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Peak Optimism? S&P Futures Hit After Too Much “Stimulus Optimism” Sends 10Y Yields Surging

Peak Optimism? S&P Futures Hit After Too Much "Stimulus Optimism" Sends 10Y Yields Surging

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Peak Optimism? S&P Futures Hit After Too Much "Stimulus Optimism" Sends 10Y Yields Surging Tyler Durden Wed, 10/21/2020 - 08:12

There was a curious twist in the traditional market narrative this morning.

In early overnight trading, futures initially ticked higher on Wednesday as investors pressed bets for a fiscal stimulus deal after Nancy Pelosi said she is hopeful for a stimulus this week, even though negotiations blew past her own self-imposed Tuesday deadline for agreeing on a pre-election deal. Her enthusiasm was echoed by White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows who said everyone is "working really hard" to get a package agreed by the weekend, adding that there are still outstanding issues, while Mitch McConnell warned the Trump administration not to agree to anything like Pelosi's proposal ahead of the election (McConnell plans to seek a vote on the Republican scaled-down package in the Senate today). In any event, this initial "optimism" was enough to get futures to ramp sharply higher in early overnight trading...

... before reversing sharply after 10Y yield spiked above 0.8% for the first time since early June on too much reflationary stimulus deal optimism!

As a result of the overnight yield spike, we saw the 10Y yield rise to 4 month highs...

... while the 5s30s curve blew out to 4 year high.

In other words, we may have finally hit the natural ceiling to where more fiscal stimulus starts hitting risk assets instead of helping them.

"The rise in yields suggests that the market thinks a stimulus deal will be forthcoming and that the Democrats are set to take both the presidency and the Senate at the Nov. 3 election," said John Hardy, chief foreign-exchange strategist at Saxo Bank.

Elsewhere, Netflix kicked off earnings from the Big Tech club, and was down 5.2% premarket after it missed expectations for subscriber growth as streaming competition increased and live sports returned to television. Tesla fluctuated before financial results later Wednesday, and social-media company Snap soared surged 24.4% after the messaging app owner beat user growth and revenue forecasts, as more people signed up to chat with friends and family during the COVID-19 pandemic. Shares of other social media companies Facebook and Twitter Inc rose 2.6% and 5.7%, while image sharing company Pinterest Inc gained 6.7%.

European stocks slumped for a third day, with the Stoxx 600 Index falling 0.7%, dragged lower by U.K. stocks after the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator said an agreement was within reach. The construction sector led losses as Assa Abloy AB and Vinci SA declined after third-quarter updates, while telecoms was the only subgroup to gain as Ericsson rallied on better-than-estimated profit. Gold miners Fresnillo and Centamin dropped after cutting their production guidance. Telecom equipment maker Ericsson was a bright spot, climbing after a profit beat.

Earlier in the session, Asia-Pac equities were mixed for most of the session. The ASX 200 (+0.1%) was caged in a tight range with no real standout performers or interesting sector action. Nikkei 225 (+0.3%) was buoyed by its industrial sector, however, Softbank shares erased all gains after sources suggested Huawei and Chinese firms are said to be seeking curbs on Nvidia's acquisition of Softbank’s ARM. KOSPI (+0.5%) swung between gains and losses and traded with no clear direction for most of the session. Hang Seng (+0.8%) initially extended on its opening gains before waning off best levels, with upside led by some of the large-cap names including Alibaba, HSBC and CNOOC.

In FX, the dollar weakened against all of its Group-of-10 peers; the pound led gains, followed by the New Zealand dollar, while the yen headed for its best day versus the dollar since August. The pound jumped after European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said a deal is within reach. Copper rose close to a two-year high on supply disruptions in Chile. The euro rallied a fourth day to touch a 1-month high of 1.1870 per dollar. Australian and New Zealand dollars posted relief rallies as the greenback eased and a wave of dollar sales also benefited the yen.

Meanwhile, the yuan’s ongoing surge has taken it to the highest in more than two years, and further gains are likely. The onshore yuan rose as much as 0.55% to 6.6400 a dollar on Wednesday. The advance takes the currency’s rally from a low in May to 7.7%. The gains are due to China’s economic rebound from the virus pandemic, a wide interest-rate premium over the rest of the world, the prospects of a victory by Joe Biden over Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential election and a weak dollar. "There is still room for the yuan to strengthen further,” said Tommy Xie, an economist at Oversea Chinese Banking Corp. in Singapore. "It’s possible for the yuan to strengthen past 6.60 quite soon, and by end of this year it may even go lower to around 6.55." The yuan’s gains have investors watching to see whether Chinese policy makers will take steps to impede the advance, such as by setting weaker-then-expected daily fixings, relaxing capital controls or having state-backed banks sell the yuan.

In rates, treasuries are off cheapest levels of the session, reached during Asia session amid signs of progress toward a fiscal agreement, and which in turn hammered risk assets. Ten- and 30-year yields rose 5bp-6bp to highest levels since June, with the long facing sustained pressure into $22b 20-year bond reopening at 1pm. Yields remain higher by less than 2bp across the curve with 10- year around 0.805% after touching 0.834%; curve spreads are also in retreat after 5s30s touched 128.5bp, within 2bp of its YTD high. Initial selloff was sparked by House Speaker Pelosi’s comments that she remains hopeful of a pre-election stimulus deal. German, Italian bonds also fell, while hedging costs in the major currencies over two weeks shift higher as the tenor now captures the U.S. presidential election’s immediate aftermath

In commodities, oil dropped toward $41 a barrel in New York after an industry report pointed to a surprise increase in American crude stockpiles. Gold continued to rise above $1900 as the dollar fell, although rising real rates constrained gold upside.

