Friday, 30 April 2021

Dress Up Friday. The Big Government Boom.

 Baltic Dry Index. 3007 +50 Brent Crude 68.21

Spot Gold 1769

Coronavirus Cases 02/04/20 World 1,000,000

Deaths 53,100

Coronavirus Cases 30/04/21 World 151,143,582

Deaths 3,179,495

“A society that puts equality—in the sense of equality of outcome—ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom. The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom, and the force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests.”

Milton Friedman

Another month-end, another day to goose the stock casino indexes higher. 

With trillions more Magic Money Tree money promised by President Biden to flood out of Washington later this year, why not?

Still think the revival of inflation will be temporary?

Asian shares slip but economic optimism keeps world shares near record high

April 30, 2021

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Biden Goes Socialist. Sell Dollars.

 Baltic Dry Index. 2957 +68 Brent Crude 67.42

Spot Gold 1785

Coronavirus Cases 02/04/20 World 1,000,000

Deaths 53,100

Coronavirus Cases 29/04/21 World 150,242,628

Deaths 3,164,170

Alexander Hamilton started the U.S. Treasury with nothing, and that was the closest our country has ever been to being even.

Will Rogers

Well, that didn’t take long. One hundred days roughly. President Biden last night caved in to the Democrat Socialist wing of the Democrat Party and committed US policy to Democrat socialism. Good luck with that!

As usual, all the bribes to proletariat voters are going to be paid for by taxing the rich and corporations.

That it’s never worked out everywhere socialism has been tried doesn’t mean that this time it won’t be different, but that’s not the way to bet.

The rich, thanks to their lawyers and accountants, have an uncanny ability of avoiding the expectation of most taxes, while corporations have the ability and option of just stop making “profits.”  Far more likely, they will just pass on the extra tax hit to consumers and reduce employment and slow wages. 

Not to worry though, President Biden has Fed Chairman Powell fully onside and if necessary [most likely,] any “unexpected” tax shortfalls will simply be monetised.  After all, thanks to the Great Nixonian Error of Fiat Money, communist money, there’s plenty more fiat money in the Magic Money Tree forest.

Below, how US inflation was put on steroids, and the US shinning City on the Hill ordered to be demolished and down to be rebuilt in the boggy socialist plain.

Big Government Is Set for a Rerun With Biden’s Economic Plan

By Christopher Condon and Jennifer Epstein

Updated on 28 April 2021, 19:16 BST·        

Spending, tax plans follow four decades of ‘supply side’ ideas

·         Shift sparks debate over whether economy will surge or suffer

Biden Unveils Massive Family Aid Plan Funded by Taxing Rich

By Nancy Cook and Justin Sink

Updated on 28 April 2021, 11:37 BST

President to propose $1.8 trillion ‘American Families Plan’

·         Education expansions, tax cuts financed by tax

Biden Tax Plan Paves Way for Women to Power Economic Growth

By Reade Pickert and Olivia Rockeman

Child care, universal preschool part of new $1.8 trillion plan

·         Policies could bring women into workforce at cost to taxpayers

Biden’s Plan Would Eliminate Private Equity’s Coveted Tax Break

By Sabrina Willmer and Melissa Karsh

Fund managers should pay ‘ordinary income rates’ like workers

·         Industry successfully blunted past moves; Congress to decide

Fed Upgrades View of Economy While Keeping Rates Near Zero

By Craig Torres and Catarina Saraiva

Updated on 28 April 2021, 20:20 BST

Policy makers signal risks from pandemic have diminished

·         Inflation’s pickup attributed to ‘transitory factors’

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and his colleagues upgraded their assessment of the U.S. economy but said they were not yet ready to consider scaling back pandemic support.

“Amid progress on vaccinations and strong policy support, indicators of economic activity and employment have strengthened,” the Federal Open Market Committee said in a statement Wednesday after holding its key interest rate near zero and maintaining a $120 billion monthly pace of asset purchases.

