Now Up Over 16%

The S&P 500 is Now Up Over 16% in Just Six Weeks

by Louis Navellier

February 12, 2019

The market weakness in the last few days is just normal consolidation after a massive rally since the Christmas Eve lows. In the six weeks from December 25 to February 5, the S&P 500 rose over 16%, so a couple of down days are nothing to worry about. However, there is no doubt that President Trump’s National Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow’s comments on Thursday – that a “sizable distance” remains between the U.S. and China in protracted trade negotiations – spooked some nervous investors.


Kudlow said that previous talks covered “a tremendous amount of ground” and that enforcement will be very important, as well as technical and structural issues. Whether or not President Trump will meet with China’s President Xi before the March 1st deadline is uncertain, but Kudlow confirmed that in the spirit of good faith the tariffs on Chinese goods would remain at 10% (versus the scheduled increase to 25%). So overall, the China trade deal negotiations are proceeding, and both sides appear to be acting in good faith.

Treasury yields remain remarkably stable, despite a slightly lower bid-to-cover ratio at last week’s Treasury auctions. Wall Street is no longer distracted by interest rates and is now much more focused on fourth-quarter earnings announcements and 2019 guidance. So far, according to FactSet, 66% of the S&P 500 companies have announced their fourth-quarter results, posting annual earnings growth of 13.3% and annual sales growth of 7.0%, which are +4.0% and +1.2%, respectively, above analyst estimates. 

In This Issue

Bryan Perry begins by handicapping the scary rhetoric of some Democratic Presidential candidates, then focuses on his specialty, high-dividend stocks. Gary Alexander looks at our demographics as destiny, showing that America still holds a long-term advantage over East Asia and Europe, but we must address entitlements and immigration to keep growing. Ivan Martchev shares the encouraging news of junk bonds hitting new 52-week highs as a harbinger of higher stock prices. Jason Bodner sees a temporary oversold condition before we assault new highs, but he is encouraged by the strong rebound in semiconductors. In my closing column, I take on Schumer and Sanders on stock buy-backs, and analyze all the economic data.

Income Mail:
The Scary Spector of Socialism
by Bryan Perry
Dividends Matter, Now More Than Ever

Growth Mail:
What an Aging America (and World) Means for Investors
by Gary Alexander
East Asia and Western Europe are Aging More Rapidly

Global Mail:
Junk Bonds “Read Like a Bond, Trade like a Stock”
by Ivan Martchev
New 52-Week Highs for Junk Bonds Likely Mean New 52-Week Highs for Stocks

Sector Spotlight:
The Domino Effect Works in Bull or Bear Markets
by Jason Bodner
Semiconductor Index up Over 20% Since Christmas

A Look Ahead:
Schumer & Sanders Knock Share Buy-backs for Bizarre Reasons
by Louis Navellier
The Economic News Remains “Mixed,” Confounding Fed Watchers

Income Mail:

*All content of "Income Mail" represents the opinion of Bryan Perry*

The Scary Spector of Socialism

by Bryan Perry

The 2020 White House race has already begun, and leave no doubt, the next 20 months will be a high-voltage political war between the Trump re-election camp and his opposition that will surely take civility to new lows. The field of Democratic contenders has already taken on the likeness of the Boston Marathon. But on the flip side, having run a couple of marathons myself, it’s always entertaining to see the muscle-bound frontrunners heaving on their knees about eight miles into the race.

So far, the calls to bridge the “wealth gap” are the loudest in decades, with bills being crafted to tax the rich to the tune of 70% or more. To be a “one-percenter” in today’s economy, you must have an adjusted gross income of at least $422,000, according to IRS statistics for tax year 2018. The top 1% account for 1.4 million individual income tax returns out of 141.2 million total. Meanwhile, the top 1.0% accounted for 39% of total income tax paid in 2015. Wow! What would America do without its one-percenters?


The U.S. government's total revenue is estimated to be $3.4 trillion for fiscal year 2019, according to the latest estimate from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for the year running October 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019. Individual taxpayers provide most of that money. In fact, income taxes contribute $1.7 trillion, half of the total, which means 1.4 million households ponied up $653 billion of the tax bill.


