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Thursday – US Covid Cases Drop but India’s Cases Surge to New Highs

Only 794 deaths yesterday.

45,085 people were infected and that's with 32% of the US population fully vaccinated and 45% having had at least one dose of the vaccine.  Unfortunately, we're now facing problems with the 1/3 of Americans who do not want to be vaccinated – because they believe Bill Gates is trying to put a tracker in their bodies or whatever other nonsense they hear from Fox "News" and other conspiracy-mongering outlets.  Not getting vaccinated is NOT a personal choice – it puts all of us in danger from vaccine-resistant variants resurging all around us – even as our own vaccines wear off over time.  

This is something John Oliver made a great report on this weekend:

The emergence of new variants, and whether vaccines are effective against them, is a subject of continued concern as a variant first detected in India, called B.1.617, spreads across the country. There is also a risk that further variants will arise there as the country’s outbreak grows, experts say. Another worrisome variant, P.1, is wreaking havoc across South America.  In the United States, experts now believe that attaining herd immunity is unlikely because of the spread of variants and hesitancy among some people in the country to be vaccinated. The variant that has caused the most alarm is B.1.1.7, which is about 60 percent more transmissible than original versions of the virus.

The Indian health ministry recorded about 410,000 cases in 24 hours, a new global high, and 3,980 deaths, the highest daily death toll in any country outside the United States. Experts believe the number of actual infections and deaths is much higher.  India’s pace of vaccinations has become a source of global concern as its outbreak devastates the nation and spreads into neighboring countries, and as a variant first identified there begins to be found around the world.

There were road blocks, fires and riots in southern Bogotá on Tuesday after a week of protests and strikes over tax reforms proposed by the Colombian government.In Colombia, demonstrations over the past week against the poverty and inequality that have worsened the lives of millions since the pandemic began have been met with a powerful crackdown by their government, which has responded to the protests with the same militarized police force it often uses against rebel fighters and organized crime.  Experts say this explosion of frustration could presage unrest across Latin America, where several countries face the combustible mix of an unrelenting pandemic, growing hardship and plummeting government revenue.

“We are all connected,” said León Valencia, a political analyst, noting that past protests had jumped from country to country. “This could spread across the region.”

That region, for those of you who suffer from a US Education, is 437 miles from Florida – close enough that people walk from there to our borders all the time to enjoy our lovely cages and hospitality and that's because conditions are worse than that in their home countries.  This is something Americans have A LOT of practice ignoring but now the poverty zones we only visit on cruise ships are now becomming breeding grounds for the 4th, 5th and 6th waves of new versions of the virus – a war we've already spent $10Tn fighting in the US – thank goodness we stopped wasting money on foreign aid, right conservatives?  

Investors are also ingoring these continuing issues in the rest of the World.  Our Global Economy is connected, we've had times when an economic crisis in countries like Argentina or Brazil have caused a melt-down in the US market but now we are willfully ignoring.  We are not out of the woods until ALL of these countries are white.  Currently, NONE of them are white and far too many are still red.


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  1. Good Morning.

  2. Interesting post Phil! Based on our local experience and surveying, I think we'll get to 50% vaccination rate easily…. 60% when its super easy for them to get…. and eventually (with full approval, some mandatory workplace vaccines, and kid vaccines) to 80%. So a quick spike and then a long tail to get all the way to 80% or over. Maybe by September. 

    The good news is that the epidemiology suggests that even as we hit 50% vaccinations – when you include those people who have some immunity secondary to previous infection – you get to 65% or so which should virtually stop the spread in the USA. The odd thing is that these vaccinations are not evenly distributed, so some areas will see spread while other areas will have hit heard immunity. 

    The rest of the world is more challenging but the chinese and russian vaccines and JNJ should help. Some of my family in Egypt and in other countries are just now becoming eligible for the vaccines there…. so some reason for hope, but it will be a while (Fall 2021). Fortunately, the risks of a variant becoming vaccine-immune are very very slim (due to the spike protein used). 

  3. The Bug/Rick2006 – spot on, rick. The lumpiness of the US means we'll have regional outbreaks for some time. Here in LA County, I'm hearing very high estimates of immunity, guesswork really, but coming from that winter surge. The rest of the world doesn't generalize very well. Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and Viet Nam are just now getting vaccines – but they've shown real competence at controlling the epidemic with public health measures. The less competent governments, Philippines and India, for example, are in trouble.

