Wednesday, 7 June 2017

V-Day Minus 1. One Day Left To Save GB.

Baltic Dry Index. 818 -03     Brent Crude 50.07

“A vote is like a rifle: its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.”

Theodore Roosevelt

The UK is one day away from electing a communist government, if the polls are to be believed, which I don’t. But if true, the UK has one day left to save the UK. Now (tomorrow) is the time for all good men (and women) to come to the aid of the (Conservative) Party.

Below, I can only hope the Bloomberg is for once right.

If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do it.

Mark Twain

Labour Privately Preparing for a U.K. Election Defeat

by Robert Hutton and Alex Morales
6 June 2017, 15:17 GMT+1
Forget projections putting Labour within spitting distance of the Conservatives in the June 8 election. 
Privately, officials and candidates in the U.K.’s main opposition party are preparing to lose dozens of seats.

A YouGov Plc model jolted markets a week ago by suggesting Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would have a shot at forming a government. On Tuesday, it had him winning between 230 and 300 seats in the 650-seat House of Commons, up from 229.

But Labour politicians campaigning up and down the country, and those crunching the numbers back in headquarters, paint a different picture. A party aide speaking on condition of anonymity said officials had informally generated a list of more than 30 districts they have no prospect of holding.

Three candidates, all fighting to hold seats, said their experience canvassing for votes bore little relation to the polling, with districts where Labour had majorities in the thousands at risk. Much of the battle is for the votes of former supporters of the U.K. Independence Party.

“There’s no doubt that the vast majority of ex-UKIP voters are going to the Conservatives,” said Matthew Goodwin, professor of politics at Kent University. “Between 40 and 60 percent of ex-UKIP voters are going to the Conservatives. The highest number we’ve seen going to Labour was 20 percent.”

In other news, America is facing a consumer debt hangover, which bodes ill for the economy ahead. As goes America, still goes most of the world. Meanwhile China fears it has over estimated demand for electric vehicles. But China is a debt fuelled, Ponzi Scheme economy, long overdue a hard landing. If US consumers are already tapped out even before the Fed normalises interest rates, and the EUSSR is all but dead in the water awaiting a self-inflicted disaster from Brexit rather than reform itself, China and the EUSSR, still including GB, will both track along behind the US economy. The Baltic Dry Index is already suggesting a troubled summer ahead.

Trump’s America Is Facing a $13 Trillion Consumer Debt Hangover

by Matt Scully
After bingeing on credit for a half decade, U.S. consumers may finally be feeling the hangover.

Americans faced with lackluster income growth have been financing more of their spending with debt instead. There are early signs that loan burdens are growing unsustainably large for borrowers with lower incomes. Household borrowings have surged to a record $12.73 trillion, and the percentage of debt that is overdue has risen for two consecutive quarters. And with economic optimism having lifted borrowing rates since the election and the Federal Reserve expected to hike further, it’s getting more expensive for borrowers to refinance.

Some companies are growing worried about their customers. Public Storage said in April that more of its self-storage customers now seem to be under stress. Credit card lenders including Synchrony Financial and Capital One Financial Corp. are setting aside more money to cover bad loans. Consumer product makers including Nestle SA posted slower sales growth last quarter, particularly in the U.S.

Companies may have reason to be concerned. Consumer spending notched its weakest gain in the first quarter since the end of 2009, a problem in an economy where consumers account for 70 percent of spending, though analysts expect the dip to be transitory. And debt delinquencies are rising even as the job market shows signs of strength.

China Said to Halt New Electric Car Permits on Glut Concern

Bloomberg News
5 June 2017, 09:49 GMT+1 6 June 2017, 02:41 GMT+1
China plans to halt issuing permits to produce electric vehicles because of concern additional approvals may lead to a glut in the world’s biggest auto market, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The National Development and Reform Commission, which oversees new investments in the auto industry, wants to evaluate the program after handing out 15 production licenses since March 2016, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions aren’t public. A suspension of new permits may delay plans by companies such as Internet entrepreneur William Li’s NIO and Jia Yueting-backed LeEco’s electric-car unit that have said they intend to apply.

