Repo Commentary-09/10/21

On 9/11/2001, a series of 4 coordinated terrorist attacks by the militant Islamist terrorist group, al-Qaeda, were committed against the United States of America. They hijacked 4 commercial airliners full of passengers with the goal of crashing each plane into a prominent American building, causing mass casualties and partial or complete destruction of those buildings. The first plane, American Airlines Flight 11, hit its intended target, World Trade Center North Tower at 8:46am. Seventeen minutes later, at 9:03am, United Airlines Flight 175 hit World Trade Center South Tower. Both 110-story towers collapsed within one hour and forty-two minutes, leading to the collapse of other World Trade Center buildings around them, including 7 World Trade Center.  The third flight, American Airlines Flight 77, flown from Dulles, was hijacked over Ohio and it crashed into the West side of the Pentagon at 9:37am in Arlington, VA, causing a partial collapse of that side of the building. The fourth flight, United Airlines Flight 93, was flown in the direction of Washington, DC to hit either the White House or the Capitol, but failed to make it, as brave passengers overwhelmed the terrorists and it crashed in a field near Shanksville, PA at 10:03am. The attacks resulted in the deaths of 2,977 people (not including the 19 terrorists), over 25,000 injuries, and substantial long-term health consequences, particularly for first responders, which are still manifesting today from the asbestos and other materials of the destroyed buildings. More than 1,100 victims have never been identified, although NYC continues to search for DNA matches. Of those killed in 9/11, 340 firefighters and 72 law enforcement officers were killed, the deadliest incident to those professions in the history of the United States. In addition, there was at least $10 billion in damage, a major global recession, and many countries strengthening their anti-terrorism efforts.

Allow me to express my feelings briefly here, as we commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the terrorist attacks on the United States of America. This catastrophic event touches me personally and deeply to this day. I lost scores of clients, colleagues, friends, and 6 golf partners at the World Trade Center in NYC. I was on the phone with my Repo Desk personnel at our newly merged partner, Dean Witter, when the first plane struck and my phone line went dead.  I watched on the TV one foot in front of my face, Live, as the second plane hit the other tower. The market was in chaos, our building was chaos, as most of our employees were evacuated. I stayed behind with 3 volunteers to make sure Morgan Stanley was financed for the day.  I happened to live at the time in Olympic Tower on 51st/Fifth, right above St. Patrick’s Cathedral from which I heard the bagpipes play “Amazing Grace” every day for months for each of the brave first responders lost in the disaster. I also could look down Fifth Avenue and see the smoke for weeks coming from the rubble that was the World Trade Center. At the time, I also headed the North America Repo Desk for Morgan Stanley and, along with volunteers walked to our midtown location to make sure that the firm’s securities were financed. Not only did I have the fortune to attend the Concert for NYC with some of the greatest musicians in the world to raise money for the 9/11 Relief Fund, but I actually had been at the reunion of Jackson 5 and many other artists the night before on 9/10. I left Morgan Stanley in 2004 to join Cantor Fitzgerald to help rebuild their Repo Desk and make it into a global Primary Dealer, walking in the footsteps and in honor of my friends lost in 9/11. Cantor was the worst hit of any firm in 9/11, with 658 lives lost, 80% of their US workforce (and 76 more from Eurobrokers, when they merged). I used to be one of the Cantor folks who read the names of the fallen at the annual 9/11 memorial in Central Park. I also was honored to sing the National Anthem and “God Bless America” for the 5th Anniversary of 9/11 for the NY Mets and the Florida Marlins. I definitely will never forget and I pray that we never forget the many fallen, the broken lives of families, and the loss of brave first responders and fine civilians. In less than a terrible two hours in NYC and the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania, Americans lost our innocence forever.

I have designed and crafted an 11-week state-of-the-art virtual training/e education course on the Fundamentals of Repo. You can learn more about the course here:  https://www.pierpoint.info/courses/the-fundamentals-of-repo.

I am NOT RETIRED from the Securities Finance industry. Although I have completed several projects (below) and am looking to lend my 39 years of expertise to firms via consulting or via full-time positions.

  • I have completed writing/recording/presenting the above Pierpoint Finance Academy course on Repo Fundamentals. Our new normal of e-Learning.
  • I am sharing my opinion and expertise with the industry in articles in various periodicals. I just shared thoughts for an article with Bloomberg.
  • I am consulting with an electronic trading platform, potentially for Repo.
  • I am participating as the Repo expert for the Pierpoint Alpha Community (PAC)- training/networking/brainstorming/question-answering group, Pierpoint Alpha Community (PAC), and subsequent forums. In fact, I just gave a tutorial 8/26/21 for PAC members on the latest happenings with the Federal Reserve and the Debt Ceiling and the impacts to the Repo market. It was recorded and members should access the recording to hear my thoughts and discussion with Roy Zimmerhansl. We are discussing making this a more regular kind of Repo Bulletin and maybe make it open to members and non-members.

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 (jeff@kidwellconsultants.com) or (jeffkidwell82@gmail.com), or hit me up on LinkedIn.  

My Repo Commentary is posted FREE (it’s actually always been free) on my website:  www.repocommentary.com. It also pops up on LinkedIn, the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website, and on CentralBanks.com as an op-ed. I 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  in entertaining (70-80%) you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. You have more than enough stress already!  Feel free, as always, to send me information, comments or pictures, to make it better!

Holidays or Events (09/10):

  • It’s the 20th Anniversary of 9/11 tomorrow
  • Blame It on the Large Hadron Collider Day
  • International Creepy Boston Dynamics Robotic Horse Day
  • International Make-Up Day
  • National 401(K) Day
  • National Hot Dog Day
  • National Swap Ideas Day
  • Sew Be It Day
  • Stand up to Cancer Day
  • TV Dinner Day
  • World Suicide Prevention Day
  • Amerindian Heritage Day (Guyana)
  • Children’s Day (Honduras)
  • Gibraltar National Day
  • Saint George’s Caye Day (Belize)
  • Teachers’ Day (China)

Some Famous People Born on (09/10):

  • 1929-Arnold Palmer, American golfer
  • 1933-Karl Lagerfeld, German-French designer and photographer
  • 1934-Charles Kuralt-American journalist
  • 1934-Roger Maris-American baseball player and coach
  • 1947-Larry Nelson-American golfer
  • 1948-Bob Lanier-American basketball player and coach
  • 1949-Bill O’Reilly-American journalist and author
  • 1953-Amy Irving-American actress
  • 1960-Colin Firth-English actor and producer
  • 1963-Randy Johnson-American baseball player and actor
  • 1968-Guy Ritchie-English director, producer, and screenwriter
  • 1972-James Duvall-American actor and producer
  • 1974-Ryan Phillippe-American actor and producer
  • 1983-Joey Votto-Canadian baseball player

Daily Weird Facts:

Grateful  airline passengers stranded in Gander, Newfoundland on 9/11/01 started a scholarship fund for local students that now totals around $1.5 million.

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.”—Henry Miller

Currency and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices closed at:

$74.34/barrel on 10/5/18

$47.66/barrel on 12/23/18

$48.63 on 01/07/19

$73.77/barrel on 4/29

$58.81/barrel on 1/17/20

$35.92/barrel on 3/11

$27.15/barrel on 3/18

$24.90/barrel on 4/01

$31.80/barrel on 4/12

$28.31/barrel on 4/17

$20.03/barrel on 4/27

$35.69/barrel on 5/20

$50.70/barrel on 01/04/21

$66.34/barrel on 03/05

$61.30/barrel on 04/01

$63.68/barrel on 05/13

$72.25/barrel on 06/15

$74.86/barrel on 07/02, just where it was on 10/5/18 at the top of the list. What a roller coaster!

$72.30/barrel on 07/15

$68.03/barrel on 08/13

$68.06/barrel on 09/09

There has been a lot of news about oil prices crashing, and they did fall below $70/barrel, but they have stopped falling.  So did high gasoline prices in the US. The price of gasoline at my West Palm Beach station had fallen to $2.87/gallon, but now have stuck there. Experts believe gasoline prices are being disrupted by Hurricane Ida’s devastating impact on Louisiana and pipelines and shipments from there to the Southeast. Also, a nationwide resurgence in COVID-19 cases and deaths has suddenly halted the exodus of travelers. China has just made an unprecedented intervention in the global oil market, releasing crude oil from its strategic reserve for the first time, with the specific goal of lowering oil prices. It may be an unprecedented intervention by China in that market, but China has intervened in other markets regularly.

