Wednesday 17 May 2023

An Economic Financial Catastrophe Looms.

Baltic Dry Index. 1476 -46        Brent Crude 74.83

Spot Gold 1989           US 2 Year Yield 4.06  +0.07

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

Deaths 53,103

Coronavirus Cases 17/05/23 World 688,484,953

Deaths 6,875,475

A system of capitalism presumes sound money, not fiat money manipulated by a central bank. Capitalism cherishes voluntary contracts and interest rates that are determined by savings, not credit creation by a central bank.

Ron Paul.

Scenting victory over an increasingly desperate President Biden, the Republicans held firm in their US debt ceiling “talks” with team Biden yesterday.

In the stock casinos, a growing realisation that team Biden is beat but doesn’t seem to realise it yet.

Without some major spending concessions from team Biden in the next few days, President Biden faces going down in history as the man who broke the USA’s credit record, the US stock casinos, much of the US lesser banking system, and if he stays in denial long enough, probably accelerates the end of the fiat dollar reserve financial system.

Were anything like that to happen in May 2023, the spectacular collapse of Credit Swiss Bank last month will just become an obscure footnote in financial history. The global financial rout of June 2023 onwards will rival the Great Depression of the 1930s.

JPMCs CEO Jamie Dimon and the rest of the Wall Street bankster Mafia need to urgently get on the telephone to an in denial team Biden, and explain just why team Biden has already lost this round of “Russian roulette poker.”

If reality doesn’t sink in to President Biden’s White House soon, an economic financial catastrophe lies ahead this summer.

Dow closes more than 300 points lower on discouraging Home Depot forecast, debt ceiling concerns: Live updates

UPDATED TUE, MAY 16 2023 5:09 PM EDT

Stocks dipped Tuesday as investors digested a lackluster forecast from Home Depot. Wall Street also turned its attention to a meeting between congressional leaders and President Joe Biden on the U.S. debt ceiling.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed below its 50-day average for the first time since March 30. The 30-stock index dropped 336.46 points, or 1.01%, to 33,012.14. The S&P 500 fell 0.64% to 4,109.90. The Nasdaq Composite declined 0.18% to 12,343.05.

Dow member Home Depot pulled back by 2.15% after the retailer reported disappointing quarterly revenue and cut its full-year guidance, as consumers postponed large home improvement projects.

April retail sales came in weaker than expected, rising 0.4% last month. That was lower than the 0.8% increase anticipated by economists polled by Dow Jones.

“Stocks have really been trading in this 3800 to 4200 range on the S&P 500 since the middle of November, and we’re kind of stuck there,” said U.S. Bank Wealth Management’s Bill Merz. “I think it’s reflective of the uncertainty that investors feel around what will happen on the policy front. How will the economy respond? Will consumers be able to continue spending through this period, and how long can that last?”

Investors are anxiously awaiting progress on debt ceiling negotiations. On Monday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen reaffirmed that the U.S. faced the possibility of default as early as June 1, the so-called X date, if a deal isn’t reached between the White House and Congress. On Tuesday, she doubled down on her warning to raise the limit immediately.

“A default would crack open the foundations upon which our financial system is built,” Yellen said Tuesday. “It is very conceivable that we’d see a number of financial markets break – with worldwide panic triggering margin calls, runs and fire sales.”

Biden maintained a more optimistic view of the ongoing negotiations over the weekend, while House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said significant obstacles still remain. Biden has so far maintained that raising the debt ceiling is non-negotiable. McCarthy, however, has pushed for talks to broker a deal in which raising the debt limit would be tied to spending cuts.

On Tuesday, the White House said Biden will cut his upcoming international trip short as he deals with debt ceiling negotiations.

Stock market today: Live updates (

Asia markets mixed as investors digest economic data from the region, U.S. debt ceiling looms

UPDATED WED, MAY 17 2023 12:44 AM EDT

Asia-Pacific markets are trading mixed as investors digested economic data from Japan and Australia. Quad leaders also canceled a planned meeting in Sydney next week as U.S. President Joe Biden cut his Asia trip short to return to the U.S. for talks on the debt ceiling.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 was up 0.79% – exceeding the psychological level of 30,000. The Topix was up 0.2%, as Japan stocks surged to the highest since August 1990.

