Thursday, 31 August 2017

All’s Well – Official.

Baltic Dry Index. 1181 -22     Brent Crude 50.82

“If economists [ your central bank here] could manage to get themselves thought of as humble, competent people on a level with dentists, that would be splendid.”

John Maynard Keynes.

Sleep peacefully, everything’s well. We know that’s true, because everyone says it’s true. From bent dodgy central banksters, the BIS excepted, to even more dodgy Wall Street and City of London stock pedlars, everyone says buy more stocks. What could possibly go wrong, well Houston I suppose, but that’s an act of God, and not a central bankster problem. Besides, we’ve reached the end of the month in the second month of the third quarter, it’s dress up stocks time, to goose the numbers and boost the bonuses. Risk on, risk on!!! I’ll stay with risk off. The glass is half empty to me, and looks like emptying some more.

China nonmanufacturing PMI falls a second month

Published: Aug 31, 2017 12:47 a.m. ET
BEIJING--China's official nonmanufacturing purchasing-managers' index, a measure of activity outside the nation's factory gates, fell for a second straight month to 53.4 in August from 54.5 in July, the National Bureau of Statistics said Thursday.

The result, though it remained in expansion, marked the slowest growth in the sector since May of last year, according to the official data.

The subindex for services dropped to 52.6 from 53.1 in July while the subindex for construction decreased to 58.0 from 62.5, the bureau said.

The new-orders subindex for the entire sector fell to 50.9 from 51.1.

The official manufacturing PMI, also released Thursday, rose to 51.7 in August from 51.4 in July.

The nonmanufacturing PMI covers services including retail, aviation and software as well as the real-estate and construction sectors.

The data are based on replies to monthly questionnaires sent to purchasing executives at 4,000 companies in 27 nonmanufacturing sectors.

August 31, 2017 / 3:49 AM

Nikkei rises to 2-week highs as U.S. data bolsters dollar-yen

TOKYO, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei share average rose to two-week highs on Thursday morning after the dollar rose against the yen helped by bright U.S. economic data, lifting cyclical stocks such as automakers and financial companies.

The Nikkei gained 0.7 percent to 19,642.76 by the midday break after reaching as high as 19,661.39, the loftiest level since August 17.

Japanese exporters benefited from a weaker yen, as the dollar gained on strong U.S. gross domestic product data and U.S. private-sector employers that bolstered expectations for a solid U.S. jobs report later this week.

Subaru Corp rose 1.3 percent, Honda Motor Co gained 1.0 percent, Hitachi Ltd soared 1.5 percent and Keyence Corp surged as much as 1.7 percent to a record high of 58,340 yen.

Investors, however, remain nervous about the prospect of a U.S. government shutdown, and a potential debt default if lawmakers don’t raise the nation’s debt ceiling by the end of September.

“The market is still careful about taking large positions with ongoing U.S. political woes, which could pressure the dollar to the yen again,” Hiroyuki Nakai, chief strategist at Tokai Tokyo Research Center said. “We don’t know how much fall the Nikkei will see then.”

August 30, 2017 / 1:45 AM

Global stocks, dollar rise after upbeat U.S. data

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks and the dollar rose on Wednesday after economic data indicated solid momentum, keeping alive the prospect of a U.S. interest rate increase in December.

Gasoline futures surged and crude oil was down, as flooding and damage from Tropical Storm Harvey shut nearly a quarter of U.S. refinery capacity, curbing demand for crude while raising the risk of fuel shortages.

Gross domestic product data on Wednesday showed the U.S. economy grew faster than initially thought in the second quarter, while a separate report showed U.S. private-sector employers added 237,000 jobs in August, the biggest monthly increase in five months.

MSCI’s world index .MIWD00000PUS, which tracks shares in 46 countries, was up 0.13 percent, taking strength from a rally on Wall Street.

“I have doubts how sustainable the macro economy is, but perceived fundamentals are still OK. GDP confirmed that,” said John Velis, macro strategist at State Street Global Markets in Boston.

----The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 27.06 points, or 0.12 percent, to close at 21,892.43, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 11.29 points, or 0.46 percent, to finish at 2,457.59 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 66.42 points, or 1.05 percent, to end at 6,368.31.