While this hard data from the IRS seems clear enough, an army of angry and ambitious socialists running for President in 2020 are saying that the one-percenters are “freeloaders” and are “not paying their fair share.” Against a backdrop of rising entitlement spending, movements for student loan amnesty, free college education, open borders, universal healthcare (“Medicare for all”), and guaranteed income for all – I’d liken the one-percenters to the “Sugar Daddy” class already footing 39% of the total income tax bill, so you probably don’t want to push them into moving their legal residency to somewhere outside the U.S.

These rich folks will still be your neighbors, for sure, for almost half the year, but they won’t be paying for everyone’s free stuff – like the new breed of socialists demand. “People of means,” as Presidential hopeful Howard Schultz likes to describe billionaires like himself, or those making as “little” as $422,000 per year, can afford two residences. They can run a business in the U.S. and pay income taxes from Cabo, Mexico, which carries the lowest overall income tax burden among developed nations. Salud, amigo!


Sound silly? The world is getting smaller every day for people of means. If for whatever reason this anti-rich narrative gets out of first gear and warrants any notion of genuine attention, it will not be well received by the financial markets and capital will flow out of America faster than it is currently flowing out of China. It’s important to act respectfully to those that one depends on, but Bernie Sanders & Co. are tone deaf when this centuries-old pattern of trying to shake down the rich results in a massive exodus.

The fight for who runs the country will pretty much come down to a debate between those who create and produce the wealth and those who want to take it and redistribute it. Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are in the latter category as they stir up an angry populace. According to the Tax Policy Center, over 76 million (45.3% of adult heads-of-household) won't pay any federal income tax for 2018, up from 72.6 million (43.2%) in 2016. That’s quite a “freeloader” voter base damning the one-percenters!


From my point of view, having traveled quite a bit, if you were born in the United States, you’ve already won the lottery. So, I’ll jump off the moral hazard soapbox and point to where investors should focus.

Dividends Matter, Now More Than Ever

One place the liberal elite won’t let the socialists touch is the tax treatment for qualified dividends. This is a sacred cow for the wealthy and, by definition, there are far more liberal millionaires and billionaires than those of the conservative ilk. Most billionaires are socially liberal, but fiscally conservative.

The maximum tax rate on qualified dividends is 20% for those paying the current maximum federal income tax rate of 39.6%, and this very special rate on passive income earned from invested capital in common stocks is very likely to take on a whole new luster in the year ahead.

Not only is the Fed now officially on hold, but the European Economic Council slashed the Eurozone’s growth rate for GDP by a full third last week from 1.9% to 1.3% with the risk of that number being cut further. This means that any political push for a trillion-dollar infrastructure bill means that taxes will go UP to pay for the big new spending bill. My best guess is that we should all expect a bump in the gas tax.

According to AAA, the national average for a gallon of gas is fairly low, at $2.28 as of February 9. The federal trust fund that pays for highways and transit projects through gas tax revenue is projected to pile up a $138 billion deficit by 2027 unless it slashes funding or finds new sources of revenue. The federal gas tax hasn’t been raised for 25 years and with the ink on President Trump’s 2018 tax reform barely dry, a fuel tax looks to me to be a bi-partisan avenue for passing what should be a popular transportation and infrastructure bill – and a way of avoiding political suicide if one opposes local infrastructure spending.

In my opinion, the table is now set for dividend growth stocks and higher-yielding defensive dividend stocks to shine in the year ahead as most one-percenters do the heavy tax lifting by plowing into the best-yielding, highly liquid, and most tax favorable asset class money can buy.

Growth Mail:

*All content of "Growth Mail" represents the opinion of Gary Alexander*

What an Aging America (and World) Means for Investors

by Gary Alexander

I just returned from my annual vacation of two weeks in the Caribbean on our ninth annual Jazz Cruise, coinciding with our anniversary (51 years and counting). Like my wife and I, most passengers are visibly aging. Dozens entered and exited the ship in wheelchairs or walkers. I will join them soon as I undergo knee replacement surgery next Tuesday. Aging is a fact of life in America and the West, but a lesser-known fact is that we are having fewer children, so fewer workers are underwriting our aging needs.

The media and most politicians seem to concentrate on trivial events – perhaps so that they can avoid facing the more important issues. The press is obsessed with 35-year-old yearbook pictures instead of a $22 trillion public debt. Both Democrats and Republicans seem to agree that the federal debt is not a problem worth addressing. On the weekend “Meet the Press” program, several Democratic hopefuls said, “I’m sick and tired of hearing we can’t afford…” this or that new form of spending. Host Chuck Todd and others also quoted polls showing that an overwhelming majority of Americans want MORE SPENDING!

