Friday, 28 April 2017

A Long Weekend. The Big Bang?

Baltic Dry Index. 1134 -13     Brent Crude 51.92

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

"We finished the year, and we reported that we had $17 billion of cash sitting at the bank's parent company as a liquidity cushion. As the year has gone on, that liquidity cushion has been virtually unchanged."

Bear Stearns CEO Alan Schwartz. March 12, 2008. Bust March 17, 2008.

Having largely talked himself into a corner over North Korea, can President Trump now back away from a clash with North Korea, without doing major damage to the USA’s credibility? Below, is President U-turn, now about to do another U-turn, this one on North Korea? Will China’s President Xi offer a fig leaf of cover via diplomacy? Did President Trump just pick a fight with Saudi Arabia? I wonder what they make of that in Tehran? It looks like being a long weekend awaiting clarification.

Meanwhile Europe and much of the communist world are taking a real long weekend celebrating May Day. Will President Trump use that as cover for a pre-emptive strike? If so, North Korea, Syria, Tehran, Crimea, the South China Sea? Riyadh? President Trump and the American War Party are spoiled for choice, although I hope it’s not Crimea as that will likely impact on the next door Russia Formula One Grand Prix race in Sochi on Sunday.

Below, the thoughts and words of President Trump. Another risk off, weekend, I think.

'When I use a word,' President Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.' ... 'The question is,' said President Dumpty, 'which is to be master — that's all.'

With apologies to Lewis Carroll and Alice.

Thu Apr 27, 2017 | 11:27pm EDT

Exclusive: Trump says 'major, major' conflict with North Korea possible, but seeks diplomacy

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday a major conflict with North Korea is possible in the standoff over its nuclear and missile programs, but he would prefer a diplomatic outcome to the dispute.

"There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely," 
Trump told Reuters in an Oval Office interview ahead of his 100th day in office on Saturday.

Nonetheless, Trump said he wanted to peacefully resolve a crisis that has bedeviled multiple U.S. presidents, a path that he and his administration are emphasizing by preparing a variety of new economic sanctions while not taking the military option off the table.

"We'd love to solve things diplomatically but it's very difficult," he said.

In other highlights of the 42-minute interview, Trump was cool to speaking again with Taiwan's president after an earlier telephone call with her angered China.

He also said he wants South Korea to pay the cost of the U.S. THAAD anti-missile defense system, which he estimated at $1 billion, and intends to renegotiate or terminate a U.S. free trade pact with South Korea because of a deep trade deficit with Seoul.

Asked when he would announce his intention to renegotiate the pact, Trump said: “Very soon. I’m announcing it now.”

Trump also said he was considering adding stops to Israel and Saudi Arabia to a Europe trip next month, emphasizing that he wanted to see an Israeli-Palestinian peace. He complained that Saudi Arabia was not paying its fair share for U.S. defense.

Asked about the fight against Islamic State, Trump said the militant group had to be defeated.

"I have to say, there is an end. And it has to be humiliation," he said, when asked about what the endgame was for defeating Islamist violent extremism.

Deadly Game Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un Risk Nuclear War

With prospects growing that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un could soon have long-range nuclear missiles at his disposal, Donald Trump is threatening a military response. Suddenly nuclear war seems possible, but how great is the threat of escalation?
April 26, 2017  03:08 PM

Rehearsals for the apocalypse have long been underway. Every two months, always in the early afternoon, the sirens begin wailing in Seoul. Cars and buses come to a halt, civil defense officials take up their positions at busy intersections and volunteers wearing yellow armbands guide pedestrians into the nearest shelter, of which there are hundreds in the South Korean capital.

The army, too, is prepared. Highways between Seoul and the border at the 38th parallel are lined with watchtowers and every few kilometers, heavy, concrete barriers hang above the road. Should war break out, explosive charges would drop the barriers onto the roadway, blocking the way to attackers. Beaches on the coast are likewise outfitted with tank traps and barbed wire -- all in an effort to protect the southern half of the Korean Peninsula from the poor yet heavily armed north.

