Saturday, 13 May 2023

Special Update 13/05/2023 The G-7 Fiddles While The USA Smolders.

Baltic Dry Index. 1558 -50        Brent Crude 74.17

Spot Gold 2011            U S 2 Year Yield 3.98 +0.09  

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

Deaths 53,100

Covid-19 cases 13/05/23 World 687,241,752

Deaths 6,874,172

May 10, 1940 - Nazis invade France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands; Winston Churchill becomes British Prime Minister.

May 15, 1940 - Holland surrenders to the Nazis.

May 26, 1940 - Evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk begins.

May 28, 1940 - Belgium surrenders to the Nazis.

While the stock casinos, cryptoland and the global economy give a very impressive act of appearing to be rolling over and that’s before President Biden’s version of Uncle Scam’s maybe debt default next month,  the G-7 finance ministers meeting, all expenses taxpayer paid, in Japan, were busy fiddling while the USA’s Rome was smouldering if not actually starting to burn.

The communique made no mention of the U.S. debt ceiling stalemate, which hits markets at a time when borrowing costs are rising because of aggressive monetary tightening by U.S. and European central banks.

Is May 2023 about to become the financial disaster equivalent of the WW2 war disaster May 1940?

I hope not, but it’s a good idea to have a Plan B in case a petulant President Biden doesn’t recognise when he’s trapped over a barrel and doesn’t negotiate a compromise next week over the US debt ceiling hike. Clearly, the G-7 finance ministers don’t have a Plan B.

S&P 500 closes lower,  notches a second week of losses, following disappointing consumer sentiment data: Live updates

UPDATED FRI, MAY 12 2023 5:56 PM EDT

The S&P 500 fell Friday as concerns around the U.S. economy dampened investor sentiment.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 8.89 points lower, or 0.03%, to close at 33,300.62. The Nasdaq Composite fell 0.35%, ending the day at 12,284.74. The S&P 500 slipped 0.16%, closing at 4,124.08.

A preliminary reading on the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index fell to a six-month low of 57.7. Economists polled by the Dow Jones expected a May reading of 63.0. The survey also showed the outlook for inflation over the next 5 years climbed to 3.2%, tying the highest clip since June 2008.

Investors are also keeping an eye on Washington as concern around debt ceiling negotiations persisted. CNBC reported that a debt ceiling meeting between President Joe Biden and congressional leaders that was set for Friday was postponed to next week.

“None of the sectors are making convincing moves in either direction, reflecting a general lack of conviction in the market,” said Joe Cusick, portfolio specialist and senior vice president at Calamos Investments.

The S&P 500 and Dow fell for a second consecutive week, down 0.29% and 1.11%, respectively. The Nasdaq gained 0.4%.

In the world of regional banks, PacWest fell 2.9%. PNC lost roughly 1%, and Zions Bancorporation closed 1.1% lower. On Thursday, regional banks dropped after PacWest said its deposits fell sharply last week.

Meanwhile, weaker-than-expected wholesale prices data issued Thursday, a sign of easing inflation, failed to shield investors from ongoing concerns of a downturn — particularly as a handful of stocks continue to carry the market.

Import prices were 0.4% month over month in April, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday, marking the first rise so far in 2023. Economists polled by Dow Jones were expecting a 0.3% rise last month, compared to the decline of 0.8% the prior month.

Stock market today: Live updates (

SoftBank shares drop after its Vision Fund tech investment unit posts a $32 billion record loss

Shares of Japanese tech investor SoftBank fell on Friday after the company reported a record loss at its Vision Fund tech investment unit.

SoftBank shares closed 3.68% lower in Tokyo.

The company said on Thursday that its Vision Fund segment lost a record 4.3 trillion Japanese yen ($32 billion) for its fiscal year ending Mar. 31.

It reported a loss on investments at its Vision Funds of 5.28 trillion Japanese yen.

The $100 billion Vision Fund was launched in 2017 under the stewardship of SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son and shook up the tech investing world.

It invested in some of the highest-profile tech firms in the world, but some of those bets, such as that on WeWork, turned sour.

The Vision Fund, which also has exposure to Chinese tech firms, has also suffered from Beijing’s crackdown on the domestic tech sector and subsequent plunge in share prices. SoftBank said Thursday that it had logged losses on its investment in SenseTime, the Chinese artificial intelligence company.

And while there has been a recovery in the tech-heavy Nasdaq in the U.S. this year to date, over SoftBank’s fiscal year — which ended on Mar. 31 — the index is still lower. Tech stocks have faced headwinds from interest rate rises around the world which have forced investors to move out of riskier assets such as high-growth equities.

To weather the storm, SoftBank has been selling down stakes in Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant that made Son and SoftBank its fortune, as well as U.S. ride-hailing company Uber.

