Tuesday 9 May 2023

Debt Ceiling Peace Talks Or Standoff? Bubbles.

Baltic Dry Index. 1558 +13 Fri.   Brent Crude 76.69

Spot Gold 2027            US 2 Year Yield 4.00  +0.08

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

Deaths 53,103

Coronavirus Cases 09/05/23 World 687,943,162

Deaths 6,871,716

“We have 2 classes of forecasters: Those who don't know  . . and those who don't know they don't know. “

John Kenneth Galbraith

In the Asian gambling stock casinos this morning, another wobble or the start of something more?

Overnight in the U.S., the Federal Reserve’s quarterly Senior Loan Officer Opinion survey showed requirements got tougher for commercial and industrial loans. The report showed trouble within mid-sized institutions caused banks to tighten lending standards to households and businesses, potentially posing a threat to U.S. economic growth.

With a multiple banking car crash underway in the US economy, what happens next and fast, probably depends on the outcome of today’s deficit talks between President Biden and the House Republican leaders.

Peace talks or war declarations, we should know by later in the day.

As if the economic future wasn’t darkening fast enough for banks and borrowers, it’s not looking rosy for most workers either, more on that below.

In better news though for the bubble industries of fizzy drinks and producers of soap (politicians excepted,) the great bubble problem has finally been solved. We can all drink to that.

Asia markets trade mixed as China’s trade surplus beats expectations

UPDATED TUE, MAY 9 2023 12:50 AM EDT

Asia-Pacific markets traded mixed as China’s trade surplus beat expectations with exports rising 8.5%. Investors will also await U.S. inflation reports later this week.

China reported a trade surplus of $90.2 billion, higher than expectations to see a surplus of more than $70 billion.

In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite rose 0.3%, continuing its winning streak after marking the highest point in 10 months on Monday. The Shenzhen Component also rose marginally.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped 0.53%, while the Hang Seng Tech index slid by more than 1%.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.23% ahead of the nation’s annual Federal Budget announcement, with watchers widely expecting to see the first budget surplus since the 2008 financial crisis. South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.32% and the Kosdaq slid 1.13%.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.77% and the Topix gained 0.97% higher, buoyed by basic materials and energy stocks. Japan saw a decline in household spending in April despite economists surveyed by Reuters expecting to see growth.

Thailand’s Set Composite index as the nation prepares for a general election this month with issues related to the economy sitting at the top of the agenda.

Overnight in the U.S., the Federal Reserve’s quarterly Senior Loan Officer Opinion survey showed requirements got tougher for commercial and industrial loans. The report showed trouble within mid-sized institutions caused banks to tighten lending standards to households and businesses, potentially posing a threat to U.S. economic growth.

Stocks ended the session mixed, with the S&P 500 up marginally and the Nasdaq Composite climbing 0.18%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.17%.

Asia markets trade mixed as China's trade surplus beats expectations (cnbc.com)


S&P 500 futures are flat as investors await closely followed inflation data: Live updates


S&P 500 futures are little changed Monday night as investors readied for key inflation reports due later in the week.

Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 12 points, or 0.04%. S&P 500 futures inched down by 0.05%, while Nasdaq-100 futures shed 0.1%.

Palantir jumped more than 20% after hours on a strong earnings report and upbeat guidance. Lucid, PayPal and Skyworks, on the other hand, were all down in extended trading after their quarterly reports were released.

The moves follow a lukewarm session that left the three major indexes modestly changed. The S&P 500 finished 0.05% higher, while the Nasdaq Composite ended with a gain of nearly 0.2%. The Dow was the underperformer of the session, closing almost 0.2% lower.

Investors followed the release of the Federal Reserve’s quarterly Senior Loan Officer Opinion survey, which found that banks had to tighten lending standards to households and businesses as a result of industry turmoil, which could in turn threaten economic growth.

