Category Archives: Uncategorized

Congressman Jerry Nadler: “God’s Will is No Concern of This Congress”

During the debate last week over the Equality Act, a measure that would create a right to kill babies in abortions and force Americans to fund abortions, Republicans accused Democrats of ignoring Biblical values. And a surprising comment from pro-abortion Democrat Congressman Jerry Nadler confirmed that to be true.

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My Body, My Choice

Yes, the rushed-to-market Covid “spike protein” vaccine means an unpredictable, genetically engineered and mutated virus fragment is being injected into your blood

(Natural News) Clinical trial geeks posing as journalists manipulate the language around the dirty and experimental methods used today to manufacture vaccines. Online, all the vaccine hucksters are trying to convince everyone that this sped-up hustle to produce a Covid-19 vaccine is still ‘safe and efficacious,’ and not to worry your little head a bit about the fact that it takes 7 to 10 years to even come close to developing a vaccine that works (even though they still have horrific side effects).

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Treasury Yields Explode After Catastrophic, Tailing 7Y Auction

This is as close to a failed auction as we have ever come…

Ahead of today’s closely watched 7Y treasury auction, where the bulk of the recent Treasury rout has been concentrated as traders hammered the belly of the curve, we said that “If the 7Y tails a lot, watch out below” as that would only add insult to today’s furious selloff injury. Well, that’s precisely what happened, because with the 7Y pricing at 1.195%, this was a whopping 4.1bps tail to the 1.151% When Issued.

The auction was, in a word, catastrophic. 

Starting at the top, the bid to cover tumbled from 2.305 to 2.045the lowest on record, and far, far below the 2.35 recent average.

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Home Prices Soar At Over 5 Times The Fed’s Inflation Target In All US Cities Surveyed

(Tyler Durden) The Fed’s most frequent lament is that no matter how many trillions in bonds (and stocks and ETFs) it buys or how much liquidity it forehoses into the market, it just can’t push inflation higher.

Well, here’s an idea: maybe all the central-planning megabrains at the Marriner Eccles building and 33 Liberty Street can take a break from whatever circle jerk they are engaged in right now, and look at the latest Case Shiller numbers which showed not only that home prices surged at the fastest pace in seven years, rising at a double-digit pace for the first time since 2014…

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Kansas Bill Would Make Gold And Silver Legal Tender In The State

(Michael Maharrey) A bill introduced in the Kansas House would recognize gold and silver specie as legal tender and repeal all taxes levied on it. The legislation would pave the way for Kansans to use gold and silver in everyday transactions, a foundational step for the people to undermine the Federal Reserve’s monopoly on money.

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CA Rep, Khanna (D): ‘We Don’t Want’ Small Businesses That Can’t Pay $15 Minimum Wage’

Trying to live the American dream but can’t pay $15 an hour minimum wage? Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna of California doesn’t think your business should exist.

During a Sunday discussion on CNN‘s “Inside Politics,” Khanna said that “low-wage businesses” who can’t pay $15 an hour are “underpaying employees” and suggested that “If workers were actually getting paid for the value they were creating, it would be up to $23.”

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Building a Bitcoin Prison – Catherine Austin Fitts

Former Assistant Secretary of Housing And Urban Development, HUD and investment advisor Catherine Austin Fitts says you have to be careful and fully understand Bitcoin.  Fitts explains, ‘We do know they want to go to an all-digital system with central bank cryptos. The easiest way to build the prison is to get freedom lovers everywhere to build our prison for them. To me, Bitcoin has always been the prototype on the way to building an all-digital, omnipresent crypto control system that they would love to put into place.’

Join Greg Hunter of USAWatchdog.com as he goes One-on-One with Catherine Austin Fitts, publisher of The Solari Report.

All science is merely a means to an end. The means is knowledge. The end is control. Beyond this remains only one issue: Who will be the beneficiary?

Data Shows Wind Power Failure Collapsed Texas Electric Grid

With the worst of the Texas power crisis now behind us, the blame and finger pointing begins, and while the jury is still out whose actions (or lack thereof) may have led to the deadly and widespread blackouts that shocked Texas this week, Cascend Strategy writes that “in case there was any doubt why the Texas grid collapsed, the data is clear”

  • Wind failed as “Ice storms knocked out nearly half the wind-power generating capacity of Texas on Sunday as a massive deep freeze across the state locked up wind turbine generators, creating an electricity generation crisis.”
  • Natural gas made up the difference for a while
  • But then everything else followed down

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Sky News Calls Biden Out For Cognitive Compromise

‘The Dementia is Transparently Obvious’

(Sundance) It appears the bloom is off the ruse, at least with Sky News.  In one of the first admissions to what is transparently obvious, an Australian news pundit finally points out that Joe Biden has cognitive issues.  The vast majority of Americans already know this, but the U.S. media have been pretending not to know for well over a year.  WATCH:

He may not have lost all his marbles, but there’s definitely a hole in the bag…

Source: by Sundance | The Conservative Tree House

Lumber Prices Top $1,000 For The First Time As Single Family Housing Starts Drop 12%

  • Lumber prices inched over $1,000 per 1,000 board feet, according to Random Length Lumber Futures for March.
  • That’s double the price from just three months ago.
  • Starts of single-family homes, which are the most desperately needed, fell 12% compared with December, according to the U.S. Census.

A contractor frames a house under construction in Lehi, Utah, U.S., on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. Private residential construction in the U.S. rose 2.7% in November. George Frey | Bloomberg | Getty Images

(Diana Olick) Consumers want more newly built, affordable homes, but builders are finding that hard to deliver, especially as prices for framing lumber spike ever higher.

Lumber prices inched above $1,000 per 1,000 board feet Thursday morning before falling back below that milestone, according to Random Length Lumber Futures for March. The high of $1,004.90 is double the price from just three months ago and a record.

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Biden Admin Prepares Operation Choke Point 2.0

By abusing the powers of Federal regulators, Operation Choke Point 2.0 would stifle the bipartisanship, unity, and healing President Biden claims to desire.

Biden Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol AP Photo/Susan Walsh

(Kelsey Bolar) Among the record-breaking number of executive actions taken by President Joe Biden was one related to a little-known, frightening Obama-era program called Operation Choke Point. The program, dubbed so under former Attorney General Eric Holder, used the power of the federal government to target legal yet leftist-disfavored businesses. Those included gun sellers, pawnshops, and short-term money lenders.

The Trump administration did its best to end this blatantly unconstitutional program that sought to discriminate against legal industries. In 2017, the Justice Department declared the program “formally over.” At the end of Trump’s term, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency established the Fair Access rule to solidify its culmination.

But on Jan. 28, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency under President Biden announced it would pause the Trump-era rule intended to prevent another Operation Choke Point from happening again.

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Biden COVID Expert Can’t Explain Why Lockdown States Aren’t Better Off Than Free States

(National File) During a recent television appearance on MSNBC, White House Senior COVID Response Advisor Andy Slavitt, who does not possess a medical background admitted the fact that California and other blue states under lockdown cannot record better infection numbers than comparatively free Florida is “just a little beyond our explanation.”

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Don’t Take It

Young Nurse Dies From Stroke Within Days Of Receiving COVID-19 Vaccine Booster

(National Addiction News) A 28-year-old healthcare worker from the Swedish American Hospital, in Beloit, Wisconsin was recently admitted to the ICU just five days after receiving a second dose of Pfizer’s experimental mRNA vaccine. The previously healthy young woman was pronounced brain dead after cerebral angiography confirmed a severe hemorrhage stroke in her brain stem.

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Newsom Prepares To Beat Recall With Mail In Ballots

(Adam Beam) — As California Gov. Gavin Newsom prepares for a potential recall election this year, the state Legislature passed a bill on Tuesday that would require all active registered voters get a ballot in the mail ahead of the election even if they didn’t ask for one.

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Judge Rules Citibank Can’t Get Back $500 Million Wired By Mistake

(Ramishah Maruf) After committing one of the “biggest blunders in banking history,” Citibank won’t be allowed to recover the almost half a billion dollars it accidentally wired to Revlon’s lenders, a US District Court judge ruled.

Citibank, which was acting as Revlon’s loan agent, meant to send about $8 million in interest payments to the cosmetic company’s lenders. Instead, Citibank accidentally wired almost 100 times that amount, including $175 million to a hedge fund. In all, Citi (C) accidentally sent $900 million to Revlon’s lenders.

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46 Residents Died After Receiving COVID Vaccine In Spanish Nursing Home

(Chris Black) Health officials have stopped administering the Pfizer vaccine after 46 residents of a nursing home in Spain have died after being inoculated with the Covid vaccine. The residents who died just received the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 in early January, according to the Spanish press, via LifeSiteNews.

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Israel’s SARS-CoV-2 Vaccination Program Poses Fascinating Questions

Medical Disclaimer: Content in this re-posted controversial opinion piece is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you read on this blog. OK?

“As things stand at the moment, it is hard to deny the possibility of a correlation between mass vaccination and a sharp spike in Covid-19 cases in both Israel and Britain.”
Gilad Atzmon

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If Christians Are to Survive, They Must Leave 501(c)(3) Churchs and Form Small Christian Collectives

The false gospel of collectivism and the True Gospel of Jesus Christ cannot coexist.

Let’s skip the whole bloody Civil War thing and instead jump to the Reconstruction Era. The Cultural and Spiritual Civil War has been going on for decades. We are standing in the ashes of it now. Time to reconstruct, reform, and rebuild for the Glory of God.

(by Dave Hodges) This is a time of unprecedented evil on planet earth. Many Americans are looking for refuge and direction with regard to dealing with unprecedented tyranny in our present lifetimes. Historically, Americans look to their church for salvation and direction. However, most of today’s churches have been taken over from within by the very evil we fear. Many of your religious leaders have become the newest version of Benedict Arnold with regard to their faith. In short, most 501(c)(3) churches do NOT represent God. Judas sold out the savior of humanity, Jesus Christ, for a mere thirty pieces of silver. Today, many religious leaders are selling out their congregations for even less. This is not meant to imply that there are not religious leaders who hold steadfastly to the word of God and stand as a beacon of spiritual and moral courage before their congregations. However, an increasing number of clergy are more interested in serving the dictates of Homeland Security than they are in accurately espousing and exemplifying the word of God. This betrayal by the “earthly” pastors towards the word of God, is precisely what is keeping the church from launching a massive Christian revival that would turn back the evil that has taken over our country.

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The Inflation Threat Just Got Real

(Neils Christensen) The debate between gold and bitcoin, as to which is the ultimate safe-haven and inflation hedge, continued to rage this past week. However, I feel that the longer this debate goes on, the more investors are missing the bigger picture.

The stark reality is that there is more than $16 trillion worth of negative-yielding debt floating around the world right now. The U.S. government continues to move forward with its proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus package to support the U.S. economy. The Federal Reserve’s balance sheeting grows from record high to record high, pushing above $7.4 trillion.

The U.S. also isn’t in this boat alone; central banks around the world are maintaining extremely accommodative monetary policies and growing their balance sheets to record levels.

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Utah Embraces Constitution, Ditches Concealed Carry Permits

The Beehive State joins 16 other states that have adopted permitless constitutional concealed carry

(Frank Salvato) As the nation’s gun sales soar, the State of Utah has is set to adopt a permitless concealed carry system in which anyone legally permitted to own a firearm – from any state in the Union – can carry a firearm under his or her clothing while in the state.

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Silver Shortages In February Suggest We’re Only Months Away From $50 Silver

Summary

  • Premiums on physical silver coins are at records, and shortages are widespread internationally. This is only possible if silver futures are not priced for a sudden flood of monetary demand.
  • Monetary demand tends to feed on itself, as the higher the price goes for a monetary asset like silver, the higher the demand for it goes, risking a dollar run.
  • Monetary demand for silver suddenly woke up in early February, causing shortages and rare backwardation in silver that we last saw in March 2020, September 2015, and February 2011.
  • After each of those backwardation periods, the paper price of silver skyrocketed within months as arbitrageurs moved in to bridge the physical/paper gap.
  • This backwardation is most similar to February 2011, with silver nowhere near lows, and if history rhymes, it suggests we are only months away from $50 silver.

(Austrolib) Gold and silver bugs are understandably frustrated with the lack of movement on the silver price while Bitcoin goes beyond the moon. Demand for physical silver has skyrocketed, and physical shortages at coin dealers are acute internationally. New American Silver Eagles from the US Mint are out of stock at even the largest US-based dealers like Apmex, and are only selling in pre-sales at near 50% premiums. ATS Bullion, a London-based precious metals retailer, is completely out of silver coins.

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‘I Can’t Afford To Live’: Man Panics After Insulin Skyrockets to $2,000 Per Month Under Biden Executive Order

(Tom Pappert) A 24-year-old man who says he graduated from college just before COVID-19 provoked massive lockdowns and a stagnant economy, now says that the cost of his insulin and other diabetic supplies have skyrocketed to $2,000. This comes after Joe Biden rescinded an executive order, signed by President Donald Trump, that lowered the cost of life sustaining insulin for low income Americans.

Roger Smith

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Pot Stock Shorts Smoked As Reddit Raiders Chase Prices Higher

With Gamestop stock in freefall, down a further 5% Wednesday morning to the low 47-handle, r/WallStreetBets has gravitated to cannabis stocks in recent days, squeezing the living daylights out of any hedge fund that is short pot stocks. 

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“Houston, We Have A Problem” 85%+ Of Physical Silver In London Already Held By ETFs

(Ronan Manley) With the ongoing #SilverSqueeze and huge associated dollar inflows into silver-backed Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), it is now time to look at which of these ETFs store their silver in the LBMA vaults in London, England, and to calculate how much physical silver these combined funds store in those London vaults.

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The Real Silver Squeeze Lies Ahead

Summary

  • Silver and silver stocks’ explosive move higher was just a taste of what’s to come.
  • The WallStreetBets call-to-action has brought wild action to the silver market, but supply/demand fundamentals will make future buying stick.
  • Now, a much bigger share of investors is aware of the silver space.
  • With falling supply and soaring demand, especially from investment, silver’s mania stage still lies ahead. This was just the opening act.

(Peter Krauth) “Temporarily out of stock.” – That’s the message most hopeful physical silver buyers have been getting since the last days of January. Odds are bullion dealers going to have a tough time keeping any silver in stock.

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Want To Own Apartment Buildings? Buy Distressed Hotels For Pennies On The Dollar

(Diana Olick) Communities are desperate for more affordable housing, but the cost for developers is just too high. Land, labor and materials were pricey before the pandemic, and they are even more so now.

That is why some creative developers are now turning to hotels – and it appears to be a match made in real estate heaven.

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Laid-Off Pipeline Workers Send BRUTAL Message to Joe Biden

The Keystone pipeline. Cancelled by executive order on Biden’s on first day in office.

Warren Buffett owns BNSF railroad that is now transporting all that oil. BNSF would lose billions in transport fees if the pipeline is completed.

Report: China Denying Entry To People Who Took Pfizer, Moderna Vaccines

Officially, China has no specific policy for vaccinated travelers, according to Reuters.

Woman on the Yangtze River Bridge in Wuhan, China… Getty Images

China is reportedly denying entry to individuals who have taken the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, Adam Curry of the “No Agenda” podcast claimed.

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Frontline Doctors Determine Experimental Vaccines ‘Not Safer’ Than COVID-19

Physicians’ white paper says injection prohibited for the young and at least discouraged for healthy individuals under 70 years of age. ‘Unethical’ to advocate vaccine for persons under 50.

(Patrick Delaney) In an extraordinary recent presentation exposing “the serious and life-threatening disinformation campaign” being waged against the American people and the world, Dr. Simone Gold of the American Frontline Doctors (AFLD) laid out the facts on the Wuhan Virus, safe highly-effective treatments, and particularly what she calls “experimental biological agents,” otherwise referred to as the COVID-19 vaccines.
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Reddit Raiders Preparing To Unleash “World’s Biggest Short Squeeze” In Silver

While all eyes have been focused on GameStop and a handful of other heavily-shorted stocks as they exploded higher under continuous fire from WallStreetBets traders igniting a short-squeeze coinciding with a gamma-squeeze, the last few days saw another asset suddenly get in the crosshairs of the ‘Reddit-Raiders’ – Silver.

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Chinese Bombers Carried Out “Simulated Attack” On USS Roosevelt Carrier Near Taiwan

Tensions spiked in the South China Sea and near Taiwan over this past weekend and have continued boiling since, after Chinese PLA aircraft made repeat in incursions into Taiwan’s claimed airspace. In response Taiwan’s Air Force scrambled jets in its own ‘show of strength’ deterrence message, and with the US aircraft carrier USS Roosevelt in the region, China’s Defense Ministry subsequently warned Taipei on Thursday that “independence means war”.

A new report in FT that broke overnight now reveals that the Sunday incident was even more alarming for the prospect of direct conflict than previously thought. FT cites unnamed intelligence sources to report that “Chinese military aircraft simulated missile attacks on a nearby US aircraft carrier during an incursion into Taiwan’s air defense zone three days after Joe Biden’s inauguration, according to intelligence from the US and its allies.”

File image of Taiwan Air Force F-16 monitoring a Chinese H-6 bomber, via Taiwan’s Defense Ministry

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Geopolitical Game Changing Iranian Pipeline Set To Launch

(Simon Watkins) The geopolitically game-changing Goreh-Jask pipeline project saw a major advance last week with the commencement last week of offshore pipe-laying operations. The implementation of this operation markets the first stage of the offshore development of the Jask Oil Terminal and, according to the Pars Oil and Gas Company, this offshore section of the early-production phase of the project will be completed with the construction of two 36-inch offshore pipelines running for around 12 kilometres and a single buoy mooring with ancillary equipment. Overall, the company added, the early-production phase of the Jask Oil Terminal Development Project is 70 per cent complete, allowing the project to come online by late March.

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The Day Free Markets Died In America

Brokerages/Markets A CRIME IN PROGRESS FOR RETAIL INVESTORS

This is unacceptable.

We now need to know more about @RobinhoodApp’s decision to block retail investors from purchasing stock while hedge funds are freely able to trade the stock as they see fit.

As a member of the Financial Services Cmte, I’d support a hearing if necessary. https://t.co/4Qyrolgzyt

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 28, 2021

BOMBSHELL ALLEGATION: Man Claims To Be Robinhood Employee & Says The White House Pressured Halt of GameStop Trading

All Hail The Reopening!

(Jeffrey A. Tucker) What a glorious thing the reopening is! After nearly a year of darkening times, the light has begun to dawn, at least in the U.S. 

Given how incredibly political this pandemic has been from the beginning, many people smell a rat. Is it really the case that the reopening of the American economy, particularly in blue states, is so perfectly timed? Do the science and politics really line up so well?

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Audit Finds 4 Million Californians May Have To Repay COVID Jobless Benefits

A new audit of California’s Employment Development Department (EDD) finds the agency was unprepared and had ineffective management to handle the surge in jobless claims during the virus pandemic. 

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U.S. Home Prices Soar At The Fastest Pace In 7 Years

After surged in October, US home prices (as measured by S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index of property values) was expected to accelerate further as a low inventories of listings and solid demand, fueled by cheap borrowing costs, have given sellers more leeway to raise asking prices. And it did not disappoint as November (the latest data) showed the 20-City Composite Home Price Index soared 9.08% YoY… the fastest pace since May 2014.

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Portland Journalist Andy Ngo Flees U.S. Amid Death Threats From Antifa

Image

Journalist Andy Ngo, whose parents fled to the US from Vietnam in 1978, has become a political refugee himself, fleeing to London, saying he received death threats from Antifa over his coverage of the movement.

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Accurate List of 2020 Election Fraud Shows 81 Cases, 30 Still Active – And NOT ONE SINGLE COURT Has Allowed Evidence to be Argued

(Joe Hoft) The 2020 election will go down as arguably the greatest fraud in world history.  The tremendously popular incumbent candidate, President Trump, was easily winning the race on election night in a landslide and then suddenly multiple states took a break, quit counting, and by the end of the week the election was flipped to Joe Biden.

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CA Person Dies Within Hours Of Receiving The Jab

Multiple agencies are investigating the cause of death of an individual who died Thursday January 21st, hours after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, the Placer County Sheriff’s Office announced on Saturday.

Full article

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CNA Nursing Home Whistleblower: Seniors Are DYING LIKE FLIES After COVID Injections!

Massive Silver Bets As Treasury Wants More Trillions To ‘Build Back Better’

(Jhanders) Soon to be confirmed, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen made the case earlier this past week for many more trillions in stimulus and infrastructure spending. All, of course, will be financed out of thin air and rationalized given the viral shock to the economy and still current historically low-interest rate regime.

Of course, ours is not the only privately owned central bank in the world, creating currency out of thin air and adding to their balance sheet.

This year 2021, we can again expect the private Federal Reserve’s balance sheet to balloon as the US government rolls over and refinances a record $8.5 trillion in government IOUs.

