Thursday 30 November 2017

Is That A Bell Ringing, I Hear.

Baltic Dry Index. 1536 +30 Brent Crude 63.46
They don’t ring a bell at the top, goes the old Wall Street saying, but I’m not so sure. To this old dinosaur markets watcher and follower, they are ringing bells, blowing whistles, sounding klaxons and firing maroons, at what looks to me like an increasingly unstable top forming in many markets. Run, don’t walk for the lifeboats.
November 30, 2017 / 12:48 AM

Asian stocks fall as tech bellwethers hit by fear boom has peaked

TOKYO (Reuters) - Asian shares fell on Thursday, weighed down by a plunge in high-flying technology shares, a move that some see as a healthy correction after a strong rally but others believe may herald the peak of a “super cycle” that has been boosting the sector.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS dropped 0.9 percent, with technology bellwether Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) falling 2.9 percent to two-month lows and Taiwan’s TSMC (2330.TW) down 1.9 percent.
Japan's Nikkei .N225 dipped 0.1 percent, led by a 2.0 percent fall in electronic machinery makers .IELEC.T.
In the U.S., the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 1.27 percent as investors shifted to financials and other sectors even as the S&P 500 .SPX was almost flat and the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI gained 0.44 percent.[.N]
Shares of (AMZN.O), Apple (AAPL.O), Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL.O) and Facebook (FB.O) fell between 2 percent and 4 percent. Among the year’s other high fliers, Netflix (NFLX.O) slid 5.5 percent.

Possibly weighing on them were concerns, sparked by a Morgan Stanley report earlier this week, that “super-cycle” in memory chip demand is likely to peak soon.

“It is true that if you look at the world’s semiconductor sales on chart, their year-on-year growth appears to be peaking out. Given the current high sales level, some market players would be naturally worried,” said Hiroshi Watanabe, economist at Sony Financial Holdings.

“But if you look at what’s driving demand, it’s not just smart phones and actually a lot of things, such as data centres. The world’s demand is likely to continue expanding in 2018 and I don’t see the need to be pessimistic now,” he said.

Some market players said selling in tech shares had more to do with profit-taking ahead of the end of the year.

“Tech shares have done so well over the past year. There are many shares that saw their prices doubling. So investors have been on guard. They have been looking for an opportune time to sell,” said Norihiro Fujito, senior investment analyst at Morgan Stanley.

The Nasdaq index is still up 26.8 percent so far this year, more than 9 percentage points above gains in the S&P.

The ex-Japan Asia-Pacific MSCI index is up more than 30 percent and is on course to log its 11th straight month of gains this month.

On the other hand, U.S. bond yields rose across the maturities and the dollar gained some traction after the U.S. third-quarter GDP growth was revised up to an annualised 3.3 percent USGDPP=ECI, from the initial estimate of 3.0 percent USGDPA=ECI.

Goldman Warns That Market Valuations Are at Their Highest Since 1900

By Chris Anstey
November 29, 2017, 9:02 AM GMT
A prolonged bull market across stocks, bonds and credit has left a measure of average valuation at the highest since 1900, a condition that at some point is going to translate into pain for investors, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
“It has seldom been the case that equities, bonds and credit have been similarly expensive at the same time, only in the Roaring ’20s and the Golden ’50s,” Goldman Sachs International strategists including Christian Mueller-Glissman wrote in a note this week. “All good things must come to an end” and “there will be a bear market, eventually” they said.

As central banks cut back their quantitative easing, pushing up the premiums investors demand to hold longer-dated bonds, returns are “likely to be lower across assets” over the medium term, the analysts said. A second, less likely, scenario would involve “fast pain.” Stock and bond valuations would both get hit, with the mix depending on whether the trigger involved a negative growth shock, or a growth shock alongside an inflation pick-up.
Elevated valuations increase the risk of draw-downs for the simple reason that there is less buffer to absorb shocks,” the strategists wrote. “The average valuation percentile across equity, bonds and credit in the U.S. is 90 percent, an all-time high.”
A portfolio of 60 percent S&P 500 Index stocks and 40 percent 10-year U.S. Treasuries generated a 7.1 percent inflation-adjusted return since 1985, Goldman calculated -- compared with 4.8 percent over the last century. The tech-bubble implosion and global financial crisis were the two taints to the record.
Low inflation has prevailed in the current period, just as it did alongside economic growth in the 1920s and 1950s, according to the Goldman report. “The worst outcome for 60/40 portfolios is high and rising inflation, which is when both bonds and equities suffer, even outside recessions.” An increase in policy rates triggered by price pressures “remains a key risk for multi-asset portfolios. Duration risk in bond markets is much higher this cycle,” they wrote.
In the Goldman strategists’ main scenario of lower but positive returns, investors should “stay invested and could even be lured to lever up.” They suggested putting more in equities, with their greater risk-adjusted returns, and scaling back duration in fixed income.
Other findings in the report include:
In other news, it’s that OPEC time of year again. But is everything already priced in? Buy the rumour, sell the fact?
November 29, 2017 / 8:25 AM .

