Saturday, 20 January 2018

Weekend Update 20/01/2018 The US Government Shuts Down.



As Milton Friedman once put it, if you’re spending your own money on yourself, you care about price and quality. If you’re spending someone else’s money on yourself, you only care about quality. If you’re spending your own money on someone else, you care only about price. And if you’re spending someone else’s money on someone else, you don’t care about either.
The big news this weekend is the closure of most of the US Federal government due to the failure in Washington to pass a funding bill.  At first there is very little meaningful impact, and it’s widely expected to get quickly resolved in a matter of days if not the next 24 hours, but both sides seem to have talked themselves into a corner, and just possibly this shutdown might last longer. In any event it’s another self-inflicted drag on the US economy, at a time when an unusually cold winter is already weighing on the US economy.  It’s all about what happens next or doesn’t.  If there’s no fast resolution, the markets could get very ugly by the end of next week.

Below, only in America, as they say. Still it’s probably a good time to reduce risk. Will Davos get a lucky break?

America is not technically part of the Third World, but no one has told the Democrats.

With apologies to P. J. O’Rourke

January 19, 2018 / 11:07 AM

U.S. government shutdown begins as spending bill fails in Senate

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government officially shut down at midnight on Friday after Democrats and Republicans failed to reach a last-minute deal to fund its operations, divided in a bitter dispute over immigration and border security.

In a dramatic late-night session, senators blocked a bill to extend government funding through Feb. 16. The bill needed 60 votes in the 100-member Senate but fell short with only 50 supporting it.

Most Democrats opposed the bill because their efforts to include protections for hundreds of thousands for the young immigrants known as Dreamers failed.

Huddled negotiations by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer in the last minutes before midnight were unsuccessful, and the U.S. government technically ran out of money at midnight.

The shutdown formally began on Saturday, the first anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Trump’s administration immediately sought to blame Democrats.

“Tonight, they put politics above our national security, military families, vulnerable children, and our country’s ability to serve all Americans,” the White House said in a statement.

The Trump administration said it would not discuss immigration until the government is up and running again. “When Democrats start paying our armed forces and first responders, we will reopen negotiations on immigration reform,” the statement said.

Until a funding deal is worked out, scores of federal agencies across the country will be unable to operate, and hundreds of thousands of “non-essential” federal workers will be put on temporary unpaid leave.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a stopgap funding measure on Thursday. But Republicans then needed the support of at least 10 Democrats to pass the bill in the Senate. While five Democrats ended up voting for the measure, five Republicans voted against it.

Democratic leaders demanded that the measure include protections from deportation for about 700,000 undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers who arrived in the United States as children.

----Although past government shutdowns have done little lasting damage to the U.S. economy, they can rattle financial markets.

The new shutdown could trigger a political battle between Democrats and Republicans over who is to blame.

It follows a months-long struggle in Congress to agree on government funding levels and the immigration issue.

January 19, 2018 / 3:47 PM

What happens in a U.S. government shutdown?

---In shutdowns, nonessential government employees are often furloughed, or placed on temporary unpaid leave. Workers deemed essential, including those dealing with public safety and national security, keep working, some with pay and others without.

After previous government shutdowns, Congress passed measures to ensure that essential and nonessential employees received retroactive pay.

The last shutdown, in October 2013, lasted more than two weeks and more than 800,000 federal employees were furloughed. Here is what happened then, along with some recent updates from officials:

MILITARY: The Defense Department said on Friday that a shutdown would not affect the U.S. military’s war in Afghanistan or its operations against Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria. All military personnel on active duty would remain on normal duty status. Civilian personnel in nonessential operations would be furloughed. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said a sustained funding impasse would cause ships to go without maintenance and aircraft to be grounded.

JUSTICE: The Justice Department has many essential workers. Under its shutdown contingency plan, about 95,000 of the department’s almost 115,000 staff would keep working.

FINANCIAL OVERSIGHT: The stock market-policing Securities and Exchange Commission funds itself by collecting fees from the financial industry, but its budget is set by Congress. It has said in the past it would be able to continue operations temporarily in a shutdown. But it would have to furlough workers if Congress went weeks before approving new funding.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, meanwhile, would have to furlough 95 percent of its employees immediately. An agency spokeswoman said the derivatives regulator could, however, call in additional staff in the event of a financial market emergency.

