Thursday, July 2, 2020

Tracking Mining Man Dan Gertler's Sanctions Evading, Money Laundering, Government Bribing Business Endeavors

From Global Witness, July 2, 2020:

Undermining Sanctions
Controversial mining magnate Dan Gertler appears to have evaded US sanctions by using a suspected money laundering network stretching from DRC to Europe and Israel 
In December 2017, controversial mining magnate Dan Gertler had a problem. The United States had just sanctioned him for making his fortune through “corrupt mining deals” in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with the intention of ending Gertler’s lucrative career brokering deals between the Congolese state and some of the world’s largest multinational mining companies.

US sanctions against Gertler were set to not only destroy his reputation, but also proscribe American individuals, banks and companies from entering into business with him. In our globalised economy, where most transactions are carried out in dollars via US banks, this meant that even non-American entities would have to avoid doing business with Gertler. For an international businessman like Gertler, these sanctions should have come as a financial death sentence.

However, our joint investigation with the Platform for the Protection of Whistleblowers in Africa (PPLAAF) suggests that Gertler may have been able to evade US sanctions and continue to operate freely in DRC’s mining sector. His close connections to those with power and influence in DRC could have helped allow him to continue doing business, as has his apparent use of an international money laundering network.
 Key findings
  • Dan Gertler has seemingly used an international money laundering network stretching from DRC to Europe and Israel to evade US sanctions. This network likely helped him funnel millions abroad and retain access to DRC’s mining sector.
  • Two Congolese companies that may be proxies for Gertler secretly acquired new mining permits in the months leading up to the 2018 Congolese elections. These permits were granted by state-owned mining company Gécamines.
  • Evidence suggests that Afriland First Bank was central in setting up any scheme that may have enabled Gertler to evade US sanctions
  • Large mining companies including ERG and Sicomines continue to do business with a company still likely linked to Gertler, despite US sanctions against him.
  • Commodity giant Glencore has continued to pay Gertler millions of euros after sanctions were imposed.
Gertler in DRC: A brief history
Gertler made his fortune by acting as a gatekeeper to DRC’s mining sector. International mining companies seeking access had to work with Gertler, and many were willing to do so since DRC is home to many valuable natural resources, including diamonds, gold, copper and coltan....


Previously on Mr. Gertler: 
December 2017
This is going-on two months old but is good background for some stuff that will be coming out in 2018....
November 2018 
December 2019 
December 2019 
January 2020 

Poland Is Expanding Their LNG Terminal Again

From LNG Industry, June 25:

Polskie LNG signs LNG terminal expansion agreements
Polskie LNG, from the GAZ-SYSTEM Group, and Szczecin and Swinoujscie Seaport Authority have signed agreements with the consortium of companies PORR S.A. and TGE Gas Engineering GmbH for the expansion of the Lech Kaczynski LNG Terminal.
The value of the signed agreements totals to approx. PLN 1.9 billion. The investment project completion date is the end of 2023.

The agreements relate to the extension of the onshore as well as offshore part of the LNG terminal conducted in cooperation with the Szczecin and Swinoujscie Seaport Authority in the ‘design & build’ formula. The scope of the agreements covers the development of the design documentation (building permit design and detailed design), performance of construction and erection works, commissioning of the system, and obtaining of the required permits.
The investment project will be executed by two entities:
  • Polskie LNG shall be competent for, among other things, the construction of the new LNG tank (with a capacity of approximately 180 000 m3 gross) and the performance of the process part of the new berth intended for LNG loading, unloading, and bunkering.
  • Szczecin and Swinoujscie Seaport Authority shall be competent for the construction of the hydrotechnical part of the berth, the hydrotechnical infrastructure for the transmission pipe rack, and the complete mooring infrastructure.
“We are very happy that Polish seaports are involved in the changes that take place in the energy sector in our country. The Szczecin-Swinoujscie port complex is fully prepared to diversify the supply of strategic energy resources. The extension of the Swinoujscie President Lech Kaczynski LNG Terminal plays a key role in the regasification process and it is also crucial in terms of the energy resources supply for other European countries. What is more, this project forms part of the wider programme for strategic sea investments which will significantly increase Poland’s potential in the Baltic region”, said Marek Gróbarczyk, Minister of Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation.