Silver Gold Market Update

Simultaneously this week, as Janet Yellen was selling our spending many more trillions we have not saved, a record-sized one day inflow of over $1/2 billion showed up in the silver derivative markets.

Silver bulls are again laying down long bets assuming silver spot prices will rise given all the upcoming trillion in stimulus behind and ahead.

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D.C. Mayor Bowser: Dem-Led House, Senate Will Pass D.C. Statehood, Bring It to Biden’s Desk

(Pam Key) Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser told  “Just the News” on Friday that the Democratic-led Senate and House will vote in favor of statehood for the District of Columbia and send the bill to President Joe Biden’s desk, who has expressed support for D.C. statehood in the past.

Bowser said, “The nation’s capital, the federal enclave, continues to exist as the nation’s capital and everything outside of those new boundaries becomes the 51st state. Our congresswoman – we had our first successful vote on statehood in the House of Representatives last year. She reintroduced the bill. She has a record number of sponsors.”

She continued, “It is going to be reintroduced in the Senate in a couple of weeks, and we expect to have a favorable vote in the Senate as well, and then it goes to the president of the United States. We have made a big focus to President Biden to support D.C. statehood and make it part of his 100-day agenda.”

She added, “Just like you, we pay the same federal taxes as every citizen of the fifty states of the U.S. expect we do not have two senators. We literally have no one to speak for us in the Senate. We have to have full representation.”

Source: by Pam Key | Breitbart

Carlsbad, CA Says No More to Lockdowns

(John Tanmy) It’s been said off and on over the decades that California is a bellwether of sorts. What happens there is a preview of what’s going to happen elsewhere in the U.S.

“I’m not willing to give up without a fight — I’m just not.” – Annie Rammel, Carlsbad, CA restaurant owner.

In the late 1970s the passage of Proposition 13 foretold a national tax revolt. Californians used a referendum to limit the tax power of grasping politicians in the Golden State, and the push back eventually went national.

A different, more local revolt began last weekend in Carlsbad, CA, a town just north of San Diego. Its restaurant and bar owners decided they’re weren’t going to take it anymore. They’re no longer going to allow witless politicians to destroy what they’ve worked so long to build. They’re going to open their businesses to eager customers.

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Articles of Impeachment Filed Against Biden by GOP Freshmen Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene

Newly-elected Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) on Jan. 21 announced she has introduced articles of impeachment against the new president, Joe Biden.

Then-Georgia Republican House candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene at a press conference in Dallas, Georgia on Oct. 15, 2020. (Dustin Chambers/Getty Images)

The articles of impeachment concern Biden’s alleged actions involving a “quid pro quo” deal in Ukraine and alleged abuse of power “by allowing his son, Hunter Biden, to siphon off cash from America’s greatest enemies Russia and China,” Greene’s office announced in a statement just a day after Biden was sworn in as the 46th U.S. president. Continue here, Epoch Times

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Video: Biden’s Earpiece Says ‘Salute The Marines’, So He Says “Salute The Marines” Out Loud, Doesn’t Salute Them

Article  Video

 

California Halts COVID Vaccinations From Moderna Batch Linked To “Unusually High Number” Of Adverse Reactions

As the suspected death toll attributed to COVID-19 vaccines rises around the world, with dozens already reported in the US and Norway, California health officials have asked health-care providers in the state to immediately stop administering a batch of Moderna COVID-19 jabs after an “unusually high number” of adverse reactions were linked to it, according to RT.

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Homeland Security Committee Releases Report Outlining Biden Family Selling U.S. Policy for Personal, Financial Gain

(The Conservative Tree House) The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee finalizes a report [pdf available here] with evidence of Joe and Hunter Biden conducting financial deals with foreign governments.  The report outlines how the Biden family sold access to government policy for personal financial benefit.

[Embed pdf Below] Considering the scale of evidence showing massive conflicts of interest, it is quite astounding that Joe Biden is currently ‘president-elect’…

What Every Bitcoin Investor Needs To Know

 

(Kitco News) – Bitcoin is one of the most unequally distributed assets in the world, with just under half a percent of all bitcoin investors owning more than 80% of all bitcoins, and should they liquidate, the market could see a substantial sell-off, said Ryan Giannotto, director of Research at GraniteShares ETFs.

 

“It’s a major challenge for the asset class: it’s intended to be a financially democratizing force, yet it is so profoundly distributed in an unequal fashion. It’s really unlike anything we’ve ever seen. This is one of the perils of bitcoin investing that go unreported, undiscussed,” Giannotto said. “It is a seriously cornered asset class.”

Five hundredths of a percent of bitcoin investors control over 40% of all bitcoin, and just under half a percent of all bitcoin investors control over 5/6ths, or 83%, of bitcoin, he noted.

Most of these larger stakeholders, or “whales” as they are referred to as in the crypto community, are early adopters of bitcoin.

If these early adopters of bitcoin were to sell their holdings altogether, that would exceed the daily trading volume, effectively “wiping out” the asset, Giannotto said.

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CA EDD Fraud Estimate Balloons Over $8 (Billion)

(Michael Finney) The amount of unemployment funds stolen from California taxpayers in 2020 may total more than $8 billion — four times higher than estimated just one month ago. The numbers are staggering; the solutions elusive. As our sister station KGO-TV found out, even states credited with cracking down on fraud have had issues. Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve shared countless stories of struggling Californians desperate to get their unemployment benefits.

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Matthew 24:6 You Will Hear Of Wars And Rumors Of Wars, But See To It That You Are Not Alarmed. Such Things Must Happen, But The End Is Still To Come.

Washington, D.C.: Barriers going up — Troops are on the streets

Michael Yon is recognized as the most experienced American combat correspondent alive today.

(Michael Yon) I’ve been spending long days and nights with Rudy Giuliani and team. Historical times. As you know, I am not on the President’s team and never have been. I spent the vast majority of my time for last twenty years overseas, not prowling around D.C. I spent very little time in America for nearly any part of Bush, Obama, or Trump time in White House. Most of this time has been in some sort of war or conflict.

Those who follow my work for many years know that I am careful with my words, and that I am amazingly accurate on my stated predictions in conflicts. I have never seen any country that I am more sure is heading into revolution, and civil war. All compass needles point this direction.

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2020 Was a Snack, 2021 Is the Main Course

One of the dishes at the banquet of consequences that will surprise a great many revelers is the systemic failure of the Federal Reserve’s one-size-fits-all “solution” to every spot of bother: print another trillion dollars and give it to rapacious financiers and corporations.

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The World’s CFOs Have a Dire Message for Real-Estate Investors

Property investors are about to discover just how much the global fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has spread from deserted and cast-off buildings to their bottom lines.

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NYC Restaurant Operators Furious Over Indoor Dining Ban After Data Shows Restaurants Account For only 1.4% Of Flu Cases

(Tanay Warerkar) Yesterday, we reported that with in parallel with Andrew Cuomo’s decision to once again shut down indoor dining in New York starting Monday, more than half of the city’s restaurants are in danger of closing. Yet as Eater New York reports, many in the New York hospitality industry were dismayed by Cuomo’s decision as it followed close on the heels of new state data which showed that restaurants and bars in the state accounted for just 1.4% of cases over the last three months. While most were prepared for the ban to be announced this week, many felt the decision seemed to contradict the data.

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The Squeeze Is On: Work From Home Creates Historic Commercial Real Estate Acquisition Opportunities

“I don’t see any way of avoiding a great deal of pain in the commercial real estate market in 2021. It is almost inevitable. My friends at the Federal Reserve and FDIC are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with what’s going on in the commercial real estate world.”

Cam Fine, Former President of Independent Community Bankers of America

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╬ ミ d a r k w i n t e r ミ ╬ – Millions Of Americans Are Expected To Lose Their Homes

dark covid winter is descending on the working-poor of America as millions of adults face eviction or foreclosure in the next few months. Bloomberg, citing a survey that was conducted on Nov. 9 by the U.S. Census Bureau, shows 5.8 million adults face eviction or foreclosure come Jan. 1. That accounts for 32.5% of the 17.8 million adults currently behind rent or mortgage payments. 

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CA Tax Revenue Windfall Creates Political Dilemma: What to do with it

California has an unexpected and welcome revenue windfall, but it creates a dilemma on what to do with it.

(Dan Walters) As Gov. Gavin Newsom makes the final decisions on writing a 2021-22 budget, he’s receiving some good revenue news from his bean counters.

During the first four months of the 2020-21 budget cycle, which began on July 1, state general fund revenues were more than $11 billion higher than the apocalyptic estimates on which the budget was based. Moreover, the windfall could easily double to $26 billion in the first months of 2021, according to the Legislature’s budget analyst, Gabe Petek.

What happened?

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L.A. Home Sales Soar As California’s Housing Market Defies Pre-Great Reset COVID Plandemic

L.A. Home Sales Soar as California’s Housing Market Defies Covid

(Alex Tanzi) — When it comes to L.A. real estate, “Sunset” is still selling — even nine months into the pandemic.

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JPMorgan: ‘Orderly’ Trump Win Is The Most Favorable Outcome For Equities

LONDON (Reuters) – U.S. investment bank JPMorgan expects the S&P500 index to surge to 3,900 points if U.S. President Donald Trump is re-elected next week, calling such an outcome the most favorable for stock markets.

A rise to 3,900 would mark a 12.6% jump from Friday’s closing level.

A clean sweep by Democrats would be “mostly neutral” for markets, JPM said in a note received on Monday, adding: “We see an ‘orderly’ Trump victory as the most favorable outcome for equities.”

The odds of a “blue wave” have narrowed slightly since mid-October. Former vice president Joe Biden has a substantial lead in national opinion polls, although the contest is closer in battleground states likely to decide the race.

JPMorgan said several of its data gatherings, such as voter registration, Twitter sentiment, point to a “tightening race”. The bank sees a gridlock in the election as a “net positive” for stocks.

Within sectors, JPM sees beaten down energy and financial stocks to likely be key beneficiaries of a Trump victory, while a Biden win could trigger a rotation from U.S. growth stocks to non U.S. growth stocks, given the risk of higher taxes.

“We find that energy, financials and healthcare sectors could likely see the most outsized moves as they have been explicitly referenced by each candidate on the campaign trail,” the bank added.

Source: by Thyagaraju Adinarayan | Reuters

How We Got Surging Home Prices

Terminal (Money) Velocity? The Missing Existing Home Sales Inventory And Collapsing Money Velocity

(Anthony B. Sanders) Have you ever wondered why the inventory of existing home sales have crashed since the housing bubble of the early/mid 2000s?

If I overlay the median price of existing home sales with low inventory and low money velocity, we get surging prices.

Poor Kristy Swanson.

Source: by Anthony B. Sanders | Confounded Interest

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New Home Sales Tumble In September As Average Price Hits Record High

U.S. new home sales drop; record low mortgage rates underpinning demand

BofA: Fed Will Use Digital Dollars To Unleash Inflation, Universal Basic Income And Debt Forgiveness

When we recently described the upcoming “Unprecedented monetary overhaul” which will come in the form of the Fed sending out digital dollars directly to “each American”, we explained that “absent a massive burst of inflation in the coming years which inflates away the hundreds of trillions in federal debt, the debt tsunami that is coming would mean the end to the American way of life as we know it. And to do that, the Fed is now finalizing the last steps of a process that revolutionizes the entire fiat monetary system, launching digital dollars which effectively remove commercial banks as financial intermediaries, as they will allow the Fed itself to make direct deposits into Americans’ “digital wallets”, in the process enabling truly universal basic income, while also making Congress and the entire Legislative branch redundant, as a handful of technocrats quietly take over the United States.”

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Half Of Europe’s Small Businesses Face Bankruptcy As CCP Virus Cases Spike

European equities slumped to near one-month lows on Thursday, as soaring COVID-19 cases across the continent weighed on sentiment. In recent months, virus cases have spiked across Europe, with Spain becoming the first country on the continent to surpass the one million infection mark. At the same time, Italy has just set a record increase in daily cases.

The surge in European coronavirus cases has shifted sentiment lower for businesses, with downside risks emerging for the continent’s economy in the fourth quarter. 

Bloomberg, citing a new McKinsey & Co. survey conducted in August, describes a particularly gloomy outlook for Europe’s small and medium-sized businesses, warns that at least half of them could enter into bankruptcy proceedings in the next year if revenues continue to stagnate

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U.S. Existing Home Sales Soar To Highest Since 2006

Existing home sales soared 9.4% MoM in September, almost double the +5.0% expectation.

This is the highest level of sales since May 2006…

Now that’s a ‘V’…

Median home prices soared 14.8% from last year to $311,800 amid a tumble in inventory to just 2.7 months supply.

Source: ZeroHedge

Wisconsin Confirms Foxconn’s Taxpayer-Backed LCD ‘Factory’ Isn’t Real

Days before the State of Wisconsin denied Foxconn’s request for state tax credits – in the form of direct payments from the state to Foxconn’s bank account – related to the “factory” built by the world’s largest contract tech manufacturer in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin. The project was announced shortly after President Trump’s upset election victory, but quickly ran aground as reporters complained that the facility being built by Foxconn bore little resemblance to the enormous Gen 10.5 LCD factory the company had promised.

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Fed Lays Out Why They Want To Flip The World Into Digital Dollars

(ZeroHedge) In what remains the most under covered financial topic of the year, if not century, we remind readers that starting about a year ago, central banks around the world launched an unprecedented if stealthy attempt to overhaul the entire monetary architecture of fiat money by implementing digital dollars, a transformation to a cashless society which in recent months has also received the tacit support of Congress, which is actively drafting bills to send “digital dollars” to the unbanked. For those just catching up, read the following recent articles:

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San Fran’s New Normal: Third Walgreens In A Year Is Closing Due To “Rampant Shoplifting”

The effects of allowing chaos to prevail in liberal run cities across America might not be obvious to liberals now, but when their cities empty out completely, it’s going to become crystal clear.

Such is the case in San Francisco, where the city’s new normal of shoplifting and chaos has driven another Walgreens pharmacy out of the city. 

The move to close the Walgreens at Van Ness and Eddy came after “months of seeing its shelves repeatedly cleaned out by brazen shoplifters”, according to the SF Chronicle. The location served “many older people” who lived in the area. 

One customer told the paper: “All of us knew it was coming. Whenever we go in there, they always have problems with shoplifters.”

The same customer photographed someone in the store, days prior, “clearing a couple shelves and placing the goods into a backpack”. Because when there’s no police and politicians are afraid to enforce the law – why not?

The penalty for shoplifting is a “nonviolent misdemeanor” that carries a maximum sentence of 6 months. But in most cases, for simple shoplifting, the criminal is simply released with conditions.

The customer, who lives a block away, said: “I feel sorry for the clerks, they are regularly being verbally assaulted. The clerks say there is nothing they can do. They say Walgreens’ policy is to not get involved. They don’t want anyone getting injured or getting sued, so the guys just keep coming in and taking whatever they want.”

American Home Builder Sentiment Soars To New Record High

Well, you have to laugh really. Amid the greatest economic contraction in US history, rising social unrest, ongoing extreme unemployment, and demands for further trillions in handouts from the government (or the world will come to an end), there is one group that is ‘loving it’!

According to the National Association of Home Builders, home builder sentiment has surged to a new record high at 85 in October…

The October reading was stronger than the expected 83, and marked the sixth straight month builder sentiment has exceeded the consensus estimate.

By region, builder sentiment in the West and Northeast rose to the highest levels on record, while confidence eased in the South and Midwest.

The NAHB’s gauge of current single-family home sales rose by 2 points to a record 90 in October, while a measure of the outlook for purchases climbed 3 points to an all-time high of 88. The group’s index of prospective buyer traffic held at 74.

“The concept of ‘home’ has taken on renewed importance for work, study and other purposes in the Covid era,” Chuck Fowke, chairman of NAHB, said in a statement.

“However, it is becoming increasingly challenging to build affordable homes as shortages of lots, labor, lumber and other key building materials are lengthening construction times.”

Home buyer sentiment has rebounded but remains drastically below previous peak levels…

Does make one wonder…maybe we should have pandemics (and riots) more often?

Source: ZeroHedge

“Americans Must Wake Up To The Ugly Reality” – China Is Now The World’s Largest Economy

(by Graham Allison) China has now displaced the U.S. to become the largest economy in the world. Measured by the more refined yardstick that both the IMF and CIA now judge to be the single best metric for comparing national economies, the IMF Report shows that China’s economy is one-sixth larger than America’s ($24.2 trillion versus the U.S.’s $20.8 trillion). Why can’t we admit reality? What does this mean?

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China Tells Local Mills To Stop Using Australian Cotton And Ore, On Heels Of CCP Flu Probe

While the rapid deterioration in diplomatic relations between the US and China has been put on hiatus until after the election, at which point Beijing hopes that a Biden administration would promptly restore amicable relations between Beijing and DC, trade relations within the Pacific Rim region are getting worse by the day, with nobody getting more impacted by China’s desire to flex its muscles than Australia: escalating bilateral tensions have resulted in China’s “unofficially” asking cotton and ore traders to stop buying products from Australia.

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U.S. Industrial Production Unexpectedly Tumbled In September

After slowing its rebound dramatically in August, analysts expected another small lift in September, but Industrial Production disappointed gravely, falling 0.6% MoM (against expectations of +0.5%)…

The big driver of the plunge in industrial production was utilities (plunging 5.6%) as demand for air conditioning fell by more than usual in September. Mining production increased 1.7 percent in September; even so, it was 14.8 percent below a year earlier….

US manufacturing also dropped in September, sliding 0.3% MoM (against expectations for a 0.6% rise)…

This leaves US Industrial Production unchanged since May 2006…

The “V” recovery is over!

Source: by ZeroHedge

China Sells Dollar Bonds Directly To US Buyers For The First Time, Gets Record Demand

On Thursday, China for the first time sold dollar-denominated bonds directly to US buyers and with the Chinese 10Y offering a record 2.5% pickup in yield compared to 10Y Treasuries, it’s hardly a surprise that demand was off the charts.

The $6 billion bond offering which took place in Hong Kong, drew record demand, in part due to the attractive yield offered by Chinese paper and in part due to China’s impressive recovery from the coronavirus, with an orderbook more than $27 billion, or roughly $10 billion more than an offering of the same size last November, according to the FT, which added about 15% of the offering went to American investors.

The $6BN USD-denominated bond offering was as follows:

  • $1.25BN in 3-year dollar bonds at 0.425%
  • $2.25BN 5-year dollar bonds at 0.604%
  • $2BN 10-year dollar bonds at 1.226%
  • $500MM 30-year dollar bonds at 2.310%

The yield on the 10-year bond was about 0.5% above the equivalent US Treasury, and helped the bond sales receive “a strong reception from US onshore real money investors”, said Samuel Fischer, head of China onshore debt capital markets at Deutsche Bank, which helped arrange the deal. Other arrangers of the bond sale included Standard Chartered, Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan.

What was unique about today’s offering is that unlike previous issuance, “the debt was sold under a mechanism that gave institutional investors in the US the chance to buy in.”

Somewhat surprising is that frictions between Beijing and Washington had no impact “at all” on demand from US buyers, which included an American pension fund, one banker told the FT. In fact, the strategic timing of the bond sale which was arranged by the Chinese government just weeks before Americans head to the polls for the presidential election was meant to show “how tightly the financial systems of the two countries are linked, despite a trade war and tensions over technology and geopolitics.”

“This is the investor community showing confidence in [China’s] recovery,” said another banker on the sale, who added that “US investor participation in Chinese paper is not reduced by any means.”

Analyst responses were broadly enthusiastic about the offering:

Hayden Briscoe, head of fixed income for Asia Pacific at UBS Asset Management, said the bonds would help “set the benchmark” for Chinese corporates such as petrochemical groups Sinopec and Sinochem, which also borrow in dollars.  “A lot of their expenses are in US dollars, and they borrow in the dollar market to match funds to that.”

He added that the bonds benefited from strong demand partly due to their scarcity value. “There’s so few of them and they suit sovereign wealth fund type buyers — they tend to just disappear.”

Source: ZeroHedge

Goodbye Middle Class: Half Of All American Workers Made Less Than $34,248.45 Last Year

If you are making less than $3,000 a month, you have plenty of company, because about half of the country is in the exact same boat.  The Social Security Administration just released new wage statistics for 2019, and they are pretty startling.  To me, the most alarming thing in the entire report is the fact that the median yearly wage was just $34,248.45 last year.  In other words, half of all American workers made less than $34,248.45 in 2019, and half of all American workers made more than $34,248.45.  That isn’t a whole lot of money.  In fact, when you divide $34,248.45 by 12 you get just $2,854.05. 

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Mortgage Rates Hit Record Low For 10th Time This Year

In a world where over $16 trillion in debt now trades with negative yields…

… the US remains one of the outliers where nominal yields are still positive (if not for too long). Still, with rates in the US remaining caught in a tight range, and as bank funding conditions increasingly normalize, it means that yields on mortgages continue to shrink, and sure enough according to the latest Freddie Mac data, the average yield for a 30-year, fixed loan dropped to 2.81%, down from 2.87% last week, which was not only the lowest in almost 50 years of data-keeping, but also the 10th record low this year.  The previous all time low – 2.86% – held for about a month.

