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[Markets] Tunisia Unleashes 'Robocop' To Enforce Virus Lockdown Tunisia Unleashes 'Robocop' To Enforce Virus Lockdown

Like almost every country in the world, the virus crisis has been a cover to usher in a massive surveillance state

The latest example of this dystopic future coming to realty much quicker than anyone has anticipated is in Tunisia, reported AFP

Tunisia's interior ministry has deployed a four-wheeled robot that harasses people if they're violating the strict public health orders to shelter-at-home.

The robot is known as PGuard, uses infrared and thermal imaging cameras to hunt for people who are violating the public health order. If someone is spotted, the robot will chase them down and ask: 

 "What are you doing? Show me your ID. You don't know there's a lockdown?"

Last week, one unsuspecting man was busted by a PGuard robot. Here's the video of how it all went down:

As of Saturday morning, Tunisia has confirmed 495 COVID-19 cases and 18 virus-related deaths. The North African country has been under night-time curfew since March 17, and stricter lockdowns were implemented on March 22, with expected lockdowns that could extend through April.

Enova Robotics, the PGuard manufacturer, headquartered in Sousse, Tunisia, told AFP the robot is capable of security patrols via a remote operator or autonomously through artificial intelligence.

Tunisia's interior ministry is expected to deploy a fleet of PGuard robots in the near term. Some robots will patrol around hospitals, while others will monitor streets for those who violate curfew.

Social media users have referred to PGuard as 'robocop' as it patrols streets in the country's capital.

We've noted how ground-based robots and unmanned aircraft have been used across the world to combat the fast-spreading virus. We showed readers last week how "pandemic drones," used to detect if people have a fever or are sneezing and coughing, are soon going to be deploying in cities to detect virus carriers.

The outbreak is proving to be the Trojan horse that justifies the ushering in of the surveillance state. Governments and corporations are quickly deploying big data and spy tools to monitor people during the pandemic.

The war on terror, the war on drugs, the war on illegal immigration, and now the war on COVID-19: All start as legitimate responses but then are used by politicians to increase the surveillance state and erode any freedoms citizens have left. 

Tyler Durden Sun, 04/05/2020 - 07:30
Published:4/5/2020 6:57:32 AM
[Markets] Russia's Counter-COVID-19 Aid To America Advances Case For A New Detente Russia's Counter-COVID-19 Aid To America Advances Case For A New Detente

Authored by Andrew Korybko via One World Press,

Russia’s urgent dispatch of counter-COVID aid to America was both symbolic and substantial in the sense that it improved the country’s reputation among average Americans which in turn advances Trump’s years-long case for a “New Detente” between these two Great Powers.

From Russia With Love

Observers could be forgiven for not believing it when they first heard the news, but Russia just urgently dispatched counter-COVID aid to America in a real-life scene that seems ripped from the pages of political fiction. Had anyone speculated about this scenario just a few short months ago, practically nobody would have believed them, but World War C is truly turning the world upside down faster than anyone could have expected. This humanitarian assistance was sent after Trump agreed to his Russian counterpart’s proposal during a phone call earlier this week, with President Putin likely offering his country’s aid in order to help the American people caught in the new global epicenter of this crisis and also to show his unwavering solidarity with the US during this time of need just like how he reacted immediately after he found out about the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Looking beyond his noble intentions, it’s clear that this move was both symbolic and substantial in the sense that it improved the country’s reputation among average Americans which in turn advances Trump’s years-long case for a “New Detente” between these two Great Powers.

Soft Power...

Regarding the soft power angle, Russia killed several birds with a single stone, though it should always be remembered that it wouldn’t have been able to do this had Trump not approved. The fake news that up to 80% of its earlier aid to Italy was “useless” has now been debunked and all but forgotten after a country much more powerful than the Southern European one (and which arguably exerts a strong degree of hegemonic control over its affairs) accepted President Putin’s similar proposal for humanitarian assistance.

Seeing as how the planet is now fighting World War C, this could serve to remind the average American of their country’s wartime alliance with the USSR during World War II against the shared scourge of fascism. Not only could that improve Russia’s overall standing in their eyes following four years of interconnected fake news scandals, but it could also have the effect of getting them to passively agree to any forthcoming moves that Trump might eventually propose related to easing the sanctions regime against that country.

While their geopolitical rivalry still undoubtedly exists and probably won’t go away anytime soon (if at all), now is the perfect time for these two to consider the wisdom of more closely cooperating with one another on all fronts.

...And Substance

Their joint struggle against COVID-19 has captivated the world’s attention precisely because of how unexpected it was that Russia of all countries would end up sending humanitarian assistance to America. Trump willingly gave Russia an historically unprecedented soft power victory, but he did so with keen strategic calculations in mind. He’s been facing intense opposition from some of his permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) over the past few years over his desire to enter into a “New Detente” with Russia, which the author explained more in detail in his August 2019 analysis about how “The ‘New Detente’ Is Proceeding Apace, And China Should Be Very Concerned“.

In a nutshell, the US believes that reaching a series of “pragmatic compromises” with Russia over Syria, Ukraine, and other issues could facilitate that country’s rapprochement with the West and thus comparatively lessen its growing strategic dependence on China by default, which Moscow turned to more out of necessity than choice following the sudden commencement of the New Cold War in 2013-2014.

The problem, however, is that so-called “Cold Warriors” and other anti-Russian hawks believe that this strategy is fated to fail because they simply don’t trust Moscow.

Defying The “Deep State” (With Saudi Help?)

Therein lays one of the geneses of the Russiagate conspiracy (the other being to discredit Trump’s populist policies at home), but Trump brilliantly realized the mutual benefits of letting President Putin score a soft power victory in order to advance their countries’ shared strategic interests related to the “New Detente”.

With Americans now more aware than ever before that Russia isn’t the “dastardly villain” that many of them have been brainwashed by the “deep state” and its surrogates (both in Congress and the Mainstream Media) into believing, they might naturally be more in support of Trump’s original promise to enter into a meaningful rapprochement with the country after Moscow sent them aid that literally saved people’s lives.

Before getting to that point, however, Trump and President Putin appear to be on the verge of a “goodwill experiment” to test one another’s true intentions given what the American leader said about his country potentially joining rumored Russian-Saudi oil talks to reverse the recent price crash that devastated the global economy at its most vulnerable moment. Should this initiative succeed and all three countries establish a mechanism (whether formal or informal) to restore the oil price, then the next phase of the “New Detente” might begin shortly after.

Concluding Thoughts

The US and Russia are already in talks on a wide array of issues including energy geopolitics in Europe, NATO, Ukraine, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, and North Korea, et al., so it’s only natural for them to finally make some progress on reaching the long-awaited series of “pragmatic compromises” that Trump originally wanted to clinch during the first year of his presidency but was prevented from doing so by his “deep state’s” fake news Russiagate scandals. Now is the perfect time for defying the “deep state” with the support of the American people after they’ve come to suddenly have a much more favorable view of their country’s rival after it urgently dispatched humanitarian assistance to them with Trump’s support in order to help everyone improve their odds of surviving World War C.

This soft power “coup” was made possible by Presidents Trump and Putin cooperating in pursuit of their shared interests, but it might (inadvertently in terms of Russian motivations) have the potential to become a strategic “coup” with time if Russia’s eventual rapprochement with the West lessens its growing dependence on China and thus places the People’s Republic in a comparatively more disadvantageous position than before.

That’s certainly not Russia’s intent, but few doubt that it’s the US’.

Tyler Durden Sun, 04/05/2020 - 07:00
Published:4/5/2020 6:28:26 AM
[Markets] Did Bill Gates Just Reveal The Real Reason Behind The Lock-Downs? Did Bill Gates Just Reveal The Real Reason Behind The Lock-Downs?

Authored by Rosemary Frei via Off-Guardian.org,

On March 24 Bill Gates gave a highly revelatory 50-minute interview to Chris Anderson. Anderson is the Curator of TED, the non-profit that runs the TED Talks.

The Gates interview is the second in a new series of daily ‘Ted Connects’ interviews focused on COVID-19. The series’s website says that:

TED Connects: Community and Hope is a free, live, daily conversation series featuring experts whose ideas can help us reflect and work through this uncertain time with a sense of responsibility, compassion and wisdom.”

Anderson asked Gates at 3:49 in the video of the interview – which well over three million views now – about a ‘Perspective’ article by Gates that was published February 28 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“You wrote that this could be the once-in-a-century pandemic that people have been fearing. Is that how you think of it, still?” queried Anderson.

“Well, it’s awful to say this but, we could have a respiratory virus whose case fatality rate was even higher. If this was something like smallpox, that kills 30 percent of people. So this is horrific,” responded Gates.

“But, in fact, most people even who get the COVID disease are able to survive. So in that, it’s quite infectious – way more infectious than MERS [Middle East Respiratory Syndrome] or SARS [Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome] were. [But] it’s not as fatal as they were. And yet the disruption we’re seeing in order to knock it down is really completely unprecedented.”

Gates reiterates the dire consequences for the global economy later in the interview.

“We need a clear message about that,” Gates said starting at 26:52.

It is really tragic that the economic effects of this are very dramatic. I mean, nothing like this has ever happened to the economy in our lifetimes. But … bringing the economy back and doing [sic] money, that’s more of a reversible thing than bringing people back to life. So we’re going to take the pain in the economic dimension, huge pain, in order to minimize the pain in disease and death dimension.”

However, this goes directly against the imperative to balance the benefits and costs of the screening, testing and treatment measures for each ailment – as successfully promulgated for years by, for example, the Choosing Wisely campaign – to provide the maximum benefit to individual patients and society as a whole

As noted in an April 1 article in OffGuardian, there may be dramatically more deaths from the economic breakdown than from COVID-19 itself.

“By all accounts, the impact of the response will be great, far-reaching, and long-lasting,”

Kevin Ryan wrote in the article. Ryan estimated that well over two million people will likely die from the sequelae of the lock-downs and other drastic measures to enforce ‘social distancing.’

Millions could potentially die from suicide, drug abuse, lack of medical coverage or treatment, poverty and lack of food access, on top of other predictable social, medical and public-health problems stemming from the response to COVID-19.

Gates and Anderson did not touch on any of those sequelae. Instead, they focused on rapidly ramping up testing and medical interventions for COVID-19.

Gates said at 30:29 in the interview that he and a large team are moving fast to test anti-virals, vaccines and other therapeutics and to bring them to market as quickly as possible.

The Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust with support from Mastercard and now others, created this therapeutic accelerator to really triage out [candidate therapeutics]...

You have hundreds of people showing up and saying, ‘Try this, try that.’ So we look at lab assays, animal models, and so we understand which things should be prioritized for these very quick human trials that need to be done all over the world.”

The accelerator was launched March 10 with approximately $125 million in seed funding. Three days later Gates left Microsoft.

Not long before that, on January 23, Gates’s organization the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) announced it will fund three programs to develop COVID-19 vaccines. These are the advancing of DNA-vaccine candidates against MERS and Lassa fever, the development of a “‘molecular clamp’ platform” that “enables targeted and rapid vaccine production against multiple viral pathogens,” and the manufacture and Phase 1 clinical study of an mRNA vaccine against COVID.

“The programmes will leverage rapid response platforms already supported by CEPI as well as a new partnership. The aim is to advance nCoV-2019 vaccine candidates into clinical testing as quickly as possible,” according to a news release.

Then at 32:50 in the video, Anderson asked whether the blood serum from people who have recovered from a COVID infection can be used to treat others.

“I heard you mention that one possibility might be treatments from the serum, the blood serum of people who had had the disease and then recovered. So I guess they’re carrying antibodies,” said Anderson.

“Talk a bit about that and how that could work and what it would take to accelerate that.”

[Note that Anderson did not ask Gates about, instead, just letting most of the population – aside from people most vulnerable to serious illness from the infection, who should be quarantined — be exposed to COVID-19 and as a result very likely recover and develop life-long immunity. As at least one expert has observed, “as much as ninety-nine percent of active cases [of COVID-19] in the general population are ‘mild’ and do not require specific medical treatment” to recover.]

“This has always been discussed as, ‘How could you pull that off?’” replied Gates. 

“So people who are recovered, it appears, have very effective antibodies in their blood. So you could go, transfuse them and only take out white cells, the immune cells.”

However, Gates continued, he and his colleagues have dismissed that possibility because it’s “fairly complicated – compared to a drug we can make in high volume, you know, the cost of taking it out and putting it back in probably doesn’t scale as well.”

Then a few seconds later, at 33:45, Gates drops another bomb:

We don’t want to have a lot of recovered people...

To be clear, we’re trying – through the shut-down in the United States – to not get to one percent of the population infected. We’re well below that today, but with exponentiation, you could get past that three million [people or approximately one percent of the U.S. population being infected with COVID-19 and the vast majority recovering]. I believe we will be able to avoid that with having this economic pain.”

It appears that rather than let the population be exposed to the virus and most develop antibodies that give them natural, long-lasting immunity to COVID-19, Gates and his colleagues far prefer to create a vast, hugely expensive, new system of manufacturing and selling billions of test kits, and in parallel very quickly developing and selling billions of antivirals and vaccines.

And then, when the virus comes back again a few months later and most of the population is unexposed and therefore vulnerable, again selling billions of test kits and medical interventions.

Right after that, at 34:14, Gates talked about how he sees things rolling out from there.

Eventually what we’ll have to have is certificates of who’s a recovered person, who’s a vaccinated person...

...Because you don’t want people moving around the world where you’ll have some countries that won’t have it under control, sadly.

You don’t want to completely block off the ability for people to go there and come back and move around.

So eventually there will be this digital immunity proof that will help facilitate the global reopening up.”

[Some time on the afternoon of March 31 the last sentence of this quote was edited out of the official TED video of the interview. Fortunately, recordings of the complete interview are archived elsewhere.]

In the October 2019 Event 201 novel-corona virus-pandemic simulation co-sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Economic Forum and a division of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, a poll that was part of the simulation said that 65% of people in the U.S. would be eager to take a vaccine for COVID-19, “even if it’s experimental.”

This will be tremendously lucrative.

Vaccines are very big business: this Feb. 23 CNBC article, for example, describes the vaccine market as six times bigger than it was 20 years ago, at more than $35 billion annually today, and providing a $44 return for every $1 invested in the world’s 94 lowest-income countries.

Notably, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – which has an endowment of $52 billion – has given more than $2.4 billion to the World Health Organization (WHO) since 2000, according to a 2017 Politico article. (While over the same time frame countries have reduced their contributions to the world body, particularly after the 2008-2009 depression, and now account for less than one-quarter of the WHO’s budget.) The WHO is now coordinating approximately 50 groups around the world that are working on candidate vaccines against COVID-19.

The Politico article quotes a Geneva-based NGO representative as saying Gates is “treated liked a head of state, not only at the WHO, but also at the G20,” and that Gates is one of the most influential people in global health.

Meanwhile, officials around the world are doing their part to make sure everyone social distances, self-isolates and/or stay locked down.

For example, here’s Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen DE Villa, at her and Toronto Mayor John Tory’s March 30 press briefing:

We find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic. We should expect some more people will get sick – and for some, sadly, will die.

This is why it is so important to stay at home to reduce virus spread. And to protect front-line workers, healthcare workers and our essential workers, so they can continue to protect us. People shouldn’t have to die, people shouldn’t have to risk death taking care of us because others won’t practice social distancing or physical distancing.”

Yet look how close Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, is sitting to Haley Chazan, Senior Manager, Media Relations, for Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health of Ontario.

This was on Friday, March 27, just before the start of that day’s daily press conference by Dr. Williams and Ontario’s Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe:

They were sitting two seats, or just a couple of feet, apart. A short time later Chazan got up and stood even closer to Dr. Williams for a little while:

Dr. Williams and Chazan do not live together. Rather, Dr. Williams very likely knows – just as Gates knows – that there is little any reason to worry about being in close contact with other people unless you or they are vulnerable to developing a severe illness from COVID-19. He surely knows, also, that if you contract COVID-19 and you’re otherwise healthy you’ll very likely have few symptoms, if any, and recover quickly. And that this exposure in fact is beneficial because in the process you will develop antibodies to the virus and have natural, long-lasting immunity to it.

Yet in the March 27 press conference, just like all the others he has participated in during the COVID-19 crisis, Dr. Williams lectured the public about maintaining social distancing. He told people not to go outside on the coming weekend to enjoy the nice weather because, otherwise, they might walk past someone and not be two metres apart.

Dr. Williams is among the large cadre of powerful officials who’ve crashed the global economy by forcing tens of millions of small- and medium-sized businesses to close in the name of the need for forced, severe, social distancing and lock-downs.

They’ve shattered society, suspended most civil liberties and prohibited most activities and connections that kept people mentally and physically healthy. At the same time the officials have prioritized COVID-19 care over everything else and, as a result, severely limited billions of people’s access to life-saving healthcare services ranging from acquiring medication and blood transfusions to having organ transplants and cancer surgeries.

*  *  *

Rosemary Frei has an MSc in molecular biology from a faculty of medicine and was a freelance medical journalist for 22 years. She is now an independent investigative journalist in Canada. You can find her recent detailed investigative analysis of COVID here and follow her on Twitter.

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/04/2020 - 23:40
Published:4/4/2020 10:59:08 PM
[Markets] Mysterious Colorado Doomsday Shelter For When "Law & Order Breaks Down" Sees Spike In Interest Mysterious Colorado Doomsday Shelter For When "Law & Order Breaks Down" Sees Spike In Interest

As the pandemic unfolds across the US, city dwellers are getting the hell out of dodge and escaping to rural areas. We noted this last week, with many leaving large metro areas in California, fleeing for the mountains and rural communities to limit their probabilities of contracting COVID-19. Now it appears the virus crisis is evolving, as fears of social unrest across large US metro areas are spiking interest in doomsday shelters.  

The Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies warned last week that a "social bomb" is getting ready to explode across Western cities amid the collapse of economies and high unemployment. This has forced many people to request information about a mysterious doomsday ranch in Colorado, called Fortitude Ranch, stockpiled with food, weapons, ammo, and designated bunkers, reported CBS4 Denver.

The ranch describes itself as "a survival community equipped to survive any disaster and long-term loss of law and order," and its actual location is unknown to non-members.

"Fortitude Ranch is a survival community equipped to survive any type of disaster and long-term loss of law and order, managed by full time staff. Fortitude Ranch is affordable (about $1,000/person annually) because of large numbers of members and economies of scale. Fortitude Ranch is especially attractive to join because it doubles as a recreation and vacation facility as well as a survival retreat. Members can vacation, hunt, fish and recreate at our forest and mountain locations in good times, and shelter at Fortitude Ranch to survive a collapse," the company's website said.

Drew Miller, a retired Air Force Colonel, operates several ranches in Colorado and West Virginia, with ten more locations expected in the near term. 

"If law and order breaks down, then by all means, we will open and ask our members to come, but thus far our members pretty well understand that they really don't need to be at Fortitude Ranch now," Miller said.

The beginning innings of social unrest could be unfolding in the US. President Trump signed an executive order last Friday that could call up as many as one million reserves, not to fight the virus solely, but to maintain social order.

If an economic crisis collapses the US government, the doomsday ranch states that it will operate a "fleet of aircraft" that can travel to and from other sites, as it says, "overland travel may be unsafe for a long time."

And for years, mainstream media laughed at the prepper community – calling anyone who preps a "tin foil hat conspiracy theorist," but, in a few short months, it's those who bashed preppers are the crazy ones as they frantically storm big-box retailers without 3M N95 masks for food.

The virus storm has triggered the next big shift: a mass exodus of cities as lockdowns Martial law has confined people to their studio apartments, with no security of land, no weapons for protection, and limited food. And where are the people that manage to escape the city going? Well, besides a doomsday ranch, there is also a huge demand for "prepper properties..."

The next chapter of the virus crisis could be here in a matter of weeks, as lockdowns are being extended across the Western world, now till the end of April, people are now starting to get frustrated with governments. 

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/04/2020 - 23:15
Published:4/4/2020 10:26:20 PM
[Markets] How China's Fake-News-Machine Is Rewriting The History Of COVID-19, Even As The Pandemic Unfolds How China's Fake-News-Machine Is Rewriting The History Of COVID-19, Even As The Pandemic Unfolds

Authored by Robert Boxwell via The South China Morning Post,

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson’s retweet of an article blaming the US for infecting Wuhan with coronavirus went viral, viewed 160 million times within hours. But where did the story come from?

By now, the early history of Covid-19 is well known, if not clear in its details. The virus was first detected somewhere around Wuhan, in Hubei province, then appears to have entered the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, from where it infected many others. Doctors in Wuhan first noticed the novel coronavirus in December and began exchanging urgent warnings.

Local government authorities set out to silence them; some were detained and made to sign documents admitting wrongdoing.Meanwhile, Wuhan officials went about business as usual, which included a disastrous Lunar New Year banquet attended by about 40,000 families. Soon, many more thousands around Wuhan were infected, with hundreds dead or dying, including ophthalmologist Li Wenliang, who had been punished for trying to raise the alarm.Realising it was in the firing line not just for running the nation that had unleashed the deadly virus on the world but also for ignoring, covering up and denying its spread, China’s Communist Party moved into damage-control mode. This included suggesting it was the United Statesthat was responsible for the virus.

Chinese state media regularly tweet propaganda and what many describe as “fake news”. Global Times has 1.7 million followers on Twitter; China Xinhua News, 12.6 million; People’s Daily, 7.1 million; China Daily, 4.3 million; and China Global Television Network (CGTN), 14 million.

Zhao Lijian, spokesman and deputy director general of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Photo: Kyodo

Zhao Lijian, spokesman and deputy director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ information department, had 287,000 followers when he tweeted a link to a conspi­racy website alleging the US was responsible for the virus. (Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying had 146,700 followers; the ministry’s “spokesperson” account, used by Geng Shuang, had 61,000; and Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of Global Times, had 175,000.)

With the outbreak of an epidemic, one of the first jobs of scientists and doctors, even while they fight to save lives, is to identify its source. This is critical in the search for medicines to combat a virus and a vaccine to prevent its spread.

On January 24, an article written jointly by 29 Chinese medical doctors and scientists was published in The Lancet, one of the world’s leading medical journals. The authors shared their findings from a study of patients who were suspected of having been infected with 2019-nCoV and had been admitted to a Wuhan hospital. The report said that by January 2, 41 of them had been “laboratory-confirmed” as infected with the virus – which causes Covid-19 – and two-thirds of those infected “had been exposed to the Huanan market”.

The findings appeared to support anecdotal evidence that the source of the virus was the market, which had been closed by city officials on January 1. This had been often repeated by Chinese authorities and reported widely in the global media. The Lancet article gave scientific currency to this narrative.

Then, on February 19, another study – this time published on ChinaXiv.org, an open repository and distribution website used by scientific researchers – suggested the market was likely not ground zero for the virus, but rather that it had been “imported”from outside.

The study was by a team of scientists from several institutions: Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden of Chinese Academy of Sciences; South China Agricultural University; and the Chinese Institute for Brain Research. It was revised on February 21. Neither version of the study suggested Covid-19 had originated outside China.

But the fake news machine was about to go to work.

On February 23, the People’s Daily’s English-language site reprinted a February 22 Global Times article titled, “Japanese TV report sparks speculations in China that Covid-19 may have originated in US”. The original Global Times article, which is no longer available online, began: “A report from a Japanese TV station that suspected some of the 14,000 Americans died of influenza may have unknowningly [sic] contracted the coronavirus has gone viral on Chinese social media, stoking fears and speculations in China that the novel coronavirus may have originated in the US.

“The report, by TV Asahi Corporation of Japan, suggested that the US government may have failed to grasp how rampant the virus have gone [sic] on the US soil.”

The article continued: “The story sparked various conspiracy theories on [sic] Chinese cyberspace.

“The Military World Games were held in Wuhan in October. ‘Perhaps the US delegates brought the coronavirus to Wuhan, and some mutation occurred to the virus, making it more deadly and contagious, and causing a wide­spread outbreak this year,’ a user posted on China’s Twitter-like Weibo.

“[An] international relations professor at the Shanghai-based Fudan University, noted that global virologists are working to track the origin of the virus, including the intel­ligence agencies. Netizens are encouraged to actively par­take in discussions, but preferrably [sic] in a rational fashion.”

The original Global Times article appears to have been replaced with one about the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s denial of the TV Asahi report.

On March 4, the People’s Daily reprint of this article was used as the basis for a piece published on conspiracy website GlobalResearch.ca, titled “China’s Coronavirus: A Shocking Update. Did The Virus Originate in the US?” It was the first of two articles on the website that would lead to Zhao’s tweet nine days later suggesting the US Army had brought the virus to Wuhan.

The March 4 article begins: “The Western media quickly took the stage and laid out the official narrative for the outbreak of the new coronavirus which appeared to have begun in China, claiming it to have originated with animals at a wet market in Wuhan.”

This omits a few salient facts: that China’s state-controlled media had also “laid out the official narrative”; that reporters had received that narrative from the Chinese government; and that in the early days of the outbreak, the majority of evidence, including the Lancet article by 29 Chinese doctors, pointed to the Wuhan market.

The Global Research article continues: “In fact the origin was for a long time unknown but it appears likely now, according to Chinese and Japanese reports, that the virus originated elsewhere, from multiple locations, but began to spread widely only after being introduced to the market.

“More to the point, it appears that the virus did not originate in China and, according to reports in Japanese and other media, may have originated in the US.”

Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Global Times. Photo: SCMP / Simon Song

The article then presents a subheading that inflates “may have originated in the US” to “Chinese Researchers Conclude the Virus Originated Outside of China”. Under­neath, it quotes two reports – a February 22 article in Global Times and a February 23 article in CGTN – both about the ChinaXiv study, which did not suggest the virus originated outside China.

But Global Research wanted readers to draw the conclusion that it did, and so it created some dots to be connected: “Chinese medical authorities – and ‘intelligence agencies’ – then conducted a rapid and wide-ranging search for the origin of the virus, collecting nearly 100 samples of the genome from 12 different countries on 4 continents, identifying all the varieties and mutations. During this research, they determined the virus outbreak had begun much earlier, probably in November, shortly after the Wuhan Military Games.

“They then came to the same independent conclusions as the Japanese researchers – that the virus did not begin in China but was introduced there from the outside.”

That was not the “conclusion” of the scientists who posted their research on ChinaXiv.

Next, citing a February 27 story on Xinhuanet, Global Research invokes a Chinese national hero, Zhong Nanshan, who led the fight to contain severe acute respiratory syn­drome in 2003. “China’s  top respiratory specialist Zhong Nanshan said on January 27 … ‘Though the Covid-19 was first discovered in China, it does not mean that it originated from China’.”

Global Research translates this for its readers: “But that is Chinese for ‘it originated someplace else, in another country’.”

Zhong did not say that. Neither did Xinhuanet. And the “Japanese researchers” Global Research refers to are never identified. The only reference to a Japanese source is: “In February of 2020, the Japanese Asahi news report (print and TV) claimed the coronavirus originated in the US, not in China …”

Global Research offers no link to Asahi, only a link to the February 23 People’s Daily article, which also has no Asahi link but was a reprint of the Global Times story, which appears to have been revised on February 22, and – you guessed it – provides no Asahi link.

An online search for “Asahi news coronavirus originated in the US” from February 1 to 29 reveals no link to any such Asahi article. Neither does a search of the Asahi news website, which returns 688 articles containing the word “coronavirus” through March 4. But not this one.

Global Research also cites the Fudan University quote in Global Times: “[The professor] stated that global virologists ‘including the intelligence agencies’ were tracking the origin of the virus. Also of interest, the Chinese government did not shut the door on this. The news report stated: ‘Netizens are encouraged to actively partake in discussions, but prefer­ably in a rational fashion.’

“In China, that is meaningful. If the reports were rubbish, the government would clearly state that, and tell people to not spread false rumours.”

Ophthalmologist Li Wenliang, who was reprimanded by the police after alerting colleagues to a Sars-like virus and who later died of Covid-19. Photo: Weibo

The final piece of “evidence” in Global Research’s March 4 article is headed “Taiwan Virologist Suggests the Coronavirus Originated in the US”, and includes an embedded video of a Taiwan television show, identified as This! Is Not News, and a screenshot of a man with a pointer giving a colourful lecture about the origins of the virus. “The man in the video is a top virologist and pharmacologist who performed a long and detailed search for the source of the virus,” claims the article.

Except the man in the video – whom the report does not name – is not a virologist at all. He is a politician from the pro-Beijing New Party and a member of the Taipei City Council, who, before entering politics full time in 2002, was a pharmacology professor.

The clip opens with an introduction from a man in a crew cut, who talks about China and Russia and Georgian defectors carrying American biowarfare secrets, and mosquitoes and bats developed by the US for diabolical purposes. As he talks, tabloid-sized purple characters scroll along the bottom of the screen, punctuated with question marks and exclamation marks, and the one English acronym every conspiracy theorist worldwide knows: “CIA!”

Capping his performance is a 1981 analysis purported to have been carried out by the US Army that showed the attraction of “entomological warfare” to the US military and American taxpayers: 50 per cent of a city of 1.2 million people could be wiped out at a per-corpse cost of 29 cents.

Military Personnel stand guard outside the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick. Photo: AFP

Up next, “the man in the video”notes that, while the man with the crew cut had been talking in terms of Cold War-style geopolitics where everybody fears and loathes everybody else, he is there solely to discuss science. Then he waves a pointer with a plastic yellow index finger at its tip, indicating diagrams of multicoloured circles. As the most complex diagram arrives on screen, he reassures the show’s hostess, “The next slide will make it very clear.”

Such was Global Research’s Taiwan “expert evidence”. Undaunted, the article continues: “The Taiwanese doctor then stated the virus outbreak began earlier than assumed, saying, ‘We must look to September of 2019’.

“He stated the case in September of 2019 where some Japanese travelled to Hawaii and returned home infected, people who had never been to China. This was two months prior to the infections in China and just after the CDC suddenly and totally shut down the Fort Detrick bio-weapons lab claiming the facilities were insufficient to prevent loss of pathogens.”

The introduction of the US Army’s Fort Detrick bio-weapons lab is a solid piece of conspiracy theory crafts­manship. The “man in the video” had not mentioned Fort Detrick – Global Research did, in an apparent attempt to tie the Taiwanese “virologist’s” Japanese travellers who visited Hawaii in September to a US Army bioweapons lab.

The Fort Detrick facility had not been “suddenly and totally shut down” – it ceased research in mid-July (and not in September). And how one of the most contagious viruses in history travelled from Maryland to Hawaii over a six- to eight-week period, leaving no trail of illness and death, goes unexamined by Global Research.

Renowned Chinese respiratory specialist Zhong Nanshan. Photo: Xinhua

For good measure, the article closes by listing six outbreaks in 2018, 2019 and 2020 of “pandemics” that “sickened” and “killed” people, chickens and pigs in China. Each includes notes such as, “China needs to purchase US agricultural products,” suggesting that as part of the trade war, the US has been unleashing pathogens in the mainland for more than two years in order to make China buy American.

In summary, the March 4 article invokes mainland hero Zhong, the “Japanese” and the “Taiwanese” – two American allies with no reason to lie – and adds the “CIA” and a leaky US bioweapons research lab for spice. All independent and none really confirming the others while appearing to come close. Perhaps most impressive of all, the author produced almost 2,000 America-bashing words, and not one of them was “Trump”.

On March 5, without citing the Global Research March 4 piece or any of the underlying Chinese media articles, Zhao tweeted: “Confirmed cases of #COVID19 were first found in China, but its origin is not necessarily in China. We are still tracing the origin.”

On March 11, Global Research published a follow-up: “COVID-19: Further Evidence that the Virus Originated in the US”.

The story begins by recapping the March 4 article, upgrading the never-found Japanese Asahi broadcasters and the “man in the video” to “Japanese and Taiwanese epidemiologists and pharmacologists [who] have deter­mined that the new coronavirus could have originated in the US”. The “man in the video” was now also a “physician” and a “scientist”.

Personnel working inside Fort Detrick. Photo: AFP

Recalling his attempt to place the first Covid-19 case in the US, Global Research again points out, “immediately prior to that, the CDC totally shut down the US Military’s main bio-lab at Fort Detrick, Maryland, due to an absence of safeguards against pathogen leakages, issuing a complete ‘cease and desist’ order to the military”.

As evidence, Global Research had posted a screenshot of an August 5 New York Times headline, “Deadly Germ Research Is Shut Down at Army Lab Over Safety Concerns; Problems with disposal of dangerous materials led the government to suspend research at the military’s leading biodefence centre”.

In fact, the New York Times article had not stated the centre had been “totally shut down”. It had reported that 900 people worked at the facility and, “Although many projects are on hold, [a facility spokeswoman] said scien­tists and other employees are continuing to work, just not on select agents”. Both The New York Times and a local newspaper that first reported the cessation of the research noted that no pathogens had escaped the facility.

Global Research’s March 11 story continues: “We also had the Japanese citizens infected in September of 2019, in Hawaii, people who had never been to China, these infec­tions occurring on US soil long before the outbreak in Wuhan but only shortly after the locking down of Fort Detrick.

“Then, on Chinese social media, another article appeared, aware of the above but presenting further details. It stated in part that five ‘foreign’ athletes or other personnel visiting Wuhan for the World Military Games (October 18-27, 2019) were hospitalised in Wuhan for an undetermined infection.”

The opening ceremony of the CISM Military World Games, in Wuhan. Photo: Reuters

That other article is a blog on Chinese social media, identified only by a QR code, that began: “Because there have been so many American dogs recently, in consider­ation for my account’s safety, [I must write] ‘some country’ or ‘M Country’ [when referring to America].”

The blog entry, which appeared to be a work in progress and is no longer online, recycled much of Global Research’s March 4 article, adding screenshots of local news stories about US military personnel in Wuhan for the October military gameswho were hospitalised.

According to Global Research: “The article explains more clearly that the Wuhan version of the virus could have come only from the US because it is what they call a ‘branch’ which could not have been created first because it would have no ‘seed’. It would have to have been a new variety spun off the original ‘trunk’, and that trunk exists only in the US.”

So there it was. A post on “Chinese social media” about “‘foreign’ athletes or other personnel visiting Wuhan for the World Military Games” in October completed the conspiracy’s journey. The fake news world had rewritten the origin of Covid-19: it was not due to a catastrophic natural occurrence somewhere in or around Wuhan, as the world’s scientists believed, but to a bio­weapon brought to Wuhan by the US Army.

At the end of its March 11 article, Global Research returned to January, citing two articles in Science magazine for further “evidence” of its conspiracy – neither of which states the origin of the virus was, as Global Research puts it, “Not in Wuhan” – tying a bow around the package Zhao would soon forward to hundreds of thousands, who would forward it to hundreds of millions.

On the morning of March 13, Zhao tweeted links to the Global Research articles: “This article is very much important to each and every one of us. Please read and retweet it. COVID-19: Further Evidence that the Virus Originated in the US. It would be useful to read this prior article for background: China’s Coronavirus: A Shocking Update. Did The Virus …”

Followed by:

“Just take a few minutes to read one more article. This is so astonishing that it changed many things I used to believe in. Please retweet to let more people know about it. China’s Coronavirus: A Shocking Update. Did The Virus Originate in the US? – Global Research: The Western media quickly laid out the official narrative for the outbreak of COVID-19 which appeared to have begun in China …”

By late afternoon, the South China Morning Post reported that the hashtag topic "Zhao Lijian sent out five consecutive tweets questioning the US” had been viewed more than 4.7 million times on Weibo. Twelve hours later, The New York Times reported it had been viewed more than 160 million times.

Zhao’s Twitter followers have increased from 287,000 to more than 500,000. Media worldwide carried stories about his tweets, putting them in front of millions more readers, most of whom would never have seen them on Twitter or Weibo. Fake virus news had gone viral.

In October, the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence noted in the first line of its report on Russia’s use of social media to meddle in the 2016 US presidential election, that “information warfare [is] designed to spread disinformation and societal division”. Zhao’s tweets accom­plished both. The disinformation was obvious. Critical thinking in abeyance, plenty of people will believe a claim that the US Army planted Covid-19 in Wuhan; even more will want it to be true.

When US President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and others began fighting back by loudly and repeatedly calling Covid-19 “the Chinese virus”, social division in the US grew, if that is possible. The media accused Trump of being racist and xenophobic, and inciting more of the same towards Chinese-Americans. This only caused Trump to say it louder and more often.

One wonders how much longer Washington will conti­nue fighting the information war against Beijing with one arm tied behind its back. Chinese media enjoy free run of the US, including on Twitter. The US has no such freedom in China.

Not a few pundits in these past few weeks have predicted Covid-19 will end globalisation, or even “life as we know it”. That seems unlikely, given the short-term nature of people’s memories and how profitable “life as we know it” has been for so many. But given the mischief Zhao’s tweets caused, Beijing’s days on Twitter might be numbered.

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/04/2020 - 22:50
Published:4/4/2020 9:59:43 PM
[Markets] Putin: Oil Glut Is Really About Saudi Desire To Crush US Shale Putin: Oil Glut Is Really About Saudi Desire To Crush US Shale

While it appears an expected emergency virtual OPEC+ meeting planned for Monday has been postponed, pushed back to later in the week to allow more time for negotiations, it's likely that we'll actually see the heated blame-game for the collapse in oil prices ratchet up  and oh, in the meantime oil is set to crater come Monday as the feud is only expected to get uglier. 

Indeed the aggressive war of words has started, with Putin offering a biting Russian narrative aimed at the Saudis in remarks Friday: “It was the pullout by our partners from Saudi Arabia from the OPEC+ deal, their increase in production and their announcement that they were even ready to give discounts on oil” that drove the crash alongside the double-whammy of the coronavirus-driven drop in demand, Putin said according to Bloomberg.

“This was apparently linked to efforts by our partners from Saudi Arabia to eliminate competitors who produce so-called shale oil,” Putin continued. “To do that, the price needs to be below $40 a barrel. And they succeeded in that. But we don’t need that, we never set such a goal.”

Via Daily Mail

Thus in one fell swoop Putin, ironically enough, framed the new 'war on US shale' as in reality a Saudi dirty little secret and motive despite all spin to the contrary, perhaps also seeking to inject division and tension in the close Washington-Riyadh alliance.

Both Russia and the Saudis opened the taps and prices soared following Russia's early March declaration that it would be quitting the OPEC plan to slash output by 1 million bpd, conditioned also on Russia-led non-OPEC countries cutting 500,000 bpd. Moscow reasoned that ultimately US shale-oil producers would be the ones benefiting as they had previously, filling the gaps in earlier curtailments. 

Putin's attack has for the time being had the immediate effect of forcing Riyadh into the awkward position of having to deny it could have been a willing participant in deeper machinations to crush US shale producers in a price war. This as already the steep drop-off in prices have left some US shale producers saying they're ready to initiate voluntary production cuts amid the ballooning oil glut, as the WSJ reported Friday.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan responded to Putin in early Saturday comments, blasting the allegations as “fully devoid of truth.”

“Russia was the one that refused the agreement” the Saudi foreign ministry statement said. “The kingdom and 22 other countries were trying to to persuade Russia to make further cuts and extend the agreement.”

Energy minister and half-brother of Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman said something similar, noticeably without taking the shale angle to the Russian accusations head-on.

“The Russian Minister of Energy was first to declare to the media that all the participating countries are absolved of their commitments,” he said. “This led to the decision by countries to raise their production in order to offset lower prices and compensate for their loss of returns.”

Interestingly, Bloomberg's own summary of the OPEC+ unraveling tacitly admits what few pundits are ready to do, namely that the Saudis for all practical purposes have appeared 'equal partners' in squeezing US shale: "The Saudis, who have ramped up production to a record 12 million barrels a day in the past month and massively discounted the price of their oil, have insisted a new agreement must involve significant contributions from all OPEC+ nations and major producers outside the coalition, including the U.S. and Canada," as the report puts it.

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/04/2020 - 22:25
Published:4/4/2020 9:27:21 PM
[Markets] From 'Nightmare' To 'Surprisingly Seamless' - Small Business Owners Describe COVID-19 Bailout Experiences From 'Nightmare' To 'Surprisingly Seamless' - Small Business Owners Describe COVID-19 Bailout Experiences

The Trump administration's $350 billion SBA Paycheck Protection Program was launched on Friday as part of the $2 trillion bailout package, letting small businesses gain access to capital for payroll and other overhead costs.

As we reported on Friday, the rollout went horribly awry for some - with banks such as BofA requiring an existing credit line to qualify, surprising many. JPM delayed the rollout until 1pm, while Wells Fargo and others completely dropped the ball.

That said, it wasn't all bad on Friday - with some business owners such as small business owner Kyle Stewart, who told Bloomberg that the process was "surprisingly seamless" when he applied for a loan to keep his batting-cage and baseball training business afloat.

After spending two hours gathering the payroll and business information required and completing the Paycheck Protection Program application Thursday night, Kyle found uploading the form to the bank’s portal Friday morning was “surprisingly seamless” and automated.

After San Francisco announced a shelter-in-place order on March 16, Stewart told his five hourly workers he wouldn’t be able to pay them going forward. The timing couldn’t have been worse, as his company makes 60% of its profit in the month of March ahead of the baseball season. He’s hoping the loan will help keep them on until the business is able to reopen. -Bloomberg

"We are still stuck on second base with 2 outs in the ninth inning," said Stewart. "Here is to hoping for a clutch hit from the Feds."

Cute.

Others, such as Ohio hair salon owner Clara Osterhage found the process to be a "nightmare." After gathering documents in preparation to be one of the first in line with her application on Friday, she was told by her small regional bank at 11 a.m. that they weren't going to be able to submit applications that day, and that 'even big banks weren't able to do it.'

"This is a nightmare," she said, adding that she doesn't have a clue when she'll gain access to the funds she needs.

"How do I feel? Uncertain with a capital ‘U.'"

Goat's milk soap maker Theresa Richard of Arnaudville, Louisiana was "at a loss" after trying to obtain a loan for her Youngsville store, Bain Amour Bath & Body Co., which has been shut since the state's March 22 stay-at-home order, which has left her lone employee without work.

Richard's local bank, Farmers and Merchants Bank & Trust Co. of Beaux Bridge told her they're still waiting on more information about the program. Her other bank, Chase, sent her an email notifying her that they wouldn't be ready for the program's Friday morning launch.

"Nobody has a real clear idea of what they need in place to start doing the loans," she said.

Community bankers are “rightfully frustrated and, in many cases, livid” after promised online portals never went live on Friday, said Rebeca Romero Rainey, chief executive officer of Independent Community Bankers of America.

It was “a nightmare situation,” Rainey said. “Media reports continue to indicate successful launches through the country by community banks, few of which we have been able to confirm.” -Bloomberg

Robin Schultz, who operates Birmingham, Alabama commercial lighting company Quality Electric, says that despite using the same lender for over two decades that she was surprised to receive an email from them Thursday night notifying her that it hadn't received guidelines from the feds.

After trying to apply at 4 a.m. Friday morning, she received an email around noon to let her know that the site was operational. Moments later, it was down, and she still wasn't able to file paperwork for the loan.

More tales of woe and optimism (via Bloomberg):

‘Eight Weeks Is Ten Years’

Erik Bruun owns SoCo Creamery, an ice cream shop and wholesale supplier in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Foot traffic into his store is slower this time of the year, but is down 60% from where it typically is.

Wholesale ice cream sales, which make up the majority of revenue during the off-season, have completely stopped.

Bruun applied for an emergency loan last week but has yet to hear back. He tried to apply to the paycheck protection program as well, but his local bank told him the application changed and he’d have to wait until they receive instructions to proceed.

The application made it sound like the money would be dispersed in 72 hours. Time is critical right now, and even if his paycheck protection application is approved he’s not sure if the duration will be enough.

“Eight weeks? Eight weeks is ten years right now,” he said. “Eight weeks ago we lived in the allegedly good times. Now we live in the Great Depression.”

One small perk with the lockdown: as people hunker down, pint sales in local grocery stores are up.

‘So Much Confusion’

Wahid Nassar, who runs a restaurant in Highlands, New Jersey, tried going online Friday morning to apply for the loan through his lender, Bank of America, but repeatedly got error messages.

“There’s so much confusion and hard to get a straight answer from anyone right now,” he said.

‘Bringing Hope’

At 9:30 a.m. Friday, the paperwork, so utterly confusing at times, was finally in order for Jason Maxwell. The CEO of MassPay, a payroll and human resources firm that employs 59 people in Beverly, Massachusetts, faxed his application for an SBA loan to his banker in nearby Salem.

Late Thursday, Maxwell was told the federal loan program had tweaked its application. Luckily, Maxwell has a good relationship with his banker, Ed Lomasney, a senior vice president at Salem Five Bank. Lomasney contacted Maxwell, who immediately filled out the new form.

Maxwell has worked with Lomasney for seven years, even switching lenders when the banker relocated to a new financial-services institution three years ago.

“He’s the kind of guy who would knock down doors for us,” Maxwell said of his financial guru, who was too busy Friday with applications to comment.

Maxwell has also been helping other business owners navigate the programs and loans available. He called the owner of his favorite coffee shop, who is not a client, when he heard the man was feeling utterly hopeless, and offered information and advice on how to get some relief.

The programs “are bringing hope to a pretty grim situation,” Maxwell said.

‘Somewhat Optimistic’

Steve Vernetti, owner of Vernetti, an Italian restaurant in Los Angeles that’s a favorite of Mayor Eric Garcetti, said he had to fill out multiple applications because they kept changing, including as recently as Friday morning.

