Tuesday, 31 May 2022

This Sucker Could Go Down!

 Baltic Dry Index. 2571 -110  Brent Crude 123.28

Spot Gold 1853

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

Deaths 53,100

Coronavirus Cases 31/05/22 World 532,022,539

Deaths 6,311,923

AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver doesn’t see the recession writing on the wall either, at least not for another 18 months. 

Never believe anything in economics until it’s been officially denied, has stood commodity traders test of time, so I think poor Mr. Oliver might be wrong in his timing.

Another month-end and time to dress up stocks and stock indexes? Well probably, but rising inflation and rising interest rates create a death spiral for nearly all stocks.

It might be hard this final day of May to get the usual dress up the markets stock rally. I suspect a whole lot of insiders are now looking to exit on rallies.

In the rump European Union, crude oil madness is driving up the global oil price. Impoverishing Europe’s poorest in pursuit of “saving” the Ukraine.

Bringing on the next global recession while contributing to the Anglo-American proxy war against Russia, in reality.

Time to add to physical, fully paid up, locally held gold and silver outside of the banking system.

As George W. Bush famously, so eloquently said back in 2008, “this sucker could go down.”  Back then he was only talking about the stock casinos if money wasn’t “loosened up.”

Now, thanks to our new unnecessary European proxy war, risking a foodstuffs catastrophe later this year, the sucker that could go down is the current global order, financial and social.

Asia-Pacific stocks mixed; data shows China’s factory activity contracted again in May

SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific were mixed in Tuesday trade as investors watched for market reaction to the release of official Chinese factory activity data for May. Oil prices rose after EU leaders agreed to ban 90% of Russian crude.

The Shanghai Composite in mainland China advanced 0.75% while the Shenzhen Component jumped 1.212%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index climbed 0.43%.

China’s official manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index for May came in at 49.6, an improvement over April’s reading of 47.4.

The May reading was above the 48.6 level expected from a Reuters poll but still below the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction. PMI readings are sequential and represent month-on-month expansion or contraction.

“Things are … improving, but not good enough,” Bo Zhuang, senior sovereign analyst at Loomis Sayles, told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Tuesday.

The worst of the “growth shock” of the Covid wave in China may be behind, but the country is still seeing “a very gradual, slow progress of the normalization,” he said.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan sat close to the flatline while the Topix index declined 0.25%. Over in South Korea, the Kospi climbed 0.29%.

Australian stocks were lower as the S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.54%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged 0.15% higher.

Markets in the U.S. were closed on Monday for a holiday.

Oil prices rise after EU agrees on Russia sanctions

Oil prices were higher during Asia trading hours, after European Union leaders agreed to ban most Russian oil by the end of 2022.

The agreement would “effectively cut around 90% of oil imports from Russia to the EU by the end of the year,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a tweet.

International benchmark Brent crude futures gained 0.93% to $122.80 per barrel. U.S. crude futures jumped 2.77% to $118.26 per barrel.



Finally, once you start a war strange things happen. You can never tell how things will turn out.

Russian-controlled Kherson region in Ukraine starts grain exports to Russia – TASS

May 30 (Reuters) - The Russian-controlled Ukrainian region of Kherson has begun exporting grain that was harvested last year to Russia, the TASS news agency cited a senior local official as saying on Monday.

"We have space to store (the new crop) although we have a lot of grain here. People are now partially taking it out, having agreed with those who buy it from the Russian side," said Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Military-Civilian Administration.

Stremousov was also cited as saying the administration was working on the supplies of sunflower seeds to local and Russian processing plants.

Ukraine has previously accused Russia of stealing its grain from the territories Moscow has occupied since launching what it calls a special military operation in February.


Serbia ignores EU sanctions, secures gas deal with Putin

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — As the war in Ukraine rages, Serbia’s president announced that he has secured an “extremely favorable” natural gas deal with Russia during a telephone conversation Sunday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has refused to explicitly condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and his country has not joined Western sanctions against Moscow. Vucic claims he wants to take Serbia into the European Union but has spent recent years cementing ties with Russia, a long-time ally.

The gas deal is likely to be signed during a visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Belgrade early in June — a rare visit by a ranking Russian official to a European country since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began Feb. 24.

Vucic said he told Putin that he wished “peace would be established as soon as possible.”

Serbia is almost entirely dependent on Russian gas, and its main energy companies are under Russian majority ownership.

“What I can tell you is that we have agreed on the main elements that are very favorable for Serbia,” Vucic, a former pro-Russian ultranationalist, told reporters. “We agreed to sign a three-year contract, which is the first element of the contract that suits the Serbian side very well.”

It is not clear how Serbia would receive the Russian gas if the EU decides to shut off the Russian supply that travels over its member countries. Russia has already cut off gas exports to EU members Finland,Poland and Bulgaria.

----Despite reports of the atrocities in Ukraine due to the invasion, Vucic and other Serbian leaders have been complaining of Western pressure to join sanctions against Russia. Serbian officials say the Balkan country must resist such pressure, even if it means abandoning the goal of joining the EU.

Under Vucic’s 10-year autocratic rule and relentless pro-Kremlin propaganda, Serbia has gradually slid toward aligning with Russia. Polls suggest a majority in the country would rather join some sort of a union with Moscow than the EU.



"The world has a way of undermining complex plans."

Carl von Clausewitz.

Global Inflation/Stagflation Watch.

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

…. while the price of an 800 gram loaf of bread rose by 16% to 54 pence.

Maybe, but my white or wholemeal loaf only costs 34 pence at Morrison's, down from 36 pence last year.

Cost of pasta and bread surges for Britain's poorest

LONDON, May 30 (Reuters) - Britain's cheapest brands of pasta and bread have surged in price over the past year, but overall the cost of lower-priced food and drink staples has risen at a similar pace to average prices, the Office for National Statistics said.

