Repo Commentary-10/7/2018

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I’ve been keeping busy, not only writing the Repo Commentary, reaching out to clients, and exploring job opportunities (yes, I’ll be back!), but now having consulted on one book and two articles, I am in the midst of writing another book. And, we’ve got two conferences coming up! I intend to see as many of you as I can in Key Biscayne next week (where the RMA conference will be), Tuesday and Wednesday. Please find me! Prepare for moist and very hot, as the Heat Index has barely dipped below 100 degrees the last month or two.

The following month, we have Finadium’s Rates & Repo Conference in downtown Manhattan on 11/5, and I assume I will see all of you there, particularly the buyside clients!

My Repo Commentary is posted on my website: http://www.repocommentary.com. It also pops up on LinkedIn, the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website, and I believe on CentralBanks.com as an op-ed.

If you need to reach me, my cell is still 646-753-1300, my email for work is jeffkidwell82@gmail.com, and you can also hit me up on LinkedIn.

Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information. I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested (70-80%) in entertaining you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures. Also, please send me feedback, as I want to make it better all the time.

Thursday’s Holidays or Events:

• National Taco Day (but not on a Tuesday, so largely unnoticed)
• National Vodka Day (quite noticed)
• Blessing of the Animals at the Cathedral Day (also known as Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi-Catholic)
• National Cinnamon Roll Day
• eDay
• Improve Your Office Day
• National Poetry Day
• International Toot Your Flute Day
• National Golf Day (unfortunately I was too busy this week to golf)
• National Ships-in-Bottles Day
• Ten-Four Day
• World Animal Day
• Bring Your Bible to School Day
• Improve Your Office Day
• Day of Peace and Reconciliation (Mozambique)
• Independence Day in Lesotho
• The beginning of World Space Week
Monday is Columbus Day in the US, a celebration of Christopher Columbus’ accidental discovery of the New World in 1492. However, the holiday has been watered down by historians pointing to much earlier Viking expeditions to the New World. Also, the holiday is no longer celebrated with ALL businesses closed, but the US markets are still closed.

Some Famous People Born 10/4 in History:

• 1289-Louis X of France
• 1550-Charles IX of Sweden
• 1626-Richard Cromwell, Lord Protector of Great Britain
• 1822-Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th President of the United States
• 1895-Buster Keaton, American actor/director/producer
• 1916-Jan Murray, American comedian/actor/game show host
• 1923-Charlton Heston, actor/director/activist
• 1937-Jackie Collins, actor/author
• 1941-Roy Blount Jr., American humorist/journalist
• 1941-Anne Rice, author
• 1943-Jimy Williams, MLB
• 1944-Tony La Russa, MLB
• 1946-Susan Sarandon, actress/activist
• 1949-Armand Assanti, actor/producer
• 1957-Russell Simmons, founded Def Jam Recordings and Phat Farm
• 1959-Chris Lowe, English singer/keyboard player
• 1962-Jon Secada, Cuban-American singer/songwriter
• 1963-A.C. Green, NBA
• 1972-Kurt Thomas, NBA
• 1976-Alicia Silverstone, American actress/producer/author
• 1982-Tony Gwynn, Jr., MLB
• 1988-Derrick Rose, NBA

This Day in History (10/4):

• AD 23-Rebels sack the Chinese capital Chang’an during a peasant rebellion. The later decapitate Emperor Wang Mang.
• 1227-Assassination of Caliph al-Adil of Morocco.
• 1302-the Byzantine-Venetian War comes to an end.
• 1363-Battle of Lake Poyang: in one of the largest naval battles in history, Zhu Yuanzhang’s rebels defeat rival Chen Youliang.
• 1511-Formation of the Holy League of Aragon, the Papal States and Venice against France.
• 1535-the Coverdale Bible is printed, with translations into English by William Tyndale and Myles Coverdale.
• 1597-Governor Gonzalo Mendez de Canco begins to suppress a native uprising against his rule in what is now Georgia.
• 1636-Thirty Years’ War: the Swedish Army defeats the armies of Saxony and the Holy Roman Empire at the Battle of Wittstock.
• 1693-Nine Years’ War: Piedmontese troops are defeated by the French. This is truly historic, because, according to the neowin.net’s “Complete Military History of France”, as I recall that the French were only 3-17-7 in wars. According to this ‘authority’, the French claimed victory in the American Revolution, the French Revolution (since both sides were French), and this Nine Years’ War. Okay, I’ll stop beating up on France, although in 1986, they didn’t let our F-111’s fly over to support Libya…(and you wonder if I’ll remember that you didn’t call me back? LOL)
• 1895-Horace Rawlins wins the first US Open Men’s Golf Championship
• 1904-the IFK Goteborg football club is founded in Sweden
• 1917-WWI: the Battle of Broodseinde is fought between the British and German armies in Flanders.
• 1918-WWI: and explosion kills more than 100 people and destroys a Shell Loading Plant in New Jersey.
• 1927-Gutzon Borgium begins sculpting Mount Rushmore.
• 1936-the British Union of Fascists and various anti-fascist organizations violently clash in the Battle of Cable Street.
• 1941-Norman Rockwell’s Willie Gillis character debuts on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post.
• 1957-Sputnik I becomes the first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth.
• 1958-the current Constitution of France is adopted.
• 1960-an airliner crashes on takeoff from Boston’s Logan International Airport, killing 82 people.
• 1963-Hurricane Flora kills 6,000 people in Cuba and Haiti.
• 1965-Pope Paul VI begins the first papal visit to the Americas.
• 1966-Basutoland becomes independent from the UK and is renamed Lesotho.
• 1967-Omar Ali Saifuddien III of Brunei abdicates in favor of his son.
• 1983-Richard Noble sets a new land speed record of 633.468 mph at the Black Rock Desert in Nevada.
• 1985-the Free Software Foundation is founded.
• 1991-the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty is opened for signatures.
• 1992-the Rome General Peace Accords end a 16-year civil war in Mozambique.
• 1992-El Al Flight 1862 crashes into two apartment buildings in Amsterdam, killing 43 including 39 on the ground.
• 1993-tanks bombard the Russian Parliament, while demonstrators against President Yeltsin rally outside.
• 1997-the second largest cash robbery in US history occurs in North Carolina.
• 2001-Siberia Airlines flight 1812 crashes after being struck by an errant Ukrainian missile. 78 people are killed.
• 2003-the Maxim restaurant suicide bombing Israel killed 21 Israelis, both Jews and Arabs.
• 2004-SpaceShipOne wins the Ansari X Prize for private spaceflight.
• 2006-WikiLeaks is launched.
• 2010-the Ajka plant accident-Hungary releases a million cubic metres of liquid alumina sludge, killing 9, injuring 122, and severaly contaminating two major rivers.

Fun Fact of the Day:

The “sleep” (eye discharge) in your eyes when you wake up helps seal your eyes in an airtight fashion when they are closed; prevents tears from spilling onto your cheeks, and helps keep tears that coat your eyes from evaporating. (Trust me, I know, after having a detached retina surgery, cataract surgery, and a torn retina in the other eye surgery, just over the last 2 years).

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“Hope is patience with the lamp lit.”–Tertullian

International and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices on 9/20 closed at $70.35/barrel. Today (10/5) oil closed at $74.34, up another staggering $4/barrel, leading to AAA’s warning below about gasoline prices. EIA Report is threatening another oil price rally and the Iran sanctions loom. The move by Oil is now having an effect on gasoline, as gas jumped at my West Palm Beach gas station from $2.66/gallon last week to $2.77/gallon this week. The USD versus the Yen is trading at $113.77, much higher from where it was on 9/20. The USD was at 1.1524 versus the Euro, much stronger since 9/20. The USD is sharply stronger since 9/20 against the GBP, at $1.3117. The USD is somewhat stronger versus the CAD to $1.2948 since 9/20. Gold closed today at $1204.10/ounce, almost exactly where it was on 9/20. Bitcoin was trading at $8185.21 on 7/25. On 9/20, it closed at $6,395.00. Today, it closed at $6,543.05, still treading water. A provision in the new US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (replacing NAFTA) creates a major hurdle for Canada to negotiate a trade deal with China. German Economy Minister Altmaier says that US and EU trade barriers must decrease.

Global Financial News:

The CEO of JPMorgan Asset Management, Christopher Willcox, said at the SIFMA Annual Meeting that robo-advisors provide important technology that benefits the end user but that they also have limitations. Another panelist, Michelle Seitz, CEO of Russell Investments, went on to say that even if tech giants like Google and Amazon develop their own robo-advisors for the public, the companies will still be subject to the same fiduciary guidelines and regulations as other financial institutions. Analysts believe that JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, and BOA, who are due to release Q3 results in mid-October may show significant gains. The WSJ points out that typically the year after midterm elections historically is the best in the 4-year Presidential cycle for the US stock market. Unemployment rate hit a 49-year low in the US, but growth slows.

US Market News:

The Dow Jones closed at 26,656.77 on 9/20, but closed today at 26,447.05, as it fell 180 points on the day. So, it had made its way all the way back, but then fell. S&P 500 also gave up its all-time high on 9/20 of 2,930.66, closing today down 16 points to 2,885.58. Nasdaq too gave up its 8/28 high of 8,030.04, closing down 91 points today to 7,788.45. US Treasury yields had gotten much higher on 9/20, in advance of the 9/26 FOMC meeting, and continue to blast higher still. Today, 2years closed at 2.88% (a full 7bp higher than on 9/20), 3years closed at 2.99% (a full 10bp higher than on 9/20), 5years closed at 3.07% (9bp higher than on 9/20), 7years closed at 3.18% (a whopping 14bp higher than on 9/20), 10years closed at 3.23% (a whopping 15bp higher than on 9/20), and 30years closed at 3.40% (17bp higher than on 9/20!). (yields have gone dramatically higher), closing yesterday on 2years at 2.81% (up 8bp), 3years at 2.89% (up 11bp), 5years at 2.96 (up 13bp), 7years at 3.04% (up 15bp), 10years at 3.08% (up 14bp), and 30years at 3.23% (up 14bp). According to MarketWatch, the spike in US Treasury yields led to the largest decline in S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite since the summer, pointing out that the 10year Treasury yield at the highest level in 7 years is attracting investors to bonds and out of stocks. Historically, bonds and stocks have moved in an inverse relationship to each other, except for extreme moments. If it’s true that investors are moving out of stocks and into bonds for the attractive yield, that exodus will eventually cause bond prices to go up and yields to go down and normalize. The CBOE Volatility Index shot up more than 30%.

Housing News:

Hamptons’ millionaires reportedly have built luxury panic rooms to hide from MS-13. Rent payments in the US jumped an annual 2.9% in the 3rd quarter, an analysis by RealPage shows, faster then Q2’s 2.5%. The Occupancy rate also grew to 95.8% from 95.4%, with the strongest rental markets in the Sunbelt. According to a recent article in The Real Deal, Manhattan is now a buyer’s market at all price points. The total number of available homes in Manhattan is at the highest for the month since 2011. In Brooklyn and Queens, total inventory for June was the most since 2008. Home prices continue to plummet in Australia, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne. The biggest threat to the housing market there is unemployment.

Repo News:  

It has been interesting watching repo funding rates, Fed Funds, and the SOFR. There has been a lot of volatility in repo rates lately, despite the US Treasury yield curve’s one-way direction (much higher in rates). Part of it is likely the pricing or not pricing of FOMC rate hikes. Part of it is likely the huge supply of US Treasuries which has finally abated. But, still, the intraday volatility is high. You could get a repo quote at 8am and then find another quote in the afternoon 15-20bp different. GSE cash started hitting the market this week and brought funding rates down. It could get down to mid-1.90s before the cash leaves on 9/24. Everyone thinks there will be a Fed tightening of 25bp on 9/26 FOMC, so funding rates will lean higher anyway, with the full impact the day after on 9/27 (since the meeting is at 2:00pm in the afternoon). It will be interesting to hear what they say in the Statement, but also interesting to see what they do to the IOER. At the last tightening in June, they only raised the IOER to 1.95%, up 20bp, not 25bp. So, the question is: will they raise the IOER only 20bp again, or only 15bp, since the 20bp move last time didn’t have the desired effect of lowering the Fed Funds rate? Reportedly, some 100,000 Fed Funds futures contracts have been traded to bet on that question. The dynamic between IOER (where banks and credit unions can invest their cash with the Fed), Repo rates (where all could invest their cash securitized), and Fed Funds (where certain banks and GSEs could invest their cash unsecured) is more important than it every was before. In Specials, the 2year note is trading around 1.50% and looks like its going to be quite active.

I see the Repo and Securities Lending market as having changed in many permanent ways. We traditionally had a credit intermediator, the broker/dealers (originally just the primary broker/dealers) and later prime brokers, who were the pipeline through their respective repo matched books for collateral providers to trade with cash providers, without the two sides ever knowing about each other or facing each other. That lack of knowledge of the other side of the repo matched book came at a couple of costs, first, the bid/offer spread that went to the dealers and second, the defaults of the Financial Crisis and the impact on some of the dealers that then cost their clients. Clearly, with that pipeline becoming severely crimped by post-Financial Crisis regulatory reforms, consolidation and bankruptcies, and the resulting drop of about 60% in balance sheets being used for broker/dealer respective repo matched books, new pathways/pipelines needed to be found for cash provider and collateral provider clients. AVM’s Direct Repo™ was the first of one of such pathways. Since then, other pathways to these markets have been created, including: the Federal Reserve’s RRP program with cash providers, peer-to-peer financing as reported on Treasury OFR’s website between MMFs and Insurance Companies, As Agent repo through seclending agents and now some prime brokers, direct lending from beneficial owner to hedge funds who are short, indemnified As Agent repo, buyside to buyside Triparty Repo through two international clearing organizations, electronic all-to-all repo on a few electronic trading platforms like Elixium and BNY DBVX, FICC’s sponsored repo and cleared repo products to entice certain sectors of the buyside into that CCP, and other Repo and/or Seclending CCPs (several still being worked on, particularly in Europe). I believe this evolution will continue and eventually we will see all of these pathways used, including the traditional pathway (to probably a lesser than historical degree) through the broker/dealers and prime brokers.

Upcoming Repo Industry Conferences: 
 

• National Association of State Treasurers (NAST) will hold its Annual Conference in Scottsdale, AZ on 9/30-10/3. I’ve been invited to this before.
• SIFMA-will hold its Annual Meeting in Washington, DC on 10/1-10/2.
• Risk Management Association (RMA) will hold the 35th annual RMA Conference on Securities Lending in Key Biscayne, FL on 10/8-10/11. I will be there, I don’t want to break my streak of attending every one of them!
• Association of Financial Professionals (AFP) will hold its annual conference for over 6,000 members in Chicago on 11/4-11/7, discussing 140 topics in 8 different areas of managing liquidity and risk.
• Finadium will hold its 2nd annual Rates & Repo conference in NYC 11/5. I absolutely won’t miss this conference! I know I have dozens of promised drinks and chats with you all while I’m up there, so I have to organize all that.
• Association of Financial Professionals (AFP) is holding its annual Treasury & Finance conference in Chicago on 11/4-11/7.
• RISK USA will hold 24th annual conference in NYC 11/7-11/9. I have chaired/moderated this one before.

Federal Reserve News:

Fed Funds, which trade mostly between some banks and GSEs, opened today at 2.25%.

The next FOMC meetings are: 11/1/18, 12/13/18, 1/30/19, 3/20/19, 5/1/19, 6/19/19, 7/31/19, 9/18/19, 10/30/19, 12/11/19, 1/29/20 (reflecting the Fed’s just announced tentative schedule for 2019).

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (16 banks, 14 GSEs, 101 money market funds from various fund families), is now set at the rate of 1.75%. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight. Remember when RRP was trading at year-end for $465 billion? Well, on 5/15, there was only $20 million in bids submitted. MMF cash and GSE cash has moved out of the Fed’s RRP and into the Repo market, but it hasn’t really brought down the GC repo rate, which is strange.

If you are wondering about RRP, it is nearly extinct. In July, excluding month-end, volume averaged only $2.8 billion per day. It has just become a mechanism for the Fed to supply collateral when its scarce for money market funds on month-ends and quarter-ends, as dealer balance sheets dry up at those times.

According to FOMC members, the Federal Reserve signaled that it would raise the benchmark Fed Funds rate to 2.50% at the December FOMC meeting, 3.00% in 2019, and 3.50% in 2020. If you are keeping score, the Federal Reserve raised the Fed Funds target rate on these dates so far:

12/15/15 to 0.50%
12/14/16 to 0.75%
3/5/17 to 1.00%
6/14/17 to 1.25%
12/13/17 to 1.50%
3/21/18 to 1.75%
6/13/18 to 2.00%
9/26/18 to 2.25%

Quantitative Easing was ‘tapered off’ in 2013. The Fed still had $4 trillion of debt in 2017 on its books from that QE. In October 2017, it began allowing those holdings to gradually decline. For fun, the Fed Funds target rate was 5.25% before the Fed cut of 9/18/2007.

On 9/20, as expected, the Fed tightened again, raising the Fed Funds target rate by another 25bp to 2.25%, although Fed Funds have been trading a little lower. The Federal Reserve will propose a rule this year to simplify the stress tests for regional banks and to reduce their frequency, per Randal Quarles. The rule would apply to banks with $100 billion-$250 billion in assets.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

There is still a devastating aftermath in Indonesia from an earthquake and tsunami. At least 11 people have died after an earthquake rattled Haiti’s northern coast. The latest earthquakes:

10/7/18 5.9 19km NW of Ti Port-de-Paix, Haiti
9/30/18 6.6 260km NNE of Ndoi Island, Fiji
9/28/18 7.5 78km N of Palu, Indonesia
9/16/18 6.5 S of Fiji Islands

Weather:

The Atlantic Hurricane Season began Friday, June 1st. For 2018, Colorado State University experts have predicted that this season will be a busy, above average hurricane season. They have predicted 14 named Tropical Storms, of which 7 will become Hurricanes. Both are above the averages of 12 and 6, respectively. But, remember, last year they were way off. Unfortunately, they were way off the wrong way, with way more storms. They had predicted 11 Tropical Storms, of which 4 would be Hurricanes. Instead, we had 17 Tropical Storms and had 10 Hurricanes. Here are the 2018 Storm names:

Alberto done
Beryl done
Chris done
Debby done
Ernesto done
Florence done
Gordon done
Helene done
Isaac done
Joyce done
Kirk done
Leslie Tropical Storm current
Michael current
Nadine
Oscar
Patty
Rafael
Sara
Tony
Valerie
William

Historically, the most active month for hurricanes in the Atlantic is September. Tropical Storm Leslie, with winds of 60 mph, remains in the Atlantic, not currently putting any land in danger. Tropical Storm Michael, with winds of 50 mph, is getting stronger and expected to dump heavy rains over western Cuba, particularly as it is now only moving at 3 mph. The threat to NE US Gulf of Mexico coast is increasing.

The Pacific Hurricane Season started 5/1/18. Currently, in the Eastern North Pacific, we still have Hurricane Sergio, although winds have decreased to 100 mph from 125 mph.

As for the weather, those of you who are visiting Florida next week for the RMA will find that it has cooled off slightly from 95 degrees to 88-90 degrees, but humidity is still rather high. A slow moving storm system is bringing a threat of heavy rainfall and flooding over the Plains states and Tropical Storm Michael is looming for the Gulf of Mexico states to the North by mid-week.

Sports News:

MLB:

The MLB regular season has ended. MLB attendance was down 4% this year, failing to top 70 million. If you want to know what’s wrong with baseball, read further down. If you are an NL Central or NL West fan, it was an exciting finish. Somehow, the Cubs botched winning the Division and wound up in a tiebreaker 163rd game on Monday, losing to the Brewers, who had won 8 games in a row. That forced the Cubs to play in the one-game Wildcard game the following day against the Rockies, who similarly lost in the NL West Divisional 163rd game tiebreaker to the Dodgers, and so had to play in the NL Wildcard game. The Cubs lost in 13 innings, 2-1, so the Rockies moved on, but a tired Rockies they must be, after playing Monday in LA, then Tuesday in Chicago, and now Thursday in the best of 5 NLDS series against the Brewers in Milwaukee. It took extra innings, but the Brewers beat the Rockies in Game 1 3-2. In the other NLDS series, the Dodgers hosted the Braves and blanked them in Game 1 6-0. The whole playoff format is a mess, as the team with the best record since the All Start break and No.10 in MLB, Tampa, is sitting out. But, I’ll go into my consulting for MLB later in this Repo Commentary and my thoughts for the Commissioner. Maybe, I should interview for THAT job!. Over in the AL, it was foregone conclusion, as the Red Sox won 108 games, the best record in the MLB, best record in franchise history of over 100 years, and took the AL East. Likewise, the Astros cruised to an AL West title, with the third-best record, and the Indians easily won the AL Central. The Yankees won 100 games, easily taking the first AL Wild Card spot, the first time that the Red Sox and Yankees in the AL East had ever won 100 games or more each in the same year. The A’s took the other AL Wild Card spot and the Yankees and A’s faced each other Wednesday night for the single-game elimination, with the winner to face the Red Sox. The Yankees won pretty easily, setting up a best of five series, starting in Boston against the Red Sox. The last time the two rivals played was 14 years ago, in the infamous 7-game ALCS, the greatest comeback in history and the reverse of the 86-year Red Sox Bambino Curse. After 2 games, the Yankees and Red Sox are tied 1-1, as the series heads to Yankee Stadium for Game 3. The Astros hosted the Indians for the other ALDS best of five series, and promptly flexed their pitching muscle, going up 2-0 in first 2 games. There were actually 4 playoff games Friday, as the Astros hosted the Indians in game 1 of their ALDS in the afternoon, the Brewers hosted the Rockies in game 2 of their NLDS in the afternoon (and won that one two, so are now up 2-0), the Red Sox hosted the Yankees in game 1 of their ALDS Friday night, and the Dodgers hosted the Braves in game 2 of their NLDS Friday night (and took a 2-0 series lead). Here are some cool stats about MLB playoffs:
• All Red Sox fans from 1975 on should know this one, but there have been 16 times in postseason history when a batter has reached base because of catcher’s interference. It didn’t happen in postseasons from 1985-2008, but has happened 9 times since 2009. The instance I was referring to in 1975 was in the World Series Game 7, when Reds’ Ed Armbrister interfered with catcher Carlton Fisk of the Red Sox in throwing a runner out, which ultimately decided the game in the Reds’ favor.
• Only 4 times has a postseason series MVP come from the losing team.
• Only 3 players in postseason history have hit a HR on their birthday (Willie Aiken, Evan Longoria, Kolten Wong).
• Only 1 pitcher has ever committed a postseason balk on his birthday, Les Straker of the Twins.
• Only 4 times has a postseason game ended with a walkoff sacrifice bunt.
• This is shocking, 19 times runners have stolen home plate (out of 70 attempts!) in postseason history.
• The all-time record for postseason series batting average is Lloyd McClendon in 1992 with .727 in 16 plate appearances.
• Here is another astounding fact, there have been 21 postseason HRs by pitchers.
• The player who saw the most pitches all-time in postseason history was Derek Jeter, with 2,749. The next closest was his teammate, Bernie Williams, with 2,186. Jeter also has the most hits in postseason history with 200, most balls in play with 508, and most strikeouts with 135.
• Speaking of strikeouts, the MLB record for most postseason at-bats without a strikeout is Yogi Berra (90).
• There has only been one triple-play in postseason history and it was turned unassisted by Indians’ Bill Wambsganss in Game 5 of the 1920 World Series against the Dodgers.
• The most Walkoff Wins in a postseason series is 4 in the 1991 World Series between the Twins and the Braves.
• Despite popular belief, the Washington Nationals franchise HAS WON a playoff series, but they were technically the Montreal Expos at the time in 1981.
• Only once has a postseason game been replayed, in 1982, between the Braves and Cardinals in Game 1. Rain halted the game after 4 ½ innings, 3 outs before it would have been official, which would have made the game be suspended and resumed from that point the next day. Instead, the game was called and teams played a new Game 1 the next day. In 2009, MLB changed its rainout rule, so that all games resume from the point at which they are suspended, no matter what inning.

The hapless Orioles, after a record-setting losing season of 47-115, let go of GM Dan Duquette, a former Red Sox cast-off, and manager Buck Showalter, a former Yankees cast-off. The Angels started of the annual bloodbath of managers, by firing longtime (19 years) manager Mike Scioscia. The well-like and successful manager will likely return to baseball at some point. The Cubs announced that they will bring Joe Madden back as manager for 2019, but are not yet discussing a contract extension with him. Cubs’ Addison Russell released a statement following announcement of his 40-game suspension by MLB, for violating MLB’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Child Abuse Policy. Despite the Twins making the playoffs a year ago, Twins manager Paul Molitor has been fired.

As for baseball awards, AL MVP seems to be locked up by Red Sox Mookie Betts, who led the Majors with a .346 batting average and 10.2 WAR and became the first MLB player ever to go 30/30 (30 HRs and 30 stolen bases) while leading the Majors in batting average, but he has some competition from Red Sox teammate J.D. Martinez (whom he narrowly knocked out of Triple Crown) who led the Majors with 130 RBIs and the AL with 43 HRs while hitting .330, Indians’ Francisco Lindor, Indians’ Jose Ramirez, and Angels’ Mike Trout. NL MVP honors probably come down to Brewers’ Christian Yelich (who also just missed a Triple Crown) with an outside chance for Cubs’ Javier Baez and Rockies’ Nolan Arenado. NL Rookie of the Year seems to be coming down to Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. and Nationals’ Juan Soto. AL Rookie of the Year seems to be coming down to Rays’ Miguel Andujar, Angels’ sensation Shohei Ohtani, Yankees’ Gleyber Torres, and Rays’ Joey Wendle. AL Cy Young appears to be coming down to Rays’ Blake Snell, Astros’ Justin Verlander, Indians’ Corey Kluber, and Red Sox Chris Sale. NL Cy Young seems to be coming down to Mets’ Jacob deGrom, Nats’ Max Scherzer, and Phillies’ Aaron Nola.

Okay, where do I start? America’s pastime is in serious trouble. Granted, it doesn’t have the 20% drop in ratings of Pro Football, but that could be because that causes lifelong/life-shortening debilitating injuries or because it has become a political forum for mega-million-dollar athletes. We are talking baseball. So, let’s start with the National League, why does it feel it needs to continue this charade of having the pitcher bat? Gone are the days when Babe Ruth hit 3 HRs a game that he pitched and we have yet to see the full potential of an Ohtani. Let it go. We don’t need the automatic out during a rally and we certainly don’t need starters getting injured on the basebaths trying to slide. Why do we have a winner-take-all Wild Card one game playoff? Why can’t we just take the six teams in each League who have the best six records and put them in the Playoffs? For that matter, with NHL and NBA having 82 regular season games and NFL having 16, why do we put up with MLB seasons being 162 games long? It’s like a season of attrition…who doesn’t get the most injuries, who can outlast the other guys, who has the most relievers, etc. Relievers, let’s talk about this new uber-category of baseball pitcher. What happened to the old days when coaches developed players in the minor leagues who had 2 really good pitches and taught them a 3rd and a 4th pitch, so they could become an ace starter, like Jon Lester, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Verlander, Sale, etc.? Gone are the days of these premium starters because baseball and coaches now focus on specialty pitchers and relievers, who come into a game for an inning or two only, but can play every day and wear out, and have shortened careers and get paid a lot less money than an ace starter. I remember when “the Monster” Dick Radatz (one of my coaches) pitched for the Red Sox and pitched a complete double-header, both games 9 innings each. That would be unheard of in today’s baseball games. The new fans may not get to see a Roger Clemens or Bob Gibson, but instead a series of 4 or 5 relievers each game (similar to how the A’s, aka “MONEYBALL” team, have operated this year). It’s very sad, which brings me to my last point on this soapbox, which is removing the ‘chance’ of baseball, and relegating it to cybermetrics and tendencies, that are disgorged from iPads in the dugout and MacPros and printed on laminated cards that each position player can stick in his cap or stick in his back pocket, so he knows exactly where to play each batter for each pitch, so he knows every tendency or pattern they have. Even the pitchers now have the same laminated cards, as do the catchers, to determine, well if the batter swings at an inside slider, he is more often likely to swing at an outside curveball next, so they can determine their pitch selections and locations. What does this all do to the game of baseball? It makes it boring. Is it any surprise that only 16 players in MLB hit over .300 this year? They had to hit into tendency shifts and deal with pitchers who had pitch selection cards. Do I have the solutions to these vexing problems with America’s game? Yes, I do, but that’s for another Repo Commentary.

Golf:

The PGA of America announced that 8 events will be hosted at Congressional Golf Club, including the 2031 PGA Championship and 2036 Ryder Cup. The PGA Tour Champions are playing in South Dakota for the first time, as Andy North and Jack Nicklaus host an event at Sanford International. The 42nd Ryder Cup was held at Le Golf National in lle-de-France, France this past weekend. Thoma Bjorn captained Europe and Jim Furyk captained USA. USA got whollopped 17 ½-10 ½. For Europe, Francesco Molinari (who crushed Tiger Woods), Justin Rose, Tyrell Hatton, and Tommy Fleetwood all did really well. For USA, Brooks Koepka was awesome and Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas were okay. USA Captain’s picks Bryson DeChambreau, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, and Tony Finau were not very good. Although USA was the defending champions, they had lost the last five matches in Europe; now six matches. Phil Mickelson complained that the Ryder Cup rough was “almost unplayable”. Well, don’t worry about Phil, as he promptly flew half way around the world, across 9 timezones, to be in the Safeway Open, in Napa, CA, and shot an opening round 65. He is trailing leader, Chase Wright, by one stroke, in what is technically the first tournament of the new season. Four months after a horrific car accident, Bud Cauley is back on Tour at the Safeway Open. The University of Iowa’s golf team was disqualified for a rare rules violation and plummeted in the college rankings. The team disqualification was simply because they didn’t have enough players to post a score, as one had withdrawn with an injury and a second was disqualified. Why he was disqualified is a bizarre story of playing a ball, believing it went into a hazard, so playing a provisional, then finding the first ball and your opponent inadvertently playing your provisional, and OMG, I can’t explain it. You can look it up, it’s crazy! Okay, now the bizarre golf news that you have probably seen all over media, including this morning’s Today Show…an errant drive by superstar Brooks Koepka hit a woman bystander in the eye, making her eye ‘explode’ and causing permanent blindness in that eye. The fan is planning a major lawsuit for this life-changing event. (and you thought I couldn’t bring up my eye surgery again in one Repo Commentary!)

Fighting:

Boxing

Wladimir Klitschko, heavyweight champ Anthony Joshua’s recent opponent is trashing Joshua and Deontay Wilder’s punching power in an interview. Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder is coming up. Anthony Joshua has made a new offer to Deontay Wilder for a Wembley Stadium showdown. But, as I said last week in the Repo Commentary, if Anthony Joshua wants to establish himself as one of the great heavyweights, just like his countryman Lennox Lewis, he’s going to have to eventually fight in the US and stop fighting just in his home country. Khan says he is annoyed that Floyd Mayweather has been “ducking” him for years.

MMA:

Conor McGregor returned to the Octagon to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229. Khabib, the Russian, is the undefeated (27-0) light heavyweight champion. I rarely watch MMA anymore, not just because of the $80 pay-per-view, but I happened to be at a restaurant showing it and I watched the entire undercard and main card. The main event turned out to be a historic one, even if it did not show the UFC in its best light, and harkened back to the Gulotta/Bowe boxing match melee at MSG (that I was at and in the middle of) and the infamous Tyson/Holyfield boxing match ear brawl in Las Vegas. First the result, Khabib won over Conor with a 4th round naked-rear chokehold that forced the former flamboyant champion from Ireland to tap out. But, once that fight was over, many more fights began, as the Las Vegas venue erupted in several fights. The 18,000 fans went into a frenzy, when Khabib first stood over a recovering Conor, yelling at him and spitting on him, then leapt out of the Octagon to jump on Conor’s coach and also Bellator fighter. As he went out of the ring and began that pandemonium, which led to several fans getting into their own brawls, three of his team jumped Conor in the Octagon, punching him in the stomach and at least twice to the back of the head. UFC cancelled Khabib’s post-fight interview and belt award and immediately reviewed the tapes of the post-fight shenanigans, ultimately paying Conor his $3 million (more for PPV to come) check for the fight, but withholding Khabib’s $2 million check (and PPV to come) for further investigation. That investigation continues as authorities try to determine if there should be criminal charges filed and if UFC should strip Khabib of his prize money and his title.

In the rest of the card, Tony Ferguson defeated Anthony Pettis with a 2nd round TKO (had to be stopped due to broken hand); Dominick Reyes defeated Ovince Saint Preux with unanimous decision, after riding Preux’s back for the last round (which I’ve never seen); Derrick Lewis defeated Alexander Volkiov via 3rd round TKO; Michelle Waterson defeated Felice Herrig in a brutal unanimous decision; Jusseir Formiga defeated Sergio Pettis via unanimous decision; Vincente Luque defeated Jalin Turner in a brutal 1st round barrage of punches for TKO; Aspen Ladd defeated Tonya Evinger in her 1st round barrage of punches for a TKO; and Scott Holtzman defeated Alan Patrick in a 3rd round TKO of raining elbows.

Racing:

The wins just keep piling up for Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes. Does this guy every lose? He just won the Russian Grand Prix, his 8th win of the season, ahead of Bottas, Vettel, Raikkonen, and Verstappen. There are only 5 more races left this year.

NASCAR is in trouble, with race attendance shrinking (-14.7%), TV ratings plummeting (-20%), and sponsors leaving. Even in this struggling sport with its antiquated business model, you would think the defending Cup Series champion, Martin Truex Jr. or one of the best NASCAR drivers of all time, Jimmie Johnson (7-time champ and 18-season veteran), would be able to find sponsorship. But, the answer is ‘no’. Truex’s team, Furniture Row Racing, said last week that it is shutting down after this season. This follows July’s news that the No.78 Toyota team’s primary sponsor, 5-hour Energy, is leaving NASCAR at the end of the season. And that follows the news from Jimmie Johnson’s sponsor for his career, Lowe’s, that it’s leaving the sport too. Former sponsors that are already out include Target, Home Depot, Sprint, UPS, Subway, Great Clips, GoDaddy. The sport’s executives refuse to realize that the business model, relying heavily on sponsors to exist, and typically spend about $30 million to field a car for a full season, is flawed.

2018 NASCAR Schedule and results:
2/18 Daytona 500-Daytona Intl Speedway-won by Austin Dillon
2/25 Folds of Honor QuikTrip-Atlanta Motor Speedway-Kevin Harvick
3/4 Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube-Las Vegas Motor Speedway-Kevin Harvick
3/11 TicketGuardian 500-ISM Raceway-Kevin Harvick
3/18 Auto Club 400-Auto Club Speedway-Martin Truex Jr.
3/26 STP 500-Martinsville Speedway-Clint Bowyer
4/8 O’Reilly Auto Parts 500-Texas Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
4/16 Food City 500-Bristol Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
4/21 Toyota Owners 400-Richmond Raceway-Kyle Busch
4/29 GEICO 500-Talladega Speedway-Joey Logano
5/6 AAA 400 Drive for Autism-Dover International Speedway-Kevin Harvick
5/12 KC Masterpiece 400-Kansas Speedway-Kevin Harvick
5/19 Monster Energy Open-Charlotte Motor Speedway-AJ Allmendinger
5/19 Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race-Charlotte-Kevin Harvick
5/27 Coca-Cola 600-Charlotte Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
6/3 Pocono 400-Pocono Raceway-Martin Truex Jr.
6/10 FireKeepers Casino 400-Michigan International Speedway-Clint Bowyer
6/24 Toyota/Save Mart 350-Sonoma Raceway-won by Martin Truex Jr.
7/1 Overton’s 400-Chicagoland Speedway-won by Kyle Busch.
7/7 Coke Zero Sugar 400–Daytona International Speedway-won by Erik Jones
7/14 Quaker State 400-Kentucky Speedway-won by Martin Truex Jr.
7/22 Foxwoods Resort Casino 301-New Hampshire Motor Speedway-won by Kevin Harvick over Kyle Busch.
7/29 Gander Outdoors 400-Pocono Raceway-won by Kyle Busch over Daniel Suarez.
8/5 GoBowling at the Glen-Watkins Glen International-won by Chase Eilliott over Martin Truex Jr.
8/12 Consumers Energy 400-Michigan International Speedway-won by Kevin Harvick in all 3 stages.
8/18 Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race-Bristol Motor Speedway-Kurt Busch’s first win of the season and first in 58 races.
9/1 Bojangles’ Southern 500 in Darlington was won by Brad Keselowski.
9/10 Rain not only plagued golf’s BMW Championship, but also the two NASCAR races at Indianapolis had to be completed a day later, today. The Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis was won by Brad Keselowski, giving team Roger Penske their first win in the brickyard.
9/16 South Point 400 in Las Vegas was won by Brad Keselowski, his 3rd win in a row, setting him up well for the upcoming Playoffs.

THE MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES PLAYOFF BEGAN FOR 16 DRIVERS.
9/21 Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond was won by Kyle Busch.
9/29 Bank of America 500 at Charlotte was won by R. Blaney and whittled the field down from 16 to 12.
10/6 Monster Energy NASCAR at Dover
10/13 Alabama 500 at Talladega
10/20 Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas City
10/27 First Data 500 at Martinsville
11/3 AAA Texas 500 at Texas
11/10 Can-Am 500 at Phoenix
11/17 Final at Homestead

NCAA Football:

College football season kickoff was on 8/25, and now most of the teams have played for 4 weeks. Ohio State won a crucial Big Ten battle with rival Penn State 27-26, which may have not only ramifications for the Big Ten title but also for the College Football Playoffs. It pushed OSU up to No.3 and knocked PSU down to No.11. Former Clemson RB C.J. Fuller, 22, felt chest pains before death, according to his aunt. Texas Tech QB Alan Bowman (collapsed lung) has been released from the hospital. Alabama’s coach Nick Saban is sounding off on the lack of student attendance at home games. I think I just saw that he is being paid $8.3 million/year, Urban Meyer of Ohio State is being paid $7.6 million/year, and Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh is being overpaid $7.5 million/year. Kevin Olsen of Charlotte, brother of Panthers’ Greg Olsen, has been found not guilty of rape. 4-star RB Sampson James has decommitted from Ohio State. Late scores from Saturday’s games: in the best game of the day, Texas upset Oklahoma, despite a 21-point Q4 for the Sooners, 48-45; in the second best game of the day, South Carolina beat Missouri 37-36; in the third best game of the day, Miami upset FSU 28-27; No.1 Alabama had no trouble with Arkansas 65-31; No.3 Ohio State had no problem with Indiana 49-26; No.2 Georgia continued to roll, beating Vanderbilt 41-13; North Carolina State upset BC 28-23; Iowa State upset Oklahoma State 48-42; Florida took care of rival LSU; Auburn was upset by Mississippi State 23-9, UCF remained undefeated beating SMU, Maryland was no match for Michigan; Washington survived a scare with UCLA, No.2 Georgia crushed Vanderbilt, my hapless MSU lost to Northwestern 29-19 No.5 Notre Dame solidly beat Virginia Tech, and No.15 Wisconsin finally won beating Nebraska.

As of 9/29, the official AP Poll is:

1. Alabama (5-0)
2. Georgia (5-0)
3. Ohio State (5-0) up from No.4
4. Clemson (5-0) down from No.3
5. LSU (5-0)
6. Notre Dame (5-0) up from No.8
7. Oklahoma (5-0) down from No.6
8. Auburn (4-1) up from No.10
9. West Virginia (4-0) up from No.12
10. Washington (4-1) up from No.11
11. Penn State (4-1) down from No.9
12. UCF (4-0) up from No.13 (and getting a lot more love on the poll this year)
13. Kentucky (5-0) up from No.17
14. Stanford (4-1) down from No.7
15. Michigan (4-1) down from No.14
16. Wisconsin (3-1) down from No.15
17. Miami (4-1) down from No.16
18. Oregon (4-1) up from No.19
19. Texas (4-1) down from No.18
20. Michigan State (3-1) up from No.21
21. Colorado (4-0) up from unranked
22. Florida (4-1) up from unranked
23. North Carolina State (4-0) up from unranked
24. Virginia Tech (3-1) up from unranked
25. Oklahoma State (4-1) up from unranked

NFL:

The 99th NFL regular season is under way. (okay, since I got to this part on Sunday, I have some results which I will type in RED for you. After Sunday’s action, the 2 undefeated teams are still undefeated and there are no longer any winless NFL teams.) QB Terrelle Pryor says he is unhappy with his role in the Jets offense. Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers denies rift with coach Mike McCarthy. Seahawks’ LB Mychal Kendricks has been suspended indefinitely for insider trading. Dolphins to release DT Jordan Phillips. Seahawks (and Trail Blazers) owner Paul Allen announced that his cancer has returned. In case you forgot, WR Dez Bryant is still a free agent and reportedly now wants to sign with his old team, the Cowboys. Speaking of holdouts, RB Le’Veon Bell is expected to report to Steelers during Week 7 bye. Week 5 is upon us tonight (Thursday night, in case I don’t finish typing this until Friday). WR Julian Edelman returns from a 4-game suspension for the Patriots tonight. Actually, he didn’t play the entire 2017 season either, with a torn ACL. The Patriots went on to crush the Colts 38-14 last night and Edelman played a big part at wide receiver and punt returner. Tom Brady threw his 500th career TD pass. Brady is currently on track to earn none of his $5 million in incentives. The Patriots have 2 tough tests ahead, the undefeated Chiefs and the uber-defensive Bears. Here are the Week 5 matchups and the latest Las Vegas odds:

Thursday 10/4 8:20p
Colts (1-3) @ Patriots (2-2), Pats picked by 10.5 PATRIOTS WON EASILY 38-24.

Sunday 10/7 1:00p
Titans (3-1) @ Bills (1-3), Titans by 3.5 HAPLESS TITANS FOUND A WAY TO LOSE 13-12.

Falcons (1-3) @ Steelers (1-2-1), Steelers by 3 STEELERS CRUSHED THE FALCONS 41-17.

Broncos (2-2) @ Jets (1-3), Jets by 1 JETS DEMOLISHED THE BRONCOS 34-16.

Jaguars (3-1) @ Chiefs (4-0), Chiefs by 3 JAGUARS NEVER SHOWED UP AND CHIEFS CRUISED TO 30-14 WIN TO STAY UNDEFEATED.

Packers (2-1-1) @ Lions (1-3), packers by 1 ALTHOUGH CRUSHING THE PACKERS 20-0 AT HALFTIME, THE LIONS HAD TO HOLD ON TO WIN 31-23 IN THE END.

Ravens (3-1) @ Browns (1-2-1), Ravens by 3 RAVENS WERE PATHETIC, BUT BROWNS KICKER MISSED 3 KICKS UNTIL AN OT ONE THAT WON THE GAME FOR BROWNS 12-9. IT WAS THE FIRST WIN FOR THE BROWNS ON A SUNDAY IN 36 GAMES AND FIRST WIN AGAINST A DIVISION RIVAL IN EXACTLY 3 YEARS (ALSO, ODDLY, AN OT WIN OVER THE RAVENS).

Giants (1-3) @ Panthers (2-1), Panthers by 7 GIANTS LED PANTHERS 17-3, AND 31-30 WITH 1:08 TO PLAY, BUT WOUND UP LOSING LATE 33-31 TO A PANTHERS’ RECORD 63-YARD FIELD GOAL.

Dolphins (3-1) @ Bengals (3-1), Bengals by 6.5 BENGALS COME FROM 17-0 DEFICIT AND BEAT DOLPHINS 27-17

Sunday 10/7 4:05p
Raiders (1-3) @ Chargers (2-2), Chargers by 5.5 THE CHARGERS WON 26-10.

Sunday 10/7 4:25p
Cardinals (0-4) @ 49ers (1-3), 49ers by 4 THE CARDINALS SHOCKED THE 49ers 28-18 AND GOT THEIR FIRST WIN.

Vikings (1-2-1) @ Eagles (2-2), Eagles by 3 THE VIKINGS UPSET THE EAGLES 23-21.

Rams (4-0)@ Seahawks (2-2), Rams by 7 THE RAMS HAD A LOT OF PROBLEMS WITH THE SEAHAWKS BUT PREVAILED 33-31.

Sunday 10/7 8:20p
Cowboys (2-2) @ Texans (1-3), Texans by 3.5

Monday 10/8 8:15p
Redskins (2-1) @ Saints (3-1), Saints by 6.5

NHL:

The puck dropped on the regular season, for some teams, on 10/3. My Bruins were crushed 7-0 by the defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals. Of course, Bruins’ bad boy, Brad Marchand, was ejected in the game. John Tavares scored in his Maple Leafs regular-season debut. Capitals’ Tom Wilson has been suspended for 20 games by the NHL for his hit on Blues’ Oskar Sundquvist. In the first weekend of the regular season, on Saturday, the NHL will invade Sweden for their Global Series game between the Oilers and the Devils. Gary Bettman says the NHL is eyeing an early December vote on Seattle expansion. As Seattle has already renovated and retrofitted to NHL specifications its KeyArena for 2020 and longtime sports executive Tim Leiweke and Hollywood’s Jerry Bruckheimer made their multimillion dollar down payments on the team and more than 30,000 avid fans have gotten in line for season tickets, several names for the new Seattle franchise are being thrown around, including these 13 (in order of Las Vegas odds): Emeralds, Totems, Rainiers, Evergreens, Kraken, Renegades, Sea Lions, Firebirds, Cougars, Eagles, Seals, Whales, and Sockeyes. Sharks’ Joe Thornton has finally shaved that long beard.

NBA:

The NBA season officially began on 10/3 as well and LeBron James made his highly touted debut with the Lakers, but they lost. There are still plenty of trade rumors out there, including one between the Timberwolves and Heat for Jimmy Butler. The Mavericks are betting on a former professional gambler as their “strategic thinker”. ESPN is citing the move as another example of how the NBA is embracing the gambling industry. This is an interesting bridge between sports betting and basketball, featuring an expert on coaches’ strategies and individual on-court officials’ tendencies. Meanwhile, the Mavericks are facing more workplace misconduct allegations reportedly. Celtics’ Kyrie Irving has verbally committed to return to Celtics. LeBron James has beefed up security at his L.A. home. Cavaliers’ JR Smith will reimburse a fan after tossing his cellphone. WNBA president Lisa Borders is resigning to become president of Time’s Up. The NBA is considering removing color restrictions on sneakers, let the craziness begin!

Travel News:

AAA is warning Americans that gasoline prices will likely exceed $3/gallon, hitting 4-year highs. Officials believe that travelers at Newark Airport may have been exposed to measles. An Emirates Air flight attendant just won Miss Scotland 2018 and then went right back to work flying. Lake Tahoe has a new underwater trail that lets you explore over 100 years of history. An “aggressive” American passenger on a KLM flight from Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam prompted the Dutch Air Force to send two F-16 fighter jets to escort the plane to its destination. Delta Air Lines’ Airbus A220 made its first flight. I know that some of you won’t be able to see the photos embedded in the text of the Repo Commentary, but for the others I am including some interesting photos. Here is the US Air Force’s C-5 Galaxy:

Here is the Russian MiG-21, which is still used by several countries 50 years later, and became the most-produced supersonic jet in history:

This is the Chinese Kongjing-2000 Radar Plane:

This one is the Russian Tupolev Tu-160, the largest and heaviest combat aircraft in use today:

Here is the US Lockheed U-2 Dragon Lady for high-altitude reconnaissance:

This one is an Antonov An-124, the world’s heaviest aircraft and the largest military transport aircraft in use today:

Health News:

I went and got my annual flu shot 3 weeks ago, so I’m all set to meet and greet all of you when you come down to Key Biscayne for the RMA and when I see you up in NYC next month for the Finadium conference. 6.5 million pounds of beef have been recalled in California, due to possible taint with salmonella Newport, per the USDA. After 20 residents in Pasadena, CA have been sickened with flea-borne typhus, Los Angeles officials confirmed an outbreak in downtown LA as well. A customer of British restaurant chain Pret a Manger reportedly died from an allergic reaction after a food label issue. A 254-pound watermelon has set a new state fair record. La Croix water is being accused in a lawsuit of containing the same ingredient found in cockroach insecticide. People are dying for the perfect selfie. According to a new study, 259 people have died worldwide in taking selfie pictures in recent years (since 2011). 72% of the deaths have been men and drowning was the most common cause of death. The largest number of deaths were in India.

Animal News:

A four-foot rattlesnake was saved on a Jupiter, FL beach, having apparently been swimming in the ocean for hours and extremely tired. The First Lady of the US, Melania Trump, visited The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Orphanage in Kenya. Officials are asking for help to identify the murderers who poisoned and killed 5 lions at a South African wildlife park this week. CITES has censured Japan for illegally trading whale products from its controversial “scientific” whaling program. $1.3 million worth of illegal wildlife parts were burned by officials in Myanmar, as opposition grows while trafficking and trade into China escalates. Diane Von Furstenberg’s clothing line plans to cut animal fur from its fashion line. A hunter in Alaska had to be hospitalized, after the bear that he shot and killed tumbled on top of him. Four captive dolphins died in Taiji, Japan this past week. Sunda the elephant at the Topeka Zoo has died. A critically endangered Sumatran tiger, pregnant with 2 cubs, was found dead after escaping from an animal trap in Indonesia. Authorities arrested a man in connection with the death of the tiger. The man reportedly worked as a security guard for an oil palm plantation. There are only about 400 Sumatran tigers still left in existence. A Tasmanian woman who was bitten by a shark in Queensland’s Whitsundays has flown back to Tasmania, after a two-week stay in Australia undergoing reconstructive surgery on her legs. A day after her attacks, a 12-year-old girl was also bitten on the leg in Cid Harbour. 3 sharks were shot and killed near the site of the attacks. Officials also placed drumlins in the area and caught several tiger sharks. A 13-year-old boy attacked by shark a week ago while lobster diving at Beacon’s Beach in Encinitas was released from the hospital on Thursday, having recovered from critical injuries to upper left side of his body. In October, admission is free for kids at the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park. Your intentions may be pure, but wild animals are still wild animals, as a villager in Bageshwar, India was attacked by a leopard as he tried to rescue the injured animal, suffering bits to his hands and legs. Aoshima Island in Japan has become overrun by cats, who now outnumber humans on the island 10-to-1. They were introduced to the island on ships in the area and have grown to a population of greater than 200. This very large alligator was photographed in an unusual place in Louisiana (not a very ‘welcome’ Welcome mat!):

Entertainment News:

I wasn’t sure exactly where to put this…the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Frances Arnold for her work on directed evolution of enzymes and to George Smith and Greg Winter for their work on phage display of peptides and antibodies.
The Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Arthur Ashkin, Gerard Mourou, and Donna Strickland for their work on laser science. The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work on cancer immunotherapy was awarded to James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo. Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.” Ellen DeGeneres, in a recent intereview, joined the #MeToo movement, saying that she was sexually assaulted at the age of 15. Comedian Katt Williams has been arrested for alleged assault on a hired driver, during an argument about taking him and his dog from the Portland, OR airport to a performance. Tatum O’Neal reveals she survived multiple sexual assaults when she was young and condemns on social media President Trump’s treatment of Brett Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford. Somewhat related, CBS news anchor Kris Long has resigned after his pro-Kavanaugh online post drew backlash from fans. Kate Hudson is sharing photos of newborn baby daughter Rani on Instagram. After Kanye West gave an unexpected and unplanned pro-Trump rant on last week’s Saturday Night Live, cast member Pete Davidson appeared on this week’s “Weekend Update” skit to slam the rapper’s views and mental health. Kanye West has again deleted his Twitter and Instagram accounts. Meanhile, wife, Kim Kardashian, just showed off a racy, barely-there bikini in a new Instagram photo. Actor Scott Wilson, of Walking Dead, has died at age 76. Keira Knightley has slammed Duchess Kate Middleton’s “stylish” post-birth appearance in explicit essay. Did you know that Kate Middleton’s brother James is now a tour guide in Scotland? Duchess Meaghan Markle’s sister was turned away from Kensington Palace, after arriving uninvited. There is another Royal Wedding coming 10/12, for Princess Eugenie. Her parents, Fergie and Prince Andrew have been putting on a very united front, days before the wedding. Steven Seagal stormed out of a live interview, when asked about rape and sexual harassment allegations. Actress Rose McGowan, who triggered Harvey Weinstein’s downfall says the #MeToo movement is “all bullxxxx” and a “lie to make lily-livered Hollywood types feel better.” 102-year-old Dame Olivia de Havilland claims that producer Ryan Murphy and network FX never asked to use her name or likeness in their 8-part series Feud-Bette and Joan. Tom Arnold and Mark Burnett’s alleged altercation about a missing Donald Trump tape from The Apprentice is still under review by LAPD. Bachelor contestant Cristy Caserta is dead at 38, passing out during training course, according to police. Audrey Wells, the screenwriter of UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN and THE HATE U GIVE, has died at 58. Will Vinton, the animator behind the California Raisins, has died. Jamie Doran and wife Amelia Warner are expecting 3rd child together. Iggy Azalea has abruptly cancelled her “Bad Girls” tour. The Queen of Country, Lorretta Lynn, feeling better, has just recorded a new album. Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Stephanie Beatriz married Brad Hoss. Riverdale, based on the Archie comic books/strip, has cast Jughead’s Mom and Sister. Teen model Kala Gerber may have set some kind of modelling record, walking a staggering 25 shows in NYC, Milan, and Paris, including 4 runways in just one day. Gwyneth Paltrow is living it up in Paris on her honeymoon with new husband, Brad Falchuck. Brad Pitt is filming movie ONCE UPON A TIME. Tina Turner says she blames violent ex Ike Turner for her son’s suicide. Denise Richards, recently married, and Camille Grammer filmed over dinner for Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, while their feud with show matriarch, Lisa Vanderpump, continues. Friends of Justin Bieber think he’s having an “identity crisis.” Supermodel Gisele Bundchen has revealed that she suffered with depression and also cried when forced to walk a fashion show topless. Kate Moss’ daughter made her modeling debut. Today Show’s Megyn Kelly might be leaving NBC. Tribune Publishing and McClatchy are closing in on a merger. Salon Media’s longtime financial chief has resigned. YES Network, owned by the New York Yankees, has had its best ratings in six seasons. Boy Meets World star Will Friedle revealed that he stopped working on-camera due to anxiety disorder. Michael Jordan made two enormous donations to Hurricane Florence victims.

