Thursday, 20 April 2017

Is Trumpmania Waning?

Baltic Dry Index. 1278 -16      Brent Crude 53.10

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

Is Trumpmania waning or at best stalled? The Trump bubble was nothing but hot air and hopium. Now the hopium seems to be disappearing, and the view from the top of the Alps looks more challenging, as the Fedsters take up the challenge of long term tightening. Worse, someone in deep state America seems to be planning on triggering World War Three.  Yesterday the USAF’s first overseas based  F-35As started arriving in the UK.

Below, the more sombre view of our world this morning.

Larry Fink: ‘Warning Signs Are Getting Darker’ for the U.S. Economy

by Charles Stein
  • U.S. market may fall 5%-10% on weak profits, Trump setbacks
  • Says U.S. is slowest-growing economy among G-7 nations
Laurence D. Fink, chief executive officer of BlackRock Inc., said the lackluster growth of the U.S. economy and uncertainty around the Trump administration’s ability to quickly pass key reforms pose a risk to markets.
“There are some warning signs that are getting darker,” said Fink, in an interview Wednesday on Bloomberg Television. Fink, who runs the world’s largest money manager, mentioned a pullback in car sales and a slowdown in merger and acquisition activity as indications that uncertainty is rising. The slowest economy among the G-7 nations is the U.S., he said.

The stock market needs validation that U.S. corporate earnings will stay strong and that the policies of President Donald Trump regarding taxes, regulation and infrastructure will advance in Congress in order to move higher, Fink said.

"If we don’t have earnings validated in these higher P/Es we could adjust downward 5 or 10 percent from here," Fink said. "If the administration does succeed on some of these items then the market will then reassert itself going higher."

Markets Start to Ponder the $13 Trillion Gorilla in the Room

by Enda Curran, Liz McCormick, and Eric Lam
19 April 2017, 05:00 BST
After heading into the uncharted territory of quantitative easing, the world’s central banks are starting to plan their course through the uncharted waters of quantitative tightening.

How the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and -- eventually -- the Bank of Japan handle the transition could make the difference between a global rerun of the 2013 "taper tantrum," or the near undetectable market response to China’s run-down of U.S. Treasuries in recent years. Combined, the balance sheets of the three now total about $13 trillion, equating to greater than either China’s or the euro region’s economy.

Former Fed Chair Ben S. Bernanke -- who triggered the 2013 sell-off in risk assets with his quip on tapering asset purchases -- has argued for a pre-set strategy to shrink the balance sheet. Current Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer says he doesn’t see a replay of the 2013 tantrum, but the best laid plans of central bankers would soon go awry if markets can’t digest the great unwinding.

"You know what they say about mountaineering right? The descent is always more dangerous than the ascent," said Stephen Jen, London-based chief executive of hedge fund Eurizon SLJ Capital Ltd. "Shrinking the balance sheet will be the descent."

Economists and investors are stepping up analysis of the implications of balance-sheet contraction after minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting last month showed officials favor kicking off the process as soon as this year.


While the BOJ appears to be some distance from shrinking its balance sheet, Governor Haruhiko Kuroda has said that’s one of the tasks the BOJ will face when it exits its monetary easing policies. That would only be after inflation exceeds 2 percent, which the BOJ forecasts will come sometime in the year starting April 2018.

The ECB’s balance sheet will continue to grow until at least the end of this year and isn’t likely to shrink until well after it finally winds down asset purchases. Any discussion on when to start shrinking appears to be some distance away.

A key unknown is how the heavily indebted global economy can cope with the rising interest rates that are likely to result from stimulus withdrawal. As central banks squeeze their balance sheets, they will add selling pressure on longer-dated bonds and effectively push up borrowing costs. Getting the balance right won’t be easy.

With truth being the first casualty of war, below presented without need for comment.

