Friday, 18 August 2017

The Retreat From Moscow.

Baltic Dry Index. 1247 +40     Brent Crude 50.99

“Beyond this, the problem is universal. It is that governments are now held responsible for the welfare of the people. The aspirations of the people can outrun their ability to pay for them, and nobody has yet found a way to create answers to the aspirations out of thin air.”

George Goodman, aka Adam Smith, The Money Game. 1968.

In stocks, its looking more and more like it’s over. The Happy Days Are Here Again, that came in with Donald Trump, are over. Though the die-hard bulls, and those who make a living peddling stocks to suckers are still busy promoting the giant bubble, to this old market dinosaur it has all the feel of a market change. The fizz has gone out of the market, like a left over open bottle of champagne. The Trump turmoil, the North Korean defeat, the Charlottesville riots,  the latest moslem terror attacks in Spain, have all brought reality back to what were very high priced, frothy, stock markets. Can the bulls mount another dead cat bounce to get into crash season proper, or does the Napoleonic retreat from Moscow commence next week?

To this old dinosaur market follower, retreating early beats staying around to watch Moscow catch fire as winter arrives. The markets climbed their wall of worry, goosed by the arrival of President Trump, and free money from the global central banks.  Like it or not, that game is changing. Quantitative tightening is the new game in town, albeit in baby steps, and more next year than this. But QT will likely be around for the next decade, and no one has yet solved the aspirations problem brought up by George Goodman in the Money Game all the way back in 1968.

Below, when the stock markets finally ran out of road and luck?

This is the way things are, and the Game has been so successful that, like everything, it will get more and more successful until it stops being successful.

George Goodman, aka Adam Smith, The Money Game. 1968.

Asia Stocks Drop on Spain Attack, Trump Turmoil: Markets Wrap

By Garfield Clinton Reynolds and Ian C Sayson
Asian stocks extended a global slide after terrorists struck a crowded tourist street in Barcelona, exacerbating unease triggered by mounting concerns about dysfunction in President Donald Trump’s administration and U.S. policy paralysis.

Equities fell from Tokyo to Sydney after the S&P 500 Index on Thursday tumbled 1.5 percent, its second-biggest drop for 2017. Volatility in Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong increased after a measure of market fluctuations spiked higher during U.S. trading, while Australian bonds rose with the yen as investors sought havens.

U.S. stocks declined amid concerns Trump’s stimulus plans are in increasing peril and amid heightened terror fears after at least 13 people died when a van plowed into pedestrians in Barcelona. Speculation surfaced at one point that Gary Cohn, the former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. president who’s Trump’s top economic adviser and has been a figure of assurance to investors in an unorthodox White House, might resign. Markets were calmed temporarily on reports that Cohn, who has been leading efforts on tax reform, would stay.

It’s been a tumultuous week for the administration, with Trump disbanding two advisory councils staffed by chief executive officers and slamming Republican members of Congress who were critical of his polarizing remarks following violence in Virginia. Meanwhile, the terror news was a reminder that geopolitical risks remain a threat, with nerves still raw after last week’s escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula.
In another drag on markets, no deal with the EUSSR is better than a bad deal, says the Institute of Economic Affairs.  No deal seems highly probable to me. I don’t believe it’s possible to negotiate with five posturing jealous EU Presidents, and the hostile anti-Brexit foot dragging tag team of Juncker and Barnier.
But even if it were, any deal has to pass a veto yielding committee of a disorganised rump-EU of 27, plus the Belgian Walloonatics, plus a veto yielding European Parliament already miffed at being excluded from the negotiations. There’s more chance of the Republicans repealing Obamacare in the USA than there is of getting a Brexit deal in the EUSSR. Everyone should just plan accordingly.

'No Deal' With EU No Disaster for Post-Brexit U.K., Says Report

By Charlotte Ryan
A U.K. trade deal with the European Union after Brexit is desirable but not essential, the Institute of Economic Affairs said, in support of Prime Minister Theresa May’s repeated assertion that no deal is better than a bad deal.