“If we look across markets today, the price action is relatively muted,” said Charlie Ripley, senior investment strategist at Allianz Investment Management. “There’s somewhat of a sigh of relief that the report wasn’t worse than expected.”

Traders are also looking ahead to April’s consumer price index report slated for Wednesday and the producer price index on Thursday for the newest data on the path of inflation.

Elsewhere, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on CNBC Monday afternoon that failing to raise the debt ceiling would be an “economic catastrophe” and that regulators are not close to any policies that would limit short-selling regional bank stocks.

Investors will watch Tuesday for morning data from the National Federation of Independent Business. Fed Governor Philip Jefferson and New York Fed President John Williams are both slated to speak at events over the course of the day.

Short-term Treasury yields are jumping, but don’t overlook intermediate-term issues

Never mind the scorching hot yields on short-term Treasurys, particularly as debt ceiling chatter heats up. Investors may want to look at longer duration issues instead, said Kathy Jones, chief fixed income strategist at the Schwab Center for Financial Research.

“The guidance has been for a while to extend duration,” she said, noting that she understands why investors might be more inclined to chase 5% yields in Treasury bills or certificates of deposit as opposed to holding a five-year bond.

“Historically, once the Fed is past the peak in tightening, which we think is likely, intermediate-term bonds – that 5-to-7-year maturity bucket – tend to outperform on a total return basis after the peak is reached,” she said.

Jones added, “They may face reinvestment risk if they are in something that isn’t at least locking in some of this yield for the next three to five years.”

Even with rates as attractive as they are now, investors should know that these Treasury yields alone won’t keep pace with inflation over the long term. Be sure to keep your portfolio diversified.

Stock market today: Live updates (cnbc.com)

In the labour market, a darkening present looks to be turning black for many.

Tweaking Interest Rates Is A Fool’s Errand


For once there was some useful information in today’s jobs report, albeit not of the kind Wall Street slobbers over. We are referring to the information in the chart below showing that fully 43% of the 4.3 million jobs allegedly created since March 2022 were made-up from whole cloth by the green eyeshades at the BLS. Just plain finger in the air stuff.

That’s right. The birth-death model has added 1.84 million jobs since last March, meaning that almost half of all “job gains” in the past year were generated not by real world employers, but by an excel spreadsheet.


Tweaking Interest Rates Is A Fool’s Errand (substack.com)

AI could replace 80% of jobs 'in next few years': expert

Mon, May 8, 2023 at 10:19 PM GMT+1

Artificial intelligence could replace 80 percent of human jobs in the coming years -- but that's a good thing, says US-Brazilian researcher Ben Goertzel, a leading AI guru.

Mathematician, cognitive scientist and famed robot-creator Goertzel, 56, is founder and chief executive of SingularityNET, a research group he launched to create "Artificial General Intelligence," or AGI -- artificial intelligence with human cognitive abilities.

With his long hair and leopard-print cowboy hat, Goertzel was in provocateur mode last week at Web Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the world's biggest annual technology conference, where he told AFP in an interview that AGI is just years away and spoke out against recent efforts to curb artificial intelligence research.

- As smart as humans? -

Q: How far are we from artificial intelligence with human cognitive abilities?

"If we want machines to really be as smart as people and to be as agile in dealing with the unknown, then they need to be able to take big leaps beyond their training and programming. And we're not there yet. But I think there's reason to believe we're years rather than decades from getting there."

----Threat to jobs -

Q: Isn't their potential to replace people's jobs a threat?

"You could probably obsolete maybe 80 percent of jobs that people do, without having an AGI, by my guess. Not with ChatGPT exactly as a product. But with systems of that nature, which are going to follow in the next few years.

"I don't think it's a threat. I think it's a benefit. People can find better things to do with their life than work for a living... Pretty much every job involving paperwork should be automatable.

"The problem I see is in the interim period, when AIs are obsoleting one human job after another... I don't know how (to) solve all the social issues."