South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.6%, while the Kosdaq jumped 1.9%. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.45%, with mining stocks leading the losses.

In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite ticked 0.23% lower and the Shenzhen Component fell 0.18%. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong also fell 0.55%.

Overnight in the U.S., all three major indexes dipped as investors turned its attention to a meeting between congressional leaders and President Joe Biden on the U.S. debt ceiling.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed below its 50-day average for the first time since March 30, falling 1.01%. The S&P 500 fell 0.64%, and the Nasdaq Composite declined 0.18%.

Asia markets mixed as investors digest economic data from the region, U.S. debt ceiling looms (

European stocks head for lower open as U.S. debt ceiling talks overshadow market sentiment

UPDATED WED, MAY 17 2023 12:36 AM EDT

European markets are heading for a lower open on Wednesday as investors keep an eye on debt ceiling negotiations stateside.

U.S. stock futures were modestly higher overnight as investors awaited news of developments in the negotiations between congressional leaders and President Joe Biden on the U.S. debt ceiling.

Asia-Pacific markets were trading mixed against the backdrop of debt ceiling negotiations. Quad leaders canceled a planned meeting in Sydney next week as Biden cut his Asia trip short to return to the U.S. for talks on the debt ceiling.

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

Your Evening Briefing: Time Running Out for US Debt Ceiling Fight

16 May 2023 at 22:29 BST

The US is another day closer to defaulting on its debt. Despite clear warnings such an event could throw millions out of work, trigger a market selloff and raise borrowing costs, the stalemate triggered by Republicans looking to force concessions from the White House continues with no end in sight.


 In exchange for paying the nation’s debts, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is demanding President Joe Biden agree to cuts in future domestic spending. The GOP wants to slash climate programs and education funding while clawing back $65 billion in Covid-19 funds. Biden says he will cut his G-7 meeting trip to Asia to try and rectify the impasse. “Time is running out,” warned Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who said that the US would hit its limit June 1


Here are today’s top stories 

US consumers remained resilient in April, with retail sales rising in the face of still-high inflation and borrowing costs. The advance in sales suggests low unemployment and steady wage growth are supporting demand. Markets remained squarely focused on the debt ceiling talks in Washington and traded lower for another day. Here’s your markets wrap


Bloomberg Evening Briefing: Time Running Out for US Debt Ceiling Fight - Bloomberg

UBS flags $17 billion hit from Credit Suisse takeover

May 16 (Reuters) - UBS Group AG (UBSG.S) expects a financial hit of about $17 billion from the takeover of Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN.S), the bank said in a presentation early on Wednesday as it prepares to complete the rescue of its struggling Swiss rival.

UBS estimates a negative impact of $13 billion from fair value adjustments of the combined group's assets and liabilities. UBS also sees $4 billion in potential litigation and regulatory costs stemming from outflows, the bank said.

UBS, however, also estimated it would book a one-off gain stemming from the so-called "negative goodwill" of $34.8 billion by buying Credit Suisse for a fraction of its book value.

The financial cushion will help absorb potential losses and could result in a boost to the lender's second-quarter profit if UBS closes the transaction next month as planned.

UBS said the estimates were preliminary and the numbers could change materially later on.


UBS flags $17 billion hit from Credit Suisse takeover | Reuters

Next, what could go wrong with this?


Oil rebounds as U.S. begins refilling strategic reserve

May 16, 2023 Oil prices rose in Asian trade on Tuesday, extending gains from the prior session as the U.S. government confirmed plans to begin refilling its heavily-drawn on Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), which sent a buy signal to markets.

The Department of Energy (DOE) said on Monday that it will purchase up to 3 million barrels of oil for the SPR, confirming speculation over the move following several media reports last week. 