European stocks rose in a relief rally a day after geopolitical concerns caused a sharp dip across equity markets. The pan-European STOXX 600 closed 0.7 percent higher.

From Stocks to Bonds, the Bear-Market Signals Are Multiplying

By Cormac Mullen
30 August 2017, 10:38 GMT+1
Risks are stacking up for markets attempting to recover from the latest provocation by North Korea and the mounting damage of Tropical Storm Harvey.

Citigroup Inc. strategists including Jeremy Hale cite “worrying developments” that may signal the approach of a correction in stocks, while Commerzbank AG finds growing evidence of bearish sentiment in bond funds.

Here are some of the red flags:


The pairwise correlations between the S&P 500 and its industry sectors have fallen near levels that preceded the last two bear markets, according to the Citigroup strategists. The previous downturns in stocks started when correlations re-established themselves.

Transport Stocks

Underperforming transport stocks are another concern. The Dow Jones Transportation Average, a gauge of airline, railroad and trucking companies, has fallen about 5 percent from its July 14 high. The index’s decline from its 2014 peak led a similar move in the S&P 500 by about seven months.

In the Hurricane Harvey, never ending disaster tragedy, yet more bad news.

Hurricane Harvey a Trash, Logistics Disaster

Businesses in and around Houston that have been focusing on reducing waste in recent months may have discovered an unexpected benefit this week: with Waste Management having canceled trash collection for customers in several areas, those companies are less likely, at least, to have overflowing dumpsters as the week goes on.

Waste Management canceled trash removal for customers in areas including Houston, the Woodlands, Jacinto City and Galveston, the company’s website announced (via the Wall Street Journal). Getting to landfills was “next to impossible,” according to a Waste Management spokesperson. The company had reopened three of six landfills in Houston on Monday, but closed them again later in the day.

In fact, all City of Houston Solid Waste Management Department services were closed as of yesterday and at least through Tuesday, including recycling centers and the Reuse Warehouse. The City reminds businesses and residents that collection schedules may be adjusted after a declared storm.

Collection of a business’s normal trash may just be the tip of the iceberg, however. The trash and debris left behind by Harvey is likely to take years to clean up, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Waste Dive reports.

---- Trash removal, however, is likely not the top concern for businesses in the area, as flood waters force hundreds of thousands of employees to stay home, closed most businesses in the Houston area, and curtailed business operations even at locations where flooding did not cause closures.

Anheuser-Busch InBev, for example, said that while facilities were undamaged, its larger brewery in the area had to stop production over the weekend because it ran out of packaging materials. Supply lines throughout southeast Texas are snarled in what may turn out to be an unprecedented event, according to Mark Rourke, CEO at Green Bay, Wis.-based trucking company Schneider National Inc.

With long stretches of highways and railroad tracks threatened by flooding, freight transportation in the area has come to a virtual standstill, the Wall Street Journal writes. Trucking runs in the area plummeted by 80% on Sunday. Union Pacific axed all freight rail traffic headed for the area, and UPS curtailed all trucking. In fact, the storm has so far affected up as much as 10% of the country’s trucking capacity, chief economist Noel Perry with told the WSJ.

That means that not only will businesses like Anheuser-Busch struggle to bring in the goods they need to operate, but they will also likely struggle to line up enough trucks to ship their goods out.

And shipping costs are expected to rise as much as 22%, Perry said, basing his predictions on other natural disasters including Hurricane Katrina.

Houston drainage grid 'so obsolete it's just unbelievable'

City is unique in that it gets regular massive floods and has an inability to cope with them

Seth Borenstein and Frank Bajak · The Associated Press August 29, 2017
Houston's system of bayous and reservoirs was built to drain a tabletop-flat city prone to heavy rains. But its Depression-era design is no match for the stresses brought by explosive development and ever-wetter storms.

Nearly any city would be overwhelmed by the more than 1.2 metres of rain that Hurricane Harvey has dumped since Friday, but Houston is unique in that it gets regular massive floods and has an inability to cope with them. This is the third 100-year-or-more type of flood in three years.

