Wednesday 30 June 2021

An EV Future. Food For Thought.

 Baltic Dry Index. 3418 +94   Brent Crude 75.07

Spot Gold 1760

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

Deaths 53,100

Coronavirus Cases 30/06/21 World 182,589,853

Deaths 3,953,901

The chief evil is unlimited government, and nobody is qualified to wield unlimited power.

Friedrich August von Hayek.

It is the end of month, quarter and half year. Time to dress up, even more the stock casino indexes, for all those professional money manager bonuses. 

Of course, no one at the Fed, whose Magic Money Tree policies actually boosted those same stock casino indexes get any bonuses, just a good job on Wall Street when they exit out via the Fed’s revolving door.

Up first, the top?

Asia markets trade higher; data shows Chinese factory activity slowed in June

SINGAPORE — Asian markets were in positive territory on Wednesday, with oil prices continuing to rise. Meanwhile, China released its data on manufacturing activity in the morning.

Mainland Chinese stocks rose in early trade. The Shanghai composite was up 0.19%, while the Shenzhen component was nearly flat.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was subdued, edging down 0.25%.

China’s official manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) grew at a slower clip in June — hit by a resurgence of Covid-19 cases in the major export province of Guangdong that led to port disruptions.

The reading eased to 50.9 in June from 51 in May, according to Reuters. The 50-point mark separates growth from contraction.

“The latest survey readings are consistent with our view that the pace of growth will wane this year now that the economy is already above its pre-virus trend,” Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a note. “Foreign demand for Chinese consumer goods is likely to drop back further over the coming quarters as vaccine rollouts allow global consumption patterns to normalise.”

Japan’s Nikkei 225 was just above the flatline, and the Topix edged up 0.13%.

South Korea’s Kospi was up 0.38%. Tech stocks jumped, with SK Hynix up 2.8% and LG Electronics rising 1.55%.

Over in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 jumped 0.61%. Major mining names were in positive territory, with Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals jumping more than 2%.

Over on Wall Street, stocks were little changed in light trading although the S&P 500 did notch its 4th straight positive session and an all-time high. The Dow rose 9 points, or less than 1%. The S&P 500 ended the day 0.03% higher and the Nasdaq Composite ended the day up 0.2%

Oil prices continue to rise this week after hitting their highest level since 2018 last week.

On Wednesday, international benchmark Brent crude futures edged up 0.42% to $75.20 per barrel, while U.S. crude futures jumped 0.79% to $73.50 per barrel.


In other news, our central banksters are all over the place predicting the future. But will the future be predictable at all as we transform from a planet running on hydrocarbons to a planet running on “green” electricity and “green” hydrogen?

Uneven global recovery creates 'daunting challenges' for policymakers, BIS says

June 29, 2021 1:00 PM  By Marc Jones

LONDON, June 29 (Reuters) - An uneven global recovery from the COVID-19 crisis will make recalibrating the fiscal and monetary stimulus a “daunting” challenge for policymakers, the Bank for International Settlement’s annual report said on Tuesday.

Dubbed the central bank to world’s central banks, the Swiss-based BIS said its main scenario was one of a solid global pick-up, albeit at varying speeds across countries.

The bank set out two alternative scenarios. One where large fiscal stimulus and a drawdown of accumulated savings results in stronger growth but also higher inflation and a substantial tightening in global financial conditions. In the other, growth disappoints as the virus proves harder to control.

“While the recovery is under way and the central scenario is relatively benign, we are not out of the woods yet,” BIS head Agustin Carstens said.

The uneven recovery could leave emerging market countries at the sharp end of any difficulties, especially in the higher inflation scenario, where major central banks like the U.S. Federal Reserve start looking to raise interest rates.

Carstens, who headed Mexico’s central bank before joining the BIS, said it was healthy that some emerging markets were already raising rates in response to rising inflation, but stressed he expected advanced economies to wait.

“It would not be appropriate to tighten monetary policy today just to reduce measured inflation and sacrifice a recovery of the economy,” Carstens told Reuters. “Is that something (major) central banks would want to do today? I don’t think so.”

Instead he predicted more periods of “noisiness” for financial markets after volatility in bond and equity prices between January and March, when vaccination programmes prompted investors to try to pre-empt a tapering of Fed support.


Fed's Kashkari says banks can't expect government to bail them out of every crisis - FT

June 29, 2021 4:49 AM

(Reuters) - Banks cannot expect the government to bail them out of every crisis and must increase their equity funding to protect against the next “unexpected shock,” Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Neel Kashkari wrote in an op-ed for the Financial Times.

Kashkari wrote in the newspaper on Monday that the losses in the banking sector were far smaller than his analysis during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Does their performance during the COVID downturn indicate that large banks are strong enough? No, it does not,” he wrote, adding that the losses in the banking sector were much smaller than expected because governments were aggressive in providing fiscal support for families and businesses affected by the crisis.

While Kashkari said it was right on the part of fiscal authorities to support the economy during the COVID-19 downturn, he added that “this was also a banking bailout.”

“Absent these fiscal interventions, losses in the banking sector would have been much larger,” he wrote in the newspaper.

“The public must decide: should banks be resilient on their own or always dependent upon the generosity of taxpayers?”

