Monday 8 May 2023

The Glide Path To Economic Chaos?

Baltic Dry Index. 1558 +13         Brent Crude 75.71

Spot Gold 2024             US 2 Year Yield 3.92  +0.17

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

Deaths 53,103

Coronavirus Cases 08/05/23 World 687,803,066

Deaths 6,871,031

“If you’ve got the power to raise prices without losing business to a competitor, you’ve got a very good business. If you have to have a prayer session before raising the price by 10%, then you’ve got a bad business.”

Warren Buffett.

As expected, Asian stock casinos are largely following Wall Street’s relief rally on Friday, although in the real world things seem to be going from bad to worse.

A US debt default is now about three to four weeks off, but with the US Memorial Day holiday coming up at month-end, the US Congress has little time to pass a Senate version of the House Debt Ceiling hike, then the two different versions must somehow be “reconciled,” before eventually passing both parts of the Congress before being sent on to President Biden for signature or veto.

While a default still seems unlikely, given the elderly makeup of the US Senate, the polarisation between Republicans and Democrats, 3 to 4 weeks with one week off for a holiday, doesn’t leave any room for an unintended error.

In the US regional banking sector, up to another 200 banks are expected to be forced rescued, fire sold or fail over the next few months.

This week it’s The Old bag Lady of Threadneedle Street’s turn to raise their key interest rate.

In food price inflation news, the Ukraine proxy war goes on endlessly, a serious fertiliser price and supply crisis is present. Droughts are deepening in Argentina and a large part of Spain, France and northern Italy. A large part of  Asia from India to southern China are in record heatwaves, while a large part of Canada’s grain belt from British Columbia through Alberta and into Saskatchewan are suffering from exceptionally warm dry conditions generating large wildfires.

While none of this yet means a bad food production crisis turns dire, it seems unlikely that much relief to food price inflation will come from bumper northern hemisphere crops in 2023.

“Sell in May, go away,” looks about right for 2023, together with “run, do not walk for the wealth survival nuclear bunkers”

Asia markets largely rise after Wall Street rebounds on Friday

UPDATED SUN, MAY 7 2023 11:57 PM EDT

Asia-Pacific markets largely rose on Monday after Wall Street snapped a four-day losing streak Friday.

The only outlier was Japan, which saw the Nikkei 225 fall 0.66% and the Topix down 0.22% despite its services sector seeing a record pace of expansion in April, the au Jibun Bank Japan services purchasing managers’ index showed.

Minutes from Japan’s March monetary policy meeting showed board members were concerned over inflation accelerating at a higher-than-expected pace.

The Shanghai Composite led gains in the region and gained 1.9%, while the Shenzhen Component was 0.3% up.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.69% as financials and miners led gains. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.84% and the Kosdaq was up 0.21%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index climbed 0.8%, powered by energy and healthcare stocks.

In the U.S., all three major indexes rebounded Friday, ending largely higher as banks rallied and Apple posted better-than-expected earnings. The Dow Jones Industrial Average up 1.65%. The S&P 500 climbed 1.85% and the Nasdaq Composite saw the largest gains, advancing 2.25%.

The U.S. is also slated to report its latest consumer price index data for the month of April.

Asia markets largely rise after Wall Street rebounds on Friday (

Here’s a full recap of everything Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger said at Berkshire’s annual meeting


Despite the recent market volatility and worries over the economy, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett on Saturday provided a calm and steady voice as he fielded questions from shareholders.

That’s not to say that Buffett doesn’t see some turbulence ahead. He said commercial real estate could struggle with higher borrowing rates and banks could face more pressure but noted that deposits were safe. As for the economy, Buffett noted that his businesses will see lower year-over-year earnings as economic activity slows down.

The Oracle of Omaha also said Berkshire Hathaway wouldn’t take over Occidental Petroleum.

“There’s speculation about us buying control, we’re not going to buy control. … We wouldn’t know what to do with it,” he said.

The legendary investor sounded more optimistic about the prospects of value investing, however.

“In the 58 years we’ve been running Berkshire, I would say there’s been a great increase in the number people doing dumb things, and they do big dumb things,” he said, meaning that there will be more opportunities to make money down the road.

Buffett also doesn’t expect the U.S. dollar to be dethroned as the world’s reserve currency anytime soon.

“We are the reserve currency, I see no option for any other currency to be the reserve currency,” he said.

