. Wells Fargo is continuing to lose mortgage market share. A Texas realtor, Jenna Ryan, who was among the 40,000 people that stormed the US Capitol is now responding to public backlash. She has had criminal charges filed against her. The city of Carson has turned luxury apartments into 150 units of ‘workforce housing’. There were rumors that the outgoing President Trump administration would spring an 11th hour effort to privatize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but that was laid to rest when the two GSEs reached an agreement to limit their own growth, but without major structural changes. The agreement between the FHFA and the US Treasury includes a permanent ceiling on the agencies’ multifamily lending volume, requirements to focus on affordable housing, enabling them to0 retain much more of their profits, and an obligation to comply with rules that require them to set aside more regulatory capital. These provisions appear to put Fannie and Freddie on a path to stronger financial condition before completing the end of conservatorship. The agreement does leave more room for competitors to grab market share, as the two agencies are capped at $80 billion annually. In 2021, that cap goes down to $70 billion. Since 2008, when conservatorship began, Fannie and Freddie had to sweep all profits to the US Treasury. 

Repo/Securities Financing News:          

Tomorrow, there will be an exciting roll out of a new PAC product by Pierpoint Financial, which I will be involved in. And I won’t run another ad for the Finance Academy, since I ran it at the top of this Repo Commentary.  Please just take a look at: https://www.pierpoint.info/courses/the-fundamentals-of-repo. 

My friend, Scott Skyrm, points out that the danger in monetary policy in the US of ZIRP is that the target federal funds rate or repo rates could go NEGATIVE. Now, of course, we are chatting about General Collateral Repo rates, not Specials rates, which have many times traded at negative rates. Specials are specific CUSIPS in certain types of securities that have a completely different risk dynamic and supply/demand characteristics, both from the Primary and Secondary outright markets, along with the Repo Market and Securities Lending market. You can tell, I just wrote a Lesson all about this. Anyway, back in July 2013, as Scott points out, GC Repo Rates (US Treasuries) hit .05%, very close to ZERO, and the Fed began its RRP Program (very similar to my former Direct Repo product, disintermediating the primary dealers and going to their main cash providers). There are a number of reasons why Negative rates would not be good in the US or at least would be very disruptive.  As Scott points out, the Fed has a couple of options to head this off at the pass:

• Interest on Excess Reserves-the Fed could raise the IOER rate, which would incent banks to move reserves to the Fed and away from Repo, potentially raising repo rates.

• RRP-the Fed has the ability to raise the Repo rate on this program, even above market repo rates, incenting those cash providers to put their cash with the Fed, rather than other collateral providers, potentially raising repo rates. 

Well, we will find, out what the Fed intends to do today, after the second day of the current FOMC meeting.

In case you have been in a coma or are new to the Securities Financing market, this is broadly a summary of what has happened since the Financial Crisis.  

• Issuance of US Treasuries was about $10 trillion.

• The regulators, particularly the Federal Reserve, instituted emergency liquidity programs for each of the 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. Now, they are trying to privatize them. 

• 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 of the 47 primary broker/dealers, allowed some to fail, and helped others to consolidate/merge. There are now 22 primary dealers.

• The Repo Market shrunk in the US from about $7 trillion to $3 trillion, before recent increase to about $3.8 trillion (the Fed argues it is $4 trillion now).

• 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 the fewer and crimped broker/dealers via CCPs, peer-to-peer financing, Sponsored Repo, and electronic trading platforms (some of which I initiated).

• 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 own 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.

• COVID-19 pandemic hit. The Fed did an about-face and began easing monetary policy immediately. They also went back to doing daily System RPs and Term RPs with the primary dealers.  They had also lowered IOER.  They now have raised IOER. 

• 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 have said their buying power is unlimited. They have purchased about $733 billion in securities so far. They actually started QE BEFORE COVID-19, to raise “bank reserves” in Q4 2019. 

• They then began reinstating specific bailout/backstop programs of 2008, and continue to add to the list.

• QE purchases are winding down slowly, about $2 billion per day.  That would have QE end sometime in June. Of course, they can always restart QE. Open Market Operations (RP Operations) have continued, although at a less hectic pace.

• Issuance of US Treasuries hit $23.5 trillion, and is expected to go higher.

• The Fed rolled out their Main Street Lending Program to mid-market companies. 

• Basel IV is now coming, after Basel III began being implemented.

Securities Finance Industry Conferences: (most conferences from March on were postponed, cancelled, or made virtual. The problem is that free virtual conferences/gatherings/networking is not a Business Model. So, Pierpoint’s new PAC concept will provide a solution here.)

• 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.  That has been my last Repo conference so far this year.

• iMoneyNet/Informa annual MMExpo, after the merger.  I have spoken at this one several times.

• PASLA/RMA 17th annual Conference on Asian Securities Lending.

• GIOA 16th annual conference. I have spoken (and sung) at this one. 

• Crane Data annual Bond Fund Symposium.

• IHS Markit annual Securities Finance Forum.  

• Finadium 4th annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference in NYC.  I’ve spoken and sponsored this one.

• GFOA gigantic 114th (wow!) annual conference.  I have attended this one in the past and manned one of 250 booths.

• IMN/AFME annual Global Bank ABS (West) conference.

• Worldwide Business Research annual Fixed Income Leaders USA Summit.

• ISLA 29th Annual Securities Finance and Collateral Management conference.  I have spoken (and sung) at this one before.

• ICMA/Securities Lending Times annual AGM and conference.

• Crane Data annual Money Fund Symposium. I have spoken at this conference before.

• National Association of State Treasurers annual conference.  I’ve spoken and sung at this one.