Experts blame too many people, too much concrete, insufficient upstream storage, not enough green space for water drainage and, especially, too little regulation.

"Houston is the most flood-prone city in the United States," said Rice University environmental engineering professor Phil Bedient. "No one is even a close second — not even New Orleans, because at least they have pumps there."

The entire system is designed to clear out only 30 centimetres of rain per 24-hour period, said Jim Blackburn, an environmental law professor at Rice University: "That's so obsolete it's just unbelievable."
Also, Houston's Harris County has the loosest, least-regulated drainage policy and system in the entire country, Bedient said.

How the system is supposed to work

Here's how the system is supposed to work: The county that encompasses Houston has 2,500 miles of bayous and channels and more than 300 stormwater holding basins, which are designed to fill up during intense downpours and drain slowly as high waters recede.

Water is supposed to flow west to east through bayous, which are tidal creeks that often have concrete improvements to make water flow and are connected to the Galveston Bay.

When big rains come, officials also activate two normally dry reservoirs, closing the floodgates to collect the water and keep it from overwhelming the downtown area.

But the main bayou through downtown Houston, Buffalo Bayou, "is pretty much still a dirt mud channel like you would have seen 100 years ago, just a little cleaned out," said U.S. Geological Survey hydrologist Jeff East, who is based in Houston.

And because the coastal plain is so flat, only sloping about 30 centimetres per mile, the water doesn't flow out of the bayous fast, Bedient said.

Before and After Photos Capture Devastating Flooding in Houston

Date of Publication: 08.29.17.

In EUSSR news, good news at last! Only 68 German banks failed the German stress tests. In most unusual German understatement, “We know who those 68 banks are and that’s why we’re quite relaxed sitting here,” Raimund Roeseler, executive director for banking supervision at BaFin  said.  Stay relaxed Raimund, deficits didn’t matter until one day they did. Besides, it’s the gambling monster bank Deutsche Bank that’s the problem, when they go bust after the next Lehman, everything else in Germany goes bust with them.

"We shouldn't pour cold water on everything.  We, the eight or nine players in global investment banking, have a very good future."

Deutsche Bank, CEO Josef Ackermann. Davos, January 2007.

68 Small and Medium-Sized German Banks Fail National Stress Test

By Steven Arons and Carolynn Look
30 August 2017, 11:16 GMT+1 30 August 2017, 12:50 GMT+1
Almost 5 percent of small and medium-sized German banks missed regulatory capital requirements in a stress test conducted by Germany’s two top financial watchdogs.

The impact of the simulation carried out by the Bundesbank and BaFin would have been higher if the stress test had factored in contagion effects, Bundesbank board member Andreas Dombret said at a press conference in Frankfurt. He presented the results of the survey of about 1,500 banks together with Raimund Roeseler, executive director for banking supervision at BaFin.

“The stress test shows that the banks should very carefully assess how well they are prepared to cope with the risks” identified in the survey, Dombret said. “The message of our survey and our stress test to banks and savings banks is: those who want to safeguard vitality in the long run should make preparations.”

German banks have long suffered from comparatively low profitability in a fragmented market that has been exacerbated by low -- and sometimes negative -- interest rates. The banks said in the survey that they expect their profit before tax to fall by 9 percent over the next five years.

The stress test applied by the financial watchdogs simulated different scenarios, including market risks, credit risks, and what would happen to bank balance sheets if the European Central Bank changed interest rates. Under a stress scenario, 68 of the surveyed banks would fall under the capital requirements set by regulators.

“We know who those 68 banks are and that’s why we’re quite relaxed sitting here,” Roeseler said.

“Europe exemplifies a situation unfavourable to a common currency. It is composed of separate nations, speaking different languages, with different customs, and having citizens feeling far greater loyalty and attachment to their own country than to a common market or to the idea of Europe".

Professor Milton Friedman, The Times 19 November 1997.

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.

Today, back to that old socialist/communist “something for everyone, and for nothing,” fake economics again. Lying to the many (poor,) to get the few elected to power.
Below, when the bill comes in for the Great Nixonian Error of Fiat Money, “free lunch.”

“They pretend to pay us. We pretend to work.”

Old USSR joke.

