Monday, 24 April 2017

The EU Relief Rally.

Baltic Dry Index. 1195 -48     Brent Crude 52.24

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

How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?

Charles de Gaulle.

French voters voted pretty much as the pollsters predicted, and France faces a run-off election on May 7 between a pro-European centrist, and an anti-euro far right nationalist. The polls have consistently shown an overwhelming win for the  centrist in this sort of run-off. A EUSSR rebound relief rally in the euro and related bonds should follow.

Macron, Le Pen in French Runoff as Establishment Crashes Out

by Helene Fouquet, Gregory Viscusi, and Gaspard Sebag
23 April 2017, 20:44 GMT+1

Centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen won the first round of the French presidential election, triggering a runoff on May 7 between two radically different visions of the country’s future. 

Macron, a first-time candidate and political independent, was on course to take 23.9 percent in Sunday’s election, with National Front leader Le Pen on 21.4 percent, according to projections from the Interior Ministry based on 97 percent of votes counted. A snap poll released late Sunday suggested Macron would defeat Le Pen by more than 20 percentage points in the second round.

The result means that for the first time in modern French political history, both establishment parties were eliminated in the first round. Republican Francois Fillon conceded within less than an hour of polls closing after placing third with a projected 19.9 percent, while Socialist Benoit Hamon trailed in fifth place with just 6.4 percent. Communist-backed Jean-Luc Melenchon was on 19.6 percent and refused to concede.

Sun Apr 23, 2017 | 11:19pm EDT

France's Macron appears set for Elysee in runoff with Le Pen

Centrist Emmanuel Macron took a big step towards the French presidency on Sunday by winning the first round of voting and qualifying for a May 7 runoff alongside far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

Though Macron, 39, is a comparative political novice who has never held elected office, new opinion polls on Sunday had him easily winning the final clash against the 48-year-old Le Pen.

Sunday's outcome is a huge defeat for the two center-right and center-left groupings that have dominated French politics for 60 years, and also reduces the prospect of an anti-establishment shock on the scale of Britain's vote last June to quit the European Union and the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president.

In a victory speech, Macron told supporters of his fledgling En Marche! (Onwards!) movement: "In one year, we have changed the face of French politics." He went on to say he would bring in new faces and talent to transform a stale political system if elected.

Conceding defeat even before figures from the count came in, rival conservative and Socialist candidates urged their supporters now to put their energies into backing Macron and stopping any chance of a second-round victory by Le Pen, whose anti-immigration and anti-Europe policies they said spelled disaster for France.

A Harris survey taken on Sunday saw Macron winning the runoff by 64 percent to 36, and an Ipsos/Sopra Steria poll gave a similar result.

If in fact Emmanuel Macron does go on to become the next French President, nothing much changes. France will not get the economic and labour reform it badly needs, neither will the rump-EU. Both will limp along until the next global recession hits, when both will likely enter a period of massive social instability. If Mrs Merkel is defeated in Germany by an unrepentant, unreformed, old socialist later this autumn, the Franco-German led rump-EUSSR will travel even further away from the long overdue reform that it needs. 

After the relief rally and the run-off election that elects Macron, France and the EU face a summer of drift and inactivity until after the German election. The outcome of the British general election in June, is entirely parochial in reality. While it probably removes some tricky parliamentary opposition fun and games, it’s irrelevant to the EC Brexit negotiators, who governs in London or how.

In other real news:

Mon Apr 24, 2017 | 1:17am EDT

Carrier group heads for Korean waters, China calls for restraint

Chinese President Xi Jinping called for all sides to exercise restraint on Monday in a call with U.S. President Donald Trump, as a nervous South Korea and Japan sought to join drills with a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group headed for Korean waters.

Reclusive North Korea said at the weekend it was ready to sink the U.S. aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, which Trump had ordered to waters off the Korean peninsula as a warning to the nuclear-armed North.

Japan said on Sunday it had sent two Japanese destroyers to join the carrier group for drills, and South Korea said it was also in talks about holding joint naval exercises.

China is increasingly worried the situation may spin out of control, leading to war and a chaotic collapse of its isolated and poverty-struck neighbor.

Xi told Trump that China resolutely opposes any actions that run counter to U.N. Security Council resolutions, a Chinese foreign ministry statement said.

