Awash in dollars the value drops, new movement in Gold and Silver, a plan for world government, trillions poured into the economy affects the Dow, forecast for an eventual market correction, break up what is too big to fail, inflation a factor in the middle east, Madoff profit scandals continue, dismal treatment of teachers.
The world is awash in dollars and that is being reflected in the USDX, which are six major currencies versus the dollar. The loss of value is being loudly trumpeted as the IMF says a replacement must be found. This is the same IMF that has been foisting non-gold backed SDRs on us since 1969. Every time they have tried this it has been a failure. We can give the Illuminists an ‘A’ for effort, but what they do not get is that the professionals and investors see right through it. Another batch of fiat currency is not going to solve the world’s currency crisis, which can only be saved by gold backing. Needless to say, the mainstream media will never talk about this in realistic terms, because the elitists control them. The denigration of currencies versus gold and silver are advancing apace, as the elitists day after day try to suppress gold and silver prices.
The major media is as complacent as ever because they are totally controlled. It is not ignorance or incompetence. It is control. The media tells us the stock market is headed higher, but fails to tell us why. The reason is manipulation by the US government, and those who control it, and funds swamping the market via QE2. This is an economy where few jobs are being created, unemployment remains steady and we are told that a rising stock market means recovery, which is far from the truth. Propaganda flourishes as well as physiological warfare. There is no truth for the American people and the people of the world, it is all controlled and capsulated for consumption and control. There is no real recovery; it is all smoke and mirrors to mislead the public. Government and the media declare there is no inflation, but yet it abounds. This is the same media that has ignored the climb in gold and silver prices for 11 years. They have few explanations as to why gold and silver prices are rising. It is because the value of fiat currencies are falling versus gold and silver, but that is not the explanation we hear. We are told a number of absurd falsities.
Gold and silver are just now beginning to break out of government instigated doldrums, which has been government induced by those who own the Fed. None of the old tricks and nostrums is working anymore, so new tactics are being taken. You have seen ongoing attacks on gold and silver that has been going on since 1988, and in the last 15 years they have been relentless. As of late the theme is destroy the gold and silver shares to make people believe that there is little value there, to shake novices out of their positions. The psywarfare plan is to force down gold and silver share prices and gold in order to destroy silver prices so that JPM and HSBC can cover their shorts. It hasn’t worked and won’t work. Needless to say, we get the usual from CNBC, CNN, MSNBC and Fox. Is it a bubble or a craze? Again, what else would you expect from a media which is usually wrong.
The debt and inflation will become more terse as we struggle forward. Government knows it has to cut Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, screwing the participants and better enabling government to control and reduce these benefits. Allowing government to renege over and over again does not instill confidence in its citizens. There are mammoth cuts coming, but the military industrial complex will experience few. This is how the elitists keep their empire by threat of force. Just look around you and look at the Patriot Act and Homeland Security or the new Gestapo the FBI. Yes readers, you already live in a police state.
As Americans overlook these developments and the fact that anyone who criticizes government is a terrorist, price inflation is destroying their purchasing power and it’s being done deliberately, as a result of saving a broken banking system that only catered to the wealthy and connected. Loans are available, but generally only to AAA corporations and fellow elitists, as interest rates begin their devastating rise into the future. That needless to say will be accompanied by a falling dollar and higher gold and silver prices. Many other countries have duplicated these events, so not only will the US dollar fall in value, but also so will the currencies of most every other country versus one another and particularly versus gold and silver. In case you missed it, or forgot, versus nine major currencies over the past 10 years on average gold has appreciated 15-1/4% annually and silver 20-3/8% annually, thus, these facts are nothing new. They have just been hidden from you. As a result of the loss in purchasing power and ever building debt we have seen demonstrations and riots throughout Europe for the past two years. That has been followed for the same reasons, plus price inflation, in the Middle East with the overthrow of the governments of Tunisia and Egypt. Several more monarchies and dictatorships are on the verge of falling as well. In the US the attempt to radically change retirement benefits and unions has led to demonstrations in Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio. We believe in time as unemployment rises with prices and there is no economic recovery that demonstrations will increase and they could, as they have elsewhere, turn violent. If police in the US fire on civilians or beat them into submission there will be retaliation and law enforcement will get decimated.
