Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Living On Borrowed Time.

Baltic Dry Index. 1109     Brent Crude 51.47

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

“The boom can last only as long as the credit expansion progresses at an ever-accelerated pace. The boom comes to an end as soon as additional quantities of fiduciary media are no longer thrown upon the loan market.”

Ludwig von Mises.

We open today with another red flag from China. Forget the official scripted figures churned out of Beijing. China’s slowing, and the Baltic Dry Shipping Index suggests, so is the rest of the world.

Europe is dead in the water about to shoot itself in both feet, trying to impose punitive exit terms on GB. France votes on Sunday for a right wing nationalist or a Europhile oddity. Britain votes in June, Germany in the autumn. A summer season of drift lies ahead.

America is mixed at best and slowing at worst, even as the Fedster’s are determined to raise interest rates this year. Its weak recovery from the Lehman crash is already long in the tooth and in its 93rd month, 95th month by an alternative count. America’s next recession gets closer by each passing month.

When America or China sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold. Both America and China are sneezing.

Mon May 1, 2017 | 11:49pm EDT

China April factory growth slows to weakest in seven months: Caixin PMI

China's factory sector lost momentum in April, with growth slowing to its weakest pace in seven months as domestic and export demand faltered and commodity prices fell, a private survey showed on Tuesday.

The findings echoed those in official manufacturing and service sector data on Sunday, reinforcing views that China's economic growth remains solid but is starting to moderate after a surprisingly strong start to the year.

The Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' index (PMI) fell to 50.3 in April, missing economist forecasts' of 51.0 and a significant decline from March's 51.2.

The index remained above the 50.0 mark which separates expansion from contraction on a monthly basis, but only just, and grew at its slowest pace since September 2016.

The private factory survey suggested growth faded at a shaper pace than the official reading, but economists largely attributed the softening in both cases to a pullback in global commodity prices and signs of moderating in China's red-hot housing market after a flurry of government cooling measures.

Next recession will hit during Trump’s first two years

Published: May 1, 2017 5:01 p.m. ET

When the U.S. sneezes, the world catches cold

A recession in the United States is likely to come within the next two years. It is difficult to determine when a recession will occur based solely on economic activity. Economists argue about the precursors to a recession as a matter of course. I am not making the case that one will happen because I believe I am competent to enter that debate. Rather, I am making the case that a recession is increasingly likely simply by looking at the frequency with which they occur.

The last recession started in 2007 and ended in 2009. The one before that started and ended in 2001. The two previous recessions ran from 1990 to 1991 and from 1981 to 1982. In these cases, the time between the end of one recession and the start of another was about eight years on average. Between 1945 and 1981, recessions were much more frequent, but obviously something has happened to extend the time between them.

Eight years have passed since the last recession, and the U.S. is in the zone for one based on its experience since 1980. A recession is likely sometime between now and 2019. It is always possible that we will set a new post-war record for expansion, but that is unlikely simply because periodic recessions are necessary.
During expansions, economies tend to accumulate inefficiencies. Low interest rates allow businesses to survive despite their inefficiency, and this will continue if a recession does not occur. In the current expansion, we have had extraordinarily low interest rates, so even with relatively low growth rates, pruning is needed.

Recessions are unpleasant and hurt some people disproportionately. However, the U.S. recession will likely hurt other countries more. When combined with other global economic problems, the recession will likely weaken Europe’s anemic recovery and strike another blow at the Chinese. It will also put further downward pressure on commodity prices, considering that the United States is the world’s largest importer and has been, to some extent, the engine stabilizing the international system.

Trump Weighs Breaking Up Wall Street Banks, Raising Gas Tax

by Jennifer Jacobs and Margaret Talev
1 May 2017, 17:53 GMT+1
President Donald Trump said he’s actively considering a breakup of giant Wall Street banks, giving a push to efforts to revive a Depression-era law separating consumer and investment banking.

“I’m looking at that right now,” Trump said of breaking up banks in a 30-minute Oval Office interview with Bloomberg News. “There’s some people that want to go back to the old system, right? So we’re going to look at that.”
Trump also said he’s open to increasing the U.S. gas tax to fund infrastructure development, in a further sign that policies unpopular with the Republican establishment are under consideration in the White House. He described higher gas taxes as acceptable to truckers -- “I have one friend who’s a big trucker,” he said -- as long as the proceeds are dedicated to improving U.S. highways.
Separately, Trump said he’d be willing to meet under certain conditions with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, against the recommendations of his political advisers, to avert a military confrontation with the U.S. adversary. He also said that a Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act would protect Americans with pre-existing conditions at least as well as Obamacare.

