Monday 26 February 2024

Month-End Looms. Suppose Inflation Returns?

Baltic Dry Index. 1866 +114           Brent Crude  81.28

Spot Gold 2032                     US 2 Year Yield 4.67 -0.02

 States have always needed intellectuals to con the public into believing that its rule is wise, good, and inevitable.

Murray Rothbard.

In the stock casinos, what’s not to like? The AI stock mania bubble bubbles on, until one day it doesn’t.

Why? Because all manias come to an end, when the smart money professionals have exited, leaving the suckers holding the large losses. It was ever thus on Wall Street, in the City and other stock gambling casinos around the world.

My guess and it’s only a guess, is that the current bubble blows up when later this year, inflation starts rising again or our next global recession starts to hit.

Below, the opening to our closing week of February. Time to dress up the markets for those all important professional money manager bonuses.


Japan’s Nikkei 225 extends rally to new highs; China set to snap nine-day winning streak

UPDATED MON, FEB 26 2024 12:38 AM EST

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index hit a fresh high Monday as traders returned from a long weekend, while China markets were set to snap a nine-day winning streak.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.3%, comfortably trading above its closing record of 39,098.68. The index breached its 1989 all-time high of 38,915.87 on Thursday. The broader Topix added 0.6%.

A strong rally in China stocks stalled on Monday, with the CSI 300 index down 0.5%.

South Korea’s financial regulatory body unveiled new measures to improve corporate governance on Monday, taking a leaf out of Japan’s playbook to help boost its undervalued markets and tackle the “Korea discount.”

But the measures did little to boost its main index on the day, with the Kospi down 0.6%. The small-cap Kosdaq rose 0.2%.

Investors will focus on a slew of economic data expected this week including China’s manufacturing purchasing managers’ index and the U.S. personal consumption expenditures price index data, which is the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.3%.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 ended 0.1% higher at 7,652.80.

Wall Street’s main indexes hit record highs Friday as investors closed out the week on an upbeat note.

The S&P 500 inched higher by 0.03% to close at 5,088.8, breaking above 5,100 for the first time earlier in the session.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.16% by close, also reaching a fresh record closing high. The Nasdaq Composite closed 0.28% lower but had notched a fresh all-time high earlier in the session.

Asia markets: Japan's Nikkei 225 extends rally to new highs (cnbc.com)

Stock futures tick lower ahead of key inflation data and corporate earnings: Live updates

UPDATED MON, FEB 26 2024 12:28 AM EST

Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down by 0.11%, while S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq 100 futures ticked lower by about 0.2% each.

Stocks are heading into the final week of February on a high note after the major indexes achieved new milestones on Friday and registered winning weeks with help from Nvidia’s blockbuster earnings. The blue-chip Dow closed at an all-time high of 39,131.53, the broad-market S&P at one point in the session broke above 5,100 for the first time and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite touched a 52-week high in Friday’s session.

Investors are now watching whether the AI momentum can last as economic and inflation risks linger. With that in mind, they’re also looking ahead to the monthly personal consumption expenditures price index, the Fed’s favored inflation gauge due out Thursday.

“Nvidia has been the gift that keeps on giving with blockbuster earnings reports driving semis, tech, and the broader market higher this past week. With the market now up over 20% since its Oct 2023 low, we would expect the market to take a breather at some point,” Stephanie Lang, chief investment officer at Homrich Berg, told CNBC. “A hotter than expected PCE report this week could be a data point that could dampen the market enthusiasm.”

“So far stocks have shrugged off the hawkish tone of the Fed as the AI halo has taken center stage, but the market is banking on the Fed’s orchestration of a soft landing and the longer the Fed waits the more risk there is to that happy ending,” she added. “Still the Fed is well aware that they want to avoid a repeat of a stop-and-go tightening of interest rates in the 1970s when they failed to control inflation so they remain patient to make sure they are confident their job is done.”

There’s a raft of economic releases on deck, including January durable orders data on Tuesday and January wholesale inventories on Wednesday. 

More

Stock futures tick lower ahead of key inflation data and corporate earnings: Live updates (cnbc.com)

 

European markets set to start the week lower as investors await inflation data

UPDATED MON, FEB 26 2024 12:42 AM EST

European markets are heading for a lower open Monday as global investors look ahead to more inflation data this week.

The monthly personal consumption expenditures price index, the U.S Federal Reserve’s favored inflation gauge, is due out Thursday.

U.S. equity futures inched lower Monday as investors looked forward to the latest inflation reading as well as a slew of big earnings reports this week.

Overnight in Asia-Pacific markets, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index hit a fresh high Monday as traders returned from a long weekend, while measures by South Korean authorities to boost its stock markets did little to push up the main index.