OPEC, Russia head for oil cut extension but wary of overheating market

VIENNA (Reuters) - OPEC and Russia look set to prolong oil supply cuts until the end of 2018 this week while signaling that they may review the deal when they meet again in June if the market overheats.
With oil prices LCOc1 rallying above $60 per barrel, Russia has questioned the wisdom of extending existing cuts of 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) until the end of next year as such a move could prompt a spike in U.S. production.
Russia needs much lower oil prices to balance its budget than OPEC’s leader Saudi Arabia, which is preparing a stock market listing for national energy champion Aramco next year and would hence benefit from pricier crude.
Six ministers from OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers including Saudi Arabia and Russia met in Vienna on Wednesday - one day ahead of a full OPEC gathering - and recommended extending the cuts to the end of 2018. At present, the cuts expire in March.
“That’s one of the recommendations,” Kuwait’s Oil Minister Essam al-Marzouq told reporters when asked whether the committee had agreed on a nine-month extension, among other matters.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak was, however, less certain about the duration.
“The market has not been fully balanced yet. Joint efforts are needed after April 1. Everybody has recommended that the agreement could be extended and tomorrow such concrete details will be discussed,” Novak said.

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.
Today, Bitcoin, bubble, scam, or the next “big thing?”

Bitcoin Recovers From Sudden Selloff as Large Swings Persist

By Eric Lam
November 30, 2017, 5:56 AM GMT
Bitcoin rallied as much as 20 percent from its Wednesday low, easing concern that an abrupt selloff in the cryptocurrency might spiral into something deeper.
The digital currency climbed as high as $10,787.99 in Asian trading hours Thursday, after touching a nadir of $9,009.15, according to prices compiled by Bloomberg. The 21 percent slump on Wednesday, triggered in part by intermittent outages at cryptocurrency exchanges, came just hours after bitcoin had soared to a record.
Price swings in the world’s most popular digital currency are increasing as an 11-fold gain this year captivates everyone from mom-and-pop investors to high-frequency traders and Wall Street banks. While the frenzy has prompted bubble warnings from observers including Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, interest among traders shows few signs of abating.
Coinbase, one of the largest bitcoin exchanges, tweeted on Wednesday that traffic on its platform reached an all-time high, even as some users reported service interruptions and delays.
Click the links below for more bitcoin coverage:

This Is What Could Pop the Bitcoin Bubble

By Luke Kawa
November 29, 2017, 10:55 PM GMT
Bitcoin and bubble have become virtually synonymous in the minds of many skeptics during this year’s breathtaking rally. While the digital currency has defied doomsday prophesies, there’s a number of ways this party could end badly for the swelling ranks of bulls. 
But be warned: many of the potential causes of death have surfaced during the past few years, and have proven unable to bludgeon bitcoin into oblivion thus far.

Knifed by a Fork

The multiple offshoots of bitcoin could cause the world’s largest digital currency by market value to cede its crown.
Divides among developers as to how to proceed with upgrades to bitcoin’s network have led to "forks," in which different versions of the currency are spun off from the original. Excessive fragmentation could prove a bug for bitcoin, just as it did for the U.S. financial system during the free banking era. When it comes to cryptocurrencies, hedge fund manager Mike Novogratz warned, "not everything can win" -- though that’s not enough to stop him from launching a $500 million fund to invest in the asset class.
Ether, the second-largest digital currency, has posted massive gains since the bitcoin forks began. But even that advance pales in comparison to the surges in bitcoin and bitcoin cash over the same span.

Strangled by Regulators

Given bitcoin’s checkered history as the means to purchase illicit materials, a vehicle for capital flight, and a victim of theft, it’s no surprise that regulators around the world have cast a watchful eye over the asset class. As such, the specter of a complete crackdown on cryptocurrencies remains an ever-present tail risk. The SEC has been keeping an eye on crypto and has given guidance saying some tokens may be securities, making them subject to their oversight.
UBS Group AG Chief Investment Officer Mark Haefele said the wealth manager wouldn’t dedicate funds to bitcoin because "all it would take would be one terrorist incident in the U.S. funded by bitcoin for the U.S. regulator to much more seriously step in and take action."

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?

Ultrathin and flat graphene metalenses gain morace properties

Date: November 27, 2017
Source: Institute for Basic Science
Summary: Lenses made of graphene and precisely pierced gold sheets are able to concentrate terahertz beams to a spot, flip its polarization and modulate its intensity.
On the quest for miniaturization, scientists at the Center for Integrated Nanostructure Physics, within the Institute for Basic Science (IBS, South Korea), in collaboration with researchers from the University of Birmingham and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), develop credit card-thick, flat lenses with tunable features. These optical devices, made of graphene and a punctured gold surface, could become optical components for advanced applications, such as amplitude tunable lenses, lasers (i.e. vortex phase plates), and dynamic holography.

Metasurfaces are new 2D materials that can effectively control the electric and magnetic components of light (and other electromagnetic waves) and bend them to bespoken directions. Controlling the beam's direction can bring out interesting phenomena; the most incredible being the "invisibility cloak effect," where light waves bypass an object recreating the image beyond the object, as flowing water in a river would bypass a stone.

Published in Advanced Optical Materials, the study presents the properties of a metasurface which works as a convex lens. Specifically, it is made of a gold sheet pierced with micrometer-sized U-shaped holes and covered with graphene. As the shape of common convex lenses allows light to be concentrated on a spot (or focus), think about a magnifying glass which can concentrate a light beam and even start a fire, so the particular pattern of the tiny apertures of the metalenses works by focusing the incoming beam.

In addition, these microholes can also change light polarization. While natural light is generally unpolarized before being reflected, the team used circularly polarized waves, that is a light beam where the direction of the electric field is corkscrew spiraling. This metalens can convert the left-circular polarization wave (going counterclockwise if seen straight in front) to right-circular polarization (clockwise). The researchers managed to obtain a conversion rate of 35%. Converting circular polarization could be useful in a number of fields, for example biosensing and telecommunications.