NATIONAL PARKS: National parks closed in 2013 and it resulted in a loss of 750,000 daily visitors, said the nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association. The National Park Service (NPS) estimated the shutdown resulted in $500 million in lost visitor spending in areas around the parks and the Smithsonian museums. The Trump administration has asked the NPS to examine ways to keep portions of some parks open, but overnight visitors might have to pack out their own trash, the Washington Post reported.

WASHINGTON TOURIST SIGHTS: In 2013, popular tourist sites such as the Smithsonian closed, with barricades going up at the Lincoln Memorial, the Library of Congress and the National Archives. The National Zoo closed and its popular “Panda Cam” went dark. The Smithsonian has said its museums could remain open for the first weekend. The NPS, which oversees many Washington landmarks, including the National Mall, has said it has a plan in place so that “First Amendment activities” can continue during a shutdown.

TAXES: The Internal Revenue Service furloughed 90 percent of its staff in 2013, the liberal Center for American Progress said. About $4 billion in tax refunds were delayed as a result, according to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

MAIL DELIVERY: Deliveries would continue as usual because the U.S. Postal Service receives no tax dollars for day-to-day operations.

TRAVEL: Air and rail travelers did not feel a big impact in 2013 because security officers and air traffic controllers remained at work. Passport processing continued with some delays.
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Trump Can Go to Davos With Government Shut Down, Officials Say

By Justin Sink
President Donald Trump can attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland next week even if the U.S. government shuts down over a spending impasse, senior administration officials said.
Air Force One would still be allowed to fly in a shutdown, and necessary staff and security to support the president’s travels could accompany him, the officials said in a conference call with reporters. They insisted on anonymity as a condition of the briefing.

It’s not clear if Trump would choose to proceed with his trip to Davos during a shutdown, with hundreds of thousands of federal employees on unpaid furlough. The Switzerland event is an annual gathering of the world’s economic and political elite, where Trump plans to deliver a speech on his “America First” agenda.

He would be the first U.S. president to attend the forum since 2000.

Trump already postponed his departure for his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, where he was to attend a high-dollar gala celebrating the first anniversary of his inauguration on Saturday.

January 19, 2018 / 10:56 PM

Mattis says a U.S. government shutdown would affect military operations

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Friday that a government shutdown would impact military operations including some training, maintenance, and intelligence operations.

“Our maintenance activities will probably pretty much shut down ... Over 50 percent, altogether of my civilian workforce will be furloughed ... We do a lot of intelligence operations around the world and they cost money, those obviously would stop,” Mattis said in response to a question about the impact of a potential shutdown.

Separately, the Defense Department said a shutdown would not impact the U.S. military’s war in Afghanistan or its operations against Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria.

Mattis, speaking during a question and answer period following a speech, said he would leave this weekend for a trip to Indonesia and Vietnam. The Pentagon said in a statement that Mattis’ trip to Asia would go ahead even in the case of a government shutdown because it was necessary for national security and foreign relations.

There can be few fields of human endeavour in which history counts for so little as in the world of finance. Past experience, to the extent that it is part of memory at all, is dismissed as the primitive refuge of those who do not have the insight to appreciate the incredible wonders of the present.

J. K. Galbraith.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Party On Like Its 2007.



Baltic Dry Index. 1139 -25    Brent Crude 68.59


Jamie Dimon, US CEO of JP Morgan Chase
 
In the stock markets, the party continues on in full fling. Optimism Rules OK!  Never mind that the Fed and others are starting to dilute the punch bowl, with the US 10 year closing out yesterday at an “interesting” 2.63. Never mind that crude oil remains stuck in the mid 60s, just as inflation seems to be awakening in the world from its 21st century coma. Never mind that the Baltic Dry (shipping) Index seems to have hit an iceberg again. Never mind that on Tuesday, America’s “President Berlusconi” is about to wreak havoc in Davos. Party on like it’s 2007 once again. Never mind that the US government faces a funding shutdown at midnight tonight, if sanity doesn’t return to the District of Crooks.

Below, the current mania madness knows no bounds.

“Egol and Fabrice were way ahead of their time,” said one of the former Goldman workers.

“They saw the writing on the wall in this market as early as 2005.”

