COVID 19-Sorting’: How We Decide Whom to Get Close to and Whom to Avoid.

Coronavirus Resource Center.

I was recently interviewed, as a gay psychiatrist treating gay patients who lived through the AIDS epidemic, about my perspectives on living through a COVID pandemic: Were there parallels and contrasts between the two? A month later, listening to patients remotely via teletherapy, I’m experiencing an unsettling similarity to serosorting, a phenomenon that emerged during the AIDS epidemic.

Serosorting is the practice of choosing a sexual partner based on their HIV serostatus. Sorting out who was positive from who was negative allowed people to give themselves permission to have unprotected sex without risk of getting HIV. However, it was not uncommon to make those decisions without really knowing a potential partner’s actual serostatus. In fact, a lot of people serosorted by guessing.

Why not just ask a potential partner, “What’s your serostatus?” Apparently, for some, introducing the subject of HIV was deemed a sexual buzzkill. Instead, assumptions were made based on outer appearances.

Did someone look healthy? Were they well built? Were they overweight, meaning not emaciated from AIDS? If so, they were presumed negative and safe to have risky, unprotected sex with them.

Some imagined age correlated with serostatus. Since anyone older than some arbitrary age — like 30, to pull a number out of a hat — was expected to be more likely to have HIV than someone under 30, they would use that guideline in choosing sexual partners. However, these decisions were made without factual knowledge, like a blood test, but using some internal reasoning process.

Which brings us to what might be called “COVID-sorting.”

Some of my patients believe they had COVID-19, although they’d not been tested to either confirm or disprove that belief. Others had positive COVID-19 antibody tests, which they believe provides immunity. Among that group, some had symptoms, others did not.

Yet regardless of what they actually know or don’t know, patients are making calculations about managing physical distancing using their own internal formulas. They make risk calculations having little to do with actual knowledge of public health precautions on preventing COVID’s spread.

For example, one patient was planning a Memorial Day weekend in a shared Fire Island house with five friends and acquaintances. All six live alone and, as far as he knows, all are physically distancing. Consequently, my patient doesn’t think house-sharing is anything to worry about, even though he doesn’t know how scrupulously others have followed distancing guidelines.

Another patient, recovering at home after being ill with COVID-19, felt safe inviting someone over for sex who had also been ill and recovered. He didn’t think they could infect each other, presuming, not altogether unreasonably, they were both immune.


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Happy and Prosperous Year 2018!!!

Let 2018 be the Year of comfort and unprecedented breakthrough.

May you forget the shame of 2017.

Let success be your slave and financial independence your share.Our wishes extend to your family, your business, to everyone around you and your country.

Do good and make people next to you smile.

** Bonne et Heureuse Année 2018 **  

-Team MBH Progress-

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Price of Gold Fundamental Weekly Forecast – Overextended Rally: Needs Weaker Dollar to Sustain the Move.

The price action in gold this week will once again be controlled by the direction of the U.S. Dollar. The dollar will be largely influenced by President Trump’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday Night.

Gold futures continued to push towards the highs of mid-2016 and threatened to break out to levels not seen since 2013 last week in response to a weaker U.S. Dollar.


The price action this week will once again be controlled by the direction of the U.S. Dollar. The dollar will be largely influenced by President Trump’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday, January 30 at 9:00 Eastern (0200 GMT Wednesday). Once again, a weaker dollar will be bullish for gold and a stronger dollar bearish for gold.

Traders should expect Trump to talk about the positives in the economy. This may trigger a strong recovery in the dollar, at least over the short-run. This would be bearish for gold.

The Fed will issue its monetary policy statement on January 31. The central bank is not expected to raise interest rates. Traders will be looking for the Fed’s assessment of the economy, inflation and its outlook for future rate hikes.

Finally, investors will also get the opportunity to react to the latest data on employment in Friday’s U.S. Non-Farm Payrolls report. The headline number is expected to show the economy added 184K jobs in January, up from 148K in December. Average Hourly Earnings are expected to increase 0.3% and the Unemployment Rate is expected to remain at 4.1%.

