Saturday, 30 May 2020

Special Update 30/05/2020 Hong Kong Nuked. Covid-19 A Cat.2 Storm.

Baltic Dry Index. 504 +15  Brent Crude 35.33
Spot Gold 1730

Covid-19 cases 23/05/20 World 5,306,235
Deaths 340,047

Covid-19 cases 30/05/20 World 6,041,611
Deaths 369,766

This is the way things are, and the Game has been so successful that, like everything, it will get more and more successful until it stops being successful.

George Goodman, aka Adam Smith, The Money Game. 1968.

Hong Kong nuked? Well not exactly. Merely threatened to be nuked. President Trump yesterday left out the gory details of when and exactly how. Our stock casinos took that as a plus. Such is the ever more bizarre financialized global economy we’re forced to live in.

Of course, it’s hard to see how President Trump can U-turn on yesterday’s rhetoric, so I suppose stocks only got a dress up the month-end reprieve.

The big question is, after the nuking, where will the fallout lie? In China, Asia, America or Europe? All four?

The global economy needs this like a second round of Covid-19 shutdowns.

Below, as America seems headed into a 60s like summer of riots, President Trump prepares to nuke Hong Kong.

Hong Kong leaders say Trump 'completely wrong' for curbing ties

May 30, 2020 / 2:05 AM
HONG KONG (Reuters) - Senior Hong Kong government officials lashed out on Saturday at moves by U.S. President Donald Trump to strip the city of its special status in a bid to punish China for imposing national security laws on the global financial hub.

Speaking hours after Trump said the city no longer warranted economic privileges and some officials could face sanctions, security minister John Lee told reporters that Hong Kong’s government could not be threatened and would push ahead with the new laws.

“I don’t think they will succeed in using any means to threaten the (Hong Kong) government, because we believe what we are doing is right,” Lee said.

Justice minister Teresa Cheng said the basis for Trump’s actions was “completely false and wrong”, saying the need for national security laws were legal and necessary.

In some of his toughest rhetoric yet, Trump said Beijing had broken its word over Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy from Beijing, by proposing the national security legislation and that the territory no longer warranted U.S. economic privileges.

“We will take action to revoke Hong Kong’s preferential treatment as a separate customs and travel territory from the rest of China,” Trump said, adding that Washington would also impose sanctions on individuals seen as responsible for “smothering - absolutely smothering - Hong Kong’s freedom.”

Trump told reporters at the White House that China’s move on Hong Kong was a tragedy for the world, but he gave no timetable for the moves, leaving Hong Kong residents, businesses and officials to ponder just how far his administration will go.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong said Saturday marked “a sad day” for China’s freest city.

“This is an emotional moment for Americans in Hong Kong and it will take companies and families a while to digest the ramifications,” AmCham President Tara Joseph said in a statement.

“Many of us ... have deep ties to this city and with Hong Kong people. We love Hong Kong and it’s a sad day,” she said, adding the chamber would continue to work with its members to maintain Hong Kong’s status as a vital business centre.

(For an explainer on how important Hong Kong is to China as a free finance hub, please click.)

---- Trump did not name any sanctions targets but said the announcement would “affect the full range of agreements we have with Hong Kong”, including the U.S.-Hong Kong extradition treaty to export controls on dual-use technologies and more “with few exceptions”.

China’s Global Times, published by the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party, said Trump’s decision was a “recklessly arbitrary” step.

Will companies flee Hong Kong? New law could imperil business in one of world’s biggest financial hubs

Published: May 28, 2020 at 11:24 p.m. ET
HONG KONG — A national security law proposed by China could imperil Hong Kong’s status as one of the world’s best places to do business.

The law, approved Thursday in Beijing, led Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to say Washington will no longer treat Hong Kong, already reeling from anti-government protests and the pandemic, as autonomous from Beijing.

The Chinese government has not given details of the law, which is aimed at suppressing secessionist and subversive activity in the former British colony.

After 11 months of protests, Chinese leaders say it’s needed to combat unspecified threats in the semi-autonomous region of 7 million people. But business groups, lawyers and financial analysts say potential repercussions range from loss of business for Hong Kong’s financial markets and law firms to a loss of professional talent in the city.

Hong Kong is highly regarded for its skilled workforce, business-friendly legal system, Western-style free speech and ease of movement. But global companies already were shifting some operations out of Hong Kong due to rising costs and uncertainty after prolonged, sometimes violent clashes between police and pro-democracy protesters.