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished October

DJIA: 23,277 +233 Up. NASDAQ:  6,728 +284 Up. SP500: 2,575 +183 Up.

Wednesday 29 November 2017

War or Peace?

Baltic Dry Index. 1477 +19 Brent Crude 63.19
With still no fix (or contact from Microsoft level two,) and an early morning appointment far away, a shortened bubble and war update today. For President Trump, a hard decision. A first strike or no first strike? Put up time or shut up time. That’ll be shut up time according to our long complacent, bubbly markets. Nuclear war, no way.
Below, marketeers ignore President Trump and North Korea. President Trump may huff and puff up a storm all he likes, but like Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama before him, when it comes to North Korea and nuclear war, the markets think he’s a paper tiger.

Stocks rally to records as Republican tax bill moves toward Senate vote

Published: Nov 28, 2017 4:59 p.m. ET
Stocks closed at records Tuesday after bouncing around during the regular session as geopolitical tensions and domestic developments pulled the market in different directions.

All three main indexes had traded in record territory earlier but came off highs as North Korea tested a ballistic missile for the first time in more than two months. But the indexes soon regained lost ground after a Republican tax proposal moved a step closer to a Senate vote.
The three equity benchmarks have set multiple records in 2017, boosted by factors such as an expanding U.S. economy, rising corporate profits, anemic expected returns for other assets and bets that the Trump administration will deliver tax cuts and other business-friendly policies.
The Senate Budget Committee voted 12-11 to advance the Republican tax bill after Sens. Bob Corker and Ron Johnson joined fellow Republicans as “yes” votes. A full Senate vote could be possible as early as Thursday.

North Korea fired a ballistic missile around 3 a.m. local time which is believed to have flown about 620 miles before landing in the water between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. In retaliation, South Korea launched a “precision strike” missile exercise, according to Korean and U.S. news reports.
Earlier, Jerome Powell, President Donald Trump’s pick to run the Federal Reserve, testified at a Senate confirmation hearing, giving investors their first big clue on how he hopes to operate at the Fed. His opening statement for the hearing was released Monday, indicating he expects to stay on the course set by the current Fed chief, Janet Yellen.

Asia Stocks Mixed as Missile Offsets U.S. Rally: Markets Wrap

By Adam Haigh
November 28, 2017, 10:06 PM GMT Updated on November 29, 2017, 6:24 AM GMT
Asian stocks were mixed as Chinese shares swung between gains and losses and a North Korean missile test overshadowed a surge in U.S. equities. The dollar was steady as U.S. tax cuts inched closer to reality.

Shares in Tokyo ended higher with bank and insurers underpinning gains, and the S&P 500 Index jumped 1 percent on Tuesday as the Senate budget committee advanced the Republican tax bill, also buoying the greenback. Australian shares rose and Hong Kong equities fluctuated. Stocks in Seoul gave up earlier gains as investors considered the latest intercontinental ballistic missile launch from North Korea. Bitcoin surpassed $10,000 for the first time, bringing this year’s price surge to more than 10-fold.

The crux of it is that people ascribe a very low likelihood of it developing into something more sinister,” said Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners in Wellington, which manages about $7 billion. “Markets are choosing to focus on the positives: that tax reform might be more likely, we’re still getting good corporate news, and all the economic data is ticking over pretty nicely.”
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his regime completed its nuclear program after firing a missile that put the entire U.S. in range. The missile launch shattered a two-month period of relative quiet in its first provocation since U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision this month to label the country a state sponsor of terrorism. Trump responded that “we will take care of that situation.” The U.S. and Japan said the projectile was fired early Wednesday Japan time from North Korea’s west coast at a lofted trajectory before landing in the Sea of Japan.
The Senate tax bill is headed for a marathon debate this week after the budget committee voted Tuesday along party lines to send the Republican plan to the floor. Republican holdouts, Bob Corker of Tennessee and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, dropped their objections shortly before the vote.

Bitcoin Blasts to Record $10,000 as Bubble Warnings Multiply

By Todd White and Julie Verhage
November 29, 2017, 1:29 AM GMT Updated on November 29, 2017, 3:07 AM GMT
Bitcoin surpassed $10,000 for the first time, taking this year’s price surge to more than 10-fold even as warnings multiply that the largest digital currency is an asset bubble.

The euphoria is bringing to the mainstream what was once considered the providence of computer developers, futurists and libertarians seeking to create an alternative to central bank-controlled monetary systems. While the actual volume of transactions conducted in cryptocurrencies is relatively small, the optimism surrounding the technology continues to drive it to new highs.

Bitcoin has risen by more than 50 percent since October alone, after developers agreed to cancel a technology update that threatened to split the digital currency. Even as analysts disagree on whether the largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization is truly an asset, its $167 billion value already exceeds that of about 95 percent of the S&P 500 Index members.

“This is a bubble and there is a lot of froth. This is going to be the biggest bubble of our lifetimes,” hedge fund manager Mike Novogratz said at a cryptocurrency conference Tuesday in New York.
Novogratz, who’s says he began investing in bitcoin when it was at $90, is starting a $500 million fund because of the potential for the technology to eventually transform financial markets.

