Repo Commentary-02/18/22

Sorry I have not been writing the Repo Commentary. The last one I wrote was 9/10/21, the day before 9/11. Much has been happening in life, job opportunities, and COVID-19 related stuff. I’m going to TRY not to catch you all up on ALL of the news that has happened since 9/11.

I lost two dear friends, Jim Malgieri, who unexpectedly passed away at age 61 and Bill Bolton, who passed away at age 63 from a heart attack.  Jim was a great man with a heart of gold. I had the pleasure of working with him at Morgan Stanley for several years and then working with him as a customer for my entire career. There were many golf rounds, lunches, dinners, and get-togethers over the many years. He was one of my closest friends on the Street. He had a way of entering everyone’s life and leaving a smile. He will be very missed. Bill was one of the top interdealer brokers during his tenure and one of my groomsmen at my 2nd wedding. He was a close friend and confidante for decades, and was full of life and energy. A former surfer in Hawaii, he finally ‘retired’ to be a nationally-ranked swimming coach nearby in Florida. He also wound up saving a woman’s life, after her car flipped over and sunk in a canal in Florida. 

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 designed and crafted an 11-week state-of-the-art virtual training/e education course on the Fundamentals of Repo, consulting with Pierpoint’s Finance Academy. You can learn more about the course here: 
•	I continue my opinion and expertise with the industry through articles in various periodicals. 
•	I am consulting with an electronic trading platform, potentially for Repo.  
•	I am consulting on a new product for the Repo market, Modified Repo, which could solve many industry issues, from liquidity to balance sheet optimization, to even Firesale Risk. 
•	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. 

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 ( or (, or hit me up on LinkedIn.  

My Repo Commentary is posted FREE (it’s actually always been free) on my website: It also pops up on LinkedIn, the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website, and on as an op-ed. I am interested in entertaining you and taking your mind off the pressures you are under at work or even remotely. Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my former employers 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 (02/18):

•	Dialect Day (Amami Islands, Japan)
•	Independence Day (the Gambia from UK)
•	Kurdish Students Union Day (Iraqi Kurdistan)
•	National Democracy Day (1951 overthrow of the Rana Dynasty in Nepal)
•	Wife’s Day-Konudagur (Iceland)
•	Cow Milked While Flying in an Airplane Day
•	Crab-Stuffed Flounder Day
•	National Battery Day
•	National Caregivers Day
•	National Drink Wine Day
•	National Woman’s Heart Day
•	Pluto Discovery Day
•	Thumb Appreciation Day
Monday is a Federal holiday in the United States, Presidents Day, which celebrates the birthdays of President George Washington (02/22) and President Abraham Lincoln (02/12). Congress designated 02/22 as the first federal holiday (Washington’s Birthday) to honor an individual’s birth date, a holiday for all federal workers, in 1885. In 1971, the Uniform Monday Holiday Law changed the date to the third Monday in February. The position between the two Presidents’ birthdays gave rise to the popular name of Presidents Day. Some offices, banks and businesses are closed. The Federal Reserve is closed and both the NYSE and the Nasdaq are closed, perhaps a welcome breather lately. State, local, and federal government offices are generally closed.

Some Famous People Born on (02/18):

•	1516-Mary I of England
•	1745-Alessandro Volta, Italian physicist, invented the battery
•	1848-Louis Comfort Tiffany, American stained glass artist
•	1862-Charles M. Schwab, American businessman, co-founded Bethlehem Steel
•	1890-Edward Arnold, American actor
•	1906-Hans Asperger, Austrian pediatrician and academic
•	1919-Jack Palance, American boxer and actor
•	1922-Helen Gurley Brown, American journalist and author
•	1925-George Kennedy, American actor
•	1931-Johnny Hart, American cartoonist, co-created The Wizard of Id
•	1933-Yoko Ono, Japanese-American multimedia artist and musician (accused of breaking up the Beatles)
•	1952-Juice Newton, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
•	1954-John Travolta, American actor, singer and producer
•	1968-Molly Ringwald, American actress

Daily Weird Facts:

In 1986, a volcanic lake in Cameroon, Africa burped a CO2 gas cloud that killed 1,746 people in minutes. 


Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“Your daily life is your temple and your religion. When you enter into it take with you your all.”—Khalil Gibran 

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
$90.99/barrel on 02/18/22

When I last wrote on 9/10/21, my West Palm Beach gas station was charging $3.39/gallon. Today, 2/18/22, it is charging exactly the same price. That’s interesting because Oil is up over 30% since 09/10/21. In fact, the price of Oil hasn’t reached this lofty level in more than 3 years, when US exploration was booming. 

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
115.15 on 02/18/22

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
02/18/22 at $1.1342

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
02/18/22 at $1.3583

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
1.2737 on 02/18/22

With data showing reemerging inflation and the Fed’s concern about inflation, precious metals, a historic hedge against inflation has become a popular topic again soon. In addition, military unrest on the Ukrainian border increases the rush to gold. 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
02/28/22 $1,897.60

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
$67,582.60 on 11/08/21 not a Commentary date, but the all-time high
$35,070.10 on 01/22/22 not a Commentary date, but relevant to show its volatility
$40,015.10 on 02/18/22 

On 3/13/20, just post COVID-19 breakout, Bitcoin 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, wiping out all 2021 gains. All of a sudden, it is began climbing higher again in the Fall of 2021, hitting an all-time high of $67,582.10 on 11/08/21. But, volatility wasn’t over and was not for the faint of heart. The SEC 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. All of this led to another massive correction of nearly 50% (again), bringing it down to interim low of $35,070.10 on 01/22/22. It had rallied back to about $45,000 recently, until falling to today’s number. 