A September 15, 2018 Washington Post article titled, “Deficit hawks are dead,” said, “Few in Washington can muster any outrage” over runaway spending or debts. The Republicans have apparently given up on their traditional role as fiscal conservatives, and any Democratic outrage over the recent Republican tax bill is not centered on the resulting deficits it helped create but that the money should have been spent “for other federal spending, such as infrastructure or an expansion of the Affordable Care Act.”

The Congressional Budget Office just released a massive study, “The Budget and Economic Outlook, 2019-29,” released January 28. It projected that the Treasury debt held by the public would grow by over $1 trillion per year over the next decade, rising from $16.6 trillion in 2019 to $28.7 trillion in 2029. (This does not include all public debt – only that held by the American public). The CBO warns that this would precipitate a “fiscal crisis…Specifically, the risk would rise of investors’ being unwilling to finance the government’s borrowing unless they were compensated with very high interest rates. If that occurred, interest rates on federal debt would rise suddenly and sharply relative to rates of return on other assets.”

Meanwhile, the Millennials aren’t procreating enough. According to Bloomberg, women in the 25-34 age cohort are delaying their child-rearing decisions, some until it may be too late or dangerous to undergo their first pregnancy. Also, many couples simply desire smaller families than in previous generations. The number of live births in the 12 months through March 2018 was only 3.8 million, the lowest since 1997.


For the Social Security system to have any long-term viability, the U.S. Social Security Trustee’s Report needs the total fertility rate to rebound from its present 1.76 average births per woman back up to 2.0, but that is wishful thinking for now. The established trend since 2008 is fewer children born each year.

East Asia and Western Europe are Aging More Rapidly

America’s birth rates are slowing down, but at least we have immigrants to boost our population. Asia has near-zero immigration and very few children. It’s a lesser-known fact that the poorer half of the world is also having far fewer children. The average global fertility rate has been cut in half from 5.0 children per woman of child-bearing age in 1965 to 2.4 in 2017, according to a long-term study published in Lancet.


For population to remain level, a 2.1 rate of birth per woman is required (due to infant mortality), but the world is headed for Zero Population Growth by mid-21st century. The current U.S. birth rate is 1.76 children per women, while Western Europe is 1.6, and China’s rate is 1.5. Shrinking regions include:


China’s one-child policy was necessary in its time, but the repercussions will include fewer workers in future years. China will not be an industrial powerhouse in the future unless it imports workers or builds factories in other nations with lower-cost workers. China’s domestic worker population will soon shrink:


In addition, many Chinese are trying to escape to the West and live in America. The net result will be more Chinese grandparents than children, and more retired Chinese than workers. There is also a surfeit of 117 boys born per 100 girls, which implies sex-selective abortion and likely some female infanticide.

In Europe, the same trend is true, but in more dramatic fashion, exacerbated by Europe’s welfare state:


However, the United States has a more hopeful demographic profile of workers through immigration:


(These data were compiled by Populyst, an independent website focused on demographic trends, based on the 2015 edition of the UN’s “World Population Prospects” for workers aged 15-64 in various regions.)

This series of charts tells us that it still pays to invest more in the U.S. than in Asia or Europe. But we must still address our long-term entitlement crisis, which is the key to addressing our budget deficit crisis.

We must also refuse to close our borders to qualified workers out of short-sighted populism of any stripe. One reason American prospects trump those of our competitors is that our net migration rate in recent years was a relatively high +2.9 vs. Europe’s +1.1 and China’s -0.2. (Net migration is the number of immigrants entering vs. number of emigrants leaving between 2010 and 2015, per 1,000 population).

As the late Swedish professor and demographic expert Hans Rosling said shortly before he died, “Fertile countries have a far brighter future,” although immigration and free markets can replicate the same effect.

A gradually growing population in a free market would be a good place to invest in the long-term.

(Note: Let me give a special thanks to the team at Yardeni Research for the one-time use of these charts!)

Global Mail:

*All content of "Global Mail" represents the opinion of Ivan Martchev*

Junk Bonds “Read Like a Bond, But Trade like a Stock”

by Ivan Martchev

It takes 35 years in the trenches of the junk bond market for an investment professional to come up with a one-liner that summarizes the volatility of low-grade debt: “It reads like a bond, but trades like a stock.”

