Thank you to all of you who wished me a Happy Birthday on July 11th. It was also Tom Sapio’s birthday, my former business partner at Cantor Fitzgerald.
Although my Repo Commentary took some time off since 2/18/2022 (although I wrote most of another one in March 2022), I am NOT RETIRED from the Securities Finance industry. I have recently completed several projects (below) and am looking to lend my almost 40 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: https://www.pierpoint.info/courses/the-fundamentals-of-repo.
- I continue to share my opinion and expertise with the industry through articles in various periodicals.
- I have been consulting with an electronic trading platform, potentially for Repo.
- I have been consulting for 2 years 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, contact me at
(email@example.com) or (firstname.lastname@example.org), or
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 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 (07/22):
- Hammock Day
- Lion’s Share Day
- National Mango Day
- National Penuche Fudge Day
- National Ratcatcher’s Day
- Pi Approximation Day or Casual Pi Day
- Spoonerism Day
- Summer Leisure Day
- National Press Day in Azerbaijan
- Revolution Day in The Gambia
- Sarawak Independence Day (Malaysia)
Some Famous People Born on (07/22):
- 1890-Rose Kennedy, American philanthropist
- 1928-Orson Bean, American actor
- 1932-Oscar de la Renta, Dominican-American fashion designer
- 1938-Terence Stamp, English actor
- 1940-Alex Trebek, Canadian-American game show host and producer
- 1941-George Clinton, American singer-songwriter and producer
- 1943-Bobby Sherman, American singer-songwriter and producer
- 1944-Rick Davies, English singer-songwriter and keyboard player (The Kinks)
- 1944-Sparky Lyle, American baseball player and manager
- 1946-Danny Glover, American actor, director, and producer
- 1947-Albert Brooks, American actor, comedian, director and screenwriter
- 1947-Don Henley, American singer-songwriter, drummer (Eagles)
- 1953-Brian Howe, English singer-songwriter (Bad Company)
- 1955-Willem Dafoe, American actor
- 1960-John Leguizamo, Colombian-American actor, producer, screenwriter
- 1964-David Spade, American actor, producer, screenwriter
- 1965-Shawn Michaels-American wrestler, trainer, and actor
- 1966-Tim Brown, American football player and coach
- 1972-Keyshawn Johnson, American football player and sportscaster
- 1973-Mike Sweeney, American baseball player, sportscaster
- 1992-Selena Gomez, American singer and actress
- 1995-Ezekiel Elliott, American football player
Daily Weird Facts:
In Russia, it’s now illegal to tell kids that gay people exist.
“When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.”—Elon Musk
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
$97.28/barrel on 07/22/22
My West Palm Beach gas station is charging $4.19/gallon, up 70 cents in 5 months, but below the national average. OPEC is meeting this week and the Ukrainian War is looming over oil prices. Why, you ask? Because the US Government has yet to open the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have produced 830,000 barrels of oil a day, making us less dependent on the 595,000 barrels of oil a day that we import from Russia.
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
136.03 on 07/21/22
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
07/21/22 at $1.0236
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
07/21/22 at $1.2017
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
1.2877 on 07/21/22
With data showing continuing price increases and the Fed’s aggressive concern about inflation, precious metals, a historic hedge against inflation has become a popular topic again. Gold prices:
07/27/20 a record $1,944.71/ounce
01/04/21 a new record $1,948.00
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
$23,143.10 on 07/22/22
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 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. Now, as I look at the moves since I wrote the last Repo Commentary, it was about $40,015 then and rallied to $47,454 on 03/28/22. Then it started the long road down, cratering at $18,948 on 06/18/22. It is currently struggling to maintain some upward momentum, but it is creating a long period of stable prices, which may lead to a breakout.
That flight to safety, anti-inflation move into Gold by investors is not being shared by the fiat currency Bitcoin, as some analysts said it could. Tesla earnings met Q2 expectations, so Elon Musk sold 75% of the company’s investment in Bitcoin on Wednesday. Surprisingly, Bitcoin did not go down. Perhaps, because he cited that he was open to buying more and he was selling it only because of China mining shutdowns. But, interestingly, he didn’t sell any of the company’s Dogecoin. Tesla bought about $1.5 billion worth of Bitcoin in early 2021, probably at prices around $38,000/coin, so he probably sold about $936,000 worth of Bitcoin at about $29,000/coin, according to analysts. Bitcoin closed Wednesday at $23,253/coin.