There is absolutely no way the dollar and other currencies can be saved. That is why the prices of gold and silver move relentlessly upward. There already is waning confidence in the dollar and many other currencies, and that is why the USDX, the dollar index, as a yardstick, is inferior to measuring all currencies versus gold and silver. You may not realize it now, but you are living through the collapse of fiat money systems. The future of monetary and fiscal matters will take many twists and turns, some good, some bad. It is far too early to make solid predictions on what routes will be taken. At this juncture it is easy to see where we are headed, but the future is more difficult. It could be inflation, hyperinflation, deflationary depression and another contrived war to distract people from the more important issues of the economy, finance and economic survival. In the meantime in reaction to such events gold could go to $5,000 or $10,000 and silver $100 to $500, as the flight to quality becomes a stampede.
Our studies and intelligence tells us that the elitists running the show deliberately planned a collapse so they can form a world government. For them everything is on the line. If they lose they’ll lose everything. If we lose the same could be true. We are not going to lose, because to many people worldwide already know what they are up too and that what we are experiencing was planned that way. Why do you think QE1 financial sectors were saved in the US and Europe and in QE2 the US government was bailed out. It is very obvious to thinking people as to what is taking place. The edifice that underlies elitist power has been bolstered as the US and European economics are being allowed to fail. Tough decisions will have to be made to save the dollar and the economy and that is not going to happen because those running the show behind the scenes do not want that to happen. The route being presently taken is that of the Fed funding all Treasury and Agency needs including deficit spending. In such a scenario gold and silver prices have no limits to the upside. It could also be that the majority of your gold and silver holdings may never be sold due to the ongoing turmoil the world may be buried in.
The stock market in Dow terms is about 12,400 due to trillions of dollars being poured into the economy via the Fed and QE1 and QE2 and via the manipulation of “The President’s Working Group on Financial Markets.” The insiders know what is going on but investors and the public do not have a clue. How is it that denizens of Wall Street get richer and the poor get poorer? It is because Wall Street and banking control the government. The question arises is the market overpriced? Of course it is, but hundreds of billions of dollars are available to Wall Street and banks to speculate in their rigged game. Can you imagine that it is possible for several banks and brokerage houses every day for months to have no losing trading days? Of course that is not normally possible. That can only happen when they create the inside information. They are slaughtering the average investor. Will the market collapse again? Of course it will, but the timing is very difficult. Perhaps if there is an announcement that QE2 is over and there will be no QE3, maybe major unrest in the Middle East will cause a correction, or perhaps a realization that there will be no further recovery, or perhaps we’ll see demonstrations in the US similar to those in the Middle East? After adding tax-pork legislation of $862 billion last year the administration is asking for $200 billion more. What the Fed has done with zero interest rates and quantitative easing at least temporarily is put a floor under the market. Eventually that floor will crumble as real interest rates climb further and perhaps QE comes to an end. Needless to say, were that to happen there would be total collapse. The US and for that matter, European economies cannot survive without major stimulus. In Europe the financially healthy nations are supplying $1 trillion to six poorer nations knowing full well $3 to $5 trillion is needed. German Chancellor Ms. Merkel says Germany will hold the euro together. Last week in elections in the Hamburg region the voters sent her a warning by crushing CDU candidates. If the CDU wants to be thrown out of office they will continue to advocate more support for sick members of the euro zone. We think the support by Germany is at an end and that means it is only a matter of time before the euro is history. In this regard the G-20 meeting went nowhere, as sick nations demanded that the solvent nations stop exporting so much. One asks where does it end.
Eventually the Dow will fall. When that will begin we do not know, but if it follows history it should fall to 6,650 and then to? Dow 3,200. It could fall lower, but 3,200 is the goal. The damage wreaked on the economy by deficit spending and QE will take years to correct. The longer the upside continues on the Dow the higher gold is going to go because in terms of gold the US dollar and other currencies will continue to fall. That is why the US Treasury and the Fed and other central bans want so desperately to stop gold and silver from going higher, which gets more difficult with each and every day.