As Poverty Surges in Italy, Populists Propose a ‘Citizens’ Income’

With almost 11 percent of the country unemployed, the Five Star Movement sees its chance.
By John Follain 30 August 2017, 05:01 GMT +1
From his perch at a waterfront bar in the Italian port of Livorno, Marco Di Tanto sees far more despair than charm. Although the center of town—an area called New Venice—has scenic streets and winding canals similar to its namesake, the Tuscan city is still reeling from the shutdown of the vast Orlando shipyard in 2002 and the shift of most freight traffic to bigger container ports in Genoa and Naples over the past two decades. 
“There’s no real work in Livorno anymore,” says Di Tanto, 58, who in 2009 lost his job as a forklift driver at the docks and now picks up informal construction work when he can. “I’ve seen my old colleagues queuing at the soup kitchen.”
That economic malaise is increasingly common across Italy, where unemployment tops 11 percent and the number of people living at or below the poverty line has nearly tripled since 2006, to 4.7 million last year, or almost 8 percent of the population, according to statistics agency Istat. These woes have made Livorno, where the Italian Communist Party was founded in 1921, a petri dish for ideas to help the poor ahead of national elections expected early next year. “Poverty will be center stage in the campaign,” says Giorgio Freddi, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Bologna. The populist Five Star Movement “has imposed the issue on national politics. The mainstream parties are being forced to play catch-up.”
Five Star is a fast-growing group fueled by anger at the old political class. Three years ago the movement rode economic concerns to power in Livorno, ending 70 years of rule by the Communists and other left-leaning parties. The new mayor, a former engineer named Filippo Nogarin, introduced a €500 ($590) monthly subsidy to the disadvantaged. That idea is a key plank in Five Star’s national platform, and the group’s leaders have promised to quickly implement such a program if they take power. Beppe Grillo, the former television comedian who co-founded the party, says fighting poverty should be a top priority. A basic income can “give people back their dignity,” Grillo’s blog declared in April. “The current government is ignoring millions of families in difficulty.”

The Five Star program echoes universal basic income schemes being considered around the world. Finland in January started an experiment in which 2,000 unemployed people receive a stipend of €560 per month. And the Canadian province of Ontario this summer began trials in three cities in which individuals can get almost C$17,000 ($13,600) per year. Five Star’s version would give Italians below the poverty line as much as €780 a month. Recipients must perform several hours of community service each week and actively seek work, and they’d be cut off after rejecting three job offers. Five Star says the plan would cost €17 billion a year, funded in part by spending cuts as well as tax hikes on banks, insurance companies, and gambling.

Opinion polls show Five Star neck and neck with the Democratic Party, led by ex-Premier Matteo Renzi, and a center-right bloc including Forza Italia, the party of former Premier Silvio Berlusconi. To keep Five Star from dominating the debate, Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, a Renzi ally, has approved a less ambitious plan he calls “the first universal tool against poverty.” The scheme, dubbed “inclusion income,” would give 1.7 million people as much as €485 a month as long as they’re actively seeking work, at a cost of about €2 billion a year.

With industrial output down by about 25 percent from 2008 to 2013 in Italy’s worst postwar recession, either plan could be helpful, says Giuseppe Di Taranto, a professor of economic history at Rome’s Luiss University. “We lost lots of jobs, and poverty has risen so much that we’ve got to experiment.”
"The most puzzling development in politics during the last decade is the apparent determination of Western European leaders to re-create the Soviet Union in Western Europe."

Mikhail Gorbachev
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?

Dethleffs experiments with all-electric, solar-backed motorhome

C.C. Weiss August 29, 2017
Range anxiety makes an all-electric motorhome seem like a losing proposition from the get-go. Is there a greater oxymoron than a boundless, nomadic vehicle that needs to be hooked to the grid for hours at a time every 100 miles (161 km) or so? Still, there are electric motorhomes out there, of both the homebuilt and retail variety, and we can now add another to the list. The Dethleffs e.home concept explores the possibility of a Type C motorhome with a zero emissions powertrain, plenty of solar charging capability, and efficient and smart technologies throughout.