Britain should walk away from talks on a post-Brexit trade deal if the EU offers bad terms that lead to a protectionist and costly agreement, the IEA, a free-market think tank, said in a report on Friday. Instead, it said the country should trade with the EU under World Trade Organization rules, seeking a policy of zero tariffs while brokering free-trade agreements with major trading partners including the U.S.

“Many people believe that disaster will befall us if we do not forge a deal with the EU,” said Jamie Whyte, research director at the IEA. “In fact, we could unilaterally eliminate all import tariffs, which would give us most of the benefits of trade, and export to the EU under the umbrella of the WTO rules.”

Looming trade discussions are shaping up to be one of the trickiest tasks on the agenda of Brexit negotiators. Britain and its business lobby groups are seeking as “frictionless” as possible commerce with the EU post-Brexit, while EU politicians signal that Britain won’t be able to benefit from the same access once it’s no longer a member.

For now, the talks are in abeyance, with the EU saying it will not discuss a future deal until the issues of citizens’ rights and Britain’s exit bill are resolved. The slow pace of talks so far has stoked fears Britain will leave the EU before trade talks conclude.

The IEA paper comes days after the U.K. released a document on customs which Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s point person on Brexit, derided as a “fantasy.” In a tacit acknowledgment that time is ticking down, Britain is seeking a transition period between Brexit day in March 2019 and the day when new trade arrangements can set in. During that period, the U.K. would leave the EU’s customs Union, allowing it to broker new trade deals with third countries, but customs arrangements with the bloc would be largely unchanged.
Trade will not stop after Brexit even if the two sides fail to agree to a deal, the IEA said. Instead, the exchange of goods would continue under WTO rules, which would prevent the EU from charging punitive taxes on goods, while tariffs would hurt EU consumers, according to the policy analyst. It recommended that Britain unilaterally get rid of such duties with trade partners including Europe, while encouraging them to do the same.
----- The U.K. should pursue its own trade policy regardless of “threats” from the EU, the IEA said. The country could seek free-trade agreements with countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand and use a tariff-free approach to become a “super-Singapore or super-Dubai.”
Below, the start of fracking in England and Wales takes a giant leap forwards. Will INEOS commence fracking later this year or wait until 2018? But will the violent left, comply or riot?

INEOS Shale obtains High Court injunctions protecting the public and its people, sites and supply chain

The injunctions prohibit unlawful acts by protestors including trespass and harassment

Any obstruction of INEOS Shale’s business, people or suppliers is now a contempt of court – including slow walks and lock-ons

The injunctions do not interfere with the right to lawful, peaceful protest

INEOS presented the court with extensive evidence of shale protestors involved in intimidation and dangerous direct action, putting themselves and others at risk

Tom Pickering, Operations Director of INEOS Shale said, “We have a duty to do all we can to ensure the safety of everyone on and around our sites, including the protestors themselves. We are also clear that our people and suppliers have the right to come to work free from harassment and intimidation. In these circumstances it was right and responsible to seek these injunctions, and we are pleased that the court has agreed.”

INEOS Shale today secured injunctions at the High Court which will help to ensure safety and protect people on and around its sites. The injunctions also apply to businesses and people across the INEOS Shale supply chain.

Militant activists have a long history of intimidation, threats and dangerous direct action against shale gas companies, including:
  • site occupations
  • intimidation of individuals and companies going about their lawful business
  • threats of violence and physical assaults
  • blockading and shutting down lawful businesses
  • damaging and stealing equipment
  • harassing and goading police officers
INEOS sought legal protection following a recent escalation in activities targeting its operations. Tom Pickering said, “At INEOS we will not stand for intimidation, threats or risks to safety. Today’s High Court Injunctions will protect our sites, our people, our suppliers and the public from the militant activists who try to game the system and cause maximum disruption.” 

The Judge said that INEOS had presented a considerable body of convincing evidence which had persuaded him unlawful action by shale protestors was both imminent and real. He said that if he declined to grant the injunctions that would be a denial of justice for INEOS. The judge said that it was important to recognise that the injunctions do nothing to prevent anyone effectively exercising their right to freedom of expression. He noted that people are free to express their opinions, but not to carry out unlawful acts.
We close with what’s happening in America today, and in Comrade Corbyn’s Momentum Red Guards GB, tomorrow. Must read articles on why President Trump was right to blame both sides for the violence.