Anti-poverty campaigners have pointed to sharp price rises in the cheapest categories of many food staples, and surveys have shown growing numbers of Britons skipping meals as they are squeezed by the highest consumer price inflation in 40 years. read more

Last week Britain's government announced 15 billion pounds of grants to households to pay soaring energy bills, on top of 22 billion pounds of support earlier this year. read more

The cost of the cheapest 500 gram (17.6 oz) pack of pasta at a British supermarket last month was 53 pence ($0.67), a 50% increase from 36 pence a year earlier, while the price of an 800 gram loaf of bread rose by 16% to 54 pence.

In cash terms, the biggest increase was in the cost of 500 grams of minced beef, which rose by 32 pence to 2.34 pounds, a 16% increase.

However, average prices for the cheapest brands of food and drink across 30 staple categories rose by 6-7%, the ONS said, the same as for food and drink overall.

"There is considerable variation across the 30 items, with the prices for six items falling over the year, but the prices of five items rising by 15% or more," the ONS said.

The cost of potatoes fell 14%, cheese prices were down 7% and pizzas cost 4% less than a year before.

The ONS described its analysis as "highly experimental" and said the results were sensitive to the exact goods chosen in particular categories.



German inflation hits record high of 7.9% in May

Updated / Monday, 30 May 2022 14:26

German inflation reached its highest level in nearly half a century in May, a result of energy and food prices that have only gone higher and higher since the start of the war in Ukraine.

Consumer prices, harmonised to make them comparable with inflation data from other European Union countries (HICP), increased an annual 8.7%, the Federal Statistics Office said today.

The last time inflation had been similarly high in Germany was during the winter of 1973/1974, when mineral oil prices spiked as a result of the first oil crisis, said the office.

The figure, which beat the 8% predicted by analysts in a Reuters poll, marks a second month in a row of record highs, after April's rise of 7.8% was the biggest in four decades.

According to the office, energy prices rose by 38.3% in May compared to the same month last year, while food prices also rose at an above-average rate of 11.1%.

Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank, said there is still some inflationary pressure in the pipeline for goods affected by supply bottlenecks and food before the situation eases from autumn.


Global recession? Not yet, economists say — but brace for high prices, low growth

Published Mon, May 30 2022 12:58 AM EDT

A global recession is not imminent, but brace for rising costs and slower growth, economists say. 

“There will be no sudden ‘after’ of stagflation,” said Simon Baptist, global chief economist at the Economist Intelligence Unit, referring to a surprise recession after a period of stagflation.

As the war in Ukraine and pandemic disruptions continue to wreak havoc on supply chains, stagflation — marked by low growth and high inflation — will stick around “for at least the next 12 months,” Baptist told CNBC last week.

“Commodity prices will start to ease from next quarter, but will remain permanently higher than before the war in Ukraine for the simple reason that Russian supplies of many commodities will be permanently reduced,” he added.

The pandemic as well as the war in Ukraine have stifled supply of commodities and goods and upended efficient distribution through global supply chains, forcing up prices of everyday goods such as fuel and food.

But, while higher prices will cause pain for households, growth in many parts of the world, while slow, is still ticking over and job markets have not collapsed. 

Unemployment levels across many economies have reached their lowest in decades. 

So, consumers — while wary of a repeat of the last global recession brought on by the U.S. subprime crisis over 10 years ago — need not start preparing for a recession. 

“For almost all economies of Asia, a recession is fairly unlikely, if we’re talking about successive periods of negative GDP,” Baptist told CNBC’s Street Signs on Thursday. 

Even if the global economy is at risk of a recession, many consumers have ample savings and have stocked up on household durables, the economist said.

“So to an extent, it won’t feel as bad as the immediate numbers look,” he said. 

AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver doesn’t see the recession writing on the wall either, at least not for another 18 months. 

“Yield curves or the gap between long-term bond yields and short-term rates have yet to decisively invert or warn of recession and even if they do now the average lead to recession is 18 months,” he said in a note. 

He takes the view that a deep bear market can be avoided in the U.S. and in Australia. 

At the same time, central banks across the globe are tightening up interest rates to combat inflation.



Below, why a “green energy” economy may not be possible, and if it is, it won’t be quick and it will be very inflationary, setting off a new long-term commodity Supercycle. Probably the largest seen so far.

The “New Energy Economy”: An Exercise in Magical Thinking


Mines, Minerals, and "Green" Energy: A Reality Check


"An Environmental Disaster": An EV Battery Metals Crunch Is On The Horizon As The Industry Races To Recycle

by Tyler Durden Monday, Aug 02, 2021 - 08:40 PM


Covid-19 Corner

This section will continue until it becomes unneeded.

Today, more on the madness in Communist China, although it’s probably being taken as a blueprint for Australia, Canada and New Zealand next pandemic.

Beijing man sends 5,000 people into quarantine after breaking Covid isolation

Actions spark angry reactions amid growing frustration with China’s zero-Covid policy though some restrictions begin to ease

Mon 30 May 2022 06.16 BST Last modified on Mon 30 May 2022 06.17 BST

A Beijing man is under criminal investigation after he skipped out on mandated home isolation, prompting authorities to send his more than 5,000 neighbours into home or government quarantine. The actions by the man, who later tested positive, come as the Chinese capital and Shanghai begin to ease restrictions.

On Monday officials said the man, in his early 40s, had been told to isolate at home after he entered a shopping plaza deemed a risk area on 23 May. They alleged that during his period of isolation he “went out many times, and moved in the community, risking the spread of the epidemic”, before he and his wife tested positive five days later. In response, authorities ordered 258 people who lived in his building to go to government quarantine centre, and the more than 5,000 others who lived in the residential community to stay at home.