The 99-year-old Charlie Munger, Buffett’s right-hand man, also commented on artificial intelligence. He said that, while “going to see a lot more robotics in the world,” he remains “skeptical of some of the hype in AI.”

Here are some of the highlights:


Live Updates: Warren Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting 2023 (


Warren Buffett says letting Silicon Valley Bank customers go under would’ve been ‘catastrophic’


Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett said Saturday that regulators avoided a financial disaster by making sure that Silicon Valley Bank customers didn’t lose money in the firm’s collapse.


The sudden downfall of SVB in March forced the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to seize the bank, selling some of its assets to First Citizens weeks later.


The FDIC protected SVB customers in the process by invoking the systemic risk exception during the March tumult, allowing the regulator to make all depositors whole, even if their accounts exceeded the $250,000 coverage threshold.

“It would’ve been catastrophic” if regulators hadn’t done that, Buffet said during his annual shareholder meeting.

Allowing uninsured depositors to lose money would’ve “started a run on every bank in the country,” he said.

So the move, which brought criticism because it protected venture capital investors, startups and other sophisticated players, was “inevitable” in Buffett’s view.

Protecting uninsured depositors contributed to the estimated $20 billion hit that the FDIC’s Deposit Insurance Fund took in the SVB receivership. The biggest U.S. banks are expected to cover the economic cost of that through special fees.

Warren Buffett says letting Silicon Valley Bank customers go under would’ve been 'catastrophic’ (


Fears over finances of almost 200 US banks: Leading think-tank warns of risk of further failures after a week of turmoil grips American lenders

May 6, 2023

More American banks were teetering on the brink of collapse this weekend as a leading US think-tank raised fears over the financial strength of almost 200 lenders.

The Bank of England, meanwhile, is preparing to lift the cost of borrowing for the 12th time in a row as it tries to tame double-digit inflation. This follows further rate increases in the US and Europe.

Experts at the Hoover Institution think-tank say the global surge in interest rates has caught banks on the hop and left many of them nursing huge losses on some of their investments.

Officials are also concerned about the speed of recent bank runs, fuelled by social media. Three of the four biggest bank failures in US history have occurred in the last two months.

First Republic was seized by officials last week and most of its business was sold to banking giant JP Morgan. Its collapse followed the sudden demise of tech lender Silicon Valley Bank and also Signature, a smaller bank.

The future of three other regional banks – California-based PacWest, Arizona's Western Alliance and Memphis-based First Horizon – hang in the balance after their share prices tanked, dashing hopes that the crisis was over despite rallying on Friday.

Savings are guaranteed up to £200,000 in the US – far higher than the UK's £85,000 limit.

But uninsured American depositors worried that their money is not safe have been withdrawing their cash in droves as they seek higher returns elsewhere, causing bank runs.

Hoover's analysis found that if half of uninsured savers withdrew their cash, then 186 US banks with total assets of £240 billion would be at 'potential risk of impairment'. That means the banks in question would technically be in breach of regulators' rules on capital.

----'There are several potentially insolvent banks lurking in the system,' warned Amit Seru, finance professor at Stanford University and one of the Hoover report's authors.

While most of the bank runs have been in the US, there are fears that panic could spread.


Fears over finances of almost 200 US banks: Leading think-tank warns of risk of further failures after a week of turmoil grips American lenders (

Your Weekend Reading: GOP Debt Limit Threat Looms Over Markets

6 May 2023 at 12:30 BST

---- More threatening than lingering inflation and any credit crunch is the US debt ceiling crisis and the specter of a GOP-induced default. Such a calamity could kill millions of American jobs, crush the stock market by 45% and GDP by 6.1%, the White House estimated.

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines warned that China and Russia would likely seek to exploit a default and spread global doubt about the value of the dollar, US leadership and institutions. With the US Treasury just weeks away from running out of money to pay US debt, Republicans are nevertheless demanding a ransom of unrelated cuts that would likely slash funding for the climate fight, education and potentially veterans.

The Fed has made clear that it would not be able to protect the economy if the unthinkable happens. “I have one message for those observing or involved in the standoff over raising the US federal debt limit: Be afraid, be very afraid,” writes Bill Dudley for Bloomberg Opinion

Bloomberg Weekend Reading: GOP Debt Limit Threat Looms Over Markets - Bloomberg

Yellen warns of ‘economic chaos’ unless Congress raises the debt ceiling

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Sunday said that failure to raise the debt ceiling will cause a “steep economic downturn” in the U.S., and she reiterated her warning that the Treasury Department may run out of measures to pay its debt obligations by June.