The Rise of the Violent Left

Antifa’s activists say they’re battling burgeoning authoritarianism on the American right. Are they fueling it instead?
Peter Beinart  September 2017 Issue

Why Was This 'Crowd Hire' Company Recruiting $25 An Hour 'Political Activists' In Charlotte Last Week?

Trump ignited a political firestorm yesterday during an impromptu press conference in which he said there was "blame on both sides" for the tragic events that occurred in Charlottesville over the weekend.   

Now, the discovery of a craigslist ad posted last Monday, almost a full week before the Charlottesville protests, is raising new questions over whether paid protesters were sourced by a Los Angeles based "public relations firm specializing in innovative events" to serve as agitators in counterprotests.

The ad was posted by a company called "Crowds on Demand" and offered $25 per hour to "actors and photographers" to participate in events in the "Charlotte, NC area."  While the ad didn't explicitly define a role to be filled by its crowd of "actors and photographers" it did ask applicants to comment on whether they were "ok with participating in peaceful protests." 

Most accountants are honorable men, trying to do a job. But they are hired by corporations, not by investors.

George Goodman, aka Adam Smith, The Money Game. But What Do The Numbers Mean?

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.

Today, so you really want to own Chinese shares? To misquote the late “Adam Smith,” go and lie down until the urge passes.

Somebody has to be on the other side.

George Goodman, aka Adam Smith. The Money Game. Why Are The Little People Always Wrong?

China Shows How Not to Sell $11.7 Billion in Shares

Bloomberg News
17 August 2017, 04:17 GMT+1
For a deal that’s been months in the making, the $11.7 billion share sale plan announced by China’s second-largest wireless carrier sure looked like a rushed job.

That’s according to Francis Lun, Hong Kong-based chief executive officer of Geo Securities Ltd., after a series of gaffes by China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd. and Shanghai-listed China United Network Communications Ltd. undermined Wednesday’s disclosure that the Chinese carrier would bring in more than a dozen investors as part of a government push to privatize its state-owned enterprises.

"There’s been confusion right to the very last moment -- they shouldn’t be rushing ahead to make the announcements," Lun said. "It shows their incompetency. The approval process has to be called into question when they deliver misleading messages like this."

It began with the announcement itself, which kicked off as a presentation to journalists, analysts and investors at about 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday in Hong Kong but the material detailing of one of Unicom’s biggest deals ever wasn’t available online until about half an hour later.

The briefing material listed CRRC Corp. as one of its new investors but the Chinese train maker said the following morning that it didn’t participate in the deal. Unicom, voted as having the "Best Investor Relations in China" by FinanceAsia magazine, also said on Wednesday its shares would resume trading in Hong Kong the following day, only to change its mind hours later by saying the trading halt would continue until further notice.

Then there was China United, which released a statement on the sale to the Shanghai exchange, only to withdraw it hours later. The company, which has been halted from trading in Shanghai since April, then issued a statement on Thursday saying the stock will continue to be suspended for "technical reasons" for another three days, pending the release of the share-sale announcement.

A Unicom Group representative said the retraction was due to technical reasons. The representative referred all other queries to the company’s announcements.

While investors are more interested in whether Unicom’s new investors spur positive changes to the company, even that is under question, according to Geo’s Lun.

"It’s one thing to have new investors, it’s another thing if new investors can bring material change," Lun said. "That’s what we’re waiting to see. If the existing management still controls everything and nothing has happened then there will be disappointment."
Not even a decade ago, everybody believed. Events did seem under control. Inflation would creep, not gallop; the New Economics would fine-tune the economy; productivity would increase; wars would be fought, but not by us—we were the mediators, understanding but tough; problems would be articulated, and that articulation was half the solution; we would begin upon the solutions. Kennedy rhetoric: let us begin; let the word go forth; let us never negotiate from fear, nor fear to negotiate; let anybody call upon us. Confident, ambitious, optimistic, even na├»ve—the very best of the American tradition. Hail Columbia, happy land.

Then, one thing and another, the John Philip Sousa music faded a bit. Could rational men make events behave rationally? Maybe they couldn’t.
George Goodman, aka Adam Smith, Supermoney, 1972.
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?

