Wednesday, 24 May 2023

US Another Day Older And … A BIS CBDC?

Baltic Dry Index. 1348 -17        Brent Crude 77.70

Spot Gold 1978           US 2 Year Yield 4.26  -0.03

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

Deaths 53,103

Coronavirus Cases 24/05/23 World 689,124,038

Deaths 6,881,401

You load 16 tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
St. Peter, don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store.

Treasury Secretary Yellen, with apologies.

Another day older and the USA is deeper in debt and another day closer to Treasury Secretary Yellen’s scaremongering default day of June one.

Not so, say sceptical Republicans, June one means very little. The US Treasury still has taxes and duties coming in each day and week and can prioritise who it pays first, by how much, and who will only get a delayed or partial payment.

While true, that’s probably a technical default if not actually a declared default. Either way, it saps credibility from the dollar reserve standard most of the world operates on.

Thankfully for now, there’s no viable replacement for the dollar reserve standard, but just wait until a world functioning on Central Bank Digital Currency.

Look for the Bank for International Settlement to promote its own version of CBDC as the next international reserve and trading currency. Who needs a US political football driven CBDC, when a better, non political, widely accepted international CBDC, becomes available whether adopted by the USA or not.

For the record I am against digital currencies issued by anyone, though with Artificial Intelligence fast rolling out and about to up-end global employment, I think CBDCs will prove unstoppable.  

Asia markets slide; New Zealand raises rates and industrials weigh on Hong Kong

UPDATED TUE, MAY 23 2023 11:33 PM EDT

Asia-Pacific markets mostly slid Wednesday. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 1.05% and the Hang Seng Tech index shed 1.16%, dragged by healthcare and industrial stocks.

Mainland Chinese markets also extended losses from Tuesday, with the Shanghai Composite down 0.63% and the Shenzhen Component marginally lower.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 slid 1.08% and the Topix fell 0.54%, even as the country’s business sentiment among manufacturers turned positive for the first time in 2023, according to a Reuters Tankan survey.

South Korea’s Kospi slipped 0.26%, while the Kosdaq was down 0.38%. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.43%.

New Zealand shares reversed losses, while the New Zealand dollar strengthened against the U.S. dollar after the country’s central bank raised its benchmark policy rate to 5.5%, in line with expectations from economists polled by Reuters. The S&P/NZX 50 Gross Index crept 0.17% higher after the move.

The country also saw its retail sales volume fall 4.1% year-on-year in the first quarter, the second straight quarterly contraction following a 4% fall in the quarter ended December.

Overnight in the U.S., all three major indexes fell, with the Nasdaq Composite leading losses at 1.26% lower, while the S&P 500 lost 1.12% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 0.69%.

Asia markets slide in early trade amid U.S. debt ceiling impasse (

Stock futures are little changed as investors eye debt ceiling clash in Washington: Live updates

UPDATED TUE, MAY 23 2023 10:25 PM EDT

U.S. stock futures were flat on Tuesday night as investors kept an eye on debt-ceiling negotiations.

Futures linked to the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by 25 points, or 0.08%. S&P 500 futures inched higher by 0.08%, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 0.05%.

The three major averages fell during regular trading Tuesday. The S&P 500 lost 1.12%, while the Nasdaq Composite and the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 1.26% and 0.69%, respectively. 

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen previously warned lawmakers that a potential default in early June is “highly likely.” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he had a “productive” discussion with President Joe Biden on Monday. Nonetheless, there were few indicators of progress made in negotiations on Tuesday. 

Even if Washington’s officials were to raise the debt ceiling, however, markets could be roiled, according to Bill Merz, head of capital markets research at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. That’s because the Treasury will need to issue a lot of debt to replenish its general account, he said.

“The impact of that is likely to remove liquidity from the broader capital markets,” Merz said. “Especially more recently, [that] has really overlapped with, or it has correlated with, S&P 500 in general stock performance,” he continued.

“Especially more recently, [that] has really overlapped with, or it has correlated with, the S&P 500 in general stock performance,” Merz said. 