That brings us to the performance of gold and silver shares, which have been under attack by government consistently for the past 15 years. You have major shares prices reflecting in many instances reserves at $300 an ounce or at 25% of gold market prices. Many of these operating companies are reporting profit increases of 20% to 40%. We have been involved in mining shares for 51 years and those who try to put a P/E ratio on producing mines are pursuing a futile quest. The reason is the enormous leverage in these shares that you are now seeing. In 1980 producers saw P/E’s of 350 times earnings. Gold is the perfect hedge against the collapse in value of other assets, currencies and inflation. For 6,000 years it has had no peers. Silver runs a close second as a store of value. Gold and silver are a reflection of the real value of currencies and are the most stable assets in the world. The proof of the dominance of gold and silver over the past ten years has been performance. Versus nine major currencies the average currency has lost 15-1/4% annually versus gold and 20-3/8% versus silver. There have been no assets that can come close to matching that consistent return and the trend is still upward. We wonder why CNBC, CNN and Bloomberg don’t site these statistics on their programs? You all know why, it is because the elitists behind the scenes own the media. So as a result you get totally managed and slanted news. There is never dissension and truth.
We have talked about an eventual market correction. We have just seen over the past six months the breaking of the bond market bubble and real estate continues its downward slide. That leaves gold, silver and commodities as the select investments.
In recent years real estate has proven to be a poor hedge versus inflation, as it still resumes its downward journey. It has become illiquid at market prices and can only be liquidated at severely reduced prices. Over the next few years massive inventory overhang will take prices lower and then there will be years of stagnation. That doesn’t sound like a very good investment to us.
We just saw the 10-year note fall from a yield of 2.20% to its current yield of 2.60%. We believe rates over the next two years could reach 5% to 5-1/2%. If we are correct that means 30-year fixed rate mortgagees could move to 6-1/2% to 7%. It also translates into large bond losses.
The biggest question is will there be a QE3 and hyperinflation? We do not know for sure, but all the signs point in that direction. That means as inflation rises so do gold and silver related assets. Will we then see a flight to quality to gold and silver? Yes, we will. They will be the only game in town. We have been in an inflationary depression for two years. Next is higher inflation, probably hyperinflation and then deflationary depression. In all these environments gold and silver related assets will be the only place to be. These are the truthful facts of life today and a clear snapshot of where we are headed.
Get your house in order, because if you do not you won’t like the consequences.
Wal-Mart sales tanked, again. Sales at stores open at least one year declined 2.8% y/y; total sales declined 0.5% to $71.0B. The company is experiencing its worst ever stretch of sales seven consecutive quarters of decline. If not for inflation in the necessities of life, sales would be worse.
Wal-Mart saw weakness across much of its U.S. business, including electronics, consumables and clothing. The company did manage to post gain in its food business and health and wellness products.
The use of government assistance programs to pay for goods continues to rise, said Bill Simon, president and CEO of the Walmart U.S. business.
Simon said Wal-Mart would only pass along price increases when they cannot be avoided. It is working with suppliers to reduce inflationary pressure, where possible, on everything from food to clothing.
Housing prices tanked to new lows. The FHA’s December report shows its inventory of REO increased to over 60k, +9.5% m/m and + 47.5% y/y. Soon, Fannie and Freddie will report its REO inventory, which added to FHA’s haul should be well in excess of 300,000. And people think housing stocks are buys?!?!
In 1936 the Fed was able to monetize debt, as they are currently doing, until the bond market had a mini- collapse in September. Inflation soared into 1937.
At first stocks loved the inflation but eventually inflation squeezes margins and consumers, so solons must react. Stocks tanked 49% from March 1937 to April 1938. The DJIA declined 40% in only ten weeks into November 1937. Commodities tanked with stocks.
Bloody Ben and US solons are replaying New Deal strategies; and businesses are doing exactly what they did back in the middle thirties hoard cash, modernize with new equipment, which reduces employment, because they don’t see the need to greatly expand their businesses.
Liberals and Keynesians blame the push to tame out-of-control government spending and higher bank reserve requirements for the 1937-1938 collapse. But they never mention the underlying forces - soaring CPI coupled with stagnant job growth and Hitler’s annexation of Austria (international turmoil).
Yesterday, KC Fed President Thomas Hoenig asserted that an “extended period” of low interest rates “invites speculation” and the US has “deeply” undermined free-market capitalism.
This is a direct condemnation of Bloody Ben, B-Dud and other QE advocates.