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. The ex-Coinbase manager has been arrested in a US crypto insider-trading case.
Global Financial News:
Allied Irish Bank has cancelled a controversial plan to remove cash services from 70 Irish branches.
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. The steps taken by the White House and the Federal Reserve to boost the economy out of a deep Recession from the pandemic caused a huge spike in inflation (but not much in GDP or Consumer Demand), which the Federal Reserve is now aggressively squashing. Unfortunately, in raising interest rates aggressively, the Fed is actually hurting Consumer Demand and GDP even more, bringing back the specter of Stagflation—a stagnant economy with high interest rates and prices.
Here are the latest DJIA closes (this is the next list I intend to trim to just important dates):
01/04/22 36,799.65 all-time record high close
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
07/21/22 at 3,955.47
S&P has drifted from its all-time high at the beginning of the year.
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
07/21/22 at 12,059.61
Nasdaq managed to reach its all-time high before 2021 ended, but has suffered a 20% 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
07/21/22 at 3.10%
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
07/21/22 at 3.07%
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
07/21/22 at 3.00%
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
07/21/22 at 2.99%
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%
07/21/22 at 2.91%
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%
07/21/22 at 3.08%
The roaring fire in the nation’s housing market, which saw many properties in bidding wars and many buyers unable to find homes, has been largely extinguished. Except for certain areas and certain price points, there has been a screeching halt due to the Fed’s aggressive inflation-fighting monetary tightening. Mortgage rates have nearly doubled from their lows a year or two ago. I have a friend who had a 6 5/8% 30-year mortgage and refinanced in May 2020, when the Fed Funds target rate was 0-0.25% for new 30-year mortgage at 3 3/8%. That same 30-year mortgage is now going for 6.67%, almost exactly what it was when she refinanced. The Fed is expected to raise its target Fed Funds rate another full 1% next Wednesday, which will make mortgages even further out of reach for the average home buyers. It hasn’t helped that home sellers are sitting on the high prices of months ago and not really budging. Top that off, builders are worried about getting stuck with expensive materials and their confidence has dropped and so has available supply. What do all those countering ebbs and flows mean? It means that Mortgage Applications are down 21% and supply and demand for home purchases has suddenly shrunk. Looking at Florida real estate, the brokers are telling me that June statistics show that Miami real estate is still on fire! They point to year/year median sales price +18.4% for single family homes, and +19.9% for townhouses and condos. However, they are overlooking that Closed Sales year/year are -20.1% and -25% respectively. Also, Months Supply of Inventory are +35.7% in single family homes. In Palm Beach County, Closed Sales are -30.5% for single family homes and -34.6% for townhouses/condos.
Repo/Securities Financing News:
My friend, Rob Goobie, at HOOPP, announced on LinkedIn that the Global Peer Financing Association (GPFA) has added BMO, taking the GPFA to membership with assets over $10 trillion! Awesome job by Rob and GPFA! As you know, P2P Financing was near and dear to me since 2008 and i’m very happy to see it taking off now and becoming an industry-led official organization to help global members. I just noticed that the upcoming 10/12-10/14 89th Annual Market Structure Conference in Washington, DC, put on by STA (Security Traders Association), is going to feature “Fireside Interviews” as panel presentations. This was an idea I pushed to our industry organizations to include in our conferences years ago. It’s a fireside chat, making the audience feel like they are privileged to be listening in on a private conversation, with a moderator who acts more like a newscaster interviewing people. Apparently, a few of my ideas were ahead of their time.
I mentioned at the top that I’ve been currently consulting on a new product for the Securities Financing market, Modified Repo. It could solve a lot of liquidity issues for 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.
Upcoming Securities Financing Conferences:
IMN-25th Beneficial Owners’ European Securities Finance & Collateral Management Conference, London, 9/13/22. In person.
RMA-Securities Finance and Collateral Management Conference, Key Biscayne, FL, 10/10-10/13/22 in person. I will be there and looking forward to seeing you all!