This week’s box-office was okay, maybe because of the weather. NIGHT SCHOOL with Kevin Hart, debuted at No.1 with $27.3 million (and a budget of $29 million); SMALLFOOT (the animated movie about the bigfoots finding a human) debuted at No.2, with $23 million; THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS and Kevin Black, fell from No.1 to No.3, but still made $12.6 million (putting ahead of its budget of $42 million), in its 2nd week; A SIMPLE FAVOR dropped from No.2 to No.4, with just $6.5 million in its 3rd week; and THE NUN fell from No.3 to No.5, with $5.4 million, it its 4th week (bringing its total to a whopping $109 million win for a $22 million movie!). Just missing the Top 5 was the debut of HELL FEST, which made only $5.1 million in limited release and No.6.

Movies coming out this week is a heavy load of movies: PIPELINE, ’96, ANDHADHUN, BEYOND FEST-CRASH & SPIDER, BLUE MY MIND, NOTA, RETRO NIGHTMARES, SMUT WITHOUT SMUT: BIZARRO, THE HENRIK MANEUVER, A CROOKED SOMEBODY, A STAR IS BORN (remake with Gaga and Bradley Cooper-I want to see this!), AFSAR, BAYOU CAVIAR, BILL COORS: THE WILL TO LIVE, CHICAGO/STEP BROTHERS, CHASING THE BLUES, CRY ME A SAD RIVER, EXES BAGGAGE, HEAVY TRIP, HELLO MRS. MONEY, KNUCKLEBALL, LADY BELLADONNA’S, LIVING IN THE FUTURE’S PAST, LOVEYATRI, PRIVATE LIFE, PROJECT GUTENBERG, RIDE, SHINE, STUDIO 54, THE CHURCH, THE HAPPY PRINCE, VENOM (looks rather creepy), VIKING DESTINY, AWAIT FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS, THE METROPOLITAN OPERA: AIDA, and BULLITT 50th ANNIVERSARY SHOWING. Early returns are showing VENOM on the way to beating A STAR IS BORN, with an estimated $80 million opening weekend, which would be a record for October.

Technology & Space News:

Renowned stargazer, Neil deGrasse Tyson, says that President Trump’s “Space Force” is not a crazy idea at all. In other President Trump news, his administration has said that all self-driving cars will need to have steering wheels to allow for human intervention. Facebook is now looking to track your exact location via Instagram. The UK cybersecurity agency is backing Apple, Amazon and China hack denials.

Political News:

President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, remained under siege from the media and the Senate, which finally held a confirmation vote for him and approved the nomination. Ivanka and Jared ran the US Army 10-miler.

US News:

Friday marks the one-year anniversary of the #MeToo movement, kicked off by the New York Times (then by the New Yorker) which published the first article that outed Harved Weinstein as a serial assaulter of women. What the movement has taught us is that there are many more victims than anyone thought, that no matter how long it’s been they and what they went through matter and should be heard, and many peoples’ lives were altered forever by these incidents. Ironically, the Senate is expected to vote on Friday whether to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, who has been accused by two women of sexual assault, as a new Supreme Court Justice. Two newlywed couples and young parents of two little girls among 20 wedding guests that were killed in an upstate New York limousine crash between two vehicles while traveling to watch their friends get married. 92 California billionaires appear on the new Forbes list of the richest Americans. 400 Americans share a staggering $2.9 trillion in wealth. I mentioned in the last Repo Commentary that, in a surprise move, famed F.A.O. Schwartz would be returning to NYC in Rockefeller Center location. Now, there is news that Toys ‘R’ Us may come back to California in a surprise move for the bankrupt company, as a bankruptcy auction there has just been cancelled. Now, news in the other direction, as Mattress Firm files bankruptcy and plans to close 700 stores. The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that there are 1.7 million children in the US with a parent in prison on any given day, out of a prison population of roughly 2.2 million. Officials have found immigration violations at Nevada brothels. A mystery object has washed ashore on a SC beach. There has been a rare death-row slaying at San Quentin Prison in California. The husband of woman accused of killing her child jumped to his death from his hotel. The US service member killed in Afghanistan has now been identified.

International News:

Breaking News: firefighters are tackling a huge blaze near an IKEA store in north London, England. According to Turkish police, a Washington Post writer who fiercely criticized the Saudi government “was tortured, murdered and cut into pieces inside his country’s consulate in Istanbul.” A missing Interpol chief was at the center of a Chinese anti-corruption probe. A television journalist’s murder is shocking Bulgaria. The Vatican is defending the Pope against ‘blasphemous’ cover-up claims about ongoing priests’ investigations into sexual assaults. A victims’ group in Poland has mapped 255 sex cases against clergy.

Florida:

The blue-green algae disaster on the East Coast of Florida and red tide disaster on the West Coast of Florida (stretching 135 miles along the southwest coast) are still on everyone’s minds and noses down here. Dead fish continue to pile up on Southwestern Florida beaches, as cleanup efforts for the red tide have intensified. But, a new development is shocking Floridians, as authorities closed beaches in Martin County and here in Palm Beach County, not for the blue-green algae, but for red tide. Red tide has now made its way to the East Coast of Florida, for the first time in 25 years. Authorities closed the beaches over “health and safety concerns”. For people with severe or chronic respiratory conditions, such as emphysema or asthma, red tide can cause serious illness. For others, it tends to cause throat, eye, and nose irritation. In Florida’s Panhandle, in northwest Florida, crews of county jail inmates are cleaning up piles of dead fish killed by another red tide bloom near Panama City Beach.

My 5-part harmony singing group, Generation Gap, was just voted by InTune Magazine as the Best Harmony Group in the State of Florida, quite an honor! We just performed 3 gigs in the Jupiter/Palm Beach Garden area and I performed for my 40th high school reunion up in Andover, MA this past weekend, in full Elvis regalia. We have many gigs coming up in Palm Beach County and you can check those out on http://www.generationgapflorida.com.

If you are interested in seeing the more famous bands or solos in concert, there are many coming to Florida, perhaps when you will be visiting:

Phil Collins-Sunrise, October 5
Kid Rock and Brantley Gilbert-West Palm Beach, October 13
Nikki Minaj with Future-Miami, October 19
Alice in Chains-Hollywood, October 28
Toto-Pompano Beach-October 28
Marilyn Manson w H090909-Hollywood, October 30
Simple Minds-Miami, November 8
Willie Nelson-Estero, November 12
Elton John-Sunrise, November 23 (I’m there)
Elton John-Miami, November 24
Brian Wilson-Hollywood, December 12
Kansas-Fort Lauderdale, December 15
Cher and Chic-Sunrise, January 19
Fleetwood Mac-Sunrise, February 20
Pink-Sunrise-March 1 (I might have to go)
Paul Anka-Fort Lauderdale-March 4
Elton John-Sunrise, March 16

Repo Commentary-9/20/18

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I’ve been keeping busy, not only writing the Repo Commentary, reaching out to clients, and exploring job opportunities, but now also consulting on two books and two articles. And i/we’ve got two conferences coming up!

My Repo Commentary is posted on my new website: http://www.repocommentary.com. It also pops up on LinkedIn and the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website.

If you need to get hold of me, my cell is still 646-753-1300, my email for work is jeffkidwell82@gmail.com, and you can also hit me up on Bloomberg and LinkedIn.

Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information. I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested (70-80%) in entertaining you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures. Also, please send me feedback, as I want to make it better all the time.’

Thursday’s Holidays or Events:

• National Gibberish Day
• National Pepperoni Pizza Day
• National Punch Day
• National String Cheese Day
• National Teach Ag Day
• Constitution Day in Nepal
• Independence Day of South Ossetia (not fully recognized)
• National Youth Day in Thailand
• Oil Workers’ Day in Azerbaijan
• Universal Children’s Day in Germany
• Yom Kippur began on 9/19

Some Famous People Born 9/20 in History:

• 1486-Arthur, Prince of Wales
• 1878-Upton Sinclair, American novelist
• 1917-Red Auerbach, NBA
• 1929-Anne Meara, American actress and playwright
• 1934-Sophia Loren, Italian actress
• 1935-Jim Taylor, NFL
• 1951-Guy Lafleur, NHL
• 1956-Gary Cole, American actor
• 1975-Asia Argento, Italian actress
• 1978-Hector Camacho Jr., Puerto Rican boxer
• 1978-Dante Hall, NFL
• 1990-Phillip Phillips, American singer-songwriter
• 1990-John Tavares, NHL

This Day in History (9/20):

• 1187-Saladin begins the Siege of Jerusalem.
• 1260-The Great Prussian Uprising among the old Prussians begins against the Teutonic Knights.
• 1378-Cardinal Robert of Geneva is elected as Pope Clement VII, beginning the Papal schism.
• 1498-the Nakai Earthquake generated a tsunami that washes away the building housing the statue of the Great Buddha at Kotoku-in in Japan. Since then, the Buddha has sat in the open air.
• 1519-Ferdinand Magellan sets sail from Sanlucar da Barrameda with about 270 men on his expedition to circumnavigate the globe.
• 1697-the Treaty of Ryswick is signed by France, England, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire, and the Dutch Republic, ending the Nine Years’ War.
• 1737-the completion of the Walking Purchase which forces cession of 1.2 million acres of Lenape-Delaware tribal land to the Pennsylvania Colony.
• 1792-French troops stop an allied invasion of France at the Battle of Valmy.
• 1854-Crimean War: British and French troops defeat the Russians at the Battle of Alma.
• 1863-American Civil War: the conclusion of the Battle of Chickamauga in northwestern Georgia, the bloodiest two-day battle of the conflict, and the only significant Confederate victory in the War’s western theater.
• 1881-US President Chester A. Arthur is sworn in, the morning after becoming President upon James A Garfield’s death.
• 1893-Charles Duryea and his brother road-test the first American-made gasoline-powered automobile.
• 1906-the Cunard Line’s RMA Mauretania is launched at Newcastle upon Tyne, England.
• 1909-the Parliament of the United Kingdom passes the South Africa Act of 1909, creating the Union of South Africa from the British colonies of the Cape of Good Hope, Natal, Orange River Colony, and the Transvaal Colony.
• 1911-the White Star Line’s RMA Olympic collides with the British warship HMS Hawke.
• 1941-the Holocaust of Lithuania: 403 Jews were murdered by Einsatzkommando 3 and the local police of Nemencine.
• 1942-the Holocaust of Ukraine: in the course of two days, a German einsatzgruppen murders at least 3,000 Jews in Letychiv.
• 1946-the first Cannes Film Festival is held, having been delayed 7 years due to WWII.
• 1962-James Meredith, an African-American, is temporarily barred from entering the University of Mississippi.
• 1967-RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 is launched at Clydebank, Scotland.
• 1971-having weakened after making landfall in Nicaragua the previous day, Hurricane Irene regains enough strength to be renamed Hurricane Olivia, making it the first known hurricane to cross from the Atlantic Ocean into the Pacific Ocean.
• 1973-Billie Jean King beats Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes tennis match at the Houston Astrodome.
• 1973-singer Jim Croce, songwriter and musician Maury Muehleisen, and 4 others die when their light aircraft crashes on takeoff at Natchitoches Regional Airport in Louisiana.
• 1977-the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is admitted to the UN.
• 1982-football players begin a 57-day strike during the 1982 NFL football season.
• 1984-a suicide bomber in a car attacks the US embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 22 people.
• 1990-South Ossetia declares its independence from Georgia.
• 2000-the United Kingdom’s MI6 Secret Intelligence Service building is attacked by individuals using a Russian-built RPG-22 anti-tank missile.
• 2001-in an address to a joint session of Congress and the American people, US President George W. Bush declares a “War on Terror”.
• 2008-a dump truck full of explosives detonates in front of the Marriott hotel in Islamabad, Pakistan, killing 54 people and injuring 266 others.
• 2017-Hurricane Maria makes landfall in Puerto Rico as a powerful Category 4 hurricane, resulting in 2,975 deaths, $90 billion in damage, and a major humanitarian crisis that still has not been completely resolved. I read the other day that a warehouse full of bottled water was just discovered, the water never delivered to people in need.

Fun Fact of the Day:

In the late 1950’s, the US Air Force considered dropping an atomic bomb on the Moon to display US superiority to the Soviet Union and the rest of the world, as Project A119. A year later, they considered building a possible military base on the Moon (Project Horizon).

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“I am a part of everything that I have read.”—Theodore Roosevelt

International and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices on 9/10 closed at $67.54/barrel. Today (9/20) however, oil is trading at $70.35/barrel, nearly $3 higher. Oil prices jumped on Saudi Arabia $80/barrel announcement. Trump is urging OPEC to drive down oil prices. Trump did hit Iran with oil sanctions, which are working so far. Despite the jump in oil, I was able to find gasoline at $2.66/gallon at my West Palm Beach gas station, but most stations have gasoline prices up about 5 cents from where they were last week. The USD versus the Yen is trading at $112.50, much higher from where it was on 9/11. The USD was at 1.1786 versus the Euro, weaker since 9/11. The USD is sharply down since 9/11 against the GBP, at $1.3250. The USD is much lower versus the CAD to $1.2905 since 9/11. Gold closed today at $1204.90/ounce, up from where it was 9/11. Bitcoin was trading at $8185.21 on 7/25. On 8/9, it collapsed to $6,300.01. Two weeks ago, it broke above $7000 and its 50-day moving average. If you thought you’d seen the lows, however, you were wrong. It is already down 65% since its peak in December, but now the stochastics point to potential further problems. It keeps having lower highs and the Directional Movement Index is suggesting that bullish buying pressure has ended and selling pressure has begun. It closed on 9/11 at $6,413.87. Today, it closed at $6,395.00. It’s barely treading water. Trade fears have subsided, so global stock markets are generally somewhat higher. The USD has dropped against most currencies. The GBP climbed to a 2-month high on UK retail sales unexpected jump in August because of warm weather for shoppers. The prior month was also revised higher. Sales in household goods was the leader, while clothing and food sagged. The EU summit in Salzburg kicked off with discussions about Brexit and there hasn’t been any breakthrough in negotiations, particularly about the Irish border issue. This summit is the first of three opportunities for meetings to negotiate a divorce. In Japan, PM Abe easily won the party leadership election. China has responded to US tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese products by imposing retaliatory tariffs on $60 billion more in US goods. Both sets of tariffs will take effect this Monday.

Ottawa is seeking guarantees from the United States that it will not hit Canada with punitive tariffs on the country’s automotive exports under a new NAFTA deal, increasing friction in the trade talks. U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened to impose tariffs on Canadian vehicles and parts, worth about $80-billion a year, if the federal government does not reach an agreement with Washington on an overhaul of the continental trade pact. But the matter has become a sticking point in talks, said people briefed on the closed-door negotiations.The Globe and Mail

The United States has backed away from its contentious demands for lucrative procurement projects in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, The Canadian Press has learned. Mexico and Canada are both quietly taking credit for standing firm against the controversial U.S. position that would have effectively limited their respective countries’ ability to bid on valuable American government infrastructure projects. Multiple sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity, cited the competing claims as one example of the animosity between Canada and Mexico that has arisen since Mexico reached its own NAFTA deal with the Trump administration last month. Business Financial Post

“EU Turns Up the Heat on Irish Question Ahead of Brexit Meeting: European leaders met in Salzburg, Austria, on Wednesday evening in an effort to nudge stalled Brexit talks closer to the finish line. The big stumbling block: what to do about the U.K.’s border with Ireland. Under pressure at home, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May told her European counterparts that her government had altered its offer for Britain’s future relationship with the bloc and it was time for them “to respond in kind.” Wall Street Journal

“China Plans Broad Import Tax Cut as Soon as October: China is planning to cut the average tariff rates on imports from the majority of its trading partners as soon as next month, two people familiar with the matter said, in a move that will lower costs for consumers as a trade war with the U.S. deepens.” Bloomberg

“In Brexit Talks, Some See Hope in a Minimal ‘Blind’ Deal: With about six months to go until Britain quits the European Union, time is short and much is unresolved. But a common goal now binds British Prime Minister Theresa May and her continental counterparts: getting a deal — perhaps any deal — to push withdrawal over the line. European leaders are weary of the endless wrangling within Mrs. May’s fractious Conservative Party over Britain’s departure, known as Brexit, and fear that a political crisis could propel the country into a chaotic and economically damaging split. That has prompted a new mood of compromise that could help Mrs. May and the European Union tiptoe toward the kind of outcome for which the bloc is famous: a political fudge that mainly kicks the can down the road.” New York Times

Global Financial News:

The Senate has just approved a $854 billion spending bill. Three men have been indicted in an alleged $364 million Ponzi scheme that preyed on more than 400 victims and was based in Maryland. The scheme funded the lavish lifestyles of the 3 men, featuring Ferraris, Lamborghinis, a Rolls Royce, 9 pricey homes, and 7- and 9- carat diamond rings, and more, according to authorities. The men lured investors to buy consumer debt portfolios “through an elaborate web of lies” according to the US Attorney. These portfolios included alleged credit-card debts, car loans, and student loans, which those men promised to make money on in collecting payments or bundling them and selling them. Industry groups are saying that an FSB evaluation of banks’ capital rules enacted in response to the Financial Crisis doesn’t adequately address obstacles they created for the central clearing of derivatives. The ability to clear derivatives for clients has been greatly diminished by the way Basel III treats clearing activity. Tencent Music Entertainment Group, the largest music-streaming service in China, has reduced is fundraising IPO in the US to about $2 billion from $4 billion. It will still be among the largest IPOs from a Chinese company in New York this year. SIFMA and other industry bodies have expressed concern about the MSRB’s proposed amendments to rules on data related to offerings of municipal securities that would require information to be manually submitted by underwriters. I’m going to already have to amend my Series 50 education. SEC member Robert Jackson Jr. urges the SEC to take firmer action on anti-competitive practices at stock exchanges, saying they harm investor interests, by increasing fees and profit. The SEC has withdrawn 2 no-action letters that authorized investment advisors’ reliance on proxy-voting services if the advisors had adopted policies to preserve independence. Now they intend to review those services. A new report released by the BIS explores changes in the structure of the high-speed trading electronic markets and implications for central banks.

U.S. companies repatriated $169.5 billion in foreign profits in the second quarter—more than in most recent periods, but underscoring a cautious approach to shifting huge sums across borders. The figure marks a decline from a revised $294.9 billion in the first quarter, the three months immediately after Congress passed sweeping tax legislation… The transfers represent a combination of newly earned foreign profits, which have never been subject to U.S. tax, and profits long accumulated by foreign subsidiaries… Policy makers backing the December tax overhaul predicted it would lead companies to bring to the U.S. much of the estimated $2.7 trillion they had stockpiled offshore at least in part to avoid U.S. taxes. In turn, they argued, companies would invest much of the money in U.S. operations and jobs.WSJ

US Market News:

The Dow Jones has waffled lower since my 8/29 Repo Commentary, closing 9/11 down 59.47 points to 25,857.07. It is currently at 26,656.77. S&P 500, however, keeps going higher, now trading at 2,930.66. Nasdaq has also been regaining ground since it set 8,030.04 on 8/28. It is currently 8,027.70. US Treasury yields have gotten much worse since I wrote last on 9/11 (yields have gone dramatically higher), closing yesterday on 2years at 2.81% (up 8bp), 3years at 2.89% (up 11bp), 5years at 2.96 (up 13bp), 7years at 3.04% (up 15bp), 10years at 3.08% (up 14bp), and 30years at 3.23% (up 14bp). Treasury yields opened up higher today by 1bp across the board. You will notice that yesterday, the 10 year yield did top the magic 3% yield, a four-month high at 3.08%.

Housing News:

Today, we have US Existing Home Sales for July and they are expected to have cratered to their lowest level in 2 ½ years. The latest US housing data two weeks ago showed the market wobbling and began investors worrying. In talking to my real estate friends down here in Florida, it’s about not having enough supply to meet demand, particularly on the commercial real estate side. However, it’s hard to believe that when you see all the new condo skyscrapers being built and new gated communities being built in Florida. But, even the office of Employment in Florida has issued an alert that they need more builders, carpenters, etc. to build all of this growth for the demand of a booming increase in population. The real estate brokers say that it is still a sellers’ market, that they hold the upper hand in negotiations in Florida, the opposite of what I hear is happening in the metropolitan NYC area, especially in the luxury real estate market. CBS put out a warning article today to real estate investors, saying that home prices in the US have never been higher, since January’s housing values eclipsed the 2006 pre-Crisis peak and since have only pushed higher. CBS points to the Federal Reserve raising interest rates higher which will have a negative impact on home affordability, a slowdown in new home construction and sales of existing homes, and weakening demographics. Millennials, hampered by rising student loan debt and cooling wages, have very low homeownership rates. Their rate is about 8% below the homeownership rates of Gen X and Baby Boomers before them at the same age. CBS is not the only one raising a flag, as I reported last week that CNBC had had a similar article, and even Fannie Mae’s Economic and Strategic Research Group is warning of a “mass exodus” on the horizon as the “homeownership demand from younger generations is insufficient to fill the void left by multitudes of departing older owners.” There always seems to be 2 residential real estate markets when you talk about real estate, particularly in NYC. There’s the buy/sell real estate market and the rental real estate market. It turns out that year-over-year, rents in Queens saw an 8.3% increase in July, far outpacing Manhattan (1.7%) and the national average (2.8%). However, NYC buy/sell real estate currently favors the buyer’s, particularly at the high-end. Bloomberg has reported that sellers are reluctantly finally coming around. However, it doesn’t appear that the new tax bill has had much impact yet, according to the NY Times. An interesting aside to the Housing market in the US is that, now that car companies, like Ford are focusing only on making Mustangs, SUVs, and pickup trucks, the average new home has to have larger garages than existing homes. That actually will create a supply/demand dynamic between the existing homes and new homes that has not been there before. Not only are the vehicles wider and longer, but they are also taller. So, the whole structure of some new homes has had to change. One professor at the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena said, “the only thing that has grown as fast as American vehicles are American waistlines.”

Repo News:  

It has been interesting watching repo funding rates, Fed Funds, and the SOFR. There has been a lot of volatility in repo rates lately, despite the US Treasury yield curve’s one-way direction (much higher in rates). Part of it is likely the pricing or not pricing of FOMC rate hikes. Part of it is likely the huge supply of US Treasuries which has finally abated. But, still, the intraday volatility is high. You could get a repo quote at 8am and then find another quote in the afternoon 15-20bp different. GSE cash started hitting the market this week and brought funding rates down. It could get down to mid-1.90s before the cash leaves on 9/24. Everyone thinks there will be a Fed tightening of 25bp on 9/26 FOMC, so funding rates will lean higher anyway, with the full impact the day after on 9/27 (since the meeting is at 2:00pm in the afternoon). It will be interesting to hear what they say in the Statement, but also interesting to see what they do to the IOER. At the last tightening in June, they only raised the IOER to 1.95%, up 20bp, not 25bp. So, the question is: will they raise the IOER only 20bp again, or only 15bp, since the 20bp move last time didn’t have the desired effect of lowering the Fed Funds rate? Reportedly, some 100,000 Fed Funds futures contracts have been traded to bet on that question. The dynamic between IOER (where banks and credit unions can invest their cash with the Fed), Repo rates (where all could invest their cash securitized), and Fed Funds (where certain banks and GSEs could invest their cash unsecured) is more important than it every was before. In Specials, the 2year note is trading around 1.50% and looks like its going to be quite active.

I see the Repo and Securities Lending market as having changed in many permanent ways. We traditionally had a credit intermediator, the broker/dealers (originally just the primary broker/dealers) and later prime brokers, who were the pipeline through their respective repo matched books for collateral providers to trade with cash providers, without the two sides ever knowing about each other or facing each other. That lack of knowledge of the other side of the repo matched book came at a couple of costs, first, the bid/offer spread that went to the dealers and second, the defaults of the Financial Crisis and the impact on some of the dealers that then cost their clients. Clearly, with that pipeline becoming severely crimped by post-Financial Crisis regulatory reforms, consolidation and bankruptcies, and the resulting drop of about 60% in balance sheets being used for broker/dealer respective repo matched books, new pathways/pipelines needed to be found for cash provider and collateral provider clients. AVM’s Direct Repo™ was the first of one of such pathways. Since then, other pathways to these markets have been created, including: the Federal Reserve’s RRP program with cash providers, peer-to-peer financing as reported on Treasury OFR’s website between MMFs and Insurance Companies, As Agent repo through seclending agents and now some prime brokers, direct lending from beneficial owner to hedge funds who are short, indemnified As Agent repo, buyside to buyside Triparty Repo through two international clearing organizations, electronic all-to-all repo on a few electronic trading platforms like Elixium and BNY DBVX, FICC’s sponsored repo and cleared repo products to entice certain sectors of the buyside into that CCP, and other Repo and/or Seclending CCPs (several still being worked on, particularly in Europe). I believe this evolution will continue and eventually we will see all of these pathways used, including the traditional pathway (to probably a lesser than historical degree) through the broker/dealers and prime brokers.

Upcoming Repo Industry Conferences: 
 

• IMN will hold its 23rd annual European Beneficial Owners’ International Securities Finance & Collateral Management Conference in London, 9/12-9/13. I’ve attended this before.
• IMN will hold its 24th annual ABS East Conference in Miami Beach, on 9/23-25. I’ve attended this before.
• National Association of State Treasurers (NAST) will hold its Annual Conference in Scottsdale, AZ on 9/30-10/3. I’ve been invited to this before.
• SIFMA-will hold its Annual Meeting in Washington, DC on 10/1-10/2.
• Risk Management Association (RMA) will hold the 35th annual RMA Conference on Securities Lending in Key Biscayne, FL on 10/8-10/11. I will be there, I don’t want to break my streak of attending every one of them!
• Finadium will hold its 2nd annual Rates & Repo conference in NYC 11/5. I absolutely won’t miss this conference! I know I have dozens of promised drinks and chats with you all while I’m up there, so I have to organize all that.
• Association of Financial Professionals (AFP) is holding its annual Treasury & Finance conference in Chicago on 11/4-11/7.
• RISK USA will hold 24th annual conference in NYC 11/7-11/9. I have chaired/moderated this one before.

Federal Reserve News:

Fed Funds, which trade mostly between some banks and GSEs, opened today at 1.91%.

The next FOMC meetings are: 9/20/18, 11/1/18, 12/13/18, 1/30/19, 3/20/19, 5/1/19, 6/19/19, 7/31/19, 9/18/19, 10/30/19, 12/11/19, 1/29/20 (reflecting the Fed’s just announced tentative schedule for 2019).

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (16 banks, 14 GSEs, 101 money market funds from various fund families), is now set at the rate of 1.75%. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight. Remember when RRP was trading at year-end for $465 billion? Well, on 5/15, there was only $20 million in bids submitted. MMF cash and GSE cash has moved out of the Fed’s RRP and into the Repo market, but it hasn’t really brought down the GC repo rate, which is strange.

If you are wondering about RRP, it is nearly extinct. In July, excluding month-end, volume averaged only $2.8 billion per day. It has just become a mechanism for the Fed to supply collateral when its scarce for money market funds on month-ends and quarter-ends, as dealer balance sheets dry up at those times.

According to FOMC members, the Fed is expected to raise interest rates 3 times in 2018 and 3 times in 2019. So far, we had a tightening of 25bp in March 2018 and a 25bp tightening in June 2018. We now have a full 25bp tightening priced into September 2018 FOMC meeting. Despite the Fed’s guidance on rate hikes, the market is diverging about those 3 tightenings in 2019, pricing only 2 of them in so far.

We are obviously in the Fed’s self-imposed blackout period now of 7 days or less before the 9/26 FOMC meeting.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

The latest earthquakes:

9/16/18 6.5, 570km South of the Fiji Islands

9/12/18 4.3, 7km NE of Sapatgram, India

9/10/18 6.3, 202km WNW of Ile Hunter, New Caledonia

9/10/18 6.9, 61km SW of L’Esperance Rock, New Zealand

9/9/18 6.5, 65km NW of Kirakira, Solomon Islands

9/8/18 5.6, 18km WSW of Lianzhu, China

Weather:

The Atlantic Hurricane Season began Friday, June 1st. For 2018, Colorado State University experts have predicted that this season will be a busy, above average hurricane season. They have predicted 14 named Tropical Storms, of which 7 will become Hurricanes. Both are above the averages of 12 and 6, respectively. But, remember, last year they were way off. Unfortunately, they were way off the wrong way, with way more storms. They had predicted 11 Tropical Storms, of which 4 would be Hurricanes. Instead, we had 17 Tropical Storms and had 10 Hurricanes. Here are the 2018 Storm names:

Alberto done
Beryl done
Chris done
Debby done
Ernesto done
Florence done
Gordon done
Helene coming
Isaac coming
Joyce
Kirk
Leslie
Michael
Nadine
Oscar
Patty
Rafael
Sara
Tony
Valerie
William

Historically, the most active month for hurricanes in the Atlantic is September. Hurricane Florence, although down from a Category 4 to a Category 1 when it finally made landfall in North Carolina, wreaked devastation throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, and spawned awful tornadoes that whipped through Virginia, particularly Richmond area. The storm has already been blamed for the deaths of at least 35 people. Florence’s main problem was the rain, not the wind, which came down relentlessly for a long time from a slow storm, over 2 feet in many areas, combined with a storm surge from the ocean of up to 15 feet. This overflowed all major rivers to historic levels and cut off Wilmington, NC, in particular. Many homes were ruined with flooding that had not seen any flooding during Hurricane Matthew last year. The Cape Fear river by Fayettville, NC finally crested Tuesday night at 60 feet higher. Insurance companies estimate that just six inches of water in a home causes on average $52,000 in damage and over 1 foot of water causes in excess of $100,000 in damage. Many of the folks inland, now suffering from the storm surge coming up the rivers and the rivers swelling with rain water, were never in flood zones, so never spent the $700/year to get flood insurance. Damage has already been estimated to be about $50 billion. Thousands of roads in North Carolina remain closed and impassable. Hundreds of thousands of people are without power and generators are running out of gas and gas is running low. Florence was the wettest tropical cyclone on record in the Carolinas and 9th-wettest tropical cyclone to hit the contiguous United States. The governors of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, and Maryland and the mayor of Washington, DC declared a state of emergency. The states of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia wound up issuing mandatory evacuations for some of their coastal communities.

The Pacific Hurricane Season began on May 1st. Typhoon Jebi affected Taiwan and Japan, killing at least 17 people and causing extensive damage in the Kansai region of Japan. In the Eastern North Pacific, Tropical Storm Paul is slightly stronger at 45mph. Typhoon Mangkhut impacted the Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China, resulting in more than 70 deaths.

Let’s talk about weather, here in Florida, the heat is up again into the low to mid-90s, coupled with high humidity of 60-80%, has given us heat indices for the last week or so of 100-105 degrees. Too hot to do much outdoor activities like golf or tennis. Similar weather is hitting the Plains states, like Missouri, where heat indices will be in the 100-105 degree range. Chicago is about to get temperatures in the 90s again and that is expected to sweep to the Northeast. Meanwhile, upper Northwest states to Minnesota are experience temperatures in the 60s and rain.

A rare ‘firenado’, combination of tornado and wildfire, is raging in British Columbia.

Sports News:

MLB:

The MLB regular season is almost over, with around 20-23 games left to play.

In the AL East, the Red Sox have crossed into franchise historical territory, putting up 103 wins, the most any Red Sox team had put up in 75 years, with still 11 more games to play. Their magic number to clinch the AL East is down to 2 and they are about to face the Yankees a bunch of times, so one win for the Red Sox will clinch. They have already clinched a playoff spot. They lost Tuesday night to the Yankees in a late rally, delaying the Red Sox champagne celebration. Red Sox star Mookie Betts had to leave the previous game against the Mets with a side injury but appears okay now. Red Sox ace David Price says he doesn’t plan to opt out of his Red Sox contract. The Red Sox activated ace Chris Sale from DL. The Yankees have called up top prospect Justus Sheffield. New Yankee acquisition, Andrew McCutchen reached base 5 times in a win over the Blue Jays this weekend. The Yankees have also activated Aaron Judge from the DL and he promptly hit a HR in his first at-bat. Hal Steinbrenner has expressed support for Yankees’ rookie manager Aaron Boone. The Orioles just lost their 107th game of the season, tying a team record. They are currently 60 games behind the Red Sox. The problem is that there is still 2weeks left in the season, so the Orioles are likely to break their record. In the AL Central, the Indians have already clinched the division, becoming the first team to do so in 2018, with a rousing 15-0 win over the Tigers. New acquisition, Josh Donaldson, went hitless in his debut from DL. In the AL West, the Astros’ magic number is 9 to eliminate the A’s and 4 to eliminate the Mariners. A’s ace Trevor Cahill is dealing with back issues. A’s ace Sean Manaea is now out for the season with a shoulder injury. The AL Wild Cards have been locked up and are the Yankees and A’s (if they don’t win their respective divisions). Which one will play the one game at home is still being decided, as they are now only 1 game apart. In the NL East, the Braves have a magic number of 8 to eliminate the Phillies (who have collapsed) and 6 to eliminate the Nationals. The Braves did not help themselves on Saturday by walking 13 batters in 8 innings in a loss to the Nationals. That was the most walks Atlanta had given up in a game since moving from Milwaukee in 1966. Nats’ Spencer Kieboom lost a tooth and hit his first career HR. In the NL Central, the Cubs have a magic number of 11 to eliminate the Brewers (who gained a lot of ground this weekend on the Cubs), 8 to eliminate the Cardinals, and 2 to eliminate the Pirates. The Cubs’ closer Pedro Strop is reportedly done for the regular season, with a hamstring injury. Cubs’ ace Yu Darvish had a procedure on his elbow and is expected to be ready for Spring Training. Cubs’ ace Jon Lester left game against Brewers with an injury. Pirates OF Gregory Polanco will miss start of 2019 season after shoulder surgery. In the NL West, the Dodgers and Rockies are tied and they both have a magic number of 4 to eliminate the Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks’ playoff hopes have faded with a poor 4-11 road trip. The NL Wild Card spots have not been decided yet and could come down to whoever doesn’t win the NL West and/or the Cardinals and Nationals.

Mets’ 3B star, David Wright, is retiring. When the Mets played in Boston over the weekend, Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia presented one of the Fenway scoreboard’s No.5 to Wright as a parting gift. Twins’ Joe Mauer is seriously considering retirement.

Golf:

Champion Iowa State University golfer Celia Barquin Arozamena was found stabbed to death on a golf course and a suspect has been charged with her murder. Her body was found in a pond at Coldwater Links golf course near the campus. Barquin Arozamena, a native of Spain, was recently named Iowa State’s female athlete of the year. It appears to have been a random rape and brutal murder by a homeless 22-year-old. The top 30 players have made it to East Lake in Georgia for the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup title (plus $10 million check). Tiger is among the 30, at No.20. In the LPGA, the Evian Championship was won by 40-year-old Angela Stanford in a tournament that finally measured up to its new ‘major’ status. The PGA of America announced that 8 events will be hosted at Congressional Golf Club, including the 2031 PGA Championship and 2036 Ryder Cup. The PGA Tour Champions are playing in South Dakota for the first time, as Andy North and Jack Nicklaus host an event at Sanford International.

Fighting:

Boxing

Manny Pacquiao is suing Top Rank Boxing over unpaid fees for Matthysse fight. This weekend, welterweight Amir Khan gave a dominant performance in his unanimous decision over Samuel Vargas in Birmingham, England and then called out Manny Pacquiao, although fans really want to see him take on fellow Englishman Kell Brook.

9/15 after the huge buildup for the mega middleweight rematch between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, after their split draw in Las Vegas last time, and a six-month suspension of Alvarez, they finally fought Saturday night in Las Vegas. Since like me, you probably didn’t pay the $85 for PPV for the fight, the result was that it went the distance of 12 rounds and was scored a majority decision for Alvarez, in another very close fight. Of the 18 media outlets who scored the bout, 10 ruled in favor of Golovkin, 7 scored it a draw, and only 1 scored the bout for the winner, Alvarez. Alvarez won a purse of $5 million for the fight, plus about $40 million from PPV, and Golovkin won a purse of $4 million for the fight, plus about $30 million from PPV. Alvarez also won the WBA (super), WBC, IBO, and The Ring Magazine middleweight belts. In the other bouts that night, Jaime Munguia defeated Brandon Cook with a TKO in round 3 for the WBO Jr. Middleweight title, David Lemieux defeated Gary O’Sullivan by KO in round 1 in middleweights, and Roman Gonzalez defeated Moises Fuentes by KO in round 5 of super flyweight bout.

9/22
Anthony Joshua (2012 Olympic gold medalist at super heavyweight and current IBF, WBA, and WBO heavyweight champ) 21-0/20 KOs will face former heavyweight champion, Alexander Povetkin, in London at Wembley Stadium. One knock against Joshua is that he has fought all of his fights in his native England. However, the last 3 have been huge fights (Wladimir Klitschko, Carlos Takam, Joseph Parker) and he has sold in excess of 250,000 tickets at Wembley and Principality Stadiums. So, maybe he doesn’t have to leave a place where he sells out stadiums and makes tens of millions of dollars, and all his challengers have to come to him? His countryman Lennox Lewis and the two Klitschko brothers learned that if they were going to become recognized as one of the all time greats, they had to compete in the United States too.

The first card of Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing USA will feature former welterweight champion Jessie Vargas (28-2-1) against junior welterweight title challenger Thomas Dulorme (24-3) on 10/6 at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago.

Racing:

Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge set a world record at the Berlin Marathon.

At the Singapore Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton managed to score a perfect 25 points. He won his 7th Grand Prix race of the season in his Mercedes, after his shocking win at the Italian Grand Prix the week before. His victory now moves him 40 points ahead of Sebastian Vettel in the drivers’ standings, with just 6 Grand Prix races remaining this year.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drive the Brickyard 400 pace car. He also made news by estimating for an interview that he had at least 20 concussions during his racing career. Elliott Sadler will stop driving full-time after 2018 season. NASCAR has invited Fernando Alonso to race in Daytona 500. NASCAR is in trouble, with race attendance shrinking (-14.7%), TV ratings plummeting (-20%), and sponsors leaving. Even in this struggling sport with its antiquated business model, you would think the defending Cup Series champion, Martin Truex Jr. or one of the best NASCAR drivers of all time, Jimmie Johnson (7-time champ and 18-season veteran), would be able to find sponsorship. But, the answer is ‘no’. Truex’s team, Furniture Row Racing, said last week that it is shutting down after this season. This follows July’s news that the No.78 Toyota team’s primary sponsor, 5-hour Energy, is leaving NASCAR at the end of the season. And that follows the news from Jimmie Johnson’s sponsor for his career, Lowe’s, that it’s leaving the sport too. Former sponsors that are already out include Target, Home Depot, Sprint, UPS, Subway, Great Clips, GoDaddy. The sport’s executives refuse to realize that the business model, relying heavily on sponsors to exist, and typically spend about $30 million to field a car for a full season, is flawed.

2018 NASCAR Schedule and results:
2/18 Daytona 500-Daytona Intl Speedway-won by Austin Dillon
2/25 Folds of Honor QuikTrip-Atlanta Motor Speedway-Kevin Harvick
3/4 Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube-Las Vegas Motor Speedway-Kevin Harvick
3/11 TicketGuardian 500-ISM Raceway-Kevin Harvick
3/18 Auto Club 400-Auto Club Speedway-Martin Truex Jr.
3/26 STP 500-Martinsville Speedway-Clint Bowyer
4/8 O’Reilly Auto Parts 500-Texas Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
4/16 Food City 500-Bristol Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
4/21 Toyota Owners 400-Richmond Raceway-Kyle Busch
4/29 GEICO 500-Talladega Speedway-Joey Logano
5/6 AAA 400 Drive for Autism-Dover International Speedway-Kevin Harvick
5/12 KC Masterpiece 400-Kansas Speedway-Kevin Harvick
5/19 Monster Energy Open-Charlotte Motor Speedway-AJ Allmendinger
5/19 Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race-Charlotte-Kevin Harvick
5/27 Coca-Cola 600-Charlotte Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
6/3 Pocono 400-Pocono Raceway-Martin Truex Jr.
6/10 FireKeepers Casino 400-Michigan International Speedway-Clint Bowyer
6/24 Toyota/Save Mart 350-Sonoma Raceway-won by Martin Truex Jr.
7/1 Overton’s 400-Chicagoland Speedway-won by Kyle Busch.
7/7 Coke Zero Sugar 400–Daytona International Speedway-won by Erik Jones
7/14 Quaker State 400-Kentucky Speedway-won by Martin Truex Jr.
7/22 Foxwoods Resort Casino 301-New Hampshire Motor Speedway-won by Kevin Harvick over Kyle Busch.
7/29 Gander Outdoors 400-Pocono Raceway-won by Kyle Busch over Daniel Suarez.
8/5 GoBowling at the Glen-Watkins Glen International-won by Chase Eilliott over Martin Truex Jr.
8/12 Consumers Energy 400-Michigan International Speedway-won by Kevin Harvick in all 3 stages.
8/18 Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race-Bristol Motor Speedway-Kurt Busch’s first win of the season and first in 58 races.
9/1 Bojangles’ Southern 500 in Darlington was won by Brad Keselowski.
9/10 Rain not only plagued golf’s BMW Championship, but also the two NASCAR races at Indianapolis had to be completed a day later, today. The Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis was won by Brad Keselowski, giving team Roger Penske their first win in the brickyard.
9/16 South Point 400 in Las Vegas was won by Brad Keselowski, his 3rd win in a row, setting him up well for the upcoming Playoffs.

NCAA Football:

College football season kickoff was on 8/25, and now most of the teams have played for 3 weeks. Ohio State DE Nick Bosa is out against Tulane. Coach Urban Meyer will be returning to the field after this week’s game, from his 4-game suspension. LSU had a big win over Auburn behind QB Joe Burrow, 22-21. Alabama and Georgia continued to roll. Although, Georgia was playing Middle Tennessee State and won 49-7, it was convincing enough win to move them ahead of Clemson at No.2 in the polls. Alabama beat Ole Miss 62-7. Oklahoma State also continued to roll, routing Boise State, 44-21. No.4 Ohio State had a key win against No.15 TCU, 40-28. Suspended LSU WR Drake Davis has been arrested again on new assault charges. Akron topped Northwestern for first win over a Big Ten team since 1894! FSU has begun with a 1-2 start, losing this time to Syracuse 30-7. UCLA QB’s ‘frustrated dad’ blasted coach Chip Kelly. Oklahoma survived a scare against Iowa State 37-27. Maryland and Rutgers continued to find a rough go as newest Big Ten members, losing 35-14 to Temple and 55-14 to Kansas, respectively. Penn State ran up the score on Kent State, 63-10. Nebraska lost again, this time to Troy 24-19. Notre Dame just nipped Vanderbilt 22-17. Wisconsin was stunned by BYU 24-21. Houston and Texas Tech got into an exciting shootout, finally won by Texas Tech 63-49. Purdue lost a tough battle with Missouri 40-37.

As of 9/15, the official AP Poll is:

1. Alabama (3-0)
2. Georgia (3-0) up from No.3
3. Clemson (3-0) down from No.2
4. Ohio State (3-0)
5. Oklahoma (3-0)
6. LSU (3-0) up from No.12
7. Stanford (3-0) up from No.9
8. Notre Dame (3-0)
9. Auburn (2-1) down from No.7
10. Washington (2-1)
11. Penn State (3-0)
12. West Virginia (2-0) up from No.14
13. Virginia Tech (2-0)
14. Mississippi State (3-0) up from No.16
15. Oklahoma State (3-0) up from No.24
16. UCF (2-0) up from No.18
17. TCU (2-1) down from No.15
18. Wisconsin (2-1) down from No.6
19. Michigan (2-1)
20. Oregon (3-0)
21. Miami (2-1)
22. Texas A&M (2-1) joined poll
23. Boston College (3-0) joined poll
24. Michigan State (1-1) up from No.25
25. BYU (2-1) joined poll

NFL:

The 99th NFL regular season is under way. The biggest story so far, toppling the Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell sitting out story, is the play of Chiefs’ rookie QB Patrick Mahomes, who broke an NFL record (during Super Bowl era) with 10 TD passes in first two games of season (and his career). The win over the Steelers though was an absolute shootout, 42-37, with 778 yards combined passing and 9 TD passes between the two QBs. The second biggest story is having a second Tie game in 2 weeks, causing many to question the NFL’s overtime rules. The Vikings and Packers played to a thrilling draw. Ten of Sunday’s games finished as one-possession games, which made them fun to watch on Red Zone. The third biggest story was the Jaguars exorcising last year’s playoff demons by stunning my Patriots in Week 2. I guess the fourth biggest story is the saddest, as the Browns seemed to go into uncharted territory to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory against the hapless Saints and crush their Dog Pound faithful. The Browns kicker missed 2 extra points and 2 tying field goal attempts, before they lost in the final seconds, 21-18, with the Saints scoring 18 points in Q4. Falcons’ journeyman QB Ryan Fitzpatrick silenced his critics with a 400-yard passing game and 31-24 victory over the Panthers. There was a late helmet-to-helmet hit on Panthers QB Cam Newton, which should have come with an ejection. Fitzpatrick showed up at the press meeting after the game dressed like Conor McGregor. He was just intercepted by Dolphins rookie Minkah Fitzpatrick who filed the “FitzMagic” trademark. Jaguars Cam Robinson is out for season with torn ACL. The Patriots are reportedly made a deal for WR Josh Gordon, who was just released by the Browns. The Patriots are taking some risk, as the highly-touted WR was suspended or injured the better part of the last 3 seasons. But, it is clear that the Patriots need some more targets for Tom Brady and the anemic offense. In the CFL, QB Johnny Manziel got his starting job back with the Alouettes. The Vikings decided to cut kicker Dan Carlson, who missed 3 field goals that could have won them the 29-29 tie game with Packers. They replaced him with former Cowboys’ kicker Dan Bailey. Before a groin injury in 2017 caused him to have his worst season ever, Bailey was one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history, making all of his extra points and 88.15% of his career field goals. According to ESPN, Bailey had turned down 4 other offers since the start of the season before signing with the Vikings. The Browns naturally cut their kicker, Zane Gonzalez, too after his 4 misses during their loss to the Saints and signed former Dolphins’ kicker Greg Joseph. Unfortunately, Browns fans roasted the wrong Zane Gonzalez on Twitter. Here was another bizarre incident on Sunday, as Bills’ superstar CB Vontae Davis quit the team and retired in midgame against the Chargers in their 31-20 loss. He simply told the coach “I’m done.” Davis then changed into his street clothes at halftime and left the stadium. His 10-year career is now over, after coming to the Bills as a free agent this season, and his Bills’ teammates said it was a “disgrace.” The Eagles announced that QB Carson Wentz has been medically cleared to play again and that he will start in Week 3, replacing Super Bowl MVP backup QB Nick Foles. That seems unfair to me. I guess it’s because the Eagles were stunned by the Bucs 27-21 with a backup QB of their own for Jameis Winston. Eagles’ WR Mike Wallace may miss rest of the season with an ankle injury. We might as well go back to that old top story of Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell still sitting out, because the Steelers are now 0-2 without him, despite QB Big Ben putting up some ridiculous passing numbers. Steelers’ WR Antonio Brown is not helping by tweeting trade threat to fans in response to criticism from the media. Bengals beat the Ravens 34-23. The Dolphins upset the Jets 20-12. I mentioned that the Steelers are 0-2, and the Browns, Cardinals, and Saints are dreadful, but how about the Texans losing to the lowly Titans 20-17, and because of an error on the last play by Texan QB who ran out of time? 49ers’ QB Jimmy Garropolo was good enough to beat the Lions 30-27, but it took a controversial holding penalty on one of his interceptions to seal the deal. The Colts stunned the Redskins, 21-9, as QB Andrew Luck continues to recover his old self. The Rams crushed the Cardinals 34-0. The Broncos hit a last second field goal to beat the Raiders by one point 20-19. The Cowboys beat their nemesis Giants 20-13 at home. What a game Monday night! That Khalil Mack of the Bears is amazing, a one-man wrecking crew! He was involved in pretty much every rushed Seattle pass, sack (six), and strip fumble of the QB the entire game. I know that the Bears gave up a lot to get him, two first-round draft choices, and had to pay him a king’s ransom (6 years/$141 million), but he is worth it. The Bears beat the Seahawks 24-17, although it should have been a much higher score if it weren’t for their errant-throwing sidearm QB Trebisky, The offense of the Bears now has to get as good as the defense. Nearly two dozen Pro Football Hall of Famers are threatening a boycott at the HOF induction ceremony, if they don’t get a new revenue share in an annual salary and health insurance. It is hard not to see their point, as they age and have injuries associated with their playing days, including a rash of concussion related ailments, and the NFL had $14 billion in revenue in 2017. It also probably doesn’t help that Commissioner Goodell, to whom they wrote the letter, is getting an annual salary of $40 million and the League chose to construct a $1 billion HOF Village in Canton, OH. Le’Veon Bell was spotted in Miami on a jet ski.

Soccer:

There is much speculation about Rablot and which team he will join on a Bosman transfer (Liverpool, Juventus, or Barcelona). Zaha’s Crystal Palace teammate says he gets “unfair” treatments from Premier League refs. Did you know that Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku has scored two international hat-tricks, but only one is recognized by FIFA?

NHL:

The NHL training camps started last week. The first preseason games were on 9/15. The puck drops on the regular season, for some teams, on 10/3. In the first weekend of the regular season, on Saturday, the NHL will invade Sweden for their Global Series game between the Oilers and the Devils. The Jets signed holdout Josh Morrissey to a 2-year deal. The Oilers signed Darnell Nurse. The Senators finally, after six months of wrangling, traded their superstar Erik Karlsson to the Sharks. The Senators received 4 players and 3 draft picks, for their rebuilding. Billionaire Flames co-owner Clay Riddell has died at age 81. Red Wings GM said Henrik Zetterberg’s career is over because of back injury. The Senators will be without center Jean-Gabriel Pageaux for six months. Hurricanes’ Victor Rask has surgery on his fingers after kitchen accident. The Stars signed Tyler Seguin to an 8-year extension worth $9.85 million per year.

NBA:

The Clippers want a first-round pick from the Suns for Patrick Beverley. The Rockets’ defensive wizard, Jeff Bzdelik, has retired. Timberwolves’ Jimmy Butler is the target of trade rumors. Dwyane Wade announced that he is returning to Heat. The Knicks are reportedly all-in on Celtics’ Kyrie Irving next summer when he becomes a free agent. Stephen Curry declared for Tottenham, honored by team at Wembley. A prosecutor is reviewing allegation against Rockets’ star James Harden. Spurs wanted Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons in Kawhi Leonard trade. LeBron James is now all-Hollywood, as he debuts in a new NBC drama. Knicks are reportedly looking to trade Joakim Noah. Celtics’ Gordon Hayward said his ankle is “basically 100%”. Celtics’ Jabari Bird appeared in court last Thursday for his arraignment after he was arrested on assault charges. The prosecutor alleges that Bird kept his girlfriend captive in his apartment for 4 hours while he assaulted her, accusing him of kicking her in the stomach and strangling her. Former Raptros and Knicks GM, Glen Grunwald, has been named Canada Basketball President/CEO. Russell Westbrook had a knee procedure and will be out for a month. Tony Parker signed a 2-year/$10 million deal with the Hornets this offseason, a shocking move for the 17-year Spurs’ veteran. Suns’ star Devin Booker will be out six weeks after having hand surgery. Cavs’ Rodney Hood accepted his qualifying offer. Luol Deng agreed to a one-year deal with Timberwolves. Michael Jordan and his Hornets launched Hurricane Florence relief efforts. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban will donate $10 million to women’s causes and domestic violence awareness, following the NBA’s investigation into the franchise’s sexual harassment allegations.

In the 2018 WNBA Finals, the No.1 Seattle Storm took on the No.3 Washington Mystics, and won in a sweep. The Storm were led by their veteran Sue Bird, who could have left after their disappointing 2015 season, but stayed in Seattle, and their new WNBA MVP, Breann Stewart. Sue Bird said the team isn’t interested in visiting the White House and meeting the President.