The move comes after the Biden administration drew the SPR to its lowest level since 1983 over the past year in a bid to bring down record-high fuel prices spurred by the Russia-Ukraine conflict. 

While the draw downs had worked as intended, bringing down U.S. gasoline prices substantially, it had also drawn ire from oil bulls and Biden’s political opponents. 

The DOE also said that it had secured the cancellation of 140 million barrels in congressionally mandated sales from the SPR over the next four years.

The move offered much relief to oil prices, which were battered by fears of slowing economic growth over the past four weeks. 

Oil prices were also aided by the prospect of tighter supplies, with reports of Canadian wildfires pointing to potential disruptions in oil flows from North America. This comes with improving fuel demand thanks to the U.S. summer season. 

But on the other hand, the factors that spurred a four-week losing spree in oil prices still remained in play. Markets remained on edge as data on Tuesday showed that Chinese industrial production and retail sales grew at a slower-than-expected pace in April, pointing to a staggered economic recovery in the world's largest oil consumer.


Oil rebounds as U.S. begins refilling strategic reserve (

Finally today, bananas.

Genetically modified bananas out to stop Cavendish catastrophe

Bronwyn Thompson  May 15, 2023

It’s been more than 50 years since the lethal soil-borne Fusarium fungal species all but wiped out the dominant Gros Michel banana across the globe. Now, though, the tropical race 4 (TR4) strain of the fungus threatens to repeat history, potentially killing off the world’s most popular and widespread variety, the Cavendish, and with it a US$20 billion banana industry.

However, for the past 20 years, scientists at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Australia have been developing a genetically modified Cavendish banana plant that isn't impacted by the fungus, also known as Panama disease. After earlier studies into the disease-resistant gene RGA2, the researchers spent more than six years growing the modified fruits in field trials in the Northern Territory. The result has been plants growing Cavendish bananas as we know them, but ones that are also highly resistant to the TR4 fungus.

They’ve now submitted their modified Cavendish banana variety, known as QCAV-4, to the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) for regulatory approval. The assessors will look at molecular, chemical, compositional and nutritional aspects of the disease-resistant QCAV-4. The process is expected to take around nine months, and if successful it will be the country’s first whole genetically modified fruit and the world’s first GM Cavendish plant.

“The devastating Panama disease TR4 is caused by a soil-borne fungus that stays in the ground for more than 50 years, wiping out banana crops and destroying farms for generations,” said James Dale, professor at QUT, also known as the "banana man" for his commitment to their genetic science. “It is a huge problem. It has devastated Cavendish plantations in many parts of the world and could cripple the Cavendish banana export industry worldwide.”

While there are around 1,000 varieties of bananas grown across the globe’s tropical regions, the Cavendish makes up around half of all types cultivated and almost 100% of international trade.

What makes the variety particularly vulnerable is that it can’t reproduce sexually, which is nature’s way of maintaining genetic diversity. As such, it’s propagated, essentially creating identical clones of the plants, greatly limiting its genetic makeup and making it incredibly susceptible to widespread devastation from a single pathogenic invader.

More + video.

Genetically modified bananas out to stop Cavendish catastrophe (

The stock market in Japan was half the world market and where has the Japan economy gone since the 1990s? Nowhere. They've been struggling for two decades in the aftermath of a massive bubble that's collapsed. They've tried to work their way out of it by printing even more money and it hasn't worked. Now, I'm saying this is what all the central banks are doing. There is no honest interest rate in the world today.


David Stockman.

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.

Brace yourselves, travelers: This summer could be ‘one for the record books’

By , CNN  Updated 7:29 AM EDT, Mon May 15, 2023

Memorial Day weekend – the unofficial start of the summer travel season in the United States – is shaping up to be busy. At airports, it’s likely to be busier than it was in 2019 pre-pandemic, according to the AAA travel forecast released Monday.

