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2020 Begins With A Bang (Literally)

2020 Begins With A Bang (Literally)

A heck of a lot happened this week

It sure didn’t take long for 2020 to get interesting.

Iran

The biggest development of the new year happened Thursday when the US military assassinated Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s most powerful figure after its Supreme Leader, in a surgical drone strike.

This is an extremely serious action; one that Iran is highly likely to respond forcefully against. As the world anxiously awaits what will happen next, #wwwiii suddenly is a top twitter trend.[Update: since this original publication of this article, the US has conducted further airstrikes on Iranian targets located in Iraq, Bagdad’s ‘Green Zone’ which contains the US Embassy has come under attack, and there are unconfirmed reports that US aircraft have hit Iranian targest in Syria.]

Chris has been furiously processing the news flow on this on an hour-by-hour basis in his latest post on the topic here.

If you want to better understand the context behind the current US-Iran tension as well as breaking developments from last night’s bombing and the likely repercussions, read the post and follow Chris’ updatesin its Comments section.

Gold

On Sunday, Chris released this prediction that gold was poised for a big price move. Sure enough, gold closed the week up $40/ounce, certainly helped today by the geopolitical worries escalating between the US and Iran.

The yellow metal is now up nearly $100/oz from a month ago, and over $200/oz from a year ago.

It seems to be finally emerging from its 7-year slumber. Even the long-beaten mining shares are up nicely over the past year.

The start of a new bull market in the precious metals may indeed be upon us.

WTF?! (What The Fed?!)

The first trading day of the year saw the S&P 500 close at an all-time high, suggesting that Fed liquidity was still driving the show as it did for the entirety of 2019.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

This Year’s Stock Buybacks Are Already Bigger Than All Of 2009’s

While there is still some fringe debate what companies will do with the hundreds of billions in offshore funds repatriated to the US as part of the recently passed Trump tax reform, the discussion is largely over, especially after last week’s Cisco results. The company, which has $68 billion of overseas cash, third after AAPL and MSFT, announced that it would raise its buyback authorization by $25 billion, and revealed plans to repurchase its entire authorization of $31 billion during the next 6-8 quarters, equal to roughly 15% of its current market cap.

Call it a partial LBO, courtesy of Donald Trump.

In other words, those who said that companies will use virtually all repatriated proceeds for buybacks, congratulations, you were right, or as the FT humorously put it:

Flush with cash after the Republican tax cuts, Cisco announced on Wednesday that it was building gleaming factories across the US, employing hundreds of thousands of workers to make the latest cutting-edge routers.

Sorry, of course not. The money is going back to shareholders.

Don’t believe it? Here’s what Goldman’s David Kostin said in his latest Weekly Kickstart report:

Since December, S&P 500 firms have announced buybacks totaling $171 bn. YTD announcements of $67 bn represent a 22% increase versus the same period in 2017. The buyback window has re-opened and firms are taking advantage of the recent correction; the GS Buyback Desk reported that last week was the most active week in its history.

The $171 billion in YTD stock buyback announcements is the most ever for this early in the year. In fact, it is more than double the prior 10 year average of $77 billion in YTD buyback announcements.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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