Marking a clear improvement since Covid-19 took hold more than a year ago, the Fed said that “risks to the economic outlook remain,” softening previous language that referred to the virus posing “considerable risks.”

The statement also noted that sectors hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic had “shown improvement.” And on the risk of prices rising, policy makers said: “Inflation has risen, largely reflecting transitory factors.”

The yield on 10-year Treasuries retreated to be slightly lower on the day as Powell spoke to reporters after briefly touching a fresh session high when the decision was announced and the Bloomberg dollar index slipped to a two-month low. The pricing of Fed policy tightening in the coming years was pared slightly, while the S&P 500 Index reversed an earlier gain to trade little changed. 

Powell and his colleagues met amid growing optimism for the U.S. recovery, helped by widening vaccinations and aggressive monetary and fiscal support. President Joe Biden will unveil a sweeping $1.8 trillion plan to expand educational opportunities and child care when he addresses a joint session of Congress later on Wednesday, while highlighting his $2.25 trillion infrastructure proposal and the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package he signed into law last month. 

At the same time, a rise in coronavirus cases in some regions around the world casts a shadow over global growth prospects, giving policy makers reason to remain patient on withdrawing support. Fed officials have also been largely dismissive of inflation risks for the time being, saying a jump in consumer prices last month was distorted by a pandemic-related decline in prices in March 2020.

Wednesday’s FOMC decision was unanimous.

‘Long Way’ 

Powell told a post-meeting press conference that the recovery has been faster than expected but “it remains uneven and far from complete” and the economy “is a long way from our goals.

U.S. central bankers repeated they would not change the pace of bond buying until “substantial further progress” is made on their employment and inflation goals. The target range of the benchmark federal funds rate was kept at zero to 0.25%, where it’s been since March 2020.

Powell said that it was not yet time to discuss scaling back asset purchases and “it will take some time before we see substantial further progress.”

Economic Growth

Forecasters surveyed by Bloomberg expect the U.S. economy this year to expand at the fastest pace in more than three decades, with the Fed expected to announce in late 2021 that it will start slowing the pace of asset purchases.

U.S. central bankers have backed expansive fiscal policy, noting that millions of Americans are still unemployed and run the risk of remaining jobless for the long-term if they don’t find work soon.

Since their March meeting, officials have seen the S&P 500 stock index continue to rally while yields on the government 10-year note, after a sharp move up in the first quarter, have traded in a range around 1.6%. The labor market in March added the most jobs in seven months as improvements across most industries boosted nonfarm payrolls by 916,000.

Officials have also said policy changes will be based on outcomes, not a forecast meaning a string of powerful monthly labor market gains would be needed to merit “substantial further progress.”

Global Inflation Watch.           

Given our Magic Money Tree central banksters and our spendthrift politicians,  inflation now needs an entire section of its own.

The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn't get worse every time Congress meets.

Will Rogers

Biden’s big bet: He can remake the economy without any negative side effects

Heather Long

President Biden, fresh off a victory on a large stimulus package, is pitching another $4 trillion in spending to make bold investments in the nation’s physical infrastructure and human capital in an effort that he says will spur growth, create a more equitable economy and make the United States more competitive with China — without any negative side effects.

It’s an experiment that hasn’t been tested in the modern U.S. economy. This year and next, forecasters are predicting a burst in hiring and growth that will rapidly heal most financial wounds from the pandemic. But how Biden’s big tax and spending proposals would affect the economic recovery for years to come is much debated.

The latest proposal in Biden’s economic agenda would spend another $1.8 trillion, mostly on education, child care, and family and medical leave programs, but that would be on top of $2.3 trillion in proposed infrastructure investment and the $1.9 trillion that Congress passed in March as an emergency response to the pandemic.

The biggest concern is that the economy will overheat from so much stimulus, triggering rapid price increases that would make it difficult for middle-class families to afford goods and force policymakers to slow growth to contain inflation. Already there are pockets of concern, with used-car prices up nearly 10 percent and meat, including beef and pork chops, up almost 6 percent over the past year.