European markets live updates: stocks, news, data and earnings (cnbc.com)

 

Fed-Favored Inflation Gauge Seen Rising Most in a Year

Sat, February 24, 2024 at 9:00 PM GM

(Bloomberg) -- Underlying US inflation probably rose in January by the most in a year, as tracked by the Federal Reserve’s preferred metric, highlighting the long and bumpy path to taming price pressures.

The core personal consumption expenditures price index, which excludes food and energy costs, is seen rising 0.4% from a month earlier. That would mark the second straight monthly acceleration in a gauge that’s largely been receding over the past two years.

And when annualizing the data on a three- or six-month basis, both would rebound above 2% after dipping below the Fed’s target in December.

Fed officials have stressed they’re in no rush to lower borrowing costs and will only do so once they’re confident that inflation is retreating on a sustained basis.

The PCE data, due Thursday, will likely validate that stance and possibly further diminish market expectations for an interest-rate cut in the coming months.

Also due are the US government’s second estimate of fourth-quarter growth, durable goods orders, and the Institute of Supply Management’s manufacturing gauge for February. January figures for new- and pending-home sales will give the latest readout on the housing market, while the Conference Board and the University of Michigan will release separate measures of consumer sentiment.

What Bloomberg Economics Says:

“The stage is set for monthly PCE inflation to jump following hot CPI and PPI reports. While that certainly won’t put the Fed at ease, we think policymakers will largely look through the January increase. Temporary factors — including residual seasonality and the increase in prices of portfolio-management services — serve as critical drivers behind the January increase. Similarly, some of the expected gain in personal income comes from cost-of-living adjustments and an unsustainably high nonfarm-payroll print.”

More

Fed-Favored Inflation Gauge Seen Rising Most in a Year (yahoo.com)

In other news, move along, nothing to see here.

 

'Not in dreamland': WTO aims for modest outcomes at Abu Dhabi meeting

By Emma Farge and Rachna Uppal 

ABU DHABI, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Trade ministers from nearly every country in the world gather in Abu Dhabi on Monday for a World Trade Organization meeting that aims to set new global commerce rules, but even its ambitious chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has sought to curb expectations.

The almost 30-year-old global watchdog, whose rules underpin 75% of global commerce, tries to strike deals by consensus, but such efforts are becoming more and more difficult as signs grow that the global economy is fragmenting into separate blocs.

"Politically it's quite a tough time," Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told reporters before the meeting, referring to wars, tensions and upcoming elections. "(But) I'm hopeful we will still be able to pull out some of the deliverables."

While a deal among some 160 ministers on getting important internal reforms is plagued with obstacles, negotiators are still hoping for an agreement that could buoy global fish stocks and protect fishermen by banning government subsidies.

"We are not in dreamland here. International cooperation is in bad shape. Real success would be fish, plus two or three things," one trade delegate told Reuters.

Other outcomes from the four-day meeting that are either definite or achievable are the accession of two new members - Comoros and East Timor - and a deal among some 120 countries to remove development-hampering investment barriers.

Tougher areas are extending a 25-year moratorium on applying tariffs on digital trade, which South Africa and India oppose, and an agreement on agriculture trade rules that has eluded negotiators for decades.

More

'Not in dreamland': WTO aims for modest outcomes at Abu Dhabi meeting | Reuters

The natural tendency of government, once in charge of money, is to inflate and to destroy the value of the currency.

Murray Rothbard.

Global Inflation/Stagflation/Recession Watch.

Given our Magic Money Tree central banksters and our spendthrift politicians, inflation now needs an entire section of its own.

Today, more on why Europe will likely face yet more food price inflation in 2024.

 

Flooded Greek lake a warning to European farmers battling climate change

By Angeliki Koutantou 

KANALIA, Greece, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Sitting in a small motorboat, farmer Babis Evangelinos glides over land he once cultivated on the Thessaly plain in central Greece, the nearby trunks of his fruitless almond trees submerged by floodwater.

His small plot, near Lake Karla, is among tens of thousands of acres of cotton fields, almond trees and grazing lands that were wiped out by unprecedented flooding last year in one of Greece's key breadbaskets.

Five months on, much of the area - and a lot of expensive equipment - remain underwater. A pumping station meant to stop flooding is marooned in a shallow lake. Pelicans and herons, previously uninterested in the once dry plain, swoop overhead.

"I could never have imagined I would have to board a boat to get to see my land," said Evangelinos as he drifted by his sodden trees. "Work of a lifetime ruined, gone in three, four days of rain."

The situation has fuelled anger among farmers who, like many across Europe, have found their livelihoods under threat from rising costs and climate change, and created a headache for governments expected to pay the bill.