Travel News:

One year after a Ryanair plane lost a wheel mid-flight, another aircraft oddly has a similar incident. Boeing’s gigantic 777X is getting closer to takeoff. I read on LinkedIn that every 5 weeks, China launches an electric bus FLEET, not just one bus, but a FLEET the size of London’s entire bus fleet! That’s incredible and I understand they now have 100,000 electric buses they’ve produced. Given how bad the pollution has been in some of the Chinese cities, this would be hugely beneficial for their air quality. Disney is ending one of its most iconic fireworks shows, the IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, the nightly spectacle that has lit up Orlando’s Epcot Center’s World Showcase Lagoon for 18 years. The last show will be the end of next summer 2019. But fear not, a new show will debut as this one ends. Also debuting at the park in 2019 will be Mickey Mouse’s first ride and the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. I’ve been going on and on about the new 79-mph (current limit in South Florida) high-speed commuter train service, BrightLine, here in Florida that can take you from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale in 30 minutes and to Miami in 1 hour 6 minutes, which has just begun finishing the rails for the next phase from West Palm Beach north to Cocoa Beach. It’s amazing! For $20, you ride in perfect luxury, arrive in less than half the time it would take you by car, and you get a drink and snacks. The final part of phase 2, will be to connect Cocoa Beach west to Orlando and then Tampa. Anyway, the reason I brought this all up again is because now Brightline will be doing the same high-speed service between Las Vegas and Los Angeles! So, that boring desert drive of about 5 ½ hours could now be a luxurious train ride of less than 3 hours! On Tuesday, Florida’s BrightLine said it had acquired XpressWest, a high-speed passenger rail project with rights to develop a federally approved corridor between Southern California and Las Vegas. The trip is only 300 miles, so it is a typical target of BrightLine; one that is too far to drive but too close to fly. Construction is expected to begin in 2019 and initial service is planned for 2022. The next time you are stranded at the Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados, you can go to the next-level airport lounge, which Virgin Holidays has built on the beach, called Departure Beach. For those interested in mazes, the largest permanent maze (largest pathway network in a hedge maze) in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, is China’s sprawling Yancheng Dafeng Dream Maze, which is located in the city of Yancheng and has a total size of 383,160.12 square feet. Its longest path is 5.87 miles long. It incorporates many shapes, but the main area is shaped like an elk walking through a forest:

Health News:

Coca-Cola is now following the tobacco companies at eyeing the cannabis oil market. In unrelated news, a study shows 1 in 3 high school E-cig users is now vaping marijuana. Scientists have now found 500 more genes that influence blood pressure. A new study shows that electric stimulation to airway nerves may help COPD patients. Another study suggests that the use of certain psychedelic drugs may help treat depression and PTSD. A new injected drug may be the new weapon against gout. The FDA has approved a second migraine prevention drug. A second contaminant has been found in Valsartan drugs. The salmonella-tainted Honey Smacks cereal has sickened 130 people. Nasal spray recall has expanded to hundreds of products, including nasal sprays and baby oral gels at CVS, Walgreens, Dollar General, Family Dollar, and other stores, because of contamination. Manufacturer, Product Quest Manufacturing, found microbial contamination in its CVS Health 12 Hour Sinus Relief Nasal Mist. The recall applies to all products made in its Florida plant. Accord Healthcare has issued a recall for a blood pressure medication because the bottle that were shipped actually contain a heart failure drug. The recall is for one lot of 12.5-milligram hydrochlorothiazide tablets in 100-count bottles, which actually contain 100 spironolactone tablets. In water utilities around Georgia, the system for testing lead in water is not working as it should, leaving people uninformed and unprotected. Scientists now believe seizure cycles may follow circadian rhythms. An analysis of the nutrient content of available UK supermarket products shows that the sugar content of most types of yogurt is way above the recommended threshold. New research shows that children who have access to green spaces close to their homes have fewer respiratory problems, such as asthma and wheezing, in adulthood. Patients who receive care in a for-profit hospital are more likely to be readmitted than those who receive care in nonprofit or public hospitals, according to a new study. Researchers are addressing the ethical debate in using transcranial electrical brain stimulation to foster creativity. New research shows that digital content platforms can increase traffic to their websites from social media and drastically increase ad profits by at least 8% by simply aligning their posting schedules with peoples’ sleep-wake cycle. New research shows that the first bacteria introduced into the gut may have a lasting impact on the ability to fight chronic diseases. According to the Mayo Clinic, nearly 50% of resident physicians in the US are now reporting burnout, with the highest rates concentrated in certain specialties. Researchers have found a new common thread, a 3D genome folding pattern, linking nearly all of the trinucleotide repeat expansion diseases, which include ALS, Huntington’s Disease, and Fragile X Syndrome. New research shows that bosses struggle, maybe more than the rest of us, to keep up with email demands from their inboxes, as the email traffic prevents them from being effective leaders. Researchers have successfully used a Zika virus vaccine to target and kill human glioblastoma brain cancer stem cells in mice. Researchers are zeroing in on drugs with certain compounds that could prevent malaria parasites from being able to infect mosquitoes, which could eradicate the disease in humans.

Animal News:

A 26-year-old man died after a shark attack Saturday off Cape Cod, in Massachusetts. He was boogie boarding with a friend, when he was bitten by what is believed to have been a great white shark near Newcomb Hollow Beach. Several beachgoers attempted to rescue the man, but he died at a nearby hospital. It is the first fatal shark attack in US waters in more than 80 years. A month ago, a New York man was bitten by a great white shark in nearby Truro, MA. In other great white shark news, the White Shark Café, a deserted area in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, is a gathering spot for droves of great white sharks and scientists are trying to figure out why. Frozen for more than 50,000 years, an amazingly preserved wolf pup mummy, complete with tail and paws, has been discovered in a Yukon Gold Mine. A juvenile killer whale, named Scarlet, last photographed on 9/7 near San Juan Island, Washington, is apparently ill and starving and NOAA officials are considering taking desperate measures to rescue her, if she is still alive. Search teams from NOAA and the US Coast Guard are searching for her from the air and sea. If she is found, they plan to capture her for rehabilitation in captivity until she is healthy enough to return to the wild. This pod of orca where she came from, the J-Pod, has become quite famous in their area, with people following the developments of Scarlet (J50) and the other members of the pod of endangered southern resident killer whales. J35, or Tahlequah, is a female whose calf died a half-hour after it was born on 7/24, and biologists watched the grieving mother carry her dead calf around for hundreds of miles for more than two weeks. Scarlet is one of the few reproductive-age females in the pod and her death would be a tremendous blow to this struggling group of killer whales. The subpopulation of southern resident killer whales has dropped from 98 individuals in 1995 to just 75 now, according to NOAA. On Monday, a dolphin superpod chased billions of baitfish in Monterey Bay, off California, thrilling onlookers. A pod of wild dolphins which live in Australia can literally moonwalk thanks to one individual who learned the trick after a brief captivity and taught the others. Maggie, a 30-year-old Australian kelpie, has died in her sleep, and may be the oldest dog ever. Thousands of bees swarmed a Texas WalMart. This is unrelated to recent story about a man in Wallis, TX who was hospitalized for 3 days after he was stung by about 600 Africanized bees, while mowing his lawn. He survived, despite being stung inside his mouth and throat. Earlier this year, an 81-year-old man in Liberty County, TX survived an attack by hundreds of bees, leaving him with more than 135 stings on his head alone. I remember reading when I was a kid that Africanized bees were going to take over North America. But, then again, I also remember being worried that the biggest danger to kids was quicksand, and I never found any. Mosquitoes have begun doing something very unusual: they are eating plastic. That’s a huge problem, because the plastic can remain in the insect’s body into adulthood and then the microplastic contaminant can be transferred to whatever may eat the mosquito, like birds, spiders, and bats. A recent study has found that even one piece of plastic can kill a sea turtle, so this could wreak havoc on animals higher in the food chain than the mosquito.

Entertainment News:

Singer Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez moved into his $15.3 million 4,000-square foot penthouse in NYC, the tallest apartment building, at 432 Park Avenue. J.Lo put her 26th Street penthouse on the market for $27 million. The actual 70th Primetime Emmy Award show was Monday night, which followed last week’s technical Emmy’s when John Legend, Tim Rice, and Andrew Lloyd-Webber became just the 13th, 14th, and 15th people to achieve EGOT status (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony). It was unusual that it was on a Monday night, not a Sunday night. That also didn’t help the ratings, going up against Monday Night Football, as they plummeted to just 10.2 million viewers. And, yes, MNF did beat the Emmys in the ratings for Monday night. It’s not to be unexpected, as the Academy Awards and the Grammys ratings of late have dropped 20%, but this was a steeper tumble. The hosts were the two news guys from Saturday Night Live. There self-aware wisecrack about “the hundreds watching at home” was prophetic. I watched a little bit, but it was boring and the Bears’ defense, especially Khalil Mack, was much more exciting. The big winner was Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which won 4 Emmys. The ‘Fonz’, Henry Winkler, finally got an Emmy, for Barry’s. The most important moment was when a director accepted an award on stage and turned it into a wedding proposal on-stage to his girlfriend and presented her his family’s wedding ring. Julie Chen has decided to leave the show The Talk permanently, although an original on the show 8 years ago, as her husband Les Moonves of CBS was forced out as Chairman amid sexual misconduct allegations 9 days ago. She continues to support her husband. She also is stepping down as host of Big Brother. Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street, best friends for 49 years, continue to spawn a debate on their sexual orientation. The debate was fueled by a magazine cover that depicted them watching the news when same-sex marriages was approved years back and by the writer for the two puppets for the last 15 years who says he always envisioned them as a same-sex couple. Disney, which owns the Jim Henson Muppets, denies that they are a same-sex couple and maintains they are just best friends and that puppets don’t have a sexual orientation. Today, the Sesame Street writer backtracked on his claim that Bert and Ernie are gay. This seems to be a really silly debate; they are puppets! Princess Eugenie is having a royal wedding, but you probably won’t get to see it on TV. In other Royal news, the former butler revealed that Princess Diana spent her Saturday nights eating McDonald’s with sons William and Harry. Million Dollar Listing New York star Ryan Serhant has written a book on finding success titled “Sell it Like Serhant” which is also the title of his other reality TV show. The Weekend and Daft Punk have been sued by a songwriter for reportedly stealing the hit song “Starboy”. Carrie Underwood is dodging questions about her upcoming baby’s gender. She recently revealed in an interview her heart-breaking story of two miscarriages and difficulty in having a baby. A California orthopedic surgeon who once appeared on a Bravo TV reality show and his girlfriend have been accused of drugging and sexually assaulting women, 7 alleged victims have come forward so far. Asia Argento said that Rose McGowan will be hearing from her lawyers over statement on Jimmy Bennett sex assault case. Tom Arnold and Mark Burnett allegedly had a physical altercation at a pre-Emmy party and LAPD is investigating. Tom Arnold has been demanding for and is hosting a new show about tapes that Mark Burnett allegedly has from The Apprentice TV show that would be damning to President Trump. Carol Burnett Show star, Tim Conway, is recovering from brain surgery, as his family battles over the comic’s fate. Khloe Kardashian is leaving Los Angeles and moving back to Cleveland for Tristan Thompson, now that the relationship is now “great”. Meanwhile, Kim Kardashian is upset with Kanye West, who announced he would move to Chicagor, as she has no plans to “leave her family in LA.” A Princess Diana friend says that Meghan is struggling to bond with some of Harry’s friends because of her “liberal” political views. Reese Witherspoon now says that the 2002 movie SWEET HOME ALABAMA is a carbon copy of her “life story”. Now that New York Fashion Week is over, the Alberta Ferretti Milan Fashion Week Show has begun. Anthony Bourdain’s estranged wife is selling their $3.7 million apartment, which she now shares with their daughter, three months after his suicide. Mourners attended Burt Reynolds’ private funeral service in Florida. Camille Grammer’s ex-boyfriend finally coughs up the $121,000 he was ordered to pay her in a bitter domestic abuse lawsuit. Chrissy Teigen notified the press that they have been mispronouncing her name all these years as TEE-GEN, when it is actually TIE_GEN. She’s also been having problems staying on her feet, falling off a chair in an NYC interview, after tumbling before the Emmys in Los Angeles. Hailey Baldwin calls her engagement to Justin Bieber the “biggest OMG moment” of her life in a new interview. Justin Bieber is reportedly worth $265 million but “refuses to get a prenup” with Hailey, as the thinks he will be married “forever”. Jessica Simpson is showing off her baby bump in clinging coat in NYC, after announcing her third pregnancy. Pope Francis and U2 frontman Bono share an embrace in Vatican City, as the pair discussed sexual abuse in the Catholic church. Friends star Matthew Perry, 49, was in “very serious medical condition” following surgery that left him bedridden for 3 months. Ben Affleck looks in good spirits as he makes another trip home to workout and then back to rehab, where he has been for almost a month of treatment. Chevy Chase brushed off his childhood abuse before slamming “not funny” Will Farrell and “horrible” Saturday Night Live, and making another racially-charged remark about Donald Glover. Miranda Lambert got a kiss from her father on stage as she kicks off her sold-out residency at The Country Music Hall of Fame. In the America’s Got Talent finale, they got it right and the young magician, Shin Lin, won last night for the $1 million Las Vegas contract. Jack Black received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame today, but of course, took the moment to lash out at President Trump, in typical Hollywood fashion.

This week’s box-office was weaker than expected, maybe because of the weather. THE PREDATOR, the new version, debuted at No.1 with $24.6 million (it cost $88 million to make), kind of low; No.2 was THE NUN, a scary movie, which had debuted at No.1 and made an astonishing $53.8 million (it only cost $22 million to make) last week, this week making $18.2 million; A SIMPLE FAVOR debuted at No.3 with $16 million; WHITE BOY RICK debuted at No.4 with $8.9 million; and CRAZY RICH ASIANS was at No.5, falling from No.3, with $8.7 million. PEPPERMENT, the new action movie with Jennifer Garner, fell from No.2 to No.6 with just $6 million, almost covering its production costs now. The other debut making No.10, was UNBROKEN: PATH TO REDEMPTION which made $2.2 million in limited release.

Movies coming out this week: FAHRENHEIT 11/9 (Michael Moore film), THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS, LIFE ITSELF, AMERICAN DRESSER, ASSASSINATION NATION, COLETTE, GARRY WINOGRAND: ALL THINGS ARE, THE GREAT BATTLE, LOVE GILDA, THE PAGAN KING, THE SISTERS BROTHERS, and TEA WITH THE DAMES.

Technology & Space News:

The Elon Musk story continues to be one of two extremes, as his company SpaceX on Monday named its first private passenger on a 2023 voyage around the moon as Japanese billionaire Yusaka Maezawa, the founder and CEO of online fashion retailer Zozo; and it was announced Tuesday that Tesla, his other company, is facing US criminal probe by the Justice Department over his public statements. There is also reportedly a civil inquiry concurrently being run by securities regulators. Did you know that only 24 astronauts have flown beyond Earth’s magnetic shield? Maezawa said the cost of his ticket was “much higher” than the cost of a Basquiat painting, one of which he famously bought for a record-breaking price of $110 million. Facebook is building a “fake news war room” inside its California headquarters to co-ordinate its battle against the spread of misinformation during the upcoming US midterm and Brazilian elections. A mysterious FBI shutdown of Sunspot Solar Observatory for 11 days was due to an investigation into its night janitor downloading child pornography and not alien contact. A real-life “Planet Vulcan”, an exoplanet, has been found 16 light-years away from Earth. The planet is associated with star 40 Eridani A, which has been found to host only one planet, which is roughly twice the size of the Earth (a “Super Earth”) and orbits its star every 42 days. The reason it is associated with STAR TREK and Mr. Spock (the Vulcan) is that in publications “Star Trek 2” by James Blish in 1968 and “Star Trek Maps” by Jeff Maynard in 1980, they theorized that a ficticious 40 Eridani A could be the star of Planet Vulcan. Now, NASA’s new planet hunter, the Dharma Endowment Foundation Telescope, has just found this planet, ironically orbiting the real-life star 40 Eridani A. It is not the first time that science fiction authors, like Gene Roddenberry (the creator of STAR TREK), George Lucas, or Arthur C. Clarke theorized decades earlier about things that astronomers are now finding to be real. The idea that this planet could be habitable for an advanced civilization is because its sun is slightly cooler and less massive than our Sun and has a 10.1-year magnetic cycle, compared to an 11.6-year magnetic cycle for our Sun. So far, it is the closest Super-Earth orbiting another Sun-like star to Earth, at only 16 light years away. In other planetary news, scientists are arguing that Pluto should be reinstated as a planet. It was downgraded to “dwarf planet” in 2006 by the IAU. The IAU argued at the time that Neptune’s gravity influences its neighbor Pluto and that Pluto’s orbit is shared with frozen gases and objects and is not “cleared”. But, that definition for a planet is now coming under attack.

Political News:

President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, remains under siege from the media and goes to Senate Judiciary Committee to testify (along with his accuser who will testify) regarding alleged sexual assault he committed in prep school. He denies that the incident ever happened. The whole situation is eerily similar to what happened in 1991 with Anita Hill and Justice Clarence Thomas. However, then, many people feel, the Senate Judiciary Committee did not take the sexual harassment claims serious enough and mishandled the complaint.

US News:

A 25-year-old woman from Lake Worth, FL who lives in the trendy Logan Circle area of Washington DC, as a recently engaged tech company executive, was stabbed to death with multiple slashes to her neck, while she was out jogging in the early evening. Police have arrested and charged a suspect, as residents are stunned. There have been recent reports of stepped up human trafficking in northern Florida counties, where one suspicious male will follow lone females in Publix, Earth Ware, and other stores, while two accomplices with a van wait in the parking lot to drug and kidnap chosen victims, who are then whisked off, never to be seen again, thrown into the sexual slave trade. This is astounding that this kind of atrocious activity could be happening in the United States (or anywhere for that matter) and women must be vigilant in stores and in parking lots. Preferably they should be in groups or have access to phones to call 9-1-1 and, at the least, should scream and yell at men following them, to bring attention and discourage their assailants. Wanda Barzee, who was convicted for aiding street preacher Brian David Mitchell in the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart, was released from a Utah state prison on Wednesday after being sentence to 15 years in jail. In a shock decision, the parole board agreed to credit her for time previously served and released her 6 years early, to the outrage of the public. Elizabeth Smart has been discussing her nine months of abuse during the kidnap, but said she would not allow her captor’s release to impact her life. A Pennsylvania man, 59, died crashing his car into a house, bringing an end to manhunt after he tried to kill his ex-wife then murdered his elderly parents at their retirement home, because he had been served divorce papers. Three people have been killed in a Maryland warehouse district attack today and officials say the shooter may have been a woman. The unfolding scene is now described by authorities as having multiple victims and multiple injured. They also say that the suspect has been captured and is in critical condition.

International News:

During an Israeli airstrike, Syria shot down a Russian plane. The leaders of North Korea and South Korea ended their 3rd recent summit. North Korea said they plan to help South Korea land an upcoming Olympic Games in cooperation and to make the Korean Peninsula a nuclear weapon-free zone. North Korea’s leader says he “wants fast denuclearization” and a second summit with President Trump. The IOC has lifted the doping ban against Russia and reinstated them in international sports competitions. Far-right leader, Le Pen, has been ordered to take psychiatric tests, as part of a probe into her sharing of images of ISIS atrocities. Bobi Wine is back in Uganda allegedly “to fight”. Children in a cart were killed in a Dutch train crash. A Spanish university is facing fake diploma claims. President Trump has urged Spain to “build Sahara wall.”

Florida:

The blue-green algae disaster on the East Coast of Florida and red tide disaster on the West Coast of Florida are still on everyone’s minds and noses down here. Dead fish continue to pile up on Southwestern Florida beaches, as cleanup efforts for the red tide have intensified. A 77-year-old acquaintance of mine has died in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, after he was jumped and attacked by a young man outside a Stein Mart parking lot at 8pm two nights ago. Police are looking for the lone assailant.

My 5-part harmony singing group, Generation Gap, was just voted by InTune Magazine as the Best Harmony Group in the state of Florida, quite an honor! We have a gig this Friday 9/21 5:30-8:30pm at the PB Culture & Arts Center in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, and another gig the following Friday 9/29 at Double Roads Tavern in Jupiter, FL 5-8pm.

If you are interested in seeing more famous groups in concert, there are many coming to Florida, perhaps when you will be visiting:

Christine Aguilera-Hollywood, September 25
Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker & Russell Dickerson-West Palm Beach, September 29
Phil Collins-Sunrise, October 5
Kid Rock and Brantley Gilbert-West Palm Beach, October 13
Nikki Minaj with Future-Miami, October 19
Alice in Chains-Hollywood, October 28
Toto-Pompano Beach-October 28
Marilyn Manson w H090909-Hollywood, October 30
Simple Minds-Miami, November 8
Willie Nelson-Estero, November 12
Elton John-Sunrise, November 23 (I’m there)
Elton John-Miami, November 24
Brian Wilson-Hollywood, December 12
Kansas-Fort Lauderdale, December 15
Cher and Chic-Sunrise, January 19
Fleetwood Mac-Sunrise, February 20
Pink-Sunrise-March 1 (I might have to go)
Paul Anka-Fort Lauderdale-March 4
Elton John-Sunrise, March 16

Repo Commentary-9/11/2018

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I’ve been keeping busy, not only writing the Repo Commentary, reaching out to clients, and exploring job opportunities, but now also consulting on two books and two articles. And i/we’ve got two conferences coming up!

My Repo Commentary is posted on my new website: http://www.repocommentary.com. It also pops up on LinkedIn and the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website.

If you need to get hold of me, my cell is still 646-753-1300, my email for work is jeffkidwell82@gmail.com, and you can also hit me up on Bloomberg and LinkedIn.

Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information. I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested (70-80%) in entertaining you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures. Also, please send me feedback, as I want to make it better all the time.’

Monday’s Holidays or Events:

• Blame It On The Large Hadron Collider Day
• I’m On Top Of It Day
• International Creepy Boston Dynamics Robotic Horse Day
• International Make-Up Day
• National Boss/Employee Exchange Day
• National Swap Ideas Day
• National Hot Dog Day
• Sew Be It Day
• The Beginning of Rosh Hashanah (Judaism)
• TV Dinner Day
• World Suicide Prevention Day
• Amerindian Heritage Day in Guyana
• Children’s Day in Honduras
• Gibraltar National Day
• Saint George’s Caye Day in Belize
• Teachers’ Day in China

Tuesday is the 17th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the US of 9/11/2001 at the World Trade Center in NYC, at the Pentagon, and a foiled attack on Washington, DC brought down by passengers in a field in Pennsylvania. During the attacks performed by using 4 commercial passenger planes, 2,996 people were killed (including the 19 hijackers) and more than 6,000 others injured. 265 of the deaths were on the 4 planes. I was working at Morgan Stanley at the time and we had recently merged with Dean Witter, so we were the largest occupant of the World Trade Center towers, with some 3500 workers spread out on 28 floors. Our hero security team of 12 were the only Morgan Stanley fatalities, because of their valiant efforts. I lost many friends and many clients in the attacks. Many of us lost family members, co-workers, and friends in the attacks. Many people are still struggling with the after effects of the terrorist attacks, not just because of emotional loss, but also over 7,500 first responders at each of the sites has come down with some form of cancer, many of them dying. Doctors say that those cancers were caused by the toxic dust and hazardous chemicals from the attacks. We will never forget.

Some Famous People Born 9/10 in History:

• 920-Louis IV of France
• 1839-Isaac K. Funk, co-founder of Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia
• 1925-Roy Brown, American singer/songwriter
• 1927-Johnny Keating, Scottish trombonist/composer/producer
• 1929-Arnold Palmer, golfer/designer
• 1933-Karl Lagerfeld, German-French fashion designer/photographer
• 1934-Roger Maris, MLB
• 1940-Roy Ayers, American singer/songwriter/musician
• 1941-Gunpei Yokoi, Japanese video game designer, invented Game Boy
• 1945-Jose Feliciano, Puerto Rican singer/songwriter/guitarist
• 1946-Don Powell, English rock drummer (Slade)
• 1947-Larry Nelson, golfer
• 1948-Bob Lanier, NBA
• 1948-Charlie Waters, NFL
• 1949-Barriemore Barlow, English rock drummer/songwriter (Jethro Tull)
• 1949-Bill O’Reilly, American journalist/author
• 1950-Rosie Flores, American singer/guitarist
• 1950-Joe Perry, American singer/songwriter/guitarist
• 1951-Bill Rogers, golfer
• 1953-Amy Irving, American actress
• 1957-Carol Decker, English singer/songwriter (T’Pau)
• 1960-Colin Firth, English actor/producer
• 1963-Randy Johnson, MLB
• 1968-Guy Ritchie, English director/producer/screenwriter
• 1972-James Duval, American actor/producer
• 1974-Ryan Phillippe, American actor/producer
• 1974-Ben Wallace, NBA
• 1983-Joey Votto, MLB
• 1985-Neil Walker, MLB
• 1987-Paul Goldschmidt, MLB

This Day in History (9/10):

• 506-the bishops of Visigothic Gaul meet in the Council of Agde.
• 1419-John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, is assassinated by adherents to the Dauphin, the future Charles VII of France.
• 1509-an earthquake known as “The Lesser Judgment Day” hits Constantinople.
• 1547-the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, the last full-scale military confrontation between England and Scotland, resulting in a decisive victory for the forces of Edward VI.
• 1570-Spanish Jesuit missionaries land in present-day Virginia to establish the short-lived Ajacan Mission.
• 1608-John Smith is elected council president of Jamestown, Virginia.
• 1776-American Revolutionary War: Nathan Hale volunteers to spy for the Continental Army.
• 1798-at the Battle of St. George’s Caye, British Honduras defeats Spain.
• 1813-the United States defeats the British Fleet at the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812.
• 1823-Simon Bolivar is named President of Peru.
• 1846-Elias Howe is granted a patent for the sewing machine.
• 1897-Lattimer massacre: a sheriff’s posse kills 19 unarmed striking immigrant miners in Lattimer, PA.
• 1898-Empress Elisabeth of Austria is assassinated by Luigi Lucheni.
• 1918-Russian Civil War: the Red Army captures Kazan.
• 1919-Austria and the Allies sign the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye recognizing the independence of Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia.
• 1936-the first World Individual Motorcycle Speedway Championship is held at London’s Wembley Stadium.
• 1939-WWII: the submarine HMS Oxley is mistakenly sunk by the submarine HMS Triton near Norway and becomes the Royal Navy’s first loss of a submarine in the war.
• 1939-WWII: Canada declares war on Germany, joining the Allies (Poland, France, United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia).
• 1942-WWII: the British Army carries out an amphibious landing on Madagascar to re-launch Allied operations in the Madagascar Campaign.
• 1943-WWII: in the course of Operation Achse, German troops began their occupation of Rome.
• 1960-Summer Olympics in Rome, Abebe Bikila becomes the first sub-Saharan African to win a gold medal, winning the marathon in bare feet.
• 1961-in the Italian Gran Prix, a crash causes the death of German Formula One driver Wolfgang von Trips and 13 spectators who are hit by his Ferrari.
• 1967-the people of Gibraltar vote to remain a British dependency rather than becoming part of Spain.
• 1974-Guinea-Bissau gains independence from Portugal.
• 1976-a British Airways Hawker Siddeley Trident and an Inex-Adria DC-9 collide near Zabreb, Yugoslavia, killing 176.
• 1977-Hamida Djandoubi, convicted of torture and murder, is the last person to be executed by guillotine in France.
• 2000-Operation Barras successfully frees 6 British soldiers held captive for over two weeks and contributes to the end of the Sierra Leone Civil War.
• 2001-the Michael Jackson 30th Anniversary Celebration concert was held September 7th and September 10th in NYC’s Madison Square Garden, hosted by Michael Jackson. I was actually there on 9/10/2001. The star-studded shows not only featured MJ and a reunion of The Jacksons, but also featured performances by Samuel L. Jackson (narrating), Usher, Mya, Whitney Houston, Marlon Brando (speech), Billy Gilman, Shaggy, Monica, Al Jarreau, Jill Scott, Deborah Cox, James Ingram, Gloria Estefan, Marc Anthony, Liza Minnelli, Destiny’s Child, Ray Charles, Cassandra Wilson, Elizabeth Taylor (introduction), NSYNC, Britney Spears, Chris Tucker, Dionne Warwick, Gloria Gaynor, 98 Degrees, Luther Vandross, Missy Elliott, Nelly Furtado, Aaron Carter, and Gladys Knight. Several of the stars were actually staying at the downtown Marriott Vista hotel, which was destroyed during the following day’s terrorist attacks.
• 2002-Switzerland, traditionally a neutral country, becomes a full member of the United Nations.
• 2007-former PM of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, returns to Pakistan after 7 years in exile, following a military coup in October 1999.
• 2008-the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, described as the biggest scientific experiment in history, is powered up in Geneva, Switzerland.
• 2017-Hurricane Irma makes landfall on Cudjoe Key, Florida as a Category 4, after causing catastrophic damage throughout the Caribbean. Irma will result in 134 deaths and $64.76 billion in damage.

Fun Fact of the Day:

Upon his death, pirate Olivier Levasseur had tossed a cryptogram into a crowd and told them if they could figure out his message, his treasure (now estimated at $200 million) would be theirs, a treasure that to this day has never been found.

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“The past cannot be cured.”—Queen Elizabeth I

International and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices on 8/22 closed at $68.63/barrel. Today (9/10) however, it has pulled back on concerns that US inventories are growing, closing at $67.54/barrel. I was able to find gasoline at $2.66/gallon at my West Palm Beach gas station, but most stations have gasoline prices up about 5 cents from where they were last week, not down like oil. The USD versus the Yen is trading at $111.10, unchanged from where it was on 8/28. The USD was at 1.1597 versus the Euro, stronger since 8/28. The USD is sharply down since 8/28 against the GBP, at $1.3027. The USD is much higher versus the CAD to $1.3159 since 8/28. Gold closed today at $1196.20/ounce, down from where it was 8/28. Bitcoin was trading at $8185.21 on 7/25. On 8/9, it collapsed to $6,300.01. Last week, it broke above $7000 and its 50-day moving average. If you thought you’d seen the lows, however, you were wrong. It is already down 65% since its peak in December, but now the stochastics point to potential further problems. It keeps having lower highs and the Directional Movement Index is suggesting that bullish buying pressure has ended and selling pressure has begun. It closed today at $6,413.87. Bank of Canada met to discuss monetary policy and chose to keep rates unchanged at 1.50%. Weak data continues out of Germany. France’s trade gap narrowed in July. It’s industrial production also showed steady growth. In Italy, bond yields finally fell, after FM Tria signaled his pledge to keep the fiscal deficit below 3% of GDP. However, Italy’s retail sales dropped in July, the fourth drop in five months. Mexican Economy Minister said his country wants a dispute over US steel and aluminum tariffs resolved before it signs the renegotiated NAFTA. US business leaders have urged President Trump to reconsider tariffs on an additional $200 billion in Chinese goods. They say retaliatory tariffs would increase costs and would stifle innovation, according to Bloomberg. Australia’s NAB business confidence index fell 3 points to a reading of 4 in August.

“’A devaluation of oilsands assets’: New rules on sulphur will make a fifth of output uneconomic within two years…From the lack of available pipeline capacity to the potential adoption of electric cars, there is no shortage of threats facing the Canadian oilsands. But the latest menace lies in a seemingly innocuous and highly common element: sulphur.” National Post

“U.S. refinery maintenance expected to weigh on Canadian heavy crude prices…Canada’s heavy oil producers face sustained pressure as big U.S. refineries gear up for seasonal maintenance, sapping demand just as the industry grapples with delays to proposed export pipelines.” Globe and Mail

“Trump Eyes a Japan Trade Fight: In a Thursday phone call, the President sounds courteous and stable, but unfortunately still focused on trade deficits. People inclined to believe that the President is crazy should pause before accepting such diagnoses from journalists without medical degrees quoting anonymous non-doctors in the federal bureaucracy. But investors hoping for a quick end to the Trump trade debates may have reason to be nervous.” Wall Street Journal

S&P’s China-Ratings Plan Risks Too Many Triple-A’s: S&P Global Inc. is developing a custom credit-rating scale for China that will likely mean more triple-A’s, worrying investors about inflated grades. The credit-rating company, which is setting up an independent business in China, recently said it will tailor a system for rating bonds from businesses, local governments and other issuers there.”  Wall Street Journal,

“China Sees Hints of a Past Threat: Inflation…..Pork is up. Vegetables are up. Gasoline is up. Even the official numbers, usually tame, are up. Prices are rising in China — and that could complicate Beijing’s efforts to prop up a slowing economy and navigate President Trump’s trade war.” New York Times

“China asks WTO for sanctions in U.S. trade dispute: China will ask the World Trade Organization next week for permission to impose sanctions on the United States, for Washington’s non-compliance with a ruling in a dispute over U.S. dumping duties that China initiated in 2013, a meeting agenda showed on Tuesday. The request is likely to lead to years of legal wrangling over the case for sanctions and the amount. Last year China won a WTO ruling in the dispute, which related to several industries including machinery and electronics, light industry, metals and minerals, with an annual export value of up to $8.4 billion.” Reuters

Global Financial News:

The US trade deficit posted the biggest one-month increase since March 2015 as rising imports and falling exports pushed it to $50.1 billion in July, according to Commerce Department. Emerging Markets are now in their longest slump since the Financial Crisis, according to Bloomberg. The bear market has arrived for emerging market stocks, as the MSCI Emerging Markets Index has closed more than 20% below a January high, entering the bear market. The US Senate has confirmed Elad Roisman, chief counsel of the Senate banking committee, as a member of the SEC. The House GOP says that a US government shutdown is unlikely, although President Trump said that the government will shut down before 9/30 if discussions about a border wall remain unresolved. The White House Council of Economic Advisers says wages in the US have risen 1.4% in the past year, disputing statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that say they have slowed, according to the NY Times. Fund managers are showing enthusiasm for European high-yield debt, despite political tensions in Italy and $10 billion in issuance expected this month. The UK Financial Conduct Authority and the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission have both urged the EU to ease access to bloc for foreign banks and other financial institutions, as the UK and EU negotiate future trade terms post-Brexit. Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has proposed a Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac solution, in which he would repeal their charters and institute Ginnie Mae, a government corporation that would effectively guarantee repayment to investors in Federal Housing Administration and other government-insured loans via a network of approved issuers. J. Christopher Giancarlo, chairman of the CFTC, says the odds of US deference to foreign regulators regarding derivatives trading will increase if the EU abandons a proposal to expand oversight of US clearinghouses. Concerns about the escalating US vs China trade battle continue to bother investors. China reportedly is inviting US bankers to a meeting with Chinese VP Wang Quishan and other officials Sunday in Beijing. China reportedly hopes the meeting becomes a biannual event and improves financial relations between the countries. AXA has secured all regulatory approvals for merger with XL Group.

“House Republicans Push to Lock In Tax Cuts Past 2025…Even though the legislation dubbed “Tax Reform 2.0” isn’t likely to become law this year or have significant practical effect on individual tax returns until today’s sixth-graders are in college, Republicans see advantages in voting now.” WSJ

US Market News:

The Dow Jones has waffled lower since my 8/29 Repo Commentary, closing today down 59.47 points to 25,857.07. S&P 500, however, was up another 5.45 to close at an astonishing 2,877.13, nearly 300 points above where it was during my 8/29 Repo Commentary. Nasdaq was also up another 21.62 points to close at 7,924.16, which was below the 8,030.04 is set on 8/28. US Treasury prices closed today lower, with yields higher on 2years at 2.73% (up 2bp), 3years at 2.78% (unchanged), 5years at 2.83 (up 1bp), 7years at 2.89% (up 1bp), 10years at 2.94% (up 1bp), and 30years at 3.09% (down 2bp). Many market participants, particularly repo market participants, have been lamenting the huge supply by the US Treasury in the front end of the market. The trading of US Treasuries is shifting to direct-streaming venues from electronic platforms to avoid minimum spread sizes and high platform fees. So far, those alternative venues represent only about 10% of the market, but experts say the shift is gathering momentum, according to Risk. Unemployment claims have fallen to the lowest level since 1960s. Small business optimism has surged to the highest level ever, even higher than during the Reagan era. Republicans have unveiled a plan to make tax cuts permanent.

Housing News:

The latest US housing data last week showed the market wobbling and began investors worrying. In talking to my real estate friends down here in Florida, it’s about not having enough supply to meet demand, particularly on the commercial real estat side. However, it’s hard to believe when you see all the new condo skyscrapers being built and new gated communities being built. But, even the office of Employment in Florida has issued an alert that they need more builders, carpenters, etc. to build all of this growth in population. The real estate brokers say that it is still a sellers’ market, that they hold the upper hand in negotiations in Florida, the opposite of what I hear is happening in the metropolitan NYC area, especially in the luxury real estate market. CBS put out a warning article today to real estate investors, saying that home prices in the US have never been higher, since January’s housing values eclipsed the 2006 pre-Crisis peak and since have only pushed higher. CBS points to the Federal Reserve raising interest rates higher which will have a negative impact on home affordability, a slowdown in new home construction and sales of existing homes, and weakening demographics. Millennials, hampered by rising student loan debt and cooling wages, have very low homeownership rates. Their rate is about 8% below the homeownership rates of Gen X and Baby Boomers before them at the same age. CBS is not the only one raising a flag, as I reported last week that CNBC had had a similar article, and even Fannie Mae’s Economic and Strategic Research Group is warning of a “mass exodus” on the horizon as the “homeownership demand from younger generations is insufficient to fill the void left by multitudes of departing older owners.” There always seems to be 2 residential real estate markets when you talk about real estate, particularly in NYC. There’s the buy/sell real estate market and the rental real estate market. It turns out that year-over-year, rents in Queens saw an 8.3% increase in July, far outpacing Manhattan (1.7%) and the national average (2.8%). However, NYC buy/sell real estate currently favors the buyer’s, particularly at the high-end. Bloomberg has reported that sellers are reluctantly finally coming around. However, it doesn’t appear that the new tax bill has had much impact yet, according to the NY Times.

Canadian commercial real estate investment reached new heights in the second quarter, boosted by a pair of big acquisitions and by the lure of attractive, income-producing property. Transactions reached $16.5 billion. That’s 38 per cent more than the previous record, set in the first quarter of last year, and more than twice the five-year quarterly average, CBRE Group Inc. said in a report Monday. Deal volume for the first six months was $26.8 billion, a half-year record. Business FinancialPost

Repo News:  

Friday’s employment report hurt short-term interest rates, sending repo rates higher, with the market now pricing even more Fed tightening. They still haven’t priced a full 4th tightening, but a greater percentage of one. It looks like one on 9/26 FOMC is a foregone conclusion and another one on 12/19 FOMC is very likely. That brings us to 2019, where the market just a few weeks ago was only pricing in one more 2019 Fed tightening. That appears to be changing now.

It has been interesting watching repo funding rates, Fed Funds, and the SOFR. It’s interesting that SOFR is trading closer to O/N Fed Funds rate than to O/N GC Repo, which is because it is more heavily weighted in its calculation on the huge Triparty Repo component of the market, which is pure/lowest offer-side rate of Repo. It does not include the peer-to-peer, all-to-all electronic an OTC component. Until it does, it will always shade to the offer-side, lower rate, like Fed Funds. GC Treasury collateral had been trading O/N at the dealers at a 1.956% average and Agy MBS collateral had been trading O/N at the dealers about 5bp higher. However, SOFR is at 1.86% and Fed Funds were at 1.91%. Let’s back up a minute, it is worth noting that a) we are talking about dealer offer-side rates (not mid-market repo rates as I used to) and b) the MBS vs Treasury spread had averaged 1.7bp on the offer-side from Dealers since the beginning of 2016, and that has blown out in August to nearly 5bp. Month-end funding pressure showed up this week, particularly yesterday, with Treasury GC trading O/N at 2.05-2.10% for month-end, which also happens to be over a long (4 day) Labor Day holiday weekend. Coupled with the long holiday weekend, is a huge settlement of 2year notes, 5year notes, and 7year notes. This is part of the net new US Treasury issuance in August of $200 billion. September is expected to have much less US Treasury issuance.

I see the Repo and Securities Lending market as having changed in many permanent ways. We traditionally had a credit intermediator, the broker/dealers (originally just the primary broker/dealers) and later prime brokers, who were the pipeline through their respective repo matched books for collateral providers to trade with cash providers, without the two sides ever knowing about each other or facing each other. That lack of knowledge of the other side of the repo matched book came at a couple of costs, first, the bid/offer spread that went to the dealers and second, the defaults of the Financial Crisis and the impact on some of the dealers that then cost their clients. Clearly, with that pipeline becoming severely crimped by post-Financial Crisis regulatory reforms, consolidation and bankruptcies, and the resulting drop of about 60% in balance sheets being used for broker/dealer respective repo matched books, new pathways/pipelines needed to be found for cash provider and collateral provider clients. AVM’s Direct Repo™ was the first of one of such pathways. Since then, other pathways to these markets have been created, including: the Federal Reserve’s RRP program with cash providers, peer-to-peer financing as reported on Treasury OFR’s website between MMFs and Insurance Companies, As Agent repo through seclending agents and now some prime brokers, direct lending from beneficial owner to hedge funds who are short, indemnified As Agent repo, buyside to buyside Triparty Repo through two international clearing organizations, electronic all-to-all repo on a few electronic trading platforms like Elixium and BNY DBVX, FICC’s sponsored repo and cleared repo products to entice certain sectors of the buyside into that CCP, and other Repo and/or Seclending CCPs (several still being worked on, particularly in Europe). I believe this evolution will continue and eventually we will see all of these pathways used, including the traditional pathway (to probably a lesser than historical degree) through the broker/dealers and prime brokers.

Upcoming Repo Industry Conferences: 
 

• IMN will hold its 23rd annual European Beneficial Owners’ International Securities Finance & Collateral Management Conference in London, 9/12-9/13. I’ve attended this before.
• IMN will hold its 24th annual ABS East Conference in Miami Beach, on 9/23-25. I’ve attended this before.
• National Association of State Treasurers (NAST) will hold its Annual Conference in Scottsdale, AZ on 9/30-10/3. I’ve been invited to this before.
• SIFMA-will hold its Annual Meeting in Washington, DC on 10/1-10/2.
• Risk Management Association (RMA) will hold the 35th annual RMA Conference on Securities Lending in Key Biscayne, FL on 10/8-10/11. I will be there, I don’t want to break my streak of attending every one of them!
• Finadium will hold its 2nd annual Rates & Repo conference in NYC 11/5. I absolutely won’t miss this conference! I know I have dozens of promised drinks and chats with you all while I’m up there, so I have to organize all that.
• Association of Financial Professionals (AFP) is holding its annual Treasury & Finance conference in Chicago on 11/4-11/7.
• RISK USA will hold 24th annual conference in NYC 11/7-11/9. I have chaired/moderated this one before.

Federal Reserve News:

Fed Funds, which trade mostly between some banks and GSEs, opened today at 1.91%.

The next FOMC meetings are: 9/20/18, 11/1/18, 12/13/18, 1/30/19, 3/20/19, 5/1/19, 6/19/19, 7/31/19, 9/18/19, 10/30/19, 12/11/19, 1/29/20 (reflecting the Fed’s just announced tentative schedule for 2019).

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (16 banks, 14 GSEs, 101 money market funds from various fund families), is now set at the rate of 1.75%. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight. Remember when RRP was trading at year-end for $465 billion? Well, on 5/15, there was only $20 million in bids submitted. MMF cash and GSE cash has moved out of the Fed’s RRP and into the Repo market, but it hasn’t really brought down the GC repo rate, which is strange.

If you are wondering about RRP, it is nearly extinct. In July, excluding month-end, volume averaged only $2.8 billion per day. It has just become a mechanism for the Fed to supply collateral when its scarce for money market funds on month-ends and quarter-ends, as dealer balance sheets dry up at those times.

According to FOMC members, the Fed is expected to raise interest rates 3ctimes in 2018 and 3 times in 2019. So far, we had a tightening of 25bp in March 2018 and a 25bp tightening in June 2018. We now have a full 25bp tightening priced into September 2018 FOMC meeting. Despite the Fed’s guidance on rate hikes, the market is diverging about those 3 tightenings in 2019, pricing only 2 of them in so far.

NY Fed President John Williams said that a flattening or inversion of the yield curve would not be the deciding factor or drive Federal Reserve interest rate decisions.

Eric Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, signaled the U.S. central bank should continue raising its benchmark short-term interest rate at its current quarterly pace over the coming year, including at policy meetings this September and December… After that point, he said it was likely tight labor markets and strong economic growth could prompt additional rate increases designed to deliberately slow the economy and prevent overheating. WSJ

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

An earthquake in the south of Hokkaido, Japan resulted in at least 17 deaths. It triggered deadly landslides and knocked out power to millions of people.

Weather:

The Atlantic Hurricane Season began Friday, June 1st. For 2018, Colorado State University experts have predicted that this season will be a busy, above average hurricane season. They have predicted 14 named Tropical Storms, of which 7 will become Hurricanes. Both are above the averages of 12 and 6, respectively. But, remember, last year they were way off. Unfortunately, they were way off the wrong way, with way more storms. They had predicted 11 Tropical Storms, of which 4 would be Hurricanes. Instead, we had 17 Tropical Storms and had 10 Hurricanes. Here are the 2018 Storm names:

Alberto done
Beryl done
Chris done
Debby done
Ernesto done
Florence coming
Gordon done
Helene coming
Isaac coming
Joyce
Kirk
Leslie
Michael
Nadine
Oscar
Patty
Rafael
Sara
Tony
Valerie
William

Historically, the most active month for hurricanes in the Atlantic is September. 9/10 is statistically the most active date of the hurricane season. It is also the anniversary of last year’s devastating Hurricane Irma, which destroyed much of the Florida Keys. So far, September hasn’t disappointed with Gordon having hit Florida and then surging to the Gulf coast of Alabama and Louisiana, leaving a wide swath of heavy rains and fatal flooding in the South, particularly in parts of Texas. Right behind Hurricane Gordon, Hurricane Florence is strengthening, maybe up to Category 4, and is targeting South Carolina and North Carolina towards the end of this week, and the Atlantic coast prepares for his first hurricane landfall of the season, and it could be a bad one. Governors are issuing evacuation orders, the US Army at Fort Bragg has suspended several field operations, to keep soldiers safe, the US Navy is moving out much of its fleet from Virginia, and there are increasing concerns about some nuclear plants that are in the path. Already formed behind Florence, is Tropical Storm Isaac which is not expected to make it to Hurricane and my impact some of the Caribbean before it is wiped out by wind sheer. Behind Tropical Storm Isaac, is Hurricane Helene, right near the Cape Verde islands. She may cause a problem, as the NHC recently upgraded her. There is also a Tropical Depression which has formed around the Yucatan Peninsula, but has a very low chance of forming into a Hurricane. Multiple tropical waves are forecast to emerge off the coast of western Africa, some of which could develop into tropical cyclones.

The Pacific Hurricane Season began on May 1st. Typhoon Jebi affected Taiwan and Japan, killing at least 17 people and causing extensive damage in the Kansai region of Japan. In the Eastern North Pacific, Tropical Storm Paul is slightly stronger at 45mph.

Let’s talk about weather, here in Florida, the heat has come off to just high 80s and low 90s, rather than high 90s, but humidity is very high and daily thunderstorms continue to pop up. The Northeast had warmed up suddenly last week, but now has cooled and is experiencing some serious rain, some of which is causing flooding and delaying sporting events. The Southwest has also gotten somewhat stormy, while the West Coast remains quite sunny and warm. Summer snow is now blanketing Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. So much for Fall. My friend in Maine always asks me, since I live in Florida, “don’t you miss the 4 seasons?” and I reply, “don’t you?” I at least get Summer and one or two days of Spring, while he gets Winter and two weeks of Summer.

Sports News:

MLB:

The MLB regular season is about 85% over, with around 20-23 games left to play.

In the AL East, the Red Sox have righted their ship, after finally hitting one of those losing streaks that have plagued all the other MLB teams, but they still never lost 4 games in a row (yet). They are the only MLB team this year to have accomplished that feat (or not accomplished that feat). Their lead over the Yankees increased to 9 ½ games, as the Red Sox just swept the NL East first place Braves, mostly in impressive comebacks, and won 7 of their last 10. The Yankees just finished battling the red-hot A’s, who could be their Wild Card one-game opponent, and the A’s have sights on either stealing the AL West division from the Astros, or, at the least, grabbing home field advantage for that game against the Yankees. The A’s managed to beat the Yankees two out of those three games. This past weekend, the Red Sox staved off a 3-game sweep at Fenway by the Astros, with a walk-off win Sunday night. Meanwhile, the Yankees also lost 2 out of 3 to the Mariners. In the AL Central, it’s nothing but Indians now, having opened up a 16 ½ game lead over the Twins, who just lost 8 of their last 10. So much for all the off-season trading and drafting by the Twins. In the AL West, despite the A’s beating up the Yankees, they didn’t gain any ground on the World Champion Astros, who won 7 of their last 10 and lead by 3 ½ games. Switching to the NL East, the Braves, despite being swept by Boston, still held a 3 ½-game lead over the Phillies, who also lost 6 out of 10. The Nats didn’t gain on the Braves either, having also lost 6 out of 10. The NL Central has been interesting, but the first place Cubs are finally getting their act together offensively and on the mound. Yu Darvish is out for surgery and Cole Hamels has been good. The Cubs still have a 4 ½-game lead over the Brewers and 5-game lead over the Cardinals, who are quietly very much in contention. In the NL West, it has been neck-and-neck, with the Diamondbacks hitting a skid, losing 7 of 10, and falling out of first place, while the Rockies snuck into first place and the Dodgers won 7 of their last 10. The Rockies lead by 1 ½-games over the Dodgers and 2 1/2-games over the Diamondbacks. This could go down to the last week of the season.

In case you are watching the AL MVP or potential Triple Crown race, Red Sox Mookie Betts’ slight slump may have opened the door for his teammate, J.D. Martinez’s bid for the Triple Crown. He was leading J.D. in batting average .348 to 3.30, but now leads by only one percentage point .336 to .335. And those two lead all of MLB in batting average. In Home Runs, J.D. Martinez has 39, second to A’s Khris Davis with 40 (which leads MLB), and ahead of Indians’ Jose Ramirez with 37. In RBIs, J.D. leads MLB with 115 and Khris Davis is second with 106. So, J.D. is very close to a potential Triple Crown, last accomplished by Miguel Cabrera in 2012 (and Carl Yastrzemski before that in 1967), but there is still a lot of time left. Indians’ Jose Ramirez is likely to become MLB’s first 30-30 man (30 HRs and 30 stolen bases) in years, and has a chance to actually be a 40-40 man. The last 30-30 men were Mike Trout in 2012 and Ryan Braun in 2012. The last 40-40 man was Alfonso Soriano in 2006. I remember when Jose Canseco did it in 1988, followed by Barry Bonds in 1996, and Alex Rodriguez in 1998. After mentioning all this great hitting, particularly on the AL side, the current MLB batting average is the lowest at this point in the season since 1972. So, pitching has been dominant. I never would have guessed, but there was only one no-hitter in MLB last year (and one in 2016) and there have already been 3 this year (one was combined between 4 pitchers). In 2015, there were 7 no-hitters.

83-year-old brother of former Dodgers’ legend manager Tommy Lasorda was killed in a car crash this week in Boca Raton, FL. The “Marlins Man” reportedly will sign a 1-day contract with Miami, ending the feud between him and the team. The superfan, who in real-life is a Florida lawyer, will sign for 9/17 and make his first visit to Marlins Park this season. His big day will include a media conference, a chance to shag balls in the outfield, and the opportunity to present the Marlins’ lineup card to the umpires. He had been a season ticket holder since the franchise started in 1993 and always stood out in orange behind home plate on telecasts. He was even spotted in the same outfit at about 200 other sporting events each year. But, he became angry when the franchise was sold and the team traded away its top stars. So, he faced off against Derek Jeter in a Town Hall meeting held for grievances. He still offered the team $200,000 for 3 years of his season tickets behind home plate, but the team wanted $220,000, so he renounced his fanship, becoming a free agent. It is now official, 2B star Dustin Pedroia will not return to the Red Sox this season. Manager Alex Cora made the announcement Friday and added that Pedroia has arthroscopic knee surgery in July. He is still under contract with the Sox for another 3 years. The team has been platooning Eduardo Nunez, Brock Holt, newcomer Ian Kinsler, and Brandon Phillips in his place. The Red Sox will be getting back ace Chris Sale for this weekend’s series against the World Champion Astros in Fenway Park. Tony Gwynn’s family has settled with the tobacco company that they associated with his death. Pirates OF Gregory Polanco will miss remainder of season with injury. A few people celebrated the 20th anniversary of Mark McGwire’s 62nd HR. Although it broke Roger Maris’ record, it is still a very controversial record in a very shady MLB period of history. You all may disagree with me, but I have heard the Hall of Fame officials say that the Hall is about the history of the game, not just those that are honored. How do you skip the history of 5years of HR battles between Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds, when everyone was glued to the TVs?. Attendance and viewership was way up and money for the MLB was way up, how could they suddenly say they didn’t benefit from that and it wasn’t part of MLB history. Even Shoeless Joe Jackson’s story is in the Hall of Fame. Why aren’t these juiced HR hitters, one of the top 2 pitchers of all time, Roger Clemens, and the No.1 hitter (and without juice), Pete Rose? How do you have a display, “oh, here is the No.2 hitter of all time’s placque”? Several teams are reportedly upset about the Indians’ Josh Donaldson trade, from the Blue Jays at the 8/31 deadline, including the Yankees, Red Sox, and Astros, all likely playoff teams in the AL. Those teams want to know just how Donaldson cleared waivers in the first place. The rules state that a player must be certified as healthy in order to be placed on trade waivers. There was a dispute with the Blue Jays over his health, but somehow Donaldson agreed he was healthy when the MLBPA got involved. Yet, when he arrived at the Indians, he was placed on the 10-day DL. Donaldson is a free agent at the end of the year, but, because he cleared waivers, is eligible to play this year and in the playoffs.

