Gold Leaps, Stocks Sleep As February Bounce Burns Out

So much excitment but by the end of the month…


Some high-/low-lights for February…

  • China's Shenzhen Composite Down 28.8% in 2 months – biggest drop since July 1994
  • Dow Transports Up 6.75% in Feb – best month since Jan 2013
  • Financial Stocks Down 2.3% in Feb – 3rd loss in a row for first time since 2011
  • FANGs Down 4.5% in Feb – biggest drop since March 2014
  • 10Y Treasury Yield Down 54bps in 2 months – biggest absolute drop since May 2012
  • Treasury Curve (2s10s) Down 17% in Feb – 4th flattening in a row, biggest drop since Jan 2015 to Nov 2007 lows
  • Gold Up 10.8% in Feb – best month since Jan 2012 (best 2 months since Aug 2011)
  • Crude Oil (April WTI) Down 4.2% in Feb – 4th loss in a row for first time since Dec 2014
  • USDJPY Down 7% in Feb – biggest monthly collapse since October 2008
  • GBPUSD Down 9.8% in 4 months – biggest plunge since Dec 08 to lowest since Aug 1985


S&P 1940.25 was all that mattered today (the line between a red or green close for Feb)


On the day, we reoundtripped from early exuberance on terrible data… NOT off the lows…


Leaving stocks practically unchanged (Nasdaq underperforming with The Dow eking out a small gain) except for Trannies' huge surge…


Financials and Energy were among the weakest performers today with Utilities the only sector green on the day. But on the month Materials (QE hope?) dramatically outperformed as Energy and Financials slumped…


While financials ended the month lower (3rd month in a row for the first time since 2011), they rallied higher off the Dimon Bottom, decoupling again from yield curve reality…


FANGs bounce in the second half of Feb but only FB remains green for 2016…


VIX bounced to the tick off the 200DMA…


Treasury yields fell on the day (with notable bull flattening) but on the month, 2Y is basically unchanged as the out-ruve has plunged 12-20bps… Feb's close at 1.74% is the lowest monthly close since Jan 2015


The USDollar Index ended the day unchanged (as JPY strength offset EUR weaknes)…


As despite rallying for almost 3 weeks, the USD ended -1.4% on the month…


As USDJPY implodes…


And Cable dropped for the 4th month in a row to its lowest close since Aug 1985


Commodities all gained on the day (led by another rampfest in crude)…


But on the month Gold was the biggest winner (diverging from silver in recent weeks) with crude lower…


Just utter idiocy as algos 'banged the close' on NYMEX…


But gold completed its Golden cross into month-end…


Charts: Bloomberg

via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

Keynesian Youth? Boston Fed Unleashes “Wishes & Rainbows” Children’s Story Book

"Designed to stimulate students' imagination as they explore the economic problem of scarce resources, various methods of allocation, and how societies react to alleviate such problems," The Boston Fed has unleashed a chidren's story book called "Wishes and Rainbows" indoctrinating the American youth into the ways of the Keynesian.


Boston Fed – Wishes and Rainbows

via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

Ackman Losses $200 Million In An Instant After Valeant Reveals SEC Investigation; Stock Crashes

Over the weekend, our friend John Gavin at Probes Reporter revealed something disturbing to Valeant longs, namely that “New Data Now Confirms Valeant’s Undisclosed SEC Investigation.” This is what the report said:

Sunday Special UPDATE: Last week, on 23-Feb-2016, we published a report warning of the potential for a new and undisclosed SEC probe of Valeant. In a letter dated 22-Feb-2016, and just received by us on Saturday via US Mail, the SEC has now confirmed Valeant’s involvement in on-going enforcement proceedings that remain undisclosed as of this date. All we know about the SEC probe at this time is that it somehow pertains to the conduct, transactions, and/or disclosures of Valeant Pharmaceuticals.


