Friday, 31 March 2023

Dress Up Friday, Month, Quarter 2023

 Baltic Dry Index. 1403  -04          Brent Crude 79.08

Spot Gold 1980               US 2 Year Yield 4.10 +0.02

Coronavirus Cases 01/04/20 World 1,000,000

Deaths 53,103

Coronavirus Cases 31/03/23 World 683,779,273

Deaths 6,830,463

Nothing is so admirable in politics as a short memory.

John Kenneth Galbraith.

It is month-end and end of first quarter 2023. Despite the continuing banking crisis, it’s time to dress up the stock casinos and stock indexes once again.

The banksters and professional money manager sharks, quarterly bonuses depend on share prices forever moving higher. “Whatever it takes,” as they say at the ECB.

Look away from rising interest rates, inflation and events in the real global economy now.


Asia-Pacific markets climb after tech stocks led gains on Wall Street

UPDATED FRI, MAR 31 2023 12:06 AM EDT

Markets in the Asia-Pacific traded higher on Friday as technology stocks continued to see renewed interest and led gains on Wall Street, with some shaking off concerns of a further banking crisis.

Investors also looked ahead to the U.S. personal consumption expenditure price index, the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation, which is slated for release later in the day.

The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong rose 1.85%, leading gains in the region and the Hang Seng Tech index jumped 1.77%. In mainland China, the Shenzhen Component gained 0.2% and the Shanghai Composite inched up 0.14%

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.97% and the Topix rose 1% as Tokyo’s inflation print continued to show lower levels from its recent peak of 4.3% seen in December. The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia rose 0.7%.

South Korea’s Kospi also rose 1.01% while the Kosdaq fell marginally. Hang Seng futures also pointed to a higher open at 20,563 against the index’s last close at 20,309.13.

Overnight in the U.S., weekly jobless claims rose by 7,000 to 198,000, adding to hopes that the Federal Reserve could slow down its tightening campaign on a cooling labor market.

The S&P 500 added 0.57%, and touched its highest level since March 7 mid-session. The Nasdaq Composite also rose and marked an increase of more than 4% for the month and the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.43%.

China’s March official manufacturing PMI reading beats expectations

China’s official manufacturing purchasing managers index for March was 51.9, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed.

That’s slightly above expectations of 51.5 by analysts polled by Reuters, but lower than 52.6 seen in February.

Most components eased from February, while output, new orders and exports remained in expansion territory, government data showed.

Non-manufacturing PMI meanwhile was 58.2, higher than February’s reading of 56.3 alongside notable rises in activity in the construction sector.

Asia-Pacific markets climb after tech stocks led gains on Wall Street (

Stock futures are flat Thursday evening: Live updates

UPDATED THU, MAR 30 2023 7:28 PM EDT

U.S. stock futures were flat on Thursday night.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures added 14 points, or 0.04%. S&P 500 futures rose 0.09%, while Nasdaq 100 futures gained 0.05%.

The Dow gained more than 141 points or 0.43% during regular trading Thursday. The S&P 500 rose 0.57%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 0.73%. 

The three major averages are also on pace for a positive week. The Dow is up 1.93%, and the S&P 500 has a 2% gain. Both indexes are on track for their best weekly performance since January. The Nasdaq is up 1.6% for the week.

Thursday’s gains come after the number of weekly jobless claims reached 198,000, up 7,000 from the prior week. The cooldown in the labor market added to Wall Street’s optimism that the Fed will soon bring an end to its rate hike cycle. Semiconductors enjoyed a strong day, with AMD and Nvidia up more than 1%.

The recent rally is “helping to confirm the market’s perception that the problems that brought the market to a crisis of confidence could very well be contained,” said Quincy Krosby, chief global strategist for LPL Financial. 

“The semiconductors, [which] have come to be viewed as an important bellwether for global growth, delivered a strong performance,” Krosby continued.

However, she noted that the markets are not yet completely in the clear from an economic downturn. 

“Economic concerns enveloping recession fears haven’t vanished as the yield curve still represents a counter to the market’s climb higher,” Krosby added.

The Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge, the personal consumption expenditures index, is due to be released at 8:30 a.m. ET on Friday. Economists polled by Dow Jones expect that the core PCE, which excludes energy and food costs, gained 0.4% in February from the prior month and added 4.7% on an annualized basis.

Personal income data and consumer spending will also be issued Friday morning. The final March reading of the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index is due at 10 a.m. ET.

Several central bank officials are also scheduled to speak Friday, including Fed Governors Lisa Cook and Christopher Waller.

Stock market today: Live updates (

Finally, in other news, more food price inflation seems likely in 2023. Buy now for Christmas 2023?

Virgin’s moon shot crashes back to Earth.


