Monday, 8 May 2017

Making France Germany’s Equal Again.

Baltic Dry Index. 994 -10     Brent Crude 49.73

"We decide on something, leave it lying around, and wait and see what happens. If no one kicks up a fuss, because most people don't understand what has been decided, we continue step by step until there is no turning back."

Jean-Claude Juncker. Failed Luxembourg Prime Minister and ex-president of the Euro Group of Finance Ministers. Confessed liar. EC President.

As predicted, Mrs Merkel’s man Macron, marched to an easy victory in the French Presidential election, pledging to make France “an equal partner” to Germany in Europe again, and to somehow reform France. In a sign of the times, President-elect Macron in his victory speech, immediately promised to visit Berlin, with no mention of Brussels. With the result widely expected, any relief rally will likely be short and shallow. President Macron becomes the youngest leader of France since St. Joan of Arc, (or maybe Napoleon.)

Interest in Europe will now focus on the result of the coming UK general election on June 8th, and the French lower house elections on June 11 and 18th. Those lower house elections will largely determine how easy or otherwise it will be for President Macron to bring about reform in France. Reform in France is far easier said than done.

Decisions can only be reached in Europe if France and Germany agree.

Jean-Claude Juncker. Failed Luxembourg Prime Minister and ex-president of the Euro Group of Finance Ministers. Confessed liar. EC President.

Sun May 7, 2017 | 10:18pm EDT

Macron wins French presidency, to sighs of relief in Europe

Emmanuel Macron was elected French president on Sunday with a business-friendly vision of European integration, defeating Marine Le Pen, a far-right nationalist who threatened to take France out of the European Union.

The centrist's emphatic victory, which also smashed the dominance of France’s mainstream parties, will bring huge relief to European allies who had feared another populist upheaval to follow Britain's vote to quit the EU and Donald Trump's election as U.S. president.

With virtually all votes counted, Macron had topped 66 percent against just under 34 percent for Le Pen - a gap wider than the 20 or so percentage points that pre-election surveys had suggested.

Even so, it was a record performance for the National Front, a party whose anti-immigrant policies once made it a pariah, and underlined the scale of the divisions that Macron must now try to heal.

After winning the first round two weeks ago, Macron had been accused of behaving as if he was already president; on Sunday night, with victory finally sealed, he was much more solemn.

----Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, told Macron: "I am delighted that the ideas you defended of a strong and progressive Europe, which protects all its citizens, will be those that you will carry into your presidency".

Macron spoke by phone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, with whom he hopes to revitalize the Franco-German axis at the heart of the EU, saying he planned to visit Berlin shortly.

Trump also tweeted his congratulations on Macron's "big win", saying he looked forward to working with him.

The euro currency EUR=EBS, which had been rising for two weeks as the prospect receded that France would elect an anti-EU president, topped $1.10 in early Asian trading for the first time since the U.S. elections.

Sun May 7, 2017 | 2:33pm EDT

Macron to take time reforming economy in divided France

After a decade of slow growth, rising unemployment and dwindling competitiveness, France elected a president on Sunday who says he has a plan to pull the country out of its economic malaise.

Emmanuel Macron, a former investment banker who quit the government of Francois Hollande twice out of frustration with the slow pace of reforms, is promising to overhaul the labor market, simplify the tax and pension systems, while paring back regulations he says hamper innovation.

But as he gets set to enter the Elysee Palace following his defeat of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, the 39-year-old former economy minister faces daunting obstacles.

He will be trying to push through his reform agenda at a time when France is more divided than ever over how to respond to the disruptive forces of globalization.

The election campaign showed that nearly half the country would prefer a dirigiste approach to the economy in which the role of the French state is expanded rather than shrunk, as Macron proposes.

In order to have a chance to implement his plans he will have to secure parliamentary backing. That will depend on how his uproven new party, En Marche! (Onwards!), does in legislative elections next month.

And even if he does get the majority he needs, it is likely that many of his reforms could take months, or even years, to produce results.

As for equal partners with Germany, good luck with that. In the rump-EUSSR after Brexit, paymaster Germany will be more dominant than ever. Uber alles, and all that.

Merkel Gains Momentum in German State Vote as Challengers Slump

by Patrick Donahue
8 May 2017, 00:00 GMT+1
Angela Merkel’s party picked up momentum in a German state election, convincingly defeating the Social Democrats who want to unseat the chancellor in the national vote in September.

As Merkel’s preferred candidate Emmanuel Macron won France’s presidential election, her Christian Democratic Union posted an unexpectedly clear victory in a much smaller contest in Schleswig-Holstein. It’s a confidence booster for the CDU ahead of elections next Sunday in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state with 18 million people and the main bellwether before the federal ballot.

Sunday’s vote offered further evidence of Merkel’s rebound in the polls, which reverses an SPD surge early this year after the party named former European Parliament president Martin Schulz to run for chancellor. With polls in North Rhine-Westphalia showing the CDU and SPD running neck and neck, pressure on the Social Democrats to avoid another defeat will grow. Merkel plans to hold a news conference at about 1 p.m. in Berlin on Monday.

“This is a disaster for the SPD,” Carsten Nickel, a Brussels-based analyst for Teneo Intelligence, said by phone. “The SPD doesn’t know whether it wants to move toward the center or move its base on the left. Merkel is doing very well in using this situation to her advantage.”