Facebook to Open Renewables-Powered Data Center in Ohio

Facebook announced this week that its 10th U.S.-based data center will be located in New Albany, Ohio, just north of Columbus.

The $750 million, 22-acre data plant is expected to employ 100 people and be powered exclusively by renewable energy. According to, Rachel Peterson, the company’s director of data center strategy and development, said the availability of renewable energy sources, including wind, solar and hydro, was critical to choosing the location — a factor underlined by Ohio Governor John Kasich, who has pushed back against legislative efforts to turn back the state’s alternative energy requirements.

“It is critical that we continue developing the renewables, because, believe me, at the end of the day, if the Facebooks and the Googles and the PayPals and the Amazons think that we are not committed to renewable energy, they will not come here. Period, end of story,” Kasich said.

In April, the social media giant announced it would construct a 144-acre data center outside of Omaha that would be 100% powered by wind energy. Facebook said that particular data center would be one of the most “advanced and energy efficient in the world.”

And in January, the company announced another data center that would also be one of the most “advanced and energy efficient in the world” in Denmark. Officials in the country, however, felt the facility would actually increase the country’s contribution to greenhouse warming.

Another weekend in Trumpland, and the terror struck EUSSR, what could possibly go wrong? Plenty, just stick around. Europe’s politicians are totally out of their depth at dealing with Mrs Merkel’s moslem migrant invasion. The public mood is turning increasingly frustrated. America has a problem with the rise of militant socialist/communist/anarchist fascism that it doesn’t yet recognise.  Neither problems are easily addressed. Have a great weekend everyone.

We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished July

DJIA: 21,891 +207 Up. NASDAQ:  6,348 +250 Up. SP500: 2,470 +171 Up.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

NK – Trump Throws In The Towel.

Baltic Dry Index. 1207 +38     Brent Crude 50.52

The Grand Old Duke of York he had ten thousand men
He marched them up to the top of the hill
And he marched them down again.
When they were up, they were up
And when they were down, they were down
And when they were only halfway up
They were neither up nor down.

The big story this morning, is that North Korea seems to have won the recent game of bluff with President Trump’s White House team. Though Trump huffed and puffed up a good storm of words, South Korea’s President Moon vetoed any new war without his consent which was withheld; China vetoed any USA first strike by threatening to come to North Korea’s aid with their defence treaty, and vetoed any NK first strike by threatening not to come to NK’s defence; and there was simply no will in the American public to get involved in any new Korean War misadventure with an uncertain outcome.

Below, in typical Trump White House fashion, the US administration flashed both a red and green signal for war, but only the red signal was taken seriously. Any new war, if it ever happens at all, will now be delayed until after NK clearly demonstrates it has a viable nuclear tipped, re-entry survivable, ICBM capability. Just what they make of it all in Beijing, Moscow, Pyongyang, and Tokyo, I dread to think. A whole slew of other capitals will be drawing conclusions too.

Below, in what might be his final act, President Trump’s chief strategist gets realistic over North Korea, but fires both barrels of a shotgun at China’s trade policies. The potential shooting war over, the trade war is just starting, it seems. At least no one actually dies in a trade war, though trade usually becomes a big casualty.

Steve Bannon: ‘We’re at economic war with China,’ there’s no North Korea solution

Published: Aug 16, 2017 11:36 p.m. ET
Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s chief strategist, said in a surprisingly candid report Wednesday that the U.S. is at economic war with China, there’s no military solution to North Korea and that infighting is an everyday occurrence in the White House.

The interview, published by the liberal-leaning American Prospect, is likely to cause more problems for Bannon, who is reportedly on thin ice in the Trump administration.

In an interview that included a wide range of topics, Bannon said “We’re at economic war with China,” and that the U.S. is at risk of losing. “If we continue to lose it, we’re five years away, I think, 10 years at the most, of hitting an inflection point from which we’ll never be able to recover.”

Bannon reportedly never meant for the conversation to go public, even though he was the one who called America Prospect editor Robert Kuttner on Tuesday, and did not ask for his statements to be off the record. “The question of whether the phone call was on or off the record never came up,” Kuttner wrote in his report, which he called “puzzling” since “[Bannon is] probably the most media-savvy person in America.”