  4. Good morning!

    Vaccines/Rick – I'm not doom and gloom about it but I think we are ignoring the risks and declaring victory way too far ahead of reality.  India is only vaccinating 2M out of 1,400M people that need vaccines – that's a whole year away from 50% at the current rate – if only one shot is required.  Even the EU is only up to 25% of the population vaccinated – this could still get out of hand again, maybe not here but the rest of the world, where they simply can't afford the kind of distribution effort we've made here.  

    Aftermath/Seer – It's bad but more finite than the financial crisis.

    U.S. employers in sectors like manufacturing and restaurants aren’t finding enough people to hire, threatening to hold back the country’s economic recovery. Among the reasons potential workers are holding back: fear of getting Covid, lack of child care and enhanced unemployment benefits.

    Spicy chicken sandwiches, hot wings and a labor crunch push poultry prices to records. Some restaurants are running out of or limiting sales of tenders, filets and wings, cutting into some of their most reliable sales.

  5. Biden administration backs waiving Covid vaccine patent protections – live

  6. We can 3d print wood now

  7. Republicans promote pandemic relief they voted against

  8. Thoughts on wealth redistribution.

    Old and busted: Governments. New and Hot: Crypto.

    Mechanism: A coin protocol automatically redistributes a fraction of its holdings per address over a certain amount to addresses under a certain amount. If no one uses the coin – nice though, great experiment, world moves on. If everyone uses the coin, big business / super wealthy can't bitch – they must adapt or die.

    Technical thoughts: Gaussian distribution. The larger the relative balance the higher the of the probability of 1) a distribution event, and 2) the larger the % of redistribution. Like a single atom of uranium in a chunk of uranium, you might decay the very next second, or in 400 billion years. Decay is an absolutely certainty, you have equal chance as everyone else, you just never know when.

  9. Sold ETCG at 84

  10. Hi Phil:  Would you please discuss VIAC's earnings.  They had a nice beat, with a 65% increase in streaming revenue, but are down on a ho-hum market reaction.  The PE is 9.84.  $101 was insane, but now VIAC sure seems cheap to me.  What will it take to move this stock?

  11. Comment content omitted because it is too long.

  12. Distribution/BDC – If my Dollar bill automatically becomes 0.90 when I use it, I think I'd be looking for an alternate currency.  Devaluation is another thing though.  Kind of like what I wanted to do for GreenCoin, every time you mine a coin, a coin is also produced to fund carbon offsets.  We could instead do that for charity but who is in charge of all this?  I would have said Bill Gates but turns out he's been busy getting his freak on….

    It's always the quiet ones. 

    Sexy Bill Gates. . in we Mani MEMEBASE, com. more more more!!!

    VIAC/John – I really don't know what people want from these guys:

    • ViacomCBS (NASDAQ:VIAC) is trading up over 2% following first quarter beats driven by sports-related ad strength and strong streaming subscribers.
    • Revenue was up 14% on the year to $7.41B. EPS of $1.52 topped analyst estimates by $0.30.
    • Ad revenue was up 21% on the year driven by the broadcasts of Super Bowl LV and NCAA Tournament games.
    • TV Entertainment sales were up 19% to $3.51B, roughly in line with guidance.
    • Adjusted OIBDA was $1.63B vs. the $1.37B consensus.
    • “In Q1, we accelerated our expansion in streaming with the launch of Paramount+ further enhancing ViacomCBS’ ecosystem of premium, pay and free services. The strong consumer response we have seen is evident in today’s numbers – we have grown global streaming revenue 65 percent year-over-year and we added 6M global streaming subscribers, driven by Paramount+, to reach 36M streaming subscribers globally. In addition, we now have almost 50M global Pluto TV MAUs," says CEO Bob Bakish.
    • Drove Robust Global Streaming Revenue Growth, up 65% Year-Over-Year, Fueled by Strong Increases in Users and Product Monetization

      • Added 6M Global Streaming Subscribers to Reach 36M Total Streaming Subscribers in the Quarter, and Increased Global Pluto TV MAUs by 6M to Reach Nearly 50M Global MAUs
      • Delivered 69% Year-Over-Year Growth in Streaming Subscription Revenue, Driven by the Significant Momentum of Paramount+
      • Generated 62% Year-Over-Year Growth in Streaming Advertising Revenue, Reflecting the Continued Domestic Growth and International Expansion of Pluto TV
    • Increased Advertising Revenue 21% Year-Over-Year and Affiliate Revenue 5% Year-Over-Year, Both Exclude Streaming Revenue
    • Achieved Strong Total Company Growth in Revenue, Operating Income, Adjusted OIBDA, as well as Reported and Adjusted Diluted Earnings Per Share

  13. If people don't want to pay $38 for a company making $4/share – there's nothing we can do about it.  Well, there is something:

    In the LTP, we have 15 of the 2023 $40 calls that are now down 50% at $8.75 and we can spend $4.50 to roll them down to the 2023 $30 calls at $13.25 and let's spend $19,875 more to buy 15 more 2023 $30s.  