The facilities are defensive in nature, but the South Korean military also has an attack plan, abbreviated as KMPR, which stands for Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation. The details are secret, but the first scenes of a new Korean war would look more or less as follows: Before North Korea could attack, the South would seek to eliminate its opponent's missile launch sites with cruise missiles of its own while anti-aircraft defenses would shoot down those rockets that evaded the initial strikes. Before North Korea could set its infantry in march, the plan calls for South Korean special forces to infiltrate Pyongyang and liquidate dictator Kim Jong Un.

When South Korea's defense minister spoke publicly for the first time about these plans last September, it was primarily of interest to Asian military experts. Now, though, the scenarios described seem disturbingly realistic. The Korean Peninsula hasn't been this close to military conflict since 2006, the pro-Chinese government newspaper Global Times recently wrote in Beijing.

We close for the day with China. A new beginning or another Ordos?

China’s $290 Billion New Area Lifts Hope for Better Cities

Bloomberg News
China’s plan to build a new city about two hours drive from Beijing has raised hopes it may catalyze better urban design across the nation, enhancing economic efficiency and cutting air pollution.

The potential for gains is huge in a country where tens of millions of rural residents will move into urban areas by the end of the decade. The nation’s cities are afflicted by urban sprawl and designs that force millions of people to rely on cars to get around, exacerbating chronic traffic congestion and choking air pollution.

Xiongan New Area, announced April 1, has been lauded by state media as a demonstration project for a new model of optimized development in densely-populated areas. Hebei province will call for international bids to plan and design the city, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday, citing an official of the preparatory committee for the new zone.

It’s also intended to ease the pressure on Beijing, the capital city that plans to cap its population at 23 million by 2020. Morgan Stanley expects the investment in infrastructure and relocation to run about 2 trillion yuan ($290 billion) in the first 15 years.

"China’s really pushed the idea in the last five years that it’s done the rapid urbanization process, and now it’s going to look at quality," said Austin Williams, author of "China’s Urban Revolution: Understanding Chinese Eco-Cities." "A lot of people are now aspiring to a quality of life beyond quantity."

----Xiongan is backed by President Xi Jinping, whose long-range vision is to transform what’s now a sleepy backwater known for its orchard and lotus flowers into a gleaming, teeming hub of innovative companies, world-class universities and transportation.

It spans three counties. The infrastructure build-out will cover 100 square kilometers initially, expand to 200 square kilometers and eventually occupy a space of about 2,000 square kilometers, similar to Shenzhen in the south now, the government says. It will have 5.4 million people in 15 years and boost China’s investment growth by 0.33 percentage point and its gross domestic product by 0.13 percentage point to 0.19 percentage point per year, according to Morgan Stanley’s base-case estimate

----Still, some analysts are skeptical that the experimental city will trigger change elsewhere.

"It’s unlikely to be a catalyst for a sea change in the way China builds" cities, said Tom Miller, author of "China’s Urban Billion: The Story Behind the Biggest Migration in Human History" and managing editor of the China Economic Quarterly at Gavekal Dragonomics in London. "There’s a well-established pattern for building new urban areas, which I suspect will be hard to break. They all need to have a big government building, a grand square, boulevards and over-sized university buildings."

The new city can only succeed if an environment is created that spurs market forces to support it, says Fang Yiping, assistant professor at the PSU-China Innovations in Urbanization Program at Portland State University in Oregon.

Apr 19, 2016 @ 05:11 PM 44,160

An Update On China's Largest Ghost City - What Ordos Kangbashi Is Like Today

Ordos Kangbashi is a new city of world-class architecture, extravagant public plazas, international scale stadiums, and seas of crisp new housing that rose up from the barren deserts of China's Inner Mongolia in less than a decade. However, this new city soon found itself showcased in the international spotlight not for all the things it had but for what it was perceived to lack: namely, people, businesses, and the vital innards that make up a real, living city.

Having been called a modern ghost town, a stillborn city, and a failed utopia, Ordos Kangbashi has been the recipient of an ongoing stream of criticism from myriad international media sources. The majority of this coverage has posited the place as a shining example of whatever Chinese financial crisis is the flavor of the day: housing bubbles, municipal debt, over-supply, bankrupt developers, as well as nefarious plots by local officials to artificially boost GDP to get promoted.