Securities Trading Association (STA)-89th annual Market Structure Conference, Washington, DC, 10/12-10/14/22 hybrid, in person and streamed.
Finadium-Rates & Repo Conference 2022, 11/02/22, NYC hybrid, streamed and in-person reception the following week.
Federal Reserve News:
The Fed Funds rate, which is still the target rate of Federal Reserve monetary policy and changes to which are made by and announced by the FOMC at regularly scheduled meetings, is currently set at 1.50-1.75% (remember, the Fed has been using a target ‘range’ for a while). When I last wrote, the target rate was still 0.00%-0.25%. But, then the Fed embarked on an aggressive tightening of monetary policy to combat rampant inflation. The last inflation reading was a historic 9.1%. But, simultaneously, GDP showed two negative consecutive quarters, the definition of a Recession. What is a Federal Reserve to do? Actually, the Fed has 2 main missions: Keep inflation in check (around 2%) and keep the unemployment rate at a low equilibrium level. It is not charged with keeping stocks from collapsing, supporting GDP, or other economic tasks, in its mission. The Fed is widely expected to raise the target Fed Funds rate again, this time by 1% (100bp), when it meets next week on 7/27/22.
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: 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.
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.
Earthquakes and Volcanoes:
Here are significant earthquakes for just two days. Will update next issue.
Heat waves across the United States have set record highs and affected over 140 million people. They have also severely tested that power grid in Texas, which is made up of many parts that are 50-years-old. Unprecedented, record-breaking heat waves across Europe, sending temperatures soaring into triple digits, have left more than 4,200 people dead.
The Atlantic Hurricane Season BEGAN 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 BEGAN 5/1/21 and ends 11/1/21.
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.
The 2022 season just hit its midpoint and held the All-Star Game, which the American League won 3-2. It was the least watched MLB All-Star Game ever. Maybe because of the contract negotiation nonsense. Julio Rodriguez, of the Mariners, won the Homerun Derby. He beat Juan Soto of the Nationals, just after news broke that the Nats are considering trading Soto. There was even some more Soto-dissing, as his flight landed at 1:30am before the Home Run Derby, after the Nationals refused to charter a flight, after he turned down another contract offer.
MLB and MLBPA finally agreed on a new CBA and played a shortened 15-game (instead of 30-game) Spring Training, before starting the regular season a little late. Unfortunately, I lost several opportunities to sing the National Anthem, with less games. I sang one game for the Nationals and Astros. And, I just sang “God Bless America” for a minor league game on July 4th, just before the fireworks. This weekend, Cooperstown will induct the Class of 2022, including David Ortiz.
While the Repo Commentary was away, the Mets hired Elizabeth Benn as director of Major League operations. Derek Jeter was out as the Marlins CEO, citing different “vision for the future of the franchise.” In the modern baseball era, 154 position players (non-pitchers) finished their professional careers with just one plate appearance in the Major Leagues. Of those, only 16 managed to get a hit in that at-bat. Joan Joyce, arguably the greatest softball player ever, once conquered baseball legends Hank Aaron and Ted Williams. She also competed on the LPGA Tour for 19 years. She is also in the Connecticut Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, a Volleyball coach who took her team the National Tournament 4 times, a professional bowler, a runner-up in ABC’s Superstars tennis competition, and has more than 900 wins as a coach at FAU, here in Boca Raton, FL. But, in professional softball, as a pitcher, she was 753-42, with a .09 ERA over 20 seasons, 150 no-hitters, and 50 perfect games, while hitting .400. It was estimated that she threw the softball 119 mph. She struck out Aaron in an exhibition game. Then she was supposed to pitch to my favorite player, Carl Yastrzemski, a few years later, but Yaz was too scared to face Joyce’s dreaded rise-ball, and told them no. In 1966, she faced Ted Williams for a Jimmy Fund fundraiser. She threw to him for about 10 minutes and he couldn’t make contact. Williams paid her the most supreme compliment, saying she was the greatest pitcher he’d ever faced.