China has imposed harsh curbs on its population as it works to eliminate outbreaks of the highly transmissible Omicron variant of Covid-19. China’s zero-Covid policy has come under criticism for its significant negative impact on the economy and people, particularly in Shanghai, but the country’s leader, Xi Jinping has doubled down on demands that it continue, and succeed.

The strict measures have sparked widespread frustration and exhaustion among residents, but with reported case numbers now dropping and restrictions beginning to ease, online people reacted angrily to the actions of the Beijing man.

“It’s been two days since it’s been cleared, what is this man doing? Doesn’t he want to clear the epidemic in Beijing? Does he have to come out and harm people when the situation is almost stable?” said one commenter.

“The community and the patient each share 50% responsibility, as the community did not install a door magnetic alarm … and there was a management responsibility which the community should shoulder,” said another.

On Sunday authorities reported 122 new community cases across the country, outside quarantine settings and including 102 asymptomatic carriers. In Beijing just 12 locally transmitted cases were reported on Sunday, and libraries, museums, theatres and gyms were allowed to reopen in areas where there had been none for at least seven days.

Beijing authorities had sought to avoid a mass lockdown but instead imposed travel curbs, enforced working from home in some districts, closed public venues, and conducted targeted lockdowns of individual buildings and areas.

In Shanghai, a months-long lockdown is set to end on Wednesday, and the government has announced a swathe of economic stimulus measures designed to address damage. At an unprecedented meeting with more than 10,000 officials last week, premier Li Keqiang warned the economy was at a “critical point”, and there would be dire consequences if officials did not act swiftly, and balanced Covid controls with economic growth.



Next, some vaccine links kindly sent along from a LIR reader in Canada.

NY Times Coronavirus Vaccine Trackerhttps://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/science/coronavirus-vaccine-tracker.html

Regulatory Focus COVID-19 vaccine trackerhttps://www.raps.org/news-and-articles/news-articles/2020/3/covid-19-vaccine-tracker

Some other useful Covid links.

Johns Hopkins Coronavirus resource centre


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, among other things, I’ve added this section. Updates as they get reported.

GEIC partner Watercycle Technologies secures funding for lithium extraction process

25 May 2022

Watercycle Technologies, a spin-out from The University of Manchester, has secured initial funding for an innovative technology that uses advanced graphene-based membranes and systems to extract lithium and other minerals from brines and water solutions.

Direct lithium extraction (DLE) is a vital process in the push towards self-sufficiency for the UK and Europe in lithium, a key component in modern battery technology.

Led by Sebastian Leaper, a former PhD student from the Department of Materials at Manchester, Watercycle Technologies has taken Tier 2 membership of the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC), with lab space and access to advanced 2D materials facilities and expertise in prototyping. 

The pre-seed funding round has been led by Aer Ventures, an investor focused on innovations around sustainability. 

Recovery from battery recycling

Watercycle Technologies has already demonstrated that its solutions can extract lithium from UK-based brines and can recover it from lithium batteries during the recycling process. This investment will allow the business to further develop their prototype solutions and test them at scale at live extraction and recycling locations.

The technology also shows the potential to refine the lithium up to battery-grade, which will allow the processing of battery-grade lithium to occur at production sites around the world. Together, these capabilities could significantly improve the environmental footprint of lithium production for EVs.

Dr Sebastian Leaper, CEO of Watercycle Technologies Limited, explains: “Our lives are increasingly dependent on the ebb and flow of lithium ions. They store and transport an ever-greater portion of the energy we need for our devices, cars and power grid and enable us to transition away from fossil fuels. 

“Access to significant quantities of low-cost, low-carbon lithium is fundamental to tackling climate change and we at Watercycle Technologies are striving to make this possible,” he adds. "We are very grateful for the support of Aer Ventures in this journey, as they share our ambition to help build a sustainable, circular economy for future generations to enjoy."

Chris Rowley, Managing Partner of Aer Ventures, said: “Watercycle Technologies is exactly the type of business we exist to support. With a sustainable vision and a proven technology, the business has the potential to solve one of our major environmental problems – the need for critical minerals to support the transition to Net Zero. 



"The difficulty of accurate recognition constitutes one of the most serious sources of friction in war, by making things appear entirely different from what one had expected."

Carl von Clausewitz.

Monday, 30 May 2022

An Easy Week. Crude Oil Rallies.

 Baltic Dry Index. 2681 -252  Brent Crude 120.14

Spot Gold 1861

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

Deaths 53,100

Coronavirus Cases 30/05/22 World 531,678,528

Deaths 6,310,915

You have to choose (as a voter) between trusting to the natural stability of gold and the natural stability of the honesty and intelligence of the members of the Government. And, with due respect for these gentlemen, I advise you, as long as the Capitalist system lasts, to vote for gold.

George Bernard Shaw. Socialist.

We are almost at the month end. Time to dress up the stock casinos closing prices again for all those money manager and hedge fund bonuses. They wouldn’t do that would they?

In China slightly better news, both Shanghai and Beijing are reopening, sort of.

In the USA, the Memorial Day national holiday. The 31st should be boom time in the casinos.

In the UK, a national holiday from Thursday to Monday to celebrate the Her Majesty’s  Platinum Jubilee.

All in all, an easy week to dress up the stock casinos.

Look away from the rising crude oil price now. Brent started the year in the 70s. $140 next? So much for President Biden’s strategic release of oil reserves.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 jumps close to 2% as Asia stocks rise ahead of major economic data this week

SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific rose in Monday morning trade as investors look ahead to major economic data releases later in the week.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 1.74% in morning trade as shares of robot maker Fanuc jumped more than 3%. The Topix index traded 1.47% higher.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index advanced 0.94%. Over in mainland China, the Shanghai Composite edged about 0.2% higher while the Shenzhen Component rose 0.355%.

The Kospi in South Korea also climbed 0.9%, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 edged 0.9% higher.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific stocks outside Japan traded 0.8% higher.

