Ethics

Dr Fauci slaps mainstream media narrative on a rift with Trump

img_5279

We have probably all seen the supposed facepalm moment by Trump’s lead on COVID-19, Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The mainstream media has been eager to write about massive disagreements between Fauci and Trump. The hope is that he sacks him so they can fuel their chronic Trump Derangement Syndrome by creating conspiracy theories there is a rift.

Dr Fauci came out yesterday countering this narrative by saying,

That is really unfortunate. I would wish that would stop because we have a much bigger problem here than trying to point out differences…

…the president has listened to what I have said and to what the other people on the task force have said…when I have made recommendations he has taken them. He has never countered or overridden me…

…The idea of just pitting one against the other is just not helpful. I wish that would stop and we would look at the head at the challenge we have to pull together to get over this thing…”

His interview here. From 6:13 is where he discusses the non-existent rift.

https://omny.fm/shows/mornings-on-the-mall/wmal-interview-dr-anthony-fauci-m-d-03-24-20

Whether it is the Democratic Party exploiting a crisis by stalling a rescue bill with rubbish or the mainstream media drumming up a narrative, it is clear that defeating Donald Trump is a far more important operation than stopping a pandemic and destroying the economy in the process.

MSM relishes trade of economic depression via pandemic over Trump as POTUS w/ no virus

Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) knows no bounds. Yes, the mainstream media (MSM) is celebrating the milestone that the Dow is below the level when Donald Trump was inaugurated.

We have always said that if Trump continued to boast about market gains he would have to wear it on the downside too. Alas, he is being hoisted by his own petard.

Sadly, as much as CNN and others relish the though of Trump out of office, we sincerely doubt the vast majority of Americans would trade a pandemic with catastrophic unemployment over business as usual before the WuFlu with a Trump at the helm.

Markets are forward looking. They anticipate where corporate earnings are likely to be. This market rout has little to do with Trump’s policies in isolation.

We’ve said repeatedly that global central banks have created a debt bomb through reckless monetary policies over the last two decades. They have proved just how little impact cutting rates to zero or throwing $850bn in handouts has on markets. They’re out of ammunition. Confidence is shot. We’re in uncharted territory.

Boeing is the perfect canary in the coal mine. The 737MAX debacle which is imminently due to be on sale again to a market that has effectively vanished. Airlines are cutting routes and it will be up to the zombie lending cycles of aircraft leasing companies to renegotiate rates so they can keep the patient alive. Airlines will push out deliveries.

However before Boeing’s core business troubles, the management embarked on short term incentive chasing buybacks to the tune of $43bn since 2013. The company is trading negative equity and has drawn down ALL of its credit lines ($13.8bn) and now wants a handout.

All of this is the product of two decades of mindless expediency. Governments are just as culpable for allowing greed to override common sense. No lessons have been learnt since 2000 and especially 2008. Blue chips like Boeing and GE are now heading to record lows because of it. Ford Motor is rated junk. How long before Boeing and GE fall foul of the same problem?

We are particularly interested in the next set of results from Parker Hannifin. It is like the global industrial hardware store. All of the major manufacturers use Parker for parts – pumps, hydraulics, pneumatics, valves, hoses etc. When we see Parker’s upcoming report on order flows we can gauge how bad it is at the manufacturing coal face.

This time we are staring at a “global depression” and it would be nice to think the MSM would try to put some context around the ramifications of this virus and the raft of economy killing policies governments around the world are introducing instead of just blaming Trump. Yes, he’s been his normal self during this but is he responsible for the actions of other countries going into shutdowns? Seriously? Do the US Coronavirus stats stack up poorly vs countries like Italy on a relative or absolute basis? No. Moreover COVID-19 cases in the US are a mere fraction of H1N1 swine flu cases which the media made nowhere near the level of hysteria as now. It’s a disgrace how far the media will go for clickbait.

Had the world’s central banks behaved sensibly to stop excessive debt and allowed markets to function freely, this pandemic would have had far less effect than it is now because we would have had the ammunition to fight this war of attrition. Now all our governments and regulators are doing is moving phantom armies across maps trying to stop economic Armageddon.

Hijacking a pandemic for publicity

Here we go again.

600 and counting “behavioral scientists” have co-signed an open letter to the UK Government to express their concerns over the Coronavirus response.

