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Market Rally Fizzles As Volume Evaporates

Market Rally Fizzles As Volume Evaporates

Tuesday’s rally fizzled on Wednesday, as US emini futures were flat after erasing an earlier dip as attention again turned to news about the omicron variant as cases surged globally. Contracts on…



Market Rally Fizzles As Volume Evaporates

Tuesday's rally fizzled on Wednesday, as US emini futures were flat after erasing an earlier dip as attention again turned to news about the omicron variant as cases surged globally. Contracts on the Nasdaq 100 led declines, slipping 0.3% in thin trading ahead of holidays. In Europe, stocks were little changed as more omicron woes weighed on sentiment. Oil steadied as investors assessed mixed demand signals and the dollar fell. Elon Musk sold even more Tesla shares, one step close to his promise to sell 10% of his stake in the electric carmaker.

Markets have been volatile at the end of a year that has seen equities rally amid a recovery from the pandemic, before losing steam on worries about inflation, tighter policy and stricter curbs brought on by the omicron virus variant. Thinner trading volumes heading into the holidays could exacerbate market swings, leaving strategists reluctant to read much into day-to-day gyrations during the period.

“Despite the new restriction measures, many investors believe that omicron would only have a temporary impact on the economic activity and should not be a problem for the overall positive trend in equities,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote Group. “Investors should remain cautious with big ups and downs into the Xmas break.”

In the latest Omicron news, the U.K. not planning new restrictions before Christmas, while Germany stopping short of a full lockdown while imposing tighter curbs. In the US, Joe Biden said Tuesday omicron will result in more breakthrough infections among vaccinated Americans, potentially in large numbers, but that they are very unlikely to be severely ill. The top medical adviser to the world’s airlines said aircraft passengers are twice or even three times more likely to catch Covid-19 during a flight since the emergence of the variant.

“While this variant is significant and the impact is powerful, I do still have my rose-colored glasses heading into the New Year because below the surface there is still a lot of opportunity” away from trades that are played out or frothy, Nicole Webb, Wealth Enhancement Group senior vice president, said on Bloomberg Television.

Elsewhere, on the fiscal stimmy front, Biden said there’s still a chance he can make a deal with Senator Joe Manchin to drive his economic plan through Congress. 

In U.S. premarket trading, Tesla rose after Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk offloaded more of his stake in the electric-vehicle maker. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. shares fell with other Chinese ADRs also coming under pressure, after local media reports that a unit’s cooperation with a government agency has been suspended. Online marketplace operator dropped -2.3%, ride-hailing firm Didi -2.2%, Bilibili -2.5%. The Nasdaq Golden Dragon China Index of U.S.- listed Chinese companies has slumped 43% YTD amid worries over increasing regulatory oversight from both China and the U.S. Here are some other notable U.S. movers:

  • Apple (AAPL US) slips 0.4% in U.S. premarket trading, easing after Tuesday’s 1.9% bounce. The iPhone maker’s shares have again outperformed the market this year and positive drivers remain ahead, Citi writes in note reiterating a buy rating and upping its target to $200 from $170.
  • BlackBerry (BB US) shares fell 2.2% in U.S. premarket trading after the company’s 4Q guidance disappointed, according to RBC Capital Markets.
  • Tesla (TSLA US) shares gain 2.3% in U.S. premarket trading after CEO Elon Musk offloaded more of his stake in the electric-vehicle maker.
  • Alibaba (BABA US) shares fall 3.2% in U.S. premarket trading, with other Chinese ADRs also coming under pressure, after local media reports that a unit’s cooperation with a government agency has been suspended.
  • Magnachip Semiconductor (MX US) buyback plan represents ~8.6% of the company’s current market value, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The stock rose in postmarket trading.
  • BioRestorative Therapies (BRTX US) rises as much as 70% in premarket trading after the company announced an agreement with contract research organization PRC Clinical for a phase 2 trial of its lead product.
  • AAR (AIR US) drops 8.3% in postmarket trading after the aerospace product supplier reported second quarter earnings that trailed the average analyst estimate.
  • Acasti Pharma’s (ACST US) merger gives it “a diversified, late-stage, orphan drug pipeline and bench strength,” writes Oppenheimer, launching coverage at outperform. Stock rallied 30% in postmarket.
  • Repro Med Systems (KRMD US) gains 7.8% in postmarket trading after reporting the FDA cleared the expanded on-label use of the Freedom60 infusion system to two additional subcutaneous Ig medications, Cutaquig and Xembify.