AI could replace 80% of jobs 'in next few years': expert (yahoo.com)

Finally, yet more trouble rising in cryptoland?

Binance closes BTC withdrawals amid congestion on the Bitcoin network

The Bitcoin mempool was clogged with over 400,000 transactions waiting to be processed on May 7.

Crypto exchange Binance closed Bitcoin  withdrawals on May 7 due to an alleged overflow of transactions on the Bitcoin network. 

The Bitcoin mempool was clogged with over 400,000 transactions waiting to be processed at the time of writing. The mempool is known as the “waiting area” for incoming transactions before they are verified independently by each node on the network.

Binance tweeted that BTC withdrawals had resumed after nearly an hour of halting. Outflows on the crypto exchange peaked on May 7, rising to $187 million, according to data from CryptoQuant.

Behind the congestion is believed to be a surge in BRC-20 transactions in the last few days due to memecoins like Pepe (PEPE). The memecoin trading hype drove Bitcoin transaction fees to their highest point in two years. On May 3, the total amount of fees paid on the Bitcoin blockchain reached $3.5 million, jumping nearly 400% from late April, Cointelegraph reported.

Developed after Ethereum’s ERC-20 token standard, BRC-20 is an experimental token standard recently introduced that allows users to create and transfer fungible tokens on the Bitcoin blockchain. It is currently becoming a hot spot for meme tokens. 

CoinMarketCap’s data shows that PEPE’s price has climbed over 263% in the last week. As of writing, however, the memecoin is down over 7% following a 30% drop on May 6 as whales profited from Binance's recent listing. Crypto exchanges MEXC Global, Bitget, Gate.ioand Huobi listed PEPE trading pairs two weeks ago, kicking off the token hype.

Since the introduction of Dogecoin in 2013, memecoins have become a major part of the cryptocurrency world, making and ruining fortunes alike. Investopedia defines a memecoin as a cryptocurrency represented “with comical or animated memes, that [is] supported by enthusiastic online traders and followers.”

Binance closes BTC withdrawals amid congestion on the Bitcoin network (cointelegraph.com)

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.

How Does Gold Perform With Inflation, Stagflation, and Recession?

May 08, 2023



  • Gold prices soared in the 1970s era of inflation, but the root causes of inflation are different today
  • In six of the last eight recessions, gold outperformed the S&P 500 by 37% on average

From March 8 through April 24, gold rallied over 9%, outpacing the S&P 500 which was up just over 3% in the same period. The rally seemed to correspond with headlines of banking stress that could have the potential to alter the Fed’s hiking path. For almost a year the U.S. treasury yield curve has been inverted leading many analysts to believe that the U.S. economy is headed toward a recession.

These and other factors have drawn increased attention to the gold market, where options on gold futures have reached record trading volume in 2023. Gold is believed to perform well in times of economic stress. But does it? Let’s look at history to tell us how gold performs under three scenarios – inflation, recession, and stagflation.

Is Gold an Inflation Hedge?

It would be nice if the answer to that question was a simple yes or no, but, unfortunately, it’s more complicated. The last major bout of inflation in the U.S. was the period between 1973 and 1979. During this time inflation averaged approximately 8.8% per year and gold gained an astonishing 35% annual return.

This would seem reasonable as inflation is associated with a weaker dollar and, in this environment, market participants are usually drawn to commodities to preserve purchasing power. But if we look a little deeper we see another element. Elevated oil prices were the primary driver of the 70’s inflation/stagflation. This is significant because it alters the way the Federal Reserve and the government feels it can fight inflation. Aggressive rate hikes are an effective tool if the cause is simply excessive demand in the system, but when the cause of inflation is an elevated input price like oil, the Fed can’t fix it as easily with rate hikes alone.

Perhaps the gold market in the 70s was signaling a lack of confidence in the overall economic outlook and the Fed’s ability to achieve success in its task. It wasn’t until the 1980s that Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volker decided that rates needed to be massively hiked to end inflation, even if it added to the economic stress. The current inflation is dissimilar in a couple of ways.

