Thursday, 4 August 2016

Super Thursday at the BOE.

Baltic Dry Index. 641 -04     Brent Crude 43.30

LIR Gold Target in 2019: $30,000.  Revised due to QE programs.

“Life is a compromise of what your ego wants to do, what experience tells you to do, and what your nerves let you do.”

Walter Bagehot.
Walter Bagehot was a British journalist, businessman, and essayist, who wrote extensively about government, economics, and literature in the mid 19th century.

We open with the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street thinking about cutting Britain’s key interest rate to a new record low today, following Britain’s Brexit vote.  The move is widely anticipated by “the experts.”  But will a drop from 0.50 percent to 0.25 percent really make much difference in the UK economy? What happens next in the economies of America, China and the European  Union, will drive what happens next in the UK economy.
We must not let daylight in upon the magic.

Walter Bagehot.

Expect the Bank of England to cut rates on ‘Super Thursday’ — here’s why

Published: Aug 3, 2016 11:19 a.m. ET

Brexit sparks economic jitters, piling pressure on BOE to act

The Bank of England is widely expected to cut interest rates for the first time in seven years this week, in reaction to a string of data pointing to a sharp economic downturn following the U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union.

After shocking market participants by failing to deliver any policy moves at its July meeting, analysts are now virtually certain Gov. Mark Carney and the bank’s Monetary Policy Committee will deliver some highly anticipated easing measures aimed at countering the Brexit-induced hit to the economy. The central bank will release its rate decision, minutes and quarterly inflation report on Thursday, in what has been dubbed “Super Thursday.”

“Even if they had not fully made up their minds at [the previous meeting], the weakness of the flash [purchasing managers indexes] since that meeting—as well as other evidence from business and consumer confidence surveys—is likely to have sealed the deal. We expect a 25 basis points cut to the bank rate to 0.25%, and measures to support credit to the real economy,” analysts at HSBC said in a note.

The Bank of England hasn’t touched the bank rate since March 2009, when it lowered it to a record-low of 0.5% in the midst of the financial crisis. At the July 14 meeting, analysts were almost convinced the policy makers would move in a bid to support the economy after the surprise Brexit vote on June 23. In the run-up to the referendum, the central bank had warned of grave consequences to the U.K. economy in the event of a “leave” vote, sparking expectations the BOE would immediately jump to the rescue.

Below, GB’s Brexit vote looks smarter with each passing week. Following an exit from the dying, sclerotic EUSSR, John Bull gains the flexibility to rejoin trading with the Rest of the World once again, free from the straitjacket of a 28 nation trade committee.

ASEAN expects China, Brexit to slow economic growth in 2016

Thu Aug 4, 2016 1:08am EDT
Economic growth in ASEAN countries was expected to dip to 4.5 percent in 2016 from 4.7 percent last year due to China's slowdown and uncertainties related to Britain's vote to leave the European Union, the member states said in a statement.

Economic ministers meeting in Laos, which holds the ASEAN chairmanship this year, said jointly that growth in the 10-nation group's $2.4 trillion economy should recover to 4.7 percent next year due to "strong private and public consumption and improved efficiency in infrastructure."

"The region is exposed to ... continued moderation in the Chinese economy, to uncertainties over the new relationship between the UK and the EU after Brexit," the statement said, adding that ASEAN remained committed to further integration.

Import duties on 99.2 percent of tariffs in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand and 90.9 percent in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam have been eliminated, the ministers said on the integration progress.

About a quarter of the group's total trade of $2.3 trillion is intra-ASEAN. China is ASEAN's top external partner, with 15 percent of the total, followed by Japan, the European Union and the United States.

The countries also said they aim to harmonize economic strategies, recognize each other's professional qualifications, improve custom clearance and intellectual property rules, and close the development gap between the poorer members - Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar - and the rest of the region.

---- ASEAN's closer economic integration is considered a major step forward from what has been considered since the earliest days of its existence as a political project for peaceful regional relations.