Most European equities were little changed in notably subdued volatility with Spain's IBEX outperforming, rising 0.4%; FTSE MIB lags. Tech and travel are the best performing sectors, utilities slip over 1%. Elsewhere, European power climbed to a fresh record as France faces a winter crunch.

Asian equities rose, on track for a second-straight day of gains, as investors assessed progress in the U.S. administration’s spending plans in thin trading ahead of year-end holidays. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index was up 0.3% as of 5:10 p.m. in Hong Kong, driven higher by consumer discretionary and IT shares. China’s tech stocks advanced for a second day as traders rushed to unwind short bets ahead of the year-end holidays. Investors returned to riskier assets globally after Monday’s selloff, as President Joe Biden said there’s still a chance he can strike a deal with Senator Joe Manchin to get his Build Back Better economic plan through Congress. While rates are expected to climb in 2022 thanks to inflation and signaled hikes from the Federal Reserve, strategists expect the advance to top out in negative territory on an inflation-adjusted basis.

“Even as central banks look to tighten up monetary policy a little bit because inflation is high, people aren’t looking at the bond market for an inflation hedge, that could still keep some attractiveness in the equity markets,” Jason Schenker, president at Prestige Economics LLC, told Bloomberg Television. Benchmarks in India and Hong Kong rose the most in the region, while Japan’s stocks edged higher. Singapore’s Straits Times Index was down 0.1% as the country halted ticket sales for quarantine-free travel lanes.

Japanese equities closed slightly higher after swinging in a narrow range, as trading thinned heading into the year-end holidays. Gains in electronics makers offset losses in auto and food makers, pushing the Topix 0.1% higher. Tokyo Electron was the biggest contributor to a 0.2% gain in the Nikkei 225. Volumes on both gauges were more than 25% below 30-day averages

India’s key indexes extended their rebound for a second day, tracking recoveries in regional peers, after the Nifty entered a correction earlier this week.  The S&P BSE Sensex rose 1.1% to 56,930.56 in Mumbai, its biggest advance since Dec. 8. The NSE Nifty 50 Index also advanced by a similar measure. Reliance Industries was among the biggest contributors to both gauges. All 19 sector sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. climbed, led by the realty group. The Nifty’s two-day gain comes after the index entered a technical correction Monday, falling more than 10% from its record-high closing on Oct. 18, with the Sensex’s earlier drop just short of that level. “Volumes would remain muted for the rest of December, since there are expected to be few triggers in terms of news flow,” according to S. Hariharan, a sales trading head with Emkay Global Financial Services. He sees information-technology companies attracting interest from investors and bottom-fishing taking place in auto-related shares.

In rates, treasury yields rose modestly, led by the belly of the curve, and so did bund yields. The 10Y TSY traded at 1.4720% last. Gilts underperformed bunds and USTs, cheapening 3-4bps in a bear steepening move. Bunds and USTs bear flatten slightly. Much of the semi-core and peripheral space tightens to core; Italy underperforms, widening 1.5bps at the 10y point.

In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index slipped as the greenback traded weaker versus most of its Group-of-10 peers. Risk-sensitive currencies, led by the Norwegian krone, performed best; the euro hovered in a narrow 1.1264-1.1300 range. The pound edged higher against the dollar after revised data showed the U.K. economy has recovered from the pandemic faster than previously thought; gilt yields rose by 4-5bps across the curve. The Australian and New Zealand dollars weighed down in early trade before recovering ground, as rising Covid cases spur concerns about the economic outlook. Prime Minister Scott Morrison is urging state and territory leaders to move ahead with reopening plans even as omicron outbreaks push daily infections to record levels. Aggressive bets on rate hikes by the RBA are receding with the yield on 3-year bonds down 8bps to 0.84%. The yen slipped; concerns over debt supply and gains in overnight overseas yields capped bond prices. The world's most volatile security, the Turkish lira, held a tight range near 12.51/USD.

In commodities, crude futures hold in the green. WTI trades up 0.5% near $71.50, Brent near $74.25. Spot gold is little changed near $1,788/oz. Most base metals are in the green: LME zinc and aluminum are up over 2%, tin lags.