----Does Gold Perform Well During a Recession?

There have been eight recessions between 1973 and the most recent in 2020. In all but two of these, gold has outperformed the S&P 500. The exceptions were in 1981 and 1990. 1981 was unique in that the Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volker aggressively raised interest rates to combat the massive inflation of the 1970s. 1990 was a mild recession and it came at a time when the world’s central banks were net sellers of gold due to good macroeconomic conditions globally.


How Does Gold Perform With Inflation, Stagflation, and Recession? | Institutional Investor

Covid-19 Corner

This section will continue until it becomes unneeded.

FDA Overhaul Needed for New Vaccines and mRNA Therapies

Promise or Peril: COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine Issues Series (Part 1)

May 6, 2023

The pandemic has ended, but the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccines which use mRNA technology, signifies the start of a new era in modern medicine. The lagging regulatory framework which the FDA cobbled together specifically for mRNA vaccine approval has set the stage for adverse events related to genetic therapies using this new technology. In this series, we will reveal emerging concerns about mRNA injections related to the lipid nanoparticles, spike protein, and vaccine contamination as public documents are released.


Summary of Series Key Facts

·         According to a Moderna Securities and Exchange Commission filing in June 2020, “Currently, mRNA is considered a gene therapy product by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”

·         The FDA created new guidance, released in June 2020, for gene therapy products to be marketed as vaccines against COVID-19. They were not put through the same testing requirements as other RNA therapeutics. The new vaccines were also not required to go through human biodistribution studies.

·         Had mRNA vaccines been held to the same regulatory standards required for novel therapeutics, the following three issues would likely have been identified prior to authorization for human use:


1.      The lipid nanoparticle (LNP) shell used to deliver the mRNA has inflammatory potential and can cluster with other LNPs or fall apart, allowing the mRNA inside to fall out and circulate freely in the bloodstream.


2.      The spike protein coded by the mRNA and its S1 subunit has been found in the blood following vaccination. Both the spike protein and the S1 subunit are associated with inflammation and clotting


3.      Contamination during the manufacturing process can cause impurities in the vaccine, such as mRNA fragments and bacterial plasmids. Testing by pharma before authorization found impurities—have these issues been fixed?


·         Despite the promising potential of mRNA therapeutics, did the pandemic emergency provide reasonable justification for the suspension of typical regulatory requirements?

·         Should these vaccines have been recommended only for the highest-risk individuals pending further human testing? Should vaccine information sheets have included all known risks to allow for full and complete informed consent?

·         Were mandates unethical given the lack of standard pre-authorization safety testing?

·         All of these questions are relevant given the development of new mRNA vaccines against influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). What regulatory framework will apply going forward? Will these newer mRNA vaccines be subject to stricter oversight aligned with, to borrow Moderna’s wording, “genetic therapy” or the lagging framework used for COVID-19 mRNA vaccines?

More. Much, much, more.

FDA Overhaul Needed for New Vaccines and mRNA Therapies (theepochtimes.com)

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

Today, something a little different and highbrow. A solution to the triple bubble problem, a critical problem solved for the makers of Champagne, Beer, Cider and soap.

Coming next, the definitive Vatican solution to how many Angels can dance on the head of a pin.

A ‘Monumental’ Math Proof Solves the Triple Bubble Problem

A decades-old conjecture about the best way to minimize the surface area of a three-bubble cluster seemed unprovable—until a breakthrough result.

MAY 7, 2023 8:00 AM

WHEN IT COMES to understanding the shape of bubble clusters, mathematicians have been playing catch-up to our physical intuitions for millennia. Soap bubble clusters in nature often seem to immediately snap into the lowest-energy state, the one that minimizes the total surface area of their walls (including the walls between bubbles). But checking whether soap bubbles are getting this task right—or just predicting what large bubble clusters should look like—is one of the hardest problems in geometry. It took mathematicians until the late 19th century to prove that the sphere is the best single bubble, even though the Greek mathematician Zenodorus had asserted this more than 2,000 years earlier.