MIT Scientist FURTHER Debunks False Flag: "The Nerve Agent Attack that Did Not Occur"

Apr 19, 2017 1:34 AM
By Theodore A. Postol, professor emeritus of science, technology, and national security policy at MIT.  Postol’s main expertise is in ballistic missiles. He has a substantial background in air dispersal, including how toxic plumes move in the air. Postol has taught courses on weapons of mass destruction – including chemical and biological threats – at MIT.  Before joining MIT, Postol worked as an analyst at the Office of Technology Assessment, as a science and policy adviser to the chief of naval operations, and as a researcher at Argonne National Laboratory.  He also helped build a program at Stanford University to train mid-career scientists to study weapons technology in relation to defense and arms control policy. Postol is a highly-decorated scientist, receiving the Leo Szilard Prize from the American Physical Society, the Hilliard Roderick Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Richard L. Garwin Award from the Federation of American Scientists.
This analysis contains a detailed description of the times and locations of critical events in the alleged nerve agent attack of April 4, 2017 in Khan Shaykhun, Syria – assuming that the White House Intelligence Report (WHR) issued on April 11, 2017 correctly identified the alleged sarin release site.
Analysis using weather data from the time of the attack shows that a small hamlet about 300 m to the east southeast of the crater could be the only location affected by the alleged nerve agent release. The hamlet is separated from the alleged release site (a crater) by an open field. The winds at the time of the release would have initially taken the sarin across the open field. Beyond the hamlet there is a substantial amount of open space and the sarin cloud would have had to travel long additional distance for it to have dissipated before reaching any other population center.
Video taken on April 4 shows that the location where the victims were supposedly being treated from sarin exposure is incompatible with the only open space in the hamlet that could have been used for mass treatment of victims. This indicates that the video scenes where mass casualties (dead and dying) were laid on the ground randomly was not at the hamlet. If the location where the bodies were on the ground was instead a site where the injured and dead were taken for processing, then it is hard to understand why bodies were left randomly strewn on the ground and in mud as shown in the videos.
The conclusion of this summary of data is obvious – the nerve agent attack described in the WHR did not occur as claimed. There may well have been mass casualties from some kind of poisoning event, but that event was not the one described by the WHR.
The findings of this analysis can serve two important purposes:
  1. It shows exactly what needs to be determined in an international investigation of this alleged atrocity. In particular, if an international investigation can determine where casualties from the nerve agent attack lived, it will further confirm that the findings reported by the WHR are not compatible with the data it cites as evidence for its conclusions.
  2. It also establishes that the WHR did not utilize simple and widely agreed upon intelligence analysis procedures to determine its conclusions.
This raises troubling questions about how the US political and military leadership determined that the Syrian government was responsible for the alleged attack. It is particularly of concern that the WHR presented itself as a report with “high confidence” findings and that numerous high-level officials in the US government have confirmed their belief that the report was correct and to a standard of high confidence.

We close with  Brexit news, and a smart dose of harsh reality for the rump-EU from tiny 
Iceland. With Brexit, do you want to shoot yourself in the foot or the head?

Iceland Sees Only Losers From Post-Brexit Trade Barriers

by Alex Morales
Iceland, looking in from the outside as one of its biggest export markets seeks to overhaul its trading ties, says everyone will lose from a botched exit by the U.K. from the European Union.

“It’s very important that the transition is as smooth as possible,” Icelandic Foreign Minister Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson said in an interview in London. “It’s unthinkable that we will see some trade barriers or technical barriers in the year 2019 or 2020. Everyone will lose from that.”

While not an EU member, Iceland is watching Brexit negotiations very carefully, because the U.K. accounts 
for almost 12 percent of its exports. Britain is due to leave the European Union in two years’ time, and at the same time, it’ll also leave the European Economic Area, through which it derives its trading relationship with Iceland.

That makes an accord on new ties “very important,” Thordarson said.

Thordarson said that Iceland would want to participate in any transitional arrangements brokered by the U.K. and EU to smooth the change in relationship when Britain departs the bloc, echoing calls from fellow EEA member Norway.

The minister was in London on Tuesday when Prime Minister Theresa May announced she was calling a snap election to shore up support ahead of Brexit negotiations. He found out about the plan as he was on his way to meet Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, he said.