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.
Below, it’s put up or shut up time for President Trump. North Korea trumps Trump. The markets say loud and clear “shut up!”
November 28, 2017 / 6:43 PM

North Korea says new ICBM puts U.S. mainland within range of nuclear weapons

SEOUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - North Korea said it had successfully tested a powerful new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that put all of the U.S. mainland within range, declaring it had achieved its long-held goal of becoming a nuclear power.
Wednesday’s missile test, North Korea’s first since mid-September, came a week after U.S. President Donald Trump put North Korea back on a U.S. list of countries it says support terrorism, allowing it to impose more sanctions.
North Korea has conducted dozens of ballistic missile tests under its leader, Kim Jong Un, in defiance of international sanctions. In September, it conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test.
North Korea said the new powerful missile reached an altitude of around 4,475 km (2,780 miles) - more than 10 times the height of the international space station - and flew 950 km (600 miles) during its 53 minute flight.
In the statement, North Korea described itself as a “responsible nuclear power”, saying its strategic weapons were developed to defend itself from “the U.S. imperialists’ nuclear blackmail policy and nuclear threat”.
Many nuclear experts say the North has yet to prove it has mastered all technical hurdles including the ability deliver a nuclear warhead reliably atop an ICBM, but likely soon will.

“We don’t have to like it, but we’re going to have to learn to live with North Korea’s ability to target the United States with nuclear weapons,” said Jeffrey Lewis, head of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of Strategic Studies.

U.S., Japanese and South Korean officials all agreed the missile, which landed within Japan’s exclusive economic zone, was likely an ICBM. It did not pose a threat to the United States, its territories or allies, the Pentagon said.

“It went higher frankly than any previous shot they’ve taken, a research and development effort on their part to continue building ballistic missiles that can threaten everywhere in the world, basically,” U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters at the White House.

----Trump spoke by phone with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-In, with all three leaders reaffirming their commitment to combat the North Korean threat.
“It is a situation that we will handle,” Trump told reporters.

Moon told Trump that North Korea’s missile technology seemed to have improved, a spokesman for the South Korean leader’s office said.

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?
No update today.

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished October

DJIA: 23,277 +233 Up. NASDAQ:  6,728 +284 Up. SP500: 2,575 +183 Up.

Tuesday 28 November 2017

Another Wobble Or More?

Baltic Dry Index. 1458 +13 Brent Crude 63.62
Today, another stock market wobble or the start of something more? I suspect something more, but it all depends on whether you’re in the business to make your money by peddling stocks to greater fools, or analysing stocks for investment rather than gambling speculation.
But on the Great Nixonian Error of fiat money, communist money, August 15, 1971, insane leveraged derivatives gambling, asset stripping, and debt driven stock buyback manipulation, and central bankster rigged markets long ago trumped everything else. Central bankster corporate socialism, long ago replaced capitalism, with not altogether happy results. Is 2018 the year financial Armageddon arrives? Sadly, I suspect that the answer is yes.
Normal service resumes tomorrow, if Microsoft ever get my Office 365 suite to work again. On to day 6 using LibreOffice. There is nothing like a work around challenge.

Asian shares fall from decade peak as China falters

November 28, 2017 / 12:54 AM .
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Asian shares stepped back from decade highs on Tuesday as Chinese stocks stumbled for a second straight session, while the U.S. dollar trod water ahead of a crucial Senate vote on tax reform.
Investor confidence in China has been dented by rising bond yields as Beijing steps up its crackdown on shadow banking and other risky forms of financing. Higher borrowing costs threaten to squeeze corporate profits.

Mainland stocks have jumped 22 percent in 2017, with the gains concentrated in a handful of large index-weighted stocks. The index was down 0.3 percent while Shanghai’s SSE Composite index slipped 0.2 percent at 0221 GMT.

“The aspect of poor breadth and participation was actually the point for Chinese authorities who have been concerned with the equity market continually heading higher on very low participation,” said Chris Weston, Melbourne-based chief strategist at IG Markets.

“The question is whether further downside in Chinese mainland equities continues in the session ahead and will there be a spillover into Hong Kong and potentially even Japan, Korea and Australia?”
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slipped 0.3 percent from last week’s high of 570.21 points. It was on track to end November in the black.

The index has been on an uptrend most of this year, posting a monthly loss only once in 2017.
Australian shares were flat while Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.2 percent.

Wall Street had been mixed on Monday, with the S&P 500 off a touch, the Nasdaq losing 0.1 percent and the Dow up 0.1 percent.

Market's Numbness to Risk Reminds of Calm Before Storm: Axioma

By Andrew Janes
November 28, 2017, 3:18 AM GMT
There’s “somewhat of a numbness” to risk among investors right now that’s reminiscent of pre-crisis periods in the past, according to Olivier d’Assier, head of applied research for Asia Pacific at Axioma Inc.

Singapore-based d’Assier, who develops stress tests around various scenarios for clients of the investment risk-management firm, points to the lack of reaction to the recent jump in the Chicago Board Options Exchange’s SPX Volatility Index. The gauge, known as the VIX index, surged from 10.18 percent at the end of October to as high as 14.51 percent on Nov. 15, a three-month intraday high.

“A couple of years ago, when there was a 6, 9, 10 percent increase in the VIX Index, everybody panicked,” he said. But “nobody cared, everybody jumped in” when the measure shot up this month, d’Assier said.

D’Assier shared his views in an interview last week:

Why is the market so risk-tolerant right now?

  • “We started the year with a very, very heavy geopolitical agenda” including elections in France, Holland, Germany. “All of these things were on the agenda and all of these things had the possibility to go wrong,” because the market got Brexit and Trump’s election wrong. “Volumes kept going down until after the French elections when, suddenly, it’s OK, it’s not as bad as it could have been”
  • “Now, everybody is risk-tolerant. There’s hardly any risk-averse people in the market.” Cash positions are at 3, 4, 5 percent, compared with 20 percent at the start of the year
Back in the EUSSR, situation normal. Rules optional, political interference in judicial matters, unstable government. In Brexit, it’s become starkly obvious to all, Juncker and Barnier are simply not up to the job. What’s not to dislike about the unreformed, unreformable, wealth and jobs destroying EUSSR.