The availability of record cheap loans – which is unlikely to change with the Fed signaling it will hold its benchmark rate near zero through at least 2023 – has fueled a home buying spree which while bolstering the pandemic economy, has resulted in yet another bubble (for more details see Visualizing The U.S. Housing Frenzy In 34 Charts)

Meanwhile,  the surging demand for the scarce supply of properties on the market is pushing up prices, putting home ownership out of reach for many Americans, and leading to even greater wealth inequality which, as a reminder, is how we got here in the first place. Adding insult to injury, lenders have tightened credit standards to near record levels, presenting another potential obstacle for would-be buyers.

“It’s important to remember that not all people are able to take advantage of low rates, given the effects of the pandemic,” Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, said in the statement.

Source: ZeroHedge

Wells Fargo Fires Over 100 Employees For Stealing Virus Relief Funds

First JPMorgan admitted that over 500 of its generously paid employees had “illegally pocketed” covid-relief funds and then summarily fired most of them – and now it’s chronic lawbreaking recidivist Wells Fargo’s turn.

The bank, whose stock tumbled today after reporting dismal results and then was hit with even more selling after cutting its net interest income outlook, has fired more than 100 employees for illegally getting covid relief funds which were meant to help small businesses, Bloomberg reported citing a person familiar.

 

Warren Buffett’s favorite bank uncovered dozens of employees who defrauded the Small Business Administration “by making false representations in applying for coronavirus relief funds for themselves,” according to an internal memo reviewed by Bloomberg. Similar to JPMorgan, the abuse was tied to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and was outside the employees’ roles at the bank, according to the memo.

“We have terminated the employment of those individuals and will cooperate fully with law enforcement,” David Galloreese, Wells Fargo’s head of human resources, said in the memo. Wells Fargo’s actions follow JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s finding that more than 500 employees tapped the EIDL program which hands out as much as $10,000 in emergency advances that don’t have to be repaid, and dozens did so improperly.

The bank “will continue to look into these matters,” Galloreese added, saying the employees’ abuse didn’t involve customers… for once. “If we identify additional wrongdoing by employees, we will take appropriate action.”

As Bloomberg notes banks were urged by the SBA to look out for suspicious deposits from the EIDL program to their customers and even their own staff, after an analysis identified that at least $1.3 billion was sent out from the SBA for suspicious payments. While the program offers loans to businesses, much of the concern has focused on its advances of as much as $10,000 that don’t have to be repaid.

Wells Fargo is best known for its role in a massive account fraud scandal in which the bank created millions of fraudulent savings and checking accounts on behalf of Wells Fargo clients without their consent over a 14-year period. The fallout led to the bank paying $3 billion to settle criminal charges and former CEO John Stumpf losing his job after a historic Congressional grilling, while also agreeing pay a personal $17.5 million fine. In 2018, Wells Fargo agreed to an unprecedented consent order from the Fed which capped the size of its balance sheet and limited how many loans the bank can issue, one of the factors behind the dismal performance of its stock in recent years, which even prompted Warren Buffett to finally dump some of his Wells Fargo holdings.

Source: ZeroHedge

Bankrupt Restaurant Chains Are Handing Keys To Their Lenders

With few buyers willing to take a risk, credit bids become far more common in bankruptcy sales, says RB’s The Bottom Line.

Shutterstock

(Jonathan Maze) Last week, California Pizza Kitchen canceled its auction after no worthy bidders came forward to buy the casual-dining chain. The result: The company will likely end up in the hands of its lenders.

That came the same week that Ruby Tuesday started its bankruptcy process with a plan that hands the keys to the chain to its lenders.

Such deals are far from uncommon and totally understandable. But it’s indicative of the state of the business that once-venerable chains can’t even scrounge up bidders to help fuel bankruptcy auctions.

Indeed, several companies that have filed for bankruptcy since the pandemic have ended up sold in credit bids. CraftWorks, the owner of Logan’s Roadhouse and Old Chicago that declared bankruptcy before the pandemic, was sold through a credit bid in May. Aurify Brands acquired both Le Pain Quotidien and Mayson Kaiser by first acquiring the debt for the two brands and then using that to take over the company.

To get an idea of why this is happening now, we asked Petition, a journalist who covers corporate bankruptcies and restructuring, to get an idea of what’s going on.

“With too many restaurants per capita pre-pandemic and uncertainty about COVID-19 heading into winter, strategic buyers are scurrying to their foxholes to avoid the shakeout,” they said. “Existing lenders have no choice but to play out their option, hoping that less competition, strong digital adoption and execution, a slimmer balance sheet, a reduced footprint and focused management will bridge them to an industry comeback.”

To be sure, the companies above occupy some of the most challenging sectors or sub-sectors during the pandemic.

Both Le Pain Quotidien and Maison Kayser, for instance, are bakery-cafe concepts in urban areas. Those types of concepts face an uncertain future thanks to empty offices as consumers work from home, along with a potential flight of residents toward the suburbs.

Ruby Tuesday has been struggling and shrinking for more than a decade. It has closed nearly half of its units since 2017 and is less than a third of the size it was back in 2008. Bar and grill casual dining itself faces significant questions—TGI Fridays, once the leading casual-dining chain, is also shrinking.

California Pizza Kitchen is another casual-dining chain. But it was built around pizza. Consumers have shifted much of their pizza consumption to delivery, leaving full-service pizza concepts behind.

Buyers simply aren’t ready to take the plunge on those types of concepts. The business for dine-in sales is weak. It is also expected to remain weak for some time. That leaves the companies with little choice but to hand the keys to the lenders and walk away.

Any buyer of such chains will want that company reduced to only the most profitable locations. And they’re going to want that company for a considerably smaller price than the face value of the secured debt.

A lot of investors live to buy concepts through credit bids. They buy the secured debt on the secondary market, often for considerably discounted prices—lenders, believing they’ll be unlikely to get their money back and eager to get an unworkable loan off the books, will sometimes sell the debt at a discount.

Investors step in and buy the debt cheap. That can give them the inside track when a company ends up in bankruptcy. If a buyer willing to pay the face value of the debt emerges during an auction, the investor can make money based on the discount they paid for that debt. If not, they get the chain and can run it until the situation improves.

But such sales can often prolong the life of a chain that wouldn’t survive on its own, extending the life of “zombie” chains that aren’t growing and aren’t innovating and simply exist. The pandemic, of course, is creating zombies in all sorts of industries. Restaurant chains included.

Source: by Jonathan Maze | Restaurant Business 

San Francisco Sales Tax Revenue Plunge “Worst In The State” Amid COVID Exodus

ZeroHedge observed many times throughout the pandemic that the coronavirus-related lock downs, especially as impacting restaurants, bars, theaters and other night venues, have made living in already expensive big cities like New York much less attractive

It appears this trend of people ‘escaping’ the big cities as the prime lure of being there has largely evaporated — also after a summer of chaotic race and police shooting related protests and mayhem  is poised to hit San Francisco, despite it previously witnessing steady population growth over the past three decades. New tax numbers freshly out suggest a major exodus is already in progress.

But for the first time in recent history, and as the city’s large tech employers like Google, Facebook and Uber have kept their employees at home working remotely, city data shows that “Sales tax data shows San Francisco’s population likely declined during the coronavirus pandemic,” according the city’s chief economist Ted Egan.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports a whopping shortfall in revenue, detailing that “From April to June, the city’s sales tax revenue dropped to $30.8 million, down 43% from the prior year.” 

While this is the kind of thing other cities have naturally also experienced over the course of pandemic closures of venues, many have been able to close the gap given simultaneous growth in taxable online sales as households turned to Amazon, Wal Mart and other home delivery services. 

Not so with San Francisco, however, the report underscores:

San Francisco’s taxable online sales were up only 1% in that three-month period compared to the same period a year ago, while other California cities saw gains over 10% as people ordered more home deliveries. The modest increase likely shows that residents left the city entirely and weren’t at home to receive packages, Egan said.

“We’re the worst in the state,” he said. “That’s a sign to me that people aren’t here.”

No doubt compounding the trend is the past years of perhaps the most left-wing city policies in the country, a reflection of what conservatives derisively write off as “San Francisco values” and what even NPR has lately dubbed “San Francisco Squalor”.

After all, who really wants to pay a million dollars for some posh condominium in the city, only to walk out into needle and feces strewn streets?

Restaurant and bar sales were down 65% as indoor dining was prohibited, while food and drug store sales were down 8%. (Food staples at grocery stores aren’t taxed but prepared meals and other items are.)

Other metrics like falling apartment rents and busy moving companies suggest the population decline, though it’s too early to tell how many people have left, Egan said.

Considering too that major tech companies like Microsoft are using the pandemic to make dramatic changes like allowing most employees to work from home on a permanent basis, it doesn’t look like those making a recent ‘escape’ from San Francisco will be moving back anytime soon.

Source: ZeroHedge

Las Vegas Tops U.S. in Rise of Apartment Tenants Not Paying Rent

With COVID-19 tanking tourism, Las Vegas saw the biggest jump in apartment tenants who have stopped paying rent.

In September, 10.6% of Vegas tenants missed a rent payment, up from 4.1% a year earlier, the largest increase in the U.S., according to data on the top 50 metropolitan areas from RealPage Inc. New Orleans, also heavily dependent on tourism, had the highest overall share of people not paying, at 12.9%, up from 8.6%.

Tenants are most likely to stop paying in areas with the hardest-hit economies, including expensive cities from Los Angeles and Seattle to New York, where unemployment benefit payments aren’t enough to cover high rents and living expenses.

“There’s more stress in hospitality-focused and expensive markets,” said Greg Willett, chief economist at RealPage. “The wild card in everything is what happens in the economy and what happens in the economy is dependent on what happens with the pandemic.”

Across the U.S., rent payments have remained relatively stable, with 7.8% failing to pay in September, up 1.5 percentage points from a year ago, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council.

The data covers tenants who still occupy their units and doesn’t include single-family rentals. It’s from professionally managed buildings and more representative of large landlords. Smaller ones tend to own older buildings with poorer tenants more vulnerable to job loss.

Source: NewsMax

Las Vegas Home Prices Hit All Time High

(Bryan Horwath) The median sale price of existing homes in the Las Vegas area grew to record high $337,250 in September, according to a monthly report from Las Vegas Realtors.

That’s an increase of 9% from September of last year, and a bump of about $2,000 from August.

The median price for September sets a new all-time for the region, though a shortage of inventory has led to an unbalanced market despite near all-time low mortgage rates.

The continued rise of home prices has come despite a global pandemic that has decimated the region’s tourism-based economy.

“Local home prices keep setting records, which is remarkable when you think about the challenges we’re facing,” said Tom Blanchard, president of Las Vegas Realtors and a longtime area agent. “The pause during the beginning of the pandemic seems to have pushed the traditional summer sales season into the fall.”

For town homes and condominiums, the median sale price for a unit in September was $195,500, which represented a 14% increase from September 2019.

With Gov. Steve Sisolak’s order that allowed open houses to resume earlier this month, Blanchard said he envisions the potential for market activity in the coming weeks and months.

“We’ll see if we can sustain this momentum heading into next year,” Blanchard said. “We’re also dealing with a housing shortage, with no signs of that changing anytime soon.”

The number of homes available for sale remains “well below” the six-month supply that’s generally considered to represent a balanced market. At the end of last month, just under 4,800 homes — not including condos or town homes — were listed for sale without an offer, down 35% from September 2019.

Source: by Bryan Horwath | Las Vegas Sun

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Cantillion Effect Explained:

 

Negative Returns Are Now In US Mortgages

(Christopher Whalen) Watching the talking heads pondering the next move in US interest rates, we are often amazed at the domestic perspective that dominates these discussions. Just as the Federal Open Market Committee never speaks about foreign anything when discussing interest rate policy, so too most observers largely ignore the offshore markets. Yen, dollar and euro LIBOR spreads are shown below.

Zoltan Pozsar, the influential money-market strategist at Credit Suisse (NYSE:CS), warns that the short-end of the US money markets are likely to be awash in cash over the end-of-year liquidity hump. Unlike the unpleasantness in 2018, for example, we may see instead a surfeit of lending as banks scramble for yield in a wasteland bereft of duration. Would that it were so.

The Pozsar view does not exactly fit well with the rising rate, end of the world scenario popular in some corners of the financial media ghetto. The 10-year note is certainly rising and with it the 30-year mortgage rate. Indeed, Pozsar reminds CS clients that yen/$ swaps are now yielding well-above Treasury yields for seven years. Hmm.

We believe short-term rates will remain low in the US, even as offshore demand for dollars soars. If the 10-year Treasury backs up much further, then we’d look for the FOMC to act on some calls by governors to buy longer duration securities. That is, a very direct and large scale increase in QE and particularly on the long end of the curve.

We expect that Chairman Powell knows that underneath the comfortable blanket of low interest rates lie some truly appalling credit problems ahead for the global economy, the US banking sector and also for private debt and equity investors. We expect the low interest rate environment to drive volumes in corporate debt and residential mortgages, even as other sectors like ABS languish and commercial real estate gets well and truly crushed.

“The pandemic is putting unprecedented stress on CMBS markets that even the Fed is having difficulty offsetting,” writes Ralph Delguidice at Pavilion Global Markets.

“Limited reserves are being exhausted even as rent collection and occupancy levels remain serious issues… Bondholders expecting cash are getting keys instead, and in our view, ratings downgrades and significant losses are now only a formality.”

We noted several months ago that the resolution of the credit collapse in commercial mortgage backed securities or CMBS will be very different from when a bank owns the mortgage. As we discussed with one banker this week over breakfast in Midtown Manhattan, holding the mortgage and even some equity in a prime property allows for time to recover value.

With CMBS, the “AAA” tranche is first in line, thus the seniors have no incentive to make nice with the subordinate investors. The deals will liquidate, the property will be sold and the junior bond investors will take 100% losses. But as Delguidice and others note with increasing frequency, this time around the “AAA” investors are getting hit too. More to come.

Manhattan

Meanwhile, over in the relative calm of the agency collateral markets, large, yield hungry money center banks led by Wells Fargo & Co are deploying liquidity to buy billions of dollars in delinquent government loans out of MBS pools.

The bank buys the asset and gives the investor par, with a smidgen of interest. Market now has more cash, but less cash than it had before buying the mortgage bond in the first place. Why? Because it likely took a loss on the transaction. Buy at 109. Prepayment at par six months later. You get the idea.

In fact, if you look at the Treasury yield curve, rates are basically lying flat along the bottom of the chart out to 48 months. Why? Because this nice fellow named Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, along with many other buyers, are gobbling up the available supply of risk free assets inside of five years.

Spreads on everything from junk bonds to agency mortgage passthroughs are contracting, suggesting that the private bid for paper remains strong. When you look at the fact that implied valuations for new production MBS and mortgage servicing rights (MSR) have been rising since July, this even though prepayment rates are astronomical, certainly implies that there is a great deal of cash sitting on the sidelines.

Remember that the price of an MSR is not just about cash flows and prepayments, but it’s also about default rates and the relationship with the consumer. We described in our last missive for The IRA Premium Service (“The Bear Case for Mortgage Lenders”), that a rising rate environment could generate catastrophic losses for residential lenders, particularly in the government loan market. We write:

For both investors and risk professionals operating in the secondary mortgage market, the next several years contain both great opportunities and considerable risks. We look for the top lenders and servicers to survive the coming winter of default resolution that must inevitably follow a period of low interest rates by the FOMC. The result of the inevitable consolidation will be fewer, larger IMBs.”

Don’t get distracted by the rising rate song from the Street. We don’t look for short or medium term interest rates to rise in the near term or frankly for years. Agency 1.5% coupons “did not find a place in the latest Fed’s purchase schedule. It is possible (they) are included in the next update,” writes Nomura this week. This seems a pretty direct prediction of lower yields. But as one veteran mortgage operator cautions The IRA: “Not just yet.”

We don’t think that the Fed is going to take its foot off the short end of the curve anytime soon, in part because the system simply cannot withstand a sustained period of rising rates. In fact, we note that our friends at SitusAMC are adding 1.5% MBS coupons to forward rate models this month. But that does not necessarily mean that mortgage rates will fall any time soon.

We hear that the Fed of New York has bought a few 1.5s in recent days, but supply is sorely lacking. You see, the mortgage industry is not quite ready to print many new 1.5% MBS coupons and will not do so anytime soon. As the chart above suggests, mortgage rates are in fact rising. Why? Is not the FOMC in charge of the U.S mortgage market?

No, the market rules. Today you can make more money selling a new 1-4 family residential mortgage into a 2.5% coupon from Fannie, Freddie or Ginnie Mae at 105. You book a five point gain on sale and are therefore a hero. And a year from now, after the liquidity does in fact migrate down to 1.5s c/o the beneficence of the FOMC, you can again be a hero.

Specifically, you call up that same borrower and refinance the mortgage into a brand new 1.5% Fannie, Freddie or Ginnie Mae at 105. You take another five point gain on sale. Right? And who paid for this blessed optionality? The Bank of Japan, Peoples Bank of China, and PIMCO, among many other fortunate global investors.

These multinational holders of US mortgage bonds may not like negative returns on risk free American assets, but that’s life in the big city. And thankfully for Chairman Powell, it’s not his problem. Many years ago, a friend in the mortgage market said of loan repurchase demands from Fannie Mae: “What do you want from me?”

Source: ZeroHedge

Number of Homeowners in COVID-19-Related Forbearance Plans Declined Sharply

(Calculated Risk) Note: Both Black Knight and the MBA (Mortgage Bankers Association) are putting out weekly estimates of mortgages in forbearance.

This data is as of October 6th.

From Forbearances See: Largest Single Week Decline Yet

After a slight uptick last week, active forbearance volumes plummeted over the past seven days, falling by 649K from the week prior. An 18% reduction in the number of active forbearances, this represents the largest single-week decline since the beginning of the pandemic and its related fallout in the U.S. housing market.

New data from Black Knight’s McDash Flash Forbearance Tracker shows that as the first wave of forbearances from April are hitting the end of their initial six-month term, the national forbearance rate has decreased to 5.6%. This figure is down from 6.8% last week, with active forbearances falling below 3 million for the first time since mid-April.

This decline noticeably outpaced the 435K weekly reduction we saw when the first wave of cases hit the three-month point back in July.

As of October 6, 2.97 million homeowners remain in COVID-19-related forbearance plans, representing $614 billion in unpaid principal.

… Though the market continues to adjust to historic and unprecedented conditions, these are clear signs of long-term improvement. We hope to see a continuation of the promising trend of forbearance reduction in the coming weeks, as an additional 800K forbearance plans are slated to reach the end of their initial six-month term in the next 30 days.

Source: Calculated Risk

Central Banks Layout Framework For Global Digital Currency Standards

Central banks are weighing their own digital currencies – this is what they could look like

(Ryan Browne) LONDON — After Facebook shocked policymakers with its plan to launch a digital currency last year, central banks have been forging ahead with discussions on how they could create their own virtual money.

Now, they’ve come up with a rough framework for how such a system could work. On Friday, the Bank for International Settlements and seven central banks including the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and the Bank of England published a report laying out some key requirements for central bank digital currencies, or CBDCs.

Among the recommendations the central banks made were that CBDCs compliment — but not replace — cash and other forms of legal tender, and that they support rather than harm monetary and financial stability. They said digital currencies should also be secure, as cheap as possible — if not free — to use and “have an appropriate role for the private sector.”

The report on CBDCs comes as various central banks around the world consider their own respective digital currencies. Blockchain, the technology that underpins cryptoc urrencies such as bitcoin, has been touted as a potential solution. However, crypto currencies have drawn a lot of scrutiny from central bankers, with many concerned they open the door to illicit activities like money laundering.

In China, a country where digital wallets like Alipay and WeChat Pay have seen widespread adoption, the central bank is already partnering with a handful of private sector companies to trial an electronic currency it’s been working on for years. Meanwhile, Sweden’s central bank is working with consulting firm Accenture to pilot its proposed “e-krona” currency.

“A design that delivers these features can promote more resilient, efficient, inclusive and innovative payments,” said Benoit Coeure, the former European Central Bank official who now leads BIS’ innovation efforts.

“Although there will be no ‘one size fits all’ CBDC due to national priorities and circumstances, our report provides a springboard for further development of workable CBDCs.”

It’s worth emphasizing that these central banks aren’t taking a stance yet on whether they and other institutions should issue digital currencies; they’re still looking into whether such virtual currencies are feasible. Advocates for digital currencies say they could enhance financial inclusion by on boarding people without access to a bank account. But there are concerns this could leave out commercial banks.

Central bank work around digital currencies appeared to gather steam last year after Facebook introduced its own version — libra — which is backed by a coalition of companies including Uber and Spotify. The troubled project was met with an intense regulatory backlash as well the departure of high-profile backers like Mastercard and Visa. The group overseeing the initiative, called the Libra Association, has since scaled back its approach, opting for multiple currency-pegged cryptocurrencies instead of the previously proposed single digital coin backed by multiple currencies.