“It makes sense that you would want a whole term in front of you when you go into the negotiations,” Thordarson said. “Everyone in politics knows the danger if you’re negotiating very close to election day.”

He also met with Brexit Minister David Jones, and Hilary Benn, a Labour Party lawmaker who chairs Parliament’s Brexit Committee, scrutinizing government policy. He said he’d discussed trade with Johnson during their meeting on Tuesday, while noting “our meeting at this time is not about details.”
Iceland is looking to establish even stronger post-Brexit trade ties with the U.K., he said.

"We have a very good agreement today -- the EEA agreement, and I would like to get it deeper and better than it is,” the minister said. “We have still some obstacles and tariffs for some fishery products for example, and agriculture. I will aim higher than we have today."

At the Comex silver depositories Wednesday final figures were: Registered 30.11 Moz, Eligible 163.16 Moz, Total 193.27 Moz.

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.
Today, more on cobalt and the Congo. Sort of as Congo, so goes cobalt, and lithium batteries for the EV revolution.

Glencore Cobalt Supplies in Congo Face Hold Up Over Mine Row

by Thomas Wilson
19 April 2017, 00:00 BST 19 April 2017, 09:47 BST
A dispute between state-owned Gecamines and its joint-venture partner at a Congolese cobalt mine that supplies Glencore Plc threatens to halt the supply of as much as 4 percent of the metal within two months.
Jersey-registered GTL, a joint venture between Gecamines and closely held Groupe Forrest International, has processed the hill of mine waste that looms over the southern Congolese mining town of Lubumbashi since 2001, producing as much as 5,000 metric tons of cobalt a year. The state-owned miner has blocked GTL’s access to the site since March 23, according to Groupe Forrest Chief Executive Officer Malta Forrest.

“Gecamines has blocked our access stating that it believes we have exceeded the limits set in our contract,” Forrest said in an interview April 15 in Lubumbashi. “It’s simply not true. Despite our requests Gecamines provided no evidence for their calculations.”

The company petitioned the commercial court in the Belgian capital, Brussels, which has jurisdiction over GTL’s purchasing agreement from Gecamines, to reopen access to the site and appoint an independent expert to adjudicate on the dispute. The case will be heard on Thursday, Forrest said. Gecamines declined to comment on questions sent by email.

Congo is the world’s biggest source of cobalt. Demand for the metal, a key ingredient in the lithium-ion batteries powering everything from Apple Inc.’s iPhones to Tesla Inc.’s new Model 3 electric car, has resulted in prices more than doubling in the past eight months. Glencore, the world’s largest cobalt miner, produced 28,300 tons of the metal last year from its own mines, 24,500 tons of which came from its Mutanda Mining project in Congo. It has also bought GTL’s output since 2015.

Glencore declined to comment, a spokesman said by email.
Under a 1997 contract provided to Bloomberg by Groupe Forrest, GTL had the right to produce as much as 5,000 tons of cobalt annually from the site for 15 years. That agreement was amended in January 2013, granting GTL the right to continue to process cobalt at the same rate until the resource at the so-called tailings site is fully depleted. The mine waste is being reprocessed using more modern technology that allows the extraction of previously inaccessible metal.
In October, independent assessments by Gecamines and GTL agreed that about 1.47 million tons of ore remained in the dump. That’s equivalent to a further five years of operations, according to Groupe Forrest.

How Alternative Battery Makers Are Trying to Compete With Lithium-Ion

Hint: It’s all about cost.
by Katie Fehrenbacher  April 17, 2017
About three years ago inside a sprawling factory southeast of Pittsburgh, a promising battery startup was churning out some of the first of its ultra-simple, nontoxic, low-cost batteries made from a combination of salt water, carbon and manganese oxide.

With $180 million in funding from some of Silicon Valley’s best-known names, including billionaire Bill Gates, it looked like the batteries could be some of the first with an alternative type of chemistry to provide low-cost storage for the power grid, buildings, remote machinery and clean energy farms.