“The investment project is an essential element of the strategy to increase the energy security of Poland. The national transmission system is consistently expanded to switch from the presently prevalent east-west direction of supply to the northern direction. Apart from the expansion of the LNG terminal in Swinoujscie, GAZ-SYSTEM Capital Group has been successfully pursuing a number of strategic investment projects such as: the Baltic Pipe Project, the North-South Gas Corridor, or the Poland–Lithuania gas interconnectors. Thus, we are building Poland’s energy independence and laying grounds for gas market diversification in our part of Europe”, noted Piotr Naimski, Secretary of State in the Chancellery of the Prime Minister, Government Plenipotentiary for Strategic Energy Infrastructure.....MORE
December 2019 
Natural Gas: "Novatek steps on gas pedal with Arctic LNG 2 construction, Plans Downstream LNG Business in Germany and Poland"
November 2019 
"First American LNG Shipment for Ukraine Arrives at Polish Port"
Poland has been trying to warn the rest of Europe of the risks in getting too dependent on Russian gas, in particular via the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
December 2018
Natural Gas: Poland Is Already Expanding Its New LNG Terminal As Nord Stream 2 Heads For Germany

Feb. 12, 1940  
Berlin, Moscow Negotiate New Trade Accord".
-Reading Eagle
October 2018
The Nord Sream 2 Alternative: "Polish consumption, LNG imports grow"  
It isn't cheap to do what Poland is doing, paying for some independence from Russian sources, but it may prove farsighted on the day—and it will happen—Russia begins pressuring Germany over some geopolitical point or other.

October 2018
Natural Gas: Polish Oil and Gas Company (PGNiG) confirms US LNG supply deal
Ramping up the use of the new (and already being expanded) President Lech Kaczyński LNG Terminal. Qatar is currently Poland's largest LNG supplier with the next step in the diversification away from reliance on Russia to be increasing Norwegian gas via the Norway-Denmark-Poland Baltic Pipe by October 2022.

October 2018

Natural Gas: Russian Media Downplays Poland's Latest Moves

"U.S. LNG Industry Needs Prices To Double"

From OilPrice, June 26:
Last week, Tellurian said it would make the final investment decision on the Driftwood LNG project next year. On the one hand, the news is good: Tellurian had stopped making updates on the project after its long-term supply deal with India’s Petronet fell through. On the other hand, the announcement makes it the latest in a string of LNG companies pushing their FIDs back by a year, and this does not bode well for the industry. It is enough to look at the reason why Tellurian postponed its final investment decision, as explained by the chief executive: the company needs gas prices--specifically, Asian spot market prices--to be over $5 per million British thermal units (mmBtu). Right now, LNG trades at about $2 per mmBtu. Can it climb more than 100 percent within a year?

According to Shell, prices will rise by next year because new supply will be slow in coming this year. But that forecast was made in the supermajor’s LNG Outlook 2020, which was released in February. Since then, Shell has pulled out of the Lake Charles LNG project and is reportedly mulling over the sale of a stake in its Australian LNG business. While the latter is likely part of a divestment program running from before the crisis, the exit from the Lake Charles project is interesting, especially in light of the company’s continued optimism about the LNG market.

The company cited market conditions in its decision to pull out from Lake Charles LNG. India’s Petronet must have had the same market conditions in mind when it let its preliminary long-term agreement with Tellurian expire. Right now, LNG is much cheaper on the spot market than in long-term supply contracts. It is this price disparity that is changing timelines and pushing back FID dates. And ironically enough, it is U.S. LNG producers that contributed to this situation, though not willingly....

We still think U.S. spot or near futures can see $3.50 but the wildcard is oil. If Cushing prices trade at current levels or higher there will be more oil produced than we were looking for back in April and with the oil comes the "associated" gas, keeping a lid on prices.

The other factors to be aware of are generally cooler than average temperatures so far this season, meaning less demand for air conditioning: the last EIA Weekly Update had population weighted Cooling Degree Days running at -12 for the last week reported (no update this week, they get the holiday)

The last negative impact is from LNG shipments, which at 25 Bcf are half of some weeks in February and March.
And that 25 Bcf shortfall is enough to move prices by 10% on storage report day 

AquaBounty Is Now Selling Their Indiana-Raised Atlantic Salmon (but not the genetically modified fish, yet)

As intro'd in September 2019's "Here Come the Frankenfish: GMO Salmon Coming to a Store Near You"
They absolutely must not allow these things to get anywhere near ocean salmon (or Great Lakes salmon for that matter).
And though the writer takes a blithely upbeat look at this development, we are posting it for information purposes only....
That was followed in January 2020 by FrankenFish: "AquaBounty unveils 50,000 tonne target".