Scott Salandy-Defour, founder of clean-tech startup Liquidstar, has been considering moving out of Hong Kong, and the security bill is the “last straw,” he said. “I don’t see how it gets any better from here.”

“When we say we’re a Hong Kong-based company when talking to investors, it’s just not as attractive as it was as a year ago,” said Salandy-Defour, whose company provides sustainable battery rental and charging services for developing countries.

“We’re potentially cutting ourselves off from a lot of different funding avenues, like grants from the U.S. government,” he said.

Trade-war collateral damage: destruction of $1.7 trillion in U.S. companies’ market value

Published: May 30, 2020 at 12:51 a.m. ET
How do you make $1.7 trillion disappear? A trade war is one way, a new report has found.

A study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York adds to previous findings that, despite pronouncements from the White House, Americans are paying — and paying stiffly — for the U.S.-China trade war.

The billions in tariffs hurled back and forth between Washington and Beijing have reduced the market value of U.S.-listed companies by $1.7 trillion during the course of the 2-year-old tax offensive. The conflict will continue to weaken the investment growth rate for these businesses up to two percentage points by year’s end, the study said.

The trade war is causing financial loss for several reasons, from the inefficient pricing that taxes can create, to supply disruptions, to companies’ pricey adaptations to the levies, among others. But this particular cause of losses is largely sentiment-based.

From the MarketWatch archives (December 2019):Fed study finds Trump tariffs backfired

The authors found that U.S. and Chinese trade-war policy announcements — usually via press conferences or policy statements — provoked sharp market-price declines, lowering returns on capital and investment rates.

The study model found that policy announcements lowered U.S. equity prices in a 3,000-company sample group by a total of six percentage points. Those outfits together command a $28 trillion market capitalization, so the six-percentage-point fall wiped away $1.7 trillion.

That’s a vanishing of value equivalent to the national GDPs of Russia, Canada or South Korea.

Several findings surprised economists. One was the sustained hit that stocks took from 11 specific policy announcements over the two years. But whether it was Washington, Beijing or even a third-party country announcing its often pugnacious trade intent, U.S. businesses “bore virtually all of the costs,” the report said.

Perhaps the most striking finding was the protracted nature of the damage — on market players accustomed to volatility often measured in hours or days or a presidential tweet’s fleeting life span.

“Reductions in share prices due to trade war announcements significantly lower firm-level investment rates four quarters later,” the report found. “Most of the 2019 effect is driven by the impact of tariffs on U.S. firms doing business with China, but the 2020 effects are driven more by the fact that tariff announcements drove down returns of firms regardless of their exposure to China.”

Next, the really bad news, the present coronavirus crisis is only a level 2 or possibly 3 crisis. The big one is still out there possibly lurking in a massive chicken farm near you. Still, I’ll take Dr. Greger’s warning with a pinch of salt on my breakfast bacon.

The apocalyptic virus that would make COVID-19 seem irrelevant: Leading scientist warns of the danger of a pandemic triggered by chicken farms that could kill half the world's population

Just when we seem to be easing out of the crisis, just as the death toll slows and new hospital admissions for coronavirus head towards zero, just as we begin to allow ourselves the first tentative sigh of relief, along comes a new book by an American doctor to tell us: this, folks, is just the dress rehearsal.

The real show, the plague in which half of us may well die, is yet to come.

And, if we don’t change our ways, it could be just around the corner. What we are experiencing now may feel bad enough but is, apparently, small beer.

In the ‘hurricane scale’ of epidemics, Covid- 19, with a death rate of around half of one per cent, rates a measly Category Two, possible a Three — a big blow but not catastrophic.

The Big One, the typhoon to end all typhoons, will be 100 times worse when it comes, a Category Five producing a fatality rate of one in two — a coin flip between life and death — as it gouges its way through the earth’s population of nearly eight billion people. Civilisation as we know it would cease.

What’s more, he adds ominously, ‘with pandemics explosively spreading a virus from human to human, it’s never a matter of if, but when’. 

This apocalyptic warning comes from Dr Michael Greger, a scientist, medical guru and campaigning nutritionist who has long advocated the overwhelming benefits of a plant-based diet. He’s a self-confessed sweet potatoes, kale and lentils man. Meat, in all its forms, is his bete noire.

He has also done a lot of research into infectious diseases — the 3,600 footnotes and references in his mammoth 500-page book bear witness to that. 