As junk bond spreads were blowing out in January 2016, the oil price was collapsing, and I sought the advice of a seasoned bond trader on some legacy junk bond positions for a new client. It looked like those low-rated bonds were about to go to high-yield heaven. The bond trader, Mike Lanier, was remarkably calm. Upon kicking the tires on all these legacy bond positions, he uttered this conclusion:

“Junk bonds are priced for a recession, but there is no recession in the U.S. Junk (as a category) should see a pretty good rebound from here, if there is no recession this year, and I don't think there will be.”

There was no recession in 2016, but the prices of commodities had collapsed because of the dramatic slowdown in the Chinese economy. This is relevant in early 2019, as we have another dramatic slowdown in China, the price of oil fell from $77 to $42 in the fourth quarter of 2018, and the Trump administration is pushing hard to make a trade deal by the March 1 deadline. So, what are junk bonds telling us now?


Junk bonds, and stocks for that matter, have come a long way back from the dark days of January 2016, when stocks recorded their worst monthly performance for any January on record. In 2019, we just had the best January performance since 1987, so I thought it would make sense to see how the junk bond market has done, if it indeed confirmed what we have been seeing in the stock market.

For that purpose, I pulled up a chart of the most liquid and biggest (in market size) junk bond ETF, with assets of $14.8 billion the iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (HYG).

What did I see? A 52-week high!

“No way,” I thought.

This has to be some technicality, I thought. What about those other junk bond ETFs? I started going down the list of junk bond ETFs with the most assets. (They tend to have the heaviest trading volumes and least tracking errors, which the ETF industry is famous for, so spot-checking how junk bonds are doing with several of the most liquid ones would give me a better picture of the situation in the junk bond market.)


One after the other, they showed 52-week highs. When I got to #6 on the list, PIMCO 0-5 Year High Yield Corporate Bond Index Fund (HYS), there were no 52-week highs yet, but the rebound had made it to $99.07 (as of the time of this writing), while the 52-week high from 4Q 2018 was $99.23. For all intents and purposes, HYS had also matched its previous high from 2018.

New 52-Week Highs for Junk Bonds Likely Mean New 52-Week Highs for Stocks

What does all this mean for the S&P 500? Many retail investors do not know that there is a close correlation between the junk bond market and the stock market. While not a guarantee, junk bond ETFs at 52-week highs certainly suggest that stocks are going to new highs, too.

At the onset of the 4Q sell-off in the stock market, I kept a close eye on junk bond spreads and they were remarkably calm in the month of October, although they did widen more notably in November and December as the wheels came off the wagon in the crude oil market. (A big part of the shale boom in the U.S., now the world’s largest producer of crude oil, is financed with high-yield debt. Falling oil prices mean less cash flows for junk bond coupons, hence low oil prices tend to pressure junk bond spreads).

Still, what I found remarkable for the 4Q sell-off in stocks in 2018 is that there was absolutely no warning from the junk bond market. Unlike many prior sell-offs in stocks where junk bonds led the stock market, this time they lagged. That told me it was not an economic problem that was pressuring the stock market.

At the risk of sounding like an old timer, the stock market tends to go where the economy goes, at least over the longer term, so I am not surprised to see this big rebound in stocks in early 2019. Many of the issues that were pressuring the stock market – such as the constant Presidential Twitter attacks on the Fed Chairman, the Fed itself sounding hawkish, and frictions with China – have turned around of late. I still believe that a trade deal with China will serve as a catalyst for the S&P 500 to retest its all-time highs.

If the junk bond market is any indicator, the S&P 500 should make a fresh all-time high in 2019.

Graphs are for illustrative and discussion purposes only. Please read important disclosures at the end of this commentary.

Sector Spotlight:

*All content of "Sector Spotlight" represents the opinion of Jason Bodner*

The Domino Effect Works in Bull or Bear Markets

by Jason Bodner

The domino effect is something we’re all familiar with. There are times where the domino effect can have some catastrophic consequences. Take for example, the curious case of Cerise Mayo’s Brooklyn bees.