Volkswagen gave those yearning for an electric camper van some good news this month when it announced that the I.D. Buzz concept, an electric spiritual successor to the m``icrobuses of yore, will indeed make it to production. Once it does, it surely won't take long for camper converters to jump all over the Buzz-based production van, adding kitchens, folding beds, pop-up roofs and other amenities. In the meantime, Volkswagen is exploring new camper van innovations with traditional turbo diesel power.

Much like Volkswagen, German camper manufacturer Dethleffs has come to see the all-electric takeover more as a matter of when than if. And while it also recognizes that the e-revolution will take a little longer to penetrate the motorhome market than the passenger car market, it's getting out of the gate early and experimenting with ways of making a viable, efficient all-electric motorhome.

There are plenty of electric vans out there from which you could build an electric camper van (Type B motorhome), but Dethleffs has gone bigger by designing a Type C motorhome around the Iveco Daily Electric chassis. The Daily relies on a 107-hp (80-kW) electric motor and several battery options to offer up to 174 mi (280 km) of range (NEDC), in non-camper trim.

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished July

DJIA: 21,891 +207 Up. NASDAQ:  6,348 +250 Up. SP500: 2,470 +171 Up.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Complacency’s Back.

Baltic Dry Index. 1203 -06     Brent Crude 51.80

There can be few fields of human endeavour in which history counts for so little as in the world of finance. Past experience, to the extent that it is part of memory at all, is dismissed as the primitive refuge of those who do not have the insight to appreciate the incredible wonders of the present.

John Kenneth Galbraith.

Harvey, flooded Houston and much of south Texas, a nuclear armed unstable North Korea, who cares? Buy more! Complacency’s back, risk on. For all his bluster, the markets figure President Trump’s bluff has been called. So what if America’s 4th largest city with almost 7 million people is flooded? That’s good for the reconstruction business and the economy, is the latest fake news from Wall Street’s stock pedlars. An enormous error in the making, to this old stock and commodity market dinosaur, actively following markets since 1968.

Death and wealth destruction on a biblical scale in Texas and Louisiana, is not wealth building, or in any way good for the US economy. Having a lame duck US President called out by an unstable, nuclear armed, North Korea, is anything but good for the rest of the world.  President Trump and his allies having blinked, Pyongyang is now far more likely to make a fatal error resulting in war.

Dow industrials just booked the best intraday comeback in 9 months

Published: Aug 29, 2017 7:48 p.m. ET
It isn’t exactly a comeback for the ages, but the market rebound on Tuesday was pretty striking.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.26% booked its best recovery from an intraday low since early December as Wall Street investors appeared to shake off worries centered on increased tensions in the Korean Peninsula.

Read: Stock market shakes off geopolitical tensions and ends higher

The Dow rose 57.97 points, or 0.3%, at 21,865.37, marking a nearly 200-point swing into positive territory. That marks the best resurgence intraday since Dec. 7, 2016 when it spanned some 320 points before finishing higher, according to WSJ Market Data Group.

Wall Street, overall managed to eke out modest gains, with the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.08% gaining about 0.1% at 2,446.30 and the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.30%  closing about 0.3% higher at 6,301.89.

Trading has been marked by seasonally low volumes and mounting worries about a military response to North Korea, which delivered its most provocative ballistic-missile launch in years, flying at least one projectile over Japanese airspace late Monday and drawing widespread rebukes from the U.S. and its Asian neighbors.

Asian markets rebound, shrugging off North Korea tensions

Published: Aug 29, 2017 11:20 p.m. ET
Asia-Pacific stocks rebounded Wednesday after selling off a day earlier following North Korea’s latest missile launch, as equities in the U.S. recovered as well.

The return to risk assets came despite a stern response from President Donald Trump. His insistence that all options are on table “should have escalated the risk-off” sentiment seen Tuesday, said Bart Wakabayashi, Tokyo branch manager at State Street.

Instead, investors seemed to shrug off the geopolitical tension.

Japanese stocks helped lead the way, aided by a near-1% gain in the U.S. dollar versus the yen since the end of stock trading Tuesday. The dollar JPYUSD, -0.039164%   moved back to ¥109.80 after bottoming out yesterday at around ¥108.33, not far from the low for the year.

