Monday, 27 March 2017

Now Or Never For Europe.

Baltic Dry Index. 1240 +44   Brent Crude 50.38

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.

We open today with Brexit finally forcing continental minds to think about long overdue reform of the dying EUSSR. My guess, nothing will happen, talk is cheap. The French will never reform Europe’s agriculture subsidies. Germany will never agree to subsidise the bonds of everyone else.  The wealth and jobs destroying EUSSR, will sleepwalk on to destruction when either Deutsche Bank’s gambling book detonates, of the next global slow down hits. Turkey and Germany escalate their war of words.

Mon Mar 27, 2017 | 12:43am EDT

'Now or never' for Europe, French think tank warns

The leaders of France and Germany must use the window of opportunity that opens up after elections in both countries to inject new momentum into their single currency project or risk its failure, a leading French think tank warned on Monday.

In a 77-page report entitled "The Europe We Need", the Institut Montaigne, an independent institute with links to French presidential candidates Emmanuel Macron and Francois Fillon, called for a "multi-speed" Europe in which the euro zone presses ahead with its own budget and even a prime minister.

The report, the product of months of consultation between leading figures from European business, politics and banking, could serve as a blueprint for use by a new French president.

Polls suggest Macron, a pro-European former banker, will face Marine Le Pen, the anti-EU leader of the far-right National Front, in a second round run-off on May 7th, and beat her.

"We are in a geopolitical environment that is extremely dangerous for Europeans," Ramon Fernandez, finance and strategy chief at French mobile phone group Orange and head of the working group that produced the report, told Reuters.

"If our leaders are to shape the future of Europe and give it back its momentum, it may be now or never. This political will is absolutely necessary. The year 2017 will be decisive," said Fernandez, a former head of the French Treasury.

The German election will be held four months after the French vote. Conservative Angela Merkel is expected to face a tough challenge from Social Democrat Martin Schulz, the former president of the European Parliament.

In focussing on the need for France and Germany to lead, the report echoes what Macron has said on the campaign trail.

It also calls for Europe's rescue fund, the European Stability Mechanism, to be turned into a full-fledged monetary fund as well as tougher European defences against foreign companies and cross-border mergers to create European champions.

In foreign policy, it stresses the need for good relations with Britain and the United States, despite Brexit and the election of U.S. President Donald Trump. It recommends offering Turkey an alternative to EU membership, saying the political evolution of the country makes joining the bloc impossible.

Sun Mar 26, 2017 | 11:52am EDT

Erdogan setting back integration in Germany by years: Schaeuble

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who accuses Chancellor Angela Merkel of using "Nazi methods" against Turks in Germany, is setting back their integration by years, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has said.
Berlin is growing increasingly frustrated about Erdogan repeatedly accusing it of applying "Nazi methods" by banning rallies aimed at drumming up support among Turks in Germany for a referendum that would strengthen the power of his presidency.

Turks workers began moving to Germany in the 1960s and the country now has about 3 million people of Turkish background. Some are fully integrated while others live in ethnic communities with less contact with the majority population.

"Erdogan's rhetoric makes me stunned," Schaeuble, a veteran member of Merkel's Christian Democratic (CDU) party, told the Welt am Sonntag weekly newspaper.

"In a short time, it wilfully destroys the integration that has grown over years in Germany. The repair of the damage will take years," he said.

Erdogan said in a speech in Istanbul on Sunday: "You call the president of the Turkish Republic a dictator. When we call them fascists, they get annoyed. When we call them Nazis, they get annoyed."

"You are fascists, you are. Be annoyed as much as you want with Nazi practices. If you draw swastikas on the walls of our mosques and don't hold anyone accountable, you cannot take off this stain," Erdogan said.

Turkish voters living in Germany begin on Monday casting their ballots in the constitutional referendum.

In better news for Europe and the world, a truce of sorts implemented, Libyan crude oil production is rising and exporting again. I wonder if it had anything to do with Russian special forces basing, with Egyptian permission, at a western Egypt airbase? What the world really needs right now, is another slump in the crude oil price. America’s weak recovery is already into its 91st month and staring the next recession in the face.

Libya's Biggest Port Loading First Oil Tanker Since Clashes

by Salma El Wardany
26 March 2017, 11:38 BST
Libya’s biggest oil terminal is loading its first tanker since fighting between armed groups earlier this month halted shipments from two ports in the country with Africa’s largest crude reserves.

The Suezmax vessel Demetrios, which can carry as much as one million barrels, is loading at the port of Es Sider for export to China, according to a person familiar with the situation, who asked not to be identified because the matter isn’t public. Fighting between rival groups erupted on March 3, disrupting output and forcing Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, the country’s third-biggest terminal, to halt shipments. Operations at both ports restarted later this month after the clashes ended.