Asian Stocks Rise; Treasury Yields Edge Higher: Markets Wrap

By Adam Haigh and Colin Simpson
Updated on 19 January 2018, 04:26 GMT
Asian equities rose to fresh highs Friday, heading for a sixth week of gains, even as 10-year U.S. Treasury yields reached their highest since 2016. The dollar index declined for a second day, trading close to a four-month low.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed, led by industrial and technology stocks, with Japanese shares posting the largest gains. Equities in Hong Kong were little changed, while those in Shanghai also rose. Treasuries edged lower as yields rose above 2.63 percent. The greenback fell as investors continue to monitor the possibility of a U.S. government shutdown, with federal spending authority set to expire Friday. The yuan strengthened beyond 6.4 per dollar for the first time since 2015, having climbed 1 percent this week.

The rise in bond yields comes as investor concerns mount about the pace of price rises in the American economy. Thursday’s sale of U.S. bonds that offer a hedge against faster inflation attracted strong demand. Together with China’s better-than-expected growth data, this added to the narrative of a global economic expansion that has helped drive equities to record highs this year.

Elsewhere, oil declined after a rally that has driven prices to the highest level in more than three years, as a rebound in U.S. crude output offset a ninth weekly stockpile drop. Bitcoin steadied above $11,000.
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More than half of S&P 500 stocks are up 20% or more since Trump took office

Published: Jan 19, 2018 12:01 a.m. ET
It’s been about a year since President Trump took office Jan. 20, 2017. It’s sometimes been contentious and even chaotic. But, for investors, it’s been among the best of times.

The S&P 500 Index SPX, -0.16%  of the largest U.S. stocks has returned 26.3% since Jan. 19, 2017, the day before Trump’s inauguration. This next year could be more of the same, helped by economic growth at home and abroad, low U.S. unemployment and the biggest federal tax cut in a generation.

“There’s still meat on the bone,” said Bill McMahon, chief investment officer at Charles Schwab unit ThomasPartners.

He said in an interview that Wall Street analysts have not yet fully incorporated the tax cuts Trump signed into law on Dec. 22 into their earnings estimates. That means those estimates will be rising, reducing stocks’ price-to-earnings ratios and, therefore, supporting more share-price gains.
More
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/more-than-half-of-sp-500-stocks-are-up-20-or-more-since-trump-took-office-2018-01-19

House passes short-term funding bill, but uncertain Senate vote still looms

Published: Jan 18, 2018 11:58 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON — The House passed a one-month spending bill Thursday, but it faces enough opposition to be derailed in the Senate, leaving lawmakers without a clear path for avoiding a partial government shutdown this weekend.

In a 230-197 vote, the House approved a short-term spending bill that would keep the government funded through Feb. 16. It also reauthorizes the Children’s Health Insurance Program for six years and delays three Affordable Care Act taxes. Six Democrats voted in favor of the measure; 11 Republicans opposed it.

But GOP leaders’ victory could prove short-lived, since the stopgap bill currently doesn’t have enough support to clear the Senate, just one day before the government’s funding expires at 12:01 a.m. EST Saturday.

The Senate began considering the bill Thursday night. The first vote, to open debate on the measure, was supported by Democrats to buy more time to reach a better deal on immigration, a congressional aide said.

----The Senate adjourned without a final vote Thursday night, and will reconvene at 11 a.m. Friday.
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/republicans-appear-to-have-house-votes-for-funding-bill-but-shutdown-still-looms-2018-01-18

In Bitcoin mania news, to the crypto faithful even a 50 percent crash is “good news.”  But from stocks to crypto currencies, our 2018 world seems dangerously close to running out of greater fools.

As Bitcoin Sinks, Crypto Bros Party Hard on a Blockchain Cruise

By Blake Schmidt
When 600 cryptocurrency enthusiasts set sail from Singapore on Monday night for their second annual Blockchain Cruise, the price of Bitcoin was hovering comfortably above $13,500.

By the time their 1,020-foot-long ship pulled into Thailand on Wednesday, for an afternoon of bottomless drinks and crypto-focused talks on a sun-soaked private beach, Bitcoin had cratered to $10,000.

The group consisted largely of young men, many of whom became wildly rich -- at least on paper -- as Bitcoin and other digital tokens skyrocketed last year. In all likelihood, they had just lost millions.
But if anyone was fazed, they didn’t show it. The party rolled on as the sangria and Red Bull flowed, Bitcoin-themed rap music blared and drones filmed it all from above.

“Nothing goes up in a straight line,” explained Ronnie Moas, the founder of Miami Beach-based Standpoint Research, who was one of the event’s speakers on Wednesday. In a best-case scenario, he said, Bitcoin could jump to $300,000 in as little as seven years.