On the economic front, investors will be watching for the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s meeting earlier in May. They will be released Wednesday afternoon. 

Investors will also be looking toward more earnings announcements. Clothing retailer American Eagle Outfitters and semiconductor giant Nvidia will be posting their results Wednesday after the bell. 

Stock market today: Live updates (

Republicans question June 1 debt ceiling deadline as talks zero in on potential trade-offs

WASHINGTON — A significant group of House Republicans raised questions Tuesday about whether the Treasury Department’s June 1 deadline to avoid a potential U.S. debt default was accurate.

“We’d like to see more transparency on how they come to that date,” House Majority Leader Rep. Steve Scalise said Tuesday at a news conference.

Scalise also said he believed that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s latest comments, out Monday, “implied that it’s June 1, or later, giving some openness to the idea that June 1 may not be the so called X-date.”

Yellen released a new letter to congressional leaders Monday that appeared to say the opposite of what Scalise claimed, specifically omitting a line from a previous letter about how extraordinary measures could buy the United States more time to avoid defaulting on its debt.

“We haven’t really been able to see a lot of transparency, but it looks like they’re hedging now and opening up the door to move that date back,” said Scalise.

A Treasury spokesperson declined to comment.


Debt ceiling deadline questioned by House Republicans (

US money market fund assets hit record highs despite debt-ceiling fears

NEW YORK, May 24 (Reuters) - U.S. money market fund assets hit a new record of $5.8 trillion this week as yield-hungry investors continued to turn to the short-term debt securities - a stark contrast to the 2011 debt- ceiling standoff when there were large outflows from the funds.

Money market mutual funds - a key source of short-term corporate and municipal funding - have enjoyed $614.8 billion in net inflows so far this year, with $48 billion of those in the past week as of Monday, according to Crane Data.

The influx comes despite growing concerns that the White House and Republican lawmakers may not reach a compromise to raise the $31.4 trillion debt ceiling ahead of a June 1 deadline, pushing the country into a devastating default.

Although money market funds are considered safe havens, they have experienced runs during previous crises and government officials and ratings agencies have warned they may continue to be vulnerable to rapid redemptions in times of stress.

In 2008, the collapse of Lehman Brothers sparked a run on money market funds, which also experienced severe stress in March 2020 as COVID-19 shut down the economy. Both episodes led the government to backstop the sector and to review its rules.

---- But this time there are several key differences buoying the sector. Those include higher interest rates, with money market funds today offering yields of as much as 5% compared with bank products which generally yield less than 1%. Recent bank failures have also prompted investors to move cash from bank accounts to money funds, said Crane Data President Peter Crane.

"In 2011 you had weakness in money funds anyhow, whereas now you have assets hitting record levels," he said. "The tide was going out then and now the cash tide is rising, or is high, and it would take a lot more to reverse that."

Money market funds that invest in Treasuries - money funds invest in high-quality, liquid, short-term debt, including Treasuries, government agency debt and corporate securities - are also avoiding exposure to Treasury bills that mature in June, said Crane.

"That's the sort of kryptonite that people are staying away from," he said.

US money market fund assets hit record highs despite debt-ceiling fears | Reuters

In other news.

From mangoes to luxury watches, Indians look to offload 2,000-rupee notes

May 23, 2023

MUMBAI/NEW DELHI, May 23 (Reuters) - Indians are stepping up purchases of daily essentials, and even premium branded goods, using the soon-to-be-withdrawn 2,000-rupee ($24.46) notes as they aim to sidestep the need to exchange or deposit them at banks.

The Indian central bank announced on Friday the country's largest denomination note will be withdrawn from circulation by the end of September. While it did not specify the reason for the move, it comes ahead of state and general elections in the country when, analysts said, cash usage typically spikes, often in unaccounted deals.

The currency exchange is expected to be far less disruptive than a 2016 move to demonetise 86% of the country's currency in circulation overnight.