As we progress through earnings season, of the 66 S&P 500 firms that have reported third-quarter results, 86.4% have topped expectations for earnings, according to IBES data. Today, earnings are due from Tesla, Verizon, Abbott Laboratories and Thermo Fisher.

Market Snapshot

 

  • S&P 500 futures down 0.1% to 3,429.50
  • MXAP up 0.6% to 176.59
  • MXAPJ up 0.3% to 585.94
  • Nikkei up 0.3% to 23,639.46
  • STOXX Europe 600 down 1% to 361.95
  • Topix up 0.7% to 1,637.60
  • Hang Seng Index up 0.8% to 24,754.42
  • Shanghai Composite down 0.09% to 3,325.03
  • Sensex down 0.6% to 40,287.60
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.1% to 6,191.80
  • Kospi up 0.5% to 2,370.86
  • Brent Futures down 1.4% to $42.54/bbl
  • Gold spot up 0.6% to $1,919.09
  • U.S. Dollar Index down 0.3% to 92.78
  • German 10Y yield rose 2.2 bps to -0.584%
  • Euro up 0.3% to $1.1853
  • Brent Futures down 1.4% to $42.54/bbl
  • Italian 10Y yield rose 0.7 bps to 0.525%
  • Spanish 10Y yield rose 0.3 bps to 0.186%

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier used a speech to lawmakers to emphasize the importance of the U.K.’s sovereignty, a key British demand to return to trade talks
  • U.K. inflation accelerated from the weakest in five years, to 0.5% last month, driven by transport and restaurants following the end of a government subsidy to encourage eating out
  • The ECB’s ultra-cheap lending and unprecedented levels of asset purchases have created a multi-trillion-euro cash glut and a scarcity of top-rated bonds. It’s now cheaper to hedge against an increase in six-month borrowing costs rather than three months, and correlations between long-dated debt and money-market gauges have broken down
  • Traders are testing China’s tolerance for a strong yuan, which keeps rallying no matter what officials do to rein in appreciation. The currency climbed nearly 0.5% to its strongest since July 2018 on Wednesday, even after the People’s Bank of China set its daily reference rate weaker than analysts had expected. Traders have pushed the yuan stronger than the so- called fixing for six days, a sign of confidence that it will continue to rally
  • European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said the unexpectedly early pickup in coronavirus infections is a “clear risk” to the economic outlook, in a sign that policy makers are gearing up for more monetary stimulus
  • Despite a second call between the Brexit chief negotiators Tuesday ending in a stalemate, EU officials expect formal discussions to resume in coming days before then entering the intense period of legal drafting known as the “tunnel.” They still expect a deal to be struck in mid-November
  • Europe’s coronavirus outbreak continued to spread. Germany, Greece and the Netherlands hit daily case records, and Spain is weighing a curfew in Madrid. The head of Roche Holding AG warned that widespread shots this year are unlikely
  • Oil dropped toward $41 a barrel in New York after an industry report pointed to a surprise increase in American crude stockpiles, countering optimism over a potential U.S. stimulus agreement
  • Copper surged to its highest price in more than two years in London, helped by a rally in the yuan and concerns over risks of widening supply disruptions

Looking at global markets, in Asia, equities were mixed for most of the session before trading mostly higher following a lukewarm handover from Wall Street, which saw the major US indices end the day nearer to session lows, but with modest gains as yesterday’s State-side stimulus talks were seemingly constructive but with a deal yet to be reached. That being said, sources citing Senate Majority Leader McConnell suggested it will logistically be difficult to get a bill done before the elections due to the legislative hurdles that need to be overcome. Nonetheless, House Speaker Pelosi signalled progress and expressed optimism as talks with Treasury Secretary Mnuchin are poised to continue later today. US equity futures also saw mild gains at the electronic reopen, and the three major index contracts modest extended on those gains throughout the night, with ES, NQ and YM higher by between 0.6-0.7% heading into the EU open. Back to APAC, ASX 200 (+0.1%) was caged in a tight range with no real standout performers or interesting sector action. Nikkei 225 (+0.3%) side-lined USD/JPY movement and was buoyed by its industrial sector, however, Softbank shares erased all gains after sources suggested Huawei and Chinese firms are said to be seeking curbs on Nvidia's acquisition of Softbank’s ARM. KOSPI (+0.5%) swung between gains and losses and traded with no clear direction for most of the session. Hang Seng (+0.8%) initially extended on its opening gains before waning off best levels, with upside led by some of the large-cap names including Alibaba, HSBC and CNOOC., whilst COVID-19 related A-shares are bolstered by China ramping up efforts to expand output for the Cos. Conversely, Shanghai Comp (U/C) immediately erased the mild gains seen at the open despite another liquidity injection by the PBoC as US-Sino tensions show no signs of tempering down. Finally, JGB futures remained contained despite the bear steepening seen in USTs, whilst the BoJ Rinban operation showed offerings for 1-3ys, 3-5yrs, and 5-10yrs unchanged.

