Monday, 20 February 2017

The Fed Signals A March Rate Increase.

Baltic Dry Index. 741 +31   Brent Crude 55.81

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

It is better to be roughly right than precisely wrong.

John Maynard Keynes.

We open the week with an unusually blunt warning from the Fed of higher interest rates ahead. Delivered this morning in Singapore, the Fed is trying to alert the world to a change of tide coming this year in global interest rates. Trumpmania in stocks is skating on ever thinner  ice, though the US markets are closed for the President’s Day holiday today.

Fed's Mester Says She's 'Comfortable' With Rates Moving Higher

20 February 2017, 03:05 GMT
Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland President Loretta Mester said she would be “comfortable” with the central bank raising interest rates now as inflation pressures pick up.

While the Fed isn’t “behind the curve” on interest rates yet, delaying policy tightening will create risks, Mester said in reply to questions after a speech delivered in Singapore on Monday.

“I’d be comfortable with an increase in the Funds rate at this point, if the economy keeps going the way it’s going,” she said. “My outlook builds in a gradual increase in the Funds rate over time. And I’m comfortable with that.”

Investors have raised their bets of a U.S. rate increase as early as March or May after relatively hawkish congressional testimony last week from Fed Chair Janet Yellen and a strong inflation reading for January. Mester said market participants and the Fed are now “thinking about the economy in the same way.”

“In my mind, where the economy is now argues that we should be bringing the rate up,” she said. “But no one on the Fed, I would say, is thinking of precipitously raising.”

In her speech to the Global Interdependence Center conference, Mester said the U.S. economy is on a “sound footing” and it had taken a set of “extraordinary actions” outside what’s considered normal monetary policy to achieve that outcome.

Asia shares adrift for U.S. holiday, focus on Unilever

Mon Feb 20, 2017 | 12:32am EST
Asian share markets were mixed on Monday as political uncertainty globally kept the mood cautious, while the U.S. dollar dithered in a tight range ahead of a busy week for Federal Reserve events.

Turnover was light with U.S. markets closed for the Presidents Day holiday. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS edged up 0.1 percent and back toward a 19-month peak reached last week.

Japan's Nikkei .N225 went flat after domestic data showed exports disappointed in January even as imports outpaced forecasts.

Shanghai stocks .SSEC added 0.9 percent and expectations of solid economic growth in China kept commodities such as copper and iron ore well bid.

Spreadbetters predicted opening gains of 0.2 to 0.3 percent for bourses in Europe while E-mini futures for the S&P 500 ESc1 added 0.1 percent.

Shares in Unilever Plc (ULVR.L) could retreat after U.S. food company Kraft Heinz Co (KHC.O) withdrew its proposal for a $143 billion merger. Unilever's shares jumped 13 percent on Friday on news of the bid.

Wall Street ended last week on a roll, with all three major indexes making historic highs and the Dow Jones Industrial Average reaching a seventh straight record close. [.N]

A host of results from retailers are due this week, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N), Macy's (M.N) and Home Depot Inc (HD.N). The results will be watched for a read on spending as well as for commentary from executives on President Donald Trump's proposal to tax imports.

On the interest rate front, no less than five heads of regional Federal Reserve bank are due to speak this week while Fed Board Governor Jerome Powell appears on Wednesday, when minutes of the last policy meeting are also due.

---- European politics kept the euro EUR= skittish.

Germany's center-left Social Democrats (SPD) moved ahead of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) in an opinion poll by the Emnid institute for the first time since 2006, Bild am Sonntag said.

On Friday, news the French left could unite behind one candidate in the presidential elections seemed to increase the chance of anti-EU, anti-immigrant Marine Le Pen winning, and knocked the single currency lower.

Two days after disgraced former UK Prime Minister Blair seditiously called on Britons to rise up against Brexit, Europe’s diplomats slam the EU door firmly in his face. “That bus has gone,” one unnamed arrogant Brussels apparatchik tells Reuters, even though the EU has no mechanism for forcing out any member wishing to remain.  In typical EUSSR fashion "It's going to happen," one of the latter [EU officials] said. "It's bureaucratically embedded."

No one knows more about bureaucratically embedding anything and everything than Juncker, and the dying, wealth and jobs destroying EUSSR. A liberated GB should do just fine, though events in the US economy, China’s economy, and commodity economies, will largely determine the extent of any Brexit success. Still, liberation now, before Deutsche Bank or Italy or France blow up.
“A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.”
H. L. Mencken.