Farmers from India to France and Poland have taken to the streets in recent days, bemoaning competition from abroad, a lack of government support and low prices. Thousands descended on central Athens on Tuesday calling for more aid.

Greece has been buffeted by extreme weather too. Wildfires ripped through the north last year, then Storm Daniel dumped 18 months of rain in four days in September, raising questions about the Mediterranean country's ability to deal with an increasingly erratic climate. It also offers a warning of what other countries further north may face in future.

Daniel and another storm, Elias, flooded about 35,000 acres near Lake Karla in Thessaly plain, which accounts for 25% of Greece's agricultural produce and 5% of GDP. Some 30,000 farmers were impacted across the province.

Lake Karla had been drained in the 1960s to increase farmland and a small part of it was recovered in recent years, only for 450-500 million cubic metres of water to rush back in during the floods. The area near the Lake has a small man-made outlet, and HVA, a Dutch agricultural company hired by the government to assess the damage, said it could take up to two years for the water to subside.

More

Flooded Greek lake a warning to European farmers battling climate change | Reuters

 

Angry French farmers storm into agriculture fair in Paris

By Stephanie Lecocq and Manuel Ausloos 

PARIS, Feb 24 (Reuters) - A group of French farmers stormed into a major Paris farm fair on Saturday ahead of a planned visit by President Emmanuel Macron amid anger over costs, red tape and green regulations.

Facing dozens of police officers inside the trade fair, the farmers were shouting and booing, calling for the resignation of Macron and using expletives aimed at the French leader.

"This is our home!", they shouted, as lines of French CRS riot police sought to contain the demonstration. There were some clashes with demonstrators and the police arrested at least one of them, a Reuters witness saw.

----Macron, who met French farmers' union leaders over breakfast, was scheduled to walk within the alleys of the trade fair afterwards.

"I'm saying this for all farmers: you're not helping any of your colleagues by smashing up stands, you're not helping any of your colleagues by making the show impossible, and in a way scaring families away from coming," Macron told reporters after his meeting with union leaders.

----The Paris farm show - a major event in France, attracting around 600,000 visitors over nine days - is a political fixture, where presidents and their opponents are expected to engage with the public under intense media scrutiny.

Farmers' protests which have spread across Europe, have stoked concerns in France and beyond about their political fallout, given they represent a growing constituency for the far right, expected to make gains in European Parliament elections in June.

More

Angry French farmers storm into agriculture fair in Paris | Reuters

 

Farmers across Europe have been grappling with the devastating impact of heavy rainfall during the winter months. Let me share some insights from different regions:

1.      England: The country experienced one of the wettest winters in decades, with continuous heavy rain from October to December. Arable farmers faced challenges, including flooded fields and delayed planting. For instance, Andrew Ward, a Lincolnshire-based farmer, shared how his godson’s farm was submerged in two meters of water, potentially resulting in a loss of £70,000. Overall, thousands of acres of crops were affected, leading to financial strain for many farmers1.

2.      Belgium and Germany: These countries were particularly hard-hit by heavy rains, impacting agricultural buildings, farms, and crops. The floods effectively eliminated some harvests, leaving farmers in dire situations2.

3.      Netherlands: Flooding affected homes, streets, and farmland. The fruit and vegetable sector also suffered significant damage due to the excessive rainfall3.

4.      European Union (EU): Farmers have been protesting across the EU for various reasons, including concerns about climate-related challenges and regulations. Extreme weather events, such as heavy rain, contribute to food shocks and further exacerbate the situation4.

Copilot with GPT-4 (bing.com)

Covid-19 Corner

This section will continue until it becomes unneeded.

Today, the UK doctors its excess death statistics. What could they possibly be trying to cover up? Covid vaccines? They wouldn’t do that, would they?  Approx. 10 minutes.

Change in death stats

Change in death stats - YouTube

How to Lie with Statistics

How to Lie with Statistics is a book written by Darrell Huff in 1954, presenting an introduction to statistics for the general reader. Not a statistician, Huff was a journalist who wrote many how-to articles as a freelancer.

The book is a brief, breezy illustrated volume outlining the misuse of statistics and errors in the interpretation of statistics, and how errors create incorrect conclusions.

In the 1960s and 1970s, it became a standard textbook introduction to the subject of statistics for many college students. It has become one of the best-selling statistics books in history, with over one and a half million copies sold in the English-language edition.[1] It has also been widely translated.

More

How to Lie with Statistics - Wikipedia

Technology Update.

With events happening fast in the development of solar power and graphene, among other things, I’ve added this section. Updates as they get reported.