One USD versus the Yen was trading at (these are all around Repo Commentary dates). I did decide to trim this running list to just a few dates:

104.80 on 02/07/20

99.23 on 03/11/20

103.55 on 12/16/20

110.63 on 04/01/21

108.61 on 04/28/21

110.05 on 06/15/21

111.44 on 07/02/21

109.94 on 07/15/21

109.59 on 08/13/21

109.92 on 09/10/21

One Euro was trading on:

12/24/18 at $1.1426

12/06/19 at $1.1688

03/11/20 at $1.1937

05/04/20 at $1.0903

12/16/20 at $1.2196

02/04/21 at $1.2625

04/01/21 at $1.1774

04/28/21 at $1.2123

07/02/21 at $1.1822

07/15/21 at $1.1806

08/13/21 at $1.1797

09/10/21 at $1.1820

One British Pound was trading on:

12/24/18 at $1.2655

12/06/19 at $1.3819

02/07/20 at $1.3574

03/24/20 at $1.2231

12/16/20 at $1.3494

02/16/21 at $1.3903

06/15/21 at $1.4083

07/02/21 at $1.3743

07/15/21 at $1.3819

08/13/21 at $1.3866

09/10/21 at $1.385

One USD versus the CAD at:

1.3442 on 12/24/18

1.2530 on 12/06/19

1.2390 on 01/17/20

1.3540 on 03/18/20

1.2752 on 12/16/20

1.2186 on 06/15/21

1.2417 on 07/02/21

1.2539 on 07/15/21

1.2515 on 08/13/21

1.2644 on 09/10/21

With data showing reemerging inflation and the Fed’s concern about inflation, precious metals, a historic hedge against inflation may become a popular topic again soon. Gold prices:

10/02/19 $1,498.70/ounce

03/11/20 $1,641.00/ounce

07/27/20 a record $1,944.71/ounce

11/30/20 $1,774.00

01/04/21 a new record $1,948.00

03/05/21 $1,698.70

04/28/21 $1,782.20

06/15/21 $1,859.90

07/02/21 $1,789.00

07/15/21 $1,828.00

08/13/21 $1,781.50

09/09/21 $1,797.20

Bitcoin was trading at (around Repo Commentary Dates):

$8,185.21 on 7/25/18

$6,350.00 on 10/5/18

$3,774.97 on 12/24/18

$3,598.90 on 01/16/19

$3,421.10 on 02/06/19

$8,100.00 on 05/16/19

$7,215.79 on 05/17/19

$11,919.30 on 06/25/19

$9,790.37 on 07/24/19

$10,183.90 on 09/10/19

$8,235.46 on 10/02/19

$7,470.41 on 12/06/19
$8,876.87 on 01/17/20

$9,793.18 on 02/07/20

$7,871.60 on 03/11/20

$3,867.00 on 03/13/20

$5,216.64 on 03/18/20

$6,728.03 on 03/24/20

$7,748.29 on 04/27/20

$8,775.36 on 05/04/20 pre halving event

$9,794.46 on 06/04/20 post halving event

$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

$36,607.50 on 02/04/21

$48,526.90 on 02/16/21

$58,093.71 on 02/21/21

$43,170.01 on 02/28/21

$49,207.43 on 03/05/21

$58,979.60 on 04/01/21

$63,237.00 on 04/15/21

$54,886.50 on 04/28/21

$54,242.00 on 05/12/21

$39,804.90 on 06/15/21

$33,039.30 on 07/02/21

$31,280.00 on 07/15/21

$47,796.20 on 08/13/21 ouch what a whipsaw!

$46,574.40 on 09/09/21

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 had cratered at $3,867.  It rallied sharply in the last few weeks before the ‘halving event’ on 5/12/20, its 3rd halving event.  It exploded in early 2021, as new corporate investors (including Elon Musk) jumped in. On 4/15/21, it hit a high of $63,237.  It made almost exactly a 50% downward correction, falling back to early 2021 levels recently, wiping out all 2021 gains. All of a sudden, it is climbing higher again. Quite a whipsaw, not for the faint of heart. The SEC has just signaled it is willing to take a hard line approach towards cryptoasset regulation and what Chair Gary Gensler has called the “Wild West of finance”, by threatening to sue Coinbase over a plan to offer accounts that pay interest on cryptoasset holdings. This has also intensified the debate about the SEC’s jurisdiction over cryptoassets. The Governor of Sweden’s central bank compared buying and selling Bitcoin to trading stamps, questioning the staying power of currencies without government backing. The SEC has delayed its decision on the application by VanEck for launching a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund for an additional 60 days until November 14th.  Mastercard has reportedly agreed to acquire CipherTrace, a firm that provides anti-money laundering services in the cryptocurrency sector. The Solana cryptocurrency has gained 32% in a week to achieve a market cap of about $55 billion, bringing it just short of the top 5 cryptocurrencies. Solana developers claim that it’s based on the world’s fastest blockchain.

Brexit:

Brexit is causing some pain, as Britain is no longer in top 10 for trade with Germany, according to Reuters. The Guardian reports that EU nationals in UK face losing out on jobs and housing. The Unionist leader says the Brexit deal could sink the Northern Ireland government. The EU has paused legal action against the UK over Northern Ireland Protocol, but it is the huge focus now of Brexit. There is now a farming labor shortage in Britain, due to both Brexit and the pandemic.  

Global Financial News:

With inflation soaring, the bad news is for retirees. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is moving to reverse Trump-era Community Reinvestment Act fair lending rules.  The proposal would return the framework to the 1995 standards. A decline in loan-loss provisions helped contribute to healthy profit for banks in Q2, but the FDIC says the average net interest margin has fallen 31bp to 2.5%, the lowest level on record. So, FDIC-insured banks have seen net income fall 8% in Q2 compared with Q1. $9.5 trillion asset manager, BlackRock’s, first Chinese mutual fund has raised $1 billion among 111,000 subscribers, despite the recent warning by George Soros that investing in China is a “tragic mistake”. A report from Allied Market Research forecasts worldwide growth for wealth-management industry to as much as $3.43 trillion by 2030, from $1.25 trillion in 2020. Researchers, according to Financial Advisor IQ, predict that the drivers will be alternative investments, such a private equity, hedge funds, REITs, and intellectual property. According to American Banker, Wells Fargo has developed an accounts receivables service that uses artificial intelligence, robotic processing and machine learning to improve processes for payment data capture and invoice matching. Citizens Financial Group will acquire boutique bank JPM for $149 million, its 4th acquisition this year following its purchases of HSBC’s east coast bank branches, Investors Bancorp, and valuation consulting firm Williamette Management Associates. Morningstar, to enable direct indexing, has agreed to acquire Moorgate Benchmarks. Now, Morningstar will be able to join BlackRock, Vanguard, Morgan Stanley and others in offering direct-indexing services. A PGIM survey shows 62% of advisors allocate clients’ assets to actively managed investments compared to 34% for passive strategies and 4% to cash. The Fed Beige Book noted a marginal slowdown of the economy, along with higher prices. Day-trading darling GameStop dropped after recording a Q2 loss that was worse than expected. However, some say that this stock is actually 90% psychology/momentum and only 10% about fundamentals and earnings. The Securities Lending industry has had its fill of the stock probably. Wells Fargo was fined $250 million over mortgage business failures by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which said that it had engaged in “unsafe or unsound practices” with its loan modification program.  It also said that the bank was in violation of a 2018 consent order. Meanwhile, the bank’s shares actually rose after it acknowledged that a separate 2016 consent order from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has expired. The SEC may alter insider trading, as an advisory committee has recommended rule changes for insider trading and for disclosures from special-purpose acquisition companies (SPAC), to strengthen investor protection. The changes would require a period of at least 4 months after a company executive acquires stock before the person can trade it, with a goal of discouraging insider trading.  In other news, Hong Kong reportedly will limit investors’ access to SPACs. A US District judge has just issued a tentative ruling rejecting a lawsuit that seeks to immediately terminate LIBOR, which plaintiffs call an illegal price-fixing agreement. But, he also signaled that the litigation isn’t over. CFTC’s Dan Berkovitz announced that he will be leaving his post on 10/15, well before his 2023 term expiration. That will leave the 5-member CFTC with one Democrat and one Republican commissioner. Nasdaq has launched a Cloud-based data hub, Nasdaq Data Link hub, bringing together recent expansions in cloud computing and alternative data. According to the World Federation of Exchanges, an increased demand for options during the first half of 2021 let to listed derivatives trading to increase 36% to 29.2 billion contracts. Options trading was up 56% over H1 2020, while futures trading rose by 1/5 and single stock options and futures increased 69% and 83% respectively. EU banks are reportedly struggling to balance the minimum requirements for eligible liabilities requirements proposed by regulators (TLAC rules) and the needs of ESG investors in creating total loss-absorbing capacity-eligible green bonds.