The automotive and trip-planning group expects 42.3 million Americans to travel 50 miles or more from home over the holiday weekend. That’s a 7% increase over 2022 or 2.7 million more people. And the group says that’s a sign of what travelers should expect this summer.

“More Americans are planning trips and booking them earlier, despite inflation,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, in a statement. “This summer travel season could be one for the record books, especially at airports.”

Air travel is expected to be up by 11% over last year, with 3.4 million people expected to fly over the holiday weekend. That figure exceeds 2019 levels by 5.4% – or 170,000 more air travelers.

AAA says this Memorial Day weekend could be the busiest at airports since 2005.

Last summer was a trying season for air travelers and the winter holidays were again plagued with cancellations and delays.

There are a number of factors – weather, airline operations, air traffic control staffing – that are out of travelers’ control, AAA spokesperson Aixa Diaz told CNN’s Pete Muntean.

“That stuff you can’t control, so you have to be prepared,” Diaz said, but the potential hassles aren’t keeping travelers from booking.

“AAA’s best advice is to plan ahead and have those Plan Bs and Plan Cs in effect, knowing that potentially you could run into delays or cancellations at the airport.”

The first flight in the morning is likely to have fewer disruptions than later flights, Diaz said. Not checking a bag can also help.

Overall, the weekend is expected to be the third busiest Memorial Day holiday period since 2000. The overall number of expected travelers is just 1% below 2019 levels.

Most travelers will be driving to their destinations over the holiday weekend. Road trips are expected to be up 6% over last year, with more than 37 million Americans hitting the road.

Gas prices this year are lower than this time last year, but car travel is still expected to be down from pre-pandemic levels by about a half million travelers. On Friday, the national average price for regular gas was $3.542, compared with $4.418 a year ago.

The worst time to be on the roads for the holiday weekend? Friday afternoon from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Diaz said. Coming back, Monday between noon and 3 p.m. will be the worst time on the roads.

Memorial Day air travel is expected to top pre-pandemic numbers | CNN

Column: Global petroleum stocks normalise after massive SPR drawdown

LONDON, May 12 (Reuters) - Global commercial oil inventories were close to their long-term seasonal average at the end of the first quarter of 2023 following massive releases from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) over the previous 12 months.

In the countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), commercial stocks of crude and refined products stood at 2,804 million barrels at the end of March (“Short-Term Energy Outlook”, EIA, May 12).

---- Front-month Brent futures slipped to around $80 per barrel at the end of March 2023 from $108 at the end of March 2022 and a high of around $130 in May and June 2022, after adjusting for inflation.

Real prices in March 2023 were in the 40th percentile for all months since 2000, down from the 68th percentile in March 2022, and similar to March 2019 before the pandemic.

Brent’s six-month calendar spread slipped to a backwardation of $2.50 per barrel (79th percentile), down from over $10 (98th percentile) a year earlier.

The spread is correlated with current stock levels as well as traders’ expectations about the future balance between production, consumption and inventory changes.

The rise in commercial inventories has therefore been accompanied by a weakening of the calendar spread and downward pressure on spot prices.

But downward pressure on prices and spreads would not have been possible without the massive draw down of the SPR – which is unlikely to be repeated.

More than one-third of the SPR has been depleted over the last 12 months and the remaining stock is the lowest for almost 40 years since November 1983.

For the remainder of 2023 and 2024, there is little prospect of another similar drawdown in the U.S. strategic reserve.

Prices and spreads will be much more directly responsive to the balance between the impact of OPEC⁺ restraint on production and the global business cycle on consumption.

Column: Global petroleum stocks normalise after massive SPR drawdown | Reuters


Covid-19 Corner

This section will continue until it becomes unneeded.

People used to fight over getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Now millions of doses are getting tossed in the trash because no one's using them.

Mon, May 15, 2023 at 10:49 PM GMT+1

·         The Johnson & Johnson single-dose COVID-19 vaccine is no longer available in the US.

·         Over two years after it was first approved, the last batch of doses has been thrown out.

·         Americans once fought over vaccines, but still, nearly a third of doses produced went unused.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans were clamoring to get vaccinated as soon as they could.