And here's the latest, from WISH-TV, Indianapolis, June 30:
Atlantic salmon now being harvested in Indiana
Albany, Indiana, is about 750 miles away from the Atlantic Ocean, but the Delaware County town of 2,100 Hoosiers is where Atlantic salmon is now being harvested.

Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: AQB) announced the beginning of its commercial-scale harvest of conventional Atlantic salmon raised at its aquaculture farm in Albany. This fish farm is the company’s first in the U.S.

The company says the Indiana-based farm will ramp up the monthly harvest of conventional salmon throughout the summer and plans to reach 100 metric tons per month by early 2021.
The annual capacity of the farm is approximately 1,200 metric tons.

“For comparison, in the U.S., we consume about 400,000 tons of salmon a year,” said Mark Walton, chief technology officer for AquaBounty.

The company uses a Recirculating Aquaculture System to raise its fish which filters and reuses the same water in the tanks. AquaBounty says the RAS is a more efficient and sustainable way to raise Atlantic salmon....MORE
While Undercurrent News headlines the story:
AquaBounty harvests first conventional fish; GM salmon still growing...

Lasers For Shooting Pests Off Salmon Don't Work As Well As One Might Think

Oh it was looking like the future I was promised back in July 2019:
"Remote-controlled Salmon Farms to Operate Off Norway by 2020" 
"And then Mr. Poisonnier, the robots massage the salmon..."

And it just got better and better:
Also at IEEE Spectrum:
Lice-Hunting Underwater Drone Protects Salmon With Laser

Sadly, The Fish Site reports:
Study shoots down sea louse laser
The efficacy of a laser-firing device that has been designed to reduce sea lice pressures on farmed salmon has been called into question by new research.

Innovative lice lasers developed by Stingray have been deployed by numerous salmon farming companies over the course of the last decade, but this newly published study – which took place at a commercial salmon farm operated by Bremnes Seashore in Norway – suggests they are not always effective....MORE

157 Years Ago Today the Course Of History Was Changed

You can describe the opposing forces in the American Civil War a number of ways, depending on the point you wish to make:
  • Blue vs. Grey
  • Free states vs  Slave states 
  • Republicans vs Democrats
But in the feat of almost superhuman sacrifice we are looking at, the morality or the politics probably weren't top-of-mind. The overriding concern was sheer terror.

Toward the end of the second day of battle at Gettysburg, July 2, 1863, around 6:00 pm, the Confederates from Alabama were charging at a gap in the Union lines which when taken would allow them to wheel 90 degrees left and roll up the bluecoats by attacking from an unexpected and thus undefended direction.

When the 'Bama boys broke through it would force the Union forces to retreat, losing any chance at crushing the rebels and force a stalemate of the battle and more than likely the entire war, leaving in place the status quo ante and leaving the slaves in chains for at least another generation.

And then General Winfield S. Hancock, in a futile, desperate tactic ordered the 262 men of the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment to charge the 1100 advancing rebs.
The Minnesotans had been in some bloody battles:
Bull Run
and Chancellorsville
And knew that those 5:1 odds meant, not some esoteric talking point, but that every single one of them would have five guns firing at them for the duration of the charge.
And they did it anyway.

Gen. Hancock whose order “Colonel [Colvill], do you see those colors?” (pointing at the advancing Confederate forces) “Then take them!”, later stated:
“I had no alternative but to order the regiment in. We had no force on hand to meet the sudden emergency. Troops had been ordered up and were coming on the run, but I saw that in some way five minutes must be gained or we were lost. It was fortunate that I found there so grand a body of men as the First Minnesota. I knew they must lose heavily and it caused me pain to give the order for them to advance, but I would have done it (even) if I had known every man would be killed. It was a sacrifice that must be made. The superb gallantry of those men saved our line from being broken. No soldiers on any field, in this or any other country, ever displayed grander heroism.”
Bruce Catton stated in Glory Road:
“The whole war had suddenly come to a focus in this smoky hollow, with a few score westerners trading their lives for the time the army needed…They had not captured the flag that Hancock had asked them to capture, but they still had their own flag and a great name…”
Lt. Col. Joseph B. Mitchell in his Decisive Battles of the Civil War stated:
“There is no other unit in the history of warfare that ever made such a charge and then stood its ground sustaining such losses.”
The "westerners" suffered 82.6% casualties, as far as is known the highest casualty rate of any U.S. unit in that or any other American war.

