Friday, 6 January 2017

The End of Deflation.

Baltic Dry Index. 983 +14  Brent Crude 56.77

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

"If the EU cannot resolve a small problem the size of Greece, what is the point of Europe?"

Romano Prodi, former President of the European Commission, former Italy Prime Minister.

Below, good news, but then all news is good news in Trumpmania, inflation is back. We are all going to get richer and feel better about the economy and our life, from rising prices. But is this real news or fake news? If real, what will the Fed do? Is it really time to stride into the bosses’ office, to pound the desk, and demand a raise? After you, comes to my mind at present.

Still with OPEC and friends promising to cut production soon, cross their little black hearts and hope to die, and many of the fiat currencies down in a currency war against the dollar, quite a few countries ought to see a rise in inflation soon, if only for statistical reasons. Toss in some year-end increases in the minimum wage in some US states, and workers of the world ought to be ecstatic that inflation’s back, right? Still it might be very timely to add a little more fully paid up physical precious metals here.

Prices Are Rising Across the Globe. That's a Good Thing, Right?

by Enda Curran, Jeff Black , and Jeanna Smialek
5 January 2017, 05:01 GMT 5 January 2017, 12:18 GMT
From goods leaving the factory floor in China’s industrial towns to gasoline at the pump in Europe and America, prices that stayed low for years are finally going up. So that’s a good sign, right?

After a period of central bankers fretting about deflation and resorting to unconventional techniques like negative rates to respond, the easy answer is “yes.” But whether faster price gains mean that the world is finally healing from the Great Recession may be revealed only by what happens next.

In the rosy case, the global economy is now being offered a tonic by resurgent pricing for key commodities such as oil and iron ore, and a buoyant U.S. entering the presidency of Donald Trump will help drive demand, wages and investment everywhere. In another scenario, a litany of political risks from Trump himself to the potential bungling of Britain’s exit from the European Union await the unwary, and reflation could end up crimping consumer spending while failing to propel wages and investment.

“Some of the financial market optimism is justified but political and policy risks remain, and the rise in global inflation is likely to prove short-lived,” said Janet Henry, global chief economist at HSBC Bank Plc in London.

Decisive Shift

Evidence of a decisive shift away from the deflation danger zone presented itself loud and clear in Germany on Tuesday, when data showed December price growth jumped a full percentage point to 1.7 percent, the biggest increase on record. That helped push the euro-area number beyond economist expectations to its fastest pace since 2013.

Data on Thursday showed producer-price inflation returned to the euro area after more than three years, at 0.1 percent in November. In China, factory-gate inflation accelerated to the highest since 2011, and in the U.S., the world’s largest economy, the Federal Reserve’s preferred gauge of inflation was up 1.4 percent year-on-year for October and November, making for the fastest gains since 2014. Those shifts, coupled with expectations of faster U.S. growth and Europe’s ongoing monetary stimulus, have helped the world economy pull back from a deflationary spiral.
“It is our belief that 2016 marked the end of the global deflationary pressures that have prevailed in recent years,” Michael Shaoul, chief executive officer at Marketfield Asset Management wrote in a note to clients.
It’s an outcome that central banks and governments have been craving. Inflation reduces debt burdens and can boost activity in economies with slack, which in turn boosts demand on Main Street.
In HSBC’s latest quarterly round of global forecasts, growth and inflation in each year from 2016 to 2018 are now seen higher. The bank predicts inflation in developed economies at 1.9 percent next year, pretty much in line with many central banks’ definition of price stability.
In Japan, where the struggle against deflation has been acute, policy makers are increasingly confident the improving global picture will help.  
“I expect Japan will make a big step forward to end deflation this year with a stronger confidence than before," Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said at a New Year party of Japan’s banking association in Tokyo Wednesday.

Next: If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error.

John Kenneth Galbraith.

India's Cash Woes Are Just Beginning

Jan 4, 2017 8:30 PM EST
“Give me 50 days, friends,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked citizens after he canceled 86 percent of the country’s currency notes. After Dec. 30, if Indians saw his decision as flawed, he promised to “suffer any punishment.” But, he said confidently, if they could bear 50 days of disruption, they would have the “India of their dreams.”

It is now January. While Modi’s deadline has passed, the pain hasn’t. Indeed, it may just be beginning: Measured by the purchasing managers’ index, or PMI, Indian manufacturing actually began to contract last month for the first time in all of 2016. This can’t be blamed on sluggish global demand; the equivalent measure from China suggested that manufacturing there is expanding quicker than expected. Indian companies are suffering from supply-chain disruptions and customers with no cash in their wallets.