Up next today, pot calls kettle black. Blackrock’s Fink sees the mote in the other fella’s eye, but not his own. What part of personality disorder don’t the elitist Wall Street Ebenezer Squids and their ilk get. It wasn’t Donald Trump that nearly crashed the entire western financial system back in 2008, with reckless, rent-seeking leveraged, too-big-to-fail gambling. The Fink’s are still part of today’s problem, and not the solution. We are still only one “next Lehman” away from systemic disaster.

BlackRock CEO Fink suggests Trump’s personality could be an economic risk

Published: May 1, 2017 9:36 a.m. ET

His policies are a ‘bucket list of things we’d like to see done [but] ... can’t take personality out of the debate,’ Fink says of Trump

Larry Fink, the chief executive officer of asset management behemoth BlackRock Inc., on Friday struck a cautious tone about President Donald Trump, noting that while Trump’s anticipated economic policies represented a “bucket list of things we’d like to see done,” the president was also the cause of market uncertainty and a threat to industries and growth engines.
“There are many who believe the U.S. is less welcoming” under Trump, said Fink, who spoke at Morningstar’s Investment Conference. “Hotels are seeing bookings down dramatically. Universities are seeing a drop in applications from foreign students. There’s something that is slowing everything down.”
Fink implied that this could be directly related to Trump, who has often struck a hostile tone towards other countries, including allies, as well as such groups as immigrants and refugees. “You can’t take personality out of the debate,” Fink said. “Politics is about personality.”
Fink, who helps oversee more than $5 trillion in assets as BlackRock’s BLK, +0.33%  chairman, also expressed concern over Trump’s views on immigration.

 “One of our main engines of growth over the past 50 years has been immigration,” he said. “If we reduce that or make it more difficult, then we won’t have one of our major engines.”

Trump has proposed building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and attempted to implement a travel ban focusing on six Muslim-majority countries, an initiative that has been twice struck down by judges.

Some of these concerns haven’t manifest themselves in the stock market, and Fink noted that major indexes were near record levels. However, he added, “it doesn’t seem like the ‘animal spirits’ are translating to the CEO suite.”

Fink commented on first-quarter GDP, which came in at 0.7%, the weakest reading in three years.
“We’re the slowest-growing economy in the [Group of 7],” he said. “We’re slower than France, which is really terrible.”

Mon May 1, 2017 | 8:13am EDT

Asian nations pulled into China's orbit as Trump puts America first

Across Asia, more and more countries are being pulled into Beijing's orbit, with the timid stance adopted by Southeast Asian nations on the South China Sea at a weekend summit a clear sign this fundamental geostrategic shift is gathering momentum.
U.S. President Donald Trump's flurry of calls at the weekend to the leaders of the Philippines, Thailand and Singapore might cheer those who fear his predecessor Barack Obama's "pivot" to Asia has been abandoned in favor of an "America First" agenda.
But White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said the conversations were aimed at lining up Asian partners in case tensions over North Korea lead to "nuclear and massive destruction in Asia", and mentioned no broader strategic goal.
Southeast Asian nations will need more than that to convince them the United States still has their backs.
In the meantime, some are leaning closer to China, soft-pedalling quarrels over the disputed South China Sea and angling for a slice of Beijing's "One Belt, One Road" infrastructure investment program to compensate for the U.S. abandonment of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact.
The unexpected bonhomie that has emerged between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping could give Asian countries further confidence to continue their swing toward Beijing.
"Before, most Southeast Asian states wanted to benefit from Chinese regional economic initiatives and from American pushback against China," said Malcolm Cook, a senior fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.
"The second part of this balance is now in question. Hence, the pressure to acquiesce to China diplomatically and on security issues is stronger."

There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.

Ludwig von Mises.

At the Comex silver depositories Monday final figures were: Registered 32.50 Moz, Eligible 164.02 Moz, Total 196.52 Moz.

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.
Today, what’s wrong with this? What were they thinking in Auburn Hills, Michigan and Turin, Italy? The company does have an interesting tax structure though.

A $50,000 Chrysler Van Explains Why U.S. Auto Sales Are Slowing

by Jamie Butters and Keith Naughton
1 May 2017, 10:00 GMT+1
With twin second-row touch screens, reclining third-row seats, a vacuum and automated parallel parking, the Chrysler Pacifica packs plenty of features to justify a hefty expense. But this big a price tag puts the prototypical family vehicle out of reach for most Americans.
After U.S. auto sales fell in each of the first three months of the year, the annualized sales pace, adjusted for seasonal trends, probably slowed in April to about 17.1 million, from 17.4 million a year earlier. With marginal buyers beginning to balk due to sticker shock, Ford Motor Co. cautioned last week it’s not going to be able to count on price increases to boost North American profits the rest of this year.