Tennis:

The 138th US Open was played at Forest Hill in Queens. There have been some major surprises in this major and some unbelievable performances. Roger Federer was knocked out by the No.73 tennis player. Serena Williams has been crushing opponents and actually changed her style of play to more like doubles and playing the net in the semifinals to wipe out her opponent. I would be scared to see her looming at the net with all those rippling muscles! And a sport that typically isn’t mire in controversy wound up there Saturday afternoon for the Women’s final, between Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka. Serena was losing early and was penalized a point by the umpire for illegal coaching from her coach. She vehemently denied that any infraction occurred and argued strongly with the umpire. She said that the umpire was calling her a “liar” and a “cheat” and she said “she would rather lose than win that way.” She also said that this always happens to her at the US Open and that it’s because she is a woman. When play resumed, the umpire then announced the score of the next set by awarding a full game, without a point being served, to Serena’s opponent, for the verbal abuse of an umpire. That started another tirade, which included other tournament officials. But, her pleas of it being “unfair” and “he should apologize” were ignored, and frazzled, she went on to lose the match and the Major tournament. She was very gracious to her opponent in the awards ceremony afterwards, but it was clear that she was still upset with tournament officials and the umpire, who she didn’t even shake the hand of at the end of the match. This will likely be a major new story for several months, very unusual controversy in tennis, and particularly close to home, given that the Williams’ sisters live here in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. On Sunday, the WTA fined Serena $17,000 for verbally abusing the chair umpire, receiving coaching advice during the match, and breaking her tennis racket in anger. Most people are supporting Serena, and several male tennis players have described their bad behavior, which was not fined or penalized. However, Martina Navratilova has called Serena out on her bad behavior. Overshadowed, was Naomi Osaka’s first Grand Slam event win and the first Japanese player to win a US Open singles event.

Golf:

Shocking news in the world of golf, as Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy each shot 62 in the first round of the FedEx Cup’s next event, the BMW Championship which started Thursday in Pennsylvania. They fell off the pace on Friday, but regained form on Saturday, as other star players bunched up near the top of the leaderboard. On Sunday, play was suspended for the final round because of weather. They resumed today, just outside of Philadelphia, on the soggy course with damp and cold weather. At the end of the round, Keegan Bradley and Justin Rose wound up tied at -20 and went into a Playoff. Rose could have won it with a putt on the 18th, but missed. Then, shockingly missed a short putt for Par on the first playoff hole. Bradley won for the first time on Tour in 6 years. There was a silver lining in the loss for Rose, as he moved to No.1 in the World ranking. The top 30 players will play in the final FedEx Cup event in Atlanta at EastLake for all the money. On the European Tour, I wouldn’t want to be a putter for Thomas Pieters. This guy in May’s European Tour’s BMW Championship broke an iron in half after a bad shot. This week, at the Omgea European Masters, after 2 opening birdies, was looking good until he had a double bogey and a quadruple bogey, and, of course, snapped his putter in half. Thing is, in the pros, you can’t replace the club, so now you are putting with whatever, a 1-iron, a 3-wood, etc.

Fighting:

Boxing

Manny Pacquiao is suing Top Rank Boxing over unpaid fees for Matthysse fight. This weekend, welterweight Amir Khan gave a dominant performance in his unanimous decision over Samuel Vargas in Birmingham, England and then called out Manny Pacquiao, although fans really want to seem him take on fellow Englishman Kell Brook.

9/15 huge buildup for mega middleweight rematch between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, after their split draw in Las Vegas.

9/22
Anthony Joshua (2012 Olympic gold medalist at super heavyweight and current IBF, WBA, and WBO heavyweight champ will face Alexander Povetkin in London

The first card of Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing USA will feature former welterweight champion Jessie Vargas (28-2-1) against junior welterweight title challenger Thomas Dulorme (24-3) on 10/6 at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago.

Racing:

At the Italian Grand Prix this weekend, Monza’s Temple of Speed, Russian Time’s Tadasuke Makino won the thrilling F2 Feature Race. In the F2 Sprint Race, George Russell, the F2 championship leader in points, won, putting him further ahead of Lando Norris. Before the race, the point spread between Russell and Norris had closed to just 5 points, as Russell had gone on winless run of 8 races. In the GP3 Feature Race, David Beckmann won his second race with new team Trident Racing, narrowly ahead of ART Gran Prix’s Anthoine Hubert.

In the IndyCar Series, the San Diego Grand Prix is coming up this weekend.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drive the Brickyard 400 pace car. He also made news by estimating for an interview that he had at least 20 concussions during his racing career. Elliott Sadler will stop driving full-time after 2018 season. NASCAR has invited Fernando Alonso to race in Daytona 500. NASCAR is in trouble, with race attendance shrinking (-14.7%), TV ratings plummeting (-20%), and sponsors leaving. Even in this struggling sport with its antiquated business model, you would think the defending Cup Series champion, Martin Truex Jr. or one of the best NASCAR drivers of all time, Jimmie Johnson (7-time champ and 18-season veteran), would be able to find sponsorship. But, the answer is ‘no’. Truex’s team, Furniture Row Racing, said last week that it is shutting down after this season. This follows July’s news that the No.78 Toyota team’s primary sponsor, 5-hour Energy, is leaving NASCAR at the end of the season. And that follows the news from Jimmie Johnson’s sponsor for his career, Lowe’s, that it’s leaving the sport too. Former sponsors that are already out include Target, Home Depot, Sprint, UPS, Subway, Great Clips, GoDaddy. The sport’s executives refuse to realize that the business model, relying heavily on sponsors to exist, and typically spend about $30 million to field a car for a full season, is flawed.

2018 NASCAR Schedule and results:
2/18 Daytona 500-Daytona Intl Speedway-won by Austin Dillon
2/25 Folds of Honor QuikTrip-Atlanta Motor Speedway-Kevin Harvick
3/4 Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube-Las Vegas Motor Speedway-Kevin Harvick
3/11 TicketGuardian 500-ISM Raceway-Kevin Harvick
3/18 Auto Club 400-Auto Club Speedway-Martin Truex Jr.
3/26 STP 500-Martinsville Speedway-Clint Bowyer
4/8 O’Reilly Auto Parts 500-Texas Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
4/16 Food City 500-Bristol Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
4/21 Toyota Owners 400-Richmond Raceway-Kyle Busch
4/29 GEICO 500-Talladega Speedway-Joey Logano
5/6 AAA 400 Drive for Autism-Dover International Speedway-Kevin Harvick
5/12 KC Masterpiece 400-Kansas Speedway-Kevin Harvick
5/19 Monster Energy Open-Charlotte Motor Speedway-AJ Allmendinger
5/19 Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race-Charlotte-Kevin Harvick
5/27 Coca-Cola 600-Charlotte Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
6/3 Pocono 400-Pocono Raceway-Martin Truex Jr.
6/10 FireKeepers Casino 400-Michigan International Speedway-Clint Bowyer
6/24 Toyota/Save Mart 350-Sonoma Raceway-won by Martin Truex Jr.
7/1 Overton’s 400-Chicagoland Speedway-won by Kyle Busch.
7/7 Coke Zero Sugar 400–Daytona International Speedway-won by Erik Jones
7/14 Quaker State 400-Kentucky Speedway-won by Martin Truex Jr.
7/22 Foxwoods Resort Casino 301-New Hampshire Motor Speedway-won by Kevin Harvick over Kyle Busch.
7/29 Gander Outdoors 400-Pocono Raceway-won by Kyle Busch over Daniel Suarez.
8/5 GoBowling at the Glen-Watkins Glen International-won by Chase Eilliott over Martin Truex Jr.
8/12 Consumers Energy 400-Michigan International Speedway-won by Kevin Harvick in all 3 stages.
8/18 Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race-Bristol Motor Speedway-Kurt Busch’s first win of the season and first in 58 races.
9/10 Rain not only plagued golf’s BMW Championship, but also the two NASCAR races at Indianapolis had to be completed a day later, today. The Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis was won by Brad Keselowski, giving team Roger Penske their first win in the brickyard.

NCAA Football:

College football season kickoff was on 8/25, and now all of the teams have played their two weeks. The College of the Ozarks, an NAIA program in Missouri, will no longer wear their Nike-designed jerseys, following the company’s decision to feature former NFL QB Colin Kaepernick in its advertising campaigns. My Michigan State Spartans, after barely beating unranked Utah State in Week 1, wound up losing a close game with Arizona State in Week 2, falling from a contender at No.13 to barely in the running at No.25.

Here is Sporting News’ way-too-early Original Top 25 rankings:

1. Alabama
2. Clemson
3. Georgia
4. Ohio State
5. Oklahoma
6. Wisconsin
7. Washington
8. Auburn
9. Notre Dame
10. Penn State
11. Miami
12. Michigan
13. Michigan State
14. Stanford
15. USC
16. UCF
17. Virginia Tech
18. LSU
19. TCU
20. FSU
21. Oklahoma State
22. Texas
23. South Carolina
24. Mississippi State
25. Boise State
After week 2, the official AP Poll is:

1. Alabama (2-0)
2. Clemson (2-0)
3. Georgia (2-0)
4. Ohio State (2-0)
5. Oklahoma (2-0)
6. Wisconsin (2-0)
7. Auburn (2-0)
8. Notre Dame (2-0)
9. Stanford (2-0)
10. Washington (1-1)
11. Penn State (2-0)
12. LSU (2-0)
13. Virginia Tech (2-0)
14. West Virginia (2-0)
15. TCU (2-0)
16. Mississippi State (2-0)
17. Boise State (2-0)
18. UCF (2-0)
19. Michigan (1-1)
20. Oregon (2-0)
21. Miami (1-1)
22. USC (1-1)
23. Arizona State (2-0)
24. Oklahoma State (2-0)
25. Michigan State (1-1)

NFL:

The 99th NFL regular season began Thursday night with a sloppy game between the Super Bowl Champ Eagles and the Falcons, won by the Eagles, 18-12, holding off the Falcons near the goal line at the end of the game. The Eagles managed to cover the 1-point spread. How much do Steelers’ players hate teammate Le’Veon Bell for continuing to hold out for more money and expecting to do so at least into November? It’s one thing for the star RB of the team to hold out in the offseason or even the preseason, but during the season is very unusual and is having a disastrous impact on the Steelers’ chances. He was expected to show up this week and sign his one-year franchise player tender, as he has done the last couple of years for whopping $14.55 million, by far the most for any RB in the NFL. The Steelers offered him a longterm deal around $15 million per year, which Bell turned down. So, the options for the Steelers at this point are: 1) rescind the franchise tag for 2018, which would make Bell a free agent and allow him to sign with any team (which could be their rival Bengals or Patriots); 2) the Steelers could place a no franchise designation for 2019 in Bell’s contract, then Bell would become a free agent next year (which they should do anyway, since the franchise tag next year will go up to $23 million); or 3) give Bell a raise for 2018, as they aren’t allowed now to extend him with a longer contract. Rams’ RB Todd Gurley will earn more than $20 million this year, so maybe that’s Bell’s goal. Bell is now forfeiting $855,529 for each game he misses this year and, if he doesn’t report by Week 11, he will be barred from playing in the NFL for anyone in 2018. Up until Gurley signed his $14 million per year contract, the highest paid RB was paid $8.5 million/year. Running backs are looked at as limited positions by the free agency market with particular scrutiny about their age, injuries, and usages, and they tend to have shorter NFL careers because of the wear and tear and banging. Wide receivers, for example, tend to get hit only if a ball is thrown to them and then usually only once. Running backs bounce off most of the defensive line and secondary players on every play, getting hit continually. Of course, Bell has been arguing that his 400 plus touches each year include a lot of wide receiver work too. As I mentioned, Nike shocked the public by announcing that they would be featuring former NFL QB Colin Kaepernick in a controversial ad campaign that applauds his kneeling protest during the National Anthem two years ago. The ad first featured on Thursday night’s game received mixed reactions from the public. The stock market has not been kind to Nike’s stock price since the announcement. Heavy rain and high winds are expected to affect the Browns’ season opener against the Steelers. Chargers DE Joey Bosa will miss the opener against the Chiefs. The Browns are expected to reach out to free agent superstar WR Dez Bryant again. Falcons’ safety Keanu Neal will be out for the season with torn ACL in Thursday night’s game. Broncos’ QB Tommy Maddox will be the NFL’s youngest-ever starting QB. Former Cowboys RB Joseph Randle has been arrested and charged with rape. Richard Sherman says an NFL lockout in 2021 is “going to happen.” Eagles No.1 starting QB, Carson Wentz, will not be cleared to play for “several weeks” according to report. Former Browns LB Mychal Kendricks has pleaded guilty to insider trading. Chargers’ retired legend, Antonio Gates, has been reportedly practicing with his ‘family’ and may be available for the Chargers’ opener. Earl Thomas reportedly ended his holdout and will report to the Seahawks. The Patriots won an NFL record 78th straight game when leading by 10+ points at halftime. Veteran RB Adrian Peterson, picked up late by the Redskins, reached 2 milestones Sunday: his 100th career rushing TD and he surpassed Jim Brown for total rushing yards of 12,312, to move into 10th place on the all-time rushing list. After a blowout loss to the Ravens Sunday, Bills’ coach Sean McDermott won’t commit to starting QB. Still free agent superstar WR Dez Bryant has named the to possible teams he would consider, the Patriots and the Redskins. Seahawks’ WR Doug Baldwin went on IR with knee injury. The Steelers/Browns tie was the first NFL tie in Week 1 since 1971. Heavy rain and winds had an impact on the entire game. The Steelers seemed not to miss RB Le’Veon Bell, and they rescinded his franchise tag, but also said they have no plans to trade the disgruntled holdout. Former NFL player Kenyatta Jones has died at age 39. Jaguars lost RB Leonard Fournette with a hamstring injury. Bucs’ WR DeSean Jackson suffered a concussion. Texans’ CB Kevin Johnson, who just came back from being out 2 games for a concussion, suffered another concussion against the Patriots. That will likely leave him unable to play for 4-6 weeks. Also, the Texans star OT Seantrel Henderson is likely out for the season with an ankle injury. As for National Anthem debate, the League and the Players Association never came to an agreement on policy, but there didn’t seem to be much dissension in Week 1. I only saw two players for the Dolphins kneeling during the National Anthem. Adam “Pacman” Jones has been forced to pay $12.4 million for 2007 strip club incident. Bucs’ suspended QB Jameis Winston lost his Nike endorsement deal. The Falcons placed Keanu Neal on IR and signed DE Steven Means. Panthers’ TE Greg Olsen left game early with foot injury. Bengals safety Shawn Williams was ejected after his helmet-to-helmet hit on QB Andrew Luck of the Colts. Titans TE Delanie Walker gruesomely broke his ankle in the Dolphins game, after a catch and tackle, and will be out for the season, in a game that went over 6 hours because of two huge rain delays in Miami. Also, Titans QB Marcus Mariota had to leave the game with an elbow injury. Incidentally, NFL fans are slamming Carrie Underwood’s new Sunday Night Football theme song.

Week 1 NFL schedule:

Bills @ Ravens, Ravens picked by 7.5, but probably win by more. Well, the Ravens won by a lot more 47-3.
Bengals @ Colts, Colts by 3, but I smell an upset by the Bengals. Sure enough, the Bengals upset the Colts at the end, although QB Andrew Luck had a good comeback, but not good enough.
Texans @ Patriots, Patriots by 6 ½, Patriots will probably win a close one, but not cover the spread. Well, the Patriots did win and they DID cover the spread. Game was sloppy, particularly for Texans QB Watson, and the score made it seem closer, 27-20, than it actually was.
Jaguars @ Giants, Giants by 3, Jags could upset Giants 17-13. I called this one close, as the Jags did upset the Giants 20-15.
Steelers @ Browns, Browns by 4, probably only time browns picked to win, most analysts think the Steeler s will eke out an upset. Well, I called this one well, as the Steelers had a large lead, despite 3 interceptions by Big Ben. But, then the Browns came back and tied it up to go to OT, where neither team could make their field goals and had to settle for a tie. So, maybe that’s a moral victory for the Browns, but they still are winless in their last 17 games.
49ers @ Vikings, Vikings by 6 1/2, analysts expect the Vikings to blow them out. The Vikings did win 24-16.
Buccaneers @ Saints, Saints by 9 ½, analysts either think the Saints will blow out the Winston-less Bucs or win and not cover the spread. Well, neither of those happened, as it turned out to be shootout and an upset by the Bucs 48-40.
Titans @ Dolphins, Titans by 1 1/2, Dolphins may upset Titans. I was right again (I should have bet on all these games!), as the Dolphins did eventually upset the Titans 24-17, with both teams scoring 2 Q4 TDs, after a long rain delay.
Chiefs @ Chargers, Chargers by 3 1/2, despite the Chargers losing last 8 games to Chiefs, analysts think Chargers will win at home over rookie QB. The analysts were wrong and the Chargers lost their 9th in a row to the Chiefs, 38-28.
Cowboys @ Panthers, Panthers by 3, I think cowboys could be better than thought, but this is anyone’s game. And It really was anyone’s game, a sloppy, boring one, in which the Panthers prevailed 16-8.
Seahawks @ Broncos, Broncos by 2 1/2, the Seahawks lost lots of people and are expected to get beaten by the Broncos. I expected the Broncos to win big, but they won a close one, 27-24.
Redskins @ Cardinals, Cards by 1, this is expected to be really close, with the Cards just edging Redskins. Well, the analysts were wrong and the Redskins put up 21 Q2 points and trounced the Cards, 24-6.
Bears @ Packers, Packers by 7 1/2, nobody is expecting the Bears to win but the trade last week for the best defensive player in the NFL will make this a much closer game. And indeed the analysts were right. Malik had a sack, caused a fumble and had an interception for a TD; a huge impact. He also injured QB Aaron Rodger’s leg early, knocking him out of the game. That helped the Bears establish a 20-0 lead into Q3, when the resilient QB came back and led the Packers all the way back to a stunning comeback win 24-23.

Monday 9/10 (a rare double-header MNF)
Jets @ Lions, Lions by 6 1/2, expected to be much closer, with Lions winning. Well the pundits were very wrong about this one, despite QB Sam Darnold of the Jets throwing an interception on his very first pass, as the Lions became unglued and QB Matt Stafford threw 4 interceptions, with the Jets crushing the Lions 48-17.
Rams @ Raiders, Rams by 4, I think the Rams could be one of the super bowl teams, but it’s very early.  Some analysts think the Rams could blow the Raiders out. I couldn’t stay up late enough to see if the pundits were right, but it turns out they were. Despite a lackluster start by the Rams, they outscored the Raiders in the second half 23-0, to secure a 33-13 win.

NHL:

The NHL training camps start this week. The first preseason games are 9/15. The puck drops on the regular season, for some teams, on 10/3. In the first weekend of the regular season, on Saturday, the NHL will invade Sweden for their Global Series game between the Oilers and the Devils. Former Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty is headed to the Golden Knights, after a lengthy contract debate and deteriorating relationship with the team that he played for for 10 years. The Canadiens get in return veteran Tomas Tatar and top prospect Nick Suzuki. Pacioretty was a five-time 30-goal scorer, but Tatar is a 4-time 20-goal scorer. The Golden Knights needed this trade, after losing James Neal to free agency, losing Nate Schmidt to 20 game suspension, and after picking up veteran Paul Stastny. The Flames signed All-Star Noah Hanifin. The Jets signed captain Blake Wheeler to a 5year contract extension. The Capitals took the Stanley Cup on its first trip to China and had it at the Great Wall. A Seattle NHL team expansion is edging closer to reality. 4-time Stanley Cup champion, Ab McDonald, died at age 82. Devils’ great, Martin Brodeur, has joined the team’s front office. The Maple Leafs hired Canada hockey legend Hayley Wickenheiser for a front-office role.

NBA:

Luol Deng agreed to one-year deal with Timberwolves. The Celtics are now favored to take the LeBron-less East. The West looks like it could be a wild shootout. Cavs Rodney Hood accepted a qualifying offer.. Celtics’ Jabari Bird was arrested on kidnapping and assault charges.

In Women’s basketball, Canada came close to an upset, but couldn’t defeat team USA. In the 2018 WNBA Finals, the No.1 Seattle Storm take on the No.3 Washington Mystics. The Storm are led by their veteran Sue Bird, who could have left after their disappointing 2015 season, but stayed in Seattle, and their new WNBA MVP, Breann Stewart. The matchup will also include Mystics’ former MVP Delle Donne. Despite having a combined 33 years of coaching experience between them, both coaches are vying for their first WNBA title.

Travel News:

The 200-year-old National Museum in Brazil went up in flames. One person is dead after a Russian passenger plane went off a Sochi runway and caught fire. I don’t know if you are old enough to remember the iconic toy store, FAO Schwartz, which was featured in the movie BIG and had its headquarters across from The Plaza Hotel in NYC, as well as many locations throughout the country, particularly at high-end malls, like one in Las Vegas? Well, although the company filed bankruptcy and closed all of its stores, it is returning to NYC and will have a new home at Rockefeller Center in November. NYC also has had 26 Step-Above Sports Bars suddenly spring up all over. Macau casino stocks are tumbling on growth concerns. An archeologist believes he has now determined the secret of Stonehenge. Stonehenge, which lines ups perfectly with the sun for 5,000 years on two days per year, has huge stones that were thought to have been dragged there from hundreds of miles away, or flown there by ancient aliens, and have been worshipped by druids and others for hundreds of years. Anyway, this guy thinks the stones just happened to already be there on site. Recent analysis of the people buried there have shown they were all from a civilization that was hundreds of miles away. So, I don’t think the puzzle has been solved. Our booming US economy led to record summer travel. Las Vegas is booming again, but also preparing for next slump, taking some chips off the table.

Health News:

I’m not sure now if I am on the Keto Diet or the Paleo Diet, which was kind of a modified Atkins Diet, whatever. Something about carbs are bad and try to get the body to burn fat or fatty acids for fuel, which is much more efficient, like a Tesla, without the production problems. Meat and certain veggies and fruit are good, as is chocolate and caffeine, but carbs and sugar are bad. You’ll tell me if it worked when you see me in October at RMA and November at Finadium. There is a growing risk of Lyme disease and a new debate over why there isn’t a vaccine for humans but there is for dogs and cats. Doctors say that it could take 3-10 years to develop a version for humans, which would also protect us from other tick-borne diseases. A new study suggests that millions of elderly Americans are hooked on Xanax. Venezuela has turned to breast milk donations, as baby formula prices soared. CDC officials are already urging to prepare for a very bad flu season. I will be getting my vaccine soon. A cryogenics firm is being sued for freezing a man’s head instead of his whole body.

Animal News:

A shark bit a man swimming in St. Lucie County. An elephant massacre is underway in Botswana, as poachers killed 90 animals, in just the past 2 months. It appears that poachers are targeting male elephants older than 35, killing them near watering spots and hacking off their tusks, said Elephants Without Borders spokesman. Six white rhinos have also been killed and mutilated. Botswana has long been a refuge for some 130,000 of the gentle giants, more than one-third of Africa’s remaining elephants. Conservationists think it is no coincidence that the massacre has occurred right after the government chose to change its law allowing its anti-poaching force to shoot any poachers on sight, and disarming them without any explanation. That government team had killed 52 poachers over the past 20 years. There is also a recent poaching problem in Asia for Asian elephants who are poached for their skin. Britain is imposing one of the world’s toughest ivory bans. Hong Kong recently voted to ban all ivory sales. Did you know that Utah wildlife officials airdrop thousands of fish into lakes? Florida has been plagued with non-native Burmese pythons that don’t appear to have a natural predator (except occasionally alligators, although it goes both ways), reproduce frequently, and grow to be gigantic. Now, there is a new concern, as officials have discovered hybrid pythons, which could threaten the Florida Everglades even more. The hybrids harbor more robust genes that allow them to adapt various types of environments. A Facebook illegal animal trade has been exposed in Thailand. New research has revealed that low doses of a commonly used pesticide potentially harm the Northern Leopard frog by inhibiting their brain development. The Australian fur seal pup population is shrinking, despite species-wide protection implemented in 1975. Evidence of exposure to phthalates, chemical compounds used in hundreds of consumer products, has been found in resident bottlenose dolphins in Sarasota Bay, Florida, which are endocrine disruptors. A new study suggests that rattlesnakes and other venomous reptiles may bite more people during rainy years than in seasons of drought.

Entertainment News:

Actor Burt Reynolds, a local resident here in Jupiter, FL, died of a heart attack on Saturday at age 84. Reynolds first rose to prominence in TV on Gunsmoke, Hawk, and Dan August shows. His breakout movie role was in DELIVERANCE and he then had several subsequent box office hits, including THE LONGEST YARD, SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT, SEMI-TOUGH, HOOPER, THE CANNONBALL RUN, THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS and BOOGIE NIGHTS. Although during his career, he claimed to have been born in Waycross, GA, he was actually born in Lansing, MI.
Sylvester Stallone says the new RAMBO movie production is “starting soon”. FAST AND FURIOUS spinoff’s first day of production began today. It will be called HOBBS AND SHAW. Amidst sexual allegations by 6 more women (total now 12 according to reporter with New Yorker magazine, while negotiating his exit package with CBS, Chairman Leslie Moonves finally leaves CBS. His exit package was estimated to be as high as $100 million. His wife of 13 years, Julie Chen, has stood behind him and has decided to take a few days of her CBS show The Talk. Somehow, if you like I missed it, Miss New York was crowned Miss America. I no longer really understand the need for pageants anymore. 200 actors and scientists have banded together to demand climate change action. The Creative Arts Emmy Awards were held last night and John Legend became the first black man to reach the rare and elite status of EGOT (having now won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony), as he won the Emmy for Jesus Christ Superstar. He has 10 Grammy Awards, received his Oscar in 2015 for his song “Glory” in SELMA, and received his Tony in 2017 for his role as co-producer of “Jitney”. Also, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice also achieved EGOT status, winning Emmy’s for the same show with Legend. The late Anthony Bourdain won 6 posthumous Emmys for Parts Unknown. The actual Primetime Emmy Awards will be announced next week, at the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards, hosted by Michael Che and Colin Jost of Saturday Night Live, when Legend is also nominated for an outstanding actor in a limited series or movie. Olivia Newton-John has been diagnosed with cancer for the third time. James Van Der Beek has opened up about his wife’s 3 miscarriages. Brandon Jenner and Leah Felder have split after 6 years of marriage. Last Man Standing star Tim Allen has thanked fans for support. Rapper Mac Miller died of a possible overdose last week at the age of 26. An autopsy was performed but more tests are needed. He was the ex-boyfriend of singer Ariana Grande. Although fans are upset with Carrie Underwood’s latest song for NBC’s Sunday Night Football in America, she is set to receive her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Ryan Lochte and Kayla Rae apparently got married again. Hollywood/Broadway legend, Carole Cook, went after President Trump, saying she wants to see President Trump get assassinated, and asking, “Where’s John Wilkes Booth when you need him?” That’s in very poor taste and comedienne, Kathy Griffin, did much less to ruin her career. New York Fashion Week has begun and started with a tribute by Kate Spade’s company for the late style icon and a birthday for designer Karl Lagerfeld. Former Disney star Orlando Brown has been jailed in Las Vegas, pending domestic battery trial. Gwen Stefani says Blake Shelton’s ex is creepy. Ewan McGregor’s daughter Clara regrets calling her dad’s girlfriend “trash”. Drake and Meek Mill have ended their long-standing feud at Boston concert. Nikki Minaj and Noah Cyrus is furious at boyfriend Lil Xan’s accusation that she’s cheating with Charlie Puth. IMAX has signed a new deal in China.

This week’s box-office was not as weak as expected, maybe because of the weather. THE NUN, a scary movie, debuted at No.1 and made an astonishing $53.8 million (it only cost $22 million to make); PEPPERMENT, the new action movie with Jennifer Garner continued the strong trend that started with SUPERWOMAN for female action movies, debuting with $13.4 million (it only cost $25 million to make); CRAZY RICH ASIANS, which had debuted at No.1 two weeks ago and then somehow stayed at No.1 again last week, this time fell to No.3, with $13.1 million, (total so far $135.8 million) in its 4th week; the megladon Shark movie THE MEG, which still made $6.1 million in its 5th week ($131.7 million total for a movie that cost $130 million, so just crossed the boundary); and No.5 was SEARCHING with $4.6 million in its 3rd week. GOD BLESS THE BROKEN ROAD was the only other debut to break the Top 25, at No.11.

Movies coming out this week: THE PREDATOR (a remake of the original PREDATOR that had Arnold Schwarzenegger), A SIMPLE FAVOR, UNBROKEN:PATH TO REDEMPTION, WHITE BOY RICK, AMERICAN CHAOS, ANTONIO LOPEZ 1970:SEX FASHION, ARMED, BEL CANTO, THE CHILDREN ACT, THE DAWN WALL, DON’T LEAVE HOME, HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, HE’S OUT THERE, LETTER FROM MASANJIA, LIZZIE, MDMA, PATIENT ZERO, SCIENCE FAIR, THE RIOT ACT, and A WIZARD’S TALE. Now, that school has started pretty much everywhere in the US, more movies are coming out and we are starting to see some of the horror movies for our upcoming Halloween holiday (we still have the very important Veteran’s Day holiday before then though).

Technology & Space News:

Saudi Aramco is looking into creating a $1 billion venture capital fund to invest in companies with technology that complements its petroleum-based business. The company reportedly might open an office in the US to help if find deals, according to the WSJ. WSJ reports that Alibaba’s Zhang has been nicknamed “Free and Unfettered”. Optium Cyber Systems entered into agreement to acquire security firm. Stryker will acquire Invuity. USA Technologies stock fell 11% on news it won’t meet filing deadline. Mysterious radio bursts from outer space have been detected. US military is now getting new tooth radios for secret communications. Apple has a huge announcement tomorrow (9/12), when it will likely announce new products (and my Verizon salesrep says it will reduce prices on existing products, which is great for me since my iPhone 6 is having its third malfunctioning lithium battery). Bezos is banning books around him. Amazon is talking about putting some workers in a cage? A DC airport has surprised passengers with facial-recognition boarding.

Political News:

President Trump is fighting back against Bob Woodward’s new book, “Fear: Trump in the White House”, which allegedly reports on disturbing feelings of White House staffers towards the President.

US News:

A gas explosion outside of Pittsburgh, PA forced evacuations today. Two more suspects have been arrested in the fatal shooting of North Carolina mayor and his wife. Rep Ron DeSantis has resigned from Congress to focus on his race for Florida Governor. In Dallas, a policewoman entered an apartment that she claims she thought was her own and shot and killed the unarmed resident. She is now facing manslaughter charges, which could be upgraded to murder charges, as the police investigation continues. Illegal crossings of the US border have surged, as 100 Bangladeshi Nationals were just apprehended near Texas.

International News:

Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right candidate in the upcoming Brazilian presidential election, is stabbed during a campaign rally. The Supreme Court of India struck down portions of the colonial-era Section 377, thereby making all private consensual sexual acts between adults legal. Arif Alvi was elected as President of Pakistan. On Sunday, North Korea celebrated its 70th birthday with a huge military march, similar to the annual march in Red Square in Russia. But, for the first time, this parade had the goose-stepping troops, artillery, and tanks, but no missile launchers or ICBMs. Clearly, the North Korean president was trying to show a different message to the world than previously. President Trump actually tweeted “thank you” to Kim Jong Un after the parade. Germany’s new far-right campaign poster is being assailed as unsubtly racist. Austerity and 2008’s Financial Crisis are being blamed for Sweden’s far right gains in their election and not the refugee crisis. The Samoan PM has said that leaders who deny climate change are “utterly stupid.” A Catholic School for Youth with hearing problems was raided by Argentine authorities in sex abuse inquiry. Britain has charged 2 Russians over nerve agent Novichok poisoning in Salisbury. A UN report says that the rate of migrants dying in the Mediterranean Sea spiked in 2018. Jalaluddin Haqqani, founder of militant Afghan Haqqani Network, has been found dead. Norwegian police have launched an investigation into disappearance of WikiLeaks associate. Reuters journalists in Myanmar were sentenced to 7 years in prison for breaching State Secrets Act. Worldwide gun deaths have just crossed the 250,000 level for the year. UN experts say that some Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen may actually be war crimes. The UN has accused the Myanmar army of genocide in Rohingya deaths. Treasurer Scott Morrison will become Australia’s next PM. South Africa is “close to a war zone” with 57 murders per day..

Florida:

The Governor has declared a State of Emergency for parts of Florida. The West Coast, particularly Southwest (which is very unusual) is suffering the worst bloom of Red Tide in Florida’s history, and scientists are actually pointing to African desert sand as a possible culprit, not human pollution. On the East Coast, the state is suffering from deadly blue-green algae, which is directly linked to the runoffs (both East and West) from Lake Okeechobee and use of phosphorous in fertilizer for the sugar plantations just south of Lake Okeechobee that now block the runoff from seeping into the filtering swamps of the Everglades. Both problems are deeply impacting the wildlife, fishing industry, and tourism industry of Florida.

My 5-part harmony singing group, Generation Gap, was just voted by InTune Magazine as the Best Harmony Group in the state of Florida, quite an honor! We are beginning to ramp our gigs again as season approaches. I am back in the sweltering heat in my genuine polyester jumpsuits occasionally.

If you are interested in seeing longer, more famous, concerts, there are many coming to Florida, perhaps when you will be visiting:

Scorpions and Queensryche-Hollywood, September 12
Dierks Bentley-West Palm Beach, September 14
Sammy Hagar-Hollywood, September 15
Christine Aguilera-Hollywood, September 25
Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker & Russell Dickerson-West Palm Beach, September 29
Phil Collins-Sunrise, October 5
Kid Rock and Brantley Gilbert-West Palm Beach, October 13
Nikki Minaj with Future-Miami, October 19
Alice in Chains-Hollywood, October 28
Toto-Pompano Beach-October 28
Marilyn Manson w H090909-Hollywood, October 30
Simple Minds-Miami, November 8
Willie Nelson-Estero, November 12
Elton John-Sunrise, November 23 (I’m there)
Elton John-Miami, November 24
Brian Wilson-Hollywood, December 12
Kansas-Fort Lauderdale, December 15
Cher and Chic-Sunrise, January 19
Fleetwood Mac-Sunrise, February 20
Pink-Sunrise-March 1 (I might have to go)
Paul Anka-Fort Lauderdale-March 4
Elton John-Sunrise, March 16

Repo Commentary-8/29/18

IMG_0419IMG_0420IMG_0422IMG_0423IMG_0424

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Three generations of heroes.
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I just thought it was humorous, not leaning either way.
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so true in Florida!
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new turbo Harley
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You’re doing it wrong!
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Hysterical!
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I’ve been keeping busy, not only writing the Repo Commentary, reaching out to clients, and exploring job opportunities, but now also consulting on two books and two articles.

My Repo Commentary is posted on my new website: http://www.repocommentary.com. You can also view it through LinkedIn and through Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website.

If you need to get hold of me, my cell is 646-753-1300, my email for work is jeffkidwell82@gmail.com, and you can also hit me up on Bloomberg and LinkedIn.

Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information. I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested (70-80%) in entertaining you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures. Also, please send me feedback, as I want to make it better all the time.’

Tuesday’s Holidays or Events:

• Today is Election Day for many states in the US for mid-term elections.
• Crackers Over the Keyboard Day
• Dream Day Quest and Jubilee
• International Read Comics in Public Day
• National Bow Tie Day
• National Power Rangers Day
• National Cherry Turnovers Day
• Radio Commercial Day
• Red Wine Day
• Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day
• Race Your Mouse Around the Icons Day
• Touch-A-Heart Tuesday
• Pony Express Day
• National Grandparents Day in Mexico

Some Famous People Born 8/28 in History:

• 932-Richard I, Duke of Normandy
• 1023-Go-Reizel, Emperor of Japan
• 1749-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German novelist, poet, playwright, diplomat
• 1774-Elizabeth Ann Seton, American nun and Saint, co-founded the Sisters of Charity Federation in the Vincentian-Setonian Tradition
• 1899-Charles Boyer, French-American actor, singer, producer
• 1913-Jack Dreyfus, American founded the Dreyfus Corporation
• 1925-Donald O’Connor, American actor, singer, dancer
• 1930-Ben Gazzara, American actor
• 1932-Andy Bathgate, NHL
• 1942-Sterling Morrison, American singer, guitarist
• 1943-Lou Piniella, MLB
• 1943-David Soul, American actor, singer
• 1950-Ron Guidry, MLB
• 1957-Daniel Stern, American actor, director
• 1958-Scott Hamilton, American figure skater
• 1964-Lee Janzen, American golfer
• 1965-Shania Twain, Canadian singer, songwriter
• 1969-Jack Black, American actor, comedian, singer
• 1969-Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and Founder of Leanin.org
• 1969-Jason Priestley, Canadian actor, director, producer
• 1969-Pierre Turgeon, NHL
• 1971-Todd Eldredge, American figure skater
• 1971-Janet Evans, American swimmer
• 1982-LeAnn Rimes, American singer, songwriter, actress
• 1986-Armie Hammer, American actor
• 1989-Cassadee Pope, American singer, songwriter

This Day in History (8/28):

• 475-the Roman general Orestes forces Western Roman Emperor Julius Nepos to flee his capital city of Ravenna.
• 489-Theodoric, King of the Ostrogoths, defeats Odoacer at the Battle of Isonzo, forcing his way into Italy.
• 632-Fatimah, daughter of the Islamic prophet Muhammad dies, with her cause of death being a controversial topic among the Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims.
• 1189-Third Crusade: the Crusaders begin the Siege of Acre under Guy of Lusignan.
• 1521-the Ottoman Turks occupy Belgrade.
• 1524-the Kaqchikel Maya rebel against their former Spanish allies during the Spanish conquest of Guatemala.
• 1542-the Turkish-Portuguese War: Battle of Wofla: the Portuguese are scattered, their leader Christovao da Gama is captured and later executed.
• 1565-Pedro Menendez de Aviles sights land near St. Augustine, Florida and founds the oldest continuously occupied European-established city in the continental US.
• 1609-Henry Hudson discovers Delaware Bay.
• 1619-the election of Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor.
• 1789-William Herschel discovers a new moon of Saturn, Enceladus.
• 1810-Battle of Grand Port: the French accept the surrender of a British Navy fleet.
• 1830-the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad’s new Tom Thumb steam locomotive races a horse-drawn car, presaging steam’s role in US railroads.
• 1833-King William IV gives Royal Assent to the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, although slavery remained legal in the possessions of the East India Company until the passage of the Indian Slavery Act of 1843.
• 1845-the first issue of Scientific American magazine is published.
• 1849-after a month-long siege, Venice, which had declared itself independent as the Republic of San Marco, surrenders to Austria.
• 1861-American Civil War: Union forces attack Cape Hatteras, NC in the Battle of Hatteras Inlet Batteries, which lasts for two days.
• 1862-American Civil War: Second Battle of Bull Run (Manassas), which ended 8/30.
• 1867-the US takes possession of the (at this point unoccupied) Midway Atoll.
• 1879-Cetshwayo, last King of the Zulus, is captured by the British.
• 1898-Caleb Bradham’s beverage “Brad’s Drink” is renamed “Pepsi-Cola”.
• 1913-Queen Wilhelmina opens the Peace Palace in The Hague.
• 1914-WWI: the Royal Navy defeats the German fleet in the Battle of Heligoland Bight.
• 1914-WWI: German troops take the city of Namur in Belgium.
• 1916-WWI: Germany declares war on Romania.
• 1916-WWI: Italy declares war on Germany.
• 1916-ten Suffragettes are arrested while picketing the White House.
• 1924-the Georgian opposition stages the August Uprising against the Soviet Union.
• 1937-Toyota Motors becomes and independent company.
• 1944-WWII: Marseille and Toulon are liberated.
• 1955-black teenager, Emmett Till, is brutally murdered in Mississippi, galvanizing the nascent civil rights movement.
• 1957-US Sen. Strom Thurmond begins a filibuster to prevent the Senate from voting on Civil Rights Act of 1957; he stopped speaking 24 hours and 18 minutes later, the longest filibuster ever conducted by a single Senator.
• 1963-March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom: the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. gives his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
• 1964-the Philadelphia race riot begins.
• 1968-rioting takes place in Chicago during the Democratic National Convention, triggering a brutal police crackdown.
• 1988-Ramstein air show disaster: 3 aircraft of the Frecce Tricolori demonstration team collide and the wreckage falls into the crowd. 75 people are killed and 346 seriously injured.
• 1990-Iraq declares Kuwait to be its newest province.
• 1990-an F5 tornado strikes the Illinois cities of Plainfield and Joliet, killing 29 people.
• 1993-the Galileo spacecraft discovers a moon, later named Dactyl, around 243Ida, the first known asteroid moon.
• 2003-in “one of the most complicated and bizarre crimes in the annals of the FBI”, Brian Wells dies after becoming involved in a complex plot involving a bank robbery, a scavenger hunt, and a homemade explosive device.

Fun Fact of the Day:

Seven of the first eight Olympic Gold Medals in the Hammer Throw were won by Irishmen born within a 30-mile radius of each other.

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.”—Oscar Wilde

International and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices on 8/23 were at $67.88. On 8/28, it closed at $68.63/barrel, about $1 higher. However, that has not translated to higher gasoline at my West Palm Beach gas station, which actually dropped this week from $2.67 to $2.64/gallon. The USD versus the Yen is trading at $111.22, unchanged from where it was on 8/23. The USD was at 1.1658 versus the Euro, weaker since 8/23. The USD is also down since 8/23 against the GBP, at $1.2889. The USD is sharply lower versus the CAD to $1.2941 since 8/23. Gold closed yesterday at $1212.36/ounce, up from where it was 8/23. Bitcoin was trading at $8185.21 on 7/25. On 8/9, it collapsed to $6,300.01. Last week, it closed a little stronger at $6,534.50. But, today, is broke above $7000 and its 50-day moving average. Ireland’s FM says a no-deal Brexit is “very, very unlikely” but he said that Ireland will not back down on the key issue about the Irish border. We are in the midst of a British holiday. The GBP has been strengthening, despite a Bloomberg report that officials from both sides of the Brexit debate do not believe a deal is likely by the 10/18 EU Summit, and are instead looking at negotiating something maybe by mid-November.. There are also increasing concerns of a no-deal Brexit.. Overnight, investors continued to cheer the new US-Mexico trade deal, pushing world stock indexes higher and showing higher openings for US stocks, already having set new record highs yesterday. There is still a question on whether Congress will approve the new deal, with a deadline of 9/1. The new Mexican government takes over on 12/1. Today, Canada returns to the negotiation table with the US to see if they can hammer out a deal for themselves. President Trump has given Canada 4 days or face punishing 25% auto tariffs. The Mexican peso was down today after a 2-day rally. Canada’s dollar is up in anticipation of a potential trade deal. Turkey’s lira continues to fall. The Bank of Korea meets on Friday to set monetary policy, but with weak jobs growth, speculation has retreated from an interest rate increase. In Germany, GfK consumer confidence surprisingly slipped in September. It’s still only slightly below February’s record high. France’s preliminary estimate of Q2 real GDP was unrevised while monthly consumer spending increased in July, but was a weaker-than-expected result.

“Canada scrambles as U.S., Mexico ink NAFTA pact.” Globe and Mail

“U.S., Canada Launch Talks Amid Pressure to Rewrite Nafta…U.S. and Canadian negotiators began a last-minute sprint to complete a North American Free Trade Agreement rewrite, as pressure built on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to cut a deal and President Trump faced skepticism from Congress.” WSJ

“Trump Hails U.S.-Mexico Trade Pact, Says ‘We’ll See’ With Canada.” Wall Street Journa

Global Financial News:

Business Insider reported last week that leveraged loans to nonfinancial companies has risen to about $1.4 trillion, which is “eerily” similar to where they were in 2008. As thousands of college students head back to school, carrying bookbags, knapsacks, and billions of dollars of student loan debt, one wonders if this albatross around their necks is hindering their future success? I don’t know if this is related or not, but college dropouts in the US now surpass those heading back to school. A new study suggests that, despite a strong US economy, many Americans are struggling to get by.

US Market News:

The Dow Jones closed up a mere 14.38 points on Tuesday, leaving it at 26,064.02. S&P500 was up at 2597.52, unable to hold on to another record high. Nasdaq was up 12.14 points to 8030.04. The S&P 500 continued the longest US bull market in history. The WSJ reported that experts say Treasury market yields should trend up and that hedge funds and other investors are betting on those higher yields. Some economists and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon says the yield on the 10-year note could reach 5%. It’s interesting, because global risks seem to be increasing, so there could be a flight to quality, and with stocks near all-time highs, will higher yields attract money away from stocks. That’s what I said at the end of last week, and wouldn’t you know it, on Monday, the S&P 500, the Dow Jones, and the Nasdaq all hit record highs. S&P 500 closed above 2,900 for the first time. Nasdaq Composite closed above 8,000 for the first time. The DJIA closed above 26,000 for the first time since February. Investors were thrilled about the new US-Mexico trade deal, which resolved several key issues between the two countries and the 5-year ‘sunset clause’ was extended to 16-years. Meanwhile, US Treasury market slumped, with the 10year yield moving toward 2.90% this morning. The trade deal helped investors ignore other macroeconomic events, such as President Trump’s ongoing legal issues, saber-rattling in Syria, decreasing gains in denuclearizing North Korea, Turkey’s faltering economic system, and fresh Russian sanctions. US Treasuries closed yesterday lower, with yields on 2years at 2.671%, 3years at 2.728%, 5years at 2.769%, 7years at 2.837%, 10years at 2.879%, and 30years at 3.029 (breaking through the 3% barrier). Many market participants, particularly repo market participants, have been lamenting the huge supply by the US Treasury in the front end of the market.

“Yield Curve Suggests Rising, But Still Low, Risk Of Recession, San Francisco Fed Says.” Wall Street Journal

Housing News:

CNBC reported last week that the housing recover isn’t over, it just feels like it. US new home sales sunk to a 9-month low, as housing market appears to wobble. US existing home sales declined for 4th straight month in July too. Homebuilder sentiment fell to the lowest point in almost a year. Weekly mortgage applications have also dropped last week. A new report from real estate firm NeighborhoodX reveals NYC is the most expensive place to buy real estate in the country on a per square-foot basis, with some rates over $10,000/square foot! NYC luxury apartment sales have dropped, as evidenced by Million Dollar Listings-New York. CNBC looked into tax laws and less international buyers as the obstacles. HUD has filed a discrimination complaint against Facebook. New Zealand has banned foreigners from buying houses, in parliament’s hopes to bring down ever-rising housing prices. Baltimore received a $30 million grant to help housing redevelopment. The city’s overall plan is for $889 million to revitalize 3 neighborhoods. CNBC says that “unaffordable” Hong Kong home prices could fall by double digits. Today, we see the Case-Shiller home prices report, which should show the slowing of price increases to a 6.4% annual pace in the US. Sure enough, home prices in 20 US cities posted the smallest gains since 2016. Las Vegas has now dethroned Seattle as the nation’s hottest housing market, after Seattle held the top spot for nearly 2 years. The Case-Shiller report showed that Seattle, which had topped the home price report for 21 months in a row (second-longest streak in the report’s 31-year history), had drastically cooled off (although it is still No.2). Las Vegas, which was the poster-child for the housing bubble and foreclosures, losing more than 60% of its peak value and foreclosing at a rate six times the national average, has seen low inventory and skyrocketing housing prices double their low-point in 2012. Also, population and employment growth have driven prices, as Las Vegas is among the fastest growing US cities. The typical single-family house in Las Vegas now sells for $290,000, just above the US national average, but much cheaper than the median home in Seattle at $805,000. Before you run to Las Vegas to buy a house though, take note that in June, Fitch Ratings said Las Vegas was the most over-valued home market in the country, with home prices 20-24% higher than market fundamentals would dictate. The same report said that Seattle was 10-14% overvalued.

“Britons Are Dipping Into Pensions to Help Children Buy Houses… Britain’s baby boomers are sacrificing their retirements to hoist their poorer offspring onto the property ladder. Nearly one in five over 55-year-olds are accepting lower living standards to help family members to buy a home, according to a Legal & General report on Tuesday” Bloomberg

Repo News:  

It has been interesting watching repo funding rates, Fed Funds, and the SOFR. It’s interesting that SOFR is trading closer to O/N Fed Funds rate than to O/N GC Repo, which is because it is more heavily weighted in its calculation on the huge Triparty Repo component of the market, which is pure/lowest offer-side rate of Repo. It does not include the peer-to-peer, all-to-all electronic an OTC component. Until it does, it will always shade to the offer-side, lower rate, like Fed Funds. GC Treasury collateral had been trading O/N at the dealers at a 1.956% average and Agy MBS collateral had been trading O/N at the dealers about 5bp higher. However, SOFR is at 1.86% and Fed Funds were at 1.91%. Let’s back up a minute, it is worth noting that a) we are talking about dealer offer-side rates (not mid-market repo rates as I used to) and b) the MBS vs Treasury spread had averaged 1.7bp on the offer-side from Dealers since the beginning of 2016, and that has blown out in August to nearly 5bp. Month-end funding pressure showed up this week, particularly yesterday, with Treasury GC trading O/N at 2.05-2.10% for month-end, which also happens to be over a long (4 day) Labor Day holiday weekend. Coupled with the long holiday weekend, is a huge settlement of 2year notes, 5year notes, and 7year notes. This is part of the net new US Treasury issuance in August of $200 billion. September is expected to have much less US Treasury issuance.

I see the Repo and Securities Lending market as having changed in many permanent ways. We traditionally had a credit intermediator, the broker/dealers (originally just the primary broker/dealers) and later prime brokers, who were the pipeline through their respective repo matched books for collateral providers to trade with cash providers, without the two sides ever knowing about each other or facing each other. That lack of knowledge of the other side of the repo matched book came at a couple of costs, first, the bid/offer spread that went to the dealers and second, the defaults of the Financial Crisis and the impact on some of the dealers that then cost their clients. Clearly, with that pipeline becoming severely crimped by post-Financial Crisis regulatory reforms, consolidation and bankruptcies, and the resulting drop of about 60% in balance sheets being used for broker/dealer respective repo matched books, new pathways/pipelines needed to be found for cash provider and collateral provider clients. AVM’s Direct Repo™ was the first of one of such pathways. Since then, other pathways to these markets have been created, including: the Federal Reserve’s RRP program with cash providers, peer-to-peer financing as reported on Treasury OFR’s website between MMFs and Insurance Companies, As Agent repo through seclending agents and now some prime brokers, direct lending from beneficial owner to hedge funds who are short, indemnified As Agent repo, buyside to buyside Triparty Repo through two international clearing organizations, electronic all-to-all repo on a few electronic trading platforms like Elixium and BNY DBVX, FICC’s sponsored repo and cleared repo products to entice certain sectors of the buyside into that CCP, and other Repo and/or Seclending CCPs (several still being worked on, particularly in Europe). I believe this evolution will continue and eventually we will see all of these pathways used, including the traditional pathway (to probably a lesser than historical degree) through the broker/dealers and prime brokers.

Upcoming Repo Industry Conferences: 
 

• IMN will hold its 23rd annual European Beneficial Owners’ International Securities Finance & Collateral Management Conference in London, 9/12-9/13. I’ve attended this before.
• IMN will hold its 24th annual ABS East Conference in Miami Beach, on 9/23-25. I’ve attended this before.
• National Association of State Treasurers (NAST) will hold its Annual Conference in Scottsdale, AZ on 9/30-10/3. I’ve been invited to this before.
• SIFMA-will hold its Annual Meeting in Washington, DC on 10/1-10/2.
• Risk Management Association (RMA) will hold the 35th annual RMA Conference on Securities Lending in Key Biscayne, FL on 10/8-10/11. I will be there, I don’t want to break my streak of attending every one of them!
• Finadium will hold its 2nd annual Rates & Repo conference in NYC 11/5. I’m thinking of going to this one too. I have moderated/sponsored this one before.
• Association of Financial Professionals (AFP) is holding its annual Treasury & Finance conference in Chicago on 11/4-11/7.
• RISK USA will hold 24th annual conference in NYC 11/7-11/9. I have chaired/moderated this one before.

Federal Reserve News:

Fed Funds, which trade mostly between some banks and GSEs, opened today at 1.91%.

The next FOMC meetings are: 9/20/18, 11/1/18, 12/13/18, 1/30/19, 3/20/19, 5/1/19, 6/19/19, 7/31/19, 9/18/19, 10/30/19, 12/11/19, 1/29/20 (reflecting the Fed’s just announced tentative schedule for 2019).

