Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever

Folks seemed agitated Monday.

As if COVID cabin fever might finally be metamorphosing into irritation or some kind of madness. Tear yourself away from the monitors, man! (Once you start typing “Jack’s a dull boy” over and over again, it’ll be too late.)

Over the years, one learns to cope with the spring/summer doldrums. It can, in fact, be a maddening drift. Entire sessions float by like dandelion seeds. Traders (and people pretending to be traders) grasp at them, only to come away with nothing, lose their patience and pout like so many petulant children. (It’s ok if nothing happens, you know.)

Some are probably vexed at new highs for US equities. It’s not “supposed” to be this way. India is a disaster and haven’t you heard about the tax hikes? (What about the wealthy? Does no one care about the wealthy anymore?)

Biden’s plan will affect 0.3% of filers. Sometimes, it feels like the folks expressing the most rage vis-à-vis redistributive policy prescriptions are actually angry because they’re not going to be affected. It’s a helluva thing (psychologically speaking) when you scroll through your Twitter timeline and discover that what everyone’s mad about doesn’t apply to you because you don’t make enough money to matter when it comes to revamping the tax code. (“Honey, aren’t we capital? I though we were capital.” “No darling, we’re labor. And please, close TweetDeck. None of those TV anchors are ever going to respond to you. And that Jeff Gundlach guy doesn’t care if you agree with him.”)

Also, when the wealthiest Americans sell ahead of any actual implementation, it’ll matter for about a week. Next quarter, they’ll buy it back. Plus some more, probably. (Nothing to see here. Just another record high on the S&P.)

At a press conference Monday, Brian Deese confirmed the proposed capital gains tax hike would “affect taxpayers making more than $1 million a year.” He didn’t say whether that means individuals or households. We’ll find out soon enough. He did say that the impact would be felt by just “three-tenths of a percent” of filers. Maybe you’re one of them. Maybe I’m one of them. If so, good for you. And us. If not, then don’t worry about it. (And turn off CNBC. Preserve a shred of sanity. And dignity.)

Deese also said it’s time to “reduce the kinds of tax avoidance that significantly undermines trust and fairness in the tax code itself.” Biden’s plan will help, he suggested.

Treasurys shrugged at supply Monday. Two- and five-year sales came and went. Yields were essentially unchanged, the 10-year loitering near its 50-day moving average. “Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A Treasury auction clears with a lower-than-usual bid/cover, driven by weak indirect bidding, and it’s compensated for by larger-than-normal buying from directs,” Bloomberg’s Cameron Crise wrote, of the five-year sale, adopting a cadence appropriate for the mood.

“If anything, one might be content to call the session a wash given all the crosscurrents in financial markets,” BMO’s Ian Lyngen and Ben Jeffery said. “With the S&P up against record intra-day highs, in a typical environment we might have spent the afternoon pondering why Treasury yields managed to hold in as well as they have managed to thus far,” they added, before noting that “2021 is anything but typical in a great number of ways – not least of which being the progress toward herd immunity has far overshadowed the incoming economic data or other non-pandemic developments.”

Speaking of pandemic developments, the Biden administration is, in fact, planning to send tens of millions of AstraZeneca doses not approved for use in the US abroad. That will happen “as they become available,” the White House said. Jen Psaki cited America’s “strong portfolio of vaccines” in discussing the decision. “Given AstraZeneca is not authorized for use in the United States, we don’t need to use AstraZeneca in our fight against COVID over the next few months,” she added.

Only 5% of Indians are fully vaccinated. Sunday marked the fifth straight day that the country broke its own world record for most infections in a 24-hour period.

Copper is sitting at what may as well be a decade high. If you’re not buying the recovery story, “Doctor Copper” seems to disagree. (He’s not an MD, though. Let alone a virologist.)

“The super part of the copper supercycle is happening right now,” someone told Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, crop prices are surging. The Bloomberg Agriculture Spot index is near the highest since 2012. But you already know that, right? If not, I can humbly recommend “Feast, Famine And The Fed.” That author is one helluva writer.

After the bell, Tesla beat. I guess. It’s always hard to tell what counts as a “beat” for Tesla. They made $100 million selling Bitcoin in Q1. And no, I’m not kidding. (With Tesla, one man’s beat is another man’s sour grapes tweet.)

Oh, and finally, for a laugh, try to appreciate how difficult a decision it must have been when CNBC weighed the necessity of generating web traffic against the emotional stress they knew they’d trigger amongst their readership when they ran the following headline Monday: “Biden’s 100-day stock market performance is the hottest going back to the 1950s.” (And here I thought stocks were going to “crash” if Biden was elected. The nice man in the red hat told me that. He also told me I was capital. And that his tax cuts would benefit me and my family. We were going to build an above-ground pool out back. Next to the detached garage where we keep our weekend driver, a 2005 Pontiac Grand Am.)