China has identified new-energy vehicles as a strategic emerging industry and aims to boost annual sales of plug-in hybrids and fully electric cars by 10-fold in the next decade. Besides giving generous subsidies for both consumers and manufacturers, the government created a class of permits allowing companies including billionaire Lu Guanqiu’s Wanxiang Group and a Volkswagen AG joint venture to produce only electric vehicles, while imposing a moratorium on new capacity for the manufacture of conventional gasoline-run vehicles.

The state support helped China surpass the U.S. in 2015 to become the world’s biggest market for new-energy vehicles -- comprising electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and fuel-cell cars. A total of 507,000 such vehicles were sold last year in the country, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

The NDRC didn’t immediately respond to a faxed request for comment.

Below, is there still hope for NAFTA?

Mon Jun 5, 2017 | 3:07pm EDT

Exclusive: U.S.-Mexico sugar deal struck ahead of NAFTA talks; industry divided

The U.S. and Mexican governments reached a deal in a dispute over trade in sugar on Monday, sources said, averting steep U.S. duties and Mexican retaliation by Mexico on imports of American high-fructose corn syrup ahead of the renegotiation of NAFTA.

Two sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the two sides were working on final details of a deal in Washington that would end a year of wrangling. The latest talks began in March, two months after President Donald Trump took power vowing a tougher line on trade to protect U.S. industry and jobs.

They are seen as a precursor as well as significant hurdle to the more complex discussions on the North American Free Trade Agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada, which are expected to start in August.

One source said the sugar deal would benefit both the United States and Mexico, with another saying Mexico will agree to export less refined sugar and send a lower quality of crude sugar to the United States than it previously did.

Both sides also would avoid potentially inflammatory tariffs that could have kicked in if a deal was not reached.

Some members of the U.S. sugar industry, however, are not happy with the reported deal and were pressuring the Trump administration to stop it, one source said. Some of their Mexican counterparts also expressed anger at what they see as unfavorable terms.

----The risk that failure to reach a deal would a trigger a rapidly escalating tariff battle ahead of the NAFTA talks added pressure to Mexico to reach a deal.

"If it had melted down, the NAFTA conversation would have been more difficult," said Daniel Pearson, a senior fellow at the conservative think-tank Cato Institute and a former chairman of the U.S. International Trade Commission.

"The fact that an agreement could be reached on a sensitive topic like (sugar) bodes well for dealing with sensitive talks in NAFTA," he said.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross came close to hammering out a compromise deal before an earlier deadline in May, but it fell through as the U.S. sugar lobby upped its pressure on U.S. lawmakers, said two sources familiar with the talks.

“Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”

Abraham Lincoln

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.
Today, more on President Trump’s massive blunder in the Persian Gulf. The official line is that the US was only informed immediately beforehand. Trump’s tweets suggest otherwise. Qatar which is home to the forward headquarters of the U.S. military’s Central Command, thought until Monday, that it was a trusted US ally. Perhaps it’s better in the Middle East under Trump, not to be a US ally.
Below, stomping on eggshells. What could possibly go wrong?

Trump Takes Sides in Gulf Rift, Backs Isolation of Qatar

by Margaret Talev Jennifer Jacobs, and Glen Carey
President Donald Trump threw his weight behind the Saudi-led diplomatic isolation of Qatar, calling it just punishment for the country’s financial support for Islamic extremists and taking sides in a dispute among key U.S. allies in the Persian Gulf.

“During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology,” Trump said on Twitter Tuesday. “Leaders pointed to Qatar - look!”

He followed with two additional tweets, saying the action was proof that his meeting with Persian Gulf Arab leaders in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia earlier this month was “already paying off.”

“Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!” he said.

The U.S. has had a friendly and cooperative relationship with Qatar, which is home to the forward headquarters of the U.S. military’s Central Command. CentCom, as it’s known, has a primary role in the battle against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. A U.S. official said there is no serious consideration of pulling out of the base, though there may be concerns about transporting supplies and basic goods across borders if the current dispute drags on.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer confirmed the president’s tweets are “official statements” of his views, but he described a softer U.S. stance on the dispute.

“The U.S. still wants to see this issue de-escalated and resolved immediately,” Spicer said, several hours after Trump commented on Twitter. He added that Trump was “very heartened” by Qatar’s pledge to join an effort targeting terror finance.
Although Trump’s tweets suggested the rupture was an outgrowth of his meetings in Saudi Arabia two weeks ago, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the U.S. was only informed of the Saudi-led actions against Qatar immediately beforehand.

Biggest Middle East Ports Shun Qatar as Saudis Tighten Isolation

by Anthony Dipaola and Deena Kamel
6 June 2017, 17:49 GMT+1
The biggest Middle East oil and container ports banned all vessels sailing to and from Qatar from using their facilities amid a diplomatic crisis gripping the world’s main energy-exporting region.

Saudi Arabian and Bahraini authorities closed off all of their ports to Qatari-flagged vessels or ships traveling to or coming from the Persian Gulf state, according to a notice posted on the website of Inchcape Shipping Services Tuesday. Container and oil terminals in the United Arab Emirates also closed off traffic to any ships touching Qatar, according to separate statements from three port operators.

---- Saudi Arabia’s eastern coast is home to the port of Ras Tanura, which state-owned Saudi Arabian Oil Co. says is the biggest crude terminal in the world. Jebel Ali port, the region’s biggest container terminal, will be restricted from Tuesday until further notice, its operator Dubai’s DP World Ltd. said in an emailed statement. In the U.A.E., DP World operates Jebel Ali along with Dubai’s Mina Rashid and Mina Al Hamriya ports, according to its website.

Government-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. closed its crude and refined-product ports to any vessels to or from Qatar, according to a notice obtained by Bloomberg News. The port at Fujairah, a main oil transit and refined product hub, said Monday it was closed to Qatar-linked traffic.

Saudi Arabia's Feud With Qatar Has 22-Year History Rooted in Gas

by Marc Champion
6 June 2017, 02:00 GMT+1
Saudi Arabia’s isolation of Qatar has been brewing since 1995, and the dispute’s long past and likely lingering future are best explained by natural gas.

Not only was that the year when the father of the current emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, toppled his own pro-Saudi father, it was also when the tiny desert peninsula was about to make its first shipment of liquid natural gas from the world’s largest reservoir. The offshore North Field, which provides virtually all of Qatar’s gas, is shared with Iran, Saudi Arabia’s hated rival.

The wealth that followed turned Qatar into not just the world’s richest nation, with an annual per-capita income of $130,000, but also the world’s largest LNG exporter. The focus on gas set it apart from its oil producing neighbors in the Gulf Cooperation Council and allowed it to break from domination by Saudi Arabia, which in Monday’s statement of complaint described Qataris as an “extension of their brethren in the Kingdom” as it cut off diplomatic relations and closed the border.

Instead, Qatar built its own ties with other powers including Iran, the U.S. -- Qatar hosts U.S. Central Command -- and more recently, Russia. Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund agreed last year to invest $2.7 billion in Russia’s state-run Rosneft Oil Co. PJSC.

“Qatar used to be a kind of Saudi vassal state, but it used the autonomy that its gas wealth created to carve out an independent role for itself,” said Jim Krane, energy research fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute, in Houston, Texas. “The rest of the region has been looking for an opportunity to clip Qatar’s wings.”

That opportunity came with U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia, when he called on “all nations of conscience” to isolate Iran. When Qatar disagreed publicly, in a statement the government later said was a product of hacking, the Saudi-led retribution followed.