Electrons become fractions of themselves in graphene, study finds

February 23, 2024

The electron is the basic unit of electricity, as it carries a single negative charge. This is what we're taught in high school physics, and it is overwhelmingly the case in most materials in nature.

But in very special states of matter, electrons can splinter into fractions of their whole. This phenomenon, known as "fractional charge," is exceedingly rare, and if it can be corralled and controlled, the exotic electronic state could help to build resilient, fault-tolerant quantum computers.

To date, this effect, known to physicists as the "fractional quantum Hall effect," has been observed a handful of times, and mostly under very high, carefully maintained magnetic fields. Only recently have scientists seen the effect in a material that did not require such powerful magnetic manipulation.

Now, MIT physicists have observed the elusive fractional charge effect, this time in a simpler material: five layers of graphene—an atom-thin layer of carbon that stems from graphite and common pencil lead. They report their results in Nature.

They found that when five sheets of graphene are stacked like steps on a staircase, the resulting structure inherently provides just the right conditions for electrons to pass through as fractions of their total charge, with no need for any external magnetic field.

The results are the first evidence of the "fractional quantum anomalous Hall effect" (the term "anomalous" refers to the absence of a magnetic field) in crystalline graphene, a material that physicists did not expect to exhibit this effect.

"This five-layer graphene is a material system where many good surprises happen," says study author Long Ju, assistant professor of physics at MIT. "Fractional charge is just so exotic, and now we can realize this effect with a much simpler system and without a magnetic field. That in itself is important for fundamental physics. And it could enable the possibility for a type of quantum computing that is more robust against perturbation."

---- The fractional quantum Hall effect is an example of the weird phenomena that can arise when particles shift from behaving as individual units to acting together as a whole. This collective "correlated" behavior emerges in special states, for instance when electrons are slowed from their normally frenetic pace to a crawl that enables the particles to sense each other and interact. These interactions can produce rare electronic states, such as the seemingly unorthodox splitting of an electron's charge.

More, much, much more.

Electrons become fractions of themselves in graphene, study finds (msn.com)

The State is, and always has been, the great single enemy of the human race, its liberty, happiness, and progress. 

Murray Rothbard.


Saturday 24 February 2024

Special Update 24/2/2024 A Crack-Up Boom Underway?

Baltic Dry Index. 1866 +114           Brent Crude 81.62

Spot Gold 2035                  U S 2 Year Yield 4.67 -0.02

 The most important thing to remember is that inflation is not an act of God, that inflation is not a catastrophe of the elements or a disease that comes like the plague. Inflation is a policy.

Ludwig von Mises.

In the global stock casinos, the final bout of stock mania AI feeding frenzy.  Is the crack-up boom underway?


Dow rises to close at fresh record, S&P 500 hits all-time high: Live updates

UPDATED FRI, FEB 23 2024 4:36 PM EST

The S&P 500 stabilized Friday after hitting another record as investors wrapped the week on a high note.

The S&P 500 inched higher by 0.03% to close at 5,088.80. Earlier Friday, the broad market index broke above 5,100 for the first time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 62.42 points, or 0.16%, also reaching a fresh record and closing at an all-time high of 39,131.53. The Nasdaq Composite lost 0.28% to close at 15,996.82, but had notched a fresh 52-week high earlier in the session.

All three major averages registered winning weeks. The S&P 500 advanced 1.66%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 1.4% this week. The Dow is up 1.3% for the period.

“The question from here is do investors shake that momentum? We’ve run up so far, so quickly. It might not make a lot of sense to chase that type of momentum,” said Charlie Ripley, senior investment strategist at Allianz Investment Management.

“Obviously, we haven’t seen quite the momentum as we have from technology stocks...I think that does pose some risks in terms of where the index goes ultimately, because clearly everything’s front-loaded into the technology shares,” he added.

Wall Street is coming off a monster day as Nvidia shares roared on strong quarterly results, leading the chipmaker to briefly surpass a $2 trillion valuation. On Thursday, the S&P 500 had its best day since January 2023, while the Nasdaq Composite popped nearly 3% for its best session since February 2023. The 30-stock Dow gained about 1.2%.

More

Stock market today: Live updates (cnbc.com)

 

European stocks close higher as Stoxx 600 notches fresh record; Standard Chartered up 6%

UPDATED FRI, FEB 23 2024 11:58 AM EST

European stocks closed higher Friday, extending positive momentum after the pan-European benchmark finished at a record high.

After a slow start to the week, the regional Stoxx 600 index has pushed higher over the last two sessions on a mix of data and earnings, gaining 0.4% on Friday. Autos stocks were up 1%, while technology stocks fell 0.33%.