Macron to introduce water levy as France suffers worst drought in years

March 30, 2023

Emmanuel Macron has pledged to tax water usage in France to tackle a major drought, with the move coming amid a public uprising over pension reforms and the cost of living.

The move was announced in a 53-point plan after last summer’s devastating heatwave and record low rainfall this winter. On March 1, groundwater levels in France were 80 per cent lower than average.

Climate change had turned water into a “strategic issue for the nation”, said Mr Macron, who warned that the climate crisis would deprive France of 30-40 per cent of its available water by 2050.

Speaking in the Alpine town of Savines-le-Lac, on the shores of western Europe’s largest fresh water reservoir, the president unveiled the new water-saving measures as he sought to dismiss political and social unrest.

“There is contestation over a reform, but it doesn’t mean everything else should grind to a halt. We need to continue working,” he said as critics accused him of timing the water plan to divert attention from the anger. Around 200 protesters turned out, and there were two arrests.

----The president said France would impose “gradual and responsible tariffs” on water usage that would apply “to everyone”.

“The first cubic metres will be billed at a modest rate, close to cost price” but “beyond a certain level, the price per cubic metre will be higher”, he said, without providing further details.

But he denied that this would lead to higher water bills for the average French person, saying rates in France were at “middling” levels in Europe.

Mr Macron said he wanted 10 per cent of all water in France to be reused by 2030, up from the current one per cent, adding: “We want to reuse 300 million cubic metres – that is three Olympic swimming pools or 3,500 bottles of water – per French person per year.”

He pledged €180 million to plug water leaks, saying these were responsible the loss of one in every five litres of water in France. Much of the funds would go towards 170 problem areas where water loss from leaks was at 50 per cent.

Nuclear power plants will have to adapt to reduce their reliance on water to cool down, he said. Some 58 per cent of the water used in France goes to farming, 26 per cent to drinkable water, 12 per cent to cool down nuclear reactors and four per cent to industrial uses.

Despite their huge water consumption, French farmers would not be asked to reduce their overall water consumption but would need to share the volumes out over larger areas in future “due to climate change”, said Marc Fesneau, the agriculture minister.

The proposals will also create a new app to inform residents if water usage in their area has reached a critical level, on the model of the Ecowatt app for electricity use that was launched to encourage savings this winter.

Macron to introduce water levy as France suffers worst drought in years (

Sugar Getting Even Pricier Poses Threat to Food Inflation

Decline in Indian exports is tightening world supplies

More sugar cane output is being used to make biofuel

By Mumbi Gitau and Pratik Parija

Updated on

More Expensive Sugar, With Lower India Exports, Is New Threat to Food Inflation - Bloomber

Virgin Orbit fails to secure funding, will cease operations and lay off nearly entire workforce

Virgin Orbit is ceasing operations “for the foreseeable future” after failing to secure a funding lifeline, CEO Dan Hart told employees during an all-hands meeting Thursday afternoon. The company will lay off nearly all of its workforce.

“Unfortunately, we’ve not been able to secure the funding to provide a clear path for this company,” Hart said, according to audio of the 5 p.m. ET meeting obtained by CNBC.

“We have no choice but to implement immediate, dramatic and extremely painful changes,” Hart said, audibly choking up on the call. He added this would be “probably the hardest all-hands that we’ve ever done in my life.”

The company will eliminate all but 100 positions, amounting to about 90% of the workforce, Hart said, noting the layoffs will affect every team and department. In a securities filing, the company said the layoffs constituted 675 positions, or approximately 85%.

“This company, this team — all of you — mean a hell of a lot to me. And I have not, and will not, stop supporting you, whether you’re here on the journey or if you’re elsewhere,” Hart said.

Virgin Orbit will “provide a severance package for every departing” employee, Hart said, with a cash payment, extension of benefits, and support in finding a new position — with a “direct pipeline” set up with sister company Virgin Galactic for hiring.


Virgin Orbit funding plans fail, will stop operations, conduct layoffs (

Global Inflation/Stagflation/Recession Watch.

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

Ford hikes F-150 Lightning's price again to battle high costs

March 30 (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co (F.N) has raised the base price of its popular F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck again, the automaker's website showed on Thursday, the latest in a series of price hikes aimed at offsetting high costs.

Shares of Ford were up 2% in afternoon trade.

The base variant of Ford's electric F-150 truck now starts at $59,974, excluding shipping and taxes, up nearly 50% from its starting price when launched last year.

The Detroit automaker resumed production of the F-150 Lightning earlier this month after recalling 18 electric trucks due to a battery-cell manufacturing defect.

Ford's hike comes after EV maker Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) ignited a price war this year by aggressively trimming prices.

A week earlier, Ford said its electric-vehicle business unit was expected to lose $3 billion this year, but remained on track to achieve a pretax margin of 8% by late 2026.