US Market News:

At levels above the magic 30,000, the Dow is now well above its pre-pandemic peak of 29,569. We seem to set a new record every day, despite our economic picture improving at the same pace. However, on Wednesday, US equities retreated, as many investors listened to pundits warnings, reassessing stock valuations in light of global economic risks, as well as surging COVID-19 numbers and concurrent retreat of Central Banks from pandemic bailouts.

Here are the latest DJIA closes, just to demonstrate the massive volatility (this is the next list I intend to trim to just important dates).

09/08/21  35,031.07

08/13/21  35,515.38

07/14/21  34,933.23

07/01/21  34,633.53

05/12/21  33,587.66

03/31/21  32,981.55

01/13/21   31,060.47

12/31/20   30,606.48

12/01/20   29,823.92

11/09/20   29,157.97

07/24/20   26,469.89

07/22/20   27,005.84

06/26/20   25,015.55

06/08/20   27,572.44

6/03/20     26,269.89

5/27/20     25,548.27

4/17/20     24,242.49

3/23/20    18,591.93

3/03/20     25,917.41

2/12/20     29,551.42 record high

S&P 500 has closed on:

10/5/18 at 2,885.58

12/26/18 at 2,467.70

12/06/19 at 3,145.91

02/07/20 at 3,335.27 down 10.51 from new all-time high

03/23/20 at 2,237.40

12/15/20 at 3,647.49

01/13/21 at 3,809.84

02/03/21 at 3,830.17

02/16/21 at 3,923.59

03/05/21 at 3,841.94

03/31/21 at 3,972.89

05/12/21 at 4,063.04

07/01/21 at 4,319.94

07/14/21 at 4,374.30

08/13/21 at 4,468.00

09/09/21 at 4,493.28

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 high today!

Nasdaq closed on (trimmed list):

10/5/18 at 7,788.45

12/26/18 at 6,554.36

12/06/19 at 8,656.07

02/07/20 at 9,555.96 down 16.19 from new all-time high

03/23/20 at 6,860.67

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!

12/15/20 at 12.505.06

01/13/21 at 13,128.95

02/03/21 at 13,610.54

02/16/21 at 14,047.50  new record high

03/05/21 at 12,920.15

03/31/21 at 13,246.87

05/12/21 at 13,031.68

07/01/21 at 14,522.38

07/14/21 at 14,644.95

08/13/21 at 14,822.90

09/08/21 at 15,286.64 new record high

The US Treasury market is focused not only on Inflation, but more importantly, the Debt Ceiling. In fact, I could write about the Debt Ceiling in almost every section of this Commentary, except maybe Sports and Entertainment. Treasury Secretary and former Fed Chair Yellen just warned Congress that the US could default on debt as early as October (about a month or two before experts have been predicting).

2 YEAR NOTES closed on (trimmed list):

10/5/18 at 2.88%

12/18/18 at 2.65%

12/06/19 at 1.61%

02/06/20 at 1.44%

03/11/20 at 0.50%

03/17/20 at 0.47%

03/23/20 at 0.28%

05/10/20 at 0.16%

07/24/20 at 0.14%

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

01/04/21 at 0.11%

01/13/21 at 0.14%

02/03/21 at 0.11%

02/16/21 at 0.11%

03/05/21 at 0.14%

03/31/21 at 0.16%

05/12/21 at 0.16%

07/01/21 at 0.25% wow!

07/14/21 at 0.23%

08/13/21 at 0.23% back to 7/14 level, after having fallen 2 weeks ago to 0.17%

09/09/21 at 0.23%

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)

12/06/19 at 1.64%

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!

05/10/20 at 0.21%

07/24/20 at 0.17% wow!

11/09/20 at 0.25%

12/15/20 at 0.18% wow!

01/04/21 at 0.16% record low!

01/13/21 at 0.22%

02/16/21 at 0.17%

03/05/21 at 0.32%

03/31/21 at 0.35%

05/12/21 at 0.35%

07/01/21 at 0.47% wow!

07/14/21 at 0.44%

08/13/21 at 0.44% which ignores that it hit 0.33% on 08/02/21

09/09/21 at 0.43%

5 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.07%

12/18/18 at 2.65%

12/06/19 at 1.67%

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%

07/24/20 at 0.27% wow!

12/15/20 at 0.37%

01/04/21 at 0.36%

01/13/21 at 0.48%

02/03/21 at 0.46%

02/16/21 at 0.42%

03/05/21 at 0.79%

03/31/21 at 0.92%

05/12/21 at 0.87%

07/01/21 at 0.89% not much increase

07/14/21 at 0.80%

08/13/21 at 0.79% it hit 0.65% on 08/03/21

09/09/21 at 0.79%

7 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.18%

12/18/18 at 2.74%

12/06/19 at 1.78%

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%

07/24/20 at 0.44% record low

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

12/15/20 at 0.64%

01/04/21 at 0.64%

01/13/21 at 0.80%

02/03/21 at 0.81%

02/16/21 at 0.76%

03/05/21 at 1.23%

03/31/21 at 1.40%

05/12/21 at 1.34%

07/01/21 at 1.24%

07/14/21 at 1.11%

08/13/21 at 1.08% hit 0.95% on 08/03/21

09/09/21 at 1.08%

10 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.23%

12/18/18 at 2.82%

09/09/19 at 1.83%

10/01/19 at 1.65%

12/06/19 at 1.84%

02/06/20 at 1.65%

03/11/20 at 0.82% wow!

03/17/20 at 1.02%

03/23/20 at 0.76% and back down again

07/24/20 at 0.59% record low

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

12/15/20 at 0.92%

01/04/21 at 0.93%

01/13/21 at 1.10%

02/03/21 at 1.15%

02/16/21 at 1.09%

03/05/21 at 1.56%

03/31/21 at 1.74%

05/12/21 at 1.69%

07/01/21 at 1.48%

07/14/21 at 1.37%

08/13/21 at 1.29% hit 1.19% on 08/03/21

09/09/21 at 1.30%

30 YEAR BONDS closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.40%

12/18/18 at 3.07%

07/24/19 at 2.58%

09/10/19 at 2.11%

12/06/19 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

07/24/20 at 1.23% record low

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

12/15/20 at 1.65%

01/04/21 at 1.66%

01/13/21 at 1.82%

02/03/21 at 1.92%

02/16/21 at 1.84%

03/05/21 at 2.28%

03/31/21 at 2.41%

05/12/21 at 2.40%

07/01/21 at 2.07% dramatic drop almost below magic 2%

07/14/21 at 1.98%

08/13/21 at 1.94% although it hit 1.83% on 08/04/21

09/09/21 at 1.90%

Housing News:

Well, it’s finally over. Wall Street doesn’t really exist anymore in lower Manhattan. Through globalization, bankruptcies, mergers, and pandemic-forced remote work, Wall Street as the financial capital of the world is no longer a physical thing. It is a metaphorical notion now, as Deutsche Bank, the last of the large investment banks, has decided to move from their 60 Wall Street location to a new midtown Manhattan location. It’s the end of an era, ironically two decades after 9/11, when it was the financial hub. I don’t think the two things are related, just an odd coincidence. When I started in the industry in 1982, when you said you “worked on Wall Street” you actually physically were located somewhere near Wall Street.