Finally, when the fiat money economy fails. People make more money being paid not to work. How long can that last? People were paid recently to take crude oil. How long can that last? People are paying governments to borrow money at negative interest rates. How long can that last?

In just 10 weeks nearly 41 million Americans have filed for unemployment relief. Does this sound like a fiat economy system that’s working, or a Great Nixonian Error of fiat money, communist money, entering its death throes?

The extra $600 Americans receive in weekly unemployment benefits ends in July — how that could cost the U.S. more jobs

Subsidies will soon end. Americans will then feel the economic pain—and revolt.

By Josh Holmes May 28, 2020 7:00 pm

The political press is preoccupied with the electoral implications of the virus crisis, and pundits insist the 2020 election will be about the Trump daily soap opera. But an emerging cultural and economic time bomb is about to explode. There has never been a wider gap between average Americans’ perception of their own economic situation and the reality of it. America could soon have its most combustible political environment in recent history.

Something that should alarm everyone: Neither the stock market nor the political preferences of those who have been hit hardest by this Covid-induced economic crisis have fundamentally changed since the crisis began. The American economy has shed more than 30 million jobs in the past eight weeks, and poll numbers haven’t moved an inch. According to Gallup, President Trump’s approval rating was 49% on Feb. 16, with 48% disapproving. Three months and the largest job loss in American history later, those numbers are exactly the same: 49% to 48%.

How is that possible? Is the political climate so partisan that the loss of your livelihood can’t change your political perspective? To some extent that could be true. But most of America is living in an illusion that masks the inevitable pain of this pandemic.

----Much of economically vulnerable America has been insulated from economic reality. A recent Washington Post poll shows that 77% of those who lost their jobs believe they will be heading back to the same jobs following the health crisis. Pew Research reports that 68% of Americans who lost their jobs are concerned about reopening the economy too early, rather than too late.

In short, if your family hasn’t lost a loved one to Covid-19, your bank account probably looks basically the same, and you believe your job is awaiting your return, the past 10 weeks have been an extended inconvenience. Your political views are still informed by the same economic inputs that formed them in February.

That won’t hold for long. The direct payments won’t go on forever. The jobs may not come back soon. Businesses aren’t guaranteed to reopen, and the political bubble formed by this alternate reality could portend large political realignments.

Marxist Economic Policy—as in Groucho

The unemployment bonus is straight out of ‘Animal Crackers.’

By Gregg Opelka May 27, 2020 6:25 pm ET

We’re all Marxists now. Not Karl, Groucho. There’s a famous sketch in “Animal Crackers” (1930) in which Groucho (as Captain Spaulding) quizzes Chico (Signor Emanuel Ravelli) on how much money the band gets paid. “What do you fellas get an hour?” Groucho asks. “For playing we get $10 an hour,” Chico replies.

Groucho presses: “I see. What do you get for not playing?” “For not playing we get $12 an hour. . . . Now for rehearsing, we make special rate. That’s $15 an hour.” Groucho: “That’s for rehearsing? And what do you get for not rehearsing?” Chico: “You couldn’t afford it. You see, if we don’t rehearse, we don’t play. And if we don’t play, that runs into money.”

----I have a musician friend, Jim. He plays the bass. Jim is a talented man, and his gigging takes many forms—studio recording as well as live performance. As has happened to so many, his entire livelihood dried up overnight in mid-March. After filing for unemployment relief, he was grateful to receive the bulk of his lost weekly income but equally surprised by the unexpected $600-a-week bonus.

Without auditioning for it, Jim has become an unofficial member of Signor Ravelli’s Animal Crackers orchestra. He recently complained, only half ironically, that he doesn’t know how he’ll make ends meet once he can work again. Suddenly, he’s singing the economic equivalent of St. Augustine’s famous prayer for redemption: “Please let me work again, Lord—just not yet.”

In the 1980s economist Arthur Laffer popularized the notion of an ideal, lower tax rate. If you tax something too much, the Laffer curve posits, you get less of it. In the government’s recent fiscal and monetary response to the pandemic, we have the inverse corollary, the Sloth curve. If you create incentives for unemployment, you get more of it.

If politicians continue to dole out largess at the current rate, my friend Jim will have his best year in a long time and, like Signor Ravelli’s band, he’ll have no incentive to go back to playing.