Source: by Ryan Browne | CNBC

***

Related:

The pending BANKING FOR ALL ACT… and you

U.S. Restaurant Spending Almost Back To Pre-COVID Levels

Something odd happened to the US economy in the past two months as many in the media, the political establishment and even various Fed hacks (recall on August 3 Neel Kashkari Saying Only Way To “Save Economy” Is To Lock It Down “Really Hard” For 6 Weeks), were feverishly counting the daily new US covid cases and warning that only a new shutdown could spare the US from imminent disaster: it has almost fully reopened and according to real-time indicators, it is now recovering at a far faster pace than most had expected (as the Fed’s latest economic projections confirmed).

And nowhere is this more visible than in the US restaurant space where with various exceptions – most notably across Manhattan where policy seems to change on a daily if not hourly basis – spending appears to be almost back to pre-covid levels.

In an analysis conducted by BofA analysts looking at daily restaurant trends through September 26th, the Bank of America aggregated credit and debit data showed national restaurant spending improving another 1.7% to down 8% (for the seven days ended September 26th) from a down 9% (from the week prior). While the BofA analysts note that performance on weekends continues to lag weekdays by about 1%-2%, the trend is clear: we are almost back to normalcy.

RIP

Source: ZeroHedge

 

 

Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta Star Maurice Fayne Back Home Following Arrest For Blowing $2,000,000 PPP Wuflu Loan On Luxury Goods And Child Support

Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta star Maurice Fayne is back home after he was arrested for allegedly using a $2 million PPP coronavirus loan to buy luxury items and make child support payments.  

The reality star, 37, was pictured taking a phone call outside of his home in Georgia over the weekend. 

Fayne was sitting upon a slick red BMW and drinking a soda as he pressed the phone against his ear, appearing deep in thought. 

Fayne was dressed comfortably in a white T-shirt and flashy red sweatpants. 

Fayne was sipping from the soda bottle as he listened intently to the call, before eventually returning back inside his house. 

Authorities say Fayne used an emergency loan from the federal government to lease a Rolls Royce, make child support payments and purchase $85,000 worth of jewelry.

Fayne, who goes by Arkansas Mo on the VH1 show ‘Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta,’ was arrested Monday on a charge of bank fraud, the Department of Justice said in a news release.

Fayne is the sole owner of transportation business Flame Trucking and in April he applied for a loan that the federal government was offering to small businesses decimated by the coronavirus pandemic, officials said. 

In his application, Fayne stated his business employed 107 employees with an an average monthly payroll of $1,490,200, the release said. 

Fayne requested a Paycheck Protection Program loan for over $3,000,000 and received a little over $2,000,000, officials said.

He used more than $1.5million of the loan to purchase jewelry, including a Rolex Presidential watch and a 5.73 carat diamond ring, the release said. 

Fayne also leased a 2019 Rolls Royce Wraith and paid $40,000 in child support.

‘At a time when small businesses are struggling for survival, we cannot tolerate anyone driven by personal greed, who misdirects federal emergency assistance earmarked for keeping businesses afloat,’ said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta.

When he met with investigators last week, Fayne denied spending the loan on anything besides payroll and business expenses.

But last Monday, federal agents searched Fayne’s home and seized the jewelry and around $80,000 in cash, including $9,400 Fayne had in his pockets, the release said.

Fayne’s attorney Tanya Miller said there was ‘considerable confusion’ about PPP guidelines and over whether owners could ‘pay themselves a salary’ when asked about the charges by CNN.

She added that she hopes these ‘issues’ will be better explained in the near future.    

He was released on $10,000 bond. 

Fayne appeared on several episodes of ‘Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta’ as the love interest of Karlie Redd, a longtime cast member, news outlets reported.

Source: By CHRISTINE RENDON and RYAN FAHEY FOR MAILONLINE and ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Rolling Stones – Living In A Ghost Town

Lyrics to “Living In A Ghost Town”:

I’M A GHOST
LIVING IN A GHOST TOWN
I’M A GHOST
LIVING IN A GHOST TOWN

YOU CAN LOOK FOR ME
BUT I CAN’T BE FOUND
YOU CAN SEARCH FOR ME
I HAD TO GO UNDERGROUND
LIFE WAS SO BEAUTIFUL
THEN WE ALL GOT LOCKED DOWN
FEEL A LIKE GHOST
LIVING IN A GHOST TOWN

ONCE THIS PLACE WAS HUMMING
AND THE AIR WAS FULL OF DRUMMING
THE SOUNDS OF CYMBALS CRASHING
GLASSES WERE ALL SMASHING
TRUMPETS WERE ALL SCREAMING
SAXOPHONES WERE BLARING
NOBODY WAS CARING
IF IT’S DAY OR NIGHT

I’M A GHOST LIVING IN A GHOST TOWN
I’M GOING NOWHERE
SHUT UP ALL ALONE

SO MUCH TIME TO LOSE
JUST STARING AT MY PHONE

EVERY NIGHT I AM DREAMING
THAT YOU’LL COME AND CREEP IN MY BED
PLEASE LET THIS BE OVER
NOT STUCK IN A WORLD WITHOUT END

PREACHERS WERE ALL PREACHING
CHARITIES BESEECHING
POLITICIANS DEALING
THIEVES WERE HAPPY STEALING
WIDOWS WERE ALL WEEPING
THERE’S NO BEDS FOR US TO SLEEP IN
ALWAYS HAD THE FEELING
IT WOULD ALL COME TUMBLING DOWN

I’M A GHOST
LIVING IN A GHOST TOWN
YOU CAN LOOK FOR ME
BUT I CAN’T BE FOUND
WE’RE ALL LIVING IN A GHOST TOWN
LIVING IN A GHOST TOWN
WE WERE SO BEAUTIFUL
I WAS YOUR MAN ABOUT TOWN
LIVING IN THIS GHOST TOWN
IT ISN’T ANY FUN
IF I WANT A PARTY
IT’S A PARTY OF ONE

From My Sister…

My Self-Isolation Quarantine Diary

Day 1 – I Can Do This!! Got enough food and wine to last a month!
Day 2 – Opening my 8th bottle of Wine. I fear wine supplies might not last!
Day 3 – Strawberries: Some have 210 seeds, some have 235 seeds. Who Knew??
Day 4 – 8:00pm. Removed my Day Pajamas and put on my Night Pajamas.
Day 5 – Today, I tried to make Hand Sanitizer. It came out as Jello Shots!!
Day 6 – I get to take the Garbage out I’m So excited, I can’t decide what to wear.
Day 7 – Laughing way too much at my own jokes!!
Day 8 – Went to a new restaurant called “The Kitchen”. You have to gather all the ingredients and make your own meal. I have No clue how this place is still in business.
Day 9 – I put liquor bottles in every room. Tonight, I’m getting all dressed up and going Bar hopping.
Day 10 – Struck up a conversation with a Spider today. Seems nice. He’s a Web Designer.
Day 11 – Isolation is hard. I swear my fridge just said, “What the hell do you want now?”
Day 12 – I realized why dogs get so excited about something moving outside, going for walks or car rides. I think I just barked at a squirrel.
Day 13 – If you keep a glass of wine in each hand, you can’t accidentally touch your face.
Day 14 – Watched the birds fight over a worm. The Cardinals lead the Blue Jays 3–1.
Day 15 – Anybody else feel like they’ve cooked dinner about 395 times this month? 

IS THIS YOU, yet? 

In March, U.S. Deaths From COVID-19 Totaled Less Than 2% Of All Deaths… Hmm

About 2.9 million people die in the United States each year from all causes. Monthly this total ranges from around 220,000 in the summertime to more than 280,000 in winter.

In recent decades, flu season has often peaked sometime from January to March, and this is a major driver in total deaths. The average daily number of deaths from December through March is over eight thousand.

So far, total death data is too preliminary to know if there has been any significant increase in total deaths as a result of COVID-19, and this is an important metric, because it gives us some insight into whether or not COVID-19 is driving total death numbers well above what would otherwise be expected. 

Indeed, according to some sources, it is not clear that total deaths have increased significantly as a result of COVID-19. In a March 30 article for The Spectator, former UK National Health Service pathologist John Lee noted that the current number of deaths from COVID-19 does not indicate that the UK is experiencing “excess deaths.” Lee writes:

The simplest way to judge whether we have an exceptionally lethal disease is to look at the death rates. Are more people dying than we would expect to die anyway in a given week or month? Statistically, we would expect about 51,000 to die in Britain this month. At the time of writing, 422 deaths are linked to Covid-19—so 0.8 per cent of that expected total. On a global basis, we’d expect 14 million to die over the first three months of the year. The world’s 18,944 coronavirus deaths represent 0.14 per cent of that total. These figures might shoot up but they are, right now, lower than other infectious diseases that we live with (such as flu). Not figures that would, in and of themselves, cause drastic global reactions.

How do these numbers look in the United States? During March of 2020, there were 4,053 COVID-19 deaths according to Worldometer. That is 1.6 percent of total deaths in March 2019 (total data on March 2020 deaths is still too preliminary to offer a comparison). For context, we could note that total deaths increased by about four thousand from March 2018 to March 2019. So for March, the increase in total deaths is about equal to what we already saw as a pre-COVID increase from March 2018 to March 2019. 

As Lee notes, total COVID-19 deaths could still increase significantly this season, but even then we must ask what percentage of total deaths warrants an international panic. Is it 5 percent? Ten percent? The question has never been addressed, and so far, a figure of 1 percent of total deaths in some places is being treated as a reason to forcibly shut down the global economy.

Meanwhile there is a trend toward to attributing more of those pneumonia deaths to COVID-19 rather than influenza, although this doesn’t actually mean the total mortality rate has increased. The CDC report continues: “the percent of all deaths with Influenza listed as a cause have decreased (from 1.0% to 0.8%) over this same time period. The increase in pneumonia deaths during this time period are likely associated with COVID-19 rather than influenza.” This doesn’t represent a total increase in pneumonia deaths, just a change in how they are recorded.

This reflects an increased focus on attributing deaths to COVID-19, as noted by Lee:

In the current climate, anyone with a positive test for Covid-19 will certainly be known to clinical staff looking after them: if any of these patients dies, staff will have to record the Covid-19 designation on the death certificate—contrary to usual practice for most infections of this kind. There is a big difference between Covid-19 causing death, and Covid-19 being found in someone who died of other causes. Making Covid-19 notifiable might give the appearance of it causing increasing numbers of deaths, whether this is true or not. It might appear far more of a killer than flu, simply because of the way deaths are recorded.

Given this rush to maximize the number of deaths attributable to COVID-19, what will April’s data look like? It may be that COVID-19 deaths could then indeed number 10 or 20 percent of all deaths. 

But the question remains: will total deaths increase substantially compared to April 2019 or April 2018? If they don’t, this will call into question whether or not COVID-19 is the engine of mortality that many government bureaucrats insist it is.After all, if April’s mortality remains “about the same” as the usual total and comes in around 230,000–235,000, then obsessive concern over COVID-19 would be justified only if it can be proven April 2020 deaths would have plummeted year-over-year had it not been for COVID-19.

Update:

Meanwhile the CDC is instructing medical staff to report deaths as COVID-19 deaths even when no test has confirmed the presence of the disease. In a Q and A on death certificates published by the CDC on March 24, the agency advises:

COVID-19 should be reported on the death certificate for all decedents where the disease caused or is assumed to have caused or contributed to death. Certifiers should include as much detail as possible based on their knowledge of the case, medical records, laboratory testing, etc. If the decedent had other chronic conditions such as COPD or asthma that may have also contributed, these conditions can be reported in Part II. [emphasis in original.]

This is extremely likely to inflate the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 while pulling down deaths attributed to other influenza-like illnesses and to deaths caused by pneumonia with unspecified origins.  This is especially problematic since we know the overwhelming majority of COVID-19 deaths occur in patients that are already suffering from a number of other conditions. In Italy, for example, data shows 99 percent of COVID-19 deaths occurred in patients who had at least one other condition. More than 48 percent had three other conditions. Similar cases in the US are now likely to be routinely reported simply as COVID-19 cases.  

Source: Total death and flu/pneumonia death data via National Center for Health Statistics (www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/weeklyarchives2019-2020/data/nchsData12.csv). COVID-19 totals via Worldometer COVID stats.

Unfortunately, because total death data is not reported immediately, we have yet to see how this plays out.

We do know historically, however, that deaths attributed to flu and pneumonia over the past decade have tended to make up around five to ten percent of all deaths, depending on the severity of the “season.”  Last week (week 14, the week ending April 4) was the first week during which COVID-19 deaths exceeded flu and pneumonia deaths, coming in at 11 percent of all death for that week. The prior week, (week 13, the week ending Mar 28) COVID-19 deaths made up 3.3 percent of all deaths. 

Until we have reliable numbers on all deaths in coming weeks, it will be impossible to know the extent to which COVID-19 are “cannibalizing” flu and pneumonia deaths overall. That is, if the COVID-19 totals skyrocket, but total deaths remain relatively stable, than we might guess that many deaths formerly attributed simply to pneumonia, or to flu, are now being labeled as COVID-19 deaths. Potentially, this could also be the case for other patients, such as those with advanced cases of diabetes.

Source: by Ryan McMaken | ZeroHedge

Another Doctor Reports Dramatic Improvement In COVID-19 Patients Using Trump-Touted Treatment

As pro-establishment mouthpieces downplay the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 as “anecdotal” with “little evidence that the treatment is effective,” yet another doctor treating has claimed dramatic improvement in coronavirus patients within hours of taking the anti-malaria drug in combination with two other medications.

Los Angeles doctor Anthony Cardillo says he’s seen very promising results when the Trump-touted drug is combined with zinc for severely-ill coronavirus patients.

Every patient I’ve prescribed it to has been very, very ill and within 8 to 12 hours, they were basically symptom-free,” Cardillo told Eyewitness News, adding “So clinically I am seeing a resolution.”

Cardillo, CEO of Mend Urgent Care, says that the drug must be used in conjunction with Zinc, as the hdroxycholoroquine opens a ‘channel’ for the mineral to enter cells and prevent the virus from replicating.

Commonly used for lupus and arthritis, hydroxychloroquine has been approved by the FDA for limited emergency authorization to treat COVID-19 patients.

That said, Cardillo warns that the treatment should only be reserved for those with moderate to severe symptoms due to concerns over shortages.

“We have to be cautious and mindful that we don’t prescribe it for patients who have COVID who are well,” he said, adding “It should be reserved for people who are really sick, in the hospital or at home very sick, who need that medication. Otherwise we’re going to blow through our supply for patients that take it regularly for other disease processes.”

Source: ZeroHedge

Wake Up: The War is Now Here in America!

This coronavirus fraud is being labeled a war by the ruling powers, but this is no war on any virus, it is war against humanity. How many obvious signs are necessary before the frightened American sheep will pull their heads out of the sand? Because the general population hides from the truth in order to avoid reality, a governing takeover of epoch proportions is being implemented at a lightening pace. Every single day brings forth more tyrannical measures, and these measures are meant to be permanent. Are Americans really as ignorant as this government thinks they are?

Please look around at what is happening. Consider that this is no virus, but a false flag event long planned in order to facilitate an economic collapse that was already imminent due to corrupt banking and government policies. This might be the reason the reaction by so many countries is in concert with one another, as all major countries have destroyed their economies by monetary expansion, debt creation, and redistribution of wealth, which placed the bulk of assets in the hands of a concentrated few. In this country, there has also been perpetual indoctrination and aggressive war, and these factors combined have led to class separation, division, and enhanced dependence on government. Because of this, control over society is becoming a reality, and this control is necessary in order for those now so powerful to retain that power and more importantly, to expand and retain control of an obedient proletariat.

What has happened in just a few weeks is staggering to say the least, but this top-down takeover is just beginning. This tyranny was allowed to escalate due to fear of a so-called flu strain in China that allegedly killed 3,322 out of 1.45 billion people. That is a mortality factor of .00000229, or to put that in perspective, 1 death out of every 436,000 Chinese people.  From Global Times:

“An analysis led by Chinese scientists published in the Lancet Public Health in September 2019 found that there were 84,200 to 92,000 flu-related deaths in China each year, accounting for 8.2 percent of all deaths from respiratory diseases.”

So the average number of common flu deaths in China is 26 times the number of deaths due to this so-called coronavirus, or Covid-19, but pneumonia deaths alone as of 2010 in China were an additional 125,000. Why is there panic and why is there chaos? The answer to this question is obvious if any logic is considered. This panic was not due to any virus strain, but to the purposeful political and media hype of a planned event meant to frighten the general population into believing that some fake pandemic was a threat to all life on earth. Approximately 3 million people die every year in the U.S., or 8,000 every day, with alleged total deaths due to coronavirus being 6,000 for the entire season. This is even with what are certainly vastly overstated numbers of deaths due to this “virus.” That is less than the number of deaths in one day in this country.

So what is really going on here? This is a planned takeover of people, and the fake virus scare is the excuse being used to advance a new totalitarian state that can monitor every aspect of our lives, monitor movement, surveil everything, control all monetary processes, behavior, travel, communication, and social contact. This dystopia is already here, but can get much worse if not stopped.

Travel and movement is becoming less possible every day. Most of this country has voluntarily locked themselves up in home prisons. Fear is rampant, and neighbors have become the eyes of the very police and security forces bent on controlling them. There is talk and plans to digitize all money, which in and of itself would destroy freedom. Distancing mandates have been implemented, but are also being promoted for the future. The entire economy is virtually shut down with no end in sight, food shortages are evident, and psychological and health problems are increasing at an alarming rate. Necessary surgeries are being cancelled even though many hospitals are empty. Mortgages are defaulting, and millions will lose their homes, this while unemployment will most likely affect a third or more of the people in this country.

In addition to all this, GPS tracking devices are being ordered in some areas for any who have tested positive for coronavirus, and Google is releasing location data to “authorities” so they can check and monitor all those in state mandated lock downs. Calls for forced vaccination abound, with all the social scoring and embedded devices to prove vaccination history not only being discussed, but also planned for the near future. Those like the evil eugenicist and population control advocate Bill Gates that have the ear of powerful politicians, are promoting full shutdowns, forced vaccination, tracking of all, and at the same time Gates is funding seven new vaccine factories, and tattoo ID tracking at MIT, and those conflicts are obvious and criminal.

The bottom line is that a massive plan to build a new monetary, economic, and social structure worldwide is being advanced. A new global order is being constructed that will replace our current system with a technocratic rule that will be all encompassing at every level of life. The financial systems due to fraud and corruption will fail and that failure will be blamed on this fake pandemic. This economic collapse will break the back of this country, and then the promise of universal income, universal healthcare, increased automated production, and smart living will be pursued, along with totalitarian rule.

None of this is accidental, and none of this is due to this virus. This coup has been planned for a long time, and those plans were exposed on many occasions in the past. Most thought that the ideas of prescient thinkers were far-fetched and that the loss of all freedom was not possible. Therefore, those that recognized the scope of this plot long ago were ignored and cast aside as conspiracy theorists, when in fact they were right all along. One look around today will bring to light that truth.

The threat of absolute rule is upon us, and little time is left to stop the onslaught of this dictatorial regulation of society by government and its masters. The decimation of freedom is at hand, so dissent by every able-bodied man is necessary to halt this terror. Political remedies are no longer possible in my opinion, so a real revolution is now necessary. An apocalypse is coming, and hell is coming with it.

“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
~ Henry David Thoreau, Thoreau and the Art of Life: Precepts and Principles

Source: Is the coronavirus a false flag? Undoubtedly. From Gary D. Barnett at lewrockwell.com

Largest US mall owner, Simon Property, Furloughs 30% Of Workforce, Adding To Avalanche Of C19 Related Retail Layoffs

The biggest U.S. mall owner, Simon Property Group, has furloughed about 30% of its workforce, CNBC has learned, as the company copes with all of its properties being temporarily shut because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The furloughs impact full- and part-time workers, at its Indianapolis headquarters and at its malls and outlet centers across the U.S., a person familiar with the situation told CNBC. The person asked to remain anonymous because the information has not been disclosed publicly.

Simon permanently laid off some employees also, but the exact number could not be immediately determined.

CEO David Simon will not receive a salary during the pandemic, the person said. Salaries of upper-level managers at the real estate company will be cut by up to 30%.

As of Dec. 31, Simon had roughly 4,500 employees, of which 1,500 were part time, according to its latest annual filing. About 1,000 of those people worked from Simon’s Indianapolis headquarters, it said.

A representative from Simon did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Wave of retail furloughs

To date, hundreds of thousands of workers in the retail industry have been furloughed because of COVID-19, between recent announcements from J.C. PenneyMacy’sKohl’sGap, Loft-owner Ascena and others. 

Luxury retailer Neiman Marcus is furloughing most of its about 14,000 workers. 