Laws and rules passed since the 2007-2009 crisis have forced banks to increase the capital they have on hand against losses, but Kashkari has urged even higher requirements.

In April 2020, Kashkari said that big U.S. banks should raise $200 billion in capital and stop paying dividends to prepare for the deep economic downturn due to the coronavirus. “Banks did not heed my advice”, he wrote.

Top investment strategist David Roche warns the Fed could burst a market ‘bubble’

Published Tue, Jun 29 2021 12:13 AM EDT

As the S&P 500 notches record highs despite the backdrop of potential monetary tightening and the new delta Covid-19 variant, veteran investor David Roche says investors should be wary of the bubble bursting.

The flagship U.S. stock index on Friday chalked up its strongest week since February, despite the rapid spread of the highly contagious new variant and lingering concerns over whether the U.S. Federal Reserve will be forced to scale back its unprecedented stimulus program sooner than planned, with inflation running well above target.

The Fed recently surprised markets with a slightly hawkish pivot, upping its inflation expectations and bringing forward its interest rate hike schedule to indicate two raises in 2023.

Speaking to CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” on Monday, Roche, president of investment firm Independent Strategy, said current valuations were a “bubble.”

“These things always come to an end, and it’s very hard to say what the catalyst that will bring it to an end will be. It could be another Covid variant, at the moment I think that is fairly unlikely,” he said.

“The most likely [catalyst] from my view is that the Fed actually is forced to stop giving a double message and starts having to talk quite seriously about the days of additional monetary stimulus and financing of budget deficits [being] over,” he said.

While some Fed officials have indicated a need to bring forward the conversation about tapering the central bank’s asset purchase program, Chair Jerome Powell moved to soothe the markets by suggesting the projections be taken with a “big grain of salt.”

Roche suggested the spread of the delta variant was unlikely to be the trigger for pent-up consumer savings to be withheld and for markets to pull back.

“With regards fiscal stimulus, the likelihood is that the combination of excess savings in both the housing sector and in the corporate sector, plus the fact that there will be more stimulus coming down the line, will keep people fairly optimistic about growth,” he said.

Along with the unprecedented fiscal stimulus already in place to support the economy through the pandemic, a bipartisan group of lawmakers closed a deal on infrastructure spending on Thursday. The framework will include $579 billion in new spending to improve the country’s roads, bridges and broadband.


Food for thought, if nobody is buying hydrocarbons come 2030 to 2050 what is going to happen to international trade and the dollar reserve standard? 

Everyone needs dollars right now to pay for oil. Green electricity outside of the USA doesn’t need US dollars. Does the IMF or BIS start issuing Bancors?

If a massive redundancy of fiat dollars is just getting underway, there are globally trillions of fiat dollars that need to be converted into what?


Liberals say by 2035 all new cars, light-duty trucks sold in Canada will be electric

The Liberal government has already poured at least $300 million into a rebate program that offers consumers a break when they buy electric cars

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press  Jun 29, 2021

OTTAWA — The Liberal government is speeding up its goal for when it wants to see all light-duty vehicles sold in Canada to be electric.

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced Tuesday that by 2035 all new cars and light-duty trucks sold in the country will be zero-emission vehicles.

Until now the government had set 2040 as the target for when it wants to see all passenger vehicles sold to be powered by this technology.


Finally, while northwest Americans and Canadians swelter away in their current heatwave thinking they have reached hell, spare a thought for those mostly unairconditioned Pakistanis who really are living in hell.

Hotter than the human body can handle: Pakistan city broils in world’s highest temperatures

Experts fear Jacobabad's extreme heat and humidity may worsen with climate change – and that other cities may join the club

28 June 2021 • 12:30pm

When the full midsummer heat hits Jacobabad, the city retreats inside as if sheltering from attack.

The streets are deserted and residents hunker down as best they can to weather temperatures that can top 52C (126F).

Few have any air conditioning, and blackouts mean often there is no mains electricity. The hospital fills with heatstroke cases from those whose livelihoods mean they must venture out.

“When it gets that hot, you can't even stay on your feet,” explains one resident, Zamir Alam.

“It's a very, very difficult time when it goes beyond 50C. People do not come out of their houses and the streets are deserted,” Abdul Baqi, a shopkeeper, adds.

This city of some 200,000 in Pakistan's Sindh province has long been renowned for its fierce heat, but recent research has conferred an unwelcome scientific distinction.

Its mixture of heat and humidity has made it one of only two places on earth to have now officially passed, albeit briefly, a threshold hotter than the human body can withstand.

---- Mr Matthews and colleagues last year analysed global weather station data and found that Jacobabad and Ras al Khaimah, north east of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, have both temporarily crossed the deadly threshold. The milestone had been surpassed decades ahead of predictions from climate change models.

The researchers examined what are called wet bulb temperatures. These are taken from a thermometer covered in a water-soaked cloth so they take into account both heat and humidity. 

Wet bulb thermometer readings are significantly lower than the more familiar dry bulb readings, which do not take humidity into account. Researchers say that at a wet bulb reading of 35C, the body can no longer cool itself by sweating and such a temperature can be fatal in a few hours, even to the fittest people. 