Earnings from Standard Chartered showed an 18% increase in pre-tax profits, pushing shares up 9.8% before paring gains. Meanwhile, Allianz shares sunk 3.2% after fourth-quarter operating profits in its property division came in below expectations.

U.K. consumer confidence dipped in February, new survey data from GfK showed Friday, indicating that higher inflation continues to weigh on hopes of an economic upturn.

U.S. stocks are also scaling record levels, with the S&P 500 index breaking above 5,100 for the first time on Friday. 

In Asia-Pacific, markets finished mostly higher, with China stocks rising for the ninth straight session as investors digested property prices data.

European markets live updates: stocks, news, data and earnings (cnbc.com)

What Is a Crack-Up Boom? Definition, History, Causes and Examples 

Updated October 06, 2021

What Is a Crack-Up Boom?

A crack-up boom is an economic crisis that involves a recession in the real economy and a collapse of the monetary system due to continual credit expansion and resulting in unsustainable, rapid price increases. This concept of a crack-up boom was developed by Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises as a part of the Austrian business cycle theory (ABCT).1

The crack-up boom is characterized by two key features: 1) excessively expansionary monetary policy that, in addition to the normal consequences described in ABCT, leads to out-of-control inflation expectations and 2) a resulting bout of hyperinflation which ends in the abandonment of the currency by market participants and a simultaneous recession or depression.

More

What Is a Crack-Up Boom? Definition, History, Causes and Examples (investopedia.com)

In Europe, inflation shock, with more food price inflation to come from Ireland through to northern Europe’s 2023-2024 great rains.

 

Central Europe's shoppers still shell-shocked even as inflation ebbs

By Gergely Szakacs and Karl Badohal 

----"We expect weak consumer sentiment to persist in the European market in 2024 as consumers opt for lower prices and delay non-essential or occasional expenditure," Peter Toth, head of Central and Eastern Europe South sales area at Electrolux, told Reuters when asked about the health of demand on the European Union's eastern wing.

The reality across the region is that there are scant signs of a recovery in consumption that governments were counting on to offset weaker demand for exports from a stuttering German economy and pull the region out from last year's inflation-led downturn.

Both the Czech Republic and Hungary slid into recession, while Poland avoided it by the narrowest of margins.

Just four weeks into the new year, the Czech government cut its 2024 growth forecast citing weaker-than-expected recovery in consumption, while the Hungarian central bank has issued a similar warning.

Even in Poland, which is expected to see the sharpest wage gains in the region this year, consumer spending was off to a mixed start in January after the gross savings rate dipped into negative territory in four quarters since the start of 2022.

While a jump in vehicle and car part sales and housing renovations lifted headline retail sales data above forecasts, economists at Bank Pekao said January was a "hopeless month" for clothing, while other durable goods sales also fell.

"We remain sceptical about the potential of the Polish consumer," it said. "In our opinion, 2024 will be a year of saving rather than a consumption boom. Of the 7-8% real increase in income, Polish consumers will spend approximately half."

Data published on Wednesday showed how a steady improvement in consumer sentiment since late 2022 stalled in February amid renewed concerns about Poland's and households' economic prospects.

"The relatively low gross household savings rate compared to other central and eastern European countries could have a dampening effect on the recovery of private consumption," Fitch Ratings associate director Malgorzata Krzywicka said, while adding she still saw consumption contributing something to overall growth.

Despite some recent improvement, consumer confidence in the Czech Republic and Hungary remains weak, with grocery prices now close to those in the euro zone where disposable incomes are substantially higher.

These countries face the weakest recovery prospects in central Europe in 2024 based on the European Commission's latest forecasts, which projected 2.7% growth for Poland, below Warsaw's estimate for 3% or more.

More

Central Europe's shoppers still shell-shocked even as inflation ebbs | Reuters

 

‘Our yields are going to be appalling’: one of wettest winters in decades hits England’s farms

February 23, 2024

“We have had the wettest October, November and December since we started keeping records 27 years ago,” says Andrew Ward, a Lincolnshire-based arable farmer.

He flicks through videos on his phone of nearby fields that have been devastated by the heavy rain this winter, including one that shows him in front of what looks like a lake.

“That is my godson’s farm,” he says, pointing out the two-metre-deep water that has completely engulfed the land. “He’s been flooded since October [...] The farm was drilled and fertilised [before the rain], so he may have lost £70,000 in one go.”

Fortunately for Ward, his 650-hectare (1,600-acre) farm, which produces wheat, sugar beet, barley and beans, has not been as waterlogged, but the high rainfall has taken its toll.

“We managed to get about 25% of winter crops planted [...] Our yields this harvest are going to be appalling,” he adds.

Speak to farmers across the country and you will hear similar stories of how one of the wettest winters in decades has ruined thousands of acres of crops and put farms under tremendous financial pressure.

