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Which Way Wednesday – Powell and PPI and $3Tn More Stimulus

Marius Bitcoin ???????'s tweet - "A $3 trillion relive bill. What ...$3,000,000,000,000!

Will it be enough to buy a rally this morning?  If not, we have Jerome Powell speaking at 9am and you know Powell doesn't speak before the open unless he's going to boost the market, lest he face the wrath of the President.  We also get the Atlanta Fed Report at 10am and there's a 30-year bond auction at 1pm that should go well becuase, despite the low rates – people are still terrified.  

The US is already running a $3Tn deficit in Q2 and no country in history has ever had to borrow so much money in such a short period of time so jacking that number up to $6Tn is concerning – especially as it would put Trump's accumulated deficit up over $13Tn – addding 66.6% (of course) to the National Debt in just 3.5 years since he took office.

Of course we have to spend money in a crisis – that's not Trump's fault (though the extent of the crisis is) but it's not like we were starting with a budget that was under control.  Spending $6Tn would be fine if we knew FOR A FACT that this would be the end of it but we haven't cured anything, we haven't prevented anything, we haven't even got a plan for riding this thing out.  The Administration, at the moment, is pushing for "Get back out there and try not to die."

Fearless Dr. Fauci is more loyal to truth than to Trump - al.comWhile the Trump Administration is rushing to get the economy opened back up, Dr Fauci was testifying to Congress yesterday that this is a terrible idea:

“There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control,” Dr. Fauci warned.  That could result not only in “some suffering and death that could be avoided,” he said, “but could even set you back on the road to trying to get economic recovery.”

We have met the moment and we have prevailed,” President Trump declared on Monday.  Now, I know everyone is now an Epidemiologist but the guys who actually went to school for it believe it's too soon to open up the cities while the Adminstration and their usual Propagandists are pointing to numbers to show the spread of the virus is slowing.  Well, that's nice but IT'S SLOWING IN A LOCKDOWN!!!  That's kind of a key point.  The other key point is it's slowing but not stopped DESPITE the lockdown so – if we end the lockdown – will the spread of the virus get better or worse?  Come on – it's not a trick question – you can work it out.…  

National Forecast as of May 5, 2020

Worse, in this case, MIGHT mean catastrophic.  You may think this is a catastrophe but this is NOTHING compared to what will happen if Donald Trump is wrong and Dr Fauci is right (the head of the CDC agrees with Dr Fauci too) because we got to where we are now (1.4M infected Americans, 82,389 deaths already) from 1,557 cases on March 13th so up about 1,000 times in two months.  And that's 2 months that we were in lockdown!

So if the disease spreads 1,000 x while we are in lockdown – imagine what it can do once we get back out there!  I know that the lockdown is devastating for the economy but we can bring the economy back to life – we can't bring our friends and family back to life – the moral choice is clear even if the economic choice is hard.

The major problem is we won't know the lockdown is failing until it's far too late.  We are potentially putting 15,000 infected people back on the streets and giving them a week to infect 15M more Americans and THEN we will go back on lockdown where we already know the virus will continue to spread.  Is this a rational thing to do?  

Which States Are Reopening? All Stay-at-Home Lifts ExplainedI know how everyone feels, restaurants in my town are re-opening with outside tables and I REALLY want to go out, sit down and have a meal.  It's something I used to do every day and now it's what I want for Christmas – funny how things change.  But is it worth my life, my family's lives?  And what is the real point of opening restaurants at 25% capacity?  Are we going to run the economy at 25% capacity?  Aren't we better off FIXING The problem first and then trying to restart things?

CNBC has been interviewing businesses that are opening up and they are saying they can't afford to re-staff and they can't get PPE supplies or even disinfectant – none of the things we need to have in place to safely re-open.  Not to mention the lack of testing, which Trump has now decided to claim is not a problem anymore but every person who leaves their home without knowing if they are carrying the virus or not is a huge problem.

I feel like I'm on the Titanic yelling "Iceberg!" while the band just keeps on playing…


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  1. Good morning, All!

