As I mentioned in my closing comments in yesterday's column, the high-frequency traders showed up around 9:00 a.m. Hong Kong time on their Wednesday morning...and dropped the price a bit over ten bucks in short order. From there, the gold price more or less traded flat until the London open.
The smallish rally in London lasted until shortly after the p.m. gold fix, before the high-frequency traders showed up once again. By 1:15 p.m. Eastern time...fifteen minutes before the Comex close...they had engineered enough tech fund selling to drop the gold price to its low tick of the day, which Kitco recorded at $1,549.10 spot.
The subsequent rally died around 4:00 p.m. in electronic trading...and the price traded flat into the close.
Gold finished the Wednesday session at $1,557.90 spot...down another $18.30 from Tuesday. Net volume was immense...around 222,000 contracts.
It was slightly different in silver, as the price quietly began to slide almost right from the Far East open, with an interim low coming moments before the London open. After that, the chart looked almost identical to the gold chart...with the absolute low tick in silver [$26.64 spot] coming at 1:10 p.m...five minutes before gold hit its low.
Silver closed at $26.98 spot...down 28 cents from Tuesday's close. Net volume was pretty heavy...around 52,500 contracts, give or take.
For whatever reason, the lows on Wednesday in both gold and silver came at precisely the same moments as they did on Tuesday, which is not possible in a free market. These phenomena are even more obvious on the New York Spot [Bid] charts for both metals.
Up until about lunchtime in New York yesterday, neither platinum nor palladium were doing much price wise...and both were down a few dollar and that was about it. Then a not-for-profit seller/high-frequency trader showed up and hauled them down by brute force. The charts tell all.
When all was said and done on Wednesday, gold closed down 1.16%...silver was down 1.03%...and platinum and palladium were down 2.42% and 1.83% respectively.
The dollar index opened at 82.88 in Far East trading yesterday...and it's high tick of the day [83.06] came a exactly 1:30 p.m. Hong Kong time. From there it chopped lower, with its nadir [82.65] coming shortly after 10:00 a.m. Eastern time...corresponding almost exactly with the London p.m. gold fix. From there it rallied a handful of basis points into the close, finishing the Wednesday trading session at 82.75...down 13 basis points from where it started the day.
With the gold price trading back at virtually unchanged by the time the equity markets opened in New York, the gold stocks tried hard to rally. But once it became apparent the rally had ended, the stocks continued to sell off. The low came around 2:15 p.m...and the HUI closed just off its low, turning in another horrific performance...down 4.57%.
The HUI is down 10 percent in just three trading days. I would guess that the mutual funds were getting hit hard with redemptions...and they were being forced to unload shares into an already illiquid market. One has to wonder who the buyers were.
Once again the silver shares got crushed...and Nick Laird's Intraday Silver Sentiment Index closed down another chunky amount. This time it was 4.44%.
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The CME's Daily Delivery Report showed that 1,455 gold and 11 silver contracts were posted for delivery within the Comex-approved depositories on Friday. Deutsche Bank...and JPMorgan Chase out of its client account...were the two big short/issuers yesterday with 992 and 460 contracts respectively. The three largest long/stoppers were HSBC USA with 745 contracts...Barclays with 474...and Canada's Bank of Nova Scotia with 210 contracts. In short, it was "all the usual suspects"...five of the 'Big 8' all in one report. The link to yesterday's Issuers and Stoppers Report is here.
There was another reported decline in GLD yesterday, as an authorized participant withdrew 87,064 troy ounces. SLV showed a withdrawal of 826,225 troy ounces, which wasn't reported on their website until about midnight last night Eastern time. I didn't discover this fact until long after I'd filed my column this a.m...and because of that, I had to change the paragraph below.
In the last seven or eight business days, silver has been smacked for about three bucks...and during that period, SLV has only declined by 300,000 ounces or so. I'd love to be a fly on the wall over there just to get a quick peek at what is going on internally in that ETF. I'm sure that what I'd see would be amazing...as what is happening there is as far from normal as you can possibly get.
There was another sales report from the U.S. Mint yesterday. They sold 8,500 ounces of gold eagles...and 1,500 one-ounce 24K gold buffaloes.