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (16 banks, 14 GSEs, 101 money market funds from various fund families), is now set at the rate of 1.75%. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight. Remember when RRP was trading at year-end for $465 billion? Well, on 5/15, there was only $20 million in bids submitted. MMF cash and GSE cash has moved out of the Fed’s RRP and into the Repo market, but it hasn’t really brought down the GC repo rate, which is strange.

If you are wondering about RRP, it is nearly extinct. In July, excluding month-end, volume averaged only $2.8 billion per day. It has just become a mechanism for the Fed to supply collateral when its scarce for money market funds on month-ends and quarter-ends, as dealer balance sheets dry up at those times.

According to FOMC members, the Fed is expected to raise interest rates 3ctimes in 2018 and 3 times in 2019. So far, we had a tightening of 25bp in March 2018 and a 25bp tightening in June 2018. We now have a full 25bp tightening priced into September 2018 FOMC meeting. Despite the Fed’s guidance on rate hikes, the market is diverging about those 3 tightenings in 2019, pricing only 2 of them in so far.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

A massive 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit six miles deep and 188 miles off the coast of Oregon, increasing fears that “the Big One” will soon hit the US. This latest quake followed an intense week of seismic activity in the Ring of Fire, where some 70 earthquakes hit in just 48 hours. A cluster of 16 movements above 4.5 magnitude hit Monday and 53 hit the same region last Sunday. Researchers are examining the rings of drowned trees in landslide-dammed lakes for clues to further hazards in the Cascadia’s quakes. The quakes have been felt in Indonesia, Bolivia, Japan, and Fiji, all part of the horseshoe-shaped Ring of Fire fault line between the Pacific Plate and the Juan de Fuca Plate. “The Big One” is the name of a large earthquake that hits along the 700-mile-long divide between the two plates about every 400 years. This area is also known as the Cascadia subduction zone, where one plate moves underneath the other. “The Big One” was estimated to be above magnitude 8 and were around 600 BC, 170 BC, 400 AD, 810 AD, 1310 AD, and 1700 AD. I’ve spoken in the Commentary about the Ring of Fire several times, so let me show you a map of it (which I think you can only see on the http://www.repocommentary.com website):

The Northwest quakes are not the only ones getting seismologists’ attention right now. In July, a 100-foot fissure opened up in Grand Teton National Park, not far from the potentially catastrophic Yellowstone volcano. That followed some 155 small earthquakes in Yellowstone National Park. Both parks have been closed periodically this season. Let’s keep an eye on this. A massive earthquake in Iran killed at least 2 people and injured hundred. It was in the same area that another earthquake killed more than 600 people in November. 26km SW of Javanrud, Iran, a 6.0 magnitude quake hit on 8/25. 138km WNW of Iberia, Peru, a 7.1 magnitude quake hit on 8/24. 45km SSE of Tanaga Volcano, Alaska, a 6.3 magnitude quake hit on 8/23. 10km West of Yaguaraparo, Venezuela, a 5.8 magnitude quake hit on 8/22. 265km WNW of Bandon, Oregon, a 6.2 magnitude quake hit on 8/22. 79km East of Lakatoro, Vanuatu (the most active quake area in the world), a 6.5 magnitude quake hit on 8/21. 30km NE of Rio Caribe, Venezuela, a 7.3 magnitude quake hit on 8/21.

Weather:

The Atlantic Hurricane Season began Friday, June 1st. For 2018, Colorado State University experts have predicted that this season will be a busy, above average hurricane season. They have predicted 14 named Tropical Storms, of which 7 will become Hurricanes. Both are above the averages of 12 and 6, respectively. But, remember, last year they were way off. Unfortunately, they were way off the wrong way, with way more storms. They had predicted 11 Tropical Storms, of which 4 would be Hurricanes. Instead, we had 17 Tropical Storms and had 10 Hurricanes. Here are the 2018 Storm names:

Alberto done
Beryl done
Chris done
Debby done
Ernesto
Florence
Gordon
Helene
Isaac
Joyce
Kirk
Leslie
Michael
Nadine
Oscar
Patty
Rafael
Sara
Tony
Valerie
William
The NHC reports

Historically, the most active month for hurricanes in the Atlantic begins this weekend. Multiple tropical waves are forecast to emerge off the coast of western Africa, some of which could develop into tropical cyclones.

The Pacific Hurricane Season began on May 1st. Hurricanes are quite rare in Hawaii. In fact, since 1955, only 19 hurricanes have come within 300 miles of Hawaii. Yet, Hurricane Lane, which was up to Category 5, luckily hit Hawaii as a Category 2 storm. It still whipped the islands with 19 inches of rain.

Let’s talk about weather, here in Florida, it is still ridiculously hot, with temps in the low to mid-90s for perhaps 40 days in a row and ‘feels-like’ temps in the 105-110 range. Also, the water temperature is 88 degrees and the sand is really hot. We are, once again, getting daily low, dangerous thunderstorms sporadically. The Northeast had cooled off last week and was experiencing some serious rain, in fact half a month’s worth in a short time. The temps had been cooler than average. But, that changed quickly and this week, temps were in the 90s and today are pushing 100 degrees in some areas. It has been having a dramatic effect on the US Open in Queens, NY, where 5 different players had to withdraw yesterday because of the heat. The Southwest has also gotten somewhat stormy, while the West Coast remains quite sunny and warm. Summer snow is now blanketing Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. So much for Fall. My friend in Maine always asks me, since I live in Florida, “don’t you miss the 4 seasons?” and I reply, “don’t you?” I at least get Summer and one or two days of Spring, while he gets Winter and two weeks of Summer.

The death toll from flooding in the Indian site of Karala has risen to 445. Nearly one million peace have been displaced.

Sports News:

MLB:

The MLB regular season is about 80% over, with around 30-35 games left to play.

In the AL East, the Red Sox have finally hit one of those streaks that have plagued all the other MLB teams, losing 5 out of their last 7 games, watching their lead over the Yankees slip from 12 games to 6 ½ games. The Yankees have won 15 of their last 20, after losing 4 in a row to Boston. Now, if you are a superstitious Red Sox fan, like me (and most), this chart comparing 1978’s dreadful collapse and ultimate loss to Bucky Dent and the Yankees in a one-game playoff versus the curve of 2018 record, could get your heart out of rhythm. (I think only the people that look on my website will be able to see this chart):

Of course, the Yankees would have to go 22-9 in their last 31 games and the Red Sox would have to go 15-15, just to tie. So, the Red Sox have won 90 games and have the best record in baseball, although they have lost 3 in a row. They have yet to lose 4 in a row this year, the only team in the Majors who hasn’t. Yankees will be getting Didi Gregorius, Gary Sanchez, and Aaron Judge soon, they hope, off of the DL. The Rays have now won 8 in a row. The Orioles have lost 8 in a row and now have an ugly 37-94 record. In the AL Central, the Indians remain perched atop the division, with the Twins 13 games behind, after the Twins lost 3 in a row. The Tigers also lost 3 in a row. In the AL West, the Astros have a 1 ½-game edge over the A’s and 6 ½ games over the Mariners. The Astros have won 5 games in a row. Whichever team doesn’t win this division will likely be battling with the Yankees from the other Wild Card spot. In the NL, it’s a 5-team race for the Wild Card. In the NL East, the Braves have opened up a 3-game lead over the Phillies and an 8 ½-game lead over the Nats, who have pretty much given up. In the NL Central, the Cubs have won 5 in a row to push their lead to 4-games over the Cardinals and 4 ½-games over the Brewers. Both of those teams have legitimates sights on a Wild Card spot. The Reds have lost 5 games in a row. In the NL West, the Diamondbacks have won 7 out of 10 to take first place, the Rockies have won 7 out of 10 to trail by 1-game, and the Dodgers have won 3 in a row to climb back to 2 ½ games behind. This has been a tight race all year and continues to be.

Matt Carpenter of the Cardinals tied a St. Louis record with 4 doubles in the same game, in a rout of the Rockies. The latest trade deadline is 8/31 and the Mets were particularly active. They had already traded pitcher Jeurys Familia to the A’s, who has been a key addition, and Asdrubal Cabrera to the Phillies. The Mets traded last year’s Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista to the Phillies, after the 37-year-old free agent had found no suitors until the Braves picked him up for a minor league contract. He was then released in May by the Braves and picked up by the Mets. The Phillies had claimed him on waivers, so they now owe the Mets cash or a player to be named later. Blue Jays Kendrys Morales is nearing an MLB record, with home runs in 7 straight games. The record is 8, held by Ken Griffey, Jr., Don Mattingly, and Dale Long. The lights went out again at Dodgers Stadium against the Padres. Giants’ catcher, Buster Posey, has opted for season-ending knee surgery. The fountain at Royals field flooded the outfield and the bullpen, causing a 30-minute delay. Ace Matt Harvey stays with Reds after Brewers waiver claim. Braves’ sensation Ronald Acuna Jr. resumed his HR run against the Marlins and got plunked again by the pitcher. Indians IF Jose Ramirez has a chance to pull off a rare honor, to lead the AL in HRs and stolen bases. Somehow, I’ve avoided this story, but it wouldn’t be fair for me to miss any news items for you. Astros’ superstar ace Justin Verlander revealed that he was charged a hefty price Friday for his team’s World Series win last year, $1 million. The MLB pitcher shared a photo on Twitter of his check from a restaurant at The Beverly Hills Hotel in California, in which a “miscellaneous” charge for being a “Dodger Killer” was listed along with various menu items. The Astros beat the Dodgers 4 games to 3, with a 5-1 win in Game 7.

If you are fans for one of those teams that has already thrown in the towel, you may be interested to know that MLB has already released its 2019 regular season schedule and will have the earliest Opening Day game EVER, on March 28, 2019!

Meanwhile, the 72nd Little League World Series had been going on between 16 teams, and Game 30 was the Championship Game in Williamsport on 8/26. Hawaii (who had beaten Southeast 3-0) beat Asia-Pacific (who had beaten Japan 2-1) 3-0 to win the championship. Japan was the defending champions from last year. In the consolation game, Japan beat Southeast 8-2.

Tennis:

All focus is now on the last major, the 138th US Open, being played at Forest Hill in Queens. Serena Williams was told that she cannot where her white catsuit anymore at the French Open, revealing a new dress code, which caused a minor controversy. Nike and Billie Jean King defended her. Her first match was Monday, and in a little tongue-in-cheek, she won wearing a tutu. Her sister, Venus, weathered the steamy heat, looking a bit drained, to beat her Russian opponent. Roger Federer’s first match is Tuesday. The matches actually began last week with the qualifiers and run through 9/9. A shocker already, as women’s No.1 seed Simona Halep was ousted in two sets in her first match, versus Kaia Kaneopi! On the men’s side, Andy Murray had a tough time in his first match with Australian Duckworth. Five players had to withdraw yesterday from their matches because of the extreme heat and a heat index (incorporating humidity) has been over 100-105 degrees.

Golf:

Tiger’s surprising play at the US Open Championship got him into the mix of the FedEx Cup Playoffs and may have secured him a spot to PLAY in the Ryder Cup, rather than just Vice-Chair it again. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself, first Tiger is played in the Northern Trust tournament this past weekend, his first FedEx Cup Playoff event since 2013. He did not play great, but made the cut, barely, after lipping out a 3-foot putt on the 18th hole on Friday. Playing bogie-free golf, while admirable (and probably unattainable for me) just doesn’t win tournaments. He finished at -4. Bryson DeChambeau ran away with the tournament, in Paramus, NJ. This week’s FedEx Cup tournament is the Dell Technologies Championship at TPC Boston, and Rickie Fowler has already had to withdraw because of that nagging oblique injury. On the Champions circuit, 6 straight birdies propelled Scott Parel to his first Champions title.

Soccer:

The ex-chief of Brazil soccer has been sentenced to 4 years in prison after a FIFA probe. Zaha could soon play for Real Madrid.

Fighting:

Boxing

IBF super-featherweight champion Tevin Farmer signed co-promotional deal with Matchroom Boxing for multiple fights. He will have an 10/20 title defense against Jemes Tennyson on DAZN. Also on the card will be WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders vs. Demetrius Andrade.

9/8
Danny Garcia vs Shawn Porter title fight.

9/15 huge buildup for mega rematch between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, after their split draw in Las Vegas.

9/22
Anthony Joshua (2012 Olympic gold medalist at super heavyweight and current IBF, WBA, and WBO heavyweight champ will face Alexander Povetkin in London

The first card of Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing USA will feature former welterweight champion Jessie Vargas (28-2-1) against junior welterweight title challenger Thomas Dulorme (24-3) on 10/6 at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago.

Racing:

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drive the Brickyard 400 pace car. Elliott Sadler will stop driving full-time after 2018 season. NASCAR has invited Fernando Alonso to race in Daytona 500.

2018 NASCAR Schedule and results:
2/18 Daytona 500-Daytona Intl Speedway-won by Austin Dillon
2/25 Folds of Honor QuikTrip-Atlanta Motor Speedway-Kevin Harvick
3/4 Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube-Las Vegas Motor Speedway-Kevin Harvick
3/11 TicketGuardian 500-ISM Raceway-Kevin Harvick
3/18 Auto Club 400-Auto Club Speedway-Martin Truex Jr.
3/26 STP 500-Martinsville Speedway-Clint Bowyer
4/8 O’Reilly Auto Parts 500-Texas Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
4/16 Food City 500-Bristol Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
4/21 Toyota Owners 400-Richmond Raceway-Kyle Busch
4/29 GEICO 500-Talladega Speedway-Joey Logano
5/6 AAA 400 Drive for Autism-Dover International Speedway-Kevin Harvick
5/12 KC Masterpiece 400-Kansas Speedway-Kevin Harvick
5/19 Monster Energy Open-Charlotte Motor Speedway-AJ Allmendinger
5/19 Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race-Charlotte-Kevin Harvick
5/27 Coca-Cola 600-Charlotte Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
6/3 Pocono 400-Pocono Raceway-Martin Truex Jr.
6/10 FireKeepers Casino 400-Michigan International Speedway-Clint Bowyer
6/24 Toyota/Save Mart 350-Sonoma Raceway-won by Martin Truex Jr.
7/1 Overton’s 400-Chicagoland Speedway-won by Kyle Busch.
7/7 Coke Zero Sugar 400–Daytona International Speedway-won by Erik Jones
7/14 Quaker State 400-Kentucky Speedway-won by Martin Truex Jr.
7/22 Foxwoods Resort Casino 301-New Hampshire Motor Speedway-won by Kevin Harvick over Kyle Busch.
7/29 Gander Outdoors 400-Pocono Raceway-won by Kyle Busch over Daniel Suarez.
8/5 GoBowling at the Glen-Watkins Glen International-won by Chase Eilliott over Martin Truex Jr.
8/12 Consumers Energy 400-Michigan International Speedway-won by Kevin Harvick in all 3 stages.
8/18 Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race-Bristol Motor Speedway-Kurt Busch’s first win of the season and first in 58 races.

Apparently, I thought I had grabbed the majority of the US populace with NASCAR news and occasional horse racing news, but I really need to expand my horizons, according to some of my European an Far East clients. So, this weekend was the Forumula 1 Johnnie Walker Belgian Grand Prix and the winner was Sebastian Vettel who drove a Ferrari. He beat a Mercedes driven by Lewis Hamilton (which sounds oddly familiar). My Mercedes when I had one couldn’t beat a Vespa, so I’m not surprised that Ferrari won. But seriously, I’m not sure what “starting grid”, “qualifying” and all these “practice” positions indicate. I’m obviously going to have to do some more research. If it matters, Sebastian Vettel, from Germany, was vaulted into the No.2 position overall in Driver Standings, ahead of another Ferrari driver with a lot of umlauts and behind said Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain. Beyond that, there was something about a ‘halo’, a ‘smash’, and a ‘grid penalty’. A ‘grid’ seems to be what they call the pole position and where the drivers qualified, but I’m not sure yet. I haven’t watched F-1 since the 1970s and that time I ran into that Michael Schumacher character at one of our Repo Conferences.

NCAA Basketball:

Five-star Kahlil Whitney has committed to Kentucky. Former Michigan State women’s gymnastics coach, Kathie Klages, faces a felony charge for allegedly failing to disclose sexual abuse allegations against Larry Nassar.

NCAA Football:

College football season kickoff was on 8/25, but most major teams haven’t played yet. Just a reminder, Alabama won the National Championship last season. Mississippi State QB Nick Fitzgerald has been suspended by the team for the season opener. Alabama coach Nick Saban has not chosen whether Hurts or Tagovailoa will start at QB. At Florida State, they finally named Deondra Francois as starting QB against Virginia Tech. Michigan WR Tarik Black will be out for “some weeks”. Clemson named Kelly Bryant as starting QB over Trevor Lawrence. Nebraska announced that freshman Adrian Martinez will be starting QB. USC freshman JT Daniels won the starting QB competition. 8 Rutgers football players have been arrested in connection to a credit card scam.

Here is Sporting News’ way-too-early Top 25 rankings:

1. Alabama
2. Clemson
3. Georgia
4. Ohio State
5. Oklahoma
6. Wisconsin
7. Washington
8. Auburn
9. Notre Dame
10. Penn State
11. Miami
12. Michigan
13. Michigan State
14. Stanford
15. USC
16. UCF
17. Virginia Tech
18. LSU
19. TCU
20. FSU
21. Oklahoma State
22. Texas
23. South Carolina
24. Mississippi State
25. Boise State

NFL:

The NFL preseason has concluded its 4 games for each team. The NFL regular season is 9/6. In 2018, the highest paid players will be 1. Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons-$30 million; 2. Kirk Cousins, QB, Vikings-$28 million; 3. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers-$27.5 million; Matt Stafford, QB, Lions-$27 million; 5. Derek Carr, QB, Raiders-$25 million; 6. Drew Brees, QB, Saints-$25 million; 7. Andrew Luck, QB, Colts-$24.594 million; Alex Smith, QB, Redskins-$23.5 million; Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens-$22.13 million; and 10. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers-$22 million. The top 10 paid players will be ALL QBs and none of them named Brady! Brady, doesn’t even show up on the list until No.16 for $20.5 million. A non-QB doesn’t show up on the list until No.19 Von Miller, OLB, Broncos-$19.083 million. Jaguars WR Marquis Lee will have knew surgery and go on injured reserve. The Patriots agreed to a 5-year deal with OL Mason. The Giants are reportedly close to paying WR Odell Beckham Jr. a big money 5-year extension. Bills’ QB Josh Allen struggled in preseason loss to Bengals. The Broncos signed longtime Bengals’ Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones. Bengals’ Andy Dalton got standing ovation from Bills fans and threw TD on first drive. The Vikings acquired center Brett Jones from the Giants. 31-year-old Patriots WR Eric Decker has announced his retirement from the NFL. The Patriots are woefully thin at WR now, after losing Amendola to Miami, cutting Britt, having Edelman get suspended for 4 games, and now Decker retiring. Eagles starting QB Carson Wentz has still not been cleared for contact, so Nick Foles, the Super Bowl MVP is still playing. Dolphins LB Kiko Alonso ended up staggering over to the wrong sideline and hanging out after a play. Bears coach Matt Nagy is defending his decision to bench all of his starters. I’m surprised more teams don’t do that. It’s so dangerous for them to play these 4 meaningless games. Josh Gordon has been activated by Browns but is dealing hamstring issues. The Bucs are meeting with former Ravens RB Terrance West. The Browns have reportedly offered Dez Bryant a deal. Vikings’ Antwione Williams has been reportedly fined $20,000 for controversial penalty. Dolphins’ Julius Thomas is retiring from NFL to pursue doctorate in psychology. Cardinals signed injured center A.Q. Shipley to one-year contract extension. Browns QB Tyrod Taylor suffered a dislocated pinky to his non-throwing hand. Raiders signed corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Coach Harbaugh wants to keep QB Robert Griffin III. The Steelers signed kicker Chris Boswell to a new 5-year contract. The 49ers sent LB Eli Harold to the Lions.

NHL:

The NHL preseason starts on 9/15. Erik Karlsson trade chatter has reheated. He has now said that he wants to play in the US and won’t re-sign with a Canadian team. NHL’s top free-agent prize signed with the Maple Leafs. Former Red Wings No.1 pick Joe Murphy is now homeless, according to recent documentary. Senators assistant GM Randy Lee resigned after July suspension. Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin and wife welcomed their first child. Bryan Berard the No.1 pick in 1995 has filed a concussion-related lawsuit. On the trade rumor front, the Bruins are expected to acquire a winger. They may be able to get Blue Jackets’ Artemi Panarin or Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds. Also, former Bruin center Tyler Sequin has failed to sign a contract extension with the Stars. As the Red Wings continue to rebuild, questions linger over where their veterans, like Jimmy Howard, Gustav Nyquist, and Trevor Daley will wind up. The NHL is reportedly considering reinstating Slava Voynov.

NBA:

The Summer League is underway. Preseason will be upon us soon. The NBA Board of Governors will vote on major changes for 2018-19 season. NBA free-agency is still a big topic in the news. Spurs’ Manu Ginobili announced his retirement. Lakers’ Lonzo Ball reportedly has torn meniscus. Meanwhile, his annoying father, LaVar Ball, and his two brothers, LiAngelo and LaMelo) have been ripped by their former Lithuanian coach, saying “they started destroying” the team. Their stint in professional Lithuanian basketball did not last long. Jimmy Butler of the Wolves says he is open to playing with LeBron James on the Lakers. Seattle Storm’s Breanna Stewart was named WNBA MVP. Warriors’ star Stephen Curry is now opening up about women’s equality and WNBA pay vs NBA pay in basketball. Kobe Bryant is shooting down rumors about coming out of retirement just to play with LeBron James on the Lakers. Former Warriors guard Nick Young was arrested in Hollywood. Former Kings’ Ty Lawson is working out with the Pelicans. Isaiah Thomas says the Nuggets “will be making” the playoffs next season. Diana Taurasi won her 13th consecutive single-elimination. Kawhi Leonard says he is open to re-signing with the Raptors.

Travel News:

Did you know that Amex Platinum cardholders get automatic elite status at Marriott, Starwood, and Hilton hotels around the world? China has suspended a popular ride share service by Didi Chuxing, following the murder of a passenger. Didi is the world’s largest ride-sharing firm by number of rides. JetBlue has instituted new baggage and flight change fees. Great. There is an Anthony Bourdain travel documentary coming out next year. Did you know, and this isn’t one of those movies, one in every 50 travelers finds the love of their life while on a flight? Now, totally unrelated, a couple spent 13 hours straight riding the Jurassic Park ride at Universal in Orlando, FL and then got engaged. Okay, a little weird. There is a “completely untouched” Scottish island for sale for a mere $154,000. The full moon we just had was not the ‘Blueberry Moon’ but ‘The Sturgeon Moon’, the 9th full moon of 2018. The World’s first beer hotel with in-room taps and shower mini-bars, is finally open. The DogHouse in Columbus, OH sports 32-rooms and a spa that uses beer-infused products. Ironically, it is owned by a Scottish beer company, BrewDog, not US. Well, we are approaching Labor Day, which is a US holiday to celebrate our workers, but is also kind of the unofficial ‘end of summer’ holiday, certainly the end of Hamptons and Newport, RI summer rentals. It is, unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on where you live and which side of the fence you are on, the beginning of the school year. Yelp! Compiled a list of the 10 “must-see” US destinations for the Labor Day Weekend getaway:

Half Moon Bay, CA
St. Augustine, FL
Miami Beach, FL (could be)
Savannah, GA
Capitola, CA (never even heard of this one)
Charleston, SC
Wisconsin Dells, WI (yes, I’ve heard of this one)
Corpus Christi, TX
Saratoga Springs, NY
Hilton Head Island, SC (bring alligator repellant)

Did you know that Zurich, Switzerland’s coolest area is also its red light district, Bahnofstrasse? A hotel fire in Harbin, China, killed 19 people and injured more than 20 others. In Orlando, FL, two workers were killed when they fell from a scaffolding, working on a new section of one of the Disney amusement parks’ attractions.

“Global Car Sales Hit Speed Bump as Demand Slows and Trade Tensions Loom…After nearly a decade of growth, new-vehicle sales in the world’s largest auto markets are entering their first sustained slowdown since the global financial crisis, putting pressure on profits as uncertainty around the U.S.’s trade policies looms.”WSJ,

Health News:

A new study suggests that aspirin and fish oil may not actually help with heart risk. Scientists think that marijuana may stay in breast milk for as much as 6 days. Diet drug Belviq is the first one shown not to hurt heart in any way. Ex-CDC Director Frieden has been arrested on sex charges. An EpiPen shortage is causing concern as school year begins. King Bio kids products have been recalled for contamination. Almond milk has been recalled over cow’s milk concerns. A type of whey powder, likely source of salmonella, has been recalled. Speaking of salmonella, an outbreak linked to raw turkey has sickened at least 90 people. More than 500 people have been sickened now by McDonald’s salads, likely with listeria. It turns out that in water utilities around Georgia, the system for testing lead in water may not have been working as it should, leaving some people uninformed about potential dangers. The FDA has cleared first Tretinoin lotion for acne (Altreno). Missouri has become the first state to regulate the use of word “meat”. A new study suggests that air pollution causes a ‘huge’ reduction in intelligence. China is reportedly withholding samples of a dangerous flu virus from the US. New research shows that deaths from drugs, alcohol, and suicide now outpace diabetes. Scientists believe they have found a genetic link between marijuana and schizophrenia. One in seven US adults is now on marijuana.

Animal News:

I had all these great shark and alligator pictures in the Repo Commentary last week, along with the changes to the Trump Oval Office, but it turns out that you could only see them if you looked at it on to the http://www.repocommentary.com website. Sorry. In Hawaii, an Alabama man was fined $1500 for touching a Hawaiian monk seal and harassing a sea turtle on Kauai and then posting those pictures on social media. The Courier-Journal is reporting on a sadistic trend of some pet owners, desperate for narcotic drugs, injuring their pets to get narcotics from the pets’ veterinarian. DEA officials have sent out a warning to veterinarians, saying that this is a real issue. In one case, a Kentucky woman used her husband’s disposable razor blades to cut her mixed-breed retriever, Alice, on multiple occasions to get an opioid painkiller. The owner eventually confessed to her actions and was sentenced to 4 years behind bars for obtaining a controlled substance by making false statements (felony) and torture of a cat or dog (misdemeanor). A judge is now set to rule on whether Yellowstone-area grizzly bears can be hunted. There have been 37 shark attacks worldwide so far this year, 21 of them in the US, and 9 of those in Florida. Sharktivity reports that at least 15 great white sharks have been sighted very close to shore in Cape Cod in the last week. The Number One advice in Cape Cod is to avoid swimming anywhere near the seals. Sharktivity is part of the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, “which supports scientific research, improves public safety, and educates the community to inspire conservation of Atlantic White Sharks.” It now has an app for cellular phones that tracks sightings of tagged great white sharks. The app has Shark Alerts, Sightings, Satellite Detection, and Acoustic Detection.

Entertainment News:

Award-winning playwright, screenwriter, and author, Neil Simon, has died of complications from pneumonia at age 91. The prolific writer wrote more than 30 plays and nearly as many movie screenplays. He received more combined Oscar and Tony nominations than any other writer. Ironically, he was born on the 4th of July. Nationally syndicated radio host Dan Loesch says it is time social media platforms reined in bias against politics and applied their terms of service, after a Twitter use threatened to attack her children. Burning Man, a festival for some 70,000 people, began on Sunday in Black Rock City, a temporary city in Nevada where the event is held every August. Lines to get in reportedly hit 10 hours wait due to dust storms that caused danger driving conditions and the gates to be closed for 3 hours. A sign of the times, Pittsburgh has become the largest city in the US without a daily print newspaper. One electronic news source may also be having trouble, as BUZZFEED has recently asked its audience for donations. Leading journalists have banded together to call for EU copyright reform. 82-year-old actor Robert Redford’s latest movie, THE OLD MAN AND THE GUN, is about to be released in theaters 9/28. After six decades of charming us with his acting, Redford said the movie will be his final one as an actor. The Sumner Redstone civil war began to heat up again, as his daughter prepares to take control. Eddie Murphy is expecting his 10th child. This will be his second child with longtime girlfriend Paige Butcher. The 57-year-old Murphy has 8 other children from previous relationships with ex-wife Nicole Murphy, ex-girfriend Tamara Hood, ex-girlfriend Paulette McNeely, and ex-girlfriend Spice Girl Mel B. Luckily, he has several projects to support his growing family, including movies DOLEMITE IS MY NAME, TRIPLETS, and BEVERLY HILLS COPS 4. The man who allegedly gave Demi Lovato the drugs is speaking about her overdose. The Sister Wives family that had to flee Utah has relocated to Arizona. Buzz is swirling that Alec Baldwin will play Bruce Wayne’s dad in JOKER movie, the next instalment of the many BATMAN movies’ franchise. Pauly D fed cannoli to fans at a club. In the media, Angelina Jolie is no longer coming off as the saint she was purported to be. Brad Pitt said he is “sickened” by her in an interview. Kanye West says he wants to teach people how to wear sandals. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s The Row will launch a men’s line now. Bella Thorne apparently is showing off her new bikini and armpit hair on Instagram. Tobias Menzies is playing Prince Philip in THE CROWN. Rihanna has shared a rare photo with her parents after forgiving her father. Chris Stapleton is topping the list of CMA Awards nominations. Do they have a CMA award show every month? Have you see the eerie pictures of Paul McCartney’s grandson? (you’ll only be able to see this on the website, I fear)
The Asia Argento assault story of the 17-year-old boy is apparently getting even more bizarre now. Bobbi Kristina’s friend who found her dead in the bathtub has just died from an overdose himself. Ben Affleck is back in alcohol rehab and apparently stopped at a Jack-in-the-Box on the way there. The buzz is that Bob Costas is bailing on NBC because it’s not a fit anymore. Johnny Depp scored a victory in court in lengthy legal battle against his ex-lawyer. K-pop band BTS beat Taylor Swift’s YouTube record for most video views in 24 hours.

This week’s box-office was very weak, as the blockbusters fell and the debuts underperformed. Also, I failed to live up to my promise to go and catch up on movies, which certainly put a dent in their revenues. CRAZY RICH ASIANS, which had debuted at No.1 last week, somehow stayed at No.1 with $24.8 million (with a total now of $76.6 million and a cost of just $30 million to make) in Weed 2; staying at No.2 was megladon Shark movie THE MEG, which still made $12.8 million in its 3rd week ($105 million total for a movie that cost $130 million); No.3 was the debut of THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS, with $9.5 million (low for a movie that cost $40 million to make); No.4 was still MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT (which I still want to see and review for you) with $8.1 million, in its 5th week (total so far of $194 million, clearing its $178 million budget); and No.5 was MILE 22, which fell from No.3, with a disappointing $6.4 million (total of only $25.5 million for cost of $50 million), in its 2nd week. The highest next debut was at No.10 for A.X.L., which was on limited release and only made $2.8 million. I was going to see ALPHA, but then I found out it is all subtitles, so a film, not a movie. I still want to see MAMMA MIA HERE WE GO AGAIN. If you are looking for the flop of the summer, it is probably Dwayne Johnson in SKYSCRAPER, which cost $125 million to make and has had revenue of only $67.1 million.

Movies coming out this week: OPERATION FINALE, KIN, SEARCHING, ACTIVE MEASURES, BIG BROTHER, BLOOD FEST, THE LITTLE STRANGER, PICK OF THE LITTER, SNOW QUEEN 2: FIRE AND ICE, and YA VEREMOS.

Technology & Space News:

Not far from the movie depiction, the memoir by Steve Jobs’ daughter also portrays the Apple co-founder as a mean person whose behavior was enabled by those around him. Elon Musk just announced that he no longer wants to make Tesla a private company. Data from several US states is showing that thousands of Amazon employees are using food stamps. In fact, nearly 1 out of every 3 Amazon employees in Arizona is on food stamps and 1 in every 10 in Ohio are on food stamps. President Trump has accused Google of rigging search results against him and called it “a very serious situation” that “will be addressed.” The White House is now looking at regulating Google. Best Buy revenue fell the most in almost one year, as growth is seen cooling off. Robot strawberry pickers could end the need for human workers. Droid butlers are coming to one chic Miami hotel. Silicon Valley has taken another step toward autonomous flying, since autonomous driving has gone so well. Amazon reportedly wants to help you start your own delivery business.

Political News:

According to PredictIt, the odds of a President Trump impeachment are increasing, after he was implicated in federal crimes by his former personal attorney Michael Cohen. An ESPN host, Max Kellerman, teed off on Tiger Woods during his show First Take because of Tiger’s “thoughtless” refusal to take a shot at President Trump. Apparently, Kellerman got “angry” when Woods was asked about his relationship with Trump and Woods urged people “to respect the office of the President.” The host then chastised Woods with a long dissertation and finished by saying, “that is a stupid comment.” This isn’t the first time that ESPN has decided to wade into the middle of politics with opinions offered by liberal hosts and anchors and abandon the neutral reporting of sports news.

US News:

Florida officials and FBI agents are pouring over the scene of the popular Jacksonville, FL Landing boardwalk, where a gamer shot up a Madden 19 video game tournament on Sunday, killing 2 people and injuring 12 more, before turning the handgun on himself. Authorities now believe the California man, who killed a man who played video games to earn money for college and a West Virginia man whose e-sports winnings helped support his young family, “clearly targeted other gamers” at the Florida tournament, himself a competitor in the tournament. Flags are at half-staff throughout the country for hero Senator John McCain, who succumbed to a rare form of brain cancer on Sunday, shortly after his family ended his treatment. Ironically, he died on the same date (9 years later) as his longtime political opponent, Sen. Edward Kennedy, who also died of the same rare form of brain cancer. Oddly, President Trump withdrew at the last minute a statement that would have praised Sen. John McCain following his death. The two have feuded or years and the President was reportedly not invited to his funeral. McCain’s office announced his pallbearers and other aspects of 3 days of services for hero. Actor Warren Beatty will join other former Senators (Hart, Gramm, Feingold, Whitehouse) and Vice President Joe Biden as pallbearers. Also paying tribute to McCain will be Jeff Flake, Joe Biden, Meghan McCain, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Henry Kissinger, Lindsay Graham, Joe Lieberman, and Kelly Ayote. A video of a mystery woman in a t-shirt and possibly shackles appearing on a Texas homeowner’s doorstep has prompted officials to launch a search for her. A Miami model is facing a murder charge, after he was captured on video using a bat to beat a homeless man who later died, all captured on surveillance video. A Texas couple’s fun-filled road trip to Michigan to see a rock concert ended with them arrested on Monday, after police said they had discovered that the couple had left their 11-year-old daughter home alone for days. University of North Carolina leaders have met to discuss the toppling of a Confederate statue on campus by rowdy students. The mother of a 9-year-old boy says her son committed suicide after coming out gay and then being bullied by his classmates. Authorities in a suburb of Philadelphia are searching for a person of interest, after the murder of a former Playboy playmate was discovered strangled in her apartment. The Catholic diocese of Buffalo, not one in Pennsylvania, has resigned as pastor of his NY church, after a sexual abuse complaint. A firefighter and a good Samaritan leapt into action as gunfire erupted at a New Mexico convenience store, as surveillance footage shows the the two heroes shielding women and children at the store. Some NYCHA employees are now being accused of using housing projects for wild orgies, according to the NY Post. A Texas man says he’s selling 3-D printed gun plans, despite authorities halt.

International News:

Pope Francis has refused to comment on the bombshell allegations of sexual abuse cover ups in Pennsylvania dioceses, which may involve thousands of victims and over 300 priests. North Korea’s state newspaper is claiming that the US is secretly plotting to “unleash a war” while it is continuing to negotiate peace “with a smile on its face” with the regime. The Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) leader in Afghanistan was killed in a US airstrike. Scott Morrison replaced Malcolm Turnbull as PM of Australia, after a change of Liberal Party leadership. Saudi Arabia still intends to behead Israa al-Ghomgham, who is to be tried before the Saudi terrorism tribunal on charges solely related to peaceful human-rights activism, according to a Human Rights Watch report. Five other Shiites face the same potential fate. The charges include chanting slogans hostile to the regime, filing protests, posting on social media, seeking to inflame public opinion, and providing moral support to rioters. Russia is currently staging its largest war games in 40 years, using 300,000 troops.

Florida:

The Governor has declared a State of Emergency for parts of Florida. The West Coast, particularly Southwest (which is very unusual) is suffering the worst bloom of Red Tide in Florida’s history, and scientists are actually pointing to African desert sand as a possible culprit, not human pollution. On the East Coast, the state is suffering from deadly blue-green algae, which is directly linked to the runoffs (both East and West) from Lake Okeechobee and use of phosphorous in fertilizer for the sugar plantations just south of Lake Okeechobee that now block the runoff from seeping into the filtering swamps of the Everglades. Both problems are deeply impacting the wildlife, fishing industry, and tourism industry of Florida. A Florida Chick-fil-A restaurant is opening its franchise right net to another Chick-fil-A restaurant. That’s weird.

My harmony group, Generation Gap, was just voted by InTune Magazine as the Best Harmony Group in the state of Florida, and I (again in full Elvis attire) will be performing 9/2 at Cucina Cabana 1pm-3pm in North Palm Beach, FL and again 9/29 at Double Roads Tavern 5pm-8pm in Jupiter, FL.

If you are interested in seeing longer, more famous, concerts, there are many coming to Florida, perhaps when you will be visiting:

Rick Springfield-Pompano Beach, August 28
Beyonce and Jay-Z-Miami Gardens, August 31
K.D. Lang-Fort Lauderdale-September 7
Paul Simon-Sunrise, September 8
Christine Aguilera-Hollywood, September 25
Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker & Russell Dickerson-West Palm Beach, September 29
Phil Collins-Sunrise-October 5
Kid Rock and Brantley Gilbert-West Palm Beach, October 13
Nikki Minaj with Future-Miami-October 19
Alice in Chains-Hollywood-October 28
Toto-Pompano Beach-October 28
Simple Minds-Miami, November 8
Willie Nelson-Estero, November 12
Elton John-Sunrise, November 23 (I’m there)
Elton John-Miami, November 24
Brian Wilson-Hollywood, December 12
Kansas-Fort Lauderdale-December 15
Fleetwood Mac-Sunrise, February 20
Pink-Sunrise-March 1
Paul Anka-Fort Lauderdale-March 4
Elton John-Sunrise, March 16

Repo Commentary-8/23/18

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I’ve been keeping busy, not only writing the Repo Commentary, reaching out to clients, and exploring job opportunities, but now also consulting on two books and two articles.

My Repo Commentary is posted on my new website: http://www.repocommentary.com. You can also view it through LinkedIn and through Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website.

If you need to get hold of me, my cell is 646-753-1300, my email for work is jeffkidwell82@gmail.com, and you can also hit me up on Bloomberg and LinkedIn.

Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information. I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested (70-80%) in entertaining you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures. Also, please send me feedback, as I want to make it better all the time.’

Thursday’s Holidays or Events:

• Buttered Corn Day
• European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism
• Hug Your Sweetheart Day
• International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition
• National Sponge Cake Day
• National Burger Day
• Valentino Day
• Ride the Wind Day
• Battle of Kursk Day in Russia
• Day of the National Flag in Ukraine
• National Day of Physicians in Iran
• Umhlanga Day in Swaziland
• International Hire Jeff Kidwell Day (well there’s a holiday for everything, why not?)

Some Famous People Born Wednesday in History:

• 1754-Louis XVI of France
• 1785-Oliver Hazard Perry-American commander
• 1846-Alexander Milne Calder-Scottish-American sculptor
• 1890-Harry Frank Guggenheim-American business and publisher, co-founded Newsday
• 1912-Gene Kelly-American actor/singer/dancer
• 1917-Tex Williams-American singer/songwriter
• 1931-Barbara Eden-American actress/singer
• 1932-Mark Russell-American comedian
• 1934-Sonny Jurgensen-NFL player
• 1936-Rudy Lewis-R&B singer (The Drifters)
• 1946-Keith Moon-English drummer/songwriter
• 1949-Rick Springfield-Australian-American singer/songwriter/actor
• 1949-Shelley Long-American actress
• 1951-Jimi Jamison-American singer/songwriter (Survivor)
• 1958-Julio Franco-MLB player
• 1966-Rik Smits-NBA player
• 1968-Chris DiMarco-American golfer
• 1970-Jay Mohr-American actor/producer
• 1970-River Phoenix-American actor
• 1978-Kobe Bryant-NBA player
• 1988-Jeremy Lin-NBA player

This Day in History (Wednesday):

• 30 BC-after the successful invasion of Egypt, Octavian executes Marcus Antonius Antyllus, the eldest son of Mark Antony, and Caesarion, the last king of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt and only child of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra.
• 20 BC-Ludi Vocnalici are held within the temple precinct of Vulcan, and used by Augustus to mark the treaty with Parthia and the return of the legionary standards that had been lost at the Battle of Carrhae in 53 BC.
• AD 79-Mount Vesuvius begins stirring, on the feast day of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire.
• 406-Gothic king Radagaisus is executed after he is defeated by Roman general Stilicho and 12,000 “barbarians” are incorporated into the Roman army or sold as slaves.
• 476-Odoacer, chieftain of the Germanic tribes is proclaimed rex Italiae (King of Italy) by his troops.
• 634-Abu Bakr dies at Medina and is succeeded by Umar I who becomes the second caliph of the Rashidun Caliphate.
• 1244-Siege of Jerusalem: the city’s citadel, the Tower of David, surrenders to Khwarezmian Empire.
• 1268-Battle of Tagliacozzo: the army of Charles of Anjou defeats the Ghibellines supporters of Conradin of Hohenstaufen marking the fall of the Hohenstaufen family from the Imperial and Sicilian thrones, and leading to a new chapter of Angevin domination in Southern Italy.
• 1305-Sir William Wallace (BRAVEHEART) is executed for high treason at Smithfield, London.
• 1382-Siege of Moscow: the Golden Horde led by Tokhtamysh lays siege to the capital of the Grand Duchy of Moscow.
• 1514-the Battle of Chaldiran ends with a decisive victory for the Sultan Selim I, Ottoman Empire, over the Shah Ismail I, founder of the Safavid dynasty.
• 1521-Christian II of Denmark is deposed as king of Sweden and Gustav Vasa is elected regent.
• 1541-French explorer Jacques Cartier lands near Quebec City in his 3rd voyage to Canada.
• 1572-French Wars of Religion: mob violence against thousands of Huguenots in Paris results in the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre.
• 1595-Long Turkish War: Wallachian prince Michael the Brave confronts the Ottoman army in the Battle of Calugareni and achieves a tactical victory.
• 1628-George Villiers, the first Duke of Buckingham, is assassinated by John Felton.
• 1650-Colonel George Monck of the English Army forms Monck’s Regiment of Foot, which will later become the Coldstream Guards.
• 1655-Battle of Sobota: the Swedish Empire led by Charles X Gustav defeats the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth.
• 1703-Edirne event: Sultan Mustafa II of the Ottoman Empire is dethroned.
• 1775-American Revolutionary War: King George III delivers his Proclamation of Rebellion to the Court of St. James’s stating that the American colonies have proceeded to a state of open and avowed rebellion. Basically, he said we are revolting.
• 1784-western North Carolina (now eastern Tennessee) declares itself and independent state under the name of Franklin, it is not accepted into the United States, and only lasts for four years.
• 1799-Napoleon I of France leaves Egypt for France en route to seizing power.
• 1813-at the Battle of Grosbeeren, the Prussians under Von Bulow repulse the French army.
• 1831-Nat Turner’s slave rebellion is suppressed.
• 1839-the United Kingdom captures Hong Kong as a base as it prepares for war with Qing China. The ensuing 3-year conflict will later be known as the First Opium War.
• 1864-American Civil War: the Union Navy captures Fort Morgan, Alabama, thus breaking Confederate dominance of all ports on the Gulf of Mexico, except Galveston, Texas.
• 1866-Austro-Prussian War ends with the Treaty of Prague.
• 1904-the automobile tire chain is patented.
• 1914-WWI: the British Expeditionary Force and the French Fifth Army begin their Great Retreat before the German Army.
• 1914-WWI: Japan declares war on Germany.
• 1921-British airship R-38 experiences structural failure over Hull in England and crashes in the Humber Estuary. Of the 49 British and American training crew, only 4 survive.
• 1927-Italian anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti are executed after a lengthy, controversial trial.
• 1929-Hebron Massacre during the 1929 Palestine riots: Arab attack on the Jewish community in Hebron in the British Mandate of Palestine, continuing until the next day, resulted in the death of 65-68 Jews and the remaining Jews being forced to leave the city.
• 1939-WWII: Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union sign a non-aggression treaty, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. In a secret addition to the pact, the Baltic states, Finland, Romania, and Poland are divided between the two nations.
• 1942-WWII: the beginning of the Battle of Stalingrad.
• 1943-WWII Kharkiv is liberated after the Battle of Kursk.
• 1944-WWII: Marseille is liberated by the Allies.
• 1944-WWII: King Michael of Romania dismisses the pro-Nazi government of Marshal Antonescu, who is arrested. Romania switches sides from Axis to the Allies.
• 1944-Freckleton Air Disaster: a US Army Air Forces B-24 Liberator bomber crashes into a school in Freckleton, England, killing 61 people.
• 1945-WWII: Soviet-Japanese War: the USSR State Defense Committee issues a decree “About Receiving, Accommodation, and Labor Utilization of the Japanese Army Prisoners of War.”
• 1948-World Council of Churches is formed by 147 churches from 44 countries.
• 1954-the first flight of the Lockheed C-130 multi-role aircraft.
• 1958-Chinese Civil War: the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis begins with the People’s Liberation Army’s bombardment of Quemoy.
• 1966-Lunar Obiter I takes the first photograph of Earth from orbit around the Moon.
• 1970-organized by Mexican-American labor union leader Cesar Chavez, the Salad Bowl strike, the largest farm worker strike in US history, begins.
• 1973-a bank robbery gone wrong in Stockholm, Sweden turns into a hostage crisis, over the next 5 days the hostages begin to sympathize with their captors, leading to the term “Stockholm Syndrome”.
• 1975-the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, MI opened, 30 miles NW of Detroit, MI.
• 1989-Singing Revolution: two million people from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania stand on the Vilnius-Tallinn road, holding hands.
• 1990-Saddam Hussein appears on Iraqi state television with a number of Western “guests” (actually hostages) to try to prevent the Gulf War.
• 1990-Armenia declares its independence from the Soviet Union.
• 1990-West and East Germany announce that they will reunite on October 3.
• 1991-the World Wide Web is opened to the public.
• 1994-Eugene Bullard, the only African-American pilot in WWI, is posthumously commissioned as Second Lieutenant in the US Air Force.
• 2000-Gulf Air Flight 072 crashes into the Persian Gulf near Manama, Bahrain, killing 143.
• 2007-the skeletal remains of Russia’s last royal family members Alexei Nikolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia, and his sister Grand Duchess Anastasia are discovered near Yekaterinburg, Russia.
• 2011-a magnitude 5.8 earthquake occurs in Virginia. Damage occurs to monuments and structures in Washington D.C. and the resulting damage is estimated at $200-$300 million.
• 2011-Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is overthrown after the National Transitional Council forces take control over Bab al-Azizia compound during Libyan Civil War.

Fun Fact of the Day:

The record holder for most survived lightning strikes (7), was struck while operating a truck, inside a ranger station, on two separate occasions after running/driving away from the storm, and immediately after the 7th strike he had to fight off a trout-stealing bear with a tree branch.

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“Love demands infinitely less than friendship.”—George Jean Nathan

International and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices on 8/9 were at $66.78/barrel. Today, they closed at $67.88, $1 higher. However, that has not translated to higher gasoline at my West Palm Beach gas station, which actually dropped this week from $2.74 to $2.67/gallon. The USD versus the Yen is trading at $111.38, up a little from where it was 8/9. The USD was at 1.1535 versus the Euro, stronger since 8/9. The USD is also up since 8/9 against the GBP, at $1.2805. The USD is slightly up versus the CAD to $1.3088 since 8/9. Gold closed today at $1185.33/ounce, down somewhat from 8/9. Bitcoin was trading at $8185.21 on 7/25. On 8/9, it collapsed to $6,300.01. Today, it closed a little stronger at $6,534.50. Russia is reportedly stockpiling gold again. The US and China have intensified their trade war, implementing 25% tariffs on $16 billion worth of each other’s exports. The measures were implemented as officials actually were holding the first trade negotiations since June. Ratings agency S&P global has warned that state and local governments are especially vulnerable to cyberattacks because of public reporting requirements, and their credit ratings could be downgraded if they fail to deal with the issue. SEC’s Jay Clayton has called for an end to product-focused sales contests for financial professionals, saying that they make participants more likely to put their own interests ahead of their clients’ interests. According to the WSJ, the capital plan devised by the Options Clearing Corp. is facing an unknown future, as it is being viewed controversially by the industry. The US Court of Appeals ordered the SEC to re-evaluate the OCC’s proposal last year. The CFTC has voted unanimously to harmonize rules outlining duties of a chief compliance officer with rules from the SEC.

Global Financial News:

CME Group has scheduled a 10/1 launch of Sterling Overnight Index Average contract linked to meeting dates for the BOE Monetary Policy Committee and an International Monetary Market Sonia futures contract that mirrors Libor futures. The contracts are intended to compete with products from Intercontinental Exchange and the London Stock Exchange. Saudi Arabia Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih has contradicted a report an IPO for Aramco was cancelled. He says the government is committed to the IPO, expected to be the largest in history. Target shares spiked after CEO Cornell said an unprecedented 6.4% increase in store traffic in Q2 gave the retail giant its sharpest increase in sales growth in 13 years, sending the share price to a new record. Lakeland Bancorp reportedly will acquire Highlands Bancorp. Deutsche Bank has moved into non-bank payment platforms with Modo stake.

US Market News:

The Dow Jones closed down 76.62 points on Thursday, leaving it at 25,656.98. S&P500 was down a little at 2856.98, after just setting another record high. Nasdaq was down 10 points to 7878.46. The S&P 500’s Wednesday close marked 3,453 days without a 20% or greater decline, the longest US bull market in history. The WSJ reported that experts say Treasury market yields should trend up and that hedge funds and other investors are betting on those higher yields. Some economists and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon says the yield on the 10-year note could reach 5%. It’s interesting, because global risks seem to be increasing, so there could be a flight to quality, and with stocks near all-time highs, will higher yields attract money away from stocks.

Housing News:

CNBC reported today that the housing recover isn’t over, it just feels like it. US new home sales sunk to a 9-month low, as housing market appears to wobble. US existing home sales declined for 4th straight month in July too. Homebuilder sentiment fell to the lowest point in almost a year. Weekly mortgage applications have also dropped last week. A new report from real estate firm NeighborhoodX reveals NYC is the most expensive place to buy real estate in the country on a per square-foot basis, with some rates over $10,000/square foot! NYC luxury apartment sales have dropped, as evidenced by Million Dollar Listings-New York. CNBC looked into tax laws and less international buyers as the obstacles. HUD has filed a discrimination complaint against Facebook. New Zealand has banned foreigners from buying houses, in parliament’s hopes to bring down ever-rising housing prices. Baltimore received a $30 million grant to help housing redevelopment. The city’s overall plan is for $889 million to revitalize 3 neighborhoods. CNBC says that “unaffordable” Hong Kong home prices could fall by double digits.

Repo News:  
It has been interesting watching repo funding rates, Fed Funds, and the SOFR. It’s interesting that SOFR is trading closer to O/N Fed Funds rate than to O/N GC Repo, which is because it is more heavily weighted in its calculation on the huge Triparty Repo component of the market, which is pure/lowest offer-side rate of Repo. It does not include the peer-to-peer, all-to-all electronic an OTC component. Until it does, it will always shade to the offer-side, lower rate, like Fed Funds. But, as Scott Skyrm asks, was that the purpose of the Fed, to create a secured O/N funding rate that was close to its Fed Funds rate? GC Treasury collateral has been trading O/N at the dealers at a 1.956% average and Agy MBS collateral has been trading O/N at the dealers about 5bp higher. However, SOFR is at 1.86% and Fed Funds were at 1.91%. Let’s back up a minute, it is worth noting that a) we are talking about dealer offer-side rates (not mid-market repo rates as I used to) and b) the MBS vs Treasury spread had averaged 1.7bp on the offer-side from Dealers since the beginning of 2016, and that has blown out in August to nearly 5bp. The really interesting thing is that many repo market participants are unsure why that happened. I think the number one reason has been the increase and decrease of the issuance of the two products and the repo cash preference lately for more just US Treasuries. There could be a reason deeper in investor and dealer positioning outright more MBS securities as a percentage of Treasuries. Wrightson points out that US Treasury issuance is projected to be a net reduction between the beginning of September and October, ending the cycle of ever-increasing issuance.

Securities Lending Times has been reporting that the first direct beneficial owner trade has been settled through cooperation of six organizations, including EquiLend Clearing Services, Eurex, BNY Mellon, Euroclear, PGGM, and Morgan Stanley.