China "hopes that all relevant sides exercise restraint, and avoid doing anything to worsen the tense situation on the peninsula", the statement paraphrased Xi as saying.

The nuclear issue can only be resolved quickly with all relevant countries pulling in the same direction, and China is willing to work with all parties, including the United States, to ensure peace, Xi said.

Tensions have risen sharply in recent months, with Washington and its allies fearing Pyongyang could conduct another nuclear missile test or launch more ballistic missiles in defiance of United Nations sanctions.

North Korea celebrates the 85th anniversary of the foundation of its Korean People's Army on Tuesday, and has marked similar events in the past with nuclear tests or missile launches.

Mon Apr 24, 2017 | 1:30am EDT

China stocks head for worst day of 2017 as regulators tighten grip

China stocks tumbled more than 1 percent on Monday and looked set for their biggest loss of the year amid signs that Beijing would tolerate more market volatility as regulators clamp down on shadow banking and speculative trading.

Recent signs of stability in China's economy "have provided a good external environment and a window of opportunity to reduce leverage in the financial system, strengthen supervision and ward off risks," the official Xinhua News Agency reported on Sunday.

"Over the past week, interbank rates trended higher, bond and capital markets suffered from sustained corrections and some institutions faced liquidity pressure. But these have little impact to the stability of the broader environment."

The Shanghai Composite Index .SSEC slumped 1.6 percent to 3,123.80 points by the lunch break, after posting its biggest weekly loss so far this year last week.

The blue-chip CSI300 index .CSI300 fell 1.3 percent to 3,423.11.

Barring a rebound, the indexes looked set for their biggest one-day percentage loss since mid-December.

Mon Apr 24, 2017 | 1:28am EDT

Trump resorting to unilateralism with steel probe: China Daily

Washington's move to probe steel imports could trigger a trade dispute between the United States and its major trading partners, who are likely to take retaliatory steps, the official China Daily said in an editorial on Monday.

The article was the strongest official response yet to U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday launching an investigation of China and other steel producers for dumping cheap steel products into the United States.

"By proposing an unjustified investigation into steel imports in the guise of safeguarding national security, the U.S. seems to be resorting to unilateralism to solve bilateral and multilateral problems," the China Daily said.

The probe could result in efforts by the United States to curb imports that will affect the interests of a number of its major trade partners, including China, it said.

"If the U.S. does take protectionist measures, then other countries are likely to take justifiable retaliatory actions against U.S. companies that have an advantage ... in fields such as finance and high-tech, leading to a tit-for-tat trade war that benefits no one," it said.

The article called on the United States, the world's top economy, to use the settlement mechanism under the World Trade Organization to resolve the dispute over steel.

Mon Apr 24, 2017 | 1:27am EDT

Japan steel industry head says concerned by Trump 'protectionism'

Japan Iron and Steel Federation chairman Kosei Shindo said on Monday he has strong concerns over "protectionism" by U.S. President Donald Trump.

"We will carefully observe the U.S. trade probe against imported steel," Shindo, who is also president of Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp (5401.T), told a news conference.

Trump on Thursday launched a trade probe against China and other exporters of cheap steel into the U.S. market, raising the possibility of new tariffs.

Shindo also said he expects coking coal prices to gradually fall as rail lines resume operations in cyclone-hit Australia.

The price of coking coal - a key steel-making ingredient - has jumped since Cyclone Debbie disrupted rail lines in Australia late last month.

We close for the day with red flags in America. US consumers seem to have run out of cash and credit.

Brick-and-Mortar Stores Are Shuttering at a Record Pace

Years of overbuilding and the rise of online shopping have come to a head; malls as ‘energy suckers’

April 21, 2017 7:53 p.m. ET
American retailers are closing stores at a record pace this year as they feel the fallout from decades of overbuilding and the rise of online shopping.

Just this past week, women’s apparel chain Bebe Stores Inc. said it would close its remaining 170 shops and sell only online, while teen retailer Rue21 Inc. announced plans to close about 400 of its 1,100 locations.

“There is no reason to believe that this will abate at any point in the foreseeable future,” said Mark Cohen, the director of retail studies for Columbia Business School and a former executive at Sears Canada Inc. and other department stores.

Through April 6, closings have been announced for 2,880 retail locations this year, including hundreds of locations being shut by national chains such as Payless ShoeSource Inc. and RadioShack Corp. That is more than twice as many closings as announced during the same period last year, according to Credit Suisse.