The Phillies fired manager Joe Girardi and the Angels fired Joe Maddon. The Toronto Blue Jays fired their manager, Charlie Montoya, right before the All Star Game. They are still in contention for the AL Wild Card, so the timing is a little odd. But, everything is a little odd in the AL this year, as the Yankees have won nearly 75% of their games, way ahead of any other team in baseball. They are on pace for 113 wins, and a chance to catch the all-time record of 116 wins, set by the Mariners in 2001. My Red Sox are struggling way behind the Yankees, but in contention for the AL Wild Card spots. There have been other interesting baseball storylines, including speeding up the game with pitch clocks to 30 seconds (more changes being tried in minor leagues as well). While the ALCS and NLCS seem like they are eternally populated by the Dodgers, Yankees, Astros, and Braves, the Phillies, Orioles, and Mariners are showing some signs of life this year and may eventually upset the apple cart. The Phillies, after landing star Bryce Harper for the price of the rest of the team, have vaulted into domination, while the Nationals on the losing end of that free agency move, have fallen to obscurity. Nats Juan Soto is only 23, so there is going to be great demand for the slugger. Trading him would be a blockbuster move, similar to trades of Manny Machado, Mookie Betts, and Miguel Cabrera. The Mets and Red Sox have been talking about a trade for the Mets first baseman, Dominic Smith. There are also rumors that the Red Sox are also involved in the talks for Juan Soto. Yankees slugger Aaron Judge is a free agent at the end of this season. In fact, Jacob deGrom, Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts, Nolan Arenado, and Dansby Swanson could be free agents. Here’s a thought, the best player in baseball for the last 10 years, Mike Trout, is still on the hapless Angels. Now, the new phenom, MVP Shohei Ohtani, who is thrilling us at the plate and on the mound, is due to be a free agent in 18 months. Is he going to put up with the Angels mediocrity, like Trout? The trade deadline is 08/02/22.
After the creation of a new Competition Committee, commissioner Rob Manfred can finally implement new rules more quickly than in the past, and the indications are that MLB will have big changes prior to 2023. Two of those changes will be the pitch clock (currently being used in the Minor Leagues) and limits on the Infield Shift by fielders.
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 been exciting. World No.1 ranked Jon Rahm was voted the European Tour’s Player of the Year. The 2022 Majors have been played and were exciting. Ironically, the two best players in the 4 Majors, Rory McIlroy and Will Zalatoris (-29 and -21 performances), didn’t win any of them. The Open (British Open) was played last weekend and the winner was Cameron Smith, who snatched the tournament from Rory McIlroy at the end. The US Open was won by Matthew Fitzpatrick. The PGA Championship was won by Justin Thomas. The Masters was won by Scottie Sheffler. Now, the PGA makes its way back to the US for this week’s 3M Open. Currently, the Official World Golf Rankings show Scottie Sheffler at No.1, Cameron Smith at No.2, and Rory McIlroy at No.3.
Dominating golf news this season though, a breakaway Saudi-backed Super Golf League is threatening the PGA Tour. It has begun its abbreviated, 10 tournament season. Next week will be the 3rd tournament. It is 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 taken large offers from the new league. Brooks Koepka also did a 180 and joined LIV. There is a rumor that Bryson is being paid 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. Now, the NY Post reports that Charles Barkley will be play in an LIV Golf pro-am, as Greg Norman is preparing a broadcasting offer for him. Henrik Stinson has just joined the LIV Tour and being criticized by Padraig Harrington, who says he has “no empathy” for Henrik, and is on the committee that will decide the next captain of the European Ryder Cup team. The committee stripped Stinson of his captaincy for the Ryder Cup team, saying he signed a contract.
The upcoming golf tournament schedule has the PGA at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando, FL, starting Thursday 3/3, and for the PGA Tour players who weren’t invited to that, there is the alternate tournament, the Puerto Rico Open at Grand Reserve Golf Club in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, also starting on Thursday 3/3. Next week, the PGA Tour has the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, considered by many as the 5th Major. Remember that this year the Masters Tournament returns to its normal April slot, not the Fall slot it took because of the pandemic. The European Tour started the Kenya Open on 3/2 at Muthaiga GC. The LPGA is playing the HSBC Women’s Champion, starting 3/2, at Sentosa Golf Club-Tanjong Course.
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.
There were 7 Head Coach changes for 2022, including the helm of Vikings, Bears, Giants, Broncos, Jaguars, Raiders, and Dolphins.