The company was not immediately available for further comment on the price increase, which was first reported by Automotive News on Thursday.

Ford hikes F-150 Lightning's price again to battle high costs | Reuters

Supply shortages threaten U.S. infrastructure and war efforts

LOS ANGELES, March 29 (Reuters) - Manufacturers of everything from pickup trucks to homes are still grappling with tight supplies of microchips and cement - shortages that could translate into delays and higher costs for federal efforts to arm Ukraine against Russian aggression and rebuild U.S. crumbling infrastructure and manufacturing.

The supply chain woes that sent costs soaring and spurred shortages of everything from toilet paper to passenger cars are easing for retail-focused industries, but remain stubbornly persistent in important growth sectors like autos, machinery, defense and non-residential construction, experts said.

"For sectors where demand is still strong, we are still seeing issues of materials shortages, and these problems will take additional time to resolve," said Jason Miller, associate professor of logistics at Michigan State University's business school.

"One of the big issues as we're trying to ramp up the military industrial base is having enough electronic components," Miller said.

Companies that make war weapons like shoulder-fired Javelin and Stinger missiles are awaiting U.S. funding before starting new production for Ukraine. When the defense industry gets that greenlight, their scramble to source semiconductors and other hard-to-find electronic components could usher in a new wave of supply chain snarls that disrupt production and drive up costs.

"Any general shortage in semiconductors will affect defense," said Brad Martin, director of Rand Corp's National Security Supply Chain Institute.

The problem has eased in some areas. Supplies of semiconductors for personal computers improved after kids went back to the classroom and parents returned to their offices - crushing sales of new machines.

On the other hand, ongoing demand for auto and farm equipment has kept stocks of microchips that act as electronic brains in that machinery tight.

Farm and construction equipment maker Caterpillar Inc (CAT.N) is still competing with car makers to get its hands on limited supplies, Caterpillar CEO Jim Umpleby said at a March 14 conference in Las Vegas.

"It's gotten a bit better, but it's still not what it was pre-pandemic," said Umpleby.

General Motors (GM.N) last week reopened its Silao, Mexico, plant that turns out Chevrolet Silverados and GMC Sierras after halting production for more than a week due to hiccups in semiconductor availability that the company is working to resolve.


Supply shortages threaten U.S. infrastructure and war efforts | Reuters

Covid-19 Corner

This section will continue until it becomes unneeded.

Nothing, of course, to do with soaring adverse reaction cases, continuing excess deaths across Europe and America, plus lawyers across GB and Europe starting to figure out ways to get around big pharma’s immunity from vaccine harm clauses, then.

In the UK, some very clever lawyers seem to think that the Consumers Protection Act of 1987 trumps the vaccine legal immunity given to big pharma, since the product, i.e. the vaccine, was defective, not up to the standard the consumer was led to believe and entitled to expect.

WHO experts revise Covid-19 vaccine advice, say healthy kids and teens low risk

March 29, 2023

The World Health Organization’s vaccine experts have revised their global Covid-19 vaccination recommendations, and healthy kids and teenagers considered low priority may not need to get a shot.

The updated roadmap is designed to prioritize Covid-19 vaccines for those at greatest risk of death and severe disease, according to the World Health Organization’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE).

It is being issued to reflect the Omicron stage of the pandemic and because of countries’ high population immunity levels due to vaccines and infection, the group announced following a recent meeting.

The new streamlined recommendations focus on high-, medium- and low-risk groups.

SAGE recommends additional booster doses of Covid-19 vaccine for high-priority groups such as older people, immunocompromised people of all ages, front-line health workers and pregnant people six or 12 months after their last booster dose.

For those at medium risk, the group recommends primary vaccinations and first booster doses but does not recommend routine additional boosters. This group includes children and adolescents with health risks and healthy adults under the age of about 60.

For healthy kids six months to 17 years old, the group said countries should consider vaccinating based on factors such as disease burden and cost-effectiveness.

“The public health impact of vaccinating healthy children and adolescents is comparatively much lower than the established benefits of traditional essential vaccines for children – such as the rotavirus, measles, and pneumococcal conjugate vaccines,” SAGE said in a press release.

The group said its vaccine guidance is based on current epidemiological conditions and could change if the pandemic evolves.

It also comes as countries are making their own choices about vaccine recommendations based on their vaccine supply and progress.

US officials, for example, are weighing whether to offer people who are at high risk of severe Covid-19 the chance to get another bivalent booster. The United Kingdom and Canada have already begun allowing certain people to get another bivalent booster.

Experts also acknowledged competing health priorities when it comes to vaccinations.


WHO experts revise Covid-19 vaccine advice, say healthy kids and teens low risk (

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.

Well if they say so, I suppose, but it sounds like a coming pitch for a taxpayer subsidy to me.