True, in some ways things aren’t as bad, at least in metropolitan India, as they were a few weeks ago. The lines at ATMs are shorter and the government even felt comfortable enough to raise the limits for ATM withdrawals from 2,500 rupees a pop to 4,500 rupees (from $37 to $66). But overall cash limits haven’t been eased; most Indians can still only withdraw 24,000 of their own hard-earned rupees -- a little over $350 -- a week, or 50,000 rupees if one has a business account. That’s simply not enough cash to keep supply chains going.

Lines at ATMs thus aren’t the most useful indicator. Even if more cash is getting into the economy, the question is whether Indians are still artificially constrained in how much cash they can access. If so, things haven’t returned to “normal.” And the longer there’s a cash constraint, the larger the ripple effect on the economy.

Here’s a thought experiment, based on how informal, cash-based economies work. For the first or second month that you’re short of cash, your creditors and your debtors, the people you buy from and the people you sell to, are all short of cash as well. Plus, everyone knows the cash crunch isn’t your fault; it doesn’t reveal any adverse information about how healthy your business is or isn’t. So you extend and receive credit relatively easily.

Things can run on such relationships for awhile in the informal economy. But when the outside world -- the formal economy -- intrudes, the system breaks down. When it comes time to pay your electricity bill, or a loan installment to the banks, you’re forced to call in your debts. You may not face enough formal demands in the first month or two to pose a problem. But as time passes, they add up.

A similar process unfolds in the formal economy. Initially, producers will adjust to lower demand by running up inventories; as the economist Ajay Shah has noted, last November, even as car sales fell by 37 percent annualized, production rose by 96 percent. Companies only cut back production when demand doesn’t recover and inventories reach worrying levels. This can take several months. The recent PMI numbers may thus be a harbinger of worse times to come.

In other words, it’s ever more urgent to get cash into the economy, not less. Yet by many accounts, the supply of currency won’t return to “normal” for months.

Staying with Asia, China’s media is gearing up for President Trump’s soon to start trade war. Toyota is the latest auto manufacturer to feel the wrath of incoming loose cannon President Trump. From far away London, it seems a strange US policy to try to make allies of China and Japan.

China Media Warn Trump of ‘Big Sticks’ If He Seeks Trade War

Bloomberg News
5 January 2017, 07:52 GMT 5 January 2017, 15:08 GMT
Chinese state media warned U.S. President-elect Donald Trump that he’ll be met with “big sticks” if he tries to ignite a trade war or further strain ties.

“There are flowers around the gate of China’s Ministry of Commerce, but there are also big sticks hidden inside the door -- they both await Americans,” the Communist Party’s Global Times newspaper wrote in an editorial Thursday. The article was published in response to Trump picking Robert Lighthizer, a former trade official in the Ronald Reagan administration who has criticized Beijing’s trade practices, as U.S. trade representative.

The latest salvo from state-run outlets followed others aimed at Peter Navarro, a University of California at Irvine economics professor and critic of China’s trade practices whom Trump named to head a newly formed White House National Trade Council. Those choices plus billionaire Wilbur Ross, the nominee for commerce secretary, will form an “iron curtain” of protectionism in Trump’s economic and trade team, according to the paper.

The three share Trump’s anti-globalization beliefs and seem unlikely to keep building the current trade order, it said, adding that they will be more interested in disrupting trade. Souring relations could have serious ramifications for the economies: Americans are the biggest buyers of exports from China, the world’s largest trading nation.

Official media issued other recent warnings after the announcement about Navarro, saying he doesn’t understand trade and will damage relations. An editorial in the state-run China Daily accused Navarro of “anti-China alarmism” and said appointing the “Death by China” author is another sign Trump seems intent on confrontation with China. An opinion column said he’s “deaf and blind to the enormous win-win cooperation and potential of China-U.S. relations.”

The Global Times English version said the U.S. will adopt reckless protectionist policies and that China is powerful enough to withstand pressures from the administration. “China needs to face up to the reality that the Trump team maintains a hard-line attitude,” it said last month. “Beijing will get used to the tensions between the two countries. If Washington dares to provoke China over its core interests, Beijing won’t fear setting up a showdown.”

Trump Hits Toyota on Mexico as Car Criticism Spreads to Japanese

John Lippert and Mike Dorning
5 January 2017, 18:30 GMT 6 January 2017, 00:18 GMT
President-elect Donald Trump launched his latest Twitter missive over Mexico-built and imported cars toward a Japanese automaker for the first time, threatening to tax Toyota Motor Corp. into building a plant in the U.S. instead.