It was a wickedly hot summer. Cerise was a devoted beekeeper, raising her bees in Red Hook, Brooklyn, giving them the best possible care. But that summer, the normal amber bands on the bee bodies suddenly turned bright red. The sight of glowing red bees became an enchanting sight on Brooklyn nights.

Oddly enough, their honey was red, too. This offbeat problem eventually indicated that the bees were “hitting the juice” at Dell’s Maraschino Cherries Factory, run by Arthur Mondella, the factory’s owner. Andrew Coté, the leader of the New York City Beekeepers Association, in seeking a solution to the red bee dilemma, obtained samples of bee secretions and found they were saturated with Red dye #40, the same used in coloring the neon red cherries that sweeten countless Shirley Temples. The maraschino factory then attracted attention, and the DA decided to investigate the premises at Mondella’s factory.

After comparing this odd bee story with a few complaints of marijuana odors near the factory, investigators stormed Dell’s factory and found the city’s largest pot farm underneath the factory. When authorities came for Mr. Mondella, he barricaded himself in the bathroom and shot himself dead.


In this ironic tragedy, a beekeeper named Cerise (French for cherry), kept red bees, in Red Hook, Brooklyn, tainted by red dye from cherries. That led to a pot farm bust and the suicide of its owner.

The same type of domino effect was witnessed in last year’s market swoon. We detailed this in our recent look into why ETFs caused the dual downdrafts of 2018. Fear drove a lack of buying, creating a vacuum of liquidity. Algorithmic traders seized the moment and spiked volatility. It got too hot to handle for ETF model managers who hit the sell button. The outflows of ETFs were monstrous, leading to massive pressures on stocks – which make up the components of ETFs. It all bottomed out on December 24th.

Did someone now flip the dominoes the other way? We went from heavily oversold on Christmas Eve to overbought on February 7th. Leading up to December 24, sellers were in such total control that it became unsustainable. We called for a bounce, which came right on time. But now buyers took back so much control that in six short weeks, the level of unusual buying has become unsustainable.

The MAP Ratio “oversold” signal has been very accurate and timely. The MAP Ratio “overbought” signal has also been accurate, but less timely and less intense. Basically, we find that throughout history, what goes down must come up, but what goes up may not have to come down, or at least not right away.

In our MAP white paper “Boundaries published June of 2017, we went into the expected forward market returns after overbought and oversold boundaries were pierced. As you can see from this table below (excerpted from the report), the forward returns were very positive for oversold, and negative for overbought. Either way, the overbought signal indicated that it is a time to consider not adding risk.


We hit this rare signal again January of 2018 and sent out a big update on January 24th. The market sank in a big way immediately after. When we hit it again Thursday morning, February 7th, we shouted the news from the hilltops again, as some of you may have seen.

The following is taken from the Thursday post and is essentially an updated version of the table above:


We have seen points in history where the market stays overbought for weeks, but last Thursday it started sliding immediately after our update. They say it’s better to be lucky than smart, but all this ratio really is saying is that lopsided buying is unsustainable, and we expect some selling soon.

The Semiconductor Index up Over 20% Since Christmas

That doesn’t mean the market will tank. We just expect some give-back.

Let’s look at what the market has been up to the last week and six weeks:


From the Christmas Eve lows, the recovery has been massive. Small caps have led the rise as seen in the Russell 2000 and S&P Mid 400 and Small Cap 600 Indexes. This is also reflected in the sectors. Infotech, Consumer Discretionary, Financials, Communications, Real Estate, and Energy are all up more than 15% since the 12/24 lows. Defensive sectors, like Utilities and Staples, have had the least animated run up. But perhaps the biggest evidence of a rush back to growth is seen in the Semiconductors.

Semis last year were essentially a toxic wasteland. Yet the PHLX Semiconductor Index is +20% since Christmas, by far the best performer in the recovery. We noticed a major repricing of semis last week with some stellar earnings and heavy institutional accumulation.

The first domino to fall may not get noticed until long after the fact. It helps to pay attention along the way and watch what the market tells us. The market has found its footing after a Montezuma’s revenge incident due to forced ETF selling in the fourth quarter of last year.

The usual worries still dominate, with renewed trade war anxiety stoked by Larry Kudlow’s admissions last week. In what I see, big institutional investors have been plowing into stocks at breakneck speed, and now the ratio suggests that a pause is coming. I believe we will just resume course higher and the market will become narrower. What looked like a desperate market suicide was really an invasion of red bees.