QB Kyler Murray, on Thursday, reportedly agreed to a 5year/$230.5 million extension with the Cardinals. The Browns, perennially involved in the top pick of the Draft and an insatiable appetite for new QBs in the last 7 years, have decided that they do want another QB, but it won’t likely be Jimmy Garapolo. They paid up for QB Deshaun Watson as their No.1 QB, despite the likelihood that he will be suspended for sexual abuse charges for at least part of 2022 season by the NFL. No.2 QB Jacoby Brissett will step up to No.1 for now. They have A.J. McCarron and Josh Rosen working out now for the No.2 position. That would make Joshua Dobbs the No.3, until Watson comes off suspension. Since the 2018 Draft, Josh Rosen has been QB for the Falcons, the Cardinals, the Dolphins, the Bucs, and the 49ers. Reportedly, the Browns are still looking at QB Cam Newton! What is it with their fascination for collecting QBs??? Ravens QB Lamar Jackson has reported to training camp on Thursday, amidst contract questions. The Cowboys’ classic helmets will return for Thanksgiving Day game. The Bills are hoping to make the Super Bowl with QB Josh Allen, or there will be personnel changes. There are rumors, started by his girlfriend, that TE Rob Gronkowski will come out of retirement (again) to play football this season. I hope he knows that the Bucs just signed TE Kyle Rudolph, likely Gronk’s replacement.
Texas A&M star WR Ainias Smith was arrested on DWI, weapon, and marijuana charges. On the heels of winning the National Championship over Alabama, Georgia rewarded coach Kirby Smart with a massive new contract through 2031.
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. It ended with a spectacular playoff schedule. The Tampa Bay Lightning tried to 3-peat as Stanley Cup Champions, but ultimately lost to the Colorado Avalanche.
NHL is now in free agency time, and my Boston Bruins, who did okay in last season’s playoffs, are rumored to be interested in Flames star Matthew Tkachuk. Niederreiter got a 2year deal with the Predators. Kapanen has signed with the Penguins. The Bruins have yet to re-sign their 36-year-old Captain, Bergeron. Other free agents available still are: Kadri, Kessel, Stastny, Klingberg, Subban, Yandle, and Holtby.
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 had a normal 82-game schedule and the Finals were won by the Warriors over my Boston Celtics in an exciting series. The Summer League has just completed, sort of their developmental league and spring training. Kings’ Keegan Murray has been named MVP of Summer League. The Summer League title went to the Portland Blazers.
Wednesday night, ESPN held the ESPY Awards, hosted by Steph Curry. He roasted LeBron James, the Celtics, and many more. The Sixers announced plans to build a new $1.3 billion arena. Harden has agreed to a 2year deal with the 76ers. The Suns re-signed Ayton. Bucks signed Connaughton to an extension. The Cavaliers have unveiled 3 new uniforms for upcoming season.
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
04/24/22-Italy Rolex Gran Premio Dell-Emilia Romagna
05/08/22-United States Crypto.com Miami
05/22/22-Spain Pirelli Gran Premio de Espana
07/10/22-Austria Grosser Preis Von Osterreich
07/31/22-Hungary Magyar Nagydij
09/04/22-Netherlands Heineken Dutch
09/11/22-Italy Pirelli Gran Premio D’Italia
10/23/22-United States Aramco
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
04/10/22 Long Beach
05/14/22 Indy Road Course
05/29/22 Indy 500
06/12/22 Elkhart Lake
07/30/22 Indy Road Course
08/20/22 St. Louis
09/22/22 Laguna Seca
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!
As of today (02/22), globally, over 6.38 million people have died from COVID-19. More than 567,000,000 people have been confirmed infected with COVID-19. The US has the most deaths from COVID-19 of any country in the world. The COVID-19 pandemic, one of the deadliest in history, triggered severe social and economic disruption around the world, including the largest global recession since the Great Depression. Widespread supply shortages, including food shortages, were caused by supply chain disruption. The resultant near-global lockdowns created and unprecedented reduction in pollution. Educational institutions, public areas, and entertainment venues were partially or fully closed, as were businesses and restaurants, and many events were cancelled or postponed. Misinformation circulated through social media and mass media, and political tensions dramatically increased. The pandemic raised issues of racial and geographic discrimination, health equity, and the balance between public health goals and individual rights. Resultant business restrictions and remote working permanently restructured the economy, leading to workers leaving jobs and changing careers, and businesses severely reduced or permanently shuttered. The impact of the lack of skilled workers now in certain industries and at certain levels of workforce hierarchy is still being felt today, expressed in the airline industry’s cancellations of flights, restaurants restricted hours or tables, commercial real estate vacancy increases, etc. due to lack of workers.