“It seems like the program is being fleshed out in real-time,” Vernetti said.

Vernetti said his business manager has a close relationship with his bank that’s keeping them in the loop, and that “I can only imagine what the confusion is like for those who don’t have the advantages we have.”

The restaurant owner said he’s been paying his 20 employees for two weeks out of his own pocket but won’t be able to continue. If he gets some confirmation of the SBA funding, he’ll consider opening for pickup and delivery services in two weeks.

“I am starting to see a way through this, and I am feeling somewhat optimistic,” Vernetti said.

Let's see what next week brings in the land of struggling business loans...

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/04/2020 - 21:35
Published:4/4/2020 8:58:08 PM
[Markets] Nobody Knows How To Politicize A Pandemic Like Nancy Pelosi Nobody Knows How To Politicize A Pandemic Like Nancy Pelosi

Authored by David Krayden via HumanEvents.com,

The Speaker is using the coronavirus to push through legislation for her very wealthy, very loyal base...

On Wednesday, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden (who, one must remember, holds no elected office at the moment) promised that any further coronavirus legislation might just contain something of “my green deal.” It’s not clear if he was referring to some sort of environmental plan—or how he expects to craft legislation from his basement in Delaware—but even Sleepy Joe seems to think that a global pandemic signals a time for pork-barrel politics.

None among the Democrats has embraced this ethos more than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, however. As the coronavirus crisis rages on around us, Pelosi is still looking for creative ways to spend your tax dollars.

After failing to stuff the $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package with a bevy of her social justice pet projects, Pelosi had the gall to announce that Democrats had made the bill about “workers first.”

“It went from a corporate first proposal that the Republicans put forth in the Senate to a workers first—Democratic workers first—legislation,” said Pelosi, at one of her increasingly bizarre news conferences where the grand dame of Congress appears to be crumbling under the weight of her own rhetoric.

“The bill that was passed in the Senate last night [Wednesday] and that we will take up tomorrow [Friday] is about mitigation: mitigation for all the loss that we have in our economy while still addressing the emergency health needs that we have in our country.”

What the Speaker neglected to mention, however, was how her bill would have forced any airline receiving government bailout money to cut their carbon footprint in half and any business to implement a “diversity plan.” Oh, and she made sure the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts received a handsome handout (note: after they grabbed the $25 million in cash, the management promptly started laying-off musicians).

Now, Pelosi is moving on to “phase four” of the Democrats’ coronavirus rescue package: save the (Democratic) millionaires.

PELOSI WAGES CLASS WARFARE—BUT NOT ON BEHALF OF THE CLASS YOU’D EXPECT

The Pelosi plan would remove a cap on the state and local tax deduction (SALT) that could quickly put cash in people’s pockets—but the beneficiary won’t be average American workers. The beneficiaries will be the real base of the Democratic Party: millionaire liberals from coastal states.

The tax rebates would affect approximately 13 million families—very wealthy families, all of which are earning at least $100,000 and many over a million per annum. “More than half of the proceeds from fully repealing the SALT cap would go to the top 1 percent, households making more than about three-quarters of a million dollars a year,” reports Politico.

To hear Nancy explain the cash infusion, it’s just some extra beer money at the end of the month: “We could reverse that for 2018 and 2019 so that people could refile their taxes” and receive more substantial rebates, Pelosi told The New York Times. “They’d have more disposable income, which is the lifeblood of our economy, a consumer economy that we are.”

The cruel irony of this latest Democratic ploy is that the SALT cap was put in place as part of President Donald Trump’s tax cuts in 2017. Those are the same tax cuts that Pelosi wanted to repeal because, supposedly, only the wealthy would benefit from them.

Democrats have wanted the cap removed for quite some time. Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was so angry about it in 2017 that he accused the president of waging “economic civil war” on blue states with the measure. It was a huge issue during the 2018 midterm elections, especially among bleeding heart Democrats fighting for their millionaire friends.

“In the 2018 midterm elections, Democrats wielded the SALT limits in House campaigns against Republicans in wealthy blue-state suburbs of cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago,” writes the Times. According to Politico, House Democrats “who made large gains in upscale suburbs as they took the majority in the 2018 elections” voted last year to repeal the cap, but the effort died in the Republican-controlled Senate—“where few states represented by Republicans are all that troubled by the $10,000 limit.”

Removing the SALT cap benefits the people who really embody what Pelosi’s party has become: a coffee clatch of free-thinking progressives who have nothing better to do with their time but think of ways to socially re-engineer the rest of society by obsessing over the LGBT-GQ agenda, inventing genders that don’t exist, and worrying about hate speech lurking under every bed. The kind of people who have the inclination to attend a Seattle yoga class in “undoing whiteness.” The only blue-collar workers they know are the ones who fix the plumbing and pick up the garbage.

“These are people who won’t spend the extra money and don’t really need it,” Michael Linden, executive director of the progressive Groundwork Collaborative, told Politico.

“That’s why they were left out of the cash assistance in the first place.”

But, as Pelosi demonstrated during the last COVID-19 stimulus bill, a health crisis provides a serendipitous opportunity to pass a plethora of unrelated legislation—and Madame Speaker is apparently up to her antics again.

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/04/2020 - 21:10
Published:4/4/2020 8:26:56 PM
[Markets] Looting Wave Strikes New York City Amid Coronavirus Lockdown Looting Wave Strikes New York City Amid Coronavirus Lockdown

We've been laying out the possible case for the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic could be social unrest. 

Millions of Americans have just lost their jobs, have no saving, and insurmountable debts, are flooding food banks across the nation to survive. With the economy crashed and now entering a depression, last week was a significant milestone in the progression of the crisis, as looting of businesses in California and South Carolina began.

Now the looting is spreading across the nation. We noted how stores in New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Chicago, were boarding up their windows, preparing for civil unrest. 

After all, when 10 million people lose their jobs in two weeks, and an estimated unemployment rate that could reach 15-20% in the second quarter, as per RealInvestmentAdvice.com's Lance Roberts latest report, the ripple effect on society is so sudden that there could very well be an outbreak of unrest when the weather shifts too much warmer trends, and geographically be situated in low-income areas of inner cities. Hence why the National Guard was called up and now being positioned around and or in major metros

The beginning innings of social unrest could now be unfolding across New York City. Households are cracking as hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs over several weeks. The city has become the epicenter of the virus crisis, recording 103,060 confirmed cases and 2,935 deaths (as of Saturday afternoon, April 4).  

The Wall Street Journal reports an increase in burglaries of commercial establishments across all five boroughs from March 12-31, coinciding when mass shutdowns went into effect. 

The New York City Police Department (NYPD) recorded a 75% jump in burglaries of businesses during the period, or about 254 burglaries, compared with 145 over the same period last year.

"The increase in burglaries coincided with steps to stop the spread of the coronavirus. On March 15, the city ordered restaurants and bars to cease on-site service, prompting many establishments to close altogether or limit operations. A March 20 decree by Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for the closure of all nonessential businesses, leading many retail stores to shutter," the Journal noted. 

"We knew with the closing of many stores that we could see an increase and, unfortunately, we are," said NYPD Chief of Crime Control Strategies Michael LiPetri.

LiPetri said the most targeted establishments by criminals had been restaurants, supermarkets, and retail stores. Between March 12-31, there were over 30 reports of burglaries of supermarkets, a 400% increase over the same period last year. 

He said thieves were specifically after food, alcohol, and retail goods. Many gained entry from rooftops and or forcing doors open or breaking windows. 

The Journal notes that some retail chains have boarded up shops across the city, citing fears that social unrest could soon follow. Here are some shops that have already boarded up windows: 

As looting surges in New York City, the next fear is that the NYPD could become overwhelmed by virus-related incidents and or a shortage of officers. 

On Friday, one out of every six NYPD officers was sick or in quarantine. Over 1,500 have tested positive for the virus, which could lead to decreased patrols while crime is surging across the city. 

"It's a worst-case scenario across the board," a sergeant told The New York Times. 

And now it should make sense why President Trump recently signed an executive order to activate up to one million troops – that is because the evolution of the virus crisis and economic collapse, is social unrest and looting and whatever else that may bring

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/04/2020 - 20:45
Published:4/4/2020 7:55:33 PM
[Markets] All Trails Lead Back To The Wuhan Bio-Lab All Trails Lead Back To The Wuhan Bio-Lab

Authored by Jim Geraghty via NationalReview.com,

There’s no proof the coronavirus accidentally escaped from a laboratory, but we can’t take the Chinese government’s denials at face value.

It is understandable that many would be wary of the notion that the origin of the coronavirus could be discovered by some documentary filmmaker who used to live in China. Matthew Tye, who creates YouTube videos, contends he has identified the source of the coronavirus — and a great deal of the information that he presents, obtained from public records posted on the Internet, checks out.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology in China indeed posted a job opening on November 18, 2019, “asking for scientists to come research the relationship between the coronavirus and bats.”

The Google translation of the job posting is: “Taking bats as the research object, I will answer the molecular mechanism that can coexist with Ebola and SARS- associated coronavirus for a long time without disease, and its relationship with flight and longevity. Virology, immunology, cell biology, and multiple omics are used to compare the differences between humans and other mammals.” (“Omics” is a term for a subfield within biology, such as genomics or glycomics.)

On December 24, 2019, the Wuhan Institute of Virology posted a second job posting. The translation of that posting includes the declaration, “long-term research on the pathogenic biology of bats carrying important viruses has confirmed the origin of bats of major new human and livestock infectious diseases such as SARS and SADS, and a large number of new bat and rodent new viruses have been discovered and identified.”

Tye contends that that posting meant, “we’ve discovered a new and terrible virus, and would like to recruit people to come deal with it.” He also contends that “news didn’t come out about coronavirus until ages after that.” Doctors in Wuhan knew that they were dealing with a cluster of pneumonia cases as December progressed, but it is accurate to say that a very limited number of people knew about this particular strain of coronavirus and its severity at the time of that job posting. By December 31, about three weeks after doctors first noticed the cases, the Chinese government notified the World Health Organization and the first media reports about a “mystery pneumonia” appeared outside China.

Scientific American verifies much of the information Tye mentions about Shi Zhengli, the Chinese virologist nicknamed “Bat Woman” for her work with that species.

Shi — a virologist who is often called China’s “bat woman” by her colleagues because of her virus-hunting expeditions in bat caves over the past 16 years — walked out of the conference she was attending in Shanghai and hopped on the next train back to Wuhan. “I wondered if [the municipal health authority] got it wrong,” she says. “I had never expected this kind of thing to happen in Wuhan, in central China.” Her studies had shown that the southern, subtropical areas of Guangdong, Guangxi and Yunnan have the greatest risk of coronaviruses jumping to humans from animals — particularly bats, a known reservoir for many viruses. If coronaviruses were the culprit, she remembers thinking, “could they have come from our lab?”

. . . By January 7 the Wuhan team determined that the new virus had indeed caused the disease those patients suffered — a conclusion based on results from polymerase chain reaction analysis, full genome sequencing, antibody tests of blood samples and the virus’s ability to infect human lung cells in a petri dish. The genomic sequence of the virus — now officially called SARS-CoV-2 because it is related to the SARS pathogen — was 96 percent identical to that of a coronavirus the researchers had identified in horseshoe bats in Yunnan, they reported in a paper published last month in Nature. “It’s crystal clear that bats, once again, are the natural reservoir,” says Daszak, who was not involved in the study.

Some scientists aren’t convinced that the virus jumped straight from bats to human beings, but there are a few problems with the theory that some other animal was an intermediate transmitter of COVID-19 from bats to humans:

Analyses of the SARS-CoV-2 genome indicate a single spillover event, meaning the virus jumped only once from an animal to a person, which makes it likely that the virus was circulating among people before December. Unless more information about the animals at the Wuhan market is released, the transmission chain may never be clear. There are, however, numerous possibilities. A bat hunter or a wildlife trafficker might have brought the virus to the market. Pangolins happen to carry a coronavirus, which they might have picked up from bats years ago, and which is, in one crucial part of its genome, virtually identical to SARS-CoV-2. But no one has yet found evidence that pangolins were at the Wuhan market, or even that venders there trafficked pangolins.

On February 4 — one week before the World Health Organization decided to officially name this virus “COVID-19” — the journal Cell Research posted a notice written by scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology about the virus, concluding, “our findings reveal that remdesivir and chloroquine are highly effective in the control of 2019-nCoV infection in vitro. Since these compounds have been used in human patients with a safety track record and shown to be effective against various ailments, we suggest that they should be assessed in human patients suffering from the novel coronavirus disease.” One of the authors of that notice was the “bat woman,” Shi Zhengli.

In his YouTube video, Tye focuses his attention on a researcher at the Wuhan Institute of Virology named Huang Yanling: “Most people believe her to be patient zero, and most people believe she is dead.”

There was enough discussion of rumors about Huang Yanling online in China to spur an official denial. On February 16, the Wuhan Institute of Virology denied that patient zero was one of their employees, and interestingly named her specifically: “Recently there has been fake information about Huang Yanling, a graduate from our institute, claiming that she was patient zero in the novel coronavirus.” Press accounts quote the institute as saying, “Huang was a graduate student at the institute until 2015, when she left the province and had not returned since. Huang was in good health and had not been diagnosed with disease, it added.” None of her publicly available research papers are dated after 2015.

The web page for the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s Lab of Diagnostic Microbiology does indeed still have “Huang Yanling” listed as a 2012 graduate student, and her picture and biography appear to have been recently removed — as have those of two other graduate students from 2013, Wang Mengyue and Wei Cuihua.

Her name still has a hyperlink, but the linked page is blank. The pages for Wang Mengyue and Wei Cuihua are blank as well.

(For what it is worth, the South China Morning Post — a newspaper seen as being generally pro-Beijing — reported on March 13 that “according to the government data seen by the Post, a 55 year-old from Hubei province could have been the first person to have contracted Covid-19 on November 17.”)

On February 17, Zhen Shuji, a Hong Kong correspondent from the French public-radio service Radio France Internationale, reported: “when a reporter from the Beijing News of the Mainland asked the institute for rumors about patient zero, the institute first denied that there was a researcher Huang Yanling, but after learning that the name of the person on the Internet did exist, acknowledged that the person had worked at the firm but has now left the office and is unaccounted for.”

Tye says, “everyone on the Chinese internet is searching for [Huang Yanling] but most believe that her body was quickly cremated and the people working at the crematorium were perhaps infected as they were not given any information about the virus.” (The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that handling the body of someone who has died of coronavirus is safe — including embalming and cremation — as long as the standard safety protocols for handing a decedent are used. It’s anyone’s guess as to whether those safety protocols were sufficiently used in China before the outbreak’s scope was known.)

As Tye observes, a public appearance by Huang Yanling would dispel a lot of the public rumors, and is the sort of thing the Chinese government would quickly arrange in normal circumstances — presuming that Huang Yanling was still alive. Several officials at the Wuhan Institute of Virology issued public statements that Huang was in good health and that no one at the institute has been infected with COVID-19. In any case, the mystery around Huang Yanling may be moot, but it does point to the lab covering up something about her.

China Global Television Network, a state-owned television broadcaster, illuminated another rumor while attempting to dispel it in a February 23 report entitled “Rumors Stop With the Wise”:

On February 17, a Weibo user who claimed herself to be Chen Quanjiao, a researcher at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, reported to the public that the Director of the Institute was responsible for leaking the novel coronavirus. The Weibo post threw a bomb in the cyberspace and the public was shocked. Soon Chen herself stepped out and declared that she had never released any report information and expressed great indignation at such identity fraud on Weibo. It has been confirmed that that particular Weibo account had been shut down several times due to the spread of misinformation about COVID-19.

That Radio France Internationale report on February 17 also mentioned the next key part of the Tye’s YouTube video. “Xiaobo Tao, a scholar from South China University of Technology, recently published a report that researchers at Wuhan Virus Laboratory were splashed with bat blood and urine, and then quarantined for 14 days.” HK01, another Hong Kong-based news site, reported the same claim.

This doctor’s name is spelled in English as both “Xiaobo Tao” and “Botao Xiao.” From 2011 to 2013, Botao Xiao was a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, and his biography is still on the web site of the South China University of Technology.

At some point in February, Botao Xiao posted a research paper onto ResearchGate.net, “The Possible Origins of 2019-nCoV coronavirus.” He is listed as one author, along with Lei Xiao from Tian You Hospital, which is affiliated with the Wuhan University of Science and Technology. The paper was removed a short time after it was posted, but archived images of its pages can be found here and here.

The first conclusion of Botao Xiao’s paper is that the bats suspected of carrying the virus are extremely unlikely to be found naturally in the city, and despite the stories of “bat soup,” they conclude that bats were not sold at the market and were unlikely to be deliberately ingested.

The bats carrying CoV ZC45 were originally found in Yunnan or Zhejiang province, both of which were more than 900 kilometers away from the seafood market. Bats were normally found to live in caves and trees. But the seafood market is in a densely-populated district of Wuhan, a metropolitan [area] of ~15 million people. The probability was very low for the bats to fly to the market. According to municipal reports and the testimonies of 31 residents and 28 visitors, the bat was never a food source in the city, and no bat was traded in the market.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization could not confirm if bats were present at the market. Botao Xiao’s paper theorizes that the coronavirus originated from bats being used for research at either one of two research laboratories in Wuhan.

We screened the area around the seafood market and identified two laboratories conducting research on bat coronavirus. Within ~ 280 meters from the market, there was the Wuhan Center for Disease Control & Prevention. WHCDC hosted animals in laboratories for research purpose, one of which was specialized in pathogens collection and identification. In one of their studies, 155 bats including Rhinolophus affinis were captured in Hubei province, and other 450 bats were captured in Zhejiang province. The expert in Collection was noted in the Author Contributions (JHT). Moreover, he was broadcasted for collecting viruses on nation-wide newspapers and websites in 2017 and 2019. He described that he was once by attacked by bats and the blood of a bat shot on his skin. He knew the extreme danger of the infection so he quarantined himself for 14 days. In another accident, he quarantined himself again because bats peed on him.

Surgery was performed on the caged animals and the tissue samples were collected for DNA and RNA extraction and sequencing. The tissue samples and contaminated trashes were source of pathogens. They were only ~280 meters from the seafood market. The WHCDC was also adjacent to the Union Hospital (Figure 1, bottom) where the first group of doctors were infected during this epidemic. It is plausible that the virus leaked around and some of them contaminated the initial patients in this epidemic, though solid proofs are needed in future study.

The second laboratory was ~12 kilometers from the seafood market and belonged to Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences . . .

In summary, somebody was entangled with the evolution of 2019-nCoV coronavirus. In addition to origins of natural recombination and intermediate host, the killer coronavirus probably originated from a laboratory in Wuhan. Safety level may need to be reinforced in high risk biohazardous laboratories. Regulations may be taken to relocate these laboratories far away from city center and other densely populated places.

However, Xiao has told the Wall Street Journal that he has withdrawn his paper. “The speculation about the possible origins in the post was based on published papers and media, and was not supported by direct proofs,” he said in a brief email on February 26.

The bat researcher that Xiao’s report refers to is virologist Tian Junhua, who works at the Wuhan Centre for Disease Control. In 2004, the World Health Organization determined that an outbreak of the SARS virus had been caused by two separate leaks at the Chinese Institute of Virology in Beijing. The Chinese government said that the leaks were a result of “negligence” and the responsible officials had been punished.

In 2017, the Chinese state-owned Shanghai Media Group made a seven-minute documentary about Tian Junhua, entitled “Youth in the Wild: Invisible Defender.” Videographers followed Tian Junhua as he traveled deep into caves to collect bats.

“Among all known creatures, the bats are rich with various viruses inside,” he says in Chinese.

“You can find most viruses responsible for human diseases, like rabies virus, SARS, and Ebola. Accordingly, the caves frequented by bats became our main battlefields.” He emphasizes, “bats usually live in caves humans can hardly reach. Only in these places can we find the most ideal virus vector samples.”

One of his last statements on the video is:

“In the past ten-plus years, we have visited every corner of Hubei Province. We explored dozens of undeveloped caves and studied more than 300 types of virus vectors. But I do hope these virus samples will only be preserved for scientific research and will never be used in real life. Because humans need not only the vaccines, but also the protection from the nature.”

The description of Tian Junhua’s self-isolation came from a May 2017 report by Xinhua News Agency, repeated by the Chinese news site JQKNews.com:

The environment for collecting bat samples is extremely bad. There is a stench in the bat cave. Bats carry a large number of viruses in their bodies. If they are not careful, they are at risk of infection. But Tian Junhua is not afraid to go to the mountain with his wife to catch Batman.

Tian Junhua summed up the experience that the most bats can be caught by using the sky cannon and pulling the net. But in the process of operation, Tian Junhua forgot to take protective measures. Bat urine dripped on him like raindrops from the top. If he was infected, he could not find any medicine. It was written in the report.

The wings of bats carry sharp claws. When the big bats are caught by bat tools, they can easily spray blood. Several times bat blood was sprayed directly on Tians skin, but he didn’t flinch at all. After returning home, Tian Junhua took the initiative to isolate for half a month. As long as the incubation period of 14 days does not occur, he will be lucky to escape, the report said.

Bat urine and blood can carry viruses. How likely is it that bat urine or blood got onto a researcher at either Wuhan Center for Disease Control & Prevention or the Wuhan Institute of Virology? Alternatively, what are the odds that some sort of medical waste or other material from the bats was not properly disposed of, and that was the initial transmission vector to a human being?

Virologists have been vehemently skeptical of the theory that COVID-19 was engineered or deliberately constructed in a laboratory; the director of the National Institutes of Health has written that recent genomic research “debunks such claims by providing scientific evidence that this novel coronavirus arose naturally.” And none of the above is definitive proof that COVID-19 originated from a bat at either the Wuhan Center for Disease Control & Prevention or the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Definitive proof would require much broader access to information about what happened in those facilities in the time period before the epidemic in the city.

But it is a remarkable coincidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was researching Ebola and SARS-associated coronaviruses in bats before the pandemic outbreak, and that in the month when Wuhan doctors were treating the first patients of COVID-19, the institute announced in a hiring notice that “a large number of new bat and rodent new viruses have been discovered and identified.” And the fact that the Chinese government spent six weeks insisting that COVID-19 could not be spread from person to person means that its denials about Wuhan laboratories cannot be accepted without independent verification.

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/04/2020 - 20:20
Published:4/4/2020 7:30:44 PM
[Markets] ‘We have to open our country again,’ says Trump, showing impatience with stay-home orders President Donald Trump on Saturday showed impatience with stay home orders, and said ‘we have to open our country again’
Published:4/4/2020 7:30:44 PM
[Markets] Stock market is headed for choppy waters amid worries that a return to normal will elude the U.S. economy In some corners of Wall Street, investors are casting doubt on the notion that the economy will switch back to high gear after the coronavirus pandemic passes. Published:4/4/2020 6:57:01 PM
[Markets] Nary a sign of discord even as China rebuts accusations of a tepid stimulus response Top central bank advisers are even debating whether China should set a GDP target at all as analysts lower 2020 growth estimates.
Published:4/4/2020 6:57:01 PM
[Markets] "Medical Supply Arbitrage": How Hordes Of Middle Men, Profiteers & Scammers Massively Inflated Prices Of N95s "Medical Supply Arbitrage": How Hordes Of Middle Men, Profiteers & Scammers Massively Inflated Prices Of N95s

Americans hear it every day now during Gov. Andrew Cuomo's press briefings. In the middle of a crushing pandemic, New York and other states are being grossly gouged as they shop around for medical supplies. With most of their regular relationships exhausted, states are competing against each other, a nonsensical and costly "bidding war" that Cuomo has blamed on President Trump.

N95 masks, which are now among the most prized commodities on the planet, are in such short supply, that some hospitals in NYC simply don't have them to provide to workers, forcing them to improvise. Cuomo says masks that recently cost just 40 or 50 cents are now being sold for $7 a pop, a roughly 13x markup.

While the administration's failure to better prepare for the epidemic certainly hasn't helped, the New York Times on Friday pointed out another, bigger factor that's greatly contributed to this problem. Complex globalized supply chains have been disrupted by the outbreak, and with production largely centered in China, producers are effectively using the masks as political chits: Beijing has given them to Italy, and the UK - and even a few to the US.

But beyond that, the chaos caused by the outbreak caused such a mad scramble to buy up these supplies, that brokers are selling them at crazy markups, many because they bought them at already-crazy markups, and are now either trying to make a sliver of profit, or just break even. Even wannabe 'Good Samaritans' have fallen prey to this cycle, as the dogooders ask simply to be reimbursed for their costs, or just accept that they will lose money, which is hard to do during a time of looming economic catastrophe. At a certain point, it almost becomes difficult to differentiate the scammers from the do-gooders.

Others are exploiting relationships to act as 'brokers', middle-manning N95 masks and other supplies - the masks especially will become even more scarce and costly once the White House and CDC inevitably advise people to wear them in public - for modest profits.

Rampant crisis profiteering has already been well-documented by the press, as have the efforts by states and the federal government to police it. Earlier this week, AG Barr got up at the White House's daily press conference and warned that federal prosecutors would be cracking down. And many have been publicly shamed.

But even as Amazon bans the sale of masks to the general public, next-level 'brokers' are using the power of the internet to deal with hospital systems and other health-care providers who have essentially been forced to participate in the shadowy grey market to acquire essential supplies at a time when people's lives - even the lives of young, healthy people - are very much on the line.

One of the details that most stood out to us in Friday's New York Times story was the description of the practice as "medical supply arbitrage." Here's how it works, according to NYT:

Not every new entrant to the market is a good Samaritan. Groups on Facebook, WhatsApp and Telegram are teeming with posts hawking thousands of masks at inflated prices.

Some are wholesalers who bought pallets of masks from China or in liquidation sales and then marked them up. Many more are simply middlemen who call themselves brokers. They scour the groups for masks advertised for a relatively low price, and then repost the offer for a few thousand dollars more. They don’t handle the masks or put up their own money.

Yaear Weintroub is one of those brokers. A 22-year-old community college student from Brooklyn, he typically sells wholesale electronics to Amazon sellers. But the online forums he searches for deals became flooded with listings for masks last month, so he now spends his days trying to connect buyers and sellers for a bit of medical-supply arbitrage.

In a recent interview, he said he was working with a partner to close a deal for 280,000 surgical masks that would increase their price 20 percent and net the pair a roughly $40,000 profit. He said many of the brokers sold to other brokers, each one marking up the price, until the masks presumably make it to a nursing home or a hospital. He said he would prefer to sell directly to hospitals.

"They’re just more serious," he said. "So if I have the goods, I want a serious buyer for them. And besides, it’s a morally good reason."

To these sellers, medical supplies are simply another hot product to flip for a profit. Avraham Eisenberg, a New York wholesaler who is trying to ship masks from China, compared the rush for masks to the fad several years ago for fidget spinners.

As prosecutors crack down on re-sellers of medical supplies, the line between what constitutes 'gouging' and simple sales of products that aren't illegal to sell to the general public is becoming more difficult to discern. Barr's press conference appearance aside, last month, the DoJ said it would investigate people manipulating the medical-supply market. Then, five days later, federal authorities charged a Brooklyn man with lying about price gouging after he tried to sell 1,000 masks and other supplies to a doctor for $12,000 (he was also charged with assault for coughing on one of the agents).

It might still be legal, but anybody who's still doing this should watch their backs.

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/04/2020 - 19:55
Published:4/4/2020 6:57:01 PM
[Markets] What Will The Future Bring? Here's How To Survive The Uncertainty What Will The Future Bring? Here's How To Survive The Uncertainty

Authored by Daisy Luther via The Organic Prepper blog,

We live in a very different world than we did back in January when the calendar turned to 2020 and everyone was anticipating the great things they’d accomplish in the brand new decade.

Only 3 months ago, we all had futures we imagined…

  • Kids graduating from high school or college

  • A vacation we were planning

  • A new job we were striving toward

  • Retirement so close you could practically smell the beach where you’d spend your golden years

  • The health and fitness goal you were finally going to achieve

  • A positive lifestyle change you were planning to make

  • A relocation to a new destination

  • The advancement of your relationship, whether it was a new one or one you’d been in for a while

  • A summer road trip

  • Getting a new pet

  • An empty nest and what you were going to do with that newly vacant bedroom

  • A new family member

Three months ago, we all had dreams, goals for the future, or at least some idea of what the upcoming year would hold for us.

I’ll bet none of us even considered on New Year’s Eve that we’d spend the first half (at least) of the year dealing with a deadly pandemic. Heck, I sat on a balcony in a little seaside village in Montenegro, toasting the new decade with a friend and some Jack Daniels, watching fireworks over the Adriatic Sea, and planning what European destination I’d be heading to next.

It probably never crossed anyone’s mind that there’d be some crazy new virus that nobody had ever heard of which would leave us under the equivalent of house arrest for months. Few of us imagined that suddenly, over the course of just a few weeks, more than ten million Americans would suddenly become unemployed.

Dreams have been shattered.

Goals have been put aside.

Lives have been lost.

Everything has changed.

And nobody knows what the future will hold.

A lot of the things we do know are horrible.

How utterly terrifying to know that we’re all likely to lose somebody we love to this virus or to a medical condition that would have been survivable if the local hospital hadn’t been overflowing with COVID patients.

We know there’s nary a roll of toilet paper to be found in a huge swath of the United States. We know that our supply chain, if not broken, is at the least, badly bruised. We know that if a person we love goes into the hospital with COVID-19, there’s a frighteningly large chance they may never come out again unless it’s in a body bag. We know that medical professionals in New York City don’t even have personal protective equipment to keep themselves healthy while they try to keep people alive. We know that yesterday in the state of New York, 23 people died every hour of the day from the coronavirus that has destroyed the world as we know it.

We nearly all know people who have been laid off. Maybe it’s someone in your family. Maybe it’s you. And if you haven’t yet lost your job, are you waiting for that hammer to drop? We all know of businesses that aren’t going to make it through months of this shutdown.

We know people who couldn’t pay their rent this month. We know people who pulled it together this month but won’t be able to pay May’s rent if this lockdown should continue. We know it’s so bad that the government has said landlords can’t evict tenants in many states – which means the landlords may not be able to pay their mortgages.

We may not know much right now, but we know that the economy is a f*cking disaster.

And we have no idea when this current purgatory will end.

The uncertainty is one of the hardest parts.

The advent of COVID-19 has changed our lives so much that none of us has any idea what the future will bring. Whereas before we’d be thinking about our summer plans, perhaps a holiday at the beach or a camp for the kids, now we don’t know if we’ll even be able to leave our homes by the time summer rolls around.

How absolutely bizarre to have no idea what our worlds will look like in 3 months.

My family, so far, is blessedly healthy, a fact for which I give thanks every day. But it’s become difficult to think of much beyond that. We don’t know if my one daughter’s plan to relocate to another state for an opportunity will still be available. We don’t know if my other daughter’s workplace will reopen. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to head back to Europe and continue my long-awaited trip around the world.

When the lease is up at my daughter’s apartment, we don’t know where we’ll go because we don’t know what the world will look like then. Will we need to tap into those homesteading skills we learned back in California? If so, we sure can’t do it from where we live right now. Where will we go?

Will running a business online still even be a possibility at the end of this? Everything…every single thing…is in question.

All of us have some variation of these same questions running through our heads right now. It’s pretty hard to plan when you don’t know if the post-COVID world is going to look more like Mad Max, The Walking Dead, or Little House on the Prairie. Or maybe it’ll be a lot like the pre-COVID world, only with more money problems.

It’s hard to figure out your plan when you have no idea what post-apocalyptic world you’re going to end up in. So how do you keep from going nuts? How do you find some peace in a world with so much uncertainty?

How to survive in a world of uncertainty

The word “survive” may sound melodramatic, but for a lot of people who are finding themselves living with broken dreams, for those who have vulnerable loved ones, for those living with sudden financial uncertainty, and for those who are sacrificing time and contact with loved ones due to their own exposure to the virus, it fits the bill right now. No, we may not die from this but when your peace of mind suffers, it can be a real struggle.

Below are some ideas that may help you to get through this if you’re struggling.

Make plans every day. While you can’t really make plans for 6 months down the road, you can make plans for the day or even the week. Create a schedule for yourself. Don’t just lay there on the sofa watching Netflix and Amazon Prime all day long. It’s not good for you. Get up and get dressed (not necessarily office-dressed but don’t wear the same thing to live in and sleep in for three days in a row.) Figure out what nutrient-rich meals you’re going to make that day. Think about how you’ll exercise – will it be a walk with the dogs around the neighborhood or will you go to a nearby hiking trail? What work do you need to get accomplished? What room are you going to deep clean? Write it all down on a whiteboard or a piece of paper on the fridge so everybody knows what’s on the day’s agenda.

Don’t lay around watching television all day. Set yourself a time at which you’ll watch a movie or show online. I’ve worked from home for years, and one rule I’ve held for myself throughout it is that we don’t turn on Netflix until it’s getting dark.  That means in the summer, it’s later because we can spend time doing things outdoors during the nice weather. With us being home all the time now, I’ve relaxed that rule slightly to 6 pm. But if you start watching while you have lunch it’s way to easy to get sucked into a series and the next thing you know, it’s bedtime and you never accomplished anything. This isn’t healthy mentally or physically so I strongly advise that if you are a television viewer or a person who likes to stream shows you limit this to evenings.

Prepare for what you can. We all know that we need to prep with the basics of food, water, seeds, tools, and the like. This doesn’t really change, regardless of what the future holds. So keep doing what you can to build up supplies and skills. A lot of things are out of our hands but you can control what is within your power.

Don’t consume a constant diet of bad news. I spend a lot of time researching this virus, the effects on our economy, how it has decimated other parts of the world, reading the heartbreaking stories of loss. I’ve been doing this since January 20th, when it first really appeared on my radar. I do not advise it to anyone. It can be hard to see the light when you spend your time delving into the darkness. I’ve been doing this for years and can compartmentalize to some degree, but this has been a long haul. Limit the amount of time you spend reading about this outbreak and the difficulties surrounding it. Unless your job depends on you knowing every detail about COVID-19 and it’s effect on the world, you can stay informed reading about it for 30 minutes a day instead of 6 hours a day. Trust me when I say this: your outlook will become much brighter when your day is not filled by press conferences, the follies of incompetent government officials, and stories of suffering.

Enjoy making healthful, home-cooked meals. Remember all those times you said you didn’t have time to cook? Now, if you’re currently out of work, you finally have time to cook. Don’t just heat up frozen pizza after frozen pizza! Get in that kitchen and whip up all those tasty delights you’ve wanted to make for years. Learn to bake bread if you don’t know how to do so. Cook things that take half a day to prepare. Make every tiny detail from scratch. Set the table with the nice china and give your food the showcase it deserves.

Work on some projects you never had time to do before. What projects have you always put off because you didn’t have the time? We’re currently converting a storage room in my daughter’s small apartment into a second bedroom since it looks like I’m going to be here for a while. We’ve been going through the boxes of our past and enjoying the walk down memory lane. I’m finally getting all this stuff into scrapbooks. We’re devising clever storage methods and purging things we don’t need. Soon we’ll have an adorable tiny room off the laundry room for some much needed extra space. After that, we’re building some shelves with curtains in front of them for the kitchen to put away our canned and boxed goods, hidden from prying eyes. We also each have some craft projects on the go for entertainment because productive hobbies are always a great idea.

Spend time outdoors. If your municipality allows it, spend some time outdoors. You can still be socially distant while getting fresh air. Avoid the clusters of humans and walk the challenging trails at your local hiking place. Or go early in the day while everybody else is still sleeping in. Getting some fresh air, exercise, and sunshine is healthy for both your body and your mind. If you can’t go out for a walk, at the very least, sit on your balcony or patio and read for a while.

Find something to be thankful for as often as possible. An attitude of gratitude makes tough times easier to stomach. Even now, there are things for which we can be grateful. I am spending time with my daughter and talking regularly on the phone to my other daughter. I am enjoying the blossoming of the spring flowers – always a favorite time of year for me. I am grateful that for now, I still have work online. I’m grateful my daughter is no longer working in retail during this outbreak and that she’s safely home. I’m grateful I have the time to cook delicious meals, experience my daughter’s cooking (she’s really good at it), and spend some bonus time with her. We have two dogs to walk and two cats to cuddle. Life could be much, much worse so take a moment to appreciate what you have right now.

Find something to anticipate. As we talked about before, we live in a period of extreme uncertainty. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find anything to anticipate. I’m looking forward to the new room we’re setting up this week. I’m looking forward to a movie we plan to watch this weekend when all our tasks are done. I’m even looking forward to organizing the kitchen because that will be such a satisfying task. I also have a book on Kindle I plan to read on my birthday that is coming up. I noticed that daffodils are poking their heads through in the front yard and I can’t wait to see how the place looks when there are sunny yellow flowers everywhere. My homesteader friends back in California are filling my social media feeds with baby goats and baby chicks and I’m counting down the days until a friend’s baby is born.

Sure, these things are short term, and some of them aren’t even my things, but right now, the short term is all we have. Take the joy that’s there. Find things that will occur within the week and don’t look too far in advance.

Stop focusing on things going back to “normal.”

We’d all like to think that one day this will suddenly be over. The kids will return to school. We’ll go back to our offices and our commutes. We won’t be struggling over money anymore. Life will return to the pre-COVID days.

But is this the healthiest way to look at the situation?

Spending all your time looking forward to the day when this is over is an exercise in frustration because nobody knows when that will be. And more than that, nobody knows what “normal” is going to look like when all the lockdowns are over. A lot of things will never be the same.

You can help yourself by learning to adapt now to changed circumstances. This will help you learn to live with the new normal, whatever that turns out to be. Major events are bound to cause major and long-lasting changes. This has happened throughout history.

In reality, the things we’re experiencing right now, while not necessarily easy, aren’t so bad. Things will probably get worse before they get better, but eventually, some form of “better” will come.

Your ability to adapt is indicative of your ability to survive. So let’s get through this lockdown and keep our mindsets positive.  Let’s get through the part that comes next.

Then, eventually, we’ll come out on the other side, ready to tackle the new normal, whatever that ends up being like.

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/04/2020 - 18:45
Published:4/4/2020 5:55:23 PM
[Markets] Police App Encourages People To Report Neighbors Who Violate Stay-At-Home Orders Police App Encourages People To Report Neighbors Who Violate Stay-At-Home Orders

Via MassPrivateI blog,

How do you encourage people to turn against each other during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The answer is not that complicated, especially if you live in the City of Bellevue, Washington.

Four years ago, when the city created the MyBellvue app, it was touted as being a quick and easy way to report things like downed street signs, potholes, street light issues and noise complaints.

Fast forward to 2020 and public fears of COVID-19 have encouraged law enforcement to turn neighbors into government snitches.

Geekwire revealed how the Bellevue Police Department has turned a public service app into a report on your neighbors app.  You can report these incidents through the MyBellevue app on your electronic device or the MyBellevue portal.

"Police in Bellevue, Wash., are asking residents to report violations of the state’s “stay home” order online in an effort to clear up 911 lines for emergencies."

A recent Associated Press article revealed that people are all to happy to report on their neighbors.

"Snitches are emerging as enthusiastic allies as cities, states and countries work to enforce directives meant to limit person-to-person contact amid the virus pandemic that has claimed tens of thousands of lives worldwide. They’re phoning police and municipal hotlines, complaining to elected officials and shaming perceived scofflaws on social media."

LA Mayor Offers Snitches Rewards For Reporting On Neighbors

According to a CBS LA4 article Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that the city would reward snitches.

Four businesses have been referred to the city attorney’s office for misdemeanor filings.

“You know the old expression about snitches, well in this case snitches get rewards,” Garcetti said. “We want to thank you for turning folks in and making sure we are all safe.”

When law enforcement encourages Americans to turn against each other we all lose. We become a nation controlled by fear.

"Suspected violations are tracked in the MyBellevue app and generate a heat map that shows where gatherings have been reported. The map shows hot spots of activity throughout the City of Bellevue, which is about 10 miles from Seattle.

The Bellevue Police Departments' MyBellevue page claims police need the public's help monitoring their neighbors.

“The vast majority of people in our community are following the "Stay Home" order and are being safe,” said Chief Steve Mylett. “But we need your help in reporting violations where there may be a large amount of people at risk.” 

The MyBellevue customer assistance portal spells out exactly what this is app is really meant for now.

  • Report Gatherings: You may report gatherings here in violation of the State mandate to "Stay Home"

  • Contact Your Police Sector Captain: Got an issue affecting your neighborhood? Contact the sector captain for your area! A captain is assigned to each of three geographical sectors -- North, South and West -- and is ultimately responsible for issues taking place in their sector. 

When city services apps get turned into a glorified version of DHS's "If See Something, Say Something" we all lose. As Geekwire notes,

“Sometimes there is a need to implement extreme measures but often these crises are used as justification to implement surveillance and data collection measures for purposes beyond that crisis,” the ACLU of Washington’s Jennifer Lee said.

Reporting on your neighbor apps fly in the face of the freedoms Americans have enjoyed for centuries.

The MyBellevue mobile app can be found at the Apple store and Google Play store. Two recent reviews spell out how everyone should view apps that encourage Americans to report on each other.

Leo Rosas said, 

start sarcasm "Yes daddy, step on me harder, oh yes take my constitutionally protected rights away!* end. YOU SOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELVES! tell on your neighbors for leaving their house is BS you have no clue where they are going or for what. Since no crime has been committed in traveling, the police have no right to know where you go or why. There is no right to Abridge constitutionally protected free travel! Y'all were sworn to protect and uphold the constitution, covid doesn't change that."

Matthew Harphan said,

"I bet Hitler is rolling in his grave, super Jealous of your app used to violate civil rights through unconstitutional enforcement during Corona virus. You swore an Oath to Uphold and Defend the Constitution.. this is pathetic. I expect better from police. Despicable"

Now is the time to fight for our freedoms before a panicked nation willingly gives them away.

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/04/2020 - 18:05
Published:4/4/2020 5:23:42 PM
[Markets] UN Blasted As "Absurd & Immoral" For Appointing China To Key UN Human Rights Panel UN Blasted As "Absurd & Immoral" For Appointing China To Key UN Human Rights Panel

In what will no doubt be taken as a direct shot across the Trump administration's bow, China has been appointed to a key United Nations human rights post. 

Fox reports on Saturday: "China has been appointed to a panel on the controversial U.N. Human Rights Council, where it will help vet candidates for important posts — despite its decades-long record of systematic human rights abuse that the U.S. has said fueled the coronavirus pandemic."

UN file image

The timing couldn't be worse, given the soaring tensions and weeks-long war of words between US and Chinese officials, both floating bombastic charges against the other of intentionally spreading COVID-19. 

President Trump has even taken to calling the deadly virus the "Chinese virus" - given as he said last month: "It could have been contained to that one area in China where it started." He followed at the time by saying of China "certainly the world is paying a big price for what they did."

Jiang Duan, minister at the Chinese Mission in Geneva, will represent Beijing on the U.N. Human Rights Council’s Consultative Group, alongside four other international representatives. 

A Geneva-based human rights watchdog called UN Watch, meanwhile, slammed the development as “absurd and immoral” for the UN to allow China to have a hand in selecting human rights officials for the top body.

“Allowing China’s oppressive and inhumane regime to choose the world investigators on freedom of speech, arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances is like making a pyromaniac into the town fire chief,” UN Watch said in a statement, according to FOX.

The Human Rights Council, itself long subject of controversy - especially after the Saudis recently occupied a top spot on the bloc - examines freedom of speech, war crimes, and disappeared persons issues around the world.

The central irony is that China - itself long documented to have an extensive 'political prison' system and with more recent charges of "disappearing" doctors and scientists who have tried to blow the whistle over its COVID-19 response - will now have a key role in selecting the top human rights body's make-up.

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/04/2020 - 17:45
Published:4/4/2020 4:54:16 PM
[Markets] Where Should I Retire?: ‘I’m 73 and fed up with California and want a gun-friendly, affordable city with good weather — so where should I retire?’ Some hidden gems to consider in Georgia, New Mexico and Arkansas.
Published:4/4/2020 4:23:24 PM
[Markets] Tucker Carlson On Fauci's Quarantine Call: Pushing "National Suicide" While He Has Job Security Tucker Carlson On Fauci's Quarantine Call: Pushing "National Suicide" While He Has Job Security

Tucker Carlson on Friday night blasted Dr. Anthony Fauci for his lately publicly urging the Trump administration to declare a federally-imposed 'stay at home' order across all 50 states, while also underscoring the FOX host still considers the White House coronavirus task force member and nation's top infectious disease expert to be an “impressive person”.

“We’ve interviewed Dr. Fauci respectfully on this program, and we’d gladly do that again if he came back, and he will come back. He’s an impressive person. But that does not mean that he’s never wrong,” Carlson said. “On the question of this pandemic, Fauci has been wrong repeatedly.”

Carlson expressed he's particularly bothered by Fauci’s recommendation of a national quarantine given that economic devastation would be pretty much assured. The night prior Dr. Fauci told CNN's Anderson Cooper during a coronavirus town hall: "I don't understand why that's not happening." He said further, "You know, the tension between federally mandated versus states' rights to do what they want is something I don't want to get into," and added, "But if you look at what's going on in this country, I just don't understand why we're not doing that."