Days removed from Ford Motor Co. canceling a $1.6 billion plant in Mexico, Trump seized on a 20-month-old announcement by Toyota of a factory scheduled to build Corolla compacts beginning in 2019. After misstating that the new plant will be built where Toyota already has a production site, Trump followed with “NO WAY! Build plant in U.S. or pay big border tax.”

----“With more than $21.9 billion direct investment in the U.S., 10 manufacturing facilities, 1,500 dealerships and 136,000 employees, Toyota looks forward to collaborating with the Trump Administration to serve in the best interests of consumers and the automotive industry,” the company said in a statement on its website.

Toyota already has a factory in Mexico’s Baja California state that borders the U.S., making Tacoma pickups. Trump incorrectly stated in his tweet that the Corolla plant would be built in Baja.

Japan defends Toyota after Trump broadside over Mexican plant

Fri Jan 6, 2017 | 12:34am EST
The Japanese government defended Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) on Friday as an "important corporate citizen" of the United States, after President-elect Donald Trump singled out the automaker and threatened to slap punitive tariffs on its Mexico-built cars.

Trump has repeatedly hit out at U.S. companies for using lower-cost factories abroad at the expense of jobs at home. He has slammed U.S. automakers, including Ford (F.N) which this week scrapped a planned $1.6 billion Mexico plant.

But the attack overnight on Toyota is his first against a foreign automaker. "Toyota Motor said will build a new plant in Baja, Mexico, to build Corolla cars for U.S. NO WAY! Build plant in U.S. or pay big border tax," Trump tweeted.

Toyota shares fell more than 3 percent before recovering, and Honda Motor Co (7267.T) and Nissan Motor Co (7201.T) slid around 2 percent - even as the government and analysts sought to brush off the impact of the attack.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters on Friday that Toyota was an "important corporate citizen", while Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko stressed the contribution of Japanese companies to U.S. employment.

Since love and fear can hardly coexist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved.

President Trump with apologies to Niccolo Machiavelli.

At the Comex silver depositories Thursday final figures were: Registered 28.58 Moz, Eligible 153.15 Moz, Total 181.73 Moz. 

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.
Today, easy come easy go in banksterland. Thankfully it’s only fiat money, communist money, and there’s plenty more where that comes from if you’re a bona fide bankster.

Crispin Odey’s Hedge Fund Suffers Worst Ever Annual Loss in 2016

by Nishant Kumar
5 January 2017, 11:53 GMT
Crispin Odey’s main hedge fund slumped 49.5 percent in 2016, its worst annual decline since it began trading in 1992, according to an investor letter.

Odey European Inc., which saw its bearish bets against stocks fail to pay off as equities rose, lost 3.4 percent in December, the letter shows. Nobody at Odey Asset Management, which oversees about $8 billion, was immediately available for comment.

Odey warned in October that U.K. stocks could slump 80 percent as the economy is roiled by a recession and higher inflation following the Brexit vote. The fund’s loss lags behind a more than 4 percent gain by peers, according to preliminary estimates from data provider Eurekahedge.

Odey backed the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union and has been a vocal critic of central banks’ intervention in the economy. In a letter to investors sent last month, he said active money managers are being driven out by “mindless” passive investing.

Up next, who’d thought it?

Swedish Six-Hour Workday Runs Into Trouble: It’s Too Costly

by Amanda Billner
3 January 2017, 15:04 GMT 4 January 2017, 13:02 GMT
Swedes looking forward to a six-hour workday just got some bad news: the costs outweigh the benefits.
A two-year experiment cutting working hours while maintaining pay levels for nurses at Svartedalen old people’s home in the Swedish city of Gothenburg is now nearing the end. The take away was largely positive, with nurses at the home feeling healthier, which reduced sick-leave, and patient care improving.

But the city has no plans in making the measure permanent or broadening it to other facilities. To do that it would need much more money and even help from the national government. To cover the reduced hours for the 68 nurses at the home it had to hire 17 extra staff at a cost of about 12 million kronor ($1.3 million).

“It’s associated with higher costs, absolutely,” said Daniel Bernmar, a local left-wing politician responsible for running the municipality’s elderly care. “It’s far too expensive to carry out a general shortening of working hours within a reasonable time frame.”

The Gothenburg experiment is just the latest in a series of shorter working day trials carried out in Sweden, a country that prides itself on its generous welfare state. The trial has been closely watched globally, with labor activists touting progressive Sweden as a role model in shortening working hours.

French Debate

The debate over working hours is taking center stage in France, where Conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon has vowed to scrap the 35-hour work week, which he says has “done a lot of damage.”