November 27, 2017 / 12:32 PM .

EU Council says ECB does not have mandate for its bad loan measures.

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Central Bank does not have the mandate for its plan to ask euro area banks to set aside more cash to cover bad loans, the European Union Council said in a legal opinion, in a further blow to the ECB proposal.
To prevent a pile-up of new bad debt on top of an existing stock of sour loans worth nearly 850 billion euros (£760.01 trillion), the ECB wants to introduce new guidelines including a two-year deadline for lenders to raise provisions from January for any newly classified non-performing unsecured debt.

The draft plan is out for public consultation until next week and has run into opposition from various quarters including the European parliament and now the EU Council, the bloc’s other legislative body which represents its members’ governments.

The council’s non-binding document, seen by Reuters and dated Nov. 23, said the law governing the ECB’s supervisory powers over euro zone banks “prevents the ECB from adopting instruments of soft law, such as the draft addendum to the ECB guidance to banks on non-performing loans.”

The ECB cannot adopt measures “intended to ensure compliance by banks of criteria for minimum provisioning which are not, or not yet, the object of harmonisation by the EU legislator,” it said.
This echoes the stance of the European Parliament’s legal services that the ECB would be overstepping its authority with its proposed guidelines.

EU rules say supervisors can impose binding capital measures on specific banks but not on the entire banking system.

The chair of the ECB supervisory body, Daniele Nouy, said guidelines do not equate with laws. She has defended her plan but hinted at the possibility of postponing its entry into force.

The document will be discussed by EU states’ economic envoys on Tuesday when they meet to prepare the monthly gathering of EU finance ministers, EU officials said.

November 27, 2017 / 11:00 AM .

Ireland on the verge of snap election as crisis deepens

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland was on the verge of a snap election on Monday after the opposition party propping up the minority government said the deputy prime minister’s refusal to quit would force the country to the polls next month.

The political crisis that deepened dramatically late on Monday has left the country’s two main parties with less than 24 hours to head off a general election in a dispute that cast a shadow over a key Brexit summit next month.

Ireland will play a major role at the meeting, telling EU leaders whether it believes sufficient progress has been made on the future of the border between EU-member Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland.

The pressure on Deputy Prime Minister Frances Fitzgerald of Varadkar’s Fine Gael party mounted on Monday following the release of fresh documents about her disputed handling of a police whistleblower who alleged corruption in the force.

Fianna Fail, whose backing Varadkar requires from the opposition benches to keep his government functioning, has said it will move a motion of no confidence in Fitzgerald at 2000 GMT on Tuesday unless she quits, a position that hardened on Monday.

----Varadkar has insisted that if the motion is not withdrawn, he will be forced to hold an election before Christmas, a prospect EU officials say would complicate the EU Brexit summit on Dec. 14-15.

A compromise had appeared possible earlier in the day when senior members of both parties struck a more conciliatory tone, but the momentum shifted instantly upon the release of the new documents.

----However some Fine Gael members who spoke on condition of anonymity were livid, and local media reported that a number of the party’s ministers privately said she must step down.

The headline on the front page of Tuesday’s Irish Examiner newspaper read, “Ministers desert Fitzgerald as pressure rises.”

SocGen to Take Fourth-Quarter Charges of as Much as $678 Million

By Fabio Benedetti Valentini
November 27, 2017, 9:18 PM GMT Updated on November 27, 2017, 9:57 PM GMT
Societe Generale SA expects to book exceptional charges of about 570 million euros ($678 million) in the fourth quarter, related to tax changes and a plan to cut additional jobs in France.

As many as 900 job cuts may take place at its domestic retail banking business, resulting in a charge of about 400 million euros, Societe Generale said in a statement late on Monday. That’s on the top of the 2,550 positions the bank has already said it will eliminate. SocGen will take another exceptional expense related to three tax changes.

The bank announced the surprise charges as SocGen Chief Executive Officer Frederic Oudea presents his third set of financial targets since the global credit crisis to investors in Paris on Tuesday. He’s betting that a push in tech investments and mobile banking will bolster revenue and profitability. The new targets envisage progressive growth of the dividend and improved profitability with “strictly managed” market risks, according to a separate statement.

“ In a European banking sector undergoing radical industrial change, the group is ready to enter into a new phase of its development and transformation,” Oudea, 54, said.

The bank’s new targets include the goal to generate 3.6 billion euros of additional revenue within three years as it prioritizes key clients. It also plans to close or sell some businesses and reduce by about 15 percent its banking branch network in France.

Norway Wants Michel Barnier to Recognize the Special Status of Britain’s Top Gas Supplier

By Sveinung Sleire
November 27, 2017, 2:20 PM GMT Updated on November 27, 2017, 11:01 PM GMT
As it girds for the possibility that Britain and the EU won’t reach a Brexit deal before the end of the year, Norway wants Europe’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, to acknowledge the special status of the U.K.’s biggest gas supplier.

“Things are time-critical and it’s important to secure real agreements over the days and weeks we have up to the EU summit in the middle of December,” Marit Berger Rosland, Norway’s EU and EEA Affairs Minister, said in an interview at the Foreign Ministry in Oslo. But comments by Barnier also suggest “we have to be prepared for a no-deal scenario.”