Several major data releases are expected later in the week. China is set to announce its official manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index for May on Tuesday, with investors looking for clues on the economic impact of Covid-related lockdowns on the mainland.

“For the week ahead, watch for the PMIs especially from China which may show a modest rebound from April’s slump but stay in contraction territory,” analysts at OCBC Treasury Research wrote in a Monday note.

U.S. jobs data is expected Friday. Markets in the U.S. are closed on Monday for a holiday.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 101.637 following a recent drop from levels above 102.

The Japanese yen traded at 127.09 per dollar, stronger as compared with levels above 127.8 seen against the greenback last week. The Australian dollar was at $0.7165 after a climb last week from below $0.71.

Oil prices were higher in the morning of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.19% to $119.66 per barrel. U.S. crude futures gained 0.44% to $115.58 per barrel.


Beijing, Shanghai start to reopen as Covid cases drop

BEIJING — Major Chinese cities Beijing and Shanghai began to relax Covid controls over the weekend as the local case count dropped.

Nationwide, the number of new cases with symptoms on the mainland fell to 20 on Sunday, down from 54 a day earlier. The capital city of Beijing reported eight new Covid cases for Sunday, while Shanghai recorded six.

The loosening of restrictions comes about two months after Shanghai, China’s largest city, ordered people to stay in their apartments for mass virus testing. Beijing city had begun tightening Covid controls about a month ago, but only locked down some neighborhoods.

On Sunday, Shanghai authorities said businesses could start to reopen without having to apply for approval starting Wednesday. A shopping area called Xintiandi — including a local Shake Shack — was among those set to resume some offline operations Wednesday, according to state media.

The city also announced a raft of measures to support businesses, especially those that had minimal layoffs. To stimulate consumption, the city said it would give 10,000 yuan ($1,493) to any individual switching to a battery-powered car this year.

As of Sunday, Shanghai claimed that only 220,000 people remained subject to the most restrictive stay-home orders, and that more than 22 million were allowed to venture out into the community.

In Beijing, major shopping centers, including a luxury mall that temporarily closed a month ago due to Covid, announced they would reopen as of Sunday. Hotels in the rural outskirts of the capital city could also reopen. An amusement park called Happy Valley Beijing said it planned to reopen on Tuesday.

Ride-hailing and most public transport resumed in the main business area, while more people were allowed to return to work. Some libraries, museums and gyms could reopen at half their capacity, if no Covid cases were found in the past seven days at a community level.

However, restaurants in Beijing can still only operate on a takeout or delivery basis, with no customers dining inside. Middle and elementary schools remain closed.

After the latest Covid outbreak, both Shanghai and Beijing require a valid negative virus test in order to enter public areas. In Beijing, test results are only valid for 48 hours, while Shanghai said beginning Wednesday, test results will be valid for 72 hours.

It remains unclear how quickly most businesses will be able to resume normal production as implementation of Covid measures can vary at a neighborhood level. Any new confirmed Covid cases or contacts with one can result in renewed tightening.



Finally, so you really, really, really want to invest in cryptocurrency.

They Lost Major Coin—and Now the Tax Bill Is Due

Sat, May 28, 2022, 3:45 AM

Riding high off a record year of growth, many cryptocurrency investors filed tax returns on mind-boggling gains this spring—some in the range of 20 to 30 times their original outlay. But now it’s time to settle up with the IRS, and there’s a problem: The money isn’t there anymore.

The crypto market endured its worst crash in years this month, wiping out more than $400 billion in value in a matter of weeks. Message boards were flooded with comments from people saying they’d lost their entire life savings, and others who worried they could lose their homes. Tax attorneys who specialize in crypto told The Daily Beast they, too, were inundated by calls, from people who had lost more than they owed in taxes.

“This is the biggest issue in crypto right now,” said Clinton Donnelly, the founder of CryptoTax Audit. “We have several clients who have just gotten wiped out, and they’re just terrified.”

Donnelly recalled one client who made $700,000 last year trading between cryptocurrencies, but didn’t think to convert any of that money to cash to save for tax season. When Donnelly’s company told him what he likely owed, he was horrified. Much of that $700,000 had evaporated in the crash. Clients like this, Donnelly said, “are in a panic. They don’t really know how to go forward on preparing the tax return. It’s a serious ethical quandary.”




Global Inflation/Stagflation Watch.

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

Japan Q2, full-year growth to be weaker than previously estimated

TOKYO, May 30 (Reuters) - Japan's economy will grow at a weaker rate than previously thought this quarter despite hopes for a strong rebound in consumption after showing resilience in the three months through March, a Reuters poll of economists showed.

The world's third-largest economy is at risk of being hobbled by slowing economic growth in China and a surge in global raw material prices - both issues that could hurt Japan's key manufacturing sector, the poll showed.

However, the slower expansion still indicates growth will be strong enough for the economy to recover to its pre-coronavirus pandemic levels of end-2019 this quarter, about 70% of poll respondents said.

The economy was projected to expand an annualised 4.5% this quarter, below April's estimate for 5.1% growth, according to the median forecast of 36 analysts in the May 18-27 poll.

"The speed at which the economy is recovering at home is slow," said Takumi Tsunoda, senior economist at Shinkin Central Bank Research Institute.

"Corporate profit could be severely squeezed if raw material prices continue to rise as there's limited pass-through of those costs into final prices."

A slowdown in Chinese economic growth was the most-frequently cited issue posing a risk to Japan's economy in the latter half of the year, the poll showed.

In recent weeks, China paralysed economic activity in major cities such as Shanghai with extreme COVID-19 lockdowns, disrupting supply chains and clouding the country's economic outlook.

China's hard-handed measures against the pandemic have already led to a fall in Japan's shipments to and from Asia's top economy in April, Japanese trade data showed earlier this month. read more

Asked when Japan's economy would recover to pre-coronavirus levels of end-2019, 20 of 28 economists said it would happen this quarter, after shrinking less than expected in January-March. read more

Five chose next quarter, while two opted for October-December and one picked April-June next year.