The FSB issued a report that estimated that the crypto market capitalization grew 3.5 times in 2021 to a value of $2.6 trillion. The FSB says that the booming crypto assets market could pose a serious threat to financial stability, if regulators fail to take action. The FSB is the global watchdog which monitors financial authorities in 24 countries. “Systemically important banks and other financial institutions are increasingly willing to undertake activities in, and gain exposures to, crypto assets. The prevalence of more complex investment strategies, including through derivatives and other leveraged products that reference crypto assets, also has increased,” according to the FSB. The FSB went on to say, “As in the case of the US sub-prime mortgage crisis, as small amount of known exposure does not necessarily mean a small amount of risk, particularly if there exists a lack of transparency and insufficient regulatory coverage.” The report looked at the vulnerabilities of 3 aspects of crypto assets markets: unbacked currencies such as bitcoin; stablecoins such as Tether, which is backed by reserve assets; and decentralized finance (DeFi) and crypto asset trading platforms. FSB showed concern about consumer vulnerability to high credit and operational risk, liquidity mismatch, and reserve runs, as well as apparent high price volatility, the environmental impact of running mining machines, and the potential uses for money laundering, ransomware, and cybercrime. The FBI has established a cryptocurrency unit as part of the Justice Department’s National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team to evaluate crimes that involve cryptocurrencies and perform its own blockchain analysis. 


Brexit seems to be unravelling and there is panic among Boris Johnson’s allies. Many UK (71%) exporters are saying that Brexit hurts business and has increased prices.  But, Jacob Rees-Mogg says there is little evidence that Brexit hit trade hard. The UK government is now being forced to seek state-by-state US trade ties, after President Biden rejected a US-UK post-Brexit free trade deal. 

Global Financial News:

$2.2 trillion in derivatives linked to equities are due to expire today, according to Goldman Sachs. During the last 12 months, equity indices often have declined ahead of expiration of a large number of equity options. G-20 finance leaders released a statement that cites inflation and geopolitical risk as the main impediments to economic recovery from the pandemic. They also pointed to the disproportionate access to vaccination from nation to nation. Cecilia Rouse, chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said during a Senate appearance that inflationary pressures “will begin to ease as COVID cases gradually decrease.” Separately, Fed’s James Bullard said that it is ”important to get moving” and reiterated a call to raise the Fed Funds target rate by a full percentage point (100bp) by the beginning of July. Senators have voted in favor of a bill that would allow the US government funding at the existing level until March 11, averting a shutdown ahead of today’s deadline. The bill now goes to the President for signoff. Once again, we have kicked the can down the road on shutdown and debt ceiling. A survey of primary dealers of the Federal Reserve Bank of NY shows high satisfaction with Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s management and communication of switch to tightening policy. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has asked consumers to provide input to the agency to help identify potential new rules for banks and lenders. Strategists at JPMorgan Chase (according to Bloomberg) say they expect China’s benchmark CSI 300 Index to break out of its bearish conditions and rise to record highs over the next 12 months. Goldman Sachs, per Reuters, aims to boost return on tangible equity to 15%-17% from 14% and ROE to 14%-16% from 13% over the next 3 years. It plans to focus on Asset Management, Consumer Business and Transaction Banking to compensate for expected slowdowns in trading and investment banking. According to Standard Chartered CEO Winters, if Hong Kong leaves its harsh COVID-19 restrictions in place for too long, it could start losing business to Tokyo and Singapore, and its dominant role as a financial hub. The SEC is working on establishing rules for corporate reporting of greenhouse gas emissions but is facing issues on how much or how little information needs to be disclosed. Particularly, Scope 3 emissions are proving to be challenging. The European Commission plans to improve the transparency of the EU’s carbon market by pursuing the reporting of more granular data on the various types of emission derivatives being traded. 

US Market News:

At levels above the magic 30,000, the Dow is still well above its pre-pandemic peak of 29,569. But, it has retreated since the beginning of 2022, when it set a record high. We have retreated about 2,000 points from that level, due to uncertainty about the economy, over-valuations in certain industries, remnants of the impact of the pandemic, and military rumblings along the Ukrainian border with Russia. In fact, NATO is warning about an imminent attack by Russia, as Russia continues to demand that NATO not accept Ukraine as a member nation. US Jobless Claims were up, while Housing Starts were down. 

Here are the latest DJIA closes (this is the next list I intend to trim to just important dates): 

02/17/22  34,312.03
01/04/22	36,799.65 all-time record high close
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 pre-pandemic 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
01/03/22 at 4,796.56 all-time high
02/17/22 at 4,380.26

S&P has drifted only a bit from its all-time high of seven weeks ago.

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 
12/27/21 at 15,871.26 all-time high
02/17/22 at 13,716.72

Nasdaq managed to reach its all-time high before 2021 ended, but has suffered a 13% drop since, as tech has gotten hit hard.