The SEC’s letter now confirming on-going enforcement proceedings at Valeant has the same date as the press release put out by Valeant last week in which the company announced a restatement and delayed filings. (See, “Valeant Ad Hoc Committee has Made Substantial Progress in Its Review of Philidor and Related Accounting Matters”.) Despite the same date, the company remained silent on any new SEC investigation.


Updated Analysis and Opinion: We remain convinced that the now-confirmed SEC investigation of Valeant likely started last fall and absolutely should have been disclosed by now. Management may have their [strained] rationale for having not disclosed, but that matters little. The continued silence raises troubling questions about the overall quality of Valeant’s disclosures and the integrity of the management team that produces them

As it turns out, Gavin was right, and moments ago Valeant admitted as much:


As Bloomberg adds, the Probe said to be separate from Salix investigation, Valeant spokeswoman Laurie Little comments in probe.

Whatever the probe may be, the company’s few remaining shareholders – warned repeatedly that there is never more than just one cockroach – decided to get the hell out, and sent the stock plunged by as much as 20% to fresh multi-year lows.

More notably, Bill Ackman who is long 21.6 million shares, just lost over $200 million in an instant once the stock crashed by over $10 once the headline hit (in addition to all the other losses suffered by Valeant earlier today).

One wonders just how much more pain Pershing Square’s LPs can suffer before they send Ackman that final redemption request. Pershing Square reveals its latest weekly performance report tomorrow night. As of this moment we expect nothing less than a 25% drop.

via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

Peak Complacency (Again)

As stocks have risen in recent weeks on the biggest short-squeeze in 7 years, so VIX – the expected volatility of the market – has dropped to 2016 lows. However, with VIX at around 20, remains almost double the peak-QE-suppression lows of July 2014. Complacency is peaking though as VVIX – the expected volatility of VIX – has collapsed to its post-QE lows and erased all fear since before China’s August 2015 devaluation.

It seems the VIX complex is pricing in some “easing” (in other words “vol suppression”) soon…


Is the VIX derivative market expecting more QE? Unlikely. But NIRP maybe… as bets on The Fed going negative soar to record highs…


Charts: Bloomberg

via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

How To Beat The Market Trading Just 30 Minutes Per Day

Trading is was easy. Sleep in. Don’t fight The Fed. Grab some lunch with friends. Then execute the following two trades…

For those used to the ubiquitous 330ET Ramp, there is some nuance that  – if you were willing to make 2 trades, not just 1 each day – could have doubled your profits in the last 7 years.

  • At 1530ET “Buy Stocks” and cover at 15145ET.
  • At 1545ET “Short Stocks” and cover at the close.

Simple, and all that while taking no overnight exposure at all…

Source: @NanexLLC

Does that look like an “efficient” market to you?

Note: past performance is no indication of future performance – just ask Warren Buffett

via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

Six Reasons To Buy Gold In 2016


“Betting against gold is the same as betting on governments. He who bets on governments and government money bets against 6,000 years of recorded human history.”


– Charles De Gaulle, Leader of the French resistance during WWII and 18th President of France


Gold bullion and gold mining stocks have rallied 18% and 51%, respectively, in recent months after a brutal bear market over the last five years.

Given gold’s proven ability to hold its value in the face of rising inflation and reckless monetary policy, we believe it plays an important role in any diversified portfolio.

At Evergreen Gavekal, we believe it may be time to to start initiating or adding to additional gold holdings for six reasons.

  1. Technical trading patterns suggest gold may finally be breaking out into a bull market (we do caution, however, that it appears to be temporarily over-bought).
  2. Gold remains out of favor despite the recent rally.
  3. The Fed’s ability to hike nominal interest rates is constrained.
  4. The overpriced US dollar has limited room to run.
  5. Real interest rates are heading lower around the world as central banks get creative.
  6. Physical gold may be difficult to acquire in the coming years.


The following commentary is from the Evergreen Investment Team:

Gold is one of the most hated asset classes on the planet.