Global Inflation Watch.           

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

Does this sound like temporary inflation or something more?

Home prices surged in April at a ‘truly extraordinary’ rate, S&P Case-Shiller says

Published Tue, Jun 29 2021 9:00 AM EDT

Home prices in April saw an annual gain of 14.6% in April, up from a 13.3% increase in March, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index.

Among larger cities covered by the index, the 10-city composite was up 14.4% year over year, up from 12.9% the previous month. The 20-city composite was 14.9% higher, up from 13.4% in March.

Phoenix, San Diego, and Seattle reported the highest year-over-year gains. All were up over 20% from the year before.  

“April’s performance was truly extraordinary. The 14.6% gain in the National Composite is literally the highest reading in more than 30 years of S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller data,” said Craig Lazzara, managing director and global head of index investment strategy at S&P DJI.

Not only did home prices rise in all 20 cities, but the price gains accelerated in all as well and were in the top quartile of performance historically.

Five cities – Charlotte, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver and Seattle – saw their largest annual gains ever.

“We have previously suggested that the strength in the U.S. housing market is being driven in part by reaction to the COVID pandemic, as potential buyers move from urban apartments to suburban homes. April’s data continue to be consistent with this hypothesis,” added Lazzara.

Price gains have been expanding for the last eleven months, as buyer demand continues to outstrip supply.


Labour tops breakdown of new home costs

BY Geoff McLarney  Published: June 29, 2021

While lumber prices have been soaring, research by members of the Western Retail Lumber Association shows that they represent only a small fraction of the cost of a new home. Labour costs make up fully half of that investment, while lumber represents just four percent. Mechanical, HVAC, electrical, and plumbing costs contribute 22 percent to the average bill for a new home.

“As lumber prices have reached record highs in North America, the cost of housing has been discussed at length, but material costs are only part of the bill when people plan to build a new home,” WRLA president Liz Kovach said in a release.


Car Dealers Are Selling More Vehicles Above the Sticker Price

It’s a seller’s market, but production shortfalls also mean dealerships must manage with lower sales volume

June 29, 2021 5:33 am ET

The sticker price on cars isn’t sticking. In some cases, it’s going up.

Auto makers typically set what is known as the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, or MSRP, a figure that appears on the window sticker of a new model. But with inventory tight and customers clamoring for cars and trucks, auto dealers are charging more, increasing the price above sticker and in some cases requiring customers buy certain add-ons, such as protective coatings and accessories, as part of the increase.

Some buyers say they have encountered dealerships asking for thousands of dollars above MSRP. And analysts and dealers say the practice is becoming more widespread and occurring on a wider range of vehicles, including more mainstream models that typically wouldn’t be targeted for such price increases.

A global chip shortage is affecting how quickly we can drive a car off the lot or buy a new laptop. WSJ visits a fabrication plant in Singapore to see the complex process of chip making and how one manufacturer is trying to overcome the shortage. Photo: Edwin Cheng for The Wall Street Journal

“I was shocked,” said Ken Baird, a 61-year-old Boca Raton, Fla., resident who was recently shopping for a Kia Telluride. The window sticker on the particular model he was looking at read $45,000, and he said he offered to pay $3,000 over that knowing the vehicle was in high demand.

But the dealership wanted $10,000 above the original sticker. “They said, ‘I’ll get the $55,000 from someone else,’” Mr. Baird said.


UK house prices jump by 13.4% in 12 months to June -Nationwide

June 29, 2021 7:10 AM  By Reuters Staff

LONDON, June 29 (Reuters) - British house prices rose by 13.4% in June compared with the same month last year, the biggest annual increase since November 2004, mortgage lender Nationwide said on Tuesday.

In monthly terms, house prices were 0.7% higher than in May, Nationwide said.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected prices to rise by 13.7% in annual terms and by 0.7% from May.

Commodity Traders Harvest Billions While Prices Rise for Everyone Else

From oil to steel, raw material prices are surging. As the world economy recovers, how much further does the boom have to run?

29 June 2021, 05:01 BST

Doug King set up his hedge fund in the early days of the commodity super-cycle in 2004. It was perfectly timed: voracious Chinese demand lifted the price of everything from oil to copper to record highs. Investors flooded the commodities sector. At the peak, King’s Merchant Commodity Fund was managing about $2 billion.

But the boom ended abruptly after the 2008 global financial crisis and the onset of the U.S. shale revolution. Prices plunged, big institutional money got out and many specialist hedge funds closed.

Fast forward more than a decade and King is having one of the best years of his career: a broad-based commodities boom has pushed up his hedge fund nearly 50% this year as raw materials from steel to soybeans hit multi-year highs. Commodities are back, and from pension funds to physical commodity traders, everyone is making money. The question now is whether it’s a temporary snapback from the pandemic or signals a longer-term shift in the structure of the global economy. King is in no doubt.

“We are facing a structural inflation shock,” King said. “There’s a lot of pent up demand, and everyone wants everything now, right now.”