Recycling Broken Wind Turbine Parts Could Create 20,000 UK Jobs and Multi-billion-pound Supply Chain

Mar 29 2023

Tens of billions of pounds could be generated for the UK economy from the re-use, refurbishment and re-engineering of broken wind turbine parts, according to a new coalition set-up to drive the creation of a circular supply chain for renewables in the UK.

​​​​​​​Building the capabilities to refurbish wind turbine parts in the UK could also generate more than 20,000 full-time equivalent jobs by 2035, and prevent more than 800,000 tonnes of parts from being scrapped.

The group, which so far comprises Scottish-headquartered energy company SSE Renewables, the University of Strathclyde, the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) and Renewable Parts Ltd, made the statement as they launched CWIC, the new Coalition for Wind Industry Circularity today (March 28).

Responding, Nick Sharpe, Director of Communications and Strategy at Scottish Renewables, said:

“As we approach 2030, a significant number of our wind farms will reach the end of their 20 to 25 year lifespans.

“We know that 80% of a modern wind turbine is recyclable so there are clear opportunities for wind farm operators to harness a circular economy by increasing the reuse of component parts from decommissioned projects.

“The formation of the Coalition for Wind Industry Circularity sends a clear signal that the wind industry is committed to delivering a renewable energy circular economy for Scotland, and we look forward to working with more of our members as they join the Coalition and this initiative gathers pace.”


Recycling Broken Wind Turbine Parts Could Create 20,000 UK Jobs and Multi-billion-pound Supply Chain (

Another weekend and hopefully a weekend without another bankster crisis.  However, the gap between our stock casinos, and our increasingly fragile developed economies is widening again. Q2 23 looks to be interesting, to say the least. More fallout from rising interest rates, high food price inflation and the soaring social discontent it generates, is all to likely to bring on trouble with a big T. Have a great weekend everyone.

There can be few fields of human endeavour in which history counts for so little as in the world of finance. Past experience, to the extent that it is part of memory at all, is dismissed as the primitive refuge of those who do not have the insight to appreciate the incredible wonders of the present.

John Kenneth Galbraith.

Thursday, 30 March 2023

The Rise And Rise Of China

 Baltic Dry Index. 1407  +05          Brent Crude 77.97

Spot Gold 1963               US 2 Year Yield 4.08 +0.06

Coronavirus Cases 01/04/20 World 1,000,000

Deaths 53,103

Coronavirus Cases 30/03/23 World 683,644,472

Deaths 6,829,253

“I have come to the conclusion that politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.”

Charles de Gaulle.

Is 2023 a historic year? America and Europe are mired in inflation with fast rising social unrest in Europe. 

Russia’s never ending war in Ukraine just goes on despite endless western predictions of Russian collapse and Ukraine victory.

China’s global influence continues expanding.

Asia markets trade mixed; ASX hits two-week high as banking fears ease

UPDATED WED, MAR 29 2023 11:54 PM EDT

Asia-Pacific markets were trading mixed on Thursday, with Australia’s benchmark index hitting a two week high as concerns on the recent banking turmoil in the U.S. and Europe ease.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.85%, led by miners and bank stocks. Top gainers, BHP and Rio Tinto, were up 2.37% and 1.61% respectively, as well as the “Big Four” banks, which posted gains of 0.8% to 1.7%.

The “Big Four” banks refer to the Commonwealth Bank of AustraliaNational Australia BankANZ Group, and Westpac Banking Corp.

Japanese markets are trading lower, the Nikkei 225 fell 0.73%, while the Topix saw a larger loss of 0.87%.

The Hang Seng index dropped 0.68%, while the Hang Seng Tech index also slid 0.69%, reversing some of the gains made on Wednesday.

In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite was 0.47% lower, with the Shenzhen Component also 0.44% down.

South Korea’s Kospi was up 0.21%, while the Kosdaq index gained 0.83%.

Overnight in the U.S., stocks rose broadly as strong gains in tech helped the Nasdaq rebound after a losing session. Sentiment was also lifted by easing concerns around the state of the banking sector.

All three major indexes were up, with the  Nasdaq Composite leading gains and climbing 1.8%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1% and the S&P 500 gained 1.4%.

Asia markets trade mixed; ASX hits two-week high as banking fears ease (

European stocks set to open higher as banking concerns continue to ease

UPDATED THU, MAR 30 2023 12:26 AM EDT

European markets are heading for a higher open Thursday as concerns over the banking sector ease.

European stock markets were higher on Wednesday, as concerns over the health of the sector continued to wane; UBS shares were up 4.5% mid-afternoon yesterday after the bank announced Sergio Ermotti would return to his role as group CEO from April 5, following the recent acquisition of Credit Suisse. Shares of the bank ended the session 3.7% higher.