Libya’s oil production has climbed back to where it was before the battle for control of the ports forced Waha Oil Co. , which feeds Es Sider, to suspend output. The country is producing 700,000 barrels a day and targets 800,000 before the end of April, Mustafa Sanalla, chairman of state-run National Oil Corp., said on March 22. Waha, a joint venture between the NOC, Hess Corp., Marathon Oil Corp. and ConocoPhillips, has resumed output and is pumping 60,000 barrels a day compared with 80,000 before the latest hostilities, Jadalla Alaokali, an NOC board member, said on March 23.

Exports from Es Sider are restarting as members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allied producers meet in Kuwait to discuss possibly extending an output-cuts deal beyond June. The more oil Libya pumps, the greater the pressure on its fellow OPEC members as they seek to clear a global glut. The country produced 1.6 million barrels a day before a 2011 revolt sparked fighting that prompted foreign investors to withdraw, hobbling its oil industry.

We close for the day with an idea whose time may just be around the corner, or it may be a pie-in-the-sky idea. With robotics about to take away millions of jobs in the decades ahead, how to get the unemployed an income and retraining. Tax the robots and redistribute the proceeds is one suggestion, suddenly gaining traction. Far easier said than done. If Japan taxes robots and China doesn’t, how does Japan sell its more expensive goods? Even if it worked universally, who decides who gets what out of the new pie? My guess is that a whole lot of the new filthy lucre will get stuck to some very bureaucratic fingers, but then again that may be the general hidden idea.

Robotization without taxation?

Published: Mar 25, 2017 7:13 a.m. ET

Tax on artificial intelligence could fund wage insurance, retraining

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (Project Syndicate) — The idea of a tax on robots was raised last May in a draft report to the European Parliament prepared by MEP Mady Delvaux from the Committee on Legal Affairs.
Emphasizing how robots could boost inequality, the report proposed that there might be a “need to introduce corporate reporting requirements on the extent and proportion of the contribution of robotics and AI to the economic results of a company for the purpose of taxation and social security contributions.”

The public reaction to Delvaux’s proposal has been overwhelmingly negative, with the notable exception of Bill Gates, who endorsed it. But we should not dismiss the idea out of hand.

In just the past year, we have seen the proliferation of devices such as Google GOOG, -0.39%  Home and Amazon AMZN, -0.21%   Echo Dot (Alexa), which replace some aspects of household help. Likewise, the Delphi DLPH, +0.38%  and nuTonomy driverless taxi services in Singapore have started to replace taxi drivers. And Doordash, which uses Starship Technologies miniature self-driving vehicles, is replacing restaurant delivery people.

If these and other labor-displacing innovations succeed, surely calls to tax them will grow more frequent, owing to the human problems that arise when people lose their jobs — often jobs with which they closely identify, and for which they may have spent years preparing.

Since we are all operating on fiat money, communist money, since the Great Nixonian Error of fiat money August 15 1971, perhaps a better idea is to thoroughly investigate guaranteed minimum incomes, and how to make fiat money work across the 21st century.  Over to the usual suspects at the BIS, IMF, WB, Fed, BOE, ECB, and all the rest. The Great Nixonian Error is long in the tooth and awaiting the next Lehman.

“When it becomes serious, you have to lie.”

Jean-Claude Juncker. Failed former Luxembourg P.M., serial liar, president of the European Commission.

At the Comex silver depositories Friday final figures were: Registered 40.52 Moz, Eligible 149.64 Moz, Total 190.16 Moz.

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.
As Libya restarts exports, OPEC and friends seem to have run out of ideas.

OPEC, non-OPEC committee recommends extending oil output cut by six months

Sun Mar 26, 2017 | 7:16am EDT
A joint committee of ministers from OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers recommended extending by six months a global deal to reduce oil output, a draft press release from their meeting on Sunday showed.
OPEC and rival oil-producing countries were meeting in Kuwait to review progress with their global pact to cut supplies.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and 11 other leading oil producers including Russia agreed in December to cut their combined output by almost 1.8 million barrels per day in the first half of the year.
The oil ministerial committee "expressed its satisfaction with the progress made toward full conformity with the voluntary production adjustments and encouraged all participating countries to press on toward 100 percent conformity," said the draft, seen by Reuters.
The December accord, aimed at supporting the oil market, has lifted crude LCOc1 to more than $50 a barrel. But the price gain has encouraged U.S. shale oil producers, which are not part of the pact, to boost output.
The committee said it took note that certain factors, such as low seasonal demand, refinery maintenance and rising non-OPEC supply had led to an increase in crude oil stocks. It also observed the liquidation of positions by financial players.
"However, the end of the refinery maintenance season and noticeable slowdown in U.S. stock build as well as the reduction in floating storage will support the positive efforts undertaken to achieve stability in the market," it said.