Repo/Securities Financing News:                               

One thing that I missed and my friend Scott Skrym brings to my attention, in the fine print of the FOMC minutes, was mention for the first time in a long time of the Standing Repo Facility (SRF). It should be thought of as a Reverse Repo from the perspective of the Federal Reserve: it will give out cash and take in collateral. This is similar in direction to the Discount Window and the O/N and Term RPs that the Fed has been doing with Primary Dealers. It is the OPPOSITE of the direction of the RRP program, in which the Fed takes cash from money funds and others and gives out collateral from its portfolio.  Basically, the SRF rate would be set at the top of the Fed Funds target range (currently that would be 0.25%), would be available at first only to the Primary Dealers, eventually extended to approved counterparties. There are some problems with the rate and the potential flood of collateral the Fed could receive on a daily basis, the opposite of the amount of cash the Fed is currently getting dumped on it on a daily basis. It also calls into question the term that the Fed has avoided in the 39 years that I’ve been in the industry, and that is to become “Lender of Last Resort”. I’m sure we will hear much more about this in the future from the Fed. If you want to hear my detailed musings on the Federal Reserve, cash in the money markets, what tools are at the Fed’s disposal (especially RRP and SRF), what I think it could do for interest rates, the debt ceiling impact, and latest developments in the Repo Market, please watch my one hour+ tutorial in Pierpoint Alpha Community with Roy Zimmerhansl.

Securities Lending Times reports that State Street is acquiring its Boston neighbor and former competitor, BBH Investor Services business, which includes its Securities Lending, custody, accounting, fund administration, global markets, and technology services for $3.5 billion. DTCC’s FICC CCP has launched sponsored GC service, executed by Federated Hermes, BNY Mellon, and JP Morgan Securities, enabling the centrally cleared repo transactions to settle on BNY Mellon’s triparty repo system. You are used to me trumpeting the benefits of peer-to-peer financing for years, but Securities Lending Times has a feature article about peer-to-peer securities lending. Are hedge funds who are short now able to borrow directly from beneficial owners of those securities and bypass the broker/dealers?

If you haven’t already, you must read this eye-opening article Mary Fricker posted on 8/22/21 on her Repowatch.org website entitled, “Yep, the 2020s feel like the 1920s”. The contrasts and comparisons between those two years and others, particularly 1907 and 2007, are thought-provoking. There are so many curious coincidences that the Federal Reserve did a study on the parallels between 1907 and 2007 in their own 2014 paper, the history of the panic of 1907.

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). 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 are:  09/22/21, 11/03/21, and 12/15/21. All of the meetings are two-day meetings. I have listed the 2nd day. However, as we saw on 3/3/20, the FOMC can call emergency meetings at any time, even on weekends, especially during the pandemic crisis we are in.

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. Note that the Fed has the nomenclature backwards, it is actually Repoing securities out of the Reverse Repo Program and taking cash IN from its perspective. As if Repo nomenclature, bid and offer, and acronyms weren’t hard enough for everybody. Since its inception in 2014, the balances in RRP have AVERAGED about $30-50 billion. Because of major dislocations of liquidity on the cash side of the Money Markets, lately the RRP balances have been setting daily records, over $1 trillion. The Money Markets have enormous amounts of cash sloshing around, unable to find Repo (collateral) at broker/dealers to invest in, and unable to find short-term US Treasury bills to buy. So, they have invested with the Federal Reserve. If Repo collateral actually becomes even less available, because there is further delay on raising the Debt Ceiling by Congress (US Treasury is estimated to run out of room/money sometime in November or December 2021), unless the Fed begins Tapering their QE monthly purchases of $80 billion US Treasuries and $40 billion Agency MBS. Of course, those two actions have many other consequences elsewhere. The latter would likely raise interest rates, counter to current Monetary Policy, and the former would bring back the question of the credit quality of the US Government and change the prices of those outright securities, further raising interest rates and making the payment of interest on outstanding US debt more expensive.

At the 7/28 FOMC meeting, the Fed focused on progress on vaccinations and indicators of economic growth and employment continuing to strengthen. But, it said the sectors most effected by the pandemic have shown improvement but haven’t fully recovered. The Fed specifically linked the path of the economy to the path of the virus.  It cited that risks to the economic outlook remain. Pointing at its mandate for maximum employment and controlled inflation at about 2%, the Fed said that it would continue to maintain an accommodative stance on monetary policy until these outcomes are achieved. It kept the target Fed Funds rate at 0.00-0.25%.

The FOMC also issued an additional statement regarding “Repurchase Agreement Arrangements”. It announced the establishment of a domestic Standing Repo Facility (SRF) (which I discussed above) and a repo facility for foreign and international monetary authorities (FIMA Repo Facility). This latter facility was new to me. Both facilities are intended to be backstops to the money market. So, we received more detailed information at this FOMC: the SRF will have daily O/N repo operations against US Treasuries, Agency Debentures, and Agency MBS pools, with a maximum total size of $500 billion. The minimum bid rate for repos under the facility will be the top end of the Fed Funds range, currently 0.25%, which is currently ABOVE the general level of O/N Repo Rates.  Again, let’s make sure we understand the backward nomenclature. Although the Fed is referring to this facility as Repo, they are actually taking IN Collateral and putting OUT cash (which you and I know is the definition of a Reverse Repo from our or the Fed’s perspective). The initial counterparties will be their 22 Primary Dealers, which we knew, and be expanded to other ‘depository institutions.’ Hmmm, I think that just means banks and credit unions, and could still not give access to other needy collateral providers like asset managers, hedge funds, REITs, insurance companies, municipalities, pension funds, etc. Hopefully, I am wrong about that. The FIMA repo facility will actually operate a little easier, as the Fed will enter into O/N reverse repos as needed with foreign official institutions against their holding of US Treasuries already maintained in custody at the Federal Reserve Bank of NY, mostly in the SOMA accounts. That rate will also be 0.25% now and the per counterparty limit will be $60 billion. This facility could be key for these institutions to receive US dollar funding, when propping up their own currencies, rather than selling their US Treasuries outright.

So, just reviewing only these 2 tools in the ever-expanding toolbox of the Federal Reserve (in addition to the 5 tools/programs from the Financial Crisis, which are dormant), it will potentially look like this:

SRF/FIMA facility=Collateral in to Fed and Cash out to broker/dealers, banks, international monetary authorities, depository institutions

RRP=Cash in to Fed and Collateral out to broker/dealers, depository institutions, money funds, GSEs

On a Broker/Dealer Balance Sheet, that looks just like a Repo Matched Book:

Reverse Repo=Collateral into B/D and Cash out

Repo=Cash into B/D and Collateral out

The differences are that the size of the Fed’s matched programs are likely going to be much larger than any B/D Repo Matched Book (since at least 2007), the B/D does not get to set the Bid rate at 0.25% and Offer rate at 0.05% for a 20bp bid/offer spread/return, the B/D is likely making Repo markets to a more expanded group of sectors of clients, and the B/D is now operating under dozens of strict regulations.