For the first time since the pre-crisis years before 2008, the commodities boom means central banks are fretting about inflation. The rally will have a political impact, too. With oil back at $75 a barrel, Saudi Arabia and Russia are back in the driving seat of the global energy market — a remarkable come back from negative prices just over a year ago. The boom is also an unwelcome development for policymakers tackling the climate crisis: rising commodities prices will make the shift more expensive.



Covid-19 Corner                       

This section will continue until it becomes unneeded.

MIT and Harvard engineers develop face mask that detects COVID-19

Rich Haridy  June 28, 2021

Researchers from MIT and Harvard have demonstrated a cutting-edge biosensor technology by developing a face mask that can detect SARS-CoV-2 in a wearer’s breath within just 90 minutes. The sensor technology can be programmed to detect any kind of virus or toxin and is small enough to be integrated into clothing fabrics.

The biosensor has been in development for several years and is based on a new technology dubbed wFDCF (wearable freeze-dried cell-free). Unlike previously developed biosensors that require the incorporation of living cells, this system extracts and freeze dries the cellular machinery needed to detect organic molecules.

“Other groups have created wearables that can sense biomolecules, but those techniques have all required putting living cells into the wearable itself, as if the user were wearing a tiny aquarium,” explains Peter Nguyen, co-first author on the new study. “If that aquarium ever broke, then the engineered bugs could leak out onto the wearer, and nobody likes that idea.”

The wFDCF technology has previously been used to create experimental diagnostic tools for the Ebola and Zika viruses. Around a year ago, as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold around the world, the researchers quickly pivoted to try and turn the experimental technology into a useful product to help combat it.

“We wanted to contribute to the global effort to fight the virus, and we came up with the idea of integrating wFDCF into face masks to detect SARS-CoV-2,” notes co-first author Luis Soenksen. “The entire project was done under quarantine or strict social distancing starting in May 2020.”

Preliminary tests show the diagnostic face mask delivers highly accurate results, comparable to current PCR tests, the gold standard for SARS-CoV-2 detection. Nguyen notes the face mask is the most market-ready product the wFDCF team has developed so far but the technology offers a huge variety of uses beyond just COVID-19 diagnostics.


Why COVID-19 vaccines can provide stronger immunity than natural infection

Rich Haridy  June 27, 2021

Eighteen months after the first officially reported SARS-CoV-2 cases appeared in Wuhan we can now begin to investigate questions that were impossible to answer early on in the pandemic, such as what kind of immunity is generated from a natural infection, how long could one be protected from re-infection, and does vaccination generate better immunity than natural exposure to the virus?

A recent preprint study, led by scientists from the University of Oxford, offers the most thorough account of immune responses in recovered COVID-19 patients to date. Nearly 80 healthcare worked were closely followed for six months post-infection and the researchers used a novel machine-learning approach to analyze immune biomarkers.

“We found that individuals showed very different immune responses from each other following COVID-19, with some people from both the symptomatic and asymptomatic groups showing no evidence of immune memory six months after infection or even sooner,” explains study author Christina Dold.

In general the research saw a correlation between disease severity and lasting immune response. Over 90 percent of asymptomatic cases showed no measurable immune response six months later. A quarter of symptomatic cases lacked lasting immunity six months after infection.

A little more worrying, however, was the finding that very few serum samples from infected subjects mounted antibody responses against newer variants of the virus. Dold says this seems to suggest those infected with the original SARS-CoV-2 strain in 2020 may have little protection from some of the newer variants beginning to circulate.

“Our concern is that these people may be at risk of contracting COVID-19 for a second time, especially with new variants circulating,” says Dold. “This means that it is very important that we all get the COVID vaccine.”

But why would immunity generated by a vaccine be any different from natural infection?

“The honest truth is, we don’t know,” says Sabra Klein, an expert in immunology from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “The immune system of people who have been infected has been trained to target all these different parts of the virus called antigens. You’d think that would provide strongest immunity, but it doesn’t.”

Natural immunity is unpredictable

One of the biggest problems with natural immunity generated from a SARS-CoV-2 infection is just how variable and unpredictable it can be. A striking study published earlier this year found a stunning spectrum of natural immune responses in recovered COVID-19 patients. Although comfortingly, the paper saw immune responses from a natural infection lasting at least eight months, it also indicated some recovered patients displayed immunity levels 100 times higher than other patients.


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.

New ICE-Batt project sets out to optimize battery technology using graphene and CNTs

June 29, 2021

CPI and Thomas Swan have teamed up with Johnson Matthey (JM), a company focused on sustainable technologies, to explore how to best optimize battery technology using graphene and CNTs.

The ICE-Batt project receives funding support from the Faraday Battery Challenge, managed by Innovate UK – the UK’s innovation agency – to enable the investigation of how innovative carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and graphene nanoplatelets (GNPs) can improve battery performance. In addition, the project will explore how to improve the green credentials of battery processing.

ICE-Batt will combine Thomas Swan’s innovative GNP technology and CPI’s formulation expertise to explore how together they can help realize the full potential from JM’s high performance battery materials.

The ICE-Batt project aims to overcome existing limitations of lithium-ion batteries, including energy density, power density and low temperature performance through the application of innovative carbons. ICE-Batt will fine tune these novel carbon structures produced at an industrial scale by Thomas Swan and demonstrate how they can be best applied to enhance the overall performance of traditional lithium-ion and next generation batteries such as JM’s family of nickel-rich advanced cathode materials eLNO® and Life Power® LFP.