Despite being extremely careful throughout the pandemic, having both Pfizer shots and the subsequent two booster shots, 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! On Thursday, President Biden tested positive for COVID-19, raising health concerns for the 79-year-old President. His symptoms are reportedly very mild.
We all have that one friend (or more) that gets on the topic of sleeplessness (particularly in our very stressful industry) and then extols the virtues of Melatonin. Yeah, you know the friend! Anyway, GoodRX tells members that melatonin is used to help control your sleep-wake cycle and there is no good evidence that taking too much of the supplement can lead to an overdose. However, high doses can cause side effects like these: serious complications in adults who take high doses of melatonin combined with other sedating medications or substances, like alcohol; headache; nausea; drowsiness; irritability; and dizziness. If you are feeling side effects of taking too much melatonin and are drowsy, you CAN got to sleep, but you should have an adult with you, until you are fully awake and rested. That adult staying with you should try to wake you up every 30 minutes while you are sleeping. And, if your breathing becomes irregular or if you are unable to wake up, 911 should be called or you should be taken to the nearest Emergency room. Amazon announced that it would buy primary-care company One Medical for $3.49 billion. It will add this part of healthcare to its recently acquired mail-order pharmacy PillPack.
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.
A rise in reported shark attacks has beachgoers and officials concerned up and down the East Coast from Massachusetts to Florida, and the California coast. On Wednesday, a 16-year-old surfer was bitten by a shark on Long Island, becoming the 6th Long Island beachgoer to be attacked by a shark this summer. He was bitten about 60 feet offshore at Kismet Beach on Fire Island, and suffered a 4-inch gash on his foot. Beachgoers are now seeing red flags on Long Island beaches, closed Boston beaches, and shark patrols in Miami. Here in Florida, this past weekend, friends of mine went to the Lake Worth beach and pier, just 5 minutes from here and saw a 9-foot tiger shark prowling in very shallow water, which led to the entire beach being closed for the day. Last weekend, a 40-year-old woman was bitten on the leg, presumably by a shark, while wading in Daytona Beach Shores. On Tuesday, all Rockaway beaches in NYC were closed following multiple shark sightings, according to police. In California, a 62-year-old swimmer suffered major injuries to his stomach, arm and leg in an great white shark attack last month. Now, the reality versus the media hoopla: last year, only one person in the US died from an unprovoked shark attack, a man who was boogie-boarding in California’s Morro Bay on Christmas Eve. Researchers with the International Shark Attack File DID record 73 unprovoked attacks last year, an uptick from the decade-low 52 bites in 2020, but closer to the 5-year global average of 72 annually. According to the Shark Attack File, 1 in 79,746 people will be struck by lightning and die, much higher than the risk of dying from a shark attack, which is 1 in more than 3.7 million. Okay, let’s hear from the Defenders of Wildlife, who point out that bees kill more people every year (53), as do cows (52). So, if you go on vacation, you needn’t worry as much about sharks, as you should about getting to and from your vacation, since according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates, in 2021, nearly 43,000 people died in the US from motor vehicle crashes. That’s the deadliest year since 2005 for vehicle deaths. In 2020, the fatality rate for motor vehicle crashes in the US was 11.7 per 100,000 people, way higher than shark attacks or deaths. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, that fatality rate was 4.9 per 100,000 in Massachusetts (being from Massachusetts, I am quite dubious of that number), to as high as 25.4 per 100,000 in Mississippi. In a person’s life, the risk of dying from an auto accident is 1 in 84, per Shark Attack File. Currently, people have a 1 in 5 chance of dying of heart disease and a 1 in 7 chance of dying of cancer, according to the same organization. So, are we off the sharks now? Did you know that some 4,000 people in the US die of drowning every year, according to the CDC. And, an additional 8,000 people end up in the ER.