Elsewhere, in Asia, is another Trump U-turn back on the table again?

Sun May 7, 2017 | 11:58pm EDT

China April trade surplus with U.S. widens to $21.34 billion: customs data

China's April trade surplus with the United States widened to $21.34 billion compared with a $17.74 billion surplus in March, customs data on Monday showed.

China's overall surplus rose to $38.05 billion in April as its imports rose only 11.9 percent, compared to expectations for an 18.0 percent gain.

Mon May 8, 2017 | 12:02am EDT

China April exports rise 8.0 percent, missing forecasts

China's April exports rose 8.0 percent from a year earlier, missing analysts' expectations, while imports expanded 11.9 percent, official data showed on Monday.

That left the country with a trade surplus of $38.05 billion for the month, the General Administration of Customs said.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected April shipments from the world's largest exporter to have risen 10.4 percent. Exports rose 16.4 percent on-year in March.

Imports were expected to have climbed 18 percent, after rising 20.3 percent in March.

Analysts were expecting China's trade surplus to have widened to $35.50 billion in April from March's $23.93 billion.

At the Comex silver depositories Friday final figures were: Registered 33.59 Moz, Eligible 163.48 Moz, Total 197.07 Moz.

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.
No crooks today, just an early alert on an impending EUSSR  wine tragedy. Knowing the EUSSR for what it is, a whole lot of Moroccan and Algerian wine will now miraculously become “Bordeaux”. President Obama blames it on Brexit and Donald Trump, of course. It’s enough to make a failed Luxembourg politician turn to a double scotch for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
“When it becomes serious, you have to lie.”

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

Sat May 6, 2017 | 7:42am EDT

French Bordeaux vineyards could lose half of harvest due to frost

Bordeaux vineyards in southwest France could lose about half of their harvest this year after two nights of frost damaged the crop at the end of April, a wine industry official said on Saturday.
Wines from the Cognac, Bergerac, and Lot-et-Garonne regions had also been affected, Bernard Farges, head of the Syndicat des vins Bordeaux et Bordeaux Supérieur, told Reuters.
"For Bordeaux wines...we estimate that the impact will be a loss of about 50 percent, depend on how many buds can regrow," he said.
Including lost earnings at wine industry subcontrators, the total damage is estimated at one to two billion euros ($1.1- $2.2 billion), with wine production set to fall by about 350 million bottles.
Frost damage varied widely depending on the precise area, with some owners expected to lose only 15 to 30 percent of their grape harvest, but others at risk of seeing their entire production wiped out.
Growers have resorted to using candles, heaters and even the down-draught from helicopters to try to save crops.
France's total wine output fell 10 percent last year due to adverse weather conditions. Champagne was the worst hit, with the harvest down more than 20 percent on the previous year due to spring frosts followed by other problems such as mildew.

“We all know what to do, but we don’t know how to get re-elected once we have done it.”

Jean-Claude Juncker. Failed Luxembourg Prime Minister and ex-president of the Euro Group of Finance Ministers. Confessed liar. EC President.
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?

China increases solar power output by 80% in three months

The power-generation increase comes even as more solar plants stand idle because of congested transmission infrastructure

China electricity output from photovoltaic plants rose 80 per cent in the first quarter after the world’s biggest solar power market increased installed capacity.

Solar power generation rose to 21.4 billion kilowatt-hours in the three months ending 31 March from a year earlier, the National Energy Administration said on Thursday in a statement on its website. China added 7.21 gigawatts of solar power during the period, boosting its total installed capacity to almost 85 gigawatts, the NEA said.

The power-generation increase comes even as more solar plants stand idle because of congested transmission infrastructure. China idled about 2.3 billion kilowatt-hours of solar power in the first quarter, up from 1.9 billion kilowatt-hours a year earlier, according to the NEA data.

Central and eastern China accounted for about 89 per cent of new capacity, the NEA said.
Sat May 6, 2017 | 7:20pm EDT

Australian push may open more doors for batteries on power grids

Battery makers worldwide are watching to see whether Australia's most wind power-dependent state can keep the lights on by installing grid-scale batteries by December, which could help drive the growth of renewable energy across Australia and Asia.
A decade-long political stalemate in Australia over energy and climate policy has effectively led to power and gas shortages and soaring energy prices threatening industry and households.
If batteries help solve Australia's problems by storing surplus electricity generated by wind and solar power, countries like Indonesia, the Philippines and Chile, could follow suit.
"I call South Australia the 'perfect storm' opportunity for energy storage," said Ismario Gonzalez, global sales director for AES Energy Storage, an arm of U.S. firm AES Corp, which has installed or is working on battery projects in seven countries, including Australia.
The more dependent the grid is on intermittent sources like wind and solar, the more flexible the back-up sources need to be. That's the appeal of battery storage. It can be switched on and off easily, responding faster than a gas peaking plant.
The state of South Australia, where wind and rooftop solar make up 44 percent of power sources, urgently needs to install big batteries after suffering blackouts over the past year.
----The state government plans to spend A$150 million ($115 million) supporting the installation of 100 megawatt hours of battery capacity this year, which would be the world's second-largest battery system behind one installed by AES for California's San Diego Gas & Electric Co [SDGE.UL] in February.

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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