Carson slammed Fauci's “extreme measures” as tantamount to "national suicide":

“More than 10 million Americans have already lost their jobs. Imagine another year of this. That would be national suicide, and yet, that is what Anthony Fauci is suggesting, at least. Now, we’re not suggesting that Fauci wants to hurt America. We don’t think he does, he seems like a very decent man. But Fauci is not an economist or for that matter someone who fears being unemployed himself. Like most of the people around him. This is not an attack, this is just an observation. Fauci has bulletproof job security. He’s not thinking that way. He has the luxury of looking at the world through the narrow lens of his profession. He doesn’t seem to think much outside that lens.”

Carlson aired the clip of Fauci saying, “I know it’s difficult, but we’re having a lot of suffering, a lot of death. This is inconvenient from an economic and a personal standpoint, but we just have to do it.”

To this Carlson responded:

Inconvenient? 10 million Americans out of work and staring at poverty. That is not inconvenient, as you just heard Dr. Fauci put it. It’s horrifying. In fact, it’s a far bigger disaster than the virus itself by any measure. Tony Fauci, decent as he may be, can’t see that because he doesn’t think it’s his job to see it. But even a doctor should be able to think beyond the models. Our response to coronavirus could turn this into a far poorer nation. Poor countries are unhealthy countries, always and everywhere. In poor countries, people die of treatable diseases. In poor countries people are far more vulnerable to obscure viruses, like the one we are fighting now. You want to keep Americans from dying before their time? Then don’t impoverish them. For all his credentials, his experience, his apparent personal decency, Dr. Anthony Fauci does not seem to understand any of this and we should never let someone like that run this country.

Meanwhile much of the mainstream media has directed its ire at the last nine "hold-out" states which have "dragged their feet" on the issue.

Many governors have expressed that they don't see the need to take such a drastic step that could decimate their local economies, leaving social distancing to the 'good judgments' of counties, towns, and individuals.

The nine states that have resisted state-wide 'stay-at-home' or 'shelter in place' orders are Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming though it should be noted that Oklahoma has passed measures that come very close yet without giving a final formal directive.

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/04/2020 - 16:45
Published:4/4/2020 3:55:47 PM
[Markets] This Is Where The World Is On The "Corona Curve" At This Moment This Is Where The World Is On The "Corona Curve" At This Moment

Two weeks ago, we wrote that with 1.7 billion people in the world under quarantine (a number which has since ballooned to over 3 trillion) and "desperate to find out where on the coronavirus "curve" they are to calculate how much more pain there is, JPM made an attempt at a (very nonscientific) visual representation of where on the curve the main covid outbreaks in the world currently stand." Additionally, this is how we laid out the good/not so good/bad news as of March 24:

  • The good news, China has is now well into the recovery phase, although since any and every number out of China is a lie, we would ignore any reports that the covid pandemic in China is easing especially after a spate of recent indications that China is openly manipulating its infection numbers. Also good news: Korea is almost "over the hump", and absent new clusters emerging in the next few days, should be in recovery.

  • The not so good news: both Italy and Iran are in the "late accumulation" phase. If they fail to halt the breakout at this point as the recovery phase approaches, it will get very ugly as much of the local population could then be infected. Behind Italy and Iran is the rest of Europe, with Spain, Germany, France, the UK all in the acceleration phase. The onus in on them to execute successful lockdowns.

  • Finally, the bad news: both the US and India are at the very start of the curve and things will get much uglier in the coming weeks before they get better.

Long story, short, this is what the global "corona curve" looked as of March 24.

Fast forward to today when we we again have some good and bad news, oh and a graphic update of where on the curve the world is.

First, the bad news: putting the past two weeks in context, back on March 24 there were roughly 350,000 global cases, with 15,000 deaths. As of today, there are now 1.2 million cases and rising by 80,000 every day, with roughly 67,000 deaths and rising by about 8,000 per day.

Now the good news: with every passing day, the world - most of which is currently on lock down - gets closer to the infection inflection point, and as the updated "corona curve" chart shows, all the nations that were in the exponential rise phase (acceleration), are now moving into the stage of infection growth rate slowdown (accumulation), suggesting that a pea for most countries is now just a matter of time, at which point the number of new cases will start slowing down aggressively.

This means that while US cases continue to soar, the light at the end of the tunnel is now visible. One caveat: the giant populations off Brazil, Indonesia and Philippines are only now entering the acceleration phase, meaning that the number of global cases could soar in the coming weeks.

Finally, here is how the virologists over at JPM summarize where the world currently stands:

From an epidemiology modelling perspective, an assumption that 0.1-0.2% of the global population (or 8-16 million people) is subject to initial exposure to infection and that ~10% of the susceptible are subject to being infected could be a highly conservative pandemic scenario, in our view. In the case of COVID-19, reported infections are now above 1 million, which suggests that over 0.1% of the global population (under the assumption of a 10% conversion from test to infection) could be in the infection group.

Three key things we have learned so far are that COVID-19 can be asymptomatic and have up to two weeks of latency, and that there are limited test-kit supplies. Thus, if we assume that reported infections represent only about one-third to one-quarter of total infections, 0.4-0.5% of the global population might be initially exposed to COVID-19. Considering a four- to five-week virus cycle and global efforts to reduce new contacts via strong social distancing and city lockdown, the global infection cycle, which currently looks to be in the middle of the exponential rise (acceleration), could be gradually moving into the stage of infection growth rate slowdown (accumulation).

Translation: finally some good news as the bank concludes it might be reasonable to "gradually map out the potential global curve peak within two months." The risk is that any indication of a slowdown in new cases will also lead to an early relaxation of stricter social distancing practices, as this could drive an infection curve rebound, something which is already happening in Japan, where today there were a record 118 new cases . And since China has been rushing to reopen its economy to avoid an all out economic depression and did away with "social distancing" long ago, one can be certain that China's real numbers are exponentially higher than the political propaganda that Beijing is reporting to the outside world

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/04/2020 - 16:05
Published:4/4/2020 3:23:05 PM
[Markets] Watch Live: White House Coronavirus Task Force Delivers Saturday Briefing Watch Live: White House Coronavirus Task Force Delivers Saturday Briefing

As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases confirmed in the US races toward the 300k mark, President Trump and the rest of the White House coronavirus task force will deliver their latest daily briefing on Saturday.

Watch live below. Trump tweeted that it's set to start at 330pmET...

...but the daily briefing typically kicks off at least 15 minutes late.

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/04/2020 - 15:25
Published:4/4/2020 2:54:36 PM
[Markets] "Failure Could Set The World On Fire" - Kissinger Warns World Leaders Of Epochal Period Post-COVID "Failure Could Set The World On Fire" - Kissinger Warns World Leaders Of Epochal Period Post-COVID

The last time we heard from former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, he was warning that a permanent conflict between Washington And Beijing would be unwinnable and lead to “catastrophic outcome"...

“It’s no longer possible to think that one side can dominate the other… it will be worse than the world wars that ruined European civilisation,” said Kissinger.

And now the former US Secretary of State has an even more ominous warning, the U.S. must protect its citizens from disease while starting the urgent work of planning for a new epoch.

The surreal atmosphere of the Covid-19 pandemic calls to mind how I felt as a young man in the 84th Infantry Division during the Battle of the Bulge. Now, as in late 1944, there is a sense of inchoate danger, aimed not at any particular person, but striking randomly and with devastation.

But the 96-year-old notes, there is an important difference between that faraway time and ours.

American endurance then was fortified by an ultimate national purpose. Now, in a divided country, efficient and farsighted government is necessary to overcome obstacles unprecedented in magnitude and global scope. Sustaining the public trust is crucial to social solidarity, to the relation of societies with each other, and to international peace and stability.

Nations cohere and flourish on the belief that their institutions can foresee calamity, arrest its impact and restore stability. When the Covid-19 pandemic is over, many countries’ institutions will be perceived as having failed. Whether this judgment is objectively fair is irrelevant. The reality is the world will never be the same after the coronavirus. To argue now about the past only makes it harder to do what has to be done.

The coronavirus has struck with unprecedented scale and ferocity. Its spread is exponential: U.S. cases are doubling every fifth day. At this writing, there is no cure. Medical supplies are insufficient to cope with the widening waves of cases. Intensive-care units are on the verge, and beyond, of being overwhelmed. Testing is inadequate to the task of identifying the extent of infection, much less reversing its spread. A successful vaccine could be 12 to 18 months away.

The U.S. administration has done a solid job in avoiding immediate catastrophe. The ultimate test will be whether the virus’s spread can be arrested and then reversed in a manner and at a scale that maintains public confidence in Americans’ ability to govern themselves. The crisis effort, however vast and necessary, must not crowd out the urgent task of launching a parallel enterprise for the transition to the post-coronavirus order.

Leaders are dealing with the crisis on a largely national basis, but the virus’s society-dissolving effects do not recognize borders. While the assault on human health will - hopefully - be temporary, the political and economic upheaval it has unleashed could last for generations. No country, not even the U.S., can in a purely national effort overcome the virus. Addressing the necessities of the moment must ultimately be coupled with a global collaborative vision and program. If we cannot do both in tandem, we will face the worst of each.

Drawing upon his lessons from the development of the Marshall Plan and the Manhattan Project, Kissinger believes that the U.S. is obliged to undertake a major effort in three domains.

  • First, shore up global resilience to infectious disease. Triumphs of medical science like the polio vaccine and the eradication of smallpox, or the emerging statistical-technical marvel of medical diagnosis through artificial intelligence, have lulled us into a dangerous complacency. We need to develop new techniques and technologies for infection control and commensurate vaccines across large populations. Cities, states and regions must consistently prepare to protect their people from pandemics through stockpiling, cooperative planning and exploration at the frontiers of science.

  • Second, strive to heal the wounds to the world economy. Global leaders have learned important lessons from the 2008 financial crisis. The current economic crisis is more complex: The contraction unleashed by the coronavirus is, in its speed and global scale, unlike anything ever known in history. And necessary public-health measures such as social distancing and closing schools and businesses are contributing to the economic pain. Programs should also seek to ameliorate the effects of impending chaos on the world’s most vulnerable populations.

  • Third, safeguard the principles of the liberal world order. The founding legend of modern government is a walled city protected by powerful rulers, sometimes despotic, other times benevolent, yet always strong enough to protect the people from an external enemy. Enlightenment thinkers reframed this concept, arguing that the purpose of the legitimate state is to provide for the fundamental needs of the people: security, order, economic well-being, and justice. Individuals cannot secure these things on their own. The pandemic has prompted an anachronism, a revival of the walled city in an age when prosperity depends on global trade and movement of people.

The world’s democracies need to defend and sustain their Enlightenment values. A global retreat from balancing power with legitimacy will cause the social contract to disintegrate both domestically and internationally. Yet this millennial issue of legitimacy and power cannot be settled simultaneously with the effort to overcome the Covid-19 plague. Restraint is necessary on all sides—in both domestic politics and international diplomacy. Priorities must be established.

We went on from the Battle of the Bulge into a world of growing prosperity and enhanced human dignity. Now, we live an epochal period. The historic challenge for leaders is to manage the crisis while building the future. Failure could set the world on fire.

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/04/2020 - 15:05
Published:4/4/2020 2:22:58 PM
[Markets] In One Chart: Two. Trillion. Dollars? Here’s where all that coronavirus stimulus is going It’s hard to wrap your brain around $2 trillion. That’s where this visual from cost-estimating website HowMuch.net comes in.
Published:4/4/2020 2:22:57 PM
[Markets] This part of the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package will save you money in your 401(k) and IRA You can keep your RMD in your account — at least for a year
Published:4/4/2020 1:54:20 PM
[Markets] Exclusive: Honeywell Pressures Suppliers To Cut Prices 30% Honeywell, the big industrial and aerospace firm, is asking its suppliers for deep cuts in the price of goods it buys from them—along with extended payment terms and other concessions—in a sign of how the swift economic downturn caused by Covid-19 is cutting across American industry. Published:4/4/2020 1:54:20 PM
[Markets] They Fought The Fed And Lost: How Powell Triggered A "Spectacular" Short Squeeze In LQD They Fought The Fed And Lost: How Powell Triggered A "Spectacular" Short Squeeze In LQD

Over two years ago, in Jan 2018, we first showed that when it comes to betting on trouble in the investment grade bond market, investors had a preferred instrument for pessimism: shorting the LQD, the largest US investment grace corporate ETF.

In retrospect, and loosely paraphrasing Crocodile Dundee, what happened to the LQD in Jan 2018 wasn't trouble. This - as shown in the chart below - was "trouble": between its all time high on March 6, and the ten year low hit just two weeks later on March 19, the LQD went bidless as the corporate bond bubble burst, and both investment grade and high yield debt ETFs and single names cratered.

As LQD plunged, the shorts soared, rising to never before seen levels, send the index even lower and sparking even more shorting. By this point, only one thing could save capital markets - both bonds and stocks (why stocks? Because as a reminder the only buyer of stocks in the past decade have been buybacks; kill the bond market and suddenly companies can't issue debt to fund buybacks and it's bye bye, not buy buy, stocks): the Fed had to step in and buy bonds, something we explained on Thursday, March 19 in ""The Bond Market Is Broken" And Only Fed Buying Bonds Can Fix It"

However, on quad-witching Friday, March 20, the Fed did not do what so many traders were now expecting, and the liquidation continued with stocks in freefall, sending the Dow below 19,000, and to levels not seen since the Trump election.

By the following Monday, the Fed was trapped - either it unleashes not a bazooka but a "nuclear bomb" (as Paul Tudor Jones called it) and stabilizes the unprecedented panic gripping traders, or the market was about to close. It picked the former, and before the open on Monday, March 23, the Fed announced not only unlimited QE, but in an unprecedented move, Powell said he would also start buying loans and bonds in the secondary market, as well as the LQD.

What happened next was also unprecedented: as JPM puts it, "looking at credit ETFs, the short base collapsed in spectacular fashion from LQD, the biggest HG ETF after the Fed’s credit backstop programs." As shown in the chart below, all those traders who naively expected that the Fed would not nationalize virtually every market and - at least implicitly fought the Fed - were carted out following the biggest, most "spectacular" short squeeze in history: that of LQD on March 23.  The chart below shows that between March 23 and April 2, the % of LQD shares loaned out - a proxy for shorting - had dropped from an all time high to a record low...

... as the Fed triggered a historic short squeeze, crushing all those who did not even know they were fighting the Fed when they shorted the LQD, which had become a systemically important instrument, explaining why everything in the cap structure above IG debt is no longer subject to any market forces but merely to the whims of the NY Fed's trading desk - will it buy LQD, and how much. That's all that maters now.

What happens next?

Well, with shorts no longer allowed to speculate in IG debt or anything less risky as it is all backstopped by the Fed now, only a few things remain subject to the whims of markets: junk bonds and stocks.

Which is why, as JPM observes, after the epic squeeze in LQD, the short base on both HY ETFs and the most popular ETF od all, the SPY, remains elevated...

... as does the short base on the EEM ETF.

We point this out because the pain for markets is hardly over, and with shorts now having an even more limited arsenal of instruments, they will inevitably focus on HYG and SPY during the next crash. Which also means that now that the Fed has effectively gone all in, the only question is how low will it allow first junk bonds and then stocks to drop, before Powell goes full Haruhiko "Peter Pan" Kuroda and announces that the Fed will buy both junk bonds and stocks going forward, in the process nationalizing the entire market.

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/04/2020 - 14:40
Published:4/4/2020 1:54:20 PM
[Markets] Exclusive: Honeywell Pressures Suppliers To Cut Prices 30% Exclusive: Honeywell Pressures Suppliers To Cut Prices 30% Published:4/4/2020 1:54:20 PM
[Markets] Dispatches from a Pandemic: ‘I’m not going to lie, it was a nightmare’: A recovered New Jersey coronavirus patient urges caution — and hope ‘I’m just not taking any chances, and I don’t think anybody else should be either,’ says John Mormando, who remains in self-quarantine.
Published:4/4/2020 1:23:08 PM
[Markets] Confirmed COVID-19 Cases In New York Near Nationwide Totals From Italy, Spain As Cuomo Reports Promising Slowdown In Hospitalizations: Live Updates Confirmed COVID-19 Cases In New York Near Nationwide Totals From Italy, Spain As Cuomo Reports Promising Slowdown In Hospitalizations: Live Updates

Summary:

  • UK reports more than 700 deaths, mortality rate climbs to record 10.35
  • Germany reports smallest batch of deaths in 2 weeks
  • Spain case numbers pass Italy, after reported lowest deaths in a week yesterday deaths
  • Journalist says more than 800 health-care workers infected in Massachusetts
  • NY reports 10k+ new cases as statewide total nears those of Italy, Spain
  • Italian government agrees on emergency business loan program
  • US cases of COVID-19 near 280k
  • US death toll tops 7k
  • Portugal reported 638 new cases
  • Belgium reported 1,661 new cases and 140 new deaths
  • A looting wave has struck NYC businesses
  • France says 600 soldiers infected
  • UK Health Secretary reminds Britons to stay inside this weekend
  • Pop star Pink test positive
  • India quarantines 20k people connected to Islamic missionary movement
  • Trump uses DPA act to block export of medical equipment
  • Tokyo reports more than 100 cases in a day, largest jump yet, as Japan's 2nd wave worsens

*   *   *

Update (1355ET): With the pace of new COVID-19 infections finally slowing in Europe, officials in the US, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the peak still remains weeks away. At least that's what New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday after providing the latest update on the outbreak in New York.

As National Guard troops set up a temporary morgue across from the medical examiner's office in Manhattan, Cuomo warned that while nobody knows the number "at the top of the mountain", experts expect that the number of new cases could peak "in the seven-day range," he said. Unfortunately, Cuomo added, his state - the hardest hit in the US - remains short of vital equipment, most importantly ventilators, needed to fight it.

"Nobody can tell you the number at the top of the mountain," Mr. Cuomo said, but estimated that it would be "in the seven-day range." He said the state was not yet prepared for that point.

"It feels like an entire lifetime," he said. "I think we all feel the same, these stresses, this country, this state - like nothing I’ve experienced in my lifetime."

On Saturday, New York State reported 10,841 new coronavirus cases and 630 new deaths for Friday, bringing the number of total cases to 113,704, just shy of the countrywide figures for Italy and Spain, with 3,565 dead.

At the same time, Cuomo urged residents not to lose hope: "This is a painful, disorienting experience," he said. "But we find our best self, our strongest self - this day will end. We will get through it, we will get to the other side of the mountain. But we have to do what we have to do between now and then."

He also offered some more optimistic figures: The rate of hospitalizations in the state has slowed, as the number of patients currently hospitalized increased by just 7% since Friday to 15,905 at the latest count, the smallest jump in at least two weeks. Of those, 4,126 were in intensive care. On average, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations rose by just 27 a day during the week ended on March 28. So far, two-thirds of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 have been discharged, Cuomo said.

The governor has warned that the state will need 30K ventilators before the peak arrives. It's unclear how many they have on hand right now: Cuomo is storing a stockpile in a state warehouse and has promised to dole them out to hospitals as they are needed, while he continues to beg Trump for more from the federal stockpile (if there are any available, which he said yesterday he believes there aren't).

The decision of Ford to team up with GE to produce ventilators will help, but those machines will almost certainly arrive too late to help New York State.

In NYC meanwhile, businesses are being hit by a wave of looting after the mayor let out hundreds of "nonviolent" criminals from Rikers.

*   *   *

As the scramble for ventilators & PPE continues across the country, President Trump last night finally invoked the DPA to ban "unscrupulous actors and profiteers" (an apparent reference to 3M, the pillar of American manufacturing that has become embroiled in a feud with the administration in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic) from exporting critical medical gear used to protect wearers from the coronavirus. Unfortunately, that won't do anything to increase the availability of badly needed ventilators as hospitals in NYC discover that an alarming number of ICU patients require ventilators. If the number of critical patients starts to overwhelm ICUs, without enough ventilators on hand, nurses and doctors will effectively be deciding who lives and who effectively suffocates to death on their own fluids.

The issue of health-care workers becoming infected has become a major problem in the UK, and was infamously a huge problem in Wuhan during the early days of the epidemic (who can forget the martyrdom of Dr. Li Wenliang?). But now, it looks like it's becoming a growing problem in the US: More than 850 hospital employees in Massachusetts have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a tally being kept by one journalist.

All of this comes as the number of cases confirmed in the US nears 280k, more than the next two countries (Spain + Italy) combined.

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed deaths in the US topped 7k (it was 7,134 at last count, to be exact)...

On Friday evening, England's chief nursing officer Ruth May paid tribute to two nurses, Areema Nasreen and Aimee O'Rourke, who succumbed to COVID-19 after catching it on the job. They were "part of our NHS family," May said.

"They were one of us, they were one of my profession, of the NHS family," said Ms May. "I worry that there's going to be more and I want to honour them today and recognise their service."

May urged Britons to resist the temptation to go out and party during the expected beautiful weather this weekend. "But please, I ask to remember Aimee and Areema. Please stay at home for them," she according to the BBC.

Last night, the chair of the surgery department at New York Presbyterian’s Columbia University Irving Medical Center said 98% of ICU patients required ventilators.

During a Friday morning interview on CNBC, 3M CEO Mike Roman said it was "absurd" to suggest his company wasn’t doing all it could to help the U.S. fight the pandemic, and that by banning export of critical gear, it could make it more difficult to acquire these products in the US as more companies start hoarding and banning export in response.

But perhaps the biggest news overnight came out of the UK, where the Department of Health reported the biggest jump in deaths yet. The DoH said early Saturday that 708 patients had died across the UK on Friday, bringing the nationwide death toll to 4,313. Meanwhile, the 3,735 new cases of COVID-19 reported brought the UK's total above 40k to 41,903 . The drop in new cases combined with the jump in new deaths brought the UK's mortality rate to an all-time high of 10.3%.

Put another way:

Meanwhile, with London looking eerily empty as citizens finally obey the lockdown, Health Secretary Matt Hancock reminded the country on Saturday that the order for Britons to stay indoors this weekend was "not a request."

As deaths in the UK climbed, Germany reported its smallest batch of deaths in two weeks. Health officials recorded 6,082 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours in Germany, bringing its total to 85,778, while the number of deaths rose by just 141 to 1,158, only a 14% jump, according to the Robert Koch Institute.

Outside Europe, perhaps the most startling numbers reported overnight was another jump in confirmed cases in Tokyo: More than 110 new cases of coronavirus were confirmed, the largest daily jump since the outbreak began, a record that has been broken over and over these last two weeks.

In India, more than 20,000 people linked to Islamic missionary movement Tablighi Jamaat or having had recent 'contacts' with its members have been quarantined as authorities struggle to stay well "ahead of the curve" to prevent uncontrollable outbreaks across the world's second-largest country, and one that's pockmarked with pockets of densely populated slums, per the FT.

We suspect the decision will be cited as yet another example of the Modi government's unkind treatment of the country's Muslim minority.

In Italy and Spain, officials reported another promising decline in new cases, suggesting that the lockdowns imposed by both countries are finally working. However, as the number of confirmed cases in Spain surpassed the number of total cases in Italy, the government of PM Pedro Sanchez ordered a two-week extension of Spain's mandatory lockdown.

More than 20,000 people linked to Islamic missionary movement Tablighi Jamaat and their contacts have been quarantined in India as authorities work to contain COVID-19.

"I understand it’s difficult to extend the effort and sacrifice two more weeks," Sanchez said in a televised speech on Saturday. "These are very difficult days for everyone." At this point, a longer lockdown would need the approval of Spain's cabinet and congress.

The number of confirmed cases climbed by 7,026 over the last day to 124,736, according to the Health Ministry. Deaths rose by 809 to 11,744. That 809 number was the actually the lowest number of deaths in a week.

Despite Spain officially moving into the No. 2 spot in terms of total confirmed cases (right behind the US at No. 1, though China likely saw the largest number of cases, as possibly hundreds of thousands went uncounted). Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa said on Friday that the goal of slowing the epidemic was “within reach," as Spain's government has imposed some of the most restrictive lockdown measures in Europe.

In Italy, Parliament and the ruling government approved an additional €200 billion ($216 billion) of emergency loans for businesses, according to the local press. It said the moves, part of a new aid decree, will be approved by Monday and will let companies seek state-backed bank loans for as much as 25% of their revenue (with, we suspect, a generous handout to Italy's struggling banks).

Meanwhile, the number of cases, at 119,827, with the number of deaths at 14,681.

Meanwhile, Portugal reported 638 new cases of coronavirus and 20 new deaths, bringing it to a total of 10,524 cases and 266 deaths. Belgium reported 1,661 new cases and 140 new deaths, bringing it to a total of 18,431 cases and 1,283 deaths.

As Joe Biden and dozens of Democrats bash the administration for the abrupt firing of Capt. Brett Crozier, who circumvented the chain of command to insist that his sailors be saved from an inevitable outbreak onboard his ship, the American military is learning that it isn't alone. After bringing several infected soldiers from abroad, the French Army Minister said that around 600 French soldiers have now tested positive for the virus.

The problem of active military troops being infected is vexing the US military, as it bases around the world cut off exercises with local military forces and limit training and exercises for US troops as well. Navy officials fear the virus might already have found its way aboard other Navy vessels. Widespread infection could quickly become a massive headache for the US military, since once the virus enters a ship, it's bound to spread, given that social distancing in that environment is virtually impossible.

In the US, pop singer Pink announced late Friday that she had tested positive for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, with markets closed, investors will still be keeping a close eye out for any progress in the US's $2.2 trillion stimulus, as well as any news about the 'Part 4' deal that's purportedly being worked out.

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/04/2020 - 14:12
Published:4/4/2020 1:23:08 PM
[Markets] This is how big bear-market rallies have been in the past nine decades From top to bottom, the S&P 500 Index has fallen 35% in this bear market. Here are the two most common questions I receive in my inbox: Is the bear market over? If it is not, can there be a bear market rally? Published:4/4/2020 12:53:29 PM
[Markets] The Five Things You Absolutely Cannot Say About COVID-19 The Five Things You Absolutely Cannot Say About COVID-19

Authored by James Corbett via Off-Guardian.org,

Pssst. You.

Yeah, you.

Are you interested in talking about…things? You know, the kind of things that we’re not allowed to talk about anymore? You know, since the…uhhh…“The Event“?

You are? Great. I mean, you might have noticed things are getting a bit hairy out there. As in, you’re likely to get your head bitten off for daring to suggest that things may not be totally ok with the “new normal.”

It seems all these new social norms and cultural taboos that have arisen in the past few weeks have also created a raft of new thoughtcrimes: Things that must not be spoken for fear of being expelled from polite society... or worse.

That’s why it’s so vitally important for us to speak out about our concerns before these socially-policed thoughtcrimes become literal crimes. As I’m sure you know, if these new social norms are not confronted, voicing dissent will soon become impossible.

So, allow me to voice some thoughtcrimes of my own. But be forewarned: I assure you that you will find at least some of my ideas to be offensive. You will disagree with them strongly. You will become irate.

The real question is: What are you going to do to those voicing opinions you disagree with? Engage in dialogue with them? Or demand that agents of the state scrub their speech from the internet and lock them in a cage for their thoughtcrime?

Well, either way, I’ve already committed thoughtcrime numerous times in recent weeks, I might as well share them with you. Are you ready? Let’s go.

1. WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY . . . AND IT IS OUR NEIGHBORS

People imagine that when the boots-on-the-ground tyranny arrives, it will be enforced by the police or the military. Newsflash: the boots-on-the-ground tyranny is here, and it is being enforced by your neighbors, Joe Sixpack and Jane Soccermom.

Need proof? How about all the new “snitch lines” that are opening up in city after city and state after state all around the globe to help good citizens tattle on neighbors who aren’t practicing proper social distancing?

That’s right. It’s not just guys yelling out their windows in Brooklyn anymore. Now whenever you see someone within two meters of someone else it is your duty as a loyal citizen of the Brave New World Order to actively report them to the authorities so that they can be dealt with by Big Brother. Rest assured, a score card is being compiled for each jurisdiction, and the powers-that-shouldn’t-be are keeping a list of who’s being naughty or nice (Good job, Minnesota!).

Still, while we can all unequivocally and universally agree 100% with the idea that anyone who physically approaches another human being in this Year of our Virus 2020 deserves to be charged with manslaughter for their heinous act, maybe, just mayyyyyybe—and I’m just spitballing, so forgive me if this seems brash—we’re heading into dangerous territory here. You know, what with the social distancing Stasi becoming the enforcers of our new police state nightmare and all. Call me crazy.

2. DOCTORS ARE THE NEW SOLDIERS

When 9/11 happened, there was a marked and notable intensification in the propaganda glorifying the American military. Not that such propaganda didn’t exist before, but it was nothing like what we’ve seen since “the day that changed everything.” Yes, the hero worship of veterans is one of the hallmarks of the Age of Terror that 9/11 ushered in .

So if this plandemic is the new 9/11, what’s the new hero worship? Well, it should be obvious by now: Doctors are the new soldiers. Now we must dutifully show our appreciation for the brave medical workers on the front lines of this new war…or face yet more social castigation.

You may have noticed the interesting phenomenon making its way around the world. I call it “The Totally Spontaneous Balcony Applause Phenomenon.” Yes, completely out of the blue, all the people under lockdown have decided to show their appreciation for the valiant doctors and nurses in this heroic struggle by going to their balcony at a pre-appointed time and applauding. And no, this totally spontaneous phenomenon is not just occurring in one or two countries. Or three or four countries. But in seemingly every country around the globe.

Just like that. Just out of the blue. Must be something in the zeitgeist, I guess.

Now you’ll forgive me for being out of the loop, but as you know the corona madness has not quite made its way to Japan yet. (But, precisely as I predicted, the very same day that the Tokyo 2020 Games were postponed the Tokyo Governor suddenly became gravely concerned about her city, and they are now going to “have to” lockdown Tokyo unless the poor plebs behave.) So I don’t know exactly how people decide on the right time to go to their balcony to applaud. Is it done by vote? What if I’m a few minutes late? Will people think I’m clapping for something else? What exactly is the etiquette here?

Here’s my thoughtcrime: I find these displays creepy and off-putting. I find the glorification of doctors and nurses unsettling. Not because I think they are all quacks. Not because I think they are all evil. Not because I am not grateful for the work that (some) doctors do (some of the time). Not because I don’t recognize the enormous stress that these doctors and nurses are under right now. But because this socially engineered adoration is going to be used to push an agenda exactly like the glorification of veterans was used to push the militarism agenda of the post-9/11 years.

This time, we are being asked to glorify doctors and nurses because these are the same trusted experts whose authority cannot be questioned who are going to be giving you the vaccine. You know, The Vaccine. The one that will bring an end to the then 18-month long psychological siege that we are being placed under.

What?? You still question the vaccines? You still dare to defy the authority of these brave doctors and nurses who risked their lives for us? You can’t say that, you disgusting conspiracy mongering throughtcriminal, you!

Be honest, you know that this push is coming. And they are getting the public to sign on with all these “spontaneous” balcony applause sessions. So perhaps you’ll forgive me for not joining in.

3. I DO NOT TRUST A SINGLE ONE OF THE NUMBERS BEING REPORTED ABOUT THIS OUTBREAK

I am still baffled by the attention that otherwise sane human beings are given to the latest reported numbers from this or that health agency about the scourge of Covid-19. People are throwing around CFRs and R0s like they’ve been studying epidemiology their whole lives. In truth, they’re just regurgitating whatever they saw on CNN or were told in the latest Governor Cuomo press conference.

So what do we make of the baffling discrepancy in death rates from Covid-19 between different countries? Why is Italy’s death rate from the disease a staggering 10% while China’s is more like 4%? And what does that mean for the 70% of humanity that “experts” warn will be infected by this virus?

And while we’re at it, why don’t we ask some equally meaningful questions, like: What color is the Easter Bunny? How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? And just how tasty is the cheese that the moon is made of, anyway?

As I demonstrated weeks ago, methods for diagnosing this disease vary so widely from country to country that making comparisons between countries isn’t even like comparing apples and oranges. It’s like comparing apples and aardvarks. And diagnosing a particular type of viral infection via CT scan? How can we possibly trust the infection numbers that are being generated by such methods?

All of that would make the calculation of mortality rates for this disease problematic enough. But, to make matters worse, we don’t even have an accurate tally of the number of people who have died from Covid-19. Take the infamous Italian example, for instance. We’re told that the staggering death rates in Italy (roughly 10% if we go by the official numbers at press time) are a sign of just how deadly this new virus can be.

…But there’s some problems with those numbers. As Prof Walter Ricciardi—scientific adviser to Italy’s minister of health—recently revealed, “The way in which we code deaths in our country is very generous in the sense that all the people who die in hospitals with the coronavirus are deemed to be dying of the coronavirus.”

So how many of the people who are reported as “Covid-19 deaths” in Italy actually had coronavirus listed as their cause of death? Just 12 per cent. What’s more, according to the Italian government’s own report, half of those who died had three or more other diseases at the time of the death. Nearly 80 per cent had at least two other diseases that they were fighting when they died. Only 1.7 per cent of those who died had no other disease.

But why listen to James Corbett, conspiracy theorist, or those silly Italian government health advisors on this matter? Well, I’m not alone in this suspicion of the official numbers. It turns out the “Our World in Data” research group that has been attempting to keep track of the coronavirus numbers has stopped using the World Health Organization’s data because “we found many errors in the data published by the WHO when we went through all the daily Situation Reports.”

And John Ioannidis — who Corbett Report listeners will remember launched the replication crisis in science with his landmark 2005 paper on “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False” — has recently come out questioning whether the current Covid-19 response is “A fiasco in the making.” As Ioannidis observes:

The data collected so far on how many people are infected and how the epidemic is evolving are utterly unreliable. Given the limited testing to date, some deaths and probably the vast majority of infections due to SARS-CoV-2 are being missed. We don’t know if we are failing to capture infections by a factor of three or 300. Three months after the outbreak emerged, most countries, including the U.S., lack the ability to test a large number of people and no countries have reliable data on the prevalence of the virus in a representative random sample of the general population.

After this current madness passes, people will view the public’s blind acceptance of these practices in the same way that we look at the public’s blind acceptance of bloodletting and other methods of medical chicanery from times past.

4. THE DEATH OF A 91 YEAR-OLD IS A FAMILY TRAGEDY, NOT AN EVENT OF INTERNATIONAL CONCERN

OK, so you still insist on taking these phony baloney numbers seriously? Then let’s take another looks at that Italian report on those dying with (not of) Covid-19.

The report tells us that the median age of those who have been pronounced dead with (not of) Covid-19 is 78. To put that number in perspective, the average life expectancy in Italy is 82.8.

That means those who are dying with (not of) the disease are within years of reaching the average life expectancy (and, let’s not forget, they are also suffering in the vast majority of cases from at least two other diseases). I venture to say that a similar panic could be raised about just about any viral disease in circulation if it was being reported in the same way as this coronavirus is being reported.

Since we’re committing thoughtcrimes here, let’s be blunt: “Elderly Patient With Multiple Complications Dies After Contracting Respiratory Illness” is NOT a news story. It’s a daily fact of life.

But in fact, it is a news story. I have been keeping tabs on how the Canadian MSM have been covering the pandemic panic and saw a segment on one of the national news broadcasts about a woman whose 91-year old mother died in a nursing home. It was implied that this 91-year old woman’s life was tragically cut short by the coronavirus and, to make matters worse, her daughter was unable to hold a funeral or service for her mother because Canada is currently under lockdown. I don’t know if I have lost touch with reality or everyone else has, but let me reiterate: This is NOT a news story.

Don’t get me wrong: Any such death is doubtless a tragedy for the family involved. My heart genuinely goes out to all those who lose their relatives in such circumstances. But this is not something that we upend our entire civilization over. We do not stop all productive human activity on the planet, collapse the economy, send millions upon millions of people to the unemployment line, institute lockdowns, and begin talking about mandatory vaccinations, internal passports and other abrogations of essential human freedoms on such a basis.

In fact, if I were to be dying at the age of 78 due to some viral respiratory illness along with my other 78-year old cohorts, I can guarantee that I would be outraged that the powers-that-shouldn’t-be were using my death to upend the liberties that I had spent my life attempting to defend. It is disgusting.

“But what about the young people who die of the disease?” you ask. Fair enough. Again, according to the official reports (which, let me remind you, should not be trusted), there are people under the age of 78 who are dying from the disease as well, albeit in much smaller numbers. And, according to the “models” from the “experts” (who, let’s remember, are right about everything), there could be hundreds of thousands more deaths before this pandemic runs its course.

Well, that brings me to my ultimate thoughtcrime:

5. THE IDEA THAT DISEASE AND DEATH ARE UNNATURAL OR AVOIDABLE IS ANTI-HUMAN

People die.

Sometimes they die of car accidents. Sometimes they die of work-related mishaps. Sometimes they die of old age. Sometimes they die under extremely questionable circumstances while trying to shed light on information that is uncomfortable for the deep state. And, yes, sometimes they die of respiratory illnesses during viral pandemics.

I’ll go one step further: Our mortality makes us who we are. Humans are blessed and cursed with a knowledge of our own fate. No one makes it out of this life alive. And so the question of what we do with our lives becomes paramount.

But more and more, death is being removed from life. Our elderly are shipped off to nursing homes to whither away so that we don’t have to face aging. The funerary industry is neat and anti-septic. Death has become an abstraction. Something that happens somewhere out there, to other people. Not to us, though, surely.

But this entire pandemic madness seems to be predicated on the notion that disease and death are somehow avoidable. That we have conquered such things. Or, at least, that no new disease could ever possibly arise (bioengineered or not) to upset our perfect balance with nature. I mean, yes, many people die of the flu every year, but that doesn’t count. That’s not new.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t work to cure diseases and improve our health. Quite the contrary. It’s just that this current bout of hysteria seems almost anti-human; as if we should be able to transcend our mortal humanity.

CJ Hopkins, in his characteristically humorous way, points out the absurdity of this “War on Death” in his latest article:

We can’t let these Russian dissension sowers, neo-Nazi accelerationists, and coronavirus-sympathizers confuse us. They want to convince us that Death is, yes, scary, and sad, but inevitable, and natural. How utterly heartless and insane is that?!

No, we need to close our minds to that nonsense. People are dying! This is not normal! Death is our enemy! We have to defeat it! We need to hunt down and neutralize Death! Root it out if its hidey hole and hang it like we did with Saddam!”

I don’t know why the idea that death is a part of life should be controversial. But, given that even a respected blogger like Craig Murray can be largely lambasted by his own audience for daring to post similar musings, I suppose that it is. I don’t know anymore. Perhaps I’m off my rocker.

All I know is that the room to express dissent on these topics is fast disappearing. It’s time for those of us who can tolerate thoughtcrime to circle the wagons. The Thought Police are closing in.

So maybe you disagree with me. Maybe you’re offended by what I say. Maybe you have your own thoughtcrimes that you’re afraid to express. But if we don’t engage in dialogue about these ideas now, what are the chances that this information will be easier to share in the future?

So what’s your thoughtcrime? 

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/04/2020 - 13:40
Published:4/4/2020 12:53:29 PM
[Markets] DHS Ditches Additional Guestworker Visas After Spike In Unemployment DHS Ditches Additional Guestworker Visas After Spike In Unemployment

The Department of Homeland Security has put "on hold" a plan to authorize an additional 35,000 H-2B guestworker visas, meaning businesses can no longer bring on new migrant workers under the program.

The move comes after the initial unemployment claims spiked by 10 million in two weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic - with 6.6 million in one week alone as businesses across the country conducted mass layoffs.

"DHS’s rule on the H-2B cap is on hold pending review due to present economic circumstances. No additional H-2B visas will be released until further notice," reads a tweet from DHS.

Notably, the pause came one day after Fox News's Tucker Carlson blasted Homeland Security over the increase.

"We’re facing a global calamity that could wreck our economy, fracture our society," said Carlson, arguing that DHS shouldn't be offering 35,000 slots for jobs that could go to unemployed Americans.

In early March, the agency announced that it would be boosting H-2B slots after nearly 100,000 workers were requested for just 33,000 remaining slots, according to Law360.

Of those extra visas, 10,000 were reserved for citizens of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, the three countries comprising the Northern Triangle region that have struck deals with the Trump administration to accept U.S. asylum seekers.

Before the virus struck the U.S., national unemployment was low, hovering below 4% in both January and February of this year, when employers submitted requests to the Labor Department for seasonal workers starting in April.

With H-2B visas capped at 66,000 per fiscal year, demand for these temporary visas, which are granted to employers who can show there are no Americans willing or available to fill the jobs, has consistently outstripped supply. -Law360

With the program paused, however, employers who came up short in the Labor Department's January lottery are out of luck - and might just have to hire Americans.

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/04/2020 - 13:15
Published:4/4/2020 12:22:57 PM
[Markets] Sudanese Migrant Kills 2 During Knife Attack In Southeastern France Sudanese Migrant Kills 2 During Knife Attack In Southeastern France

As if a national lockdown to prevent a deadly pandemic from killing hundreds of thousands of people wasn't terrifying enough, there are now armed asylum seekers marauding around southeastern France, murdering shoppers as they venture out to buy groceries.

To wit, a man killed two people and wounded several others, one critically, during a knife attack in the town of Romans-sur-Isère in the Drôme, about 20 kilometers north of Valence.

According to Haaretz, witnesses said the man first attacked the owner of a tobacco shop in the town center, then attacked two customers inside the shop. After that, he twalked out and began stabbing people in the street. One of the dead was inside the tobacconist. A second man, a butcher from a nearby shop, was killed outside.

Local police told French media that the suspect was a 33-year-old asylum seeker from Sudan. Anti-terrorism investigators are reportedly investigating the incident to try and determine if it was an act of terrorism.

As COVID-19 has spread across Europe, the issue of how to handle the asylum-seekers and migrants who continue to spill over the continents' borders, even as the Syrian Civil War appears to finally be winding down, has become increasingly fraught as Turkey has reportedly tried to send migrants infected with the virus to Greece.

Macron tweeted his condolences, and promised to investigate to incident and determine whether it was an act of terrorism.

The suspect was living in the center of town where he carried out the attack. A statement from the local municipal government read: "This Saturday 4 April morning an individual carried out a knife attack at several places in the centre of Romans-sur-Isère. The individual in question was arrested around 11am. According to initial information, two people have died, five others are injured and in a critical condition. At this moment, we do not know the motive for this act."

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/04/2020 - 12:35
Published:4/4/2020 11:53:14 AM
[Markets] Capitol Report: Small-business owners express confusion, fear over federal bailout fund Small-business owners and nonprofit executives told MarketWatch their banks aren’t yet accepting applications, while expressing confusion and concern about the terms of the loan and whether it makes sense for their businesses to accept the money at all.
Published:4/4/2020 11:53:14 AM
[Markets] Grieving Chinese Families Can't Bury Dead, Perform 2,000 Year-Old Tradition Grieving Chinese Families Can't Bury Dead, Perform 2,000 Year-Old Tradition

While the Chinese Communist Party claims they've suffered just 3,300 coronavirus deaths out of more than 60,000 who have died around the world as of this writing, evidence exists that the actual death toll across China is far higher - and could be more than 40,000.

And as long lines form at Wuhan funeral homes over the last two weeks, family members - some waiting up to six hours, have been collecting their loved ones in the hopes of giving them a proper funeral. In particular, mourning families want to be able to perform a 'grave sweeping' ritual that has been around for over two millennia - where families gather on the 15th day after the spring equinox to remove weeds and dirt from their ancestors' graves.

Long lines have formed at Wuhan’s eight main funeral parlors, including here at the Hankou Funeral Home, as relatives come to collect ashes before Tomb-Sweeping Day. (Weibo)

Unfortunately, due to the backlog in urns, lost bodies, and Chinese authorities banning, or severely limiting tomb-sweeping rituals due to the large crowds which gather at cemetaries, mourners in Wuhan won't be able to pay their respects until at least May, according to the Washington Post - which suggests that beyond health safety reasons, Beijing wants to limit the number of people standing around, criticizing the government response to the pandemic. 

“No one in the family got to say goodbye to Grandpa or see his face one last time,” said Gao Yingwei, an IT worker in Wuhan whose grandfather, Gao Shixu, apparently succumbed to the novel coronavirus on Feb. 7. The 76-year-old died at home; funeral workers in hazmat suits came to collect his body, telling the family it would be cremated immediately.

To this day, we have no idea how his body was handled, where his ashes are or when we will be able to pick them up,” Gao said. “I don’t even know which funeral parlor those guys were from.” -Washington Post

Cover up

As we've noted over the last several weeks, the numbers in China aren't adding up - as crematoriums have been processing thousands of bodies per day, according to several reports.

The Hankou Funeral Home, for example, told Caixin that it has been operating 19-hour days; enlisting male staff to carry bodies while reporting they've received 5,000 urns in two days.

Using photos posted online, social media sleuths have estimated that Wuhan funeral homes have returned 3,500 urns a day since March 23. That would imply a death toll in Wuhan of about 42,000 — or 16 times the official number. Another widely shared calculation from Radio Free Asia, based on Wuhan’s 84 furnaces running nonstop and each cremation taking an hour, put the death toll at 46,800. -Washington Post

"It can’t be right . . . because the incinerators have been working round the clock, so how can so few people have died?" said one Wuhan resident identified only as Zhang, in a statement to RFA.

Also notable are the uncounted deaths - those who likely died of coronavirus but weren't tested for the disease, such as 49-year-old Liu Cheng, who died February 12 of a "severe infection in both lungs." He was not counted in the official coronavirus statistics, and was immediately cremated before his family could see him, according to the report.