Top Asian News

  • Political Crisis in Pakistan Deepens After Police, Army Dispute
  • Cathay Pacific Joins Global Jobs Cull, Retires Dragon Brand
  • China Evergrande Group Seeks HK$11.4b Loan for Refinancing

European equities (Eurostoxx 50 -0.8%) have sold off throughout the session despite a mildly firmer cash open. In terms of drivers of the move, European futures overnight appeared to be following some of the gains seen in US futures as markets continue to assess the likelihood of an eventual stimulus bill; however, sentiment deteriorated in quick order as European cash markets opened with little in the way of fresh macro newsflow accompanying the move. Losses across European equities are relatively broad-based with some mild underperformance in the FTSE 100 (-1.3%) as the index contends with a firmer GBP. The construction & materials sector is the region’s laggard amid losses in Vinci (-1.8%) post-earnings, in which the Co. announced a decline in revenues and cautioned that earnings are expected to fall significantly. Also, of note for the sector, Assa Abloy (-2.5%) have endured losses after Q3 results were poorly received by the market. Health care names are also faring poorly this morning with AstraZeneca (-1.6%) shares unable to benefit from source reports suggesting that the Co.’s COVID-19 vaccine trial could resume as early as this week. Additionally, for the sector, Novozymes (-3.5%) are lower on the session following Q3 earnings. To the upside, telecom names are bucking the trend with modest gains in the wake of earnings from Ericsson (+7.3%) after Q3 earnings exceeded expectations and the Co. expressed confidence in its 2020 targets. Other large cap earnings today have included Nestle (-0.3%) who exceeded expectations for 9M organic revenue growth and Iberdrola (-0.7%) who announced that its North American arm is to acquire PNM for around EUR 3.66bln alongside posting 9M results. Looking ahead, today sees a slew of large cap US earnings including the likes of Verizon, Abbott, Tesla & Biogen.

Top European News

  • EU’s Barnier Backs U.K. Sovereignty in Bid to Resume Talks
  • Lane Warns Weak Inflation Is Bad Idea in ECB Listening Session
  • ECB Pandemic Policies Warp Debt Dynamics Into Distant Future
  • GAM Keeps Shrinking as Clients Pull Another $2.7 Billion

In FX, sterling is leading the latest broad G10 assault against the Dollar and perhaps front-running or prematurely factoring in positive news on the eve of EU-UK trade talks amidst comments from Barnier, Sefcovic and Michel ranging from the usual ‘we want a deal, but not at any price’ to the slightly more hopeful ‘an agreement is within reach’. Cable encountered some resistance just above 1.3000 and ahead of the 50 DMA (1.3009) initially, but breezed through at the next attempt before topping out close to near mid-month twin peaks between 1.3064-68. Meanwhile, Eur/Gbp has retreated further from Tuesday’s high just shy of 0.9150 to sub-0.9090 even though the single currency is also appreciating vs an increasingly weak Greenback as the DXY slides to 92.685 and fresh multi-week lows.

  • NZD/AUD/JPY/EUR/CHF/CAD – All up against the Buck, as the Kiwi claws back RBNZ Orr induced losses and reclaims 0.6600 status in the run up to NZ CPI data for Q3 on Thursday and in spite of the recurrence of COVID-19 reaching 25 cases at last count, while the Aussie is hovering below 0.7100 in advance of a speech from RBA’s Debelle tonight and October PMIs tomorrow. Elsewhere, the Yen has rallied beyond the 21 DMA at 105.50 where 1.3 bn option expiries reside and bigger expiry interest between 105.10-00 (1.9 bn) to post a marginal new m-t-d best circa 104.89 and the Euro has absorbed offers around 1.1850 that kept the headline pair capped overnight before breaching a Fib at 1.1861 on the way to 1.1870 and almost matching September 18/21 peaks. The Franc is pivoting 0.9050 and Loonie straddling 1.3100 awaiting Canadian CPI and retail sales for some independent/additional impetus.
  • SCANDI/EM -  Somewhat strangely given a significantly less pessimistic 2020 GDP forecast from Sweden’s Debt Ofiice (-3.5% compared to the prior -6.5% expected contraction) and soft oil prices, the Norwegian Krona is outperforming its Swedish neighbour in Euro cross and Dollar terms as Eur/Nok trades at the lower end of a 10.9960-9000 band in contrast to Eur/Sek nudging the top of 10.3750-3200 parameters. However, it’s one way traffic for the Yuan as Usd/Cnh and Usd/Cny continue their descent to fresh 2 year-plus highs, albeit in keeping with other EM currencies that are taking advantage of the Greenback’s more pronounced pull-back.