Okay, I think I dug up enough information about death and death rates to even make me squeamish. Let’s look at the why so many shark attacks. A study published last October showed that juvenile great white sharks, for example, cannot significantly tell the difference between humans swimming, humans paddling surfboards, and prey like sea lions and seals, especially when they are at the stage of learning what constitutes food. I personally believe that there is something different about the bites sharks are making this year. It seems to be less foot and hand bites and tasting and leaving alone. Some of these bites, like the torso bite in California, and the horrific leg bite on the girl scalloper early this month near Tallahassee, FL, seem to be from a shark who has decided that those humans were prey. But, what do I know, as a Repo veteran. Although you should see Repo market participants in a frenzy over 1bp!
I finished the 11-year program Criminal Minds on Netflix. I got caught up in another FBI series, Quantico, but after several seasons, I grew tired of the plots. I think they may have ‘jumped the shark’ a few times, and my interest fizzled. I also watched the second 7 episodes of the 3rd season of Ozark. I am disappointed that it’s over now. Of course, being as STAR WARS nerd, after watching The Book of Boba Fett on Disney+, I voraciously watched the next series Obi Wan Kenobi. The scenes and lightsaber fighting were amazing. And while they explained some holes in the original STAR WARS story, they also added some things that deviated from the story that I didn’t care for. For instance, there is another lightsaber duel between Darth Vader and Obi Wan Kenobi, not dissimilar to the one between the two that morphed Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader. I’ve been catching up on my movies of 2021 and 2022. I went to the movies finally, to see TOPGUN: MAVERICK, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE and ELVIS. Of course, they were amazing, especially in couch theaters with iMax. The rest of the movies I watched were streamed on various TV channels. Let me resurrect this feature I used to have in the Repo Commentary for movie-goers, my ratings of current movies that I have seen (some streamed, some on airplanes, and two in the theater):
NO TIME TO DIE 8.0
WRATH OF MAN 7.0
THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS 7.0
THE CARD COUNTER 6.5
THE UNFORGIVABLE 6.0
HOUSE OF GUCCI 5.0
GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE 4.0
TOPGUN: MAVERICK 8.8
While the Repo Commentary was away 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. Not long after, that show was not renewed by Bravo! Chris and Deanna Daughtry sent a message to supporters, 3 months after their daughter’s death. Kanye “Ye” West 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. Alex Baldwin and others have been named in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Halyna Hutchins. Coachella and Stagecoach festivals dropped their vaccination requirements.
You may notice that since 02/18/22, I have actually tried to write a Repo Commentary several times, so there is some catch-up news in the Repo Commentary. Hopefully, we will get all regular and caught up, and I won’t need to do that. This headline just came across Thursday night as I type this, ELVIS actress Shonka Dukureh was found dead at 44. I just saw that movie when it came out (of course)! Kendall Jenner was granted a restraining order against an alleged trespasser. Ricky Martin is addressing his nephew’s “painful and devastating” allegations. Those allegations were just withdrawn in court. Chelsea Handler is tearing up over “painful” breakup with Jo Koy. And I thought I was done writing about this family, Honey Boo-Boo is about to undergo weight loss procedure. There are rumors that Hugh Grant will portray Prince Andrew in film about Jeffrey Epstein. This past weekend, Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck got married in Las Vegas and took a romantic trip to Paris. A friend of mine and not Ben Affleck reflected that JLo only needs 2 more rings to tie Tom Brady’s collection!!! Hysterical! Yes, I counted out her engagements and marriages, and it works. Bruce Springsteen fans are experiencing sticker shock at the high cost of tickets for his 2023 US arena tour. Valerie Bertinelli has requested a separate trial to validate her prenup in divorce from Tom Vitale.