“Our current projection is that in early June, a day will come when we’re unable to pay our bills unless Congress raises the debt ceiling, and it’s something I strongly urge Congress to do,” Yellen told ABC’s “This Week.”

Yellen said the U.S. has already been using “extraordinary measures” to avoid default, and it’s not something the Treasury Department can continue to do. She said Congress needs to take action to avoid “economic calamity.”

“It’s widely agreed that financial and economic chaos will ensue,” Yellen said.

Lawmakers have been trying to find a path forward to raise or suspend the debt ceiling, which would enable the U.S. to pay its bills on time. But they’re currently at an impasse, raising the prospect of default.

Yellen has called for decisive action, and quickly. In a letter to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Monday, Yellen said new data on tax receipts forced the department to move up its estimate of when the Treasury Department “will be unable to continue to satisfy all of the government’s obligations” to potentially as early as June 1. This date is earlier than Wall Street economists were expecting.


Yellen warns of 'economic chaos' unless Congress resolves debt ceiling (

Vietnam reports record high temperature

May 7, 2023

Vietnam on Saturday reported a record high temperature with a north-central weather station measuring 44.1 degrees Celsius, officials said.

This broke the previous high set in 2019.

South Asia has been sweltering under a heatwave for much of April, with neighbouring countries also registering record temperatures.

Vietnam’s weather varies from north to south, but the entire country is now entering its hottest summer months.

The record temperature of 44.1 degrees Celcius was measured Saturday afternoon at indoor Hoi Xuan station in north-central Thanh Hoa province, the National Centre for Hydro Meteorological Forecasting said.

The figure broke the country’s previous high of 43.4 degrees Celsius, recorded April 20, 2019, at Huong Khe District in central Ha Tinh Province.

“This is a worrying record in the context of climate change and global warming,” climate change expert Nguyen Ngoc Huy told AFP from capital Hanoi.

“I believe this record will be repeated many times,” he said.


Vietnam reports record high temperature (

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.

Wall St Week Ahead: US consumer price data to test feared stagflation scenario

NEW YORK, May 5 (Reuters) - Fears of stagflation are percolating on Wall Street, as investors await data that could shed light on whether the Federal Reserve is succeeding in tamping down inflation without badly hurting growth.

Stagflation - a combination of stagnant growth and persistent inflation that dogged the U.S. in the 1970s - dims the appeal of both equities and bonds, leaving investors fewer places to earn returns.

While far from assured, the scenario has loomed large in investors' minds as last year’s inflation surge forced the Fed to launch an aggressive monetary policy tightening cycle that many expect to bring on a recession. Some also believe the recent banking sector tumult will hurt lending and further constrain growth, forcing the Fed to cut rates before inflation is tamed.

April’s survey of global fund managers from BoFA Global Research showed stagflation expectations near historical highs, with 86% saying it will be part of the macroeconomic backdrop in 2024.

Next week’s consumer price data for April, due on Wednesday, May 10, could offer a clearer picture of whether the Fed’s interest rate increases are cooling inflation. A strong number could weigh on a rally that has lifted the S&P 500 nearly 8% this year.

“Stagflation is a growing concern,” said Phil Orlando, chief equity market strategist at Federated Hermes. “Inflation is a lot higher than the Fed thought it would be, and it’s coming down at an extraordinarily slow pace while we think the economy has already hit its high water mark for the year.”

U.S employment data on Friday showed hourly wages grew in April at an annual rate of 4.4%, too strong to be consistent with the Fed's 2% inflation target. Growth remained robust, however, with job creation accelerating and the unemployment rate falling to a 53-year low.

Still, bets in futures markets continued to show traders pricing interest rate cuts later this year. Policymakers have insisted they will keep rates at around current level for the remainder of 2023 after raising them another 25 basis points this week.


worldometer coronavirus - Search (


Covid-19 Corner

This section will continue until it becomes unneeded.

Is Covid really over? WHO’s announcement sounds more like surrender than victory

Robin McKieObserver science editor

Although the acute phase of the pandemic may have passed, experts agree that the virus’s effects will remain profound

Sun 7 May 2023 08.00 BST

The global public emergency caused by Covid-19 may be officially over but the pandemic will still be with us for many years. Nor is it clear that governments have learned sufficiently from the outbreak to be ready to fight off new emerging microbes that could trigger worse calamities.