For skeptics of the crypto craze, it’s hard not to see all this as another sign of runaway exuberance -- a repeat of the boosterish Las Vegas securitization conference, dramatized in The Big Short, that preceded the subprime mortgage meltdown of 2007. But the steadfast optimism on display at this week’s Blockchain Cruise also carries a warning for anyone betting on a cryptocurrency crash: It’s going to take more than a 50 percent drop in Bitcoin from its Dec. 18 high to drive out the diehards.

----The cruise’s eclectic list of speakers included Jose Gomez, a former aide to the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez; Kaspar Korjus, the head of Estonia’s e-residency program (which may issue its own cryptocurrency); and Jorg Molt, an early digital currency backer whose claim to hold 250,000 Bitcoins (worth $2.8 billion at the current price) couldn’t be verified.

But perhaps the biggest draw on the Blockchain Cruise was John McAfee, the anti-virus software pioneer with a checkered past. In 2012, while living in Belize, McAfee had run-ins with local police for alleged unlicensed drug manufacturing and weapons possession, but was released without charge. At one point, Belize police started a search for him as a person of interest in connection with the murder of his neighbor. McAfee said he was innocent and that he fled Belize because of persecution by corrupt officials.
More
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-19/as-bitcoin-sinks-crypto-bros-party-hard-on-a-blockchain-cruise

Hackers Have Walked Off With About 14% of Big Digital Currencies

By Olga Kharif
18 January 2018, 13:49 GMT
Digital currencies and the software developed to track them have become attractive targets for cybercriminals while also creating a lucrative new market for computer-security firms.

In less than a decade, hackers have stolen $1.2 billion worth of Bitcoin and rival currency Ether, according to Lex Sokolin, global director of fintech strategy at Autonomous Research LLP. Given the currencies’ explosive surge at the end of 2017, the cost in today’s money is much higher.

“It looks like crypto hacking is a $200 million annual revenue industry,” Sokolin said. Hackers have compromised more than 14 percent of the Bitcoin and Ether supply, he said.

All told, hacks involving cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have cost companies and governments $11.3 billion through lost potential tax revenue from coin sales and illegitimate transactions, according to Susan Eustis, chief executive officer of WinterGreen Research. The blockchain ecosystem -- the decentralized “distributed ledgers” that track crypto transactions -- is also vulnerable.

Those losses could snowball as more companies and investors rush into the white-hot cryptocurrency market without weighing the dangers or taking steps to protect themselves.

Super-Secure?

Blockchain records are shared, making them hard to alter, so some users see them as super-secure. But in many ways they are no safer than any other software, Matt Suiche, who runs the blockchain security company Comae Technologies, said in a phone interview.

And since the market is immature, blockchains may even be more vulnerable than other software. There are thousands of them, each with its own bugs. Until the field is winnowed to a few favorites, as happened with web browsers, securing them all will be a challenge.

“Each implementation is going to have its own problems,” Suiche said. “The more implementations, the harder it is to cover all of them.”

Blockchains can track identity information, property records and even digital car keys, not just cryptocurrency. But of course, they do that too, and stolen Bitcoins can be converted into hard cash.

So while hacking a blockchain may be harder than breaking into a retailer’s database, “the rewards are greater,” according to Andras Cser, an analyst at Forrester Research. “You have much more information you can steal.”

Exploiting Forks

Many blockchains started as forks that diverged from existing crypto ledgers, and as Taiwanese security researchers have pointed out, every fork gives hackers a new way to try to falsify data.
In a Dec. 25 paper, researchers at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers outlined ways hackers can spend the same Bitcoins twice, the very thing blockchains are meant to prevent. In a Balance Attack, for instance, hackers delay network communications between subgroups of miners, whose computers verify blockchain transactions, to allow for double spending.
More
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-18/hackers-have-walked-off-with-about-14-of-big-digital-currencies

Finally, and on to Davos. As usual this year, my invitation got lost in the mail. In 2018, who will trump Trump? Who would want to?

As Trump Shreds Global Trade Deals, Xi Basks in ‘Davos Man’ Role

By Enda Curran and Nick Wadhams
18 January 2018, 23:00 GMT
If one needed a reminder of how surreal the globalization debate has become in recent years, look no further than the talking salons of Davos.

Donald Trump and Xi Jinping, whose countries account for about 40 percent of the global economy, are offering competing visions for the future of global trade, capital flows and economic integration in this age of widening income inequality and populist angst.