The bubble problem is simple enough to state: You start with a list of numbers for the volumes, and then ask how to separately enclose those volumes of air using the least surface area. But to solve this problem, mathematicians must consider a wide range of different possible shapes for the bubble walls. And if the assignment is to enclose, say, five volumes, we don’t even have the luxury of limiting our attention to clusters of five bubbles—perhaps the best way to minimize surface area involves splitting one of the volumes across multiple bubbles.

Even in the simpler setting of the two-dimensional plane (where you’re trying to enclose a collection of areas while minimizing the perimeter), no one knows the best way to enclose, say, nine or 10 areas. As the number of bubbles grows, “quickly, you can’t really even get any plausible conjecture,” said Emanuel Milman of the Technion in Haifa, Israel.

But more than a quarter century ago, John Sullivan, now of the Technical University of Berlin, realized that in certain cases, there is a guiding conjecture to be had. Bubble problems make sense in any dimension, and Sullivan found that as long as the number of volumes you’re trying to enclose is at most one greater than the dimension, there’s a particular way to enclose the volumes that is, in a certain sense, more beautiful than any other—a sort of shadow of a perfectly symmetric bubble cluster on a sphere. This shadow cluster, he conjectured, should be the one that minimizes surface area.

Over the decade that followed, mathematicians wrote a series of groundbreaking papers proving Sullivan’s conjecture when you’re trying to enclose only two volumes. Here, the solution is the familiar double bubble you may have blown in the park on a sunny day, made of two spherical pieces with a flat or spherical wall between them (depending on whether the two bubbles have the same or different volumes).

But proving Sullivan’s conjecture for three volumes, the mathematician Frank Morgan of Williams College speculated in 2007, “could well take another hundred years.”

Now, mathematicians have been spared that long wait—and have gotten far more than just a solution to the triple bubble problem. In a paper posted online in May 2022, Milman and Joe Neeman, of the University of Texas, Austin, have proved Sullivan’s conjecture for triple bubbles in dimensions three and up and quadruple bubbles in dimensions four and up, with a follow-up paper on quintuple bubbles in dimensions five and up in the works.


A ‘Monumental’ Math Proof Solves the Triple Bubble Problem | WIRED

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

---- Origin[edit]

Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologica, written c. 1270, includes discussion of several questions regarding angels such as, "Can several angels be in the same place?"[3] However, the idea that such questions had a prominent place in medieval scholarship has been debated, and it has not been proven whether or not this particular question has been debated.[6] One theory is that it is an early modern fabrication,[a] used to discredit scholastic philosophy at a time when it still played a significant role in university education. James Franklin has raised the scholarly issue, and mentions that there is a 17th-century reference in William Chillingworth's Religion of Protestants (1637),[7] where he accuses unnamed scholastics of debating "whether a Million of Angels may not fit upon a Needle's point?" This is earlier than a reference in the 1678 The True Intellectual System Of The Universe by Ralph CudworthHelen S. Lang, author of Aristotle's Physics and its Medieval Varieties (1992), says (p. 284):

The question of how many angels can dance on the point of a needle, or the head of a pin, is often attributed to 'late medieval writers'.... In point of fact, the question has never been found in this form….


How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? - Wikipedia

An economist, a philosopher, a biologist, and an architect were arguing about what was God's real profession.

The philosopher said, "Well, first and foremost, God is a philosopher because he created the principles by which man is to live."

"Ridiculous!" said the biologist "Before that, God created man and woman and all living things so clearly he was a biologist."

"Wrong," said the architect. "Before that, he created the heavens and the earth. Before the earth, there was only complete confusion and chaos!"

"Well," said the economist. "Where do you think the chaos came from?"



No comments:

Post a Comment