On today's calendar, we have the 2nd revision of Q3 GDP, the Conference Board sentiment index, and Existing home sales data.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures down 0.2% to 4,632.75
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 0.2% to 474.88
  • MXAP up 0.3% to 190.50
  • MXAPJ up 0.5% to 617.81
  • Nikkei up 0.2% to 28,562.21
  • Topix little changed at 1,971.51
  • Hang Seng Index up 0.6% to 23,102.33
  • Shanghai Composite little changed at 3,622.62
  • Sensex up 1.1% to 56,927.27
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.1% to 7,364.77
  • Kospi up 0.3% to 2,984.48
  • German 10Y yield little changed at -0.29%
  • Euro down 0.1% to $1.1273
  • Brent Futures up 0.4% to $74.30/bbl
  • Gold spot down 0.1% to $1,788.23
  • U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 96.54

Top Overnight news from Bloomberg

  • “We are well aware of the uncertainty around our inflation projections. There is a risk to the upside,” European Central Bank Executive Board member Isabel Schnabel says in interview with Le Monde
  • It was supposed to be a year when volatility in the currency space would make a strong comeback as yield-starved investors from the world of bonds shifted focus to create alpha. Yet inflation made for such volatility in rates and equities, that FX found itself in relatively calm waters
  • Anyone gearing up for bond yields to surge in 2022 should think again. A global glut of saved cash has the potential to restrain an increase in rates, even as central banks dial back their pandemic stimulus.
  • In the months after Boris Johnson signed his post- Brexit trade deal with the European Union, the coronavirus masked the economic damage of leaving the bloc. As the pandemic drags on, the cost is becoming clearer -- and voters are noticing
  • U.K. employer confidence plunged to the lowest level since the nation was still under lockdown earlier this year as the spread of the omicron variant and uncertainty about inflation and labor shortages dimmed the outlook
  • The green debt market is growing at a much faster pace than the real-world projects it was created to support, thanks to some financial engineering
  • A Chinese regulator has tightened rules regarding use of messaging tools in the nation’s local bond and derivative markets, clamping down on anonymous accounts following similar moves globally in recent years
  • For Turkish sovereign and corporate debt, Monday’s emergency measures to tackle the lira’s meltdown have come too late to rescue a painful 2021. Investors have lost 7.8% on the country’s dollar-denominated sovereign debt this year, compared to 2.9% across emerging markets in the worst performance since 2013

A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk

Asia-Pac stocks were indecisive overnight following the sharp rebound seen on Wall Street - which was spurred by the tech sector as Micron led the charge following solid earnings, whilst some reopening plays such as airlines and cruise lines saw substantial gains. The Russell 2000 saw gains of 2.9%, the Nasdaq rose 2.4% whilst the S&P 500 and DJIA closed higher by 1.8% and 1.6% respectively. US equity futures trade flat with a mild downside bias, whilst APAC stocks gradually trimmed earlier gains. The ASX 200 (+0.1) spent most of the session in modest negative territory, but gains in Tech cushioned losses. The Nikkei 225 (+0.1%) and KOSPI (+0.3%) opened with mild gains but the upside momentum petered out. The Hang Seng (+0.6%) initially outperformed amid a revival of large tech, with Alibaba, Tencent, NetEase and among the biggest gainers at one point. The Shanghai Comp (-0.1%) conformed to the indecisive tone, with the index caged to a tight range. US 10yr Treasury futures reflected the indecisiveness of markets overnight.

Top Asian News

  • Defaulter Sinic Says Unlikely to Repay January Bonds, Coupon
  • China’s Xi Tells Lam Hong Kong Is Heading in the Right Direction
  • Asian Stocks Extend Gains Slightly as Investors Tread Water
  • Alibaba Shares, Chinese ADRs Drop in U.S. Premarket Trading

European bourses are essentially unchanged, with both the direction and magnitude of action in-fitting with the dull trading conditions seen overnight. Since the cash open, indices have meandered around the unchanged mark; there are modest regional differences but no convincing or enduring moves in either direction. Sectors are in the green, but the breadth of performance is contained with less than 1.0ppts separating the best and worst performers. News flow remains thin and focus continues to fall on COVID; albeit, the clamour for updates has slowed somewhat with the UK and US confirming no pre-Xmas restrictions, but the post-Xmas period remains uncertain. Individual movers include Delivery Hero (+6.5%) after updating on Foodpanda divestments, Rio Tinto (-1.3%) following the acquisition of Rincon Mining Lithium for USD 825mln.