In commodities, The crude complex has once again been relatively devoid of specific fundamental updates and as such price action has largely followed broader equity performance this morning; directionally, benchmarks are continuing the downside post-yesterday’s private inventories report. The report displayed a surprise, but relatively modest, build of 0.59mln compared to expectations for a draw of 1mln; attention turns to today’s EIA report for confirmation of this build but similarly to yesterday expectation are for a 1.02mln draw. Note, the build last night did take some desks by surprise given the BSEE were still reporting that some of the offshore Gulf production was shut-in following Hurricane Delta for the survey period. Inventories aside, WTI and Brent have largely been at the whim of downside in the equity space (see above) posting losses of circa USD 0.60/bbl at present; albeit, the benchmarks are off lows by around USD 0.30/bbl. Moving to metals, spot gold hasn’t been able to derive much in the way of further upside post-APAC hours as the DXY continues to drop further below the 93.00 mark. Currently, the precious metal is firmer by ~USD 10/oz. Separately, this morning saw a number of mining updates including Fresnillo cutting their FY20 gold production expectation to 745-775k/oz from the prior forecast of 785-815k/oz but did maintain their guidance around silver. While Antofagasta reiterated their view of copper production for 2020 coming in at the lower end of their original guidance for the year.

US Event Calendar

  • 7am: MBA Mortgage Applications, prior -0.7%
  • 2pm: U.S. Federal Reserve Releases Beige Book

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

After today I’m taking a three day holiday to spend some bad quality time with the children over half term. Tomorrow we’re going to a huge adventure park (Longleat for those who know it) where my wife and I are debating whether to go the whole hog and drive through the monkey enclosure. We’ve got a family car that I’ve no interest in replacing until essential bits start falling off of it. However looking at the video of the experience there’s a good chance that the monkeys will accelerate that day. So we are debating the trade off between seeing the kids faces when monkeys jump on the car to the risk of having permanent damage. All advice welcome.

Speaker Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin debated matters of a slightly higher importance last night as they walked back on last night’s deadline for an agreement on stimulus ahead of the election. Overnight Pelosi has said that she’s hopeful for a stimulus agreement this week, which would be “bigger, better and retroactive”. This is pushing S&P 500 futures (+0.66%) higher.

Senate Majority leader McConnell has said that he would put any bill agreed to by the White House and Democrats up for a vote in the Senate, however it is unclear if Republican Senators would be on board. Notably Senators Romney and Shelby, the latter of whom is the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, have already said that they would not support a large bill. McConnell reportedly told colleagues that trying to finalise a stimulus agreement ahead of the election could delay the Supreme court vote for Judge Amy Coney Barrett which are set to take place next week. So a lot of politics to get through over the next few days. It’s tough to see what’s genuine progress and what’s just political manoeuvrings.

Earlier US equities advanced in anticipation of potential stimulus as the “oh yes they will, oh no they won’t” saga continued. As a result of a more positive interpretation there was a further bear-steepening in US treasuries, as the 2s10s curve reached a 4-month high of 64.1bps (from the August 4 local lows of 39.6bps), while 10yr yields were up +1.7bps at 0.786%. This morning 10y yields are up a further +3.7bps to 0.823% and the 2s10s curve is up a further +3.2bps to 67.3bps. The recent steepening moves have come as investors increasingly price in a potential stimulus package, either by the election or afterwards in Q1 under a possible Blue Wave election scenario, the chances of which have risen notably in the last 3 weeks.

For equities, the S&P 500 was up +0.47% by the close, with bank stocks (+1.32%) helping lead the way, while the NASDAQ saw a smaller +0.33% increase. UBS (+5.28%) earnings helped bank stocks on both sides of the Atlantic with European banks rising +1.54% as well. In other earnings news, Netflix fell -5.7% in after-market trading as the streaming service added just 2.2 million new subscribers in the quarter compared to the 3.32 million analysts had projected. They are also expecting to bring in fewer subscribers in the upcoming quarter than estimated (6.0m vs 6.54m). Chipmaker Texas Instruments (+1.44% after-market) beat analysts’ estimates, citing strong rebounding demand from automakers and consumer electronics.

Another major story from yesterday was that the US Department of Justice, along with 11 state Attorneys General, filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google, saying that it was “to stop Google from unlawfully maintaining monopolies through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and search advertising markets and to remedy the competitive harms.” Google’s legal office responded by calling the government’s case “deeply flawed” and at least on the day, investors seemed to agree as the company’s stock rose +1.39% and appeared more sensitive to the fiscal stimulus news. It remains to be seen what specific remedies the government would seek against Google, though any ultimate decision would be set by the federal court judge overseeing.

Asian markets have tracked Wall Street’s move this morning with the Nikkei (+0.40%), Hang Seng (+0.73%), Kospi (+0.26%) and Asx (+0.16%) all up while the Shanghai Comp (-0.35%) is down. In Fx, the onshore Chinese yuan is up +0.33% to 6.6549, the strongest level since July 2018 but this is more on the back of a broader USD move lower this morning. The US dollar index is down -0.17% overnight marking four consecutive day of declines.

In other overnight news, Bloomberg reports that China’s technology companies including Huawei have expressed strong concerns to local regulators about Nvidia’s proposed acquisition of Arm Ltd. The report added that Chinese companies major concern is that Nvidia may force the British firm to cut off Chinese clients as it could become a pawn in the US-China tech supremacy race. Elsewhere, the ECB President Lagarde said that the current virus wave has come a bit earlier as against expectations of a resurgence in “November or December, with the cold” and “from that point of view that has surprised. It’s not a good omen.”