In an historic role reversal, it’s the leader of the Chinese Communist Party who has emerged as a defender of the Davos consensus, last year using his speech in the Swiss ski resort to defend globalization. And it’s an American president -- the main event this year -- insisting his country’s economic interests take precedence over gauzy visions of a more inter-connected world.

Trump comes to the World Economic Forum, set to kick off on Jan. 23, with a rap sheet in the eyes of the Davos true believers. In his first year in office, he’s withdrawn the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal and the Paris Agreement on climate change. He’s threatened to renege on the Iran nuclear deal, a free-trade agreement with South Korea, and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

----"The threats to global trade integration should not be underestimated," said Eswar Prasad, a former chief of the International Monetary Fund’s China division and now a professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. "The Trump administration has fomented uncertainty in the rules of the game underpinning international trade."

As America withdraws, China’s global influence is growing. Xi has dispatched his trade negotiators to help formulate a new Asian trade pact in the wake of TPP. China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, which calls for massive infrastructure investment and the development of new trade routes, is reshaping the terrain in the world’s most economically dynamic region.

Xi won’t be attending Davos this year, with his top adviser on the economy set to represent China’s interests. The Chinese President’s speech last year was seen as a rebuttal against the protectionist threats of Trump, who was then just days away from taking office after a campaign littered with threats to take on China over trade issues.
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"We shouldn't pour cold water on everything.  We, the eight or nine players in global investment banking, have a very good future."

Deutsche Bank, CEO Josef Ackermann. Davos, January 2007.

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.
Today, here we go again with USA mortgage bundled securities. The more things change and all that. Some people never learn. Now if we can just get a US ratings agency to call them “triple-A.”  Perhaps we can even write new credit default swaps on them, you know it makes sense for the Great Vampire Squids! Lets just blockchain them in version 2.0, but where will we find the brains to run the new scheme?
Experience is what makes you pause briefly before going ahead and making the same mistake.

Mad Magazine.

Blockchain Eyed for Mortgage Bundling That Caused 2008 Crisis

By Matthew Leising
18 January 2018, 11:00 GMT
A group of big financial institutions wants to use the blockchain to help resurrect the packaging of home mortgages into securities, a business that almost destroyed the global banking system in 2008.
Credit Suisse Group AG, U.S. Bancorp, Wells Fargo & Co. and Western Asset Management Co. said Thursday that they successfully tested the distributed ledger technology as a way to make it easier to track securitized home loans.

Before the 2008 crisis, bundling home loans together and then selling those baskets to investors was a huge profit center for banks. But this was the primary cause of the meltdown after many borrowers couldn’t repay their debt and the value of the securitized loans crashed, causing trillions of dollars in losses.

The business then shrank dramatically. There were about $823 billion of securitized private-label residential mortgage bonds outstanding in early 2017, according to the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, down from a peak of $2.7 trillion in 2007.

“Structuring securities is complex, involving many different parties, manual processes, duplicated documents and data in different formats,” David Rutter, chief executive officer of blockchain startup R3, which is organizing the consortium, said in a statement Thursday. While the group is starting with residential mortgages that aren’t backed by the U.S. government, it plans to expand to other types of asset-backed securities. The next step is delivering a commercially viable product, R3 said.

Distributed ledgers consist of a network of users or companies that share access to a database to track things like Bitcoin payments or data reconciliation that’s vital to securitized mortgages.

“Distributed ledger technology will increasingly improve security around data, not just for capital markets but across numerous other industries,” Penny Morgan, global securities operations manager at Western Asset Management, said in the statement.

Blythe Masters

Blythe Masters (born 22 March 1969) is a former executive at JPMorgan Chase.[1] She is currently the CEO of Digital Asset Holdings,[2] a financial technology firm developing distributed ledger technology for wholesale financial services.[3] Masters is widely credited as the creator of the credit default swap as a financial instrument.

Credit default swap

A credit default swap (CDS) is a financial swap agreement that the seller of the CDS will compensate the buyer (usually the creditor of the reference loan) in the event of a loan default (by the debtor) or other credit event. That is, the seller of the CDS insures the buyer against some reference loan defaulting. The buyer of the CDS makes a series of payments (the CDS "fee" or "spread") to the seller and, in exchange, receives a payoff if the loan defaults. It was invented by Blythe Masters from JP Morgan in 1994.
“It is hard for us, without being flippant, to even see a scenario within any kind of realm of reason that would see us losing one dollar in any of those [CDS] transactions.”