Wuhan cemeteries have reported that they will sweep tombs during the memorial period, while some private funeral companies have offered to tend to graves for a fee while the families watch on live stream. And they have nobody to blame but the CCP for their early inaction and destruction of samples in what may have been able to be contained if they had acted sooner.

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/04/2020 - 12:00
Published:4/4/2020 11:22:11 AM
[Markets] NewsWatch: 3 S&P sectors climbed this week — here are the stocks that rose and fell the most Investors anticipate an oil production deal between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
Published:4/4/2020 11:22:11 AM
[Markets] Stop Trying to Flatten the Covid-19 Curve. It’s Time To ‘Crush’ It. A New England Journal of Medicine editorial proposes six steps to crush the Covid-19 coronavirus curve in 10 weeks. Published:4/4/2020 11:22:11 AM
[Markets] The Fed Is Running Out Of Bubbles To Create The Fed Is Running Out Of Bubbles To Create

Authored by Kladji Bregu via The Mises Institute,

The Fed came out with a series of unprecedented measures on March 22, 2020. They announced the Fed will buy an unlimited amount of Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities (MBS), or as Peter Schiff refers to it, “QE infinity.” This has been very positively welcomed by many in the mainstream media and by businesses. Yet, what many are ignoring is that the Fed has to do this to keep the bubbles that it has created going.

Recently, I wrote that the Fed has created many structural problems in the mortgage market, corporate bond market, and the car loan market. These issues have only been “waiting” for such a situation to come to the surface and severely hurt the economy.

Reinflating the Mortgage Bubble

After the recession of 2001 the Fed decreased interest rates substantially, and this along with other government policy led to the housing bubble that burst in 2007. Instead of allowing the market to adjust and get rid of the structural problems created by artificially low interest rates, the Fed decided that what they had to do was to reinflate the housing bubble. The Fed bought massive amounts of MBS to lower mortgage rates and reinflate the mortgage market. This was largely unsuccessful until mid-2012, but then house prices began to rise faster as the economy became more stable. As can be seen from the graph below, house prices have increased by about 50 percent since then and are now at an all-time high.

The graph above may show that the Fed was successful in inflating another housing bubble, yet prices alone do not reveal the whole picture. In the graph below, I show debt-to-GDP ratios for a variety of debts. The red line represents mortgage debt as a percent of GDP, and as it is clear from the graph as a percent of GDP, mortgage debt is decreasing. In fact, it has already decreased by about 20 percent since its all-time high. This shows the Fed was less successful in recreating the housing bubble of the early 2000s.

This is not to say that the housing market is not in a bubble, but the bubble is not in the levels it was last time. Hence, the Fed was less successful in using the housing market to create artificial economic growth. Yet, the Fed’s actions have led to many issues in the mortgage markets. These issues had the president of Ginnie Mae very worried as early as 2015. Here is what he said in his remarks at the Ginnie Mae Summit at the time:

Also, we have depended on sheer luck. Luck that the economy does not fall into recession and increase mortgage delinquencies. Luck that our independent mortgage bankers remain able to access their lines of credit. And luck that nothing critical falls through the cracks.

A New Bubble Post–Great Recession

As the graph above shows the only private sector debt that the Fed was able to substantially increase, as a percentage of GDP, was the corporate debt. Corporate debt has increased by about 67 percent since the end of the Great Recession, from about $6 trillion to $10 trillion in just ten years. This has led to an increase of the corporate debt-to-GDP ratio by about 6 percent, to an all-time high of 46 percent. What is more, the quality of this debt has been deteriorating. Nearly half of the $4 trillion that was added postrecession are BBB rate bonds, or the lowest ratings of investment-grade bonds trench.

Corporations are not alone in this. All other businesses have now accumulated about $5.5 trillion in debt too, bringing the total debt of all businesses (nonfinancial debt only) to about $15.5 trillion. This makes percentage of total debt to GDP about 74 percent, which is higher than the mortgage debt-to-GDP ratio at its highest point in 2009, when it was about 73 percent.

Hence, this time around the Fed has been more successful in fueling a business debt bubble.

Will the Fed Be Able to Fuel Another Bubble?

As discussed above, the Fed replaced to a large degree the mortgage bubble with the corporate bubble. But this happened because corporate debt and collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) did relatively well during the last recession. This may not be the case in the recession that many say has already started. In fact, this is very clear when one considers how the Fed has responded to the current economic situation brought about by the COVID-19 epidemic. The Fed now will be lending directly to corporations by using the Treasury to secure these loans. They argue that this is due to the shock the economy is in because of COVID-19, but what they are worried about is that the bubble they created is about to burst given the weakness in the corporate debt markets. The Fed knows that the corporate debt market is not in a good shape, since this has now become clear to many (see herehere, and here for a few examples). It remains to be seen whether they can stop this bubble from bursting or not, but if it does, and if what happened in the mortgage market after the last recessions can teach us anything, the business debt-to-GDP ratio will most likely decrease after the recession that we may be in already.

Before the Great Recession, we had the housing bubble fueled by the Fed. Then, the Fed replaced the housing bubble with the business debt bubble. The question that arises is: what will be the next bubble if the business debt bubble bursts?

Looking at the graph above, the only other major debt category left that is big enough to play a role in the economy is government debt. The national debt-to-GDP ratio increased by about 40 percent during the last recession. However, since about 2013 the government debt-to-GDP ratio has stabilized somewhat, but now with the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act), some estimates place the deficit for 2020 alone will be $4 trillion. This will lead to at least an 18 percent increase in the government debt-to-GDP ratio in one year alone.

It seems the Fed’s last hope in fueling the next recovery will be government debt. In fact, the Fed has played a major role in the government debt increase, but now they are doing this at another level. Jim Bianco in an article at Bloomberg recently wrote that the Fed’s plan “includes a hard-to-understand $625 billion of bond-buying a week going forward. At this rate, the Fed will own two-thirds of the Treasury market in a year.” Hence, it is clear the Fed, intentionally or not, is going to make the government debt bubble worse than it is.

Conclusion

The Fed-fueled economy is unstable, and as the Austrian theory of the business cycle teaches us, sooner or later is bound to suffer from recessions. With each passing recession, the Fed finds it harder to refuel the last bubble, but the market moves on to the new bubble, as the Fed keeps interest rates artificially low. The problem the Fed is facing now is that since the last recession they have been unable to fuel good economic growth with artificially low interest rates, since GDP increased at about 1 percent below the post-World War II average of 3.2 percent. This may be because even with artificially low interest rates total debt has decreased as a percentage of GDP, as the graph below shows.

If this trend continues, the Fed will find it even harder to fuel economic growth by lowering interest rates. The problem here is: how far are they willing to go to keep the bubble economy going?

Jim Bianco seems to be worried about what they are doing. He closed the article mentioned above by saying: “Fed Chair Jerome Powell needs to tread carefully indeed to ensure his cure isn’t worse than the disease.” Only time will tell what the results of the Fed’s actions will be, but it sure seems like they will not find it easy to fuel another private debt bubble.

With only government debt left to increase, the Fed may have reached its limits in affecting the economy via interest rate manipulation.

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/04/2020 - 11:35
Published:4/4/2020 10:52:37 AM
[Markets] Exclusive: Capital One to withdraw controversial regulator request Watchdogs called the decision to grant the request troubling.
Published:4/4/2020 10:52:37 AM
[Markets] He talked to Trump last week — now this billionaire investor is warning about taking ‘undue risk’ in the market Cohen also said his $16 billion firm has effectively managed risk so far this year with performance that is “essentially flat” despite the gutting market downturn. The note follows a conference call with President Trump last week that, according to Reuters, focused on the U.S. economy and the Federal Reserve. Dan Loeb of Third Point LLC, Stephen Schwarzman of Blackstone Group, Robert Smith of Vista Equity Partners, Paul Tudor Jones of Tudor Investment Corp and Ken Griffin of Citadel were also reportedly on the call. Published:4/4/2020 10:22:41 AM
[Markets] After Record Rally Oil Faces Collapse As New Feud Erupts Between Saudis And Russia; Monday OPEC+ Meeting Cancelled After Record Rally Oil Faces Collapse As New Feud Erupts Between Saudis And Russia; Monday OPEC+ Meeting Cancelled

In retrospect, trading on a Trump tweet may not have been the best idea.

On April 2, in what initially appeared to be a belated April fool's joke, the US president tweeted "Just spoke to my friend MBS (Crown Prince) of Saudi Arabia, who spoke with President Putin of Russia, & I expect & hope that they will be cutting back approximately 10 Million Barrels, and maybe substantially more which, if it happens, will be GREAT for the oil & gas industry!"

What followed was the biggest rally in the price of oil ever, as countless oil shorts scrambled to cover their positions amid concerns there could be even a shred of truth to Trump's boast that the oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia could be coming to an end, especially since global oil demand had cratered by over 20% just as Saudi Arabia boosted its own output to a record 12mmb/d

One day later, on Friday, the surge continued after R-OPEC members saying they may indeed consider a 10mmb/d cut (which, as we also explained would not be nearly enough to balance the oil market but at least it was a start), with Putin admitting he had spoken with US President Trump saying "we are all worried about the situation" and that he is "ready to act with the US on oil markets" with 10mmb/d in oil production needed to be cut.

However, as his Russian energy minister, Alexander Novak, explained at the same time, any production cut would need to also include US shale producers , something that Trump was certainly not too keen on. As the WSJ reported, "Saudi Arabia and Russia won’t cut unless they get signals from U.S. producers they will reduce output, the officials said. But they added that official joint curbs would be more difficult to enact in the U.S. because of antitrust laws."

And so, the world was excitedly looking forward to the Monday's virtual R-OPEC conference where the question was whether Trump would agree to cut US production (and whether he even had the authority to enforce such a cut)

But before that, something happened that few noticed yet ended up being a gamechanger: among the other things Putin said on Friday, we reported that the Russian president was also kind enough to summarize the reasons for the oil price collapse which he blamed on the coronavirus, the lack of oil demand and, drumroll, the Saudi withdrawal from the OPEC+ deal.

“It was the pullout by our partners from Saudi Arabia from the OPEC+ deal, their increase in production and their announcement that they were even ready to give discounts on oil” that contributed to the crash, along with the coronavirus-driven drop in demand, he said.

“This was apparently linked to efforts by our partners from Saudi Arabia to eliminate competitors who produce so-called shale oil,” Putin continued. “To do that, the price needs to be below $40 a barrel. And they succeeded in that. But we don’t need that, we never set such a goal.”

As it turns out, Saudi Arabia was - and remains - quite sensitive to accusations over who was responsible for the failure of the March 5 Vienna summit which ended up in Russia refusing to be forced into even bigger production to appease Saudi Arabia, and prompted Saudi Arabia to unleash a historic oil glut.

In a statement early on Saturday, the Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said the comments noted above by Putin laying blame on Riyadh for the end of the OPEC+ pact between the two countries in March were “fully devoid of truth.

“Russia was the one that refused the agreement” in early March, the Saudi foreign ministry said. “The kingdom and 22 other countries were trying to to persuade Russia to make further cuts and extend the agreement.”

Which just happens to be more fake news, and the reason why Russia balked is because it was faced with what it - correctly - viewed was a hostile ultimatum by OPEC. As the NYT reported:

After talks with OPEC members in Vienna, Russia’s energy minister, Alexander Novak, returned to Moscow for consultations on Thursday. In his absence, OPEC officials met and came up with what amounted to an ultimatum. The group as a whole would trim production by 1.5 million barrels a day, or about 1.5 percent of world supply. OPEC, meaning largely the Saudis, would make the bulk of the cutbacks, one million barrels, as long as Russia and other producers trimmed the rest.

The gambit was “something of a boss move,” said Helima Croft, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, but it backfired badly. Russia had played hard to get before, but this time Mr. Novak was not playing. The answer was “no” again, and the Saudi oil minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, and other officials headed back to their hotels with no results and no communiqué.

Needless to say, Saudi Arabia was not used to getting no for an answer, and so it responded by effectively disbanding OPEC, even as it continued to blame Russia for doing so: as Bloomberg reports, "since the original OPEC+ deal fell apart at a March 5 meeting in Vienna, the Saudis have argued Russia decided to walk away and was first to say countries were free to pump as much as possible."

“The Russian Minister of Energy was first to declare to the media that all the participating countries are absolved of their commitments,” said Prince Abdulaziz, the energy minister and half-brother of Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman. “This led to the decision by countries to raise their production in order to offset lower prices and compensate for their loss of returns.”

In any case, Saturday's direct criticism of Putin was echoed in a statement by Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, and threatened any fleeting hope of an agreement to stabilize the collapsing oil market after President Trump devoted hours of telephone diplomacy last week to brokering a truce in the month-long price war between Moscow and Riyadh.

As an immediate result, the OPEC+ (or R-OPEC) meeting scheduled for Monday has been delayed as Riyadh and Moscow have discovered a new reason to feud: arguing over who’s to blame for the collapse in oil prices.

And while the alliance is tentatively aiming to hold the virtual gathering on April 9 instead of Monday as it previously intended, a Bloomberg source said with another noting that "producers need more time for negotiations"; in other words, it is unclear if the meeting will take place at all now that the diplomatic spat has reached the highest levels of the world's top oil producers.

And, as we discussed on Friday, beyond this latest diplomatic spat, Saudi Arabia and Russia have indicated they want other oil countries to join in any output cuts, complicating efforts to call a meeting, the delegate said, asking not to be named discussing diplomatic matters.

“We always remained skeptical about this wider deal as U.S. producers cannot be mandated to cut,” said Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at consultant Energy Aspects Ltd. “If so, Russia doesn’t come to the table. And if everyone doesn’t cut, Saudi Arabia’s long held stance is that they will not cut either.”

A delay is “not a good sign,” said Ayham Kamel, head of Middle East and North Africa at the Eurasia Group consultancy. “This entirely plays negatively for the discussions.”

“Part of Putin’s comments are about saving face and also justifying why the oil price crashed and partly to deter criticism from the U.S. Putin doesn’t want to be blamed for any losses in the U.S. energy industry. It seems to me that there’s both a defensive effort to shield from criticism abroad for both the Saudis and the Russians,” Kamel said.

The prospect of a new deal spurred a 50% recovery in benchmark oil prices last week as traders saw some relief from the catastrophic oversupply caused by a lockdown of the world’s largest economies, in a bit to halt the coronavirus pandemic. With billions of people forced to stay at home, demand for gasoline, diesel and jet has collapsed by about as much 35 million barrels a day.

Which means that absent either Putin or MBS making some major concessions in what would be seen as a glaring sign of weakness, the record oil rally is about to go in reverse because the primary reason behind the oil price crash still looms: the world running out of oil storage in months if not weeks, and is why the Saudis, who have ramped up production to a record 12 million barrels a day in the past month and massively discounted the price of their oil, have insisted a new agreement must involve significant contributions from all OPEC+ nations and major producers outside the coalition, including the U.S. and Canada.

“No one had expected such a total collapse in the oil market,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, head of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, a research group which advises the Kremlin. “Saudi Arabia and Russia have lost control of the situation. Tearing up the OPEC+ deal caused a lot of hurt feelings in Moscow and Riyadh, for Putin and MBS. That makes things more difficult, they have to get over that while not losing face. That’s why they’re both pointing the finger at each other."

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/04/2020 - 11:12
Published:4/4/2020 10:22:41 AM
[Markets] In The New Dystopia In The New Dystopia

Authored by Sill Solomon via Counterpunch.org,

It is difficult to neatly encapsulate the shift that has occurred in our collective perception and experience over the last several weeks. That all semblance of ‘certainty’ and ‘normalcy’ has disappeared seems no longer the main feature—what stands out is the psychological shift underway, proceeding on the collective and individual levels. What will this mean, how will it continue to evolve? Every conversation I have now touches on the coronavirus or those things that surround it. Everything I read online is related to it. ‘Social distancing’, ‘flattening the curve’—these phrases have become ubiquitous, standardized.

The situation is increasingly and rapidly revealing a number of uncomfortable but long obvious truths about our reality, perhaps none more so than the extent to which so much we take for granted is based on inertia, faith, and on a most rickety apparatus. A humming economy, the wide availability of consumer goods, school, transport, work—all melt away in the face of the virus.

There exists, in this hyperconnected strangeness, the sense that we are living through something predictable, foreseeable. This goes beyond the specific realities of a gutted pandemic response plan (not to mention public health capabilities) and general poor management of the crisis to something more metaphysical: the ubiquitous sense in the present of doom, of an apocalypse, the feeling that we are at the end of time, that there is no future. One has the sense of the present as deja vu, as almost a projected future of the past, of the 20th century, which saw the breakdown coming in the 21st. This sentiment is by no means new, but it has certainly grown more acute—it feels as if we have moved into another level of dystopia.

Of course, then there is the pure economic reality of the situation: over three million jobless claims last week, by far the most ever recorded in such a brief time span. We are seeing the artifice of the ‘service’ economy disappear—again, hardly shocking for those of us who have watched this patchwork mess limp along for years or longer, especially for those of us who have worked in it.

The mainstream may (or may not) be realizing what has been clear to many of us for a long time: there is no real economy.

As the situation worsens, as the wave breaks, there is something extraordinarily chilling as elected officials and ordinary people call for Trump to assert never-before-activated executive powers—as the Justice Department attempts to enact its own draconian measures—in a desperate embrace of authoritarianism, made even more chilling by the fact that many of us understand this and are willing to concede (some of it) may be necessary. All, particularly in light of the realization settling in that things, will never go ‘back to normal.’ What was normal?

The plain fact is that we are living as unsustainably as ever—we were before this, and we’ve hit a massive speed bump that may have ricocheted us off the edge of the cliff toward which we were already careening. If it wasn’t the virus, it would be something else. And while the United States is uniquely poorly positioned to address this, the massive jolt this has provoked the world over makes it clear enough that the systems of capitalism, of industrial civilization itself, have been teetering on the edge. What this will create is unclear, and even for those of us not totally surprised by these events, the speed has often been difficult to grasp.

But something is happening, something new is coming; be prepared...

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/04/2020 - 10:30
Published:4/4/2020 9:51:54 AM
[Markets] With gowns and masks in short supply, researchers test drugs to prevent COVID-19 infections in health care workers At least three clinical trials for hydroxychloroquine are trying to establish whether the decades-old malaria medication can prevent COVID-19 infections in frontline health-care workers as hospitals across the country scramble to secure enough gowns and masks for their employees.
Published:4/4/2020 9:22:39 AM
[Markets] Finns Warned World's Best-Funded Welfare State Collapsing Under Virus-Triggered Mass Unemployment Finns Warned World's Best-Funded Welfare State Collapsing Under Virus-Triggered Mass Unemployment

On March 30, Finland said it would extend its countrywide shutdown until May 13 from April 13. It appears strict social distancing and quarantines are working, but it comes at a massive economic cost. Now we're beginning to learn that the country's welfare system is cracking and cannot handle the influx of unemployed.

Finland has recorded 1,615 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 19 deaths, by far, some of the lowest numbers when compared to the rest of Europe

There are signs that restrictions on civilian movement are working, Mika Salminen, the director of health security at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), told reporters at a government press conference on April 1. 

The opportunity cost of flattening the pandemic curve has come at a tremendous economic cost, resulting in a downturn and high unemployment. Bloomberg notes that Finland has the best welfare system in the world, which is now starting to crack as the surge in unemployment applications is overwhelming the system.

And just like that, in a matter of weeks, 300,000 Finns lost their jobs because of quarantines. The tradeoff is preserving the nation in the long run while dealing with short term economic pain.

Managing Director Sanna Alamaki said on April 1 that funding the welfare system isn't the current issue: It's "that the benefit applications can't be processed and, consequently, money can't be paid out quickly enough." 

Even if General Unemployment Fund YTK were to triple staff to increase application output, there still would be a three-month wait for out-of-work Finns to receive their benefits. YTK expects that 100,000 more applications could "flood" in this month (April) due in part to the extended shutdowns. 

The problem developing, like in many other countries, is that Finland is becoming overwhelmed by the virus. Though each country is different, it's Finland's generous welfare system, one of the best-funded in the world, cannot process applications in time that could lead to prolonged suffering by households that have seen incomes dry up in the last month. 

Finns who cannot receive benefits in time will lose faith in the government, and that could be the moment when social unrest follows.

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/04/2020 - 09:55
Published:4/4/2020 9:22:39 AM
[Markets] FDIC closes small West Virginia bank, moves deposits to MVB Bank A small bank in West Virginia has become the first institution to fail during the coronavirus crisis, though the bank had been experiencing difficulties since 2015 and its 2019 capital levels were too low, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. announced Friday. The First State Bank of Barboursville with $152 million in total assets was closed Friday by the West Virginia Division of Financial Institutions. The bank's $139.5 million in deposits will be acquired by MVB Bank Inc. of Fairmont, W.Va. The four branches of The First State Bank will reopen as branches of MVB Bank on Saturday, the FDIC said. Published:4/4/2020 9:22:39 AM
[Markets] Outside the Box: This hard truth about the mortgage markets isn’t being told Real estate industry sees no problem, hears no problem, speaks no problem, writes Keith Jurow.
Published:4/4/2020 8:22:41 AM
[Markets] A Primer For Gold Newbies A Primer For Gold Newbies

Authored by Alasdair Macleod via GoldMoney.com,

The purpose of this article is purely educational. Increasingly, the wider public is turning to gold in a spontaneous reaction to financial and economic problems that have become suddenly apparent, hastened by the spread of the coronavirus. For everyone now thinking of buying gold it is a leap into the unknown, so they should know why.

It is not just the financially inexperienced, but investment managers and financial advisors are equally unaware of what is happening to money and capital markets. We are in the early stages of a radical debasement of state-issued currencies which is on course to collapse the entire financial system.

I explain the two phases of this destruction of fiat money, the one experienced so far and the one we are about to suffer.

I explain why sound money has always been physical gold and silver, returned to by the people after government and banks have collectively destroyed state-originated unsound money.

Introduction

Suddenly, there is increasing public interest in gold. The financially aware will be scratching their heads over what’s going on in financial markets in the broadest sense and might have heard some unintelligible chatter about what is going on in gold. They are asking, why does gold matter? Isn’t gold just an old-fashioned hedge against risk and the true safe haven investment today is US Treasuries? Then there’s the mass of financially unknowledgeable investors who are used to leaving investment matters to their financial advisers, and until recently have viewed the rise in the gold price as an opportunity to sell unwanted jewellery for scrap.

In these two categories we have included the bulk of the population of any advanced nation. They are about to learn what less sophisticated peoples never unlearned: that there’s a difference between a world that is accustomed to relying on ever increasing public debt to provide their welfare, and one where the state provides little or no welfare and people must save to provide for their own and their families’ future.

In Asia, the cradle of civilisation, gold and silver for millennia have had a dual role of ornamentation and of sound, reliable money which can be safely stored for future use. It is only in the last two centuries that the people of Britain, and then America, have advanced themselves into consumerism and taken many other nations with them, leaving the rest of the world described as emerging nations, a euphemism for still poor and uncivilised in western terms.

That is no longer true. In the four decades since Mao Zedong’s death, China and the whole of South-East Asia have embraced debt-fuelled economic progress. Following the end of the short-lived Gandhi era, India is similarly progressing. And when economists forecast global growth, they expect it to come predominantly from these Asian nations while the West stagnates.

Even though these Asian nations have now almost fledged, their populations still save a substantial portion of their income and profits, savings which are the security for their future. While they have embraced inward investment from western and Japanese corporations building factories and providing employment, they hang onto their savings, which are mainly in gold and silver, to preserve their families’ wealth.

For example, it has served the Indian peasantry very well. The price of gold has risen from 180 rupees to the ounce in the mid-1960s to 121,000 rupees today. Of course, it’s not so much gold going up, but the rupee going down. Ordinary Indians have retained the wisdom of their ancestors, despite attempts by successive governments to ban or discourage them from junking rupees by buying gold.

Whatever you believe, the economic awakening of Asia means you can no longer ignore gold and silver’s historical role as the ultimate money. In terms of personal savings, we are faced with a radical re-think because our currencies are demonstrably on the brink of failure. The current dollar-based system evolved from gold standards to a partial gold exchange standard following the Second World War, to abandoning gold backing entirely in 1971. Now, investors are having to learn the gold story anew, exchanging their western debt-driven economics for a world that is reverting to gold.

For the West’s financial establishment, it will be a difficult and costly process. Investment managers’ careers have unwittingly depended on a form of money that is continuously debased, because their performance is enhanced by its loss of purchasing power. Take monetary inflation away, and it is no exaggeration to say the business of purely financial assets, that is to say bonds, equities and derivatives, will mostly disappear.

The sudden relevance of this outcome has been brought to all our attentions by the coronavirus pandemic. The panic currently raging through markets is leading directly to infinite acceleration of monetary inflation, because it is the only means for governments and their central banks to postpone a financial and economic crisis. We are witnessing the early stages of a fiat currency collapse due to its unlimited and accelerating debauchment in an attempt to preserve the West’s financial system.

On any dispassionate analysis, throwing limitless money at a problem is a matter of desperation that ends with the destruction of the currency. For the common man it eventually raises hitherto unasked questions: is the state’s money really money? Should I hold a reserve of it so I can buy the things I will want tomorrow, or should I spend it all now just to get rid of it?

It is this background that causes the wider public, not the financial establishment that hitherto has benefited from monetary inflation, to reconsider gold as a safe haven against mounting uncertainties. Physical possession, or having gold vaulted securely is suddenly becoming preferable to having money invested in a financial system evidently on the brink of failure. Forget investment managers, economists and their economics, it is now time for everyone for himself and his or her dependants.

It is therefore time to relearn the fundamentals about gold, and silver for that matter, in their role as sound money. If anyone is to emerge financially intact from a financial and monetary collapse it will be by hoarding sound money to spend frugally when the time comes.

The aim of this article is to help those who have been seduced by inflationism and lost touch with sound money to regain it.

Why gold and silver are always money and why fiat is failing

From the dawning of economic history various forms of monetary intermediation have been tried. The only ones that have survived the test of all time have been metallic, particularly copper, silver and gold, because of their durability. They evolved from being measured by weight into being unitised as coinage.

As the principal issuer of coins, the state gained a monetary role, and could collect taxes in token coins more efficiently than through the payment of tithes. And with the state controlling the form of money came state corruption. The Chinese were the earliest recorded issuers of paper money, and Marco Polo related how Kublai Khan required merchants to submit all their gold and silver in return for paper receipts manufactured from mulberry leaves. The merchants gained the experience and Kublai Khan got their money.

The Romans robbed their citizens by debasing the coinage, starting with Nero who used the surplus silver thereby gained to pay his army, a tradition that continued with succeeding emperors. It was a failed policy, with assassinations being common. Debasement continued for nearly three centuries to the time of Diocletian, who tried to control the effect on prices through his infamous edict written in stone. The economic consequences of the collapse of Roman money together with price controls led to citizens abandoning the cities to forage in the countryside, a feature of other monetary collapses we have seen time and time again.

With the collapse of fiat currencies today, these outcomes should be borne in mind. But there is another form of monetary fraud to be aware of, poorly understood, which involves the banks. From the earliest times of recorded history, bankers would take in deposits for safe-keeping and redeploy them for their own use. In about 393 BC, an Athenian lawyer, Isocrates, defended Passio, a banker accused of misappropriating deposits of gold and silver entrusted to him by a son of a favourite of Satyrus, king of Bospherus. While Isocrates’s speech is recorded, it seems the verdict is lost to us. But like so many bankers who followed him, Passio survived the scandal and died a wealthy and successful man.

The misappropriation of deposit money has been a feature of banking ever since, and today’s denial of the fundamental right to own your deposited money was formalised in the Bank Charter Act of 1844 in English law, which failed to differentiate between actual banknotes that were backed by gold, and money loaned into existence by fractional reserve banking, which become the source of customers’ deposits.

To further expand the point, we must briefly digress and describe the process of creating bank credit and matching deposits. The common procedure is for a bank to create a loan facility for a customer, who draws on the facility to pay his creditors. The creditors then have money to deposit, which is either deposited at the bank that originated the loan or at another bank. To the extent that loans drawn down create imbalances between banks, they are resolved in wholesale money markets so that all banks’ balance sheets balance. But note that the money loaned created the deposits, and it is by these means that banks create unbacked money in a system supposedly on a gold standard.

Fractional reserve banking is so described because the ability to create deposits by loaning money into existence allows banks to gear up their balance sheets so that their own capital becomes a fraction of the total. At any one time the relationship between the two reflects the bankers’ assessment of risk and reward. At times of low perceived risk and improving economic prospects, they expand the ratio of deposits and other liabilities to ten or more times their underlying capital. When they perceive increased lending risk, they try to reduce the ratio to prevent their capital being wiped out by losses.

The economic consequences are periodic banking crises as banks become first overextended and then ultra-cautious in their lending. Additionally, there is the response by governments and their state-owned central banks to the periodic banking crises, in which they intervene rather than let banks fail.

It was Walter Bagehot who in the late-nineteenth century coined the term for the Bank of England acting as lender of last resort, a function which has become more extensive over successive credit cycles. The quantities of bank credit have expanded over time and the accumulation of money issued to finance periodic bank rescues and excess government spending has remained in the system. Inevitably, it led to the abandonment of any pretence of backing state-issued currency with gold when the gold pool failed in the late 1960s.

When the relationship between gold and state-issued currencies finally broke down it permitted monetary inflation, whose only constraint was the effect on prices. This brings us to the current situation, where the expansion of the quantity of money in all major currencies is about to increase massively, in an attempt to control the economic consequences of the coronavirus.Unlimited monetary expansion became stated official policy for America’s central bank last week and stated or unstated, for the other major central banks as well. The implied monetary policy was that as soon as the virus passes the economy will return to normal, so the monetary expansion will normalise.

But it should be noted that liquidity strains in the banking system began to be appear last September, nearly five months before the virus spread from China. The Federal Reserve Board (America’s central bank - the Fed) was forced to begin a daily series of monetary injections into the banking system, which is ongoing. Liquidity problems are simply a sign of fractional reserve banks perceiving a shift in the balance of profit relative to risk and acting to protect their capital from losses. Put another way, the liquidity shortage is created by banks destroying money by reversing the bank credit creation process.

Therefore, the evidence that the credit cycle has turned cannot be disputed and will add to the required quantities of money to be issued by central banks in connection with the virus alone, if a deflationary contraction of bank credit is to be averted. It is beyond the scope of this article to go fully into what will be involved, but the scale of monetary inflation required is clearly immense.

What will alert the public to failing fiat currencies?

Statisticians inform us that the rate of price inflation is in the order of two per cent. All our personal experiences suggest it is much higher, and independent analysts in America tell us it is closer to ten per cent, more in line with our own knowledge than government figures. The discrepancy exists because we can talk about the general level of prices as a concept, but that does not mean we can actually measure it.

This is important, because the cost of funding government borrowing (and everyone else’s for that matter) is linked to the rate of price inflation. Buyers of US Treasuries, regarded in financial circles as the risk-free investment, will want a rate of return to compensate them for the loss of the dollar’s purchasing power over the life of the investment. For now, they accept it is a little less than two per cent annually as stated by government statisticians, but that is bound to be questioned when the Fed ramps up its money-printing.

So far, most notably the expansion of money supply has fuelled rising prices for financial assets. That inflated balloon in now leaking badly. When doubts increasingly begin to creep in about a realistic value for all bonds relative to a realistic assessment of price inflation, all financial assets that refer to US Treasury bonds as the risk-free yardstick will deflate even further. Consequently, investors accustomed to more or less continually rising prices for financial assets will face substantial losses. The penny is now dropping that investing in them for wealth preservation is unsafe, and the central banks’ policy of debasing money to support financial markets will eventually fail.

In another development, the US Government has just passed a reflation bill whereby each qualifying adult will be given $1200 and $500 on behalf of every child. This money can only be spent on essentials such as food, because the majority of retailers are in lockdown. Meanwhile the production and distribution of food is likely to be adversely affected by the virus. There can be only one outcome from the combination of a restriction of food supply and a one-off hit of extra money for everyone: prices for food will rise strongly. Following the example of Diocletian’s edict, we can then expect politicians to impose price controls in an attempt to quell public dissent, which will inevitably reduce food supplies even more.

Never mind what the consumer price index says; food is a small part of it and officially, the CPI might even fall. But a growing likelihood of public disaffection over food prices is bound to spread the message that the dollar is not buying as much as it did very recently. It is a small step from there for the American public to finally reject the fiat dollar as a medium of exchange. We will then learn a fundamental truth the hard way: money relies on its credibility with the people who are its users. And once that credibility is destroyed the currency is destroyed with it.

The time taken for its destruction has been illustrated by similar events in the past. We must distinguish between a long, slow cumulative attrition of value, such as that since the failure of the London gold pool in the late 1960s, followed by the ending of the remaining fig leaf of gold convertibility by President Nixon in August 1971. This is the first of two phases, illustrated in Figure 1.

Since 1969, relative to gold the yen has lost 92.8% of its purchasing power, against the dollar 97.8%, the euro (and its previous constituents) 98.5% and sterling 98.9%. And these falls have been hardly noticed! As the yardstick for sound money, gold has been deliberately side-lined in favour of the dollar as the backing for other fiat currencies. When the British think the pound has fallen, they say it is against the dollar, oblivious to the fact that the dollar itself has lost all but 2.2% of its 1969 purchasing power.

The reason behind the dollar’s decline is the massive expansion of the quantity of dollars relative to gold, shown in Figure 2.

The fiat money quantity is the total number of dollars both in public ownership and held in reserve by the banks in their accounts at the Fed. Because these figures are only available six weeks in arrears, they have yet to reflect the most recent expansion of money. But it was already shooting into record territory at the beginning of February and the extent of monetary instability is illustrated further by its departure from the relatively steady expansionary course until the Lehman crisis, shown by the extended pecked line.

The expansion of FMQ from 1969 has been a multiple of 32.5 times, giving an arithmetic dilution of purchasing power of 97%, which compares with a fall in terms of the gold price of 97.8%. We can therefore say that over fifty-one years, the change in the dollar price of gold has tracked the expansion of the quantity of dollars as represented by the fiat money quantity fairly accurately.

Empirical experience tells us there is a second phase, when a broadly arithmetic relationship between the quantity of money in circulation and its purchasing power breaks down. When the public awaken to what is happening to fiat money, a mass psychology of rejection takes over to drive the relationship between the currency and its use-value. In France, the mandats territoriaux issued in February 1796 to replace the failing assignats currency were worthless by the following February. In 1923, the German papiermark, which had been losing purchasing power from the end of the Great War took about seven months to finally collapse from May to November. It became a flight into goods and real values that marks the end of a monetary inflation by the complete breakdown of the monetary system.

For a comparison with the contemporary monetary system, which binds together the fate of financial asset values and that of the currency, there is none more apt that that of the failure of John Law’s Mississippi bubble, when he gained control of the French currency and printed it to support the shares of his venture. Law’s policies of inflationism were remarkably similar to those of John Maynard Keynes, which inform the basis of monetary policy today. And today’s neo-Keynesians are unashamedly debasing the currency to support financial assets, just as Law did. Law’s scheme began to show signs of failing in early 1720, and by the following September, not only had the shares in his Mississippi venture collapsed, but his unbacked livres were worthless as well.

If we replicate the John Law experience today, the dollar and all the currencies which sail with her will become worthless in short order, probably by the year-end. We have seen that a final acceleration of monetary inflation is starting after a fifty-year period of debasement which the public has hardly noticed. State-issued fiat currencies are now embarking on that second phase, when they will lose all purchasing power.

The replacement of government fiat money by gold and silver

Now that we can anticipate the final destruction of contemporary fiat currencies, we must consider their replacement and how it comes about. Many commentators who have a grasp of the problem talk of a monetary reset, failing to understand that the problem is a loss of trust in state-issued currencies that cannot be resolved by the issuance of a variation on the fiat theme. Nor can a solution be found in the issuance of a state-issued cryptocurrency. The fact of the matter is the days of financing government spending and economic objectives by monetary expansion are drawing to an end.

A few governments are in a position to back their currencies with gold, freely convertible at the choice of the user at a fixed rate. These include Russia, which has been accumulating gold and dumping dollars in recent years. China, where there is compelling evidence that the state has accumulated significant undeclared bullion, and now that an estimated 17,000 tonnes are in private ownership, could also adopt a gold standard, along with a few other Asian nations. But a gold standard also requires the elimination of government spending deficits, which Russia, China and a few Asian nations could achieve. Additionally, the banking system, whereby bank credit can be expanded by creating loans, must also be reformed. Otherwise, it will be possible for anyone to draw down a loan in unbacked bank credit in order to cash it in for gold. Similarly, safeguards to prevent foreign bank credit expansion being used through the foreign exchanges to acquire gold substitutes for encashment would have to be implemented.

Western nations will find it far more difficult to adjust to a gold standard, having mandated welfare commitments that require continuing currency debasement in order to pay for them. Furthermore, in the United States, the banking cartel is immensely powerful and so long as the fiat system exists, they are unlikely to give up their assumed right to create money out of thin air in the form of credit, particularly when the process becomes more profitable as the dollar’s decline accelerates. The currency will therefore die before radical reform is acceptable to the US financial establishment, and all those that adhere to it.

For individuals, it is safer to assume that personal possession of physical gold and silver bars and coins is best for wealth protection and future spending. It is a mistake to think that these two moneys of millennia are just an investment alternative: they are money which can act as a store of your wealth. They can then be spent on the essentials of life, which are spiralling beyond the reach of failing fiat. And when the return of some economic and political stability can be anticipated, durable assets, such as property, and productive goods might be acquired. In that way gold and silver will return into circulation.

The failure of derivatives

Derivative markets, principally Comex futures and the London bullion market, have expanded to absorb much of the demand for bullion. Taken together, the last recorded figures tell us that gold derivatives in these two markets had a notional value of $600bn, while the sum of annual mine production and recycled scrap at the same time was worth approximately $20bn, a relationship of 30:1.

As argued in this article the acceleration of monetary inflation is collapsing both financial markets and fiat currencies. What no one tells you is that over-the-counter derivatives, which according to the Bank for International Settlements are worth $640 trillion, will also disappear in a fiat currency collapse. Therefore, assuming there is no change in the overall level of demand for gold, thirty times the level of physical demand previously accommodated in derivatives at end-June last year either disappears or will be accommodated in above-ground stocks of gold.

It is in that context we should interpret what is happening in financial markets. The strains at a time of contracting bank credit are acute. If they have not been told already, dealers at the bullion banks will be instructed by their financial controllers to reduce their positions, because of the inexorable pull of contracting bank credit in the bank’s wider lending and deposit activities.

The only avenues for acquiring exposure of gold and silver will be increasingly restricted to bullion itself. Retailer outlets have already been closed by the virus and online retailers have little or no stock. Gold and silver can be acquired through companies such as Goldmoney, so that personal wealth can still be stored in secure, insured vaults. Physically backed exchange-traded funds continue to be available, but with the increasingly certain demise of derivatives, and the problems likely to evolve for the ETFs which use them, ETFs backed by physical gold are also exposed to unforeseen issues.

The hiatus on Comex probably marks the beginning of the end of precious metal derivatives. Already, bullion banks have reduced their exposure on Comex by the equivalent of 938 tonnes to 1,541 tonnes. But with supply substantially reduced from mines and refiners in lockdown at a time when governments are promising unlimited monetary inflation, it is hard to see favourable conditions for an orderly wind-down on Comex.

Conclusion

Events over the last few weeks have alerted a wider audience to the destruction of values in financial markets. The unwritten agreement between investors and the major central banks whereby financial markets will always be supported is now unravelling. Increasingly, the only buyers of government bonds at current levels are the central banks by inflating their currencies.

Meanwhile, liquidity problems in hard-hit economies are mounting. And it is not just the coronavirus; nearly five months before the virus hit Western financial markets the Fed was having to inject liquidity into the US banking system in record amounts through the repo market.

Looking at historical comparisons of our current set of circumstances we find that the Mississippi bubble of 1720 in France appears to be a reasonable template for the current situation. John Law, who masterminded that scheme, gained control of France’s money which he then used to buy shares in his Mississippi venture. Today’s central banks are following a similar path, except on a global scale. Law’s scheme saw both his unbacked currency and the shares in his Mississippi venture collapse from top to bottom in only nine months. If we repeat this experience today, not only will financial markets collapse, but the currencies in which they are notionally measured will be worthless by the year-end.

Signs of failure in some markets, such as derivative markets for precious metals, can be taken as evidence that a wider financial dislocation is now in progress. It is in this light that an understanding of the role of physical gold and silver is so important. They are the only sound money, a safe refuge for ordinary people, being incorruptible by governments. And as their prices rise towards infinity, it will be entirely a reflection of the end of the current fiat money regime.

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/04/2020 - 09:20
Published:4/4/2020 8:22:41 AM
[Markets] Stock-market headed for choppy waters amid worries return to normal will elude U.S. economy In some corners of Wall Street, investors are casting doubt on the notion that the economy will switch back to high gear after the coronavirus pandemic passes. Published:4/4/2020 7:54:44 AM
[Markets] Drone Delivers Food To Customers In COVID-19 Isolation   Drone Delivers Food To Customers In COVID-19 Isolation  

A food truck operator in North Carolina has deployed a drone to deliver sandwiches to customers amid the state's "stay at home" public health order and other strict social distancing measures that have completely changed how business is conducted in these challenging times.

CBS17 Raleigh reports that the folks at CheeseSmith Food Truck deployed a DJI drone to deliver grilled cheese sandwiches to customers.

The idea came one customer who is in quarantine suggested that using a drone for deliveries could be a modern tool to stay within the guidelines of government-enforced social distancing. Here's a look at how technology is allowing some food truck/restaurants to adapt to strict new rules of how citizens interact in the real economy during a pandemic:

As for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules for small unmanned aircraft, the food truck operator and drone pilot should read Part 107 of FAA regulations that detail "external loads" and "line of sight." Maybe they should request a Part 107 waiver before conducting more sandwich drone deliveries. Due in part, if they are breaking FAA rules, the penalty could be severe.   

With so many restaurants going bust across the country during the pandemic, CheeseSmith Food Truck is staying busy while it delivers sandwiches via a drone. 

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/04/2020 - 08:45
Published:4/4/2020 7:54:44 AM
[Markets] Vanguard blew away the competition in Q1, fund flow data show When it comes to ETFs, there are three big players, and then there’s everyone else, but in the first quarter, there was one asset manager to rule them all.
Published:4/4/2020 7:54:44 AM
[Markets] Former British Supreme Court Justice: "This Is What A Police-State Is Like" Former British Supreme Court Justice: "This Is What A Police-State Is Like"

Via The Spectator,

he former Supreme Court Justice Jonathan Sumption, QC, has denounced the police response to the coronavirus, saying the country is suffering 'collective hysteria'.

This is an edited transcript of his interview with BBC Radio 4's World at One programme earlier today.

BBC interviewer Jonny Dymond

 'A hysterical slide into a police state. A shameful police force intruding with scant regard to common sense or tradition. An irrational overreaction driven by fear.' These are not the accusations of wild-eyed campaigners, they come from the lips of one our most eminent jurists Lord Sumption, former Justice of the Supreme Court. I spoke to him just before we came on air.

Lord Sumption 

The real problem is that when human societies lose their freedom, it's not usually because tyrants have taken it away. It's usually because people willingly surrender their freedom in return for protection against some external threat. And the threat is usually a real threat but usually exaggerated. That's what I fear we are seeing now. The pressure on politicians has come from the public. They want action. They don't pause to ask whether the action will work. They don't ask themselves whether the cost will be worth paying.

They want action anyway. And anyone who has studied history will recognise here the classic symptoms of collective hysteria. Hysteria is infectious. We are working ourselves up into a lather in which we exaggerate the threat and stop asking ourselves whether the cure may be worse than the disease.

Dymond 

At a time like this, as you acknowledge, citizens do look to the state for protection, for assistance, we shouldn't be surprised then if the state takes on new powers if it responds. That is what it has been asked to do, almost demanded of it.

Sumption

Yes that is absolutely true. We should not be surprised. But we have to recognise that this is how societies become despotisms. And we also have to recognise this is a process which leads naturally to exaggeration. The symptoms of coronavirus are clearly serious for those with other significant medical conditions, especially if they're old. There are exceptional cases in which young people have been struck down, which have had a lot of publicity, but the numbers are pretty small. The Italian evidence, for instance, suggests that only in 12 per cent of deaths is it possible to say coronavirus was the main cause of death. So yes this is serious and yes it's understandable that people cry out to the government.

But the real question is: is this serious enough to warrant putting most of our population into house imprisonment, wrecking our economy for an indefinite period, destroying businesses that honest and hardworking people have taken years to build up, saddling future generations with debt, depression, stress, heart attacks, suicides and unbelievable distress inflicted on millions of people who are not especially vulnerable and will suffer only mild symptoms or none at all, like the Health Secretary and the Prime Minister.

Dymond 

The executive, the government, is all of a sudden really rather powerful and really rather unscrutinised. Parliament is in recess, it's due to come back in late April, we're not quite sure whether it will or not, the Prime Minister is closeted away, communicating via his phone, there is not a lot in the way of scrutiny is there?