'That bus has gone': EU sees no Brexit U-turn now

Sun Feb 19, 2017 | 7:47am EST
Tony Blair wants fellow Britons to "rise up" and block or soften Brexit, but it may now be out of their hands -- many Europeans just want them to get on and get out.
After their June referendum vote to quit the EU, stunned European leaders insisted Britons were welcome to change their minds. That may have encouraged those like ex-premier Blair who last week challenged Prime Minister Theresa May's plan to launch the process next month and exit in two years whatever the EU offers.
Yet whatever their hopes of legal obstacles or of an electoral backlash, the mood across the rest of the bloc has shifted away. While officially the door remains open to Britain to stay, many on the continent would not welcome a U-turn now.
"This bus has left," said one senior EU diplomat.
"No one is happy about it. But we have moved on and the last thing anyone wants now is to reopen the whole issue."
To be sure, with close-fought elections in core EU members France and Germany this year and upstart populist movements shaking up politics across the region, few would want to predict with any confidence the final outcome of the Brexit process.
Ye that view shared by diplomats from a range of the other 27 EU states, and by some EU officials: "It's going to happen," one of the latter said. "It's bureaucratically embedded."

Amazon to create over 5,000 jobs in Britain in 2017

Sun Feb 19, 2017 | 11:11pm EST
Online retailer Amazon is set to create more than 5,000 jobs in Britain this year, the company said on Monday, boosting its investment in the country once more even as it prepares to leave the European Union.
Amazon, along with other tech giants such as Google and Apple, has increased its commitment to Britain in the last year, saying Britain's referendum decision to leave the EU last June did not affect its investment plans.

The plans to add over 5,000 jobs in 2017 is a record for Amazon in Britain, although at least 2,000 of the jobs had been previously announced. The moves would take its permanent workforce in the country to 24,000.

Doug Gurr, UK country manager at Amazon, said the jobs would provide "even faster delivery, more selection and better value" for British customers.

Amazon's new head office in London will have capacity for more than 5,000 people by the end of the year, the firm said. The concentration of tech expertise in London has been cited by many firms as an attraction.

EU Commission to warn Italy on Wed over rising debt

Sun Feb 19, 2017 | 4:28pm EST
The European Commission will warn Italy on Wednesday it could face EU disciplinary action for not reducing its huge public debt as required by EU laws, unless Rome delivers on deficit cutting measures as promised, an EU official said.

The warning comes after the latest round of Commission economic forecasts for the 28-nation bloc, which showed Italy's public debt would rise to an all-time high of 133.3 percent of gross domestic product this year from 132.8 percent in 2016.

EU rules say Italy should instead reduce its debt by about 3.6 percent of GDP annually.

The warning on Wednesday is to put more pressure on Rome to deliver on promises made in a letter to the EU executive on Feb. 7, pledging Italy would cut its structural deficit by 0.2 percent of GDP this year through measures to be adopted by the end of April.

"Unless Italy specifies its commitments properly, next week will show that they are not compliant with the debt rule," said the EU official, who has insight into the process but spoke on condition of anonymity.

"They committed to measures in their letter to do 0.2 percent of measures to reduce the structural deficit. We need to see that happening," the official said.

The disciplinary action that the Commission could launch against Italy in May if the measures are not in place is called an excessive deficit procedure and could, in theory, end up in fines for Rome, although this is unlikely.

France, Spain and Portugal have all been treated leniently over the last two years, despite also breaking EU rules, as public opinion in Europe sees the laws as bad austerity policies imposed by Brussels, rather than prudent economic thinking.

Italy's structural deficit, which excludes business cycle swings in spending and tax revenue and one-off items, is also growing. In 2016 it rose to 1.6 percent of GDP from 1.0 percent in 2015. It is set to increase to 2.0 percent this year and 2.5 percent in 2018.

French Election Wide Open After the Weekend Everyone Stumbled

by Helene Fouquet
France’s election is wide open with just nine weeks to go after a weekend of stumbles that saw independent Emmanuel Macron ensnared by the country’s colonial past and attempts to unite the left fizzle.

After earlier signaling they would consider a possible joint candidacy, Socialist Benoit Hamon and far-left campaigner Jean-Luc Melenchon ended up trading barbs rather than bridging their differences.

Melenchon went first, saying his rival’s campaign was going nowhere and that he wasn’t about to hitch a ride on a Socialist “hearse.”

Hamon fired back, saying “I won’t run after Melenchon, I don’t run after anyone.”

We close for the day with some thought provocation from Bloomberg. US teachers are finally headed for their rightful comeuppance.  Shame about America’s hardworking honest dog walkers though, now facing competition from US teachers.