OPEC Be Warned: Russia Prepares for Oil at $40

by Ksenia Galouchko
24 March 2017, 16:34 GMT 24 March 2017, 23:00 GMT
Perhaps the Bank of Russia knows something the world doesn’t.

As the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies prepare to meet for a review of their production cuts this weekend, the central bank of the world’s biggest energy exporter is hunkering down for years of oil near $40 a barrel.

While analysts in a Bloomberg survey see the price of benchmark Brent crude -- which trades at a small premium to Russia’s Urals export blend -- rising 16 percent from current levels by the end of the year, oil’s 10 percent decline in March alone amid supply woes is making the market nervous. Russia, a key partner in the deal and a participant in the talks in Kuwait, might only add to those jitters.

“The Finance Ministry, the cabinet and the central bank are leaning on the cautious side in terms of their expectations regarding growth, driven still to a large degree by oil,” said Piotr Matys, an emerging-market currency strategist at Rabobank in London. “It’s better to be conservative and to be surprised on the upside than too optimistic and end up disappointed.”

Policy makers in Moscow said on Friday they see Urals at an average of $50 a barrel this year, but falling to $40 at end-2017 and then staying near that level in 2018-2019. As the central bank honed its forecasts, it also gingerly resumed monetary easing, pointing to the “uncertainty” in the oil market as a factor for its “conservative” forecasts.

Russia’s Finance Ministry similarly highlighted the $40 level in January when it announced that the central bank will start buying foreign currency on its behalf when crude exceeds that level in order to insulate the exchange rate from oil volatility. The price of $40 is additionally being used to calculate the country’s budget in 2017-2019.

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? DC? A quantum computer next?

Promising results obtained with a new electrocatalyst that reduces the need for platinum

Date: March 23, 2017

Source: Aalto University

Summary: A group researchers has developed a manufacturing method for electrocatalysts that only uses one hundredth of the amount of platinum generally used in commercial products. The activity achieved using the new material is similar to that of commercial electrocatalysts. The method is based on the special characteristics of carbon nanotubes.
Platinum is a very expensive metal and it is therefore one of the bottlenecks hindering the growth of renewable energy. Platinum is used as the catalyst in electrolysers that store electric energy as chemical compounds, and it also plays an important role in fuel cells, catalytic converters and many chemical processes used in industry.
A group of Aalto University researchers led by professors Tanja Kallio and Kari Laasonen has developed a manufacturing method for electrocatalysts that only uses one hundredth of the amount of platinum generally used in commercial products. The activity achieved using the new material is similar to that of commercial electrocatalysts. The method is based on the special characteristics of carbon nanotubes.
'When platinum is electrodeposited on the surface of carbon nanotubes, it forms particles consisting of a couple of atoms. On other materials, such as graphene, platinum forms larger nanoparticles', Tanja Kallio explains.
'We believe this is because the carbon atoms of the curved surface are in a strained state, which makes them prone to stabilising platinum on the surface of the nanotube. This ensures that the platinum atoms form small and catalytically active particles. Our modelling showed that the more strained the carbon bonds are, the better the stabilisation of the platinum. Smaller tubes are more curved, which makes the strain greater, so the diameter of the nanotubes is also important.'
One third of the price
Electrolysers store electrical energy in the form of hydrogen bond energy. In practice, this mechanism is used to store fluctuating energy, such as wind energy, and balance the difference between demand and production. Since the electrocatalyst forms approximately one third of the price of the electrolyser, reducing the amount of platinum needed would make the process significantly less expensive.
'In addition to the price of platinum, the availability of the metal is also a problem. Platinum is on the EU list of critical raw materials, which means that its use is problematic either due to its scarceness or due to geopolitical problems. This is why the EU is aiming to reduce the use of platinum', Kallio says and emphasises that so far the functionality of the electrocatalyst developed at Aalto University has only been proven in laboratory conditions.
'In small-scale conditions and at room temperature, the electrocatalyst is stable and usable for a long time. The next step is to increase the scale of production and test the functionality of the electrocatalyst in practical applications, which are often carried out at a higher temperature.'
The research results have just been published in the scientific journal ACS Catalysis.

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished February

DJIA: 20,812  +133 Up. NASDAQ:  5,825 +120 Up. SP500: 2,364 +115 Up.

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