The US Treasury market is focused not only on Inflation, the Fed’s announced tightening policy, and Ukraine and Russia. Two-year yields are now way back to where they were almost exactly two years ago.

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%
02/17/22 at 1.49% what a dramatic change, as the Fed moved into tightening policy to rein in inflation

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%
02/17/22 at 1.70% back to 2019 levels

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%
02/17/22 at 1.85% also back to 2019 levels

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%
02/17/22 at 1.94% also back to 2019 levels

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%
02/17/22 at 1.97% 

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%
02/17/22 at 2.31% 

Housing News:

The big housing news, besides the housing boom in Florida, is that Zillow, which purchased a record number of homes in the Q2 (although fewer than its competitor Opendoor purchased), has decided to halt purchasing homes outright. This strategic decision to stop its automated home-flipping business was implemented temporarily, according to Bloomberg. The company says that the halt was due to its being “beyond operational capacity in [Zillow Offers] business.” Zillow is now connecting homeowners who are looking to sell their homes to its local Premier Agent partners. The news was not received well by investors, as Zillow’s stock took a beating after Sunday’s announcement. It appears that the online real-estate company, nearly 17 years in the business, poorly managed the human aspect of the business, while developing the technology to accurately predict home values. So, it was supply constraints on the human vendor side. Yet, Opendoor Technologies didn’t seem to have a problem handling high volumes. Opendoor now operates in 44 markets, and all but 2 of Zillow’s 25 markets. It’s a kind of odd situation with the backdrop that nationally the country is in short supply of homes for people to purchase, but Zillow now has a backlog of homes to sell.  
Today’s US Census Bureau and US Dept of HUD jointly announced the statistics for January. Building Permits were up 0.7% over December rate and up 0.8% year/year. Housing Starts, however, were down 4.1% over December rate, but still up 0.8% year/year. That was a large chunk of a decline month/month. Single-Family Housing Starts were worse, down 5.6% month/month.  Housing Completions, probably due to horrific weather throughout the middle and northeast of the country, were down 5.2% month/month and down 6.2% year/year. 

It is still unclear if the “Great Reshuffling” that Zillow predicts (a permanence in remote work due to COVID-19), is taking place or not yet. Some companies are saying that for a month or so, employees can work from home. But, then there is also the impact of several companies now requiring employees to be vaccinated, which has differing impacts. See HEALTH section below. The fastest rent rise in 5 years is adding to concerns over UK cost of living increase. 

Repo/Securities Financing News:                               

So, I mentioned at the start that I am currently consulting on a new product for the Securities Financing market, Modified Repo. It could impact broker/dealers, CCPs, seclending agents, mREITs, pension funds, municipalities, money funds, central banks, sovereign wealth funds, corporate credit unions, ETFs, hedge funds, asset managers, and other sectors.  If you get a chance, ask me about it.

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:  03/16/22, 05/04/22, 06/15/22, 07/27/22, 09/21/22, 11/02/22, and 12/14/22. All of the scheduled 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. At the last FOMC meeting on 01/26/22, the accompanying statement focused on the Fed’s longer-run goals, tightening monetary policy as a strategy to rein in inflation, and the principles for reducing the size of the Fed’s balance sheet. It decided to leave the interest rate paid on Reserve balances at 0.15%, maintained the Fed Funds rate target in a range of 0.00-0.25% (unchanged), complete the increase of SOMA holdings of US Treasuries by $40 billion and Agency MBS by $20 billion per its monthly purchase plan, but reduce that in February to $20 billion and $10 billion respectively, while leaving it the option to buy Treasuries and Agency MBS as it sees fit to sustain smooth functioning of those outright markets. It also agreed to continue to reinvest all principal payments from US Treasuries and interest payments from Agency Debt and Agency MBS into Agency MBS purchases. It also said it would continue to engage in Dollar Roll and Coupon Swap transactions as necessary to facilitate the settlement of the Fed’s Agency MBS transactions. It also said it would conduct O/N Repos with a minimum Bid rate of 0.25% and with a limit of $500 billion (which can be increased temporarily if necessary at the discretion of the Fed Chairman), conduct O/N Reverse Repo operations at an Offering rate of 0.05% and with a per-counterparty limit of $160 billion per day (a limit which can also be increased temporarily if necessary at the discretion of the Fed Chairman), 

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 in July 2021 issued an additional statement regarding “Repurchase Agreement Arrangements”. It announced the establishment of a domestic Standing Repo Facility (SRF) and a repo facility for foreign and international monetary authorities (FIMA Repo Facility). Both facilities are intended to be backstops to the money market. 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.’ 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 stricter regulations.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

Here are significant earthquakes for just two days. Activity seems concentrated in the South Pacific, especially on both sides of the Pacific Rim:

02/18 4.9 W of Macquarie Island
02/18 4.5 NW of Tual, Indonesia
02/17 5.1 Mid-Indian Ridge
02/17 5.1 ESE of Ishinomaki, Japan
02/17 5.2 SSW of Chirilagua, El Salvador
02/17 5.5 Kermadec Islands, New Zealand
02/17 4.6 Xinjiang-Qinghai border region
02/17 5.1 S of Banjar, Indonesia
02/17 5.2 SSW of Ohonua, Tonga


After balmy weather in the Midwest and Northeast that melted most of the snow in the last few days, temperatures plummeted by as much as degrees in some areas, bringing a large cold front in from the Plains and Canada into the upper Midwest, Ohio Valley, and the Northeast. It is preceded by strong gusty winds and followed by a strong clipper system which will bring snow, cold temperatures, and blizzard conditions across the northern Plains and Upper Mississippi Valley. Here in Florida, after a mild cold front that dipped temperatures into the 50s and 60s with strong winds, we have risen back into the low 80s with plenty of sunshine.