    Join Phil for today's webinar at 1pm, here:

  2. Good Morning.

  3. 'Learn to swim'

  4. Re-opening/Phil -  A lot of us know or are small business owners. I had a long talk with a good buddy yesterday the owner and head coach of my karate gym ( He's struggling, of course, but supported by a lot of people. We talked about loosening guidelines, which will happen more slowly here in California than elsewhere. He can't imagine opening too soon and then having even one student get sick, he would be horrified, appalled – so he was really picking my brain about when it would be safe. Even then, he's going to have a lot of precautions. Start slow with very small classes, daily full cleaning, hand sanitizer everywhere, possibly keep the small dressing rooms closed & ask people to come already in their uniforms (the kids mostly do that anyway). So I was dancing around setting any date because I don't know. I said it would surprise me if we could resume before the end of June, and it tears me up because I know he's hurting and he's a good friend – but he's good with that. But I said we can go week by week. Mostly I'm concerned about the more contagious Italian mutation hitting the west coast. Our current bug is the less infectious Asian mutation, and presumably at some point the Italian bug will invade. Likely there's cross-immunity, but I bet we'll see a surge. It's hard, guys.

  5. 7 key moments from Fauci’s Senate hearing

  6. I just can't understand why masks are not yet law.  

    it's only a VF article but it has a point.

  7. Re-opening/all – my karate instructor friend, by the way, started holding Zoom classes even before the lockdown, and if you go to his FaceBook page, you can see videos of groups all working out – individually. It's strange, but what can you do.

  8. Don't know how much more we can do to make the USA irrelevant:

  9. Not ready to re-open:


  10. And Sweden decided to test the herd immunity theory while their neighbors went in lockdown. Results are not conclusive yet I think:

  11. Phil/WFC

    what do you think is the risk of Wells Fargo going under, requiring a bailout?
    Right now, it has a dividend yield of over 8%

    Yes, thy may slash the dividend at some point, but that would still leave us with a decent yield.

    New CEO, hopefully some changes?

  12. Still pretty weak, even the Nasdaq, which clearly has gone nuts again.

    Re-opening/Snow – The problem is that re-opening without testing is madness.  Yes, if you don't have corona, then you can go out and mix with people but if you do – then you can be the next Typhoid Mary but we have absolutely no idea who has the virus.  

    Powell was no help:

    As officials around the world explore ways to safely loosen pandemic restrictions, some countries that had already reopened are closing down again after sudden spikes in infections. Among the latest: Saudi Arabia, which announced a total lockdown for the end of Ramadan after new cases soared during the holy month.

    Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell said the U.S. economy could be in store for a long and painful recession if Congress and the White House did not push more aid through soon. Fed chairs typically refrain from telling Congress what to do, but Powell said in a videoconference that the country is in the midst of the “biggest shock our economy has felt in modern times” and the potential for mass waves of business closures and bankruptcies could diminish growth for years to come.

    Here are some significant developments:

    • Eligible taxpayers who are still waiting for a stimulus check have until 12 p.m. Eastern time today to give the IRS their bank information.
    • Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who has been serving time in a Pennsylvania prison for his conviction on fraud charges, has been granted home confinement in Northern Virginia because of the threat of covid-19.
    • House Democrats proposed a sprawling $3 trillion coronavirus rescue bill that would include funding for state governments and another round of stimulus checks. Republicans rejected it before even seeing it.
    • California State University, the largest four-year public university system in the country, will go without in-person instruction for most classes in the fall.
    • Stay-at-home orders in Los Angeles County are likely to be extended for three more months. The county is the most populous in the United States.
    • More than 100,000 small businesses across the country have closed for good since Marchaccording to economists.

    Lebanon on Tuesday became the latest country to reimpose restrictions after experiencing a surge of infections, almost exactly two weeks after it appeared to have contained the spread of the virus and began easing up. Authorities ordered a four-day, near-complete lockdown to allow officials time to assess the rise in numbers.

    The reemergence of coronavirus cases in many parts of Asia is also prompting a return to closures in places that had claimed success in battling the disease or appeared to have eradicated it altogether, including South Korea, regarded as one of the continent’s top success stories.