Top European News

  • U.K. to Say Omicron Causes Milder Disease Than Delta: Politico
  • European Gas Drops After Surging on Constrained Russian Flows
  • Cargill Inks $1 Billion Deal for Croda’s Tech, Chemical Unit
  • Delivery Hero Exits German Delivery Business in Reversal

In FX, newsflow and turnover is dwindling as the clock ticks down to Xmas, but the lack of depth in terms of trading volume is keeping price movement active or even lively for some financial market instruments and assets. Indeed, debt remains volatile and in the throes of a relatively pronounced, deep bull retracement, to the benefit of the Buck over lower yielders if not other rival currencies that are elevated or underpinned due to independent factors. As such, the Dollar index is holding around 96.500, and currently within a 96.361-604 range awaiting a decent line up of US data that may prompt a reaction and provide a fundamental distraction from the overriding focus on pandemic headlines/updates. Conversely, the Yen and Franc are lagging/underperforming, with the former now probing below its post-FOMC base and inching closer towards Fib support at 114.38, while the latter is trying to absorb more offers and soak up pressure at 0.9250.

  • GBP - The Pound has bounced further from recent lows across the board in wake of confirmation from UK PM Johnson that no new Omicron/COVID measures will be imposed this side of Christmas rather than final UK GDP data for Q3 that was somewhat mixed. Cable is eyeing edging through.3300 and Eur/Gbp is straddling 0.8500 irrespective of hawkish sounding comments from ECB’s Holzmann who suggests there may be an extreme case for a rate hike in 2022.
  • NZD/CAD/AUD/EUR - Risk sentiment appears to have plateaued following Tuesday’s significant revival in appetite, but the Kiwi, Loonie and Aussie have derived enough impetus to pare declines against the Greenback between 0.6773-40, 1.2924-04 and 0.7158-21 respective parameters, in keeping with crude, industrial and precious metals that are maintaining recovery momentum on the grounds that the latest pandemic waves might not be as damaging as prior episodes. Elsewhere, the Euro could be gleaning underlying support from decent option expiry interest at 1.1245-50 (1.3 bn) in the same vein as expiries capped the upside yesterday and on Monday, but the psychological 1.1300 level is still proving to be a tough hurdle even with the aforementioned ECB rhetoric.
  • EM - A new day brings more angst between Russia and the US, though the Rub is firmer alongside Brent and the Nok, while the Cnh and Cny are both on an even keel after another firmer PBoC midpoint setting. In Turkey, the Try seems to have topped out with little response to the first CBRT repo by quantity auction at 14% in Lira 38bn, maturing on December 29 that came at an official rate of 12.348 vs the Usd for time deposits. Indeed, the pair has rebounded from close to 12.0000 and is now nearer the upper end of a band reaching 12.6600, largely taking comments from President Erdogan in stride as well. However, for the record he declared in typical forthright fashion that the country has thwarted all games against the domestic economy, adding more dramatically that those calling to buy FX (Usd) have now had their ‘brains watered out’ (or washed presumably!).

In commodities, WTI and Brent are modestly firmer in a continuation of the general trend of APAC trade, though the benchmarks remain within fairly narrow parameters. Prior to Tuesday’s private inventory report, some modest downside was seen, and while the API’s weekly inventory data reportedly showed a larger-than-expected build, the internals were more mixed. Today’s EIA release is expected to print a headline draw accompanied by mixed internals. Currently, the benchmarks are steady towards the top-end of the sessions range which stands at under USD 1.0/bbl. Natural gas prices remain in focus as reports once again indicated that the Yamal-Europe pipeline is operating in reverse mode. However, UK prices were subdued, retracing some of the upside seen yesterday on the referenced pipeline activity. Moving to metals, spot gold and silver are contained and have been pivoting the unchanged mark for this most part. Separately, base metals are modestly firmer deviating slightly from APAC pressure in copper, for instance.