Scandinavia’s richest country and western Europe’s biggest oil and gas exporter is working hard to ensure it doesn’t lose out in any transitional accord struck between the EU and Britain once it leaves the bloc. Norway provides about 40 percent of the U.K.’s energy needs, and is keen to defend its access to the EU’s single market as a member of the European Economic Area.

Our core message to Barnier is that Norway isn’t just any ordinary third-party country,” she said.
Reiterating a position held by her predecessor, Rosland said there was an understanding in Oslo that “any transition solutions will also be applied to Norway.” The 39-year-old minister says her message to the U.K. government is that it should work to “safeguard its interests with key partners, including Norway.”

Norway is also doing what it can to prepare for the possibility that Brexit talks won’t end in an agreement.

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over.
Presented without need for comment, still just imagine if a US company was caught employing 800 illegals in the EUSSR.

Chicago Immigration Raid Leaves Swiss Baker Scrambling to Restaff

By Thomas Mulier
November 27, 2017, 11:02 AM GMT Updated on November 27, 2017, 12:02 PM GMT
A Swiss maker of hamburger buns for McDonald’s Corp. said it’s struggling to run a Chicago bakery after it lost a third of its workers in a clampdown on 800 immigrants without sufficient documentation.
About 35 percent of the workers at Cloverhill Bakery had to be replaced, according to Zurich-based Aryzta AG. The company, which makes baked goods for fast-food chains and supermarkets, said the employees were supplied by a job-placement agency that faced federal audits earlier this year.

“It’s proceeding very, very slowly because it’s like having a brand new factory and a brand new workforce,” Chief Executive Officer Kevin Toland said on a call with analysts. “That’s presenting a lot of challenges, as you can imagine.”
The raid on workers at Cloverhill is one of the biggest U.S. employment headaches reported by a European company so far as President Donald Trump has made curbing undocumented immigration a centerpiece of his presidency. Aryzta said it faces challenges in retaining staff in the U.S. and pressure to raise wages.
The Cloverhill issues led to a 7 percent decline in Aryzta’s sales from North America in the three months through October. The increase in employment costs -- which is affecting retailers and restaurants nationwide -- will eventually lead to higher consumer prices, Toland said.

Aryzta wasn’t able to verify that the workers had the necessary documents to work because they were brought in by a staffing agency, interim Chief Financial Officer David Wilkinson said in September. He also said the board wasn’t aware of the extent of the risk that existed to the business. The company first reported the loss of 800 workers at that time.

The Swiss company didn’t name the staffing company.

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?

Shooting electrons at diamonds can introduce quantum sensors into them

Date: November 22, 2017
Source: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Summary: Researchers have discovered that dense ensembles of quantum spins can be created in diamond with high resolution using an electron microscopes, paving the way for enhanced sensors and resources for quantum technologies. This work demonstrates an improvement in the densities of Nitrogen-Vacancy (NV) centers in a variety of diamond types, foreshadowing future improvements in the sensitivity of diamond magnetic measurements, as well as promising directions in the study of solid state physics and quantum information theory.
Researchers have discovered that dense ensembles of quantum spins can be created in diamond with high resolution using an electron microscopes, paving the way for enhanced sensors and resources for quantum technologies.

Diamonds are made of carbon atoms in a crystalline structure, but if a carbon atom is replaced with another type of atom, this will result in a lattice defect. One such defect is the Nitrogen-Vacancy (NV), where one carbon atom is replaced by a nitrogen atom, and its neighbor is missing (an empty space remains in its place).

If this defect is illuminated with a green laser, in response it will emit red light (fluoresce) with an interesting feature: its intensity varies depending on the magnetic properties in the environment. This unique feature makes the NV center particularly useful for measuring magnetic fields, magnetic imaging (MRI), and quantum computing and information.

In order to produce optimal magnetic detectors, the density of these defects should be increased without increasing environmental noise and damaging the diamond properties.

Now, scientists from the research group of Nir Bar-Gill at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Racah Institute of Physics and Department of Applied Physics, in cooperation with Prof. Eyal Buks of the Technion -- Israel Institute of Technology, have shown that ultra-high densities of NV centers can be obtained by a simple process of using electron beams to kick carbon atoms out of the lattice.

This work, published in the scientific journal Applied Physics Letters, is a continuation of previous work in the field, and demonstrates an improvement in the densities of NV centers in a variety of diamond types. The irradiation is performed using an electron beam microscope (Transmission Electron Microscope or TEM), which has been specifically converted for this purpose. The availability of this device in nanotechnology centers in many universities in Israel and around the world enables this process with high spatial accuracy, quickly and simply.
----"This work is an important stepping stone toward utilizing NV centers in diamond as resources for quantum technologies, such as enhanced sensing, quantum simulation and potentially quantum information processing," said Bar-Gill, an Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Applied Physics and Racah Institute of Physics at the Hebrew University, where he founded the Quantum Information, Simulation and Sensing lab.
"What is special about our approach is that it's very simple and straightforward," said Hebrew University researcher Dima Farfurnik. "You get sufficiently high NV concentrations that are appropriate for many applications with a simple procedure that can be done in-house."

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished October

DJIA: 23,277 +233 Up. NASDAQ:  6,728 +284 Up. SP500: 2,575 +183 Up.

Monday 27 November 2017

Onward and Upward.

Baltic Dry Index. 1458 +13 Brent Crude 63.80

Today, onward and upward, well Bitcoin anyway. As for the bubbly hopium global stock markets, buyer beware. If Microsoft manage to get my Office 365 Suite up and running later today, attempt number three since Thursday, normal service resumes tomorrow. Until then, thank God for Libre Office free.