Sumption 

No. Certainly, there's not a lot in the way of institutional scrutiny. The press has engaged in a fair amount of scrutiny, there has been some good and challenging journalism. But mostly the press has, I think, echoed and indeed amplified the general panic.

Dymond 

The restrictions in movement have also changed the relationship between the police and those whose, in name, they serve. The police are naming and shaming citizens for travelling at what they see as the wrong time or driving to the wrong place. Does that set alarm bells ringing for you, as a former senior member of the judiciary?

Sumption 

Well, I have to say, it does. I mean, the tradition of policing in this country is that policemen are citizens in uniform. They are not members of a disciplined hierarchy operating just at the government's command. Yet in some parts of the country, the police have been trying to stop people from doing things like travelling to take exercise in the open country, which are not contrary to the regulations, simply because ministers have said that they would prefer us not to. The police have no power to enforce ministers' preferences, but only legal regulations - which don't go anything like as far as the government's guidance. I have to say that the behaviour of the Derbyshire police in trying to shame people into using their undoubted right to take exercise in the country and wrecking beauty spots in the Fells so that people don't want to go there, is frankly disgraceful.

This is what a police state is like. It's a state in which the government can issue orders or express preferences with no legal authority and the police will enforce ministers' wishes. I have to say that most police forces have behaved in a thoroughly sensible and moderate fashion. Derbyshire police have shamed our policing traditions. There is a natural tendency of course, and a strong temptation for the police to lose sight of their real functions and turn themselves from citizens in uniform into glorified school prefects. I think it's really sad that the Derbyshire police have failed to resist that.

Dymond 

There will be people listening who admire your legal wisdom but will also say 'well, he's not an epidemiologist, he doesn't know how disease spreads, he doesn't understand the risks to the health service if this thing gets out of control'. What do you say to them?

Sumption 

What I say to them is I am not a scientist but it is the right and duty of every citizen to look and see what the scientists have said and to analyse it for themselves and to draw common sense conclusions. We are all perfectly capable of doing that and there's no particular reason why the scientific nature of the problem should mean we have to resign our liberty into the hands of scientists. We all have critical faculties and it's rather important, in a moment of national panic, that we should maintain them.

Dymond 

Lord Sumption, former Justice of the Supreme Court, speaking to me earlier. We put his criticism of Derbyshire police to the force and they sent us this statement: 'Our advice to the public was in line with national government instruction and echoed what people in our communities were saying following thousands of people that travelled to the Peak District National Park the previous weekend. The weekend just gone saw much smaller numbers and we thank the public for their response.'   

*  *  *

Full interview below:

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/04/2020 - 08:10
Published:4/4/2020 7:21:51 AM
[Markets] Want To Escape? These Are The Countries That Have Escaped COVID-19 So Far? Want To Escape? These Are The Countries That Have Escaped COVID-19 So Far?

The COVID-19 pandemic has spread to all corners of the globe and the following infographic shows the last places on Earth remaining unaffected.

It is based on countries that have not reported any known COVID-19 cases and that remained absent from the extensive global tracking carried out by the Johns Hopkins University as of March 31, 2020.

Infographic: Which Countries Have Escaped The Coronavirus So Far? | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

As Statista's Niall McCarthy notes, however, there are certainly question marks regarding the true situation in some countries, particularly North Korea, with sources in South Korea claiming COVID-19 has indeed spread there via the Chinese border. Due to the secretive nature of the government in Pyongyang and the degree of state control over the media, it is impossible to tell whether the South Korean claims are true. However, it is also not unreasonable to think that in this instance, North Korea's isolation from the rest of the world is helping it largely avoid the pandemic. Myanmar, another secretive country, was on the first version of this map but it has now reported its first case of COVID-19.

Several countries in Africa are still saying that they have no COVID-19 cases, though again this could be due to a lack of testing capacity on the ground. As of March 30, Botswana, Burundi, the Comoros, Malawi, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone and South Sudan were the African countries still to report a confirmed case.

The virus also remains mostly undetected in the smaller Pacific island nations such as the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/04/2020 - 07:35
Published:4/4/2020 6:52:17 AM
[Markets] China Floods Europe With Defective COVID-19-Fighting Medical Equipment China Floods Europe With Defective COVID-19-Fighting Medical Equipment

Authored by Soeren Kern via The Gatestone Institute,

As the coronavirus rages across Europe, a growing number of countries are reporting that millions of pieces of medical equipment donated by, or purchased from, China to defeat the pandemic are defective and unusable.

The revelations are fueling distrust of a public relations effort by Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Communist Party to portray China as the world's new humanitarian superpower.

On March 28, the Netherlands was forced to recall 1.3 million face masks produced in China because they did not meet the minimum safety standards for medical personnel. The so-called KN95 masks are a less expensive Chinese alternative to the American-standard N95 mask, which currently is in short supply around the world. The KN95 does not fit on the face as tightly as the N95, thus potentially exposing medical personnel to the coronavirus.

More than 500,000 of the KN95 masks had already been distributed to Dutch hospitals before the recall was enacted.

"When the masks were delivered to our hospital, I immediately rejected them," a hospital worker told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.

"If those masks do not seal properly, the virus particles can simply pass through. We cannot use them. They are unsafe for our people."

In a written statement, the Dutch Ministry of Health explained:

"A first shipment from a Chinese manufacturer was partly delivered last Saturday. These are masks with a KN95 quality certificate. During an inspection this shipment was found not to meet our quality standard. Part of this shipment had already been delivered to healthcare providers; the rest of the cargo was immediately withheld and not further distributed.

"A second test also showed that the masks did not meet our quality standard. It has now been decided that this entire shipment will not be used. New shipments will undergo additional tests."

The Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad reported on March 17 that the Netherlands had only a few days' supply of masks: "All hope is now for that one cargo plane from China on Wednesday." The substandard quality of the masks delivered by China has left the Netherlands shattered. A spokesperson for a hospital in Dutch city of Eindhoven said that Chinese suppliers were selling "a lot of junk...at high prices."

In Spain, meanwhile, the Ministry of Health on March 26 revealed that 640,000 coronavirus tests that it had purchased from a Chinese vendor were defective. The tests, manufactured by Shenzhen Bioeasy Biotechnology Company in Guangdong province, had an accurate detection rate of less than 30%.

On April 2, the Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported that it had been presented with leaked documents which showed that Bioeasy had lied to the Spanish government about the accuracy of the tests. Bioeasy had claimed, in writing, that its tests had an accurate detection rate of 92%.

Also on April 2, the Spanish government revealed that a further million coronavirus tests delivered to Spain on March 30 by another Chinese manufacturer were also defective. The tests apparently required between five and six days to detect whether a patient is infected with coronavirus and were therefore useless to diagnose the disease in a timely manner.

On March 25, the Spanish government announced that it had purchased medical supplies from China in the amount of €432 million ($470 million), and that Chinese vendors demanded that they be paid up front before the deliveries were made. Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa explained:

"We have bought and paid for 550 million masks, which will start arriving now and will continue to arrive for the next eight weeks. 11 million gloves will arrive in the next five weeks. As for rapid tests, we have acquired 5.5 million for the months of March and April. In addition, we will receive 950 respirators during the months of April to June. We are managing the purchase of more equipment."

It is not at all clear how the Spanish government will be able to guarantee the quality of these new mass purchases, or how it would obtain compensation if the products from China were again substandard.

On March 28, the French government, which apparently has only a few weeks' worth of supplies, announced that it had ordered more than one billion face masks from China. It is unclear whether the quality control problems experienced by other European countries would affect France's purchasing plans.

Other countries — in Europe and beyond — have also criticized the quality of Chinese medical supplies:

  • Slovakia. On April 1, Prime Minister Igor Matovic said that more than a million coronavirus tests supplied by China for a cash payment of €15 million ($16 million) were inaccurate and unable to detect COVID-19. "We have a ton of tests and no use for them," he said. "They should just be thrown straight into the Danube." China accused Slovakian medical personnel of using the tests incorrectly.

  • Malaysia. On March 28, Malaysia received a consignment of medical equipment donated by China, consisting of test kits, medical face masks, surgical masks and other personal protective equipment. A senior official in the Ministry of Health, Noor Hisham Abdullah, said that the test kits would be evaluated for accuracy after previous test kits from China were found to be defective: "This is a different brand from the one we tested earlier. We will assess the new test kit which is FDA-approved. I was assured by the Chinese ambassador that this is more accurate than the other one we tested." Abdullah previously stated that the accuracy of the Chinese tests was "not very good."

  • Turkey. On March 27, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said that Turkey had tried some Chinese-made coronavirus tests but authorities "weren't happy about them." Professor Ates Kara, a member of the Turkish Health Ministry's coronavirus task force, added that the batch of testing kits were only 30 to 35% accurate: "We have tried them. They don't work. Spain has made a huge mistake by using them."

  • Czech Republic. On March 23, the Czech news site iRozhlas reported that 300,000 coronavirus test kits delivered by China had an error rate of 80%. The Czech Ministry of Interior had paid $2.1 million for the kits. On March 15, Czech media revealed that Chinese suppliers had swindled the Czech government after it paid upfront for the supply of five million face masks, which were supposed to have been delivered on March 16.

On March 30, China urged European countries not to "politicize" concerns about the quality of medical supplies from China. "Problems should be properly solved based on facts, not political interpretations," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

On April 1, the Chinese government reversed course and announced that it was increasing its oversight of exports of coronavirus test kits made in China. Chinese exporters of coronavirus tests must now obtain a certificate from the National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) in order to be cleared by China's customs agency.

Meanwhile, the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei announced that it would stop donating masks to European countries as a result of allegedly derogatory comments by the EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell.

On March 24, Borrell had written in a blog post that China was engaging in a "politics of generosity" as well as a "global battle of narratives."

On March 26, a Huawei official told the Brussels-based news service Euractiv that due to Borrell's comments, the company would be ending its donation program because it did not want to become involved in a geopolitical power play between the U.S. and China.

On March 28, Huawei paid for sponsored content in the publication Politico Europe. Huawei's Chief Representative to the EU, Abraham Liu, wrote:

"Let me be clear — we have never sought to gain any publicity or favor in any country by what we are doing. We made a conscious decision not to publicize things. Our help is not conditional and not a part of any business or geopolitical strategy as some have suggested. We are a private company. We are trying to help people to the best of our abilities. That's all. There is no hidden agenda. We don't want anything in return."

On March 30, the BBC reported that Huawei was acting as if nothing had really changed since the coronavirus crisis began:

"That may be naive on the company's part. While nothing has really changed when it comes to the technical and security issues around Huawei's equipment, the political climate for the company has certainly worsened.

"A story in the Mail on Sunday at the weekend had Downing Street warning China 'faced a reckoning' over its handling of the coronavirus.

"And that is likely to embolden those MPs who have been telling the government no Chinese company should be allowed a role in the UK's vital infrastructure."

On March 29, the British newspaper Daily Mail reported that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his allies in parliament had "turned" on China because of the coronavirus crisis:

"Ministers and senior Downing Street officials said the Communist state now faces a 'reckoning' over its handling of the outbreak and risks becoming a 'pariah state.'

"They are furious over China's campaign of misinformation, attempts to exploit the pandemic for economic gain and atrocious animal rights abuses blamed by experts for the outbreak."

On January 28, Johnson had granted Huawei a role in Britain's 5G mobile network, frustrating efforts by the United States to exclude the company from the West's next-generation communications, which, it seems, can also be used for spying. The London-based Financial Times reported that U.S President Donald J. Trump vented "apoplectic fury" at Johnson in a tense phone call. Johnson is now facing pressure from his Cabinet as well as from Members of Parliament to reverse his decision.

After Chinese officials blamed the United States and Italy for starting the coronavirus pandemic, the Daily Mail quoted a British government source as saying:

"There is a disgusting disinformation campaign going on and it is unacceptable. They [the Chinese government] know they have got this badly wrong and rather than owning it they are spreading lies."

The newspaper continued:

"Mr. Johnson has been warned by scientific advisers that China's officially declared statistics on the number of cases of coronavirus could be 'downplayed by a factor of 15 to 40 times.' And No. 10 believes China is seeking to build its economic power during the pandemic with 'predatory offers of help' to countries around the world.

"A major review of British foreign policy has been shelved due to the Covid-19 outbreak and will not report until the impact of the virus can be assessed. A government source close to the review said: 'It is going to be back to the diplomatic drawing board after this. Rethink is an understatement.'

"Another source said: 'There has to be a reckoning when this is over.' Yet another added: 'The anger goes right to the top.'

"A senior Cabinet Minister said: 'We can't stand by and allow the Chinese state's desire for secrecy to ruin the world's economy and then come back like nothing has happened. We're allowing companies like Huawei not just into our economy, but to be a crucial part of our infrastructure."

In an article published by The Mail on Sunday on March 29, former Tory Party leader Iain Duncan Smith wrote:

"All issues can and will be discussed, except for one, it seems — our future relationship with China.

"The moment anyone mentions China, people shift uncomfortably in their seats and shake their heads. Yet I believe it is vital that we start to discuss how dependent we have become on this totalitarian state.

"For this is a country which ignores human rights in the pursuit of its ruthless internal and external strategic objectives. However, such facts seem to have been swept aside in our rush to do business with China.

"Remember how George Osborne [Chancellor of the Exchequer under Prime Minister David Cameron from 2010 to 2016] made our relationship with China a major plank of UK Government policy? So determined were Ministers to increase trade that they were prepared to do whatever was necessary.

"Indeed, I am told that privately this was referred to as Project Kow-Tow — a word defined by the Collins dictionary as 'to be servile or obsequious.'

"We were not alone. Countless national leaders over recent years have brushed aside China's appalling human rights behavior in the blind pursuit of trade deals with Beijing....

"Thanks to Project Kow-Tow, the UK's annual trade deficit with China is £22.1 billion ($27.4 billion). But we are not alone in being in hock to Beijing.

"For China has racked up a global trade surplus of £339 billion ($420 billion). Distressingly, the West has watched as many key areas of production have moved to China....

"The brutal truth is that China seems to flout the normal rules of behavior in every area of life — from healthcare to trade and from currency manipulation to internal repression.

"For too long, nations have lamely kowtowed to China in the desperate hope of winning trade deals.

"But once we get clear of this terrible pandemic, it is imperative that we all rethink that relationship and put it on a much more balanced and honest basis."

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/04/2020 - 07:00
Published:4/4/2020 6:25:01 AM
[Markets] Lost your job-based health insurance during the coronavirus pandemic? Here’s how to get coverage before time runs out ‘People shouldn’t wait — they should start investigating,’ one economist said.
Published:4/4/2020 5:21:15 AM
[Markets] Trump Fires Ukrainegate Inspector General Who Helped Initiate Impeachment Trump Fires Ukrainegate Inspector General Who Helped Initiate Impeachment

President Trump on Friday fired the intelligence community inspector general, Michael Atkinson, who brought a hearsay whistleblower complaint to Congressional Democrats, kicking off President Trump's impeachment. 

Atkinson's closed-door testimony was so troubling to House Republicans that they launched an investigation into his role into what President Trump and his allies coined the 'impeachment hoax.'

Ranking member of the House Intelligence Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes (R-CA) told SarahCarter.com that transcripts of Atkinson's secret testimony would expose that he either lied or needs to make corrections to his statements to lawmakers.

Trump notified the Senate and House Intelligence Committees of his decision to fire Atkinson, according to Politico, citing two congressional officials and a copy of a letter dated April 3.

"This is to advise that I am exercising my power as president to remove from office the inspector general of the intelligence community, effective 30 days from today," wrote Trump, who added that he "no longer" has the fullest confidence in Atkinson.

"As is the case with regard to other positions where I, as president, have the power of appointment, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, it is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as inspectors general," Trump wrote. "That is no longer the case with regard to this inspector general."

Trump knocked Atkinson on January, noting that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff's (D-CA) decision to withhold Atkinson's testimony was a "major problem."

Democrats had a fit at the news, with Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) calling Atkinson's firing "unconscionable" while accusing Trump (with a straight face?) of an ongoing effort to politicize intelligence.

"In the midst of a national emergency, it is unconscionable that the president is once again attempting to undermine the integrity of the intelligence community by firing yet another intelligence official simply for doing his job," wrote Warner in a statement.

Warner's House counterpart, Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) called Atkinson's firing "retribution" in the "dead of night" - adding that it's "yet another blatant attempt by the president to gut the independence of the intelligence community and retaliate against those who dare to expose presidential wrongdoing."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck 'six ways from Sunday' Schumer (D-NY) said Atkinson's firing was evidence that Trump "fires people for telling the truth," according to Politico.

Whistleblower lawyer and Disneyland aficionado Mark Zaid - who once bragged about getting security clearances for pedophiles, called the firing "delayed retaliatory action" for Atkinson's "proper handling of a whistleblower complaint."

"This action is disgraceful and undermines the integrity of the whistleblower system," said Zaid. "It is time GOP members of the Senate stand up for the rule of law and speak out against this president."

The whistleblower complaint effectively kicked off the House’s impeachment inquiry, which began in late September amid allegations that Trump had solicited foreign interference in the 2020 election when he asked Ukraine’s president to investigate his political opponents, including Joe Biden.

Atkinson opposed the decision by then-acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire to withhold the whistleblower complaint from the House and Senate intelligence committees — in particular, Maguire’s decision to seek guidance on the issue from the Justice Department, rather than turn it over to Congress as required by law. -Politico

To learn more about Atkinson, read here and here.

Tyler Durden Sat, 04/04/2020 - 00:10
Published:4/3/2020 11:21:54 PM
[Markets] New York City "Doesn't Have Any Dogs Left To Foster" In Latest COVID-19-Related Shortage New York City "Doesn't Have Any Dogs Left To Foster" In Latest COVID-19-Related Shortage

There's been shortages of all types as New York City deals with the unprecedented lockdown as a result of the coronavirus. But one of the most surprising of these shortages has been dogs and cats.

There's been a "run on pets" in the city, according to Bloomberg, ostensibly as lonely New Yorkers realize they're going to be locked inside without anyone to monopolize the conversation with or boss around. So, many of them have adopted fostered animals. 

Shelters in the city say they have received a surge in applications that is as much as "10-fold" their normal rates. New Yorkers apparently see owning pets as a way to calm their nerves during a difficult time. And this means that pets are finding new, and hopefully happy, homes at a record rate.

Anna Lai, the marketing director at Muddy Paws said: “For the moment we definitely don’t have any dogs left to match with foster volunteers. Which is a great problem to have.”

Shares of pet-related companies have been surging during the pandemic, as well. Online pet supplier Chewy.com has seen shares rise 7% this year, despite the market's near 30% pullback. Its delivery lead times have been extended to between 7 and 10 days for most customers. 

RBC Capital Markets said in a report: “Chewy’s in-home delivery model mitigates the public health concern of consumers shopping at brick-and-mortar retailers.”

PetMed Express is another name that's been outperforming. Its shares are up more than 7% during the S&P's decline.

And the run on pets seems to extend itself far beyond New York. For example, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in LA says they have seen a 70% increase in animals going to foster care, also. Julie Castle, chief executive officer of Best Friends said: “We’re seeing people show up in droves to foster.”

But rescue organizations are also worried the opposite will happen once the pandemic is over or the economy plunges further. They fear they could see a rise in surrendered pets. 

Lisa LaFontaine, chief executive officer of the Humane Rescue Alliance said: “We’re doing whatever we can to empty all of our shelter facilities. We don’t know what’s going to happen when the economic wave starts hitting.”

But one Washington D.C. couple said the time was opportunistic for them to welcome a new member to the family. Tom Drescher and his wife, Becky Nolin said: “It occurred to us it would be a good time to adopt a dog because we’d have the time and bandwidth to help it settle in. It’s been a blast for us so far -- we’ve been thrilled to have her.”

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 23:40
Published:4/3/2020 10:49:23 PM
[Markets] The US Military Is Preparing For "Worst-Case Contagion Scenarios" (But It's A Secret) The US Military Is Preparing For "Worst-Case Contagion Scenarios" (But It's A Secret)

Authored by Eric Felten via RealClearInvestigations.com,

The U.S. military is “preparing for worst-case scenarios with respect to the potential spread” of the COVID-19 virus, U.S. Air Force Gen. Tod D. Wolters told reporters Friday.

But just what those scenarios are is a military secret. At a time when the president and his advisers hold daily press conferences where worst-case scenarios for civilians are frankly and alarmingly discussed, the Pentagon is moving to tighten what information it shares about COVID-19’s impact on the military.

The Department of Defense has been providing running totals of military-related COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and mortality, with separate figures for service members, their families, and civilian contractors. For example, as of Monday, the Pentagon reported 1,087 cases, of which 569 involved troops. These figures were higher by two-thirds than they had been Friday. But the demands of epidemiological accuracy are beginning to clash with the imperatives of operational secrecy.

“I’m not going to get into a habit where we start providing numbers across all the commands and we come to a point six, seven weeks from now where we have some concerns in some locations and reveal information that could put people at risk,” Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told Reuters.

No one wants to give bad actors the idea that American troop strength is weakened on any particular front.

If not necessarily weakening forces, the virus is already causing complications. The commanding general of the U.S. Army in Europe, Christopher Cavoli, has spent most of March in self-isolation after coming into contact with someone infected with COVID-19.

Lt.. Gen. Cavoli is just one of many officers who have taken to the internet to communicate with their troops via video. But missing from the videos is the officer one would most expect to see in that part of the world, the chief medical officer for the European theater. Brig. Gen. Ronald Stephens was relieved of command Monday. He had been suspended Feb. 12. For what, the Army isn’t saying – it’s a different sort of military secret -- but the timing is less than optimal. Regional Health Command-Europe is being headed on an acting basis by Stephens’ former chief of staff, Col. Andre Pippen.

Wolters, commander of U.S. forces in Europe, was relatively forthcoming when he said that “to sustain the current readiness posture,” he might have to “go outside the forces I currently command.” But if it happens, don’t expect it to be announced: Department of Defense spokesperson Alyssa Farah put out a statement last week saying, “If at some point in the future, a commander believes that the coronavirus could affect the readiness of our strategic deterrent or strategic response forces we would understandably protect that information.”

A senior defense official told Military Times on Monday that though the Pentagon would be reporting general figures, it would be “tamping down” on the release of “unit, region and installation” details.

Dealing with disease is key to military readiness. Wars in which the majority of fatalities are due to battlefield slaughter are something of a 20th century invention. The Civil War displayed a staggering carelessness with men’s lives, whether Pickett’s suicidal charge or just about any campaign waged by U.S. Grant. And yet for all the carnage, of over 600,000 fatalities, some two out of three died from diseases, including dysentery, typhoid, malaria and tuberculosis.

In Britain’s Thirty Years’ War, “deaths from disease far outstripped deaths from weapon in this as in every European conflict prior to the twentieth century,” writes historian William H. McNeill in the book “Plagues and Peoples.” The Continental Army was ravaged with smallpox until George Washington forced reluctant troops to be vaccinated. “Disease has destroyed Ten Men for Us,” John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, “where the Sword of the Enemy has killed one.”

The U.S. military doesn’t face anything like that with COVID-19 so far. But it is a reminder of the importance of keeping soldiers healthy to keeping them ready as a fighting force.

Some fronts have already been affected, if only marginally, as coalition forces have been drawn down. In the last week, hundreds of troops from the Netherlands, France, Spain and Portugal have left Iraq and Afghanistan, redeployed to their home countries to bolster civilian responses to the disease. U.S. and British training with Iraqi forces has been suspended and some U.K. soldiers have returned to Great Britain for emergency assignments.

The U.S. military has a deeper bench, of course, and can afford to assign the Army Corps of Engineers to outfit temporary emergency hospitals and the Navy to sail hospital ships to home-front hot spots. But that could eventually lead to drawdowns significant enough that the Pentagon wouldn’t want it known.

Still, a more detailed picture is painted by the information given to troops than that given the public. The Army’s acting regional health commander for Europe, Col. Pippen, held a virtual town hall with other medical officers to answer questions about COVID-19 and the Army’s response. Soldiers and their spouses emailed in. The answers they were given suggest the Army’s health system is stressed, even at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, the largest military hospital in Europe.

“Every time I call the Landstuhl appointment line, I get a busy signal,” was one exasperated complaint.

Col. Randall Freeman, deputy commander for health readiness at Landstuhl, didn’t have much to offer:

“Our network is very heavily burdened right now, with a much higher volume of calls than we normally have,” he said.

“I encourage patients to keep trying. Sometimes it takes three, four, or five tries to get through.”

Freeman and the other Army health officials said the hospital was going to be focused on urgent care, and all other services would have to be online.

Soldiers can normally expect that their medical information and that of their families will be handled according to HIPAA principles. But not in the age of COVID-19. A soldier’s wife who had been tested for the virus emailed the town hall to ask what had happened to her privacy. The results of her test had been given first to her husband’s commanding officer, then to her husband, and only only after that to her. “In a public health emergency,” Freeman responded, “the command has to know certain things that affect the ability of the unit to carry out its mission.”

Some of the steps normally taken to clear troops as ready are being pushed off. For example, soldiers have to pass an annual dental exam to be considered deployable. But such routine care is no longer available. “We have stopped offering readiness exam appointments,” Col. Manuel Pozo-Alonso, the Army’s dental regional commander for Europe, said in the virtual town hall. Dental personnel are being seconded to COVID-19 duties. He admitted that because of even that minor consequence of switching to a COVID-19 footing, “There will be a little detriment to our readiness over time.”

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 23:20
Published:4/3/2020 10:20:48 PM
[Markets] Waves Of Mutilation: Medical Tyranny And The Cashless Society Waves Of Mutilation: Medical Tyranny And The Cashless Society

Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.com,

Back in 2014 during the Ebola scare in the US I published an article warning about how a global pandemic could be used by the elites as cover for the implementation of an economic collapse as well as martial law measures in western nations. My immediate concern was the way in which a viral outbreak could be engineered or exploited as a rationale for a level of social control that the public would never accept under normal circumstances.

And this could be ANY viral outbreak, not just Ebola. The point is the creation of an “invisible enemy” that the populace cannot quantify and defend itself against without constant government oversight.

I noted specifically how the government refused to apply air travel restrictions in 2014 to nations where the outbreak had taken hold when they could have stopped the spread in its tracks. This is something that was done again in 2020 as the UN's WHO and governments including our government in the US refused to stop air travel from China, pretending as if it was not a hot zone and that the virus was nothing to worry about.

This attitude of nonchalance serves a purpose. The establishment NEEDS the pandemic to spread, because then they have a rationale for strict controls of pubic activities and movements. This is the end goal. They have no care whatsoever for public health or safety. The end game is to acquire power, not save lives.  In fact, they might prefer a higher death count in the beginning as this would motivate the public to beg for more restrictions in the name of security.

Authorities went from downplaying the outbreak and telling people not to bother with preparations like purchasing N95 masks, to full blown crisis mode only weeks later. In January Trump initially claimed he "trusted" the data out of China and said that "everything was under control"; as usual only a couple months down the road and Trump flip-flopped on both assertions.  The World Health Organization refused to even label this outbreak a "pandemic" until the virus was entrenched across the globe.  The question people will ask is, was this all due to incompetence, or was it social engineering?

The Ebola event six years ago seems to have been a dry run for what is happening today.  I believe it is entirely deliberate, and I will explain why in this article, but either way, governments have proven they cannot be trusted to handle the pandemic crisis, nor can they be trusted to protect the people and their freedoms.

At the same time, the pandemic itself is tightly intertwined with economic collapse. The two events feed off one another. The pandemic provides perfect cover for the crash of the massive debt bubble central banks and international banks have created over the years. I noted in February that the global economy was crashing long before the coronavirus ever showed up.  At the same time, economic chaos increases 3rd world conditions within each country, which means poor nutrition and health care options that cause more sickness and more deaths from the virus. As outlined in 2014:

Who would question the event of an economic collapse in the wake of an Ebola (virus) soaked nightmare? Who would want to buy or sell? Who would want to come in contact with strangers to generate a transaction? Who would even leave their house? Ebola (viral) treatment in first world nations has advantages of finance and a cleaner overall health environment, but what if economic downturn happens simultaneously? America could experience third world status very quickly, and with it, all the unsanitary conditions that result in an exponential Ebola (pandemic) death rate.

...Amidst even a moderate or controlled viral scenario, stocks and bonds will undoubtedly crash, a crash that was going to happen anyway. The international banks who created the mess get off blameless, while Ebola (viral outbreak), an act of nature, becomes the ultimate scapegoat for every disaster that follows.”

As the double threat of financial collapse and viral pandemic accelerate, fear becomes widespread for those that never prepared ahead of time (and we're talking about millions of people).  When people are afraid they tend to sacrifice their freedoms to anyone that offers them a promise of safety, no matter how empty. For now, the public is being convinced to assume that lockdowns and restrictions are temporary, but this is a lie. The elites must maintain and increase restrictions with each passing month in order to prevent rebellion until they are ready to implement martial law measures.

You see, the establishment is going for broke with this event, and because of this there is the potential for them to face dire consequences. The facade is quickly evaporating; the collectivists and globalists are risking exposure of themselves and their political puppets in order to build a totalitarian system with extreme speed. The establishment must keep the pressure on for now, because if the public is allowed to breath for just a moment they might look around and wake up to the bigger agenda. The public has to be forced to beg for aid from the authorities; only then will the pressure be lifted for a short time. The public has to believe the control grid was THEIR idea.

A new process of mass conditioning is about to be set in motion, using “waves” of panic and then waves of release and calm. After studying the behavioral traits and methods of narcissistic sociopaths (psychopaths) for many years, I can tell you this form of conditioning is very familiar. This is exactly what they always do, just on a global scale – They create an atmosphere of crisis to keep people around them unbalanced and on edge, then “relieve the pressure” intermittently so that those same people relax and their anger is deflated for a time. Then, the process starts all over again...

This conditioning traps the narcopath's victims in a constant state of flux and uncertainty, and the moments of calm become a placebo which prevent their rebellion against him. He can then feed off his victims at his leisure like a psychological vampire, and often these victims will see the narcopath as their only means of support. They have been convinced that all the threats are coming from the outside; they do not realize the source of the threats is the person standing right next to them.

The wave model of conditioning and control is starting to show up everywhere, and it is most blatant in the intended “solution” presented by establishment elites in response to the coronavirus outbreak. As Truthstream Media outlined in their excellent video 'We Are Living In 12 Monkeys', MIT recently published a paper written by their globalist editor in chief Gideon Lichfield titled 'We're Not Going Back To Normal' which admits quite brazenly how the elites intend to use this crisis to their advantage.

Lichfield lays out a kind of programming schedule for the population based on waves of viral infection outbreaks, waves of tight social restrictions, followed by waves of limited economic activity and limited calm over the next 18 months. As Lichfield suggests:

To stop coronavirus we will need to radically change almost everything we do: how we work, exercise, socialize, shop, manage our health, educate our kids, take care of family members.

We all want things to go back to normal quickly. But what most of us have probably not yet realized—yet will soon—is that things won’t go back to normal after a few weeks, or even a few months. Some things never will.”

He continues:

As long as someone in the world has the virus, breakouts can and will keep recurring without stringent controls to contain them. In a report yesterday researchers at Imperial College London proposed a way of doing this: impose more extreme social distancing measures every time admissions to intensive care units (ICUs) start to spike, and relax them each time admissions fall...”

Understand that there are 7 billion people on the planet, and this process of control could go on for years while we wait for every person to overcome the virus or die from it.  The only way for the public to escape this purgatory (according to Lichfield) is for them to submit to a biometric data grid. They must volunteer (or be forced) to participate in 24/7 tracking through their cell phones and through mass surveillance. In order to function in society, an individual must have the proper digital marker which tells the authorities that they are “clean” and devoid of infection.  The system is being used in China right now:

This system achieves a number of things. Much like the social credit system China has been using for the past few years, the public is compelled to constantly appease the hidden but all seeing eye of government. Everything they do is watched by algorithms and surveillance. Any deviation might trigger scrutiny and a loss of simple freedoms to move around or participate in normal human interaction. Lichfield argues:

Ultimately, however, I predict that we’ll restore the ability to socialize safely by developing more sophisticated ways to identify who is a disease risk and who isn’t, and discriminating—legally—against those who are.

...one can imagine a world in which, to get on a flight, perhaps you’ll have to be signed up to a service that tracks your movements via your phone. The airline wouldn’t be able to see where you’d gone, but it would get an alert if you’d been close to known infected people or disease hot spots. There’d be similar requirements at the entrance to large venues, government buildings, or public transport hubs. There would be temperature scanners everywhere, and your workplace might demand you wear a monitor that tracks your temperature or other vital signs. Where nightclubs ask for proof of age, in future they might ask for proof of immunity—an identity card or some kind of digital verification via your phone, showing you’ve already recovered from or been vaccinated against the latest virus strains.”

And there you have it.

The social and biometric control grid that globalists have been hungry to set up for years now has the perfect catalyst – a viral pandemic which could cycle indefinitely; all that would be needed is to release a designer virus every couple years which renews public fear. The populace becomes increasingly dependent on government for everything as their very survival depends on their ability to function within the new economy, and without a special mark granted by government saying you are not an infection risk, you could be shunned from all trade and participation.

Refuse to get vaccinated due to health concerns?  You're kicked out of the economy.  Homeschool your children?  They have not been monitored and are therefore an infection risk, and your whole family is kicked out of the economy.  Hold political views that are contrary to globalism?  Maybe you are listed as a danger to the system and wrongly labeled infected as punishment; and then you are kicked out of the economy.  The establishment can use the threat of economic removal to condition many people into complacency or slavery.

The MIT editor goes on to drive his point home in rather arrogant fashion:

We’ll adapt to and accept such measures, much as we’ve adapted to increasingly stringent airport security screenings in the wake of terrorist attacks. The intrusive surveillance will be considered a small price to pay for the basic freedom to be with other people.”

Beyond the effort to turn “social distancing” into a new cultural norm enforced by law, there is another agenda being quietly instituted – the cashless society. More and more businesses are starting to refuse cash payments, claiming that paper cash spreads the virus.  Oddly enough, they still accept debit cards using pin pads which are much more likely than cash to spread disease.

This may force the public to keep their money in banks despite the threat of a credit freeze or bank holiday. What if you pull cash out of your accounts but are not able to spend it anywhere? Eventually, they will ban debit and credit card transactions in stores as well, and replace them with a non-interactive payment model. This will probably be done through your cell phone in the beginning using a scanning app. In the end, they will use your biometric data for all money transactions.

This forces the public, yet again, to carry a cell phone on them everywhere for their very survival. The tracking network for the virus as well as the new payment transaction system makes this device indispensable. If you want to participate in society, you will have no choice but to be tracked and traced at all times.

Unless, of course, you build your own system of trade and interaction.

The solution to medical tyranny and the cashless society is to not need the system at all for your own survival. This means people will have to build their own economies based on barter and local scrip. They will have to dump their cell phones and rely on other forms of communication such as radio, or establish a digital communication system separate and independent from the establishment system. They will have to become producers and achieve more self reliance. They will have to break free from the grid, and this has to start RIGHT NOW.

Of course, the establishment will claim that these independent people are a threat to everyone else simply by existing.  They will perpetuate the lie of "herd immunity" and will claim that independent people will “spread the virus”, even to those who are supposedly protected through vaccination. And eventually they will try to stop decoupled and localized communities from existing using force. At that point we simply go to war with the elites, as we were always going to have to do anyway.

The alternative is slavery in the name of the “greater good”, but there is no greater good without freedom, and there is no society without individuality. Pandemic be damned.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 22:40
Published:4/3/2020 9:49:16 PM
[Markets] America, We Have To End The Wars Now America, We Have To End The Wars Now

Authored by Scott Horton via The Libertarian Institute,

Can anyone think what our society might have spent six and a half trillion dollars on instead of 20 years of war in the Middle East for nothing? How about the trillion dollars per year we keep spending on the military on top of that?

Invading, dominating and remaking the Arab world to serve the interests of the American empire and the state of Greater Israel sounds downright quaint at this point. Iraq War II, as Senator Bernie Sanders said in the debate a few weeks ago, while letting Joe Biden, one of its primary proponents, off the hook for it, was “a long time ago.” Actually, Senator, we still have troops there fighting Iraq War III 1/2 against what’s left of the ISIS insurgency, and our current government continues to threaten the launch of Iraq War IV against the very parties we fought the last two wars for. This would almost certainly then lead to war with Iran.

The U.S.A. still has soldiers, marines and CIA spies in Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Mali, Tunisia, Niger, Nigeria, Chad and only God and Nick Turse know where else.

Worst of all, America under President Donald Trump is still “leading from behind” in the war in Yemen Barack Obama started in conspiracy with Saudi then-Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman back in 2015. This war is nothing less than a deliberate genocide.

It is a medieval-style siege campaign against the civilian population of the country. The war has killed more than a quarter of a million innocent people in the last five years, including at least 85,000 children under five years old. And, almost unbelievably, this war is being fought on behalf of the American people’s enemies, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

These are the same guys that bombed the USS Cole in the port of Aden in 2000, helped to coordinate the September 11th attack, tried to blow up a plane over Detroit with the underpants bomb on Christmas Day 2009, tried to blow up another plane with a package bomb and launched the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, France since then. In fact, CENTCOM was helping the Houthi regime in the capital of Sana’a target and kill AQAP as late as January 2015, just two months before Obama stabbed them in the back and took al Qaeda’s side against them. So the war is genocide and treason.

As Senator Rand Paul once explained to Neil Cavuto on Fox News back before he decided to become virtually silent on the matter, if the U.S.-Saudi-UAE alliance were to succeed in driving the Houthi regime from power in the capital city, they could end up being replaced by AQAP or the local Muslim Brotherhood group, al-Islah. There is zero chance that the stated goal of the war, the re-installation of former dictator Mansur Hadi on the throne, could ever succeed. And yet the war rages on. President Trump says he’s doing it for the moneyThat’s right. And he’s just recently sent the Marines to intervene in the war on behalf of our enemy-allies too.

We still have troops in Germany in the name of keeping Russia out 30 years after the end of the Cold War and dissolution of the Soviet Empire, even though Germany is clearly not afraid of Russia at all, and are instead more worried that the U.S. and its newer allies are going to get them into a fight they do not want. The Germans prefer to “get along with Russia,” and buy natural gas from them, while Trump’s government does everything in its power to prevent it.

America has expanded our NATO military alliance right up to Russia’s western border and continues to threaten to include Ukraine and former-Soviet Georgia in the pact right up to the present day. As the world’s worst hawks and Russiagate Hoax accusers have admitted, Trump has been by far the worst anti-Russia president since the end of the last Cold War.

Obama may have hired a bunch of Hitler-loving Nazis to overthrow the government of Ukraine for him back in 2014, but at least he was too afraid to send them weapons, something Trump has done enthusiastically, even though he was actually impeached by the Democrats for moving a little too slowly on one of the shipments.

We still have troops in South Korea to protect against the North, even though in economic and conventional terms the South overmatches the North by orders of magnitude. Communism really doesn’t work. And the only reason the North even decided to make nukes is because George W. Bush put a gun to their head and essentially made them do it. But as Cato’s Doug Bandow says, we don’t even need a new deal. The U.S. could just forget about North Korea and it wouldn’t make any difference to our security at all.

And now China. Does anyone outside of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps really care whether the entire Pacific Ocean is an American lake or only 95% of it? The “threat” of Chinese dominance in their own part of the world exists only in the heads of hawkish American policy wonks and the Taiwanese, who should have been told a long time ago that they are on their own and that there’s no way in the world the American people or government are willing to trade Los Angeles and San Francisco for Taipei.

Perhaps without the U.S. superpower standing behind them, Taiwanese leaders would be more inclined to seek a peaceful settlement with Beijing. If not, that’s their problem. Not one American in a million is willing to sacrifice their own home town in a nuclear war with China over an island that means nothing to them. Nor should they. Nor should our government even dream they have the authority to hand out such dangerous war guarantees to any other country in such a reckless fashion.

And that’s it. There are no other powers anywhere in the world. Certainly there are none who threaten the American people. Our government claims they are keeping the peace, but there are approximately two million Arabs and Pashtuns who would disagree except that they’ve already been killed in our recent wars and so are unavailable for comment.

The George W. Bush and Barack Obama eras are long over. We near the end, or half-way point, of the Trump years, and yet our former leaders’ wars rage on.

Enough already. It is time to end the war on terrorism and end the rest of the American empire as well. As our dear recently departed friend Jon Basil Utley learned from his professor Carroll Quigley, World Empire is the last stage of a civilization before it dies. That is the tragedy. The hope is that we can learn from history and preserve what’s left of our republic and the freedom that made it great in the first place, by abandoning our overseas “commitments” and husbanding our resources so that we may pass down a legacy of liberty to our children.

The danger to humanity represented by the Coronavirus plague has, by stark relief, exposed just how unnecessary and therefore criminal this entire imperial project has been. We could have quit the empire 30 years ago when the Cold War ended, if not long before.

We could have a perfectly normal and peaceful relationship with Iraq, Iran, Syria, Korea, Russia, China, Yemen and any of the other nations our government likes to pretend threaten us. And when it comes to our differences, we would then be in the position to kill them with kindness and generosity, leading the world to liberty the only way we truly can, voluntarily, on the global free market of ideas and results.

That is what the world needs and the legacy the American people deserve.

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 22:00
Published:4/3/2020 9:18:41 PM
[Markets] The Dow Dropped 584 Points This Week. Why That’s Good News. The stock market fell last week, but at least investors are starting to distinguish between and losers. Published:4/3/2020 8:48:37 PM
[Markets] Delaware State Police Authorized To Pull Over Out-Of-State Drivers During Pandemic Delaware State Police Authorized To Pull Over Out-Of-State Drivers During Pandemic

Delaware police have been granted the authority to pull over drivers displaying out-of-state tags to ask questions about why they're on the road, before telling them that "they are required by law to self-quarantine for 14 days while in Delaware, or immediately return to their state," according to Gov. John Carney's state of emergency declaration.

According to CBS Philly, the order excludes out-of-state drivers on I-95, I-295 and I-495, as well as motorists entering the state to work for an essential business, care for a family member or for health care reasons.

"Now is not the time to visit Delaware. As a state and a nation, we are facing a serious situation that is getting worse each day.  Our goal is to limit a surge in COVID-19 cases that would overwhelm our hospital system. Per the order, we must control and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our Delaware communities coming in from other states. We’ll get through this – but everyone needs to do their part," reads a statement from the Delaware State Police.

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 21:40
Published:4/3/2020 8:48:37 PM
[Markets] Here's How You Can 3D-Print Masks At Home  Here's How You Can 3D-Print Masks At Home 

A little more than a month ago, the US Surgeon General tweeted, "Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can't get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!" 

Now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expected to reverse the recommendation on wearing face masks. 

President Trump suggested on Thursday that new CDC guidelines could require Americans to wear masks. 

But there's a problem: Masks are in short supply – the average American can't find 3M N95s or higher, and if they do, some masks can cost upwards $10 to $20 per. Several months ago, the masks were on Amazon or at Home Depot for $1 per, but huge demand as a pandemic unfolded has extinguished all supply. Even major US hospital systems are lacking masks and other medical equipment as confirmed cases reach 245,658 and deaths breach over the 6,000 level.  

For anyone who didn't heed our warning about purchasing 3M N95 masks in January/February – here's another option: You can now 3D-print masks at home thanks to the medical students and engineers of Rowan University.

"Rowan University engineering and medical students have developed a prototype for a durable, lightweight, reusable face mask to augment the supply of face masks during the current shortage of PPE during the COVID-19 outbreak. The mask is provided "as-is" and primarily acts as a mechanical barrier. It is not a replacement for N95 masks. 

Developed in collaboration with medical professionals, the mask prototype may serve in clinical and field use. If printed, used and maintained correctly, the mask provides a durable, reusable mechanical barrier," read the Rowan University website.

"This is part of a humanitarian effort by Rowan," said Dr. Shreekanth Mandayam, an engineering professor on the university's Glassboro campus who is leading the project.

"It's not just New Jersey and South Jersey where we are. There are plenty of countries around the world where there's a shortage of PPE. This is a low-cost, quick solution people can use," Mandayam said. 

Courtesy of Courier-Post, students at Rowan show how the masks are assembled: 

In a separate print operation, here's a timelapse video of the masks are being printed: 

The printed masks are made from polylactic acid and are not N95 grade. Anyone can slide in HEPA material for the filter -- it's a better option than wearing no mask. 

3D-printed adult face mask instructions: 

Here’s the 3D-printed adult face mask software: 

We also mentioned guns and ammo are selling out across the country -- forcing some people to print 3D guns at home. 

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 21:00
Published:4/3/2020 8:18:34 PM
[Markets] It's Time To Track The FDA's Death Toll It's Time To Track The FDA's Death Toll

Authored by James Bovard via The Mises Institute,

The Food and Drug Administration helped turn the coronavirus from a deadly peril into a national catastrophe. Long after foreign nations had been ravaged and many cases had been detected in America, the FDA continued blocking private testing. The FDA continued forcing the nation’s most innovative firms to submit to its command-and-control approach notwithstanding the pandemic.

South Korean is in a far better situation dealing with coronavirus, because its government did not preemptively cripple private testing.

One of the clearest lessons from the current pandemic is that nothing has changed at one of the nation’s most powerful regulatory agencies. The FDA is repeating the same mistakes and showing the same arrogance that I chronicled decades ago in articles for the Wall Street Journal, the American Spectator, and other publications.