SoftBank’s management pledged a year ago to go into “defense” mode and be more disciplined in their investment strategy. The pace of investing has slowed down in recent months.

But the company is now looking toward what it considers the next investment opportunity: artificial intelligence.


SoftBank shares drop after Vision Fund posts a $32 billion record loss (

G7 finance chiefs warn of global uncertainty as US debt crisis looms

NIIGATA, Japan, May 13 (Reuters) - Finance leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) rich nations warned of heightening global economic uncertainty on Saturday, as they wrapped up a three-day meet overshadowed by a U.S. debt ceiling stalemate and fallout from Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Their gathering in the Japanese city of Niigata came as worries over a U.S. default fuelled uncertainty over the global outlook, already clouded by stubbornly high inflation and U.S. bank failures.

"The global economy has shown resilience against multiple shocks, including the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine, and associated inflationary pressures," the leaders said in a communique after the meeting.

"We need to remain vigilant and stay agile and flexible in our macroeconomic policy amid heightened uncertainty about the global economic outlook."

The communique made no mention of the U.S. debt ceiling stalemate, which hits markets at a time when borrowing costs are rising because of aggressive monetary tightening by U.S. and European central banks.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Friday she would meet senior Wall Street bankers next week about the possibility that Washington could default on its debt for the first time since 1789.

"Clearly, distress in the world's biggest economy would be negative for everyone," World Bank President David Malpass told Reuters on the sidelines of the G7 meeting the same day. "The repercussions would be bad to not get it done."

On the banking troubles, the communique said policymakers would tackle "data, supervisory, and regulatory gaps in the banking system".

They retained their April assessment that the global financial system was "resilient", thanks to regulatory reforms made after the 2008 global financial crisis.

Warning that inflation remains "elevated," the G7 central banks stressed their commitment to price stability and ensure inflation expectations remained well-anchored, the communique showed.


G7 finance chiefs warn of global uncertainty as US debt crisis looms | Reuters

In cryptoland, another rush for the exit before harsh regulation comes in later this year or next. Would the last one out remember to turn out the lights.

Bitcoin briefly falls below $26,000, posts worst week since November

Bitcoin traded at its lowest level since mid-March on Friday as volatility, driven by low liquidity, continued to hit cryptocurrency markets.

Bitcoin ended the day lower by 2.58% at 26,181.46 after briefly hitting a low of 25,833.34 the lowest level since March 17, according to Coin Metrics. The biggest crypto asset by market cap posted a weekly loss of 11.25%, making it its worst week since Nov. 11.

There are a number of issues facing crypto markets right now including low liquidity, a crackdown on the industry from regulators in the U.S. and macroeconomic worries.

Bitcoin is up around 59% this year but prices have remained volatile, with low liquidity exacerbating moves higher and lower.

Clara Medalie, director of research at Kaiko, said there has been a “notable drop in market depth” for bitcoin.

Market depth refers to a market’s ability to absorb relatively large buy and sell orders. When market depth is low, then relatively small orders can cause the price of an asset to move up or down in a substantial way.

And the liquidity situation could be set to get worse after Bloomberg reported that Jane Street and Jump Crypto, two of the biggest crypto market makers, will take a step back from crypto trading in the U.S. as the country’s regulators continue their crackdown on the nascent industry.

“While it is yet unclear the catalyst for today’s sharp drop, the volatility is to be expected given the current state of liquidity, especially after larger market maker Jane Street and Jump Crypto revealed they were winding down their crypto exposure,” Medalie said.

Liquidity has been a big issue for crypto markets since the closure of Silvergate and Signature Bank — two key platforms that people used to buy into the crypto market.


Bitcoin briefly falls below $26,000, posts worst week since November (

Finally, yet another El Nino warning.

Significant El Niño event is almost guaranteed this year, experts warn. And it could be a big one.

May 12, 2023

The chance of the ocean-warming event known as El Niño hitting this year is now over 90%. It will likely begin in the coming months, and there is a good chance it will persist into 2024 and have a widespread impact, experts have warned.

El Niño, which means "the little boy" in Spanish, is a major climatic event caused by changes to ocean currents in the Pacific Ocean. This heating event is strong enough to trigger major changes in global weather patterns and seriously impact marine ecosystems, especially combined with the effects of human-caused climate change. El Niño, along with its counterpart La Niña, or "the little girl" — a cooling event triggered by changes to the same ocean current system — make up the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle.

Experts have suspected that an El Niño event could be on the horizon for some time. And on May 3, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) predicted there was a 60% chance that it would begin between May and July

But on May 11, the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA) released its own forecast, which suggested that it is a near certainty that El Niño will begin during the same period. The agency also said there was a 90% chance that El Niño will persist into 2024.