Hoenig also stated that the biggest banks should be broken up and the ‘too-big-to-fail’ problem must be fixed “now” because “I am convinced that the existence of too-big-to-fail financial institutions poses the greatest risk to the U.S. economy. In my view, it is even worse than before the crisis”. Hoenig favors privatizing FNM and FRE.
Hoenig asserted that big financial firms must not hold the economy “hostage”. We stated a long time ago that large banks and funds have been financial terrorists, declaring that they would blow up the financial system and economy if not granted unprecedented government support on the backs of taxpayers…We opined months ago that Hoenig is maneuvering to replace Bloody Ben.
In accounts of the political unrest sweeping through the Middle East, one factor, inflation, deserves more attention. Nothing can be more demoralizing to people at the low end of the income scale where great masses in that region reside than increases in the cost of basic necessities like food and fuel. It brings them out into the streets to protest government policies, especially in places where mass protests are the only means available to shake the existing power structure. China and India blame the U.S. Federal Reserve for their difficulties in maintaining stable prices.
About the only one failing to acknowledge a problem seems to be the man most responsible, Federal
Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
Mr. Bernanke has made it clear that his policy is to inflate the money supply. The Fed is financing a vast and rising federal deficit, following a practice that has been a surefire prescription for domestic inflation from time immemorial. Meanwhile, its policies are stoking a rise in prices that is contributing to political unrest that in some cases might be beneficial but in others might turn out as badly as the overthrow of the shah in 1979. Does any of this suggest that there might be some urgency to bringing the Fed under closer scrutiny?
Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s chairman and chief executive officer, warned against raising base salaries on Wall Street less than eight months before his own more than tripled to $2 million.
Goldman Sachs prefers paying compensation in bonuses that are contingent on the firm’s performance, rather than offering guarantees or high salaries, Blankfein said in a June 16 interview with staff of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, a recording of which was made public this month. On Jan. 28, the New York-based firm disclosed it had raised salaries for Blankfein and four other top executives that had been $600,000.
“Salary is another form of guarantee, so we would like low salaries and high contingent comp,” Blankfein said in the interview. “We think the world is going in a poor direction. We think having high fixed salaries for people, or guarantees for people and lower contingent comp actually is worse behavior.”
Goldman Sachs raised salaries after competitors including Morgan Stanley, UBS AG and Citigroup Inc. lifted base pay for employees and executives. New U.S. rules on bank pay, approved for public comment by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. on Feb. 7, aim only at bonuses and leave salaries untouched.
The number of applications for U.S. mortgages rose last week, led by more refinancing as mortgage rates fell to the lowest level since the end of January.
The Mortgage Bankers Association’s index of loan applications increased 13 percent in the week ended Feb. 18 after dropping the prior week to the lowest point since November 2008. The group’s refinancing measure jumped 18 percent and the purchase gauge rose 5.1 percent.
“Refinancing is more sensitive to fluctuations in rates” than are purchases, Paul Dales, a senior economist at Capital Economics Ltd. in Toronto, said before the report. Still, he said he expected refinancing to “remain soft” with sales at “historically depressed levels for perhaps two or three years.”
The average rate on 30-year fixed mortgages dropped to 5 percent as turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa led investors to seek the safety of U.S. Treasury securities, which are benchmarks for some consumer loans, pulling down their yield. Still, mounting foreclosures, falling prices and 9 percent unemployment mean it will take time for demand to pick up. The 30-year rate fell from 5.12 percent the prior week. It reached 4.21 percent in October, the lowest since the group’s records began in 1990.
At the current 30-year rate, monthly payments for each $100,000 of a loan would be $536.82, in line with the same week the prior year, when the rate was 5.04 percent.
Rates Fall. The average rate on a 15-year fixed mortgage fell to 4.28 percent from 4.34 percent. The share of applicants seeking to refinance a loan rose to 65.7 percent from 64 percent the prior week.
The housing market is struggling to gain traction after a homebuyers’ tax credit expired last year and as more properties fall into the foreclosure pipeline. Combined sales of existing and new homes in December were at a 5.61 million annual unit pace, down from a July 2005 record of 8.53 million.
A report from the National Association of Realtors today may show existing home sales fell 1.1 percent to a 5.22 million annualized rate in January, according to economists’ estimates. Sales of previously owned homes last year totaled 4.91 million, the lowest level since 1997.