The Fed’s Williams just suggested that QE Tapering could start by year-end 2021. A research paper prepared by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco President Mary Daly and others argues that inequities of employment, education and earnings across US ethnic groups “add up to a smaller economic pie for the nation as a whole,” with an estimated cost to the US of up to $51 trillion since 1990. The paper hypothesizes what would have happened if such inequities were erased and less favored ethnic groups had been able to make a full contribution to the workforce and GDP. Fed President of Dallas and Fed President of Boston have both decided to sell their individual stock holdings and place their investments in passive products to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

Here are significant earthquakes for just two days. Activity seems to be picking up, especially on both sides of the Pacific Rim:

09/10 4.7 ESE of Hualien City, Taiwan

09/10 5.1 West Chile Rise

09/10 4.6 SE of Calana, Peru

09/09 4.7 ESE of Katsuren-haebaru, Japan

09/09 5.0 NE of Anse-Bertrand, Guadeloupe

09/09 4.7 S of the Fiji Islands

09/09 4.5 NE of Hotan, China

09/09 4.5 SE of Jurm, Afghanistan

09/09 4.5 ENE of Levuka, Fiji

09/09 5.1 S of False Pass, Alaska

09/09 4.7 WSW of Puerto Santa, Peru

09/09 4.5 N of Yigo Village, Guam

09/09 4.6 West Chile Rise

Weather:

Per the National Interagency Fire Center, currently 78 large fires or complexes have burned more than 1.9 million acres in 10 States (Idaho, Montana, Washington, California, Oregon, Wyoming, Nevada, Minnesota, Colorado, and Utah).  Northern California continues to burn most actively, with the Caldor, Dixie, Monument, River Complex, and McCash consuming thousands of acres.  26 Type 1 and Type 2 incident management teams and more than 23,000 wildland firefighters and support personnel have been assigned to incidents. The Dixie Fire and Caldor Fire have scorched a gigantic area, destroyed homes and even entire towns, and has even leapt over the Sierra Nevada mountains to start burning on the down slope. Wildfire in Oregon has claimed the historic Bull of the Woods fire lookout. As the Caldor Fire has slowed, 3 new wildfires have ignited in California. Despite media reports, official records of NIFC show that 2021 has yet to set a record for the most fires or the most acres burned. It is worse than last year already, but nowhere near 2011, 2012, and 2015. Here is something interesting, researchers say that water droplets are more abundant in clouds affected by wildfire smoke but, surprisingly, those clouds are less likely to produce rain to help put out fires and may contribute to the drought conditions in the West.  So, the smoke actually may prevent the clouds from putting out the wildfires?

As for weather in the nation, a cold front is pushing south from Canada into the central Plains and Great Lakes, driving below average temperatures throughout that area. Well above normal (dangerous) temperatures will continue across the West.  Isolated thunderstorms are expected in Oregon and Washington. The Northeast will begin to cool down significantly. Florida will remain hot and humid, with Heat Indices in the 100-110 degree range. Beach water temperature is currently 84-88 degrees, very high, and fuel for hurricanes.

The Atlantic Hurricane Season BEGAN June 1st and ends November 30th.  According to CNN, one thing about 2020 that people didn’t notice during the pandemic is that hurricane forecasts improved. Focus is now on size and speed of the approaching storm and the critical “cone of uncertainty”, which affects a certain population. 2021 was expected by the NOAA to be an Active hurricane season. They expected a likely range of 13-20 named storms (winds of 39mph or higher). They expected 6-10 of them to be Hurricanes, and of that 3-5 reaching Category 3 or stronger.  NOAA revised those numbers slightly higher. Now they predict 15-21 named storms, 7-10 hurricanes, of which still 3-5 reaching Category 3 or stronger. Hurricane Ida, swiftly went from a Category 1 storm to a Category 4 Hurricane when it made landfall in Louisiana, picking up strength from the very warm Gulf of Mexico.  Although is had sustained winds of 130-156 mph at landfall, and caused a lot of damage, the real problem became the torrential rain and instant flooding, as it cut a swath across many states as it headed to the Northeast.  President Biden has now toured damage caused by Hurricane Ida in Louisiana, New Jersey, and New York. He actually got a hostile reception in NJ. Flooding killed at least 50 people in the Northeast. About 14,000 people were displaced when Hurricane Ida battered one Louisiana parish, destroying about 75% of the structures there, and cut off an entire barrier island. Hundreds of thousands of people are still without power in Louisiana. 

The next focus is on fierce Hurricane Larry which is churning across the Atlantic Ocean. Some experts believe it could be even stronger than Ida and could cause life-threatening surf. Maximum sustained winds are already 125mph. Currently, the models forecast for Larry to miss the East Coast of North America, but it may hit Bermuda.

The Pacific Hurricane Season BEGAN 5/1/21 and ends 11/1/21. In the Eastern North Pacific. A new Tropical Depression has formed offshore of Southwestern Mexico and is expected to become a Tropical Storm.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has just proclaimed “a code red for humanity.” This is the unequivocal consensus of the world’s top climate scientists, per Bloomberg, who revealed in a report Monday that, not only are humans responsible for the catastrophes befalling the atmosphere, the oceans, the ice packs, and the forests, but that without drastic moves by the planet’s leaders to eliminate greenhouse gas pollution, things are going get a lot worse soon. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that the crucial warming threshold of 2 degrees Centigrade will be exceeded during the 21st Century. In addition, the report says that the past decade was most likely hotter than any period in the last 125,000 years, and combustion and deforestation have raised CO2 in the atmosphere higher than it’s been in two million years.

Sports News:       

MLB:

In the 2020 pandemic-shortened season, in the World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Tampa Rays 4 games to 3, to win in another exciting (and rare) 7-game series.

For 2021, MLB is heading towards the Playoffs, with teams jockeying for first place in their Division or for one of the two Wild Card spots for each League.  i

Current standings (09/07), after about 136-140 games (about 22 games to play):

AL EAST the Rays have been winning at a remarkable rate and have held off the Yankees and my Red Sox. The Red Sox bullpen has not helped, blowing a 7-1 lead over the Rays and ultimately losing 11-10 in the 10th inning, on Monday, then allowing 12 runs to the Rays on Tuesday.  The Yankees, after a 13-game winning streak, have fallen on hard times, losing 7 of 10 games, and are only ½ game ahead of the Red Sox for the first and second Wild Card spots. I’m actually going to a Yankees @ Red Sox game on 9/23, when I am up in Boston. Which has now brought the red-hot Blue Jays into the equation, now 2 games behind the Yankees, with the Mariners 3 games back, and the A’s 3.5 games back.  Unfortunately, at this point, I have to root for the Red Sox vs the Yankees in a brutal one-game Wild Card playoff, as the Rays seem too far ahead.

Tampa Bay

NY Yankees

Boston

Toronto

Baltimore

AL CENTRAL this began as the runaway division for the White Sox, who never let up. They still enjoy a 10 game lead over the Indians, so have started limiting their starters’ pitching. 

Chicago WS

Cleveland

Detroit

Kansas City

Minnesota

AL WEST the Astros have continued to hold the lead for the Division, and the Mariners just leapfrogged over the suddenly struggling A’s. That also puts the Mariners now as the team chasing the Yankees and Red Sox for those 2 Wild Card spots.

Houston

Seattle

Oakland
LA Angels

Texas

NL EAST this division continues to underperform, which leaves three teams still in the running.  The Phillies relinquished their lead to the Braves and trail the Braves now by 2.5 games (as of 9/8). The Mets trail the Braves by 4 games. The Nationals, who threw in the towel at the trade deadline, have now been leapfrogged by the lowly Marlins. It wasn’t long ago that the Nats beat the Astros in the World Series (2019)…

Atlanta

Philadelphia

NY Mets

Miami

Washington

NL CENTRAL The Brewers are holding on to first place by 11 games over the Reds, who just lost 7 of their last 10, while the Cards are 13 ½ games behind, and the Cubs became sellers at the trade deadline and begin their rebuilding. The Pirates are 34.5 games back of the Brewers. The Reds are tied with the Padres for the Wild Card first spot and second spot. The Phillies are 2 games behind and the Mets and Cardinals are both 3.5 games behind. So, this Wild Card race is also made up of 5 teams, like the AL Wild Card race. Although I see MLB’s intention to please the fans by making more teams involved in the Playoffs, I still don’t like the one-game do-or-die game between the two Wild Card teams (and don’t get me started on the Little League-like putting a runner on 2nd base in extra innings new rule!).

Milwaukee

Cincinnati

St. Louis

Chicago Cubs

Pittsburgh

NL WEST the World Champion Dodgers looked like they would run away with the division, but the Giants said ‘hold my beer’. Plenty of analysts said that the Giants were not good enough to hold first place, but they have held first place and are 1 game ahead of the Dodgers. Led by teams with the two best records in MLB, this high-flying division has put the Diamondbacks in the rearview mirror, behind first place by 44 games.