Few regions have been spared.

In the 12 months to January, only four of England’s 139 hydrological areas (regions around rivers, lakes and other water sources) were classed as having normal rainfall levels. Of the remaining areas, 47 were rated as having notably high levels, and 76 – more than half – were deemed exceptionally high.

The Kent area, known as “the garden of England” and home to many arable farmers, experienced its wettest 12-month period since records began.

Regions near major rivers such as the Wear, Don, Calder, Derwent, Mersey and Irwell reported the wettest six-month period since records began.

While January provided some respite, the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH) said the saturation from the previous months of heavy rain meant soil had not had a chance to dry out, and the high February rain meant problems persisted.

For the 1,500 delegates at the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) conference this week, flooding was top of the agenda in the conference halls and coffee breaks.

----The forecasts for this year’s harvest look gloomy. The Agricultural and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) is predicting that wheat outputs will drop by a quarter.

David Eudall, the economics and analysis director at the AHDB, says: “In 2019-2020 when we had a very similar wet period through the autumn and winter for planting, we saw a 24% reduction in the planted area.

“Considering we’re in a similar area and have similar weather pattern we’d expect we’re going to see a similar magnitude of scale.”

That means production falling from about 14m tonnes of wheat, to about 10m tonnes.

The drier spring season would usually provide a chance for new crops to be sown. But increased demand for spring seed from farmers who missed out on planting in the winter because of the rain has led to shortages and higher costs.

“Seed availability is a massive problem,” says Ward. “Merchants are trying to get seed from abroad, which costs horrendous amounts of money.”

More

‘Our yields are going to be appalling’: one of wettest winters in decades hits England’s farms (msn.com)

Finally, more of the world turns against the USA for its supine response to Israel’s murderous war on the Gaza Ghetto’s women and children. And not before time too.

 

MSF slams US on Gaza at UN, says children as young as 5 want to die

By Michelle Nichols 

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 22 (Reuters) - The head of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) told the United Nations Security Council on Thursday that medical teams in the Gaza Strip have come up with a new acronym: WCNSF - wounded child, no surviving family.

"Children who do survive this war will not only bear the visible wounds of traumatic injuries, but the invisible ones too," MSF International Secretary General Christopher Lockyear told the 15-member council.

"There is a repeated displacement, constant fear and witnessing family members literally dismembered before their eyes," he said. "These psychological injuries have led children as young as five to tell us that they would prefer to die."

Lockyear slammed the United States, saying he was appalled it had repeatedly used its veto power to block the council from demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the war between Israel and Palestinian militants Hamas in Gaza.

"The people of Gaza need a ceasefire, not when practicable, but now. They need a sustained ceasefire, not a temporary period of calm," Lockyear said. "Anything short of this is gross negligence."

The U.S. has vetoed three U.N. Security Council resolutions since the start of the current fighting on Oct. 7, most recently blocking on Tuesday a demand for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire as it instead pushes council to call for a temporary ceasefire linked to the release of hostages held by Hamas.

China's U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun told the council he felt "appalled" by Lockyear's briefing.

"We hope the tragic picture that he painted of Gaza for us can touch the conscience of a certain member of this council," Zhang said.

The United States had said it was concerned that the draft resolution it vetoed on Tuesday could jeopardize talks between the U.S., Egypt, Israel and Qatar that seek to broker a six week pause in the war and the release of hostages.

Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Robert Wood did not acknowledge Lockyear's briefing. He said the U.S. was pushing Israel to allow more aid into Gaza and had told its ally it should not proceed with a ground offensive in Rafah in southern Gaza "in the absence of a viable plan to protect civilians."

----Britain's U.N. Ambassador Barbara Woodward described Lockyear's briefing as "harrowing." Britain abstained on Tuesday's vote, while the remaining 13 council members voted in favor of the Algerian-drafted resolution.

Slovenia's U.N. Ambassador to the Security Council, Samuel Zbogar, asked: "What kind of a council have we become if we remain untouched by the tearful briefing that we heard today by the secretary general of Médecins Sans Frontières?"

The war began when fighters from the Hamas militant group that runs Gaza attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and capturing 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies. In retaliation, Israel launched a military assault on Gaza that health authorities say has killed nearly 30,000 Palestinians with thousands more bodies feared lost amid the ruins.

"Today our staff are back at work risking their lives once again for their patients. What are you willing to risk?" Lockyear asked the council.

MSF slams US on Gaza at UN, says children as young as 5 want to die | Reuters

Global Inflation/Stagflation/Recession Watch.   

Given our Magic Money Tree central banksters and our spendthrift politicians,  inflation/recession now needs an entire section of its own.