• IMN annual European Securities Finance conference.  I’ve attended this before.  

• Worldwide Business Research annual Fixed Income & FX Leader Summit.

• IMN annual ABS East conference. I’ve attended this before.

• Worldwide Business Research Fixed Income Leaders 2020 conference 

• 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. WAS CANCELLED FOR ONLY THE 2nd TIME (FIRST WAS AFTER 9/11/01).

• Crane Data annual European Money Fund Symposium.    

• Finadium Investors in Securities Lending Conference Europe.

• American Financial Professionals (AFP) annual conference.

• Finadium Rates & Repo conference in New York.  I’ve spoken and sponsored this one.

• Risk.net annual conference. I’ve chaired this one. 

• SIFMA annual meeting.

• GFMA annual Conference on Sustainable Finance will be held virtually on 12/3/20.

• FIS is holding a Webinar on trends in Securities Finance on 12/9/20. 

Federal Reserve News:

The Fed Funds rate, which is still the target rate of Federal Reserve monetary policy and changes to which are made by and announced by the FOMC at regularly scheduled meetings, is currently set at 0.00-0.25% (remember, the Fed has been using a target ‘range’ for a while). It has actually been trading closer to 0.035% lately. The Federal Reserve posts an Effective Fed Funds Rate (EFFR).  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.  

The next FOMC meetings (and they are all two-day meetings so these are the second day, when they actually announce) are:  : 01/27/21, 03/17/21, 04/28/21, 06/16/21, 07/28/21, 09/22/21, 11/03/21, and 12/15/21. All of the meetings are two-day meetings. I have listed the 2nd day.

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. Not ironically, the approved members of this facility are actually the cash providers for the Fed’s own 22 Primary Dealers, who lately haven’t had the collateral available for these cash providers, partly because of regulations that the Fed, in a small part, has monitored to reduce balance sheets of Primary Dealers. In a weird family dance, the US Treasury is issuing collateral that the Primary Dealers sometimes have to buy and the Fed is providing through RPs the same collateral for the Primary Dealers to reverse repo, while at the same time, the Fed is providing the same collateral to many of the cash providers of the Primary Dealers in RRP. Sounds kind of like a Repo mis-Matched Book, to me. Is there a CCAR for them?

Former Fed Chair, Janet Yellen, is President Biden’s nominee for US Treasury Secretary. She is calling for action to quell the COVID-19 virus and restart the US economy. She also said to lawmakers that the government will not pursue a weaker dollar to secure a competitive advantage (or to pay the mounds of debt back with devalued US dollars.) This stance is opposite to what the Trump Administration wanted. She was in her confirmation hearing with the Senate Finance Committee. She is expected to also disclose the details on the upcoming $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief proposal. 

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

An earthquake on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi killed at least 92 people and injured more than 900 others. Here are the latest significant earthquakes over the last couple of days.  It is suddenly extremely active, particularly in South America, the Middle East, and Russia.

4.6 01/19 Fiji Region

4.2 01/19 Jurm, Afghanistan

4.5 01/19 NNE of Hihifo, Tonga

4.8 01/19 W of Hihifo, Tonga

4.7 01/19 N of Amahgai, Indonesia

4.3 01/19 SW of Pocito, Argentina

5.2 01/19 NNW of Dili, Timor Liste

4.8 01/18 WSW of Pocito, Argentina

4.9 01/18 WSW of Pocito, Argentina

5.3 01/18 WNW of Pocito, Argentina

4.9 01/18 SW of Pocito, Argentina

6.4 01/18 WSW of Pocito, Argentina

4.9 01/18 NNE of Palu, Indonesia

4.4 01/18 WSW of Golhisar, Turkey

4.4 01/18 ESE of Slamanca, Chile

4.7 01/18 ESE of Ofuhato, Japan

4.3 01/18 Russia-Mongolia border

4.7 01/18 SE of Lebedinyy, Russia

4.4 01/18 SE of Yatou, China

5.3 01/18 S of the Kermadec Islands

4.5 01/18 N of Bandar Abbas, Iran

Weather:

West Palm Beach has had mercifully 70-degree weather for the past week. A strong low pressure is centered off the Southern California Coast and is producing high winds in the Sierra-Nevada mountains, and central and southern coastal regions. Very dry conditions, combined with these high winds will produce extremely dangerous fire weather threats in the central and southern coastal regions. There is also heavy snow in the South and Central Rocky Mountains, and in the Great Lakes. There is heavy rain in Hawaii, which will continue. The Northeast is protected by a strong low pressure centered just off the coast, keeping conditions fairly dry. Typically, weather moves from the Great Lakes Region east to New England within one or two days. But, this low may keep the heavy snow at bay. A major snowstorm in Japan caused a 130-car pile-up on the Tohoku Expressway, killing one person and injuring 10 others. 

The Atlantic Hurricane Season begins June 1st and ends November 30th. 

According to Accuweather, the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season was expected to have a more-active-than-normal season. They expected about 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 4 of them major hurricanes.  CSU was predicting an above-average hurricane season in the Atlantic for 2020, with the likely absence of El Nino. Tropical and subtropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures are higher than normal, which tends to promote active hurricane seasons. Consequently, CSU predicted 16 named storms in the Atlantic, with 8 to become Hurricanes, and 4 to reach Category 3 or above strength.  