San Francisco

LA Dodgers

San Diego

Colorado

Arizona

Golf:

The PGA Tour 2020-2021 season was an expanded one, due to COVID-19 related cancellations and postponements, mostly in 202. Although most touring pros play between 20 and 30 tournaments in the season, the actual season was comprised of an expanded 50 official PGA events. The 14th event was a stunning sight, with DeChambeau and Cantlay dueling in a 6-hole playoff at the BMW Championship, with Cantlay winning. This was the 2nd tournament of the 3 tournament finale to the season, leading up to the Tour Championship final, held this year at EastLake in Sea Island, GA. Once again, I have to say (just as I said about MLB’s new rule for extra innings advantage), I don’t like the spotting golfers extra shots in the Final. Because Cantlay beat DeChambeau, he was able to start the Tour Championship at -10 and DeChambeau at -7. The top 30 golfers from the first two tournaments were eligible to play in the Tour Championship. I use the word ‘eligible’ because, No.30 was barely able to play, after recovering from severe symptoms from COVID-19, including double pneumonia, and Koepka hurt himself during the tournament and had to withdraw, pushing him down to No.30. It still earned him over $395,000, as this is the most lucrative (by far) golf tournament in the world. Anyway, back to the action, another exciting tournament, which came down to the wire, this time with Hahm and Cantlay battling it out. Each putt was worth $millions and the tension was very high. In the end, the 18th hole, Hahm missed his longer putt and Cantlay made his, to make Cantlay the 2021 PGA FedEx Champion. Cantlay received a check for $15 million for winning and Hahm received a check for  a measly $5 million (still way more than any winner of any tournament during the season). In theory, Hahm’s putt (and a few on holes before the 18th) was worth $10 million! That’s a serious kneeknocker!!! Only a short time ago, $15 million was a great PGA Tour player’s career!  Golf is not over yet, however, as we have the Fortinet Championship at Silverado Resort and Spa North in Napa, CA. we still have the very-hyped Ryders Cup competition between the US and Europe, to be battled out in Match-Play format on one of my favorite courses that I’ve played, Whistling Straits in Sheboygan, WI (I thought it was actually in Kohler, and there are actually 3 courses there).

NFL:

The 2020 NFL season ended with Super Bowl LV, which was played in Tampa Bay, with the Bucs beating the Chiefs 31-9. Preseason games begin next week. Despite surges in COVID-19 cases and deaths all over the country, the NFL is sticking with their plans to fill their stadiums with fans. The 2021 NFL season began last night with the Superbowl Champion Bucs playing the Cowboys. The Bucs beat the Cowboys in a sloppy, penalty-filled, defense-devoid game that had a seesaw score.  Eventually, the Bucs nipped the Cowboy 31-29, despite being favored by 10 points.  Cowboy’s kicker, Zuerlein, missed a point after and two field goals. Bucs QB Tom Brady released the football on his passes in an average 0.33 seconds!  That’s why he rarely gets hit or pressured. For those Washington Football Team fans, apparently the options for the new name are: Defenders, Commanders, Presidents, Armada, Redhawks, Brigade, and just leaving it as is.

Tennis

The 2021 tennis season is now in full swing. However, for various reasons, Djokovic, Nadal, Federer, and Serena have dropped out of matches in July and August, implying that the 4 already all-time greats will not play a match at the big Canada or Cincinnati tournaments, which leaves their US Open prospects in question. Now, regarding Djokovic, he has won all 3 of the Slams this year, a feat not done in a single year since Rod Laver in 1969. Also, after winning Wimbledon, he then played at the Olympics, so he wouldn’t be going into the US Open cold. Federer is 40 and while he did come back this year, his record has been 9-4, and he has been questioning (out loud) how much more he will play. Nadal has a nagging foot injury and 39-year-old Serena has an ankle injury from Wimbledon. Let’s not forget Osaka either, who not only withdrew from Wimbledon, but has also already withdrawn from Montreal.  She was ousted at the US Open and announced that she will now take some time off from tennis and work on her mental health. In the end, this weekend’s Women’s Finals at the US Open will feature two relatively unknown and unranked players, Emma Readucanu, 18, and Leyla Fernandez, 19. On the Men’s side, No.1 Djokovic beat No.6 seed Berrettini in the quarter-finals, while No.4 Zverev won his quarterfinals match against Harris. On Tuesday, No.2 Medvedev beat his opponent in his quarterfinals and No.12 Auger-Aliassime won his match.

NCAA Basketball

The 2020-2021 season began in November. The 2021 NCAA tournament, March Madness, yielded the national champion, undefeated Gonzaga.

NHL:

The puck dropped on the asterisk season (last season) on 10/2/19. The puck dropped (again) to conclude the same 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 2021 NHL season (which normally would have started in 2020 and wrapped around to 2021) was delayed and started 1/13/21.  The regular season is normally 82 games, but was only 56 games this year, once again due to the pandemic.

It was an exciting Playoffs, despite the odd configuration of the Divisions to be less traveling for the players and more COVID-19 aware. The Cinderella team this year, but perennial Stanley Cup winners in the old days, the Montreal Canadiens, ran into a rough Tampa Bay Lightning team and a goalie who was on fire. They wound up losing in 5 games, 4-1, to the Lightning, who repeated their Stanley Cup victory from last year.

The Penguins will be without their star, captain Sidney Crosby, for the start of the season, as he just underwent wrist surgery. The Florida Panthers offered endorsement deals Wednesday to every female college athlete at nearby FAU. Patrice Bergeron said he does not plan to make a decision about re-signing with the Boston Bruins until after this season. The US Hockey Hall of Fame Class for 2021 was just announced and Holmgren, McNab, and Fischler are going to be inducted, along with the 2020 class, who were not inducted last year because of the pandemic. David Backes officially retired, after signing a one-day contract with the Blues. He had been selected by the Blues in the 2003 NHL Draft and played 10 seasons there.

NBA:

The NBA season tipped off more than two months later than usual on 12/22/20. The Suns beat the Bucks for the Championship. The Suns were a last place team only a few seasons ago. Two-time NBA champion JR Smith is heading to college, with his eyes set on playing golf professionally. NBA All-Star Andre Drummond saves his 2-year-old son who fell into a swimming pool. The Celtics and Dennis Schroder agree on 1year/$5.9 million deal.  He had turned down a lucrative extension a year ago from the Lakers. 2021 MGM Resorts Summer League is continuing. LiAngelo Ball is playing in the League with hopes to get back in the NBA.  The NBA Hall of Fame is ready for its induction of: undrafted Ben Wallace, Chris Bosh, Chris Webber, Bill Russell as coach, and Paul Pearce.

Auto Racing:

In the NASCAR Cup Series of 2020, Chase Elliott won. The 2021 regular season began with the Daytona 500 on 2/14/21. NASCAR and iRacing announced an official partnership. Gordon said he is retiring from Penske at end of 2021. Six teams were fined after Pocono race. Here is the 2021 schedule and winners:

02/09/21 Busch Clash at Daytona-Kyle Busch

02/11/21 Bluegreen Vacations Duel 1 at Daytona-Aric Almirola

02/11/21 Bluegreen Vacations Duel 2 at Daytona-Austin Dillon

02/14/21 DAYTONA 500-Michael McDowell

02/21/21 O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 at Daytona-Christopher Bell

02/28/21 DIXIE VODKA 400 at Homestead-Miami-William Byron

03/07/21 Pennzoil 400 by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas-Kyle Larson

03/14/21 NASCAR Cup Series Race at Phoenix-Martin Truex Jr.

03/21/21 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta-Ryan Blaney

03/29/21 Food City Dirt Race at Bristol-Joey Logano

04/10/21 Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville, VA-Martin Truex Jr.

04/18/21 Toyota Owners 400-Richmond Raceway-Bowman

04/25/21 GEICO 500-Talladega-Keselowski

05/02/21 NASCAR Cup Series at Kansas-Kyle Busch

05/09/21 NASCAR Cup Series at Darlington-Martin Truex Jr.