In Wall Street’s eyes, it’s never been a legitimate investment. Gold reports no quarterly earnings, pays no dividend, and (until the rise of the launch of the SPDR Gold Trust ETF* in 2004, along with a flurry of similar products and services in recent years) generates no sales commissions for brokers still advising the majority of American investors.

But try as they may to paint the yellow metal as a “barbarous relic” or a “pet rock,” the financial establishment can’t change the fact that gold is money in virtually every country and every community on the planet.

Figure 1

While the average life of a fiat currency has been just twenty seven years and the average life of a reserve currency has been just ninety five years throughout the modern era, gold has held its value over millennia.

For example, an ounce of gold supposedly bought 350 loaves of bread in ancient Babylon (about $3.51 per loaf today) and first century Roman Centurions earned about 38.58 ounces of gold each year (about $47.5K today). Those numbers are remarkably close to today’s prices.

Needless to say, gold has stood the test of time.

From that perspective, the yellow metal’s proven ability to hold its value as the purchasing power of paper money erodes makes it an excellent long-term hedge against inflation and a safe haven in the face of governments and/or central banks gone wild.

So the shiny stuff should have been the perfect investment in a world where major central banks increased their collective balance sheets by almost $10 trillion, right?

Figure 2

Unfortunately not.

Conventional wisdom in 2009 and 2010 argued that ultra-low nominal interest rates and quantitative easing (i.e., massive money manufacturing) would inevitably lead to hyperinflation, that the US dollar and US Treasury bonds would collapse, and that gold would soon be the only safe haven left. But the consensus among gold bugs, dollar doubters, and bond bears was dead wrong… at least in terms of timing.

Instead of accelerating into an uncontrollable wage-price spiral, inflation has languished and inflation expectations have collapsed along with the price of almost every commodity.

Thus far, all that money printing has done nothing but encourage another $60 trillion in global debt growth according to a recent study by the McKinsey Global Institute. Rather than looking like Zimbabwe in 2008 or Weimar Germany in 1923, the United States and Europe are looking more and more like Japan with each passing year.

Figure 3

To be clear, we still don’t know where this debt-paved road will ultimately lead. Japan may yet fall into hyperinflation as the yen collapses from ¥111/$ today to ¥200/$ before we know it.

But thus far, the country’s massive debt load (660%+ of GDP) is weighing on growth and dragging the country toward outright deflation. Moreover, the Eurozone (debt 460%+ of GDP) and the United States (debt 350%+ of GDP) also appear to have hit the point of diminishing return when it comes to layering on more IOUs.

That’s why—as a result of diverging monetary policy between the less indebted United States and our more indebted peers—the US dollar has gained in excess of 30% and long-dated US Treasuries have returned more than 45% over the last five years. During that same timeframe, the price of gold bullion declined nearly 40% and gold mining stocks collapsed by a whopping 70%.

Needless to say, all those who abandoned diversified portfolios for the “safety” of gold have lost a considerable share of their purchasing power while US stocks more than doubled over the same period.

It’s no wonder that gold has lost its glitter for most investors, but as billionaire resources investor Rick Rule recently noted, “These periods of deep despair are the necessary component, the necessary factor to turn a bear market into a bull market.” Unsurprisingly, the towering in-flows that went into the gold exchange traded fund (GLD) when bullion was rising back in 2009 through 2011, turned into relentless out-flows during its multi-year decline. As is so often the case, the redemptions hit a crescendo as gold prices were nearing their lows, clearly reflecting the “deep despair” that typically occurs at bear market troughs.



Source: Evergreen Gavekal, Bloomberg

At Evergreen Gavekal, we believe low valuations and entrenched bearishness on top of a fundamentally improving outlook (as we’re seeing in the market for gold bullion and gold miners) are the hallmarks of emerging opportunities. Conversely, high valuations and resilient optimism on top of a fundamentally deteriorating outlook (as we’re seeing in US equities) are the hallmarks of imminent corrections.

Reaping a profit from this still-reviled asset class will require discipline and patience, but we believe we are approaching a good re-entry point for gold and gold miners for six reasons.