But now, millions of doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are getting tossed in the trash because no one's using them.

More than 2 years after Johnson & Johnson's vaccine was first approved by the FDA, it is now no longer available anywhere in the US, according to the CDC.

Over 31.5 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been distributed across the country since March 2021 — 19 million of which made it into Americans' arms, CNN reported.

The 12.5 million remaining doses — nearly a third of the total produced — expired on May 7, and the CDC has told all vaccine providers to get rid of them.

Though the J&J vaccine was the least popular of the three vaccines available in the US, its final demise is still a stark contrast to the early days of COVID-19 vaccination when rich people were gaming the system to get vaccinated before their turn.

During the height of the pandemic, young people also showed up at pharmacies just before closing time, hoping to snag soon-to-expire shots before they were trashed.

And even for those who followed the rules, wait times for vaccine appointments at the height of the public health crisis were often days — or even weeks.

The end of the J&J vaccine comes less than a week after the US Department of Health and Human Services officially ended the COVID-19 public health emergency as the Biden administration winds down its COVID-19 response. The World Health Organization recently said that COVID-19 is now a disease we'll need to learn to live with — though it warned that there's still a risk of a relapse with a new variant if countries slack off their preventative measures.

People used to fight over getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Now millions of doses are getting tossed in the trash because no one's using them. (

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.

Today, what the save the planet eco-loons won’t tell you. EVs will destroy the planet not save it.

ANALYSIS: Toxicity of Lithium-Ion Batteries at Odds With Push for Electric Vehicles

May 15, 2023 Updated: May 15, 2023

Government leaders are pushing for the widespread adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), but there are concerns about the vast amounts of mineral mining necessary for battery production and the ensuing waste management issues taking a toll on the environment.

Lithium, the primary component of an EV battery, can be highly environmentally polluting in its extraction and discarding phases.

A major issue with lithium mining is the quantity of water required. Mining just 1 ton of lithium can use up to 2.2 million gallons of water, according to AZO Cleantech. This results in the depletion of water sources close to mining regions and drying out of land, posing a threat to not only the environment of the region but also communities living in the vicinity.

Lithium batteries use various elements like nickel, copper, and lead, which can all be toxic.

The open-pit mining method of extracting minerals required for batteries involves clearing out vegetation and digging a deep pit, creating the circumstances for erosion, according to UL Research Institutes.

According to a January 2023 study by the Climate and Community Project, if America’s current EV demand is projected to 2050, the U.S. market would need three times the current world supply of lithium to meet the demand. This requires a massive expansion of mining activities that can bring about enormous changes to landscapes and living conditions.

The Real Carbon Footprint

A 2019 study by Circular Energy Storage (pdf) calculated that production of an NCM111 lithium battery results in 73 kilograms of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions per kilowatt-hour (kWh). NCM111 batteries contain one-third nickel, one-third cobalt, and one-third manganese in the cathode.

This means a considerable carbon footprint is generated by an electric vehicle before it hits the road compared to cars with an internal combustion engine.

Over 50 percent of the world’s lithium resources are said to be lying beneath salt flats in the Andean regions of Chile, Bolivia, and Argentina, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

Lithium mining and other mining activities have consumed 65 percent of the water in Salar de Atacama, the largest salt flat in Chile. This has depleted groundwater and contaminated the soil.

In Tibet, lithium mining from Chinese operations has reportedly leaked chemicals like hydrochloric acid into the Liqi River, which ended up killing livestock and poisoning the fish, according to the Harvard International Review.


ANALYSIS: Toxicity of Lithium-Ion Batteries at Odds With Push for Electric Vehicles (

When you own gold you're fighting every central bank in the world. That's because gold is a currency that competes with government currencies and has a powerful influence on interest rates and the price of government bonds. And that's why central banks long have tried to suppress the price of gold. Gold is the ticket out of the central banking system, the escape from coercive central bank and government power.

James Rickards.


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