Since the weekend, people have thronged outlets to spend using the 2000-rupee note to avoid the hassle of queuing up at banks to exchange them or invite scrutiny from the tax department by depositing large sums.

Indian shops, for their part, eagerly accepted the note, using it as an opportunity to increase sales, several of them said on Tuesday, the first day the exchange was allowed.

---- Unlike in 2016, when customers rushed to banks to exchange the scrapped currency notes, bank branches in Mumbai and New Delhi were mostly quiet with a handful of people standing in queues.

Maximum crowds were seen at counters of India's largest lender, State Bank of India (SBI.NS), as the bank chose not to ask for any documentation for exchange of up to the maximum allowed 20,000 rupees at one time.

From mangoes to luxury watches, Indians look to offload 2,000-rupee notes | Reuters

Oil prices rise $1 on concerns over tightening supply

May 24 (Reuters) - Oil prices gained over $1 on Wednesday after U.S. inventories and fuel supplies tightened and as a warning from the Saudi energy minister to speculators raised the prospect of further OPEC+ output cuts.

Brent crude futures last rose 68 cents, or 0.9%, to $77.52 a barrel by 0330 GMT, while the U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) gained 75 cents, or 1%, to $73.66 a barrel.

Brent had earlier rose as much as $1.03 to $77.87 a barrel. WTI had jumped as much as $1.07 to $73.98 a barrel.

"Oil is starting to turn bullish after the Saudi threat to short-sellers," said Edward Moya, senior analyst at OANDA, adding that Saudi Arabia will likely do "whatever it takes to defend prices".

Fears of a supply squeeze mounted after Saudi Arabia's energy minister said he would keep short sellers - those betting that prices will fall - "ouching" and told them to "watch out".

Some investors took that as a signal that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies including Russia, also known as OPEC+, could consider further output cuts at a meeting on June 4.

---- Also boosting oil prices was industry data late on Tuesday which showed that U.S. crude oil and fuel inventories fell sharply.

Crude inventories fell by about 6.8 million barrels in the week ended May 19, according to market sources citing American Petroleum Institute (API) figures. Gasoline inventories dropped by about 6.4 million, while distillate inventories declined by about 1.8 million.

If data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), due on Wednesday, confirm the API figures, U.S. gasoline inventories would have declined for the third consecutive week to their lowest pre-Memorial Day levels since 2014.

---- The Memorial Day holiday in the United States, this year on May 29, traditionally marks the beginning of U.S. peak summer travel.

Elsewhere, markets were still wary about U.S. debt ceiling discussions which in turn tempered oil price gains. Another round of debt ceiling talks ended on Tuesday with no signs of progress as the deadline to raise the government's $31.4 trillion borrowing limit or risk default ticked closer.


Oil prices rise $1 on concerns over tightening supply | Reuters

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.

Former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke says there’s more work ahead to control inflation

WASHINGTON — Former Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke, who guided the central bank and the U.S. economy through the Great Recession, thinks central bankers still have work to do to bring down inflation.

That work, he and economist Olivier Blanchard argue in an academic paper released Tuesday, will entail slowing down what has been a phenomenally resilient labor market.

The duo does not present specific prescriptions for how much unemployment needs to rise, but they do suggest it’s possible for the current Fed to orchestrate its way out of this predicament without severely tanking the U.S. economy.

“Looking forward, with labor market slack still below sustainable levels and inflation expectations modestly higher, we conclude that the Fed is unlikely to be able to avoid slowing the economy to return inflation to target,” Bernanke and Blanchard wrote in the paper.

Since leaving the Fed in 2014, Bernanke has been a distinguished senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Blanchard is a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Their paper notes that inflation has evolved since ballooning to a 40-year high in the summer of 2022. Initially, prices jumped as consumers used stimulus from Congress and the central bank to shift spending from services to goods, creating logjams in supplies and juicing inflation.

However, they note the new phase is now being pushed by a rise in wages trying to catch up to the surge in prices. The good news is that such shocks are generally controllable, but they said the Fed needs to keep trying to address the labor situation in which the unemployment rate is at 3.4% and there are still about 1.6 open jobs for every available worker.