In terms of the coronavirus, yesterday saw the UK report another 21,365 cases as Prime Minister Johnson announced that Greater Manchester would go into tier 3 - the strictest restriction level. Elsewhere in Europe, the Spanish health minister said that they would look at imposing a curfew in Madrid, while in Italy, which had been performing relatively better than the UK or France in recent weeks, a further 10,871 cases were reported. Italian Prime Minister Conte joined the refrain of his fellow European leaders calling for localised restrictions rather than national lockdowns, with the Lombardy region expected to order a curfew starting on Thursday. In the US, cases continue to see the biggest rise in the Midwest and Southern regions as the country saw over 60k new cases over the last day and looks to be seeing a “third” wave as the weather turns. Hospitalisations have started ticking higher as well, in particular Texas is at 8 week highs with particular strain coming to more rural regions with lower capacity. Overall, coronavirus hospitalization in the US stood at 39,230 yesterday, the highest in two months.

On therapeutics, there was bad news as the US FDA inspectors found quality-control problems at an Eli Lilly plant used to help produce its Covid-19 antibody therapy. Elsewhere, Cathay Pacific Airways said that it will cut about 5,300 jobs based in Hong Kong and close its Cathay Dragon unit as part of a sweeping restructuring.

On Brexit, the UK government suffered a defeat in the House of Lords on its controversial Internal Market Bill, which would seek to override parts of the already-reached Brexit Withdrawal Agreement with the EU. Though the bill passed and will move on to further debate, members voted by 395-169 in favour of an amendment to the second reading motion which said that the House regretted that part of the bill “contains provisions which, if enacted, would undermine the rule of law and damage the reputation of the United Kingdom.” Notably, 39 Conservative peers voted in favour of that amendment, including former leader Michael Howard. Otherwise, the negotiations between the UK and the EU remained in stalemate, with the EU’s Michel Barnier tweeting that he spoke again to the UK’s David Frost yesterday, and said “My message: we should be making the most out of the little time left.” The U.K. are currently being cold to the prospect that the EU is moving far enough to restart negotiations although The Telegraph newspaper reported that Barnier was considering a trip to London tomorrow (which wouldn’t happen without some encouragement) so all eyes will be on whether we see a resumption in talks over the coming days. It’s another political dance.

Elsewhere in markets yesterday, the STOXX 600 lost -0.35%, though this masked strong regional divergences, with the DAX (-0.92%) underperforming as Italy’s FTSE MIB (+0.56%) and Spain’s IBEX 35 (+0.98%) made solid gains. Europe saw a similar selloff in rates to the US, with 10yr yields on bunds (+2.2bps), OATs (+1.4bps) and BTPs (+0.8bps) all rising. Finally on the data front, US housing starts in September rose to an annualised rate of 1.415m (vs. 1.465m expected), while building permits rose to an annualised 1.553m (vs. 1.520m expected), their highest rate since 2007.

To the day ahead now, and earnings releases include Tesla, Verizon Communications, Abbott Laboratories, Thermo Fisher Scientific and NextEra Energy. Central Bank speakers include ECB President Lagarde, Vice President de Guindos and chief economist Lane, along with the Fed’s Mester, Kashkari, Kaplan and Bullard and BoE Deputy Governor Ramsden. The Fed will also be releasing their Beige Book and both the UK and Canada will release their September CPI readings.

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Pentagon Boss ‘Clarifies’ Russia & China Pose Biggest Threats After Biden Says It’s Climate Change

Pentagon Boss ‘Clarifies’ Russia & China Pose Biggest Threats After Biden Says It’s Climate Change

On Wednesday, President Biden told US troops stationed in the UK that the Joint Chiefs told him "the greatest threat facing America" is…

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Pentagon Boss 'Clarifies' Russia & China Pose Biggest Threats After Biden Says It's Climate Change

On Wednesday, President Biden told US troops stationed in the UK that the Joint Chiefs told him "the greatest threat facing America" is "global warming" - a curious pivot from "white supremacy."

On day later, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs 'corrected' Biden, asserting instead that the biggest threats facing the US are China and Russia, according to US News, (and who allegedly had a big role in scamming half of pandemic unemployment funds to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars).

"Climate change does impact, but the president is looking at a much broader angle than I am," Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a congressional panel Thursday morning in response to a question by Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) "I'm looking at it from a strictly military standpoint. And from a strictly military standpoint, I'm putting China, Russia up there."

Milley then backpedaled a bit, saying "Climate change is a threat. Climate change has a significant impact on military operations, and we have to take that into consideration."

"Climate change is going to impact natural resources, for example," he told the Senate Armed Services Committee,adding, "It's going to impact increased instability in various parts of the world, it's going to impact migrations and so on."

When asked how his assessment that Russia and China pose the biggest threats, Milley said "This is not, however, in conflict with the acknowledgement that climate change or infrastructure or education systems– national security has a broad angle to it. I'm looking at it from a strictly military standpoint."

On Wednesday, Biden spoke to US forces at Royal Air Force Base Mildenhall, where he recounted an alleged discussion which took place while he was Vice President with the Joint Chiefs in their cloistered "tank" meeting room at the Pentagon.

"This is not a joke. You know what the Joint Chiefs told us the greatest threat facing America was? Global warming," he claimed.

In response to Biden's Wednesday comments, former President Trump issued a statement.

"Biden just said that he was told by the Joint Chiefs of Staff that Climate Change is our greatest threat. If that is the case, and they actually said this, he ought to immediately fire the Joint Chiefs of Staff for being incompetent," said Trump.