Asia-Pacific markets were trading mixed on Thursday, with Australia’s benchmark index hitting a two-week high as concerns on the recent banking turmoil in the U.S. and Europe ease. U.S. stock futures were little changed Wednesday night.

European markets live updates: stocks, data, news and earnings (

In other news, China’s global influence grows. Is US influence declining? What does it mean if it is?

Saudi Arabia takes step to join China-led security bloc, as ties with Beijing strengthen

Saudi Arabia’s cabinet approved a decision to join a China-led security bloc, strengthening Riyadh’s eastern ties in a further step away from U.S. interests.

The state-owned Saudi Press Agency said that, in a session presided by King Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Saudi cabinet on Tuesday approved a memorandum awarding Riyadh the status of dialogue partner in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization — a political, security and trade alliance that lists China, Russia, India, Pakistan and four other central Asian nations as full members.

The organization further tallies four observer states — including Iran — and nine dialogue partners, counting in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. It is headquartered in Beijing and served by China’s Zhang Ming as secretary-general.

Saudi Arabia’s decision to join the SCO, while falling short of full membership, takes Riyadh’s interests further east, at a time when Beijing is testing out its sway in the Middle East in a potential hit to U.S. influence. In early March, China brokered a deal for long-time Mideast rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran to resume diplomatic relations and reopen embassies in each other’s countries.

Deeper in Europe, Beijing just as ambitiously, if so far less successfully, submitted a 12-point plan to achieve peace between Russia and Ukraine.

The White House did not immediately respond to a CNBC request to comment on Saudi Arabia’s new dialogue partner status in the SCO.

Saudi interests have long been intertwined with those of leading SCO members China and Russia. Beijing is Riyadh’s largest trading partner, with bilateral trade worth $87.3 billion in 2021, according to Reuters.

China is a major consumer of hydrocarbon-reliant Saudi Arabia’s oil exports, with the two countries making significant inroads in each other’s petrochemical sectors — including the recent announcement by Saudi state-controlled oil giant Aramco of a joint venture that will build a refinery and petrochemical complex in Panjin in northeast China, alongside partners Norinco and the Panjin Xincheng Industrial Group.

Separately, Riyadh is a close ally of Russia in the crude oil production policies of the OPEC+ coalition.

Saudi Arabia takes step to join China-led security bloc, as ties with Beijing strengthen (

China’s growing influence threatens to undermine global human rights, new research finds

China’s growing global influence poses a serious threat to international human rights, according to a new report, which suggests that the United Nations Human Rights Council — the body established to safeguard such international protections — is failing to counter the risks.

The UNHRC is an inter-governmental body made up of 47 U.N. member states, which are elected on a three-year rotational basis with the stated aim of strengthening the “promotion and protection of human rights” globally.

Yet research released Thursday by risk and strategic consulting firm Verisk Maplecroft suggests that it has instead become a “battleground for competing standards,” with China and allied member states showing signs of “watering down international action” and pushing their “own brand of human rights.”

Of particular note, it said that China was pushing a “statist ‘development first’ view of human rights” on council members and undermining individual freedoms by “emphasizing economic development above all other rights.”

China’s ministry of foreign affairs did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment on the findings.

The research, part of the firm’s wider annual Human Rights Outlook, is based on quantitative data from sources including the U.N., the U.S. State Department and Human Rights Watch, as well as Verisk Maplecroft’s internal qualitative analysis.

It also found that China is using its economic power to sway council votes, with grantees of China’s “Belt & Road Initiative” most susceptible to influence.

At least 35 of the 47 UNHRC member states belong to the BRI — China’s global infrastructure development project — many of which are Asian or African countries with similar, or worse, scores on the company’s human rights indices, the study noted.


China's growing influence threatens to undermine global human rights (

China’s strong demand for commodities to exceed post-2008 crisis, mining giant says

BO’AO, China — China’s post-pandemic reopening will boost demand for commodities more significantly than it did when the country emerged from the 2008 financial crisis, according to Andrew Forrest, executive chairman of Fortescue.

The Australian iron ore giant began business in China with a 180,000-metric ton shipment of iron ore in 2008, according to the company’s website.

At that time, China managed to avoid a prolonged recession with a massive stimulus program that supported infrastructure development — which drove up demand for commodities. 

“It’s like that, but this time it’s only going to be bigger in volume,” Forrest told CNBC on Wednesday, when asked how China’s post-Covid demand might compare.

“Probably around the same or a little less in percentage,” he said on the sidelines of the Boao Forum for Asia. Government leaders and business executives are at the high-profile conference held annually in Hainan province and sometimes likened to the Asian version of the World Economic Forum’s annual event in Davos, Switzerland.

China’s economy is far larger today than it was during the global financial crisis in 2008. In 2010, China surpassed Japan to become the second largest economy in the world.

Forrest pointed out the volume represented by a percentage is greater when the “cake” is larger.