But analysts also said that even if the economy were quick to recover to end-2019 levels, it was likely to still fall short of higher levels seen earlier that year, before taking a hit from a sales tax hike in October 2019.

"The economy will likely exceed its pre-sales tax hike level in July-September next year," said Tsunoda.

Looking ahead, economists' second-most frequently cited risk for the second half of 2022 was "soaring raw material costs", followed by "faster than expected U.S. monetary policy tightening".



Toyota misses April global production target due to COVID, parts shortage

TOKYO, May 30 (Reuters) - Japan's Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) on Monday said it missed its global production target for April as COVID-19 outbreaks and a parts shortage slowed its post-pandemic recovery.

The world's largest automaker by sales produced 692,259 vehicles last month, a 9.1% drop from the same month last year, and falling short of an earlier plan of making about 750,000 vehicles worldwide.

The numbers raise questions over the severity of the pandemic-hit supply chains and how the disruption will affect production in the coming months.

Toyota last week downgraded its global production plan for June to around 800,000 vehicles due to the impact of COVID-19 containment measures in China and signalled the possibility of lowering its full-year output plan of 9.7 million vehicles. read more

The automaker on Monday also said global sales dropped 11.1% in April versus the same month a year earlier to 763,708 vehicles. Domestic sales, excluding sales of units Daihatsu and Hino Motors Ltd (7205.T), tumbled almost 17% to 103,143 vehicles.


Below, why a “green energy” economy may not be possible, and if it is, it won’t be quick and it will be very inflationary, setting off a new long-term commodity Supercycle. Probably the largest seen so far.

The “New Energy Economy”: An Exercise in Magical Thinking


Mines, Minerals, and "Green" Energy: A Reality Check


"An Environmental Disaster": An EV Battery Metals Crunch Is On The Horizon As The Industry Races To Recycle

by Tyler Durden Monday, Aug 02, 2021 - 08:40 PM


Covid-19 Corner

This section will continue until it becomes unneeded.

U.S. doctors reconsider Pfizer's Paxlovid for lower-risk COVID patients

May 28 (Reuters) - Use of Pfizer Inc's (PFE.N) COVID-19 antiviral Paxlovid spiked this week, but some doctors are reconsidering the pills for lower-risk patients after a U.S. public health agency warned that symptoms can recur after people complete a course of the drug, and that they should then isolate a second time.

More quarantine time "is not a crowd-pleaser," Dr. Sandra Kemmerly, an infectious disease specialist at Ochsner Health in New Orleans, told Reuters. "For those people who really aren't at risk ... I would recommend that they not take it."

Use of Pfizer's Paxlovid, authorized to treat newly infected, at-risk people in order to prevent severe illness, has soared as infections have risen. More than 162,000 courses were dispensed last week - compared with an average of 33,000 a week since the drug was launched late last year, according to government data. Biden administration officials have pushed for wide use of Paxlovid, which the government purchased and provides free.

But higher use has also come with more reports from people who say their symptoms eased with Paxlovid only to return a few days after finishing a five-day regimen of the pills.

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, citing case reports and concerns that relapsed patients could spread the virus, issued its advisory that Paxlovid users should isolate for a second five days if symptoms rebound. read more



Next, some vaccine links kindly sent along from a LIR reader in Canada.

NY Times Coronavirus Vaccine Trackerhttps://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/science/coronavirus-vaccine-tracker.html

Regulatory Focus COVID-19 vaccine trackerhttps://www.raps.org/news-and-articles/news-articles/2020/3/covid-19-vaccine-tracker

Some other useful Covid links.

Johns Hopkins Coronavirus resource centre


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, among other things, I’ve added this section. Updates as they get reported.

Flash Joule heating process recycles plastic from end-of-life F-150 trucks into high-value graphene for new vehicles

Date:  May 26, 2022

Source:  Rice University

Summary:  Chemists have processed waste plastic from end-of-life trucks into graphene for composite materials in new vehicles.

The part of an old car that gets turned into graphene could come back as a better part for a new car.

Rice University chemists working with researchers at the Ford Motor Company are turning plastic parts from "end-of-life" vehicles into graphene via the university's flash Joule heating process.

The average SUV contains up to 350 kilograms (771 pounds) of plastic that could sit in a landfill for centuries but for the recycling process reported in the debut issue of a new Nature journal, Communications Engineering.

The goal of the project led by Rice chemist James Tour and graduate student and lead author Kevin Wyss was to reuse that graphene to make enhanced polyurethane foam for new vehicles. Tests showed the graphene-infused foam had a 34% increase in tensile strength and a 25% increase in low-frequency noise absorption. That's with only 0.1% by weight or less of graphene.

And when that new car is old, the foam can be flashed into graphene again.

"Ford sent us 10 pounds of mixed plastic waste from a vehicle shredding facility," Tour said. "It was muddy and wet. We flashed it, we sent the graphene back to Ford, they put it into new foam composites and it did everything it was supposed to do.

"Then they sent us the new composites and we flashed those and turned them back into graphene," he said. "It's a great example of circular recycling."

The researchers cited a study that estimates the amount of plastic used in vehicles has increased by 75% in just the past six years as a means to reduce weight and increase fuel economy.

Segregating mixed end-of-life plastic by type for recycling has been a long-term problem for the auto industry, Tour said, and it's becoming more critical because of potential environmental regulations around end-of-life vehicles. "In Europe, cars come back to the manufacturer, which is allowed to landfill only 5% of a vehicle," he said. "That means they must recycle 95%, and it's just overwhelming to them."

Much of the mixed plastic ends up being incinerated, according to co-author Deborah Mielewski, technical fellow for sustainability at Ford, who noted the U.S. shreds 10 to 15 million vehicles each year, with more than 27 million shredded globally.