CPI is a founding member of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, and will provide formulation optimization through integration, iteration and evaluation. By using CPI’s high throughput capabilities, it offers a rapid route towards improved, safer and more-sustainable technologies in the production of battery cathodes. This will support the shift away from the commonly used – but toxic and now regulated – solvents, improving sustainability and the potential for widespread adoption.

Fine-tuning the existing cathode formulations and introducing advanced carbon nano-materials into them may result in a longer life-span for lithium-ion batteries, which will have widespread economic benefits to society. In this way the ICE-Batt project will help pave the way for the next generation of high-performance, sustainable battery technology.

Dr. Amponsah Kyeremateng, Senior Research Scientist at CPI, said: ​“The overwhelming global warming issue is such that a widespread adoption of electric vehicles is needed, but we will never get there if we don’t have the right and affordable battery technology. The ICE-Batt project is helping to make this possible, by improving current lithium-ion battery performance while helping to establish the next generation of more sustainable, affordable and efficient battery technology.”


To be controlled in our economic pursuits means to be controlled in everything.

Friedrich August von Hayek.


Tuesday 29 June 2021

China Cools. The Great Heat. A Slow Fed.

 Baltic Dry Index. 3324 +69   Brent Crude 74.29

Spot Gold 1775

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

Deaths 53,100

Coronavirus Cases 29/06/21 World 182,202,398

Deaths 3,945,677

By a continuing process of inflation, government can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens.

John Maynard Keynes.

Below, AP comprehensively covers this morning’s news without need for input from me.

Asian stocks fall for 2nd day after new Wall St record

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets declined for a second day Tuesday after Wall Street hit a new high on tech stock gains and the World Bank raised its forecast of Chinese economic growth.

Market benchmarks in Shanghai, Tokyo and Hong Kong retreated.

Overnight, Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index rose 0.2% as gains for Facebook, Nvidia and other tech stocks offset losses for other industries.

Investors are swinging between optimism about a global economic recovery underpinned by coronavirus vaccinations and worry that central banks might feel pressure to withdraw stimulus to cool rising inflation pressures.

Traders are watching U.S. jobs data due out Friday for signs of whether the labor market “will start to show initial signs of heating” after the Federal Reserve said it might move up the target date for raising interest rates, Anderson Alves of ActivTrades said in a report.

Also Tuesday, the World Bank raised its forecast of China’s economic growth this year to 8.5% from its April prediction of 8.1%. The Washington-based lender said a full recovery requires progress in vaccinations against the coronavirus.

The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.7% to 3,580.22 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo shed 0.9% to 28,791.20. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 0.6% to 29,099.96.

The Kospi in Seoul retreated 0.4% to 3,289.17 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 lost 0.6% to 7,260.30.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose to 4,290.61 while the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.4% to 34,283.27.

The Nasdaq composite added 1% to a record 14,500.51.

Nvidia jumped 5% after The Sunday Times in Britain reported several big customers of U.K. semiconductor company Arm came out in support of its proposed takeover by Nvidia.

Facebook climbed 4.2% after a federal judge dismissed antitrust lawsuits brought against it by the Federal Trade Commission and a group of state attorneys general. Apple rose 1.3%, Microsoft gained 1.4% and Intel climbed 2.8%.

Stock prices look expensive to some investors after rising faster than corporate profits. Inflation remains a worry, even if more investors have come around to the Federal Reserve’s view that it will be only a temporary problem.

Economists expect Friday’s U.S. jobs numbers to show employers added 700,000 more than they cut in June. That would be an acceleration following a couple months of disappointingly slow hiring. They also expect the report to show that average hourly earnings jumped 3.7% in June from a year earlier.

A sharp rise in wages would be an even bigger worry about inflation for markets than the recent jump in commodity prices. Prices of oil, lumber and other commodities can rise and fall quickly, while wage gains tend to be more durable.


In other news, will China give the global economy some inflation relief?

Well maybe, but keep watching that US and Canadian heatwave and drought. If it eventually makes a major impact on north American grain production, food price inflation lies ahead.

Rising producer prices in China won’t likely drive up consumer costs, says JPMorgan

The recent surge in producer prices in China will not likely to drive up costs for consumers, says JPMorgan Private Bank’s Alex Wolf.

“We don’t see (producer inflation) really going into consumer prices. They’ve risen a bit, but we don’t see much of a further rise in consumer prices that would force the (People’s Bank of China) to act in any way,” said Wolf, who is head of investment strategy for Asia at the firm.

Producer inflation “has likely peaked and likely come down,” while consumer prices in some cases are also appearing to peak, he told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Monday.

Soaring production costs in China, largely due to surging commodity prices, have cut into profits for manufacturers. Official data released over the weekend showed profits at China’s industrial firms rose 36.4% in May compared to a year earlier — slower than the 57% year-on-year growth posted in April.

Meanwhile, data released in early June showed China’s producer price index in May jumped 9% compared to a year ago — the fastest clip since 2008, while the consumer price index climbed 1.3% year-on-year in May. It was the largest gap on record between the speed at which producer prices and consumer prices climbed.