The Nikkei NIK, +0.61%   was recently up 0.6%, helped by exporters. Auto makers Mitsubishi Motors 7211, +1.27%   and Mazda 7261, +0.85%   were up 1% each and electronics giant Sony 6758, +2.57%   added 2.3%.

While Hong Kong’s Hang Seng HSI, +0.79%   climbed 0.96% and Taiwan’s Taiex Y9999, +0.63%   rose 0.5%, gains were more muted elsewhere, with New Zealand’s benchmark NZ50GR, +0.54%   up 0.2% after dropping 1.1% Tuesday.

Meanwhile, stocks in Australia XJO, +0.11%   and South Korea SEU, +0.05%   were slightly higher. On Tuesday, the Kospi closed down 0.2% after being as much as 1.6% lower earlier in the day.

U.S. economic data showing that growth remains steady and consumer sentiment is upbeat also helped fuel rebounds for stocks in Asia, said Masashi Murata, currency strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman.

“The fundamentals remain unchanged so the bounce back has been easier,” he added.

In Houston, rain finally stops but danger not over yet

Published: Aug 29, 2017 10:50 p.m. ET

‘It’s the end of the beginning’ as Harvey moves east

Flood-ravaged Houston got a bit of good news Tuesday evening: The rain finally stopped.
After five days of record rainfall — more than 50 inches in some places — from now-Tropical Storm Harvey, the sun finally came out Tuesday, and meteorologists said the region would soon get a chance to start drying out.

“It’s the end of the beginning,” National Hurricane Center meteorologist Dennis Feltgen told the Associated Press.

Harvey isn’t done yet, though. The storm is expected to make landfall again Wednesday, bringing torrential rain to parts of east Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri, and the threat of potential flooding to those areas.

“We’re not done with this,” Feltgen said. “There’s still an awful lot of real estate and a lot of people who are going to feel the impacts of the storm.”

While showers and thunderstorms are expected to linger Wednesday in Houston, rainfall totals are expected to be less than an inch. A chance of thunderstorms will remain Thursday, but Friday should be dry and warm, according to a National Weather Service forecast.

The NWS warned Tuesday night that danger remains. “As TS Harvey moves east, the weather forecast will improve. Please do NOT go out and sight see! It is still dangerous!” the NWS tweeted, noting that many roads are still underwater, floodwaters are still raging and emergency crews are still actively seeking those trapped.

While the worst of the rain appears to be over, the region is not out of the woods yet, with the risk of river flooding remaining into next week, officials said. And some flooded areas are expected to remain underwater for weeks, if not months.

Officials on Tuesday said more than 13,000 people had been rescued from their homes in the Houston area so far, and more than 17,000 had fled to shelters. Texas officials worry many more people are still trapped in their homes, and the death toll, which officially stands at nine, is expected to rise dramatically once the floodwaters recede.

Morgan Stanley MS, -0.29%   analysts on Tuesday estimated damage would total $30 billion to $40 billion, making it the fourth-worst U.S. storm on record, adjusted for inflation.

August 28, 2017 / 10:22 PM

U.N. condemns 'outrageous' North Korea missile launch, Pyongyang says more to come

SEOUL/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations condemned North Korea’s “outrageous” firing of a ballistic missile over Japan on Tuesday, demanding Pyongyang halt its weapons programme but holding back on any threat of new sanctions on the isolated regime.

North Korea said the launch of an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) was to counter U.S. and South Korean military drills and was a first step in military action in the Pacific to “contain” the U.S. territory of Guam.

The North’s leader Kim Jong Un ordered the launch to be conducted for the first time from its capital, Pyongyang, and said more exercises with the Pacific as the target were needed, the North’s KCNA news agency said on Wednesday.

“The current ballistic rocket launching drill like a real war is the first step of the military operation of the KPA in the Pacific and a meaningful prelude to containing Guam,” KCNA quoted Kim as saying. The Korean People’s Army or KPA is the North’s military.

Earlier this month, North Korea threatened to fire four missiles into the sea near Guam, home to a major U.S. military presence, after President Donald Trump said the North would face “fire and fury” if it threatened the United States.