Over at the Comex-approved depositories on Tuesday, the didn't receive any silver at all...but they did ship 238,735 troy ounces of the stuff out the door. The link to that activity is here.
Here's a chart of JPMorgan Chase's Comex silver inventories. They started at zero in late April 2011...less than a week before the drive-by shooting in silver on May 1st...and look where they were as of April 1st this year. You have to wonder who the real owners of all this silver might be. Is it the company itself...or its clients?
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And here's a chart of total Comex silver stocks going back a bit over ten years. A goodly portion of the rise in warehouse stocks since late April of 2011...more than 50 percent, actually...can be attributed to the silver pouring into the newly established JPMorgan depository that opened up at that time.
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Here are a couple more photos that readers were kind enough to share with us...
I have the usual number of stories for a week day...and I hope you have enough time to read the ones that interest you the most.
The Obama administration is engaged in a broad push to make more home loans available to people with weaker credit, an effort that officials say will help power the economic recovery but that skeptics say could open the door to the risky lending that caused the housing crash in the first place.
President Obama’s economic advisers and outside experts say the nation’s much-celebrated housing rebound is leaving too many people behind, including young people looking to buy their first homes and individuals with credit records weakened by the recession.
In response, administration officials say they are working to get banks to lend to a wider range of borrowers by taking advantage of taxpayer-backed programs — including those offered by the Federal Housing Administration — that insure home loans against default.
Housing officials are urging the Justice Department to provide assurances to banks, which have become increasingly cautious, that they will not face legal or financial recriminations if they make loans to riskier borrowers who meet government standards but later default.
Something tells me we aren't in Kansas anymore, Toto! This story was in The Washington Post on Tuesday...and I thank Marshall Angeles for today's first story.
At car dealers across the United States, loans to subprime borrowers are surging - up 18 percent in 2012 from a year earlier, to 6.6 million borrowers, according to credit-reporting agency Equifax Inc. And as a Reuters review of court records shows, subprime auto lenders are showing up in a lot of personal bankruptcy filings, too.
It's the Federal Reserve that's made it all possible.
In its efforts to jumpstart the economy, the U.S. central bank has undertaken since November 2008 three rounds of bond-buying and cut short-term interest rates effectively to zero. The purchases of mostly Treasury and mortgage securities - known as quantitative easing and nicknamed QE1, QE2 and QE3 - have injected trillions of dollars into the financial system.
The Fed's program, while aimed at bolstering the U.S. housing and labor markets, has also steered billions of dollars into riskier, more speculative corners of the economy. That's because, with low interest rates pinching yields on their traditional investments, insurance companies, hedge funds and other institutional investors hunger for riskier, higher-yielding securities - bonds backed by subprime auto loans, for instance.
Yep, that sounds about right. This longish Reuters piece...filed from Jasper, Alabama...was picked up the nbcnews.com Internet site yesterday...and I thank Bill Moomau for sharing it with us.
L: Doug, there is considerable disagreement over the significance of the Cyprus crisis. A lot of people are saying that it's just a flash in the pan; Cyprus is a small country, far off, and doesn't really matter. Other people are saying it's very significant. The European Central Bank took unprecedented steps. What do you think?
Doug: I think this could be the spark that ignites the keg of dynamite under the current financial system. All banks, all around the world, are bankrupt, and have been for years. That's because all the world's banks run on a fractional reserve basis.
Yesterday's edition of Conversations with Casey is definitely worth your time.
Ex-Goldman Sachs Group Inc trader Matthew M. Taylor pleaded guilty on Wednesday to defrauding the Wall Street bank with an unauthorized $8.3 billion futures trade in 2007, saying he exceeded internal risk limits and lied to supervisors to cover up his activities.
Taylor, 34, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud in federal court in lower Manhattan on Wednesday morning, after voluntarily turning himself into federal authorities earlier in the day.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate pleaded guilty about four months after the Commodities Futures Trading Commission filed a civil complaint against him. The CFTC accused Taylor of fabricating trades to conceal a huge, unauthorized position in e-mini Standard & Poor's futures contracts, which bet on the direction of the S&P 500 index.
This Reuters story was posted on their website around 5:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time yesterday...and I thank Roy Stephens for the first of many offerings of the day.