It turns out that they were both wrong, and it became the record worst or most active tropical cyclone season ever in the Atlantic. There were 30 tropical or subtropical cyclones, 30 named tropical storms, 14 hurricanes, and 6 major hurricanes. There were also 12 US landfalls, which broke the 2016 record of 9. And it is not over yet! There is still tropical activity that has a chance to form into a Tropical Storm or more. 28 named storms was the previous record, held by the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season as the most active, and also only the second hurricane season to have to use the Greek letter storm-naming system, after running out of the assigned names. To put this in perspective, an average Atlantic hurricane season produces only 12 named Tropical Storms, so 2020 was already 250% more active than average. And, it still may not be over!  Since 1900, tropical Atlantic Ocean temperatures have increased by 2 degrees Fahrenheit. There was no El Nino this year in the tropical Pacific Ocean, which usually means that the strong upper-level winds (wind shear) produced did not make it over to the Atlantic Ocean to battle hurricane formation. A La Nina formed late this hurricane season in the Pacific Ocean, which contributed to stronger storms in the latter half of the Atlantic Ocean season. The National Hurricane Center estimates there have only been 37 Category 5 storms in the last 170 years in the Atlantic Ocean. However, we have had 7 Category 5 storms in just the last five years!

The 2019 season had 18 named storms, matching 1969 for the 4th most-lively season in the past 150 years. 

The Pacific Hurricane Season starts 5/1/21 and ends 11/1/21

There are no tropical cyclones currently in the Eastern North Pacific or Central North Pacific currently.  

Sports News:       

MLB:

The 2019 MLB regular season began on 3/28 last year and ended on 9/30 (more than 6 months).  The Washington Nationals beat The Houston Astros in 7 games in The World Series. As these 2 teams played each other in March 2020, in the Spring Training facility that they share and that I sing the National Anthem at, the Spring Training season (and eventually MLB season) ended about 3/15, with the pandemic shutdown. MLB shut down both the Cactus League and Grapefruit League Spring Training about halfway through. Then, MLB cancelled the Minor League seasons for all 3 levels of the Minors. 

MLB finally came to an agreement with the MLBPA, and played a Summer Camp (short Spring Training) leading up to a 60-game, shortened, regular season of the 30 teams still aligned in 6 divisions, and still with AL and NL distinctions, which started 7/23/20. The games were played without fans, but the teams still travelled and didn’t not have the ‘Bubble Format’ of the NHL and NBA. That proved to be a mistake, as many games had to be postponed, doubleheadered, or cancelled for several teams, as COVID-19 outbreaks ran through teams.  This “asterisked regular season” ended on 9/27/20. In the World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Tampa Rays 4 games to 3, to win in an exciting (and rare) 7-game series. 

The MLB owners want to delay the start of 2021 season and have it be only 140 games, not 162.  However, MLB Players Association says that players are planning to start on time, and we have the makings of the same feud we had in 2020.  That feud, which started over the length of the season, moved on to forcing players to pro-rate their salaries downward based on the actual number of games played. Then, owners pressed for more salary concessions beyond that prorating and the final 60-game season wasn’t even fully played for most teams.  The owners appear to be using the pandemic as a way to get out of paying those full salaries for another year. Owners also want players to be vaccinated before beginning Spring Training.  I am hearing that Spring Training will likely be postponed, as my Boston Red Sox Fantasy Camp (which I considered playing in this year, now that I have a new knee) was cancelled to give Spring Training extra time. However, MLB intends to HAVE Spring Training, but they have not decided yet (according to my friends at the Marlins and Cardinals) whether they will have fans in the seats and whether they will do live National Anthems. Obviously, having sung 153 MLB games so far, that is very important to me, and I’ll keep you updated.  I have not heard back from the other ballpark for the Nationals and Astros.  The Yankees will acquire Greg Allen from the Padres. Rumors are that the Yankees have the inside track on acquiring ace Corey Kluber, although the Red Sox were among the 25 teams that watched Kluber work out here at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches (the Spring Training site for the Astros and Nationals). Cubs Kris Bryant is now a trade rumor, as is teammate Anthony Rizzo. The Cubs are in the midst of dumping payroll, last week sending ace Yu Darvish and his catcher, Victor Caratini, to the Padres for Zach Davies and 4 prospects. They are listening to offers on every player, including star catcher Willson Contreras. Javier Baez and Craig Kimbrel are also rumored to be tradeable, as they all become free agents after this season. The Padres rotation is impressive now, after adding Yu Darvish and Rays’ Blake Snell, both blockbuster trades last week. Now, they have added Joe Musgrove in a 3-team/7-player deal involving the Mets and Pirates yesterday. They join the World Series champ Dodgers and Yankees as the best odds to win the 2021 World Series and having the top rotations. The Braves and Nationals fill out the rest of the top 5 pitching rotations. Now, wait a minute! The braves just signed 2 of the best stars on the Indians’ squad, SS Francisco Lindor and pitcher Carlos Carrasco! Look at that rotation now, with Syndergaard (however healthy he is), DeGrom, Carassco, and Stroman. The nicest part for Carrasco is that the Mets previously signed his catcher James Mc Cann to a 4-year/$40.6 million contract this winter. The Nationals signed Jon Lester, 37, to a one-year deal.  Astros superstar and free agent, George Springer, is expected to reach a deal somewhere this week. The Astros gave him a qualifying offer of $18.9 million. The Mets and the Blue Jays have been the front-runners, both giving him 9-figure offers!  Despite all the trade rumors, the Red Sox have not traded fan-favorite LF Andrew Benintendi. Ace Corey Kluber signed, but not with the Red Sox, but instead their nemesis, Yankees, for one year/$11 million. Several teams made 8-figure offers and the Yankees’ wasn’t the highest. 