“The portion of inflation which traces its origin to overheating of labor markets can only be reversed by policy actions that bring labor demand and supply into better balance,” Bernanke and Blanchard say.


Ex-Fed Chair Bernanke: There's more work ahead to control inflation (

Inflation tightens grip on UK services firms in worry for BoE -flash PMI

May 23, 2023

LONDON (Reuters) - Companies in Britain's services sector increased prices at a rapid pace in May as they saw another month of strong demand, according to a survey that could add to the Bank of England's worries about the persistence of high inflation.

Measures of inflation for services firms' costs and their prices edged higher, although they are down on peaks seen shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine last year, the preliminary reading of the S&P Global/CIPS UK Purchasing Mangers' Index (PMI) showed.

The BoE is watching prices in the services sector as an indicator of how much inflation pressure remains in the economy. It has increased interest rates at 12 meetings in a row since late 2021 and is due to announce its next decision on June 22.

Tuesday's PMI survey once again painted a contrasting picture for British businesses with services firms reporting growth in May - albeit slowing slightly from April's one-year high - while manufacturing companies' business shrank again.

S&P Global's Composite PMI - spanning both the services and manufacturing sectors - dropped to 53.9 from the one-year high of 54.9 recorded in April. But it remained in growth territory above the 50.0 level for the fourth month in a row.

Chris Williamson, chief business economist at S&P Global, said the PMI was consistent with quarterly gross domestic product growth of 0.4% in the second quarter, speeding up from 0.1% in the first three months of the year.

"However, this growth spurt is driving renewed inflationary pressures, as service providers struggle to meet demand and hence not only offer higher wages to attract staff but also find themselves able to charge more for their services," he said.

"These survey results are nothing but hawkish in suggesting the Bank of England has more work to do to quash stubbornly high inflationary pressures in the services economy."

So far in 2023, Britain's economy has fared better than many forecasts of a recession made late last year.


Inflation tightens grip on UK services firms in worry for BoE -flash PMI (

Olive Oil Prices Soar As Top Producer Plagued With Drought

May 23, 2023

Spain's severe drought and parched soils have sent olive oil prices to levels not seen in more than a decade. The surge in olive oil prices, along with fresh produce, is exacerbating already high food prices as the Northern Hemisphere summer starts in less than a month.  

Data from Bloomberg shows that Spanish extra-virgin olive oil prices have jumped 200% since 2020 to 5,870 euros per metric ton -- the highest level since 2010. Most of the price surge was recorded in the last year. 

"Output in the country could more than halve this season due to the arid conditions, according to a Spanish farming industry group," Bloomberg said. Spain accounts for 40% of the world's supply, indicating prices across Europe and other regions are being pushed higher. 

Europe's Monitoring Agricultural Resources recently said Spain is under severe weather stress, with barely any rainfall since January. The drought is damaging crops and threatens to drive food prices even higher across Europe. 

Research firm Gro Intelligence penned a note last week that warned the country is in "extreme" drought across top croplands — the highest recorded reading in at least two decades — while soil moisture levels are the lowest since at least 2010. 

Olive Oil Prices Soar As Top Producer Plagued With Drought | ZeroHedge

Covid-19 Corner

This section will continue until it becomes unneeded.

Today, another reason for the UK to reject any USA trade deal that involves meat.

Beef Company CEO: “I’ll Shut Down the Company Before We Ship a Single Bag With mRNA-Injected Meat”

 May. 19, 2023

Quickly but quietly, Big Pharma and various state governments are working to inject beef and dairy cattle with mRNA “vaccines.” The practice has been happening with pork since 2018 and beef is next on the agenda.

Jason Nelson, CEO of Whole Cows, has been watching the developments closely. His Texas company, which specializes in shelf-stable freeze-dried meat for long-term storage, has vowed to never allow gene therapied cattle to enter the food supply through their products (plus, the Liberty Daily benefits when you purchase from them through this link and the links below).