In the interview, Bannon urged tough trade sanctions against Beijing, and said China is unlikely to force North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.

On the topic of North Korea, Bannon was blunt: “There’s no military solution [to North Korea’s nuclear threats], forget it. Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that 10 million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.”

Bannon continued, saying he’s working to get East Asia “hawks” installed in positions at the Defense and State departments, despite opposition from within the White House and on Wall Street.

“That’s a fight I fight every day here,” he said. “We’re still fighting. There’s Treasury and [National Economic Council chair] Gary Cohn and Goldman Sachs lobbying. We gotta do this. The president’s default position is to do it, but the apparatus is going crazy. Don’t get me wrong. It’s like, every day.”

Bannon belittled white supremacists, but dodged suggestions that as the onetime executive chairman of Breitbart News he had helped fuel the current white-nationalist movement.

“Ethno-nationalism — it’s losers. It’s a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it. These guys are a collection of clowns,” he said.

The report left some of Bannon’s colleagues stunned. One told Axios on Wednesday night: “Since Steve apparently enjoys casually undermining U.S. national security, I’ll put this in terms he’ll understand: This is DEFCON 1-level bad.”

August 17, 2017 / 4:50 AM

South Korea's Moon says North Korean nuclear-tipped ICBM is a 'red line'

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea would be "crossing a red line" if it put a nuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile, South Korea's president said on Thursday, but the United States had promised to seek Seoul's approval before taking any military action.

North Korea's rapid progress in developing nuclear weapons and missiles capable of reaching the U.S. mainland has fuelled a surge in tensions in recent days. Pyongyang has threatened to fire missiles towards the Pacific island of Guam and U.S. President Donald Trump has warned it would face "fire and fury" if it threatened the United States.

"I would consider that North Korea is crossing a red line if it launches an intercontinental ballistic missile again and weaponises it by putting a nuclear warhead on top of the missile," South Korean President Moon Jae-in said at a news conference marking his first 100 days in office.

Moon has repeatedly urged North Korea not to "cross the red line" but had not previously elaborated what that would constitute.

Trump had promised to seek negotiations and approval from South Korea before taking any options regarding North Korea, Moon also said.

The United States and South Korea remain technically still at war with North Korea after the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence told reporters in Chile on Wednesday that "all options" remained on the table with regards to North Korea, and he called on Latin American nations to break ties with Pyongyang.

----North Korean media reported on Tuesday that Kim had delayed the decision on firing four missiles towards Guam, a U.S. territory home to a vital air base and Navy facility, while he waited to see what the United States did next.

"Kim Jong Un of North Korea made a very wise and well reasoned decision," Trump wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. "The alternative would have been both catastrophic and unacceptable!"

Below how the global stock markets reacted, mostly with a big yawn. For all President Trump’s blowhard bluster over North Korea, few in the markets ever expected any follow up action. The same position was taken successfully by North Korea too. But has the massive bubble already become compromised? Are we in for a repeat of 1987? 

Dow extends win streak to reclaim 22,000-mark on Fed minutes

Published: Aug 16, 2017 4:37 p.m. ET
U.S. stocks closed moderately higher Wednesday, restoring the Dow above the psychologically-important 22,000 mark, after Federal Reserve minutes suggested that the central bank is wrestling with sluggish inflation but eager to commence an unwind of its $4.5 trillion asset portfolio.

The market’s gains came after a volatile session, reflecting uncertainty about the strategic path for the central bank and political tensions facing President Donald Trump that could disrupt his pro-growth agenda.

The S&P 500 SPX, +0.14% rose 3.5 points, or 0.1%, to close at 2,468.11, with the materials sector leading, while energy fell 1.1%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.12% climbed 25.88 points, or 0.1%, to end at 22,024.87, extending its winning streak to a fourth session. The technology-laden Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.19%  rose 12.10 points, or 0.2%, to close at 6,345.11.