Asia Stocks Fall as Rally Curtailed; Dollar Gains: Markets Wrap

By Adam Haigh
November 26, 2017, 10:21 PM GMT Updated on November 27, 2017, 5:31 AM GMT
A rally that carried Asian stocks to record highs petered out and the dollar edged up as investors turned their attention to U.S. tax reform ahead of a busy week with data on the health of the world’s biggest economies. An OPEC meeting will discuss extending supply cuts.

Stocks fell with the biggest declines in Hong Kong, China and South Korea, while Japanese equities reversed earlier gains. The Bloomberg dollar index inched higher for the first time in five days as the greenback made gains against most G-10 peers. The South African rand halted its slide triggered by S&P Global Ratings cutting the country’s local-currency debt to junk on Friday, sending the currency 2 percent lower. Bitcoin was up 16 percent compared with trading late on Friday.
Economic reports from the U.S., China, Japan and India this week will allow investors to assess progress for global growth. While equities markets trading at record levels show money managers’ enthusiasm for an earnings expansion as economies grow, bond investors are betting inflation concerns will limit the pace at which interest rates will rise in the U.S. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia, a partner in the deal, have crafted the outline of an agreement to extend curbs to the end of next year.

China Shares Resume Decline as Year's Top Performers Take a Hit

By Emma Dai
November 27, 2017, 2:49 AM GMT Updated on November 27, 2017, 4:15 AM GMT
After taking a breather in the wake of a battering Thursday, Chinese shares resumed their decline Monday, with some previously high-flying consumer and technology companies among the hardest hit. 

The CSI 300 Index of large-cap stocks was down 1.3 percent as of the mid-day trading break, with ZTE Corp. and BOE Technology Group Co. both falling more than 6 percent. Liquor-makers like Luzhou Laojiao Co. and Wuliangye Yibin Co. were also lower, but Shanghai-listed Kweichow Moutai Co. rebounded to trade higher for the first time in the seven sessions since state media warned it was climbing too fast.

Institutional investors are choosing to cash in toward year-end as valuations are near historic highs and market sentiment deteriorated after official media targeted Moutai,” said Shen Zhengyang, Shanghai-based analyst at Northeast Securities Co. He said the market “lacks steam” for further gains.

The CSI 300 consumer staples subgauge fell 0.8 percent Monday, deepening a 6.8 percent decline posted in the final three sessions of last week. Jiangsu Yanghe Brewery Joint-Stock Co. was hardest hit Monday, with a loss of 3.1 percent.

H Shares Decline

Other indexes were also lower as some of the year’s best performers declined. Ping An Insurance Group Co. and BYD Co. were among the losers on the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index in Hong Kong. Those two companies are still at the top of the H-share index year-to-date, with Ping An up 111 percent and BYD up 78 percent.

The H-share gauge was down 0.8 percent as of midday in Hong Kong and the benchmark Hang Seng Index fell 0.4 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index shed 0.8 percent and the Shenzhen benchmark lost 0.5 percent.

“The slides continue as blue chips have gained significantly this year,” said Shao Rui, analyst at Shanghai Securities Co. “The tighter liquidity conditions prompt institutional investors to lock in their profits.”

After injecting a net 150 billion yuan last week, the central bank’s additions via open-market operations matched maturities Monday, suggesting cash supply will remain tight. China’s 12-month interest-rate swaps climbed for the first time in three sessions.

Bitcoin Guns For $10,000 as Cryptocurrency Mania Intensifies

By Julie Verhage and Eric Lam
November 26, 2017, 8:08 PM GMT Updated on November 27, 2017, 2:59 AM GMT
Bitcoin is showing no signs of slowing down, blowing past $9,000 less than a week after topping $8,000 and now quickly closing in on five big figures.

The price of the largest cryptocurrency by market value is soaring as it gains greater mainstream attention despite warnings of a bubble in what not everyone agrees is an asset. From Wall Street executives to venture capitalists, observers have been weighing in, with some more skeptical than others. Bitcoin has climbed more than 40 percent over the past two weeks.

Bitcoin has seen another frenzy of buying as the fear of missing out trade bites even harder,” analysts at IG Group, a trading-platform operator, wrote in a note Monday. “There are others who see downside risks from the introduction of bitcoin futures," they wrote.

The surge has swept along individual investors. The number of accounts at Coinbase, one of the largest platforms for trading bitcoin and rival ethereum, has almost tripled to 13 million in the past year, according to Bespoke Investment Group LLC.
Bitcoin climbed as high as a record $9,720.95 Monday, and was recently up about 16 percent compared with trading late on Friday.

The rapid appreciation has made it difficult for bullish analysts and investors to keep their predictions up to date. Hedge fund manager Mike Novogratz, who is starting a $500 million fund to invest in cryptocurrencies, said last week that bitcoin would end the year at $10,000. A day later, Fundstrat head of research Thomas Lee doubled his price target to $11,500 by the middle of 2018.

In a move toward mainstream investing, CME Group Inc. has said it plans to start offering futures contracts for bitcoin, which could begin trading in December. JPMorgan Chase & Co., the largest U.S. bank, was weighing last week whether to help clients bet on bitcoin via the proposed futures contracts, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner

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

Presented with the comment, so why would the London Fire Brigade recklessly tell victims to remain in place in a blazing tower block? What inspections, up to date database, at the LFB led to such fatally flawed advice to so many victims? Will the LFB issue an apology and retraction?
Niall Rowan from the Passive Fire Protection Association told us: "Due to the green agenda we've had a push to insulate buildings and the easiest and cheapest way to insulate was using these combustible materials […] our eye was off the ball."