“What we’re seeing now is uniform demand across China,” Forrest said, “and uniform demand but increasing, thankfully, in the supply chain, the ecosystem which will create [for the] renewable energy industry.”

Forrest did not specify which commodities he was referring to. In the six months ended Dec. 31, Fortescue said it shipped a record 96.9 million metric tons of iron ore — up 4% from a year ago.

The Australian miner expects to keep up a similar pace of shipments in the first half of this year, according to guidance shared in February.

This year’s Boao Forum is the first since China ended its Covid-era border controls, allowing more foreign businesses to visit the country.


China reopening: commodities demand to exceed 2008 crisis-Fortescue (

China committed to economic opening up, reforms, Premier Li says

BOAO, China, March 30 (Reuters) - China is committed to opening up the world's second-largest economy and delivering reforms that can help stimulate growth, Premier Li Qiang said on Thursday, adding that geopolitical tension would only hold back development worldwide.

Li's comments at an international business summit in the island province of Hainan, are his latest calls for Beijing to bolster its economic recovery in the face of strained relations with the United States and its allies over everything from Russia's war in Ukraine to technology exports and Taiwan.

His comments were delivered on a panel alongside the prime ministers of Malaysia, Singapore and Spain - which all have close trade and diplomatic ties with Beijing.

"No matter what changes take place in the world, we will always adhere to reform and opening up," Li, who took office this month, told the panel at the annual Boao Forum.

"We will introduce a series of new measures in expanding market access and optimising the business environment ... Peace is a prerequisite for development," he said.

COVID curbs battered China's economy for three years before being dropped in December, and Li said there were signs a recovery was starting to take hold.

China has set itself a modest target for gross domestic product growth of about 5% this year, after significantly missing its target for 2022. That is lower than what the International Monetary Fund and some private forecasters think it can achieve.

"Judging from the situation in March, it's better than in January and February. In particular, major economic indicators such as consumption and investment continue to improve, while employment and prices are generally stable," Li said.

In veiled comments aimed at the United States, which is working with its allies to stymie China's access to advanced technologies such as microchips, Li said Beijing opposed trade protectionism and decoupling.

Relations between the two superpowers have been tense for years and worsened last month after the United States shot down a high-altitude balloon off the U.S. East Coast that it says was a Chinese spying craft.

Another flashpoint in U.S.-China rivalry has been Taiwan, the democratically ruled island that China claims as its territory.

In the latest escalation, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen arrived in New York on Wednesday for the first of two U.S stopovers that Beijing has called provocative.

In his speech, Li said "chaos and conflicts" must not happen in Asia and that China would act as an "anchor" for global peace.

China committed to economic opening up, reforms, Premier Li says | Reuters

Finally, in cryptoland, Diogenes is still looking for an honest man.

Binance concealed ‘extensive’ ties to China: Financial Times

MARCH 30, 2023 | 2:31 AM HKT

Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, reportedly hid ties to China for years despite claiming to have left the country following Beijing’s regulatory clampdown in 2017, according to internal documents cited by the Financial Times on Wednesday.  

Fast facts

  • Binance Chief Executive Officer Changpeng Zhao and other senior executives reportedly directed employees to conceal the company’s presence in China. The Financial Times reported that the company had a mainland office that was active until 2019 and a Chinese bank that was used for payrolls. 
  • Binance reportedly told employees in 2018 that their salaries would be disbursed via a bank in Shanghai, and in 2019, they were told to attend a tax session at an office in China.
  • The Financial Times also reported that employees were cautioned to only publicly acknowledge offices in Malta, Singapore and Uganda, while avoiding reference to other locations, including China.
  • The exchange has reportedly concealed its Chinese presence by including instructions in the onboarding documentation for new employees in China to install virtual private networks on their devices. 
  • “It is unfortunate that anonymous sources are citing ancient history (in crypto terms) and dramatically mischaracterizing events. This is not an accurate picture of Binance’s operations,” a Binance spokesperson said in a statement shared with Forkast.
  • “Binance does not operate in China nor do we have any technology, including servers or data, based in China. We strongly reject assertions to the contrary,” the spokesperson said.
  • The Financial Times said in its report that it could not determine whether Chinese offices cited in the company’s internal communications were still active. However, according to a former employee cited by the outlet, “many” of the exchange’s developers were still in the country.
  • Zhao said in a blog post published last September that Binance is not a Chinese company and has never been registered or incorporated in China. He added that only a “small number of customer service agents” remained in China by late-2018. 
  • China banned crypto exchanges from providing services in the country in 2017 and outlawed crypto trading and mining in 2021.
  • The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission sued Binance on Monday over allegations that it illegally served clients in the U.S.

Binance concealed ‘extensive’ ties to China: Financial Times (

Have you heard about McDonald’s new presidential value meal?