The Atlantic Hurricane Season BEGINS June 1st and ends November 30th.  On 12/09/21, CSU issued an extended forecast for the 2022 hurricane season, predicting slightly above-average activity with 13-16 named storms, 6-8 hurricanes, and 2-3 major hurricanes. La Nina pattern should keep the area active, after two consecutive years of higher-than-average named storms. La Nina has the opposite effect from El Nino, which is when Pacific waters are warmed and there tends to be fewer hurricanes in the Atlantic. 2021 was the third most active hurricane season on record for named storms with 21 named storms and 7 hurricanes. 2020 had 30 named storms and 2005 had 28 named storms.

The Pacific Hurricane Season BEGINS 5/1/21 and ends 11/1/21. Cyclone Batsirai made landfall in Madagascar, displacing at least 112,000 people and leaving more than 100 dead.

Sports News:       


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.

In the 2021 pandemic-impacted season, in the World Series, the Atlanta Braves shocked the sports world by beating the favored Houston Astros 4 games to 2. 

For 2022, pitchers and catchers were supposed to report to Spring Training on 02/16/22. After contentious wrangling between the Players Union and the owners over the Collective Bargaining Agreement, no one showed up yet to Spring Training. There are worries that Spring Training will be cancelled and/or the regular season could be cancelled or delayed. Remember, in 1994, MLB players went on strike. The sport took a few years to recover, helped along by a HR battle between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa that brought the fans back and seemed to be enthusiastically supported by Owners, who made a lot of money on the rebirth. But, then when it came to the Hall of Fame, MLB and the owners turned the back on the two steroid-amped sluggers. So, I think I will be singing a couple of Spring Training game National Anthems for the Astros, Nationals, Marlins and/or Cardinals, but we’ll see.


The PGA Tour 2020-2021 season was an expanded one, due to COVID-19 related cancellations and postponements, mostly in 2020. 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 2022 season kicked off in Hawaii and has now moved to the California leg. The PGA Tour’s Genesis Invitational, hosted by Tiger Woods, is being held at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, CA. Today, in Round 2, J. Niemann is leading at -12, after opening with a blistering 63. In an interview, Tiger expressed his frustration with his slow recovery from his car crash that left one of his legs crippled (it nearly had to be amputated). His goals are still to walk normally again and possibly play a few golf tournaments a year. He does not expect to play full golf schedule ever again. Anika Sorenstam, continuing her comeback after 11 years of retirement, has filed entry into the US Women’s Open. A fire has devastated the iconic Oakland Hills CC clubhouse. World No.1 ranked Jon Rahm was voted the European Tour’s Player of the Year. A breakaway Saudi-backed Super Golf League is threatening the PGA Tour. It would be fronted by Greg Norman. Several PGA players have come out against it, including Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, and Brooks Koepka. Reportedly, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Adam Scott, and Phil Mickelson have been mulling offers from the new league. There is a rumor that Bryson is being offered as much as $135 million. Norman announced in January that the Saudi-funded golf tournaments would be played in Great Britain and the Middle East as part of a new 10-event series on the Asian Tour. Norman intends to hold tournaments in the future also on US soil. 


The 2020 NFL season ended with Super Bowl LV, which was played in Tampa Bay, with the Bucs beating the Chiefs 31-9. It was the first time that a team had played in the Super Bowl in their home stadium.

The 2021 NFL season ended with a dramatic playoff schedule of many close and Overtime games. In the end, the Los Angeles Rams beat the Cincinnati Bengals (who were the worst team in the NFL only 2 years ago), 23-20. The Rams did not cover the 4 point spread. Rams WR Cooper Kupp was named the MVP of the Super Bowl and the game was played coincidentally in the Rams’ brand new home stadium, which cost $5.2 billion to build. It was only the second time (and in a row) that a team had played in the Super Bowl in their home stadium.

For those Washington Football Team fans, the options for the new name were: Defenders, Commanders, Presidents, Armada, Redhawks, Brigade, and just leaving it as is. A couple of weeks ago, Washington chose Commanders as the new name. Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. Already in this off-season there have been many coaching changes, major retirements, and available free agents.  Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger and Bucs QB Tom Brady announced their retirements. Also announcing their retirements from the NFL: Rams WR Eric Weddle, Eagles Guard Brandon Brooks, Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi, Ravens S Anthony Levine, and Falcons TE Lee Smith. There were 7 Head Coach changes for 2022, including the helm of Vikings, Bears, Giants, Broncos, Jaguars, Raiders, and Dolphins. The latter one was a bit of a surprise, since under Flores, the Dolphins made the playoffs. After his dismissal, accused and sued the NFL and the Dolphins ownership of racial discrimination and accused the owner of the Dolphins of offering him an extra $100,000 for each game the Dolphins lost 2 years ago (which would have put them on track for the No.1 pick in the NFL Draft).  The Bengals extended the contract with head coach Taylor. The Cowboys have agreed to pay $2.4 million to settle cheerleaders’ locker-room voyeurism claims. The big question out there was whether Aaron Rodgers, after losing the NFC Championship, might finally retire. But, just announced, the former head coach of the Packers is coming out of retirement to coach his former team. This may mollify Rodgers and have him continue. He has been a lot less waffling about his engagement, which he just called off, to Shailene Woodley. 