JPMorgan Chase won a court victory today that may have saved it $769 million dollars. The case could also let other banks off the hook in future fraud suits related to mortgage-back securities.
FSA Asset Management and subsidiaries of the French bank Dexia SA sought damages of $774 million for fraud in 65 mortgage-backed securities sold by Bear Stearns, JPMorgan or Washington Mutual, according to court documents.
FSAM was the original purchaser of the 65 certificates in question. It sold 60 of them to Dexia.
Judge Jed Rakoff, of the Southern District of New York, threw out all Dexia's claims.
This short CNBC story was posted on their website just before 3:00 p.m. EDT yesterday...and it's courtesy of West Virginia reader Elliot Simon.
Growing wealth inequality means that the wealthy have nowhere to hide and that events like those in Cyprus will happen in more countries around the world, including developed nations, said Marc Faber, the contrarian investor and publisher of the Gloom, Boom & Doom Report.
"It will happen everywhere in the world, in Western democracies," Faber said on "Squawk on the Street" on Tuesday. "You have more people that vote for a living than work for a living. I think you have to be prepared to lose 20 to 30 percent. I think you're lucky if you don't lose your life."
"If you look at what happened in Cyprus, basically people with money will lose part of their wealth, either through expropriation or higher taxation," he added.
"The problem is that 92 percent of financial wealth is owned by 5 percent of the population.
This CNBC video clip from late Tuesday morning runs for 6:31 minutes...and there's also a tiny transcript posted below it. I thank reader Ken Hurt for sending it.
Buried deep in last month's federal budget is an ambiguously worded section that has roiled parts of the financial world but has so far been largely ignored by the mainstream media.
It boils down to this: Ottawa is contemplating the possibility of a Canadian bank failure — and the same sort of pitiless prescription that was just imposed in Cyprus.
Meaning no bailout by taxpayers, but rather a "bail-in" that would force the bank's creditors to absorb the staggering losses that such an event would inevitably entail.
If that sounds sobering, it should. While officials in Ottawa are playing down the possibility of a raid on the bank accounts of ordinary Canadians, they chose not to include that guarantee in the budget language.
This story finally went main stream in Canada yesterday, as this most excellent commentary was posted on the CBC website in the wee hours of yesterday morning. I sent my Member of Parliament [who I've known personally for years] a copy of it...and I'll be discussing it with him face-to-face on April 13th...along with the letter I sent him on this issue on Monday. I thank reader Henry Federau for bringing this news item to our attention.
Everyone knows about the enormous mountain of debt piled on the shoulders of Canada’s over-leveraged households. But exactly how high is that mountain?
One frequently cited measure, the ratio of credit-market debt to disposable income, from Statistics Canada, reached a record high of almost 165% in the fourth quarter. That makes household borrowing look like Mt. Everest–particularly when compared to the dwindling debt of the retrenching U.S.
Other measures make it look more manageable, but still daunting–more like a peak in the Canadian Rockies rather than the Himalayas.
This short blog was posted on The Wall Street Journal's website mid-afternoon on Tuesday...and it's worth your while if you want to get a look under the hood at Canada's debt situation. I thank Alberta reader Dave Delve for sending it along.
Readers of the Daily Telegraph were right all along. Quantitative easing will never be reversed. It is not liquidity management as claimed so vehemently at the outset. It really is the same as printing money.
Columbia Professor Michael Woodford, the world's most closely followed monetary theorist, says it is time to come clean and state openly that bond purchases are forever, and the sooner people understand this the better.
"All this talk of exit strategies is deeply negative," he told a London Business School seminar on the merits of Helicopter money, or "overt monetary financing".
"If we are going to scare the horses, let's scare them properly. Let's go further and eliminate government debt on the bloated balance sheet of central banks," he said. This could done with a flick of the fingers. The debt would vanish.
Lord Turner, head of the now defunct Financial Services Authority, made the point more delicately. "We must tell people that if necessary, QE will turn out to be permanent."
As Richard Russell so eloquently put it many years ago before anyone ever heard of Q.E..."the world's central banks have only one option...print, or die!" And that dear reader, is precisely where we're at. This AE-P offering was posted on the telegraph.co.uk Internet site yesterday evening BST...and I thank Manitoba reader Ulrike Marx for sending it. It's a must read for sure.