This weekend’s  musical diversion. This weekend something different. A visit to my past in New York City. By accident researching something else I ran into a band I used to listen too in the late 70s early 80s, playing a rundown burger and steak bar, with a rear dining area hosting a small stage.
A few of us commodities traders living near 3rd Avenue and 88th Street, would dine and drink at the Red Blazer Too on Tuesdays, as the 11 piece jazz band below squeezed onto the stage and electrified Tuesday nights. 

I seem to remember them as all having hair, though, dark hair too. Visiting clients from London, Frankfurt and Geneva loved it too. A cheap way of entertaining them too for me, which was great. Even better, I could walk there from my 38th floor walk up on E87th between Lex and Park.

"Sugar Foot Stomp" ~ Two versions, 1925 & 1930's ~ Vince Giordano's Nighthawks @ Decatur, Illinois

"Putt'in On The Ritz" - Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks

Vince Giordano - There's a Future in the Past - Trailer MANIFF2016

“Beyond this, the problem is universal. It is that governments are now held responsible for the welfare of the people. The aspirations of the people can outrun their ability to pay for them, and nobody has yet found a way to create answers to the aspirations out of thin air.”

George Goodman, aka Adam Smith, The Money Game. 1968.

[Until now with the Magic Money Tree.]

The Monthly Coppock Indicators finished May.

DJIA: 25,383 +12 Down. NASDAQ: 9,490 +178 Up. SP500: 3,044 +83 Down.

The NASDAQ has rebounded to up. The S&P and the DJIA remain down. But the game is now totally rigged by the Fed.

Friday, 29 May 2020

Reality v The Stock Casinos, Banksters.

Baltic Dry Index. 489 -13   Brent Crude 35.08
Spot Gold 1720

Coronavirus Cases 29/5/20 World 5,939,401
Deaths 369,857

Reality is a question of perspective; the further you get from the past, the more concrete and plausible it seems — but as you approach the present, it inevitably seems incredible.

Salman Rushdie

It’s Friday, and the end of the month occasion to dress up the stock casinos closing indexes to delay hedge and mutual fund redemptions, and boost performance bonus payments to the very few professional investment money managers that haven’t just been bailed out by the central banksters.

Today we take a sober look at the global reality outside of the gilded cage of the central bankster bailout club.

40.8 Million Out Of Work In The Past 10 Weeks — 26% Of Labor Force

Avie Schneider
More than 1 in 4 U.S. workers have lost their jobs since the coronavirus crisis shut down much of the economy in March.

Just last week, another 2.1 million people filed for unemployment benefits, the Labor Department said Thursday. That's down 323,000 from the previous week but brings the total for the past 10 weeks to 40.8 million, which represents 26% of the civilian labor force in April.

Employment dropped steeply in most areas of the country in recent weeks, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday. A Fed survey found that "employment continued to fall sharply in retail and in leisure and hospitality sectors."

"Contacts cited challenges in bringing employees back to work, including workers' health concerns, limited access to childcare, and generous unemployment insurance benefits," the Fed said in its Beige Book survey.

Signs of an ailing job market are everywhere:
  • Boeing is cutting more than 12,000 jobs after the sudden drop in air travel hit the airplane manufacturing giant hard.
  • A number of major retailers, including J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus and J. Crew, have filed for bankruptcy.
  • With tax revenues dwindling, cities large and small are facing deep budget deficits, forcing them to furlough municipal workers. Nearly 1 million government workers were laid off in April alone. 
But some workers around the country are also beginning to return to their jobs as many states move to reopen their economies. Disney World and other Florida theme parks have announced plans to reopen in the next few weeks. In California, stores ordered closed since March 19 have been cleared to reopen under guidelines that recommend employee screenings, face coverings and social distancing.

And Amazon announced Thursday that it's offering full-time jobs to 125,000 of the 175,000 temporary employees it hired during the pandemic.

Retail Announces 114,327, Most on Record, as Retailers Close More Stores, File Bankruptcy

Retailer Pier 1 Imports announced it would close all remaining 540 stores and try to find a buyer for its online business. It follows bankruptcy announcements from JC Penney, J. Crew, and Neiman Marcus.

"Retail has been undergoing technological updates, shifting consumer behavior and low foot traffic over the last three years that has led to mass closures of brick-and-mortar establishments and job cuts," said Andrew Challenger, SVP of global outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

"The current COVID crisis is exacerbating Retail woes. Companies that did not have a robust online offering are being hit particularly hard," he added.