As we noted on the 151st anniversary of the charge: 

They were ordered to attack into 5:1 odds-against-them.
And they charged, with bayonets fixed.

"They had not taken the Alabama flag, but they had held on to their own," Historian Shelby Foote wrote.
"And they had given Hancock his five minutes plus five more for good measure."
General Hancock wrote of the First Minnesota's charge:
"There is no more gallant deed recorded in history"
In 1928 President Coolidge said:
"Colonel Colvill and those eight companies of the First Minnesota are entitled to rank as the saviors of their country."
By suffering casualties at the rate of one every two seconds they stopped the Confederate advance and forced Lee into the desperate gamble on the third and final day of the battle:
Gettysburg was the price the South paid for having Lee. The first day's fighting was so encouraging, and on the second day's fighting he came within an inch of doing it. And by that time Longstreet said Lee's blood was up, and Longstreet said when Lee's blood was up there was no stopping him... And that was that mistake he made, the mistake of all mistakes. Pickett's charge was an incredible mistake, and there was scarcely a trained soldier who didn't know it was a mistake at the time, except possibly Pickett himself, who was very happy he had a chance for glory.  
...William Faulkner, in "Intruder in the Dust", said that for every southern boy, it's always within his reach to imagine it being one o'clock on an early July day in 1863, the guns are laid, the troops are lined up, the flags are out of their cases and ready to be unfurled, but it hasn't happened yet. And he can go back in his mind to the time before the war was going to be lost and he can always have that moment for himself.
-Shelby Foote in Ken Burns' "The Civil War

Kinda makes this stock market stuff seem a bit sordid in comparison.

EIA Natural Gas Storage Report, July 2, 2020

First up, FX Empire with the guesses going into the report:
Today’s U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) natural gas storage report is expected to show a 77 Bcf build, down from last week’s 120 Bcf build.

NatGasWeather says, “Today’s EIA weekly storage report is expected to show a build of +74-79 Bcf by national survey averages, but with the most notable at +74 Bcf, slightly larger than the 5-year average of +65 Bcf. It was very warm to hot over most of the country besides the cooler central US/Plains. Our algorithm predicts a build of +68 Bcf....
And from the Energy Information Administration:
Working gas in storage was 3,077 Bcf as of Friday, June 26, 2020, according to EIA estimates. This represents a net increase of 65 Bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 712 Bcf higher than last year at this time and 466 Bcf above the five-year average of 2,611 Bcf. At 3,077 Bcf, total working gas is within the five-year historical range.  ....MUCH MORE
More usage, less fillage which is probably a good thing as those caverns are very full:

Finally, the CME with the NYMEX price action (30-minute bars, 1 week):

$1.716, up 4.5 cents.

"Hundreds of George W. Bush administration officials to back Biden, group says"

"Corrupted by wealth and power, your government is like a restaurant with only one dish. 
They've got a set of Republican waiters on one side and a set of Democratic waiters on the other side. 
But no matter which set of waiters brings you the dish, the legislative grub is all prepared in the same Wall Street kitchen."
ascribed to Huey Long (found the citation)

Here's the Reuters exclusive on the Bush boys
HT: FT Alphaville's Further Reading post

Mr. Long was Governor of Louisiana from 1928 to 1932 and U.S. Senator from Louisiana from 1933 to 1935.
Long was called "The most dangerous man in America" (though in private FDR said the MDMIA wasn't Long but rather General MacArthur)
Mr. Long was assassinated on September 10, 1935.

Another quote ascribed to Senator Long:
"Sure, We’ll Have Fascism in This Country, and We’ll Call It Anti-Fascism"
There is something huge bubbling beneath the surface of daily news and events and I'm not sure what the hell it is.
I do know that it probably involves money, on the order of tens of billions of dollars, and that one area to keep an eye on is where money of that magnitude hangs out,
Eisenhower's military-industrial complex, but expanded to include intelligence community contractors and politicians.

And that there might be one heck of a short-sale opportunity coming up.