Dr. David Kessler, who became FDA commissioner in 1990, quickly sought to intimidate the companies that his agency regulates. A laudatory Washington Post article concluded, "What he cannot accomplish with ordinary regulation, Kessler hopes to accomplish with fear."

Kenneth Feather of the FDA's drug advertising surveillance branch boasted:

"We want to say to these companies that you don't know when or how we'll strike. We want to eliminate predictability."

Dr. Kessler's heavy-handed tactics battered the American medical device industry—one of the nation's export superstars. An American Electronics Association survey found that "40% [of medical device companies] reduced the number of U.S. employees because of FDA delays, 29% increased their investment in foreign operations, and 22% moved U.S. jobs overseas." The survey also found that "57% of the firms said the FDA had applied guidance instructions retroactively to some of their submissions," as Biomedical Market Newsletter reported.

The FDA's stonewalling of new medical devices was sometimes politically motivated. A 1994 report by the Medical Device Manufacturers Association noted, "It is not unusual for [FDA] reviewers to express the position that excessive requests [for additional information] are made because of a concern or fear about how a particular member or members of Congress will react" to the approval of a new device. Sacrificing lives was a small price to pay for bureaucrats to avoid bothersome interrogatories from Capitol Hill.

FDA employees also sowed fear with a deluge of official Warning Letters (up more than 300 percent since Dr. Kessler took office) to private companies. Once the FDA issues a Warning Letter, it can seize a company's products or get a court injunction to paralyze its operations. The FDA refused to establish clear guidelines or rules for issuing its letters. As a result, manufacturers could find themselves in a nightmare at the whim of a midlevel FDA employee.

Dr. Kessler did not spare the First Amendment in his grab for power, and cancer patients and other seriously ill people suffered as a result. Doctors, hospitals, and researchers often discover after FDA approval that a drug to treat one disease is also effective at treating other diseases. Drug companies have routinely publicized this news, alerting physicians to other possible ways to save lives. American Medical Association vice president Roy Schwarz estimated that "off-label" uses of drugs account for up to 60 percent of all drugs prescribed.

But in 1991 Dr. Kessler prohibited pharmaceutical companies from informing doctors of new uses for approved drugs. He announced that the FDA would enforce the ban with seizures, injunctions, and prosecutions. Though the agency never finalized its proposed regulations, it warned companies that they would face its wrath if they violated the draft proposals. Dr. Kessler, in a speech before the Drug Information Association, said: "I would urge all members of the pharmaceutical industry to take a long and hard look at their promotional practices. I do not expect companies to wait until this guidance becomes final to put their advertising and promotional houses in order." The question of off-label treatments is becoming a key issue again as doctors search for effective treatments for the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The FDA even suppressed medical textbooks as part of its attempt to restrict what Americans learned about new treatments. In 1992, the FDA cracked down on a company for distributing, for free, portions of Cancer, Principles and Practice of Oncology. In 1993, the FDA stopped a pharmaceutical company from distributing free copies of The Chemotherapy Source Book—even though the company had already received FDA approval to give away thousands of copies. The FDA claimed that when a drug company gives doctors free textbooks that mention an off-label use of its products the drugs become subject to seizure.

Under Kessler, the FDA became far more restrictive in approving new drugs and medical devices. Stanford University professor Dale Geringer observed, "In terms of lives, it's quite possible that the FDA bureaucracy could be killing on the order of three to four times as many people as it saves." One study estimated that 150,000 heart attack victims may have lost their lives as a result of the FDA's delays in approving the emergency blood-clotting drug TPA. National Cancer Institute officials accused the FDA of being "mired in a 1960's philosophy of drug development, viewing all new agents as…poisons."

Dr. Kessler bragged that his reforms had given FDA employees "a place where, once again, the good guys could win." And how could Americans be sure that FDA enforcement agents were the good guys? Because they worked for the government.

Dr. Kessler declared in 1992: "If members of our society were empowered to make their own decisions…then the whole rationale for the [FDA] would cease to exist." Kessler derided "freedom of choice" as an illusion unless people are presented only with government-approved choices. But the FDA “liberated” people by shielding them from information, devices, and drugs that could have saved their lives.

Many Americans could die in the coming weeks and months thanks to the FDA’s blockade on coronavirus testing. Should we consider those victims as martyrs for the principle of bureaucratic supremacy? The FDA’s current commissioner, Stephen Hahn, conceded last week: “There are always opportunities to learn from situations like this one.”

Perhaps the clearest lesson is that it is time to track the death toll of FDA regulatory debacles.

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 20:40
Published:4/3/2020 7:48:21 PM
[Markets] Wuhan Residents Believe COVID-19 Is 100 Times Worse Than Chinese Government Says, Report Wuhan Residents Believe COVID-19 Is 100 Times Worse Than Chinese Government Says, Report

Authored by Steve Watson via Summit News,

Residents in Wuhan, the origin of the coronavirus outbreak, have told reporters that “nobody believes the official numbers” being touted by the communist Chinese government, and that the general consensus is it could be 100 times worse than the world is being told.

While Whuan is reopening its transport systems and businesses, residents are adamant that they have not been informed of the true scale of the situation, according to Spanish newswire service EFE.

“There are suspicions that many people died in their homes without being diagnosed and, at first, there were no kits to do the test,” one resident said, adding that “Many people would die, officially, of a cold or some other disease. But there are stories going around of citizens who were made to sign death certificates of relatives without any other explanation.”

“Nobody in Wuhan believes the official numbers. The real one, only they know,” the resident said, pointing to the sky.

The report states that while frustration has led to a huge number of residents questioning the official narrative in social media chat groups, it has also led to a massive increase in censorship by the government.

The Spanish reporters pointed to reports suggesting that the number of urns provided by just 7 funeral homes in Wuhan adds up to between 30,000 and 40,000, while the Chinese government says that less than 4000 people have died from coronavirus.

A report by the independent Chinese media outlet Caixin estimated that just one of the funeral homes handed out 5,000 urns in one day last week.

The Spanish journalists attempted to interview workers at one of the funeral homes, but were stopped and turned away by authorities guarding the facilities.

Other residents told anti-Communist newspaper The Epoch Times that they simply cannot believe the government’s assertions about the death toll.

“Just exactly how many Wuhan residents have died from the virus if the line at the cemetery is so long?” one resident said, adding “China’s official media reported over 3,000 coronavirus deaths. I think the real figure is at least ten times the official figure, and even 100 times is not impossible.”

“The citizens of Wuhan believe that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) concealed the true death toll,” the report states.

It continues “They made this judgment based on two facts: one, the lines outside the funeral home to collect the ashes are very long, and two, the medical standards of European and American countries are higher than those in China. But the reported death rates in these countries are higher than that of China.”

Another Wuhan resident told Radio Free Asia “They are saying that only a few thousand died here in Wuhan, but does that sound right?”

Both the US and the UK governments are of the belief that China is hiding the real scale of the pandemic, estimating that it could be 15 to 40 times worse than the communist state admits.

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 20:00
Published:4/3/2020 7:19:07 PM
[Markets] Airline Stocks: Airlines are canceling flights, burning through cash as passengers stay home to shelter from coronavirus Major U.S. airlines on Friday painted a bleak picture of air travel across the country as the coronavirus pandemic forced passengers to stay home.
Published:4/3/2020 6:48:40 PM
[Markets] ?Duterte Orders Philippine Police To Shoot Dead Virus-Lockdown Violators ?Duterte Orders Philippine Police To Shoot Dead Virus-Lockdown Violators

The Philippines could be on the brink of social chaos, sparked because the virus pandemic forced the government to lockdown 57 million residents, many of which are living in poverty and left jobless in the last month. Social unrest broke out mid-week in a Manila slum as food and health equipment are in short supply, reported AFP.

DZRH, Manila Broadcasting Company, posted a chilling video of the social unrest, as low-income folks clashed with government forces during the quarantine.

While other reports suggest social unrest could soon erupt in the country, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte made it very clear on government media on April 1 that police will shot any citizen defying the public health order to shelter-in-place.

"I will not hesitate. My orders are to the police and military, as well as village officials, if there is any trouble, or occasions where there's violence and your lives are in danger, shoot them dead," Duterte said. "Do not intimidate the government. Do not challenge the government. You will lose."

"Instead of causing trouble, I'll send you to the grave," he warned, adding that COVID-19 is quickly spreading across the country despite a lockdown.

According to Johns Hopkins, the Philippines (on Friday morning, April 3) has recorded 3,018 confirmed cases of the virus and 136 deaths – much less than surrounding countries.

"It is deeply alarming that President Duterte has extended a policy of shoot-to-kill... Deadly, unchecked force should never be referred to as a method to respond to an emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic," Amnesty International Philippines said in a statement.

On Thursday, Philippine National Police Chief Archie Gamboa defied Duterte and said his forces would not shoot people who are violating quarantine orders.

"Probably the president just overemphasized on implementing the law in this time of crisis," Gamboa added.

It appears social unrest is developing in the Philippines – something that we've identified in the last several weeks that could be seen in the Western world.

The evolution of the virus crisis isn't just collapsed economies across the globe, but rather the social unrest that follows.

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 19:40
Published:4/3/2020 6:48:40 PM
[Markets] After another volatile week, these are the stocks that rose and fell the most After another volatile week, these are the stocks that rose and fell the most Published:4/3/2020 6:20:30 PM
[Markets] "I Found The Source Of COVID-19..." "I Found The Source Of COVID-19..."

"After living and working in China for over 10 years and speaking fluent Chinese, you get to know a society pretty well... and let me tell you this - if you're applauding or admiring the political leadership of China, you're all deluded beyond belief."

That is how "laowhy86" begins this succinct  video exploring the 'facts' - not conspiracies - behind the source of the coronavirus that is ravaging the earth.

"China doesn't operate like 'your' country," he warns, "the Chinese government is a face- and greed-driven government that relies on lies and bullying to maintain leadership."

Furthermore, he notes, the Chinese government layers are "broken and fragile" and so it didn't surprise him when he was able to follow breadcrumbs - as begun by our inquisition about the roles that certain individuals played in Wuhan - to discover the "very suspicious" fact that the Wuhan Bio lab had a job opening from November 18, 2019, asking for scientists to come and research the relationship between the coronavirus and bats.

However, after ZeroHedge was permanently suspended from Twitter for daring to suggest anything but the official narrative handed down, laowhy86 notes that another job opening appeared on December 24th (remember this is before any news broke of the virus publicly), which basically says 'we've discovered a new and terrible virus and would like to recruit people to come deal with it'...

So, he decided to dig a little bit more into the staff... and that's where it gets interesting... as he discovers silenced scientists, disappeared doctors, and constant propaganda...

"...it's quite clear that the Chinese government needs to close its mouth and acknowledge that this virus did in fact come from Wuhan, Hubei, China."

As he concludes,

"I did not get into any conspiracy theories, I'm not talking about bioweapons or biolabs; this is all public information on the Chinese internet published by researchers, scientists, and doctors."

"Despite the CCP's all-powerful ability to hide everything it can, the truth usually finds its way out - the Chinese government should cover their tracks better next time if they're going to blame this on Italy or the US or whatever is convenient to your narrative."

"...the CCP's incompetence and its understanding of the danger of the virus on a pure scientific level - and then going on to silence those who wanted to warn the public... and letting the virus spread for months... is the reason the Chinese government must be held accountable!"

Watch the full breakdown below:

What is really fascinating, however, is that while this thread was dismissed and censored as utter nonsense just two months ago (and got many banned for even daring to mention it), none other than David Ignatius, The Washington Post's favorite establishment columnist, is now questioning China's narrative and raising his own doubts as to the origin of the virus, writing that ...as China dished wild, irresponsible allegations of its own.

On March 12, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lijian Zhao charged in a tweet: “It might be [the] US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan.”

He retweeted an article that claimed, without evidence, that U.S. troops might have spread the virus when they attended the World Military Games in Wuhan in October 2019.

A competing theory has been gathering momentum - of an accidental lab release of bat coronavirus...

Less than 300 yards from the seafood market is the Wuhan branch of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers from that facility and the nearby Wuhan Institute of Virology have posted articles about collecting bat coronaviruses from around China, for study to prevent future illness. Did one of those samples leak, or was hazardous waste deposited in a place where it could spread?

Richard Ebright, a Rutgers microbiologist and biosafety expert, told me in an email that “the first human infection could have occurred as a natural accident,” with the virus passing from bat to human, possibly through another animal. But Ebright cautioned that it “also could have occurred as a laboratory accident, with, for example, an accidental infection of a laboratory worker.” He noted that bat coronaviruses were studied in Wuhan at Biosafety Level 2, “which provides only minimal protection,” compared with the top BSL-4.

Ebright described a December video from the Wuhan CDC that shows staffers “collecting bat coronaviruses with inadequate [personal protective equipment] and unsafe operational practices.” Separately, I reviewed two Chinese articles, from 2017 and 2019, describing the heroics of Wuhan CDC researcher Tian Junhua, who while capturing bats in a cave “forgot to take protective measures” so that “bat urine dripped from the top of his head like raindrops.”

Ignatius unapologetically admits that what's increasingly clear is that the initial “origin story” - that the virus was spread by people who ate contaminated animals at the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan - is shaky.

"Shaky" indeed, David!

 

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 19:00
Published:4/3/2020 6:20:30 PM
[Markets] The CDC is now recommending Americans wear face masks to slow coronavirus spread The CDC is now recommending Americans wear face masks to slow coronavirus spread Published:4/3/2020 5:48:25 PM
[Markets] Another Crisis Has Come to Wall Street. This Time It’s Ready. New York has weathered crises before, from the dot-com bust and 9/11 to the 2008 financial crisis. Covid-19, however, isn’t a financial crisis—and this time the banks are part of the solution, not the problem. Published:4/3/2020 5:48:25 PM
[Markets] Facial Recognition Companies Profit From COVID-19 By Adding Thermal Imaging Facial Recognition Companies Profit From COVID-19 By Adding Thermal Imaging

Via MassPrivateI blog,

The biometrics industry has never been known to miss an opportunity to make a profit. Especially when it comes at the expense of everyone's privacy.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, facial recognition companies have been hard at work creating a new sales pitch that will allow them to maximize their profits.

Across the globe, facial recognition companies are hard at work trying to convince politicians, law enforcement and the public that thermal imaging cameras will help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Forbes.com is all too eager to jump on the thermal imaging bandwagon, claiming that Athena Security's facial recognition/thermal imaging software can scan 1000 people per hour.

“With Covid-19, you see the problem at airports today,” Athena Security CEO Lisa Falzone explains. “Passengers are waiting in lines to manually take their temperatures, which slows traffic down. With our technology, we can analyze 1000 people per hour.”

In fact, Athena Security has gone so far as to combine fever detection, facial recognition and gun detection into an all-in-one screening system.

"Our Fever Detection COVID19 Screening System is now a part of our platform along with our gun detection system which connects directly to your current security camera system to deliver fast, accurate threat detection – including guns, knives, and aggressive action. Our system can also alert you to falls, accidents, and unwelcome visitors."

As Forbes.com points out, what makes Athena's software so unique is their ability to send out real-time alerts to authorities.

"What’s different about Athena’s system, explains Falzone, is its ability to send out immediate alerts to the appropriate parties, who can then make an informed decision on how to act."

The scariest thing about the proliferation of facial recognition/thermal imaging cameras is it gives law enforcement near god-like powers to identify and quarantine anyone they choose.

Real-time facial recognition being offered to universities and hospitals for free

The biometrics industry has put a new spin on marketing by offering universities and hospitals free real-time facial recognition.

A recent Jumio press release revealed that they are donating their facial recognition identity verification services to U.S. and U.K. hospitals and universities.

"Starting today, Jumio will provide free identity verification services through our AI-powered, fully automated solution, Jumio Go, to any qualifying organization directly involved in helping with COVID-19 relief including (but not limited to): Hospitals and Universities. This free offer is powered by Jumio Go, our real-time, fully automated identity verification solution."

DroneUp suggests that law enforcement could use thermal imaging drones as an excuse to monitor people for COVID-19.

"Assurance is key in uncertain times. That is why DroneUp is functioning in conjunction with FAA regulatory precautions as we collaborate with state and local officials to ensure safety for all. We strongly encourage our fellow drone operators to also become keenly aware of the protocol and regulations as the pandemic evolves."

That same scenario is being played out across the country, with more than 1,500 police departments using drones to monitor the public. In Michigan, the Hillsdale Sheriff's Office recently purchased a DJI Matrice 210 drone equipped with thermal imaging.

Three police departments in particular have taken drone surveillance to a whole new level.

The Owensboro Police Department in Kentucky has created a 10-member thermal imaging drone surveillance team.

"The Owensboro Police Department recently created a 10-member Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Team who were trained and certified to fly the department’s $2,300 drone inside city limits."

In Texas, the Public Safety Unmanned Response Team has partnered with the Airborne Incident Response Team to help expand police drone surveillance.

"The objective is to create a robust network of drone responders and geographic information systems experts capable of rendering direct assistance and location intelligence during complex emergencies, rapidly expanding incidents, and major disasters. Increased communication and cooperation are essential to the successful deployment of drones and other unmanned systems in support of public safety operations,” said Travis Calendine, chairperson of the Public Safety Unmanned Response Team North Texas.

The Chula Vista Police Department (CVPD), arguably the most famous drone surveillance police department in the country, is creating a 52 square mile drone surveillance zone.

"The CVPD can proactively cover about 17 of the 52 square miles of our city with drones launched from two sites. Our goal this year is to add launch sites to provide 100% aerial support coverage during daylight hours 7 days a week by the end of the year," Vern Sallee, patrol operations captain said. 

The worldwide fear of the cornavirus is so widespread that MIT, Harvard and The Mayo Clinic have designed a new COVID-19 warning app called "Private Kit."

credit: Private Kit

As Fast Company explains, Private Kit will allegedly alert a user when someone infected with the COVID-19 virus is close.  Maybe they could use this app to alert them when a "Walking Dead" zombie is close by?

"Researchers just released an app in beta that alerts people when they come into contact with someone who’s been diagnosed with COVID-19, potentially reducing the virus’s spread if the app is downloaded by a large chunk of the population."

Of course there is a catch to using Private Kit: users will lose their privacy.

"After you download the app and consent to sharing your location (which is necessary in order for the app to work), the app starts tracking you. Should you cross paths with someone who’s been diagnosed with the coronavirus who also has the app, you’ll receive a notification telling you when and for how long."

Facial recognition companies like Veriff show how little they care about everyone's privacy by offering universities and health care providers 1 million free identity verification's.

"Potential beneficiaries of free verification's range from universities who need to verify people taking exams to marketplaces that have volunteers who help people in need and to registries that could tackle fake accounts and set up reliable databases about people in quarantine. But also, digital health care service providers, organizations fighting fake news and beyond."

If corporations, politicians and law enforcement can convince an apathetic public that facial recognition, thermal imaging and gun detection cameras can keep us safe, then our privacy will vanish before COVID-19 runs its course.

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 18:40
Published:4/3/2020 5:48:25 PM
[Markets] Personal Finance Daily: The CDC now says all Americans should wear masks — here’s a simple DIY approach and meet the hospital cleaner on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic Thursday’s top personal finance stories
Published:4/3/2020 5:48:25 PM
[Markets] CDC Recommends Americans Wear Nonmedical Masks in Public, Trump Says • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends the use of non-medical cloth face coverings to limit transmission of coronavirus, President Donald Trump said during Friday’s coronavirus task force briefing. Trump also said that “I don’t think I’m going to be doing it.” The CDC is not recommending the use of medical grade or surgical masks, he noted. Published:4/3/2020 5:18:15 PM
[Markets] The Dow Fell 361 Points Because Unemployment Is Set to Get Even Worse Stocks tumbled Friday on grim jobs data. Economists expect the reading to get much worse in the coming weeks. Published:4/3/2020 4:48:13 PM
[Markets] Market Extra: How the Fed’s historic leap into buying corporate debt is working even before the purchases formally start Highly rated U.S. companies are on a borrowing spree, loading up their balance sheets with cash, even before the Federal Reserve starts buying corporate debt to help soothe the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
Published:4/3/2020 4:48:13 PM
[Markets] The FDIC just announced the first bank failure of the coronavrius-crisis era The FDIC just announced the first bank failure of the coronavrius-crisis era Published:4/3/2020 4:17:18 PM
[Markets] Supermarket Dunks Shopping Carts Into Giant Vats Of Disinfectants To Protect Customers From Virus Supermarket Dunks Shopping Carts Into Giant Vats Of Disinfectants To Protect Customers From Virus

A supermarket in Philadelphia has taken sanitizing to a whole new level, dunking shopping carts into three large containers of cleaning solutions to give customers the peace of mind they won't contract COVID-19.

KYW Newsradio reports that Rittenhouse Market, located on 1733 Spruce St, Philadelphia, has erected a wild contraption outside of the store, that hoists a shopping cart and dunks it into three large vats of cleaning products for sterilization purposes.

"There are 200 gallons per vat," explained Rittenhouse Market General Manager Phil Cantor. "We have a pulley system, and we can dunk those down into a washing solution, rise them off, and then dip them again into a sanitizing solution before they air dry and we hand them back over to a customer to use."

Cantor said the contraption outside the store had grabbed attention from residents.

"A lot of people are stopping to look — especially early on, they had no idea what this contraption was we were putting together in front of the store," he said.

When asked how customers are reacting to the contraption, he responded by saying:

"But it's been great. They have been very happy — obviously, under the current circumstances — that we are making such efforts to keep our carts clean."

Cantor said hand baskets are also dunked into the solution to protect customers from the virus. He said these operations to protect customers will continue "until deemed not necessary by the powers that be." 

Here's a closer view of the contraption at work: 

Before we know it, other supermarkets will be doing the same across the country. It's only a matter of time before disinfectants are sprayed on streets and in public areas. What's happening in China is coming to America.

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 17:00
Published:4/3/2020 4:17:18 PM
[Markets] ‘It’s not safe to leave the house, and it’s not safe to stay in the house.’ How coronavirus could exacerbate domestic violence ‘He demanded I stay in a hotel and said, if I started coughing, he was throwing me out in the street and that I could die alone in a hospital room.’
Published:4/3/2020 4:17:18 PM
[Markets] When It's Over, Will We Be The Same America? When It's Over, Will We Be The Same America?

Authored by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org,

“Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully,” said Samuel Johnson.

And as it is with men, so it is with nations.

Monday, Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, projected some 100,000 to 200,000 U.S. deaths from the pandemic, “if we do things almost perfectly.” She agreed with Dr. Anthony Fauci’s estimate that, if we do “nothing,” the American dead could reach 2.2 million.

That 2 million figure would be twice as many dead as have perished in all our wars from the American Revolution to the Civil War, World War I and II, and Korea and Vietnam.

This does indeed concentrate the mind wonderfully.

Now add to this slaughter of our countrymen a market plunge steeper than the 1929 Crash and a 1930s-style Depression. Wall Street analysts are talking of a wipeout of 30% of our GDP and unemployment reaching 35%.

What a difference a month can make.

On March 3, Super Tuesday, we were caught up in the 14 primary contests after Joe Biden’s stunning victory in South Carolina, which broke the momentum of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ wins in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.

What March 2020 produced and what it appears to portend is a sea change in U.S. history, an inflection point, an event after which things never return to what they were.

The coronavirus crisis seems to be one of those epochal events that alter the character of the country and the course of the republic.

Consider what has happened in three weeks.

The Republican Party, the party of small government and balanced budgets, approved with but a single dissent a $2 trillion emergency bill. There is talk now of a second $2 trillion bill, this one for infrastructure.

In a single month then, a Republican Senate and president grew the federal budget by 50% and are looking to double that.

For years, Democrats raised alarms about Trump’s poaching of the powers of the other branches. Now Democrats are demanding to know why Trump has not shut down the economy by presidential decree and not used his latent dictatorial powers to order U.S. companies to produce what the nation’s hospitals demand.

Democrats who long accused Trump of xenophobia and racism for seeking to close the borders to migrants entering the country illegally are now silent as Trump closes America to the world.

First Amendment free press champions are calling for Trump’s White House briefings not to be carried on TV because the president is spouting propaganda and lies. The problem: The people are watching and approving of what the media think the people ought not see.

If people in a crisis will jettison lifelong beliefs like this readily, how enduring will their professed belief in democracy itself prove?

The president thinks this will be a V-shaped recession, that once the economy hits bottom and turns up, it will soar, as in 1946 when pent-up demand from World War II was unleashed and America began to churn out cars and consumer good as rapidly as it had weapons of war.

Perhaps. But put me down as a skeptic.

You can’t go home again.

The shattering events of March, followed by what is coming in April and May, will have lasting impacts on the hearts and minds of this generation.

That once-insatiable appetite for Chinese-made goods at the mall — will it really return? Will Americans, after having “socially distanced” for months from family and friends, be reassured of their safety and pack into restaurants in July?

Observing the carrier Theodore Roosevelt in Guam offloading scores of sailors infected with coronavirus, will Americans be up for a clash with a China that is even today asserting its claims to the South China Sea?

Will Americans who survive this crisis care whether Iranian-backed Shiites dominate Iraq or Saudi-backed Sunni prevail in Yemen?

If March shocked this nation as severely as 9/11, what is coming may be even more sobering.

Are millions of unemployed workers without the cash to pay for or to find medicine and groceries likely to stay indoors for weeks or months?

All those criminals being given early release from virus-infested jails and prisons without the means to provide for themselves and their families, how will they react to weeks of mandatory sheltering in place?

Will MS-13 and its thousands of members, and its rival gangs that live off narcotics sales, comply?

Americans have done well in staying home in March. Will they do so through April, May and perhaps June? Or will the system gradually break down just as the second wave of the virus in the fall appears?

In times of crisis in America, there is a tradition of self-sacrifice.

But there have also almost always been not a few whose mindset is that of the Fort Lauderdale spring-breakers.

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 16:45
Published:4/3/2020 3:48:34 PM
[Markets] Dow drops 350 points Friday following big job-loss numbers Dow drops 350 points Friday following big job-loss numbers Published:4/3/2020 3:20:33 PM
[Markets] Dow closes more than 350 points lower as job losses hit an 11 year high U.S. stocks closed lower Friday as investors assessed the economic damage wrought by the coronavirus epidemic, after the Labor Department reported the U.S. economy lost more than 700,000 jobs in March, and that the unemployment rate rose to a near three-year high of 4.4%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 358 points, or 1.5% to close near 21,055, the S&P 500 index fell 38 points, or 1.8% to close at roughly 2,489 and the Nasdaq Composite retreated 114 points, or 1.5% to finish at about 7,373. Analysts said the March report understated weakness in the labor market as the underlying surveys of businesses and households was taken in the second week of March, before many restrictions to battle the spread of COVID-19 were in place. Elsewhere, oil prices continued to rise as optimism grew that deal to lower global production would soon be agreed upon. The gains helped to blunt Friday losses to the energy sector, which gained 5.3% this week and was the best performing S&P 500 sector. Published:4/3/2020 3:20:33 PM
[Markets] CityWatch: Tears, frustration and exhaustion: A Queens doctor on the heart-wrenching scenes inside her NYC hospital ‘I don’t have time to think. I just have time to work to save lives,’ she says.
Published:4/3/2020 3:20:33 PM
[Markets] AOC Demands COVID-19 "Reparations" For Black+Brown People AOC Demands COVID-19 "Reparations" For Black+Brown People

Update (1615ET): AOC is making further headlines as a NYPost report exposes her lavish "locked-down" lifestyle:

“While Queens and The Bronx have lines down the block at hospitals and grocery stores, AOC is holed up at a brand new luxury apartment where she shops at Whole Foods in her lobby,” Democratic primary opponent Michelle Caruso-Cabrera said.

“That’s shameful. No wonder voters think that she is out of touch. She has a golf-simulator and infinity pool and Peloton Cycle room as well as other luxuries while families in the Bronx and Queens are worried about how long the lines are at the grocery store and where they are going to get their next paycheck. AOC isn’t even here to see their desperation and their struggle to survive with her own eyes,” the challenger said.

As Kyle Bass tweeted after the report: MCC is a friend and a great Democrat who should rep the Bronx in Congress.

*  *  *

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has called for coronavirus “reparations” for black and brown people, claiming that “environmental racism” is an “underlying health condition.”

Yes, really.

“COVID deaths are disproportionately spiking in Black + Brown communities,” tweeted the Democrat lawmaker. “Why? Because the chronic toll of redlining, environmental racism, wealth gap, etc. ARE underlying health conditions. Inequality is a comorbidity. COVID relief should be drafted with a lens of reparations.

AOC provided no source to substantiate the claim that COVID-19 deaths were spiking in black or brown communities (coronavirus deaths would naturally be higher in any densely populated area), nor did she explain how the environment can be racist.

One of her supporters responded to the tweet by suggesting there was some kind of conspiracy amongst store owners in black areas not to enforce social distancing properly.

However, another respondent suggested that black and brown people were deliberately flouting social distancing rules and putting themselves at greater risk.

Another individual suggested that black bodies “work differently” and that this was also the fault of white supremacy.

Ocasio-Cortez previously waded into the coronavirus debate by demanding the FDA relax rules on blood donation, allowing homosexuals to donate blood despite a greater risk of infection. The rule was subsequently relaxed.

*  *  *

My voice is being silenced by free speech-hating Silicon Valley behemoths who want me disappeared forever. It is CRUCIAL that you support me. Please sign up for the free newsletter here. Donate to me on SubscribeStar here. Support my sponsor – Turbo Force – a supercharged boost of clean energy without the comedown.

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 16:15
Published:4/3/2020 3:20:32 PM
[Markets] American Airlines stock is falling toward a record low American Airlines stock is falling toward a record low Published:4/3/2020 2:48:45 PM
[Markets] I’m not doing this to ‘get the price of oil up’— ‘what I’m trying to do is keep it from crashing into the single digits,’ says Texas oil regulator Ryan Sitton, the commissioner of the Texas Railroad Commission, on CNBC Friday afternoon explained his efforts to help do his part to stabilize crude-oil prices, which have plunged since February. Published:4/3/2020 2:48:45 PM
[Markets] In One Chart: Stock-market bottom or ‘very tough times ahead’? Here’s what one chart watcher is keeping his eye on Investors say there’s no one chart that will signal when the stock-market bottom is in. But technical analyst Chris Kimble is keeping his eye on a commodity index that is testing a very important level of support.
Published:4/3/2020 2:48:45 PM
[Markets] Distraction? Trump Sends Warships To Venezuela For "Counter-Narcotics Operation" Distraction? Trump Sends Warships To Venezuela For "Counter-Narcotics Operation"

In late February we detailed how President Trump is not giving up on pursuing military options for Venezuelan socialist strongman Nicolas Maduro's ouster — even as Washington was forced to increasingly turn its attention to the growing coronavirus threat in its midst — now a full-blown pandemic radically altering the fabric of American society and the economy.

And Bloomberg had also confirmed at the time :"President Donald Trump is frustrated that pressure is building too slowly on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and is still considering military options in the country, including a naval blockade, a senior administration official said." It's long been reported that Trump favors the naval blockade idea even as his generals have pushed against it on grounds of practical execution of such a bold plan.

Amazingly, considering the timing, the president announced Wednesday that he's ordered Navy ships to move toward Venezuela as part of broader counter-narcotics operations in the Caribbean

AFP via Getty

This follows the White House last week issuing a $15 million bounty on Maduro and his inner circle over drug trafficking charges, amid sweeping indictments against what Washington dubbed a vast narco-state criminal enterprise orchestrated by the regime.

Considering all of this is being executed at a moment the United States now leads the world in numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases, which threatens to decimate an economy still on "pause" and extreme uncertainty still on the horizon, it must be asked: is this move on Venezuela (and it should be added - recent moves against 'Iranian proxies' in Iraq) all but a big attempt at coronavirus and record unemployment distraction? 

* * *

Ron Paul certainly thinks so: President Trump and his advisors announced that the US military would begin conducting a “counter-narcotics operation” in the eastern Pacific and Caribbean.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Trump’s Justice Department indicted Venezuelan president Maduro on drug trafficking charges. Is the US about to “do a Noriega” on Maduro based on half-baked charged that the Venezuelan leader is some kind of drug kingpin?

Have the president’s war-braying neocons convinced him that the best thing to get our minds off of coronavirus is a “nice little war”? Today on the Ron Paul Liberty Report:

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 15:45
Published:4/3/2020 2:48:45 PM
[Markets] Anyone coming close to Trump will be given a rapid COVID-19 test: White House Anyone coming close to Trump will be given a rapid COVID-19 test: White House Published:4/3/2020 2:17:46 PM
[Markets] "Unanticipated Shock" - Under Armour Lays Off 6,700 Workers, Stores Shuttered "Indefinitely" "Unanticipated Shock" - Under Armour Lays Off 6,700 Workers, Stores Shuttered "Indefinitely"

Just days after Under Armor jumped into the mask-making game as it realized its core business of selling sports leisure apparel in overseas and domestic markets collapsed because the virus pandemic has led to global quarantines and shuttering of non-essential businesses. The Baltimore-based sportswear maker announced Friday that its retail stores would remain closed indefinitely and lay off 6,700 employees, reported The Baltimore Sun

"This unanticipated shock to our business has been acute, forcing us to make difficult decisions to ensure that Under Armour is positioned to participate in the eventual recovery of demand," Patrik Frisk, CEO and president, said in Friday's announcement.

"We do not take these decisions lightly and are doing all we can to minimize the impact on our teammates during this time," Frisk said.

Under Armour pulled its previous financial guidance for 2020 and initiated its restructuring plan that will cost $475 to $525 million for this fiscal year. The fate of its 188 North America stores is unknown at the moment, have been closed since March, and will remain closed "until further notice."

Frisk said the company is seeing a "significant decline in revenue" while its stores remain closed. With lockdowns expected across the country to last through late April, the financial blow to the company could be devastating.

Under Armour, likely so many other companies, have drawn on their credit lines to survive the virus crisis crashing the US economy into a depression for the second quarter. The company said it has taken out $700 million on a revolving credit facility "to increase its cash position and preserve liquidity."

We noted in February that Under Armour "estimated negative impact of the coronavirus outbreak in China of approximately $50 million to $60 million in sales related to the first quarter of 2020."

Under Armour's top executives have taken a 25% salary cut, along with the board of directors have had their compensation reduced by 25% during the crisis.

"There's not much else that Under Armour can do now since there's no way to know when the stores will reopen," said David Swartz, an analyst for Morningstar. 

"Unfortunately, unlike Nike and Adidas, Under Armour is not an established brand in Asia, where a lot of stores have reopened. The restructuring and the abandonment of the flagship in NYC is reflective of the company's inability to turnaround its business even before the crisis," Swartz said.

"Because of the strength of our brand and the steps we have taken, we will weather this storm," Frisk said.

We guess the 'Under Armour bros' won't be having wild parties at Kevin Plank's Sagamore Farm this year – as it appears the company is on life support.

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 15:04
Published:4/3/2020 2:17:46 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Sinks 550 Points; Are We In A Bull Trap Rally? The Dow Jones Industrial Average resumed its losing ways following a very dismal March U.S. jobs report. Did Thursday's follow-through set a bull trap? Published:4/3/2020 2:17:46 PM
[Markets] Coronavirus crisis is ‘way worse’ than the financial crisis for emerging economies, IMF’s Georgieva says Nearly $90 billion of capital has fled emerging economies since the coronavirus crisis emerged, Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said.
Published:4/3/2020 2:17:46 PM
[Markets] Pelosi Backpedals On Infrastructure Spending In Fourth Coronavirus Stimulus Pelosi Backpedals On Infrastructure Spending In Fourth Coronavirus Stimulus

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has walked back ambitious plans for infrastructure spending in the next coronavirus stimulus package - and is instead focusing on boosting direct payments to individuals as well as loans to businesses, according to Bloomberg, which notes that the shift will leave an estimated $800 billion infrastructure plan in limbo.

"While I’m very much in favor of doing what we need to do to meet the needs of clean water, more broadband and the rest of that, that may have to be for a bill beyond this," Pelosi told CNBC in a Friday appearance. "I think right now we need a fourth bipartisan bill -- and I think the bill could be very much like the bill we just passed."

"So I’d like to go right back and say let’s look at that bill let’s update it for some other things that we need, and again put money in the pockets of the American people," she said - promoting the much easier sell, which Bloomberg notes would probably have an easier time getting through Congress. 

Pelosi said the $350 billion included the last stimulus for small business to maintain payrolls for two months won’t be sufficient. She said the nation also will need an extension of the expanded unemployment benefits and additional direct payments to middle income individuals. -Bloomberg

Pelosi and other Congressional Democrats pitched approximately $800 billion in new infrastructure spending, which would be allocated towards boosting broadband, access to clean water, and funding for community health centers.

Congressional Republicans have pushed back against the idea - suggesting that we should wait and see what the impact of the first three packages have had, despite President Trump's call for a $2 trillion infrastructure package.

Meanwhile, nobody has said how the infrastructure plan will be paid for, as nobody has come forward with an actual proposal.

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 14:30
Published:4/3/2020 1:48:20 PM
[Markets] Therese Poletti's Tech Tales: The internet is being put to its greatest test, and it is passing (so far) So far, the internet’s vast infrastructure has, for the most part, been holding up under an onslaught of heavy use with millions of people working from home or self isolating during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Published:4/3/2020 1:48:19 PM
[Markets] Weekend Sip: An award-winning California distiller goes from booze to hand sanitizer ‘The sanitizer is notably different than most commercial varieties.’
Published:4/3/2020 1:22:34 PM
[Markets] This might be the simplest design for a no-sew DIY coronavirus mask This might be the simplest design for a no-sew DIY coronavirus mask Published:4/3/2020 1:19:06 PM
[Markets] CARES Act allows the unemployed to take on a side gig and still collect benefits — here’s why you should tread carefully Millions of freelance workers who qualify for extra cash under the CARES Act may be in for a long wait.
Published:4/3/2020 1:19:06 PM
[Markets] A Corporate-Debt Reckoning Is Coming A Corporate-Debt Reckoning Is Coming

Via 13D Global Strategy and Research,

The following article was originally published in “What I Learned This Week” on March 26, 2020. To learn more about 13D’s investment research, please visit their website.

Corporate debt is the timebomb everyone saw ticking, but no one was able to defuse. Ratings agencies warned about it: Moody’s, S&P. Central banks and international financial institutions did too: the Fed, the Bank of England, the Bank for International Settlements, the IMF. Financial luminaries expressed concern: Jamie Dimon, Seth Klarman, Jes Staley, Jeffrey Gundlach, Henry McVey. Even a presidential candidate brought the issue on the campaign trail: Elizabeth Warren. Yet, as we’ve documented in these pages for more than two years, corporations have only piled on more debt as their balance sheet health has deteriorated.

Total U.S. non-financial corporate debt sits at just under $10 trillion, a record 47% of GDP. One in six U.S. companies is now a zombie, meaning their interest expenses exceed their earnings before interest and taxes. As of year-end 2019, the percentage of listed companies in the U.S. losing money over 12 months sat close to 40%. In the 12 months to November, non-financial S&P 500 cash balances had declined by 11%, the largest percentage decline since at least 1980.

For too long, record-low interest rates inspired complacency, from companies to lenders to regulators and investors. As we warned in WILTW August 8, 2019corporate fundamentals will eventually matter. Now, with COVID-19 grinding the global economy to a halt, that time has come.

Systemic threats are littered throughout the corporate debt ecosystem. Greater than 50% of outstanding debt is rated BBB, one rung above junk. As downgrades come, asset managers will be forced to flood the market with supply at a time demand has dried up. Meanwhile, leveraged loans — which have swelled by 50% since 2015 to over $1.2 trillion — threaten unprecedented losses given covenant deterioration. And bond ETFs could face a liquidity crisis as a flood of redemptions force offloading of all-too-illiquid bonds (see WILTW January 31, 2019).

Red lights are now flashing. Distressed debt in the U.S. has quadrupled in less than a week to nearly $1 trillion. Last week, bond fund outflows quadrupled the previous record, which was set the previous week (chart below). Moody’s and S&P have already declared a significant portion of outstanding debt under review for potential downgrade. Leveraged loan spreads have ballooned to the point that the market for new loan issuance is effectively closed. Bond ETFs have been trading at historic discounts versus the NAV of their underlying bonds. And CLOs are facing the prospect of an existential crisis as Libor plunges and threatens to dip below zero.

Source: Financial Times

Markets rebounded this week as the government passed a stimulus bill and the Fed announced it will dedicate $200 billion to buying corporate debt. Given the size and fragility of the corporate debt bubble, it will prove far too little to stem the reckoning to come.

The implications are seismic. Buybacks and dividends will dry up. Layoffs will spike and consumer spending will plummet. Suffering gig and hourly workers will revolt against reappropriating taxpayer dollars to save corporate powers (WILTW March 19, 2019). And the bailout decisions made by the Fed and politicians now will define the presidential election in November.

“Fallen Angels Are Coming and the Fed Can’t Save Them,” read a Bloomberg heading on Tuesday. Moody’s has already dropped the ratings of dozens of companies. Lufthansa has been dropped from Baa3 to Ba1. Occidental Petroleum has faced the same downgrade. On Wednesday, Ford was downgraded by both S&P and Moody’s, becoming the largest fallen angel so far with its $35.8 billion debt pile. This week, JP Morgan analysts estimated that “fallen angels” — companies dropping from investment grade to high yield — will total $215 billion this year, more than double 2005’s record of roughly $100 billion.

Notorious ratings-agency corruption during the GFC has put extraordinary pressure on Moody’s, S&P, and Fitch to stay objective and vigilant today. Over the past year, they have been too complacent. As we documented in WILTW October 24, 2019, corporate balance sheets have deteriorated, yet well-deserved junk downgrades have not come. The ratings agencies now appear hellbent on reversing course regardless of the economic consequences. Their credibility is at stake.

Fallen angels present a two-fold threat. First, many asset managers can only hold so much junk debt. Downgrades will force selling, likely at steep losses. The inevitability of this is already spiking BBB yields (chart below). Second, the Fed’s announced bailout plans will only allow it to support the credit of investment-grade companies. In turn, a downgrade to junk could prove a death sentence for many companies crippled by the COVID-19 lockdown.

Source: Bloomberg

Many companies must borrow to survive, especially small firms. According to Arbor Data Science, 28% of U.S. companies with market caps less than $1 billion are zombies. Yet, it’s not just small businesses. Thirteen companies in the S&P 500 have debt-to-EBITDA ratios greater than eight:

Source: Investor’s Business Daily

With economic uncertainty at an extreme and yields spiking, who is going to lend to zombies right now? Exacerbating that problem, we are now at the start of the debt-maturity wall we’ve warned about for years. Roughly $840 billion of bonds rated BBB or below in the U.S. are set to come due this year.

Companies are now racing to tap existing lines of credit, including Macy’s, Best Buy, AT&T, and GE. More are slashing dividends and buyback plans to conserve cash, including Ford, Royal Dutch Shell, Airbus, Freeport-McMoRan, Boeing, and Occidental Petroleum. The past decade’s bull run was built on buybacks (chart below). Now, that pillar is disappearing and regardless of bond buying, the Fed can’t stop it.

Source: Bianco Research

Yet, these are just the known challenges. As in all economic crises, the unforeseen is often the most devastating. Over the past decade, euphoric demand for debt in a yield-starved world has encouraged extreme financial engineering. The question now: How does that machinery react to an extreme shock?

A multitude of insidious risks are likely hidden in the system, as CLOs are now demonstrating. CLOs are tied to Libor. This month, Libor has plunged well below one. The possibility exists that it could dip below zero. This would cause panic in the CLO market. As Wells Fargo CLO analyst Dave Preston told Bloomberg last week: “If Libor falls to a level that produces a negative all-in coupon, it is not clear what would happen.” Roughly one in five CLO tranches have no Libor floor. Meaning, if Libor breaks zero, CLO debt holders would owe money back to the issuer. The problem is: “CLOs are simply not legally or operationally equipped to handle a reversal in cash flow.”

As the IMF warned last year, 40% of total corporate debt is at risk with a shock only half as severe as the GFC. From Goldman Sachs to Morgan Stanley to the St. Louis Fed to Dave Rosenberg, estimates now suggest the COVID-19 shock will likely be far more severe than the GFC.

Corporate debt was the defining excess of the past decade’s bull run. Buybacks were funded by debt — over the past half decade, S&P 500 companies have issued $2.5 trillion in debt to afford $2.7 trillion in buybacks. Debt has subsidized the skyrocketing salaries of CEOs. Cheap debt has enabled private equity to take over and financialize Main Street.

How severe the consequences will be obviously depends on how long COVID-19 keeps the world locked down. However, a reckoning with debt-fueled corporate greed is coming, regardless of Fed bond buying or government stimulus.

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 14:15
Published:4/3/2020 1:19:05 PM
[Markets] CNN's Brooke Baldwin Test Positive For COVID-19 CNN's Brooke Baldwin Test Positive For COVID-19

CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin just confirmed on Instagram that she has tested positive for COVID-19, joining her colleague, Chris Cuomo, among the more than 1 million people around the world who have been infected.

Baldwin, a star reporter on America's most trusted Fake News organization, said on Instagram that she is "OKAY" and has "chills, aches, fever."

During one recent news report shared on Baldwin's twitter account, she can be heard acknowledging that some small studies have shown the malaria and lupus drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine (which can purportedly be used, sometimes together with azythromycin, to alleviate sometimes deadly symptoms) promoted by President Trump - which CNN had earlier bashed - actually have been shown to help COVID-19 patients.