In fact, according to an analysis from Business Insider, 9,300 stores closed in 2019, breaking the record of 8,000 store closures in 2018. According to Coresight Research, another 15,000 stores could close in 2020.

Meanwhile, Retailers have announced 114,327 job cuts through April in 2020, not only the highest January-April total, but also the highest annual total on record. It shatters the previous high of 100,518 cuts announced by Retailers in all of 2003.

"While the Entertainment/Leisure sector leads all job cut announcements this year, Retailers come in second and have led job cut announcements in all industries since 2017," said Challenger.

Retailers have already announced 47% more job cuts than in all of 2019 when 77,475 were announced. In 2018, Retailers announced 98,563 job cuts, then the highest annual total since 2009 when 98,807 Retail job cuts were announced.


Fashion Stockrooms Are Bursting at the Seams

Unsold merchandise has piled up at clothing retailers during lockdowns. That is bad news for profit margins but great for shoppers.

By May 28, 2020 5:50 am ET
With fashion retailers sitting on a glut of unsold clothing, shoppers can expect serious bargains once shops reopen. The hit to profit margins could be dire.

Merchandise has piled up at stores since they were closed by lockdown measures. For all U.S. retailers, the inventory-to-sales ratio—a measure of how much stock they hold relative to monthly sales—hit an almost 11-year high of 1.53 in March, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. April data, due to be released in a few weeks, will likely show another jump.

Clothing retail’s dependence on fast-changing seasons and fashion trends makes it particularly exposed to the problems caused by high inventory levels. Swedish chain H&M Hennes & Mauritz reported a 10% jump in stock-in-trade for the end of April compared with two months earlier.

Weak online demand means retailers haven’t been able to shift as much merchandise as they would like via home deliveries. At Zalando, one of Europe’s biggest fashion e-commerce players, garments now spend a median of five weeks on the site before being sold, up from two weeks in the fourth quarter of last year, according to research by UBS analyst Olivia Townsend.

Retailers have taken some action to tackle the stock overhang, but the effects will be limited. The average fashion chain can cancel less than one-fifth of orders placed with suppliers, according to supply-chain experts. Since many large retailers source garments from Asia up to six months in advance, most of their inventory for the spring and summer was already in warehouses or in transit when stores closed.

And while some stock can be carried over to next year to increase the chance of selling it at full price, few brands are in a position to tie up precious cash in working capital for months on end. One of Britain’s biggest fashion retailers, Next PLC, has said it would carry over just 15% of its collection.

Pandemic hit to Japan's factory, retail sectors deeper than expected; jobless rate up to 2.6%

Japan's April factory output fell at a much faster-than-expected pace and retail sales tumbled the most in more than two decades as a coronavirus-triggered state of emergency dealt a heavy blow to the economy.

Global activity ground to a halt in April as government-imposed lockdowns due to the pandemic disrupted supply chains and led consumers to postpone many purchases, putting a damper on the outlook for the world's third-largest economy.

Official data on Friday showed factory output slipped 9.1% in April from the previous month, the biggest drop since comparable data became available in 2013 as automakers and iron and steel manufacturers suffered sharp output declines due to weak global demand.

That was a much larger decline than the 5.1% drop in a Reuters forecast.

Separate data showed retail sales tumbled at their fastest pace since March 1998 as the nationwide state of emergency led service-sector businesses such as restaurants to close and encouraged consumers to stay home.

Retail sales plunged 13.7% in April from a year earlier, heavily weighed by slumping demand for general merchandise and clothing as well as motor vehicles.

The gloomy data comes after Japan's export-reliant economy fell into recession for the first time in 4-1/2 years in the first quarter.

The government this week lifted the state of emergency and approved a second 117 trillion yen ($1.1 trillion) stimulus package, bringing the total pledged to save the economy from the pandemic to $2.2 trillion, or about 40% of gross domestic product (GDP).

Japan was already trying to shake off weak demand before the outbreak after the government raised the nationwide sales tax to repair its public debt burden, which is more than twice the size of GDP.
Other government data on Friday further highlighted the widening hit to the jobs market from the outbreak.

The April jobless rate rose to 2.6%, its highest since December 2017, while the number of non-regular workers posted the biggest year-on-year drop on record.

Job availability slipped to 1.32, its lowest since March 2016.

The factory output data showed manufacturers surveyed by the government expect output to fall another 4.1% in May, followed by a 3.9% rise in June.