NCAA Basketball

The 2020-2021 season began in November. The 2021 NCAA tournament, March Madness, yielded the national champion, undefeated Gonzaga. We are rapidly approaching the 2022 NCAA tournament now. Coach K exited a Duke game this week with an illness. MSU head coach Izzo is one win behind tying Bobby Knight for most Big Ten wins. 


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. In the end, The Tampa Bay Lightning repeated as Stanley Cup Champions, beating the Montreal Canadiens 4-1. 

The 2021-2022 season began on 10/20/21 (Wednesday) and is in the midst of its normal 82-game schedule. On Tuesday night, Sydney Crosby scored his 500th goal. 


The 2020-2021 NBA season tipped off more than two months later than usual on 12/22/20. The Suns beat the Bucks for the Championship. The 2021-2022 NBA season is in the midst of its normal 82-game schedule and has seen some huge trades in the past few days. At the trade deadline, the Brooklyn Nets traded star James Harden to the 76ers for star Ben Simmons. The back story is that Harden has more or less forced his way out. Harden is still out through at least the All-Star break and his new team got crushed Tuesday night after the trade by the Celtics, 135-87. The Celtics are on a 9-game winning streak. Announcer Charles Barkley says he will “probably” retire from TNT at the end of his contract. The Milwaukee Bucks signed DeAndre’ Bembry. Timberwolves signed Beverley to a 1year contract extension. The All-Star game is this Saturday night. 


The Winter Olympics are in full swing in Beijing, China. However, the Games have been hampered by the pandemic, forcing some athletes not to compete and forcing those that got sick while at the Olympics to have to withdraw and be quarantined. Also, there has been minimal crowd presence, due to pandemic restrictions. The NHL refused to let any of its players play in this Winter Games, due to the omicron variant. Russia is banned by the IOC from competing due to their recent blood-doping scandal. Russian skater Kamila Valieva broke into tears after taking the ice for the first time since the controversial doping scandal ruling. The 15-year-old has been at the center of Russia’s doping scandal, and although the crowd was very supportive, IOC officials have been postponing any medal ceremonies that could involve Valieva, as they sort out what to do with her. She had been cleared by a top sports court on Monday to participate in competition, despite being tested and found positive for a banned substance. During her performance, NBC announcers Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski were decidedly silent, holding back their comments but not their feelings. USA women’s hockey team will play nemesis Canada for the Gold medal. USA men’s hockey team was also on track to play for gold medal, having won all of their games so far. But, Slovakia tied them with 43 seconds left on Wednesday and then won in a shootout in their Quarterfinal game. Canada men were also stunned by Finland, clearly USA and Canada were most impacted by not having their NHL players.  Sweden, Finland, Slovakia, and ROC (Russia) are in the Semifinals. USA Curling men’s and women’s teams are also on track for potential gold medals. As of 02/16/22, the medal count (of a total of over 300 medals to be awarded in 15 sports and 109 events) stands at:

1.	Norway 13 gold, 28 total
2.	Germany 10 gold, 20 total
3.	USA 8 gold, 19 total
4.	China 7 gold, 13 total
5.	Austria 6 gold, 17 total
You may be wondering, as was I, why does Norway continue to rack up Winter Olympic medals? It has a cold climate and a love of winter sports. But, it also has lottery-funded programs to develop Olympic athletes, which make it a perennial powerhouse. Other countries, like the US, rely on lucrative sports, not some of the obscure winter sports, to generate more participation.

Auto Racing: 

The NASCAR Cup Series of 2022 has begun. Here is the 2022 schedule and winners:

02/06/22 Busch Clash at LA Memorial Coliseum-Joey Logano
02/17/22 Bluegreen Vacations Duel 1 at Daytona
02/17/22 Bluegreen Vacations Duel 2 at Daytona
02/20/22 DAYTONA 500
02/27/22 Wise Power 400 Fontana,CA
03/06/22 Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas
03/13/22 Ruoff Mortgage 500 at Phoenix
03/20/22 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta
03/27/22 EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Austin
04/03/22 Toyota Owners 400-Richmond Raceway
04/09/22 Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 at Martinsville
04/17/22 Food City Dirt Race at Bristol
04/24/22 GEICO 500 at Talladega
05/01/22 DuraMAX Drydene 400 at Dover
05/08/22 NASCAR Cup Series at Darlington
05/15/22 NASCAR Cup Series at Kansas
05/22/22 NASCAR All-Star Open at Texas 
05/22/22 NASCAR All-Star Race at Texas
05/29/22 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway
06/05/22 NASCAR Cup Series at WWTR in Illinois
06/12/22 Toyota Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway
06/26/22 Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway
07/03/22 Kwik Trip 250 presented by JOCKEY at Road America
07/10/22 Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart at Atlanta
07/17/22 Ambettor 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway
07/24/22 NASCAR Cup Series at Pocono Raceway
07/31/22 Verizon 200 at the Brickyard Indianapolis
08/07/22 FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan
08/14/22 Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond
08/21/22 Go Bowling at The Glen, Watkins Glen
08/27/22 Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona
09/04/22 PLAYOFFS round of 16: Southern 500 at Darlington
09/11/22 PLAYOFFS: Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas
09/17/22 PLAYOFFS: Bass Pros Shops Night Race at Bristol
09/25/22 PLAYOFFS round of 12: AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas
10/02/22 PLAYOFFS: YellaWood 500 at Talladega
10/09/22 PLAYOFFS: Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte
10/16/22 PLAYOFFS round of 8: South Point 400 at Las Vegas
10/23/22 PLAYOFFS: Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami
10/30/22 PLAYOFFS: Xfinity 500 at Martinsville
11/06/22 PLAYOFFS CHAMPIONSHIP at Phoenix 