Heed the words of Billy Connolly: “Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes. After that who cares?... He’s a mile away and you’ve got his shoes!”

A Look Ahead

*All content in this "A Look Ahead" section of Market Mail represents the opinion of Louis Navellier of Navellier & Associates, Inc.*

Schumer & Sanders Knock Share Buy-backs for Bizarre Reasons

by Louis Navellier

One reason why so many companies continue to post better-than-expected earnings is due to the fact that 2018 was the biggest year ever recorded for stock buy-backs. I do not have the final buy-back figure for 2018 yet, but since over $800 billion in stock buy-backs were announced earlier in the fourth quarter, I suspect that there were between $800 billion and $1 trillion in stock buy-backs for all of 2018.

Writing against these stock buy-backs, Senators Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders wrote an opinion piece in The New York Times last week arguing that “Corporate self-indulgence has become an enormous problem for workers and for the long-term strength of the U.S. economy.”  In this opinion piece, Schumer & Sanders said, “When a company purchases its own stock back, it reduces the number of publicly traded shares, boosting the value of the stock to the benefit of shareholders and corporate leadership.” 

Frankly, I am at a loss to why Schumer & Sanders believe that companies should avoid trying to benefit their shareholders, especially since workers’ pensions are typically invested in the stock market, often with heavy concentration in company stock. Schumer & Sanders were apparently attempting to insinuate that stock buy-backs hurt workers, but they provided no evidence that stock buy-backs hurt workers!

Overall, I found the Schumer & Sanders’ NYT opinion piece to be truly bizarre and meaningless.

The Economic News Remains “Mixed,” Confounding Fed Watchers

The economic news last week was mixed, confounding the Fed – and Fed watchers. First, the Commerce Department announced that factory orders declined 0.6% in November, due to sharp declines in electrical equipment and machinery attributable to falling energy prices. Economists were expecting factory orders to decline 0.2%, so this was a big surprise. Interestingly, the Commerce Department also reported that durable goods orders rose by a revised 0.7% in November, down slightly from 0.8% previously estimated.

On Tuesday, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) reported that its non-manufacturing (service) index decelerated to 56.7 in January, down from 58 in December. Although any reading above 50 signals an expansion, this was the lowest ISM service index reading in six months, so the service sector’s growth appears to be slowing a bit. A big decline in the new orders component to 57.7 in January, down from 62.7 in December, was largely responsible for the drop. Eleven of the 18 industries surveyed reported growth, while seven industries contracted. Overall, some of this deceleration appears to be weather-related, since agriculture, forestry, education, retail, and information industries reported lower revenue.

On Wednesday, the Labor Department reported that U.S. productivity surged 1.3% in the fourth quarter. This is good news for fourth-quarter GDP estimates. The GDP will also be boosted by the fact that the Commerce Department reported on Wednesday that the U.S. trade deficit declined to $49.3 billion in November, the first decline in six months. A smaller trade deficit usually triggers upward GDP revisions.

Interestingly, President Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had dinner with Fed Chairman Jerome Powell at the White House last week. I suspect now that Fed Chairman Powell is doing what President Trump wants, namely not raising key interest rates, the dinner was very cordial, especially since it was Powell’s 66th birthday. What is unknown is whether or not the Fed is also taking the stock market into consideration in its decision-making process. Since the Fed acknowledged that it is reluctant to raise key interest rates due to global events (like the China trade negotiations and economic slowdown, Brexit, etc.), I suspect that the Fed also is being influenced a bit by the stock market, but right now Treasury yields remain low, effectively tying the Fed’s hands from further raising key interest rates.

Finally, the situation in Venezuela remains tense. Tankers full of crude oil are sitting offshore, since the U.S. will not pay Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A (PDVSA) as long as Nicolas Maduro remains President and controls the military. Desertions among his rank and file soldiers are steadily rising, so it appears that Maduro’s days are numbered. National Assembly leader Juan Guaido has promised military defectors amnesty, so it will be interesting to see if military desertions continue to rise. Senator Marco Rubio said on Thursday that Juan Guaido will name a new board for Citgo, which is a U.S.-based refinery owned by PDVSA, so Maduro’s influence is fizzling fast. Overall, the standoff in Venezuela remains a mess, but with its oil revenue severely restricted, Maduro will not be able to pay his military leaders much longer. 

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