Japanese automakers' April sales more than halved

May 28, 2020 / 10:47 AM
(Reuters) - Global auto sales for Japanese carmakers more than halved in April as the coronavirus pandemic forced governments to impose lockdowns that left streets empty and showrooms deserted.
Japan’s top eight automakers together posted a decline of 54.4% in April sales, according to a Reuters calculation.

Toyota Motor’s (7203.T) worldwide sales including units Daihatsu and Hino (7205.T) fell 45% to 472,703 vehicles - the fourth straight month of declines. Toyota’s performance was dragged down by a 51% slump in sales outside Japan. 

Japan’s largest automaker this month said it expected profit this year to drop by 80% to its lowest in nine years, underscoring the challenge that even the most profitable carmakers are having to contend with during the pandemic.

Auto sales have slumped all around the world, including the two biggest markets, China and the United States.

While China reported an upturn in April auto sales from a year earlier by virtue of pent up demand after weeks of lockdown, annual sales could still fall by 15-25%.

Auto retail sales in the United States are likely to have halved in April, according to analytics firm J.D. Power. However, sales in May are expected to improve as most carmakers offer attractive incentives to boost demand as lockdowns ease.

Honda Motor’s (7267.T) global April sales fell 43% and Nissan Motor (7201.T) sold nearly 42% fewer cars than the same month last year.

Nissan on Thursday posted its first annual loss in 11 years and unveiled a plan to become a smaller, more cost-efficient automaker.

German economy likely to shrink 6.6% this year due to coronavirus: Ifo

May 28, 2020 / 7:12 AM
BERLIN (Reuters) - The German economy is likely to shrink by 6.6% this year as a consequence of the coronavirus crisis before growing by 10.2% in 2021, the Ifo Institute said on Thursday in its latest update.

On average, businesses expected operations to return to normal in nine months after severe lockdowns in the second quarter, Ifo said. Under this scenario, the economy would shrink 12.4% in the second quarter of this year. 

A slew of recent surveys suggests Europe’s largest economy is slowly recovering after economic life was frozen in late March to contain the coronavirus pandemic, but the latest data underlines the unprecedented impact.

Under a worst-case scenario in which a return to normal took 16 months, the economy would shrink 9.3% this year and grow 9.5% the next. The most benign scenario had companies recovering in five months, with the economy shrinking by just 3.9% and growing 7.4% next year.

All three scenarios, based on business sentiment as well as production, turnover and foreign trade data, assumed a gradual relaxation of restrictions from the end of April.

Some businesses were braced for a longer, more painful recovery, however: in particular the aviation sector expected normalisation to take 16 months. The travel, hospitality and carmaking sectors also expected lengthier recovery periods.

Berlin Tegel Airport to close as passenger numbers plummet

Berlin's busiest airport looks set to close on June 15 for at least two months, and perhaps for good if a long-stalled new airport ever actually opens. The measure aims to save money amid ongoing travel bans.
28 May 2020

Berlin's Tegel Airport is likely temporarily close from June 15 to save costs amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, after shareholders agreed to this measure on Wednesday.

The federal government and the states of Berlin and Brandenburg agreed in principled to the decision during a video conference with shareholders. Airport operator FBB would close Tegel for around two months, aiming to save around €200,000 ($220,000) a day.

"In the next few months we will see if the capital region needs one or two airports," FBB chief Lütke Dalrup told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur. "Now it is about taking the next steps responsibly. Our next job is to ensure the recovery of the air industry and not hinder it."

All traffic would be handled by Berlin Schönefeld airport, which operates mainly budget airlines like easyJet and Ryanair.

Tegel and Schönefeld have seen only around 2,000 passengers per day in recent weeks.

Despite being earmarked for closure for years now, amid faltering plans to open a larger replacement hub for the capital, Berlin Tegel remains Berlin's busiest airport. At least 24 million people flew via Tegel in 2019, making it Germany's fourth busiest airport.

Tegel was once set to close for good in June 2012, ceasing operations after the newly constructed Berlin Brandenburg airport (BER) was scheduled to open in 2011. But the BER airport is still unfinished after repeated delays, attributed to everything from design flaws to corruption scandals.

The FBB announced last year that Berlin Brandenburg would begin operations in October of this year. The coronavirus pandemic has cast further doubt onto an opening date that was elevated to the status of a running joke in Berlin years ago — but the FBB remains optimistic it can open on schedule.