Joseph J. Cassano, the former A.I.G. executive in charge of CDS, August 2007, on Credit Default Swaps that wiped out A.I.G in 2008.

Digital Asset is the leading provider of Distributed Ledger Technology to regulated financial institutions

CEO
Blythe joined Digital Asset in 2015 after 27 years at J.P.Morgan Chase where she rose to Managing Director at the age of 28. She was a member of the firm’s Executive Committee and the Investment Bank’s Operating Committee and served in numerous senior positions including Head of Global Commodities, CFO of the Investment Bank, and Head of Global Credit Portfolio and Credit Policy and Strategy. She served as the Chair of SIFMA and the GFMA, trade associations promoting public trust and confidence in financial markets. Blythe is currently on the board of The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and is co-Chair of the Global Fund for Women. She is also Group Senior Advisor on Blockchain for Banco Santander and Chair of Governing Board of Hyperledger at the Linux Foundation.

It’s morally wrong to let a sucker keep his money.

Ebenezer Squid, with apologies to W. C. Fields.
Technology Update.
With events happening fast in the development of solar power and graphene, I’ve added this section. Updates as they get reported. Is converting sunlight to usable cheap AC or DC energy mankind’s future from the 21st century onwards?

Semiconductor breakthrough may be game-changer for organic solar cells

Date: January 17, 2018

Source: University of Michigan

Summary: In an advance that could push cheap, ubiquitous solar power closer to reality, researchers have found a way to coax electrons to travel much further than was previously thought possible in the materials often used for organic solar cells and other organic semiconductors.

In an advance that could push cheap, ubiquitous solar power closer to reality, University of Michigan researchers have found a way to coax electrons to travel much further than was previously thought possible in the materials often used for organic solar cells and other organic semiconductors.

"For years, people had treated the poor conductivity of organics as an unavoidable fact, and this shows that that's not always the case," said Stephen Forrest, the Peter A. Franken Distinguished University Professor of Engineering and Paul G. Goebel Professor of Engineering at U-M, who led the research.

Unlike the inorganic solar cells widely used today, organics can be made of inexpensive, flexible carbon-based materials like plastic. Manufacturers could churn out rolls of them in a variety of colors and configurations, to be laminated unobtrusively into almost any surface.

Organics' notoriously poor conductivity, however, has slowed research. Forrest believes this discovery could change the game. The findings are detailed in a study published Jan. 17 in Nature.
The team showed that a thin layer of fullerene molecules -- the curious round carbon molecules also called Buckyballs -- can enable electrons to travel up to several centimeters from the point where they're knocked loose by a photon. That's a dramatic increase; in today's organic cells, electrons can travel only a few hundred nanometers or less.

Electrons, moving from one atom to another, make up the electric current in a solar cell or electronic component. Materials like silicon, used in today's inorganic solar cells and other semiconductors, have tightly bound atomic networks that make it easy for electrons to travel through the material.

But organic materials have much looser bonds between individual molecules, which can trap electrons. This has long been an Achilles' heel of organics, but the new discovery shows that it may be possible to tweak their conductive properties for specific applications.

The ability to make electrons move more freely in organic semiconductors could have far-reaching implications. For example, the surface of today's organic solar cells must be covered with a conductive electrode that collects electrons at the point where they're initially generated. But freely moving electrons can be collected far away from their point of origination. This could enable manufacturers to shrink the conductive electrode into an invisible grid, paving the way for transparent cells that could be used on windows and other surfaces.

----Forrest cautions that widespread use of the discovery in applications like solar cells is theoretical at this point. But, he is excited by the discovery's larger implications for understanding and exploiting the properties of organic semiconductors.

"I believe that ubiquitous solar power is the key to powering our constantly warming and increasingly crowded planet, and that means putting solar cells on everyday objects like building facades and windows," Forrest said. "Technology like this could help us produce power in a way that's inexpensive and nearly invisible."

The study is titled "Centimeter-Scale Electron Diffusion in Photoactive Organic Heterostructures." The research was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Program and by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.
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Another weekend, and the final weekend before the Davos elite get a lecture on making “America Great Again” from you know who. But will any of the Davosinians dare to take on “the Donald?”  Next week looks like being fun. Have a great weekend everyone.

"Amigo! Amigo!"

George W. Bush, calling out to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Spanish at the G-8 Summit, Rusutsu, Japan, July 10, 2008

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished December

DJIA: 24,719 +265 Up. NASDAQ:  6,903 +297 Up. SP500: 2,674 +199 Up.