These are the stark conclusions of scientists reacting to last week’s news that the World Health Organization (WHO) no longer considers Covid-19 – which has killed more than 7 million people over the past three years – to be a public health emergency of international concern.


Most researchers welcomed the decision because it reflects the fact that the acute phase of the Covid-19 outbreak is now over. At its peak, in January 2021, the global death rate reached more than 100,000 people a week. Last week it had dropped to about 3,500.

However, health officials and scientists also pointed out that immunity to the disease remains short-lived, while there has been considerable slackening in restrictions previously imposed to prevent people from infecting each other. Future waves of infections are therefore inevitable, they warned.

---- Many scientists told the Observer that the legacy of the pandemic – although it is past its peak – will be profound and long-lasting. Its cause, the SARS-CoV-2 virus, is still killing one person every three minutes, while many survivors are suffering the debilitating impact of long Covid, which can leave them incapacitated for months. The virus also poses a continued threat to elderly people and those with health conditions, adding a new annual danger to seasonal ailments such as influenza and other respiratory diseases that strike in winter.

“We now have a new human coronavirus that will continue to blight human populations into the future,” said Professor Andrew Lee of Sheffield University.

In short, the pandemic’s impact will be felt for a long time, both in terms of new cases and those already suffering from long Covid.


Is Covid really over? WHO’s announcement sounds more like surrender than victory | Coronavirus | The Guardian

COVID-19 Vaccine Effectiveness Drops Near Zero Within Months: Study

Booster doses were also shown to lose effectiveness over time

May 5, 2023 Updated: May 6, 2023

The effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines fell below 20 percent a few months after vaccination, with booster shots seeing effectiveness drop below 30 percent.

The review, published in the JAMA Network journal on May 3, analyzed 40 studies estimating vaccine effectiveness (VE) over time against laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection and symptomatic disease. The studies were selected from 799 original articles, 149 reviews published in peer-reviewed journals, and 35 preprints. The review found that the vaccine effectiveness of a primary vaccination cycle against the Omicron infection and symptomatic disease was lower than 20 percent at 6 months from the administration of the last dose.

Booster doses restored vaccine effectiveness to levels similar to those seen after administration of the primacy cycle dose. However, nine months after the booster dose, vaccine effectiveness against Omicron was found to be lower than 30 percent against infection and symptomatic disease.

“The half-life of VE against symptomatic infection was estimated to be 87 days for Omicron compared with 316 days for Delta. Similar waning rates of VE were found for different age segments of the population.”

“These findings suggest that the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines against laboratory-confirmed Omicron or Delta infection and symptomatic disease rapidly wanes over time after the primary vaccination cycle and booster dose,” the study said.

“Putting together the bulk of available evidence on the waning of VE over time against COVID-19 variants has crucial implications for future interventions and vaccination programs.”

Vaccine effectiveness against Omicron infection was 44.4 percent a month after the completion of the primary vaccination cycle. This fell to 20.7 percent at six months and then to 13.4 percent at nine months. Vaccine effectiveness was found to be higher against the Delta variant as compared to the Omicron variant.

“Pooled estimates of VE after any primary vaccination cycle against symptomatic disease after Omicron infection show a marked waning over time,” the study stated.

Effectiveness against symptomatic disease fell from 52.8 percent a month after completion of the primary vaccination cycle to 14.3 percent at six months and 8.9 percent at nine months.


COVID-19 Vaccine Effectiveness Drops Near Zero Within Months: Study (

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.

Electric bike battery explodes in Puri, close shave for family


Some furniture were gutted after a battery of an electric bike (e-bike) reportedly exploded in a house in Kathuaredi village under Brahmagiri block in Puri district on Friday night.

Fortunately, the family members present in the house had a narrow escape in the mishap.

As per reports, after plugging in the charger to the battery of the electric bike, all the members of the family were asleep inside their house. However, while getting charged, the battery exploded with a huge sound around midnight.

The family members woke up to the loud sound and found to their utter shock that the battery of the electric bike has exploded. In a bid to save their lives, they rushed out of their house.

Later, they found that some of the furniture inside the house have been gutted.

As per experts, most of the battery explosions of electric bikes are happening due to overheating. Heat makes the battery expand, which leads to explosions and fires. The heat also produces sparks which further lead to fires.

Electric bike battery explodes in Puri, close shave for family (

“Risk comes from not knowing what you're doing.”

Warren Buffett. 

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