Critically, Qatar’s natural gas output has been free from entanglement in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, the oil cartel that Saudi Arabia dominates.

The new emir, having survived a counter-coup attempt in 1996, didn’t build pipelines that would have integrated Qatar into the markets of its Gulf neighbors. Two senior Qatari government officials alleged during the trial of the coup plotters in 2000 that Bahrain helped to organize the attempt with Saudi Arabia’s consent, according to a report by the BBC.

Qatar Still Has Many Friends in Energy Markets

Any attempt to stop Qatari exports would invite a serious response from major liquefied natural gas customers.
by Robin M. Mills
6 June 2017, 05:30 GMT+
Oil markets seem impervious to geopolitical risk. As four Arab neighbors imposed an unprecedented embargo on Qatar on Monday, oil prices briefly jumped 1.6 percent before falling back. The fuel to watch, though, is not oil, but gas. If this dispute is not resolved quickly, it may mean a hot summer in the Gulf.

The problem has been simmering for a long time, with three of Qatar’s Gulf Cooperation Council colleagues blaming it for backing Islamist groups including the Muslim Brotherhood, and being too friendly with Iran. But in a dramatic escalation shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, along with Egypt, the shaky official government of Yemen and Libya’s contested eastern government broke relations with Doha and imposed a ban on air, land and sea travel. Much of Qatar’s food and key equipment comes by land from Saudi Arabia, or reshipments through Dubai’s Jebel Ali port.

Qatar is one of the smallest oil producers in OPEC, at 618,000 barrels per day, but condensate (light oil) and natural gas liquids -- byproducts of its giant North Field -- add about another 1.3 million barrels per day. It will stay in the OPEC production cuts deal, and even if it does not, its contribution is small. Its real power comes from being the world’s largest liquefied natural gas exporter.

Qatar’s liquefied natural gas and oil exports should not be affected, even if Saudi and Emirati waters are barred to its ships. They can sail via Iranian waters and then pass the Strait of Hormuz via the usual shipping lane in Omani territory, or stay in the Iranian sector if Oman joins its GCC colleagues in the blockade. Any attempt to stop Qatari exports would be a major crisis, and would invite a serious response from major LNG customers Japan, South Korea, China and India.

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

Winston Churchill
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?

House on wheels sets off to tell India solar power has arrived

Paras Singh | TNN | Jun 6, 2017, 10.44 AM IST
NEW DELHI: A small house on wheels with all the electrical appliances used in a typical household — but all powered by rooftop solar panels and within approachable budget — the Solar Comet was flagged off on the World Environment Day for a 20-day tour.

The solar bus is expected to bust myths and create awareness about solar power. Lit up with power saving LED bulbs, the Solar Comet with its modern fixtures houses mobile charging points, a mixer grinder, an air cooler, a refrigerator, washing machine and even an air conditioner. While the temperature outside soared beyond 40 degrees Celsius, the mini-house with necessary furniture has an ambient environment.

"This project fitted with a 2 kilowatt rooftop panel demonstrates how solar power can easily run an entire household — even heavier appliances like air conditioner," said Pujarini Sen, climate and energy campaigner,
Greenpeace India.

"Another myth about solar power is that it is expensive. But in the last three years alone the installation cost per kilowatt of such panel has come down from around Rs 1 lakh to Rs 50,000. This is the ideal time to go solar," she added.

Delhi's total solar potential is 2,500 MW with a residential potential of 1,250 MW. The official target in Delhi is to reach 1,000 MW worth solar installations by 2020 and 2,000 MW by 2025. But as of December 2016, only 35.9 MW have been installed out of which, only 3 MW were residential installations in March 2016.

When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.

P. J. O’Rourke

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished May

DJIA: 21,009 +157 Up. NASDAQ:  6,199 +219 Up. SP500: 2,412 +161 Up.

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