(1) Technical trading patterns suggest gold may finally be breaking out into a bull market.

Year-to-date, gold prices have leaped by more than 18% and gold mining stocks have surged by more than 50% as the trade weighted US dollar softened.

Although we believe gold is currently short-term overbought here…


…technical trading patterns suggest the yellow metal may be rounding the corner and getting ready to break out into a full-fledged bull market.

Figure 5

(2) Despite the recent rally, gold remains remarkably out-of-favor.

Despite the surge we’ve seen in gold and gold miner stock prices in recent months, attitudes don’t change overnight. Trading volume and upside volatility are coming back, but investor’s hesitant re-embrace of gold may signal an even bigger shift in global sentiment. Buying gold today may be comparable to buying stocks in April 2009.

(3) The Fed’s ability to hike nominal interest rates is constrained by global economic risks and financial market volatility.

As the Evergreen investment team has been saying for several months, we believe the Fed’s decision to hike interest rates into an economic slowdown will limit its ability to normalize interest rates in the coming year. Additional rate hikes are possible if global markets are relatively calm when the backward-looking, model-obsessed Federal Open Market Committee meets at various points throughout the year. However, further tightening would only increase the odds of a policy reversal as the year drags on. If we are correct, short-term interest rates may rise ever-so-slightly for a brief period, but will inevitably fall back toward zero (and even below zero with the likely introduction of negative interest rates), as we’ve seen with every other central bank that has tried and failed to raise rates in recent years.

Figure 6

(4) The overpriced US dollar has limited room to run.

As the following chart from our partners at Gavekal illustrates, the US dollar may be running out of steam after approaching its most expensive valuations since the mid-1980s.

Figure 7

If that’s true, it could be VERY good news for gold investors given that bullion’s weakness has been the mirror image of US dollar strength in recent years. In the event that the dollar drops sharply on softening US economic data or a Fed policy reversal in the coming months, gold prices could rise considerably more than we have seen year to date.


Source: Evergreen Gavekal, Bloomberg

(5) Real interest rates are heading lower around the world as central banks get creative.

Central banks have failed miserably in their attempts to kick-start economic growth and stoke inflationary pressures in the wake of the global financial crisis. Dropping nominal interest rates to zero and expanding central bank balance sheets by more than $10 trillion has only had a marginal and short-lived effect on real economic activity. Consequently, policymakers are getting desperate.

As we discussed in last week’s EVA, nearly 25% of the global economy (the Eurozone, Denmark, Sweden, & Japan) is now governed by central banks charging negative interest rates on excess bank reserves with the hope that banks will start passing on those costs to their depositors.

Yes, you heard that right. Instead of paying a reasonable rate of interest on the bank deposits they so desperately need to stay in business, financial institutions in Europe and Japan may soon start charging for the privilege of holding cash on deposit.

The bright idea here is to force savers out of the safety of cash and stoke an inflationary mindset. But at this point, the specter of negative rates is just incentivizing savers to withdraw their funds and stuff their mattresses with cash.

So what comes next? Over the past few months, central banks have been thinking out loud and proposing some wild (and, frankly, irresponsible) ideas.

Some have suggested eliminating physical cash altogether to force savers to decide between investing in the real economy, taking risks in financial assets, or paying compound interest on their idle holdings.

Others have proposed printing money to support fiscal spending on things like infrastructure, defense spending, or student loan relief.

And, as if the first two ideas weren’t bad enough, the latest policy on the table is to start sending money directly to adult citizens via what Milton Friedman and Ben Bernanke both called “Helicopter Drops.”

Figure 9

From the hints being sent out by policymakers, it would likely involve checks sent directly to low-and middle-income citizens financed by central bank money creation. This, combined with the populist popularity of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, should send shivers up the spine of financial asset investors to whom the high inflation this could cause is toxic. But it would almost certainly light a fire under bullion prices.