Tyler Durden Fri, 06/11/2021 - 19:20

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How Fanatics Took Over The World

How Fanatics Took Over The World

Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via DailyReckoning.com,

Early in the pandemic, I had been furiously writing articles about lockdowns. My phone rang with a call from a man named Dr. Rajeev Venkayya. He is the head.

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How Fanatics Took Over The World

Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via DailyReckoning.com,

Early in the pandemic, I had been furiously writing articles about lockdowns. My phone rang with a call from a man named Dr. Rajeev Venkayya. He is the head of a vaccine company but introduced himself as former head of pandemic policy for the Gates Foundation.

Now I was listening.

I did not know it then, but I’ve since learned from Michael Lewis’s (mostly terrible) book The Premonition that Venkayya was, in fact, the founding father of lockdowns. While working for George W. Bush’s White House in 2005, he headed a bioterrorism study group. From his perch of influence – serving an apocalyptic president — he was the driving force for a dramatic change in U.S. policy during pandemics.

He literally unleashed hell.

That was 15 years ago. At the time, I wrote about the changes I was witnessing, worrying that new White House guidelines (never voted on by Congress) allowed the government to put Americans in quarantine while closing their schools, businesses, and churches shuttered, all in the name of disease containment.

I never believed it would happen in real life; surely there would be public revolt. Little did I know, we were in for a wild ride…

The Man Who Lit the Match

Last year, Venkayya and I had a 30-minute conversation; actually, it was mostly an argument. He was convinced that lockdown was the only way to deal with a virus. I countered that it was wrecking rights, destroying businesses, and disturbing public health. He said it was our only choice because we had to wait for a vaccine. I spoke about natural immunity, which he called brutal. So on it went.

The more interesting question I had at the time was why this certified Big Shot was wasting his time trying to convince a poor scribbler like me. What possible reason could there be?

The answer, I now realized, is that from February to April 2020, I was one of the few people (along with a team of researchers) who openly and aggressively opposed what was happening.

There was a hint of insecurity and even fear in Venkayya’s voice. He saw the awesome thing he had unleashed all over the world and was anxious to tamp down any hint of opposition. He was trying to silence me. He and others were determined to crush all dissent.

This is how it has been for the better part of the last 15 months, with social media and YouTube deleting videos that dissent from lockdowns. It’s been censorship from the beginning.

For all the problems with Lewis’s book, and there are plenty, he gets this whole backstory right. Bush came to his bioterrorism people and demanded some huge plan to deal with some imagined calamity. When Bush saw the conventional plan — make a threat assessment, distribute therapeutics, work toward a vaccine — he was furious.

“This is bulls**t,” the president yelled.

“We need a whole-of-society plan. What are you going to do about foreign borders? And travel? And commerce?”

Hey, if the president wants a plan, he’ll get a plan.

“We want to use all instruments of national power to confront this threat,” Venkayya reports having told colleagues.

“We were going to invent pandemic planning.”

This was October 2005, the birth of the lockdown idea.

Dr. Venkayya began to fish around for people who could come up with the domestic equivalent of Operation Desert Storm to deal with a new virus. He found no serious epidemiologists to help. They were too smart to buy into it. He eventually bumped into the real lockdown innovator working at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico.

Cranks, Computers, and Cooties

His name was Robert Glass, a computer scientist with no medical training, much less knowledge, about viruses. Glass, in turn, was inspired by a science fair project that his 14-year-old daughter was working on.

She theorized (like the cooties game from grade school) that if school kids could space themselves out more or even not be at school at all, they would stop making each other sick. Glass ran with the idea and banged out a model of disease control based on stay-at-home orders, travel restrictions, business closures, and forced human separation.

Crazy right? No one in public health agreed with him but like any classic crank, this convinced Glass even more. I asked myself, “Why didn’t these epidemiologists figure it out?” They didn’t figure it out because they didn’t have tools that were focused on the problem. They had tools to understand the movement of infectious diseases without the purpose of trying to stop them.

Genius, right? Glass imagined himself to be smarter than 100 years of experience in public health. One guy with a fancy computer would solve everything! Well, he managed to convince some people, including another person hanging around the White House named Carter Mecher, who became Glass’s apostle.

Please consider the following quotation from Dr. Mecher in Lewis’s book: “If you got everyone and locked each of them in their own room and didn’t let them talk to anyone, you would not have any disease.”

At last, an intellectual has a plan to abolish disease — and human life as we know it too! As preposterous and terrifying as this is — a whole society not only in jail but solitary confinement — it sums up the whole of Mecher’s view of disease. It’s also completely wrong.

Pathogens are part of our world; they are generated by human contact. We pass them onto each other as the price for civilization, but we also evolved immune systems to deal with them. That’s 9th-grade biology, but Mecher didn’t have a clue.

Fanatics Win the Day

Jump forward to March 12, 2020. Who exercised the major influence over the decision to close schools, even though it was known at that time that SARS-CoV-2 posed almost risk to people under the age of 20? There was even evidence that they did not spread COVID-19 to adults in any serious way.

Didn’t matter. Mecher’s models — developed with Glass and others — kept spitting out a conclusion that shutting down schools would drop virus transmission by 80%. I’ve read his memos from this period — some of them still not public — and what you observe is not science but ideological fanaticism in play.