“There’s not a very clear relationship between producer prices and consumer prices historically,” Wolf said.

“You’ve only seen a few instances where high producer prices do trickle down to consumer prices,” he said. “Producer prices are almost entirely driven by commodity prices.”

He added that “the only time” historically that producer inflation has has trickled down into consumer prices is “when there’s really strong consumer demand” — a situation that seems implausible for now given the sluggish recovery in Chinese retail sales.

Survey finds signs of creeping caution among Chinese consumers and businesses

BEIJING — Chinese businesses and consumers are not as optimistic on the economy as overall data might indicate, according to an independent study by the China Beige Book released Tuesday.

In its latest quarterly survey, the U.S.-based firm found that a measure of Chinese corporate borrowing fell to its lowest in the study’s history, and that expectations for loan demand in the next half year dropped — despite low interest rates.

Of particular concern, the number of retailers taking out loans fell to a record low, the report said.

“After the pandemic, it’s extremely hard to believe this is a result of adequate capital on hand,” the authors wrote. “Far more likely, retailers are split between seeing little possibility for expansion and thinking their loan applications won’t fly.”

The trend is worrying for an economy that the government is trying to drive with individual consumption.

“If credit stays this tight and Retail doesn’t break out of its coma, the economy next quarter will have a difficult time matching this level of growth,” the report said.

The study indicated second-quarter business activity was similar to that of the first, with revenue and profit unchanged and some increased hiring.

China’s GDP grew 18.3% in the first quarter from a contraction a year ago — or an increase of 10.3% compared with the same quarter in 2019. Second quarter GDP is set for release on July 15.

However, retail sales growth has come in below analysts’ expectations for the last two months.


Elsewhere, “despite Brexit,” to use the BBC’s infamous words, GB’s doing fine.

U.K. Economy Grew More Than Estimated Before Pandemic Struck

By Andrew Atkinson

28 June 2021, 10:27 BST

The U.K. economy grew more strongly than previously thought in the year prior to the coronavirus pandemic, data published Monday show.

Gross domestic product expanded 1.7% in 2019 instead of the previously estimated 1.4%, the Office for National Statistics said. That capped a decade that produced 2% average growth a year, a figure that was revised up from 1.8%.

The revisions are part of the annual Blue Book review. This year they include the impact of using double deflation, a method of calculating gross value added that aims to better capture the prices of goods and services used in the production process.

Under double deflation, the current price of both output and inputs in every industry are deflated by separate price indices.

As a result, manufacturing posted stronger growth, and an improved deflator has resulted in higher GVA in the telecommunication sector, the ONS said.


If socialists understood economics, they wouldn't be socialist.

Friedrich August von Hayek.

Global Inflation Watch.           

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

El-Erian says the Fed is behind on inflation and risks another recession if it is forced to catch up

Federal Reserve officials are underestimating inflation and risking that the U.S. could fall into another recession, Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic advisor at Allianz, told CNBC on Monday.

Central bank leaders insist that the recent round of price pressures will subside once short-term supply chain bottlenecks clear and the 2020 economic shutdown period is no longer part of the year-over-year comparisons.

But El-Erian said he sees growing evidence that the Fed is wrong.

“I have concerns about the inflation story,” he told CNBC’s Becky Quick during a “Squawk Box” interview. “Every day I see evidence of inflation not being transitory, and I have concern that the Fed is falling behind and that it may have to play catch-up, and history makes you very uncomfortable if you end up in a world in which the Fed has to play catch-up.”

If the central bank does fall into that position, it may have to raise interest rates and otherwise tighten monetary policy sooner than it would like.

“Normally, we end up with a recession because you have to slam on the brakes as opposed to slowly taking your foot off the accelerator, which is what believe is going to happen,” El-Erian said.

The economy is still technically in a recession that began in February 2020, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, considered the official arbiter in such matters. However, real GDP is just a shade below where it was when the downturn started and is likely to pass that level when the second-quarter data comes in.

Inflation, though, has thwarted recoveries in the past, and recent data tell conflicting stories about the current pace.

The Fed’s favorite gauge, the personal consumption expenditures price index excluding the volatile food and energy sectors, in May rose 3.4% from a year ago, the highest level since 1992 and well above the central bank’s 2% target.

That came after a 5% increase in the consumer price index and a 6.6% burst in the producer price index, both well higher than anything the U.S. has seen since at least before the financial crisis.

But much of the price pressures have come in areas particularly germane to the economic recovery – used car prices, air fares, hotel prices and the like.

While Fed officials see those factors abating in the coming months, El-Erian said he’s not so sure, even if the financial markets don’t seem to care.

“If you were actually to look at the numbers on inflation, you would start having serious doubts in your mind as to how transitory inflation is,” El-Erian said. “But as long as the Fed believes it’s transitory, that is what matters for markets.”

Persistent Advance in Stocks and Commodities Shows Investor Confidence

Broad gauges of market performance are surging together in a way few on Wall Street have ever seen, masking volatility under the surface

June 28, 2021 5:30 am ET

Stocks and commodities are surging together in a way few on Wall Street have ever seen, a sign that demand for riskier investments remains robust. 