To pay for this new spending, Biden wants significant tax increases on the wealthy and corporations, but some economists and business leaders warn this has the potential to backfire. Higher taxes can stymie new investment in the private sector, curb enthusiasm for starting new businesses and even push existing U.S. companies to move overseas.

Separately, some economists worry that spending so much to strengthen the government safety net, especially along with increased unemployment aid, has the potential to dissuade some lower-income workers from working, especially those in lower-paying jobs that continue to dominate much of the service sector.

“The philosophy behind the Biden administration is everyone can have more. We can have the cake and eat it, too. There is no price to pay in terms of inflation, higher interest rates or slower growth,” said Sung Won Sohn, a professor of finance and economics at Loyola Marymount University and a former bank executive. “If they are wrong, the price tag will be pretty high.”

The White House argues there is minimal risk of these negative consequences coming to pass and that the benefits for the economy — and people’s well-being — far outweigh any costs. Biden’s team also wants to see tangible improvements in reducing inequality and climate change, not just faster growth. But this debate about how big to go and what the trade-offs are will play out in the coming months, and the arguments will shape the thinking of key Senate votes, such as Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

----So far, the tab to repair damage from the pandemic is nearly $6 trillion, making Republicans and some Democrats queasy about spending another $4 trillion so soon. While the White House proposes raising some taxes to pay for the latest initiatives, there is nothing in the package to address the existing debt, which is already at the highest level since World War II, and widened by the recovery efforts.

“The big sea change is the Democrats have very much let go of the worries about the size of the federal deficit or inflation that’s associated with it,” said Tim Duy, a professor at the University of Oregon and chief U.S. economist at SGH Macro Advisors. “There’s room for Biden to turn this into a 21st-century New Deal. Whether he can follow through on that remains to be seen.”

The American Families Plan that Biden unveiled Wednesday is his most progressive yet in many ways. It would dramatically expand education in the United States, offering two years of free community college and preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds. It would eventually make 12 weeks of paid family leave available to all, along with reducing child-care costs for most and increasing government payments to low- and middle-income families with kids.


The housing boom is ripping apart the financial fabric of Canadian life

The rapid acceleration in housing prices is causing tremendous stress to the personal finances of individual households and the nation as a whole

Rob Carrick

If it’s not vaccinations dominating conversations these days, it’s housing.

The national average selling price for existing homes last month was about 32 per cent higher than in March, 2020, and owners in communities across the country are feeling the benefits. Average prices in Chilliwack, B.C., Bancroft, Ont., and Yarmouth, N.S., were at least $100,000 higher than a year earlier, right in line with big cities such as Vancouver.

By handing owners these lottery-like gains in equity, the housing market has validated the almost religious belief of Canadians that owning a house is the foundation of financial success. But housing is also ripping the financial fabric of life apart in ways people are only just starting to talk about.

Young adults increasingly feel shut out of home ownership in big cities, even as their parents can’t stop talking about how much money they’ve made as owners. An exodus of buyers to smaller communities is pricing out local residents. People who can afford to buy are forced to make rushed, high-stress decisions about the biggest financial transactions in their lives, and then to take on debt loads that could limit their ability to save for retirement and deliver the spending the economy needs to recover from the pandemic. A whole new parental financial burden has been invented: making sure your adult kids get into the housing market.

Rising prices have been eroding affordability for years if you measure the cost of a house in relation to income. Statistics Canada has reported that house prices increased 69.1 per cent between 2007 and 2017, while median income rose by 27.6 per cent. The old guideline about a house costing no more than three or four times your income is junk now. In Vancouver, houses go for almost 12 times household income and the national average is more than seven times income.


Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for.

Will Rogers

Covid-19 Corner                       

This section will continue until it becomes unneeded.

The Latest: Pakistan counts 201 dead in highest 1-day toll

ISLAMABAD — Pakistani authorities on Wednesday reported 201 deaths from coronavirus, the country’s highest single-day toll of the pandemic.