Formula One integrity is hanging in the balance after failure to publish an Abu Dhabi report.  There was a 23-race F1 calendar for 2021. It did not begin until 3/28/21. F1 has announced another 23-race F1 calendar for 2022. Here is the 2022 schedule and here are the winners:

03/20/22-Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix
03/27/22-Saudi Arabia
04/10/22-Australia Heineken
04/24/22-Italy Rolex Gran Premio Dell-Emilia Romagna
05/08/22-United States Miami 
05/22/22-Spain Pirelli Gran Premio de Espana
07/03/22-Great Britain
07/10/22-Austria Grosser Preis Von Osterreich
07/31/22-Hungary Magyar Nagydij
08/28/22-Belgium Rolex 
09/04/22-Netherlands Heineken Dutch
09/11/22-Italy Pirelli Gran Premio D’Italia
09/25/22-Russia VTB
10/23/22-United States Aramco
11/13/22-Brazil Heineken
11/30/22-Abu Dhabi Etihad Airways

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).  The 2022 schedule and the winners:

02/27/22 St. Petersburg
03/20/22 Texas
04/10/22 Long Beach
05/01/22 Barber
05/14/22 Indy Road Course
05/29/22 Indy 500
06/05/22 Detroit
06/12/22 Elkhart Lake
07/03/22 Mid-Ohio
07/17/22 Toronto
07/23/22 Iowa
07/24/22 iowa
07/30/22 Indy Road Course
08/07/22 Nashville
08/20/22 St. Louis
09/04/22 Portland
09/22/22 Laguna Seca

Travel News:

Ecosystems around lakes all over the world are changing and it may cause those lakes to look very different sooner than later. On a similar topic, lovers of Lake Tahoe take an aggressive approach year-round to “Keep Tahoe Blue”, with people regularly diving in the lake to the bottom to clean up any garbage in the lake that straddles the Nevada and California border. Saudi Arabia has turned an oil rig into a resort for thrill-seekers, renovating an old rig with 800 hotel rooms, 11 restaurants, water slides, a wave pool, roller coasters, ziplines, bungee-jumping, go-karts, submersibles, and even a Ferris wheel. Naturally, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has named it “The Rig”. Investigators believe a massive 1,200-foot Panamanian cargo ship ruptured the California oil pipeline with its anchor, dragging the pipeline and releasing thousands of gallons of crude oil into the ocean off of California. Delta and Peloton are teaming up to offer stretching classes in the air. Supposedly, it won’t impact the passenger next to you on already tight-seating flights. The new classes will be available, complete with instructors, for “all Delta Air Lines flights equipped with seatback entertainment globally.” The classes will focus on stretching and mid-flight meditation. I’m still skeptical of the impact in such close quarters, but it’s a brilliant branding move by Peloton.  A rogue 58-foot wave off the coast of Canada’s Vancouver Island in 2020 took everyone by surprise. It was a record wave, not because of its height, but because of the disparity between it and all the waves around it. Researchers believe such a wave is so rare that is likely happens only once every 1,300 years. I’ve been extolling the virtues of the new high-speed train service here in Florida, Brightline, which was then purchased by Virgin Atlantic. They have beautiful trains with white upholstery and flight attendant service of snacks and drinks and gorgeous terminals (better than airport terminals) at West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and Miami cruise ship nexus. Well, it started out great less than 4 years ago, cutting the commute time from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale to 30min at 88mph (from what would have been a horrendous drive on deadly I95 for as much as an hour) and to Miami in one hour (a drive on the same deadliest stretch of highway in the US on I95 that could take as much as 2 ½ hours)! I’ve taken it several times. Then, COVID-19 hit and the service had to be shut down for 17 months. It reopened a short while ago and I hopped on to go to and from Miami. Well, unfortunately, on the way back the train hit somebody committing suicide, so the 135 or so of us found ourselves as part of some unfortunate man’s suicide, and also found ourselves with a 4-hour delay. Unfortunately, because the train travels at 88mph and runs on the same heavy track that the freight trains run on at about 20mph, many people and cars think they can get across below the gates without getting hit. But, also many people have found it a convenient way to commit suicide. In the short time that it has been operating, 50 people have already committed suicide on this stretch of track. It’s very hard to stop, as people could cross the track at any point, unless they put up many cameras so they can stop the train or they fence in all of their land. However, at the crossings, the fencing probably wouldn’t work. I don’t know the solution, but it is a big problem. Ironically, probably for the copycat attention, another man committed suicide in West Palm Beach the next day, stepping in front of a freight train on the same track. And, just two days ago a car tried to run the gate in Delray Beach on the same track and was demolished, killing one and injuring another. In other Brightline news, they just received a shipment of a train from California that can run at about 110mph, just as they are completing track extension to Orlando, to be followed by another track extension to Tampa. Meanwhile, a station for Boca Raton has been approved. Stay tuned for more updates! 