Dog Walkers to Be More in Demand Than Teachers in Next Decade

Demographics to drive changes in spending patterns, report says

by Rich Miller  17 February 2017 15:00
Memo to job-seekers: You've probably got more of a chance walking dogs for a living than teaching kids in the coming decade's labor market.
That's one of the implicit messages in a new report from the New York-based Conference Board on the changing composition of consumer demand -- the main driver of the economy -- over the next 10 years.
Its focus is on demographics, both the well-known aging of the Baby Boom generation and the less-publicized baby bust that began during the Great Recession as fertility rates dropped.
Thus the choice of profession suggested by the business membership and research association's report. Spending on pets is forecast to rise strongly as boomers -- perhaps pining for children who have flown the coop -- shower their attention and money on new-found furry friends.
Outlays on education will lag, though, as the potential student population comprising five- to 24-year-olds grows very slowly due to the downsized, post-Millennial Generation Z.
----A word about the chart. The study projects spending increases based purely on demographics, including the growth of the population. The figures don't factor in the impact of rising wages and wealth over the period. As such, the projected 8.1 percent upturn in total household expenditures from 2015 to 2025 understates the increase that will actually happen.
It's no surprise to see health-care expenditures surging as the number of Americans between the ages of 70 and 84 spikes by 50 percent.
---- The aging of the overall population results in smaller increases in spending on a variety of other goods and services -- restaurant meals and apparel, to name just two -- that are more popular with younger Americans.
There's "reshuffling of the overall consumer mindset" coming in the next decade,  report co-author Brian Anderson said. 

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

George Orwell.

At the Comex silver depositories Friday final figures were: Registered 30.08 Moz, Eligible 154.15 Moz, Total 184.23 Moz. 

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.
Today, a long lost warning from the 1920s. Fiat money is too important to be left to crooked central banksters, bent politicians, and rent-seeking Great Vampire Squids. Below, the road down which all the world is headed. Yet nowhere on planet earth, is there any will to head off the monetary disaster looming ahead this century.

“If economists could manage to get themselves thought of as humble, competent people on a level with dentists, that would be splendid.”

John Maynard Keynes.

This is a camel.

----The enemy was repelled. But victory was not won. The war dragged on for a year and there was no decision. Gold grew scarce, and again the Government was in despair.

" I easily relieved them. Write I said, promises on paper to be repaid in gold. They did as I advised paying me (at my request) a trifle of half a million for the advice. I handled the affair on a merely nominal profit. I punctually met for another year every note that was paid in. But too many were presented, for the war seemed unending and entered a third year.

Then did I conceive yet another stupendous thing. Bid them, said I to the Sultan, take the notes as money. Cease to repay. Write, not "I will on delivery of this paper pay a piece of gold," but, "this is a piece of gold."

He did as I told him. The next day the Vizier came to me with the story of an insolent fellow to whom fifty such notes had been offered as payment for a camel for the war and who had sent back, not a camel, but another piece of paper on which was written This is a camel.

"Cut off his head ! said I."  It was done, and the warning sufficed. The paper was taken and the war proceeded.

Hilaire Belloc. The Mercy of Allah

“I’m just a banker doing God’s work”

Lloyd Blankfein.

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?

Graphene foam gets big and tough

Nanotube-reinforced material can be shaped, is highly conductive

Date: February 14, 2017

Source: Rice University

Summary: Graphene foam reinforced with carbon nanotubes can hold thousands of times its own weight and still bounce back to its full height. The material is thermally stable and highly conductive, making it suitable for batteries and other electrical applications.

A chunk of conductive graphene foam reinforced by carbon nanotubes can support more than 3,000 times its own weight and easily bounce back to its original height, according to Rice University scientists.
Better yet, it can be made in just about any shape and size, they reported, demonstrating a screw-shaped piece of the highly conductive foam.
The Rice lab of chemist James Tour tested its new "rebar graphene" as a highly porous, conductive electrode in lithium ion capacitors and found it to be mechanically and chemically stable.
The research appears in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.
Carbon in the form of atom-thin graphene is among the strongest materials known and is highly conductive; multiwalled carbon nanotubes are widely used as conductive reinforcements in metals, polymers and carbon matrix composites. The Tour lab had already used nanotubes to reinforce two-dimensional sheets of graphene. Extending the concept to macroscale materials made sense, Tour said.
"We developed graphene foam, but it wasn't tough enough for the kind of applications we had in mind, so using carbon nanotubes to reinforce it was a natural next step," Tour said.
The three-dimensional structures were created from a powdered nickel catalyst, surfactant-wrapped multiwall nanotubes and sugar as a carbon source. The materials were mixed and the water evaporated; the resulting pellets were pressed into a steel die and then heated in a chemical vapor deposition furnace, which turned the available carbon into graphene. After further processing to remove remnants of nickel, the result was an all-carbon foam in the shape of the die, in this case a screw. Tour said the method will be easy to scale up.

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished January

DJIA: 19864  +92 Up. NASDAQ:  5615 +95 Up. SP500: 2279 +95 Up.

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