– FX Empire-

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Oil price forecast: Analysts see WTI averaging $56 in 2018.


Expectations of robust oil demand growth and high OPEC and allies’ commitment to the production cuts have prompted analysts to raise again their forecast for oil prices in 2018, and they now see WTI averaging $55.78 per barrel next year.

According to a Reuters poll of 32 analysts and economists on Thursday, WTI is expected to trade at an average $55.78 a barrel in 2018, compared to the previous forecast of $54.78 a barrel in the survey carried out right after OPEC and the non-OPEC producers part of deal extended their agreement through the end of 2018. Back then, analysts cited the extension as a sign that the oil market rebalancing could speed up.

In today’s poll, the experts surveyed by Reuters also raised their average forecast for Brent to $59.88 per barrel next year, up from the previous projection of $58.84 a barrel.

Friday afternoon, WTI Crude was trading at $60.12 and Brent Crude was at $66.87.

Analysts see solid global economic growth supporting high oil demand in 2018, while expectations of strong OPEC and friends’ commitment to the cuts are forecast to support oil prices next year as supply will be relatively tight.

Increased supply from U.S. shale, however, will cap significant oil price gains next year, but concerns over an abrupt supply glut have somewhat abated.

“We see U.S. supply continuing to grow next year but are less concerned about a sudden supply glut re-emerging as rising D&C [drilling and completion] costs will likely slow production growth,” Ashley Petersen at Stratas Advisors told Reuters.

Also on the supply side, outages in Libya and Nigeria, as well as potential new sanctions on Iran, could also tighten the market and lend support to oil prices in 2018, the analysts polled by Reuters say.

Earlier this week, an explosion at a crude oil pipeline feeding Libya’s biggest oil export terminal sent WTI briefly breaking above $60 per barrel on concerns over yet another sudden supply disruption, just as the operator of the Forties Pipeline in the North Sea, Ineos, said on Thursday that it expected to bring the pipeline progressively back to normal rates around new year.

-FX Empire-

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Bitcoin Looking for $12,000, but Time is Running Out!

The cryptomarkets are in good spirits through the weekend, with little negative chatter to break investor confidence, but whether investors will be confident enough to hold on through to the close remains to be see, with the news wires likely to become flooded with Davos chatter at the start of the week.

Bitcoin had a relatively upbeat day on Saturday, enjoying a day without the futures markets, with Bitcoin gaining 3.61% to end the day at $11,493.8, well above Friday’s Cboe Bitcoin futures February contract closing price of $10,980.

Following news hitting the wires late on Friday of the NEM coin theft, there’s been very little negative news to hit the wires over the weekend, leaving Bitcoin free to more than recover last week’s 4.32% decline.

The weekend trends have been telling through the first few weeks of the year, with Bitcoin finding support and pulling the broader markets northwards, though with the February futures contract sitting at sub-$11,000 levels, there will be a testy time going into Monday, with the markets eager to get a sense of what lies ahead for Bitcoin and the broader cryptomarket.

At the time of writing, Bitcoin is up 3.14% to $11,805.77, with Bitcoin hitting an intraday high $11,989.15 in the early part of the morning.

For the day ahead, investors will be cognizant of government chatter at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where there has been news hitting the wires through the weekend of heightened focus on a market that last year had been largely ignored.

Sentiment towards the global economy is positive, so governments and regulators will be eager to address peripheral asset classes such as the cryptomarkets under the disguise of addressing criminal activity.

Bitcoin and the rest of the cryptocurrencies may have been able to brush aside the Davos chatter, but without any major updates from the WEF, the cryptomarkets may need to wait until the start of the week for the news wires to begin feeding through what is likely to be a call for a coordinated global effort to impose some minimum regulatory criteria that may match those that are being introduced by the South Korean government.

-FX Empire_

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OPEC outlook sees US influencing global crude markets until 2025.