Hopefully, Baldwin won't need those - or any - prescription medication to deal with the virus as her body fights it off. We also hope she doesn't have crazy nightmares and chip a tooth like her colleague, Chris Cuomo. Before people start accusing Cuomo of passing it to his colleague, CNN hasn't said anything about how the virus spread. 

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 13:30
Published:4/3/2020 12:48:24 PM
[Markets] Why the soaring U.S. unemployment rate could hit Great Depression levels Why the soaring U.S. unemployment rate could hit Great Depression levels Published:4/3/2020 12:48:24 PM
[Markets] Dow Jones Slumps More Than 400 Points After Coronavirus Stock Market Rally; Top Growth Stocks Hit Hard Again The Dow Jones was sharply lower Friday, one day after the S&P; 500 showed bullish price and volume action. Tesla stock faded after an early pop. Published:4/3/2020 12:48:24 PM
[Markets] The Moneyist: I’m a cashier at a truck stop in Minnesota. I have COPD, asthma and hypertension. I’m scared of catching coronavirus. Should I stop working? ‘Even small mistakes that I might make could be huge for me.’
Published:4/3/2020 12:48:23 PM
[Markets] Dow Sinks After U.S. Employers Cut 701,000 Jobs in March Stocks decline after U.S. companies shed 701,000 jobs in March, pushing the jobless rate up to 4.4%. Published:4/3/2020 12:19:11 PM
[Markets] CityWatch: New Yorkers are determined to rise to this latest challenge: the coronavirus New Yorkers rose to the challenge after 9/11 and superstorm Sandy, and we will rise to the greatest one of all.
Published:4/3/2020 12:19:11 PM
[Markets] Cuomo Warns "More People Are Going To Die" As New York Case Total Tops 100k: Live Updates Cuomo Warns "More People Are Going To Die" As New York Case Total Tops 100k: Live Updates

Summary:

  • US nonfarm payrolls was an unmitigated disaster.
  • Russia reports drop in cases after extending quarantine
  • NY COVID-19 cases top 100k
  • Bolsonaro urges country to "go back to work" as Brazil's governors say opposite
  • Brazil says first COVID-19 case and death in South American happened 1 month earlier
  • Beijing says more than half of foreign diplomats identified as close contacts of COVID-19 patients
  • NJ reports jump in new cases, deaths
  • Number of recovered patients tops 250k globally
  • Japan sees resurgence of cases continue
  • Navy hospital ship in NY only treating 20 patients
  • UK reports biggest daily jump in deaths
  • Thousands of small business owners excluded from 'Paycheck Protection Program'
  • Spain, Germany report encouraging deceleration in new cases
  • Singapore launches strict 14-day lockdown to fight virus resurgence
  • Trump slams 3M on twitter
  • 400M in loans doled out
  • Bank of America becomes first big bank to issue loans via the plan
  • Mnuchin confirms 'Paycheck Protection Plan' is a go
  • Tokyo mayor warns about resurgence of cases on CNN

*    *    *

Update (12:10ET): New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has started his latest daily press conference.

Gov. Murphy reported 4,372 new COVID-19 cases and 113 new deaths, bringing statewide total to 29,895 cases and 646 deaths. He also announced he would be signing an Executive Order directing that all flags across NJ be lowered to half-staff indefinitely in honor of those who have died from the virus around the world.

"This is one of the greatest tragedies to ever hit our state. We must have a constant and visible memorial," he said.

If these latest data make you depressed, here's one reason not to despair: the number of patients who have recovered from COVID-19 around the world has passed 250,000, many multiples of the 55,781 deaths recorded so far by Johns Hopkins.

*    *    *

Update (12:10ET): Italy's Civil Protection agency just released the latest coronavirus numbers for Friday, and while there were some bright spots, the 766 deaths recorded across Italy over the last day is the biggest jump since the outbreak started.

But more encouragingly, the 4,585 new cases amounted to about a 4% rise, bringing the nationwide total to 119,827, up from 115,242 a day earlier. The death toll, meanwhile, climbed to 14,681, up from 13,915, still the highest death toll in the world. The mortality rate climbed slightly to 12.2%, as the number of deaths continue to climb, while new cases reported continued to drop.

 

Meanwhile, back in NY, CNN just reported that the USNS Comfort, the Navy hospital ship deployed to NYC to help with the hospital overflow, is only holding about 20 patients so far.

 

*    *    *

Update (11:50ET): As thousands of small and medium sized business owners find out that they aren't eligible for the 'Paycheck Protection Program' bailouts, Mnuchin has opted to continue tweeting dollar amount updates to show that loans are indeed being processed.

The market is paying close attention now, so let's keep those bullish headlines coming, Steve.

*    *    *

Update (1110ET): NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo kicked off Friday morning's press conference with some somber news: the number of positive coronavirus cases confirmed in the state of New York has surpassed 100k. He went on to explain that NY has been so badly impacted because so many foreign visitors travel there, meaning that before Trump finally barred all foreign travelers, many little outbreaks were likely started by travelers from Europe and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, Cuomo reported another 562 deaths over the last 24 hours, bringing the statewide total to 2,935. That's the largest jump in deaths yet.

Watch Cuomo live below:

As NYC hospitals reach maximum capacity on both ICU and regular hospital beds, forcing Cuomo to move COVID-19 patients to the Javits Center, which had initially been designated as an 'overflow' facility, Cuomo reiterated gripes about the inability of states to purchase vital medical equipment from China (though China has selectively allowed some orders to leave through the red tape they've suddenly thrown up). Though Cuomo said he is working with Alibaba to procure supplies for the state.

Using some of his most strident language yet, Cuomo warned that "people are going to die" if New York State doesn't get the ventilators and other vital medical equipment that it needs, and that the state is willing to pay up for this equipment. As for the federal stockpile, Cuomo reiterated that the doesn't believe there's enough to help all the states.

That said, Cuomo acknowledged that there are private businesses in the state that have ventilators that they still haven't turned over to the public effort. Cuomo promised that either the equipment would be returned, or the lenders would be reimbursed.

“I’m not going to be in a position where people are dying and we have several hundred ventilators in our own state somewhere else,” Cuomo said.

*    *    *

Update (1053ET): As PM Johnson tries to guide his government through an unprecedented crisis while struggling with the brutal flu-on-steroids symptoms of COVID-19, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who has also tested positive for COVID, has confirmed that UK saw its biggest jump in deaths over the last day.

As the latest data throw cold water on the hopes for a "flattening" in the UK curve, Hancock suggested to a terrified public that deaths could peak on April 12 - Easter Sunday - as some models have shown, according to the FT. 

Meanwhile, here are the latest numbers.

Downing Street has said it will next review the UK's lockdown conditions after Easter. In the meantime, Hancock and Johnson have their hands full trying to get tests to frontline workers, while trying to stave out an all-out collapse of the NHS.

*    *    *

Update (1038ET): Just as yet another reputable scientist declares that the theory that COVID-19 may have leaked out of a Chinese biolab shouldn't be dismissed, Beijing is cranking up its propaganda machine and doubling down on its blaming of "foreign visitors" for igniting a second wave of COVID-19 infections.

The Global Times just reported that out of 84 foreign diplomats who recently returned to China, 66% were traced as close contacts of confirmed patients.

This statement, if accurate, offers a glimpse into the depth and complexity of China's surveillance network, which it has marshaled to help trace the contacts of confirmed COVID-19 patients. It also sets up the foreign ministry to propagate another round of conspiracies that blame the US and the West for the outbreak.

*   *   *

Update (0944ET): Is Mnuchin going to keep a running ticker of loan figures? It's starting to look that way:

*    *    *

Update (0920ET): Bank of America just confirmed that it has started issuing loans through the program. Now, will we see the rest of the big banks turn on the taps in the next few hours?

*    *    *

Update (0912ET): Thousands of small and medium-sized business owners just breathed a huge sigh of relief.

After reassuring the public during last night's press conference that the bailout bill's "Paycheck Protection Program" would be up and running "tomorrow" (i.e. Friday), Mnuchin tweeted Friday morning that the first loans had been issued via the program, and that small business owners are now welcome to apply.

So far, community banks have issued 700 loans...

...and big banks are expected to come online shortly.

Last night, Mnuchin revealed that the administration had agreed to pay Wall Street a 50 bp 'tribute' on all loans (ie billions of additional dollars in risk-free profits) issued via the program.

All of this comes after the BLS released a surprisingly discouraging jobs report, showing that more than 700k jobs have been destroyed in the last month, ending a more than 110-month streak of job creation that began after the end of the financial crisis.

*    *    *

As we arrive at the end of another week, In NYC, subway trains are still crowded with commuters as the MTA is forced to reduce trains and cars as more of its workforce falls ill or simply refuses to show up. As the number of hospitalized patients surges, the city's hospital system has already run out of ICU beds, forcing Gov. Cuomo to move coronavirus patients to the Javits Center, which was initially intended for hospital overflow patients. Amid all of this, the state's unemployment fund is in worrisome shape, meaning New Yorkers will soon need to depend solely on federal benefits if the state well runs dry.

After the global number of confirmed coronavirus cases topped 1 million on Thursday, several Asian territories and countries, including Singapore and Hong Kong, are struggling with a second wave of COVID-19 cases that health officials claim is mostly travel-related. As we reported a few days back, China has reimposed lockdowns as begins to disclose "asymptomatic" cases that government functionaries explained were left out of China's initial case totals.

One month ago, on March 3, there were 92,000 coronavirus cases, most of them in mainland China. As of Friday, the US and Europe account for the bulk of the world's more than 1 million confirmed cases.

Professor Gabriel Leung, an epidemiologist at the University of Hong Kong, warned on Friday that the pandemic would likely last a few more months, even if heavy-handed prevention strategies are adopted. He also said the warmer weather would give the world no respite from the virus: "Is warmer weather going to give us some respite? The answer is maybe, but probably not,” Leung said during a live-streamed forum, pushing back against prognostications made by the mainland's leading respiratory disease expert, who assured the public that this would all be over by late April, even as Beijing continues to impose a near-moratorium on international and domestic flights.

In Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loon on Friday announced a major shift as Singapore shutters workplaces and schools for a month, beginning next week, with the government calling the more aggressive containment measures a "circuit breaker" to avoid using the word "lockdown.'

As Nikkei explains, Lee's decision marks a major shift in strategy for the city-state. Until now, Singapore had focused on strict border controls, thorough contact tracing of patients as well as extensive "social distancing" campaigns. While it encouraged telecommuting, it tried to keep life for businesses as normal as possible.

One major change that could foreshadow a similar move by the White House: The Singaporean government is now advising citizens to wear facemasks in public.

Lee also addressed the "psychological toll" of the "circuit-breaker" (don't call it a lockdown), in what one reporter described as a surprisingly thoughtful and forward-thinking change.

Despite the new measures, Singaporeans will need to continue sharing all their cell phone location data with the government as part of a sweeping program of monitoring and contract tracing that has alarmed privacy advocates.

Singaporean Manpower Minister Josephine Teo told reporters that "all of the workplace activities will have to come to a stop, meaning that everyone will have to work from home and at the work premises, there will be no one." Unless a business has special permission or is deemed an essential service, "it will be an offense to still have operations at the workplace" and any violators will be punished.

Singapore's decision comes after more local transmission and new clusters have been identified in recent days, including cases of undetermined origin. As of Friday morning, Singapore had reported 1,049 infections with five deaths. Additionally, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan have barred foreigners from entering in recent days. Early Friday morning, the Communist Party boss for the city of Wuhan warned that the risk of a full-on "resurgence" of the virus in the city was "still high." Meanwhile, Japan has barred visitors from dozens of countries, including South Korea and the US. South Korea is mandating that foreign visitors spend 14-days in a government lockdown facility, though it hasn't outright banned travelers from any country, though individuals from Hubei Province are banned.

Tokyo's governor even appeared on CNN last night to warn that the situation in her city is rapidly worsening, as the number of new cases skyrockets.

By comparison, in US, over 75% of individuals, and 90% of GDP, are under mandatory lockdown, including 38 state-wide orders.

Additionally, in other US news, President Trump bashed 3M, one of America's largest manufacturers, in a late-night tweet, where he claimed he used DPA authority so speed up manufacturing of ventilators.

In other international news, a British-made invention that can reduce the spread of coronavirus is being bought up by governments around the world, but not by the NHS, the FT reported Friday. In Germany, health officials recorded more than 6,174 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, the latest sign that the growth rate of the virus is slowing. Spain also reported an encouraging slowdown in new cases.

 

Russia reported 601 new cases of coronavirus on Friday, a 17% jump in total cases that marks a slight slowing in the spread of the outbreak in the country. So far, Russia has reported 4,149 cases and 34 deaths from the virus, a much lower per-capita rate than many of its European peers.

Meanwhile, in Brazil, where President Jair Bolsonaro has continued to dismiss the risks of the virus. During a recent visit to a gas station in Sao Paolo covered by WSJ, Bolsonaro empathized with a worker to whom he spoke in the crowd.

"Sometimes, the cure is worse than the disease,” he told him, according to the report. “People should go back to work.” But 25 of 27 of Brazil's governors feel differently, and have been pushing Bolsonaro to endorse their safety guidelines. After Brazil's case total ballooned to nearly 8,000 cases and 299 deaths, officials confirmed that a woman who died on Jan. 23 had been infected, more than a month before South America's first confirmed case. It's just the latest sign that the virus may have spread more widely across Latin America than many had previously believed.

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 13:16
Published:4/3/2020 12:19:11 PM
[Markets] Corn prices fall to multiyear lows as pandemic reduces demand for ethanol Corn prices fall to multiyear lows as pandemic reduces demand for ethanol Published:4/3/2020 11:50:12 AM
[Markets] America’s housing market is showing the first signs of trouble from the coronavirus pandemic Sellers appear to be holding off on listing their homes for sale in anticipation of less buyer traffic during the normally busy spring home-buying season.
Published:4/3/2020 11:50:11 AM
[Markets] Market bottom or ‘very tough times ahead’? Here’s what one chart watcher is keeping his eye on Investors say there’s no one chart that will signal when the stock-market bottom is in. But technical analyst Chris Kimble is keeping his eye on a commodity index that is testing a very important level of support. Published:4/3/2020 11:50:11 AM
[Markets] Trump Organization Seeks Concessions On Loans Backed Personally By President Trump From Deutsche Bank Trump Organization Seeks Concessions On Loans Backed Personally By President Trump From Deutsche Bank

No business is immune to the country's coronavirus shutdown, including the President's. In fact, it was was reported yesterday that the Trump Organization is actively seeking out concessions from Deutsche Bank, one of its lenders, due to the pandemic.

Representatives from the President's company reached out to Deutsche Bank late in March and talks between the company and the bank are ongoing, according to Bloomberg

Or, as one person simply put it on social media: "Two broke organizations restructuring debt". 

Deutsche Bank is said to be having similar talks with other commercial real estate companies in the U.S., as well. The pandemic, and ensuing economic shutdown, has squeezed both borrowers and lenders across the world. Central banks have worked on a plan to try and backstop banks and provide relief to companies, even considering lending to some businesses directly. However, it is going to be tough to paper over every single company that is facing a default. 

The request from the Trump organization is noteworthy, since President Trump is arguably the most powerful person in the world and Deutsche Bank has been under scrutiny for years, with many speculating the bank could have solvency issues behind the scenes. The loans, which were taken out by Trump between 2012 and 2015, include a personal guarantee from Trump.

That means that in the case of a default, the lenders would have to collect from a sitting President. 

The loans that the bank has provided for the Trump Organization include money for a Florida golf resort, a Washington D.C. hotel and a Chicago skyscraper. 

Doral, Trump's golf resort near Miami, has closed all operations. Trump's hotel in Washington has shut down its restaurant and its bar. Additionally, a sale of the hotel's lease has been halted while the commercial real estate market goes up in flames.

Deutsche Bank has been under scrutiny since Trump first took office back in 2016. The bank had previously considered the idea of extending Trump's maturities to his loans to 2025, after the end of a second potential term, but ultimately decided against entering into any new business with a sitting President. 

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 12:47
Published:4/3/2020 11:50:11 AM
[Markets] Grocer Dean & DeLuca Has Filed For Bankruptcy, Hopes To Eventually Re-Open Shuttered Stores Grocer Dean & DeLuca Has Filed For Bankruptcy, Hopes To Eventually Re-Open Shuttered Stores

Today in bankruptcy news that isn't related to the coronavirus, Dean & DeLuca, the grocery chain that closed its New York stores last year, has officially filed for bankruptcy in Manhattan and now hopes to re-open some of its stores. 

The chain had been open for more than four decades and was one of the first grocers to introduce Americans to numerous international gourmets. Amidst a rising tide of other "fancy" international grocers popping up in Manhattan, the chain lost its spot at the top and eventually fell victim to lackluster sales.

The chain is seeking to restructure its debt under Chapter 11 and eventually re-open its stores. The newly filed bankruptcy petition shows that the store tried to negotiate its debt outside of bankruptcy but was unsuccessful. The chain ceased its operations in mid 2019 after running out of cash, according to Bloomberg.

In its petition to the court, the chain listed $500 million in liabilities and and assets of "no more than $50 million". It owes its junior creditors about $275 million, which is inclusive of $250 million to its owner. 

Many other grocers in New York are now also feeling pressure, some as a result of the ongoing pandemic lockdown across the city and others simply due to the heightened competitive environment. Names like Fairway Group Holdings and Lucky's Market are both also seeking Chapter 11 protection. 

Meanwhile, Dean & DeLuca has just one employee left, while some of its franchise locations continue to stay open. Pace Development Corp., the owner of the chain, defaulted on about $315 million in total debt last year. 

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 12:00
Published:4/3/2020 11:16:13 AM
[Markets] Watch: SpaceX's Latest Starship Test Vehicle Implodes, Crumbles To The Ground, During Cryogenic Testing Watch: SpaceX's Latest Starship Test Vehicle Implodes, Crumbles To The Ground, During Cryogenic Testing

Yet another SpaceX experiment has gone "up in smoke".

Just a month after the company's SN1 Starship had an unplanned "incident" on the launch pad during testing, the company's SN3 Starship test vehicle was seen crumbling like a cardboard paper towel roll wrapped in aluminum foil on the launch pad in Boca Chica, Texas yesterday. 

The Starship was planned to undergo a series of tests on the ground and in flight, but it failed its cryogenic proof testing. The test includes filling the vehicle with liquid nitrogen at cryogenic temperatures and and flight pressures. SN3 "failed" during the end of the test, NASA Space Flight reported, although to the untrained rocket scientist eye, it looks to us that it simply just crumbled to the ground.

Elon Musk said on Twitter: “We will see what data review says in the morning, but this may have been a test configuration mistake.”

Yeah, we would say so. You can watch HD video of the Starship's "structural failure" here:

Also recall, we pointed out at the beginning of March that SpaceX's first "Starship" SN1 also bit the dust during testing. We are starting to notice a pattern, as is the general public.

As one person on social media asked: "What's with the grain silos not holding pressure?"

Back in early March, another product of Elon Musk innovation wound up blowing up on the launch pad at the company's South Texas facility, also after being tested for pressure with inert liquid nitrogen. The photographs from the morning after show the extent of the damage on the rocket, which we're certain will not be reused. 

Reports claimed that the tank suffered a structural failure during pressurization and information about injuries and the extent of the damage was not readily available from SpaceX at the time. The protoype ship was designed only for an "initial round of tests", according to Yahoo News, who said that future prototypes would be used for more ambitious tests.

To stupidity, and beyond!

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 11:30
Published:4/3/2020 10:47:42 AM
[Markets] Coronavirus update: 1.04 million diagnosed cases worldwide and 55,132 deaths Coronavirus update: 1.04 million diagnosed cases worldwide and 55,132 deaths Published:4/3/2020 10:47:42 AM
[Markets] Coronavirus Stock Market Rally: Dow Jones Tumbles 350 Points After Jobs Report; Tesla Surges The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled more than 350 points Friday morning after the Labor Department's jobs report showed the U.S. economy lost 701,000 jobs last month. U.S. coronavirus cases climbed past 245,000, as the new stock market rally edged into a second day. Published:4/3/2020 10:47:42 AM
[Markets] 3M hits back at Trump, says ceasing exports of N95 masks will have ‘opposite’ effect, humanitarian consequences 3M Co. responded Friday to criticism from President Donald Trump, saying the request to cease exports of much-needed N95 masks to fight the COVID-19 pandemic will not only have the ‘opposite’ effect of what is needed, but also ‘significant humanitarian’ consequences.
Published:4/3/2020 10:47:42 AM
[Markets] Bill Withers of 'Ain't No Sunshine' and 'Lean On Me' fame dies at 81 Bill Withers of 'Ain't No Sunshine' and 'Lean On Me' fame dies at 81 Published:4/3/2020 10:17:55 AM
[Markets] Stocks’ Losses Grow After News of 701,000 Lost Jobs U.S. stocks turned decisively lower as investors assessed news that U.S. nonfarm payrolls shrank by 701,000 jobs in March and coronavirus infections topped one million worldwide. Oil prices were higher again ahead of a virtual meeting among producers to be held next week. Published:4/3/2020 10:17:54 AM
[Markets] Millions Of Small American Businesses Stunned To Learn They Are Not Eligible For Government Bailout Loans Millions Of Small American Businesses Stunned To Learn They Are Not Eligible For Government Bailout Loans

It's the first day that America's small business can apply for the Treasury's Paycheck Protection Program, i.e., the $350BN program that is part of the bigger $2 trillion bailout package designed to provide small businesses access to capital for payroll and other overhead costs to the tune of 2.5 months of average payroll and which must be accessed via an existing banking relationship - and the rollout is predictably a mess, with some banks such as BofA already accepting loans (which convert to grants if used exclusively for payrolls and business continuity purposes), while others like JPM delaying the roll out to 1pm; a third group of banks such as Wells Fargo has conspicuously failed to provide its rollout plans - perhaps it is scheming how to cross-sell bailout loans with auto insurance or engage in some other typically Wellsfargoian fraud.

Yet one of the big surprises to emerge this morning is that contrary to the SBA's guidance that any small business with 500 or less employees can apply, going to lender portals shows that only a very narrow subset of America's millions in small businesses are be eligible. In fact, only those companies that already have a lending relationship, i.e., an outstanding loan with a given bank are - at least as of this moment - eligible.

Bank of America's website confirms as much, stating on its eligibility page that only "clients with a business lending and a business deposit relationship at Bank of America are eligible to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program through our bank." In other words, any business that only has a deposit account and no loan or business card is out of luck.

And the kicker, literally, for those BofA clients who would like to become eligible and open a business loan account, well it's too late: as the bank makes clear, this should have happened as of Feb 15.

To apply for the Paycheck Protection Program through our bank, you must have a pre-existing business lending and business deposit relationship with Bank of America, as of February 15, 2020. A Business Credit Card, line of credit or loan may be the lending product used.

Said otherwise, business who ran a clean balance sheet without debt are seen as riskier than businesses that carry loans, and are unduly penalized just because they never opened a loan with BofA.

JPMorgan is even more draconian in its selectivity of whom it will hand out Treasury-guaranteed money to. As the bank notes in its ironically-named "CARES" website, "You must have a Chase Business checking account as of February 15, 2020." Anyone who does not is straight out of luck.

And as countless other banks follow suit, the question becomes is this how the banks that were bailed out by ordinary Americans in 2008 will treat those same Americans when they need a rescue too? Alternatively, what happens to these banks when millions of small business fail and America's economy plunges into an even deeper depression. One final question: how is it logical for banks to only bailout those companies which already have debt and are by extension riskier, than to provide funds to their ordinary clients who only now, for the first time, need a helping hand.

We eagerly await Steven Mnuchin's answers to these questions.

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 11:13
Published:4/3/2020 10:17:54 AM
[Markets] Metals Stocks: Gold prices inch higher after jobs report shows 701,000 U.S. jobs lost in March Gold futures are trading higher on Friday after a report on U.S. employment in March indicated that the damage from coronavirus business shutdowns is already having a big impact on the labor market.
Published:4/3/2020 10:17:54 AM
[Markets] The Fate Of Oil's Torrid Rally Hinges On Trump's Meeting With US Shale Producers Today: Here's Why The Fate Of Oil's Torrid Rally Hinges On Trump's Meeting With US Shale Producers Today: Here's Why

Oil has staged a tremendous surge in the past 48 hours, largely on the back of speculation that Trump will "encourage" Saudi Arabia and Russia to pursue output cuts, even though as it subsequently emerged when Trump tweeted that the "hopes" to see an N-OPEC output cut, it was an "exaggeration" and wishful thinking more than statement of fact. However, whereas the initial rally - which send the price of oil soaring by 25% on Thursday, or the most ever - faded, the rally got a second wind on Friday following reports that the R-OPEC (Russia + OPEC) alliance of oil producers led by Saudi Arabia and Russia is set to debate production cuts of at least 6 million barrels a day Monday and consider inviting U.S. producers to participate, the WSJ reported citing OPEC country officials.

However, even that hypothetical best case outcome for oil bulls - and certainly the US shale industry - comes with strings attached, and the outcome of Monday's virtual summit between OPEC, which Saudi Arabia effectively crushed one month ago when it decided to flood the market with oil, and non-OPEC nations "will largely depend on a discussion Friday between the White House and U.S. oil companies" according to the WSJ.

The reason: both Saudi Arabia and Russia are demanding that US shale producers, some of whom such as Whiting Petroleum have already filed for Chapter 11 protection yet continue to pump as normal, join the production cuts. As the WSJ reports, "Saudi Arabia and Russia won’t cut unless they get signals from U.S. producers they will reduce output, the officials said. But they added that official joint curbs would be more difficult to enact in the U.S. because of antitrust laws."

Meanwhile, Trump appears to be left with the impression that Russia and Saudi Arabia will shoot themselves in the foot and cut production on their own:

President Trump said Thursday he had spoken to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and that he was hopeful that a truce could be worked out in the oil-price war between the kingdom and Russia. The president’s remarks sparked a record-breaking percentage climb in oil prices, with Brent and U.S. crude notching gains of 21% and 25%, respectively.

R-OPEC sees things differently, and while it is prepared to discuss output curbs of at least 6 million barrels a day Monday on a conference call, it plans on inviting oil producers from Texas and Canada, even though North American producers haven’t attended OPEC gatherings in many years.

Which means that oil producers will only cut if US shale cuts too. As a result, the outcome of Monday's meeting - and the fate of the torrid oil rally - will depend on a gathering this Friday between Trump and top U.S. producers at the White House, and specifically on whether Trump succeeds in convincing US producers to curb their output to go along with OPEC.

Will he be successful? Whereas some US producers in Texas are pushing for statewide coordinated restrictions amid a ballooning oil glut, others see the rout as an opportunity to take less competitive players out of the market.

As the WSJ further reports, Texas is considering cuts of at least 500b/d, while the group of US, Canada and Brazil would cut a total of 2mmb/d. These cuts would come in addition to a 3mmb/d cut from Saudi Arabia's current level, which however at a surge 12mmb/d, means Saudi would only reduce output to where it was in February. Finally, Russia would be expected to cut by 1.5mmb/d, which is more than Saudi Arabia demanded of Moscow one month ago when Russia pulled the plug on the deal.

In other words, the two variables here are whether Russia and shale will agree to substantial cuts. And while we await to hear what Moscow thinks, the question whether US shale will agree will depend on how confident US oil producers are that they will be bailed out by the Fed as Steven Mnuchin hinted yesterday, and if so, they will feel no urge to cut, ensuring that oil re-plunges on short notice.

At first blush, it does not look promising: speaking on Friday morning, Larry Kudlow effectively killed the idea that US shale will participate in shale discussions:

  • KUDLOW: WE TALK TO RUSSIA, SAUDIS, NO NEED TO GO VIA OPEC
  • KUDLOW: WHITE HOUSE TALKING TO RUSSIA, SAUDIS ON OIL
  • KUDLOW: TRUMP TALKS WITH RUSSIA, SAUDIS WILL YIELD RESULTS

That said, in the 11th hour, a loophole to overcome any producer "unwillingness" to shutdown appears to have emerged: in what would be a major victory for OPEC, the WSJ reports that the Trump Administration has discussed a mandated shutdown of oil production in the Gulf of Mexico due to the coronavirus spreading among workers on offshore platforms.

It is unclear whether the proposal, which comes as several workers on oil platforms test positive for the new virus, is still under serious consideration. But shuttering gulf platforms over health concerns would also have the effect of curtailing U.S. oil production amid a world-wide glut of oil that has sent prices plummeting.

It would also mean that Putin wins.

Finally, one big picture question: in a world where there is now as much as 26 million b/d in less oil demand due to the coronavirus, will a 10 million barrel cut even make a dent? That's the point raised in Goldman's latest analysis.

In a note published overnight, the bank's commodity analyst Damien Courvalin writes that "even if a deal was to be reached, we believe the coordination required would lead to an only delayed and gradual implementation. Given the size of the current demand hit of 26 mb/d and the growing signs that isolation policies are being extended globally, such output cuts are in our view necessary rather than voluntary. This is important as coordinated supply cuts only support prices if they precipitate or come in addition to the shut-in of production that would have otherwise occurred once logistical saturation proved binding."

Paradoxically, aggressive voluntary or necessary supply cuts and a subsequent market deficit would benefit shale producers given their highly pressurized wells and short drilling times. Such output flexibility is unique to shale and core-OPEC/Russia, implying that the coronavirus led demand collapse may ultimately benefit shale and low-cost producers alike, turning on its head once again the just started Revenge of the New Oil Order.

And because of the already occurring demand collapse, "a coordinated response is therefore likely to be too little to late for inland crude markets, especially in North America, leaving local prices to have to retrace their recent gains. In particular, we believe that a speculative led WTI rally that would delay such a rebalancing would quickly prove self-defeating with our 2Q price forecast still $20/bbl."

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 10:30
Published:4/3/2020 9:46:07 AM
[Markets] Stocks lower after grim jobs report shows coronavirus clobbering the economy Stocks are lower Friday after the release of the monthly U.S. employment report that showed massive job losses in March, even before the full extent of the economic devastation from the coronavirus pandemic was fully realized. Published:4/3/2020 9:46:07 AM
[Markets] Economic Report: U.S. service sector continued to expand in March but at slower rate, ISM says U.S. services and other non-manufacturing companies reported continued growth in March, but at the slowest pace since August 2016
Published:4/3/2020 9:46:07 AM
[Markets] ISM services-sector index well above expectations in March ISM services-sector index well above expectations in March Published:4/3/2020 9:16:39 AM
[Markets] Molecular Biologist Says Coronavirus Could Have Leaked From Wuhan Biolab Molecular Biologist Says Coronavirus Could Have Leaked From Wuhan Biolab

Authored by Steve Watson via Summit News,

A molecular biologist proclaimed Thursday that the Chinese coronavirus could have originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and been leaked, leading to it’s horrific spread around the globe.

Richard H. Ebright, a professor of chemical biology at Rutgers University, told The Daily Caller that he believes it is a distinct possibility that an accident in the laboratory in China could have caused the outbreak.

Professor Ebright said that “A denial is not a refutation,” referring to China’s top virologist Shi Zhengli, who works at the lab in Wuhan, and has repeatedly denied that it was the source of the pandemic.

Zhengli, known as ‘bat-woman’, because she works with bat-borne viruses,  has said that the coronavirus spread is “nature punishing the human race for keeping uncivilized living habits.”

“The novel 2019 coronavirus is nature punishing the human race for keeping uncivilized living habits. I, Shi Zhengli, swear on my life that it has nothing to do with our laboratory,” she wrote in early February, adding “I advise those who believe and spread rumors from harmful media sources … to shut their stinking mouths.”

Professor Ebright pointed to the quote, noting that it makes Zhengli’s denial more suspect.

While the professor has been cited by the likes of The Washington Post and MSNBC to dismiss theories about the virus being a bioweapon, the media has not covered his belief that the possibility of a lab accident being the source of the outbreak “cannot–and should not–be dismissed.”

To clarify, Professor Ebright categorically does not believe that the virus is an engineered bioweapon, due to the scientific evidence showing otherwise. However, the notion that the strain of coronavirus that has spread around the world, and since mutated, came from the Wuhan lab is a real possibility in Ebright’s opinion.

This notion is also supported by the fact that according to a study contributed to by the ‘bat-woman’ herself, Shi Zhengli, the novel coronavirus is 96.2% identical to a viral strain that was detected in horseshoe bats from the Yunnan Province, which is over 600 miles away from Wuhan.

Separate Chinese research confirmed this and cited testimonies from close to 60 people who lived or stayed in Wuhan for lengthy periods, saying that the bat “was never a food source in the city, and no bat was traded in the market.”

The research paper, which was uploaded to Research Gate on Feb. 6, concluded that “The killer coronavirus probably originated from a laboratory in Wuhan.”

The paper was removed from Research Gate on Feb. 14 or 15, according to internet archives, and it’s author cannot be reached.

A deadly virus leak from a Chinese lab is not unprecedented. The SARS virus escaped twice from the Chinese Institute of Virology in Beijing in 2004, one year after its spread was brought under control.

Many believe that China’s continued subterfuge regarding the coronavirus outbreak, and it’s bizarre accusations that it was spread by the US military, is an effort to divert attention from the possibility that this virus leaked from the Wuhan lab.

Senator Tom Cotton, who has been continually vocal on the matter, told The Daily Caller this week that “The reason I have raised these questions from the very beginning is because of China’s statements and their actions.”

“After concealing the virus for many weeks in December and then minimizing its severity for most of January, they then peddle an origin story about the food market in Wuhan.” Cotton said, adding “Given their dishonesty and the proximity of these labs, which we know were working with coronaviruses, it is only reasonable and responsible for us to ask the question and demand the answers.”

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 10:10
Published:4/3/2020 9:16:39 AM
[Markets] A Grim Milestone A Grim Milestone

Submitted by Michael Every of Rabobank

As this working week comes to a close we pass one grim milestone: over a million people world-wide are now infected with COVID-19, and likely already many millions given how poor global testing efforts have been. The disaster is probably only just getting started in countries with poor public health systems, where social distancing and regular hand-washing are sick jokes for those living ten to a shack without running water.

Tellingly, even as far, far richer Wuhan moves towards lifting its travel ban on 8 April, all its residents have been told to stay indoors and strengthen protection measures. The Caixin services PMI likewise printed at just 43.0 today, above consensus at 39.0, but far below the manufacturing measure’s just-over-50, underlining that even when using a helpful month-to-month measure of sentiment, smaller services businesses still feel terrible (though last month’s 26.5 print is thankfully behind us). A long, hard road lies ahead of us yet on many fronts.

As such, the RBNZ have just underlined that borrowing costs are staying low for a long time and that there is much more they can do to boost liquidity. (Presumably more QE.) Fiscally, we also continue to see billions being thrown around from those who can afford it. Japan is planning to hand over JPY200,000 (USD1,851) to households who have seen their incomes fall, for one example. For another, yesterday’s daily COVID-19 press briefing saw newly-recovered Health Secretary Matt Hancock state that GBP13.4bn in pre-existing NHS debt would be written off. Once upon a time that was a lot of money in the UK budget - now it’s a rounding error.

We at least saw the beginnings of a UK plan to win the war based on mass testing, and the gradual emergence of an “immunity passport” – based on the assumption that reinfection can’t happen, which is not yet scientifically verified. As in all wars, having a plan to win is crucial, but it being realistic helps. And implementing it rapidly and effectively is vital.

On the latter front, in the US the White House again invoked the Defence Production Act to compel six US firms to produce medical equipment such as N95 masks and ventilators. It helps to have the right equipment, after all (and the UK is also painfully short there, as are others). US banks are doing their part too – refusing to lend to struggling small businesses at 0.5% with no credit risk at all due to a government backstop as the USD349bn part of the USD2.2 trillion fiscal package; they have successfully lobbied to make the loans at 1.0% instead. Yet banks are also reported as far from ready to start rolling out liquidity to SMEs as from today as scheduled. Details of the loan scheme are apparently unclear: is due diligence required? And can the loans be sold on again? Because, having had regulatory requirements loosened and funding costs slashed, they don’t want to actually keep these low-yielding assets on their balance sheets. Is there a financial equivalent of the Defence Production Act, one wonders?

Clearly,, the need for action not talk or questions was underlined dramatically with the US initial claims print of 6.65 million, up from 3.3 million the week before. These kind of readings are, literally, off the chart. That is a Great Depression happening in the blink of an eye.

Yet, the major market mover yesterday was oil, which just after I had floated the hypothetical idea of the US imposing energy tariffs to set a price floor to match the ceiling that US shale already brings, heard Trump claim that the Saudis and Russia were set to slash output by up to 15m barrels per day. Initially, oil rallied hard. Then it gradually dawned that Trump’s talk of output cuts was an aspiration in line with reopening the US economy for Easter. Oil has fallen around 4% again, and we should probably expect it to continue to slump as the market tries to force the Kremlin and Riyadh to agree to something thought up in the White House.

Who is going to be the next market mover? Perhaps mortgages, where Moody’s warns that 30% of US home loans may stop being serviced, which seems entirely logical if everyone is out of work and small business aren’t getting the lifelines they need. But, frankly, who knows where the damage will spread to, and when, if we are going to see 25% unemployment across much of the developed world for an extended period?  

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 09:30
Published:4/3/2020 8:45:34 AM
[Markets] Market Snapshot: Stocks open lower after grim jobs report shows coronavirus clobbering the economy Stocks opened lower Friday after the release of the monthly U.S. employment report that showed massive job losses in March, even before the full extent of the economic devastation from the coronavirus pandemic was fully realized.
Published:4/3/2020 8:45:34 AM
[Markets] Stocks Are Shrugging Off News of 701,000 Lost Jobs U.S.nonfarm payrolls shrank by 701,000 jobs in March. Economists had expected a loss of 100,000, but futures on the main U.S. stock indexes were higher than before the numbers came out. Published:4/3/2020 8:17:33 AM
[Markets] 3M hits back at prospective ban on export of respirators 3M hits back at prospective ban on export of respirators Published:4/3/2020 8:17:33 AM
[Markets] Outside the Box: How a fund manager is putting all his ‘stable’ stocks through ‘extreme stress-testing’ What to do when the coronavirus pandemic makes earnings unpredictable.
Published:4/3/2020 8:17:33 AM
[Markets] A Feverish Boris Johnson Will Continue To Isolate As COVID-19 Symptoms Worsen A Feverish Boris Johnson Will Continue To Isolate As COVID-19 Symptoms Worsen

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson does not look good.

In a short video posted to twitter, the British Prime Minister urged Britons to stay at home, lauding those who have obeyed the national lockdown orders for "saving lives."

But with UK and European stocks already in the red, the video did nothing to lift investor confidence, as Johnson, pale as a sheet and shiny with sweat, appears to be extremely ill.

For a virus that has infected the rich and powerful as much as the poorest of the poor, Johnson is one of dozens of public officials, including dozens in Iran and a handful in Brazil, who have contracted the virus. At least three US lawmakers have also contracted the virus.

Johnson's condition has reportedly grown so grave, that there are rumors about him temporarily ceding power to Michael Gove, who, like Johnson, started his career as a journalist in the British press. Gove also lost to Gove and May during two Tory leadership contests. But he remains a member of the cabinet and one of the most visible and trusted conservatives in the UK.

As if this wasn't enough, Johnson has been under assault by the British press, who have been attacking everything from his reluctance to take heavy handed measures early in the crisis, to the continuing shortage of COVID-19 tests for frontline medical workers, an issue that has become a huge scandal for his government, as CNBC explains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 09:15
Published:4/3/2020 8:17:33 AM
[Markets] Need to Know: This recession will finally end the private-sector ‘debt supercycle,’ says firm that invented the term “The shock of the recession and destruction of wealth will leave a legacy of increased financial caution with households wanting to build precautionary savings and companies striving to repair damaged balance sheets,” says Martin Barnes, chief economist at BCA.
Published:4/3/2020 7:45:10 AM
[Markets] March Jobs Disaster: 701,000 Jobs Lost As Unemplyment Rate Soars March Jobs Disaster: 701,000 Jobs Lost As Unemplyment Rate Soars

Just like that the 113 record straight months of employment growth is over with a bang.

While today's payrolls report was expected to be not quite as terrible as the recent initial claims suggested, especially since the March survey week took place around March 13 or ahead of the big shutdown and layoff announcements, it ended up being catastrophic nonetheless, with the BLS reporting moments ago that a whopping 701K jobs were lost in March, 7x more than the 100K expected, and just shy of the worst payrolls prints recorded during the financial crisis.

Developing

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 08:35
Published:4/3/2020 7:45:10 AM
[Markets] Gold gains traction after U.S. nonfarm-payrolls report Gold gains traction after U.S. nonfarm-payrolls report Published:4/3/2020 7:45:10 AM
[Markets] Dow futures pare loss but hang lower after Friday jobs report for March shows a stunning 701,000 losses U.S. stock-index futures on Friday were trading lower, briefly adding to losses on the session, after a report on the state of jobs for the month came in much worse than expected, already revealing early impacts business closures due to the coronavirus outbreak. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were off 72 points, or 0.3%, at 21,192, those for the S&P 500 index were down 0.3% at 2,508, while Nasdaq-100 futures were falling 0.4% lower at 7,599. indicating a lower start for the Nasdaq Composite Index . The grim report shows that unemployment jumped to 4.5% from 3.5% in February and comes after a report on jobless claims on Thursday hit a record 6.6 million for the week. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected losses of 83,000 for March. Published:4/3/2020 7:45:10 AM
[Markets] The Wall Street Journal: Saudi Arabia, Russia set to debate oil production cuts An alliance of oil producers led by Saudi Arabia and Russia is set to debate production cuts of at least 6 million barrels a day Monday and consider inviting U.S. producers to participate, according to OPEC country officials.
Published:4/3/2020 7:16:47 AM
[Markets] Futures Slide As European Economy Craters, Dollar Surges: All Eyes On Payrolls Futures Slide As European Economy Craters, Dollar Surges: All Eyes On Payrolls

S&P futures have erased much of yesterday's late day ramp alongside European stocks with investors awaiting data on non-farm payrolls and business activity to assess the extent of the economic hit from the coronavirus pandemic which has now infected more than a million people around the world. Bond yields dropped and the dollar surged as attempts to ease liquidity strains appear to be failing again as traders hunkered down ahead of March payrolls data that are expected to decline for the first time since 2010.

The drop erased some of Wall Street's Thursday 2% rally when oil soared on hints of a Saudi-Russia deal, but doubts returned on whether the rebound would last as demand tapers off due to the health crisis.  Walt Disney said on Thursday it would furlough some U.S. employees this month, while sources said luxury retailer Neiman Marcus was stepping up preparations to seek bankruptcy protection.

The Stoxx 600 index slumped following service PMI reports showing an unprecedented slump in the euro-area economy last month with insurers and energy shares pacing declines. Markit said its monthly measures of services and manufacturing points to an annualized economic contraction of about 10%. With new business, confidence and employment all down, there is “worse inevitably to come in the near future,” it said.

Markit’s composite Purchasing Managers Index fell to 29.7 in March, it said Friday, even lower than initially estimated. That’s down from 51.6 in February and far below the 50 line that divides growth from contraction. Almost every country in the survey had a record-low reading.

“No countries are escaping the severe downturn,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit. “But the especially steep decline in Italy’s service sector PMI to just 17.4 likely gives a taste of things to come for other countries as closures and lockdowns become more prevalent and more strictly enforced in coming months.

The reports capped a gloomy week for Europe’s economy, where figures showed manufacturing in a deep recession, huge jumps in jobless claims, and thousands of companies in Germany cutting hours for workers.
The measure for services, which includes hotels and restaurants, was at 26.4, with Italy dropping to just 17.4.

Earlier in the session, Asian stocks fell, led by consumer discretionary and finance, after falling in the last session. Markets in the region were mixed, with Singapore's Straits Times Index and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 falling, and Jakarta Composite and Thailand's SET rising. The Topix declined 0.4%, with Insource and Helios Techno falling the most. The Shanghai Composite Index retreated 0.6%, with Qibu and Chimin Health Management posting the biggest slides.

While economic data is now of secondary importance as the US descends into a (hopefully brief) depression, traders will be eyeing today's jobs report which will end a historic 113 straight months of employment growth as stringent measures to control the coronavirus pandemic shuttered businesses and factories, confirming a recession is underway. However, as previewed earlier, today's Payrolls report will not fully reflect the full extent of the layoffs as it covers data until March 12.

With lockdowns for many economies around the world expected to go on for longer, data are showing the severity of the impact. Nearly 10 million people in the U.S. have lost their jobs in the past two weeks, while the virus continues to pressure corporate balance sheets. American Airlines will slash international flying as far out as the end of August as the pandemic batters travel demand through the normally busy summer season.

After that, at 10 a.m. ET we will get the ISM’s non-manufacturing activity index which likely dropped to 44 in March from 57.3 in February. A reading below 50 indicates contraction in the services sector, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.

“We are not going to have the real recovery in the market until what we think is the peak in the amount of infections and deaths,” Stephen Dover, head of equities at Franklin Templeton, said on Bloomberg TV. “We are going to continue to have very wide volatility until we can get over this uncertainty.”