    South Korea last week rescinded a go-ahead for bars and clubs to reopen after a spike in cases, hours after officials announced the lifting of previous social distancing restrictions and the start of a “new everyday life with the coronavirus.”

    South Korean President Moon Jae-in warned his country Sunday to “brace for the pandemic’s second wave,” calling the battle against covid-19 a “prolonged” fight.


    In the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the pandemic first emerged, authorities on Tuesday ordered the testing of all 11 million inhabitants after a cluster of six new infections emerged, five weeks after the city had apparently rid itself of the disease.

    China news is very disturbing as they tested the crap out of everyone and they still couldn't get it all.

    The latest cluster in Wuhan demonstrates how hard it will be to measure whether any location is truly free of coronavirus. The new cases there suggest the virus can flare up in patients up to 50 days after they have apparently recovered, said Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in an interview with state broadcaster CCTV.

    “The course of disease could last 30 to 50 days for some patients,” Wu said. “The virus could take longer to manifest itself in patients with weak immunity, who are also prone to ‘ons’ and ‘offs’ of symptoms.”

    Masks/Potter – In Delray Beach, the restaurants are allowing people to eat on the sidewalks and they were packed yesterday and no one eating was wearing a mask and everyone was out (including me) without a mask walking less than 6 feet from the people eating their food on the sidewalk so the plan seems to be that you sit down for a meal that 200 people breath on while you're eating.  What could go wrong?

    I might go to L'Aqua, their tables are higher up but still a bit close to the sidewalk.

    L'acqua Ristorante Italiano in Delray Beach - South Florida Sun ...

    I think they should close the main street to traffic and do what we do during restaurant week (but with more spacing):

    Savor The Avenue Diners Raise Money For Healthier Delray - Delray ...

    The only reason the table stops there is because there's a railroad track – it goes all the way to the beach (1 mile) after that.  See how distant people are?  If we sit every other chair – I think that's a workable solution for people who want to eat out.

    Grads/StJ – Yes, send us your best and brightest and we'll educate them and send them away to make sure the US never benefits from what we taught them – BRILLIANT.  Only people who place no value on education could support something like that.

    Amazing how US is worst in the World in cases per Million – worse than Sweden, who are PURPOSELY letting their people get the virus.  Trump keeps saying what a disaster Italy is, infection rate is 1/3 of ours.  

    Sweden is, of course going for the worst case.  They feel it's inevitable and they feel their health care system can handle it so better to get it over with quickly.  The death chart is flawed because 250/M deaths is 0.025%, which is actually good if a large percentage are infected.  We "only" have 1.4M infected with 80,000 dead so 5.7% so you'd have to have the entire rest of our population infected without dying to get to 0.025% death rate (though more will die in Sweden as not all infected and not all infected have had outcomes – so too many variables for these interim comparisons to have much meaning). 

    WFC/Maya – I learned in 2008 not to try to guess the health of a bank.  The numbers are BS and you never know what kind of screw-ups they have internally.  JPM I think is the safest, GS, C and BAC maybe but this is a Depression we are in the beginning of – anyone can fail.

  13. Phil ,

    i got to thinking ahead last night – at the market landscape beyond this virus.  Once most of the doubt has gone, say a vaccine or 95% effective treatment, what will the markets looks like?  Aside from the really big crashes in the past, it's almost hard to look back on the ups and downs of the indices and see how any of that would matter in the future.  Once something as catastrophic as a global shutdown is in the books, how could there be any other direction but up?  I sort of ask this jokingly but it reminds me of when a close family member dies – for a while, no day to day nonsense even matters, you've been so blinded by the light of distress that you're almost immune.  This always passes and the trivial bothers you again. 

    Any earnings, unemployment, deficit, debt or death statistic will be a massive improvement from now. 

  14. Its good to see DIS naked short paying off. Market normalcy returning finally.

    I gained 13 lbs in two months apparently. Yowzer. Fake Scale News?

  15. We got a nice $33,000 pop in the STP so $567,917 and the LTP is down to $601,028 already but, of course, the VIX is up and the hedges don't kick in this quick but we'll still need to layer something shorter-term if 2.850 isn't holding (already below it).  