US Event Calendar

  • 7am: Dec. MBA Mortgage Applications, prior -4.0%
  • 8:30am: 3Q GDP Annualized QoQ, est. 2.1%, prior 2.1%
  • 8:30am: 3Q PCE Core QoQ, est. 4.5%, prior 4.5%
  • 8:30am: 3Q GDP Price Index, est. 5.9%, prior 5.9%
  • 8:30am: 3Q Personal Consumption, est. 1.7%, prior 1.7%
  • 8:30am: Nov. Chicago Fed Nat Activity Index, est. 0.40, prior 0.76
  • 10am: Dec. Conf. Board Consumer Confidenc, est. 111.0, prior 109.5
    • Expectations, prior 87.6
    • Present Situation, prior 142.5
  • 10am: Nov. Existing Home Sales MoM, est. 3.0%, prior 0.8%
Tyler Durden Wed, 12/22/2021 - 07:50

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Spread & Containment

Many CDC Blunders Exaggerated Severity Of COVID-19: Study

Many CDC Blunders Exaggerated Severity Of COVID-19: Study

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The U.S. Centers…



Many CDC Blunders Exaggerated Severity Of COVID-19: Study

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made at least 25 statistical or numerical errors during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the overwhelming majority exaggerated the severity of the pandemic, according to a new study.

Researchers who have been tracking CDC errors compiled 25 instances where the agency offered demonstrably false information. For each instance, they analyzed whether the error exaggerated or downplayed the severity of COVID-19.

Of the 25 instances, 20 exaggerated the severity, the researchers reported in the study, which was published ahead of peer review on March 23.

The CDC has expressed significant concern about COVID-19 misinformation. In order for the CDC to be a credible source of information, they must improve the accuracy of the data they provide,” the authors wrote.

The CDC did not respond to a request for comment.

Most Errors Involved Children

Most of the errors were about COVID-19’s impact on children.

In mid-2021, for instance, the CDC claimed that 4 percent of the deaths attributed to COVID-19 were kids. The actual percentage was 0.04 percent. The CDC eventually corrected the misinformation, months after being alerted to the issue.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky falsely told a White House press briefing in October 2021 that there had been 745 COVID-19 deaths in children, but the actual number, based on CDC death certificate analysis, was 558.

Walensky and other CDC officials also falsely said in 2022 that COVID-19 was a top five cause of death for children, citing a study that gathered CDC data instead of looking at the data directly. The officials have not corrected the false claims.

Other errors include the CDC claiming in 2022 that pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations were “increasing again” when they’d actually peaked two weeks earlier; CDC officials in 2023 including deaths among infants younger than 6 months old when reporting COVID-19 deaths among children; and Walensky on Feb. 9, 2023, exaggerating the pediatric death toll before Congress.

“These errors suggest the CDC consistently exaggerates the impact of COVID-19 on children,” the authors of the study said.

Read more here...

Tyler Durden Fri, 03/24/2023 - 20:20

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NIH awards researchers $7.5 million to create data support center for opioid use disorder and pain management research

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – March 24, 2023 – Researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine have been awarded a five-year, $7.5 million grant…



WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – March 24, 2023 – Researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine have been awarded a five-year, $7.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Helping End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) initiative.

Credit: Wake Forest University School of Medicine

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – March 24, 2023 – Researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine have been awarded a five-year, $7.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Helping End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) initiative.

The NIH HEAL initiative, which launched in 2018, was created to find scientific solutions to stem the national opioid and pain public health crises. The funding is part of the HEAL Data 2 Action (HD2A) program, designed to use real-time data to guide actions and change processes toward reducing overdoses and improving opioid use disorder treatment and pain management.

With the support of the grant, researchers will create a data infrastructure support center to assist HD2A innovation projects at other institutions across the country. These innovation projects are designed to address gaps in four areas—prevention, harm reduction, treatment of opioid use disorder and recovery support.

“Our center’s goal is to remove barriers so that solutions can be more streamlined and rapidly distributed,” said Meredith C.B. Adams, M.D., associate professor of anesthesiology, biomedical informatics, physiology and pharmacology, and public health sciences at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

By monitoring opioid overdoses in real time, researchers will be able to identify trends and gaps in resources in local communities where services are most needed.