With a $4.3 billion debt load, Neiman Marcus has been on many analysts’ so-called bankruptcy watch lists, as it is in more financial distress than some of its peers. The coronavirus will prove to be a bigger burden for these companies already fighting to stay in business. 

“Unlike past recessions, this does not seem like companies are trying to figure out how to run their businesses on lighter operations … or adjust their expense structure to their revenue base,” BMO Capital Markets analyst Simeon Siegel told CNBC. “This seems like companies are trying to press pause on the world.” 

Department store chain Macy’s said Monday it is moving to the “absolute minimum workforce needed to maintain basic operations.” It has furloughed the majority of its workforce, which is roughly 130,000 people. 

“While the digital business remains open, we have lost the majority of our sales due to the store closures,” a Macy’s spokeswoman told CNBC in an emailed statement. 

Kohl’s, meantime, said Monday it will be furloughing about 85,000 of its approximately 122,000 employees. 

Penney announced Tuesday it is furloughing the majority of its hourly store workers, effective Friday. Starting Sunday, the company said a “significant portion” of workers at its headquarters in Texas will be furloughed. It had previously started furloughing workers for its supply chain division and at its logistics centers. And Penney said Tuesday that these furloughs will continue. 

Apparel maker Gap is furloughing the majority of its store teams in the U.S. and Canada, or roughly 80,000 people, pausing pay but continuing to offer “applicable benefits” until stores reopen, it said. 

Ascena Retail Group, which owns Ann Taylor and Loft, said it is furloughing all of its store workers and half of its corporate staff. As of Aug. 3, Ascena employed 53,000 people. 

Tailored Brands, which owns Men’s Warehouse and Jos. A. Bank, has furloughed all of its store workers in the U.S., in addition to a “significant portion” of workers in its distribution centers and related offices. 

Urban Outfitters said Tuesday it is furloughing a “substantial” number of store, wholesale and home office employees for 60 days, effective this Wednesday. 

Nordstrom, Victoria’s Secret parent L Brands, David’s Bridal, Steve Madde and Designer Brands are among the other retailers that have announced their plans to furlough workers, amidst the coronavirus pandemic, where already so far at least 164,610 cases have been reported in the U.S., according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University. 

As retailers are working to slash costs, the furloughs are more akin to “Band-Aids” than a “structural shift” in these retailers’ business models, Siegel said. “Ultimately Band-Aids don’t heal.” 

The layoffs and furloughs at Simon show the commercial real estate industry is not immune to this, either. 

Similar cuts are expected to happen at other U.S. mall owners in the coming weeks, or days. Simon on March 18 announced it would be closing all of its properties temporarily, to try to help halt the spread of COVID-19. Others, such as Taubman CentersWashington Prime Group and Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, have followed suit. 

Rent is due

These landlords are grappling with the fact that countless retailers and restaurants, with their stores temporarily shut, will not be able to pay April rent. High-end mall owner Taubman, however, has sent a letter to its tenants saying they must still meet their lease obligations. 

Talks between many tenants and their landlords remain ongoing, as some are trying to work out abatements or deferrals. Mall owners still have their own obligations, such as utility bills and mortgage payments, that must be met. 

The Cheesecake Factory, which has 294 locations in North America, has already said publicly that it will not be paying rent in April. Simon has 29 Cheesecake Factory locations, more than any of its peers, according to an analysis by RBC Capital Markets and CoStar Realty. 

Simon on March 16 announced it had amended and extended its $6 billion revolving credit facility and term loan, giving it additional liquidity. 

Simon shares have fallen more than 60% this year. It has a market value of about $17.3 billion. 

Source: by Lauren Thomas | CNBC

***

Coronavirus job losses could total 47 million, unemployment rate may hit 32%, Fed estimates

J.C. Penney furloughs most of its 90,000 workers as stores remain closed until further notice

Macy’s will furlough the majority of its 125,000 employees

Kohl’s to keep its stores closed indefinitely, plans to furlough store employees

Gold Silver Ratio Spikes Through 100 Year High

The gold / silver ratio. It’s simple: Take the price of an ounce of gold and divide it by the price of an ounce of silver. Presto; the resulting number is the gold / silver ratio.

104 Gold Silver ratio

The ratio is most useful at its extremes. When the ratio has topped 80, it has signaled a time when silver was relatively inexpensive relative to gold. Silver went on to rally 40%, 300%, and 400% the last three times this happened.

Likewise, the three times the gold / silver ratio has fallen below 20 in the past, it has marked a period when gold was relatively inexpensive compared to silver.

This is the best of savvy investment strategy; take a simple mathematical equation and track historical price behavior. When relative valuations hit extremes and then revert to historical means time and time again, we seek to buy these temporary under valuations and wait for their inevitable pendulum swing in the opposite direction.

Adapted from GoldSilver.com

Bullion Shortages Hit As Price Of Physical Decouples From Paper Precious Metals

(BullionStar.com) In the last month, from 14 February 2020 to 14 March 2020, we have seen a record number of orders, record order revenue and a record number of visits to our newly renovated and extended bullion centre at 45 New Bridge Road in Singapore.

For the above-mentioned period, we have served 2,626 customers with a sales revenue of more than SGD 50 M, which is 477% higher compared to the same period last year.

The last few days have been our busiest days of all time. Our staff members have been doing a fantastic job in going out of their way to serve as many customers as possible.

Gold & Silver Shortages – Supply Squeeze

The enormous increase in demand is straining our supply chains. BullionStar has supplier relations with most of the major refineries, mints and wholesalers around the world. Most of our suppliers don’t have any stock of precious metals and are not taking orders currently. The U.S. Mint for example announced just this Thursday that American Silver Eagle coins are sold out. The large wholesalers in the U.S. are completely sold out of ALL gold and ALL silver and are not able to replenish.

We are already sold out of several products and will sell out of additional products shortly if this supply squeeze continues. All products listed as “In Stock” on our website are available for immediate delivery. For items listed as “Pre-Sale”, the items have been ordered and paid by us with incoming shipments on the way to us.

Paper Gold vs. Physical Gold

As we have repeated frequently over the years, only physical gold is a safe haven.

It’s noteworthy that the paper price of gold, although up 5.7% Year-to-Date denominated in SGD, has been trading downward in the last few days.

Paper gold is traded on the unallocated OTC gold spot market in London and on the COMEX futures market in New York. Both of these markets are derivative markets and neither is connected to the physical gold market.

This means that the physical gold market is a price taker, inheriting the price from the paper market, and that the derivative markets are the exclusive and dominant price makers. The entire market structure of this financialized gold trading is flawed. So while there is unprecedented demand for physical gold, this is not reflected in the gold price as derived by COMEX and the London unallocated spot market.

By now it is abundantly clear that the physical gold market and paper gold market will disconnect.

If the paper market does not correct this imbalance, widespread physical shortages of precious metals will be prolonged and may lead to the entire monetary system imploding.

And with progressive central banks in Eastern Europe and Asia having stocked up on gold in the last three years, gold will likely be the anchor of the new monetary system arising out of the ashes.

Mainstream media assertions that “Gold has been stripped of its Safe Haven Status” are utterly ridiculous and distorted beyond belief, when in fact the complete opposite is true. Unbacked paper gold and silver may be stripped of safe haven status, but certainly not real physical gold bullion.

Physical Premiums & Spreads

The current supply squeeze and physical bullion shortage has caused and is causing an increase in price premiums. It’s currently difficult and expensive for us to acquire any inventory. We have therefore had to increase premiums on products to compensate for the constraints. We have endeavored to also raise our prices offered to customers selling to us, but with the extreme volatility and wild price fluctuations, the spread between the buy and sell price may temporarily be larger than normal. It is regrettable that premiums and spreads are larger than normal but it is outside our control that the paper market is not reflecting the demand and supply of the physical market. As many of you know, we are one of the largest critical voices of the LBMA run paper market and its bullion bank members in London.

Please note that premiums are likely to be higher on weekends when the markets are closed compared to weekdays.

We do not take lightly the decision to alter premiums but feel that it is a better alternative than to stop accepting orders altogether during weekends. Likewise it is a better alternative than to stop accepting orders when the paper gold market is in turmoil and failing to reflect the demand and supply realities of the physical bullion market.

Currently, we are completely sold out on BullionStar Gold BarsBullionStar Silver Bars and are running low on several other products which we are not able to replenish for now. Several stock items will therefore likely go out of stock shortly. This is despite us having been aggressively buying bullion to create a buffer reserve inventory.

Source: ZeroHedge

Megxit Over: Harry, Meghan Reach Deal To Quit Royal Life

One family’s crusade to break from the unbearable bondage of royalty is finally over, or in other words, Megxit is a done deal.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, also known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, will no longer use the titles His and Her Royal Highness “as they are no longer working members of the Royal Family” Buckingham Palace announced Saturday, as part of an agreement that lets them build a life away from intense media scrutiny as members of the royal family.

“Following many months of conversations and more recent discussions, I am pleased that together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family,” Queen Elizabeth II said in a statement.

“Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,” she said. ” I recognize the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years and support their wish for a more independent life.”

As disclosed in the agreement, Harry and Meghan “understand that they are required to step back from Royal duties, including official military appointments. They will no longer receive public funds for Royal duties.”

They also shared their wish to repay Sovereign Grant expenditure for the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage, which will remain their UK family home.

Frogmore House, a modest wedding gift from the Queen to Harry and Meghan

With Brexit no longer dominating the British press, the announcement that the couple wished to step back from the royal family had thrown Britain’s monarchy into turmoil and dominated the headlines. Even though Harry has only a remote prospect of becoming king – he’s sixth in line, behind his father, brother, nephews and niece – there was outrage that, with his wife, he wanted to become financially independent and “carve out” a “progressive new role.”

Still, as the following chart summarizing the net worth of UK’s royalty shows the former “Duke and Duchess” should be just fine.

According to Statista, Prince William and Prince Harry have similar incomes and net worth, and reportedly earn $6.6 million annually from the Sovereign Grant, which they split, and each have an estimated net worth that ranges around $40 million. Prince Harry’s income could fluctuate once his title is renounced. Rumors claimed Markle, who had a net worth of about $5 million before marrying Harry thanks to her acting career, was already inking up a deal with Disney to do voiceovers for future projects, though the money will reportedly go to charity.

In a separate statement, earlier this week the queen discussed the wishes of Harry and Meghan, a former actress, with her immediate family. The queen at the time described the talks as “very constructive.”

The Queen said the recent discussions led to a “supportive way forward for my grandson and his family.” She said she was “particularly proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family.”

It now appears that it took Meghan even less time to leave the family.

Source: ZeroHedge

China’s Central Bank Crypto Currency Is “Ready”, After 5 Years Development

A senior official at China’s central bank announced at the China Finance 40 Group meeting today that the country will soon roll out its central bank digital currency (CBDC.)

Mu Changchun, Deputy Chief in the Payment and Settlement Division of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC,) stated that the CBDC prototype exists and the PBOC’s Digital Money Research Group has already fully adopted the blockchain architecture for the currency. China’s CBDC will not rely entirely on a pure blockchain architecture, as this would not allow the currency to achieve the throughput required for retail usage.

According to Changchun, the currency has been in the research and development phase since 2014. At the meeting on Saturday, he said, “People’s Bank digital currency can now be said to be ready.”

The CBDC will employ a two-tier operational structure, per Changchun:

 The People’s Bank of China is the upper level and the commercial banks are the second level. This dual delivery system is suitable for our national conditions. It can use existing resources to mobilize the enthusiasm of commercial banks and smoothly improve the acceptance of digital currency.

 

A two-tier system is preferable due to China’s complex economy, vast territory and large population. “From the perspective of improving accessibility and increasing public willingness to use, a two-tier operational framework should be adopted to deal with this difficulty,” Changchun said. He also welcomed the resources, talent and innovation capabilities of commercial businesses who will partner with the PBOC to roll out the currency. Finally, this system will help avoid concentration of risk and financial disintermediation.

At the same meeting, China UnionPay Chairman Shaofu Jun said that the goals of China’s CBDC would be difficult to achieve. While a CBDC could solve issues related to cross-border transactions, long lag times and legacy inefficiencies, the lack of clear operational processes and a detailed regulatory framework across countries will be challenging to overcome.

Choosing The Right Words

A lawyer, who had a wife and 12 children, needed to move because his rental agreement was terminated by the owner, who wanted to reoccupy the home.

When he said he had 12 children, no one would rent a home to him because they felt that the children would destroy the place.

So he sent his wife for a walk to the cemetery with 11 of their kids.

He took the remaining one with him to see rental homes with the real estate agent.

He loved one of the homes and the price was right. The agent asked, “How many children do you have?”

He answered, “Twelve.”

The agent asked, “Where are the others?”

The lawyer, with his best courtroom sad look, answered, “They’re in the cemetery with their mother.”

MORAL: It’s not necessary to lie; one has only to choose the right words. And don’t forget, most politicians are lawyers.

***

Over-Taxed: The Middle Class Is Being Wiped Out, NJ Residents Flee In Droves

New Jersey residents are fleeing their state in droves thanks to the over taxation and immense financial burden placed on them by their socialist state government. In addition to the already sky-high federal tax that we are all forced to pay, those in New Jersey are struggling to make enough money to live after the state also steals a cut of their income.

The SALT (state and local tax) cap has hit high-tax states like New York, California, and New Jersey particularly hard because these states steal a higher portion of an individual’s income. As a result, affected residents have begun to move to other states – a trend that experts expect to accelerate, according to Fox Business.

They can’t tax us anymore, the middle class is getting wiped out,” former “Saturday Night Live” cast member and New Jersey resident Joe Piscopo told FOX Business’ Neil Cavuto on Friday, adding that wealthy individuals are leaving the state “in droves.” This is always the case, as governments all seek to find ways to steal more from the producers to fund their corruption. This problem is only going to get worse too and New Jersey Democrats are attempting to pass a state wealth tax.

Democratic Governor Phil Murphy renewed a push to implement the state tax (with a top rate of 10.75 percent) on people with incomes over $1 million. However, amid disagreements with the state legislature, which threatened to shut down the state government, Murphy said he will sign a budget over the weekend. State Democrats sent Murphy a budget proposal last week, which did not include the tax increase on people with more than $1 million. Murphy, however, has been a strong advocate for implementing the tax and it has been one of his top campaign promises.

Therefore, most residents have a difficult time believing that the issue has been completely put to rest. So instead, they’ve taken action and made the decision to leave the state entirely taking their wealth with them rather than having it stolen by tyrannical fascists.

New Jersey Rep. Josh Gottheimer was one of several lawmakers from states including New York, Illinois, and California who took to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to air out their grievances against the new SALT cap. Gottheimer called the cap a “double-taxation grenade” that was “lobbed at New Jersey and other high-tax states” by so-called “moocher states.” The average SALT deduction claimed in Bergen County, New Jersey, was more than $24,700 before the implementation of the cap-Fox Business

Piscopo says that a handful of states in the U.S. are already socialist.  And those are the states people continue to flee in droves and are facing homeless epidemics.

“I’m telling you right now, If Gov. Murphy, if Steve Sweeney does a primary, and I don’t mean inside around the rest of the country, but this is huge in Jersey because Jersey, New York, and California are now socialist states,” he told FOX Business‘ Neil Cavuto on Friday.

In “Parasites on Parade,” Larken Rose (author of “The Most Dangerous Superstition” and “The Iron Web”) uses his own direct experiences with bureaucratic and judicial stupidity, intrusion and corruption to illustrate why, everywhere and at all times, in every situation and at every level, government sucks!

This snarky, flippant look at the mentality and tactics of various state busybodies also provides an important lesson regarding the true nature of political “authority,” and the problems and abuses it naturally creates. –  Parasites on Parade

Source: by Mac Salvo | ZeroHedge

The Silver Supply / Demand Crunch In Charts And Video

(by Jeff Clark) The data is in: based on a review of reports from multiple consultancies, the silver market has officially entered a supply/demand imbalance. The structure now in place sets up a scenario where a genuine crunch could occur.

The silver price has been stuck in a trading range for five years now. But behind the scenes, an imbalance has been forming that could potentially lead to price spikes based solely on the inability of supply to meet demand.

That statement isn’t based on some far-out projection or end-of-world scenario. It comes solely from the latest supply and demand data. As you’ll see, it demonstrates just how precarious the state of the silver market is. And as a result, how easily the price could ignite.

Here’s a pictorial that summarizes the current state of supply and demand for the silver market. See what conclusion you draw…

Silver Supply: It’s Fallen and It Can’t Get Up

Annual supply is in a major decline. And the downtrend is getting worse.

Check out how the amount of new metal coming to market has rolled over and continues to fall.

https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/gs-live/uploads%2F1557400273774-image5.png

Continue reading

The Biggest Home Price Drops Are In These 10 Cities

As the US housing market deteriorates, the shift to a buyer’s market accelerates, says Knock, a home trade-in online service. The 2Q19 National Knock Deals Report predicts that U.S. markets will have the highest percentage of homes that sell at discount versus the list price, in many years.

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/price%20cuts%20sign.jpg?itok=TsLLIrmQ

Knock projects that 75% of current listings will sell below their list price within the current quarter. While this is slightly lower than the 1Q19 forecast of 77%, it reflects a significant y/y increase (7% y/y) as the housing market starts to turn.

“The Q1 Forecast, which may have seemed to be a big jump over 2018, was actually much closer to the reality of home sales in Q1 2019 than home sales at the same time last year, or even at the end of 2018,” said Jamie Glenn, Co-Founder and COO at Knock. “It’s clear that we’re at an inflection point in the shift to more of a buyer’s market, and the Q2 Forecast provides insights into where and how buyers can capitalize on that.”

Six out of the ten cities on the list were located in Southern markets. Knock said the increase of Southern markets is a 40% increase over the last quarter.

Providence, RI; Cleveland, OH; New York, NY; and Chicago, IL were the other four markets that made the list.

The report noted that the four markets in Florida ( Miami, Tampa, Jacksonville, and Orlando) were hit the hardest by price reductions.

In Miami, the report says about 88% of single-family home sales in 1Q19 sold below original list prices. Average days on the market of Miami homes sold in 1Q19 were 82, which plays a significant role in discounting.

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/home%20price%20cuts%202q.png?itok=S3qDz-xT

“This seems like an interesting telltale that the market is shifting in favor of buyers,” Knock Chief Executive Officer Sean Black told Bloomberg in a phone interview. “Florida is a popular secondary home destination so it tends to drop faster in a downward market because it’s losing buyers, both domestically and internationally. Everybody needs a primary home. Not everybody needs a second home.”

Back in September, we outlined that “existing home sales have peaked, reflecting declining affordability, greater price reductions, and deteriorating housing sentiment.”

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/Screen-Shot-2018-09-22-at-7.20.10-PM_1.png?itok=rTP3ODfl

Greater price reductions, more inventory, and more days on the market is a recipe for a significant downward impulse in home prices across the country.

So if you haven’t called your realtor – maybe now is the time before the market goes bust.

Source: ZeroHedge

HUD Is Preparing To Address Rising FHA Loan Portfolio Risk With Tighter Credit

https://www.scotsmanguide.com/uploadedImages/ScotsManGuide/News/News/2018/11/FHAloan.1.jpg

(Source: by Victor Whitman | Scotsman Guide) Changes are likely to come soon that will make it harder for prospective borrowers to obtain Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans. It’s all part of an effort to dial back loosening credit standards that have seen FHA borrower debt loads and cash-out refinancing activity rise to record levels, top officials with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) told reporters on Thursday.

“We will be making some additional changes soon,” said FHA Commissioner Brian Montgomery during a morning conference call. HUD released its fiscal 2018 annual report to Congress on the health of the FHA insurance fund.

“I couldn’t give you an exact date, but again we want to find that critical balance between providing people with the opportunity for sustainable home ownership, but again we have to maintain the right balance and protect taxpayers against risk.”  

Montgomery didn’t reveal any specific plans on where the tightening may occur, but indicated cash-out refinancing activity was in the cross-hairs of the agency.

In a year where refinances dropped dramatically, FHA’s cash-out counts rose 6percent, to 150,883, in fiscal 2018.

“Cash-out refinances, both as a percentage of our over all business and our refinance endorsement volume, are growing astronomically,”Montgomery said. Cash-out refinances comprised nearly 63 percent of all refinance transactions in fiscal 2018, up from nearly 39 percent last year, he said.

“The increase in cash-outs presents a potential future risk for us, but also challenges the core tenants of FHA’s taxpayer-backed mission.”

Montgomery said rising debt-to-income (DTI) ratios are another major concern.

“Almost a quarter of our forward-purchase business was comprised of mortgages in which a borrower had a DTI ratio above 50 percent,”he said. “That is the highest percentage since 2000. When you couple that with a trend of decreasing average credit scores — 670 this year versus 676last year and the lowest average since 2008 — most underwriters and housing-finance experts will say that managing this type of risk without corresponding scrutiny becomes problematic.”

Montgomery also said HUD has concerns about the jurisdictional right and the extent to which government entities, such as state housing-finance agencies, provide down payment assistance to FHA borrowers.  