Health News:  

As of this today (02/18), globally, over 5.8 million people have died from COVID-19.  More than 420,549,512 people have been confirmed infected with COVID-19. In the US, confirmed cases of COVID-19 have surpassed 78.2 million peopleand are rising with the Omicron variant and slowdown of vaccinations. Of that, US deaths from the pandemic have surpassed 931,939. The US has the most deaths from COVID-19 of any country in the world. A BA.2 subvariant of Omicron has arrived, but lab studies point to no signs of severity. Omicron seemed to have less severe symptoms than the Delta variant, so it seems each variant is becoming less severe, especially for those people who have had both vaccinations and the booster. However, “stealth Omicron” could be more dangerous than the initial version. Despite being extremely careful throughout the pandemic, I finally tested positive on 12/29/21, unfortunately the day I was to fly to the Peach Bowl in Atlanta to see Michigan State beat Pittsburgh. I stayed home, so I wouldn’t infect anyone else, particularly those with weaker immune systems than I have. I had only a little fogginess, congestion, and a cough for a few days. Unfortunately, I kept testing positive for 16 days, so I kept quarantining! Here in Florida, the State reached 68,000 deaths, but hospitalizations have continued to go down.

Almost overnight, Japan has become a mysterious COVID-19 success story, and it is not sure whether to attribute it to masks or vaccines or something else. 70% of US adults now have at least 1 vaccine dose. Cases of COVID-19 are now surging in South Korea, prompting the government to allot a window specifically for those who test positive for the virus to vote in the election. 

A major topic in the news lately is about which companies or industries are requiring employees to be vaccinated or lose their jobs. With a nationwide spike in COVID-19 cases, particularly of the highly contagious Delta variant and Omicron variant (and concern about the new Delta+ variant), more companies have moved to require employees to be vaccinated. 

Let’s see if I can inject a little positive news. The pandemic has been blamed for many things going wrong in the world. It has even been named the culprit for the majority of folks gaining weight, unable to go to the gym, hanging around the house and overeating. I am aware that the quest for a satisfactory body for some of us is somewhat an eternal one. A drug called Regovy, which has previously been approved as a diabetes treatment, was approved by the FDA for weight loss in June. Some people have rightfully said that obesity reflects the inequities in our society as a whole, and the high cost of this medication (about $1600/month) seems to actually bolster that argument. Doctors are debating about the upcoming flu season.  Americans have had 2 light flu seasons in a row and that is probably most due to new levels of cleanliness and masks for covid-19. Now, that things have opened up a bit from the pandemic, some doctors worry that the flu season could be worse than the last two. For that matter, the common cold has seemed rarer too, probably for the same reasons, and that also may make a comeback. 5-to-11-year-old children will now be offered COVID-19 vaccine in England. People waiting for an organ on a waitlist who are Type O blood can be tragic, as it’s much harder. However, scientists in Canada report they are one step closer to the possibility of converting most organs to the universal blood Type O. A Brooklyn street gang has been arrested and charged with stealing $4.3 million in COVID-19 relief money, after getting caught flashing the cash on social media. Members of the Woo gang allegedly used 800 stolen identities to make a thousand false claims for pandemic unemployment benefits. 

Animal News:

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a giant sea scorpion that date back about 435 million years ago.  The scorpion, found in China, measured a meter in length and had long barbed limbs. Researchers have discovered that Iron Age miners had dietary staples of cheese and beer in Europe. Researchers examined preserved fecal matter dating back 2,700 years from salt mines in Austria and found evidence of two species of fungi often used to ferment cheese and beer. Interestingly, miners from the 18th and 19th century had the same taste for cheese and beer. Last month, the first aardvark was born in the 90-year history of the Chester Zoo in England.  Aardvarks are native to sub-Saharan Africa and there are only 109 in zoos worldwide. 

Entertainment News:

I am in the midst of the 11-year program Criminal Minds on Netflix. I just finished season 9. I also watched the first 7 episodes of the 3rd season of Ozark just released, which was crazy, and I anxiously await the second set of 7 episodes to be released. I’m also trying to keep up with The Book of Boba Fett on Disney+.  Actor Zachary Horwitz admitted fabricating HBO and Netflix film deals in a $650-million Ponzi scheme that prosecutors say is the largest in Hollywood history. He has been sentenced to 20 years in prison. Nick Clegg has been promoted to the top job at Facebook. Prince Andrew remains in the news regarding accusations of a tie-in with Jeffrey Epstein’s trouble. Jess Phillips says the idea of Prince Andrew supporting such human trafficking is “ridiculous”. Lisa Barlow stormed off the set during the Season 2 reunion of Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. Chris and Deanna Daughtry send a message to supporters, 3 months after their daughter’s death. Kanye “Ye” West has filed an official response after Kim Kardashian requests to be legally single. Prince Harry said he “doesn’t feel safe” bringing his and Meghan Markle’s kids to the UK. John Mayer refers to himself as “America’s Ex-Boyfriend.” Brad Pitt has sued ex Angelina Jolie over their joint winery. If you ever wished you could live at Disneyland (and I’m sure many kids have), now you basically can.  UNCHARTED movie with Mark Wahlberg is getting bad reviews. Robert Pattinson is the latest BATMAN. Alex Baldwin and others have been named in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Halyna Hutchins. Coachella and Stagecoach festivals have just dropped their vaccination requirements. 