Grenfell: Plastic firms helped write safety rules

By Gerard Tubb, Sky News Correspondent and Nick Stylianou, Sky News Producer

The deaths of 71 people in Grenfell Tower was a defining tragedy in 21st century Britain. That so many people could lose their lives in one block of newly-renovated council flats shocked the entire country, shock that turned to anger when it became clear that the fire had spread up a thick layer of external plastic foam insulation covered in plastic-filled panels.

The disaster was also a wake-up call; a deadly warning that something has to be seriously wrong with fire safety regulation and enforcement in Britain. If so many people could die in Grenfell Tower, how can anyone be certain that their own home, school, hospital or workplace is safe?

Our investigation, conducted over the past four months, has attempted to answer that question, and it has exposed some disturbing issues.
Even before the first bodies had been removed from Grenfell Tower, senior figures in the fire safety sector began revealing a number of uncomfortable truths: they knew plastic insulation was storing up problems; they had suspected a disaster would happen; and many of them had been telling the Government for years that the building regulation and control system was not fit for purpose.
And some went further; claiming that elements of the plastics industry were not only helping to write the rules that require more insulation to be fitted to buildings, but were also trying to silence people who questioned whether plastic insulation was safe.

Time after time we were told the plastic insulation industry was highly litigious, that speaking out about its fire safety was impossible, and that while the story should be told, no-one would go on camera. Eventually we found a former government scientist who agreed to talk, on condition of anonymity, about the pressures he faced. He said threats to sue him had made him unwell.

"If you've got no [legal] insurance you lose your house," he said. "It was a worrying time and they were quite famous for it - people knew this was the way they reacted." He says he doesn't think the work he did was influenced by the threats, but they had an effect: "I think perhaps more than anything else other people were silenced - by saying 'Oh, you'd better not say anything about that, look what happened to him'," he told us.
We have identified several other similar cases. Among them Rockwool, the main producer of the non-combustible mineral-based alternative to plastic insulation. Rockwool sent out videos in 2007 showing how their product doesn't burn and how plastic insulation does. They were sued for trademark violation and malicious falsehood. Despite the falsehood claim being thrown out the legal action tied up Rockwool for years and cost them millions of pounds.
In 2013 an insurance firm set fire to plastic insulation panels to demonstrate that they burned more fiercely in real life us than they did in official tests and posted the video on YouTube. It might explain, they suggested, why hundreds of millions of pounds of fire damage had been caused in a spate of factory fires. They were immediately threatened with legal action and had to remove all references that could have identified the manufacturer.

And the week after the Grenfell Tower fire, six European plastic industry lobby groups complained in a letter to the respected publishers of a peer-reviewed paper on the dangers of toxic smoke from burning plastic insulation written by chemistry and fire safety expert Professor Anna Stec at the University of Central Lancashire. "We request that the article is withdrawn," it said. "The consequences […] are enormous and could well lead to significant consequential losses." It ended: "We feel you should consider this very seriously."

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?

Tesla’s Newest Promises Break the Laws of Batteries

Elon Musk touted ranges and charging times that don’t compute with the current physics and economics of batteries.
By Tom Randall and John Lippert
November 24, 2017, 10:00 AM GMT

Elon Musk knows how to make promises. Even by his own standards, the promises made last week while introducing two new Tesla vehicles—the heavy-duty Semi Truck and the speedy Roadster—are monuments of envelope pushing. To deliver, according to close observers of battery technology, Tesla would have to far exceed what is currently thought possible.

Take the Tesla Semi: Musk vowed it would haul an unprecedented 80,000 pounds for 500 miles on a single charge, then recharge 400 miles of range in 30 minutes. That would require, based on Bloomberg estimates, a charging system that's 10 times more powerful than one of the fastest battery-charging networks on the road today—Tesla’s own Superchargers. 

The diminutive Tesla Roadster is promised to be the quickest production car ever built. But that achievement would mean squeezing into its tiny frame a battery twice as powerful as the largest battery currently available in an electric car. 

These claims are so far beyond current industry standards for electric vehicles that they would require either advances in battery technology or a new understanding of how batteries are put to use, said Sam Jaffe, battery analyst for Cairn Energy Research in Boulder, Colorado. In some cases, experts suspect Tesla might be banking on technological improvements between now and the time when new vehicles are actually ready for delivery.

“I don't think they're lying,” Jaffe said. “I just think they left something out of the public reveal that would have explained how these numbers work.”

Here are four of Tesla's most provocative battery claims—and an attempt to puzzle out how they might be achieved.
----Tesla is making its trucks more efficient by reducing wind drag to levels that are comparable to those of sports cars. But even if Tesla achieves record-breaking efficiency for the truck, it would still require a battery capacity somewhere from 600 kilowatt hours to 1,000 kilowatt hours to deliver on Musk’s claims, according to estimates from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Split the difference, at 800 kWh, and it would mean a battery that weighs more than 10,000 pounds and costs more than $100,000—even before you build the truck around it. Tesla has priced the truck with 500-mile range at $180,000, less than the estimated prices of seven analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, and says fuel savings will result in a two-year payback when compared to diesel. 

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished October

DJIA: 23,277 +233 Up. NASDAQ:  6,728 +284 Up. SP500: 2,575 +183 Up.