Spend a few moments going through the excel file of signatories and it is a random walk. Professors in psychology, PhD students in statistics, undergrads in law, economics and engineering. Many from the University of Warwick. Presumably someone hung around the student refectory to get anyone to sign it.

It wasn’t so long ago that we had a bunch of smug psychiatrists who told us Trump wasn’t mentally fit. The lead claimed she was a member of the World Mental Health Council. Big name with 6 digit membership, right?

For reference, the American Psychiatric Association has c. 38,000 members. We could be easily led to believe the WMHC had multiples of that. Sadly not. It has a total of 37. Yes, thirty-seven. Given the World Psychiatric Association represents 200,000 members worldwide, we can get a fair idea of how much ‘pull’ WMHC hasn’t.

Or the 11,000 supposed scientists who co-signed a letter on climate change only to be caught with Mickey Mouse, Araminta Aardvark and Albus Dumbledore among the names. Precious little due diligence to ensure it had credibility.

Or the 268 Aussie academics who endorsed Extinction Rebellion. Perhaps the most hilarious signatory to the letter was Matthew Flinders of Flinders University. Unless the university website has another Matthew Flinders listed as an active member, our esteemed explorer seems to have navigated his way back to life…simply adding to the total lack of credibility.

Eerily, over 90% of the signatories did not appear to be renowned experts in teaching science, much less climate science. Many of the woke academia came from fields such as stand up comedy, poetry, arts/education, sports management, archaeology, LatAm studies, sex, health and society, social services, veterinary biology, culture, gender and racism. Can you feel the bias?

Or the other open letter to The Times co-signed by “businesses” who supported Extinction Rebellion in the UK. We attached their own published business models in distance of each HQ from the protest epicenter. It’s easy to say how woke they are about impacting local businesses when you’re nowhere near the problems.

When will this vacuous virtue signaling stop?!

Political expediency will trump Coronavirus market rout. Await market manipulation

MARKETS YTD

Share markets have been decimated in recent weeks across the globe. This year to date (YTD) chart above shows the extent. It shouldn’t really have taken Coronavirus or plunging oil prices to lead to this. We’ve been living high on the sauce for two decades and even though GFC in 2008 was a rude hangover, our authorities thought doubling down on all those free money excesses would work again.

Let’s not get too carried away. On a 5-yr basis, shares haven’t exactly blitzed with the exception of the S&P500. The ASX has put on just under 7% in 5 years. Germany, Japan and Italy have gone down. So if one is 45% higher than 5-yrs ago with an S&P fund, is that a mass hysteria moment?

INDEX 5YR

Automotive stocks have been dud investments over the last 5 years. It didn’t take Coronavirus to expose the underlying trends. BMW is don 52% on 5 yrs ago. Ford down 60%. Volkswagen -40%.

Car stocks

Industrial bellwethers like Caterpillar and GE have also not escaped stagnation. YTD, all of these stocks have bloody noses. Boeing has held up surprisingly well despite the MAX problems.

Industrials

Yet if we look at the FAANGs (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix & Google), we can see that over 5 years, investors have made a bundle.

FAANGAs these 5 stocks make up 15% of the S&P500 Index by weight, if they fall the impact is greater. With the exception of Netflix, these monsters are down 15~20%.

FAANG 1M

Worried?

Fear not, our heavily indebted incompetent political class and complicit central bankers will concoct a new potion of even lower rates, more QE and further fiscal spending on wind farms, solar panels and roads to nowhere to keep the ship afloat. It may be a hapless task in the long run but just watch the printing presses move to full speed. The ride is about to get interesting.

We’ve been bearish for years based on the underlying tenet that financial market manipulation by authorities has merely distorted the most efficient clearing mechanism -free markets. The invisible hand will eventually win. Just not quite yet.

Italian Senator and former Deputy PM Matteo Salvini has called for a ban on short selling. Why? All he’ll do is exacerbate the sell-off by diverting capital from Milan to London. The politicians just don’t get it. That is why Milan FTSE All-Share index fell by 10.75% overnight. That market is down 23% YTD.

When the pandemic hit the economy, we should have known from last month that it would spread and impact global travel, trade and oil prices. Why did it take so long?