The minutes from the Fed’s meeting in July showed that most Fed officials wanted to wait until the next monetary meeting to unveil details on its planned unwinding of its $4.5 trillion in bondholdings, indicating an announcement is possible in September. The Fed also discussed the surprisingly low inflation readings, with a few officials noting that the Fed could be patient before raising interest rates again

Asian stocks broadly bounce higher on tech gains

Published: Aug 16, 2017 10:33 p.m. ET
Equities extended this week’s gains a bit further early Thursday as minutes of the Federal Reserve’s meeting revealed a deeper-than-expected divide on the timing of the next interest rate increase.

The prospect of a slower pace of additional rate increases pressured the dollar in Wednesday afternoon U.S. trading, and the subsequent gain in the yen weighed on Japanese stocks early Thursday. The Nikkei NIK, +0.03%   was recently down 0.2% at the dollar JPYUSD, +0.300377%   fell to session lows of ¥109.80 in Asian trading, the greenback’s lowest level since Tuesday.
Still, this year’s rebound for the yen doesn’t seen to be hitting Japan’s economy. Exports rose 13% in July
from a year ago, the eighth-straight monthly gain, government data showed Thursday. Japanese stocks often fall when the yen strengthens amid fears that a stronger currency will hit exporters — a key facet of the country’s economy.

Stocks elsewhere in Asia were generally slightly higher Thursday, mirroring modest gains in U.S. equities overnight.

While Rob Carnell, head of Asia research at ING, said, “Confusion reigns at the Federal Reserve,” he added Asian markets were likely to take comfort in additional rate increases are likely to come “at worst at a very-modest pace.”

Gains of 0.2% to 0.4% were seen in the likes of Australia XJO, -0.01%  , South Korea SEU, +0.46%   and New Zealand NZ50GR, +0.22%  — the latter having set record closing highs each of the past two sessions. Meanwhile, helping Korea’s Kospi was a 1.8% rebound in Samsung 005930, +2.03%   amid broad early strength for tech stocks in general.

Back in the real world, cyber attacks don’t come cheap. Maersk thinks the June attack will cost it about 300 million dollars.

Maersk Says June Cyberattack Will Cost It up to $300 Million

By Christian Wienberg
16 August 2017, 07:31 GMT+1 16 August 2017, 12:15 GMT+1
A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S said a cyberattack that hit the owner of the world’s biggest container shipping company at the end of June will wipe as much as $300 million off profits in the third quarter.

The announcement was made in connection with second-quarter earnings, which showed Maersk missed analyst estimates after taking a writedown at the tankers unit that’s part of the energy business management has said it wants to get rid of.

In an interview with Bloomberg Television, Chief Executive Officer Soren Skou said the industry outlook was bright, despite the disruptions of cyberattacks and writedowns. Management at the Danish company sees “very healthy fundamentals” for container shipping, Skou told Bloomberg’s Matt Miller and Guy Johnson.

Frode Morkedal, the managing director of Clarksons Platou Securities, said the report was “slightly on the negative side, but we find solace in their positive market comments,” in a note to clients. Of the 31 Maersk analysts tracked by Bloomberg, 15 are telling investors to buy the stock, 12 suggest holding on to it, and four say clients are better off selling.

David Kerstens, an equity analyst at Jefferies, said the fact that Maersk Line reported its first profit in five quarters shows that “fundamentals in container shipping continue to improve,” according to a note. Kerstens is among analysts advising clients to buy. Clarksons has a neutral rating on the share.

We close for today, with that Grand Old Duke of York. If we didn’t have British Royalty and Parliament for fun and amusement, we’d have to invent them. In America they have a succession of dodgy Presidents since Clinton.

Grand Old Duke: The greatest scandal never told

Sex, bribery, betrayal, a royal feud and more sex; the only thing missing from the story of Mary Clarke and the Grand Old Duke of York was a tabloid press to titillate the nation, reports Andy McSmith
Thursday 1 January 2009

The greatest scandal in the history of the British Parliament had everything: sex, cash for honours, a feud within the Royal Family, and more – and all long before Jack Profumo, or Lord Levy or the Princess of Wales was born. In fact, its bicentenary is just a few days away.