I see the Repo and Securities Lending market as having changed in many permanent ways. We traditionally had a credit intermediator, the broker/dealers (originally just the primary broker/dealers) and later prime brokers, who were the pipeline through their respective repo matched books for collateral providers to trade with cash providers, without the two sides ever knowing about each other or facing each other. That lack of knowledge of the other side of the repo matched book came at a couple of costs, first, the bid/offer spread that went to the dealers and second, the defaults of the Financial Crisis and the impact on some of the dealers that then cost their clients. Clearly, with that pipeline becoming severely crimped by post-Financial Crisis regulatory reforms, consolidation and bankruptcies, and the resulting drop of about 60% in balance sheets being used for broker/dealer respective repo matched books, new pathways/pipelines needed to be found for cash provider and collateral provider clients. AVM’s Direct Repo™ was the first of one of such pathways. Since then, other pathways to these markets have been created, including: the Federal Reserve’s RRP program with cash providers, peer-to-peer financing as reported on Treasury OFR’s website between MMFs and Insurance Companies, As Agent repo through seclending agents and now some prime brokers, direct lending from beneficial owner to hedge funds who are short, indemnified As Agent repo, buyside to buyside Triparty Repo through two international clearing organizations, electronic all-to-all repo on a few electronic trading platforms like Elixium and BNY DBVX, FICC’s sponsored repo and cleared repo products to entice certain sectors of the buyside into that CCP, and other Repo and/or Seclending CCPs (several still being worked on, particularly in Europe). I believe this evolution will continue and eventually we will see all of these pathways used, including the traditional pathway (to probably a lesser than historical degree) through the broker/dealers and prime brokers.

Upcoming Repo Industry Conferences: 
 

• IMN will hold its 23rd annual European Beneficial Owners’ International Securities Finance & Collateral Management Conference in London, 9/12-9/13. I’ve attended this before.
• IMN will hold its 24th annual ABS East Conference in Miami Beach, on 9/23-25. I’ve attended this before.
• National Association of State Treasurers (NAST) will hold its Annual Conference in Scottsdale, AZ on 9/30-10/3. I’ve been invited to this before.
• SIFMA-will hold its Annual Meeting in Washington, DC on 10/1-10/2.
• Risk Management Association (RMA) will hold the 35th annual RMA Conference on Securities Lending in Key Biscayne, FL on 10/8-10/11. I will be there, I don’t want to break my streak of attending every one of them!
• Finadium will hold its 2nd annual Rates & Repo conference in NYC 11/5. I’m thinking of going to this one too. I have moderated/sponsored this one before.
• Association of Financial Professionals (AFP) is holding its annual Treasury & Finance conference in Chicago on 11/4-11/7.
• RISK USA will hold 24th annual conference in NYC 11/7-11/9. I have chaired/moderated this one before.

Federal Reserve News:

Fed Funds, which trade mostly between some banks and GSEs, opened today at 1.91%.

The next FOMC meetings are: 9/20/18, 11/1/18, 12/13/18, 1/30/19, 3/20/19, 5/1/19, 6/19/19, 7/31/19, 9/18/19, 10/30/19, 12/11/19, 1/29/20 (reflecting the Fed’s just announced tentative schedule for 2019).

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (16 banks, 14 GSEs, 101 money market funds from various fund families), is now set at the rate of 1.75%. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight. Remember when RRP was trading at year-end for $465 billion? Well, on 5/15, there was only $20 million in bids submitted. MMF cash and GSE cash has moved out of the Fed’s RRP and into the Repo market, but it hasn’t really brought down the GC repo rate, which is strange.

If you are wondering about RRP, it is nearly extinct. In July, excluding month-end, volume averaged only $2.8 billion per day. As Scott Skyrm says, it has just become a mechanism for the Fed to supply collateral when its scarce for money market funds on month-ends and quarter-ends, as dealer balance sheets dry up at those times.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

A massive 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit six miles deep and 188 miles off the coast of Oregon, increasing fears that “the Big One” will soon hit the US. This latest quake followed an intense week of seismic activity in the Ring of Fire, where some 70 earthquakes hit in just 48 hours. A cluster of 16 movements above 4.5 magnitude hit Monday and 53 hit the same region on Sunday. The quakes have been felt in Indonesia, Bolivia, Japan, and Fiji, all part of the horseshoe-shaped Ring of Fire fault line between the Pacific Plate and the Juan de Fuca Plate. “The Big One” is the name of a large earthquake that hits along the 700-mile-long divide between the two plates about every 400 years. This area is also known as the Cascadia subduction zone, where one plate moves underneath the other. “The Big One” was estimated to be above magnitude 8 and were around 600 BC, 170 BC, 400 AD, 810 AD, 1310 AD, and 1700 AD. I’ve spoken in the Commentary about the Ring of Fire several times, so let me show you a map of it:

The Northwest quakes are not the only ones getting seismologists’ attention right now. In July, a 100-foot fissure opened up in Grand Teton National Park, not far from the potentially catastrophic Yellowstone volcano. That followed some 155 small earthquakes in Yellowstone National Park. Both parks have been closed periodically this season. Let’s keep an eye on this.

Weather:

The Atlantic Hurricane Season began Friday, June 1st. For 2018, Colorado State University experts have predicted that this season will be a busy, above average hurricane season. They have predicted 14 named Tropical Storms, of which 7 will become Hurricanes. Both are above the averages of 12 and 6, respectively. But, remember, last year they were way off. Unfortunately, they were way off the wrong way, with way more storms. They had predicted 11 Tropical Storms, of which 4 would be Hurricanes. Instead, we had 17 Tropical Storms and had 10 Hurricanes. Here are the 2018 Storm names:

Alberto done
Beryl done
Chris done
Debby done
Ernesto
Florence
Gordon
Helene
Isaac
Joyce
Kirk
Leslie
Michael
Nadine
Oscar
Patty
Rafael
Sara
Tony
Valerie
William
The NHC reports

The Pacific Hurricane Season began on May 1st. Category-4 hurricane Hector blew by Hawaii. Hurricanes are quite rare in Hawaii. In fact, since 1955, only 19 hurricanes have come within 300 miles of Hawaii. Yet, right now, Hurricane Lane, with damaging winds and catastrophic flooding is approaching. On Tuesday night, Lane became one of only two Category 5 hurricanes to pass within 350 miles of Hawaii, with 160-mph winds. Hurricane John in 1994 was the last one. As of this morning, Lane had been downgraded to Category 4.

Let’s talk about weather, here in Florida, it is still ridiculously hot, with temps in the low to mid-90s for perhaps 30 days in a row and ‘feels-like’ temps in the 105-110 range. Also, the water temperature is 88 degrees and the sand is really hot. The Northeast has cooled off and is experiencing some serious rain, in fact half a month’s worth in a short time. The temps have been cooler than average. The Southwest has also gotten somewhat stormy, while the West Coast remains quite sunny and warm.

Sports News:

MLB:

The MLB regular season is about 75% over, with around 38-40 games left to play.

In the AL East, the Red Sox have hit a speed bump for them, losing 3 games in a row, but are still way ahead of the rest of the MLB in terms of record. The Red Sox have been holding back ace Chris Sale on the DL, making sure he will be strong for the playoff run. The Yankees have won 4 in a row, including a 12-inning victory Tuesday night against the Marlins, so had climbed to within 8 games of the Red Sox. The Red Sox avoided losing 4 in a row, the only MLB team this year to do that, crushing the Indians Wednesday night, while the Yankees lost to Jeter’s Marlins, making the lead 9 games again. The Red Sox are just the 19th team in MLB’s modern era (1900-present) to win at least 89 of their first 128 games. Of the previous 18, 17 went on to win their league pennant and 9 won the World Series. Oh shoot, I’m sitting here writing and didn’t realize the Red Sox were playing this afternoon on ESPN and I could have watched, as David Price shut out the Indians, to split the 4-game series. The Yankees look like they have lost their closer, Aroldis Chapman, again, as he only lasted 6 pitches Tuesday night before exiting with knee pain. The Yankees also lost start slugging SS Didi Gregorius to injury. The Yankees are still awaiting the return of star slugger Aaron Judge, who is nursing a broken wrist. Rays’ ace Pham dislocated his finger and is listed day-to-day now. In the AL Central, the Indians, who are in the midst of a 4-game series with the Red Sox, have been red-hot winning 4 in a row and 9 of their last 10, locking down the division. Indians OF Leonys Martin will be done for the season with an injury. The Twins are having trouble keeping up and are now 13 games back. White Sox manager Rick Renteria was hospitalized overnight. A nun threw a perfect pitch before a White Sox game and the video went viral. The AL West remains the tight AL division, as the World Champion Astros have let the scorching A’s back in the race, in which they are currently tied for the lead. The Astros did that by losing 7 of their last 10 games, while the A’s won 8 of their last 10. The Mariners are also hanging around, only 4 ½ back of the two teams. Astros star Jose Altuve has just been activated from the DL. The Astros have also named Roberto Osuna has their new closer. A’s Khris Davis crushed a homer while wearing jersey signed by young cancer patient. Over in the NL East, the Braves have overtaken the Phillies and now lead them by 2-games. The Nationals have officially packed it in, making two huge trades on Tuesday afternoon, sending slugger Daniel Murphy to the offense-plagued Cubs and slugger Matt Adams to the Cubs’ rival Cardinals. They were only 7 ½ games back of the Braves, not insurmountable in 40 games, but I guess they decided to start the sell-off. And yet, they are activating ace Stephen Strasburg off the DL prematurely so he can face the Phillies. I’m not sure what this means for soon-to-be Uber free agent Bryce Harper. Are they making room to pay him $400 million or are they just beginning a rebuild that may not include him? My guess is he will be gone and probably playing in a Cubs uniform. Speaking of the Cubs, in the NL Central, the Cubs, without much offense lately and losing 3 in a row, are still 2 ½ games ahead of the Cardinals, who have won 8 of their last 10 games. This is a close race, as the Brewers are only 3 games back of the Cubs. Cubs new starter, Yu Darvish, appears to now be done for the season with stress in his elbow. That trade appears to have not worked. Cards’ pitcher Carlos Martinez is out after getting nailed by a 109 mph line drive. Pirates OF Starling Marte was benched after lack of hustle. In the NL West, the race also is a close one, with the Diamondbacks in first, winning 6 of their last 10, the Rockies in 2nd by 1 ½ games, winning 8 of their last 10, and the Dodgers 3 ½ games back in third, after losing 7 of their last 10. Dodgers new star 3B Manny Machado was injured after being hit by a pitch. This race has been like the game 3-card Monty, with the 3 teams shuffling places constantly this season. The Giants, one of the teams not mentioned in the race and a severe disappointment to fans, just lost Buster Posey to season-ending hip surgery. Twenty years after the Rockies selected him in the 7th round of the MLB Draft and ten years after he last wore their uniform, Matt Holiday is set to put on a Colorado jersey again. The 38-year-old will have his contract purchased by the Rockies and manager Bud Black said that he will start in left field today against the Padres in Coors Field.

If you are fans for one of those teams that has already thrown in the towel, you may be interested to know that MLB has already released its 2019 regular season schedule and will have the earliest Opening Day game EVER, on March 28, 2019!

The Pirates and Cubs will meet in 2019 Little League Classic in Williamsport. Meanwhile, the Little League World Series had been going on and we can look at the bracketology now. Game 30 is the Championship Game and will be in Williamsport on 8/26. On the United States side, we are now left with 4 teams (what I would consider the quarter-finals, but there is some extra Game 26 in there), who are Mid-Atlantic against West (Game 24) and Great Lakes against Southeast (Game 22). On the International side, we are down to 4 teams as well, Japan against Asia-Pacific in Game 23 and Caribbean versus Canada in Game 21 (but somehow there’s an extra Game 25 over there too). Perhaps, the extra games are because of Consolation Game A, in which New England beat Australia 15-0 and Consolation Game B in which the Northwest plays Europe Africa. I don’t know, I used to know brackets from March Madness, but this is much more complicated, plus even the team regions/names don’t make sense to me. Is it Africa or is it Europe? And how did those 4 teams make consolation games when they all lost in the first round?

Tennis:

The Rogers Cup ended 8/12. It is also referred to at the Canadian Open and is the 3rd oldest tournament in all of tennis. They played their matches at a few venues in Toronto. In the Finals, yawn, No.1 Rafael Nadal dispatched Tsistsipas in two sets, breaking a sweat in the second set. In Women’s singles, No.1 Halep beat No.3 Stephens in 3 sets. All focus is now on the last major, the 138th US Open, to be played at Forest Hill in Queens. The seedings have just been announced and Serena Williams was seeded No.17, although she is only ranked No.25 in the world. Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer top the men’s seeding. The matches began yesterday and run through 9/9. Only one surprise in the qualifiers so far, with No.14 Frech beaten by unseeded Lao.

Golf:

The 100th PGA Championship, the final major, was last week at Bellerive CC in St. Louis, MO. The defending champion was Justin Thomas. It was an exciting tournament, not only because many of the big names of the sport were in contention on the final day, but also because Brooks Koepka (West Palm Beach, FL) won his 2nd major, but also because he had to hold off a much-improved Tiger Woods and beat him by merely 2 strokes. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Tiger come in 2nd in a tournament, especially a major. Tiger’s surprising play got him into the mix of the FedEx Cup Playoffs and may have secured him a spot to PLAY in the Ryder Cup, rather than just Vice-Chair it again. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself, first Tiger is playing in the Northern Trust tournament this week, his first FedEx Cup Playoff event since 2013. Tiger’s ranking is now No.20. The No.1 ranking is still held by Dustin Johnson. But, actually, Justin Thomas is currently in the best position to join Tiger as the only man to win the FedEx Cup (and the $10 million check) twice, as he won it last year and is leading in points this year. On the European Tour, Richard McEvoy captured his first Tour event after 17 years and 285 starts. Brandt Snedeker withdrew from the Northern Trust Open today with back spasms.

Soccer:

The ex-chief of Brazil soccer has been sentenced to 4 years in prison after a FIFA probe.

Fighting:

WWE
The WWE announced its first-ever all women’s event, “Evolution”.
MMA
UFC Boise saw Dos Santos beat Ivanov after 5 rounds. In Bellator 203, Patricio Freire retained title in a split decision. After his Belator 202 injury, just 58 seconds into a fight with Michael MacDonald, Eduardo Dantas needs emergency surgery on his broken leg. Nick Diaz is calling out Cormier, saying his and Brock Lesnar’s WWE antics were embarrassing at UFC 226. An MMA fighter who pleaded guilty to raping a college student got 7 years in jail and lifetime probation. There are mixed feelings in the media about Chuck Liddell coming out of retirement to face Tito Ortiz for Golden Boy.

Boxing

IBF super-featherweight champion Tevin Farmer signed co-promotional deal with Matchroom Boxing for multiple fights. He will have an 10/20 title defense against Jemes Tennyson on DAZN. Also on the card will be WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders vs. Demetrius Andrade.

9/8
Danny Garcia vs Shawn Porter title fight.
9/22
Anthony Joshua (2012 Olympic gold medalist at super heavyweight and current IBF, WBA, and WBO heavyweight champ will face Alexander Povetkin in London

Racing:

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drive the Brickyard 400 pace car. Elliott Sadler will stop driving full-time after 2018 season. NASCAR has invited Fernando Alonso to race in Daytona 500.

2018 NASCAR Schedule and results:
2/18 Daytona 500-Daytona Intl Speedway-won by Austin Dillon
2/25 Folds of Honor QuikTrip-Atlanta Motor Speedway-Kevin Harvick
3/4 Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube-Las Vegas Motor Speedway-Kevin Harvick
3/11 TicketGuardian 500-ISM Raceway-Kevin Harvick
3/18 Auto Club 400-Auto Club Speedway-Martin Truex Jr.
3/26 STP 500-Martinsville Speedway-Clint Bowyer
4/8 O’Reilly Auto Parts 500-Texas Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
4/16 Food City 500-Bristol Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
4/21 Toyota Owners 400-Richmond Raceway-Kyle Busch
4/29 GEICO 500-Talladega Speedway-Joey Logano
5/6 AAA 400 Drive for Autism-Dover International Speedway-Kevin Harvick
5/12 KC Masterpiece 400-Kansas Speedway-Kevin Harvick
5/19 Monster Energy Open-Charlotte Motor Speedway-AJ Allmendinger
5/19 Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race-Charlotte-Kevin Harvick
5/27 Coca-Cola 600-Charlotte Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
6/3 Pocono 400-Pocono Raceway-Martin Truex Jr.
6/10 FireKeepers Casino 400-Michigan International Speedway-Clint Bowyer
6/24 Toyota/Save Mart 350-Sonoma Raceway-won by Martin Truex Jr.
7/1 Overton’s 400-Chicagoland Speedway-won by Kyle Busch.
7/7 Coke Zero Sugar 400–Daytona International Speedway-won by Erik Jones
7/14 Quaker State 400-Kentucky Speedway-won by Martin Truex Jr.
7/22 Foxwoods Resort Casino 301-New Hampshire Motor Speedway-won by Kevin Harvick over Kyle Busch.
7/29 Gander Outdoors 400-Pocono Raceway-won by Kyle Busch over Daniel Suarez.
8/5 GoBowling at the Glen-Watkins Glen International-won by Chase Eilliott over Martin Truex Jr.
8/12 Consumers Energy 400-Michigan International Speedway-won by Kevin Harvick in all 3 stages.
8/18 Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race-Bristol Motor Speedway-Kurt Busch’s first win of the season and first in 58 races.

NCAA Basketball:

Five-star Kahlil Whitney has committed to Kentucky. Former Michigan State women’s gymnastics coach, Kathie Klages, faces a felony charge for allegedly failing to disclose sexual abuse allegations against Larry Nassar.

NCAA Football:

College football season kickoff is on 8/25. Just a reminder, Alabama won the National Championship last season. Legendary coach, Urban Meyer, of Ohio State had been put on paid administrative leave, while the school conducted an investigation on whether the coach knew of a reported 2015 incident of domestic abuse between former assistant coach Zach Smith and his ex-wife. Yesterday, Ohio State said it was suspending coach Meyer for the first 3 games of the season (easy opponents), which seems to many to be just a slap on the wrist. It didn’t help that the Coach, given a chance to apologize to Zach Smith’s ex, the victim, simply said “I’m sorry that we are in this situation.” The media is ripping him for that. Wisconsin RB Danny Davis has been suspended for 2 games.

Here is Sporting News’ way-too-early Top 25 rankings:

1. Alabama
2. Clemson
3. Georgia
4. Ohio State
5. Oklahoma
6. Wisconsin
7. Washington
8. Auburn
9. Notre Dame
10. Penn State
11. Miami
12. Michigan
13. Michigan State
14. Stanford
15. USC
16. UCF
17. Virginia Tech
18. LSU
19. TCU
20. FSU
21. Oklahoma State
22. Texas
23. South Carolina
24. Mississippi State
25. Boise State

NFL:

The NFL preseason is under way. The NFL regular season is 9/6. The NFL Competition Committee makes no changes to use of helmet rule. Ravens’ CB Jimmy Smith has been suspended for ‘threatening’ behaviors for 4 games by the NFL. The Indianapolis Colts’ announcer, Bob Lamay, has now retired, after using a racial slur in retelling a story off-air. Jets are looking to acquire Khalil Mack from the Raiders. The Patriots released WR Kenny Britt. The Patriots are denying that they have interest in WR Dez Bryant. Giants’ Victor Cruz announced his retirement and is joining ESPN as an analyst. Richie Incognito has been arrested after an incident at a funeral home. Cardinals’ GM Steve Keim has been reinstated after suspension. The Chiefs have released RB Charcandrick West. Bills’ QB AJ McCarron is being limited in practice due to injury. The Vikings signed former Bengal safety George Iloka. Raiders’ Marshawn Lynch has gotten his own special-edition Skittles. Seahawks’ J.D. McKissic will be out 4-6 weeks with foot fracture. Packers’ Jamaal Williams says he will retaliate by kicking players on dirty plays. Steelers WR Eli Rogers has been suspended 1 game by the NFL. Broncos’ Carlos Henderson is hoping to rejoin team after strange absence. RB Adrian Peterson says he is excited to play for the Redskins. Panthers’ D.J. Moore was cited for going 113 mph in a 65 mph zone. Eagles QB Nick Foles took a beating in a preseason game, sacked 8 times. He is still expected to play against the Browns Thursday night. Meanwhile, Eagles QB Carson Wentz is uncertain he’ll be cleared to play. Raiders’ new Las Vegas stadium will have a jail and court for unruly fans. Veteran Sebastian Janikowski reportedly has won Seahawks kicking competition. Rams gave RT Rob Havenstein a 4-year extension. Bears confirm that Leonard Floyd has broken hand and underwent surgery. Broncos QB Paxton Lynch was booed again in 2nd preseason game. The 49ers traded LB Eli Harold to the Lions.

NHL:

The NHL preseason starts on 9/15. Erik Karlsson trade chatter has reheated. NHL’s top free-agent prize signed with the Maple Leafs. Former Red Wings No.1 pick Joe Murphy is now homeless, according to recent documentary. Senators assistant GM Randy Lee resigned after July suspension. Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin and wife welcomed their first child. Bryan Berard the No.1 pick in 1995 has filed a concussion-related lawsuit. On the trade rumor front, the Bruins are expected to acquire a winger. They may be able to get Blue Jackets’ Artemi Panarin or Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds. Also, former Bruin center Tyler Sequin has failed to sign a contract extension with the Stars. As the Red Wings continue to rebuild, questions linger over where their veterans, like Jimmy Howard, Gustav Nyquist, and Trevor Daley will wind up.

NBA:

The Summer League is underway. Preseason will be upon us soon. The NBA Board of Governors will vote on major changes for 2018-19 season. NBA free-agency is still a big topic in the news. The Heat still want to re-sign Dwyane Wade. Kawhi Leonard is reportedly open to re-signing with the Raptors. Spurs’ Manu Ginobili will make his retirement decision soon. Lakers’ Lonzo Ball reportedly has torn meniscus. Meanwhile, his annoying father, LaVar Ball, and his two brothers, LiAngelo and LaMelo) have been ripped by their former Lithuanian coach, saying “they started destroying” the team. Their stint in professional Lithuanian basketball did not last long. James Harden is very receptive to Carmelo Anthony joining Rockets. WNBA’s Skylar Diggins-Smith is coming out about the disparity between WNBA and NBA pay. Kobe Bryant said he won’t be playing in Big3 league next year. Speaking of Big3, Nancy Lieberman was named Coach of the Year for 2018 mini-season. The Cavs are still holding a roster spot for Rodney Hood. Lamar Odom revealed that he had 12 strokes, 6 heart attacks in 2015 while in a coma. He was in the coma for 3 days after a drug overdose left him unconscious in a Nevada brothel. Odom plans to make his return to the court in China. Nets’ Kenneth Faried has been arrested for possession of marijuana. Klay Thompson’s dad says his son will retire with the Warriors. Former Spurs GM Bob Bass and 2-time NBA executive of the year has died. The Sixers hired former WNBA star Lindsey Harding as scout. Kobe Bryant has turned his $6 million investment in sports drink into a $200 million windfall. Liz Cambage is considering retiring from WNBA after international season. Minnesota Lynx star Lindsay Whalen announced her retirement from WNBA.

Travel News:

An airplane carrying rapper Post Malone made an emergency landing after blowing two tires during takeoff at Teterboro Airport on Tuesday. Post Malone had performed at the MTV Video Music Awards on Monday night and was traveling with 15 other people. Southwest Airways is selling one-way tickets for as low as $39. Unfortunately, they are not to places I need to go. According to Unreported World, the Mexican cartels have been threatening tourism in Cancun to the Mexican government. Eight bodies, two of which were dismembered and shoved in plastic bags, were discovered on the streets of Cancun on Tuesday. In April, 14 murders were reported in the popular resort town. The US State Department issued a travel advisory earlier this month. A Federal Air Marshal on a Continental flight was mistakenly handcuffed by cops. It appears that landslides triggered by human activity are on the rise. More than 50,000 people were killed by landslides around the world between 2004 and 2016, according to a new study. The team, who compiled data on over 4,800 fatal landslides during the 13-year period, revealed for the first time that landslide resulting from human activity have increased over time.

Health News:

Nigeria reportedly has a cough syrup crisis, as BBC reports recreational drinking of codeine. A new study suggests that smoking pot ages the brain 2.8 years. Doctors are finding it difficult to treat “flesh-eating” STD outbreak reported in the UK. A new study shows that children take longer to learn two languages at once compared to just one. A new study suggests that consuming milk at breakfast lowers glucose throughout the day. A study finds a link between probiotic use, brain fogginess, and severe bloating. A large study suggests that moderate carbohydrate intake may be the best for overall health. Scientists have found the first biomarker evidence of DDT-Autism link. The largest brain study ever, of 62,454 scans, has identified drivers of brain aging. Scientists now believe the poor sleep can trigger viral loneliness and social rejection. Researchers have found that parental life span predicts daughters living to 90 without chronic disease or disability. A new study on mice has shown chemicals found in vegetables prevent colon cancer. A new study shows the way our head and neck are positioned during a head-on impact may significantly affect the risk of concussion. In most of Europe, the rates of smoking starters among older teenagers have declined since the 1970s, while ‘new smoker’ rates among younger teenagers have actually risen in recent years. According to a new analysis of a survey of almost 70,000 people, the use of e-cigarettes every day can nearly double the odds of a heart attack. The research also found that the use of e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes, appears to more dangerous than using either product alone, increasing risk of heart attack by 5 times. An experimental drug is now taking aim at cancers that are associated with the Epstein-Barr Virus. While the Virus doesn’t directly cause cancer, the infection brings an increased risk of some cancers, including fast-growing lymphomas. New studies are showing a direct correlation with air pollution and cardiovascular diseases. PTC Therapeutics has successfully completed the acquisition of Agilis Biotherapeutics.

Animal News:

I should just have the title CAPE COD SHARK ATTACK! As SUNY professor was brutally hurt in a shark attack off of Cape Cod. The 61-year-old man was standing in the water just 30 yards off a Cape Cod beach last week, as a large shark bit his torso and leg in the attack. He was the first person to be attacked by any kind of shark in those waters since 2012, despite the movies and the sightings of great white sharks in the area every year. A leading shark expert is trying to determine if the very deep puncture wounds are consistent with a great white shark. There have been 10 great white shark sightings in the last week or so and more than 60 over the last month off Cape Cod. A woman in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, who was out walking her dog near a lagoon, was attacked and killed by an 8-foot alligator. Sheriffs retrieved her body and the dog was unharmed. They located the alligator and killed it. You know that I am a huge animal lover (was going to be a zoologist actually at one time), but this story from NY Post is a little silly. PETA pressured the company that makes Barnum’s Animals (the famous animal crackers which were named after the Barnum & Bailey Circus) to change their animal cracker box design to remove the politically incorrect depictions of their animals in cages (as they were in the circus) and show them as wild. I think this is just silly. Next, PETA will demand that we can’t eat the heads of the animal crackers first! This is a picture of the former packaging, showing the animals in bars:

and here are the animals out of the bars:

New research suggests that evolution does not favor the ‘survival of the fittest’, but actually might favor “survival of the laziest.” The new large-data study of fossil and extant bivalves and gastropods in the Atlantic Ocean suggests laziness might be a great strategy for survival of individuals, species, and even communities of species. The study, which studied 299 species’ metabolic rates, determined that higher metabolic rates were a reliable predictor of “extinction” likelihood. So, stop jogging. Two distinct groups of hominins inhabited Eurasia up until 40,000 years ago, Neanderthals in the West and Denisovans in the East. Now, researchers have sequenced the genome of an ancient hominin individual from Siberia, discovered in 2012, and found a hybrid female from a Neanderthal mother and Denisovan father.

A 55-foot fin whale washed up on a Massachusetts beach. Marine biologists are trying to figure out what killed it. 113 dead sea turtles washed up on a Mexico beach and marine biologists don’t know why yet. In France, the deadliest anthrax outbreak in decades has struck farms, killing dozens of cows, sheep, and horses.

Since MEG is still in the movie theaters, let’s chat a little about Megalodon. Earth’s largest known shark ruled the oceans for more than 20 million years and is believed to have gone extinct about 2.6 million years ago. For comparison, so far the earliest Homo sapiens ancestors only emerged 2.5 million years ago, so it’s unlikely the co-existed, as they do in the movie. However, what’s very interesting about the 2014 University of Zurich study of megalodon fossils is that 6 out of 10,0000 simulations showed that these giant sharks could still be alive. There have been no fossils found newer than 2.6 million years ago. Going by the size of the fossilized teeth, some scientists of the Natural History Museum in London believe the megalodon could be as long as 60 feet. However, Encyclopedia Britannica thinks that about 80 feet is more likely. The largest megalodon tooth measures about 7 inches in length, almost 3 times longer than those of great white sharks. Megladon teeth have been found in great quantities, particularly in warm shallow seas and on every continent except Antarctica.

In case you were wondering, yes, alligators will eat other alligators. Cannibalism in alligators is actually quite common. I was actually watching one of those alligator shows at an alligator ranch and they were trying to catch a 14-foot-gator that had attacked dozens of the other gators and killed them.

Entertainment News:

N.K. Jamisin won the Hugo Award for Best Novel for a third consecutive time for “The Stone Sky”. As many Elvis Presley fans prepared to celebrate the anniversary of his death on August 16, 1977, the King of Rock and Roll was sadly joined by the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, who died the same date at age 76. Sadly, we have now lost another music icon/legend in a short period of time. For those who noted the coincidence, it was also the date in 1948 that Babe Ruth died and the 60th birthday of the Queen of Pop, Madonna. Aretha was originally known for her gospel singing in Detroit, MI. But, in 1960, at the age of 18, she embarked on her secular career, recording for Columbia Records, but with only modest success. In 1966, she switched over to Atlantic Records and became a huge commercial success with songs such as “Respect”, “Chain of Fools”, “Think”, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”, “I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)”, and “I Say A Little Prayer”. By the end of the 1960s, she was dubbed “The Queen of Soul”. In 1998, Franklin achieved international acclaim for singing (my favorite) opera aria “Nessun dorma” (from Puccini’s “Turandot”) at the Grammy Awards that year, replacing Luciano Pavarotti. Franklin 112 charted singles on Billboard, including 77 Hot 100 entires, 17 top-ten pop singles, 100 R&B entries and 20 Nr. 1 R&B signles, becoming the most charted female artist in Billboard’s history. She was ranked by Rolling Stone magazine as the No.1 greatest singer of all time. Speaking of Madonna and Aretha, Madonna tried to do a tribute to Aretha at the MTV VMAs on Monday night, but somehow it didn’t come off well and she is being ridiculed for it. I think she was trying to say, if it wasn’t for Aretha, there would be no Madonna, but she told a story about a specific audition in which she used her favorite Aretha song and didn’t get the part. She has said to her detractors since that the speech was not intended to be an Aretha tribute. Meanwhile, Candace Bergen did a much better job telling the story of how she wooed Aretha Franklin to make a cameo on Murphy Brown. Did you know, due to some odd royal custom, Kate and Prince William do not actually have custody of their children? The US Navy said that it is currently allowing the TOP GUN sequel to be filmed aboard a Norfolk, VA-based aircraft carrier. This is disturbing, the #metoo movement, an important revelation of sexual abuse in Hollywood and society, had as one of its most vocal and first accusers of Harvey Weinstein as a rapist, who it turns out was herself a sex abuser, who admits now to having sex with a 17-year-old boy and then paying him off for $380,000 to keep quiet, which was paid by the late Anthony Bourdain, who then took his life weeks later. There is no word yet whether Bourdain’s girlfriend, Asia Argento, will be charged with a crime or if her affair and payoff had anything to do with her boyfriend taking his life. Although, many accusers of Weinstein and others in the entertainment industry have every right to be angry with their abusers, it is sad to see that one accuser was actually a hypocrite. Actor Brian Christopher Lawler was found dead at age 46. Steven Tyler is demanding that President Trump stop playing Aerosmith songs at his rallies, especially since the group is not getting paid for them. McClatchy Newspapers announced layoffs of nearly 4% of staff, in cost-cutting move. They own The Miami Herald, The Kansas City Star, The Idaho Statesman, The Fresno Bee, and The Charlotte Observer. Kim Kardashian and Kanye West announced that they “have one last embryo” for baby No.4. I can’t remember, did they keep naming the points of the compass? John Lithgow will play shamed Roger Ailes in new FOXNEWS movie. Olivia Newton-John is addressing rumors that she’s battling cancer again. Red Sox announcer and former 2B Jerry Remy is battling cancer again. President Trump blasted ESPN’s decision not to televise national anthem. Guggenheim has raised MSG target share price amid sports spin-off plans.

This week’s box-office was weaker than expected, as the blockbusters fell and the debuts underperformed. CRAZY RICH ASIANS debuted at No.1, with $26.5 million (only cost $30 million to make) and got rave reviews; No.2 was megladon Shark movie MEG, which fell out of the top spot, but still made $21.2 million in its 2nd week; No.3 was the debut of MILE 22, with $13.7 million (low for a movie that cost $50 million to make); No.4 was MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT (which I still want to see and review for you) which fell from No.2, with $10.8 million, in its 4th week (total so far of $181 million, just clearing its $178 million budget); and No.5 was the debut of ALPHA (which I want to see), which made $10.4 million (although it cost $51 million to make,, so not so great). DISNEY’S CHRISTOPHER ROBIN which debuted at only No.2 three weeks ago, with $24.6 million, has been a disappointment, only totaling now $66.9 million. THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME has already fallen to a dismal No.13 in its 3rd week. Even MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN (which I must see) has fallen to No.10 (although it has totaled $111.2 million for a $75 million film.)

Movies coming out this week: A.X.L; THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS; BEAUTIFULLY BROKEN; BLUE IGUANA; THE BOOKSHOP; JOHN MCENROE: IN THE REALM OF; AN L.A. MINUTE; PAPILLON (2018 remake); SEARCHING (2018 remake); SUPPORT THE GIRLS.

Movie Reviews:

I’m woefully behind, sorry. I’m going to have to binge-watch to catch up.

Technology & Space News:

Facebook is considering “Trust Ratings” for users. Firefighters fighting the California wildfires have accused Verizon of “throttling” data, crippling their communications during the catastrophe. China has appointed a new Internet czar. President Xi said the Internet must be “clean and righteous.” A Buzzfeed reporter was ejected from China. Google will now reportedly filter out negative news and tell you “something good” instead. Elon Musk has about 129 days to sort out Tesla’s future. Apple appears to be hiring many ex-Tesla employees, not just for autonomous car project. WSJ reports that Microsoft is under a US bribery probe over deals in Hungary. SAIC won a spot on Naval Air Warfare Center training contract.

Political News:

Michael Cohen, the President’s former lawyer, admitted Tuesday that he and Mr. Trump arranged the payment of hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels and pleaded guilty. President Trump’s former campaign chairman was found guilty on 8 counts involving bank and tax fraud, also on Tuesday, after the jury deliberated for 4 days. The jury was not able to reach a verdict on 10 other counts. As it appears that President Trump has a lot on his mind now with former associates getting in trouble, I saw an article that said President Obama was fined $375,000 for campaign reporting violations, the largest such fine ever. There is some rumbling from the Democratic side and media about a possible move to impeach. President Trump said today on Fox & Friends that he learned of Michael Cohen payments “later on”.

Here’s something less controversial, these are the mere changes that President Trump has made to the Oval Office (before on the left, after on the right):

and a change to the carpet and flowers versus apples

US News:

Florida officials just completed the largest food stamp fraud bust in history, seizing some $20 million and arresting 12 Muslim store owners in four cases. There were 8 small convenience stores in South Florida allegedly involved. The store owners allegedly pocketed the millions of dollars in fees for converting food assistance benefits into cash. Six Roman Catholic dioceses of Pennsylvania are under siege for alleged sexual abuse of girls and boys that authorities think may involve thousands of victims, making it potentially the worst case of its kind ever. A grand jury spent nearly two years investigating the Pennsylvania dioceses for potentially 7 decades of sexual abuse and alleged cover-up. The report had remained sealed pending Supreme Court challenges on behalf of about two dozen current and former clergy. The 884-page report alleges that “301 Predator Priests” were involved in sex abuse and lists the names of the priests (except for the two dozen redacted until the Supreme Court hears their challenges), clergy and lay teachers with allegations against them. 99 of them were from the Diocese of Pittsburgh alone. This case appears to be so widespread that it dwarfs similar earlier cases in New York City and Boston. According to the Attorney General Shapiro of PA, “To make it easier to target their victims, the priests gave their favored boys gifts—gold crosses to wear as necklaces. The crosses were markings of which boys had been groomed for abuse.” Former UN Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Prize winner Kofi Annan died at the age of 80. Sadly, the Iowa student, Mollie Tibbetts, who was missing for more than a month, has been found, murdered. A 24-year-old undocumented immigrant has been charged with her murder. Naturally, the arrest has instigated the debate about illegal immigrants. Many politicians are using the murder for their own political forums. Kelli Ward, an Arizona GOP Senate candidate, said the lack of leadership and courage by Sen. John McCain and Jeff Flake contributed to Mollie’s death. As bad as that is, apparently the accused murderer who has a $5,000,000 bail started (or it was started for him) a GoFundMe page and has already raised some $174,000 from people who think this really is an immigration issue. After a public plea to find his wife, Shanann Watts, and two daughters, a Colorado man reversed his story and he confessed to killing all three of them. Since the confession, Christopher Watts now says they got in a fight about a divorce and he watched her on the child monitor strangling the two young children and then killed her himself. Student protesters toppled another Confederate statue in North Carolina and authorities are investigating. Lowe’s has announced that it is closing all 99 locations of Orchard Supply. Target CEO made a bold remark about the consumer environment. Arlington National Cemetery had to be evacuated today due to a bomb threat. Today, at the White House, President Trump awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously to Tech Sergeant John Chapman from US Air Force Special Tactics, the US Air Force equivalent of Special Forces (similar to Army-Green Beret, Marines-ReCon, Navy-SEAL). He showed unbelievable heroism under fire on a frozen mountaintop in Afghanistan in 2002. The investigation by the Pentagon took two years to complete, mostly because of the secret nature of his mission. Chapman had also received posthumously the Air Force Cross. Chapman had been trying to rescue a Navy SEAL, when his team thought that both men had perished and retreated. Chapman had actually, at that point, survived at least six gunshot wounds, to then go on to fight the al-Qaeda extremists. He was killed by machine gun fire as he protected a second helicopter that was arriving. The troops that recovered his body were amazed to find that he had expended virtually all of his 210 rounds of ammunition he had carried into battle. With seemingly no end in sight to our domestic war, another 54 people were shot in Chicago this past weekend. According to the BBC, killings in Chicago have hit a 20-year high, as the grim homicide toll just passed 500 for 2018. Long Beach, CA is apparently under the grip of the Asian Crip gangs. Malibu, CA residents fear a serial attacker is stalking the area. A woman in Florida pulled a building’s fire alarm to get someone’s attention because her cellphone battery died. In Boynton Beach, FL, a teenager who stole an AR-15 and other weapons from an unmarked Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office police vehicle was apprehended, after he “bragged about having it” in a video he posted on Instagram Live. The Sheriff’s department may have gone one step too far, after they made a Facebook post about #OneLessGun, and readers ridiculed them for leaving the car unlocked and allowing their weapons to be stolen. The bottom line, there may be no winners in social media. In Seabrook, NH, a beach I frequented many times as I grew up, a married couple on vacation drowned in a rip current, despite heroic actions by lifeguards on paddleboards, jetskis, and a rescue boat. Five other swimmers were pulled to safety.

International News:

The Asian games opened in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia. Former PM of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee died at the age of 93. Israel has just eased gun controls following lone-wolf attacks. A knife attack occurred in Belgium today in a restaurant and one person was killed and several wounded. Chinese TV is mocking President Trump in sarcastic video. Despite cries from many human rights groups and worldwide criticism, Saudi Arabian prosecutors say they intend to carry out a beheading of a woman activist. She and her husband were arrested in December 2015 “for their roles in organizing anti-government protests in eastern Qatif province in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.” Ghomgham is the first woman in Saudi Arabia to be sentenced to death for political protests. Okay, this is bizarre, but true. In New Zealand, surfers reported that somebody was shooting at them at a lonely point on the coast near the entrance to Kawhia Harbour last Thursday. Other surfers have reported coming under fire at that point in the past, where there was some “extreme localism” where surfing the break created by Albatross Point was by “invite only.” Security companies’ and the FAA’s worst fears seemed to play out in Venezuela last week, as terrorists allegedly used a $5000 drone, equipped it with military grade explosives, and appeared to intend to assassinate Venezuelan President Maduro at a military parade. Two drones were exploded overhead, but far from their intended target, causing panic along the parade route. Some critics are wondering if the assassination attempt wasn’t staged by the embattled President of the economically-challenged country himself. Mexico opened 2,599 homicide investigations in July, the most ever in one month.

Florida:

The Governor has declared a State of Emergency for parts of Florida, including the Treasure Coast (east coast) and the (west coast), with lagoons, rivers, canals and beaches closed. Many fish and oysters have been dying and the toxic muck, which is different on both coasts, is also very dangerous to humans. On the East Coast near the beaches and in the St. Lucie River, several canals, there is a blue-green algae plume which is killing everything and stinking up the area. The Army Corps of Engineers discharges periodically this poisonous water from the Lake Okeechobee’s huge Herbert Hoover dike, which was built after a major hurricane there 100 years ago, which caused major flooding in the area, killing some 2500 people, the . To avoid that ever happening again and to help Florida’s sugar farmers who took over the swampland of the Everglades before 1900, they built the dike and pumping drains to the East at Port St. Lucie River and to the West. They basically changed the natural route for six thousand years of water from Lake Okeechobee to the grasslands and the Everglades. It turns out that the sugar farming, which uses phosphorous in its fertilizer, is actually creating the blue-green algae. The blue-green algae is the consistency of coffee grounds, smells putrid, and can damage human livers. Most conservationists believe the only solution is for the state to buy back the land from the sugar farmers and let the water flow back to the Everglades. Of course, the blue-green algae problem has been exacerbated this year by high amounts of rain and higher-than-normal temperatures in Florida, forcing more discharge and growing more algae. The problem on the West Coast of Florida, in Sarasota County and Collier County, in addition to the discharges near Fort Myers from the canal from Lake Okeechobee, that is killing wildlife, much of it sea turtles (as it is turtle nesting season for several species), and keeping tourists off the beaches is Red Tide. Red Tide is a toxic red algae bloom which flourishes in extra warm weather. The temperature of the seawater is approaching 90 degrees, creating a massive Red Tide bloom, the sea spray of which causes respiratory problems in humans. You get a constant cough or wheeze that you can’t get rid of and it can be deadly for those with COPD or Asthma. It can also be ingested and is toxic for humans, by eating mussels or oysters from the area. The Red Tide is ravaging the southwest coast of Florida, the worst ever in Florida, and may have killed a 26-foot-long whale shark for the first known time, at Sanibel Island, FL. A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologist sampled several of the shark’s organs and they all tested positive for brevetoxin, a neurotoxin created by the harmful algae called Karenia brevis, which is one of many types of algae found in red tide. Manatees, dolphins, and grouper have also been reported dead as a result of the red tide bloom. One important note from a recent USF study, the Red Tide bloom has nothing to do with the blue-green algae runoff from Lake Okeechobee. All of this is damaging the tourist industry, at the number one fishing capital of the world. If there isn’t enough to worry about in Florida (snakes, sharks, spiders, Burmese pythons, panthers, bears, alligators, crocodiles, blue-green algae, and red tide), a Texas man has died over the weekend, after contracting flesh-eating bacteria, fishing off the Gulf coast of Florida, according to officials. He was ‘wade fishing’ with some open sores on his legs in an area that is a breeding ground for oysters and the Vibrio vunificus bacteria that inhabits those areas. He had severe leg pain, blistering skin lesions, fever, nausea and vomiting. He died less than 36 hours after being admitted to the hospital. Vibrio is known to be found in coastal waters where oysters live and cause an estimated 80,000 illnesses and at least 100 deaths in the US annually, according to the CDC. Just last week, a Florida man died from eating an oyster with the same species of the bacteria, according to the NY Post.

I performed as Elvis Presley in full jumpsuit and blackened hair on 8/16 (the anniversary of his death) at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, FL. I also threw out the first pitch. It went well and was followed by an impromptu 12-song gig at Tiramisu, a restaurant in Tequesta, FL, with an entertainer friend of mine, Franco Corso. My harmony group, Generation Gap, just voted by In Tune Magazine as the Best Harmony Group in the state of Florida, and I (again in full Elvis attire) will be performing 9/2 at Cucina Cabana 1pm-3pm in North Palm Beach, FL and again 9/29 at Double Roads Tavern 5pm-8pm in Jupiter, FL.

If you are interested in seeing longer, more famous, concerts, there are many coming to Florida, perhaps when you will be visiting:

Jeff Beck, Paul Rodgers & Ann Wilson-West Palm Beach, August 25
Rick Springfield-Pompano Beach, August 28
Beyonce and Jay-Z-Miami Gardens, August 31
K.D. Lang-Fort Lauderdale-September 7
Paul Simon-Sunrise, September 8
Christine Aguilera-Hollywood, September 25
Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker & Russell Dickerson-West Palm Beach, September 29
Phil Collins-Sunrise-October 5
Kid Rock and Brantley Gilbert-West Palm Beach, October 13
Nikki Minaj with Future-Miami-October 19
Alice in Chains-Hollywood-October 28
Toto-Pompano Beach-October 28
Simple Minds-Miami, November 8
Willie Nelson-Estero, November 12
Elton John-Sunrise, November 23 (I’m there)
Elton John-Miami, November 24
Brian Wilson-Hollywood, December 12
Kansas-Fort Lauderdale-December 15
Fleetwood Mac-Sunrise, February 20
Pink-Sunrise-March 1
Paul Anka-Fort Lauderdale-March 4
Elton John-Sunrise, March 16

Repo Commentary-8/9/2018

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Jay Leno, my Commencement speaker at 1978 Andover High School gradation.
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this is my Harmony Group, now voted best in Florida!
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i thought this was a cool cloud i saw the other day
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Tuesday’s holiday
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me too!
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Lake Worth, FL pier
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license to carry in California
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this is the upcoming Corvette
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The Reagans
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David Bowie
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Ferrari F-50
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Finally, a parking space for men who like grilling!

Hi everyone! I’ve been keeping busy, not only writing the Repo Commentary and exploring job opportunities, but now also consulting on two books.
My Repo Commentary is posted on my new website: http://www.repocommentary.com. You can also view it through LinkedIn and through Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website.
If you need to get hold of me, my cell is 646-753-1300, my email for work is jeffkidwell82@gmail.com, and you can also hit me up on Bloomberg and LinkedIn.
Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information. I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested (70-80%) in entertaining you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures. Also, please send me feedback, as I want to make it better all the time.’

Wednesday’s Holidays or Events:

• International Cat Day
• National Dollar Day
• National Frozen Custard Day
• Odie Day (the cartoon)
• National Zucchini Day
• National Psychiatric Technician Appreciation Day
• Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day
• Date to Create
• Bullet Journal Day
• Dalek Day
• Happiness Happens Day
• Wear Your Mother’s Jewelry Day
• Ceasefire Day in Iraqi Kurdistan
• Namesday of the Queen (Sweden)
• Nane Nane Day (Tanzania)
• Signal Troops Day (Ukraine)
• Vore Day (based on a pun between 8/8 and Ate/Ate)
Tuesday was National Purple Heart Day, in honor of US soldiers wounded in battle.
Some Famous People Born Wednesday in History:
• 422-Casper, ruler of the Maya city of Palenque
• 1079-Emperor Horikawa of Japan
• 1170-Saint Dominic, founder of the Dominicans
• 1306-Rudolf II, Duke of Bavaria
• 1879-Bob Smith, American physician/surgeon, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous
• 1884-Sara Teasdale, American poet and educator
• 1907-Benny Carter, American saxophonist, trumpet player
• 1910-Sylvia Sidney, American actress
• 1919-Dino De Laurentiis, Italian actor/producer
• 1921-Esther Williams, American swimmer and actress
• 1930-Jerry Tarkanian, American basketball player/coach
• 1932-Mel Tillis, American singer/sonwriter/guitarist
• 1933-Joe Tex, American soul singer/songwriter
• 1936-Frank Howard, baseball player/manager
• 1937-Dustin Hoffman, American actor/director
• 1938-Connie Stevens, American actress
• 1947-Ken Dryden, Canadian ice hockey player/lawyer/politician
• 1947-Larry Wilcox, American actor/director/producer
• 1949-Keith Carradine, American actor
• 1950-Ken Kutargi, Japanese businessman, creator of PlayStation
• 1953-Don Most, American actor/director
• 1955-Diddu, Icelandic singer/songwriter
• 1956-Chris Foreman, English singer/songwriter/guitarist
• 1956-David Grant, English singer
• 1958-Deborah Norville, American journalist
• 1961-The Edge, British/Irish musician/singer
• 1961-Rikki Rockett, American glam rock drummer with Poison
• 1976-Drew Lachey, American singer/actor
• 1980-Craig Breslow, American baseball player
• 1981-Roger Federer, Swiss tennis player
• 1989-Anthony Rizzo, American baseball player

This Day in History (Wednesday):

• 870-Treaty of Meerssen-King Louis the German and his half-brother Charles the Bald partition the Middle Frankish Kingdom into two larger east and west divisions.
• 1220-Sweden is defeated by Estonian tribes in the Battle of Lihula.
• 1503-King James IV of Scotland marries Margaret Tudor, daughter of King Henry VII of England in Edinburgh, Scotland.
• 1576-the cornerstone for Tycho Brahe’s Uraniborg observatory is laid on the island of Hven.
• 1585-John Davis entered Cumberland Sound in search of the Northwest Passage.
• 1585-Anglo-Spanish War-the Battle of Gravelines’ naval engagement ends, ending the Spanish Armada’s attempt to invade England.
• 1648-Mehmed IV succeeds Ibrahim I as Ottoman Emperor.
• 1709-Bartolomeu de Gusmao demonstrates the lifting power of hot air in an audience before the king of Portugal in Lisbon.
• 1786-Mont Blanc on the French-Italian border is climbed for the first time by Jacques Balmat and Dr. Michel-Gabriel Paccard.
• 1844-the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, headed by Brigham Young, is reaffirmed as the leading body of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
• 1863-American Civil War-following his defeat in the Battle of Gettysburg, Gen. Robert E. Lee sends a letter of resignation to Confederate President Jefferson Davis (which is refused upon receipt).
• 1876-Thomas Edison receives a patent for his mimeograph.
• 1908-Wilbur Wright makes his first flight at a racecourse at Le Mans, France. It is the Wright Brothers first public flight.
• 1918-WWI-the Battle of Amiens begins a string of almost continuous Allied victories with a push through the German front lines in the Hundred Days Offensive.
• 1929-the German airship Graf Zeppelin begins a round-the-world flight.
• 1942-Quit India Movement is launched in India against the British rule in response to Mohandas Gandhi’s call for swaraj or complete independence.
• 1945-the London Charter is signed by France, the UK, the Soviet Union, and the US, establishing the laws and procedures for the Nuremburg trials.
• 1946-the first flight of the Convair B-36, the world’s first mass-produced nuclear weapon delivery vehicle, the heaviest mass-produced piston-engined aircraft, with the longest wingspan of any military aircraft, and the first bomber with intercontinental range.
• 1963-the Great Train Robbery-in England, a gang of 15 train robbers steals GBP 2.6 million in bank notes.
• 1967-the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is founded by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.
• 1989-at a zebra crossing in London, photographer Iain Macmillan takes the iconic photo that becomes the cover image of the Beatles’ album “Abbey Road”. (I used to have a signed copy of that album)
• 1969-the Manson Family commits the Tate murders.
• 1973-Kim Dae-Jung, a South Korean politician and later president of South Korea, is kidnapped.
• 1974-President Richard Nixon, in a nationwide television address, announces his resignation from the office of President of the Unites States, effective noon the next day.
• 1988-the 8888 Uprising begins in Rangoon (Yangon), Burma (Myanmar). Let by students, hundreds of thousands join in nationwide protests against the one-party regime. On 9/18, the demonstrations end in a military crackdown which killed thousands.
• 1989-Space Shuttle STS-28 Mission Columbia takes off on a secret 5-day military mission.
• 1990-Iraq begins occupation of Kuwait and the state is annexed to Iraq. This would lead to the Gulf War shortly afterward.
• 2000-US Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley is raised to the surface after 136 years on the ocean floor and 30 years after it discovery by undersea explorer E. Lee Spence.
• 2007-an EF2 tornado touches down in Kings County and Richmond County, NY, the most powerful tornado in NY to date and the first in Brooklyn since 1889.
• 2008-a EuroCity express train en route from Krakow, Poland to Prague, Czech Republic strikes a part of motorway bridge that had fallen onto the railroad track near Studenka railway station in the Czech Republic and derails, killing 8 people and injuring 64 others.
• 2010-China Floods-a mudslide in Zhugqu County, Gansu, China kills more than 1400 people.
• 2013-a suicide bombing at a funeral in the Pakistani city of Quetta kills at least 31 people.
• 2016-terrorists attack a government hospital in Quetta, Pakistan with a suicide blast and shooting, killing between 70 and 94 people, and injuring around 130 others.

Fun Fact of the Day:

In the 1970s, the US Air Force had plans to build an aircraft carrier from a Boeing 747, effectively creating a mothership.