ENSO cycle 101 

The ENSO cycle is mainly linked to trade winds in the Pacific Ocean that blow westward along the equator. Normally, this blows warmer surface waters from South America toward Asia, which are in turn replaced by cooler deep ocean waters in a process known as upwelling, according to NOAA.

During El Niño, the trade winds weaken, which leads to reduced upwelling and in turn warmer surface waters. During La Niña, the trade winds are unusually strong, which has the opposite effect. Both events can trigger extreme weather events, such as the potentially record-breaking Cyclone Freddy that battered parts of Africa in February and March.

The periods between El Niño and La Niña events are known as ENSO neutral.


Significant El Niño event is almost guaranteed this year, experts warn. And it could be a big one. (

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.

‘Still a long way to go’: UK finance minister warns inflation remains far too high

LONDON — U.K. Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt signaled the nation’s inflation remains too high, a day after the Bank of England agreed its 12th consecutive interest rate hike in a bid to combat stubbornly high household prices.

“I think we are aware there is still a long way to go. We still have inflation that is too high, growth is still not as high as we would like it to be,” he told CNBC’s Martin Soong on Friday, hours after the latest official data showed the UK economy eked out 0.1% growth in the first quarter.

“I think the U.K. is back and those are numbers that no one would have predicted even three months ago. These are much higher growth projections,” he noted of the first-quarter print, nevertheless flagging ongoing concerns over labor supply, productivity rates and how to increase long-term growth.

He defended that U.K. economic performance has been impacted by macro-economic concerns, citing a “once-in-a-century pandemic and an energy price shock that is probably the biggest since the 1970s.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to severe global logistical and production bottlenecks, while sanctions following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February last year have deprived Western consumers of Moscow’s fuel supplies.

Hunt stressed his support of the Bank of England’s Thursday decision to increase interest rates by a further 25 basis points despite the latest GDP results, arguing the measure will counter the “fundamental instability” triggered by high inflation.

The successive spring collapse of several international banks, including Europe’s Credit Suisse, had brought into question whether central banks would begin to ease their policies of rapidly raising interest rates.

“I think we all believe, certainly we in the U.K. believe, that the most important thing we need to do is focus on getting inflation down,” Hunt underlined. “Once inflation is down and you have stability, you can start to get growth up.”


UK finance minister Jeremy Hunt warns inflation remains far too high (

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

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

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

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

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

Covid-19 Corner

This section will continue until it becomes unneeded.

This weekend, did big pharma vaccine profits have any influence on this?

US Failure to Recognize Natural Immunity Negatively Affected Pandemic Response: NIH Scientist

May 11, 2023 Updated: May 11, 2023

The failure to recognize how post-infection immunity is similar or superior to that bestowed by vaccination led to prolonged school closures and other problems, a National Institutes of Health (NIH) scientist told Congress on May 11.

U.S. public health agencies “chose to disregard natural immunity,” leading to “lost jobs, staffing shortages, children kept out of school, and wasted vaccines,” said Margery Smelkinson, a research scientist at the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

She was one of three experts who testified at a hearing on immunity during the pandemic conducted by the U.S. House’s Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic in Washington.

Smelkinson, who said she was testifying in her personal capacity, is employed by the same agency that was led for decades by Dr. Anthony Fauci, who repeatedly downplayed natural immunity along with other top public health officials.

Fauci and Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), were among the officials to meet secretly in 2021 to decide whether post-infection immunity should count as one or more vaccine doses in the recommended COVID-19 vaccination schedule, according to documents obtained by The Epoch Times. The meeting resulted in no changes to the recommendations, which advise virtually all Americans to get a vaccine even if they’ve recovered from COVID-19.

The government’s position on natural immunity meant that COVID-19 vaccine mandates across the country featured no exceptions for the naturally immune, in contrast to some other countries.

The CDC has said that there is post-infection protection but that it varies by person, it’s unclear how long it lasts, and recovered people should still get vaccinated.

But evidence from before the vaccines were even available signaled that natural immunity was robust, and later studies provided evidence that natural immunity was similar to or even better than vaccination, Smelkinson noted.

One study in July 2020, for instance, found a strong immune response in people who had recovered from COVID-19. Another in October 2020 provided similar findings. And a paper in November 2020 found that mild infections also triggered strong responses.

As early as April 2021, research suggested protection on par with that from vaccines. A CDC study found natural immunity was better than vaccination against the Delta variant, and a more recent CDC paper provided the same conclusions for the Omicron strain. An analysis of dozens of studies found that post-infection protection was similar to or better than vaccination, depending on the strain.

---- Dr. Marty Makary, a professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told the panel that the stance against natural immunity adopted by Fauci and others didn’t make sense. He pointed in part to Fauci saying previously that people who had recovered from influenza didn’t need vaccination “because the most potent vaccination is getting infected yourself.”