We wrote last week that the explosion in market chasing (especially levered) ETFs would exacerbate distortions on the downside. The main reason being is that options markets that hedge levered products see heavy delta bleed (pricing blowing out) during routs. The reason is in bull markets human nature is more comfortable taking risk. In bear markets, people panic hence needing larger insurance premiums to protect against the madness of crowds.

Essentially what that means is that when ETFs were a far smaller chunk of the market, today’s 7.8% drubbing may only have been -4% in equivalent terms. That is because the ETFs chase, not lead markets because their product design is to replicate the immediate past. Yet our first instincts are to compare these apples with oranges and equate them to 2008. Wrong. Furthermore, a larger part of the market is dominated by a smaller

So the question is, do we liquidate all of our shares into the falling knife or take the view that some wonderful opportunities will present themselves to get exposure to what we hopefully viewed as sensible long term investments.

We take the latter view. We need to separate Coronavirus (the disease) and the hysteria (eg hand sanitizer and toilet paper panic buying).

While the disease is problematic and will hit the economy hard in the coming quarters, the question is market hope pinned to government response will come back. The measures should continue to grow and grow until they have cauterized the wound. After all, we live in a market where financial TV programs are summoning the opinions of NY Mets baseball pitchers for their ideas on stocks.

Of course, it will be all academic, but confidence is the only thing that matters from here. As soon as we get on top of Coronavirus, markets will swing back into action and many will simply fall for the same tricks like Pavlov’s dog and the short squeeze will send stocks powering back.

Governments now have a legitimate excuse to blow out deficits and borrow to save us. In that sense, this pandemic is a blessing in disguise. That isn’t to trivialize Coronavirus but to note that politicians will do almost anything to stay in power, even if the long term consequences will linger long after they’re out of office.

Where will they spend? The automotive sector has been in the doldrums for ages. Expect to see EV related subsidies which will be a boon for the EV battery plays – we’ve bought Jervois Mining (JRV.AX) which is about to start a cobalt mine in Idaho.

Think of support to the aviation industry when the crisis is under control. Boeing and Airbus. Don’t forget that American Airlines renewed 900 aircraft soon after it announced Chapter 11 bankruptcy back in 2011.

Think construction – cement companies and construction machinery companies tend to benefit from public works programs. We continue to hold gold (have done since 2001) as the ultimate insurance policy when the whole system can no longer heal with band-aids.

So get ready to buy some bargain-basement names with cash flow survivability, especially if you have a self-managed super fund.

Yes the underlying economic backdrop is dreadful but there will be one last hurrah!

Councilwoman praises tweet calling for MAGA supporters to catch Coronavirus

Denver councilwoman Candi CdeBaca (D) tweeted “#solidarity Yaaaas!!” when she saw a post which encouraged the infection of Trump supporters with Coronavirus.

The Colorado Republican Party responded with : “Councilwoman CdeBaca praising a social media post calling for Trump supporters to be infected with the coronavirus is simply disgusting. There can be no room in our politics for wishing harm on Americans who have different political beliefs. Democrats in Colorado and across the country need to condemn this evil statement…Councilwoman CdeBaca…[should] resign immediately.”

No surprises that Cdebaca is a Bernie Sanders supporter. The tolerance of the left. Dignity, respect and fair play. Didn’t Michelle Obama once claim, “when they go low, we go high“?

Know your history

BBC reports that the UK intends to introduce E10 ethanol based fuel. Before going ahead they should reflect on the disaster that befell Germany when it introduced the eco-friendly gasoline.

The German authorities went big for bio-fuels in 2008 forcing gas stands to install E-10 pumps to cut CO2. However as many as 3 million cars at the time weren’t equipped to run on it and as a result consumers abandoned it leaving many gas stands with shortages of the petrol and gluts of E-10 which left the petrol companies liable to huge fines (around $630mn) for not hitting government targets.

Claude Termes, a member of European Parliament from the Green Party in Luxembourg said in 2008 that “legally mandated biofuels were a dead end…the sooner It disappears, the better…my preference is zero…policymakers cannot close their eyes in front of the facts. The European Parliament is increasingly skeptical of biofuels.” Even ADAC told German drivers to avoid using E10 when traveling in other parts of continental Europe.

But governments always know best. Apparently.