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Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Rumors: Chinese Banks In Trouble As Bad Loans Accelerate

Lenders seek to improve future profitability despite country’s economic slowdown

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Chinese Banks Step Up Bad-Loan Write-Offs

The International Monetary Fund estimates China’s 
nonperforming-loan ratio at 15%, compared with the official 
1.75% figure reported by the government, because of 
differences in the way bad loans are recognized.

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All four big Chinese banks report rising bad loans
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China's three other giant state-owned banks have reported similar results in recent days, with all of their bad loan ratios creeping upwards as Beijing seeks to boost the world's second-largest economy with an infusion of cheap credit.
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"The government is borrowing record amounts to consume, not invest - a ticking fiscal time bomb," the investment firm's chief Asia-Pacific macro strategist Annette Beacher said on Tuesday.

The country, grappling with lower oil prices, raised 98 billion riyals ($26 billion) from bond sales to domestic institutions last year, with that figure probably set to rise to about 120 billion riyals in 2016, according to Saudi Fransi Capital.

“It’s unthinkable that nothing would happen in September,” said Daiju Aoki, an economist at UBS Group AG in Tokyo. “The most likely measure would be pseudo-helicopter money where the BOJ will commit to holding Japanese government bonds for a long time.”

Switzerland's central bank now owns more publicly-traded shares in Facebook than Mark Zuckerberg, part of a mushrooming stock portfolio that is likely to grow yet further.

4 Energy Storage Options That Elon Musk Is Ignoring

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In research there is evolution, revolution and sometimes, what I call “retro revolution,” which happens when old methods have new applications. All three are in play in the world of electricity, and they are having an extraordinary effect on energy storage. The inability to store electricity has been a challenge since the time of Thomas Edison. Electricity is made and used in real time, putting huge pressure on utilities at particular times of the day. For much of the East Coast in summer, for example, the peak is in the evening, when people come home from work or play, crank up the air conditioning, flip on the lights, the TV and start cooking. In many cities, the subways operate at peak and the electricity supply is stretched. Traditionally, there have been two ways to deal with this. One is that utilities have some plant on standby, […]

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Banking And Finance Remain On Life Support

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Still Too Big to Fail?

More than 8.5 million jobs disappeared from the economy during the Great Recession. In order to stop the economy from plummeting deeper into an abyss in 2008, the U.S. government bailed out banks and major businesses, and passedlegislation – the Dodd-Frank Act – to try to keep a similar crisis from reoccurring.
Despite this legislation, the stability of the financial sector remains all too precarious, argued Neel Kashkari, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in a February speech at the Brooking Institution. “I believe the biggest banks are still too big to fail and continue to pose a significant, ongoing risk to our economy,” he said.
Neel Kashkari

Kashkari’s assessment of the threat that big banks pose to the wider society is largely influenced by his experience working in senior positions at the U.S. Department of Treasury during the 2008 crisis. Not only did the downturn in home mortgages affect the banks that relied on mortgage payments as a stream of revenue, other industries endured crisis as well. Construction workers were hit particularly hard, as demand for new homes decreased. Additionally, because banks were in financial straits and less willing to lend to one another and to other businesses, companies were not able to undertake new projects. In turn, companies laid off employees, continuing the spiral into an economic crisis. Ultimately, in order to limit the damage from the crisis, Congress authorized the U.S. Department of Treasury to loan up to $700 billion to large banks and to other companies severely impacted by the economic downturn.

One of the motivating factors for the project came from a careful reading of Keynes’ book, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, which many revere as an economic bible. The book is eloquent, witty, insightful, but unscientific and contains mathematical and logical errors. Unlike other rhetorical critiques, an early post on this blog shows from empirical data collected over recent decades that Keynesian policy has been harmful to the US economy and could lead to a Keynesian economic collapse.

Among scientists, however, there is agreement. Two Harvard economists, after trawling through voluminous, authoritative research, said last year that the odds of an utterly catastrophic finale to humanity’s atmospheric experiment is about 10 percent. That’s a conclusion that can focus minds pretty quickly—and perhaps turn the expenditure of trillions of dollars over three decades into only a tough, but manageable, problem.

Through a combination of low prices and moderate wage gains, 2015 may have been a great year for median household incomes.

Since the early 1980s Hayes has written “The Classroom,” an advice column for the American Bee Journal, America’s oldest bee magazine. He is Dear Abby for beekeepers, counseling readers on everything from capturing swarms to making shoe polish from beeswax. (To Tommy, a North Carolina beekeeper asking why his bees swarmed too late to survive the winter: “Sometimes the stupid gene expresses itself, Tommy. Genes are always testing themselves to see if they bring reproductive value.”)