OPEC outlook sees US influencing global crude markets until 2025.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries expects US unconventional crude oil production from tight shale formations to increase the country’s global market influence through 2025, the chief economist for the cartel said on Dec. 7.

But Middle Eastern and Persian Gulf producers appear likely to regain their global market leadership by 2040, he added during a discussion about OPEC’s 2017 World Oil Outlook at the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington, DC.

“Tight oil supplies are the wild card. They have reshaped the global outlook in recent years,” observed Ayed S. Al-Qahtani, who directs the research division at the OPEC Secretariat in Vienna. “US tight oil supplies will be the most important contributor but are expected to reach their peak around 2025.”

Producers in the Middle East, most of which are OPEC members, have supplies that are relatively less expensive to produce, but about $10.5 trillion of investments will be required in the next 23 years, he said.

“We expect their exports to increase significantly after 2025, mainly to Pacific Asia,” said Al-Qahtani, adding that the forecast suggests demand will rise the most in China and India through 2040.

The outlook forecasts that global crude oil demand will climb to 102.3 million b/d by 2022 from 94.5 million b/d in 2016. Al-Qahtani said it appears likely to rise more quickly through 2020, when International Maritime Organization regulations for bunker fuels are due to take effect and more low-sulfur diesel fuel could be needed.

“In the longer term, we expect demand to reach 111.1 million b/d by 2040,” he said. “Most of this will be in transportation, where competition from alternative fuels is weakest.”

The number of passenger cars worldwide could double by 2040, largely driven by increases in economically developing countries, with electric vehicles representing 12% of the global fleet, Al-Qahtani said.

Downstream trends

“Downstream, refining capacity could increase by 19.6 million b/d by 2040, with Asia-Pacific and Middle East countries accounting for almost 70% of the total,” he said. “We expect refiners to add capacity in the middle of demand centers because that’s where the customers are.” About $1.5 trillion of investments will be needed to accomplish this by 2040, he said.

Al-Qahtani said OPEC anticipates that total worldwide energy demand will climb 35%, or about 96 million boe/d, through 2040. Crude oil appears likely to remain dominant as natural gas gains the most ground. “Fossil fuels are expected to remain dominant,” he said. “We expect technology, as well as policies, to continue driving emissions reductions and energy efficiency.”

Developing countries also appear likely to drive long-term economic growth globally, Al-Qahtani said. “Demand in [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] countries should peak in the early 2030s as their governments try to move from oil and coal to renewables out of climate concerns,” he said.

Responding to an audience member’s question, Al-Qahtani said it is OPEC’s policy not to try and predict specific prices. “We know that costs are going up, and we’re running out of cheaper supplies. That suggests prices will be higher, even without additional taxes,” he said.

“Predicting depletion rates is difficult. It’s hard to predict when you’ll run out of a resource,” he said. “I think profitability is the most important factor in deciding how long to produce something.”

Frank A. Verrastro, a senior vice-president and trustee fellow at CSIS who moderated the discussion, said, “A lot has changed in the last decade. The US clearly has a different role now than it did before, but it also faces a lot of above-ground challenges. How these are handled could determine how long this country’s new market position will last.”

-Nick Snow at

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Gold Prices Hug on to Support.

Gold Prices Hug on to Support.

Gold prices are under pressure due to multiple reasons as lack of demand, growth of bitcoin market and strength of dollar weigh on the prices.

The gold prices continued to trade under pressure but the prices seem to be hugging on to the support region of 1248 so far and this has been the case on Friday and today as well. It remains to be seen how long it would be able to hold on to this region as we have a slew of data and major economic events for the rest of the week and each one of these is likely to have a large influence on the markets. On Friday, the gold prices came under strong pressure from the dollar as the incoming data from the US continued to be supportive of the dollar. The NFP data was released on Friday and it came in stronger than expected which helped the dollar to gain strength all across the board.