    In the Dividend Portfolio, let's sell 5 of the VIAC $32 puts for $6.35 ($3,175)

    I'll be on Money Talk next week, we'll probably add it to that portfolio.

  14. Phil / VIAC – At what price are you looking at cover the $30 calls ?

  15. Phil, haha Gates has time on his hands now! With GRE, yeah, just tokenize the previous holders (100:1 swap, to reduce total supply to a good number). Then start offering the tokens again for decarbonization activity, daily or weekly or whatnot. It's actually pretty simple, but needs a dev or two (token, web, and community), a non-profit organization (audit the decarb activity) and some legal diligence.

    The foundation closed on block #437,000, mid-2017, and ~3.3B coins existed at that time. So those would convert in to the new token with 33M, and you set up a smart contract for 1B total. Lot's of upside for previous holders, who basically have absolutely no value right now, and a good total dilution amount (eventually, 3.3% of max cap coins). Then it's the old GreenCoin idea: build a community, get users, give away tokens for bona fide decarbonization activity, and you essentially have a carbon credit based on social value. You can do all the things you said with Whole Foods and the whole nine and the tokenholders can participate in the entire DeFi universe (staking, liquidity pools, farming, and so on). You get all of that for free, just belonging to the token world.

  16. Phil / VIAC – What I mean, is when VIAC stock gets to what price are you looking at covering?

  17. I just started staking today in a decentralized advertising network. So there's a good amount of precedent for how all this would work.

  18. VIAC/Batman – I would think they can get to $50 but, if they go the other way, we sell the $40 calls (now $8.60) for more than $5 and roll the $30s to the $20s and end up with a $20/40 spread.  

    GreenCoin/BDC – We should pitch it to one of those funds.

    Amazingly, the indexes are green again.  Just the RUT a little red.  

    Oil fluttering at $65, not good for them.

  19. Phil.

    One of your favorite places has a little action/tiff this week.

  20. all my penny stock scams are deflating. XSPA, GNUS, etc. Could be the froth is coming out of the market and these are usually canaries in the coal mine. I'm spending next week setting up a number of 3 to 6 month protection plays.

  21. Global Food Prices Are Soaring

  22. I wouldn't say froth coming out of the market, more like rotation.  industrials, financials, energy, healthcare ex-biotech, and consumer discretionary look good. They've been selling high multiple sales to price names.  

  23. errr price to sales names.   (wish we had an edit comment button)

  24. Jersey/Randers – Yes, fun dispute.  Don't like France threatening to cut the power but I do like England sending ships right away.  

    Canaries/BDC – I agree.  We'll see if it turns into a trend. 