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“I never think of the future—it comes soon enough.”—Albert Einstein

International and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices on 7/25 were at $69.52/barrel. Today, they closed at $66.78, significantly lower. However, that has not translated to lower gasoline after at my West Palm Beach gas station, which actually inched up this week to $2.74. However, it varies wildly in Palm Beach County from $2.68 to $3.45, so you have to be careful. The USD versus the Yen is trading at $110.96, unchanged from where it was 7/26. The USD was at 1.1613 versus the Euro, stronger since 7/25. The USD is enormously since 7/25 against the GBP, at $1.2884. The USD is slightly down versus the CAD to $1.3018 since 7/25. Gold closed today at $1213.97/ounce, down somewhat from 7/25. Bitcoin was trading 7/9 at $6,717.99 and at $6,669.97 on 7/17. Then, it jumped to $8185.21 on 7/25. Today, it has collapsed to $6,300.01, barely above the $6000 water-line. The SEC delayed ETF decision has sent bitcoin price lower. Observers believe that the PBOC has not deliberately let yuan depreciate in the trade war with with the US. Turkey’s lira hit another record low.

Saudi Arabia Orders Its Fund Managers to Dump Canadian Assets. Saudi Arabia is ordering its citizens to leave Canada, selling its financial assets there and freezing trade between the two countries as part of an extraordinary diplomatic spat that has brought into global view the kingdom’s extreme sensitivity to Western criticism. WSJ

Discrepancy Over Saudi Oil Data Could Rattle Markets. Saudi Arabia has pressed independent energy analysts to alter their estimates of its oil production, people familiar with the matter said, a move that could put it in conflict with other members of the fractious Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The world’s largest oil exporter has told OPEC it cut output in July, according to delegates, but estimates from the U.S. government and independent agencies say it boosted production—amounting to a huge difference of as much as half a million barrels a day. WSJ,

China Retaliates With New Tariffs, Hunkering Down for a Long Trade Fight.Beijing warned it would match the Trump administration step for step should it move ahead with new tariffs on Chinese imports, as trade data showed the country is shoring up its economy for a long trade conflict with the U.S. China’s Ministry of Commerce on Wednesday criticized the U.S.’s plan to impose new 25% tariffs on $16 billion in Chinese goods on Aug. 23, and released an updated list of items it would target with similar tariffs that would go into effect the same day. WSJ

Global Financial News:

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said the US 10-year Treasury yield could hit 5.00%. In unrelated news, Global Investor announced that JPMorgan was looking to unload its stake in utility EquiLend. Several firms, particularly in the securities finance space, are expected to bid. Glencore reported a record first half profit. China Tower has now listed on the Hong Kong exchange, as has BeiGene. FSB and standard-setting agencies are consulting on effects of regulatory reforms on incentives to centrally clear OTC derivatives, per Finadium. Thomson Reuters has boosted its US Treasury and Interst Rate Swaps pricing solutions through a collaboration with Dealerweb and ICAP. Fidelity has begun no-fee ETFs per Sec Fin Monitor. US Treasury issued its 4th report in their series “A Financial System That Creates Economic Opportunities” and this one focuses on fintech. Requests for municipal CUSIP identifiers were down last month, after rising for 4 months in a row, according to CUSIP Global Services, while the overall total of municipal securities declined 28.9% and seems to show a near-term decrease in the issuance of new securities. Yesterday, New York City’s GO bond offering increased supply to the municipal bond market. Dun & Bradstreet has agreed to be taken private for $6.5 billion by an investor group headed by CC Capital, Cannae Holdings, and funds associated with Thomas H. Lee Partners, according to Reuters. FSB is warning that the Supplementary Leverage Ratio under Basel III could inadvertently discourage banks from centrally clearing derivatives on behalf of customers. According to an analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Fed’s MBS portfolio reduces the broader market’s exposure to prepayment risk. The Treasury Department has published proposed rules regarding a provision in the tax law that allows a 20% deduction for pass-through businesses. Many “specified service” businesses, such as investment managers, financial advisers and physicians, would not be eligible for the tax break, according to the WSJ. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are urging the Federal Reserve to revamp the CCAR to let bank balance sheets shrink, rather than remain static, during stress. The US Treasury’s Office of Financial Research is reportedly going to under job cuts, according to Reuters.

US Market News:

The Dow Jones closed down 45.16 points on Wednesday, leaving it at 25,583.75. S&P500 was nearly unchanged at 2857.70. Credit Suisse said that options investors are focusing on bullish call options on the S&P 500, as it is sitting around its second-highest close ever, per the WSJ. S&P 500 is only 15 points away from its all-time high, which was set in January. Nasdaq was up 4.06 points to 7888.33. Nasdaq is up more than 16% in 2018. Since we last looked 7/25, US Treasuries are mixed in yield, with 2yr at 2.668% (unchanged), 3yr at 2.761% (up almost 1bp), 5yr at 2.831% (down 1bp), 7yr at 2.912% (down 2bp), 10yr at 2.96% (down 1bp), and 30yr at 3.011% (up almost 2bp). Yesterday, the US sold a record amount, $26 billion, of 10-year notes. The auction was $1 billion larger than the auction in May.

Housing News:

Today we get news on Canada housing starts in July and most are expecting a 13.4% drop, retracing most of June’s gains. Yesterday’s building permits report seemed to confirm that. In the US, New Home Prices come out today and are expected to be flat in June, trimming the annual rate to only 0.7%, a far cry from the pace of 2017’s 9-year high.

Pricey Housing Markets in West Are Cooling Off Most Quickly. Western states experienced the sharpest decline for existing-home sales in the second quarter, a sign that rising prices, higher mortgage rates and, to a limited extent, the new tax law are weighing on pricier markets. WSJ

Repo News:  
It has been interesting watching repo funding rates, Fed Funds, and the SOFR. It’s interesting that SOFR is trading closer to O/N Fed Funds rate than to O/N GC Repo, which is because it is more heavily weighted in its calculation on the huge Triparty Repo component of the market, which is pure/lowest offer-side rate of Repo. It does not include the peer-to-peer, all-to-all electronic an OTC component. Until it does, it will always shade to the offer-side, lower rate, like Fed Funds. But, as Scott Skyrm asks, was that the purpose of the Fed, to create a secured O/N funding rate that was close to its Fed Funds rate? GC Treasury collateral has been trading O/N at the dealers at a 1.956% average and Agy MBS collateral has been trading O/N at the dealers about 5bp higher. However, SOFR is at 1.86% and Fed Funds were at 1.91%. Let’s back up a minute, it is worth noting that a) we are talking about dealer offer-side rates (not mid-market repo rates as I used to) and b) the MBS vs Treasury spread had averaged 1.7bp on the offer-side from Dealers since the beginning of 2016, and that has blown out in August to nearly 5bp. The really interesting thing is that many repo market participants are unsure why that happened. I think the number one reason has been the increase and decrease of the issuance of the two products and the repo cash preference lately for more just US Treasuries. There could be a reason deeper in investor and dealer positioning outright more MBS securities as a percentage of Treasuries. Wrightson points out that US Treasury issuance is projected to be a net reduction between the beginning of September and October, ending the cycle of ever-increasing issuance.

Securities Lending Times has been reporting that the first direct beneficial owner trade has been settled through cooperation of six organizations, including EquiLend Clearing Services, Eurex, BNY Mellon, Euroclear, PGGM, and Morgan Stanley.

I see the Repo and Securities Lending market as having changed in many permanent ways. We traditionally had a credit intermediator, the broker/dealers (originally just the primary broker/dealers) and later prime brokers, who were the pipeline through their respective repo matched books for collateral providers to trade with cash providers, without the two sides ever knowing about each other or facing each other. That lack of knowledge of the other side of the repo matched book came at a couple of costs, first, the bid/offer spread that went to the dealers and second, the defaults of the Financial Crisis and the impact on some of the dealers that then cost their clients. Clearly, with that pipeline becoming severely crimped by post-Financial Crisis regulatory reforms, consolidation and bankruptcies, and the resulting drop of about 60% in balance sheets being used for broker/dealer respective repo matched books, new pathways/pipelines needed to be found for cash provider and collateral provider clients. AVM’s Direct Repo™ was the first of one of such pathways. Since then, other pathways to these markets have been created, including: the Federal Reserve’s RRP program with cash providers, peer-to-peer financing as reported on Treasury OFR’s website between MMFs and Insurance Companies, As Agent repo through seclending agents and now some prime brokers, direct lending from beneficial owner to hedge funds who are short, indemnified As Agent repo, buyside to buyside Triparty Repo through two international clearing organizations, electronic all-to-all repo on a few electronic trading platforms like Elixium and BNY DBVX, FICC’s sponsored repo and cleared repo products to entice certain sectors of the buyside into that CCP, and other Repo and/or Seclending CCPs (several still being worked on, particularly in Europe). I believe this evolution will continue and eventually we will see all of these pathways used, including the traditional pathway (to probably a lesser than historical degree) through the broker/dealers and prime brokers.

Upcoming Repo Industry Conferences: 
 

• IMN will hold its 23rd annual European Beneficial Owners’ International Securities Finance & Collateral Management Conference in London, 9/12-9/13. I’ve attended this before.
• IMN will hold its 24th annual ABS East Conference in Miami Beach, on 9/23-25. I’ve attended this before.
• National Association of State Treasurers (NAST) will hold its Annual Conference in Scottsdale, AZ on 9/30-10/3. I’ve been invited to this before.
• SIFMA-will hold its Annual Meeting in Washington, DC on 10/1-10/2.
• Risk Management Association (RMA) will hold the 35th annual RMA Conference on Securities Lending in Key Biscayne, FL on 10/8-10/11. I will be there, I don’t want to break my streak of attending every one of them!
• Finadium will hold its 2nd annual Rates & Repo conference in NYC 11/5. I’m thinking of going to this one too. I have moderated/sponsored this one before.
• Association of Financial Professionals (AFP) is holding its annual Treasury & Finance conference in Chicago on 11/4-11/7.
• RISK USA will hold 24th annual conference in NYC 11/7-11/9. I have chaired/moderated this one before.

Federal Reserve News:

Fed Funds, which trade mostly between some banks and GSEs, opened today at 1.91%.

The next FOMC meetings are: 9/20/18, 11/1/18, 12/13/18, 1/30/19, 3/20/19, 5/1/19, 6/19/19, 7/31/19, 9/18/19, 10/30/19, 12/11/19, 1/29/20 (reflecting the Fed’s just announced tentative schedule for 2019).

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (16 banks, 14 GSEs, 101 money market funds from various fund families), is now set at the rate of 1.75%. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight. Remember when RRP was trading at year-end for $465 billion? Well, on 5/15, there was only $20 million in bids submitted. MMF cash and GSE cash has moved out of the Fed’s RRP and into the Repo market, but it hasn’t really brought down the GC repo rate, which is strange.

If you are wondering about RRP, it is nearly extinct. In July, excluding month-end, volume averaged only $2.8 billion per day. As Scott Skyrm says, it has just become a mechanism for the Fed to supply collateral when its scarce for money market funds on month-ends and quarter-ends, as dealer balance sheets dry up at those times.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

Sunday night, a 6.9 magnitude quake hit the popular tourist island Lombok in Indonesia. It was the second deadly quake in a week and has been followed by some 200 aftershocks. The earthquake also impacted the neighboring resort island of Bali. More than 98 people are dead and hundreds are injured. Thousands of tourists and locals spent the night outdoors and are currently stranded. Indonesia is prone to earthquakes, being situated on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific. In 2004, a massive quake of 9.1 magnitude that struck off of Sumatra island triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.

Weather:

The Atlantic Hurricane Season began Friday, June 1st. For 2018, Colorado State University experts have predicted that this season will be a busy, above average hurricane season. They have predicted 14 named Tropical Storms, of which 7 will become Hurricanes. Both are above the averages of 12 and 6, respectively. But, remember, last year they were way off. Unfortunately, they were way off the wrong way, with way more storms. They had predicted 11 Tropical Storms, of which 4 would be Hurricanes. Instead, we had 17 Tropical Storms and had 10 Hurricanes. Here are the 2018 Storm names:
Alberto done
Beryl done
Chris done
Debby done
Ernesto
Florence
Gordon
Helene
Isaac
Joyce
Kirk
Leslie
Michael
Nadine
Oscar
Patty
Rafael
Sara
Tony
Valerie
William
The NHC reports that Tropical Storm Debby is beginning to accelerate NE over the cold waters of North Atlantic, probably reducing its likely impact on southern US.
The Government of Puerto Rico, which originally estimated that 64 US citizens died during Hurricane Maria, submitted a report to Congress last night that showed 1427 US citizens died in the hurricane, yet, the official death toll is still 64.
The Pacific Hurricane Season began on May 1st. Category-4 hurricane Hector blew by Hawaii, with winds of 145mph, probably hitting the area between Wednesday and Thursday. Meanwhile, Tropical Storm John weakened to a Tropical Storm, with 70 mph winds, but still has dangerous surve and is West of the Baja peninsula. Also, Tropical Storm Kristy has strengthened slightly while moving NNW over the open Pacific with 50 mph winds.
Let’s talk about weather, here in Florida, it is ridiculously hot, with temps in the mid-90s and ‘feels-like’ temps in the 105-110 range. Also, the water temperature is 88 degrees and the sand is really hot. But, I’m not complaining. Shark sightings, however, are on the rise. Temps and heat indexes are above 100 degrees in the West, Southwest, Northwest, and Northeast this week. The hot and dry conditions across the western US is only making the wildfire situation worse.

Sports News:

MLB:

The MLB season hit the 7/31 Trade Deadline. To recap the big trades over the last month (in the order I read them sort of): at the close of the trade deadline, the Pirates landed the best pitcher in the trade market in Rays’ ace Chris Archer for RHP Tyler Glasnow, OF Austin Meadows, and ‘a player to be named later’, the Braves countered by sending 4 prospects to the the Orioles for RHP Kevin Gausman and RHP Darren O’Day, the Dodgers swung for the fences to get 2B Brian Dozier from the Twins to put alongside recently acquired Manny Machado and gave the Twins 2B Logan Forsythe, OF Luke Raley, and LHP Devin Smeltzer, the Dodgers also acquired RHP John Axford from the Blue Jays for RHP Corey Copping, the Mariners landed outstanding OF Cameron Maybin of the Marlins to join his former teammate Dee Gordon and gave up INF Bryson Brigman and international bonus pool money, the Diamondbacks scoffed up LHP Jake Diekman and cash from the Rangers for RHP Wei-Chieh Huang and ‘a player to be named later’ (most traded guy ever) and Diekman actually used the bullpen cart to go from one team to the other, the Indians scarfed up OF Oscar Mercado from the Cardinals for OF Conner Capel and OF Jhon Torres, the Brewers beat the buzzer with a scoop up of Orioles INF Jonathan Schoop at the deadline for INF Jonathan Villar, RHP Luis Ortiz, and INF Jean Carmona, the White Sox picked up LHP Hunter Schryver from the Rays for international bonus money (I guess that’s important in the future), the Phillies acquired LHP Aaron Loup from the Blue Jays for RHP Jacob Waguespack, the Cubs picked up RHP Brandon Kintzler from the Nationals for RHP Jhon Romero, the Phillies picked up star C Wilson Ramos from the Rays for ‘a player to be named later’ (who should be in the HOF given how many times he’s been traded the last 100 years!), the D-Backs picked up awesome submariner RHP Brad Ziegler (who played for 7 seasons before with the D-Backs) from the Marlins for RHP Tommy Eveld, the Indians acquired CF Leonys Martin and RHP Kyle Dowdy from the rival Tigers for SS Willi Castro, the Rays acquired OF Tommy Pham and international bonus pool money from the Cardinals for LHP Genesis Cabrera, OF Justin Williams, RHP Roel Ramirez, the Pirates picked up RHP Keone Kela from the sinking Rangers for LHP Taylor Hearn and ‘a player to be named later’, the Red Sox shockingly acquired all-star 2B Ian Kinsler and cash for RHP Ty Buttrey and LHP Williams Jerez (I guess Dustin Pedroia is not coming back soon?), the Braves acquired OF Adam Duval from the reeling Reds for RHP Lucas Sims, RHP Matt Wisler, and OF Preston Tucker, the Yankees acquired starter Lance Lynn and cash from the Twins for RHP Luis Rojo and 1B/OF Tyler Austin, the Mariners acquired RHP Adam Warren from the Yankees for international bonus pool money, the Astros acquired starter Roberto Osuna from the Blue Jays for RHP Ken Giles, RHP Hector Perez, and RHP David Paulino, the Mariners acquired LHP Zach Duke from the Twins for RHP Chase De Jong and INF Ryan Costello, star SS Manny Machado was traded for 5 players by the Orioles to the Dodgers; the Orioles traded closer Zach Britton to the Yankees, who demoted their closer Aroldis Chapman, for RHP Dillon Tate, RHP Cody Carroll, and LHP Josh Rogers; the Rangers traded starter Cole Hamels to the Cubs for RHP Eddie Butler, RHP Rollie Lacy and another player; the Braves acquired RHP Brad Brach from the Orioles; the White Sox acquired LHP Caleb Frare from the Yankees for cash; the Cardinals acquired LHP Chase Shreve and RHP Giovanny Gallegos from the Yankees for 1B Luke Voit and cash; the Brewers acquired 3B Mike Moustakas from the Royals for OF Brett Phillips and RHP Jorge Lopez; the Astros acquired RHP Ryan Pressly from the Twins for RHP Jorge Alcala and OF Gilberto Celestino; the Philles acquired INF Asdrubal Cabrera from the Mets for RHP Franklyn Kilome; the Diamondbacks acquired IF Eduardo Escobar from the Twins for RHP Jhoan Duran, OF Gabriel Maciel, and OF Ernie De La Trinidad; the Mariners acquired RHP Sam Tuivailala fromt eh Cardinals for RHP Seth Elledge; the Braves acquired LHP Johnny Venters from the Rays for an international signing slot; the Yankees acquired LHP J.A. Happ from the Blue Jays for 3B Brandon Drury and OF Billy McKinney; the Brewers acquired RHP Joakim Soria from the White Sox for LHP Kodi Medieros and RHP Wilber Perez; the Astros acquired C Martin Maldonado from the Angels for LHP Patrick Sandoval and international bonus pool money; the Rockies acquired RHP Seung-Hwan Oh from the Blue Jays for 1B Chad Spanberger, OF Forrest Wall, and cash; the Diamonbacks acquired RHP Matt Andriese from the Rays for RHP Brian Shaffer and C Michael Perez; the Red Sox acquired starter Nathan Eovaldi from the Rays for LHP Jalen Beeks; the Royals acquired OF Brian Goodwin from the Nationals for RHP Jacob Condra-Bogan; the A’s acquired RHP Jeurys Familia from the Mets for 3B William Toffey, RHP Bobby Wahl, and international bonus pool money; the Cubs acquired RHP Jesse Chavez from the Rangers for LHP Tyler Thomas; the Indians acquired RP Brad Hand and RP Adam Cimber from the Padres for C Francisco Mejia; the Twins acquired OF Jeremy Hazelbaker from the Rays for cash; the Rays acquired LHP Hoby Milner from the Phillies for cash; the Indians acquired RHP James Hoyt from the Astros for RHP Tommy DeJuneas; and the Red Sox acquired 1B/OF Steve Pearce and cash from the Blue Jays for SS Santiago Espinal.
Okay, done! I can’t read the trade wire anymore. Font is too small and goes by too fast. It’s like the old NYSE ticker tape…none of you guys were around then.
In the AL East, the Red Sox have not let up on the gas. They became the first team to reach 81 wins this season last night. Sunday night, the Red Sox came from behind, down 4-1 in the 9th inning to beat Yankees’ closer Aroldis Chapman and sweep the Yankees in a crucial 4-game series at Fenway Park. That put the Red Sox at 45 games over .500, the best record they have had since 1913 with Babe Ruth. They have since won two more in Toronto, including a 10th inning barnburner Tuesday and a 10-7 victory last night. They have won 13 out of last 14, putting them 9 games ahead of the Yankees, who won on Monday 7-0 over the White Sox to stop their 5-game skid, with newly acquired starter Lance Lynn, and then came from behind to win again last night. The two teams still play each other many more times this season, particularly at the end, so anything can happen. The Red Sox ace, one of the best pitchers in MLB, Chris Sale, is still on the 10-day DL with some soreness in his shoulder, joining their starters Eduardo Rodriguez and Steven Wright, as well as their starting 2B Dustin Pedroia and their new replacement 2B Ian Kinsler. 3B Rafael Devers just came off the DL on Tuesday night. The Yankees manager Aaron Boone says discussed underperforming expensive starter Sonny Gray’s role in the rotation and moved him to the bullpen. During last week’s loss to the lowly Orioles, Yankees 3B coach Phil Nevin was chewing out players during the game. The Rays, Blue Jays, and Orioles threw in the towel a while ago. The AL Central, is still being led by the Indians, who just won 3 in a row, and who have a 10-game lead over the Twins, and there’s no one after that. The Twins appear to have given in, trading away key players. The Tigers (lost 6 in a row), White Sox, and Royals (lost 5 in a row) have thrown in the towel. In the AL West, the World Champion Astros are still in first place, but only 5 games ahead of the red—hot A’s winning 6 in a row (best record since the All-Star break in MLB), who jumped over the sinking Mariners, now 8 games back of the Indians. The Rangers and Trout-less Angels have thrown in the towel. In the NL East, the Phillies lead the Braves, but only by 1/2-game. The Nationals are only 6 games behind the Phillies. Yesterday, the Braves beat the Nats for the second time in a row, to improve their chances. The Marlins and Mets threw in the towel a long time ago. In the NL Central, the Cubs have somehow held on to first place, now 1 ½ games ahead of the Brewers. Neither team is playing terrific right now. Meanwhile, the Pirates have suddenly cooled off and are 7 1/2 games behind the Cubs. The Cards have jumped into the No.3 spot, just 6 ½ games behind the Cubs. Watch out for the Cards! The Reds have thrown in the towel. The NL West is still a tight race, with Diamondbacks overtaking the Dodgers by ½-game, and the Rockies close behind 3 games back. The Giants are also in striking distance, 6 ½ games back of the Diamondbacks. But Giants ace Johnny Cueto will now undergo Tommy John surgery. Only the Padres have thrown in the towel in this division. The Blue Jays have promoted Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to AAA. Meanwhile, SS Troy Tolowitzki is optimistic about his return this year to the Blue Jays from the DL. The Nationals demolished the rival Mets on last Tuesday 25-4, setting 3 records (most runs scored by Nats in a game, most hits by Nats in a game-26, worst loss in Mets history), but for some reason reliever Shawn Kelley for the Nats gave up a meaningless HR in the 9th inning and threw his glove 20 feet in disgust. Nats manager Dave Martinez, who deliberately did not put a position player in to pitch and embarrass the Mets, but instead used a pitcher, was so disgusted by Kelley’s tantrum that he yanked him and brought in another pitcher. The GM was even more enraged and immediately put Kelley on waivers and he will be out of the Nationals organization. After decades, the movie SANDLOT is getting a sequel. Astros star Springer left last Tuesday game injured and now has a second injury. Yankees’ new starter J.A. Happ reportedly was sent home with hand, foot and mouth disease. You don’t hear that very often. There are rumors that the Angles may be tossing manager Mike Sciosia. The Astros released a statement and activated controversial relief pitcher they acquired from the Blue Jays. Ex-Met Wally Backman is still seeking a way back to the Majors as a coach. A streaker at a Mariners game could be facing deportation from Canada. A convicted child molester, Oregaon State’s Luke Heimlich, went undrafted in the MLB 2018 Draft. Also, his contract was terminated by a Chinese baseball league. Red Sox announcer, Jerry Remy’s cancer has returned. Yankees’ OF Jacoby Ellsbury, who has been on the DL the entire season, is having another surgery and will be out 6 more weeks. Rick Ankiel is talking about a 2019 MLB comeback as a relief pitcher. He originally was a great starting pitcher, then had a fluke problem with wild pitches, then taught himself to be a slugging outfielder, until he was suspended a few times, and now he wants to be a relief pitcher. The Nationals and former Cardinals reliever Greg Holland have agreed to terms. Former MLB pitcher Esteban Loaiza will plead guilty in cocaine case. Roberto Osuan’s Astros debut was 5 pitches, 3 outs, and the win. On Monday, the Pirates acquired SS Adeiny Hechavarria from the Rays for RHP Matt Seelinger. Astros’ Carlos Correa’s foul ball actually bounced to his fiancée Daniella Rodriguez.

Tennis:

The Rogers Cup is currently being played 8/4-8/12. It is also referred to at the Canadian Open and is the 3rd oldest tournament in all of tennis. They are playing their matches at a few venues in Toronto. They are currently in the Round of 32. No.10 Copil, No.11 Berankis, No.9 Basic, and No.4 Jazin were upset in the qualifiers. Peter Polansky was ousted in rematch with Novak Djokovic. The last time they played each other was 9 years ago at the 2009 Rogers Cup in Montreal.

Golf:

The PGA Tour went to Akron, OH, to Firestone CC for the 20th and last WGC Bridgestone Invitational for the top-50 ranked golfers in the world, which is one of Tiger Woods’ favorite courses/tournaments, where he won a record 8 times. He’s had 12 top-10 finishes in 15 starts there and earned more than $11 million in total on that course. Tiger made the cut, but had trouble making the fairways and settled for an average score, particularly Saturday. He is beginning to tire, after a rigorous 13-tournament schedule, and still has 5 more tournaments this year, which would be his busiest since 2005. The winner was Justin Thomas, who ran away with Sunday’s round, beating Kyle Stanley by 4 strokes, for his 9th career win at age 25. Jordan Spieth ahs two more, but with a two-year headstart on Tour. Meanwhile, the non-Top-50 PGA players played the Barracuda Championship in Reno, NV, at Montreux G&CC. Andrew Putnam won over Chad Campbell with a Stableford scoring system. On the web.com tour, they played the KC Golf Classic and Sepp Straka won over Kyle Jones. The PGA Champions Tour played the 3M Championship and Kenny Perry won by 3 strokes over Wes Short Jr. In the Ricoh Women’s British Open, Georgia Hall won by 2 strokes over Pornanong Phatium. In case you are looking ahead, the 100th PGA Championship, the final major, is this week at Bellerive CC in St. Louis, MO. The defending champion there is last week’s winner Justin Thomas. The Ryder Cup will be in France 9/28-9/30. The British Open made a rules violation and should give itself a multiple-stroke penalty, as it somehow mistakenly sent the Open winnings ($154,480) of 12th place finisher, Tommy Fleetwood, to the wrong Tommy Fleetwood, a golf teacher. If you were watching the Bridgestone Invitational this past weekend, you no doubt noticed the yellow ribbon attached to every players’ cap. It was for Australian golfer and friend of all, Jarrod Lyle, who has been battling with cancer. Sadly, he died after the tournament.

Fighting:

WWE
The WWE announced its first-ever all women’s event, “Evolution”.
MMA
UFC Boise saw Dos Santos beat Ivanov after 5 rounds. In Bellator 203, Patricio Freire retained title in a split decision. After his Belator 202 injury, just 58 seconds into a fight with Michael MacDonald, Eduardo Dantas needs emergency surgery on his broken leg. Nick Diaz is calling out Cormier, saying his and Brock Lesnar’s WWE antics were embarrassing at UFC 226. An MMA fighter who pleaded guilty to raping a college student got 7 years in jail and lifetime probation. There are mixed feelings in the media about Chuck Liddell coming out of retirement to face Tito Ortiz for Golden Boy.

Boxing

On Saturday night:
Luis Ortiz decimated Razvan Conjanu with a 2nd round TKO, upsetting the heavyweight division and laying his claim to a title shot.
8/4
Sergey Kovalev vs. Eleider Alvarez-Kovalev’s WBO Light Heavyweight title
Former welterweight champions Andre Berto and Devon Alexander will fight at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Long Island, NY
Dmitry Bivol vs. TBA-Bivol’s WBA Light Heavyweight title
Sullivan Barrera vs. TBA-Light heavyweights
8/18
Carl Frampton vs. Luke Jackson-Frampton’s WBO interim Featherweight title
Tyson Fury vs. TBA-Heavyweights
9/8
Danny Garcia vs Shawn Porter title fight.
9/22
Anthony Joshua (2012 Olympic gold medalist at super heavyweight and current IBF, WBA, and WBO heavyweight champ will face Alexander Povetkin in London

Racing:

The winner of the Tour de France was Geraint Thomas.
NASCAR Chairman/CEO, Brian France, will be taking a leave of absence, after being pulled over for DUI and possession of oxycodone.
2018 NASCAR Schedule and results:
2/18 Daytona 500-Daytona Intl Speedway-won by Austin Dillon
2/25 Folds of Honor QuikTrip-Atlanta Motor Speedway-Kevin Harvick
3/4 Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube-Las Vegas Motor Speedway-Kevin Harvick
3/11 TicketGuardian 500-ISM Raceway-Kevin Harvick
3/18 Auto Club 400-Auto Club Speedway-Martin Truex Jr.
3/26 STP 500-Martinsville Speedway-Clint Bowyer
4/8 O’Reilly Auto Parts 500-Texas Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
4/16 Food City 500-Bristol Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
4/21 Toyota Owners 400-Richmond Raceway-Kyle Busch
4/29 GEICO 500-Talladega Speedway-Joey Logano
5/6 AAA 400 Drive for Autism-Dover International Speedway-Kevin Harvick
5/12 KC Masterpiece 400-Kansas Speedway-Kevin Harvick
5/19 Monster Energy Open-Charlotte Motor Speedway-AJ Allmendinger
5/19 Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race-Charlotte-Kevin Harvick
5/27 Coca-Cola 600-Charlotte Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
6/3 Pocono 400-Pocono Raceway-Martin Truex Jr.
6/10 FireKeepers Casino 400-Michigan International Speedway-Clint Bowyer
6/24 Toyota/Save Mart 350-Sonoma Raceway-won by Martin Truex Jr.
7/1 Overton’s 400-Chicagoland Speedway-won by Kyle Busch.
7/7 Coke Zero Sugar 400–Daytona International Speedway-won by Erik Jones
7/14 Quaker State 400-Kentucky Speedway-won by Martin Truex Jr.
7/22 Foxwoods Resort Casino 301-New Hampshire Motor Speedway-won by Kevin Harvick over Kyle Busch.
7/29 Gander Outdoors 400-Pocono Raceway-won by Kyle Busch over Daniel Suarez.
8/5 GoBowling at the Glen-Watkins Glen International-won by Chase Eilliott over Martin Truex Jr.
8/12 Consumers Energy 400-Michigan International Speedway

NCAA Basketball:

Five-star Kahlil Whitney has committed to Kentucky.

NCAA Football:

College football season kickoff is on 8/25. Just a reminder, Alabama won the National Championship last season. Legendary coach, Urban Meyer, of Ohio State has been put on paid administrative leave, while it conducts an investigation on whether the coach knew of a reported 2015 incident of domestic abuse between former assistant coach Zach Smith and his ex-wife. Jay Paterno says Ohio State should “wait for facts” regarding Urban Meyer. I’m not saying anything, as many of the 658,000 Penn State alumni read this Commentary. Florida transfers Van Jefferson and Trevon Grimes have been cleared by the NCAA as eligible to play. Gainesville PD released a video of finding an AR-15 in Florida WR’s car. Nebraska coach Scott Frost’s house was burglarized. Georgia added to their wealth of RBs with 5-star John Emery Jr. commitment. Alabama has extended Nick Saban’s contract through 2025 season. Former Miami RB Tyrone Moss is dead at 33. QB Jalen Hurts said to Nick Saban that he is staying at Alabama, to compete with Tua Tagovailoa. A Maine freshman football player died after collapsing during workout. FSU and LSU reportedly agreed to a two-game series.
Here is Sporting News’ way-too-early Top 25 rankings:
1. Alabama
2. Clemson
3. Georgia
4. Ohio State
5. Oklahoma
6. Wisconsin
7. Washington
8. Auburn
9. Notre Dame
10. Penn State
11. Miami
12. Michigan
13. Michigan State
14. Stanford
15. USC
16. UCF
17. Virginia Tech
18. LSU
19. TCU
20. FSU
21. Oklahoma State
22. Texas
23. South Carolina
24. Mississippi State
25. Boise State

NFL:

The NFL preseason has started with last week’s Hall of Fame game, between the Bears and Ravens. A slate of preseason games will be contested tonight. The NFL regular season is 9/6. The Patriots signed WR Eric Decker. Former NFL star Shawne Merriman, 34, signed deal with World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation. Packers Jake Ryan reportedly has torn ACL and is out for the season. Johnny Manziel “feels very blessed” to be starting his first CFL game on Friday. The Saints have signed WR Michael Floyd. Browns WR Antonio Callaway has been cited for marijuana possession reportedly. Jets QB Teddy Bridgewater says he is grateful for a second chance. And, just like that, the Jets reward him by saying that they are willing to trade him for the right offer. Nice! Retired WR Steve Smith Sr. is detailing his battle with depression. After his unusual Hall of Fame Induction (on his own in Tennessee), Terrell Owens had a workout for a CFL team the next day. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is now considering requiring future inductees to attend enshrinement. QB Philip Rivers says he isn’t thinking about retirement. WR Odell Beckham Jr.’s negotiation stalled again with the Giants. Malcolm Jenkins is hinting at a Players Coalition statement on National Anthem policy. Browns coach Hue Jackson says that Duke Johnson is not moving to WR. Rams DT Aaron Donalds says he does not plan to end his holdout anytime soon. The Cardinals lost their starting center, A.Q. Shipley, with season-ending ACL injury. Falcons signed safety Ricardo Allen to a 3year extension. The Patriots officially released WR Malcolm Mitchell, who has been hampered by injuries since missing all of last season. He just had a knee procedure at the end of July. NFL legend, Jim Brown, one of the first athletes to speak out about race and politics, recently gave a hard-line stance about protesting the National Anthem by kneeling before NFL games. The man who once organized the “Cleveland Summit” between him, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Muhammad Ali to address race and political issues and support Ali’s refusal to serve in the Vietnam War, says he would never kneel for a National Anthem “and I will always respect the flag.” The National Anthem protest controversy has now made its way back to the 49ers, who vowed yesterday to have a special ceremony to honor the American flag prior to kickoff of its preseason game tonight against the Cowboys in the 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium. They will halt all movement in the stadium, including concessions of food and drinks and purchases at team store, and even entrance of fans into the stadium during the National Anthem.

NHL:

The NHL preseason starts on 9/15. Coyotes will retire Shane Doan’s No.19 jersey. Bruins will retire Rick Middleton’s No.16 jersey. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has been in gambling negotiations. Defenseman Brady Skjei agreed to a 6year deal with the Rangers. Canuck’s president Trevor Linden left the organization. Wild and Jason Zucker agreed to a 5year/$27.5 million deal. Jarome Iginla will announce his retirement from the NHL with the Flames. Penguins owner and former legend Mario Lemieux has listed his Quebec castle for $22 million. Blackhawks legend Stan Mikita has died at age 78. William Karlsson and Golden Knights avoided arbitration with an 11th hour deal. The Ducks signed goaltender John Gibson to an 8year/$51.2 million extension. The Senators signed leading scorer Mark Stone to a 1year deal. The Sabres acquired Jeff Skinner from the Hurricanes.

NBA:

The NBA Finals also mercifully ended in June, after starting their season in October. The Summer League is underway. Preseason will be upon us soon. The Jazz extended Dante Exum to a 3year contract worth $33 million. Akron, Ohio’s LeBron James declined his option for hometeam Cavaliers and then quickly signed with the Lakers for 4years/$154 million. Kevin Love has signed a 4-year extension with the Cavaliers for 4years/$120 million. Spurs superstar Kawhi Leonard finally landed with the Raptors. After a falling out with San Antonio, he says he will “fall in love with Toronto”. He gets $20 million for this upcoming season and then will be eligible for a 5year/$190 million max extension next summer. If he doesn’t sign with the Raptors for that amount, the most he can get from a new team will be 4years/$141 million, significantly less money. The Raptors sent face-of-the-franchise DeMar DeRozan to the Spurs. The Warriors snatched up free agent DeMarcus Cousins for one year/$5.3 million. The Rockets snatched up Carmelo Anthony to a veteran/minimum deal. They also re-signed free agent Clint Capela. That followed their re-signing of star Chris Paul to a 4year/$160 million contract. But, they did lose Trevor Ariza to a one year/$15 million deal with the Suns when free agency began on 7/1. Dwight Howard says he wants to finish his career with the Wizards. Tobias Harris has reportedly turned down an $80 million extension offer from the Clippers. Dirk Nowitzki has re-signed with the Mavericks for 21st season and his set to break the NBA record. Reportedly, free agent Isaiah Thomas was open to returning to the Celtics. There are rumors that Dwyane Wade may be heading to China from the Heat. ESPN’s new power couple, Jalen Rose and Molly Qerim have gotten married in private. The Knicks reached agreement with Noah Vonleh. 76ers tar Joel Embiid says his goal is to win MVP next season. Derrick Rose announced that he’s starting a scholarship program. The Bucks waived guard Brandon Jennings. There is a rumor that the Cavs are looking to sign former Bulls guard David Nwaba. The Pacers are reportedly near extension with coach Nate McMillan. There is a rumor that the Nets and Knicks will be pursuing Celtics’ Kyrie Irving next offseason. The NBA and WBNA singed a historic deal with betting sponsor MGM. The Feds have busted a $70 million counterfeit Air Jordans ring.

Travel News:

I took the next step, the high-speed BrightLine train from West Palm Beach, FL to Miami, FL, and loved it! It took only 1 hour and 6 minutes, a ride that normally takes me 2 hours minimum to up to at least 3 hours. The white leather seats and free drinks, plus a partnership with Lyft that gets you 10% off. For $30! An Alaska sightseeing plane crash has left 4 dead and 1 missing. A small plane crashed into a California parking lot, killing 5 people, all inside the plane, one mile from the airport. The 645-foot-tall Millennium Tower in San Francisco is back in the news. Dubbed “the Leaning Tower of San Francisco”, cost $550 million to build and is full of lavish condominiums and many amenities, and many tech barons and famous tenants, like QB Joe Montana. At a residents’ meeting in May of 2016, those residents were told that the building was sinking and tilting. So far, since the foundation was poured in 2006, according to CBS News, the building has sunk 17 inches and tilted 14 inches to the NW. It was anticipated that the building would sink about 4-5 inches over its 100-year life. The building is built out of concrete, rather than steel, which saved the builders money, but made the structure much heavier. Another potential problem is that its foundation of concrete is driven 80 feet into the ground, which includes rubble from the 1906 earthquake, brick, landfill, gold rush sand, mud and clay. To reach bedrock, you would have to go down 200 feet. The three solutions that have so far been proposed are: freezing the ground under the building, chopping off the top 20 stories to reduce the weight, or driving pillars into the bedrock and have the foundation rest on them. Some tenants reportedly have now sold their apartments for approximately half of what they purchased them for. The second-largest wildfire in California’s history, the Mendocino Complex fire, is only 30% contained and has burned more than 273,000 acres. It is on pace to become the largest wildfire in state history, surpassing the Thomas fire, which burned some 281,000 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties late last year. They have now deployed US Army soldiers to help fight the wildfire. An abandoned fort used to defend the British during WWI is up for sale, along with the entire private island it is sitting on, off the coast of Pembrokeshire in the UK. The Stack Rock Fort was built in 1850 and decommissioned in 1929. It needs a lot of work and is up for $500,000. A 79-year-old Junkers Ju 52 aircraft crashed in Switzerland, killing all 20 people on board. Hard Rock says it prefers the Hokkaido Prefecture for its Japan international resort, as it announced group revenue of $6 billion in 2017. The mother of a dead fetus that was found on Tuesday on an American Airlines plane has been identified as a Brooklyn, NY teenager.

Health News:

The entire class of 30 students at the new College of Medicine at the University of Houston will get free tuition for all 4 years, thanks to an anonymous donor of $3 million. You may have noticed the movement among restaurants and a few chains to stop using plastic straws and either use no straws or used biodegradable paper straws in their place. But, plastic straws are the tip of the plastic iceberg that we have created. In the 1950s, polypropylene (the technical term for plastic) changed the world, as the cheap, durable, sanitary, and light pellets could be molded into almost anything. The problem is that it doesn’t biodegrade, so it lasts a really long time. We have produced some 8.3 billion metric tons of the stuff, which could cover the entire state of California. 70% of plastic winds up in landfills for decades. But, every year, somewhere between 5 and 12 million metric tons of it winds up in the ocean. It winds up killing wildlife and also winds up back in our food, salt, and water. The World Economic Forum predicts that by 2050, unless something drastic is done, our oceans will contain more plastic than fish. By the way, only about 9% of plastic gets recycled. UnitedHealth is reported to have agreed to buy Genoa Health.

Animal News:

A shark sighting in the surf of Myrtle Beach caused a seaside frenzy. South Carolina, particularly along myrtle beach and garden city beach, does see sharks every summer. Typically, the species are spinner sharks (not very aggressive), hammerhead sharks (not very aggressive), blacktip sharks (can bite humans), lemon sharks (usually don’t bite humans), tiger sharks (very dangerous to humans, No.3), and bull sharks (very dangerous to everything, including other sharks, No.5). The most dangerous shark to humans is the Great White, which is not common in the shallow coastal waters. The 3rd-most dangerous shark is the Shortfin Mako and it has been blamed for many attacks on humans, but it is typically to fisherman as it is a deepwater fish. The 4th most dangerous shark is the Oceanic Whitetip Shark, which has the reputation of being the first sharks to arrive on the scene when an ocean ship runs afoul. Did you know that the first sharks evolved more than 400 million years ago, long before mammals, dinosaurs, and flowering plants? They have survived at least 4 mass extinctions, including one that killed off 90% of all species on Earth. There are more than 500 species of sharks. The Great White shark dates back to the early Eocene era, which lasted from about 56 to 34 million years ago. Sharks’ use of electroreception and the amazing conductivity of saltwater mean that a shark could theoretically detect the current from a AA battery 1,000 miles away. A Colorado Springs catastrophic hailstorm with softball-sized hail hit a zoo and killed at least 2 animals and injured 14 people, when it swept through the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo two days ago. A Russian couple live with a 300lb grizzly bear, named Stephen, who was adopted by them 25 years ago. A mysterious ape-like creature was caught on video lurking the foothills near a popular hiking trial in La Crescenta, CA.

Entertainment News:

Discovery’s Shark Week (or Shaq Week this year) is over. But, a new movie MEG, which features the giant prehistoric shark, megalodon, is coming out in theaters. Showtime is being accused of deliberately killing off an actress in a series who had complained about pay parity with male actors. Charlotte Rae, housemother on The Facts of Life, has died at age 92. A model, Shubnum Khan, just discovered that marketers have been featuring her facial image from a photoshoot for which she hadn’t even been paid. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are still hashing out their divorce, two years later, and their child custody. On her first stop of her UK tour, in Brighton, Britney Spears forgot what town she was in on stage and had to ask a band member (while still on mic) where she was. Pink had to cancel a few shows in Australia due to abdominal illness and dehydration. Disney looks toward a brighter future with Fox. MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle made a huge slip-up on life TV that’s now all over the Internet. She was speaking about the brave firefighters who are dealing with the California wildfires and accidentally said “farting” instead of “fighting” on air. She apologized, but struggled to keep a straight face for the rest of the serious broadcast. In the now two year contentious divorce, Brad Pitt is hitting back at Angelina Jolie with allegations of his own. My 600-lb Life star was found dead earlier this month in South Carolina and the Coroner’s office has just revealed that the cause of death was suicide.

This week’s box-office fell, as the blockbusters fell and the debuts underperformed. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT (which I must see and review for you) stayed at No.1 for the 2nd week, raking in an additional $35.3 million, bringing its total to $125 million (still short of its $178 million cost); No.2 was the debut of DISNEY’S CHRISTOPHER ROBIN (which I might go see) which gathered $24.6 million in its first week; No.3 was the debut of THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME (which I may wind up seeing), which took in only $12 million in its first week; MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN (which I must see) fell from No.2 to No.4, taking in only $9 million in its 3rd week; THE EQUALIZER 2 (with Denzel Washington, which I want to see) fell from No.3 to No.5 this week, taking in only $8.8 million in its 3rd week. THE DARKEST MINDS debuted at No.8 with $5.8 million. Nothing else was remarkable, except Dwayne Johnson’s SKYSCRAPER falling from No.9 to No.14 after making only $2.2 million in its 4th week and only a total of $64.5 million of its $125 million cost. Hopefully, he didn’t sink a lot of his own money in that movie.
Movies coming out this week: Spike Lee’s true story BLACKKLANSMAN, DOG DAYS, THE MEG (Jason Straithe and prehistoric megladon shark), SLENDER MAN (creepy movie version of social media phenomenon), BUYBUST, THE ISLAND SKATE KITCHEN, MADLELINE’s MADELINE.

Movie Reviews:

I’m woefully behind, sorry. I’ll catch up this weekend.

Technology & Space News:

Famous hacker Anonymous has vowed to take down and expose QAnon. After 28 years in Space, the Hubble Telescope is still sending back some spectacular images of the vast heavens. Astronauts have repeatedly upgraded Hubble over the years, making its discoveries increasingly more dramatic. It has taught us that there may be as many as 2 trillion galaxies, each with potential 100 billion stars (like our Milky Way). That is more stars than grains of sand on every beach and desert on Earth. Most stars have their own planets. Blue stars are newer, hotter stars, yellow stars (like our Sun) are middle-aged stars, and red stars are older, cooler stars. Hubble has even changed what we thought the age of the universe is, now 13.8 billion years. Hubble is expected to continue working for 3-5 years more. It will be replaced by the more powerful James Webb telescope, set to launch in 2021, which will have the ability to see the first stars and galaxies that were formed in the universe, the very first moments of the universe. Hubble can only see a red blob, a galaxy from 400 million years after the Big Bang. An Amish man has started an Uber ride service with horse and buggy. Analysts have been suggesting that Tesla needs to go private, although some shareholders say that is a “step back.” Tesla board members are talking to Elon Musk about going private. Musk has tweeted that he could take Tesla private at $420. Yet, Tesla’s stock has surged on a report that a Saudi Wealth Fund is building a $2 billion stake, per Bloomberg. New York City has become the first major city to issue a blow to Uber and Lyft, limiting licenses for the two ride-sharing services on Wednesday. The AI industry has been estimated at $19 trillion by The Motley Fool.

Political News:

There are reports that Dianne Feinstein had a Chinese spy as her driver for 20 years. President Trump now admits that his campaign 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer and his son was to get foreign info on Hillary Clinton, which he said is not illegal. He originally said that the meeting was on Russian adoptions. The White House has lowered the tariffs imposed on Canadian newsprint. It appears that only one company in the US was pushing for the tariffs. Feds’ star witness, his longtime business partner Rick Gates, testified at Manafort trial. He said that he committed crimes with Paul Manafort. Now, Kristin Davis, the “Manhattan Madam”, who says she provided prostitutes to NY’s rich and famous, is reportedly scheduled to testify before Mueller’s grand jury. President Trump and Congress are both on vacation right now.

US News:

McDonald’s Big Mac was originally going to be named “The Aristocrat”, but luckily a secretary in their corporate headquarters renamed it. In other McDonald’s news, after an ex-cop rigged their annual Monopoly game, McDonald’s decided to award 15 random players the top prize of $1 million. Illegal northern border crossings into the US increased by 142% from last year. Yet, the media has been focusing more on the US/Mexico southern border crossings. Ironically, the government watchdog agency is questioning whether the southern border wall is worth construction. Unfortunately, not an uncommon news story, but 66 people were shot all over Chicago in a spate of weekend violence that killed 12 people. There have been no arrests yet. The Chicago Sun Times reported that 80% of murders in Chicago go unsolved. Mayor Rahm gave an emotional speech, in which he said “We are a better city”, decrying Chicago gun violence. The 3 mothers (and 2 men) of 11 children found at “filthy” half-submerged compound in Taos, NM, have been arrested. The children, ranging in age from 1 to 15, were starving with no food and water and kept in a half-buried trailer. Beachgoers in western Michigan, Grand Haven, formed a human chain from a beach to attempt to rescue a swimmer in hazardous wave conditions. Unfortunately, he, along with another swimmer, drowned. Three other people have been hospitalized. There were 150 people in in Titusville, Florida area, when a gunman started firing at a back-to-school festival on Saturday and an armed bystander stepped in to shoot him. The shooter, who is in the hospital with a bad head wound, got into a fistfight earlier in the day and returned to the park with a gun. Cincinnati police officers used a Taser on an 11-year-old girl, who was suspected of shoplifting. The police chief has launched an investigation into the incident. Rescuers were dispatched to an area near Idaho Falls on Monday and have rescued a man trapped an overturned truck.

International News:

President Trump has reimposed the sanctions on Iran, after announcing that the US is withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal. Secretary of State Pompeo added that there would need to be “enormous change” in Iran to now reverse US sanctions. President Trump has imposed further sanctions on Russia over the UK nerve-agent attack. Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian ambassador, after Canada demanded that Saudi Arabia release two imprisoned Canadian women who protested there for women’s rights. Saudi Arabia immediately recalled its own ambassador to Canada and stopped all investment in Canada. As tensions increased Wednesday, the Kingdom executed a man by crucifixion. The Syrian civil war has cost more than 500,000 lives and has displaced more than 12 million people. 153 years ago, the Geneva Convention on rules of war was started because of one specific war crime, the bombing of hospitals, which marked the beginning of the Red Cross. According to CBS’ 60 Minutes, the latest atrocity by Syrian President Assad is reportedly the deliberate bombing of hospitals, particularly after they fill up with chemical warfare victims. More than 850 medical professionals, several of them volunteer US doctors, have already been killed in these bombings by the government. The Syrian-American Medical Society is now building underground hospitals, excavating caves, to help them escape from airstrikes. An explosion near Italy airport killed 2 people and injured dozens of others.

Florida:

Parts of Florida, including the Treasure Coast (east coast) and the (west coast), are under a State of Emergency, with lagoons, rivers, canals and beaches closed. Many fish and oysters have been dying and the toxic muck, which is different on both coasts, is also very dangerous to humans. On the East Coast near the beaches and in the St. Lucie River, several canals, there is a blue-green algae plume which is killing everything and stinking up the area. The Army Corps of Engineers discharges periodically this poisonous water from the Lake Okeechobee’s huge Herbert Hoover dike, which was built after a major hurricane there 100 years ago, which caused major flooding in the area, killing some 2500 people, the . To avoid that ever happening again and to help Florida’s sugar farmers who took over the swampland of the Everglades before 1900, they built the dike and pumping drains to the East at Port St. Lucie River and to the West. They basically changed the natural route for six thousand years of water from Lake Okeechobee to the grasslands and the Everglades. It turns out that the sugar farming, which uses phosphorous in its fertilizer, is actually creating the blue-green algae. The blue-green algae is the the consistency of coffee grounds, smells putrid, and can damage human livers. Most conservationists believe the only solution is for the state to buy back the land from the sugar farmers and let the water flow back to the Everglades. Of course, the blue-green algae problem has been exacerbated this year by high amounts of rain and higher-than-normal temperatures in Florida, forcing more discharge and growing more algae. The problem on the West Coast of Florida, in Sarasota County and Collier County, in addition to the discharges near Fort Myers from the canal from Lake Okeechobee, that is killing wildlife, much of it sea turtles (as it is turtle nesting season for several species), and keeping tourists off the beaches is Red Tide. Red Tide is a toxic red algae bloom which flourishes in extra warm weather. The temperature of the seawater is approaching 90 degrees, creating a massive Red Tide bloom, the sea spray of which causes respiratory problems in humans. You get a constant cough or wheeze that you can’t get rid of and it can be deadly for those with COPD or Asthma. It can also be ingested and is toxic for humans, by eating mussels or oysters from the area. The Red Tide is ravaging the southwest coast of Florida, and may have killing a 26-foot-long whale shark for the first known time, at Sanibel Island, FL. A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologist sampled several of the shark’s organs and they all tested positive for brevetoxin, a neurotoxin created by the harmful algae called Karenia brevis, which is one of many types of algae found in red tide. Manatees, dolphins, and grouper have also been reported dead as a result of the red tide bloom. All of this is damaging the tourist industry, at the number one fishing capital of the world. If that isn’t enough to worry about in Florida (snakes, sharks, spiders, Burmese pythons, panthers, bears, alligators, crocodiles, blue-green algae, and red tide), a Texas man has died over the weekend, after contracting flesh-eating bacteria, fishing off the Gulf coast of Florida, according to officials. He was ‘wade fishing’ with some open sores on his legs in an area that is a breeding ground for oysters and the Vibrio vunificus bacteria that inhabits those areas. He had severe leg pain, blistering skin lesions, fever, nausea and vomiting. He died less than 36 hours after being admitted to the hospital. Vibrio is known to be found in coastal waters where oysters live and cause an estimated 80,000 illnesses and at least 100 deaths in the US annually, according to the CDC. Just last week, a Florida man died from eating an oyster with the same species of the bacteria, according to the NY Post. That’s it! Between JAWS and now MEG and all these algae and bacteria, I’m not stepping in the ocean.
It is back-to-school season here in Florida.
I will be performing as Elvis Presley in full jumpsuit and blackened hair on 8/16 (the anniversary of his death) at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, FL. Then my harmony group, Generation Gap, just voted by In Tune Magazine as the Best Harmony Group in the state of Florida, will be performing 9/2 at Cucina Cabana 1pm-3pm in North Palm Beach, FL and again 9/29 at Double Roads Tavern 5pm-8pm in Jupiter, FL.
If you are interested in seeing longer, more famous, concerts, there are many coming to Florida, perhaps when you will be visiting:
Rod Stewart & Cyndi Lauper-Hollywood-July 24
Smashing Pumpkins-Miami-July 24
Sugarland, Frankie Ballard & Lindsay Eli-Pensacola-July 26
Don McLean-Ponte Vedra Beach-July 27
Britney Spears-Hollywood-July 28-29
Dave Matthews Band-West Palm Beach-July 27-28
Lauryn Hill-Miami, July 31
Counting Crows-West Palm Beach, August 1
Miranda Lambert & Little Big Town-West Palm Beach-August 4
Janet Jackson-Miami-August 5
Pentatonix-West Palm Beach-August 7
Imagine Dragons-West Palm Beach, August 9
Shakira-Sunrise-August 15
Def Leppard & Journey-Sunrise, August 17
Shakira-Miami, August 17-18
Taylor Swift-Miami, August 18
Lindsey Stirling & Evanescence-West Palm Beach, August 18
Memories of Elvis-Fort Lauderdale, August 18
Jeff Beck, Paul Rodgers & Ann Wilson-West Palm Beach, August 25
Rick Springfield-Pompano Beach, August 28
Beyonce and Jay-Z-Miami Gardens, August 31
K.D. Lang-Fort Lauderdale-September 7
Paul Simon-Sunrise, September 8
Christine Aguilera-Hollywood, September 25
Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker & Russell Dickerson-West Palm Beach, September 29
Phil Collins-Sunrise-October 5
Kid Rock and Brantley Gilbert-West Palm Beach, October 13
Nikki Minaj with Future-Miami-October 19
Alice in Chains-Hollywood-October 28
Toto-Pompano Beach-October 28
Simple Minds-Miami, November 8
Willie Nelson-Estero, November 12
Elton John-Sunrise, November 23 (I’m there)
Elton John-Miami, November 24
Brian Wilson-Hollywood, December 12
Kansas-Fort Lauderdale-December 15
Fleetwood Mac-Sunrise, February 20
Pink-Sunrise-March 1
Paul Anka-Fort Lauderdale-March 4
Elton John-Sunrise, March 16

Repo Commentary-7/25/18

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I intend to write the Repo Commentary more regularly and post it on my new website: http://www.repocommentary.com. I actually started writing this one on Monday, but have been pulled in a lot of directions, so I’m trying to keep up with the news as it happens. You can also view it through LinkedIn and it will be linked to Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website. If you need to get hold of me, my cell is 646-753-1300, my email for work will be jeffkidwell82@gmail.com (backup email is jeff@repocommentary.com), and you can also hit me up on Bloomberg and LinkedIn.
Remember, since 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any firm (well that’s easy to say at the moment, although that hopefully will be changing soon) and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information. I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested (70-80%) in entertaining you than informing (20-30%) you. Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures. Also, please send me feedback, as I want to make it better all the time. And, most of all, thank you for being, as Stephen King would say, a ‘constant reader.’

