05282021 :: Friday finance

A partial digest:

  • Quick wrap for the week ending May 28:

    • Yields finished slightly down after a volatile week.

    • The DXY was flat.

    • Oil rose.

      CALL: No change; near to semi-intermediate term, prices could rise further given supply shocks, OPEC+ micromanagement, inflation expectations, "recovery," and more fiscal spending, among other things. Longer term, it's a dying industry.
      [tracking: XLE, GGN]
    • The S&P Global Clean Energy index finished up for the week.

      [tracking: TAN]
    • Gold breached $1,900 before finishing below that level.

      CALL: In the very near term, it must be acknowledged that gold has the uncertain potential to rise further as traders who call the competence of the Fed and US Treasury into question drive prices higher. Beyond the very near term, however, no change; the expectation remains for ever-lower valuations moving forward. Looking for an eventual floor around $1,200/oz.
      [tracking: JDST, GGN, GDX, GLD, SLV, ZSL]
    • Commodities finished up for the week.

    • The St. Louis Fed Financial Stress Index (STLFSI2) for the week ending May 27 ticked up to -0.8527 from -0.8694 the week prior. It remains well below zero, or the stress the economy experiences under “normal financial market conditions.”

    • Total crypto market cap was 1.50 trillion as of May 28, meaning inflows of about $130 billion since last reading.

  • Flows for the week ending May 26, per Refinitiv Lipper data:1

  • Initial jobless claims in the US for the week ending May 22 declined to 406k (SA) from 444k for the week prior. One year ago, we saw 1.887 million. We are now in the one year ago timeframe where the US has been square in the grips of the pandemic. The four week moving average decreased to under 459k.

    To add to this, just over 93.5k on an unadjusted basis applied for PUA, down from the previous week’s 95k+.

    As of May 8, over 15.8 million people (UA) were still claiming unemployment benefits of some kind, down over 175k from the week prior. In the comparable week one year ago, the US witnessed nearly 31.579 million people claiming unemployment insurance from all programs together.

    The PEUC UI benefits program saw the biggest increase (49k+) from the previous week.

    These numbers are still cause for concern, although we have now dropped and remain below last year’s number of total continued claims for the comparable week.

  • Sovereign matters:

    [tracking: EDC]
  • The current state of equity: Media mogul takes on McDonald’s amidst Black-owned business devastation.

  • During the pandemic alone, the US has now witnessed 225,400 fatalities strictly classified as “pneumonia” with no attribution to COVID-19 on the death certificates, per CDC excess deaths data. This equates to an average of 435 people per day since the start of 2020. As the CDC points out, many of these could be miscategorized COVID-19 fatalities going unrecognized in official tallies, meaning we’re undercounting. This, in addition to the official coronavirus death toll of 595,211, puts the probable COVID-19 death figure somewhere north of 715k.

    Across all causes of death, we suffered 119% of the deaths in 2020 that we would have expected in non-pandemic times given historical trends. Along with other situations where COVID-19 was not designated as a cause of death but where SARS-CoV-2 likely triggered a condition or exacerbated a preexisting one—heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, dementia—the “real” fatality count is probably much higher.3

    When the average of “pneumonia” deaths per day begins to decline significantly and consistently, perhaps we'll be able to start saying that we might be gaining the upper hand on SARS-CoV-2. We’re not there yet.

  • NPR reported as of the time of writing that 40.7% of the population was fully vaccinated, up from 38.1% at last reading here.

    India variants continue to spread within the US and elsewhere.

Footnotes

1

For global flows, see here; US flows, here.

2

Emmons, William R. “House Prices Exceed Bubble Peak on Key Valuation.” St. Louis Fed (May 24, 2021).

3

Valenta, Philip. “Death by COVID-19 Hides in Plain Sight.” HedgeHound (June 29, 2020). The research includes the methodology behind the figures presented here every week, as well as information on historical pneumonia trends and death categorization in the US during the global pandemic. It was last updated on December 4, 2020.