The motion was defeated by the ruling coalition, which enjoys a comfortable majority, but the move exposes growing dissent over the austerity policies imposed on Portugal since it received a €78bn international bailout agreed in May 2011.
"The time has come to put an end to the austerity policies that are impoverishing our country and demand heavy sacrifices from the Portuguese people without them seeing any results," the Socialist Party said in a motion prior to the vote.
The Socialists were in power when Lisbon sought the bailout but they now accuse Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho's government of an "excess of austerity", which they blame for worsening the recession and unemployment.
According to official forecasts, the Portuguese economy will shrink by 2.3pc this year and the unemployment rate, now at 16.9pc, will climb to 18.2pc.
This is another story from The Telegraph yesterday evening BST...and I thank Roy Stephens for this one.
The International Monetary Fund has demanded that Cyprus cut state pension costs and reform its welfare system as the price of a €1bn (£854m) loan to help bail out the stricken island.
The IMF's managing director, Christine Lagarde, said the poorest Cypriots would be protected from the worst of the cuts, but Cyprus must press ahead with measures to bring its annual state budget into surplus by 2018.
The deal, agreed in principle by the Cypriot government, provoked an immediate reaction from trade unions, which called on bank workers to strike over potential pension cuts. Officials from the Cyprus Union of Bank Employees called on bank staff in Nicosia to walk off their jobs at lunchtime on Thursday, and gather in a protest march towards the parliament.
Underlining the sense of panic, the Cypriot central bank was reportedly preparing to extend capital controls to prevent a run on the banks despite previously lifting some more draconian elements earlier in the week.
Capital controls in Cyprus will become a permanent fixture, because the moment they are relaxed, the money will vanish and leave the island a bigger smouldering ruin than it already is. This article was posted on the guardian.co.uk Internet site at 6:00 p.m. BST yesterday evening...and it's another offering from Roy Stephens.
A 475-foot tall skyscraper in Chechen capital of Grozny caught fire Wednesday, according to multiple reports.
Russia Today reported the 40-story-high Olympus Tower in the Grozny City complex is the tallest building in Chechnya, and the tallest in South Caucasus region. Another 65-story building in the same complex will be the tallest Russian building outside of Moscow when it is completed.
The building houses apartments and a five-star hotel, identified by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty as the Olimp Hotel. All people inside the building have been evacuated and Ria Novosti reports that none of the evacuees needed medical treatment.
There are a couple of excellent pictures...plus a few embedded videos as well. This Russia Today story was posted on the businessinsider.com Internet site late yesterday morning Eastern Time...and it's also courtesy of Roy Stephens.
Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda began his campaign to end 15 years of falling prices by doubling monthly bond purchases in a bid to reach 2 percent inflation in two years.
With Kuroda presiding over his first meeting, the board today temporarily suspended a cap on some bond holdings and dropped a limit on the maturities of debt it buys. The BOJ will purchase 7 trillion yen ($74 billion) of bonds a month along with more risk assets, the central bank said in Tokyo.
Stocks surged and the yen weakened, signaling Kuroda is winning investors’ confidence as he targets a doubling of the monetary base over two years to revive the world’s third-biggest economy. The central bank set a two-year horizon for achieving the price goal under a “new phase of monetary easing,” as the new governor won the support of a board mostly appointed by the previous government.
It's print, or die...Japan style! This Bloomberg story was posted on their website just minutes after midnight this morning...and I thank Ulrike Marx for finding it for us.
Ratcheting up the rhetoric, North Korea warned early Thursday that its military has been cleared to wage an attack on the U.S. using "smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear" weapons.
The Pentagon, meanwhile, said Wednesday that it will deploy a missile defense system to the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam to strengthen the region's protections against a possible attack.
The warning from an unnamed army spokesman and carried by Pyongyang's state-run news agency was latest in a series of escalating threats from North Korea, which has railed for weeks against joint U.S. and South Korean military exercises taking place in South Korea and has expressed anger over tightened sanctions for a February nuclear test.
This CNBC item was posted on their website early yesterday evening EDT...and it's Elliot Simon's final offering in today's column.