Montgomery also indicated that HUD will not be cutting FHA insurance rates in the near future.

“While the [insurance] fund is sound at this point in time,I think we are still far away from being in a position to consider any reduction in our mortgage-insurance premium,” he said.

HUD’s insurance fund ended the 2018 fiscal year in September in better shape than the end of fiscal 2017. The net worth of the fund increased to $34.9 billion, up $8.12 billion at the end of fiscal 2017. The fund’s capital ratio, a closely watched metric that compares the net worth of the fund to the dollar balance of all active insured loans, stood at a 2.76 percent, up from 2.18 percent at the end of fiscal 2017. This was the fourth-consecutive year that the capital ratio has been above Congress’s mandated 2 percent threshold, a level it considers sufficient to sustain losses without government intervention.

The overall fund, however, was once again dragged down by FHA’s reserve-mortgage program, known as the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM). Reverse mortgages are loans that allow seniors to tap their home equity and remain in their homes for life. They represent a small portion of all FHA-insured loans, but have had an out sized impact on the risk to the fund.

The FHA portfolio of HECM-insured mortgages was estimated to have a negative value of $16.3 billion. The reverse portfolio also had a negative capital ratio of 18.83 percent.

By contrast, FHA’s regular forward-loan portfolio — loans commonly taken out by first-time home buyers  — had an estimated positive value of $46.8 billion and a healthy positive capital ratio of 3.93 percent.  

Montgomery and HUD Secretary Ben Carson, who also joined the morning call with reporters, said that elderly borrowers in the reverse program are being subsidized to an unsustainable degree by the typically lower-income,often minority, first-time home buyers in the FHA’s forward-loan program.

“We are committed to maintaining a viable HECM program, so seniors can continue to age in place, but we can’t continue to see future HECM books being subsidized by our forward-mortgage programs,” Montgomery said. “It is not beneficial to anyone, including taxpayers.”

HUD has taken steps to tighten the program already,including most recently requiring a second appraisal on homes where the value could have been inflated. Montgomery said FHA is working on a plan to conduct a census of all families who live in homes with a HECM mortgage.

Mortgage Bankers Association President Robert Broeksmit said HUD’s scrutiny of FHA’s credit standards was “prudent.” 

“We are glad to see that FHA is closely monitoring the increasing risk in the forward portfolio, indicated by rising debt-to-income ratios, declining credit scores, and the increasing use of down payment-assistance programs,” Broeksmit said. “While current FHA delinquencies are quite low, it is prudent to keep an eye on these trends to ensure the program does not face undue challenges if, and when, the economy and job market cool.”

Broeksmit also noted that MBA has previously drawn attention to the HECM portfolio’s drain on the fund, and supported recent tightening moves.

“Policy makers should continue considering ways to insulate the forward program from the volatility in the reverse program,” he said.  

That HUD might crack down on FHA-lending standards is worrisome for non-banks, however. Non-banks are now originating the bulk of FHA loans today. Reacting to the report,  non-bank trade group the Community Home Lenders Association (CHLA) said HUD should loosen restrictions on the program by eliminating an Obama-era requirement that borrowers hold FHA insurance for the life of the loan.

“CHLA also renews its call for a cut in annual premiums, a move justified by FHA’s strong financial performance,” CHLA Executive Director Scott Olson said.

Chinese Fetanyl Kingpins Laundered Over $5BN Through Vancouver Homes Since 2012

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/Vancouver%20skyline.jpg?itok=Ur85d6IyDowntown Vancouver Skyline

A new “secret” police study has found that Chinese crime networks could have laundered over $1B through Vancouver homes in 2016 alone, and that a surge in the city’s home prices are simultaneously tied to a surge in opioid deaths. 

The report examined over 1,200 luxury real estate purchases in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland during that year, and concluded that over 10% were tied to buyers with criminal records. Crucially 95% of those transactions could be definitively traced by police intelligence back to Chinese crime networks.

While the study only looked at property purchases in 2016, an analysis by Global News suggests the same extended crime network may have laundered about $5-billion in Vancouver-area homes since 2012Fentanyl: Making a Killing

Since 2016 we’ve chronicled the “dark side” behind the Vancouver real estate bubble, which it turns out has long been a bubbling melange of criminal Chinese oligarch “hot money”, desperate to get parked offshore in any piece of real estate, but mostly in British Columbia regardless of price.

A number of investigations have since uncovered extensive links – including money laundering and underground banking – between China’s criminal underworld and British Columbia drug and casino cash and VIPs, as well as their connections to China, Macau and the notorious triads. These investigations have found much of the B.C. real estate bubble can be explained as nothing more than the “layering” and “integration” aspect of a giant money laundering scheme involving billions of dollars of Chinese hot money and the criminals behind it.

On Monday the new bombshell study revealed just how extensive and growing this Chinese underworld racket remains and how it continues to impact average citizens and regular home buyers, as well as fueling the continuing opioid crisis across the US and Canada, which has claimed tens of thousands of lives across North America, including nearly 4,000 Canadians in 2017 alone. The figures are so stunning that what is “known” years after the story first came to light could merely be the tip of the iceberg. 

The study published by Canada’s Global News begins by painting a disturbing scenario that suggests some of Vancouver’s priciest homes are nothing more than a new “Swiss bank account” of sorts providing the promise of an anonymous store of value and retaining the cash equivalent value of the original capital outflow from initial criminal transactions overseen for Chinese crime syndicates — all the while fueling Metro Vancouver’s housing affordability crisis.

The ultimate end result of the sophisticated and massive money laundering scheme is that middle-class families have been priced out of the city, per the report:

The stately $17-million mansion owned by a suspected fentanyl importer is at the end of a gated driveway on one of the priciest streets in Shaughnessy, Vancouver’s most exclusive neighborhood.

A block away is a $22-million gabled manor that police have linked to a high-stakes gambler and property developer with suspected ties to the Chinese police services.

Both mansions appear on a list of more than $1-billion worth of Vancouver-area property transactions in 2016 that a confidential police intelligence study has linked to Chinese organized crime.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/Vancouver%20properties.jpg?itok=CDpjoivaNine Vancouver properties subject of a prior Globe and Mail investigation linking them to fentanyl laundering. Via The Globe and Mail

Previous investigations had quoted concerned residents describing that: “Vancouver seems to be evolving from a residential city into almost like a lockbox for money… but I have to live among the empty houses. I’m a resident, not just an investor.”

The snapshot that the new police study provides is based on analysis of a sample of about 1,200 high-end sales in 2016. Investigators cross-referenced databases of criminal records and confidential police intelligence with those high-end property records, which revealed the shocking 10% organized crime ties figure. 

But the implications for prior years going all the way back to the early 2000’s and even into the 1990’s, when Canadian police believe the current kingpins of fentanyl  which is the powerful and extremely addictive narcotic added to heroin to increase its potency (said to be 100 times more potent than morphine)  began to dominate Canada’s heroin markets, are equally as startling.

For starters, the report finds, fentanyl-related money laundering which funnels illicit funds through the luxury housing market has been so pervasive that researchers “didn’t have the time or resources to study the over 20,000 transactions”. During the course of these some 20,000 transactions home prices in Vancouver have tripled since 2005

From the new “Fentanyl: Making a Killing” extensive report

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/Vancouver%20Fentanyl%20crisis%20report.jpg?itok=-QljNhJV

And further illustrating just how extensive the whole scheme remains, there is this bombshell section from the report:

While the study only looked at property purchases in 2016, an analysis by Global News suggests the same extended crime network may have laundered about $5-billion in Vancouver-area homes since 2012.

At the centre of the money laundering ring is a powerful China-based gang called the Big Circle Boys. Its top level “kingpins” are the international drug traffickers who are profiting most from Canada’s deadly fentanyl crisis.

The crime network, according to police intelligence sources, is a fluid coalition of hundreds of wealthy criminals in Metro Vancouver, including gangsters, industrialists, financial fugitives and corrupt officials from China.

The report is so full of specific examples of multi-tens of million dollar homes that are actually money laundering conduits for fentanyl drug kingpins that it puts President Trump’s recent accusations against China for fueling the opioid crisis into fresh perspective.

At that time Trump attempted to lay out the case that Chinese suppliers had been fueling America’s opioid crisis, saying in part “It is outrageous that Poisonous Synthetic Heroin Fentanyl comes pouring into the U.S. Postal System from China.”

However judging by breadth and depth of figures merely from one major North American city (some American cities have been named in other investigations), it appears that Trump’s words actually understated the role of China and Chinese organized crime, of which it appears Beijing authorities have long been only too happy to look the other way while it takes deep roots on the American continent. 

After all we can’t imagine China’s all-pervasive advanced surveillance systems and powerful domestic intelligence apparatus could miss this: “Police say that almost every drug seizure they now make in Vancouver turns up some form of synthetic opioid produced at factories in China,” according to the report.

Source: ZeroHedge

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Fentanyl kings in Canada allegedly linked to powerful Chinese gang, the Big Circle Boys

 

 

U.S. Mint Runs Out Of Silver Eagle Bullion Coins Following Demand Spike

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Recent downturns in gold prices and silver prices have spurred a dramatic increase in both old and new bullion buyers snapping up physical precious metals at perceived low valuations.

For many decades now, the US Mint American Silver Eagle coin has remained the #1 choice for most physical silver bullion buyers worldwide.

In terms of annual sales volumes and total US dollars sold versus other silver bullion government mint and private mint competitors, the 1 oz American Silver Eagle coin is still the most highly purchased form of silver bullion worldwide (find updated US Mint sales data here).

Not surprising, with this recent downturn in precious metal prices, available silver bullion inventories are beginning to sell out and back order.

We foresaw and wrote about this shrinking silver bullion supply situation coming a weeks ago in SD Bullion’s new research blog.

Thus today, the following communication issued by the US Mint’s Branch Chief was not surprising to us:

Date: Wed, 5 Sep 2018

Subject: 2018 American Eagle Silver Bullion Coins Temporarily Sold Out

This is to inform you that due to recent increased demand, the United States Mint has temporarily sold out of its inventories of 2018 American Eagle Silver Bullion Coins.

All orders received prior to this communication shall be honored and settled according to pre-agreed upon value date arrangements.

The United States Mint is in the process of producing additional 2018 American Eagle Silver Bullion Coins. We will make these coins available for sale shortly.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions.

Jack A. Szczerban

Branch Chief, Bullion Directorate

United States Mint

Of course this latest US Mint sell out only pertains to Silver Eagle coins.

US Mint American Gold Eagle coin supplies still stand at reasonable, albeit recently lightened levels.

For seasoned bullion buyers, this latest sell out of US Mint 1 oz American Silver Eagle Coins is not a new phenomenon.

We have seen this happen in various years past, including periods of bullion product rationing, sell outs, etc.

What is different this time around is the low Silver Eagle coin volumes being sold by the US Mint month on month, compared to somewhat recent years of 2009 through 2016.

See below,

https://www.silverdoctors.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/US-Mint-silver-eagle-coin-sale-sellout-Silver-Doctors.png

It appears like much of our industry, perhaps the US Mint has cut down on staffing, even silver planchet inventory levels, and other resources required to meet this latest spike in silver bullion product demand.

Typical to past US Mint silver sell outs and coin rationings, product and price premiums usually also increase in order to meet the silver bullion supply demand equilibrium. Smart bullion dealers are not going to sell out of their shrinking inventories without a reasonable profit to match. 

You can see various 1 oz American Silver Eagle coin premium price over spot spikes in the following chart below.

https://www.silverdoctors.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/US-Mint-silver-eagle-sellout-coin-premiums-Silver-Doctors.png

The price premiums spike coincide with the fall 2008 fiasco where virtually any and all bullion dealers ran out of bullion inventories, the early 2013 allocation rationing, and the middle 2015 sell out and order shut down.

Historically price premium spikes for American Silver Eagles tend to flow into other silver bullion product premiums. In other words, if the price premiums for Silver Eagles pops higher, you can expect various price increases and sellouts in competing silver bullion products to also ensue.

US Mint American Eagle Bullion Program 2010 Amendment

Yet even most industry onlookers and bullion buyers do not know that a small change to US law was made in 2010. It allows the Secretary of the US Treasury by fiat, and not outright public demand per say, to alone determine what quantities of American Silver Eagle coin supplies are sufficient to meet ongoing demand.

Pre 2010 amendment and law change:

(e)Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary shall mint and issue, in quantities sufficient to meet public demand,

Post 2010 law change:

(e)Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary shall mint and issue, in qualities and quantities that the Secretary determines are sufficient to meet public demand,

We do not expect the recent sell out of Silver Eagle coins to the be the highest priority of Secretary of the Treasury at the moment.

Bullion buyers should expect further silver bullion supply constraints both currently and ahead, especially if silver spot prices dip into the $13 or $12 oz zone some respected technical analysts have been calling for weeks / months in advance.

The following US Mint Silver Eagle coin annual sales chart encompassed the entire history of the US Mint American Eagle Bullion Coin Program. As you can see, the 2008 global financial crisis took the program to another level entirely.

https://www.silverdoctors.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/US-Mint-Silver-Eagle-sellout-annual-silver-eagle-coin-sales-1986-2018-Silver-Doctors.png

Even 10 years after the greatest financial crisis started, the worst since the 1929 depression, there are still both new and an already established base of silver bullion buyers who continue to aggressively buy silver bullion on spot price dips.

This recent US Mint sell out is just one example of that fact.

The following US Mint tour video was cut in 2014, but it’s still applicable to the way in which the American Silver Eagle coins are produced today. The only real difference is that the US Mint is currently selling less than ½ the volume it was then, yet still having issues meeting demand spikes in the short term.

More than likely the US Mint is currently dealing with a shortfall of silver planchets on hand.

The silver used in the program does not have to be mined in the USA as that law too was amended many years back. The US Mint does use silver coin planchet suppliers from Australia as well as domestic suppliers like the Sunshine Mint.

In terms of silver bullion on hand, don’t expect the Secretary of the US Treasury to have any available as they rely on private silver planchet suppliers and ‘just in time’ delivery for their program.

As most bullion buyers know, en masse the US government figuratively sold silver out in 1964.

The fact that the US government’s often clunky silver bullion coin program remains the largest in the world, illustrates just how tiny the silver bullion industry remains in the grand scope of global finance and economic financialization.

Sneaky law amendments aside, it does not take much silver bullion demand to break the industry’s small supply demand equilibrium.

Source: by James Anderson | SilverDoctors.com

 

Disaster Is Inevitable When America’s Stock Market Bubble Bursts – Smart Money Is Focused On Trade

(Forbes) Despite the volatility and brief correction earlier this year, the U.S. stock market is back to making record highs in the past couple weeks. To many observers, this market now seems downright bulletproof as it keeps going higher and higher as it has for nearly a decade in direct defiance of the naysayers’ warnings. Unfortunately, this unusual market strength is not evidence of a strong, organic economy, but of an extremely unhealthy, artificial bubble economy that will end in a crisis that will be even worse than we experienced in 2008. In this report, I will show a wide variety of charts that prove how unsustainable the current bull market is.

Since the Great Recession low in March 2009, the S&P 500 stock index has gained over 300%, taking it nearly 80% higher than its 2007 peak:

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The small cap Russell 2000 index and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index are up even more than the S&P 500 since 2009 – nearly 400% and 500% respectively:

https://thumbor.forbes.com/thumbor/960x0/https%3A%2F%2Fblogs-images.forbes.com%2Fjessecolombo%2Ffiles%2F2018%2F08%2Fpercentincrease-1.jpg

The reason for America’s stock market and economic bubbles is quite simple: ultra-cheap credit/ultra-low interest rates. As I explained in a Forbes piece last week, ultra-low interest rates help to create bubbles in the following ways:

  • Investors can borrow cheaply to speculate in assets (ex: cheap mortgages for property speculation and low margin costs for trading stocks)
  • By making it cheaper to borrow to conduct share buybacks, dividend increases, and mergers & acquisitions
  • By discouraging the holding of cash in the bank versus speculating in riskier asset markets
  • By encouraging higher rates of inflation, which helps to support assets like stocks and real estate
  • By encouraging more borrowing by consumers, businesses, and governments

The chart below shows how U.S. interest rates (the Fed Funds Rate, 10-Year Treasury yields, and Aaa corporate bond yields) have remained at record low levels for a record period of time since the Great Recession:

https://thumbor.forbes.com/thumbor/960x0/https%3A%2F%2Fblogs-images.forbes.com%2Fjessecolombo%2Ffiles%2F2018%2F08%2FUSRates-2.jpg

U.S. monetary policy has been incredibly loose since the Great Recession, which can be seen in the chart of real interest rates (the Fed Funds Rate minus the inflation rate). The mid-2000s housing bubble and the current “Everything Bubble” both formed during periods of negative real interest rates. (Note: “Everything Bubble” is a term that I’ve coined to describe a dangerous bubble that has been inflating in a wide variety of countries, industries, and assets – please visit my website to learn more.)

https://thumbor.forbes.com/thumbor/960x0/https%3A%2F%2Fblogs-images.forbes.com%2Fjessecolombo%2Ffiles%2F2018%2F08%2FRealFedFundsRate.jpg

The Taylor Rule is a model created by economist John Taylor to help estimate the best level for central bank-set interest rates such as the Fed Funds Rate. If the Fed Funds Rate is much lower than the Taylor Rule model (this signifies loose monetary conditions), there is a high risk of inflation and the formation of bubbles. If the Fed Funds Rate is much higher than the Taylor Rule model, however, there is a risk that tight monetary policy will stifle the economy.

Comparing the Fed Funds Rate to the Taylor Rule model is helpful for visually gauging how loose or tight U.S. monetary conditions are:

https://thumbor.forbes.com/thumbor/960x0/https%3A%2F%2Fblogs-images.forbes.com%2Fjessecolombo%2Ffiles%2F2018%2F08%2FTaylorRule1-1.jpg

Subtracting the Taylor Rule model from the Fed Funds Rate quantifies how loose (when the difference is negative), tight (when the difference is positive), or neutral U.S. monetary policy is:

https://thumbor.forbes.com/thumbor/960x0/https%3A%2F%2Fblogs-images.forbes.com%2Fjessecolombo%2Ffiles%2F2018%2F08%2FTaylorRule2-1-1.jpg

Low interest rates/low bond yields have enabled a corporate borrowing spree in which total outstanding non-financial U.S. corporate debt surged by over $2.5 trillion, or 40% from its peak in 2008. The recent borrowing boom caused total outstanding U.S. corporate debt to rise to over 45% of GDP, which is even worse than the level reached during the past several credit cycles. (Read my recent U.S. corporate debt bubble report to learn more).

U.S. corporations have been using much of their borrowed capital to buy back their own stock, increase dividends, and fund mergers and acquisitions – activities that are known for boosting stock prices and executive bonuses. Unfortunately, U.S. corporations have been focusing on these activities that reward shareholders in the short-term, while neglecting longer-term business investments – hubristic behavior that is typical during a bubble. The chart below shows how share buybacks and dividends paid increased dramatically since 2009:

https://thumbor.forbes.com/thumbor/960x0/https%3A%2F%2Fblogs-images.forbes.com%2Fjessecolombo%2Ffiles%2F2018%2F08%2Fbuybacks-1.jpg

Another Federal Reserve policy (aside from the ultra-low Fed Funds Rate) has helped to inflate the U.S. stock market bubble since 2009: quantitative easing or QE. When executing QE policy, the Federal Reserve creates new money “out of thin air” (in digital form) and uses it to buy Treasury bonds or other assets, which pumps liquidity into the financial system. QE helps to push bond prices higher and bond yields/interest rates lower throughout the economy. QE has another indirect effect: it causes stock prices to surge (because low rates boost stocks), as the chart below shows:

https://thumbor.forbes.com/thumbor/960x0/https%3A%2F%2Fblogs-images.forbes.com%2Fjessecolombo%2Ffiles%2F2018%2F08%2FFedBalanceSheetvsSP500-2.jpg

As touched upon earlier, low interest rates encourage stock speculators to borrow money from their brokers in the form of margin loans. These speculators then ride the bull market higher while letting the leverage from the margin loans boost their returns. This strategy can be highly profitable – until the market turns and amplifies their losses, that is.