    Post-virus/Potter – Well if I didn't think we could recover I wouldn't have longs.  The virus is like a neutron bomb – it kills the people but leaves all the buildings standing.  While millions of small businesses may close, millions will open post-virus and the good thing about people living paycheck to paycheck is, when they start getting paychecks again, they will start spending again – it's a cycle of wage-slavery that can't be broken without effort from the Government – and why would this Government ever want to do that?

    People survive worse.  Japan lost a very expensive war in lives and money and had two of it's cities obliterated and their capital was relentlessly fire-bombed (and Tokyo was mainly wood) with 3M civilians dying – 1,000 9/11s for Japan.  The war ended, they rebuilt.  Same for Germany and dozens of other countries that moved on.  Rome's entire empire collapsed and the city was ransacked – do you think they can't recover from a virus?

    We're bound by a very short-term perspective on things – especially while they are happening.  I flew to Thailand on Christmas Eve and was mildly concerned about getting the new flu at the time (I switched from connecting in Hong Kong to Quatar to be safer) - though not concerned enough not to share my food at dinners or to dip my skewers in the community sauces at the the train station (delicious!).  I didn't write my first virus warning article until Chinese New Year was coming (Jan 25th), when I said I thought that was going to be a terrible idea as the virus would quickly spread out of Wuhan.

    By Feb we were all concerned, even if Trump wasn't but it's only May so just over 3 months and you can't see the end of it but, worst case, we'll all be infected within 18 months and millions will die and then, as long as it's not recurring every season – things will go back to normal.   If there's a vaccine by the Fall, then 6 months from now things will pick up.  If Trump is right and we end up with 95%+ mild cases (16.5M severe) and only 20% of the severe cases require hospitalization (3.3M) and only 25% of those lead to death – then that's only 825,000 people dead over 2 years and no big deal – economically.

    Political Cartoon: The unstoppable American virus

    Of course, if Trump is wrong, this could become one of the greatest catastrophes in human history.  But our President is willing to gamble on that outcome because, after all, that's what Presidents do, right? 

    So get back to work you slackers!

    Seriously, it's the SAME number of people that get infected either way – it's just a question of when:

    COVID-19 Comics | Graphic Medicine

    COVID-19: Virus forecast – VoxEurop (English)

    Fake scales/BDC – Those things are everywhere….

  16. Phil- your comment on reinfection got something else going in my thoughts. This virus, as we speak has been mutating. We now hear from Snow about an Italian variant strain that is more deadly. We know some facts such as the virus has jumped species as the tigers in NYC one has died. We now have children with an inflammation type illness that is serious and we do know that this strain is very deadly when it overtakes humans. Now it seems though one has recovered, it can come back much like the chickenpox virus that causes shingles though we don't know if it's deadlier the 2nd time around. It makes me wonder if this is far more reaching as far as changing our civilization for decades and any resemblance to our current existence will be altered beyond what our imagination can fathom.

  17. Powell warns of prolonged recession and unemployment

  18. The Bug/pirate – no, I didn't say more deadly. It spreads more easily. Usually that means it's less deadly, but we don't know. The mutation is on the spike protein, makes it easier to sort of hook onto a cell. Anyway, that's the variety the eastern US has, while we on the west coast have the original  Asian strain

  19. The Bug/mutations – here's an article on the spike mutation. The figures at the end are very informative.

  20. Mutations/Pirate – If that's the case, there's no point in worrying about it.  We should take this time in lockdown to learn how to make fire (for as long as the internet lasts, anyway).  You can always paint an end-of-the-World scenario and, if it happens – it's the end of the World – not worth worrying about in advance if you can't do anything about it.  We can do something about Global Warming but we refuse to do that so this just hastens our demise just a little in the worst case.  

    Not to be gloomy about it but viruses don't tend to wipe out entire species, some of us will be immune and humanity will rebuild – like it did after 25% of the World died in the black plague – and then we had the dark ages, losing almost all of human progress to that time and now, 1,000 years later – it's just one of those things you kind of remember from history.  As this will be 1,000 years from now.  