    • The Biden administration is expected to keep limits on U.S. investments in some Chinese companies that were imposed by the Trump administration.
    • Biden officials are in preliminary discussions around Trump's investment ban on companies connected to China's military, according to a Bloomberg report.
    • The Trump ban included three of China's biggest telecom companies, including China Mobile (NYSE:CHL), China Telecom (NYSE:CHA) and China Unicom (NYSE:CHU). Recall that in January the telco companies were delisted from the NYSE.
    • Last May, the  U.S. Commerce Department added 33 Chinese firms and governmental institutions to an economic blacklist for allegedly helping Beijing spy on its minority Uighur population or for their ties to China's military and weapons of mass destruction.
    • In November it was reported that Trump administration was set to add China's SMIC, CNOOC to defense-related blacklist.
    • In the middle of Thursday's trading day, a handful of financial stocks have reached all-time highs pushing up a few exchange traded funds that focus on the financial sector.
    • Below are six stocks that have hit record- highs today, along with where they are trading today.
    • Berkshire Hathaway Inc (NYSE:BRK.B): is trading +1.55% today.
    • BlackRock, Inc (NYSE:BLK): is trading +1.32% today.
    • Capital One Financial Corporation (NYSE:COF): is trading +0.50% today.
    • Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS): is +1.07% on the day, and Goldman Sachs leads as a key investor in Coin Metrics.
    • MetLife, Inc (NYSE:MET)+1.54% on the day as MET Q1 earnings and revenues exceeded consensus estimates.
    • Raymond James Financial, Inc (NYSE:RJF)-0.15% on the day.
    • With the above stocks generating new all-time highs, it's inevitable that they will impact specific exchange traded funds. Below is a breakdown of the weighted level (NYSEARCA:XLF)(NYSEARCA:VFH), and (NYSEARCA:IYF) hold in these key financial names
    • Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) stock, which had gained almost 1.4% earlier, pares to +0.3% after Bloomberg reports a new Consumer Financial Protection Board investigation into the bank's checking account practices.
    • Described in the company's 10-Q, the CFPB is investigating whether customers were harmed by WFC's historical practices associated with freezing, and in some cases closing, consumer deposit accounts when the company suspected fraudulent activity that affected the account.
    • The Bureau is also looking into past disclosures to customers about how much they were required to use debit cards to get their monthly service fees waived on certain consumer deposit accounts.
    • Wells Fargo's estimate for how much it may have to pay as a result of all legal actions increased during the quarter, according to the filing.
    • It now estimates "the high end of the range of reasonably possible potential losses in excess of the company's accrual for probable and estimable losses" at ~$2.6B as of March 31, 2021, up from $2.4B as of Dec. 31, 2020.
    • Major U.S. liquefied natural gas developers Cheniere Energy (LNG -1.0%) and Sempra Energy (SRE +0.2%) announced this week that they were looking to add carbon capture and sequestration capabilities to their projects.
    • Cheniere wants to add technology that would capture and store carbon at its Corpus Christi plant in Texas and Sabine Pass LNG export terminal in Louisiana, CEO Jack Fusco said during Tuesday's earnings conference call.
    • "We are committed and have committed some real dollars to development and engineering," Fusco said.
    • Sempra said it is looking to add carbon capture and storage at its proposed Port Arthur LNG export terminal in Texas and its Cameron LNG plant in Louisiana, and also will consider electric turbines, power purchase agreements from renewables and hydrogen production capabilities.
    • "Still, the moves remain largely hypothetical, with neither company offering up a timeline or a budget for investing," Bloomberg's Sergio Chapa writes, noting that the technology is not yet economic and has not been deployed at a commercial scale.
    • Sempra said yesterday that it plans to delay a final investment decision on Port Arthur until 2022, in part to allow more time to strengthen the proposed project's environmental profile.
    • German Chancellor Angela Merkel is opposed to lifting IP protections on vaccines, saying it would create "severe complications" for vaccine production, Bloomberg reports.
    • "The limiting factor for the production of vaccines are manufacturing capacities and high quality standards, not the patents," a government spokeswoman told the news service. "The protection of intellectual property is a source of innovation and this has to remain so in the future."
    • BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX), which is partnered with Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) on an mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine, is based in Germany.
    • Yesterday, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced the support of the Biden administration for IP waivers, sending shares of vaccine makers down.
    • While still down, most vaccine makers have pared earlier losses in afternoon trading: Pfizer -2.6%; BioNTech -1.4%; Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) -2.1%; Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) -0.2%; Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX) -1%; and CureVac (NASDAQ:CVAC) -8.9%.

  25. Phil:  LABU is down $6 today, presumably on general intellectual property fears inspired by Biden's announcement regarding waiving the patents on the covid vaccines (Merkel is against doing so and a waiver can't happen without universal accord).  At what price level do you think initiating a spread in LABU is warranted?  I know that you were recently in favor of selling puts.  Thanks. 

  26. Phil / Gold / Miners – Any interest in adding any more trades in gold miners if we have a sustained break in gold above $1800/ounce? There are some cheap longer term call options on a couple of the miners and GDX if we think gold will remain/resume its uptrend into the summer. 

  27. Coinbase Plunges to All-Time Low With IPO ETF in Freefall

  28. How quaint:

    In the latter stage of the bull market culminating in 1929, the public acquired a completely different attitude to the investment merits of common stocks. Why did the investing public turn its attention from dividends, from asset values, and from average earnings, to transfer it almost exclusively to the earnings trend, i.e. to the changes in earnings expected in the future? The answer was, first, that the records of the past were proving an undependable guide to investment; and, second, that the rewards of offered by the future had become irresistibly alluring.
    – Benjamin Graham & David L. Dodd, Security Analysis, 1934

  29. Irresistibly alluring, I like that – kind of like the Sirens.

    The sirens ??????? Contest ... - PicMix

  30. Wow this market is just so strong. Its going vertical into the close! 

  31. End of an era:

    Angels Designate Albert Pujols for Assignment


  32. I'm no sailor, but not sure how much a woman who was half fish could entice me.

  33. Dogecoin is literally a fork of Junkcoin.

    It's actually true.

  34. That's very speciesist of you, BDC – you would be drummed right out of Starfleet.

  35. Just in case anyone wants to know, our nanny (24) bought Dogecoin two months ago.

    And just quit.