In rates, ten-year Treasury yields are steady around 0.6%, while German equivalents are little changed at minus 0.44%

In FX, the dollar surged against all Group-of-10 peers, heading for a weekly advance, on rising demand for the world’s reserve currency after global coronavirus cases surged past 1 million. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rose 0.5% for the day, bringing its weekly advance to 2.2%. Antipodean currencies led losses in the basket, while the pound slid the most in two weeks. The yen weakened alongside the euro, pound and Swiss franc.

In commodities, crude oil fluctuated following the biggest jump on record a day earlier, but jumped over 10% on news the OPEC+ coalition will hold a virtual meeting on Monday.

Expected data include non-farm payrolls, unemployment, and PMIs. Constellation Brands is reporting earnings

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures down 1.3% to 2,484.50
  • STOXX Europe 600 down 0.6% to 310.07
  • MXAP down 0.5% to 132.75
  • MXAPJ down 0.5% to 429.35
  • Nikkei up 0.01% to 17,820.19
  • Topix down 0.4% to 1,325.13
  • Hang Seng Index down 0.2% to 23,236.11
  • Shanghai Composite down 0.6% to 2,763.99
  • Sensex down 1.8% to 27,753.84
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 1.7% to 5,067.48
  • Kospi up 0.03% to 1,725.44
  • German 10Y yield fell 0.7 bps to -0.44%
  • Euro down 0.5% to $1.0805
  • Italian 10Y yield fell 4.2 bps to 1.296%
  • Spanish 10Y yield unchanged at 0.709%
  • Brent futures up 5.9% to $31.71/bbl
  • Gold spot down 0.2% to $1,611.34
  • U.S. Dollar Index up 0.5% to 100.68

Top Overnight News

  • The euro-area economy is in a slump of unprecedented scale, which may worsen further as lockdowns to contain the coronavirus are extended. IHS Markit said its monthly measure of services and manufacturing points to an annualized economic contraction of about 10%
  • Oil advanced above $32 a barrel in London as OPEC+ scheduled an urgent meeting next week to try and stem the crude market’s rout, with an output cut of 10% of global production being discussed
  • U.K. services industries shrank at the fastest pace in at least two decades as the destruction of the coronavirus took hold. IHS Markit’s Purchasing Managers Index for the sector fell to 34.5 last month, the steepest downturn since the survey began in 1996
  • The European Central Bank’s 750 billion euro ($811 billion) emergency bond-buying program is the “central pillar” of its response to the coronavirus crisis, but Europe also needs continent-wide fiscal action, Finnish governor Olli Rehn said on Friday
  • The People’s Bank of China needs to make a more complete evaluation before taking a decision to change the rate paid on bank deposits, a senior official said in Beijing Friday
  • The cost of the coronavirus pandemic could be as high as $4.1 trillion, or almost 5% of global gross domestic product, depending on the disease’s spread through Europe, the U.S. and other major economies, the Asian Development Bank said

Asian equity markets were mostly lower as the region failed to sustain the energy-led euphoria from Wall St where risk appetite was driven by the record surge in oil prices after comments from President Trump spurred hopes of a potential Saudi Arabia and Russia oil price truce, in which he noted that he spoke to the Saudi Crown Prince who spoke with Russian President Putin and expects them to announce an oil production cut of 10mln-15mln BPD. Nonetheless, the momentum lost steam overnight given Russia’s denial of any talks occurring between President Putin and the Saudi Crown Prince, with key data releases including Chinese Caixin PMIs and looming US NFPs adding to the cautiousness. ASX 200 (-1.7%) gave up early gains as the initial surge in the energy sector reversed course and amid continued weakness in financials, while Nikkei 225 (U/C) also deteriorated after failing to hold above the 18000 level. Hang Seng (-0.2%) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.6%) conformed to the overnight indecision as participants digested the latest PMI releases from China in which Caixin Services PMI topped estimates and Composite PMI improved, although both remained in contraction territory with the former at its 2nd weakest reading on record. Finally, 10yr JGBs were pressured as Japanese stocks initially traded positive and following the BoJ’s Rinban announcement in which it lowered purchases in the short-end, although this wasn’t much of a surprise given the increased frequency of purchases for this month and JGBs later rebounded off lows as the risk appetite waned.

Top Asian News

  • Indonesia Is Ready to Add to $25 Billion Stimulus, Minister Says
  • Singapore to Close Schools, Most Workplaces Amid Virus
  • Japan’s Airlines Seen Joining Global Carriers With Huge Losses

A relatively tame session thus far in the European equity space, albeit major cash bourses reside in negative territory (Euro Stoxx 50 -0.8%), after the optimism seen on Wall Street yesterday faded during the overnight session – in which APAC bourses lost steam and closed largely in the red. European sectors mostly with energy faring the worst amid yesterday’s pullback in energy prices, although financials stand as the marked laggard, whilst healthcare names outperform – potentially on the back of heavyweight Novartis (+1.6%) after the Co. announced it plans to initiate Phase III clinical trials to evaluate the use of Jakavi for treating a severe immune overreaction in coronavirus patient. In terms of individual movers, Tullow Oil (+25%) sees significant upside after noting it remains on production target, whilst shares also see tailwinds from the rising energy prices. H&M (+3.7%) rises after Q1 products were considerable above forecasts, whilst revenue, group sales and online sales saw YY increases – albeit the Co. warned that losses will be seen in Q2 amid material negative virus impacts. Adidas (-3.8%) falls amid reports the Co. is seeking EUR 1-2bln in government aid due to the fallout from COVID-19. Remy Cointreau (-2.6%) is similar subdued as the virus is to cause steeper Q1 2020 losses than the -26% YY figure seen in Q4 2019.  State-side, Tesla shares rose some 18% after-market after Q1 deliveries topped estimates and its Shanghai factory achieved record production.

Top European News

  • ECB’s Rehn Calls for Europe-Wide Systemic Solution to Crisis
  • U.K. Services Shrink Most on Record After Virus Lockdowns
  • AB InBev and Heineken Decline on Mexico Alcohol Ban Concerns
  • HNA’s Swissport Is Said to Hire Houlihan to Advise on Debt

In FX, the Dollar is back in the ascendancy after Thursday’s oil-induced stumble and regaining momentum as most other currencies flounder amidst the ongoing spread of COVID-19 and economic fallout evident in services PMIs. The DXY has extended above 100.000 and currently probing a relatively key upside chart level at 100.631 (50% retracement from 102.999 ytd peak to recent 98.270 trough) in the run up to NFP, the final US Markit PMI and non-manufacturing ISM.

  • GBP/AUD/NZD - The biggest G10 losers, with Sterling succumbing to all round selling pressure in wake of the weaker than prelim UK services PMI that nudged the composite reading further below 50.0 and pushing Cable back under 1.2400 then 1.2300 to circa 1.2263, while Eur/Gbp has rebounded to 0.8800 from around 0.8740 even though the Eurozone surveys were even bleaker, Spain and Italy in particular. Meanwhile, the Aussie and Kiwi have handed back all their recovery gains from 0.6075 and 0.5900+ to sub-0.6000 and almost 0.5850 despite slightly firmer than forecast Australian retail sales overnight and another PBoC RRR cut that has not helped the Yuan either (Usd/Cnh just under 7.1200 vs 7.1115 Usd/Cnh fix – highest midpoint since March 2008).
  • CHF/CAD/EUR/JPY - Also losing more ground vs the Greenback, as the Franc slips towards 0.9800 where a 1.1 bn option expiry resided and Loonie hands back gains forged from yesterday’s crude price spike within a 1.4208-1.4116 range. Meanwhile, the aforementioned dire Eurozone services PMIs and composite prints have precipitated a further pull-back in Eur/Usd to sub-1.0800 and the Yen has reversed from 108.00+ all the way back above the 200 DMA (108.33).
  • NOK/SEK - In contrast to their major counterparts, more upside for the Scandinavian Kronas as oil returns to the boil ahead of Monday’s hastily convened OPEC+ meeting to discuss an output cut and the Riksbank continues to rule out a repo reduction in favour of any other monetary stimulus that may be deemed necessary. On that note, more should be forthcoming after Sweden’s services sector slumped into contractionary territory alongside manufacturing in March, while Norway’s jobless rate jumped nigh on 5-fold to 10.7%, though not quite as high as anticipated (consensus 13.5%). However, Eur/Nok is hovering shy of 11.2500 and Eur/Sek near 10.9600.

In commodities, the Dollar is back in the ascendancy after Thursday’s oil-induced stumble and regaining momentum as most other currencies flounder amidst the ongoing spread of COVID-19 and economic fallout evident in services PMIs. The DXY has extended above 100.000 and currently probing a relatively key upside chart level at 100.631 (50% retracement from 102.999 ytd peak to recent 98.270 trough) in the run up to NFP, the final US Markit PMI and non-manufacturing ISM.

  • GBP/AUD/NZD - The biggest G10 losers, with Sterling succumbing to all round selling pressure in wake of the weaker than prelim UK services PMI that nudged the composite reading further below 50.0 and pushing Cable back under 1.2400 then 1.2300 to circa 1.2263, while Eur/Gbp has rebounded to 0.8800 from around 0.8740 even though the Eurozone surveys were even bleaker, Spain and Italy in particular. Meanwhile, the Aussie and Kiwi have handed back all their recovery gains from 0.6075 and 0.5900+ to sub-0.6000 and almost 0.5850 despite slightly firmer than forecast Australian retail sales overnight and another PBoC RRR cut that has not helped the Yuan either (Usd/Cnh just under 7.1200 vs 7.1115 Usd/Cnh fix – highest midpoint since March 2008).
  • CHF/CAD/EUR/JPY - Also losing more ground vs the Greenback, as the Franc slips towards 0.9800 where a 1.1 bn option expiry resided and Loonie hands back gains forged from yesterday’s crude price spike within a 1.4208-1.4116 range. Meanwhile, the aforementioned dire Eurozone services PMIs and composite prints have precipitated a further pull-back in Eur/Usd to sub-1.0800 and the Yen has reversed from 108.00+ all the way back above the 200 DMA (108.33).
  • NOK/SEK - In contrast to their major counterparts, more upside for the Scandinavian Kronas as oil returns to the boil ahead of Monday’s hastily convened OPEC+ meeting to discuss an output cut and the Riksbank continues to rule out a repo reduction in favour of any other monetary stimulus that may be deemed necessary. On that note, more should be forthcoming after Sweden’s services sector slumped into contractionary territory alongside manufacturing in March, while Norway’s jobless rate jumped nigh on 5-fold to 10.7%, though not quite as high as anticipated (consensus 13.5%). However, Eur/Nok is hovering shy of 11.2500 and Eur/Sek near 10.9600.

US Event Calendar

  • 8:30am: Change in Nonfarm Payrolls, est. -100,000, prior 273,000
    • Change in Private Payrolls, est. -131,500, prior 228,000
    • Change in Manufact. Payrolls, est. -10,000, prior 15,000
    • Average Hourly Earnings YoY, est. 3.0%, prior 3.0%
    • Average Weekly Hours All Employees, est. 34.1, prior 34.4
    • Average Hourly Earnings MoM, est. 0.2%, prior 0.3%
    • Unemployment Rate, est. 3.8%, prior 3.5%
    • Labor Force Participation Rate, est. 63.3%, prior 63.4%
    • Underemployment Rate, prior 7.0%
  • 9:45am: Markit US Services PMI, est. 38.5, prior 39.1
  • 9:45am: Markit US Composite PMI, prior 40.5
  • 10am: ISM Non-Manufacturing Index, est. 43, prior 57.3

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

I came down from my upstairs home office for lunch yesterday and I’ve never seen my wife so stressed. After two weeks of looking after the kids without anywhere to take them she is at the end of her tether. The twins (2) are hitting, biting and kicking each other and crying all the time and Maisie (4) wants to be entertained 24/7 and can’t work out why she isn’t doing all her daily activities. The new trampoline gives them 30mins each day where they can all release energy but it’s very hard work to police. When I showed her our “The Exit Strategy” note link here where it suggested that it could be around mid-May before restrictions were lifted based on our Hubei-model she nearly walked out. Where she would be allowed to go in these times was a question I didn’t ask. However when I came down for dinner everyone was in a good mood as they have found this new augmented reality feature on google where it puts a wild animal in your house that you can then capture on photo or video with you (or your kids) in the frame. It is very funny. If your kids need 30mins of entertainment in these dull times and want to be in a shot with a live animal just type lion, panda, penguin or snake (there are other animals) into google on your phone and click on “see in 3D”.

Looking at the new virus cases and fatalities we may be looking at alternative ways to distract ourselves for sometime yet in certain countries even if light at the end of the tunnel continues to appear in those earliest infected in Europe. With global cases rising over 1 million and fatalities above 50,000, the US, UK, and Turkey (recent addition to the top 10 and now included in our tables) are the only countries in the top 10 of total cases that still have double digit daily growth in new cases. Italy and Spain continue to offer hope though, with still slowing new case and death rates. For the full tables as well as case growth and fatality charts see our new Corona Crisis Daily.

Straight to China now where this morning we’ve had the March Caixin services PMI which printed at a better than expected 43.0 (vs. 39.0 expected and 26.5 in the previous month). This backs up the jump observed in the state PMIs but still remains in contractionary territory unlike the state one. In the details, the employment index fell to 48.0 from 48.5 in February, the lowest on record since the series began. So while there are signs that China is stabilizing it still continues to reel under the after effects of the virus induced lockdown. The composite reading came in at 46.7 (vs. 27.5 last month). Elsewhere, Japan’s final services PMI was confirmed at 33.8 versus the 32.7 flash while Australia’s services PMI printed at 38.5 and readings in Hong Kong (34.9) and Singapore (33.3) were both sub-35.

In other overnight news, the PBoC Deputy Governor Liu Guoqiang has said that the PBoC needs to make a more complete evaluation before taking a decision to change the rate paid on bank deposits. These comments counter the market expectations that the PBoC would act soon to alleviate the pressure on bank profit margins, amid reductions on lending rates in recent weeks. He added, that above all, a deposit rate cut needs to consider the public’s feeling. Meanwhile, Zhu Jun, head of PBOC’s International Department has said in an interview that countries need to take more powerful measures to prevent and control the coronavirus epidemic, and more proactive fiscal policies to stabilize market confidence. Elsewhere, Washington Governor Inslee has extended the states "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order to May 4.

Asian markets are closing out the week on a slight down note with the Nikkei (-0.14%), Hang Seng (-0.58%), Shanghai Comp (-0.33%) and Kospi (-0.13%) all down. Meanwhile, futures on the S&P 500 are down -0.97% and yields on 10y USTs are down -1.1bps with the US dollar index trading largely flat. The price of Brent crude has fallen -3.77% this morning and thus paring some of yesterdays big gain (more below).

Indeed the main news item from markets yesterday was the massive move in oil prices, which surged after President Trump tweeted that he expected and hoped that Saudi Arabia and Russia would be cutting back oil production by “approximately 10 Million Barrels, and maybe substantially more”. He then said it “Could be as high as 15 Million Barrels.” In response, Brent crude was up by +21.02% in its largest move higher in data that goes back all the way back to 1988, and exceeding the +14.61% increase back in September after the strike on Saudi oil facilities. Meanwhile WTI was also up by +24.67%, even more than the +23.81% increase we saw on March 19th, and is now the largest one day in either direction on record since 1983 when the data starts. The +24.67% rally is slightly more than the largest one day decline of -24.59% on March 9th, showing just how extreme oil moves have been over the last month. It would have been nice to hear the response from the Saudis to verify, but for the day Mr Trump had a profound impact. Meanwhile, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said overnight that energy companies impacted by the oil-price war can turn to the Federal Reserve’s lending facilities for aid but won’t get direct loans from his department. He said, “Our expectation is the energy companies, like all our other companies, will be able to participate in broad-based facilities, whether it’s the corporate facility or whether it’s the main street facility, but not direct lending out of the Treasury.”

Even before the President’s tweet, oil was earlier around +10% higher thanks to reports that China was planning to buy oil for its emergency reserves, with Bloomberg saying that Beijing had set an initial target of holding government stockpiles equivalent to 90 days of net imports. The moves helped support the currencies of oil-producing nations, with the Norwegian Krone the top-performing G10 currency yesterday, up+0.63% against the dollar and the Canadian dollar close behind, up +0.37% against USD.

With the massive moves in oil prices, it was energy stocks that led equity markets higher yesterday, with the S&P 500 energy index up +9.08%, and the STOXX 600 Oil & Gas index up +5.22%. In terms of the broader market, the S&P 500 ended the session up +2.28% (after a strong last 90 mins), while the STOXX 600 rose +0.42%. For the S&P, this meant it was the 23rd out of the last 24 sessions in which the index has moved by at least 1% in either direction. By comparison, back round the turn of the year when things were rather calmer, we went all the way from mid-October until late January where the S&P didn’t move more than 1% at all.

With risk assets rallying, sovereign bonds were relatively quiet with the main action being tighter peripheral spreads as hope is returning over a pan EU aid scheme for the likes of Italy and Spain. 10yr Bund yields rose +2.5bps to -0.43% while Italian, Portuguese and Spanish bonds tightened to bunds by -6.8bps, -4.8bps and -2.0bps. Meanwhile, credit lagged the rally slightly yesterday. In the US, HY cash was +6bps wider, with IG spreads+1bp wider. In Europe HY spreads were 4bps tighter and IG was unchanged.

Speaking of credit, as we have noted in the past several weeks, there have been some heavy outflows from corporate bond funds since the crisis broke out. To add some positive news, this morning we have published the report Corporate Bond Funds Finally See Some Inflows. This has been a welcome reprieve, partly due to the announced central bank support. You can download the full report here.

Before the bulk of the oil moves that seemed to kick start a risk rally, investor sentiment was hampered by some truly unprecedented jobless numbers yesterday, with figures from a range of countries giving an alarming indication of the scale of the coming employment crisis. The US was the most notable, where the weekly initial jobless claims rose to 6.648m in the week to March 28th, which is more than double the previous week’s record 3.307m reading. That’s 10m in two weeks. To put this into perspective, the total number of employees on nonfarm payrolls totaled 152.5m in February, so this is consistent with some serious rises in unemployment. No one was expecting such a huge number, and it exceeded even the highest estimate on Bloomberg’s survey of economists. As mentioned previously, the worst week in the financial crisis was “only” 665k in March 2009 and the worst week in 53 years of data was 695k in October 1982, which gives a sense of how massive these numbers are.

It wasn’t just the US facing this problem though. In Spain, the number of people filing for jobless claims rose by 302,265 in March (a big miss considering the consensus was at 30,000), the biggest increase on record, and that doesn’t include those who’ve only been laid off temporarily. In Ireland, the Live Register, which measures demand for jobless benefits, rose to a seasonally adjusted 207.2k in March, while a further 283k claimed the pandemic unemployment payment and 25.1k claimed the new coronavirus wage subsidy. And in France, Labour minister Muriel Penicaud said that 400,000 businesses had applied for temporary unemployment for 4 million workers. To put that in context, the INSEE’s data for the total employment number in France stood at 28.5m in Q4.

Looking ahead to today, many will be paying attention to the US jobs report for March to give further colour on the situation. However, given how fast-paced things are moving it’s worth noting that the March survey actually cut off before the recent spike in jobless claims. So take the reading with a pinch of salt, as it won’t fully reflect the deterioration we saw towards the end of the month. The other release to watch out for will be the services and composite PMIs from around the world for March, which follow the manufacturing releases on Wednesday. The flash numbers saw numbers in the 29 to 40 range so worse than manufacturing.

Turning elsewhere now, and the coronavirus is continuing to wreak havoc on the plans of central banks, with the ECB announcing yesterday that they were extending the timeline for their monetary policy strategy review. Having previously said that it would conclude by the end of the year, they’ve now extended this until mid-2021. Unsurprisingly, they also announced that the annual ECB Forum on Central Banking in Sintra is being postponed until November. In terms of other delays thanks to the virus, reports came through from the US that the DNC were going to postpone the Democratic convention from July until August 17.

To the day ahead now, and the data highlights out today will be the release of the services and composite PMIs for March from around the world, along with the US jobs reports for March this afternoon. Elsewhere we’ll also get the ISM non-manufacturing index for March from the US, as well as Euro Area retail sales for February.

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 08:13
Published:4/3/2020 7:16:47 AM
[Markets] Outside the Box: How stock investors underpriced the risk of the coronavirus pandemic Trading in the VIX futures market was a step behind in assessing how bad COVID-19 would get.
Published:4/3/2020 6:45:55 AM
[Markets] Global Equities Fall As Coronavirus Cases Top 1 Million. Oil Surges Again. U.S. equity futures are down as investors await a potentially damaging labor report and coronavirus infections topped 1 million world-wide. Europe also endured grim data and stocks are down there, while oil prices are climbing on reports of a production cut and meeting to come. Published:4/3/2020 6:45:55 AM
[Markets] Cummins to reduce CEO salary by 50% and board compensation by 25% Cummins to reduce CEO salary by 50% and board compensation by 25% Published:4/3/2020 6:45:55 AM
[Markets] "Panic Stations": What Are The LBMA And COMEX Trying To Hide? "Panic Stations": What Are The LBMA And COMEX Trying To Hide?

Submitted by Ronan Manly,

Between 1962 and 1968, a cartel of central banks from the US and Europe ran a price manipulation scheme in London, aiming to keep the price of gold at $35 per ounce. They did this by constant intervention into the market, pooling their gold reserves to sell down the market. Conceived and coordinated at the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in Switzerland by the G10 central bank governors, the dirty work of actual gold market intervention was done by the Pool's agent, the Bank of England gold trading desk in London. 

The syndicate, known as the London Gold Pool was successful until it wasn’t, with the beginning of the end in early March 1968 as the huge run on gold became a tidal wave with sterling and US dollar weakness. On 10 March 1968, a Sunday, the consortium released a statement claiming that: “the London Gold Pool reaffirm their determination to support the pool at a fixed price of $35 per ounce”. At the same time, Fed chairman William McChesney Martin even vowed that the US would defend the Pool “to the last ingot”.  

The Pool then proceeded to airlift hundreds of tonnes of gold bars from the US Treasury’s Fort Knox to RAF Mildenhall, which they dumped into the London market for the rest of the week (March 11 -14). With all the Good Delivery Gold siphoned off to the Market (actually a consortium of European merchant banks), the Rothschild and the Bank of England pulled the plug, and the London Gold Pool collapsed on the evening of 14 March 1968, ushering in an era of free market gold prices.

Moral of the story, don’t believe the pronouncements of the powers that be in the London and US gold markets, especially during a crisis. 

Fast forward to today, and the parallels of the Pool with the modern bullion bank cartel, the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) and CME’s Commodity Exchange (COMEX) are uncanny. In the space of a week, the LBMA – COMEX nexus, which together control price discovery in the global gold market through their combination of fractionally backed synthetic unallocated gold, and cash settled gold futures, has issued two statements to try to placate the gold market, each one more panic stricken.

Last week, as the contango between COMEX futures and London spot gold blew up to a nearly $100 differential, and London market maker bid-ask spot spreads blew out to $100, the LBMA in a rush to deflect attention, issued a statement claiming that:  

“The London gold market continues to be open for business. There has, however, been some impact on liquidity arising from price volatility in Comex 100oz futures contracts. LBMA has offered its support to CME Group to facilitate physical delivery in New York and is working closely with COMEX and other key stakeholders to ensure the efficient running of the global gold market."  

As we asked at the time last week:

  • Why is the LBMA colluding with the COMEX?

  • How can the London gold market be open for business if LBMA market makers are not providing liquidity in spot gold

  • Why is the LBMA deflecting attention from the London market and pinning the focus on the COMEX? 

  • Why does the LBMA want to facilitate physical delivery in New York when its remit is the London Gold Market (loco London)?

  • Who are the other key stakeholders that the LBMA and COMEX are colluding with?

Then yesterday, April 1, for a second the LBMA and CME issued an unprecedented second statement, more desperate than the first, with the pair seemingly running scared:

LBMA AND CME GROUP COMMENT ON HELTHY GOLD STOCKS IN NEW YORK AND LONDON

CME Group and LBMA..will continue to coordinate efforts as market circumstances evolve. Together, both CME Group and LBMA are actively taking measures to ensure the continued efficient operation of global gold markets during this unprecedented time.

LBMA reports record gold stocks

Gold stocks in London remain healthy with the latest published numbers showing record stocks of 8,326 tonnes of gold, which is equivalent to 666,045 standard 400-ounce gold bars. Visit the LBMA website for more information.

CME Group depositories open and gold stocks near record high 

CME Group’s New York depositories are operating normally as they have been deemed essential businesses and deliveries are occurring as planned. As of March 30, 2020, our depositories currently hold 9.2 million ounces of gold (with 5.6 million ounces eligible), nearing a record high in terms of stock levels..." 

London Gold Pool - Bank for International Settlements (BIS), Basel

Never before has the gold market seen such panic from the paper gold conductors, and all this in the presence of record physical gold demand, cleared out gold bars and coin inventories across the entire gold supply chain, closed down precious metals mints and refineries, and a price disconnect between the physical and paper gold markets.   

The fact that the LBMA - COMEX tag team which front for the modern bullion bank cartel have to comment not once, but twice in a week about the health of gold inventories in London and New York means they are panicking. It's unprecedented.

And this comes after the bullion banks placed disinformation into the media last week about needing to physical deliver gold bars from London to New York (hint - In modern times the US never imports physical gold from the UK), and were panicked into moving the goalposts with the launch of a new CME COMEX futures contract that brazenly tries to prop up COMEX GC 100 trading with the figment of fractional delivery of 400 oz gold bars that sit in London. Not to mention that on Monday this week, after CME published a COMEX vault report that had 400 oz bar categories listed for all the vaults, but with absolutely no 400 oz gold bars listed, and we mentioned it here on ZeroHedge, the CME then panicked and pulled the 400 oz version of the report, reverting back within an hour to the original version

The entire LBMA - CME Group statement about healthy gold stocks is, in the words of Francis Bacon - “of Simulation and Dissimulation” - simulation being a pretense of what is not, and dissimulation being a concealment of what is.

The LBMA reference to 8326 tonnes of gold in its network of London vaults is completed misleading.

  1. This figure is from 31 December 2019, which is 3 months ago

  2. Of this 8326 tonnes figure, 5373 tonnes (65%) represents gold held by central banks at the bank of England, and another 1895 tonnnes representes gold backing Exchange Traded Funds held in London LBMA vaults, such as the vaults of HSBC and JP Morgan. Subtracting these leaves 1057 tonnes (13% of total). Thais 1057 is just the maximum possible London float and does not itself exclude allocated gold held by entities such as sovereign wealth funds, investment institutions, ultra wealthy and family offices.   I am hearing from the London gold market sources that the real LBMA bullion bank float is less than 500 tonnes and maybe be as low as 200 - 300 tonnes.

Looking at the COMEX data and vaults, as always, COMEX has very low gold holdings. The 9.2 mn ozs number which CME refers to in the above statement (actually 9.245 mn ozs) is only 287 tonnes of gold. Of that figure (which refers to Tuesday 31 March), 114 tonnes was in the Registered, meaning there already are vault warrants issued against that.
The other 5.6 mn ozs (actually 5.85 mn ozs) is ‘Eligible gold’, but eligible just means any gold that happens to be in the approved COMEX vaults that is in the form of kilo bars or 100 oz bars. It could be anything. It is already owned by entities, which would include mints, refiners, and jewellery companies, and eligible gold may have nothing to do with COMEX or CME. 

There are now over 2.19 mn ounces of Comex contracts standing for delivery in April (stops issued)  - that's 68 tonnes..and increasing.

From this latest April Fool’s Day statement, we can conclude that the LBMA is terrified that unallocated investors who have claims on LBMA bullion banks, will line up to take allocation of gold in London, while the CME is terrified that COMEX futures contract holders will increasingly try to take physical delivery of gold in New York (not just delivery of warrants but actually withdrawing the gold bars out of the COMEX vaults.

In March 1968 during the last days of the London Gold Pool, the cartel of central banks kept playing while the ship began to sink, brazenly saying that “the London Gold Pool reaffirm their determination to support the pool."

This time around, with their “healthy stocks of gold in London and New York” (you can be the judge of that), “the LBMA has offered its support to CME Group”. It therefore seems that while history doesn't repeat itself, it often rhymes.

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 07:00
Published:4/3/2020 6:16:08 AM
[Markets] Dow Jones Futures Fall After Strong Market Rally; Tesla Leaps On Q1 Deliveries As Two Leaders Eye New Buy Points Thursday's market rally defied soaring jobless claims and coronavirus cases. Tesla leapt as Q1 deliveries beat lowered views. Dexcom and Nvidia have brand-new bases. Published:4/3/2020 6:16:08 AM
[Markets] China's 'Silicon Valley' Bans Consumption Of Cats, Dogs China's 'Silicon Valley' Bans Consumption Of Cats, Dogs

As officials in Beijing continue their crackdown on the illegal trade in live wild animals sold for human consumption at China's infamous 'wet' markets - which have been blamed for passing the novel coronavirus to humans via bats, snakes or possible pangolins - Shenzen, the southern Chinese tech metropolis billed as China's Silicon Valley, has become the first city to ban consumption of cats and dogs.

The new law will take effect May 1, and was described as an "extension" of national laws banning the eating of wild animals. The Humane Society claims 30 million dogs a year are killed across Asia for meat. However, the consumption of dogs and cats for meat isn't that common in China, and most Chinese say they won't do it, according to the BBC.

Acround the world, dogs and cats as pets have established a much closer relationship with humans than all other animals, and banning the consumption of dogs and cats and other pets is a common practice in developed countries, as well as Hong Kong and Taiwan, the Shenzhen city government reportedly said in a statement to Reuters.

"This ban also responds to the demand and spirit of human civilization," they said.

Others praised it as a watershed moment for the city, and for China, even though Beijing still permits medicinal and other practices that activists say are abusive to animals.

"This really could be a watershed moment in efforts to end this brutal trade that kills an estimated 10 million dogs and 4 million cats in China every year," said Dr Peter Li, China policy specialist for HSI.

Beijing prohibited the consumption and sale of living wild animals in February after a wet market in Wuhan was identified as the epicenter of the global outbreak, though some have other theories.

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 06:30
Published:4/3/2020 5:44:34 AM
[Markets] Deal Making Is Drying Up — and It Won’t Get Better Soon The U.S. M&A market was cut in half during the first quarter of the year through March 28, and it is going to get worse before it gets better. Published:4/3/2020 5:44:34 AM
[Markets] Mark Hulbert: Why the smallest stocks may be quickest to recover from the coronavirus crash Highest-quality small-cap stocks may be good long-term holdings, writes Mark Hulbert.
Published:4/3/2020 5:44:34 AM
[Markets] Dow Futures Lower Ahead of March Jobs Data, While Oil Extends Gains, As Global Coronavirus Infections Top 1 Million With coronavirus infections topping 1 million, and nearing the 250,000 mark in the United States, investors are counting the economic cost of the global pandemic heading into the Friday trading session. Published:4/3/2020 5:15:25 AM
[Markets] New York Prisoners Offered PPE & $6/Hour To Dig Mass Graves For COVID-19 Victims New York Prisoners Offered PPE & $6/Hour To Dig Mass Graves For COVID-19 Victims

Authored by Alan Macleod via MintPressNews.com,

The job is being presented as a voluntary service. But in reality, prisoners have little choice...

One month ago, MintPress News reported that, in the case of a particularly bad COVID-19 (coronavirus) epidemic in New York City, authorities had drawn up contingency plans to dump the bodies in mass graves on Hart Island, a small island just off the Bronx in the Long Island Sound. The plans had been drawn up by former New York Mayor Micheal Bloomberg during his time in office.

The article might have appeared alarmist at the time, considering that the city had only one confirmed coronavirus case and patient zero was self-isolating in her Manhattan home. But one month later, things are bad. Really bad. City authorities have confirmed 41,771 cases of the novel coronavirus as of March 31, with nearly 1,100 deaths.

Yesterday The Intercept’s Ryan Grim confirmed that what we reported last month had indeed come to pass and that prisoners from the notorious Rikers Island jail are now being made to dig graves. Inmates have been promised the princely sum of $6 per hour to risk their lives disposing of the disease-ridden victims, with authorities insisting that they will be given adequate personal protective equipment, a dubious claim considering that hospital workers in the city have had to improvise, wearing plastic trash bags as shields against the deadly virus.

Bizarrely, a spokesperson for Mayor de Blasio’s office said the offer was not related to coronavirus. This is hard to believe; inmates already conduct burials for thousands of poor, homeless or unidentified people on the island and, until yesterday, were paid only $0.50 for the work. Why New York City would suddenly be offering prisoners a 1,200 percent pay rise during a nationwide economic collapse that has seen even frontline doctors and nurses having their pay drastically slashed, if not due to the desperately urgent need for more labor, is unclear.

The job is being presented as a voluntary service. But in reality, prisoners have little choice. American jails are an expensive place to be, with prisoners charged exorbitant fees for phone and video calls, food and other basic necessities. Furthermore, it is not clear whether those on Hart Island will actually be putting themselves at more risk than those staying inside Rikers.

While New York City is one of the global epicenters of the crisis, the prison has an (official) coronavirus infection rate seven times higher, and the situation inside the walls has reached near-collapse. An attorney from Brooklyn Defenders shared information she had received from inmates and their desperate relatives. 3,200 people are incarcerated, mostly in cramped dorms of 40-50 people, less than two feet apart from one another. Some have no bed and must sleep on dirty floors. The word “shit” was daubed on the wall with actual feces and has not been washed off for days because guards have stopped cleaning, essentially abandoning them to their fate. Many have stopped coming to work, displaying symptoms of the coronavirus themselves.

Over 300 inmates and staff have tested positive already, and the number is rapidly rising. When inmates ask for cleaning products, they are denied. There are no medical appointments because clinics are full. After sharing these stories, she ended by saying “I’m begging you [Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio] to use this moment, which is shattering so many of our norms, to demand humanity for them.” It may now be too late.

Hart Island has a particularly grizzly past. In the 1860s it was used as a training ground for Union troops and a prison camp for Confederate soldiers. It was also the site of a notorious psychiatric institution, a tuberculosis sanatorium and a quarantine zone for those who caught typhoid. Today, nobody who goes to the island leaves, except those doing the burials. Over one million poor, homeless or unknown New Yorkers have been interred there, none of whom have a tombstone. In the 1980s the first victims of the AIDS crisis were buried in special, extra-deep graves by authorities who were ignorant of how the disease spread.

In the past month, Governor Cuomo has emerged as a hero of the centrist wing of the Democrats for his supposedly responsible leadership in a time of crisis. He was lauded in the press for his announcement that prisoners would be making hand sanitizer to fight the virus. Whispers have turned to open talk that the party’s higher ups want him to replace Joe Biden as their candidate for the November election.

In a bizarre and extremely tetchy interview with his brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, he denied he had any intention to run for president. Yet Andrew himself presided over sustained and widespread attacks on the public health system. As The Nation stated, “Cutting Medicaid has been a priority of Cuomo’s since he took office in 2011.” Furthermore, it transpired that inmates were not making hand sanitizer at all; Cuomo having bought it in from abroad to score a publicity coup.

Thus, it appears likely that, because of the governor’s inactions, Rikers Island prisoners will likely be burying some of their cellmates very soon.

It is doubtful the $6 will be much comfort.

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 06:00
Published:4/3/2020 5:15:25 AM
[Markets] Experts Fear 'Suicide Wave' As The Social Fabric Of America Becomes "Unstitched" Experts Fear 'Suicide Wave' As The Social Fabric Of America Becomes "Unstitched"

Millions of Americans have just lost their jobs in the last several weeks due to the COVID-19 outbreak shutting down large swaths of the US economy. Households are coming under severe financial stress, with no savings, insurmountable debts, and job loss. Many are waiting for President Trump’s stimulus check to arrive in the mail, some have skipped out on their rent or mortgage payments on April 1, and others have called their credit card companies to defer debt servicing payments as incomes for tens of millions of people have gone to zero. 

The panic buying of food and supplies over the last month shows just how many people were unprepared for a national health crisis, nevertheless, now developing into an economic crash, and soon could be followed by a period of social unrest. 

But before the social fabric of America becomes unstitched – households are to crack first. Their finances are piss-poor, with no savings and insurmountable debts, which include auto, credit cards, and student loans. 

At the beginning of March, we noted how the gig-economy was about to crash, and by looking at the employment data that has come out since, along with future estimates, it’s pointing to an economic depression that could be arriving as soon as the second quarter.

Households are in rough shape. Many people are heavily medicated, own weapons, and have some sort of substance use disorder, suggesting that in periods of extreme financial stress – suicides could increase. 

What’s concerning is that a suicide wave among low-income folks, who are already feeling the side effects of job loss, could be imminent.

President Trump warned in the last week of March that nationwide lockdowns must be reversed to prevent “tremendous death” from the economic depression, referring to the likely increase of suicides. 

The 2008 Great Recession resulted in more than 10,000 suicides. The Great Depression resulted in tens of thousands of people taking their own lives. If the economy continues to be shuttered through April and or even May, then the depression will deepen, and suicides will increase. That is just the nature of the beast.

People get tremendous anxiety and depression and you have suicide over things like this, when you have a terrible economy, you have death,” President Trump said this week. 

And with that being said, on Monday, a Pennsylvania man upset over losing his job due to the virus shutdown shot his girlfriend and then killed himself in an attempted murder-suicide. While this is only one incident, all the evidence above suggests suicides across the country will increase in the weeks or months ahead.

What could come next is social unrest – households are crushed, have no money and or job, and that is likely why President Trump signed an executive order last Friday to call up as many as one million National Guard and reservists – not just to fight the virus outbreak – but to maintain social order.  

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 05:30
Published:4/3/2020 4:46:52 AM
[Markets] Global Equities Fall as U.S. Jobs Data Loom and Coronavirus Cases Top One Million World-wide European stocks fell, alongside U.S. equity futures, as a eurozone services purchasing managers index revealed a record drop and investors braced for U.S. jobs data later. Coronavirus infections topped 1 million world-wide. Published:4/3/2020 4:46:52 AM
[Markets] U.K. government forces banks to lend to small businesses on the brink of collapse The U.K. government has been forced to step in and force banks to lend to small firms after a financial lifeboat failed to deliver the intended emergency funds sparking fears one in five small businesses might collapse.
Published:4/3/2020 4:46:51 AM
[Markets] COVID-19 Poses A Greater Threat To Iran's Ayatollahs Than US Sanctions Do COVID-19 Poses A Greater Threat To Iran's Ayatollahs Than US Sanctions Do

Authored by Con Coughlin via The Gatestone Institute,

The Iranian regime's disastrous handling of the coronavirus pandemic could ultimately pose a greater threat to the survival of the ayatollahs than the impact of Washington's uncompromising sanctions regime.

Up until the coronavirus outbreak, the main challenge facing the clerical regime was the devastating impact the Trump administration's hard-hitting sanctions were having on the Iranian economy.

With the economy shrinking at the rate of 10 percent a year, and unemployment hovering around the 20 percent mark, the regime was under increasing pressure from anti-government protesters angry at the regime's mishandling of the economy.

Opposition groups claimed that more than 600 protesters were killed as regime hardliners tried to crush opposition to the regime.

Now the anger of ordinary Iranians at the regime's economic mismanagement has been replaced by outrage at the clerics' attempts to conceal the true extent of Iran's coronavirus outbreak, which has spread to all of the country's 31 provinces.

In its first public reference to the outbreak on February 19, the regime told people not to worry about the virus. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused Iran's "enemies" of exaggerating the threat.

A week later, as the number of cases and deaths surged, President Hassan Rouhani echoed the Supreme Leader's words and warned against the "conspiracies and fear-mongering of our enemies".

He said these were designed to bring the country to a standstill and urged Iranians to continue their everyday lives. More recently, state-controlled Iranian television channels have claimed the coronavirus could be a US-manufactured "bio-weapon", with the Supreme Leader tweeting about a "biological attack".

Consequently, as Iran's ruling elite have been in a state of denial about the scale of the outbreak, the epidemic has spread to the extent that Iran is currently suffering from the worst coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East. The latest official death toll by Iran's health ministry claims there had been 2,898 fatalities at the end of March, with more than 44,000 confirmed cases.

Other reports say the death toll could be much higher, and claim 4,762 people had died as of March 31.

The Iranian regime's failure to grasp the significance of the outbreak in its own country has led 16 other countries in the region to claim that their own outbreaks originated in Iran. These include Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates.

The scale of the coronavirus crisis in Iran has resulted in increased tensions between the hardline supporters of Ayatollah Khamenei and the government of President Rouhani.

While the hardliners have flatly rejected offers of assistance from Washington to combat the outbreak, Mr Rouhani has adopted a more pragmatic approach which has resulted in Tehran receiving its first shipments of humanitarian aid from Britain, Germany and France -- the so-called E3, which are also the European signatories to the controversial nuclear deal with Iran.

The European aid package, which is said to be worth $548,000, is the first transaction conducted under a trade mechanism known as the Instrument In Support Of Trade Exchanges, or Instex, which has been set up by the Europeans to enable them to barter humanitarian goods and food with Tehran after the US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal

Britain, Germany and France said last month they had offered a 5 million-euro ($5.5 million) package to Iran to help fight the coronavirus outbreak, and are also planning to send medical material, including equipment for laboratory tests, protective body suits and gloves.

Tehran would be well-advised, though, not to regard the aid delivery as raising the prospect of the sanctions being eased. The new trading arrangements set up by Europe have been designed not to breach the Trump administration's policy of applying "maximum pressure" against Iran, so that Instex can only be used for the delivery of humanitarian aid and food.

This means that, while the aid delivery might help to fight the coronavirus pandemic, it will do little to alleviate the pressure on Iran's incompetent, and increasingly unpopular, leadership.

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 05:00
Published:4/3/2020 4:19:26 AM
[Markets] Autotrader: New car review: The Hyundai Venue The all-new subcompact SUV is an urban adventure vehicle with good fuel economy at a great price.
Published:4/3/2020 4:19:26 AM
[Markets] "It's Like 9/11" - New York Becomes Wuhan As Its Crematories Work Overtime "It's Like 9/11" - New York Becomes Wuhan As Its Crematories Work Overtime

New York City is transforming into Wuhan, China, a sight that we showed readers on Thursday morning of body bags piled up at one Manhattan area hospital.

Now there are reports of crematories in the city, extending hours, and burning bodies into the night, with the expectation that corpses could be sent to upstate cemeteries as capacity has been reached. 

We noted last week that morgues in the city were "nearing capacity" and would be full by the first week of April. It appears limits have been reached as the fast-spreading virus has resulted in more than 92,381 cases statewide and 2,373 deaths, with much of the carnage seen across the five boroughs: The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island.

"We've been preparing for a worst-case scenario," said Mike Lanotte, executive director of the New York State Funeral Directors Association (NYSFDA), "which is in a lot of ways starting to materialize."

Directors at the NYSFDA said several of their locations in the city had reached their maximum workload of 10 to 15 bodies per day, straining resources. 

New York has relaxed air regulation rules to allow crematories to burn throughout the night, similar to what we reported in Wuhan in January/February: 

JP Di Troia, president of Fresh Pond Crematory in Queens, told Reuters that the pandemic is the most devastating thing he has seen in five decades of business. 

"No one could really imagine this happening," Di Troia said," well not if you read Zero Hedge. We've been documenting the spread of the virus since early January: 

Another crematory, located in Brooklyn, called Green-Wood Cemetery, has seen a surge in bodies, now taking in 15 to 20 bodies per day, nearly doubling its capacity in the last week, according to cemetery president Rich Moylan.

Di Troia and Moylan said the latest influx of bodies at their facilities is unprecedented in their five decades of operation. They said the closest comparison would be the September 11 attacks. 

"My fridge is full," said Andrew Nimmo, manager of Bergen Funeral Service Inc, which can store about 40 bodies. "I can't get people out (to crematories) right away."

With bodies piling up and crematories working overtime, 45 refrigerated tractor-trailers were dispatched to the city last week to act as temporary morgues. 

The makeshift morgues line the streets around some area hospitals in Manhattan, are being used to relieve the stress of the hospital system that has been overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.

With the mortality rate expected to surge, Deborah Birx, the White House's coronavirus response coordinator, warned on Wednesday that the virus death toll could hit 240,000 across the US. In the last month, the epicenter of the virus has transitioned from the West Coast to the Tri-state area.

David Fleming, legislative director for the New York State Association of Cemeteries, said bodies could be shipped to crematories upstate to alleviate the strain around the city. 

"It's not a crashing system. We do have plans in place if there needs to be release of capacity from the city to more outlying areas," Fleming said.

Here's evidence that New York City's healthcare system has transformed into Wuhan in the last several weeks: 

Tyler Durden Fri, 04/03/2020 - 04:30
Published:4/3/2020 3:44:26 AM
[Markets] The Wall Street Journal: 3M CEO says demand for N95 masks exceeds capacity as Trump invokes Defense Production Act American manufacturers say it will be months before they meet demand for high-quality masks, part of a broader breakdown in the effort to supply enough protective gear and lifesaving equipment to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Published:4/3/2020 3:13:54 AM
[Markets] Internal Documents: Monsanto Knew For Years Their Products Damaged Farms Internal Documents: Monsanto Knew For Years Their Products Damaged Farms

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

According to internal documents, Monsanto and Germany’s BASF knew their products would destroy farms in the United States. The firms disregarded the risks even while they planned on how to profit off farmers who would buy Monsanto’s new seeds just to avoid the damages caused by their products.