Golf:

Spilling over from the MLB section, Aaron Hicks from the Yankees, pulled off a 303-yard hole-in-one on a par-4 hole at Silverleaf in Scottsdale, AZ, while golfing with Tiger Woods’ niece, Cheyenne Woods, another pro golfer. She happened to film the whole thing on her phone. The PGA Tour 2021 season began in Hawaii, at Kapalua, at the Sentry Tournament of Champions last week. World No.1 is currently Dustin Johnson, who lives about 10 miles up the road from me in Florida. He had a masterful season last year (culminating in winning the Masters in November), although the schedule was a mess and shortened from the pandemic. Only 3 of the 4 Majors were played, and they were all mixed up in order. Bryson DeChambeau, who also had a pretty good 2020 season (including winning the Rocket Mortgage Classic in July with a 313-yard driving average and winning the US Open in September) told reporters that his goal this year is to achieve a 210 mph average ball speed!  He currently leads the Tour with a 192.8 mph ball speed. He has yet to break 200 mph barrier in competition, which he feels will finally give him the shot distance he desires. He has been hitting and taking notes from friend and top-ranked World Long Drive competitor, Kyle Berkshire, who set the world record for ball speed with 228 mph, on his way to winning the WLD Final in 2019. They each are helping each other, as Berkshire wants to revive his playing career. DeChambeau hit 211 mph on the range already at Kapalua and hit an 8-iron 205 yards! Normal amateur distance for an 8-iron is about 120-130 yards.  The PGA, after a 9-month delay, will be rolling out its pace of play policy. Phil Mickelson turned 50 in June 2020, but said he is not giving up the PGA Tour yet and moving to the Champions Tour. He said, “when I stop hitting bombs I’ll play the Champions Tour, but I’m hitting some crazy bombs right now.” Anyway, back in Hawaii, the Tournament of Champions was won by Harris English (yeah, me either) in a playoff win over Joaquin Niemann (again no me neither). They were one stroke ahead of Justin Thomas, and I know that name. So all the bombing with drivers that the other players above were going to do, didn’t get it done. I’ve played and loved that Plantation Course (had my longest drive of \355 there in fact), but nothing easy when your ball breaks uphill on the green “because the ocean is that way.”  The next tournament was the SONY Open at Wailae  Country Club on Maui (I also have played there), and Kevin Na (usually a sportscaster lately) won. The PGA Tour’s next tournament is The American Express at the PGA West Tournament Course at La Qinta Country Club, CA. I got a gang together from Morgan Stanley to play there once, but I was in a hip-cast. And that’s all I’m going to say about it. After that, we have the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, CA.   

NFL:

The 100th NFL season ended last year, in Miami, in an entertaining 31-20 comeback Super Bowl victory for the Kansas City Chiefs over the San Francisco 49ers. The 2020 season began with no preseason games, with teams in their own stadiums, but with limited numbers of fans. Both, the ‘opting out’ of the season (Patriots had the most players opt out, with 8) and COVID-19 contractions, have wreaked havoc on team makeups, coaching staffs, and game results. Some games have been missing several star players, other games have been postponed. I think the NFL made a huge mistake (I know I keep saying it), just like MLB, in not playing in a bubble like the NBA and NHL. Week 17 of the irregular season has ended and we are now on to an abbreviated Playoffs this weekend.

Let’s start with the teams that didn’t make the Playoffs and the growing number of head coaches who have been fired.  Falcons fired Dan Quinn in October. Lions fired former DC of Patriots Matt Patricia. Texans fired coach and GM Bill O’Brien in October.  The Jaguars fired Doug Marrone on 1/4/21 (which is considered Black Monday in the NFL for jobs).  The Chargers fired Anthony Lynn on 1/4/21. The Jets fired Adam Gase on 1/3/21. I think this list will grow. The Rams have activated WR Cooper Kupp from reserve/COVID-19 list. Chase Young of the Redskins says he wants to face the GOAT, Tom Brady, now of the Bucs. Ravens QB Lamar Jackson says he is out to erase the narrative about his playoff struggles. Former Panthers GM Marty Hurney is meeting with Washington and considered top candidate. Urban Meyer, yes you remember the name from NCAA and NFL before, is finalizing a deal to be head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

Now, to the Playoffs schedule:

The Chiefs had a bye for Week 1 of the Playoffs as the No.1 AFC team. They faced the winner of the Colts vs Bills, which was the Bills. They struggled against them, but eventually won. Also in the AFC, the Steelers faced the Browns and got crushed. Worst defeat since 1976. So, then the Browns were up against the Chiefs.  Despite injuring QB Patrick Mahomes (tweaked nerve in neck), the Browns lost to the Chiefs and journeyman QB Henne.  The Titans were beaten by the Ravens, and their QB finally got that unlucky mojo off his back of losing every playoff game. The Ravens went up against the Bills and did not fare well, losing.  The Ravens have released veteran RB Mark Ingram. The Ravens also waived veteran QB Robert Griffin III, after 3 seasons. Somehow, I didn’t think I would ever write those words. The winners of those two games will face each other.  There are a lot less steps now. On the NFC side, the Packers wound up as the No.1 NFC team and so got the bye. They faced the Rams who beat the Seahawks. Although  a close game at the beginning, the Packers just overpowered the Rams. That left the Saints, who had beaten my Bears badly, and a rematch of Drew Brees, 42, and Tom Brady, 43, of the Bucs, who had ousted the Washington Football Team.  And, in a surprise Sunday night, in the first time in 6 games against the Bucs (2 this season against Brady), the Saints lost to the Bucs and the GOAT.  Next round, to decide which teams go to the Super Bowl, is the Chiefs vs the Bills and Bucs vs Packers (with another matchup of ancient gladiator QBs). The Rams five-time Pro Bowler Jon Arnett has died at age 85. 