The first blog is with Louise Yamada...and it's headlined "Cyprus, Key Chart Plus Gold and Silver Commentary". Next comes two interviews with Dr. Paul Craig Roberts. The first is headlined "Former U.S. Treasury Official - Fed Desperate to Save System"...and the second is entitled "The Fed is Facing a Wipeout". The audio interview is with Dr. Stephen Leeb.
The biggest copper heist in Utah memory has stripped more than six miles of wire from a stretch of Salt Lake City highway.
The Utah Department of Transportation first noticed the theft Thursday, officials said, but they don't know when exactly thieves snatched up the wire. The thieves either disguised themselves as a construction crew or worked in the middle of the night on multiple occasions to yank wire from the median of Interstate 15, said roadway lighting engineer Richard Hibbard.
Officials are shocked, they say, to see a theft this big pulled off on a relatively urban and highly traveled stretch of road. Billboards dot the side of the six-lane highway that's lined with warehouses, sandy dirt and red rock.
This AP story was filed from Salt Lake City early on Tuesday evening EDT...and I thank Marshall Angeles for his last offering in today's column.
I've written about this before, but I want to emphasize this again. I've been asked to name one future situation that I'm most certain of. My answer is this – I believe the surest situation (change) in America's future is a decline, even a drastic decline, in our standard of living. We've spent it, we've spent what we didn't have. And somewhere ahead, probably much sooner than we think, will come pay-back time. And it won't be pretty.
Why do I warn about payback time? My answer is that there is no free lunch or free dinner. Really? But Americans have been stuffing themselves with free lunches and free dinners ever since World War II. How could they do that? Here in the US we have been able to keep our standard of living high because of one reason. The fact is that we have been spending more than we have taken in ever since 1946. And in doing so, we have built up huge deficits and debts. How was it possible to do this? It's been possible because we possess one "magical" advantage. The US possesses the world's reserve currency. For years the US dollar was considered "as good as gold." Consequently, the world accepted our dollars by the multi-billions. Happily the US dollar has been the world's reserve currency for decades. The reason our standard of living has been as high as it has – is that we have been able to buy any amount of food and merchandise with our dollars. The secret of our exalted standard of living is that our creditors have been accepting our dollars all along – until now.
The central banks of the world and many nations including China (our biggest creditor) are now in the process of cutting down on their dollar exposure. To do that they are now buying (instead of selling) gold. For 12 years I have been begging my subscribers to do the same thing – buy gold. More recently I have been urging my subscribers to buy gold in physical form – in the form of one-ounce bullion coins.
This short essay by Richard was something that U.K. reader Robert Bentley found over at the lewrockwell.com Internet site yesterday...and it's certainly worth skimming.
Chris Powell was interviewed by Michelle Smith of Gold Investing News the other day...and a transcript of that interview was posted on their Internet site yesterday afternoon Pacific Daylight Time.
David Stockman, a former Republican congressman and director of the Office of Management and Budget, has been receiving a lot of criticism for his apocalyptic take on the state of American capitalism. Some of the critiques are justified, but others go too far. It is incorrect to describe the U.S. under the classical gold standard (roughly 1870 to 1913) as a "dystopia," as Matt O'Brien did in the Atlantic. Even if you think that the gold standard would be inappropriate right now, the data do not indicate that it was obviously inappropriate then.
Academics have investigated this before. Christina Romer, a Berkeley professor and former adviser to President Barack Obama, wrote the go-to paper in 1999. She found that "real macroeconomic indicators have not become dramatically more stable between the pre-World War I and post-World War II eras." In other words, even if you exclude the Great Depression and the recent crisis, the classical gold standard didn't make the economy more volatile.
The gold standard wasn't bad for growth, either. The most reliable information comes from an annual index of industrial production from 1790 to 1915. We can compare that index against the monthly industrial production data collected by the Federal Reserve since 1919 to get a sense of how rapidly the economy grew under different monetary arrangements. It turns out that industrial production grew much more rapidly under the gold standard than in the years since. This doesn't change even if you exclude the world wars and the Great Depression.
This commentary was posted on the Bloomberg website late yesterday morning Mountain Time...and I consider it a must read. I thank Roy Stephens for his final offering in today's column.