Kim Jong Un Says Latest Missile Test Was 'Prelude' to Containing Guam

By Shinhye Kang
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the test-firing of a missile over Japan on Tuesday was a "meaningful prelude" to containing the American territory of Guam, adding he will continue to watch the response of the U.S. before deciding on further action.

Kim guided the firing of the intermediate-range strategic ballistic rocket and urged his military to conduct more such launches into the Pacific Ocean in the future, according to a statement from the official Korean Central News Agency.

The missile firing was part of "muscle-flexing" to protest annual military exercises being held between the U.S. and South Korea, KCNA said. North Korea had threatened earlier this month to launch missiles over Japan toward Guam, which prompted warnings of retaliation from American military officials.

It was the first North Korean projectile to fly over Japanese airspace since the regime launched a rocket over Okinawa in 2016, and undermines nascent hopes for dialogue over Kim’s weapons programs. That’s after tensions had appeared to cool following a war of words between U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim earlier this month.

Opinion: North Korea launch calculated to create political mischief

Published: Aug 29, 2017 1:43 p.m. ET

Kim Jong Un benefits from wedges between China and Japan, South Korea, and U.S.

I had just written up some light summer fare — new academic writing on the North Korean nuclear program! — and news of the Hwasong 12 (probably) launch over Japan comes across the wire.

My bottom line: this launch was perfectly calibrated to create political mischief. Not only does it fly beneath the threshold at which a military response is recognized as absolutely necessary by all three relevant parties, South Korea, the U.S. and Japan. It also drives wedges between Beijing and Seoul, Tokyo and Washington as well because of the natural inclination for the two major allies to strengthen their ties with the U.S.

The only issue is whether Kim Jong Un miscalculated with respect to Trump. My hunch is that the answer is “no”: fire and fury aside, the U.S. will probably not take the taunt and respond militarily, but will try to stay the course of the “peaceful pressure” campaign outlined by Secretary Rex Tillerson (See here and here).

But times like this tempt every North Korea watcher to the dark side. Will someone just take him out already?

Also read: Investors now think central bankers will protect us from nuclear war

First, the basics. After a pause, North Korea resumed testing with three shorter range rockets from the East Coast over the weekend (one blew up, but in missile testing failures also mean learning). The missile that overflew Japan was probably a Hwasong 12 or KN-17, and was launched from Sunan, north of Pyongyang and apparently very near the country’s airport (as usual, Anna Fifield at the Washington Post had the most plugged in early coverage, claiming that U.S. intelligence had monitored the movement of the missile two hours prior to firing).

Let’s take each of the three parties in turn.

If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error.

John Kenneth Galbraith

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.

China, just look at what the US tort bar is missing! They can only look on in envy.

China’s Grocery Trolls Make Giant Piggy Banks of Wal-Mart and Carrefour

A sprawling new Food Safety Law has spawned a cottage industry of professional complainers who sue food manufacturers and retailers over infractions big and small.

24 August 2017, 21:00 GMT+1
-Xue Yanfeng went shopping in a Carrefour SA supermarket in western China in May 2015 and bought 20 bottles of honey for a total of 892 yuan ($134). He then left the supermarket with his groceries and sued the French company. In court filings, Xue alleged the nutritional labels said each 100-gram serving contained 1,326 kilojoules of energy. But, according to his calculations using nutritional data on the label, each serving contained only 1,102.
Xue, who couldn’t be reached for comment, argued that the error violated China’s Food Safety Law, which guaranteed him compensation of 10 times the purchase price. The Xinjiang court agreed, and a week after his purchases it awarded him a refund of 892 yuan and compensation of 8,920 yuan.

That was one of 40 lawsuits Xue has filed against supermarkets and retailers for violating the Food Safety Law since late 2015, when China introduced a strengthened version to tackle the country’s well-publicized food safety woes. The new version removed a clause in the previous law that said victims must prove personal injury or loss to be eligible for compensation. The change has spawned a cottage industry of professional complainers who’ve developed sophisticated operations to challenge food manufacturers and retailers for compensation.