Now, before you get too excited, let us be clear. We do not know—we cannot know—exactly where Fed policy is going in the coming years. But we do believe that nominal and real interest rates are likely heading a lot lower on the way to whatever wild experiment comes next. As you can see in the chart below, falling real interest rates have historically been one of the most important drivers of gold prices, so that’s a bullish development in its own right. And if inflation does pick-up as central banks get creative, then a spike toward $3,000 per ounce would be more than reasonable.


Figure 10

Source: Evergreen Gavekal, Bloomberg

(6) Physical gold may be increasingly difficult to acquire as investor attitudes shift in the coming years.

One of the underappreciated facts about the global gold market is that supplies are shrinking in Western markets as more and more bullion flows to Asia. Should prices spike on an aggressive turn in Fed policy and a sharp reversal in the US dollar, investors may discover that they are not able to secure enough physical gold… which in turn may trigger a spike in financial gold (like the gold ETF) and gold mining stocks. As you can see in the chart below, while gold has been in a garden-variety bear market, the miners have tumbled down an incredibly deep shaft, though they, too, appear to be breaking out of their long downtrend. Despite their recent recovery, they remain down 70% from their 2011 apex.


Gold Miners 5 Year Chart

Source: Evergreen Gavekal, Bloomberg

It’s fair to say gold and other precious metals were caught up in a bubble a few years ago when many retail investors—and even a number of professionals—were certain money printing would lead to high inflation. But now gold, and especially gold mining stocks, have achieved “anti-bubble” status, along with all things energy-related. (An anti-bubble is a condition where years of horrible performance and extremely negative investor sentiment set the stage for substantial future out-performance.)

Please realize we aren’t pounding the table with gold bugs who won’t be satisfied until gold rockets to $10,000/oz. and the gold standard is reinstated. But as investors, not traders, looking to hedge against what increasingly appears to be the dying days of central bank control over financial markets, gold is hard to ignore.

gold vs oil

Speaking of energy (and we have a hard time not doing so these days), per the above chart, as cheap as gold is, oil is even more undervalued.  But, then again, there isn’t the bullion-producing equivalent of a Saudi Arabia out there, flooding the market with cheap gold—fortunately. On the other hand, almost every ounce of gold ever mined is still around while nearly all the oil (and natural gas) produced has been consumed. But what the hey? Why not put some gold and energy into your portfolios?  If reversion to the mean still rules—and we believe it does—both of them have a lot of positive reverting to do…unlike the US stock market where the reversion is likely to be mean indeed.

via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

The Cushing Spillover “Domino Effect” Has Arrived

A little over a week ago, before we described the increasingly more perilous situation facing US refiners, we summarized the oversupply threat facing the biggest U.S. commercial hub located in Cushing, OK as follows:

“when looking specifically at Cushing, the storage facility is virtually operationally full (or at 80%) with just 4-5 more months at current inventory build left until the choke point is breached, and as we have reported previously, storage requests for specific grades being denied however the silver lining is that there is a lot of open pipeline space from Cushing to gulf coast (their full presentation can be watched here).


It is this capacity that is currently being filled because if looking at today’s DOE breakdown, while PADD 2 saw inventories rise by 2.25 million barrels to a new record high 155 million, the Midwest storage hub at Cushing was up only 36,000 – a divergence which confirms that Cushing is now routinely denying storage requests, something we noted first two weeks ago.”

Today, we return to this so critical (if not now then certainly in the next few months) hub with a blog post by Genscape which looks at the troubling domino effect of an operationally full Cushing (and by extensions PADD2), and how this is starting to spill over into PADD3, aka the Gulf Coast storage, where things are likewise about to go from bad to much worse.

From Genscape

Cushing, OK, Storage Domino Effect Sends USGC Stocks Higher

U.S. Gulf Coast storage inventories have increased nearly 7mn bbls so far in 2016, and could continue to build as market participants seek storage there as an alternative to Cushing, OK, where stocks are near maximum capacity.