The top lawyer at the Securities and Exchange Commission and his two brothers inherited more than $1.5 million in phony profits from their mother's investment in Bernard Madoff's epic Ponzi scheme, according to a startling suit filed by bankruptcy trustee Irving Picard.
David Becker who was named SEC general counsel and senior policy director less than two months after Madoff's arrest in December 2008 was served with legal papers demanding return of the dirty money earlier this month, court records show.
Picard's "clawback" suit claims that Becker's mother's estate of which he and his brothers are co-executors received more than $2 million from Madoff's crooked investment firm.
"The investigation has revealed that $1,544,494 of this amount was fictitious profit from the Ponzi scheme," the Manhattan Bankruptcy Court filing says.
The Beckers' mother, Dorothy, died in June 2004. Picard's papers say $2.04 million was withdrawn from the estate's account in February 2005, and another $1,648 was taken out three months later.
The three brothers were sued as both executors and individuals.
Reached at his Bethesda, Md., home last night, David Becker said, "There's no allegations of wrongdoing on anyone's part other than by Madoff."
Becker, who's slated to leave the SEC next week for a private-sector job, insisted he had no "absolutely" no idea Madoff had been running a fraud.
"This is about my parents' investments. I had nothing to do with my parents' investments," Becker said.
Asked if he had told his bosses at the SEC which has been harshly criticized for failing to uncover Madoff's $65 billion scam he replied, "I don't discuss internal conversations with the SEC."
Becker served as SEC general counsel from 2000 to 2002 before returning in February 2009, with Chairwoman Mary Schapiro then praising his "wisdom and careful judgment." In announcing the end of Becker's "two-year commitment" earlier this month, Schapiro said his "wise counsel" had "served the agency and the American people brilliantly." Meanwhile, lawyers for the Mets' owners yesterday threw a brushback pitch at Picard, who has sued them to get back more than $300 million in Madoff profits. The papers, filed on behalf of Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz in US Bankruptcy Court, demand that Picard turn over all discovery material so both sides will be on an even playing field. The sides have agreed to mediation, which has already begun, overseen by former Gov. Mario Cuomo.
But "meaningful mediation will be impossible if the defendants do not have access to all of the Trustee's pre-complaint discovery," the filing states.
Picard's suit, claiming the Mets' owners "knew or should have known" Madoff was running a scam, was unsealed earlier this month and unleashed speculation the team would have to be sold to pay off its debts.
The school district plans to send out dismissal notices to every one of its 1,926 teachers, an unprecedented move that has union leaders up in arms.
In a letter sent to all teachers Tuesday, Supt. Tom Brady wrote that the Providence School Board on Thursday will vote on a resolution to dismiss every teacher, effective the last day of school.
In an e-mail sent to all teachers and School Department staff, Brady said, “We are forced to take this precautionary action by the March 1 deadline given the dire budget outline for the 2011-2012 school year in which we are projecting a near $40 million deficit for the district,” Brady wrote. “Since the full extent of the potential cuts to the school budget have yet to be determined, issuing a dismissal letter to all teachers was necessary to give the mayor, the School Board and the district maximum flexibility to consider every cost savings option, including reductions in staff.” State law requires that teachers be notified about potential changes to their employment status by March 1.
“To be clear about what this means,” Brady wrote, “this action gives the School Board the right to dismiss teachers as necessary, but not all teachers will actually be dismissed at the end of the school year.”
“This is beyond insane,” Providence Teachers Union President Steve Smith said Tuesday night. “Let’s create the most chaos and the highest level of anxiety in a district where teachers are already under unbelievable stress. Now I know how the United States State Department felt on Dec. 7, 1941.” That was the day the Japanese government bombed Pearl Harbor.
Smith, who has forged a groundbreaking collaboration with Brady that has received national recognition, said he believes this move comes directly from Mayor Angel Taveras, not the School Department. In a conversation with Taveras earlier Tuesday, Smith said the mayor also hinted at school closings but didn’t elaborate.
Taveras, in a statement issued Tuesday night, said the uncertainty around the city’s finances, combined with the March 1 deadline, led to this decision. Because it is too early to be certain of all possible changes to the school budget, Taveras said, issuing dismissal notices to all teachers “provides maximum flexibility” going forward.