“I’ll shut down the company before we ship a single bag of mRNA-injected meat,” he said. “That’s why we’re growing as quickly as possible so we can achieve the buying power to produce large amounts. We’re relatively small now but we want to have a surplus of tens of thousands of bags of beef by 2024.”

The pushes for both transparency and to halt the push for mRNA-jabbed beef have hit roadblocks recently. In Missouri, a bill that would have forced labeling of beef injected with mRNA vaccines was stalled in committee. According to Todd Neeley at DTN:

A bill at the center of a vaccine controversy in the state of Missouri was voted down in a committee of the state’s house of representatives this week. The Missouri House Committee on Emerging Issues voted 10-4 against HB1169 on Wednesday, effectively ending the bill’s chance for passage in the current session.

Among many other stipulations, the bill would have required all beef derived from Missouri cattle to include labels detailing vaccines cattle received throughout their life. HB1169 also would have applied to commodities produced using GMO corn and soybeans.

Unfortunately, cattle and rancher associations across the nation have ignored concerns from both consumers and producers. Currently, most state rancher associations are either silent on the issue or in favor of advancing Big Pharma’s agenda.

----Dr. Joseph Mercola, who has been a heavy proponent of natural foods his entire career, has been raising the alarm bell about the risks of the burgeoning threat to the food supply in America. As he recently noted:

Moving forward, it’s going to be extremely important to stay on top of what’s happening to our food supply. Many of us were surprised to realize mRNA shots have been used in swine for several years already. Soon, cattle may get these customizable mRNA shots as well, which could affect both beef and dairy products.

For now, I strongly recommend avoiding pork products. In addition to the uncertainty surrounding these untested mRNA “vaccines,” pork is also very high in linoleic acid, a harmful omega-6 fat that drives chronic disease. Hopefully, cattle ranchers will realize the danger this mRNA platform poses to their bottom-line and reject it. If they don’t, finding beef and dairy that has not been “gene therapied” could become quite the challenge.

Ultimately, if we want to be free, and if we want food safety and food security, we must focus our efforts on building a decentralized system that connects communities with farmers who grow real food in sustainable ways and distribute that food locally.


Beef Company CEO: "I'll Shut Down the Company Before We Ship a Single Bag With mRNA-Injected Meat" 🔔 The Liberty Daily

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.

World's largest and most efficient aircraft engine aces first tests

Loz Blain  May 22, 2023

Rolls-Royce has completed the first ground tests on its massive UltraFan engine, claiming it's at least 10% more efficient than any other large aero engine in service today. This carbon/titanium beauty will roll out on airliners in the 2030s.

Despite the UltraFan's intimidating size, it's impressively lightweight thanks to Rolls-Royce's high-precision 3D-manufacturing robots, which make most of those mammoth 140-inch-diameter (3.56 m) blades in carbon composite, but use titanium to add strength and resilience to the leading edges.

The turbines behind the main fan are kept fairly small, creating a high bypass ratio by allowing a good volume of air to pass straight through around the compressors and out the back. This cuts down noise by a remarkable 35%. It also boosts efficiency – as does a planetary power gearbox that allows the main fan to spin slower and the compressors to spin faster, putting each in their optimal zones.

At 10% more efficient than the most frugal engine on the market – Rolls-Royce's own Trent XWB, according to the company – it stands to save airlines billions of dollars in fuel bills, so it's sure to be popular when it's fully certified and rolling out on narrow and widebody aircraft in the 2030s, at a number of different sizes ranging from 25,000-110,000 pounds of thrust.

As well as saving money, it'll also drop a corresponding amount off the airline's carbon footprint – a small step toward clean flight, but a significant one at scale – while also virtually eliminating particulate emissions and cutting NOx emissions by about 40%.

More, plus video.

World's largest and most efficient aircraft engine aces first tests (

“It is difficult not to marvel at the imagination which was implicit in this gargantuan insanity. If there must be madness something may be said for having it on a heroic scale."

John Kenneth Galbraith. The Great Crash: 1929.


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