In January 1809, a parliamentary commission held a public inquiry into allegations of corruption in the Army. It was alleged that, in the midst of a war with Napoleon, rich young men were buying their way in and out of lucrative commissions. The main witness before the inquiry was a sensationally attractive woman named Mary Clarke, whose evidence so transfixed some of her male listeners that they sent her private notes afterwards seeking a chance to get to know her better, in more intimate surroundings.

Bribery, betrayal, extravagance, political intrigue and the aforementioned feud in the Royal Family... the Mary Clarke scandal only lacked a sensation-driven tabloid press to titillate the nation with daily revelations but a literate minority were able to follow every sordid detail in the cheap pamphlets on sale in London.

At its centre was a man who is still a household name – Frederick Augustus Hanover, that Grand Old Duke of York who had ten thousand men. The nursery rhyme commemorates his disastrous record on the battlefield. His statue can be seen on a column 123ft high, near the Mall, just off Trafalgar Square. The Duke was Commander in Chief, and the favourite son of King George III – the only one of that monarch's numerous children who showed any talent for anything. Though he was a bad field commander, he was a competent organiser who raised the professional level of the army and founded Sandhurst College.

In common with George's other sons, he could not stand his wife. In 1803, he set up house with the lovely Mary Clarke, stepdaughter of a printer, brought up in Bowling Inn Alley, near Fleet Street. She has a deceptively innocent expression in her surviving portraits. Innocence, however, was not one of her many qualities. Married off at 15, she had sent her husband packing because he drank, and was intent on bringing up her daughters as fashionable ladies by making money through the only means available to her.

For two years, Mary Clarke's luxurious home was a centre of London society. At a time when ladies were expected to read romantic novels, Ms Clarke boasted that she had never read a novel in her life, but she had studied the works of most of the political essayists and military theorists of her time. Her private diaries, which are kept in an archive in Reading, are written in the confident sloping handwriting of a well-educated woman. She was obviously more intelligent and strong willed than the Duke and it was rumoured that she had more sway in military matters than was proper for a kept woman. A furious officer, Major Denis Hogan, even alleged that he had been denied promotion because he had refused to "kiss the petticoat" – for which he was sued for libel.

Eventually, the Duke tired of his lively mistress but promised her an annuity for life of £400 a year so her daughters would not have to follow their mother's profession. Sadly, he was hopeless with money and extravagant beyond the means even of a royal prince. In one year, he drank and gambled his way through £40,000. He could not keep up the payments, and she was left, she claimed, "pursued by creditors, harassed and distressed by threats, which afforded my future life no other prospect but the walls of prison".

She took refuge in a house in Hampstead, then a village outside London, where there was another lodger, named Sir Richard Phillips, a radical, who had spent time in jail for being a suspected republican. He tipped off Gwyllym Wardle, the MP for Okehampton, that the aggrieved Ms Clarke had a tale worth hearing. In January 1809, Col Wardle stood up in the Commons and sensationally accused the King's son of corruption. He then produced his glamorous witness, who frankly testified that, throughout the time when she was the Duke's mistress, she was selling commissions to would-be officers.

"Due to the bad economy, the Queen of England's salary will be frozen for the next four years.

In fact, to make ends meet the queen is thinking of having a yard sale. Getting rid of a lot of stuff they don't use anymore, like Canada."

Jay Leno

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.

Oh no! Any chance of the ECJ giving an honest verdict? Where would they ever work again? Luckily for the hapless ECJ, they don’t have to decide until long after the German election and happily for them, long after the ECB stops its asset buying program. That’ll be relief and Schnapps all round.

August 15, 2017 / 9:05 AM

German challenge to ECB asset buys sent to European Court

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - The European Central Bank may be violating laws on monetary financing in its 2.3 trillion euro ($2.7 trillion) asset purchase programme, Germany's constitutional court said on Tuesday, and it asked Europe's top court to make a ruling.

In the biggest challenge yet to the ECB's unprecedented effort to revive growth, the court said bond buys under the scheme may go beyond the bank's mandate and inhibit euro zone members' activities.

"Significant reasons indicate that the ECB decisions governing the asset purchase programme violate the prohibition of monetary financing and exceed the monetary policy mandate of the European Central Bank, thus encroaching upon the competences of the Member States," the court said.