Technology & Space News:
Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti has become the first European woman to reach the International Space Station. NASA released the first operational image taken by the James Webb Space Telescope. Elon Musk, who is worth about $185 billion, making him the 2nd richest man in the world, surprisingly has chosen to live in a $50,000 small house. Of course, why should we be surprised by enigmatic Musk, who attached one of his Tesla roadsters to a SpaceX rocket and sent it into space, named his child “X AE A-12”, recently speculated that humans are all living in a simulation. His house is actually worth less than one of his cars. Model 3 with options is over $50,000, Model S starts at $86,190, Model X SUV starts at $96,190 and goes up to $121,190 with options. The Roadster starts near $200,000. In May 2020, Musk announced that he would be selling all of his “physical possessions”, and according to Vanity Fair, he did just that, selling his 9309-square-foot mansion for $29.72 million and a second home for $6.77 million and a third home for $4.43 million. His current studio ‘home’ is only 375-square-feet! The compact box-like home is from company Boxabl and Musk had it towed by a Tesla X to Boca Chica, TX, where the SpaceX headquarters are located. I know, you want to see what his house looks like now, well of course I have a picture (actually two!):
The Secret Service erased, supposedly in a computer purge planned months in advance, January 6 text messages that could have helped verify or rebut some of the most stunning testimony about President Trump’s actions during the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol in Washington, DC. There are allegations that the Secret Service deleted the text messages AFTER the House requested them. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 finds that the military base was found to be contaminated by a number of chemicals known as volatile organic compounds, particularly contaminating the water. After the Supreme Court recently overturned the Roe vs Wade ruling regarding abortion, shocking the country, the Justices decided to turn their attention to same-sex marriage. Mitt Romney is dismissing Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ opinion to reconsider the same-sex marriage ruling. Romney and others in Congress are now trying to fast track a bill that would make same-sex marriage legal by law, rather than just by ruling. In Michigan, a woman sued a man for $10,000 after a bad date, but the lawsuit was dismissed when she snapped at the district court judge. So, with interest rates skyrocketing to combat price increases which were skyrocketing, squashing some of the Housing Market, new data today shows that US Unemployment Claims rose for a 3rd week, to the highest level since November. More companies are announcing job cuts, suggesting softening in the labor market, likely due to falling GDP and Consumer Demand.
The top international story is still the war in The Ukraine, as Russia finally did something with all of its military forces bunched up on the Ukrainian border, and began a coordinated assault on its former Soviet Union republic. It is the first warfare on European soil since WWII (1940s). It has also caused Europe’s largest refugee crisis since WWII. Russia invaded Ukraine in a major escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War that began in 2014. Russia has been attacking with tanks, armored personnel carriers, ships, LCVs, drones, rockets, soldiers, even alleged illegal cluster bombs. Russia has also put its nuclear armament on high alert, a threat of nuclear war if necessary. The UN General Assembly passed a resolution condemning the invasion and demanding a full withdrawal of Russian forces. The International Court of Justice ordered Russia to suspend military operations and the Council of Europe expelled Russia. The International Criminal Court has opened an investigation into crimes against humanity in Ukraine since 2013, as well as war crimes in the 2022 invasion. Many countries have imposed sanctions on Russia, which have had an impact on the Russian economy, Russian bonds and currency, and the world. Many countries have also supplied humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine. In a recent move, President Putin has begun maneuvering to Annex Ukraine, making it part of Russia, which he feels would make any country supplying military aid to Ukraine, also to be attacking mother Russia. He would then view this as an Act of War against Russia. Russia may be facing a second war front, as Chechens threaten a new offensive against Russia. The Chechens are opposed to Putin’s war in Ukraine. Russia has begun sending natural gas to Europe through the Nord Stream pipeline system after a pause, bringing relief to the continent whose economy was starting to wobble under the strain of reduced supplies. The US and UK now estimate that Russia has had more than 15,000 soldiers die in its war against Ukraine.
Amid protests over the economic crisis, Ranil Wickremesinghe has been elected President of Sri Lanka. Angola’s former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos died at the age of 79. Former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe was assassinated while giving a campaign speech in Nara.
Down here in Florida, we’ve recently had some issues with our drawbridges. A few months ago, a woman in her 70s fell to her death, when the north Palm Beach bridge was opened while she was walking on it. The bridge operator wasn’t paying attention and was on her cellphone during the incident. On Thursday, the bridge operator agree to pay an $8.2 million settlement for the fall. A massive twin tower luxury condo building, Olara, is being planned for North Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach, by the Savanna Fund.
Jokes and Such:
Will update next issue.