According to National Command and Control Center, 5,292 new cases of infection were reported in the past 24 hours.

Since last year, Pakistan has reported 17,530 deaths from COVID-19 among 810,231 cases.

The current surge has forced the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan to deploy troops to help ensure people follow social distancing rules in cities hard hit by coronavirus cases.

Pakistan is planning a lockdown in the worst-hit cities in the first week of May. Khan has resisted demands for a nationwide lockdown, citing its economic impact, but he has also warned that he will be forced to impose a lockdown if people do not stop violating social distancing rules.

Covid: One dose of vaccine halves transmission - study

28 April, 2021

A single dose of a coronavirus vaccine can reduce household transmission of the virus by up to half, a study shows.

Those given a first dose of either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines - and who became infected three weeks later - were between 38% and 49% less likely to pass the virus on than unvaccinated people, PHE found.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock described the study's results as "terrific news".

He has urged "everybody to get their vaccines as soon as they are eligible".

In the study, protection against Covid was seen from about 14 days after vaccination, with similar levels of protection regardless of age of cases or contacts, PHE said in a statement.

It added that this protection was on top of the reduced risk of a vaccinated person developing symptomatic infection in the first place, which is around 60 to 65% - four weeks after one dose of either vaccine.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at PHE, said: "Vaccines are vital in helping us return to a normal way of life. Not only do vaccines reduce the severity of illness and prevent hundreds of deaths every day, we now see they also have an additional impact on reducing the chance of passing Covid-19 on to others."

But, while she said the findings were "encouraging", she said it was important people continue to act like they have the virus, "practise good hand hygiene and follow social distancing guidance".

Households are high-risk settings for transmission, meaning the study provides early evidence on the impact of vaccines in preventing onward transmission, PHE said.

Similar results could be expected in other settings with similar transmission risks, such as shared accommodation and prisons, it added.

----The study, which has yet to be fully peer-reviewed, included more than 57,000 contacts from 24,000 households in which there was a lab-confirmed coronavirus case that had received a vaccination, compared with nearly one million contacts of unvaccinated cases.


Study: Nerve cells in spinal cord could be path COVID-19 uses to reach brain

April 27, 2021 / 3:07 PM

April 27 (UPI) -- COVID-19 infects both the nerve cells that power the brain and the spinal cord, which protects them, found a study presented Tuesday during the American Physiological Society annual meeting, held online due to the pandemic.

In experiments that exposed various human cells to the coronavirus, the virus attached itself to proteins on the surface of neurons, or nerve cells, which may explain how it appears to easily spread to the brain, the researchers said.

In addition, the virus also linked with proteins on the surface of astrocytes, which are cells in the spinal cord that, among other things, protect neurons from damage.

Both of these findings may provide clues as to how COVID-19 causes significant neurological damage in some patients, according to the researchers.

"While astrocytes display a higher resistance to infection, neurons seem to be more susceptible," study co-author Ricardo Costa said in a statement.

"These observations could explain why while some patients do not have any neurological symptoms, others seem to have severe ones," said Costa, a postdoctoral fellow at Louisiana State University Health in Shreveport.

Up to 10% of those infected with COVID-19 suffer brain damage during the course of their illness, research suggests.

---- As part of their experiments, they exposed samples of astrocytes and neurons to a version of the coronavirus that had been modified so that they could handle it safely, the researchers said.

In the experiments, both astrocytes and neurons expressed the ACE2 receptor and, as a result, both can become infected with the coronavirus, though astrocytes were less likely to become infected, they said.

Astrocytes are responsible for shuttling nutrients from the bloodstream to the neurons while keeping harmful particles out.

If they can resist infection, astrocytes could help keep the coronavirus out of the brain. However, once infected, they could easily pass the virus along to many neurons, the researchers said.

"Our findings suggest that astrocytes are a pathway through which COVID-19 causes neurological damage," Costa said.

"Only [a] few astrocytes getting infected could be sufficient for the infection to quickly spread to neurons and multiply quickly," he said.