05/16/21 NASCAR Cup Series at Dover, Drydene 400-Alex Bowman

05/23/21 NASCAR Cup Series at COTA, EchoPark Texas GP-Chase Elliott

05/30/21 Coca-Cola 600, Charlotte Motor Speedway-Kyle Larson

06/06/21 Toyota Save Mart 350, Sonoma Raceway-Kyle Larson

06/13/21 NASCAR All-Star Open, Texas Motor Speedway-Aric Almirola

06/13/21 NASCAR All-Star Race, Texas Motor Speedway-Kyle Larson

06/20/21 Ally 400, Nashville Superspeedway-Kyle Larson

06/26/21 Pocono Organics CBD 325-Alex Bowman

06/27/21 Explore the Pocono Mountains 350-Kyle Busch

07/04/21 Jockey Made in America 250 by Kwik Trip-Chase Elliott

07/11/21 Quaker State 400 by Walmart-Kurt Busch

07/18/21 Foxwoods Resort Casino 301-Aric Almirola

08/08/21 Go Bowling at The Glen-Kyle Larson

08/15/21 Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard-Allmendinger

08/22/21 Firekeepers Casino 400 at Michigan-Blaney

08/28/21 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona-Blaney

09/05/21 Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington-Hamlin

Formula One began 2020 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. Lewis Hamilton won his 7th World Title.  F1 will revert to 2pm start times in 2021. Matteo Pagliani was crowned inaugural F1 Mobile Racing Esports Champion. There will be a 23-race F1 calendar for 2021. It did not begin until 3/28/21. Here is the 2021 schedule and here are the winners:

03/28/21-Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix-Lewis Hamilton edged Max Verstappen

04/18/21-Italy-Verstappen edged Hamilton

05/02/21-Portugal-Hamilton beat Verstappen

05/09/21-Spain-Hamilton beat Verstappen

05/23/21-Monaco-Verstappen

06/06/21-Azerbaijan-Perez

06/20/21-France-Verstappen

06/27/21-Austria-Verstappen

07/04/21-Austria-Verstappen

07/18/21-Great Britain-Hamilton

08/01/21-Hungary-Ocon

08/29/21-Belgium-Verstappen

09/05/21-Netherlands-Verstappen

09/12/21-Italy-

09/26/21-Russia-

10/03/21-Singapore-

10/10/21-Japan-

10/24/21-United States

10/31/21-Mexico-

11/07/21-Brazil-

11/21/21-Australia-

12/05/21-Saudi Arabia-

12/12/21-Abu Dhabi-

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).  In 2019, Josef Newgarden came in 8th in the last race, to just edge out Simon Pagenaud for the championship. Scott Dixon was the Championship winner for 2020, edging out defending champion, Josef Newgarden. The 2021 season does not begin until mid-April. Here is the schedule and the winners:

04/18/21-Birmingham Barber Motorsports Park-Alex Palou

04/25/21-St. Petersburg Street Course-Colton Herta

05/01/21-Texas Motor Speedway Grand Prix of Texas Race 1-Scott Dixon

05/02/21-Texas Motor Speedway Grand Prix of Texas Race 2-Pato O’Ward

05/15/21-Indianapolis Motor Speedway-GP 1-Rinus Veekay

05/30/21-Indy 500-Helio Castronoves

06/12/21-Detroit Raceway on Belle Isle Race 1-Marcus Ericsson

06/13/21-Detroit Raceway on Belle Isle Race 2-Pato O’Ward

06/20/21-Road America-Alex Palou

07/04/21-Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course-Josef Newgarden

07/11/21-Toronto Exhibition Place-cancelled

08/08/21-Nashville Street Course-Marcus Ericsson

08/14/21-Indianapolis GP 2-Pato O’Ward

08/21/21-Gateway Motorsports Park-Josef Newgarden

09/12/21-Portland International Raceway

09/19/21-Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

09/26/21-Streets of Long Beach

Travel News:

Bill Gates has done a deal with Alwaleed and taken over Four Seasons. Several leading US airlines warned yesterday that the rise in COVID-19 cases as part of the latest wave is hurting their bookings and further delaying the travel industry’s recovery. A man called 911 to report a Tesla hit him and that he suffered back, leg and neck injuries, but the car’s cameras actually told a different story.

Health News:  

Okay, there is a lot to cover here. I am trying to be as neutral as I can and only reporting the news items I see, and not giving my bias about vaccinations. 

As of this today (9/10), globally, over 4.6 million people have died from COVID-19.  More than 223,000,000 people have been infected with COVID-19. In the US, confirmed cases of COVID-19 have surpassed 40.6 million people (a huge jump of over 5 million since I wrote last 8/13), and are rising with the Delta variant and slowdown of vaccinations. Of that, US deaths from the pandemic have surpassed 654,806 (a jump of more than 34,000 since 8/13). The US has the most deaths from COVID-19 of any country in the world, followed by Brazil (585,174), India (442,009), Mexico (266,150), Peru (198,621), Russia (187,768), and UK (134,166). 533 people were confirmed infected at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo and not deaths reported. Singapore has just touched a one-year high in number of COVID-19 cases and Japan is planning to extend emergency measures in Tokyo, Osaka, and 17 other prefectures. Global inoculation program Covax has cut its 2021 supply forecast by more than 25%. The WHO says “Too little action” has been taken in achieving vaccine equity. It is still advising the US to not administer booster shots until more countries have gotten at least the first vaccine shot. Scientists are concerned about the proliferation of COVID-19 variants in Africa and the possibility that that could lead to vaccine-proof mutations of the virus. That would then possibly derail the global efforts to end the pandemic. The slow rollouts of first and second vaccine shots throughout Africa leave time for mutations to occur, which is what WHO is most concerned about.

A new report says that some 100,000 more Americans are likely to die of COVID-19 this year. Deaths could climb even more if the hospital ERs and ICUs remain as swamped as they are now across the country. In Florida, a record for new cases of COVID-19 and single day of deaths from COVID-19 was broken, going back to March 2020, the beginning of the pandemic. The US Government is launching a new six-part plan to combat the COVID-19 pandemic amid that national spike in new cases, which are now averaging some 150,000 new cases per day. The strategy includes putting more pressure on the private and public sectors to enforce stricter vaccine mandates and testing rules, providing booster shots to vaccinated Americans, keeping schools open, and improving care for COVID-19 patients. Anecdotally, down here in Florida there is a huge debate about whether children should have to wear masks to school or not, as the first week of school resulted in hundreds of positive tests in Palm Beach County Schools. A state judge in Florida has issued an uncommon ruling against Governor DeSantis’ decision to ban schools requiring students to wear masks.  Now, schools cat start legally requiring the wearing of masks. Also, I now have several friends who have become “breakthrough” cases, having been fully vaccinated, yet contracting COVID-19 anyways, although the symptoms have not been as extreme. The biggest question out their perhaps is whether the Delta variant of COVID-19 causes more severe illness than the earlier versions of COVID-19 virus? It is clearly more contagious. More and more American companies are mandating that their employees be vaccinated. US President Biden is ordering all executive branch employees, federal contractors, and millions of health-care workers to be vaccinated.  He is also directing his administration to issue new rules saying large private employers must require shots or testing, as the Delta variant continues to sicken and kill Americans by the thousands.

Now that the Governor of Texas has signed a new law prohibiting abortions after six-week term of pregnancy, counter to the Federal law, the US Justice Department has sued the State of Texas over their abortion law.  

Animal News:

A Florida woman was attacked by a shark in the Bahamas. The debate has been going on for decades, but archaeologists, while agreeing that genomes of Native Americans show that their ancestors may have come to North America more than 15,000 years ago, still disagree on whether they migrated by land or sea from the Eurasia region. Tyrannosaurus Rex was not always the apex predator. Researchers have discovered a new genus and species that loomed large before T-Rex, called Ulughbegsaurus uzbekistanensis. It was from the lower Upper Cretaceous of Central Asia and lived about 90 million years ago.  It had a mass of over 2200 lbs and was probably 7.5-8 meters in length, larger than a full-grown African elephant.