World population may rise to nearly 10 billion by 2050

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Ever Wonder Who's Next? 
The world population will reach 9.9 billion in 2050, increasing by 33 per cent from an estimated 7.4 billion now, the latest report from the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) has predicted. If the assumptions underlying 2050 projections by the PRB’s World Population Data Sheet are applied to subsequent years, the world population would hit the 10 billion mark in 2053, with set to Asia gain about 900 million to 5.3 billion. 
(ALSO READ: Humans altered 97 per cent of most species-rich places on Earth )
 “Despite declines in fertility rates around the world, we expect population gains to remain strong enough to take us toward a global population of 10 billion,” said Jeffrey Jordan, president and CEO of PRB. “Significant regional differences remain, though. For example very low birth rates in Europe will mean population declines there while Africa’s population is expected to double,” said […]

Monday, 29 August 2016

EYE on the World - Global Physics: An Unsustainable Shrinking Pie

 Stories Going Beyond The Mainstream 


    Global Physics:

 An Equation That Is Not Sustainable.  

" Our Daily Shrinking Planetary Pie With More Mouths" 

We Are Running Out of Natural Resources - Now What?


Humans are gobbling up natural resources at a terrifying rate

Humans are using too much crap.
That’s the official word from a new U.N. report on the use of natural resources. It found that, from the food we eat to the homes we live in to the fuels we burn, our rates of consumption are just unsustainable. That’s not too surprising, but the real shock is that our extraction of the primary materials used to make all of our stuff has more than tripled in the past 40 years.

“We urgently need to address this problem before we have irreversibly depleted the resources that power our economies and lift people out of poverty,” said the U.N.’s Alicia B├írcena Ibarra. 

Scotland On Path To Completely Ditching Fossil Fuels


Scotland just produced enough wind energy to power it for an entire day

Strong winds combined with low demand on a sunny summer Sunday help Scotland reach ‘significant milestone’ on path towards ditching fossil fuels entirely

For the first time on record, wind turbines have generated more electricity than was used in the whole of Scotland on a single day.
An analysis by conservation group WWF Scotland found unseasonably stormy weather saw turbines create about 106 per cent of the total amount of electricity used by every home and business in the country on 7 August.
Gale-force winds lashed much of the country with a speed of 115mph recorded at the top of Cairngorm mountain. 

Serious Money Moving To The Sidelines

Investors Stockpiling Cash Like It’s 1999

Wealthy investors are stockpiling cash at levels we haven’t seen since 2001, in the wake of the Dot Com crash. The cash slush pile is larger even than in 2008 when investors fled the market during the Lehman collapse. According to a recent survey, large investors, including asset managers and institutional investors, have almost six percent of their holdings in cash. The amount of cash being squirreled away by just the world’s billionaires, not solely in the U.S., but worldwide, is estimated to beas high as $1.7 trillion dollars. That’s ten percent of the entire U.S. GDP.

There are a lot of reasons that the investment world has retreated to cash, but this is the first time it’s happened when there was no clear ongoing economic disaster. In other words, seasoned investors are behaving as if there’s been a market collapse at a time when equity markets continue to march higher—when to all outward appearances we’re in a boom.

Last Days For Oil Industry? 

Heinberg: Is the Oil Industry Dying?  

The peak oil controversy stages a comeback as the industry confronts a future of higher costs — and low prices. A spindletop spouter gushes oil in 1902. (Image: Wikimedia Commons) Talking about “peak oil” can feel very last decade. In fact, the question is still current. Petroleum markets are so glutted and prices are so low that most industry commenters think any worry about future oil supplies is pointless. The glut and price dip, however, are hardly indications of a healthy industry; instead, they are symptoms of an increasing inability to match production cost, supply, and demand in a way that’s profitable for producers but affordable for society. 
Is this what peak oil looks like?  

No Future For Middle-Class Or Wage-Earners

Here's Why Wages Have Stagnated--and Will Continue to Stagnate

The only way to reverse declines in labor participation and stagnation in wages and demand is to make it easier to start enterprises and hire people.

Mainstream economists are mystified why wages/salaries are still stagnant after 7+ years of growth / "recovery." The conventional view is that wages should be rising as the labor market tightens (i.e. the unemployment rate is low) and demand for workers increases in an expanding economy. 

Overpopulation Ultimately Leads To Global Food Shortages

The Odds of a Global Food Crisis Are Rising

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The vulnerability of global food production to extremes of weather is a profound reality that few grasp.
Given the current abundance of food globally, confidence in permanent food surpluses and low grain prices is high. Few worry that the present abundance of food could be temporary. But the global food supply is more fragile than we might think, despite historically low grain/agricultural commodity prices.