Tennis

The 2021 tennis season kicked off with the tournaments in Abu Dhabi and here in Delray Beach, Florida. The Australian Open was postponed by two weeks due to COVID-19 pandemic. Australian Open officials have rejected Djokovic’s calls for quarantine changes. At this point, Andy Murray is OUT for the Aussie Open.  72 players are now in Isolation, after the 5th positive Covid-19 test.  Rafael has kicked off his 800th consecutive week in the ATP top 10.  Thats impressive!  

Olympics

The Summer Olympics, which were to start in July 2020, were postponed until July 2021. This is the first time ever that a Summer Olympics was held on an odd year. The start of WWII in 1939, forced the 1940 Summer Olympics to be delayed a few weeks, and then canceled. The 1944 Olympic Games were also not held.  The Summer Olympics did not begin again until London in 1948. But, they were never postponed. The Paralympics, also scheduled for 2020, have been postponed, as well, to 2021. Ironically, the Winter Olympics, which are held two years after the Summer Olympics, are still scheduled for 2022, only one year after the Summer Olympics. Frankly, I can’t remember an athlete that performed in both Summer and Winter Olympics, so I don’t think the one year shortened resting period will be a factor. Ex-Olympic champion, Sofia Bekatorou, of Greece, has spoken out about sexual abuse, shocking the country. The former 2012 London Olympics boss says that the 2021 Tokyo Olympics will likely be disrupted by COVID-19 pandemic and “unlikely to go ahead in 2021.”

NCAA Football:

In the beginning of 2020, LSU played Clemson for the College Football National Championship, and despite being down 17-7 in the 2nd quarter, came roaring back behind Heisman Trophy-winner QB Joe Burrow, and won 42-25. The NCAA announced that all Spring sports were cancelled, including NCAA Spring Football, and that all players in all sports would have another year of eligibility, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day was cancelled, the first time that has ever happened. 

2020-2021 NCAA Football season was a very strange season, with the start delayed, most teams playing with NO fans (which really took away, in my opinion, any home-field advantage that they had), and many games either cancelled or postponed (but you can’t really make a game up with a packed weekly schedule). So, consequently, the College Football Playoff Committee, after the AP Coaches and other rankers, had to determine whether a 5-1 team was as good or better than an 11-0 team, and we had weird amounts of games played for each conference and each team. There were some conferences that started later than others and some that only played teams in their OWN conference, and it was a mess. I don’t even know if this qualifies as an ‘asterisk’ season or sport. 2020-2021 NCAA College Football Playoff came down to two teams that are usually at the top (lately) anyway, No.1 Alabama and No.3 Ohio State. They played each other for the Championship, even though one had played only 7 games and the other had played 12 games. And, how did they figure out that (4-3) Oregon was a Top 25 team? Riddle me that. On New Year’s Day, No.1 Alabama crushed No.4 Notre Dame and No.3 Ohio State surprisingly crushed No.2 Clemson. Anyway, Alabama, for their 6th National title, crushed Ohio State. It was actually the 7th National Title for coach Nick Saban. Meanwhile, Tennessee fired their coach amid an investigation into recruitment violations. So here are the final standings:

1.          Alabama (13-0)

2.          Clemson (10-2)

3.          Ohio State (7-1)

4.          Notre Dame (10-2)

5.          Texas A&M (9-1)

6.          Oklahoma (9-2)

7.          Florida (8-4)

8.          Cincinnati (9-1)

9.          Georgia (8-2)

10.        Iowa State (9-3)

11.        Indiana (6-2)

12.        Coastal (11-1)

13.        UNC (8-4)

14.        Northwestern (7-2)

15.        Iowa (6-2)

16.        BYU (11-1)

17.        USC (5-1)

18.        Miami (8-3)

19.        LA-Lafayette (10-1)

20.        Texas (7-3)

21.        Oklahoma State (8-3)

22.        San Jose State (7-1)

23.        NC State (8-4)

24.        Tulsa (6-3)

25.        Oregon (4-3)

NCAA Basketball

As teams entered their week of Conference Championship Tournaments in early 2020, prior to the Committee’s decision on the 68 seeds for the National Championship (also known as March Madness), it all came to a halt due to COVID-19.  One after another, conferences cancelled their tournaments and the NCAA cancelled the National Championship, before it ever started, on 3/12. The NCAA did the same with the Women’s Basketball Tournament. 

The 2020-2021 season began in November. We are deep into it now, almost halfway through, with no or limited fans in some stadiums, removing most of the home stadium advantage. We are also seeing major impacts to the top teams from COVID-19, causing them to cancel games.  My Michigan State Spartans, cruising in the Top 6 teams with a strong start this season, have fallen off the list of the Top 25 since.  These are the latest AP Top 25 Rankings is as of 01/18/2021:

1.  Gonzaga (14-0)

2.  Baylor (12-0)

3. Villanova (8-1)

4.  Iowa (12-2)

5.  Texas (11-2)

6. Tennessee (10-1)

7.  Michigan (11-1)

8.  Houston (11-1)

9. Kansas (10-3)

10. Wisconsin (11-3)

11. Creighton (10-3)

12. Texas Tech (11-4)

13. Virginia (9-2)

14. West Virginia (9-4)

15. Ohio State (11-3)

16. Virginia Tech (11-2)

17. Minnesota (11-4)

18. Alabama (11-3)

19. Missouri (8-2)

20. Clemson (9-2)

21. Oregon (9-2)

22. Illinois (9-5)

23. Connecticut (7-2)

24. UCLA (11-2)

25. Saint Louis (7-1)

NHL:

Last season (2019) ended in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals on 6/12/19, when the St. Louis Blues beat my Bruins 4-3 in the Finals. The puck dropped on this asterisk season on 10/2/19. Then it all ended about 70 of 82 games into the regular season. On 5/28, in a very unusual move, the NHL concluded the 2019-2020 regular season and awarded my Boston Bruins with the Presidents’ Trophy (for having the best record), which is typically a curse for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for that team. The Bruins also received the William M. Jennings Trophy (both Bruins’ goalies Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak, for best goals-against avg.) and Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy (David Pastrnak for most goals, 48, tied with Alex Ovechkin). Ironically, halfway through the playoffs, Tuukka Rask suddenly announced that he was leaving the Bruins, leaving them with just their No.2 goalie. Seattle will finally get a new NHL team in 2021-2022 season, the Seattle Kraken. 

The puck dropped (again) to conclude this past season on 8/1/20. The teams played in the modified playoffs in two bubble arenas in Toronto and Edmonton, without fans. The Stanley Cup was won by the Tampa Bay Lightning (who ousted my Bruins, due to the Presidents Cup curse) over the Dallas Stars, 4 games to 2. The Finals were held in the Edmonton bubble, without fans.

The United States shocked Canada and just won the 2021 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship by a score of 2-0 in Edmonton on Tuesday! Spencer Knight (soon to be a Florida Panther) made 34 saves for his 3rd shutout of the tournament, setting US WJC career and single-tournament records. It was the first shutout by the US in the semifinal round or championship game in history! It was only the 5th championship for the US, and 4 of those titles came by wins over Canada (2004, 2010, 2017, 2021). Team USA Trevor Zegras (soon to be an Anaheim Duck) was named the tournament MVP. 

The 2021 NHL season (which normally would have started in October 2020 and wrapped around to 2021) has just started and is 5-6 games in.  The regular season is normally 82 games, but will only be 56 games this year, once again due to the pandemic. There will also be divisional realignment to limit team matchups to intra-division play and minimize team travel as much as possible, due to the pandemic. Remember, there were two Conferences with weird names for 4 Divisions of each, to get to (now) 31 teams. However, now this will be this season’s odd realignment (frankly, I thought it was more odd before):

NORTH (all Canadian)

Calgary Flames

Edmonton Oilers

Montreal Canadiens

Ottawa Senators

Toronto Maple Leafs

Vancouver Canucks

Winnipeg Jets

WEST

Anaheim Mighty Ducks

Phoenix Coyotes

Colorado Avalanche

LA Kings

Minnesota Wild

San Jose Sharks

St. Louis Blues

Las Vegas Golden Knights

CENTRAL

Carolina Hurricanes

Chicago Blackhawks

Columbus Blue Jackets

Dallas Stars

Detroit Redwings

Florida Panthers

Nashville Predators

Tampa Bay Lightning

EAST

Boston Bruins

Buffalo Sabres

New Jersey Devils

New York Islanders

New York Rangers

Philadelphia Flyers

Pittsburgh Penguins

Washington Capitals

Okay, although it’s way too early, here are your current standings: 2021 NHL Central Division leaders-Tampa Bay Lightning tied with the Predators, East Division leaders-Washington Capitals tied with Islanders and Flyers, West Division leaders-Golden Knights tied with Wild, North Division leaders-Maple Leafs.  This year there are only 4 Divisions, with only 2 Conferences. 

NBA:

Last year, the NBA season did not start until 10/22/19, 18 days later than last year. We were nearing the playoffs, when the pandemic shut the regular season down, with just a little over a month left. Late 6/4/20, the NBA reportedly approved a 22-team format to restart the season in the Summer. All games were played at the three venues at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fl, starting 7/31. The modified playoff format for this asterisk season began on 10/12. In the end, the Miami Heat lost the Championship to the LA Lakers. 

The NBA season tipped off again on 12/22/20. But, it is totally different. Fan attendance differs in every stadium, depending on different factors, including state COVID-19 guidelines. Some stadiums are forced to deal with 10% of capacity attendance. Celtics’ TD Garden allowed ZERO fans at games. The Hornets also followed suit with NO fans. Cavs can have 300 fans at games. Rockets will have reduced capacity of fans. Pelicans will have 4% capacity of fans.  Raptors will have 3,200 fans maximum. Magic will have 4,000 fans maximum.  Jazz will have only a few thousand fans. Other teams with NO fans to start the season: Bulls, Nuggets, Pistons, Warriors, Pacers, Clippers, Lakers, Heat, Bucks, Timberwolves, Knicks, Thunder, 76ers, Suns, Trail Blazers, Kings, Spurs, and Wizards.  We are more than 13 games into  the NBA 2020-2021 season now. In the Eastern Conference, the early rankings are: Bucks, Celtics, 76ers, Pacers, Nets, and in the Western Conference, we have the Lakers, Clippers, Jazz, Suns, Spurs, Trail Blazers, and Grizzlies. The Cavaliers are reportedly going to trade or waive Kevin Porter Jr. after his food-throwing locker room outburst.  Nets’ Kyrie Irving reportedly bought a house for family of George Floyd.  James Harden is no longer a Houston Rocket, and instead a Net. 

Racing:

NASCAR began the 2020 season with 4 races at Daytona, followed by 3 scheduled races, the last on 3/8/20. But, then the pandemic shut everything down, wiping out the next 7 scheduled races.  The season finally restarted at Darlington Raceway on 5/17. The race was run without fans in the stands. NASCAR is making every effort to get as many of the originally schedule races in to the abbreviated season that had been postponed. Some races will be cancelled. After 3/8/20, some races had to be postponed, some had to be cancelled, and some had to be replaced by other races. Also, NASCAR snuck in a lot more races in-between the typical Sunday races. In addition, NASCAR was the first professional sport to allow spectators back during the COVID-19 epidemic.