Gold Under Pressure

For sometime it did look as though the support region would be broken and that the gold prices would be looking much farther below but none of that happened as the prices managed to recover but so far, the bounce in the prices has been very weak and does not inspire too much of confidence going forward. As we had mentioned in our forecast last week, the gold market has been stunned by the huge interest in the bitcoin market which provides another opportunity for traders and investors to look for large returns. This has ensured that some funds are moved out of the gold market and with the gold prices already under pressure from lack of demand and the strength of the dollar, it has only made the situation worse for gold bulls.


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Bitcoin – Futures Goes Live

Bitcoin – Futures Goes Live

Bitcoin futures went live on Sunday and it certainly didn’t go unnoticed, with the opening of two futures exchanges this week having garnered a significant amount of news coverage in recent weeks.

The Cboe futures market was the first to launch, with the CME Group scheduled to launch its Bitcoin futures contracts on 18th December.

We’ve heard plenty of speculation on the possible effects of the availability of Bitcoin futures on Bitcoin itself and the cryptocurrency world in general. The ability to short as well as go long on Bitcoin futures prices prior to contract expiration expected to lead to increased volatility in Bitcoin.

The vast amount of trades to-date have been long positions, with those looking to take short positions challenged by the inherent difficulties that have persisted in going against the grain. In hindsight, the difficulties will have been a blessing in disguise, but that doesn’t mean that the Bitcoin bears will shy away for ever.

Futures markets not only offers the option to go short, but also provides a leverage platform and this may draw in investors looking to boost earnings, though caution will is needed with Bitcoin’s volatility having shown its teeth in recent days.

Bitcoin futures this morning surged to just shy of $18,000 before easing back with more than 2,000 contracts reportedly changing hands, which is a relatively small number of contracts when compared to other asset classes, but still higher than had been anticipated.

The jump in January’s futures price provided strong support for Bitcoin in the early part of the day today, with Bitcoin gaining 12.01% to $16454.87 at the time of writing in what looks to be another move towards record levels from a weekend that saw Bitcoin fall to sub-$13,000 levels.


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What is the future of Bitcoin.