Both corn and wheat have plummeted in price due to current demand/supply:

Let's start with one salient fact: there are 7+ billion human mouths to feed now plus hundreds of millions of animals that are being fed grain to supply humanity's insatiable appetite for meat:

Ultimately #China's Credit And Economic Expansion Will Burst Global Bubble

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Red Ponzi Ticking—-China And The Dark 

Side Of The Global Bubble, Part 1

Donald Trump is absolutely correct that China is a great economic menace. But that’s not owing to incompetence at the State and Commerce Departments or USTR in cutting bad trade deals.
Nor is it even primarily due to the fact that China egregiously manipulates it currency, massively subsidizes its exports, wantonly steals technology, chronically infringes patents and hacks propriety business information like there is no tomorrow.

Trumped Final

If that were the extent of China’s sins, a new sheriff in the White House wielding a big stick and possessing a steely backbone—-attributes loudly claimed by The Donald—-might be able to reset the game. After hard-nosed negotiations, he might even obtain a more level and transparent playing field, thereby eventually reducing our current debilitating $500 billion import trade with China and retrieving at least some of the millions of jobs which have been off-shored to the far side of the planet.

But as we demonstrated in Chapter 5, the world fundamentally changed in the early 1990s when Mr. Deng and Chairman Greenspan jointly initiated the present era of Bubble Finance. The latter elected to inflate rather than deflate the domestic US economy and to thereby export dollar liabilities in their trillions to the rest of the world.

At the same time, having depreciated the yuan by 60%, Mr. Deng discovered that to keep China’s nascent export machine booming he needed to run the printing presses in the basement of the People Bank of China (PBOC) red hot, thereby sopping up the massive inflow of Greenspan’s dollars and keeping China’s exchange rate pegged to the US dollar.
So doing, Beijing kept domestic wages and prices cheap and turned China into an export powerhouse by draining its vast rice paddies of history’s greatest warehouse of untapped industrial labor. In fact, in less than two decades it mobilized more new industrial workers than had existed in the US, Europe and Japan combined at the time in the early 1990s when Mr. Deng proclaimed that it was glorious to be rich.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the half of it. Greenspan’s dollar profligacy was inherently contagious. By the 1990s, the governments of most of the developed world were run by statists and socialists who were loath to see their exchange rates soar in the face of Greenspan’s epic flood of surplus dollars.
So rather than harvesting social gains from the cheap American exports Greenspan had on offer, the new ECB and the BOJ reciprocated with monetary expansion designed to keep their exchange rates down and protect domestic industries and labor .

Old fashioned economists were wont to call this a race to the currency bottom, and surely it was that. But what it really did was unleash a global tsunami of credit expansion and an economic race of another sort. Namely, to today’s nearly universal malady of Peak Debt.

As we documented earlier, the combined central banks of the world have expanded their balance sheets from $2 trillion to $21 trillion or by 10Xduring the past two decades. So doing they drove the price

Global Debt and GDP- 1994 and 2014

There are certainly some things I love about the geographic region of Canada. I’m a life long hockey fan which I consider to be the best sport in the world (along with Mixed Martial Arts)… and Canada is ALL about hockey. It could be dead in the heat of summer (which lasts about six weeks and all anyone talks about is hockey). And, there are plenty of other things to like about Canada too. But given the high level of socialism/statism and the incredibly cold temperatures, it definitely wasn’t enough to make me want to give up half my life earnings just to stay there.

“We understand the deep frustration and concerns associated with the cost of the EpiPen to the patient, and have always shared the public’s desire to ensure that this important product be accessible to anyone who needs it,” Heather Bresch, chief executive of Mylan, said in a statement, calling the company’s move “an extraordinary commercial response.”

Simplifying the process is a focus only on the structural elements of the argument, particularly foreign policy, military strategy, and technology, that interrelate in a manner that produce a cogent argument on why this a Prevailing Gray Swan and not just “another Middle East war” which breeds complacency. The primary message to Americans is that the Syrian Conflict should not be viewed in the same class as regional wars like Iraq and Afghanistan because the Syrian Conflict can quickly become a war directly between the US/NATO forces versus Russia/Iran and not just second-world militaries and/or proxies of the US and Russia fighting in limited geographies with conventional weapons in the recent past.

Wind Power Finally Getting Out From Solar’s Shadow

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Wind power Solar power has been getting all of the proverbial sunlight for the last few years. Most of the focus and attention from environmentalists, regulators, and others has been on solar. There are numerous pure-play solar companies from SolarCity to First Solar. Solar is commonly used in residential applications today, and economic pundits fall all over themselves to talk about the falling cost of solar panels and the changing economics that entails. All of that attention has probably left wind power advocates feeling a little steamed. While there are many pure-play public solar companies, there are few publicly-traded firms investing directly in wind farms or producing wind turbine equipment. Yet wind power is every bit as viable a technology as solar, and in some respects is a natural complement to solar – wind often blows hardest at night and on stormy days – exactly when solar is the […]

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