106 Years of Money-Printing Replicated In Mere Months…

 

Still, here’s one powerful metric that our mad-money pumpers in Washington surely didn’t notice as they ran the Fed’s printing presses red hot. To wit, the Fed’s balance sheet crossed the $5.2 trillion mark for the very first time in history on March 25, 2020.

 

That’s right. It took the Fed 106 years from the day it opened its doors for business in 1914 to reach the $5.2 trillion mark. And then it nearly replicated that figure in a matter of months.

David Stockman, Contra Corner.

Has US Debt become a global problem? Simple answer, probably, but when and why?

Government debt is never a problem, until one day, usually for unexpected reasons, suddenly it is.

The Huns, and others, in December 406 cross the frozen river Rhine and sack much of the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire in the west goes into decline.

GB foolishly gets involved in WW1 and goes bust. Later gets into WW2 for Poland, which can't be supported from GB or France, and having turned down Stalin's offer of a pact with GB and France to defend Poland, Stalin does a deal with Hitler. GB goes bust for a second time in less than 40 years.

President Biden Joe Biden weaponises the dollar, causing 2/3rds of the world to start looking for ways to de-dollarise trade!!! The latest being Egypt.

 

U.S. publicly held debt 2013-2023

Statista Research Department

 In December 2023, the public debt of the United States was around 34.2 trillion U.S. dollars, over two trillion more than in July when it was around 32.6 trillion U.S. dollars. The U.S. public debt ceiling has become one of the most prominent political issues in the States in recent years, with debate over how to handle it causing political turmoil between Democrats and Republicans.

The public debt

The public debt of the United States has risen quickly since 2000, and in 2022 was more than five times higher than in 2000. The public debt is the total outstanding debt that is owed by the federal government. This figure is comprised of debt owed to the public (for example, through bonds) and intragovernmental debt (debt owed to various governmental departments), such as Social Security.

More

Public debt U.S. by month 2023 | Statista

Gross Domestic Product, Fourth Quarter and Year 2023 (Advance Estimate)

Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 3.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2023 (table 1), according to the "advance" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the third quarter, real GDP increased 4.9 percent.

The GDP estimate released today is based on source data that are incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency (refer to "Source Data for the Advance Estimate" on page 3). The "second" estimate for the fourth quarter, based on more complete data, will be released on February 28, 2024.

---- Compared to the third quarter of 2023, the deceleration in real GDP in the fourth quarter primarily reflected slowdowns in private inventory investment, federal government spending, residential fixed investment, and consumer spending. Imports decelerated.

Current‑dollar GDP increased 4.8 percent at an annual rate, or $328.7 billion, in the fourth quarter to a level of $27.94 trillion. In the third quarter, GDP increased 8.3 percent, or $547.1 billion (tables 1 and 3).

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Gross Domestic Product, Fourth Quarter and Year 2023 (Advance Estimate) | U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)

The advocates of public control cannot do without inflation. They need it in order to finance their policy of reckless spending and of lavishly subsidizing and bribing the voters.

Ludwig von Mises.

Covid-19 Corner

This section will continue until it becomes unneeded.

Two new rare Covid vaccine side effects revealed by global study of over 99 million people

February 23, 2024

A global study of over 99 million people across eight countries has identified two new harmful but very rare side effects of Covid-19 vaccines, an advance that could lead to better health monitoring of immunised people.

Researchers part of an international collaboration called the Global Vaccine Data Network (GVDN) hosted at the University of Auckland assessed 13 neurological, blood, and heart-related medical conditions to see if there was a greater risk of them in patients after receiving a Covid-19 vaccine.

The study assessed deidentified data of millions of people who received a Covid-19 vaccine, and examined if there is a greater risk of developing a medical condition in various periods after getting a vaccine compared with before the vaccine became available.

It found that some patients had heart inflammation conditions like myocarditis and pericarditis after they took mRNA vaccines, and some had muscle-weakening Guillain-Barré syndrome and a type of blood clot in the brain after taking viral vector vaccines.

Researchers also found signs of inflammation of part of the spinal cord (transverse myelitis) after taking viral vector vaccines as well as inflammation and swelling in the brain and spinal cord – also known as acute disseminated encephalomyelitis – after some people took viral vector and mRNA vaccines.

However, the chances of having a neurological event after infection with the novel coronavirus were up to 617-fold higher than following Covid-19 vaccination, suggesting that the “benefits of vaccination substantially outweigh the risks,” scientists say.