The Usage of Bitcoin Bitcoin has been around for almost a decade now, introduced back in 2008, the principal of Bitcoin being to remove intermediaries. The U.S Treasury has identified bitcoin as a virtual currency, while it’s more commonly described as the first cryptocurrency and the largest of its kind by total market value, currently being $19.2bn. The general consensus was that Bitcoin would take the world by storm, but we have yet to see the storm, which was also seen to uproot commercial banking as we know it today, a material decline in sticky bank depositors a negative for bank top line revenue. As things stand, well-known companies that accept Bitcoin for payment include Amazon, Apple Expedia, Overstock, Subway, Reddit, Microsoft, Dell, Tesla,, Kmart, Sears, Gap, Victoria Secret. Figures on Bitcoins are few and far between, but with over 100,000 merchants and vendors accepting bitcoin as payment, the numbers suggest that progress is finally being made, the number of merchants accepting Bitcoins having increased by 4 fold between 2014 and 2015 alone. Research produced by Cambridge University concluded this year that there are between 2.9m and 5.8m unique users actively using a crypocurrency wallet, most of them using Bitcoin, which is far greater than the estimated 0.3m to 1.3m unique users back in 2013. The upside for the consumer is the reduced fees for transactions, where merchants and vendors accept Bitcoins with fees of between 0% to less than 2%, certainly more competitive than credit card fees, the downside obviously being the lack of protection to the consumer or the merchant for that matter, bitcoin users unprotected by refund rights and chargebacks, though this is changing… The latest news is the legalization of the use of bitcoin in Russia, with Japan’s passing a law accepting bitcoin as legal tender perhaps even more compelling when considering how far behind legislation is in other G7 countries, let alone the G20, despite the wide acceptance. The value of bitcoin has certainly been held back by the lack of recognition and regulation in key economies, suggesting that Japan’s move could begin a domino effect, which would be quite a boon for the bitcoin bulls, when considering the fact that the value of bitcoin increased by 8%, equivalent to $1bn, to take the market cap to $19.5bn. In the end, Japan’s move makes sense and Russia is looking to follow suit, the lack of regulation allowing Bitcoin to be used as a means to wash dirty laundry. Russia is looking to legislate to recognize Bitcoin as a financial instrument by next year for just that reason and we can expect other countries struggling with money laundering to follow suit. Bitcoin’s Future Conflict There’s a long way to go before Bitcoin becomes a globally accepted form of currency, virtual or not, with some counties having outright banned the use of Bitcoin, though the number of countries are diminishing, with the wider issue being the lack of regulation on Bitcoin itself coupled with concerns over technology limitations. Technological development over the short to medium-term will certainly influence the value of the markets and, as a global regulatory landscape develops, we would expect the usage and demand to increase, driving the value, the types of returns that are not apparent with cash, still currently maintaining its ’Cash is King’ status. Whether investors consider Bitcoin as an alternative hedge or an investment remains to be seen. Either way, when considering the year-on-year surge in the value of Bitcoin, just shy of 200%, the only way is up should regulatory walls continue to fall and transaction volumes continue to rise, with Bitcoin having hit an all-time high $1,400 last week. Bottlenecks will undoubtedly limit transaction volumes over the near-term, leaving the door open for more traditional payment methods to compete, but it is only going to be a matter of time before payment systems are upgraded and Bitcoin has the opportunity to become a primary payment mechanism. In the end, the success and evolution of Bitcoin across mainstream economies and beyond will likely boil down to the attitudes of Central Banks. The PBoC earlier in the year had announced that it would be making a greater effort to regulate the Bitcoin market, including establishing a taskforce to inspect and ensure Bitcoin exchanges had the appropriate anti-money laundering systems, warning exchanges that they would be closed down if in violation. The actions of the PBoC led to certain exchanges suspending activity, resulting in Bitcoin losses at the time. Ultimately the fact that the PBoC is looking to clean up and increase oversight is a long-term positive and suggests that the use of Bitcoin will surge in the years ahead, despite the fall over the near-term attributed to the increased oversight. The intentions of Satoshi Nakamoto was ultimately to knock central banks off their perch, the inventor of Bitcoin publicly discussing a distrust towards central banks. The evolution of Bitcoin has certainly opened the eyes of many, bringing into question the need for central banks should Bitcoin become the method of choice, as there would be no requirement for the issuance and settlement. The use of Bitcoin may remove certain roles of central bankers, but in the end Bitcoin will never be responsible for or even be in a position to influence monetary policies. Central banks will continue to ultimately to hold the fate of Bitcoin in their hands, regulation and acceptance at government level vital to its success and continued evolution cross border. For now, central banks appear to be diligently looking into the technology that Bitcoin has introduced, looking to use the decentralized method of record keeping, more commonly known as the blockchain or distributed ledger, the incentive being to complete and log transactions in a real economy more effectively. The BoE and the PBoC are certainly advocates of the decentralized method that would allow the respective central banks to track their respective currency through