Entertainment News:

John Lennon’s iconic song, “Imagine”, turned 50-years-old. NBC just set a record for Super Bowl television ad rates at $6.5 million. Kylie Jenner confirmed that she is pregnant with her second child.  Cedric the Entertainer will host the Emmys. Shaquille ONeal has been out of the NBA for 7 seasons, yet his endorsement portfolio increases in size. In the years since his retirement alone, he has appeared in ads for Buick, IcyHot, AriZona beverages, Pizza Hut, Gold Bond, The General, Epson ink, Zales, and many other companies. Shaq said in an interview on Tuesday on HBO that he actually makes more money on endorsements and investments than he made in salary during his playing days. He said his best year during his playing years was about $30 million and now he’s making considerably more annually. In fact, one marketing deal as paid him about $100 million over the last 2 ½ years. He is estimated to have net worth of over $450 million. He is also still paid as an NBA commentator for ESPN. Lucifer finally comes to its end on Netflix. Patton Oswalt cancels his shows in Florida and Utah, saying the venues would not comply with his COVID-19 safety precautions. Lorde has rerecorded 5 “Solar Power” songs in Maori language. Phil Collins is reportedly suffering from health problems and can “barely hold” his drum sticks. Pat Sajak and Vanna White have reupped their contracts with Wheel of Fortune. Dancing With the Stars has revealed its Season 30 cast. Janet Jackson has released a teaser for her upcoming documentary. THE MATRIX 4 has posted its first footage to an interactive fan site. Howard Stern says to anti-vaxxers, “You had the cure and you wouldn’t take it.” Art Mertrano, the star of POLICE ACADEMY movies has died at 84. Lil Uzi Vert says that fans ripped a $24 million diamond out of his forehead? Actor Michael K. Williams has died suddenly.  They have announced the 2021 TV cancellations, to the dismay of many fans. Netflix has cancelled: White Lines, Transparent, Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Mom, Schitt’s Creek, Into the Badlands, Glow, Vikings, Broad City, The Affair, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, and Ballers. Other notable TV shows cancelled: Black Lightning, Brooklyn 99, Castle Rock, Superstore, Carmen Sandiego, Insecure, Kim’s Confidence, The Bold Type, MacGyver, Peaky Blinders, High Maintenance, American Gods, NCIS: New Orleans, Better Call Saul, Last Man Standing, Ellen Degeneres Show, etc.

I used to do Movie Reviews in the Repo Commentary, especially when I lived at 67th/Broadway above a multiple cinema. Then I would see about 100 films per year. Now, especially with COVID-19, I only see movies by buying them on TV. But, I have seen a few in December 2020 and in 2021:

RESPECT                          9.0 (out of 10)

NOBODY                            8.0

NEWS OF THE WORLD 7.5

STILLWATER                    7.0

WONDER WOMAN 84    6.0

I’m sorry, but I don’t know where to put this rant of mine, so I’m blaming all the newscasters on TV. Two very common practices (just watch Today or any news broadcast) now are: not using the adverb and saying double pronouns. For example, when the sportscaster says, “boy he hit that one square, or hit that one strong”, or the “things developed slow”, rather than correctly using the adverbs: squarely, strongly, and slowly. The double pronoun usage is actually more prevalent now, with almost every single newscaster doing it. “President Biden, he said today…”. “The woman arrested today she said…” “The firefighters, they are unable to control the wildfire.”  I noticed this habit about 2 years ago, before COVID-19, and it has spread just like the pandemic. Okay, now that I’ve got that off my chest, can we all stop saying, “Just do you.” I’m not sure if that is for encouragement, self-awareness, or some higher consciousness. Wouldn’t we naturally “do me” as I don’t know how to “do you” or “them”? Isn’t that what we have been doing all along? Maybe a schizophrenic with multiple personality disorder “does us”? I’m sure that the late George Carlin would be asking, “What does ‘do you’ mean anyway?” Impersonate yourself? Think of yourself first? Act like yourself and have your whole being become public? Complete yourself first, before attempting to criticize others?  Be the ball?

Technology & Space News:

I thought this was interesting, Sci-Hub, a website where scientific studies that are usually locked behind paywalls are shared for free. The website is almost always under legal threat, but still has managed to upload more than 2 million new articles. This is also cool, JP Morgan has just signed a deal with Volkswagen to acquire an equity interest in the carmaker’s payments business. JP Morgan is trying to stay ahead of the curve in anticipation of auto manufacturers installing technology in cars that allows motorists to pay for automotive expenses such as gasoline and tolls from within their cars, according to Reuters.  Hmmm, in unrelated news (maybe) Apple’s Watch software chief has taken over its car project as well.  Scientific American reports that the Waves to Water competition to use small-scale wave energy devices to desalinate water is entering its 5th and final stage, testing the devices in the “Drink” phase. The resulting innovations could make a big difference for disaster relief efforts, allowing responders to make drinkable water from ocean water. It also could mean bigger things ahead for wave energy technology. In Iceland’s barren landscape, a new container-like structure has risen alongside plumes of steam near a geothermal power plant. It is designed to reverse some of the damage carbon-dioxide emissions are doing to the planet and the ozone layer.  The facility, named Orca, will suck CO2 out of the air.

US News:

20 years after the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, the masterminds who are being held in prison at Guantanamo Bay, finally had a hearing on Wednesday, which resulted in yet another delay of justice, which has been playing out at least a decade. Did you know that FBI agents and most other Federal agents have licenses to carry concealed weapons anywhere in the US? An academic study reports that banks that helped facilitate the PPP loans ended up taking on more risk in other areas of lending, notably Q2 and Q3 of last year. Another study conducted by Qualtrics and published by Credit Karma found that 1/3 of buy now/pay later borrowers have missed one or more payments, and most borrowers saw their credit score decline. Younger consumers were more likely to have missed at least one payment. JPMorgan Chase will acquire the Infatuation, the parent company of restaurant guide Zagat, as the bank pushes to attract more high-end customers to its credit card business. American Express has again delayed its plans for returning staff to offices, with 1/24/22 the new target date, due to the pandemic.

International News:

In 2015, ISIS killed 130 people in Paris. The trial has finally begun. Ford will cease to make cars in India and will take a $2 billion charge for that. Another container ship ran aground blocking the Suez Canal, before being freed. Did you know that Mexico has no fighter jets?  For the first time since the United States’ disastrous and poorly planned evacuation from Afghanistan, leading to 13 soldiers’ and scores of civilian deaths, stranding at least 200 American citizens, and leaving $50-60 billion in US military equipment, an international passenger flight left Kabuls airport on Thursday. In Brazil, President Bolsonaro is temporarily banning social media companies from removing certain content, including its own disinformation. France will now offer free contraception to women up to 25-years-old.

Florida:

A former King’s Academy teacher in Palm Beach County and softball coach has died of COVID-19. Before the attacks of 9/11, the hijackers wandered around Palm Beach County, with 4 of them learning how to fly planes at a local flight school.

Jokes and Such:

Okay, I decided that since you readers are only going to give me dirty jokes that would just get me in trouble, in the context of distanced learning and your kids likely at home on the computer, I would provide you some CLEAN jokes that you can share with them. That’s just how I am J

A woman brought a very limp duck into a veterinary surgeon. As she laid her pet on the table, the vet pulled out his stethoscope and listened to the bird’s chest.

After a moment or two, the vet shook his head and sadly said, “I’m sorry, your duck, Cuddles, has passed away.”

The distressed woman wailed, “Are you sure?” “Yes, i’m sure. You’re duck is dead,” replied the vet.

“How can you be so sure?” she protested. “I mean you haven’t done any testing on him or anything. He might just be in a coma or something.”

The vet rolled his eyes, turned around and left the room. He returned a few minutes later with a black Labrador Retriever. As the duck’s owner looked on in amazement, the dog stood on his hind legs, put his front paws on the examination table and sniffed the duck from top to bottom. He then looked up at the vet with sad eyes and shook his head.

The vet patted the dog on the head and took him out of the room. A few minutes later he returned with a cat. The cat jumped up on the table and also delicately sniffed the bird from head to foot. The cat sat back on its haunches, shook its head, meowed softly and strolled out of the room.

The vet looked at the woman and said, “I’m sorry, but as I said, this is most definitely, 100% certifiably, a dead duck.”

The vet turned to his computer terminal, hit a few keys and produced a bill, which he handed to the woman.

The duck’s owner, still in shock, took the bill. “$150!” she cried, “$150 just to tell me my duck is dead?!”

The vet shrugged, “I’m sorry. If you had just taken my word for it, the bill would have been $20, but with the Lab Report and the Cat Scan, it’s now $150.”

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