But that vision didn't quite pan out. Just a couple of months ago, the battery maker, Aquion Energy, filed for bankruptcy protection, laid off almost all of its workers and ceased selling its stackable energy storage devices. As the company looks for a buyer, it’s also been hit with a lawsuit from former workers who say they were let go without proper notice, and it has been the target of critics who question why the firm was still struggling after receiving state and federal support.

It’s a familiar tale for battery industry watchers. From big companies like A123 Systems, to smaller ones like EnerVault and Imergy, companies developing new types of battery chemistries have faced difficult markets, major technical hurdles, and long sales cycles.

In recent years, however, the dramatically dropping cost of lithium-ion batteries has become chief among the concerns. While some predicted these batteries would become cheaper over time, most didn’t estimate that the prices would go so low so fast -- making the outlook for alternative battery chemistries a lot murkier.

Years ago, alternative-chemistry battery makers pointed to the high cost of lithium-ion batteries as a major differentiator for their novel batteries. But that’s no longer the case as major lithium-ion battery producers like Panasonic, Samsung and LG Chem appear to be selling lithium-ion batteries for less than $300 per kilowatt-hour. In a couple of years' time, lithium-ion batteries could drop below $200 per kilowatt-hour or even $100 per kilowatt-hour.

These low-cost lithium-ion batteries are spawning major growth in electric cars and batteries for buildings and the power grid. But they are wreaking havoc on the businesses of those that placed bets on the other side of lithium-ion price drop.

The situation is similar to the drop in price of silicon-based solar panels that have become much less pricey in recent years; billions of dollars invested in alternative materials for solar panels have been lost over the years alongside the drop in solar panel prices.
So what’s the future for alternative battery makers in the meantime as lithium-ion batteries drive sales and markets?
The model devised by First Solar might provide one answer. First Solar is the rare solar-panel maker that uses an alternative material for its solar panels and has succeeded. The company is now one of the biggest solar-panel makers and solar project developers in the U.S.
Eos Energy Storage, which makes zinc-air batteries, hopes it can be the First Solar of the battery world. The company said it’s already selling its batteries for $160 per kilowatt-hour and has done a handful of pilots with big utilities like Con Ed and Engie. The company has pledged eventually to sell batteries for under $100 per kilowatt-hour.
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?

Thermal diode could lead to space-faring computers that run on heat instead of electricity

Michael Irving April 18, 2017
Electronic systems don't work well in heat – which is a problem, because apart from a few exceptions, heat is a normal byproduct of electricity. Researchers have now developed a thermal diode: a computer component that runs on heat instead of electricity. This could be the first step towards making heat-resistant computers that can function in extremely hot places, like on Venus or deep inside the Earth, without breaking a sweat.

A regular diode is a key logic component in electronic circuits that allows electricity to flow freely in one direction but blocks it from moving back the other way. These crucial components often fail under high temperatures or when exposed to ionizing radiation, so to help make hardier computer systems, a team at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have developed thermal diodes, powered by heat instead of electricity.

"If you think about it, whatever you do with electricity you should (also) be able to do with heat, because they are similar in many ways," says Sidy Ndao, co-author of the study. "In principle, they are both energy carriers. If you could control heat, you could use it to do computing and avoid the problem of overheating."

The team's thermal diode is made up of pairs of surfaces, where one is fixed and the other can be moved towards or away from its stationary partner. That movement is handled automatically by the system to maximize the transfer of heat: when the moving surface is hotter than the still one, it will actuate inwards, and increase the rate that heat moves to the cooler surface.

When performed at temperatures between 215° and 494° F (102° and 257° C), the thermal diode hit a peak heat transfer rate of about 11 percent, but the team reported that the device was able to function at temperatures as high as 620° F (327° C). Ndao believes that future versions could even operate at up to 1,300° F (704° C), potentially leading to computers that can work under extreme heat conditions.

Great music to celebrate the great breakthrough.

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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