It said it would ask the European Court of Justice to review the programme.

The ECB acted swiftly to defend the scheme.

"The extended asset purchase programme is in our opinion fully within our mandate," it said in a statement. "That is ultimately for the European Court of Justice to assess."

It said the 60 billion euro per month asset buys would continue as normal.

The European court has already backed the ECB's more contentious emergency bond purchase scheme known as Outright Monetary Transactions or OMT with only relatively minor limitations, suggesting that the challenge - lodged by several academics and politicians - may face an uphill battle.

The decision to pass the issue over to the ECJ means any final ruling will come either after the bond purchases end or near the end of the scheme, which has already been running for over two years and is expected to be wound down next year.

Seen by some in Europe's biggest economy as a stealth bailout of indebted south European governments, many Germans have been irked by the scheme, commonly known as quantitative easing, arguing that Germany taxpayers have to bear the risk for others.
'You just never know. That unpredictability is the great thing about life. You change. The world changes. You live in a country where we are still blessed with enormous opportunity. Leave yourself open to the world of possibility. You have the ambition, you have the smarts and you have the toughness. So, turn the page on your biography - you have just started a new chapter in your lives.'

Lloyd Blankfein, “Mr. Goldman  Sacks,” CEO of Goldman Sachs unintentionally backs Brexit in a US speech to graduates, mid 2016.
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?

Engineers charge ahead on zinc-air batteries

Three-stage method could revolutionize rechargeability

Date: August 15, 2017

Source: University of Sydney

Summary: Researchers have found a solution for one of the biggest stumbling blocks preventing zinc-air batteries from overtaking conventional lithium-ion batteries as the power source of choice in electronic devices.

University of Sydney researchers have found a solution for one of the biggest stumbling blocks preventing zinc-air batteries from overtaking conventional lithium-ion batteries as the power source of choice in electronic devices.

Zinc-air batteries are batteries powered by zinc metal and oxygen from the air. Due to the global abundance of zinc metal, these batteries are much cheaper to produce than lithium-ion batteries, and they can also store more energy (theoretically five times more than that of lithium-ion batteries), are much safer and are more environmentally friendly.

While zinc-air batteries are currently used as an energy source in hearing aids and some film cameras and railway signal devices, their widespread use has been hindered by the fact that, up until now, recharging them has proved difficult. This is due to the lack of electrocatalysts that successfully reduce and generate oxygen during the discharging and charging of a battery.

Published in Advanced Materials today, a paper authored by chemical engineering researchers from the University of Sydney and Nanyang Technological University outlines a new three-stage method to overcome this problem.

According to lead author Professor Yuan Chen, from the University of Sydney's Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies, the new method can be used to create bifunctional oxygen electrocatalysts for building rechargeable zinc-air batteries from scratch.

"Up until now, rechargeable zinc-air batteries have been made with expensive precious metal catalysts, such as platinum and iridium oxide. In contrast, our method produces a family of new high-performance and low-cost catalysts," he said.

These new catalysts are produced through the simultaneous control of the: 1) composition, 2) size and 3) crystallinity of metal oxides of earth-abundant elements such as iron, cobalt and nickel. They can then be applied to build rechargeable zinc-air batteries.

Paper co-author Dr Li Wei, also from the University's Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies, said trials of zinc-air batteries developed with the new catalysts had demonstrated excellent rechargeability -- including less than a 10 percent battery efficacy drop over 60 discharging/charging cycles of 120 hours.

"We are solving fundamental technological challenges to realise more sustainable metal-air batteries for our society," Professor Chen added.

"When the president met with Queen Elizabeth, he presented her with an iPod loaded with Broadway show tunes while she gave him a silver framed picture of her and Prince Phillip. 

There were no winners in that gift exchange, because when I think of things an 83-year-old, super-rich British woman would want, an iPod is pretty far down the list, right between a bus pass and sneakers with the wheels on the bottom.

And when I think of what a 47-year-old, super-cool black dude would want, a picture of an 83-year-old white lady is last.”

Seth Meyers

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished July

DJIA: 21,891 +207 Up. NASDAQ:  6,348 +250 Up. SP500: 2,470 +171 Up.