Based on the pace so far, the brokerage estimates retailers will close more than 8,600 locations this year, which would eclipse the number of closings during the 2008 recession.

At least 10 retailers, including apparel seller Limited Stores Co., electronics chain Hhgregg Inc. and sporting-goods chain Gander Mountain Co., have filed for bankruptcy protection so far this year. That compares with nine retailers that declared bankruptcy, with at least $50 million liabilities, for all of 2016.

The seeds of the industry’s current turmoil date back nearly three decades, when retailers, in the throes of a consumer-buying spree and flush with easy money, rushed to open new stores. The land grab wasn’t unlike the housing boom that was also under way at that time.

“Thousands of new doors opened and rents soared,” Richard Hayne, chief executive of Urban Outfitters Inc., told analysts last month. “This created a bubble, and like housing, that bubble has now burst.”

You may be sure that the Americans will commit all the stupidities they can think of, plus some that are beyond imagination.

Charles de Gaulle.

At the Comex silver depositories Friday final figures were: Registered 30.53 Moz, Eligible 164.04 Moz, Total 194.57 Moz.

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.
Today, other less reported EUSSR news. It isn’t only Catalonia wanting to break away from the status quo.
Thu Apr 20, 2017 | 10:10am EDT

Italy's Lombardy, Veneto regions to hold autonomy vote in October

Italy's wealthy northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto, controlled by the right-wing Northern League, will hold referendums in October to try to obtain greater autonomy from the central government, Lombardy's president said on Thursday.
The result of the ballots will not be binding but a victory could strengthen the League and raise the profile of the popular governor of Veneto, Luca Zaia, widely seen as a potential leader of Italy's center-right.
"The referendums will be in October," Lombardy President Roberto Maroni told reporters in Milan, saying the date would be announced later this week.
Italy's Constitutional Court threw out Zaia's original plan to ask voters if they wanted Veneto to secede from Italy or keep control of 80 percent of tax revenue collected in the region.
Instead the question on the ballot paper will be: "Do you want Veneto to be given further forms and particular conditions of autonomy?" The question for Lombardy has not yet been set.
Tax remains the key issue. Lombardy, around Milan, is Italy's commercial hub and accounts for roughly a fifth of the country's gross domestic product, while Veneto produces just under 10 percent of the national GDP.
Many inhabitants resent seeing a large part of their taxes used to help finance services in poorer southern regions.
The League hopes a big victory for "yes" on a high turnout will give it greater bargaining power in negotiations on fiscal policy with the government of Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.
It also hopes the campaign will boost its support ahead of a parliamentary election due in early 2018.
No country without an atom bomb could properly consider itself independent.

Charles de Gaulle

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?

Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Date: April 21, 2017

Source: University of Illinois College of Engineering

Summary: Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including biological and structural health monitoring sensors," explained Sameh Tawfick, an assistant professor of mechanical science and engineering at Illinois. "Aligned carbon nanotube sheets are suitable for a wide range of application spanning the micro- to the macro-scales including Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS), supercapacitor electrodes, electrical cables, artificial muscles, and multi-functional composites.

"To our knowledge, this is the first study to apply the principles of fracture mechanics to design and study the toughness nano-architectured CNT textiles. The theoretical framework of fracture mechanics is shown to be very robust for a variety of linear and non-linear materials."

Carbon nanotubes, which have been around since the early nineties, have been hailed as a "wonder material" for numerous nanotechnology applications, and rightly so. These tiny cylindrical structures made from wrapped graphene sheets have diameter of a few nanometers -- about 1000 times thinner than a human hair, yet, a single carbon nanotube is stronger than steel and carbon fibers, more conductive than copper, and lighter than aluminum.

However, it has proven really difficult to construct materials, such as fabrics or films that demonstrate these properties on centimeter or meter scales. The challenge stems from the difficulty of assembling and weaving CNTs since they are so small, and their geometry is very hard to control.

"The study of the fracture energy of CNT textiles led us to design these extremely tough films," stated Yue Liang, a former graduate student with the Kinetic Materials Research group and lead author of the paper, "Tough Nano-Architectured Conductive Textile Made by Capillary Splicing of Carbon Nanotubes," appearing in Advanced Engineering Materials. To our knowledge, this is the first study of the fracture energy of CNT textiles.

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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