It's no longer entirely clear if Tegel will close completely if and when Berlin Brandenburg airport is ever operational: a public referendum in 2017 called for Tegel to remain in operation regardless.

French jobless total surged 22.6% in April to record high

May 28, 2020 / 11:09 AM
PARIS (Reuters) - The number of people in France looking for jobs surged in April by 22.6% to a record high as a nationwide coronavirus lockdown shut down swathes of the economy, Labour Ministry data showed on Thursday.

The number of people registered as seeking work jumped by 843,000 from March to 4,575,500, the highest since records began in 1996, the Labour Ministry said. 

The ministry said that the surge was due to a nearly 35% drop in the number of people getting new jobs while the number of people of joining the tally fell 19%.

The data do not include people who have been put on state-subsided furloughs during the crisis, which the ministry said on Wednesday numbered nearly 13 million.

France’s government put the country under one of the most strict lockdowns in Europe in mid March and the country is only gradually emerging after most restrictions were lifted on May 11.

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.

Albert Einstein

Covid-19 Corner                       

Though hopefully, we are passing/have passed the peak of new cases, at least of the first SARS-CoV-2 outbreak, this section will continue until it becomes unneeded.

South Korea re-imposes some coronavirus restrictions after spike in new cases

Museums, parks, and art galleries will all be closed again from Friday for two weeks, with authorities struggling to identify transmission routes
Thu 28 May 2020

South Korea has reimplemented strict lockdown measures in the capital Seoul following the biggest spike of new coronavirus infections in nearly two months.

Museums, parks, and art galleries will all be closed again from Friday for two weeks, health minister Park Neung-hoo said. Companies are being urged to reintroduce flexible working hours among other measures.

The move follows the biggest daily increase in coronavirus cases in 53 days, in a country that appeared to have brought the outbreak under control. The new lockdown will take effect in the capital’s metropolitan area, which is home to half of South Korea’s 51 million people. It will remain in place until June 14.

Residents of Seoul have also been advised to avoid social gatherings or going to crowded places, including restaurants and bars. Religious facilities have been asked to be extra vigilant with quarantine measures.

First results from human COVID-19 immunology study reveal universally effective antibodies

by Rockefeller University  May 26, 2020

Antibodies vary widely in their efficacy. While many may latch on to the virus, only some are truly "neutralizing," meaning that they actually block the virus from entering the cells.

Since April 1, a team of immunologists, medical scientists, and virologists, has been collecting blood samples from volunteers who have recovered from COVID-19. The majority of the samples they have studied showed poor to modest "neutralizing activity," indicating a weak antibody response. 
However, a closer look revealed everyone's immune system is capable of generating effective antibodies—just not necessarily enough of them. Even when neutralizing antibodies were not present in an individual's serum in large quantities, researchers could find some rare immune cells that make them.

"This suggests just about everybody can do this, which is very good news for vaccines," says Michel C. Nussenzweig, head of the Laboratory of Molecular Immunology at Rockefeller. "It means if you were able to create a vaccine that elicits these particular antibodies, then the vaccine is likely to be effective and work for a lot of people."

Moreover, the researchers identified three distinct antibodies that were shown to be the most potent of the bunch in neutralizing the virus. They are working to develop them further into therapeutic and preventive drugs.

The findings are shared on BioRxiv ahead of submission to peer-reviewed scientific journals. Nussenzweig's collaborators include, Davide F. Robbiani, Marina Caskey, Paul Bieniasz, Theodora Hatziioannou, and Charles M. Rice.

Immunity to coronaviruses: What do we know so far?

Date: May 21, 2020

Source: Microbiology Society

Summary: A new article discusses the existing knowledge about immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses, and how this could be used to inform virus control strategies. 

A new review discusses the findings from over 40 studies on coronavirus immunity and what they could mean for the Covid-19 pandemic.

Written by top UK virologists, the article discusses the existing knowledge about immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses, and how this could be used to inform virus control strategies. The review, which is free to read in the Journal of General Virology (JGV), collates the available scientific evidence in a number of key areas, including how long immunity to coronaviruses lasts and the prospect of antibody testing.

In the review, Professors Paul Kellam and Wendy Barclay from Imperial College London examine what is so far known about immunity to coronaviruses including SARS, MERS and the four strains of seasonal coronaviruses that circulate in humans every winter. The article goes on to suggest that SARS-CoV-2 could become the fifth seasonal coronavirus with epidemics of the virus occurring over the next several years.