At the Comex silver depositories Thursday final figures were: Registered 29.15 Moz, Eligible 167.40 Moz, Total 196.55 Moz.

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.
Today, More on Brexit.  Migrant Mad Merkel still in deep denial over the realities of Brexit. Fighting for her survival in this autumn’s coming German general election, Merkel’s Berlin bunker mentality speech to her troops below, echoes the unreality of 1944-1945 Berlin. 
'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.

Merkel Warns Against U.K. ‘Illusions’ in Hard-Line Brexit Speech

by Patrick Donahue and Arne Delfs
27 April 2017, 08:44 GMT+1 27 April 2017, 11:14 GMT+1
German Chancellor Angela Merkel laid down a tough line for Brexit talks with the U.K., reminding Britain it can’t expect preferential treatment as she warned that some officials in London were harboring “illusions.”

Addressing the German parliament before the remaining 27 European Union leaders meet on Saturday to discuss Britain’s exit, Merkel said the bloc will put its interests first and that talks on departure terms must precede the crafting of a new trade relationship. The EU is heading into the “very complex” negotiations with a strong sense of unity, she said.

 “You might think that these things are self-evident, but unfortunately I have to put it in such clear terms because I have the feeling that some in Britain still have illusions about this,” Merkel said in Berlin on Thursday, drawing applause from lower-house lawmakers. “But that would be a waste of time.”

Merkel’s warning echoes comments from German officials who have said negotiators in Prime Minister Theresa May’s government were underestimating the complexity of the talks and the economic reality of a U.K. outside the EU’s single market. The negotiations will be “a lot of work,” Merkel said.

Global challenges such as climate change, trade and migration “are too great for Europe to focus on itself for the next two years, regardless of Brexit,” she said. “We will conduct these negotiations in a fair and constructive way and we expect exactly the same from the British side.”

Underscoring the unity of Merkel’s three-party government, her coalition’s lawmakers later Thursday approved a resolution that lays out a sweeping series of conditions for the EU’s talks with the U.K. and demands a say for the Bundestag on the final outcome.
John Bull has no illusions over the futility of negotiating anything meaningful, with an EUSSR team that includes, 5 preening, deeply jealous Presidents, each pulling on a different oar in the EC boat, an EC negotiating team intent on stopping any other EU asylum members from checking out, which in turn must report to, and get deal approval from the fractious European Parliament, which then must be unanimously approved by the rump-EU’s 27 national Parliaments, plus Belgium’s Walloonatics. And all supposedly with two years, although until all parties know the make-up of the new German government in the autumn, there’s very little point in holding any talks at all. Germany is the paymaster of the EUSSR, and will be even more so after GB leaves.
Few on the UK side of the channel expect anything but a complete British exit from the EUSSR. Commerce, finance, industry, farming and fishing, and all the others, will all just react as best they can to the new situation that will exist in just under two years. But that is just the way of the world, on both sides of the English Channel. Mrs Merkel needs to climb out of her bunker, and look around at the harsh reality she created when she humiliated Dodgy Dave Cameron on his EU-reform farewell tour, and she sent him back with an empty envelope to sell to UK voters. UK voters got her message loud and clear and voted out. It’s no good her crying over her spilt milk now.

Dear Mr Juncker, Brexit isn't a divorce so the EU can forget alimony

John Redwood27 April 2017 • 6:00am
I do not understand why some in the EU Commission seem to think the UK owes the bloc any money on leaving. The UK is not seeking a divorce from Europe. It is a silly misrepresentation. We are surrendering our membership of the European Union, but expect to have strong and positive ties with the rest of Europe after we have left. There will be much trade, many joint ventures, common research, shared campaigns in international politics, cultural, academic and business links.

I have great news for our EU partners. Because it is no divorce, there is nothing in the EU treaties which gives the UK a claim on the assets Brussels has built up during our period of membership. It is true we have made a big financial contribution, which has in part been invested in buildings and other stores of value. We lose that. But because it is no divorce and we have no children, the EU does not have to pay us maintenance.