While historical data shows that the length of average working days has fallen in Sweden over the past century, there are currently no plans to establish six-hour working days at a national level.

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?

Nano-chimneys can cool circuits

Scientists calculate tweaks to graphene would form phonon-friendly cones

Date: January 4, 2017

Source: Rice University

Summary: Researchers show that tweaking graphene to place cones between it and nanotubes grown from its surface would form 'nano-chimneys' that help heat escape. The discovery offers a strategy to channel heat away from nano-electronics.

A few nanoscale adjustments may be all that is required to make graphene-nanotube junctions excel at transferring heat, according to Rice University scientists.
The Rice lab of theoretical physicist Boris Yakobson found that putting a cone-like "chimney" between the graphene and nanotube all but eliminates a barrier that blocks heat from escaping.
The research appears in the American Chemical Society's Journal of Physical Chemistry C.
Heat is transferred through phonons, quasiparticle waves that also transmit sound. The Rice theory offers a strategy to channel damaging heat away from next-generation nano-electronics.
Both graphene and carbon nanotubes consist of six-atom rings, which create a chicken-wire appearance, and both excel at the rapid transfer of electricity and phonons.
But when a nanotube grows from graphene, atoms facilitate the turn by forming heptagonal (seven-member) rings instead. Scientists have determined that forests of nanotubes grown from graphene are excellent for storing hydrogen for energy applications, but in electronics, the heptagons scatter phonons and hinder the escape of heat through the pillars.
The Rice researchers discovered through computer simulations that removing atoms here and there from the two-dimensional graphene base would force a cone to form between the graphene and the nanotube. The geometric properties (aka topology) of the graphene-to-cone and cone-to-nanotube transitions require the same total number of heptagons, but they are more sparsely spaced and leave a clear path of hexagons available for heat to race up the chimney.
"Our interest in advancing new applications for low-dimensional carbon -- fullerenes, nanotubes and graphene -- is broad," Yakobson said. "One way is to use them as building blocks to fill three-dimensional spaces with different designs, creating anisotropic, nonuniform scaffolds with properties that none of the current bulk materials have. In this case, we studied a combination of nanotubes and graphene, connected by cones, motivated by seeing such shapes obtained in our colleagues' experimental labs."
The researchers tested phonon conduction through simulations of free-standing nanotubes, pillared graphene and nano-chimneys with a cone radius of either 20 or 40 angstroms. The pillared graphene was 20 percent less conductive than plain nanotubes. The 20-angstrom nano-chimneys were just as conductive as plain nanotubes, while 40-angstrom cones were 20 percent better than the nanotubes.
"The tunability of such structures is virtually limitless, stemming from the vast combinatorial possibilities of arranging the elementary modules," said Alex Kutana, a Rice research scientist and co-author of the study. "The actual challenge is to find the most useful structures given a vast number of possibilities and then make them in the lab reliably.

SEI identifies five key trends in disruptive technology

Wed, 04/01/2017 - 12:44
The pace of technological change is unrelenting. The Internet of Things and the rise of the gig economy are changing the way that businesses and consumers interact with each other. It is therefore incumbent upon the asset management industry to embrace technological change and reimagine what is a tried and tested business model. More than ever, fund managers are having to innovate to operate more efficiently, more transparently, and in closer harmony with their end investors. 
As this report will show, there are five disruptive technological trends (as defined by five key companies) today that have, over recent years, prompted global businesses to take a step back, pause, and determine new ways of doing business. They include: Amazon, Google, Twitter, Uber and Watson (IBM). 
These trends are helping companies of all shapes and sizes embrace technology to deliver a more inclusive platform experience, become data smart to understand customers more completely than ever before, and communicate in ways that are more tailored and targeted, thereby revolutionising the customer experience. 

Another weekend, and another weekend closer to President Trump. Another weekend closer to tariffs and a trade war starting with China and Japan. Another weekend closer to a more conservative US Supreme Court, the start of corporate tax reduction, the Great Wall of America building project, and closer to the continental European NATO countries having to properly fund their collective defence.

The second half of this decade will certainly be different, and I haven’t even got started on how much the rump-EU will have to pay GB for tariff free entry to Europe’s second largest economy, the fifth or sixth largest economy in the world. The rump doesn’t seem to have a unified negotiating strategy at present, and still doesn’t seem to have invited Wallonia to their team. Have a great weekend everyone.

We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness outside of the EUSSR.”

With grateful thanks to the writers of the US Declaration of Independence.

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished December

DJIA: 19763  +74 Up NASDAQ:  5383 +70 Up. SP500: 2239 +75 Up

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