The S&P 500 and S&P GSCI gauge of commodities enter the last few days of the second quarter up about 8% and 13% for the period, respectively. This would mark the first time that both indexes climbed at least 5% in five consecutive quarters, according to a Dow Jones Market Data analysis of figures going back 50 years. 

The S&P 500 hit a high last week, buoyed by gains in technology stalwarts like Microsoft Corp . as well as consumer-focused stocks such as Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc .  

The persistent climb underscores how the broadest measures of market performance remain remarkably strong, masking volatility under the surface. Even as traders cope with mammoth swings in everything from Tesla Inc . to the price of lumber and concerns about the longer-term economic outlook, many investors remain confident that an expanding economy and rising corporate profits will support further gains. 


With the exception only of the period of the gold standard, practically all governments of history have used their exclusive power to issue money to defraud and plunder the people.

Friedrich August von Hayek.

Covid-19 Corner                       

This section will continue until it becomes unneeded.

‘Robust’ immune response seen in ‘mix and match’ Covid vaccine study

LONDON — Mixing and matching the coronavirus vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca-Oxford generates a “robust” immune response against the virus, a study led by Oxford University has found.

Researchers running the Com-COV study — which is looking into the feasibility of using a different vaccine for the initial “prime” vaccination to the follow-up “booster” vaccination — discovered that alternating doses of the two vaccines generated strong immunity.

However, the study found that the immune responses differed according to order of immunization, with the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot followed by the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine generating the better immune response out of the two mixed schedules.

Doses of the vaccines were given four weeks apart with data for a 12-week dose interval due soon, the researchers said after publishing their latest findings on the Lancet preprint server Monday.

“Both ‘mixed’ schedules (Pfizer-BioNTech followed by Oxford-AstraZeneca, and Oxford-AstraZeneca followed by Pfizer-BioNTech) induced high concentrations of antibodies against the SARS-CoV2 spike IgG protein when doses were administered four weeks apart,” the researchers noted.

“This means all possible vaccination schedules involving the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines could potentially be used against Covid-19.”

The findings could add much-needed flexibility to vaccination programs around the world, according to Matthew Snape, associate professor in pediatrics and vaccinology at the University of Oxford, and chief investigator on the trial.


Covid booster: first 'variant vaccine' used in new Oxford trial

The AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine has been updated to target the variant first identified in South Africa, also known as Beta

27 June 2021 • 8:09pm

The University of Oxford yesterday injected its new variant vaccine into people for the first time.

Academics who created the original jab have updated their blueprint to target the variant first identified in South Africa, also known as B.1.351 or Beta.

This Variant of Concern emerged last year and is still in the UK at low levels. It is also less susceptible to the vaccines than other strains, scientists believe.

It became the prime candidate for the first “variant vaccine” and the AstraZeneca/Oxford team are now trialling the booster jab — called AZD2816 — in 2,250 volunteers from the UK, Poland, Brazil and South Africa.

It was previously tested in a lab and on mice and the researchers said: "AZD2816 is immunogenic after a single dose and when used as a booster dose in animals primed with [the] original vaccine.”

People are only eligible for the trial if they have already received two doses of an approved Covid vaccine more than three months prior to the study.

Sir Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice President of BioPharmaceuticals R&D at AstraZeneca, said: ‘It is important we continue to stay ahead of genetically distinct variants of the coronavirus.

“AZD2816 should help broaden individuals' immune response against emerging variants of concern.”


Highly contagious Delta coronavirus variant spreading fast in California

Sun, June 27, 2021, 8:31 PM

The Delta coronavirus variant is now the third-most common in California, new data show, underscoring the danger of the highly contagious strain to people who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19.

The variant makes up 14.5% of California coronavirus cases analyzed so far in June, up from 4.7% in May, when it was the fourth-most identified variant in California, according to data released by the California Department of Public Health.

Experts say the Delta variant poses a greater chance of infection for unvaccinated people if they are exposed. The variant, first identified in India, may be twice as transmissible as the conventional coronavirus strains. It has been responsible for the rise in cases recently in India, the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

But vaccinated people are well protected against infection and illness from the Delta variant. One recent study found that the full two-dose course of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 88% effective against symptomatic disease caused by the Delta variant and 96% protective against hospitalization.

There is no widespread scientific consensus on whether the Delta variant is more likely to cause more serious illness than other strains.

Delta's rise comes as California's dominant strain, Alpha, first identified in the United Kingdom, may have peaked.

In May, the Alpha variant made up 58.4% of coronavirus cases that were analyzed in California. Alpha's share fell in June, now making up 37.7% of analyzed cases — still the top variant but with a much smaller proportion.

The Gamma variant, first identified in Brazil, is also being seen more often in California. In May, the variant represented 10.1% of analyzed cases. It now makes up 21.6% of analyzed cases in the state, but Delta is still growing at a more rapid rate.


How the UK — where the Covid delta variant ‘exploded’ — is a blueprint for the U.S.

Published Mon, Jun 28 2021 2:46 AM EDT

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. has been keeping a close eye on the U.K.

From its initial response to Covid-19 (questioned by many), to its much-praised immunization program and world-class research, all have helped inform how the U.S. — which faced its first major Covid outbreak after Britain — has reacted.