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“In the sea of financial assets and currencies that are being decimated the world over, the one true safe haven continues to be gold.” – Eric Sprott
If you need a "yardstick" of present Gold "prices" as they appear on the markets for paper claims to Gold, consider this. In January 1980, Gold reached a "price" of $US 850. Today, Gold is "priced" at less than twice that level at $US 1595. Yet over the intervening thirty-three and a bit years, the debt of the US Treasury has risen by a factor of more than 17. That huge increase in money creation is faithfully reflected on the markets for paper assets. The Dow, for example reflects it almost exactly. The paper Gold price does not even approach it.
Nor do we know if the Gold "price" ever will approach an accurate reflection of the degree of monetary debauchery which has gone on since 1980. But we do know that it is impossible to inflate Gold into oblivion. Gold is financial insurance and with each passing day, the need for that insurance becomes more acute. - Bill Buckler...Gold This Week...30 March 2013
It was another blood bath yesterday...a belated "Happy Easter" from "da boyz". Are we done yet? Again the answer is...I don't know. But as Ted Butler said on the phone yesterday, this is a clean-out of historic proportions. Friday's Commitment of Traders Report will tell us a lot...and it's most unfortunate that yesterday's price/volume numbers won't be in it.
Here's a paragraph that I 'borrowed' from silver analyst Ted Butler's mid-week commentary yesterday...
"If there is a unique aspect to the current takedown, it is the emergence of new technical fund short selling, not only in gold and silver, but in COMEX copper as well. I don’t know why the technical funds (in the managed money category of the disaggregated COT report) have chosen this time to establish record gross short positions in these markets, but that is secondary to the fact that they hold such positions in COMEX silver and copper...and after this week’s COT, may hold new record gross short positions in all three markets. Remember, the scam is that the commercials aren’t selling; they are duping the technical funds into selling...and selling short."
I took a quick peek at the preliminary open interest numbers from yesterday, which were posted on the CME's website in the wee hours of this morning...and it's impossible to read anything into them. I doubt very much whether the final numbers that are posted later this morning will tell us much, either.
Further up in this column I was talking about the dichotomy that existed between the inventory levels of GLD and SLV since the beginning of the year. I asked Nick if he had any relevant charts...and these are the two he provided...both of which are self-explanatory. The differences in inventory levels of these two ETFs is beyond amazing, considering the severity of the engineered price decline in both metals over the last many month. It's for that reason that I would love to be a fly on the wall over at SLV HQ...as whatever is going on under the hood is something that I think would amaze us all if we knew.
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I sure hope that the precious metal miners will finally wake up and do something, instead of watching their/our companies get ground into the dirt by JPMorgan et al. However, I'm not holding my breath. And we certainly won't get any help from either the World Gold Council or The Silver Institute, as you have to be thoroughly corrupted by the dark side of The Force before you ever get nominated to chair those organizations. That includes their current executives...and all prior executives. You couldn't make this stuff up.
In Far East trading on their Thursday, I note that the high-frequency traders showed up once again in these thinly-traded markets...and took all four precious metals to new lows for this move down. Although they all recovered somewhat, the procedure was repeated shortly after London began to trade. Once again both gold and silver were taken to new lows for this move down. And as I hit the 'send' button at 5:20 a.m. Eastern time, gold is down about ten bucks...and silver is down less than a dime. Volumes are already over the moon...with gold volume north of 62,000 contracts...and silver's net volume above 10,000 contracts. Shortly after 12:00 o'clock noon in Hong Kong, the dollar index took off...and is currently up 56 basis points...but that currency move is nowhere to be seen in the precious metals, as they are dancing to a tune played by JPMorgan et al.
What lies ahead for the rest of the Thursday trading day is unknown...but Ted's comments about the Comex paper clean out being of "historic" proportions are worth keeping in mind when New York opens for business at 8:20 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, as the pain may not be over yet.
However, I can't shake the feeling that we're heading for some sort of dénouement in the precious metal markets in the very near future, as it's my opinion that "da boyz" are heading for the exits...and this is their swan song. We'll find out soon enough if that's the case or not.
See you on Friday...or on Saturday if you live just west of the International Date Line.