“We will collect and analyze data that will inform prevention and treatment services,” Adams said. “We’re shifting chronic pain and opioid care in communities to quickly offer solutions.”

The center will also develop data related resources, education and training related to substance use, pain management and the reduction of opioid overdoses.

According to the CDC, there was a 29% increase in drug overdose deaths in the U.S.  in 2020, and nearly 75% of those deaths involved an opioid.

“Given the scope of the opioid crises, which was only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s imperative that we improve and create new prevention strategies,” Adams said. “The funding will create the infrastructure for rapid intervention.”

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How They Convinced Trump To Lock Down

How They Convinced Trump To Lock Down

Authored by Jeffrey A. Tucker via Brownstone Institute,

An enduring mystery for three years is how…



How They Convinced Trump To Lock Down

Authored by Jeffrey A. Tucker via Brownstone Institute,

An enduring mystery for three years is how Donald Trump came to be the president who shut down American society for what turned out to be a manageable respiratory virus, setting off an unspeakable crisis with waves of destructive fallout that continue to this day. 

Let’s review the timeline and offer some well-founded speculations about what happened. 

On March 9, 2020, Trump was still of the opinion that the virus could be handled by normal means. 

Two days later, he changed his tune. He was ready to use the full power of the federal government in a war on the virus. 

What changed? Deborah Birx reports in her book that Trump had a friend die in a New York hospital and this is what shifted his opinion. Jared Kushner reports that he simply listened to reason. Mike Pence says he was persuaded that his staff would respect him more. No question (and based on all existing reports) that he found himself surrounded by “trusted advisors” amounting to about 5 or so people (including Mike Pence and Pfizer board member Scott Gottlieb)

It was only a week later when Trump issued the edict to close all “indoor and outdoor venues where people congregate,” initiating the biggest regime change in US history that flew in the face of all rights and liberties Americans had previously taken for granted. It was the ultimate in political triangulation: as John F. Kennedy cut taxes, Nixon opened China, and Clinton reformed welfare, Trump shut down the economy he promised to revive. This action confounded critics on all sides. 

A month later, Trump said his decision to have “turned off” the economy saved millions of lives, later even claiming to have saved billions. He has yet to admit error. 

Even as late as June 23rd of that year, Trump was demanding credit for having followed all of Fauci’s recommendations. Why do they love him and hate me, he wanted to know. 

Something about this story has never really added up. How could one person have been so persuaded by a handful of others such as Fauci, Birx, Pence, and Kushner and his friends? He surely had other sources of information – some other scenario or intelligence – that fed into his disastrous decision. 

In one version of events, his advisors simply pointed to the supposed success of Xi Jinping in enacting lockdowns in Wuhan, which the World Health Organization claimed had stopped infections and brought the virus under control. Perhaps his advisors flattered Trump with the observation that he is at least as great as the president of China so he should be bold and enact the same policies here. 

One problem with this scenario is timing. The Oval Office meetings that preceded his March 16, 2020, edict took place the weekend of the 14th and 15th, Friday and Saturday. It was already clear by the 11th that Trump was ready for lockdowns. This was the same day as Fauci’s deliberately misleading testimony to the House Oversight Committee in which he rattled the room with predictions of Hollywood-style carnage. 

On the 12th, Trump shut all travel from Europe, the UK, and Australia, causing huge human pile-ups at international airports. On the 13th, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a classified document that transferred control of pandemic policy from the CDC to the National Security Council and eventually the Department of Homeland Security. By the time that Trump met with Fauci and Birx in that legendary weekend, the country was already under quasi-martial law. 

Isolating the date in the trajectory here, it is apparent that whatever happened to change Trump occurred on March 10, 2020, the day after his Tweet saying there should be no shutdowns and one day before Fauci’s testimony. 

That something very likely revolves around the most substantial discovery we’ve made in three years of investigations. It was Debbie Lerman who first cracked the code: Covid policy was forged not by the public-health bureaucracies but by the national-security sector of the administrative state. She has further explained that this occurred because of two critical features of the response: 1) the belief that this virus came from a lab leak, and 2) the vaccine was the biosecurity countermeasure pushed by the same people as the fix. 