Monday’s Holidays or Events:

• Gorgeous Grandma Day
• National Vanilla Ice Cream Day
• World Sjogrens Day
• Hot Enough For Ya Day
• Yada, Yada, Yada Day
• Revolution Day in Egypt
• Birthday of Haile Selassie
• Children’s Day in Indonesia
• National Remembrance Day in Papua New Guinea
• Renaissance Day in Oman
Not to be forgotten though, today is National Tequila Day, which is coincidentally falling on Taco Tuesday. Uh oh!

Some Famous People Born Monday in History:
• 1301-Otto, Duke of Austria
• 1339-Louis I, Duke of Anjou
• 1503-Anne of Bohemia and Hungary
• 1614-Bonaventura Peeters the Elder
• 1649-Pope Clement XI
• 1885-Georges V. Matchabelli-created Prince Matchabelli perfume
• 1888-Raymond Chandler-novelist/screenwriter
• 1892-Haile Selassie-Ethiopian emperor
• 1894-Arthur Treacher-actor/TV personality
• 1895-Aileen Pringle-actress
• 1898-Red Dutton-hockey
• 1912-M.H. Abrams-author
• 1918-Pee Wee Reese-baseball
• 1925-Gloria DeHaven-actress/singer
• 1929-Danny Barcelona-drummer
• 1933-Bert Convy-actor/singer/game show host
• 1936-Don Drysdale-baseball
• 1940-Don Imus-radio host
• 1958-Ken Green-golfer
• 1961-Woody Harrelson-actor
• 1965-Slash-guitarist
• 1967-Philip Seymour Hoffman-actor/director
• 1968-Gary Payton-NBA
• 1968-Stephanie Seymour-model/actress
• 1969-Andrew Cassels-hockey
• 1970-Sam Watters-singer
• 1972-Marlon Wayans-actor/comedian/producer
• 1973-Nomar Garciaparra-baseball
• 1977-Shawn Thornton-hockey
• 1980-Michelle Williams-singer/actress
• 1989-Daniel Radcliffe-actor

This Day in History:

• 811-Byzantine emperor Nikephoros I plunders the Bulgarian capital of Pliska and captures Khan Krum’s treasury.
• 1319-a Knights Hospitaller fleet scores a crushing victory over an Aydinid fleet off of Chios.
• 1632-300 colonists bound for New France depart from Deippe, France
• 1677-Scanian War: Denmark-Norway captures the harbor town of Marstrand from Sweden.
• 1793-Kingdom of Prussia re-conquers Mainz from France
• 1829-in the US, William Austin Burt patents the typographer, a precursor to the typewriter.
• 1840-the Province of Canada is created by the Act of Union.
• 1862-American Civil War: Henry Halleck takes command of the Union Army.
• 1881-the Boundary Treaty of 1881 between Chile and Argentina is signed in Buenos Aires.
• 1885-President Ulysses S. Grant dies of throat cancer.
• 1903-the Ford Motor Company sells its first car.
• 1908-the Second Constitution is accepted by the Ottomans.
• 1914-Austria-Hungary issues a series of demands in an ultimatum to the Kingdom of Serbia demanding Serbia to allow the Austrians to determine who assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Serbia accepts all but one of those demands and Austria declares war on July 28th.
• 1921-the Communist Party of China is established at the founding National Congress.
• 1926-Fox Films buys the patents of the Movietone sound system for recording sound onto film.
• 1927-the first station of the Indian Broadcasting Company goes on the air in Bombay.
• 1929-the Fascist government in Italy bans the use of foreign words.
• 1936-in Catalonia, Spain, the Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia is founded through the merger of Socialist and Communist parties.
• 1940-the US’ Under-Secretary of State Sumner Welles issues a declaration on the US non-recognition policy of the Soviet annexation and incorporation of three Baltic states: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
• 1942-The Holocaust: the Treblinka extermination camp is opened.
• 1942-WWII: the German offensives Operation Edelweiss and Operation Braunschweig begin.
• 1942-Bulgarian poet and Communist leader Nikola Vaptsarov is executed by firing squad.
• 1943-the Rayleigh bath chair murder occurred in Rayleigh, Essex, England.
• 1943-WWII: the British destroyers HMS Eclipse and HMS Laforey sink the Italian submarine Ascianghi in the Mediterranean after she torpedoes the cruiser HMS Newfoundland.
• 1952-General Muhammad Naguib leads the Free Officers Movement (formed by Gamal Abdal Nasser, the real power behind the coup) in overthrowing King Farouk of Egypt.
• 1961-the Sandinista National Liberation Front is founded in Nicaragua.
• 1962-Telstar relays the first publicly transmitted, live trans-Atlantic television program, featuring Walter Cronkite.
• 1962-the International Agreement on the Neutrality of Laos is signed.
• 1967-Detroit Riots: in Detroit, one of the worst riots in US history begins on 12th Street in the predominantly African American inner city. The riots ultimately kill 43 people, injure 342, and burn about 1,400 buildings.
• 1968-Glenville Shootout: in Cleveland, OH, a violent shootout between a Black Militant organization and the Cleveland Police Department occurs. During the shootout, a riot begins and lasts for 5 days.
• 1968-the only successful hijacking of an El Al aircraft takes place when a Boeing 707 carrying ten crew and 38 passengers is taken over by 3 members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The aircraft was en route from Rome to Lod, Israel.
• 1970-Qaboos bid Said al Said becomes Sultan of Oman after overthrowing his father, Said bin Talmur, initiating massive reforms, modernization programs, and end to a decade-long civil war.
• 1972-the US launches Landsat I, the first Earth-resources satellite.
• 1974-the Greek military junta collapses, and former PM Konstantine Karamanlis is invited to lead the new government, beginning Greece’s metapolitefsi era.
• 1980-Pham Tuan becomes the first Vietnamese citizen and the first Asian in space when he flies aboard the Soyuz 37 mission as an intercosmos Research Cosmonaut.
• 1982-outside Santa Clara, CA, actor Vic Morrow and two children are killed when a helicopter crashes onto them while shooting a scene from TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE.
• 1983-13 Sri Lanken Army soldiers are killed after a deadly ambush by the militant Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
• 1988-General Ne Win, effective ruler of Burma since 1962, resigns after pro-democracy protests.
• 1992-Abkhazia declares independence from Georgia.
• 1995-Comet Hale-Bopp is discovered; it becomes visible to the naked eye on Earth nearly a year later.
• 1997-Digital Equipment Corporation files antitrust charges against chipmaker Intel.
• 1999-ANA Flight 61 is hijacked in Tokyo, Japan by Yuji Nishizawa.
• 2005-three bombs explode in the Naama Bay area of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, killing 88 people.
• 2015-NASA announces discovery of Kepler-452b by Kepler.
• 2016-Kabul twin bombings occurred in the vicinity of Deh Mazang when protesters, mostly from the Shiite Hazara minority, were marching against route changing the TUTAP power project. At least 80 people were killed and 260 were injured.

Fun Fact of the Day:

The Mythbusters once tested a combination of common materials that made an extremely powerful explosive. They deleted the tapes and swore to never release the information, then contacted DARPA and warned them about the possibility of misuse from the combination.

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“Blessed is the man, who having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.”—George Eliot

International and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices closed up slightly Tuesday at $69.52/barrel, after opening at $68.07/barrel on 7/17. Gasoline at my West Palm Beach gas station drifted lower this week to $2.71. However, it varies wildly in Palm Beach County from $2.64 to $3.35, so you have to be careful. The USD versus the Yen is trading at $110.78, down sharply from where it was on 7/17. The USD was at 1.1733 versus the Euro, unchanged from 7/17. The USD is up slightly against the GBP, at $1.32. The USD is down versus the CAD to $1.3034. Gold closed Tuesday at $1233.03/ounce. Bitcoin was trading 7/9 at $6,717.99 and at $6,669.97 on 7/17. Today, it has bounced back to $8185.21. China has filed a complaint with WTO over US plan for tariffs.

Global Financial News:

Fund managers remain cautious about emerging-market government bonds, despite a recover this month that actually made up more than half of the losses from the first half of 2018. The well-publicized trade disputes have not helped. According to the WSJ, Chinese investors have become net sellers of US commercial real estate for the first time since 2008, using data from Real Capital Analytics. In Q2, Real Capital saw that Chinese investors bought $126.2 million of US commercial real estate but sold $1.29 billion worth of property. Negotiators for the House and Senate have reportedly agreed on legislation to give regulators additional power to investigate and block foreign investment that could potentially endanger national security, in the form of the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act. SEC nominee Elad Roisman has told the Senate banking committee during a confirmation hearing that it is important for the SEC to build investor confident through strong enforcement program. The CFTC has approved a proposal to update rules on position limits for securities futures products, giving exchanges more discretion in setting those limits. The proposal would likely increase the default limit to 25,000 contracts versus 13,500 contracts, to increase liquidity. Dan Berkowitz sailed through a Senate confirmation hearing and is close to making the CFTC a full commission for the first time in 4 years. The SEC has voted for simplified disclosure on some debt offerings.

US Market News:

The Dow Jones closed up on Tuesday 172.16 points to 25,414.10, almost 400 points above where it was on 7/17. S&P 500 was up 25.67 to 2846.07, much higher than where it was on 7/17. Nasdaq was also up 91.47 to 7932.24, much higher than where it was on 7/17. Since 7/17, US Treasuries are down (in price) up (in yield), with 2yr at 2.669% (up almost 7bp), 3yr at 2.754% (up almost 8bp), 5yr at 2.842% (up 9bp), 7yr at 2.93% (up more than 10bp), 10yr at 2.969% (up more than 11bp), and 30yr at 3.094% (up almost 13bp). The bond market has been bloodied by the success of the equity market and the curve has steepened.

Repo News:  

I see the Repo and Securities Lending market as having changed in many permanent ways. We traditionally had a credit intermediator, the broker/dealers (originally just the primary broker/dealers) and later prime brokers, who were the pipeline through their respective repo matched books for collateral providers to trade with cash providers, without the two sides ever knowing about each other or facing each other. That lack of knowledge of the other side of the repo matched book came at a couple of costs, first, the bid/offer spread that went to the dealers and second, the defaults of the Financial Crisis and the impact on some of the dealers that then cost their clients. Clearly, with that pipeline becoming severely crimped by post-Financial Crisis regulatory reforms, consolidation and bankruptcies, and the resulting drop of about 60% in balance sheets being used for broker/dealer respective repo matched books, new pathways/pipelines needed to be found for cash provider and collateral provider clients. AVM’s Direct Repo™ was the first of one of such pathways. Since then, other pathways to these markets have been created, including: the Federal Reserve’s RRP program with cash providers, peer-to-peer financing as reported on Treasury OFR’s website between MMFs and Insurance Companies, As Agent repo through seclending agents and now some prime brokers, direct lending from beneficial owner to hedge funds who are short, indemnified As Agent repo, buyside to buyside Triparty Repo through two international clearing organizations, electronic all-to-all repo on a few electronic trading platforms like Elixium and BNY DBVX, FICC’s sponsored repo and cleared repo products to entice certain sectors of the buyside into that CCP, and other Repo and/or Seclending CCPs (several still being worked on, particularly in Europe). I believe this evolution will continue and eventually we will see all of these pathways used, including the traditional pathway (to probably a lesser than historical degree) through the broker/dealers and prime brokers.

Upcoming Repo Industry Conferences: 
 

• IMN will hold its 23rd annual European Beneficial Owners’ International Securities Finance & Collateral Management Conference in London, September 2018.
• IMN will hold its 24th annual ABS East Conference in Miami Beach, on 9/16-9/18.
• National Association of State Treasurers (NAST) will hold its Annual Conference in Scottsdale, AZ on 9/30-10/3.
• SIFMA-will hold its Annual Meeting in Washington, DC on 10/1-10/2.
• Risk Management Association (RMA) will hold the 35th annual RMA Conference on Securities Lending in Key Biscayne, FL on 10/8-10/11. I will be there, I don’t want to break my streak of attending every one of them!
• Finadium will hold its 2nd annual Rates & Repo conference in NYC in November.
• Association of Financial Professionals (AFP) is holding its annual Treasury & Finance conference in Chicago on 11/4-11/7.
• RISK USA will hold 24th annual conference in NYC, sometime in November.

Federal Reserve News:

Fed Funds, which trade mostly between some banks and GSEs, opened today at 1.90%.

The next FOMC meetings are: 7/26/17, 9/20/17, 11/1/17, 12/13/17, 1/31/18

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (16 banks, 14 GSEs, 101 money market funds from various fund families), is now set at the rate of 1.75%. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight. Remember when RRP was trading at year-end for $465 billion? Well, on 5/15, there was only $20 million in bids submitted. MMF cash and GSE cash has moved out of the Fed’s RRP and into the Repo market, but it hasn’t really brought down the GC repo rate, which is strange. Over month-end, RRP volume did pop up to $21.5 billion, but that’s one of the lowest month-end volumes in its history. I wonder which trades less volume now, Fed Funds or RRP?
I used to discuss the various rates in RRP, Fed Funds, repo rates, peer-to-peer OFR rates, sponsored repo rates, Direct Repo rates, and foreign CB RRP rates. I’ll have to get back to that in future Repo Commentary. I just wanted to note something that Scott Skyrm picked up yesterday, that central bank ‘facility’ with the Fed has increased dramatically recently, to $260 billion in cash from central banks in repo at the Fed. Now, the rate is not the US RRP rate and its also not the dealer GC offer rate, but somewhere in-between.

The Fed is in its self-imposed 7-day blackout period on speeches and statements as the next FOMC meeting is tomorrow, 7/26.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

A series of 10 morning earthquakes off southern Oregon the other day included one of magnitude 5.6. Some experts are concerned about the Ring of FIRE. Some prognosticator thinks that a powerful earthquake of magnitude 7.0 or greater could strike this week due to the Super Moon and Blood Moon we will have. The longest lunar eclipse of the 21st Century will arrive 7/27 which will give the full moon a spectacular red tinge (hence Blood Moon). The combination of a Super Moon (20-30% larger/closer than normal) and Blood Moon (total lunar eclipse) occurred last in 1982 and will not happen again until 2033. As all eyes are still on Hawaii’s Kilauea eruption, which geologists say could last for months, and the recent mishap of a tour boat that got to close and was hit with a lava bomb, some scientists are saying that Mount Ranier may be the most dangerous US volcano on the mainland. Another volcano, Erta Ale in Ethiopia, is seeing a lot of activity both at the summit and the 2017 flank.

Weather:

The Atlantic Hurricane Season began Friday, June 1st. For 2018, Colorado State University experts have predicted that this season will be a busy, above average hurricane season. They have predicted 14 named Tropical Storms, of which 7 will become Hurricanes. Both are above the averages of 12 and 6, respectively. But, remember, last year they were way off. Unfortunately, they were way off the wrong way, with way more storms. They had predicted 11 Tropical Storms, of which 4 would be Hurricanes. Instead, we had 17 Tropical Storms and had 10 Hurricanes. Here are the 2018 Storm names:
Alberto done
Beryl done
Chris done
Debby
Ernesto
Florence
Gordon
Helene
Isaac
Joyce
Kirk
Leslie
Michael
Nadine
Oscar
Patty
Rafael
Sara
Tony
Valerie
William
The NHC sees no tropical cyclones in the Atlantic Ocean at this time within the next 48 hours. However, some meteorologists in Florida are pointing to the fact that Atlantic Ocean water here is now up to 88 degrees and the daily storm flow has been East to West, which generally does not bode well for a quiet hurricane season.
The Pacific Hurricane Season began on May 1st. The NHC does not see any tropical cyclones forming in the Eastern North Pacific in the next 48 hours. Tropical Storm Son-Tinh caused flooding and mudslides and left 32 people dead and 17 others missing in Vietnam.
Let’s talk about weather, here in Florida, it is ridiculously hot, with temps in the mid-90s and ‘feels-like’ temps in the 105-110 range. Also, the water temperature is 88 degrees and the sand is really hot. And, we are having these spectacular frightening thunderstorms every afternoon. But, I’m not complaining. Shark attacks, however, are on the rise. Temps and heat indexes are above 100 degrees in the West, Southwest, Texas and Plains states. An ‘extreme’ jet stream pattern has begun a week of wild weather in the US. The Northeast is expected to turn less humid this weekend.

Sports News:

MLB:

The MLB season is more than 50% over and we completed the All-Star Game (and its Homerun Derby). The Homerun Derby was won by Bryce Harper of the Nationals and the All-Star Game was won for 6th time in a row by the American League, 8-6 in 10 innings. There were 10 HRs in the game, including back-to-back dingers by Astros teammates Alex Bregman and George Springer in the 10th inning on consecutive pitches for the AL. We are now approaching the 7/31 Trade Deadline. One of the biggest names, Manny Machado was traded for 5 players by the Orioles, not to the Yankees, but to the Dodgers. I watched the Marlins vs the Rays on Sunday, when Rays’ ace Chris Archer struck out 13, but was losing 4-2, until the Rays hit a walk-off grand slam HR off of the Marlins’ bullpen with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th. Last night, the Marlins took a 16-hit beating 12-1 from the Braves. The Marlins are getting a lot of trade calls from other teams, mostly bout Justin Bour, Derek Dietrich, Dan Straily, Steckenrider, Barraclough, Brad Ziegler, and Realmuto. The Yankees are reportedly interested in Archer. The Astros were reportedly considered the best fit for Orioles’ closer Zach Britton, but the Yankees swooped him up on Tuesday, giving up 5 prospects, despite already having flamethrower closer Aroldis Chapman, effectively demoting him from closer after his last 4 rocky outings. The Brewers may be thinking about adding Royals’ Mike Moustakas and moving 3B Travis Shaw to 2B. They may also be looking at Robert Murray of the A’s and Royals’ Whit Merrifield. The Phillies are talking to the Blue Jays about Curtis Granderson. The Nationals and Rangers are discussing starter Cole Hamels. The Rockies, like many teams, are reportedly interested in adding starting pitchers and are looking at a couple of Orioles’ starters. There seems to be some interest in Reds’ starter Matt Harvey, perhaps from the Brewers and the Mariners. It appears that even the high-flying Red Sox want some bullpen help. Blue Jays’ pitcher J.A. Happ was scouted the other day by the Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers. The Indians are reportedly looking for outfield help, as they are playing Melky Cabrera and Tyler Naquin more regularly. Bradley Zimmer was lost for the season to a shoulder injury. Lonnie Chisenhall has a calf strain. Michael Brantley is surprisingly not injured. Padres’ top prospect Tatis will miss the rest of the season. Met’s AA Binghamton star Tim Tebow is undergoing season-ending hand surgery. Mets’ ace Noah Syndergaard is going to DL with a viral illness. Phillies’ fans gave Chase Utley a standing ovation in his return to Philadelphia with the Dodgers, after announcing that he is retiring at the end of the season. Dodgers placed infielder Justin Turner on 10-day DL. Rays placed All-Star starter Blake Snell on 10-day DL. Mets are closely watching Yoenis Cespedes injury and consider heel surgeries a “last resort”. The Cubs and Javier Baez gave a young fan a signed baseball, after an adult stole a foul ball from him. Yankees’ slugging catcher, Gary Sanchez, is going back on the DL with a groin injury. The Blue Jays are now shopping their suspended closer, Roberto Osuna.
In the AL East, the Red Sox have not let up on the gas. They became the first team to reach 71 wins this season last night. They have won 9 out of last 10, putting them 6 games ahead of the Yankees, who have been 4-6 over the same stretch. The Orioles have lost 4 games in a row and 8 out of 10 to fall to 42 ½ games behind the Red Sox. The AL Central, is still being led by the Indians, who have gone 5-5 over the last 10, because the Twins, 8 ½ games behind them, have also gone 5-5. The Tigers are 12 ½ games back of the Indians, thanks to losing 7 out of their last 10. The Royals are now 30-69 and 24 games behind. In the AL West, the World Champion Astros are still in first place, but only 5 games ahead of the Mariners, and 7 1/2 games ahead of the A’s. If you are starting to think about the Wild Card, the Yankees are way ahead for the first Wild Card spot, but these two teams are in the running for the second Wild Card spot. In the NL East, the Phillies overtook the Braves, and are now tied. The Nationals are only 6 games behind the two teams. In the NL Central, the Cubs have somehow held on to first place, now 2 ½ games ahead of the Brewers. The Brewers did not help themselves by losing 7 out of the last 10, while the Cubs won 6 of their last 10. Meanwhile, the Pirates won 10 of their last 11 and are suddenly just 7 games behind the Cubs. The Cards have fallen to 8 ½ games behind the Cubs. The NL West is still a tight race, with the Dodgers precariously in first place, only 1 ½ games ahead of the Diamondbacks, 2 ½ games ahead of the Rockies, and only 5 ½ games ahead of the Giants. I’m not even going to try to figure out who is favorite at this point for the two NL Wild Card spots.

Golf:

The PGA Tour stopped for its third major at the British Open in Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland. The course was very difficult, strewn with impossible pot bunkers, high fescue, burned fairways (that allowed for 400-yard drives), and relentless winds. It was a dramatic finish with some 9 players in striking distance, including Tiger Woods, but finally the only player who didn’t bogie and was the most consistent, Francesco Molinari, who was playing with Tiger, won with a -8. It was Molinari’s first major victory. He came in 2 shots ahead of Kevin Kisner, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Xander Schauffele. Tiger Woods finished at -5. Molinari became the first Italian player to win a major.

Fighting:

WWE
The WWE announced its first-ever all women’s event, “Evolution”.
MMA
UFC Boise saw Dos Santos beat Ivanov after 5 rounds. In Bellator 203, Patricio Freire retained title in a split decision. After his Belator 202 injury, just 58 seconds into a fight with Michael MacDonald, Eduardo Dantas needs emergency surgery on his broken leg. Nick Diaz is calling out Cormier, saying his and Brock Lesnar’s WWE antics were embarrassing at UFC 226. An MMA fighter who pleaded guilty to raping a college student got 7 years in jail and lifetime probation. There are mixed feelings in the media about Chuck Liddell coming out of retirement to face Tito Ortiz for Golden Boy.

Boxing
7/14
Lucas Matthysse vs. Manny Pacquiao-Matthysse’s WBA Welterweight title. Pacquiao won the fight, his 69th time fighting professionally, although it looked like his opponent was soft, falling on two weak uppercuts and finally taking a knee to quit. Sadly, the fight was merely streamed on ESPN+, a falloff from just 3 years ago when he was involved the biggest pay-per-view of all time with Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Moruti Mthalane vs. Muhammad Waseem-vacant IBF Flyweight title
Carlos Canizales vs. Bin Lu-Canizales’ WBA Junior Flyweight title
7/28
Dillian Whyte vs. Joseph Parker-heavyweights
Kell Brook vs. Brandon Cook-junior middleweights
Mikey Garcia vs. Robert Easter Jr.-WBC/IBF Lightweight title unification
8/4
Sergey Kovalev vs. Eleider Alvarez-Kovalev’s WBO Light Heavyweight title
Dmitry Bivol vs. TBA-Bivol’s WBA Light Heavyweight title
Sullivan Barrera vs. TBA-Light heavyweights
8/18
Carl Frampton vs. Luke Jackson-Frampton’s WBO interim Featherweight title
Tyson Fury vs. TBA-Heavyweights
9/8
Danny Garcia vs Shawn Porter title fight.
9/22
Anthony Joshua (2012 Olympic gold medalist at super heavyweight and current IBF, WBA, and WBO heavyweight champ will face Alexander Povetkin in London

Tennis:

Wimbledon is completed. For the first time since the Open era in 1986, in a Major tennis tournament, male or women, there were no top-10 ranked players in the women’s side. In fact, when the quarterfinals completed, it left No.25 Serena Williams, No.11, No.12, and No.13 ranked players. Serena Williams lost Saturday to Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-3 in the Finals. After Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal in the semifinals, he then beat 6’6” South African No.8 Kevin Anderson in the Finals on Sunday. The Serb had been struggling coming back from a 2016 injury to regain his form and fitness, falling out of the top 20 rankings earlier this year. But, he found it just in time to stop Nadal and then to win his 4th Wimbledon title out of 5 attempts, and his 13th major overall. Britain’s Jamie Murray failed in the Finals in his attempt to retain the Wimbledon mixed doubles title with Belarusian partner Victoria Azarenka, falling to No.11 seeds Alexander Peya and Nicole Melichar. The other British Murray, Andy Murray, just fell to No.839 in the world rankings. Serena Williams was very gracious in her loss and acknowledged her astounding accomplishment to make it that far, 9 months after giving birth and after many serious complications. She is now looking forward to the next major, the US Open in Queens, NY. Roger Federer has withdrawn from the Rogers Cup, with his longevity in mind. Speaking of both, Serena Williams just got a wild card for the Rogers Cup.

Racing:

The Tour de France began and was interrupted by protesters and police with tear gas.
The German Gran Prix was on Sunday 7/22.
2018 NASCAR Schedule and results:
2/18 Daytona 500-Daytona Intl Speedway-won by Austin Dillon
2/25 Folds of Honor QuikTrip-Atlanta Motor Speedway-Kevin Harvick
3/4 Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube-Las Vegas Motor Speedway-Kevin Harvick
3/11 TicketGuardian 500-ISM Raceway-Kevin Harvick
3/18 Auto Club 400-Auto Club Speedway-Martin Truex Jr.
3/26 STP 500-Martinsville Speedway-Clint Bowyer
4/8 O’Reilly Auto Parts 500-Texas Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
4/16 Food City 500-Bristol Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
4/21 Toyota Owners 400-Richmond Raceway-Kyle Busch
4/29 GEICO 500-Talladega Speedway-Joey Logano
5/6 AAA 400 Drive for Autism-Dover International Speedway-Kevin Harvick
5/12 KC Masterpiece 400-Kansas Speedway-Kevin Harvick
5/19 Monster Energy Open-Charlotte Motor Speedway-AJ Allmendinger
5/19 Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race-Charlotte-Kevin Harvick
5/27 Coca-Cola 600-Charlotte Motor Speedway-Kyle Busch
6/3 Pocono 400-Pocono Raceway-Martin Truex Jr.
6/10 FireKeepers Casino 400-Michigan International Speedway-Clint Bowyer
6/24 Toyota/Save Mart 350-Sonoma Raceway-won by Martin Truex Jr.
7/1 Overton’s 400-Chicagoland Speedway-won by Kyle Busch.
7/7 Coke Zero Sugar 400–Daytona International Speedway-won by Erik Jones
7/14 Quaker State 400-Kentucky Speedway-won by Martin Truex Jr.

NCAA Football:

College football season kickoff is in 31 days (8/25). Just a reminder, Alabama won the National Championship last season. College Football Playoffs have extended agreements with Cotton, Fiesta, and Peach Bowls. Former Alabama RB BJ Emmons announced that he will not be joining FAU for 2018 season. Ohio State’s head coach Urban Meyer just fired Zach Smith on Monday, right before the season begins, drawing a lot of attention to the Big-10 powerhouse. Smith had a protective order filed against him on Friday.
Here is Sporting News’ way-too-early Top 25 rankings:
1. Alabama
2. Clemson
3. Georgia
4. Ohio State
5. Oklahoma
6. Wisconsin
7. Washington
8. Auburn
9. Notre Dame
10. Penn State
11. Miami
12. Michigan
13. Michigan State
14. Stanford
15. USC
16. UCF
17. Virginia Tech
18. LSU
19. TCU
20. FSU
21. Oklahoma State
22. Texas
23. South Carolina
24. Mississippi State
25. Boise State

NFL:

The NFL preseason is only 16 days away (8/2). The 32 teams have opened their training camps. The NFL regular season is only 45 days away (9/6). Free agent Dez Bryant says he only wants to be with “contender” next season. Yet, Browns GM John Dorsey admits to ‘discussions’ with him. I’m not sure that I would consider the Browns, who were winless last year, as already ‘contenders’ this year. WR Julio Jones surprisingly won’t report to Falcons’ traiing camp. Tony Sporano, Vikings assistant coach, former Dolphins head coach, and interim Raiders head coach, died of a heart attack at home Sunday at age 56. He had been to a Minnesota hospital Friday complaining of chest pains, but was released after tests. Chargers rookie Derwin James was reportedly robbed at gunpoint. Saints punter Thomas Morstead did pull-ups challenge to raise money for charity. Former Rams LB Connor Barwin announced that he is signing with the Giants. Patriots are reportedly shopping WR Malcolm Mitchell. This is a little surprising, after the Pats traded Brandon Cooks to the Rams, lost Danny Amendola to free agency (Dolphins) and lost Julian Edelman to a 4-game suspension. But, before Pats’ fans panic, they still have Jordan Matthews, Cordarrelle Patterson, Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, and Kenny Britt. More TO news, retired Terrell Owens has activated his 10-day clause with the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos. Darrell Revis has officially retired with the Jets. Earl Thomas says he is “done” with Seattle. The Rams signed RB Todd Gurley to a 4-year/$60 million extension, which is likely to rock RB Le’Veon Bell’s negotiations with the Steelers.

Soccer:

Well, now that you are hooked on soccer from the World Cup, the Premier League is about to begin its 2018/2019 season to take up the slack. The season gets underway on Friday, August 10th with Manchester United welcoming Leicester in Old Trafford. Since the end of last season, 4 Premier League clubs have changed their managers (Chelsea, Arsenal, Everton, and West Ham). There are 3 teams who have been promoted to England’s Premier League, who actually played in the Premier League before (Fulham, Midlands, Cardiff). Arsenal’s new manager has signed 5 new players, including a goalkeeper. Liverpool signed Naby Keita. Man City landed Riyad Mahrez. Manchester United landed Fred and Diogo Dalot. Fulham surprised by signing Jean Michel Seri, as did West Ham by signing Felipe Anderson, Jack Wilshere, and Andriy Yarmolenko. The Premier Lego will have a new transfer deadline day this year, August 9. FIFA new rules state that each league must have a transfer window of at least 12 weeks, although the other European leagues have yet to implement that rule, allowing players to still leave for other clubs (not the English clubs though) until August 31. VAR (official replay) is still not going to be used for FIFA games (although it was prominent at the World Cup) but it will be tested again in FA Cup games and some Premier League games. In mid-September, Tottenham will be moving out of Wembley Stadium and into the new White Hart Lane Stadium. The Premier League will also be featuring a new ball, the Nike Merlin, for this season:

You will notice that the ball features only four panels, opposed to the traditional 32 panels, which means there will be far fewer seams and hard spots. Also, the new All Conditions Control (ACC) technology will help players identify more easily which way the ball is spinning, how fast it is going, and when it is likely to drop. One of the two best players in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo, made a sensational move to Juventus in Italy from Real Madrid in a deal worth EU 100 million.

NHL:

The NHL regular season began on 10/12. It finally ended in June, with the Washington Capitals finally getting the monkey off their back and winning it all, defeating the brand new Las Vegas Knights. The next preseason starts on 9/15. Capitals have named their new head coach, Todd Reirden. Predators’ Austin Watson pleaded no-contest in domestic assault case. Jets’ Trouba was awarded a one-year/$5.5 million contract in arbitration. Anaheim revealed a MIGHT DUCKS alternative jersey. Wild and Matt Dumba agree on 5year/$30 million. The Ducks signed Adam Henrique to a 5-year contract extension. Flames signed Elias Lindholm to a 6-year deal. The Golden Knights and US Army have ended their trademark dispute by agreeing to coexist. The Coyotes’ owner is looking to sell almost half the team that he values at $500 million. Former NHL goalie Ray Emery was found dead after presumed drowning. The Golden Knights and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury agreed to a 3year/$21 million deal. Jets’ goaltender parlayed best year into a 6-year/$37 million contract extension. Capitals have re-signed Brooks Orpik after trading him.

NBA:

The NBA Finals also mercifully ended in June, after starting their season in October. The Summer League is underway. Preseason will be upon us soon. The Jazz extended Dante Exum to a 3year contract worth $33 million. Akron, Ohio’s LeBron James declined his option for hometeam Cavaliers and then quickly signed with the Lakers for 4years/$154 million. Kevin Love has signed a 4-year extension with the Cavaliers for 4years/$120 million. Spurs superstar Kawhi Leonard finally landed with the Raptors. After a falling out with San Antonio, he says he will “fall in love with Toronto”. He gets $20 million for this upcoming season and then will be eligible for a 5year/$190 million max extension next summer. If he doesn’t sign with the Raptors for that amount, the most he can get from a new team will be 4years/$141 million, significantly less money. The Raptors sent face-of-the-franchise DeMar DeRozan to the Spurs. The Warriors snatched up free agent DeMarcus Cousins for one year/$5.3 million. The Rockets snatched up Carmelo Anthony to a veteran/minimum deal. They also re-signed free agent Clint Capela. That followed their re-signing of star Chris Paul to a 4year/$160 million contract. But, they did lose Trevor Ariza to a one year/$15 million deal with the Suns when free agency began on 7/1. Dwight Howard says he wants to finish his career with the Wizards. Tobias Harris has reportedly turned down an $80 million extension offer from the Clippers. Dirk Nowitzki has re-signed with the Mavericks for 21st season and his set to break the NBA record. Reportedly, free agent Isaiah Thomas was open to returning to the Celtics. There are rumors that Dwyane Wade may be heading to China from the Heat. ESPN’s new power couple, Jalen Rose and Molly Qerim have gotten married in private. The Knicks reached agreement with Noah Vonleh.

Travel News:

I finally took the high-speed BrightLine train from West Palm Beach, FL to Fort Lauderdale, FL, and loved it! The train has been plagued by 6 deaths, some accidental as people have tried to beat the train at crossings, and some suicides. Nevertheless, it is an amazing service that currently runs from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale (in 35 minutes for $16) and on to Miami. For an extra $4, you can ride in the luxury car and get free drinks (wine and beer too) and snacks. It was effortless and beat the traffic I would have had to endure (which would have taken much longer), allowed me to have a drink in Fort Lauderdale (and not drive under the influence), and was very pleasant and stress-free. I look forward to taking the train to Miami next. In the future, rails will be laid for the continuation from West Palm Beach north to Cocoa Beach, and then a spur from Cocoa Beach to Orlando. A Miami flight school has shut down after a fatal crash of two single-engine planes over the Everglades. A Southwest airlines employee accused of putting camera in lavatory has been charged with voyeurism. Meanwhile, a driver for both Uber and Lyft, who videotaped his riders and posted the videos on social media, has been fired and authorities are determining whether to charge him. There is still major fallout from MGM Casinos suing more than 1,000 victims and family members of the mass shooting in Las Vegas last year, ostensibly to try to prevent those victims from suing the casino giant, even though MGM owns the property where the victims were attending a huge concert and owns the Mandalay Bay casino/resort, from which the sharpshooter was staying and fired all of the shots. In Branson, MO on Thursday, a tourist duck boat, Ride the Ducks Branson (drives on land and then enters the water amphibiously) capsized and sunk, claiming 17 lives, including 9 members of one family. On Monday, the duck boat was raised to the surface, up some 80 feet, of Table Rock Lake, by the Coast Guard. They will take to boat to a facility for further inspection. Officials of the Coast Guard, the NTSB, and the Missouri State Highway Patrol will also be looking at questions about the weather, life jackets, the boat itself and its canopy, and the actions of the crew. It appears that the amphibious vessel changed the route it took and was capsized as a storm and high winds lashed the lake. There is an early report that during a 2007 inspection of the boat, an inspector noted in a report that the exhaust was improperly in the front of the boat. So, if the exhaust went below the water line, the waves would have pushed water into the exhaust and shut down the engine. You may not have to remove liquids at the airport in the near future, thanks to new scanners. California’s Highway 1 has reopened after mudslide. US airlines are capitulating to China’s demands on “Taiwan”. The Department of Transportation’s latest reports shows that flight delays and cancellations have worsened. WOW Air has rolled out a $99 one-way fare to Iceland. Construction has begun on new giant Celebrity Cruises ships. Princess Cruises revealed plans for giant new ships. Amtrak is improving its meals for long-haul riders. A new report estimates that a single employee at DMV slept 3-4 hours daily at her desk since February 2014, totaling over 2,200 of work time and costing more than $40,000. What’s more impressive is that no one noticed until now!

Health News:

Now that Starbucks and McDonald’s have started a movement to stop using plastic straws, incorporating better sipping cups and/or paper straws, the two companies are also welcoming ideas from the public on new recyclable cups. So far, some 1,000 ideas have been submitted by the public. The manufacturer of several types of Goldfish crackers has recalled them due to possible salmonella contamination. Separately, Nabisco has recalled several flavors of Ritz crackers due to possible salmonella contamination. You can get a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts for $1 this Friday.

Animal News:

Twiggy, the water-skiing squirrel, has retired after his 40-year career. Six men have ben arrested following poaching incident at Thula Thula Private Game Reserve involving elephants. A Field Ranger was tragically killed by alleged rhino poachers in Kruger National Park. Animal Legal Defense Fund has rescued endangered animals from Deer Haven Mini Zoo in Maryland. Police shared unbearably cute photo of a trespassing bear taking a dip in a backyard swimming pool in Southern California (San Fernando Valley), during their heatwave. The bear, which was already red-tagged (meaning he had been caught in neighborhoods before), was tranquilized, captured and relocated in the Angeles National Forest. World Animal News reports that the 2018 quota of lion skeletons allowed to be exported from South Africa has been raised to 1,500, nearly double last year’s quota of 800. The new quota went into effect on June 7th, according to the Department of Environmental Affairs Minister. 292 crocodiles were massacred by angry villagers in Indonesia (Sorong, West Papua), following the funeral for a 48-year-old man who was killed by a crocodile after entering an area around a private breeding pond for protected saltwater and New Guinea crocodiles for preservation. Authorities are now questioning witnesses to determine if criminal charges will be filed against those responsible. 361 golden retrievers gathered with their owners at the estate of the 19th century aristocrat Lord Tweedmouth in Scotland to celebrate the breed’s inception 150 years ago. About 120 wild ponies and their foals were rounded up on Assateague Island off Virginia’s Atlantic coast to swim across the channel to Chincoteague Island, where some are sold at auction the next day, to make sure the island’s herd doesn’t overwhelm its environment. More than 100 turtles have been gathered from Sarasota County, FL waters, and another 66 have been found in Collier County, FL. Officials say that Red Tide is likely the killer. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a Red Tide area, which is common on the West Coast of Florida near Sarasota. I’ve experienced it there and in Cape Cod and it cause most people to get a tickle in their throat that makes them cough constantly. It’s very irritating to humans and lethal to animals. Officials say this is the worst Red Tide bloom since 2006 for southwest Florida beaches.

Entertainment News:

Porn star, Stormy Daniels, at the center of an alleged scandal with President Trump, is now getting a divorce from her husband. I guess he just had enough, after she was arrested for lewd behavior at an Ohio strip club. She was married? Today, on the Today Show, they posed a question to Kathie Lee Gifford, “would you rather give up wine or vacations forever?” and she said, “vacations forever.” Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte has been given a one-year ban from his sport. It’s kind of funny though because he was caught having posted a Facebook video selfie of him getting an IV of allegedly vitamins. It turns out that, according to the rules, no athlete can get an IV of that volume, no matter what it is, right before a competition (the World Championship is just coming up). That was really dumb. A judge is set to rule if Bill Cosby will be classified as a “sexually violent predator,” after being found guilty on 3 counts of aggravated indecent assault. That classification would require him to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and undergo treatment. There has been new information on Amelia Earhart’s last days, as a new analysis of her distress call may share insight into her final week. She was believed at the time to still be in her Lockheed Electra plane, surrounded by knee-deep water, marooned possibly on the reef of Gardner Island, with her seriously injured navigator, Fred Noonan. On July 2, 1937, she is believed to have sent out this distress call, “Plane down on an uncharted island. Small, uninhabited.” Apparently, the call was only heard by a Texas housewife who had stumbled upon the message while scanning her home radio. This is according to a new analysis of radio distress calls picked up by both area government agencies and the public in the immediate days after Earhart went missing. The 30-page report about all of the distress signals found (more than 100 in the week, of which 57 were determined credible by researchers) will be released today on what would have been Earhart’s 121st birthday. Dennis Quaid has opened up about his crippling former drug addiction. Million Dollar Listing New York’s star Ryan Serhant has been busy with his other reality show Sell Like Serhant. Former MTV game show winner and later TRL host, Jessie Camp, is currently missing. It is Discovery Channel’s Shark Week and Shaquille O’Neal is getting involved. They built a huge shark cage for him to get in and help film sharks in the wild, but made a mistake in construction, which had the bars too far apart, and a shark got into the cage with Shaq for a few frightening minutes. The rookie diver was unharmed, after being pulled out of the cage. Michael McDonald has a new summer tour and new album. Tom Cruise explained on James Corden’s show last night that he does his own stunts to provide realism to his films. He is all about entertaining the audience no matter what. HBO announced Game of Thrones final season will air in the ‘first half’ of 2019. HBO said it is happy with Westworld despite backlash, as an exec said “People love to hate it.”

This week’s box-office picked up, as two blockbusters battled it out. THE EQUALIZER 2 (with Denzel Washington) debuted with $36 million (having cost $62 million); which edged out No.2 debut film MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN (with a huge cast) which made $35 million (having cost $75 million); this knocked last week’s No.2 film, th animated HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3: SUMMER VACATION to No.3 with $23.8 million, in its 2nd week; and pushing last week’s No.2 ANT-MAN AND THE WASP, down to No.4 with $16.5 million, in its 3rd week (total $165 million); and No.5 was the animated INCREDIBLES 2, which made $11.9 million in its 6th week (total $557.7 million). Another notable debut was UNFRIENDED: DARK WEB, which came in No.9 with $3.7 million in limited release. A disappointment was SKYSCRAPER (with Dwayne Johnson) which fell from No.3 to No.6 and has made a total of $47.1 million but cost $125 millon.
Movies coming out this week: the long awaited MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT; TEEN TITANS GO TO THE MOVIES; BLINDSPOTTING; DETECTIVE DEE: THE FOUR HEAVENLY; HOT SUMMER NIGHTS; PUZZLE; and SOCTTY AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF.

Movie Reviews:

Technology & Space News:

NASA has detected water on Mars, raising the hope of finding life and Matt Damon on the Red Planet. NASA’s James Webb Telescope is reportedly still functioning. Officials say that 3D-printable and ‘downloadable’ handguns and automatic rifles will become available August 1. After a settlement between the State Department and a Texas-based firearm developer, Defense Distributed, the nonprofit will be able to release blueprints for guns online beginning that day. Not only is the AR-15 model going to be available, but since you can make them at home, the guns will be untraceable and one won’t need a background check. The concept to legally manufacture unserialized rifles and pistols in the privacy of your home, as long as you don’t sell them, isn’t new. Unfortunately, some criminals have started using ‘ghost guns’, as they are called, as a way to circumvent assault weapon regulations. The 3D printers needed to make the firearms can cost anywhere from $5000 to $600,000, according to Vice News. I don’t know enough about the subject yet, but this is worrying me. Mayfield Robotics, maker of Kuri robots, says it is ceasing production of the home companion.

Political News:

Okay, I’m already sick of all of the political ads for the upcoming mid-term elections. President Trump said the EPA Chief Scott Pruitt has resigned. President Trump is slamming media outlets over Melania facelift rumors. President Trump has offered farmers with aid who have been hurt by the escalating China trade war. Ivanka Trump is ending her fashion line, which she launched in 2011.

US News:

Mega Millions jackpot for Tuesday’s drawing was $522 million ($308 million cash) the 5th largest jackpot in its 16-year history. I did not win, so I will continue to write the Repo Commentary. However, someone in California did win, buying the ticket at a liquor store. A Tennessee woman was convicted of stealing over $162,000 in government funds intended to provide summer meals for children in “economically disadvantaged areas.” Former NJ Governor Christie has been named Executive Chair of Juno Beach, FL drug rehab. In Clearwater, Florida, the Stand Your Ground law is being questioned after a husband/father shoved a man down in a parking lot who was giving his wife grief in a parking lot and the shoved man pulled out a gun and shot the husband/father dead with one shot to the chest. Initially, police said that they would not be charging the shooter, due to Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law (a law that is now in effect in several other states too). The district attorney is now looking at the case. In Los Angeles, a police shootout with a suspect, who had crashed into a telephone pole and then shot many shots with an automatic pistol at 4 police officers, an innocent bystander in the Trader Joe’s was shot and killed by an errant shot by the police. The suspect has survived and is being charged with one count of murder, 4 counts of attempted murder on police officers, as well as other charges which may include taking up to 30 people hostage. That doctor for the US Olympic gymnastics team, Larry Nassar, who was convicted of 3 child pornography charges for which he was sentenced to 60-years in federal prison, and convicted of 10 sexual assault charges (out of 140 that were filed against him) for which he was sentenced to decades more in state prison, had filed a motion for a resentencing hearing and has demanded that the former judge be disqualified because she had made comments that she had already decided to impose the maximum allowed, and that he has already been attacked in federal prison by inmates in general population, blaming that on the judge. In sort of related news, the new CEO of the US Olympic Committee, Sarah Hirshland, rebuffed gold medalist and the face of the sex abuse scandal, Aly Raisman, in her first attempt to introduce herself, after a 2-hour Senate hearing. Afterwards, Hirschland emailed Raisman an apology. Co-founder of a self-improvement group that’s accused of actually branding some of its female members and forcing them into unwanted sex have pleaded not guilty.

International News:

US Secretary of State Pompeo sasy the US rejects Russia’s attempted annexation of Crimea. resident Trump is delaying his next meeting with President Putin. EU President Jean-Claude Juncker stressed the importance of the EU-US partnership, following a meeting with President Trump, attempting to ease trade tensions. President Trump took to Twitter to tweet to Iranian President Rouhani, “NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKE OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!” President Trump’s message was apparently in response to a speech on Sunday by Mr. Rouhani, who warned that US that any conflict with Iran would be the ‘mother of all wars,” per the NY Times. Iran’s FM Zarif responded on Monday to President Trump’s all-caps Twitter threat, “COLOR US UNIMPRESSED: The world heard even harsher bluster a few months ago. And Iranians have heard them –albeit more civilized ones—for 40 yrs. We’ve been around for millennia & seen fall of empires, incl our own, which lasted more than the life of some countries. BE CAUTIOUS!” At least 80 people were killed and more than 100 others injured in wildfires in the Greek tourist town of Mati, not far from Athens. Some people jumped into the Mediterranean to escape. In the Syrian Civil War, an army offensive captures all opposition-held regions in the south of the country. A hydroelectric dam under construction in southeastern Laos collapsed, resulting in extensive damage and leaving more than 6,000 people displaced.

Florida:

Florida’s lobster mini-season begins today. Only a few months after a horrific police chase on I-95 in Boca Raton that led to a multiple car accident and several deaths, another police chase one exit south down I-95 in Boca Raton, on Palmetto Park Road, resulted in 8 cars wrecked. The speeding SUV that caused the crashes yesterday here sent 8 people to the hospital, including 6 riding in the 2005 Acura MDX, 5 of them juveniles. Boca Raton police said that they are all suspects and were taken to trauma centers. The 19-year-old driver is in critical condition. The police believe that all six people were involved in an armed robbery Monday morning on Federal Highway in Boca Raton. The weather in Florida each year seems to be either too much rain or too little rain, so we tend to cycle between years of drought and wildfires and floods and algae problems. I’m not sure that I’ve seen a year in the middle of the two extremes. We’ve had so much rain since May in Florida that Lake Okeechobee is way too high, which means it is covered with algae blooms, sucking up all the oxygen, and the Army Corps of Engineers has opened the main locks that feed the Port St. Lucie river, that then spills out to the inlet and kills many of the fish and the local tourism businesses. Today, the Army actually closed the locks, amidst major public outcry. There has been much debate for at least a decade of creating an overflow manmade lake for the runoff from Lake Okeechobee, rather than simply dumping it into the ocean and destroying that area. Today is the 3rd anniversary of the disappearance of the 2 Tequesta teenagers, Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen, nearby at the Jupiter inlet during a storm in a 19-foot boat. A search of more than 25,000 miles of ocean by scores of volunteers from across the nation and Coast Guard crews turned up the boat, but no sign of the missing boys. Amazon/Whole Foods has begun free food delivery to certain sections of Palm Beach County. A criminal investigation has begun surrounding a Miami 12-story downtown building that was supposed to be partially torn down, but the entire building collapsed Monday and injured a construction worker.
I will be performing as Elvis Presley in full jumpsuit and blackened hair on 8/16 (the anniversary of his death) at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, FL.
If you are interested in seeing longer, more famous, concerts, there are many coming to Florida, perhaps when you will be visiting:
Rod Stewart & Cyndi Lauper-Hollywood-July 24
Smashing Pumpkins-Miami-July 24
Sugarland, Frankie Ballard & Lindsay Eli-Pensacola-July 26
Don McLean-Ponte Vedra Beach-July 27
Britney Spears-Hollywood-July 28-29
Dave Matthews Band-West Palm Beach-July 27-28
Lauryn Hill-Miami, July 31
Counting Crows-West Palm Beach, August 1
Miranda Lambert & Little Big Town-West Palm Beach-August 4
Janet Jackson-Miami-August 5
Pentatonix-West Palm Beach-August 7
Imagine Dragons-West Palm Beach, August 9
Shakira-Sunrise-August 15
Def Leppard & Journey-Sunrise, August 17
Shakira-Miami, August 17-18
Taylor Swift-Miami, August 18
Lindsey Stirling & Evanescence-West Palm Beach, August 18
Memories of Elvis-Fort Lauderdale, August 18
Jeff Beck, Paul Rodgers & Ann Wilson-West Palm Beach, August 25
Rick Springfield-Pompano Beach, August 28
Beyonce and Jay-Z-Miami Gardens, August 31
K.D. Lang-Fort Lauderdale-September 7
Paul Simon-Sunrise, September 8
Christine Aguilera-Hollywood, September 25
Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker & Russell Dickerson-West Palm Beach, September 29
Phil Collins-Sunrise-October 5
Kid Rock and Brantley Gilbert-West Palm Beach, October 13
Nikki Minaj with Future-Miami-October 19
Alice in Chains-Hollywood-October 28
Toto-Pompano Beach-October 28
Simple Minds-Miami, November 8
Willie Nelson-Estero, November 12
Elton John-Sunrise, November 23 (I’m there)
Elton John-Miami, November 24
Brian Wilson-Hollywood, December 12
Kansas-Fort Lauderdale-December 15
Fleetwood Mac-Sunrise, February 20
Pink-Sunrise-March 1
Paul Anka-Fort Lauderdale-March 4
Elton John-Sunrise, March 16