A joint report by AmCham Singapore and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce published on Thursday showed that 53 percent of the U.S. companies thought ASEAN has become more important in terms of worldwide revenue in the past two years. About two thirds said it will become more important in the next two years.

We close with China, still slowing and reverting to old fashioned Maoism.

China July service sector growth eases, employment falls for first time in four months: Caixin PMI

Wed Aug 3, 2016 2:33am EDT
Aug 3 - Growth in China's services sector cooled in July, with weaker expansions in activity and new work prompting companies to shed staff for first time in four months as they looked to cut costs, a private survey showed on Wednesday.

The findings contrast with a more upbeat official survey on Monday, raising concerns that China is still facing hurdles to its plans to transform the economy into one more reliant on domestic consumption than heavy industry and exports.

The Caixin/Markit services purchasing managers' index (PMI) fell to 51.7 in July on a seasonally adjusted basis, from an 11-month peak of 52.7 in June.

While still above the 50 mark that demarcates expansion from contraction on a monthly basis, a breakdown of the activity index showed growth momentum was slowing broadly, while employment fell, albeit at a modest rate.

"All of the index categories showed signs of deterioration, with employment falling back into contraction territory after three consecutive months of growth," said Zhengsheng Zhong, director of macroeconomic analysis at CEBM Group.

Cost-cutting programs and the non-replacement of voluntary leavers both contributed to lower workforce numbers, IHS Markit cited survey respondents as saying.
Beijing has been counting on a growing services sector to pick up the slack as it tries to restructure the economy and cut overcapacity in industrial sectors such as steel and mining. A prolonged downturn in those areas and stubbornly weak exports have helped pull economic growth to its lowest in 25 years.

China sentences activist linked to law firm for state subversion

Wed Aug 3, 2016 4:47am EDT
A court in China sentenced an activist to seven and a half years in prison on Wednesday for subverting state power, state media reported, the latest jailing linked to a crackdown on human rights lawyers.

President Xi Jinping's administration has tightened its grip on almost every aspect of civil society since 2012, citing the need to improve national security and stability.

Dozens of lawyers and activists associated with the Beijing Fengrui law firm, which has represented several high-profile clients, have been swept up in the crackdown and held since July last year, triggering international criticism.

State media has accused the firm and its associates of orchestrating protests outside courts and politicizing ordinary legal cases in order to attract international attention.

Activist Hu Shigen, 60, sentenced in the northeastern city of Tianjin, was associated with the law firm.

The official Xinhua news agency cited prosecutors as saying he had used his "illegal religious activities" at an underground church as a platform to "spread ideology of subverting state power".

On Tuesday, Tianjin authorities convicted another prominent activist Zhai Yanmin, 55, on similar charges. They are expected to prosecute other associates of the firm, including director Zhou Shifeng and activist Gou Hongguo.

Hu encouraged Zhai to organize professional petitioners to "cause chaos" and "fire-up hatred for the government", Xinhua said.

"I wanted to discredit the courts, public security and the government," the news agency cited Hu as saying, adding that he was "deeply involved with foreign anti-China forces".

"The defendant and defenders did not object to any evidence present by prosecutors," Xinhua said.

The court did not answer telephone calls seeking comment.

A Parliament is nothing less than a big meeting of more or less idle people.

Walter Bagehot.

At the Comex silver depositories Wednesday final figures were: Registered 26.97 Moz, Eligible 126.48 Moz, Total 153.45 Moz. 

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.
It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.
Joseph Stalin.

America’s Electronic Voting Machines Are Scarily Easy Targets

Brian Barrett Security Date of Publication: 08.02.16. 08.02.16
This week, GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump openly speculated that this election would be “rigged.” Last month, Russia decided to take an active role in our election. There’s no basis for questioning the results of a vote that’s still months away. But the interference and aspersions do merit a fresh look at the woeful state of our outdated, insecure electronic voting machines.