"We have hundreds of different combinations of plastic resin, filler and reinforcements on vehicles that make the materials impossible to separate," she said. "Every application has a specific loading/mixture that most economically meets the requirements."

"These aren't recyclables like plastic bottles, so they can't melt and reshape them," Tour said. "So, when Ford researchers spotted our paper on flash Joule heating plastic into graphene, they reached out."



Whenever destroyers appear among men, they start by destroying money, for money is men’s protection and the base of a moral existence. Destroyers seize gold and leave to its owners a counterfeit pile of paper. This kills all objective standards and delivers men into the arbitrary power of an arbitrary setter of values. Gold was an objective value, an equivalent of wealth produced. Paper is a mortgage on wealth that does not exist, backed by a gun aimed at those who are expected to produce it. Paper is a check drawn by legal looters upon an account which is not theirs: upon the virtue of the victims. Watch for the day when it bounces, marked: "Account Overdrawn."

Ayn Rand.

Saturday, 28 May 2022

Special Update 28/5/22 A Relief Rally. Another Oil Rally.

 Baltic Dry Index. 2681 -252  Brent Crude 119.43

Spot Gold 1854                 

Covid-19 cases 02/04/20 World 1,000,000

Deaths 53,100

Covid-19 cases 28/05/22 World 530,949,309

Deaths 6,309,689

Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, the reverse is true.

Polish adage from the Soviet days.

In the stock casinos, another whipsaw relief rally, one among many more to come, as the stock casinos adjust to the harsh reality that a bear market is arriving for most stocks.

Higher interest rates are here to stay, along with high inflation, moderated only by statistical year on year effects, a mirage to fool the unwary.

But higher interest rates will quickly uncover who has built up unrepayable debt, who must cut back to service their debt, how much consumers must alter their spending allocations. In reality we are only in the first phase of the process of adjustment. 

Look away from the crude oil price now. Up 7 dollars on the week.

S&P 500, Dow snap losing streaks for best week since November 2020

Investors got a reprieve from a painful sell-off as the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 rallied to close their best weeks since November 2020.

The Dow jumped 575.77 points, or nearly 1.8%, to 33,212.96. The S&P 500 rose about 2.5% to 4,158.24. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite was the outperformer, helped by strong earnings from software companies and a fall in the 10-year Treasury yield. It was ended the day up 3.3% to reach 12,131.13.

All three of the major averages closed the week higher. The Dow finished up 6.2% for the week and snapped its longest losing streak, eight weeks, since 1923. The S&P 500 is 6.5% higher and the Nasdaq is up 6.8% on the week. Both indexes ended seven-week losing streaks. A chunk of the week’s gains came Thursday and Friday, when all three of the averages rallied as strong retail earnings and a slowing inflation report lifted sentiment.

“We’re taking a breather here and making some adjustments in the market to allow for that,” Tom Martin, senior portfolio manager at Globalt Investments, told CNBC. “We have come a long way down pretty fast and if we can stabilize here then the declines we’ve seen might be all that’s needed, or something close to that.”

A report showing inflation slowing a bit helped give stocks a boost on Friday. The core personal consumption expenditures price index rose 4.9% in April, down from the 5.2% pace seen the previous month. This particular report is watched closely by the Federal Reserve when setting policy.

Investors on Friday also continued to parse through retail earnings. Ulta Beauty shares were up nearly 12.5% after the company reported better-than-expected quarterly results, while Gap added 4.3% despite slashing its profit guidance.

“The consumer appears to have a ‘barbell’ approach to spending: low-end necessities and higher-end experiences/luxury items are doing fine, while general merchandise spending is being delayed, i.e., getting one more year out of that worn-down patio furniture is okay,” Wells Fargo’s Christopher Harvey said Friday.

“This week, various retailers started to balance the macro narrative, with the demise of the consumer now appearing to have been greatly exaggerated,” he added.

Tech stocks were among the top gainers Wednesday. Software company Autodesk rose 10.3% after reporting strong earnings for its most recent quarter. Dell Technologies jumped 12.8% on earnings, and chipmaker Marvell advanced 6.7%. Zscaler and Datadog were also higher Friday, up about 12.6% and 9.4%, respectively.

The moves came as investors assessed the sustainability of this week’s rally, and whether it’s a relief bounce or does it mark the bottom of this year’s long sell-off.

Still, the averages are well off their highs, with the Nasdaq Composite still solidly in bear market territory and the S&P 500 having briefly dipped more than 20% below its record last week.

The Nasdaq now sits about 25.2% from its record, while the S&P 500 and Dow are off by 13.7% and 10.1%, respectively.

Jeff Kilburg, chief investment officer of Sanctuary Wealth, said he looks to the Treasury market as a “beacon of light” for the stock market. The 10-year Treasury yield has fallen below 2.75% from a peak that exceeded 3% this year.



But away from the central bankster, fiat money fuelled stock casinos, a hurricane of rising interest rates is fast approaching the global economy.

We are in for a summer or more of false dawn, whipsaw relief rallies.

Worry about stagflation, a flashback to ’70s, begins to grow

May 29, 2022

WASHINGTON (AP) — Stagflation. It was the dreaded “S word” of the 1970s.

For Americans of a certain age, it conjures memories of painfully long lines at gas stations, shuttered factories and President Gerald Ford’s much-ridiculed “Whip Inflation Now” buttons.

Stagflation is the bitterest of economic pills: High inflation mixes with a weak job market to cause a toxic brew that punishes consumers and befuddles economists.

For decades, most economists didn’t think such a nasty concoction was even possible. They’d long assumed that inflation would run high only when the economy was strong and unemployment low.

But an unhappy confluence of events has economists reaching back to the days of disco and the bleak high-inflation, high-unemployment economy of nearly a half century ago. Few think stagflation is in sight. But as a longer-term threat, it can no longer be dismissed.