“This multi-country analysis confirmed pre-established safety signals for myocarditis, pericarditis, Guillain-Barré syndrome, and cerebral venous sinus thrombosis,” scientists wrote, adding that “other potential safety signals” requiring further studies were also identified

“The size of the population in this study increased the possibility of identifying rare potential vaccine safety signals. Single sites or regions are unlikely to have a large enough population to detect very rare signals,” study co-author Kristýna Faksová said in a statement.

Researchers are conducting further studies to build upon the current understanding of Covid-19 vaccines to better unravel their safety using big data.

“By making the data dashboards publicly available, we are able to support greater transparency, and stronger communications to the health sector and public,” Helen Petousis-Harris, another author of the study, said.

While the study identified rare safety signals following Covid-19 vaccination, scientists say “further investigation is warranted to confirm associations and assess clinical significance” of these findings.

Two new rare Covid vaccine side effects revealed by global study of over 99 million people (msn.com)

Technology Update.

With events happening fast in the development of solar power and graphene, I’ve added this section.

This weekend something different. The invention of the decimal point.

The invention of the decimal dot that changed mathematics forever

Michael Irving  February 21, 2024

Historians have discovered what may be the world's first decimal point, in an ancient manuscript written 150 years before its next known appearance. There have been many ways to split integers, but this little dot has proven uniquely powerful.

The mathematics we all learn at school seems so fundamental that it doesn’t feel like individual concepts in it would need “inventing,” but these pieces arose separately as scientists and mathematicians realized they were needed. For instance, scientists recently found the oldest written record of the numeral “0,” dating back 500 years earlier than previously thought.

Now, it looks like the decimal point is also older than expected. Ever since we’ve realized we sometimes need to break numbers into smaller fragments, humans have denoted the difference using various symbols – dashes, vertical lines, arcs and underscores have filled the role, but none of those have survived into modern usage. Commas and periods are the most common now, so when did they start?

Previously, the earliest known use of a period as a decimal point was thought to be an astronomical table by the German mathematician Christopher Clavius in 1593. But according to modern scientists, that kind of test is a weird place to introduce such a massive concept to the world, and Clavius didn’t really go on to use the idea much in his later writings. Basically, if he realized the need for the concept and invented a neat way to display and work with it, why didn’t he brag about it?

The answer, it seems, is that Clavius was just borrowing an older idea that had essentially been lost to time, and wasn’t the preferred method in his era. A new study has found that the decimal point dates back to the 1440s – about 150 years earlier – first appearing in the writings of Italian mathematician Giovanni Bianchini.

Bianchini was a professor of mathematics and astronomy at the University of Ferrara, but he also had a background in what we’d now call finance – he was a merchant, and managed assets and investments for a wealthy ruling family of the time. That real-world experience seems to have influenced his mathematical work, since Bianchini was known to have created his own system of dividing measurement units like feet into 10 equal parts to make them easier to work with. As fundamental as it feels to modern sensibilities, it didn’t catch on with the 15th century crowd who were used to a base-60 system.

More

The invention of the decimal dot that changed mathematics forever (newatlas.com)

This weekend’s music diversion.  Another long-forgotten maestro. Approx. 7  minutes.

Francesco Maria Veracini - Concerto à otto stromenti in D Major (3rd mvt)

F. M. Veracini: Concerto a otto stromenti (1712) - III. [no movement title] (youtube.com)

Francesco Maria Veracini (1 February 1690 – 31 October 1768) was an Italian composer and violinist, perhaps best known for his sets of violin sonatas. As a composer, according to Manfred Bukofzer, "His individual, if not subjective, style has no precedent in baroque music and clearly heralds the end of the entire era",[1] while Luigi Torchi maintained that "he rescued the imperiled music of the eighteenth century",[2] His contemporary, Charles Burney, held that "he had certainly a great share of whim and caprice, but he built his freaks on a good foundation, being an excellent contrapuntist".[3] The asteroid 10875 Veracini was named after him.

Much, more.

Francesco Maria Veracini - Wikipedia

This weekend’s chess update. Approx. 13 minutes.

Fighting Spirit is Always Rewarded!

Fighting Spirit is Always Rewarded! (youtube.com)

Finally,  the Leaning Tower of Pisa New York.  Approx. 15 minutes.

Abandoned - 1 Seaport (New York's Leaning Tower)

Abandoned - 1 Seaport (New York's Leaning Tower) (youtube.com)

The Anglo-Portuguese Alliance is the world’s oldest alliance in known history, established by the Treaty of Windsor in 1386. The Portuguese and English alliance was signed on May 19, 1386, between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Portugal. These two countries have always had a strong friendship throughout the centuries, dating back to 1147 when English crusaders helped King Alfonso I capture Lisbon from the Moors.

Anglo-Portuguese Alliance: The World’s Oldest Alliance - Portugal.com