There is a general tendency for speculators to use margin most aggressively just before the market’s peak, and the current bull market/bubble appears to be no exception. During the dot-com bubble and housing bubble stock market cycles, margin debt peaked at roughly 2.75% of GDP. In the current stock market bubble, however, margin debt is nearly at 3% of GDP, which is quite concerning. The heavy use of margin at the end of a long bull market exacerbates the eventual downturn because traders are forced to sell their shares to avoid or satisfy margin calls.

https://thumbor.forbes.com/thumbor/960x0/https%3A%2F%2Fblogs-images.forbes.com%2Fjessecolombo%2Ffiles%2F2018%2F08%2FSP500vsMarginGDP.jpg

In the latter days of a bull market or bubble, retail investors are typically the most aggressively positioned in stocks. Sadly, these small investors tend to be wrong at the most important market turning points. Retail investors currently have the highest allocation to stocks (blue line) and the lowest cash holdings (orange line) since the Dot-com bubble, which is a worrisome sign. These same investors were the most cautious in 2002/2003 and 2009, which was the start of two powerful bull markets.

https://thumbor.forbes.com/thumbor/960x0/https%3A%2F%2Fblogs-images.forbes.com%2Fjessecolombo%2Ffiles%2F2018%2F08%2Fallocation.jpg

The chart below shows the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), which is considered to be a “fear gauge” of U.S. stock investors. The VIX stayed very low during the housing bubble era and it has been acting similarly for the past eight years as the “Everything Bubble” inflated. During both bubbles, the VIX stayed low because the Fed backstopped the financial markets and economy with its aggressive monetary policies (this is known as the “Fed Put“).

https://thumbor.forbes.com/thumbor/960x0/https%3A%2F%2Fblogs-images.forbes.com%2Fjessecolombo%2Ffiles%2F2018%2F08%2FVIX-1.jpg

The next chart shows the St. Louis Fed Financial Stress Index, which is a barometer for the level of stress in the U.S. financial system. It goes without saying that less stress is better, but only to a point – when the index remains at extremely low levels due to the backstopping of the financial markets by the Fed, it can be indicative of the formation of a dangerous bubble. Ironically, when that bubble bursts, financial stress spikes. Periods of very low financial stress foreshadow periods of very high financial stress – the calm before the financial storm, basically. The Financial Stress Index remained at extremely low levels during the housing bubble era and is following the same pattern during the “Everything Bubble.”

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High-yield (or “junk”) bond spreads are another barometer of investor fear or complacency. When high-yield bond spreads stay at very low levels in a central bank-manipulated environment like ours, it often indicates that a dangerous bubble is forming (it indicates complacency). The high-yield spread was unusually low during the dot-com bubble and housing bubble, and is following the same pattern during the current “Everything Bubble.”

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In a bubble, the stock market becomes overpriced relative to its underlying fundamentals such as earnings, revenues, assets, book value, etc. The current bubble cycle is no different: the U.S. stock market is as overvalued as it was at major generational peaks. According to the cyclically-adjusted price-to-earnings ratio (a smoothed price-to-earnings ratio), the U.S. stock market is more overvalued than it was in 1929, right before the stock market crash and Great Depression:

https://thumbor.forbes.com/thumbor/960x0/https%3A%2F%2Fblogs-images.forbes.com%2Fjessecolombo%2Ffiles%2F2018%2F08%2FCAPE-3-2.jpg

Tobin’s Q ratio (the total U.S. stock market value divided by the total replacement cost of assets) is another broad market valuation measure that confirms that the stock market is overvalued like it was at prior generational peaks:

https://thumbor.forbes.com/thumbor/960x0/https%3A%2F%2Fblogs-images.forbes.com%2Fjessecolombo%2Ffiles%2F2018%2F08%2FTobinsQRatio-1.jpg

The fact that the S&P 500’s dividend yield is at such low levels is more evidence that the market is overvalued (high market valuations lead to low dividend yields and vice versa). Though dividend payout ratios have been declining over time in addition, that is certainly not the only reason why dividend yields are so low, contrary to popular belief. Extremely high market valuations are the other rarely discussed reason why yields are so low.

https://thumbor.forbes.com/thumbor/960x0/https%3A%2F%2Fblogs-images.forbes.com%2Fjessecolombo%2Ffiles%2F2018%2F08%2FDividend-1.jpg

The chart below shows U.S. after tax corporate profits as a percentage of the gross national product (GNP), which is a measure of how profitable American corporations are. Thanks to ultra-cheap credit, asset bubbles, and financial engineering, U.S. corporations have been much more profitable since the early-2000s than they have been for most of the 20th century (9% vs. the 6.6% average since 1947).

Unfortunately, U.S. corporate profitability is likely to revert to the mean because unusually high corporate profit margins are typically unsustainable, as economist Milton Friedman explained. The eventual mean reversion of U.S. corporate profitability will hurt the earnings of public corporations, which is very worrisome considering how overpriced stocks are relative to earnings.

https://thumbor.forbes.com/thumbor/960x0/https%3A%2F%2Fblogs-images.forbes.com%2Fjessecolombo%2Ffiles%2F2018%2F08%2FProfitMargins.jpg

During stock market bubbles, the overall market tends to be led by a smaller group of high-performing “story stocks” that capture the investing public’s attention, make early investors rich, and light the fires of greed and envy in practically everyone else. During the late-1990s dot-com bubble, the “story stocks” were tech stocks like Amazon.com, Intel, Cisco, eBay, etc. During the housing bubble era, it was home builder stocks like Hovanian, D.R. Horton, Lennar, mortgage lenders, and alternative energy companies like First Solar, to name a few examples.

In the current stock market bubble, the market is being led by a group of stocks nicknamed FAANG, which is an acronym for Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google (now known as Alphabet Inc.). The chart below compares the performance of the FAANG stocks to the S&P 500 during the bull market that began in March 2009. Though the S&P 500 has risen over 300%, the FAANGs put the broad market index to shame: Apple is up over 1,000%, Amazon has surged more than 2,000%, and Netflix has rocketed over 6,000%.

https://thumbor.forbes.com/thumbor/960x0/https%3A%2F%2Fblogs-images.forbes.com%2Fjessecolombo%2Ffiles%2F2018%2F08%2FFAANGS.jpg

After so many years of strong and consistent performance, many investors now view the FAANGs as “can’t lose” stocks that will keep going “up, up, up!” as a function of time. Unfortunately, this is a dangerous line of thinking that has ruined countless investors in prior bubbles. Today’s FAANG phenomenon is very similar to the Nifty Fifty group of high-performing blue-chip stocks during the 1960s and early-1970s bull market. The Nifty Fifty were seen as “one decision” stocks (the only decision necessary was to buy) because investors thought they would keep rising virtually forever.

Investors tend to become most bullish and heavily invested in leading stocks such as the FAANGs or Nifty Fifty right before the market cycle turns. When the leading stocks finally fall during a bear market, they usually fall very hard, as Nifty Fifty investors experienced in the 1973-1974 bear market. The eventual unwinding of the FAANG stock boom/bubble is going to burn many investors, including institutional investors who have gorged on these stocks in recent years. 

How The Stock Market Bubble Will Pop

To keep it simple, the current U.S. stock market bubble will pop due to the ending of the conditions that created it in the first place: cheap credit/loose monetary conditions. The Federal Reserve inflated the stock market bubble via its record low Fed Funds Rate and quantitative easing programs, and the central bank is now raising interest rates and reversing its QE programs by shrinking its balance sheet. What the Fed giveth, the Fed taketh away.

The Fed claims to be able to engineer a “soft landing,” but that virtually never happens in reality. It’s even less likely to happen in this current bubble cycle because of how long it has gone on and how distorted the financial markets and economy have become due to ultra-cheap credit conditions.

I’m from the same school of thought as billionaire fund manager Jeff Gundlach, who believes that the Fed will keep hiking interest rates until “something breaks.” In the last economic cycle from roughly 2002 to 2007, it was the subprime mortgage industry that broke first, and in the current cycle, I believe that corporate bonds are likely to break first, which would then spill over into the U.S. stock market (please read my corporate debt bubble report in Forbes to learn more).

The Fed Funds Rate chart below shows how the last two recessions and bubble bursts occurred after rate hike cycles; a repeat performance is likely once rates are hiked high enough. Because of the record debt burden in the U.S., interest rates do not have to rise nearly as high as in prior cycles to cause a recession or financial crisis this time around. In addition to raising interest rates, the Fed is now conducting its quantitative tightening (QT) policy that shrinks its balance sheet by $40 billion per month, which will eventually contribute to the popping of the stock market bubble.

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The 10-Year/2-Year U.S. Treasury bond spread is a helpful tool for determining how close a recession likely is. This spread is an extremely accurate indicator, having warned about every U.S. recession in the past half-century, including the Great Recession. When the spread is between 0% and 1%, it is in the “recession warning zone” because it signifies that the economic cycle is maturing and that a recession is likely just a few years away. When the spread drops below 0% (this is known as an inverted yield curve), a recession is likely to occur within the next year or so. 

As the chart below shows, the 10-Year/2-Year U.S. Treasury bond spread is already deep into the “Warning Zone” and heading toward the “Recession Zone” at an alarming rate – not exactly a comforting thought considering how overvalued and inflated the U.S. stock market is, not to mention how indebted the U.S. economy is.

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Although I err conservative/libertarian politically, I do not believe that President Trump can prevent the ultimate popping of the U.S. stock market bubble and “Everything Bubble.” One of the reasons why is that this bubble is truly global and the U.S. President has no control over the economies of China, Australia, Canada, etc. The popping of a massive global bubble outside of the U.S. is enough to create a bear market and recession within the U.S.

Also, as the charts in this report show, our stock market bubble was inflating years before Trump became president. I believe that this bubble was slated to crash to regardless of who became president – it could have been Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, or Marco Rubio. Even Donald Trump called the stock market a “big, fat, ugly bubble” right before the election. Concerningly, even though the stock market bubble is approximately 30% larger than when Trump warned about it, Trump is no longer calling it a “bubble,” and is actually praising it each time it hits another record.

Many optimists expect President Trump’s tax reform plan to result in a powerful boom that creates millions of new jobs and supercharges economic growth, which would help the stock market grow into its lofty valuations. Unfortunately, this thinking is not grounded in reality or math. As my boss Lance Roberts explained, “there will be no economic boom” (Part 1Part 2) because our economy is too debt-laden to grow the way it did back in the 1980s during the Reagan Boom or at other times during the 20th century.

As shown in this report, the U.S. stock market is currently trading at extremely precarious levels and it won’t take much to topple the whole house of cards. Once again, the Federal Reserve, which was responsible for creating the disastrous Dot-com bubble and housing bubble, has inflated yet another extremely dangerous bubble in its attempt to force the economy to grow after the Great Recession. History has proven time and time again that market meddling by central banks leads to massive market distortions and eventual crises. As a society, we have not learned the lessons that we were supposed to learn from 1999 and 2008, therefore we are doomed to repeat them.

The purpose of this report is to warn society of the path that we are on and the risks that we are facing. I am not necessarily calling the market’s top right here and right now. I am fully aware that this stock market bubble can continue inflating to even more extreme heights before it pops. I warn about bubbles as an activist, but I approach tactical investing in a slightly different manner (because shorting or selling too early leads to under performance, etc.). As a professional investor, I believe in following the market’s trend instead of fighting it – even if I’m skeptical of the underlying forces that are driving it. Of course, when that trend fundamentally changes, that’s when I believe in shifting to an even more cautious and conservative stance for our clients and myself.

Source: by Jesse Colombo | Forbes

Learn about Trumps latest moves on trade negotiations with Canada and Mexico…

Starter Homes Are Most Expensive Since Just Before The Last Housing Crash

There is a simple reason why the US housing market is headed for its “broadest slowdown in years“: prices for housing are just too high, a new report suggests. Which is odd considering the conventionally accepted narrative that “rising prices are better for everybody.”

According to a new report from the National Association of Realtors, prices for starter homes are the highest they have been since 2008, just prior to the collapse of the housing market, and when Ben Bernanke infamously said that there is no housing bubble and that “we’ve never had a decline in house prices on a nationwide basis” and therefore we’ll never have one. The housing market suffered its worst crash on record shortly after.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/start%20home%20prices.jpg?itok=v1ikaudQ

In the second quarter, first time buyers needed 23% of their income in order to afford a typical entry-level home; this was up from 21% in the year prior, and the highest in the past decade.

This, of course, should surprise nobody as price gains in the housing market have long outpaced wages; in fact in most markets the average home price increase is double the growth in hourly earnings.

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Now, with the housing market starting to show signs of cooling off, those bearing the brunt of the increases are buyers at the low-end of the market and in areas where supplies are the tightest. This has probably not been helped along by the volatile cost of commodities like lumber which have been impacted by Canadian tariffs, among others.

On top of that, rising interest rates are making mortgage prohibitively expensive for a broad section of the population.

“When prices go up at the entry level, that’s where the affordability issue is most acute,” Wells Fargo economist Charles Dougherty told Bloomberg. “People are hesitant to stretch the amount they’re willing to pay.”

The most expensive markets in the United States were San Francisco and New York City, where Bloomberg reported that the median household needed 65% of its income to buy a house in the second quarter of this year. Similar statistics followed in Los Angeles and Miami, where those numbers were 59% and 55%, respectively.

Perhaps a better way of saying this is that no mere mortal can actually afford to buy there, and the only buyers are members of the 0.01% or those who have an extremely generous mortgage lender.

None of this housing information is discussed at length by the FOMC or the government, which find no problem with a near record number of people getting priced out of the market. Nobody will be surprised when, as prices continue to rise, we are “surprised” by the next housing crisis.

This news comes just days after we reported layoffs taking place at Wells Fargo as a result of the slumping housing market and slower mortgage applications, as a result of collapsing mortgage loan demand. Last Friday, Wells Fargo announced it was cutting 638 mortgage employees as the nation’s largest home lender is hit by a crippling slowdown in the business.

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“After carefully evaluating market conditions and consumer needs, we are reducing to better align with current volumes,” Wells Fargo spokesman Tom Goyda said in an emailed statement according to Bloomberg.

As we reported back in March that the “Bank Sector Is In Peril As Refi Activity Crashes Amid Rising Rates” and as interest rates have continued to rise, Wells Fargo has been contending with the end of a refinancing boom that helped push profits to a record.

Source: ZeroHedge

Kushner Family Sells 666 Fifth Avenue Office Tower To Brookfield

Brookfield Asset Management has agreed to purchase the lease the office portion of 666 Fifth Ave. in midtown Manhattan from the Kushner family, the WSJ reported.

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“Given Brookfield’s experience in successfully redeveloping and repositioning major office assets in New York and other cities around the world, we are well placed to capitalize on that opportunity,” Ric Clark, Brookfield Property Group’s chairman, said in a statement.

The infamous “devil” tower with the “666” sign on the entrance, has been under scrutiny because Jared Kushner is married to Ivanka Trump, and is a senior adviser to the president. When the Kushner Cos acquired the building in 2007 for $1.8 billion, it represented a New York commercial real estate record and was made when Kushner was taking a leadership role in the business. It remained precarious for years, and potential deals became complicated after Mr. Kushner took the senior White House job.

While terms of the deal weren’t disclosed in a statement Friday, the WSJ notes that the proceeds would give the family enough to pay off the more than $1.1 billion of debt on the building and buy out its partner, Vornado Realty Trust, for $120 million so it can transfer 666 Fifth to Brookfield unencumbered.

The sale means that the Kushner family likely won’t make any money on its investment in 666 Fifth Ave.

In recent years, the building hasn’t been generating enough money to pay its debt service. Jared Kushner had already sold his stake in 666 Fifth to a trust controlled by other family members to avoid potential conflicts. Still, the talks between Anbang and his father ignited criticism that Kushner might use his position to help his family salvage its investment.

Brookfield, which is buying the property through one of its private-equity funds, also plans to invest more than $600 million in overhauling the 39-story building, giving it a new lobby, façade and mechanical systems, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The building has seen its rental payments suffer in recent years due to a relatively high vacancy rate but is viewed in real-estate circles as having potential due to its prime location on Fifth Avenue between 52nd and 53rd Streets.

The structure of the deal is different from what Brookfield and Kushner Cos. discussed in the spring. Back then, Brookfield was considering a deal in which it would essentially acquire Vornado’s 49.5% stake in the property and become partners with the Kushner family.

One of the uncertainties about the Brookfield purchase of the 99-year lease is how much of the current debt on the building is going to be repaid. In the 2011 restructuring, the debt was carved into two pieces—a senior piece and a junior piece. The senior piece is worth $1.1 billion and the junior piece has increased since 2011 to over $300 million, because interest on it has been accruing.

Kushner executives have been arguing that only the senior debt on the building has to be repaid, partly because 666 Fifth isn’t worth the total $1.4 billion of debt on the building.

The recent history of the building is remarkable.

The property has taken numerous twists, both financial and political. Kushner Cos. sold a controlling stake in the retail space for more than $500 million a few years after it purchased the tower in 2007, using most of the proceeds to repay debt.

But that wasn’t enough to shore up the property in the post-crash years. In 2011, Kushner Cos. renegotiated what was then $1.2 billion in debt and brought in Vornado as a 49.5% partner.

In 2017, soon after Mr. Trump took office, Mr. Kushner’s father, Charles Kushner, was negotiating with Anbang Insurance Group, a Chinese insurer with connections to Beijing government. The elder Mr. Kushner’s plan at the time was to use Anbang’s capital in a $7.5 billion plan to convert 666 Fifth Ave. into a 1,400-foot-tall mixed use skyscraper with retail, hotel and condominiums.

Soon after, the Anbang talks soon collapsed. Since then, Kushner Cos. has steered clear of any deals with sovereign funds, a decision which has made the firm rein in its ambitious plans for the site. The family also faced a deadline: the debt on the building needs to be repaid next year.

And thanks to Brookfield, that will no longer be Jared’s problem any more.

Source: ZeroHedge

The Exorbitant Cost Of Getting Ahead In Life

Some 84 percent of Americans claim that a higher education is a very or extremely important factor for getting ahead in life, according to the National Center for public policy and Higher Education.

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So, it’s worth the exorbitant cost, but not everyone can pay, and outsized costs in the U.S. are giving much of the rest of the developed world the higher education advantage.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), people with a Bachelor’s Degree earn around 64 percent more per week than those with a high school diploma, and around 40 percent more than those with an Associate’s Degree. In turn, those with an Associate’s degree earn around 17 percent more than those with a high school diploma.

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The Federal Reserve Bank of New York says that college graduates overall earn 80 percent more than those without a degree.

There’s also job security to consider.

Individuals with college degrees have a lower average unemployment rates than those with only high school educations. Among people aged 25 and over, the lowest unemployment rates occur in those with the highest degrees.

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From this perspective, it’s no surprise that students are willing to bite the bullet and take on a ton of debt to finance education.

About three-fourths of students who attend four-year colleges graduate with loan debt. And this number is up from about half of students three decades ago.

The average student loan debt for Class of 2017 graduates was $39,400, up 6 percent from the previous year. Over 44 million Americans now hold over $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, according to Student Loan Hero.

According to College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2017–2018 school year was $34,740 at private colleges, $9,970 for state residents at public colleges, and $25,620 for out-of-state residents attending public universities.

The U.S. is one of the most expensive places to go obtain a higher education, but there are pricier venues, too.

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If you want a free higher education, try Europe—specifically Germany and Sweden. Denmark, too, doles out an allowance of about $900 a month to students to cover their living expenses. But don’t try to study in the UK on the cheap. The UK is the most expensive country in Europe, with college tuition coming in at an average of $12,414.

In Australia, graduates don’t pay anything on their loans until they earn about $40,000 a year, and then they only pay between 4 percent and 8 percent of their income, which is automatically deducted from their bank accounts, reducing the chances of default.

For Japan—a country that sees more than half of its population go to college—the highly respected University of Tokyo only costs about $4,700 a year for undergraduates, thanks to government subsidies. The Japanese government spends almost $8,750 a year per student because it sees the massive value in having a highly educated citizenry.

For Americans, while student loans may still be a good investment overall, the idea of taking a lifetime to pay off the debt may become increasingly unattractive. And it’s only going to get worse, according to JPMorgan, which predicts that by 2035 the cost of attending a four-year private college will top $487,000.

Source: ZeroHedge

Bank of America Contributed To $102 Million Ponzi Scheme: lawsuit

Plaintiffs charged that BofA lent the scheme an air of legitimacy and provided critical support

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Bank of America Corp. was accused in a lawsuit of providing more than 100 accounts used to perpetrate what the U.S. regulators called a $102 million Ponzi scheme.

The class-action suit filed on behalf of people who lost money follows a complaint last week by the Securities and Exchange Commission alleging that five men and three companies defrauded more than 600 investors.

One of the alleged ringleaders once commissioned a song about himself for a party in Las Vegas with lyrics celebrating his $10,000 suits and his partner’s affinity for champagne, according to Monday’s complaint in federal court in Ocala, Florida.

The brother and sister who sued to recover losses from their late father’s investment claim the fraudsters “could not have perpetuated their scheme without the knowing assistance of their primary banking institution, Bank of America, which lent the scheme an air of legitimacy and provided critical support, including at times when the scheme would have otherwise collapsed,” according to the complaint.

Bank of America spokesman Bill Halldin had no immediate comment on the suit.

The lender is accused of failing to spot suspicious activity, including deposits of hundreds of thousands of dollars into accounts with relatively small, negative or nonexistent balances, followed by transfers within the same week to other accounts or investors seeking to cash out.

The architects of the scheme promised they would put investor funds into profitable and perhaps dividend-paying companies, according to the SEC. But they spent $20 million from the investment pool to enrich themselves, made $38.5 million in “Ponzi-like payments” and transferred much of the rest away from the companies that were supposed to receive the money, the regulator said.