Technology & Space News:

Swatch is going back to its roots and relaunching many of the simple, yet groovy, watch styles that made the brand famous in the 1980s.  Google announced that it would run its operations at offices and data centers using energy from clean sources by 2030. iPhone manufacturer Foxconn has revealed its first electric-vehicle prototypes. Boeing’s Starliner Spaceship is delayed some more. Dubai has achieved a Guinness World Record, dedicated to the latest research on robotic and drone technologies. The city has made a name for itself over the last decade for innovations in architecture, engineering, and construction industries. It has been the pioneer of construction 3D printing. it just completed the world’s first 3D-printed laboratory and the building was the world’s first 3D-printed building entirely on site. Yahoo ceased operations in China on Monday. That follows announcements by Microsoft’s LinkedIn and Epic Games that they would shut down in China by mid-November. The companies saw the new personal information protection law as the last straw. Samuel Adams, from my Boston roots, is introducing a limited-edition IPA made with 66 pounds of hops that went into space in September on the first-ever all-civilian space mission. Naturally, it is called Space Craft (as in craft brewing), and will be available beginning 11/16 in select markets and online. The beer reportedly has elements of grapefruit, passion fruit, and guava. Tesla stock, has declined nearly 31% from its peak, but a few analysts think it may go lower. On Wednesday, Airbnb reported its Q4 of FY12/21 earnings and they were much higher than expected. I watched a story about how there is now a service similar to Airbnb, but for RVs, for people who would like to travel in an RV. Meta Platforms is continuing to grow its user base. This is supposed to be the next Facebook. The pandemic and contactless commerce has made us all much more familiar with QR codes. However, experts want you to know that QR codes can make consumers susceptible to “quishing” or phishing. Cybercriminals seem to be banking on human behavior that’s developed into blindly clicking or scanning anything. It is another example that questions society’s overall digital literacy. 

US News:

The lack of workers in key industries, post the height of the COVID-19 pandemic is still a major topic for economists and business owners. The pandemic has seemed to change attitudes and priorities around work, and there are signs that many have moved on to an alternate economy. There were definitely certain jobs in certain industries, particularly restaurant and food service, in which the government subsidies and unemployment benefits outweighed the wages many people were receiving when working, so they changed their paths and never came back to the restaurants when they reopened. We see it in abundance here in Florida. And, of course, it has affected the supply chain, the food and liquor distributors to those restaurants, and the factories and farmers that produce those products for the distributors. Speaking about things that have been changed by the pandemic, many school districts are still trying to sort it out, when and how things could return back to ‘normal’ for kids.  The plan put forth by the US Department of Education to help schools manage the impact of lost instructional time seems to have eliminated an important part of the school day, recess.  

Billionaire ex-Walmart executive, Marc Lore, says the first 50,000 “settlers” of his planned $400 billion city “Telosa” will likely be selected through applications and they could move in by 2030. His futuristic utopia will be built on the concept of “equitism” a combination of equality and capitalism. Telosa gets its name from an Ancient Greek word meaning “higher purpose”. Residents reportedly will get around in autonomous vehicles and the city will run on renewable energy. Settlers will be able to build their own homes and sell them, but the city will maintain ownership of the land. The first phase will cost $25 billion, which is expected to be funded by investors and philanthropists, with help from government grants and subsidies. The location has yet to be chosen, several possibilities have been mentioned: Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Texas, and the Appalachian region. In July, Lore, like other fellow tech billionaires, and former Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez teamed up to buy the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves and the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx. Nestle said that it will keep raising prices, as costs increase. 

International News:

The horrifying news out of Haiti is that gangs have been kidnapping people, tourists, health workers, and even missionaries for ransom. They are also seizing goods, including food and medical supplies, and selling them back to the intended recipients.  Ted Cruz has blasted Australia’s COVID-19 rules and a top Australian official has ripped back at him. Deadly floods and landslides have swept away many homes in southern India. Thousands of people have been evacuated to relief camps and dozens have been killed. The rainfall was especially heavy this October. Well, the US military and intelligence community was served another wake-up call, as China launched a hypersonic vessel. China says it was a reusable vessel, while the Pentagon believes that it may have been a missile. China has been in the news lately regarding its continued purchases by Chinese companies (with backing from the government) of shipping ports all over the world, particularly South America and Greece. It seems to be giving China control over at least Europe’s supply chain, and is beginning to concern some European nations. Mexico is reportedly moving to seize American assets. The Ukraine crisis continues, as NATO is now considering new battlegroups in eastern Europe, as Russia appears not be de-escalating. 


I’m just catching up and redoing sections. There will be more Florida info in the next Repo Commentary.

Jokes and Such:

A praying mantis orders his 3rd beer at a bar and the bartender says, “hey Charlie, it’s almost 5pm, don’t you think you should be getting home to your wife?” the praying mantis says, “ah, she’s just going to bite my head off anyway.”

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