Based on the timestamp and length of the emails, he was clearly not sleeping much. Essentially he was Lenin on the eve of the Bolshevik Revolution. How did he get his way?

There were three key elements: public fear, media and expert acquiescence, and the baked-in reality that school closures had been part of “pandemic planning” for the better part of 15 years. Essentially, the lockdowners, over the course of 15 years, had worn out the opposition. Lavish funding, attrition of wisdom within public health, and ideological fanaticism prevailed.

Figuring out how our expectations for normal life were so violently foiled, how our happy lives were brutally crushed, will consume serious intellectuals for many years. But at least we now have a first draft of history.

As with almost every revolution in history, a small minority of crazy people with a cause prevailed over the humane rationality of multitudes. When people catch on, the fires of vengeance will burn very hot.

The task now is to rebuild a civilized life that is no longer so fragile as to allow insane people to lay waste to all that humanity has worked so hard to build.

Tyler Durden Fri, 06/11/2021 - 21:40

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Brandon Smith: The Real Reasons Why California Leftists Are Terrified Of The AR-15

Brandon Smith: The Real Reasons Why California Leftists Are Terrified Of The AR-15

Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.us,

This past week a US District judge in California struck down the state’s 30 year ban on high capacity semi-automa

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Brandon Smith: The Real Reasons Why California Leftists Are Terrified Of The AR-15

Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.us,

This past week a US District judge in California struck down the state’s 30 year ban on high capacity semi-automatic rifles which leftists label “assault weapons”. The judge called the ban unconstitutional (which it is). In response, the progressive media has lost their collective minds, screeching in horror at the idea of AR-15 rifles being legal within the borders of their carefully manicured socialist Utopia state. Their most commonly expressed reaction seems to be fear.

Fear is rarely a rational thing. When someone operates based on fear they tend to make terrible decisions and support oppressive causes and laws. Fear leads to an obsession with control. Fearful people also tend to look for large mobs of other terrified people so they can feel safe and secure and anonymous. They want to be able to act impulsively on their fears without having to face consequences for it later.

Leftists are driven primarily by two factors: Narcissism, and yes, fear. I’ve discussed their narcissism at great length in past articles; now I think we should delve into their fear.

The most common leftist retort to the question “Why are you so afraid of the AR-15?” will usually be a snort of indignant disbelief followed by the words:

“Because it’s a military weapon designed to kill a lot of people quickly…idiot!”

But this is not an argument, it is an expression of irrational fear. Why are they, as individuals, afraid of the AR-15? What are the chances that they will EVER be faced with a person intent on killing them with an AR-15? And, why do they believe that disarming innocent law abiding Americans will somehow save them from their paranoia?

Let’s examine the first issue of statistical probability; how many people are actually killed by AR-15s each year? Not many according to the FBI, which does not track the stats on specific rifles, but does track the stats on all rifles together. And, as it turns out, only around 6% of all gun deaths involve rifles in the US each year.

How much of that 6% involves the use of military grade rifles like the AR-15? It’s impossible to say, but even if it was half, or 3% of all gun related crimes, that would still mean you have FAR more of a chance of being murdered by a knife or blunt object than an AR. By extension, Rifles overall are dwarfed by handgun murders, so, again, why are leftists so afraid of the AR-15?

What about mass shootings? It seems like the AR-15 is a favorite among mass shooters because of it’s “efficiency”, so is this reason enough to be fearful? According to the New York Times own analysis, the AR-15 was used to kill 173 people in mass shootings in the US from 2007 to 2017. Meaning around 17 homicides per year over a decade can be attributed to the rifle. Again, the AR is dwarfed by almost all other weapons in homicide including knives, even when accounting for mass shootings.

With the sheer number of military grade weapons in the hands of civilians in the US there should be mass homicides everywhere you look if you take the common position of the typical progressive gun grabber. But, this is not the case. In fact, if you want to increase your chances of being killed by a gun, move to a major Democrat run city like Chicago, New York or Philadelphia. In Chicago, there were 4033 shootings and 784 homicides, predominantly in black neighborhoods and primarily with handguns.

So, statistically, access to AR-15s does not increase gun homicides. But what about living in a black neighborhood in leftist run Chicago under some of the strictest gun laws in the country? Yes, your chances of being shot are MUCH higher (just not by an AR-15).

Since the math does not add up in favor of the leftists, perhaps we should examine other factors that might be driving them to focus on the AR in particular. Let’s talk about “precedence”…

Look at it this way – States like California are a petri dish, a testing ground for the future that leftists want for the entire country. There is an old saying that “As goes California, so goes the US”, and this is because California is often where most experimental legislation is pushed; legislation that violates the boundaries of what the constitution allows. Sometimes it’s New York or New Jersey or some other blue state, but most of the time CA is where unconstitutional precedents are set. Its massive population and large number of electoral votes make it a perfect target for conditioning the wider public to further restrictions on their freedoms.

This explains some of the fear the media is showing regarding the latest federal court decision on military grade weapons like the AR. Political elites see California as their own little kingdom with their own special laws, and they plan to eventually spread those laws across America using California as the model. But, if such laws are overturned as unconstitutional, then the precedent actually works in reverse. Now, the leftists are concerned that an overturned gun ban in CA means more blue states will follow and their entire gun grabbing scheme will go out the window.