“At some point that will be one of the aspects that will continue to drive down the volume,” Bob Shanks, Ford’s chief financial officer, said in an interview. “It will become tougher.”

The average new-car price in the U.S. rose about 2 percent over the past year, according to data from TrueCar Inc.’s ALG. That’s an increase more consumers may have been able to stomach when borrowing costs were low and loose credit made pricier trucks and sport utility vehicles more attainable.

“Honestly, the average American doesn’t come into a new-car dealership,” said Steven Szakaly, chief economist of the National Automobile Dealers Association. “We’re only selling new cars to about 5 percent of the U.S. population.”
As inflation generally outstrips wage increases and young adults find themselves buried under student debt, new cars are becoming less feasible for some would-be buyers, said Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst with Cox Automotive.
“It’s not just the price of the cars -- it’s the price of everything else,” she said. “The price of things like health care, shelter -- all of that is fighting for the budget.”
If vehicle purchases per million driving-age Americans were the same as in 2000, the industry would be selling almost 20 million new light vehicles a year -- well beyond last year’s record of just under 17.6 million. Instead, the U.S. auto sector is on pace for its first year of decline since 2009.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, also known as FCA, is an Italian-controlled multinational corporation incorporated in Italy.[5][6] and currently the world’s seventh-largest auto maker.[7] The group was established in late 2014 by merging Fiat S.p.A. into a new holding company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V., which is incorporated in the Netherlands (with headquarters in London) for tax purposes. The holding company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and Borsa Italiana in Milan.[8] Exor S.p.A, an Italian investment group owned by the Agnelli family, owns 29.19% of FCA and controls 44.31% through a loyalty voting mechanism.[9]

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?

Fast, non-destructive test for two-dimensional materials

Date: April 28, 2017

Source: Penn State Materials Research Institute

Summary: A fast, nondestructive optical method for analyzing defects in two-dimensional materials has been developed, with applications in electronics, sensing, early cancer diagnosis and water desalination.
By now it is well understood that thinning a material down to a single atom thickness can dramatically change that material's physical properties. Graphene, the best known 2D material, has unparalleled strength and electrical conductivity, unlike its bulk form as graphite. Researchers have begun to study hundreds of other 2D materials for the purposes of electronics, sensing, early cancer diagnosis, water desalination and a host of other applications. Now, a team of Penn State researchers in the Department of Physics and the Center for Two-Dimensional and Layered Materials (2DLM) has developed a fast, nondestructive optical method for analyzing defects in two-dimensional materials.
"In the semiconductor industry, for example, defects are important because you can control properties through defects," said Mauricio Terrones, professor of physics, materials science and engineering and chemistry, Penn State. "This is known as defect engineering. Industry knows how to control defects and which types are good for devices."
To really understand what is going on in a 2D material like tungsten disulfide, which has a single atom-thick layer of tungsten sandwiched between two atomic layers of sulfur, would require a high-power electron microscope capable of seeing individual atoms and the holes, called vacancies, where the atoms are missing.
"The benefit of transmission electron microscopy (TEM) is that you get an image and you can see directly what is going on -- you get direct evidence," said Bernd Kabius, staff scientist at Penn State's Materials Research Institute, an expert in TEM and a coauthor on the paper appearing April 28 in the online journal Science Advances.
The downsides, according to Kabius, are an increased possibility of damage to the delicate 2D material, the complex preparation required of the sample and the time involved -- an entire day of instrument time to image a single sample and a week or more to interpret the results. For those reasons, and others, researchers would like to combine TEM with another method of looking at the sample that is simpler and faster.
The technique developed by Terrones and his team uses an optical method, fluorescent microscopy, in which a laser of a specific wavelength is shone on a sample and the excited electrons, pushed to a higher energy level, each emit a photon of a longer wavelength when the electron drops down to a lower energy level. The wavelength, or color of light, can be measured by spectroscopy and gives information about the defect type and location on the sample. This data shows up as peaks on a graph, which the team then correlated to visual confirmation under the TEM. Theoretical calculations also helped to validate the optical results. A necessary step in the process requires placing the sample in a temperature-controlled specimen holder, or stage, and lowering the temperature to 77 kelvin, almost 200 degrees C below zero. At this temperature, the electron-hole pairs that produce the fluorescence are bound to the defect -- in the case of this work a group of sulfur vacancies in the top layer of the sandwich -- and emit a signal stronger than the pristine areas of the material.
"For the first time, we have established a direct relationship between the optical response and the amount of atomic defects in two-dimensional materials," said Victor Carozo, former postdoctoral scholar in Terrones' lab and first author of the work.

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished April

DJIA: 20,941 +149 Up. NASDAQ:  6,048 +190 Up. SP500: 2,384 +152 Up.

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