Source: Investment News

Soros Backs Personal Injury Lawsuits in Market With 20% Returns

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(Bloomberg) — The billionaire George Soros has found a new way to make money from personal-injury lawsuits.

Soros Fund Management is pushing into a branch of litigation finance that few hedge funds have entered. His family office is bankrolling a company that’s creating investment portfolios out of lawsuits, according to a May regulatory filing.

The development is the latest twist on the litigation funding market, which has drawn criticism for monetizing and encouraging the lawsuit culture in the U.S. The firm Soros is backing, Mighty Group, bundles cash advances that small shops extend to plaintiffs in personal injury suits in return for a cut of future settlements. Mighty Group’s approach opens the door to another potential development: securitizing individual lawsuit bets for sale to other investors.

“There are all the ingredients there to securitize these things,” said Adrian Chopin, a managing director at legal finance firm Bench Walk Advisors. “A diversified, granular pool with predictable outcomes. The problem is, you can’t yet get these things rated” by credit agencies.

20% Returns

Wall Street has been betting for a while on commercial litigation, which provides financing of big corporate suits with millions or even billions of dollars at stake. Soros is focused on the consumer side, where plaintiffs receive advances of $2,000 on average for legal claims typically tied to auto and construction accidents. The advances are used to cover personal expenses, such as medical bills and rent.

Soros along with Apollo Capital Management are among the first money managers to jump into this niche of the lawsuit-funding market. It offers steady and predictable returns, which historically have averaged about 20 percent a year at relatively low risk, said Chopin of Bench Walk.

“Everybody is looking for yield, and people are also looking for assets that are not correlated with the major equity and debt markets,” said Christopher Gillock, a managing director at Colonnade Advisors, an investment bank that specializes in financial services. “Litigation funding falls into that category.”

Joshua Schwadron, a co-founder of Mighty, declined to comment on the firm’s investors. Michael Vachon, a spokesman for Soros Fund Management, the billionaire’s New York-based family office, declined to comment.

Political Risk

The investments come with risk from both sides of the political spectrum. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the insurance industry criticize litigation financing for clogging the courts with frivolous lawsuits and driving up the costs of settlements. Regulators, on the other hand, have taken the side of consumers, moving to rein in the advances, casting them as loans subject to usury laws.

Industry proponents say the funding helps people win appropriate payouts instead of settling for pennies on the dollar under the pressure of medical bills or missed income from work. In addition, plaintiffs don’t have to pay back the advances if they lose their cases.

“These funding companies are allowing the folks who are injured through some accident to be able to stick around long enough to get paid,” said Joel Magerman, chief executive officer of Bryant Park Capital, an investment bank.

The funding companies don’t always get fully paid since other claims on settlements, such as attorney fees, have priority. This risk of underpayment makes advances difficult to bundle into securities, said Eric Schuller, president of the Alliance for Responsible Consumer Legal Funding, an industry trade group. In contrast to advances, most securitizations are backed by tangible items like a home or car.

“If the case goes south, there is nothing there to go after,” Schuller said. “It’s just a piece of paper.”

Apollo’s Investment

Mighty, originally a software provider, announced in March it had raised more than $100 million from major institutional investors to help litigation finance firms access capital. The May filing shows that a Soros affiliate agreed to provide Mighty with financing, which can also be used to back lawyers’ contingency fees and medical bills slated to be paid when cases settle.

Soros’s move into consumer legal funding is somewhat akin to another investment his family office made last year. It participated in a joint deal to buy as much as $5 billion of loans from Prosper Marketplace, a pioneer in peer-to-peer lending.

Although this form of litigation financing dates back to the mid-1990s, hedge funds had mostly steered clear because the advances and firms that issued them are so small. Only the largest players have been able to obtain financing from big investment firms. For example Leon Black’s Apollo Capital, through its MidCap Financial affiliate, backs Golden Pear Funding of New York, one of the biggest providers of advances.

Magerman anticipates that more investors will jump in the market. “It’s a small niche asset class,” he said. “There is a lot of additional money that can come in.”

***

Here’s your need to know about George Soros…

Host

You’re a Hungarian Jew who escaped the holocaust by posing as a Christian.

Soros

Right.

Host

And you watched lots of people get shipped off to the death camps?

Soros

Right, I was 14 years old and I would say that’s when my character was made.

Host

In what way?

Soros

That one should understand and anticipate events… It was a tremendous threat of evil. It was a very personal experience of evil.

Host

My understanding is that you went out with this “protector” of yours who swore that you were his adopted godson.

Soros

Yes.

Host

… went out, in fact, and helped in the confiscation of property of the Jews.

Soros

That’s right. Yes.

Host

That sounds like an experience that would send lots of people to the psychiatric couch for many, many years. Was it difficult??

Soros

Uh. Not at all, not at all. Maybe as a child you don’t see the connection but it created no problem at all.

Host

No feeling of guilt?

Soros

No.

Host

For example, “I’m Jewish and here I am watching these people go. I could just as easily be there. I should be there.” None of that?

Soros

Well. Of course I could be on the other side. I could be the one from whom the thing is being taken away, uh, but there was no sense I shouldn’t be there because there was – Well, actually, (in a) funny way it’s just like in markets that if I weren’t there (of course I wasn’t doing it) somebody else would be taking it away anyhow. Whether I was there or not (I was only a spectator) the property was being taken away. So – I had no role in taking away that property so I had no sense of guilt.

Host

Are you religious?

Soros

No.

Host

Do you believe in God?

Soros

No.

Source: By Miles Weiss | Bloomberg

 

“By Securing The Border, Trump Is Threatening Money-Flow For Lots Of Connected Interests”

President Trump doubled-down on his plan for “immediate” deportation of illegal immigrants this morning, explaining in a tweet that “hiring many thousands of judges, and going through a long and complicated legal process, is not the way to go,” adding that this deterrence approach “is the way to go to stop illegal immigration in its tracks.”

But, as NBC News reports, that hasn’t stopped civil rights attorneys from flocking to the Texas border to ‘protect’ the rights of illegal immigrant parents not to be separated from their children – the exact same policy that is utilized on American parents when they commit a crime with children in tow.

Attorneys have become a lifeline for migrants in detention, responding as would clergy to a disaster or tragedy, as the legal labyrinth of immigration has become more complicated.

Although many are accustomed to the immigration system’s complexities, attorneys are finding the situation created by the Trump “zero-tolerance” prosecutions full of never-before-seen hurdles and restrictions that hamper their access to children and parents and are making their work to ensure those with valid asylum and other claims get to stay more difficult.

Ali Rahnama, an immigration attorney from Washington, D.C. who works on public policy and high impact litigation, said he woke up last Monday and felt he needed to be on the border. He found a private donor to pay for him and a few colleagues to fly to the border.

Another attorney, Sirine Sheboya, is choking back emotion over the lengths mothers and fathers are going to be reunited with their children.

“We have people in there who are considering not continuing on with really strong asylum claims,” she said stopping to catch her breath as the emotion breaks through, “because they think that maybe they will get reunified with their kids faster if they give up their claim. That’s just wrong.

“We have men and women saying, ‘My 5- and 6-year-old was holding my leg and was taken away,'” said Rahnama, who visited parents and guardians being held in the Port Isabel Detention Center. “They go to court and are told their child will be there when they come back and they come back and there is no child,” he said.

Of course, it’s not just attorneys, Democratic politicians are descending for their moment of social justice and never-Trump warrior glory.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., spent 2½ hours in the Port Isabel Detention Center on Sunday night. After the visit, she told reporters stationed outside the center that officials of Immigration and Customs Enforcement told her that the center isn’t where parents and children will come together as federal officials have said.

“The [immigration] officials made clear this is not a reunification center. There will be no children brought here. There will be no families brought together in this place,” Warren said. “All that’s happening here is the detention of mothers and fathers who lost their children.”

Warren said she spoke to nine mothers and none the whereabouts of their children or had spoken to them.

“They are crying they are weeping,” she said. “They have said they will do anything … just, please, let them have their babies back.”

One quick question to Ms.Warren – what would you do with the children of an American parent, who took his children along with him as he committed a crime? Do they deserve better or worse treatment under the law than an illegal immigrant – who crosses the border not at a port of entry and then proclaims they are seeking asylum?

NBC News reports that DHS said late Saturday that some of the more than 2,000 children – about 522 – have been reunited with parents. Officials said Port Isabel would be its reunification center.

Sometimes it’s not just children who attorneys have to locate, but some of the parents as well. Efrén Olivares of the Texas Civil Rights Project can no longer find three clients who were part of a group of five parents who complained in a petition filed with the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, part of the Organization of American States, about the child separations.

They were either released to the U.S. with notice to appear (at a court at a later date) or were deported. We are looking diligently to contact them. We gave them a number and asked them to contact us if they were released,” Olivares said.

“We have not heard from them.”

Surprise!

Here is immigration expert Steve Cortes corrected host Fredricka Whitfield on the reality of family separation at the U.S. southern border during CNN’s Newsroom Sunday (via The Daily Caller)…

The U.S. Border Patrol does not separate immigrant families who claim asylum if they appear at a legal point of entry to the U.S., Cortes, the former head of President Donald Trump’s Hispanic Advisory Council, said.

Until recently, only the families that tried to come into the country outside a point of entry – making them illegal immigrants – were separated.

Trump issued an executive order Wednesday that directed the Border Patrol to detain illegal immigrant families together and to begin reuniting children with their detained parents.

Whitfield asked Cortes how he thought Trump’s plan to reunite “immigrant families” would work out.

“Look, it will be a difficult process, but here’s the thing. The best way for — when you say immigrant families, by the way, it’s important to say illegal immigrant families,” Cortes responded, pointing out the omission. “That’s a very, very important adjective to add in there. Immigrant families have never been separated.”

“Illegal immigrant families have been separated, and I would say separated for a very good reason,” Cotez continued. “Why? Because their parents, unfortunately, or guardians … decided to commit a crime with children in tow. Much like an American committing a crime with children in tow, you get separated from you children. And that’s a terrible consequence for the kids.”

Whitfield defended her characterization of immigrants crossing the border illegally, pointing out that many were crossing the border seeking asylum.

“If you show up to a port of entry in the United States with your children and request asylum lawfully, you are not separated from your family,” Cortes shot back, referring to the difference between applying for affirmative and defensive asylum.

Affirmative asylum applies to immigrants entering the U.S. at a port of entry, or immigrants who apply within a year of entering the U.S., whether or not their entry was legal. Immigrants entering the country illegally can apply for defensive asylum while they are being processed for deportation.

“It’s not [legal]. You have to come to a check point, raise your hand and say, ‘I’m here for asylum,’” Cortes said.

“You can’t sneak across the border and then say, once you’re caught, ‘Oh, I meant to apply for asylum. That’s just not correct.”

Finally, we note another of President Trump’s tweets this morning that sums the state of America and its media up very well…

And while we are well aware that comprehending the facts behind this sudden maelstrom of migrant misery headlines, here is the reality of how this all started courtesy of ‘The Last Refuge’ excellent twitter thread

1. Once you see the strings on the marionettes you can never watch the pantomime the same way you did before you noticed them.

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2. DATELINE – May 2011 – President Obama travels to the Rio Grande sector of the border to push for his immigration platform (ie. Amnesty). He proclaims the border is safe and secure and famously attacks his opposition for wanting an “alligator moat”.

3. November 2012 – Election year campaign(s). Using wedge issues like “War on Women”, and “Immigration / Amnesty”, candidate Obama promises to push congress for “amnesty”, under the guise of “Comprehensive Immigration Reform”, if elected. 

President Obama wins reelection.

4. December 2012 – Immediately following reelection President Barack Obama signs an Executive Order creating the “Deferred Action Program“, or DACA. Allowing millions of illegal aliens to avoid deportation.

5. According to White House own internal documents and research, this Deferred Action Program is what the Central American communities immediately began using as the reason for attempted immigration.

6. In both (A) Border Control Study; and (B) DHS intelligence report; the DACA program is mentioned by the people apprehended at the border in 2013 and 2014.

7. May 2013 – President Barack Obama visits South America. Following a speech for Mexican entrepreneurs, Obama then traveled to Costa Rica, his first visit as president.

8. cont.. In addition to meetings with Costa Rican President Laura Chincilla, President Obama attended a gathering of leaders from the Central American Integration System, (CAIS).

9. The regional network includes the leaders of Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. President Obama meets with the leaders of the Central American Countries.

10. Summer 2013Numbers of Illegal Unaccompanied Minors reaching the Southern U.S. border from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua doubles. 20,000+ reach U.S. Southern border by travelling through Mexico. Media primarily ignores. fpc.state.gov/documents/orga…

11. October 2013 – At the conclusion of the immigrant travel season. White House receives notification that tens of thousands of illegal Unaccompanied Minors should be anticipated to hit the Southern U.S. border the following Summer [2014].

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12. An estimated 850% increase in the number of Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC’s) were reported to the White House. fpc.state.gov/documents/orga…

[In 2012 less than 10,000 were projected]

13. January 2014 – In response to the projections, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) posts a jobs notification seeking bids to facilitate 65,000 Unaccompanied Alien Children. fbo.gov/index?s=opport…

14. IMPORTANT. This job posting was January 2014. The Obama administration was *planning for* 65,000 childhood arrivals. In January 2014 they were taking contractor bids for services to be used later in year. Almost no-one noticed.

15. On January 29, 2014, the federal gov. posted an ad seeking bids for a vendor contract to handle “Unaccompanied Alien Children“. Not just any contract mind you, a very specific contract – for a very specific number of unaccompanied minors: “65,000.” fbo.gov/index?s=opport…

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16. [*Two Weeks Later*] February 2014 – President Obama visits Mexico for “bilateral talks”, in an unusual and unscheduled one day visit:

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17. Spring 2014 – With a full year of DACA, successful transport and border crossing without deportation – DHS begins to notice a significant uptick in number of criminal elements from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua; which have joined with UAC’s to gain entry.

18. Additionally, 2014 internal administration DHS documents reveal the “refugee” status is now being used by both criminal cartels, and potentially by Central American government(s) to send prison inmates into the U.S.

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19. June 2014 – Tens-of-thousands of UAC’s from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua hit the border and the headlines. Despite the known planning, and prior internal notifications, the White House claims it did not see this coming.

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20. Internal documents including a –DHS Border Security Alert– show that in March, 2014, fully three months earlier, the White House was aware of what was coming in June.

21. June 20th 2014 – Congressional leadership and key Latino Democrats from the Democrat Hispanic Caucus meet with representatives from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. kfgo.com/news/articles/…

22. June/July 2014 – By the end of June the media have picked up the story and it’s called “A Border Crisis”. However, the White House is desperate to avoid exposure to the known criminal elements within the story.

23. July 3rd, 2014 – President Obama requests $3,700,000,000 ($3.7 billion) in supplemental budget appropriations to deal with the border crisis. Only $109 million is for actual border security or efforts to stop the outflow from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

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24. Hidden inside the massive budget request is Obama seeking legal authorization to spend taxpayer funds for lawyers and legal proceedings on behalf of UAC’s and their families. Congress is being asked to approve/fund executive branch’s violation of immigration law (DACA).

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DgfKfd9VMAAE20m.jpg?itok=4Fv49Bs8

25. Section 292 of Immigration and Nationality Act prohibits representation of aliens “in immigration proceedings at government expense“. President Obama was seeking authorization to use taxpayer funds to provide Illegal Aliens with government lawyers.

26. July 10th, 2014 – Facing pushback from congress as well as sticker shock at the amount he is requesting, President Obama sends his DHS team to Capitol Hill to ramp up anxiety, and threats of consequences: politico.com/story/2014/07/…

27. “We are preparing for a scenario in which the number of unaccompanied children apprehended at the border could reach up to 90,000 by the end of fiscal 2014,” Johnson’s testimony reads: politico.com/story/2014/07/…

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DgfMjJrUwAUT170.jpg?itok=LNgF8qgb

28. Not only did the White House know what was going to happen (as far back as 2012), but White House actually constructed events to fall into a very specific pattern and intentionally did NOTHING to stop the consequences from the DACA executive order issued in December 2012.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DgfNMStVQAAJF6T.jpg?itok=ZHr2dZAt

29. This is the origin of the crisis. It all started with DACA. Having tracked this issue so closely through the years it often feels futile to discuss. It is an ongoing insufferable political game/scheme within the issue of illegal immigrants and “children”.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DgfOdKjX0AYs2GT.jpg?itok=B9jto1Nv

30. Massive illegal immigration is supported by both sides of the professional political machine. There are few issues more unifying for the K-Street purchased voices of DC politicians than keeping the borders open and the influx of illegal aliens as high as possible.

31. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce pays politicians to keep this system in place. All Democrats and most Republicans support mass immigration. Almost no DC politicians want to take action on any policy or legislation that stops the influx.

32. There are billions at stake. None of the GOP leadership want to actually stop illegal immigration; it’s a lucrative business. Almost all of the CONservative groups and politicians lie about it.

33. The religious right is also part of the problem. In the past 15 years illegal immigration and refugee settlement has been financially beneficial for them.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DgfPmztX0AAScdi.jpg?itok=BMEl7HKm

34. There is no greater disconnect from ordinary Americans on any singular issue than the policy positions of Democrats and Republicans in Washington DC surrounding immigration.

President Donald Trump is confronting their unified interests.

35. All political opposition to the Trump administration on this issue is structured, planned & coordinated. The issue is a valuable tool for the professional political class to sow chaos amid politicians. The resulting crisis is useful for them; therefore they fuel the crisis.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DgfQLg1WAAAVX7R.jpg?itok=eZsuGL3g

36. Washington DC and the activist media, are infested with illegal immigration supporters; the issue is at the heart of the UniParty. Follow the money. It’s the Acorn business model:

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DgfQX3mWAAEC_fU.jpg?itok=cSzFwZjY

37. Southwest Key has been given $310,000,000, in taxpayer funds so far in 2018. And that’s just one company, in one part of a year. Prior CTH research showed this specific “Private Company” nets 98.76% of earnings from government grants. taggs.hhs.gov/Detail/RecipDe…

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DgfQryhW4AIEqr7.jpg?itok=ziRo33yd

38. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, which provides foster care and other child welfare services to migrant children. “Faith Based Immigration Services” is a code-speak for legalized human smuggling. taggs.hhs.gov/Detail/RecipDe…

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DgfROYJWkAIl1RY.jpg?itok=SIo3cckF

39. The “faith-based” crew don’t want it to stop, because facilitating illegal alien import is now the financial bread and butter amid groups in their base of support. taggs.hhs.gov/Detail/RecipDe…

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DgfRot2W4AMpqJi.jpg?itok=mIiXPmYz

40. The man/woman in the pew might not know; but the corporation minister, preacher or priest (inside the process) surely does. BIG BUSINESS !! taggs.hhs.gov/Detail/RecipDe…

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DgfR-aMW4AIR6RF.jpg?itok=-c04PP92

41. These immigration groups, get *MASSIVE* HHS grants and then pay-off the DC politicians and human smugglers. Billions of dollars are spent, and the business end of immigration has exploded in the past six years.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DgfSkf3WkAAAzQP.jpg?itok=kmccb9_5

42. It’s a vicious cycle. Trafficked children are more valuable than adults because the organizations involved get more funding for a child than an adult. Each illegal alien child is worth about $56,000 in grant money. The system is full of fraud.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DgfTBZ6WkAIjUfQ.jpg?itok=a0x0Y48o

43. Approximately 65% of the money HHS provides is spent on executive pay and benefits, opaque administrative payrolls, bribes, kick-backs to DC politicians and payoffs to the South American smugglers who bring them more immigrants.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DgfTgq_WAAIp45G.jpg?itok=yV8wKz5V

44. As best it can be determined, approximately 35% ($19,000) of HHS funds are spent on the alien/immigrant child; maybe. It gets really sketchy deep in the accounting.

45. All of those advocates gnashing their teeth and crying on television have no idea just who is controlling this process; and immigration idiots like Ted Cruz are only adding more fuel, more money, to the bottom line:

46. By threatening to secure the border, President Trump is threatening a Washington DC-based business model that makes money for a lot of connected interests.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DgfUzgZWkAEMGyM_0.jpg?itok=EZrr88DQ

47. Beyond enrichment schemes, the entire process of immigration, and Washington-DC legalized human smuggling, has side benefits for all the participants; child sexploitation, child labor, and yes, much worse (you can imagine).

48. So the next time you see this type of terribly misplaced “crying girl” corporate propaganda:

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DgfV6X8XcAYSfl4.jpg?itok=rjd3DF55

49. Maybe, just maybe, we can remember the *real* consequences of actual legalized human smuggling that has been created -within the business- by U.S. political policy.  This “crying girl”:

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DgfWh9SXUAE_zmK.jpg?itok=_NJsSFDB

50. /END

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/DgfW6l8WsAA3X6J.jpg?itok=BVZYlmB0

Source: ZeroHedge