“As a Providence public school graduate, I understand how great teachers can change lives,” he wrote. “I am sensitive to the uncertainty and anxiety that many teachers felt when they received this notice. My administration will do all it can to support our committed, hardworking teachers during this difficult time.”
Providence is facing a daunting budget crisis. The city had a $57-million deficit last year and expects a higher figure for the year ending June 30. In addition, the city, under then-Mayor David N. Cicilline, nearly depleted its reserves to cover day-to-day expenses. Taveras is currently awaiting completion of a report by an independent panel, which he commissioned to get a better handle on the city’s financial situation.
Meanwhile, Smith said he was caught completely off-guard by the planned dismissals, adding that Brady didn’t inform him of the decision until 5:30 p.m. Tuesday although he had heard rumors over the weekend.
He said it makes no sense to send out dismissal notices to every teacher because the district has a legal obligation to educate all of its students, regardless of budget considerations. “You have so many students,” he said. “You need so many teachers. You have a student-teacher ratio of 26 to 1. Do the math.”
Last year, only about 100 teachers received layoff notices, but in years past, as many as 500 have.
Smith said the dismissals couldn’t come at a worse time. The union is getting close to resolving a lawsuit over seniority-based hiring. The teachers’ contract expires June 30. And both Smith and Brady have staked their careers on a first-ever partnership in which both sides have agreed to make deep reforms in four of the district’s lowest-performing schools.
“We’re at the table with our best ideas,” Smith said. “To take this approach is unconscionable.”
For many people who purchased a home for the first time in 2008, it's payback time. It sounded like a great deal: become a first-time homebuyer and pocket up to $7,500 in a tax credit. But if you bought that house in 2008 and received the credit, you're required to start paying it back now.
That's because the credit was actually an interest-free loan provided by the government to stimulate a near-dead housing market.
Unlike the homebuyer credits of 2009 and 2010, this one must be paid back over 15 years beginning with this year's tax return.
For someone who got $7,500, that's $500 a year.
"This is not a freebie," said Jackie Perlman, a tax analyst at H&R Block's Tax Institute.
The 2008 credit was available to qualified homebuyers who purchased after April 8, 2008, through the end of that year. The IRS has sent letters reminding folks who fall into this category, including 45,865 taxpayers in New York State.
Many have been caught off-guard. They either forgot that the credit was a loan, or believed the loan had been forgiven as Congress subsequently passed different versions of the homebuyer credit that did not require a payback.
"I had one client who called me in a slight panic," said Jonathan Horn, a certified public accountant. "People are confused."
If you got the credit and have sold your house or it is no longer your primary residence, the total amount you owe is due on the return for the year those events took place, with some exceptions.
You can choose to accelerate your payments. While the loan is interest-free, some might want to pay it back sooner rather than later.
"A loan is still something hanging over your head," Perlman said.
"Some people will say, 'Let me get this over with.'"
Purchases of new houses in the U.S. fell more than forecast in January, reflecting declines in the West and South that indicate a California tax credit and bad weather may have played a role.
Sales declined 13 percent to a 284,000 annual pace, figures from the Commerce Department showed today in Washington. The median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News projected a decrease to a 305,000 rate. Demand dropped 37 percent in the West and 13 percent in the South.
Homes in the foreclosure process sold at an average 28 percent discount last year and may continue to drive down U.S. housing prices as the supply of distressed properties grows, according to RealtyTrac Inc.
A total of 831,574 homes that sold in 2010 had received notices of default, auction or repossession, the Irvine, California-based data seller said today in a statement. Properties in distress accounted for almost 26 percent of all home sales last year, down from 29 percent in 2009.
Sales of previously owned U.S. homes rose unexpectedly in January, but prices fell to their lowest level in nearly nine years, an industry group said on Wednesday. The National Association of Realtors said sales climbed 2.7 percent month over month to an annual rate of 5.36 million units from a downwardly revised 5.22 million pace.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected January sales to fall 2.1 percent to a 5.24 million-unit pace from the previously reported 5.28 million units in December.
Compared with January last year, sales were up 5.3 percent. The median home price fell 3.7 percent from a year-ago to $158,800, the lowest since April 2002.