the financial system in real time. The BoE has estimated that the use of a digital currency on a distributed ledger could add as much as 3% to a country’s economic output through efficiency gains alone. FOMC members and the FED Chair have also talked positively on distributed ledgers, with voting-member Brainard having spoken on the benefits of the use of such innovative technology just last week. Interestingly, the fact that Central banks are beginning to embrace the technology, which had been developed to dethrone them could ultimately cement the position and power of central banks, though it would be difficult for them to then attempt to unravel the very same technology in a bid to undermine Bitcoin down the road. Bitcoin may have a mixed following at present, but there are a number of countries that are ultimately considered the Bitcoin friendly, with the list likely to continue growing as more governments acknowledge and legitimise the use of Bitcoin. Countries with particular fondness towards Bitcoin The U.S: Has the highest number of cryptocurrency users, the highest number of Bitcoin ATMs and also the highest bitcoin trading volumes globally. The U.S is the home to Silicon Valley after all and it will certainly bode well for Bitcoin’s future, with many countries looking towards the U.S for guidance and best practice. Denmark: The government is looking to completely transition to digital currency, though it remains unclear whether Bitcoin will prevail, the Danish Central Bank having previously declared that Bitcoin is not a currency and that it would not regulate its use. Sweden: Also looking to shift to digital currency, the Central Bank’s decision to cut interest rates into negative territory has led to an increase in demand, supporting appetite for Bitcoins and alternatives to protect capital. Unlike Denmark, the Swedish regulator has publicly declared Bitcoin as a legal currency. South Korea: There are currently no laws in South Korea regulating the use of Bitcoin, where people are able to buy Bitcoin in 7-Elevens. The Netherlands: While extremely popular, Bitcoin is not regulated in the Netherlands, though this doesn’t seem to deter, with Bitcoin ATMs, start-ups and a Bitcoin Embassy in existence. Finland: Bitcoin has been classified as a financial service by regulators, exempting it and Bitcoin purchases from VAT. Bitcoin ATMs have been on the rise and Finland is also home to one of the leading global peer to peer Bitcoin exchanges, Local Bitcoins. Canada: Bitcoin is regulated under counter-terrorist financing and anti-money laundering laws, with Toronto and Vancouver considered to be Bitcoin centers, as Canada looks to follow the U.S in the use of cryptocurrencies. The UK: The BoE continues to monitor Bitcoin technology, while it continues to be classified as private money, with VAT applied and also subject to capital gains tax, where there P&Ls are involved. Australia: Previously imposed double taxation on Bitcoin has been removed, though continues to remain unregulated by the RBA, which acknowledged that there are no laws against the use of Bitcoins and the usage is more of an arbitrary one. Japan: The Japanese government moved to legalize Bitcoin as a currency effective by law at the start of April in a move that saw Bitcoin’s value rise above the $1bn mark, with some of Japan’s largest retailers accepting Bitcoin payment as a result of legislation. It is in fact said that Bitcoin trading in the Yen is the one of the most liquid markets globally. We expect to see Russia join the list of advocates in the near future, following comments from the Russian Deputy Finance Minister that regulators will be looking to recognize Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies legally next year, the government eager to tackle money laundering, which certainly incentives greater oversight and regulation, ultimately leading to its legitimacy. There’s a long road ahead and technology will need to improve and limitations will need to fall away, but with governments and regulators the world over beginning to take a more pragmatic view and understand the need to legitimize in the interest of anti-money laundering and other preventative policies, Bitcoin could well benefit from central banks’ advancement and development of distributed ledgers.



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Gold Price forecast for the week of October 30, 2017

Gold markets fell a bit during the week, slicing through the $1275 level. We reached down towards the $1260 level, but did find a little bit of support towards the end of the Friday session, as we were testing the bottom of the hammer from a couple of weeks previously. If we can break above the top of the weekly candle, then I think the market may try to revisit the $1300 level above. The $1250 level underneath should be supportive, and I think that the level is considered to be very supportive and essentially “fair value” from longer-term traders. Recently, we had broken out of the pink rectangle that I have on the chart, so I suspect that the buyers are probably going to be a bit more aggressive, but is not until we break above the $1310 level that I think they will start to throw a lot of money into the market.

Geopolitical concerns continue, so that of course could put a bit of a bid into the gold market, but ultimately the US dollar strengthening has been a major driver of what happens in this market, sending gold too much lower levels. I think if we break down below the $1250 level, that would be a bit of a “washout” in the overall attitude an uptrend, and I think at that point we would probably drop rather significantly, perhaps down to the $1200 level at the least. Longer-term, I believe the gold will rally, but I’m speaking in years, not necessarily weeks. Because of this, I think it is going to be very volatile, and probably easier to trade off of shorter-term charts, being able to pay attention to the various levels I have mentioned previously.

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