You order whatever you want, and the person after you has to pay for it.

Global Inflation/Stagflation/Recession Watch.

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

Britain's Next expects clothing inflation to ease

March 29, 2023

LONDON (Reuters) -British fashion retailer Next reported a better-than-expected 5.7% rise in annual profit on Wednesday and said it would not need to increase prices by as much as previously thought.

Next, which trades from about 500 stores and online and is often considered a good barometer of how British consumers are faring, said inflationary pressures were expected to ease as freight costs drop and the cost of goods improve.

However higher costs for wages and energy are still expected to reduce its profit this year. Its shares fell 5% at the open, after it retained its cautious outlook.

Next has shown more resilience than most to the cost-of living crisis in Britain and is considered by analysts to be one of the best run retailers in the country. Its shares had been up 16% this year, prior to Wednesday's update.

It now expects like-for-like price inflation in spring/summer of 7% and 3% in autumn/winter - down from its previous forecast of 8% and 6% respectively.

That reflected a significant reduction in container freight costs and improving factory gate prices - the price at which it purchases goods - due to increased factory capacity and efforts to move production to more cost effective areas.

The improved price outlook fits with a Bank of England forecast for inflation to fall from its 10.4% annual rate in February to below 4% by the end of 2023.

Next made a pretax profit of 870.4 million pounds ($1.07 billion) in the year to January 2023 - versus guidance of 860 million pounds and up from 823.1 million pounds in 2021-22.

Sales of items sold at full price rose 6.9% in 2022-23, with total sales up 8.4% to 5.15 billion pounds.

For 2023-24, Next kept it kept its guidance for a 1.5% decline in full-price sales and profit of 795 million pounds.

In the first eight weeks of its new financial year full-price sales were down 2.0%, in line with its expectations.

Britain's Next expects clothing inflation to ease (

Global Economy’s “Speed Limit” Set to Fall to Three-Decade Low

MARCH 27, 2023

WASHINGTON, March 27, 2023The global economy’s “speed limit”—the maximum long-term rate at which it can grow without sparking inflation—is set to slump to a three-decade low by 2030. An ambitious policy push is needed to boost productivity and the labor supply, ramp up investment and trade, and harness the potential of the services sector, a new World Bank report shows.

The report, Falling Long-Term Growth Prospects: Trends, Expectations, and Policies, offers the first comprehensive assessment of long-term potential output growth rates in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These rates can be thought of as the global economy’s “speed limit.”

The report documents a worrisome trend: nearly all the economic forces that powered progress and prosperity over the last three decades are fading. As a result, between 2022 and 2030 average global potential GDP growth is expected to decline by roughly a third from the rate that prevailed in the first decade of this century—to 2.2% a year. For developing economies, the decline will be equally steep: from 6% a year between 2000 and 2010 to 4% a year over the remainder of this decade. These declines would be much steeper in the event of a global financial crisis or a recession.

“A lost decade could be in the making for the global economy,” said Indermit Gillthe World Bank’s Chief Economist and Senior Vice President for Development Economics“The ongoing decline in potential growth has serious implications for the world’s ability to tackle the expanding array of challenges unique to our times—stubborn poverty, diverging incomes, and climate change. But this decline is reversible. The global economy’s speed limit can be raised—through policies that incentivize work, increase productivity, and accelerate investment.”

The analysis shows that potential GDP growth can be boosted by as much as 0.7 percentage points—to an annual average rate of 2.9%—if countries adopt sustainable, growth-oriented policies. That would convert an expected slowdown into an acceleration of global potential GDP growth.

“We owe it to future generations to formulate policies that can deliver robust, sustainable, and inclusive growth,” said Ayhan Kose, a lead author of the report and Director of the World Bank’s Prospects Group. A bold and collective policy push must be made now to rejuvenate growth. At the national level, each developing economy will need to repeat its best 10-year record across a range of policies. At the international level, the policy response requires stronger global cooperation and a reenergized push to mobilize private capital.”

The report lays out an extensive menu of achievable policy options, breaking new ground in several areas. It introduces the world’s first comprehensive public database of multiple measures of potential GDP growth—covering 173 economies from 1981 through 2021. It is also the first to assess how a range of short-term economic disruptions—such as recessions and systemic banking crises—reduce potential growth over the medium term.

“Recessions tend to lower potential growth,” said Franziska Ohnsorge, a lead author of the report and Manager of the World Bank’s Prospects Group. “Systemic banking crises do greater immediate harm than recessions, but their impact tends to ease over time.”

The report highlights specific policy actions at the national level that can make an important difference in promoting long-term growth prospects:


Global Economy’s “Speed Limit” Set to Fall to Three-Decade Low (

As a Russian citizen, I am confused about why it takes America so long to get a definitive result from their election—we know our results months in advance!