Last week, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen invoked the word in remarks to reporters:

“The economic outlook globally,” Yellen said, “is challenging and uncertain, and higher food and energy prices are having stagflationary effects, namely depressing output and spending and raising inflation all around the world.”

---- For now, economists broadly agree that the U.S. economy has enough oomph to avoid a recession. But the problems are piling up. Supply chain bottlenecks and disruptions from Russia’s war against Ukraine have sent consumer prices surging at their fastest pace in decades.

The Federal Reserve and other central banks, blindsided by raging inflation, are scrambling to catch up by aggressively raising interest rates. They hope to cool growth enough to tame inflation without causing a recession.

It’s a notoriously difficult task. The widespread fear, reflected in shrunken stock prices, is that the Fed will end up botching it and will clobber the economy without delivering a knockout blow to inflation.



Column: Another leg lower? Markets not yet braced for recession

LONDON, May 27 (Reuters) - One of the worst starts to a year in decades might lead you to think investors are already braced for an economic storm ahead, but it's far from clear recession risks have been taken on board or are fully priced.

Reasons for this year's 15-20% slide in benchmark stock indices are well documented - rising interest rates to rein in soaring post-pandemic inflation rates that have been exaggerated by a Ukraine-related energy and food price shock that has also pummelled household incomes and corporate margins.

Throw in heightened geopolitical risks more generally, China's growth-sapping "zero COVID" lockdowns, persistent supply-chain problems and chip shortages - and skies darken further. And while a Northern summer might alleviate the immediate energy pressure, there's little clarity in Europe about what happens coming next winter if Russian gas supplies are cut off.

No great surprise then that economists are warning of a global recession ahead even as many parts of the world appeared to be just surfing the crest of a post-pandemic reopening wave.

The main policy debate hinges on whether the U.S. Federal Reserve and other central banks will feel the need to tighten monetary policy to "restrictive" territory that deliberately slows economies to drag inflation back down - or whether growth will roll over before they even need to consider getting above so called "neutral" rates still 150 basis points up from here.

Either way, it's not a great picture of activity ahead.

----Washington's Institute for International Finance halved its world growth forecast to just 2.3% for this year and said "global recession risk is elevated". read more

Commercial banks such as Deutsche Bank and Wells Fargo now forecast a U.S. recession at some point over the next 12-18 months, while many houses see Europe there this year.

Economic data surprises are turning sour, with U.S. and China indexes rolling over again and now more negative than they've been seen the Omicron variant first hit six months ago. And this time with world oil prices 50% higher than they were last Autumn and, at almost 3%, 10-year dollar borrowing rates more than twice November levels.

And U.S. housing markets are beginning to creak under the weight of rising mortgage rates and searing materials costs.

So, on many levels, the outsize drop in stock prices is more than well founded - the only question is whether it's enough.

The problem is there's been little or no downgrade of aggregate 12-month forward or full-year 2023 earnings forecasts yet despite darkening outlooks from many tech, digital and subscription-based firms as well as those exposed to China and chip shortages - or indeed energy rationing in Europe.

And even though we've seen a cheapening of the most expensive Wall St stock valuations since the dot.com bubble 20 years ago, they are still above 30-year averages and only back to where they were on the eve of the pandemic. The picture is slightly better in Europe, though not much.

But unfazed earnings projections are perhaps the most alarming aspect of current valuations.




Global Inflation/Stagflation Watch.           

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

This weekend, Rabobank covers what the LIR has covered since February and our disastrous unnecessary war in the Ukraine. Shame that no one in the Anglo-American-NATO War Party knew.

Russian-Ukrainian War Could Spark Global Food Crisis, Recession: Report

By Victoria Kelly-Clark  May 27, 2022

The world should ready itself for a possible global food crisis in the coming months amid the fallout of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, according to a new report (pdf) from agricultural financial advisory Rabobank.

Over the past 20 years, Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine have become major suppliers in global grain and agricultural markets, producing between 20 to 30 percent of a range of primary products, including wheat, corn, barley, canola, sunflower oil, pulses, nitrogen-based fertiliser and potash.

Rabobank noted that given the impossibility of estimating how much grain and other agricultural products Ukraine will be able to produce in the coming growing season—even with conservative modelling estimates—it was likely there would be a shortfall of grain and feed, which could pose a severe threat to global food security.

“The world has not yet fully the heavy absence of Ukraine’s supplies,” the report said. “However, this is about to change from July onward.”

“In years when global grain supply has fallen 40 to 50 [million] metric tonnes below trend consumption in one season, the historical trend has been that the global food price index rises to very high levels. The most recent Ukrainian crisis has pushed the FAO Food Price Index to a record high, as heavy supply losses in the world market have been expected.”

The financial advisory said they expected “elevated global grain and oilseed prices to persist throughout the year—and for years to come.”

Food Shortage Could Spark Political Instability

On May 13, Indian authorities said it would ban the export of wheat, effective immediately, to shore up its own food security.

The news was met with cynicism from import-reliant countries, with Germany’s Agriculture Minister Cem Ozdemir arguing the move could exacerbate the current crisis, especially if other countries follow suit, reported Aljazeera.

“If everyone starts to impose export restrictions or to close markets, that would worsen the crisis,” he said. “We call on India to assume its responsibility as a G20 member.”

Matt Dalgleish from market analysis firm Thomas Elder Markets in Australia, said that the Ukrainian-Russian conflict has definitely pushed some import-reliant countries to the point of desperation.

“Countries that are on our doorstep, like Indonesia, that have a huge population and are struggling for self-sufficiency in terms of their [own] self-sufficiency, they could have problems,” Dalgleish told The Epoch Times. “In the Middle East and North African area—like Algeria, Libya and Egypt—they are all countries are susceptible to food risk and food insecurity.”