US Failure to Recognize Natural Immunity Negatively Affected Pandemic Response: NIH Scientist (

Some more useful Covid links.

Johns Hopkins Coronavirus resource centre

The Spectator Covid-19 data tracker (UK)

World Health Organization - Landscape of COVID-19 candidate vaccines

NY Times Coronavirus Vaccine Tracker

Regulatory Focus COVID-19 vaccine tracker

Technology Update.

With events happening fast in the development of solar power and graphene, I’ve added this section.

Reusable nanoparticle-coated sponge removes heavy metals from water

Ben Coxworth  May 11, 2023

Removing heavy metal pollutants from water could soon be easier than ever, thanks to an experimental new sponge. With just one treatment, the device brought contaminated water down to safely drinkable levels.

Building upon two previous studies, the technology is being developed by scientists at Illinois' Northwestern University.

The researchers started out with a cheap commercially available cellulose sponge, and placed it in a slurry of manganese-doped goethite nanoparticles. They then removed it, let it dry, and rinsed it with water to flush out any loose particles.

The result was a sponge with a high-surface-area nanoparticle coating that was just tens of nanometers thick. Manganese-doped goethite particles were chosen not only because they adsorb lead ions, but also because they're inexpensive and non-toxic to humans.

When the sponge was immersed in tap water containing more than one part per million of lead, it sequestered lead ions to the point that they were no longer detectable in the water … this made the water safe to drink.

What's more, the lead could subsequently be removed from the sponge by rinsing the latter in mildly acidic water. That reclaimed lead could then conceivably be utilized in products such as batteries, while the rinsed-out sponge was reused to treat more tainted water – it wasn't quite as effective in later cycles, although it was still able to remove over 90% of lead ions from samples.

The scientists have now developed a platform known as Nanomaterial Sponge Coatings for Heavy Metals (Nano-SCHeMe), to guide other teams in selecting different types of nanoparticles for sequestering different types of heavy metals.

"The presence of heavy metals in the water supply is an enormous public health challenge for the entire globe," said Prof. Vinayak Dravid, senior author of a paper on the study. "It is a gigaton problem that requires solutions that can be deployed easily, effectively and inexpensively. That’s where our sponge comes in. It can remove the pollution and then be used again and again."

The paper was recently published in the journal ACS ES&T Water.

SourceNorthwestern University

Reusable nanoparticle-coated sponge removes heavy metals from water (

This weekend’s music diversion. Vivaldi again. Approx. 7 minutes.

Vivaldi: RV 360 / Concerto per Carlo VI d'Austria (La Cetra ms n. 1) / La Magnifica Comunità

A. Vivaldi: RV 360 / Concerto per Carlo VI d'Austria (La Cetra ms n. 1) / La Magnifica Comunità - YouTube

This weekend’s chess update. Approx. 11 minutes.

She Is Destroying Grandmasters || Some in 16 Moves

She Is Destroying Grandmasters || Some in 16 Moves - YouTube

This weekend’s maths update.  The geniuses of long forgotten Indian mathematics. Approx. 27 minutes.

Powell’s Pi Paradox: the genius 14th century Indian solution

Powell’s Pi Paradox: the genius 14th century Indian solution - YouTube

Finally, the follies of war.

Battle of Palmito Ranch

The Battle of Palmito Ranch, also known as the Battle of Palmito Hill, is considered by some criteria as the final battle of the American Civil War. It was fought May 12 and 13, 1865, on the banks of the Rio Grande east of Brownsville, Texas, and a few miles from the seaport of Los Brazos de Santiago, at the southern tip of Texas. The battle took place more than a month after the general surrender of Confederate forces to Union forces at Appomattox Court House, which had since been communicated to both commanders at Palmito, and in the intervening weeks the Confederacy had collapsed entirely, so it could also be classified as a postwar action.

Union and Confederate forces in southern Texas had been observing an unofficial truce since the beginning of 1865, but Union Colonel Theodore H. Barrett, newly assigned to command an all-black unit and never having been involved in combat, ordered an attack on a Confederate camp near Fort Brown for unknown reasons. The Union attackers captured a few prisoners, but the following day the attack was repulsed near Palmito Ranch by Colonel John Salmon Ford, and the battle resulted in a Confederate victory. Union forces were surprised by artillery said to have been supplied by the French Army garrison occupying the up-river Mexican town of Matamoros.

Casualty estimates are not dependable, but Union Private John J. Williams of the 34th Indiana Infantry Regiment is believed to have been the last man killed during the engagement. He could then arguably be reckoned as the last man killed in the war.


Battle of Palmito Ranch - Wikipedia


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