11/8 Phoenix, NASCAR Cup Series Championship-won by Chase Elliott. His dad, Bill Elliott, won the championship in 1988. They became the third father-son duo to win a title, joining the Petty’s (Lee and Richard) and Jarrett’s (Ned and Dale)

The 2021 NASCAR season begins in Daytona on 2/14/21. 

Formula One began with F1 Car Launch Dates for the various teams from 2/12 through 2/15 for Renault, Racing Point, McLaren, and Ferrari.  That was followed by the Pre-Season Testing schedule.  The opening of the season coincided with the COVID-19 lockdown, and the Australia Grand Prix was about to run, and FIA announced that the season would be delayed at least until the 5/3 Dutch Grand Prix.  It announced a number of race postponements. F1 will have an abbreviated 19 race season (instead of the record 22-race season planned), when it begins. The reports were that they were thinking about 7/5 as a start date, and that was good intel.  There will likely be no summer break and they anticipate that the season end date will extend beyond the original end date of 11/27-29. So, we lost the Australian GP, Bahrain GP, Vietnamese GP, Chinese GP, and Canadian GP. The season began on 7/5/20 with the Austrian GP. Lewis Hamilton won his 7th World Title.  He is to be awarded a knighthood. F1 will revert to 2pm start times in 2021. Matteo Pagliani was crowned inaugural F1 Mobile Racing Esports Champion. 

Here is the IndyCar Racing circuit (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).  IndyCar announced that the rest of the season would be postponed at least until June 14, and several races would be cancelled.Scott Dixon was the Championship winner for 2020, edging out defending champion, Josef Newgarden.

In Motorsport, Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia won the World Rally Championship, while Hyundai won the manufacturer’s title. 

Travel News:

President Trump was about to lift travel bans on visitors from much of Europe and Brazil, which has seen a huge spike in new cases of COVID-19. President Biden is blocking that travel ban change.  Boeing’s grounded B737-Max will be cleared for flying in Europe. The UK has suspended travel corridors, requiring all travelers to quarantine upon arrival. The corridor will be closed until at least 2/15/21. Eurostar Rail Service is facing financial woes due to COVID-19, as ridership has fallen 95% from where it was in March 2020. American Airlines passengers will soon be able to upload COVID-19 test results on international flights (starting 1/23/21). Major airlines have temporarily banned guns in checked baggage leading up to Inauguration in Washington, DC. 

Health News: 

As of today (1/19/21), there have been 95,725,830 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the world (24,094,696 in the US) and 2,045,389 deaths in the world (399,264 in the US). 

COVID-19 deaths are rising in 30 US States. 

Nigeria has asked Australia for 10 million COVID-19 vaccine doses. In Germany’s mass vaccination campaign, 8 care home workers were accidentally given five times the normal dose. An international panel has accused China and WHO of reacting too slowly to news for the first COVID-19 cases, which were detected in December 2019, and fumbling the subsequent response. An international committee, with help from China, is hunting the Wuhan area for COVID-19’s origin (patient #1) and the lab leak theory. It has not been easy, as its a tangled mess of conspiracy and politics is complicating the investigation.  

Milan, Italy has banned smoking outdoors. Zhang Zan, the journalist who reported on China’s first COVID-19 outbreak, has received a 4-year sentence for her Wuhan reports from the government.  President Biden has picked a transgender woman as Assistant Health Secretary. 

Animal News:

A rare white North Island Brown Kiwi, Manukura, who hatched in 2011, and inspired a book and toys, has died. Don’t forget, Inauguration Day also brings Indogeration Day for Major, President Biden’s shepherd mix dog. A pet cat feared dead in a 2018 California mudslide has been found alive. Some jerk etched “TRUMP” into the side of a Florida manatee. The FDA warns that some pet foods have been recalled, after 28 dogs died. One of the most elusive animals found in Yellowstone National Park, the wolverine, has been caught on camera for the first time. A new whale-watching museum is opening in Norway and it’s shaped like a whale fin. Superstitious Brits are worried about a raven that disappeared from the Tower of London. 

Entertainment News:

Political commentator, Olivier Duhamel, has resigned as head of the National Foundation of Political Sciences, which oversees the prestigious Sciences Po university. Duhamel has been accused of sexual assault in France, which triggered an 80,000 person French MeToo campaign on Twitter. An Amazon Prime drama is sparking controversy in India. Hilaria Baldwin is denying that she faked her Spanish heritage, and her husband, Alec Baldwin maintains that she was born in Boston and grew up in Connecticut. Alec Baldwin also formally quit Twitter. Dr. Dre is back home after being hospitalized in Los Angeles. BATWOMAN has gotten a new lead actress, but Season 2 looks like the same bad show. Selena Gomez dropped a Spanish single “De Una Vez”. Producer and convicted murderer Phil Spector has died. Post Malone is donating 10,000 of his sold out Crocs to frontline workers. Anne Hathaway revealed that we have been calling her the wrong name. Tiger is a new series about Tiger Woods on HBO.  Its getting very good reviews. AVENGERS: ENDGAME nearly included post credits scene to set up WandaVision, which has been on some strange trailers recently. Sort of a cyborg man. I am going through Rotten Tomatoes TOP 157 Netflix series to try to binge watch more of the 100% rated ones (there are 20 at the top of the list). I think Queen’s Gambit or The Crown were the only top-rated ones I saw. Then they have a separate list for the 58 TOP series on Amazon Prime. By my count, i’ve binge watched 13 Netflix series completely with this pandemic. I’m still waiting for Mandalorian and the new Star Wars series to come out on Disney+.  