Xue alone has filed cases involving finding raisins with no nutritional labels, potato chips with unlawful additives, biscuits with multiple production dates, and ham and beer being sold after their expiration dates.
His targets include Carrefour, Wal-Mart Stores, and Yonghui Superstores. He’s been awarded 70,033 yuan—twice the average urban household annual income in China—in compensation over the past 18 months, and he settled 18 other cases in which the compensation wasn’t disclosed.

Last year local governments in Guangdong and Jiangxi provinces said as many as 90 percent of all food safety complaints they’ve received are from such plaintiffs. A Beijing court said 80 percent of the food safety-related cases in 2015 were filed by individuals who specialize in finding flaws. “They are the No. 1 problem supermarkets in China are facing now,” says Chu Dong, vice chairman of the China Chainstore & Franchise Association, an industry group. “They are harming not just the retail industry but placing a heavy burden on regulatory and judicial authorities in China and betraying the spirit of the law.”

Professional complainers are a mainstay on the mainland because the nation’s laws guarantee aggrieved buyers a unique degree of protection and compensation. A different statute granting compensation of three times the purchase price to those who buy counterfeit or damaged goods has given rise to professional “fraudbusters” who scour store shelves on the lookout for fakes. Their ranks swelled tenfold after the more generous food safety law came into effect, says Shandong native Wang Hai, who prefers to be called a “food safety informer.” Pending cases he’s filed include complaints about fake alcohol and beef from steroid-injected cattle smuggled from overseas.

“What we do is help to plug a hole in the regulatory framework, because it’s impossible for regulators to catch every manufacturer and retailer infringing the law,” says Wang.
"Those entrapped by the herd instinct are drowned in the deluges of history. But there are always the few who observe, reason, and take precautions, and thus escape the flood. For these few gold has been the asset of last resort."

Antony C. Sutton
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?

Collapsible, rotating caravan harnesses solar and wind for efficient off-grid living

C.C. Weiss August 28, 2017
While shows like the Australian 4x4 Expo and Overland Expo highlight tough, no-nonsense trailers and motorhomes ready to get dirty right now, the Düsseldorf Caravan Salon dedicates some space to futuristic campers and technologies. And this year, the Volkswagen California XXL isn't the only such concept camper wowing the crowds. France's Green Cat Technologies has possibly the most head-turning concept at the show with a caravan that folds out into a roomy living space complete with solar and wind power generation. 

The sCarabane even rotates 360 degrees at camp, tracking the sun to generate electricity and hot water.
What looks quite like a permanent, off-grid tiny home when all set up at camp is actually a folding caravan that packs neatly into a 25.6-ft-long (7.8-m-long) wheeled box via fold-down, flip-up and swing-out hardware on both sides. One side features a large outdoor deck with retractable awning, while the other side adds two bedrooms to the central living area.

Green Cat says the sCarabane goes from living to driving form in about 30 minutes, with just one person able to do the work on their own. The caravan serves as more proof that the French are masters of this type of structural compaction, as we've previously witnessed with the Beauer 3X.

While its expansion hardware is impressive, what really drives the sCarabane design is the almost-obsessive focus on green technologies that lies at its very core. Perhaps the most extreme example is the electrical rotation system that spins the caravan 360 degrees to optimize sun exposure and keep light and radiation flowing to the the solar panels and water-heating system. The caravan mounts on a circular track and rotates slowly as needed.

We've seen the concept of a sun-tracking, small-living solution before, albeit on a tiny house, not a caravan. Green Cat has built out a more elaborate solar-harvesting system that includes the collapsible, 65-sq ft (6-sq m) parabolic concentrator mirror on the roof, providing a natural means of heating water for supply to the faucets, shower, washing machine and dishwasher inside. There's also a 500-W solar panel array on the roof.

The sCarabane also takes advantage of the natural light and warmth of the sun. The adjustable bubble window at the far end includes a reflective shade that allows the occupants to adjust the level of natural light and heat. Similarly, a large "rose window" on each bedroom roof features a petal-like array of transparent sections that can be manually adjusted to let in the desired amount of light.

More + pictures

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished July

DJIA: 21,891 +207 Up. NASDAQ:  6,348 +250 Up. SP500: 2,470 +171 Up.