Indeed, the U.K.’s experience of Covid-19 has often been a harbinger of things to come for other countries., including the U.S. It has proved particularly true when it comes to Covid variants which have hit the U.K. and then gone on to dominate globally.

This was first seen with the alpha variant that emerged in southeast England late last year and went on to become dominant across the world. A similar thing then happened with the delta variant that originated in India, but was identified in the U.K. at a relatively early stage.  

Both strains have proved to be far more transmissible than the original coronavirus that first emerged in China in late 2019. The World Health Organization now predicts that the delta variant — which has already spread to more than 80 countries will become the dominant strain of the disease worldwide.

Given the U.K.’s experience of both strains at an earlier stage than many other countries, it is now being seen as something of a “test case” for what could happen in the U.S.

The first thing to note is how quickly the delta variant spread across the U.K.

In a relatively short amount of time, the strain supplanted the alpha variant to become dominant in the country (in mid-June delta was responsible for 90% of all infections, a government study showed) — and this happened despite the U.K.’s advanced vaccination rate.


Desloratadine Vs Loratadine: Comparing The Popular Hay Fever Treatments

by Scott McDougall (MPharm)

Scott is one of the two founders of The Independent Pharmacy. He is a registered pharmacist and the registered manager of our service with the CQC.

If you suffer from hay fever or another type of allergy, then picking the right medicine for you can be difficult. There are lots of hay fever treatments available, but how do you decide? And if you’re choosing between similar non-drowsy antihistamines such as Desloratadine vs Loratadine, it can be even harder.

It can also be tricky to research and compare different medicines because there is so much information available on the internet — and establishing which sites are trustworthy and contain useful information isn’t always easy. 

That’s why we’ve created this guide — so that you can better understand each treatment, as well as the key differences between Desloratadine and Loratadine. Our intention is to help you understand the difference between these two hay fever treatments so that you can make an informed decision. We’ve also included an overview and comparison table so that you can quickly distinguish the difference between the two.

As well as that, we’ll be taking a closer look at some other popular Desloratadine alternatives, such as Claritin, Fexofenadine and Cetirizine.

Read on to find out more about Desloratadine and how it compares to your other options.

---- Desloratadine alternatives: other antihistamine treatments

It’s up to you whether you use Desloratadine or an alternative allergy treatment, antihistamine or otherwise. 

There are a number of non-drowsy antihistamines that work in a similar way to Desloratadine. In the sections below we’ll be looking at these, providing an overview of:

  • Desloratadine vs Loratadine 
  • Desloratadine vs Claritin
  • Desloratadine vs Fexofenadine
  • Desloratadine vs Cetirizine


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.

Nanotech OLED electrode liberates 20% more light, could slash display power consumption

A five-nanometer-thick layer of silver and copper outperforms conventional indium tin oxide without adding cost

Date:  June 25, 2021

Source:  University of Michigan

Summary:  A new electrode that could free up 20% more light from organic light-emitting diodes has been developed. It could help extend the battery life of smartphones and laptops, or make next-gen televisions and displays much more energy efficient.

A new electrode that could free up 20% more light from organic light-emitting diodes has been developed at the University of Michigan. It could help extend the battery life of smartphones and laptops, or make next-gen televisions and displays much more energy efficient.

The approach prevents light from being trapped in the light-emitting part of an OLED, enabling OLEDs to maintain brightness while using less power. In addition, the electrode is easy to fit into existing processes for making OLED displays and light fixtures.

"With our approach, you can do it all in the same vacuum chamber," said L. Jay Guo, U-M professor of electrical and computer engineering and corresponding author of the study.

Unless engineers take action, about 80% of the light produced by an OLED gets trapped inside the device. It does this due to an effect known as waveguiding. Essentially, the light rays that don't come out of the device at an angle close to perpendicular get reflected back and guided sideways through the device. They end up lost inside the OLED.

A good portion of the lost light is simply trapped between the two electrodes on either side of the light-emitter. One of the biggest offenders is the transparent electrode that stands between the light-emitting material and the glass, typically made of indium tin oxide (ITO). In a lab device, you can see trapped light shooting out the sides rather than traveling through to the viewer.

"Untreated, it is the strongest waveguiding layer in the OLED," Guo said. "We want to address the root cause of the problem."

By swapping out the ITO for a layer of silver just five nanometers thick, deposited on a seed layer of copper, Guo's team maintained the electrode function while eliminating the waveguiding problem in the OLED layers altogether.

"Industry may be able to liberate more than 40% of the light, in part by trading the conventional indium tin oxide electrodes for our nanoscale layer of transparent silver," said Changyeong Jeong, first author and a Ph.D. candidate in electrical and computer engineering.

This benefit is tricky to see, though, in a relatively simple lab device. Even though light is no longer guided in the OLED stack, that freed-up light can still be reflected from the glass. In industry, engineers have ways of reducing that reflection -- creating bumps on the glass surface, or adding grid patterns or particles that will scatter the light throughout the glass.


Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the Capitalistic System was to debauch the currency. . . Lenin was certainly right. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million can diagnose. 

John Maynard Keynes.