Technology & Space News:

Kenya’s digital tax is expected to negatively affect online business. The Kenya Revenue Authority is after ‘social media influencers.’  Qualcomm’s new chip will boost gaming on Motorola and Xiaomi phones. Parler website is back online after Amazon brought it offline. Microsoft’s Washington campus will become a COVID-19 vaccination site. The Trump administration reportedly hit Huawei’s US suppliers with last-minute restrictions. Microsoft is backing GM’s Cruise Automation self-driving car venture. NextMind’s dev kit shows the possibility of a player controlling virtual reality with their mind. SpaceX Starship SN9 relo9aded its Raptors ahead of high-altitude flight, boldly following SN8, which sacrificed itself. Chevy is teaming up with Walt Disney World to reveal both the brand-new Bolt EUV and refreshed Bolt EV hatchback. I saw another Chevy C8 Corvette, and aside from the 1963 Corvette, I think it is the best one they’ve ever built! It looks more like a Ferrari than the current Ferrari looks. 

US News:

President Trump became the first US President to be impeached twice, after the House of Representatives charged him with incitement of insurrection, regarding the 40,000 citizens storming the US Capitol. He is only the 3rd US President to be impeached (along with Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton). President Nixon resigned before he could be impeached. Some media reports suggested that it was President Trump’s inflammatory Tweets, following the loss of 2 Senatorial seats in Georgia runoffs, that incited the massive fatal attack on the US Capitol. Trump later wrote that he condemned the attack. Twitter has permanently banned President Trump from the social media site that the President used to reach at least 73 million Americans directly, and bypass the media and his own speech writers. As is typical in the final days of a Presidency, President Trump is expected to pardon dozens of prisoners on his final day. The Trump supporter who was seen on camera rifling through Nancy Pelosi’s drawer has been arrested for ‘data theft’. The FBI is now vetting US Capitol guards and 25,000 National Guardsman in Washington, DC for the upcoming inauguration, as there is now concern of potential extreme elements within US law enforcement (something that Germany discovered when it began policing its own police). The US National Guard at the US Capitol has been authorized to use “lethal force”. Total US Unemployment is currently 10,735,000 and the Unemployment Rate is 6.7%. The Smithsonian is collecting artifacts from the Capitol riots. 

Bankruptcy:

The National Rifle Association has filed for bankruptcy. Even though the numbers I shared last Commentary showed a surprisingly low number of personal bankruptcies (Chapter 7 and 13), those figures were misleading, as they only captured through June 2020, and PPP, Stimulus Checks, extended Unemployment Benefits, and foreclosure/eviction moratorium (and mortgage forbearances) likely pushed off personal bankruptcies to later in 2020 or to 2021. What the data did not show was Chapter 11 bankruptcies, which are typically large individuals and companies. Here is the growing list of corporate bankruptcies (in order of filing):

Papyrus

Bar Louie

Krystal

Pier 1 Imports

Modell’s Sporting Goods

True Religion

J. Crew Group 

Neiman Marcus

JC Penney

Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes

Tuesday Morning

GNC

Chuck E. Cheese

NPC International (Pizza Hut, Wendy’s)

Brooks Brothers

Sur La Table

Muji USA

Lucky Brand

RTW Retailwinds (New York & Co.)

Ascena Retail Group (Ann Taylor, LOFT, Lane Bryant)

California Pizza Kitchen

Lord & Taylor

Tailored Brands (Men’s Wearhouse, Jos. A Bank)

Stein Mart

Century 21

Sizzler USA

Ruby Tuesday

Friendly’s

Guitar Center

Francesca’s

International News:

Yoweri Museveni has been re-elected as President of Uganda. Dutch PM Mark Rutte and his cabinet resigned as a result of a child welfare fraud scandal.  The Italian PM is facing a crucial vote to stay in power. The largest Mafia trial in decades has begun in Italy. A Thai woman who has been insulting the monarchy for years in posts on social media has received the harshest penalty for such behavior, receiving a 43-year prison sentence. An Egyptian woman has been arrested for baking “indecent” cakes, sum topped with genitalia. A stolen 500-year-old painting has been found in a cupboard and has been returned to the Italian museum, whose staff was actually unaware that it was missing. Libya talks have centered around steps for an interim government. The UN says that an Islamist insurgency in northern Mozambique has created a humanitarian crisis. The World Food Program said the cost of food had soared and that the violence had limited access to water, sanitation, and education. About 570,000 people have been forced to flee their homes. Hundreds of people have been killed by the jihadists, since 2017. Loujain al-Hathloul, 31, of Saudi Arabia, who had gained international attention for her campaign to win the right for Saudi women to drive, has been jailed, despite global outcry. 

Florida:

For the first time since 3/15/20, nearly the start of the pandemic, I successfully sang my first singing gig at Zuccarellis Ristorante in West Palm Beach 12/18 6:30-10:00pm. I did half Elvis and half Christmas songs in a 2-hour gig that became 3 ½-hours. I’ve been asked to return monthly and perform there. Publix pharmacies here in Florida will have the COVID-19 vaccine now, but only for 65-year-olds and older, healthcare personnel, and residents and staff of longterm care facilities. 

Jokes and Such:

If you all keep sending me dirty jokes that I can’t publish in the Repo Commentary, I’m going to have to remove this section.  Again. 

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Google photo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s