Covid-19 Corner

This section will continue until it becomes unneeded.

EXCLUSIVE: CDC Found COVID-19 Vaccine Safety Signals Months Earlier Than Previously Known, Files Show

Mar 28 2023

The top U.S. public health agency identified hundreds of safety signals for the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines months earlier than previously known, according to files obtained by The Epoch Times.


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found more than 700 signals that the vaccines could cause adverse events—including acute heart failure and death—in May 2022, the files show.


The CDC detected many of the same signals in July 2022, The Epoch Times previously reported. The new files show that the first time the CDC calculated a proportional reporting ratio (PRR) on vaccine injury reports, signals were identified.

The analysis went over reports lodged between Dec. 14, 2020, and May 6, 2022.


The CDC initially claimed that it didn’t run the PRR, a data mining method, on the injury reports made to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. The CDC later claimed that it started the method in February 2021, shortly after the vaccines were rolled out. Both of those claims were false, the CDC ultimately said, adding that it didn’t start until March 2022.

When the first analyses were done that month, CDC employees identified more than 200 signals for Pfizer’s shot and 93 signals for Moderna’s vaccine, the files show. Those analyses compare the events lodged after receiving one vaccine with events lodged after receiving another, or several others.

The Epoch Times obtained the files through Freedom of Information Act requests.

The strongest analysis involves comparing the reports lodged after vaccination with the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines with the reports lodged after vaccination with all non-COVID-19 vaccines. The analysis is contained in files labeled “Table 5.”

According to the files provided by the CDC, the agency didn’t start that analysis until May 2022.

“The program staff advises that ‘Table 5 was only created from May 6, 2022, to July 31, 2022,'” a CDC Freedom of Information Act processer told The Epoch Times via email.

The CDC didn’t respond to a request for more information.

“Federal health agencies have ignored the flashing alarms of their own safety surveillance systems since early 2021. They have ignored my oversight letters and lied about what analyses they have performed. It is well past time for the American public to be told the truth,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the top Republican on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, told The Epoch Times via email.

Operating Procedures


The CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) co-manage the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, which accepts reports from anybody but is primarily used by health care workers. Reports to the system are analyzed and verified by health officials and contractors.


In operating procedure documents, the agencies said that officials would monitor the system to identify “potential new safety concerns for COVID-19 vaccines.” The FDA would perform one type of analysis, called Empirical Bayesian data mining, while the CDC would perform PRR data mining.


EXCLUSIVE: CDC Found COVID-19 Vaccine Safety Signals Months Earlier Than Previously Known, Files Show (

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.

Next-generation solar power: How it would change the world

Why solar power is the future of energy: know the key developments

Published:  March 29, 2023 09:23

Anywhere the sun shines, solar power can run your house or city. It’s already happening. The system keeps improving, while costs are falling. 

Small improvements, yes. But these eventually could lead to exponential, game-changing leaps over time.

Top scientists believe the world can reach a 100 per cent renewables by or before 2050. They cite a number of reasons: big drop in cost, tech improvements.

Advances in batteries, improvements in materials science — the development of perovskite cells panels or more efficient wind turbine designs — are making it possible to create more efficient and durable renewable power solutions.

But it’s solar that’s a low-hanging fruit especially in arid regions. It just needs a little push, from manufacturers, industry, policymakers, everyone.

In recent years, solar photovoltaic (PV) technology has seen a dramatic drop in cost. Projects in the UAE have demonstrated why solar is one of the most cost-competitive sources of electricity in many parts of the world.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), based in Abu Dhabi, reported that solar energy has the potential to meet a significant portion of the world's energy demand.

Enter perovskite solar cells (PSC)

Current calculations are based on existing PV technology, with efficiencies of NO more than 20 per cent. It doesn’t factor in new developments, involving perovskite solar cells (PSC), with theoretical efficiencies of up to 40 per cent, and next-generation batteries.

The word "perovskite" solar cells derives from the nickname for its crystal structure.

A family of materials known as “halide perovskites” has demonstrated potential for solar cells with a huge performance boost and low production costs. There’s been a major developments in this area, according to the US Department of Energy (DOE):

  • The efficiency of perovskite solar cells has increased dramatically over the past few years.
  • Efficiency has risen from reports of around 3 per cent in 2009 to over 25 per cent today, a lab in LA reports more than 30 per cent efficiency.
  • The DOE's SunShot Initiative aims to make solar energy cost-competitive with traditional energy sources by 2030.
  • In small-area lab devices, perovskite PV cells have exceeded almost all thin-film technologies (except III-V technologies) in power conversion efficiency — the rate at which light is turned into electricity — showing rapid improvements over the past five years.


Next-generation solar power: How it would change the world | Special-reports – Gulf News

Q: Why do thieves never target politicians’ homes?

A: Professional courtesy.