    While I'll be disappointed if my party is cut short, I've had a wonderful time here on Earth and I would leave with no regrets – other than wanting to see what comes next.  My only worry is for my children and I think both have the requisite skills to handle an apocalypse – Jackie would probably enjoy it – she already said to me "Is it wrong that I'm having a great time during lock-down?"  

    Same old song, just a drop of water in an endless sea
    All we do crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see
    Dust in the wind
    All we are is dust in the wind
    Oh, ho, ho

    Now, don't hang on, nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky
    It slips away
    And all your money won't another minute buy
    Dust in the wind
    All we are is dust in the wind – Kansas 

    Steve Walsh Kansas Stock Pictures, Royalty-free Photos & Images ...

    My Kansas Primer

    On that happy note – Webinar Time!

  21. Snow- Thanks I guess I was extrapolating from the devastation in Italy to a more lethal variety. Appreciate the clarification.

  22. this is right on: the "back row" versus the "front row"

    "To engage with someone, to even bother to argue with them is beneath you. So they mock. Look at Jon Stewart. Look at all the f***ing Comedy Central people. You mock the opponent because to engage with them is beneath you. Now when you’re at the bottom, in the back row, your form of engagement is anger, is bitterness, is violence. Because the people above you refuse to engage, what are you going to do?" 

    On the "back row" voting for Tump: "I even put it in mathematical terms for people, because I used to be a Ph.D. in math. I can give you the economic framework for it. If you look at their probability outcomes, their downside is limited, the upside is not limited. So you break the system, you want volatility."

    When your downside is limited, volatility works for you. Makes sense.

    Now let's look at Limbaugh and Stern. Limbaugh, who's near end-of-life, is going to ride out going full Brat Traitor: It's Civil War for You! "If we don't get what we want we will begin murdering people." The ultimate volatility: abject violence.

    Then look at Stern. He's sometimes refreshingly candid which is what always made him at least partially listenable IMO: Trump's a misfit that couldn't get into the "in" crowd he so desperately desired. The NYC elites, the professional musicians, athletes, the CEO's and pinky-lifting country club insiders. They all hate him, his bumbling idiocy and grotesqueness.  So he turns to the people he despises the most. A strange (and uneasy) relationship exists between them. They both get something out of it. They get someone who listens to the back row and trump gets adorned they way he felt he always "deserved*" (and for a short while, power).

    *deserved: Look at me! I'm rich! My dad is Fred! We're NYC elites! I can own a football team! I bone beautiful women, even when I'm married! I'm so desirable, look at all of my mistresses! They all love me! Look at me look at me!

    Trump's not "back row" because he relates to them. He's back row because he got laughed out of the front row, like Hitler and art world. The one thing they share is vengeance. Everything else is crap, the "family values" the  "moral majority" and the "fiscal economics" all laughably stupid side-show theater; non-existent theater I should say, because they have NONE of this in reality. What binds them, who they really are is that veneer, that sinister vengeance.

  23. Flatten the curve / Phil – True, same number of people get infected, but as we discussed before, more people die especially if the healthcare system is overwhelmed. Then people die of preventable other issues because there is no healthcare system. Sweden might be lucky to have a very good healthcare system (damn socialists) but their approach might have been catastrophic here. Heck, we went into lockdown and we have similar results as they do. We almost collapsed the system in NYC. 

  24. No one knows what it's like
    To be the bad man
    To be the sad man
    Behind blue eyes
    And no one knows what it's like
    To be hated
    To be fated to telling only lies
    But my dreams they aren't as empty
    As my conscience seems to be
    I have hours, only lonely
    My love is vengeance
    That's never free
    No one knows what its like
    To feel these feelings
    Like I do
    And I blame you
    No one bites back as hard
    On their anger
    None of my pain and woe
    Can show through – Townshend

    Curve/StJ – That's what I said, just that I also said we WILL all get infected eventually – we have to make peace with that…

  25. Hopefully after I get vaccinated Phil!

  26. Phil/CIM,

    selling $8 2022 Puts at this time? What would be a good trade set up


  27. BDC, I enjoyed the Current Affairs article you posted. It cleared up a few things for me. I also liked the line, "I’m an adjunct professor of Greek History at Bumblefuck University…"

  28. BDC Now I understand why we have what we have as potus. And here I thought it was just rampant stupidity!!!

  29. Earnings Portfolio Review:  $192,665 is up $12,880 (12.9%) from our last review and we didn't make many changes as we were generally happy with the positions in our self-hedging portfolio (the others use the STP).  Still, we need to check our premises now that we have another month of information under our belts.  