We’ve previously discussed the sad state of electronic voting machines in America, but it’s worth a closer look as we approach election day itself, and within the context of increased cyber-hostilities between the US and Russia. Besides, by now states have had plenty of warning since a damning report by the Brennan Center for Justice about our voting machine vulnerabilities came out last September. Surely matters must have improved since then.

Well, not exactly. In fact, not really at all.

Rise of the Machines

Most people remember the vote-counting debacle of the 2000 election, the dangling chads that resulted in the Supreme Court breaking a Bush-Gore deadlock. What people may not remember is the resulting Help America Vote Act (HAVA), passed in 2002, which among other objectives worked to phase out the use of the punchcard voting systems that had caused millions of ballots to be tossed.

In many cases, those dated machines were replaced with electronic voting systems. The intentions were pure. The consequences were a technological train wreck.

“People weren’t thinking about voting system security or all the additional challenges that come with electronic voting systems,” says the Brennan Center’s Lawrence Norden. “Moving to electronic voting systems solved a lot of problems, but created a lot of new ones.”

The list of those problems is what you’d expect from any computer or, more specifically, any computer that’s a decade or older. Most of these machines are running Windows XP, for which Microsoft hasn’t released a security patch since April 2014. Though there’s no evidence of direct voting machine interference to date, researchers have demonstrated that many of them are susceptible to malware or, equally if not more alarming, a well-timed denial of service attack.

“When people think that people think about doing something major to impact our election results at the voting machine, they think they’d try to switch results,” says Norden, referring to potential software tampering. “But you can do a lot less than that and do a lot of damage… If you have machines not working, or working slowly, that could create lots of problems too, preventing people from voting at all.”

The extent of vulnerability isn’t just hypothetical; late last summer, Virginia decertified thousands of insecure WinVote machines. As one security researcher described it, “anyone within a half mile could have modified every vote, undetected” without “any technical expertise.” The vendor had gone out of business years prior.

The WinVote systems are an extreme case, but not an isolated one. Other voting machine models have potentially vulnerable wireless components; Virginia’s just the only one where a test proved how bad the situation was.

A severe though not unfriendly critic of our institutions said that the cure for admiring the House of Lords was to go and look at it.

Walter Bagehot.

Solar  & Related 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? DC? A quantum computer next?

BAC Mono is first to use 'revolutionary' graphene material

Lightweight material is made from carbon sheets just one atom thick; lighter and stronger than carbonfibre, it offers performance and economy benefits
by Autocar 1 August 2016

The BAC Mono has claimed a world first by making use of a revolutionary new substance called graphene.

The model's British maker has trialled the new lightweight material in the rear arches of its single seater Mono supercar and says it has the potential to offer serious performance and cost benefits for customers.

Graphene is made from sheets of carbon just one atom thick. It’s lighter and stronger than carbonfibre, which BAC says could mean weight reductions of 20% – a figure that could have significant impacts on performance, fuel economy and cost. Composite material made using graphene can contain fewer fibres than regular carbon fibre without losing strength.

BAC has worked with Haydale Composite Solutions on the trial, which used graphene-enhanced carbonfibre, and decided to focus on the rear arches because of their size and complexity, which allowed the material and manufacturing process to be thoroughly tested. The test car, with the graphene arches fitted, was showcased at the Science in the City festival in Manchester.

The car is still undergoing tests by BAC, but the company is seriously considering the introduction of graphene parts as an option for customers in the future.

Neil Briggs, BAC’s co-founder and development director, said: “Making significant weight savings and improving body strength will allow us to offer improved performance to our customers.”

Ebby Shahidi, Haydale Composite Solutions’ director of aerospace and defence said: “These initial materials have shown some major increases in impact and thermal performance coupled with improved surface finish, and it’s pleasing to see these attributes being demonstrated on such a high-performance vehicle as the Mono.

“We look forward to collaborating further with BAC and delivering even higher-performance materials and components to increase the performance of this exciting vehicle.”

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished July

DJIA: 18432  +03 Up NASDAQ:  5162 +10 Up. SP500: 2173 +01 Up.

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