As of February 19, 2016, Gulf Coast stocks, including those in Houston, Beaumont-Nederland, TX, and Corpus Christi, TX, reached near 75mn bbls, only 739,000 bbls shy of the record high level reached in October 2015. On January 5, 2016, Cushing inventories surpassed a previous record high level by 125,000 bbls.

Due to extensive storage expansion, capacity utilization at Gulf Coast storage locations was lower the week ending February 19, 2016 at 58 percent compared with capacity utilization during the October 2015 high. At that time utilization was 62 percent. The inventory peak in October 2015 also followed a record-high at Cushing.

The 2015 stock high at Cushing, set April 14, was followed by inventory builds in the Gulf Coast and West Texas region. Of the Gulf Coast-monitored storage locations, stocks at Beaumont-Nederland were the first to hit a record high the week ending September 25, 2015, and other terminals followed.

Beaumont-Nederland inventories were also the first to hit record levels after Cushing inventories surpassed the previous high on January 5, 2016. Similar builds are likely to occur in other Gulf Coast storage locations, as they did in late 2015.

Lower waterborne crude loadings have also contributed to the recent increase in Gulf Coast stocks. As of February 19, 2016, Gulf Coast domestic waterborne loading volumes were 34 percent lower than the beginning of the year and 36 percent lower than 2015 average loading volumes. Additionally, less loadings have left the Gulf Coast. As of February 19, 2016, 80 percent of loadings were destined for other Gulf Coast ports, compared to 42 percent for the week ending January 1, 2016.

Since the crude export ban was lifted in December 2015, a handful of waterborne shipments have shipped from the Gulf Coast for destinations in Europe. However, these shipments are being displaced from preexisting destinations, such as refinery markets in eastern Canada. Therefore, total outgoing waterborne volumes from the Gulf Coast has not significantly increased since the ban was lifted.

via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

Students, Teachers at Calif. School Think an Anti-Gay Sticker Can Bully People

stickersIt seems that a group of students in schools in Indio, a desert community in Southern California, have decided to register their objection to gay issues or gay people or all things gay by wearing a sticker with a rainbow crossed out with the international red “No” symbol.

This has resulted in complaints and news stories, obviously. The CBS affiliate in Los Angeles will immediately make anybody who grasps the First Amendment sigh sadly with a headline and lede that asks, “Hate speech of free speech?”

These are, at least in the United States, at least for the time being, the same thing. Hate speech is free speech.

The good news is that school administrators made the correct choice: The anti-gay kids can keep their stickers. Of course, they made sure to consult with their legal folks to have the First Amendment explained to them. From CBS Los Angeles:

In an email sent to staff Wednesday, Desert Sands Unified School District administrators wrote, “After consulting with district level personnel and our legal counsel, it was determined that these students do have the protected right to freedom of speech, just as students portraying rainbows in support of the LGBT would.”

The school district said that if the stickers led to actual verbal or physical harassment, that would be going too far.

“Every person can have an opinion, but if there’s harassment or bullying then it does cross the line,” DSUSD Assistant Superintendent Laura Fisher told KESQ.

School districts have broad (arguably too broad) authority to censor speech in schools under a Supreme Court decision if the officials can prove that speech, whether verbal or symbolic, is disruptive to the education process. Schools have attempted to use this decision in the past to try to intervene and block representation of both gay-supportive speech and anti-gay speech in schools. The American Civil Liberties Union has separately defended students on both sides of the debate.

The bad news is the absolutely sorry grasp of free speech by both students and at least one teacher at Shadow Hills High School. According to teacher David Parsons, apparently speech becomes bullying and harassment once a person who doesn’t agree with it is exposed to it (via KESQ in Palm Springs):

Teachers at Shadow Hills tell us they believe it crossed the line. 

“When someone takes a sticker and puts it in front of the face in front of somebody else, then that bounces from the realm of free speech into harassment or bullying,” said Parsons.