The leftist mind thinks in terms of unchecked and unhinged “democracy”. Meaning, they believe that the majority is paramount; the majority is law. If a majority in a society wants to take away your freedoms, then they have the right to because they have the mob on their side. 51% rules over the lives of the other 49%. But this is not how things work in a Constitutional Republic.

Under the Bill of Rights your freedoms are codified and sacrosanct. They are inherent and gifted by God (or whatever you happen to believe in); government has no domain over these rights. The right to firearms and self defense is one of these inherent qualities. It does not matter what the State of California thinks, or even what the “majority” of people in California think. If an American in California wants to own an AR-15, then he/she has the right to own an AR-15.

We also cannot ignore the fact that leftists have an insatiable appetite for collectivism, usually in the name of the “greater good”. Collectivism is basically totalitarianism disguised as humanitarianism. They know what’s best for you, and they are going to make sure you follow THEIR plan for your life.

The AR-15 is indeed a weapon in military use, and maybe this is what frightens leftists the most. Not because they are personally more likely to be shot by one (we’ve already proven that notion false), but because leftists desire control over all else, and with military grade weapons in the hands of the public control becomes much more difficult. ALL totalitarian governments seek to first disarm the people they intend to enslave or destroy. This is a fact.

When a group of people in power are working hard to remove defensive or even offensive weapons from your hands, it’s best to assume that their intentions are malevolent. They are not trying to help you, they are trying to help themselves.

They will deny this motive to the grave, but look at how the political left has been acting lately: They are the only people that have supported mass censorship of opposing viewpoints. They are the only people that are supported by international conglomerates and Big Tech companies. They are the only people that supported the pandemic lockdowns, which were completely useless in stopping the spread of covid, but they were very useful in killing hundreds of thousands of small businesses across the US. They are also the only people in favor of vaccine passports which would destroy the very fabric of our society and erase what is left of our freedoms.

It’s not really surprising that they want to disarm us as well.

Of course, they will claim that this argument is “silly”. After all, what can an AR-15 do against an Apache helicopter or a Abrams battle tank? Well, these rifles in the right hands can do a hell of a lot to stop a technologically advanced military, as we have seen for the past two decades in Afghanistan. Let us not play games; there is a reason why leftists and elites are obsessed with our disarmament. If military grade rifles were not a threat to them, then they would not be going after them so aggressively.

Finally, the mainstream media has rolled out all the typical propaganda tools when it comes to spinning the federal decision in CA, including attacking the judge and his character. Almost every single article on this issue focuses on the fact that the judge compared the AR-15 to a “Swiss Army knife”.

The left will continue to use this narrative as a means to distract from the real problem at hand because false conflations and straw man arguments have worked for them in the past. Clearly, the judge was not trying to say that an AR-15 and a Swiss Army knife are exactly the same, or that they are equally capable of killing people. The logical interpretation is that the AR-15 is a tool like any other tool, and it has multiple uses. It is a utilitarian object, not an inherently demonic death machine as leftists would have us believe.

Gun grabbers love to make the argument that firearms are only designed for one purpose: “Killing”. This is a lie. They are also tools for self defense. They are a means to defuse a violent situation before it even happens. There are thousands of videos on the web showing people with criminal intent running away from a Good Samaritan with a gun. There is no way of telling how many potential victims have been saved by the mere presence of a firearm, but the accounts are documented and numerous.

This is on top of all the other uses for guns, including hunting and sporting uses. So, yes, the judge is absolutely correct; an AR-15 is a multipurpose tool, just like a Swiss Army knife.

In my view, the gun control lobby in America is in the midst of a considerable decline, and maybe it is even about to die. The political left has long operated on the mantra that “the squeaky wheel gets the oil”. In other words, they think if they whine long enough and loud enough about an issue someone will come along and give them what they want just to shut them up, even if what they want is illogical or morally bankrupt.

This strategy has worked out for them for many decades so it’s not surprising that they keep using it, but times are changing. Now, the squeaky wheel gets no oil, at least not from gun owners. The squeaky wheel gets nothing.

Gun control is the big line in the sand for most law abiding conservatives and moderates, and we have grown tired of the debate because it’s no longer a debate, it’s a imposition of ideology and cultism. All the facts are on the side of gun owners. All the legal protections are on the side of gun owners. All the moral dynamics are on the side of gun owners. As long as we stand our ground, there is nothing that leftists can do about it.

They can continue to lie, they can continue to threaten and they can continue exploiting emotional arguments, but they’ll NEVER get the guns. And, as we have seen recently, we might even start returning some of those gun rights and rifles to states like California, where fear was used to cloud the public mind and people were conned into compliance.

What are California leftists and their comrades in other blue states really afraid of? They are afraid that their strategies are failing, that the public is getting wise to their games, that their incrementalism only works for so long, that their true intentions have become transparent, that their narcissism has blinded them to their own frailties, that the law is not their plaything and that every piece of constitutional ground they have stolen over the decades could be taken back from them in the blink of an eye; as fast as a speeding bullet.

Leftists and totalitarians fear the AR-15, but what they fear more is what it represents. And with each carefully placed practice shot at every gun range across America, they hear the crushing sound of inevitability.

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Tyler Durden Fri, 06/11/2021 - 22:20

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