Amazon to create 1,200 new jobs in region by opening giant new centre

The internet retail giant plans to occupy a second North West site and will start recruiting later this year

ByLucy Roue 11:55, 27 APR 2017
Online giant Amazon is set to open a new fulfilment centre, bringing 1,200 permanent new jobs to the region.
The retailer will begin recruiting later this year for the site in Warrington with roles including operations managers, engineers, HR and IT specialists.

Located on the Omega site next to the M62 motorway, the deal is worth a rumoured £30m.
Warrington is one of four new fulfilment centres that Amazon will open in 2017 and is the second site for the north west region with a huge presence at Wythenshawe’s Airport City .

The 260,000 st ft warehouse near the airport opened in September 2016 and employs up to 3,000 staff at peak times.

According to the company all Amazon fulfilment centre employees start on £7.65 an hour or more. This increases over their first two years of employment when all employees earn £8.15 an hour or more.
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?

Tweaked titanium turns C02 into solar fuel

Nick Lavars April 26, 2017
An ability to convert carbon dioxide into energy using only the power of the sun, as plants do through photosynthesis, would be a monumental breakthrough in green energy research. More and more we are seeing promising strides in this area, the latest of which is the work of scientists at the University of Central Florida (UCF), who have come up with synthetic material that turns visible light from the sun into solar fuels, sucking harmful C02 out of the air in the process.

The prospect of artificial photosynthesis is a hugely exciting one, and it has inspired scientists to pursue this potential environmental panacea from all angles. We have seen a number of artificial leaves that seek to recreate the energy-harvesting abilities of the real thing, along with more outside-the-box approaches such as hybrid energy systems and photoelectrochemical cells inspired by moth eyes. But still the goal remains out of reach.

In the view of the UCF team, one of the key challenges centers on the different types of sunlight that can be used to kick off the necessary chemical process, which breaks C02 down into organic materials that can be used for fuel. The sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays have enough energy to kick off this reaction in some common materials, such as titanium oxide, but the trouble is UV rays only represent around four percent of the sunlight that hits the Earth.

Rays in the visible range, on the other hand, make up the majority of sunlight that reaches the planet. The problem with those is that there are not many materials that can detect these light colors and trigger the reaction. The ones that do, such as platinum, rhenium and iridium, are scarce and expensive, which means the approach is not cost-effective.

So how do you kick off this chemical process using both visible light and affordable materials? Led by assistant professor Fernando Uribe-Romo, the UCF chemists took common titanium and added some organic molecules they hoped would serve as a light-harvesting antennae – a way of bestowing visible-light-capturing abilities on humble titanium.

The titanium and molecules, called N-alkyl-2-aminoterephthalates, were arranged as a metal-organic framework (MOF). MOFs are porous, sponge-like structures with large surface areas that can absorb gases into their tiny pores. This has seen scientists seek to use them in a variety of ways, including building better batteries, developing detectors for nerve agents and capturing carbon, as is the case here.

The molecules also have the ability to be customized to absorb specific colors of light. In this instance, the team designed it to absorb blue light, and then put together a blue LED photoreactor that imitates the sun's blue wavelength to put their new material to the test.
The photoreactor resembled a tanning bed, and by feeding measured amounts of carbon dioxide into the glowing cylinder, the team was able to see if the material within kicked off the chemical process. It did, breaking the C02 into two reduced forms of carbon, formate and formamides, which are two types of solar fuel.
"This work is a breakthrough," said Uribe-Romo. "Tailoring materials that will absorb a specific color of light is very difficult from the scientific point of view, but from the societal point of view we are contributing to the development of a technology that can help reduce greenhouse gases."

Another weekend, but will it be the weekend war breaks out on the Korean peninsula? Hopefully not, but the American War Party seems to have cornered itself with its rhetoric. Can Uncle Sam really back away from a fight now? In the EUSSR, including for now, GB, it’s the Communist Mayday long-weekend break. Once free, hopefully we can drop it for restoring Whitsun once again. Have a great weekend everyone. 

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished March

DJIA: 20,663  +131 Up. NASDAQ:  5,912 +165 Up. SP500: 2,363 +135 Up.

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