Urine test may detect people at risk for severe COVID-19, study finds

April 27, 2021 / 10:34 AM

April 27 (UPI) -- A simple urine test may help predict which people infected with COVID-19 will develop severe illness from the disease, researchers said Tuesday.

Those infected with the coronavirus have higher levels of a specific type of protein associated with inflammation in their urine than those who did not have the virus, the scientists said.

In addition, amounts of these proteins, called cytokines, were higher in patients with pre-existing chronic health conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

People with these health conditions are thought to be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, according to the researchers.

In all cases, cytokine levels declined to normal ranges once the infection resolves.

"We have observed, albeit in a small cohort of patients that we examined, that the urinary cytokine levels increase as the infection progresses, and that they decrease as the infection resolves," study co-author Dragana Komnenov told UPI in an email.

"This suggests that the urinary cytokine signature could potentially have diagnostic and-or prognostic value," said Komnenov, an assistant professor of research at Wayne State University in Detroit.



Next, some vaccine links kindly sent along from a LIR reader in Canada. The links come from a most informative update from Stanford Hospital in California.

World Health Organization - Landscape of COVID-19 candidate vaccines

NY Times Coronavirus Vaccine Tracker

Stanford Website

Regulatory Focus COVID-19 vaccine tracker

Some other useful Covid links.

Johns Hopkins Coronavirus resource centre

Rt Covid-19

Centers for Disease Control Coronavirus

The Spectator Covid-19 data tracker (UK)

Technology Update.

With events happening fast in the development of solar power and graphene, I’ve added this section. Updates as they get reported.

Fully recyclable printed electronics developed

New technique reclaims nearly 100% of all-carbon-based transistors while retaining future functionality of the materials

Date:  April 26, 2021

Source:  Duke University

Summary:  Engineers have developed fully recyclable printed electronics. By demonstrating a crucial and relatively complex computer component -- the transistor -- created with three carbon-based inks, the researchers hope to inspire a new generation of recyclable electronics to help fight the growing global epidemic of electronic waste.

Engineers at Duke University have developed the world's first fully recyclable printed electronics. By demonstrating a crucial and relatively complex computer component -- the transistor -- created with three carbon-based inks, the researchers hope to inspire a new generation of recyclable electronics to help fight the growing global epidemic of electronic waste.

The work appears online April 26 in the journal Nature Electronics.

"Silicon-based computer components are probably never going away, and we don't expect easily recyclable electronics like ours to replace the technology and devices that are already widely used," said Aaron Franklin, the Addy Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Duke. "But we hope that by creating new, fully recyclable, easily printed electronics and showing what they can do, that they might become widely used in future applications."

As people worldwide adopt more electronics into their lives, there's an ever-growing pile of discarded devices that either don't work anymore or have been cast away in favor of a newer model. According to a United Nations estimate, less than a quarter of the millions of pounds of electronics thrown away each year is recycled. And the problem is only going to get worse as the world upgrades to 5G devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to expand.

Part of the problem is that electronic devices are difficult to recycle. Large plants employ hundreds of workers who hack at bulky devices. But while scraps of copper, aluminum and steel can be recycled, the silicon chips at the heart of the devices cannot.

In the new study, Franklin and his laboratory demonstrate a completely recyclable, fully functional transistor made out of three carbon-based inks that can be easily printed onto paper or other flexible, environmentally friendly surfaces. Carbon nanotubes and graphene inks are used for the semiconductors and conductors, respectively. While these materials are not new to the world of printed electronics, Franklin says, the path to recyclability was opened with the development of a wood-derived insulating dielectric ink called nanocellulose.

"Nanocellulose is biodegradable and has been used in applications like packaging for years," said Franklin. "And while people have long known about its potential applications as an insulator in electronics, nobody has figured out how to use it in a printable ink before. That's one of the keys to making these fully recyclable devices functional."


Last year we said, 'Things can't go on like this', and they didn't, they got worse.

Will Rogers