In case you’re wondering where on earth college students are getting such absurd and inaccurate conceptions of what free speech actually is, there you go.

from Hit & Run

Banning GMOs Would Hurt Nature

NoGMOToday some 18 million farmers in 28 countries planted about 181 million hectares of GMO crops in 2014, with about 40 percent of that in the United States. In the United States, modern biotech crop varieties make up almost all the corn (89 percent), soybeans (94 percent) and cotton (91 percent) planted each year. A new study by agricultural researchers at Purdue University asks what would happen if activists got their wish and planting modern biotech crop varieties was banned globally? The researchers reported:

Eliminating all GMOs in the United States, the model shows corn yield declines of 11.2 percent on average. Soybeans lose 5.2 percent of their yields and cotton 18.6 percent. To make up for that loss, about 102,000 hectares of U.S. forest and pasture would have to be converted to cropland and 1.1 million hectares globally for the average case.

Greenhouse gas emissions increase significantly because with lower crop yields, more land is needed for agricultural production, and it must be converted from pasture and forest. …

The price changes for corn were as high as 28% and for soybeans as high as 22%. In general, the price increases for the reference and average cases were higher than those observed previously for biofuel shocks. Food price changes in the U.S. amount to $14-$24 billion per year. As expected, welfare falls both in the U.S. and globally.

The additional area of land that would have to be plowed up to sustain current levels of production is about the size of Connecticut. As I noted in my recent “debate” with anti-GMO alarmist Nassim Taleb:

In a 2014 meta-analysis of 147 studies, a team of German researchers reports that the global adoption of genetically modified crops has reduced chemical pesticide use by 37 percent, increased crop yields by 22 percent, and increased farmer profits by 68 percent. They conclude that there is “robust evidence of GM crop benefits for farmers in developed and developing countries.”

Of course, eliminating the federal ethanol mandate would also encourage the return of farmed acres to Nature too.

from Hit & Run

Bystander Screams at Woman for Leaving Baby in Car for a Few Minutes

Should there be a law preventing parents from making rational decisions about how to raise their beloved kids? That seems to be the absurd consensus, at least regarding this particular case, as presented by this news station: KHQ Spokane reported that a man noticed a baby in a car in a Target parking lot and confronted the mom as she returned after her brief errand. 

“You do not leave a baby in the car!” cried the man, Jon Evans, even though—clearly—she did leave the baby in the car for a few minutes, and the baby was fine. That’s not shocking: most babies left in cars remain safe and healthy. In fact, children are more likely to die in parking lots than in parked cars

But why let facts stand in the way of foaming at the mouth? Americans are convinced that kids in cars are in danger (ignoring the weird fact they themselves spent part of their childhood waiting in the car) and are positively gleeful at the prospect of harassing busy parents and threatening to call the police. 

Oddly, no one yells at parents who choose to drive their kids around with them in the first place, even though that is the number one way kids die: in moving cars. (“Lady! You drove your child to the mall! What kind of crazy mom does that? That’s nuts!”) Maybe such a day is coming. But so far we only lapse into hysterics when it comes to kids in non-moving vehicles. 

Video footage of the Spokane encounter shows the mom exasperatedly responding, “If you guys go and have your children, you can take care of them the best you can. I am going to take care of him the best that I can.” Naturally, the whole thing has gone viral, with KHQ eagerly reporting nuggets of wisdom from its comments section, including, “Obviously we need to look into a heavier law for leaving children in the car. I’m sorry but if they are under the age of 16 they shouldn’t be left in a car, especially a baby.” 

Another said: “If it is not illegal, it should be…it only takes a few minutes for something to go horribly wrong.” 

Back when I worked in TV news, we used to call this kind of reporting “Triple A”—Ask Any Asshole. Rather than considering whether it makes any sense to condemn this mom, the anchor reported that her actions were not illegal, and then spent the rest of the time harping on why she should be flayed alive. Imagine what would happen if every time we watched a viral video, we demanded new sanctions on the people who parent differently than we do. 

from Hit & Run