Dalgleish said due to the lower income levels in those countries; much of the population already spends a higher proportion of income on food-related matters, and as grain supplies drop, prices could rise as countries compete for supply.

“When people become food insecure, that’s a very quick way to get civil disobedience and instability within a country,” he said.

Dalgleish noted that countries like Australia—not dependent on imported food supplies—would instead feel inflationary pressures as prices ramp up for basics like fuel and fertiliser, due to the sanctions placed on Russia. This could have a flow-on effect and cause prices to rise in staples like flour, milk, vegetables, and meat.



Below, why a “green energy” economy may not be possible, and if it is, it won’t be quick and it will be very inflationary, setting off a new long-term commodity Supercycle. Probably the largest seen so far.

The “New Energy Economy”: An Exercise in Magical Thinking


Mines, Minerals, and "Green" Energy: A Reality Check


"An Environmental Disaster": An EV Battery Metals Crunch Is On The Horizon As The Industry Races To Recycle

by Tyler Durden Monday, Aug 02, 2021 - 08:40 PM


Covid-19 Corner

This section will continue until it becomes unneeded.

Scientists identify ‘trigger molecule’ for Covid-related changes to smell

Molecule found in coffee typically described by people with parosmia as disgusting or repulsive

Wed 25 May 2022 17.20 BST

Scientists have identified the “trigger molecule” that makes pleasant aromas smell like burning rubbish or sewage in people whose sense of smell is disrupted by Covid.

The loss of smell is a defining symptom of Covid-19, with about 18% of adults in the UK estimated to have been affected. Some people also experience disturbances in their sense of smell – a condition known as parosmia – but the biological basis for this has remained a mystery.

Now scientists have identified a highly potent odour molecule that appears to be a trigger for the sense of disgust experienced by many of those with parosmia. The molecule, called 2-furanmethanethiol, found in coffee, was described by those with a normal sense of smell as being coffee- or popcorn-like, but those with parosmia typically described its scent as disgusting, repulsive or dirty.

Dr Jane Parker, the director of the Flavour Centre at the University of Reading and co-author of the research, said: “This is solid evidence that it’s not ‘all in the head’, and that the sense of disgust can be related to the compounds in the distorted foods. The central nervous system is certainly involved as well in interpreting the signals that it receives from the nose.”

---- Some of the most common triggers for parosmia include coffee, chocolate, meat, onion and toothpaste. The latest study investigated whether there were particular compounds within these substances that were to blame.

By trapping the aroma of coffee, the team were able to test individual coffee compounds on volunteers who had parosmia and compare their reaction with those who didn’t. From the hundred or so aroma compounds present in coffee, people with parosmia could point to those responsible for the sense of disgust. Among the 29 volunteers, scientists found 15 commonly identified compounds that triggered parosmia, with the prime culprit being a chemical called 2-furanmethanethiol, which 20 of the volunteers said had a horrible smell.



World Health Organization - Landscape of COVID-19 candidate vaccineshttps://www.who.int/publications/m/item/draft-landscape-of-covid-19-candidate-vaccines

NY Times Coronavirus Vaccine Trackerhttps://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/science/coronavirus-vaccine-tracker.html

Regulatory Focus COVID-19 vaccine trackerhttps://www.raps.org/news-and-articles/news-articles/2020/3/covid-19-vaccine-tracker

Some more useful Covid links.

Johns Hopkins Coronavirus resource centre


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.

Cheap gel film pulls buckets of drinking water per day from thin air

Michael Irving  May 24, 2022

Water scarcity is a major problem for much of the world’s population, but with the right equipment drinking water can be wrung out of thin air. Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have now demonstrated a low-cost gel film that can pull many liters of water per day out of even very dry air.

The gel is made up of two main ingredients that are cheap and common – cellulose, which comes from the cell walls of plants, and konjac gum, a widely used food additive. Those two components work together to make a gel film that can absorb water from the air and then release it on demand, without requiring much energy.

First, the porous structure of the gum attracts water to condense out of the air around it. The cellulose, meanwhile, is designed to respond to a gentle heat by turning hydrophobic, releasing the captured water.

Making the gel is also fairly simple, the team says. The basic ingredients are mixed together then poured into a mold, where it sets in two minutes. After that it’s freeze-dried, then peeled out of the mold and ready to get to work. It can be made into basically any shape needed, and scaled up fairly easily and at low-cost.

In tests, the gel film was able to wring an astonishing amount of water out of the air. At a relative humidity of 30 percent, it could produce 13 L (3.4 gal) of water per day per kilogram of gel, and even when the humidity dropped to just 15 percent – which is low, even for desert air – it could still produce more than 6 L (1.6 gal) a day per kilogram.

That’s a huge improvement over other water harvesters we’ve covered over the years. The highest previously was 8.66 L (2.3 gal), but that was in air with much higher humidity. Others have topped out at 5.87 L (1.55 gal) at 30 percent humidity, or as little as 1.3 L (0.3 gal).

And the new gel film's efficiency could be improved even further, the team says, by creating thicker films, absorbent beds, or other array formations of the material. Perhaps most importantly, the material is extremely inexpensive to produce, costing as little as US$2 per kilogram. That’s another major factor in scaling up the technology and getting it to remote areas and developing countries, where it’s needed the most.

The research was published in the journal Nature Communications.

Source: UT Austin


This weekend’s musical diversion.  Germany’s very underrated Herr Fasch again. Approx. 15 minutes.

Johann Friedrich Fasch - Violin Concerto in D-major, FWV L D4:a


This weekend’s chess update. Approx. 12 minutes.

The Incredible Praggnanandhaa


This week’s maths update.  Approx. 10 minutes.

Take Any Square Root by Hand - Easy to Learn!


Finally. Peanuts. Approx. 12 minutes.

The Crazy History of Peanuts and Peanut Butter


They pretend to pay us! We pretend to work.

USSR Adage.