    I said at the time though (as someone just asked this in the Webinar):

    I don't think we get back to the highs.  I think we will settle into the 10% range between 8,000 and 8,800 but, the way things are going – who knows?  You would think it would worry investors more to have the economy shut down and no actual end date to the viral emergency but they are running right back in.  I know I called a bottom at 7,000 back in March and that's not contradictory of me – I did think we'd stop going down but I certainly didn't think we'd be up 20% 3 weeks later – this is getting silly already!  

    Our goal was to get fairly neutral and lock in our gains so mission accomplished and we're actually a bit bearish in this portfolio now – so we need to find things to buy.

    • SDS – is a $30,000 hedge but we don't have enough longs to justify it so let's cash out the June $22 calls for $3.05 as they are covered (strangely) by the 40 naked long SQQQ calls.  
    • HBI – is a $10,000 spread with a net $4,050 credit balance.  They missed Q1 by 10% but I still like them long-term with a $14,050 upside potential at $15 in 18 months.  

    • HRB – This is the dead leftovers and it just took a deader turn.  We'll stick with the puts and the calls will likely go worthless so net $3,675 left to gain.

    • IRBT – Howard Stern says he has 3 – that's good advertising.  $70,000 spread that's at the money at net $34,150 means we can expect to make $35,850 (105%) from here.  Still, I think it's gotten ahead of itself and we have so much to make that we can afford to sell some calls.  The July $65 calls are $4 so selling 4 of those for $4,000 is a nice way to pull in some income while we wait.  

    • M – At $10 we would get $25,000 and now net $3,825 so $21,175 left to gain.

    • SQQQ – Let's say that we are all covered now (the remaining SDS short calls) but it's still a $20 spread x 135 is $270,000 (but we'll never hit $35) and it's currently net $6,300 (including the SDS shorts).  On the bright side, not much to lose other than the 20 short puts so this is a nice hedge.  

    Well, we have stumbled our way into a nice hedge but, realistically, $11.50 x 1.6 (a 20% drop in QQQ) is $18.40 and we only have the $15 calls so let's say they pop to $8 is only +$4, which would be +$54,000 but that's more than adequate for the longs we have, which have $74,750 of upside potential.  

    Lots of CASH!!! ($146,165) to deploy but nothing has been very exciting-looking this season.

  30. After/StJ – That's my plan too but I'm thinking the odds don't favor it. 

    CIM/Pat – CIM only goes out to Dec or I'd be selling the puts.  I would just sell the puts at $1.80 as that's almost the whole $2 dividend and you missed the first one anyway and then just see what happens.  You either own it at net $6.20 or you keep the $1.80 – nice and simple.

    If you buy CIM for $7.30 and sell the $6 calls for $2.60 and the $6 puts for 0.90 that nets you in for $3.80/4.90 – also not bad.  

  31. Good evening.

    Dear Disney, you are a terrible company with no physical customers. Please go to 60 ASAP. BK is also acceptable.

    Thank you, BDC.

  32. New England Journal of Medicine study on coronavirus transmission in house cats: 

    Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in Domestic Cats

    "The cats with no previous infection were cohoused with the inoculated cats on day 1. Two days later (day 3), one of the cats with no previous infection had infectious virus detected in a nasal swab specimen, and 5 days later, virus was detected in all three cats that were cohoused with the inoculated cats…

    Moreover, cats may be a silent intermediate host of SARS-CoV-2, because infected cats may not show any appreciable symptoms that might be recognized by their owners."

  33. So now I have to get my cats tested :-)