"SARS-CoV-2 is a new virus in humans and because of this we are having to learn quickly many of its basic properties. In the absence of such data right now, we can try to make predictions about the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 by re-examining what we know about the two epidemic coronavirus of humans, SARS and MERS and the four seasonal human coronavirus. We need to be cautious about inferring too much, but it is a good place to start.'

"We do not really know what happens on the pathway of a new coronavirus in humans becoming an endemic seasonal infection, but it could be that when the four seasonal coronavirus first jumped from animals into humans they were much like SARS-CoV-2 in their transmission and pathogenesis. Over time as population immunity to the seasonal coronavirus became widespread, the amount of severe disease probably declines. However, seasonal coronavirus can still cause pneumonia in some people," said Professor Kellam.

A number of factors, including severity of disease influence how long antibody protection against both SARS and MERS lasts. Studies have shown that antibody protection wanes over time. For seasonal coronaviruses where disease is mild, there have even been reports of reinfection after as little as 80 days. "We need to find out many things about SARS-CoV-2 immunity, such as how good is the immune response and how long does it last. We also need to understand if people with mild or asymptomatic infections develop a strong or weak immune response and what measurable properties of immunity predict protection from infection. When we know more about these things, we will be better able to understand how SARS-CoV-2 infections will continue over time. However, vaccines are not infections, therefore it is likely that some of the vaccines candidates will be better at inducing long lasting immunity and protection from infection," said Professor Kellam.

The authors also discuss the currently available antibody tests for SARS-CoV-2 and explain the differences between these tests, their accuracy and limitations. Knowing the level of immunity to SARS-CoV-2 in the population could be key in controlling the spread of disease and understanding how many people are at risk of infection.

"Understanding immune responses to these viruses is on many people's minds- from the public hearing about vaccines, testing and antibodies, to policy makers, and scientists working on or with an interest in the current pandemic." said Alain Kohl, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of JGV). The Editor-in-Chief Paul Duprex added: "This review gives an up to date, and superbly researched overview of this field. Many people will find areas or topics of interest in this article, that should help them understand the important discussions going on. We are delighted to see it published in the journal."

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.

Surface treatment makes aluminum antiviral and antibacterial

Ben Coxworth  May 27, 2020
If there's one place where you don't want viruses or harmful bacteria to be present, it's in hospitals, where people are already vulnerable. A new process could help, by allowing aluminum surfaces in such buildings to kill the bugs.

Led by Prof. Prasad Yarlagadda, scientists at Australia's Queensland Institute of Technology started by exposing discs of ordinary 6063 aluminum alloy to corrosive sodium hydroxide (aka: lye) for three hours. Doing so altered the metal's smooth surface on a microscopic level, etching a series of ridges into it. The surface also became hydrophilic, meaning that it attracted water.

When viruses and bacteria (such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus) were subsequently placed on the treated aluminum, they were drawn across the tiny ridges. This caused the microbes' outer membranes to sag between the ridges and rupture, killing them. Certain insects' wings neutralize bacteria in the same fashion.

Most of the bacteria were eliminated within three hours of contact, while numbers of common respiratory viruses dropped considerably within two hours. These figures were considerably better than those that were observed for plastic or smooth aluminum surfaces. In fact, even after testing that simulated the wear and tear that might occur in a hospital setting over time, the treated discs remained effective.

The scientists believe that the technology could also be applied to frequently touched surfaces in other busy public settings, such as cruise ships or airports.

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering.

Source: American Chemical Society

Another weekend and with each passing week, fewer shutdown SMEs are likely to reopen, or if they do, reopen at full pre-March 2020 strength.

Today’s lead article puts positive spin on Amazon about to offer permanent jobs to 125,000 recently hired temporary workers. The negative spin, how many of the other 50,000 recent temporary hires are about to be let go?

No matter how the stock casinos spin it, we are not about to return to 2019 anytime soon, if ever, if Covid-19 becomes an annual seasonal flu like event. South Korea’s rebound in new cases is a major cause for concern.

Stay safe and have a great weekend everyone.

Few people have the imagination for reality.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The Monthly Coppock Indicators finished April

DJIA: 24,346 +26 Down. NASDAQ: 8,890 +162 Up. SP500: 2,912 +89 Down.

The NASDAQ has rebounded to up. The S&P and the DJIA remain down.