Knowing this, we gain greater insight into 1) why Trump changed his mind, 2) why he has never explained this momentous decision and otherwise completely avoids the topic, and 3) why it has been so unbearably difficult to find out any information about these mysterious few days other than the pablum served up in books designed to earn royalties for authors like Birx, Pence, and Kushner. 

Based on a number of second-hand reports, all available clues we have assembled, and the context of the times, the following scenario seems most likely. On March 10, and in response to Trump’s dismissive tweet the day before, some trusted sources within and around the National Security Council (Matthew Pottinger and Michael Callahan, for example), and probably involving some from military command and others, came to Trump to let him know a highly classified secret. 

Imagine a scene from Get Smart with the Cone of Silence, for example. These are the events in the life of statecraft that infuse powerful people with a sense of their personal awesomeness. The fate of all of society rests on their shoulders and the decisions they make at this point. Of course they are sworn to intense secrecy following the great reveal. 

The revelation was that the virus was not a textbook virus but something far more threatening and terrible. It came from a research lab in Wuhan. It might in fact be a bioweapon. This is why Xi had to do extreme things to protect his people. The US should do the same, they said, and there is a fix available too and it is being carefully guarded by the military. 

It seems that the virus had already been mapped in order to make a vaccine to protect the population. Thanks to 20 years of research on mRNA platforms, they told him,  this vaccine can be rolled out in months, not years. That means that Trump can lock down and distribute vaccines to save everyone from the China virus, all in time for the election. Doing this would not only assure his reelection but guarantee that he would go down in history as one of the greatest US presidents of all time. 

This meeting might only have lasted an hour or two – and might have included a parade of people with the highest-level security clearances – but it was enough to convince Trump. After all, he had battled China for two previous years, imposing tariffs and making all sorts of threats. It was easy to believe at that point that China might have initiated biological warfare as retaliation. That’s why he made the decision to use all the power of the presidency to push a lockdown under emergency rule. 

To be sure, the Constitution does not allow him to override the discretion of the states but with the weight of the office complete with enough funding and persuasion, he could make it happen. And thus did he make the fateful decision that not only wrecked his presidency but the country too, imposing harms that will last a generation. 

It only took a few weeks for Trump to become suspicious about what happened. For weeks and months, he toggled between believing that he was tricked and believing that he did the right thing. He had already approved another 30 days of lockdowns and even inveighed against Georgia and later Florida for opening. He went so far as to claim that no state could open without his approval. 

He did not fully change his mind until August, when Scott Atlas revealed the whole con to him. 

There is another fascinating feature to this entirely plausible scenario. Even as Trump’s advisors were telling him that this could be a bioweapon leaked from the lab in China, we had Anthony Fauci and his cronies going to great lengths to deny it was a lab leak (even if they believed that it was). This created an interesting situation. The NIH and those surrounding Fauci were publicly insisting that the virus was of zoonotic origin, even as Trump’s circle was telling the president that it should be regarded as a bioweapon. 

Fauci belonged to both camps, which suggests that Trump very likely knew of Fauci’s deception all along: the “noble lie” to protect the public from knowing the truth. Trump had to be fine with that. 

Gradually following the lockdown edicts and the takeover by the Department of Homeland Security, in cooperation with a very hostile CDC, Trump lost power and influence over his own government, which is why his later Tweets urging a reopening fell on deaf ears. To top it off, the vaccine failed to arrive in time for the election. This is because Fauci himself delayed the rollout until after the election, claiming that the trials were not racially diverse enough. Thus Trump’s gambit completely failed, despite all the promises of those around him that it was a guaranteed way to win reelection.

To be sure, this scenario cannot be proven because the entire event – certainly the most dramatic political move in at least a generation and one with unspeakable costs for the country – remains cloaked in secrecy. Not even Senator Rand Paul can get the information he needs because it remains classified. If anyone thinks the Biden approval of releasing documents will show what we need, that person is naive. Still, the above scenario fits all available facts and it is confirmed by second-hand reports from inside the White House. 

It’s enough for a great movie or a play of Shakespearean levels of tragedy. And to this day, none of the main players are speaking openly about it. 

Jeffrey A. Tucker is Founder and President of the Brownstone Institute. He is also Senior Economics Columnist for Epoch Times, author of 10 books, including Liberty or Lockdown, and thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press. He speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.

Tyler Durden Fri, 03/24/2023 - 17:40

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