"Tesla Stock Could Hit $2,000 in a Best-Case Scenario" (TSLA)

"Hi honey, what's new?"
"Tesla is over $1200"
"That nice dear, here take your medication"

From Barron's:
Tesla stock’s incredible run continues Thursday morning as more analysts lift estimates and—more important—target prices ahead of second quarter earnings.

The biggest splash came from Wedbush analyst Dan Ives, who boosted his bull-case target for Tesla stock (ticker: TSLA) to $2,000 from $1,500. It isn’t his base case. Ives’ official target price is now $1,250, up from $1,000. Still, $1,250 is the highest target price on the Street.

The bullish move has Tesla stock rising in premarket trading. Shares were initially up another 8.2% to more than $1,200, and jumped a little more after Tesla released delivery figures which, simply put, smashed second-quarter estimates.

Tesla delivered more than 90,000 vehicles in the second quarter. Analysts estimates were all over the place because of global pandemic, but the average estimate, according to FactSet, was roughly 72,000.

Ives, in his Thursday research report, pointed out deliveries were likely to beat estimates, but only predicted a number between 85,000 and 90,000 units. Even the most bullish estimates turned out to be to conservative.

Looking ahead, Ives sees a couple of additional positive catalysts for Tesla stock into year-end, including the much-talked about battery day and higher demand in China for locally built Model 3 sedans....

$1,211.28 last, up $91.65 (+8.19%)

Climateer Line of the Day: Enthusiasm Edition

Today's winner of the prestigious CLoD:

"...Markets won’t report themselves, however, so let’s get on with Thursday. "
—Bryce Elder

Do click through for an astounding bit of market ephemera.
Another variation of the age-old sentiment:
"That crack don't smoke itself"

Wildfire Season To Date: Below Average (excluding Minneapolis)

"...the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans, born in this century..."
— John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, 1961

From the National Interagency Fire Center:

....Daily statistics7/1/20
Number of new large fires or emergency response 4 States currently reporting large fires:
Number of active large fires
Total does not include individual fires within complexes.
41 Alaska (19)
Arizona (5)
Colorado (2)
Nevada (4)
New Mexico (4)
Texas (1)
Utah (6)
Acres from active fires 736,649
Fires contained 5
Year-to-date statistics
2020 (1/1/20 - 7/1/20) Fires: 24,349 Acres: 1,431,958
2019 (1/1/19 - 7/1/19) Fires: 19,667 Acres: 1,068,210
2018 (1/1/18 - 7/1/18) Fires: 29,111 Acres: 2,534,701
2017 (1/1/17 - 7/1/17) Fires: 30,247 Acres: 2,855,889
2016 (1/1/16 - 7/1/16) Fires: 25,940 Acres: 2,140,425
2015 (1/1/15 - 7/1/15) Fires: 28,078 Acres: 2,265,750
2014 (1/1/14 - 7/1/14) Fires: 26,295 Acres: 894,081
2013 (1/1/13 - 7/1/13) Fires: 22,050 Acres: 2,259,418
2012 (1/1/12 - 7/1/12) Fires: 27,707 Acres: 2,073,954
2011 (1/1/11 - 7/1/11) Fires: 36,424 Acres: 4,795,942
2010 (1/1/10 - 7/1/10) Fires: 29,811 Acres: 1,486,681
10-year average Year-to-Date
2010-2019 Fires: 27,323 Acres: 2,065,523


"The FAO Food Price Index rebounds in June"

Following on yesterday's "U.S. Food Inflation (groceries) Running UP 5.0% Year over Year—USDA".
From the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization, July 2:
» The FAO Food Price Index* (FFPI) averaged 93.2 points in June 2020, some 2.2 points (2.4 percent) higher than in May, representing the first month-on-month increase since the beginning of the year. Amid market uncertainties posed by COVID-19, the prices of vegetable oils, sugar and dairy products rebounded to multi-month highs following sharp declines registered in May, while in cereals and meat markets, most prices remained under downward pressure.
» The FAO Cereal Price Index averaged 96.9 points in June, down marginally (0.6 percent) from May and 1.9 points (1.9 percent) below the corresponding month last year. Downward pressure on wheat prices intensified in June, in part due to new harvests in the northern hemisphere, but also due to improved production prospects in a number of major exporting countries, in particular in the Black Sea region. Slow trading activities and currency movements in selected exporters caused international rice prices to register their first, albeit mild, decline since the start of the year. Barley and sorghum export prices also fell in June, reflecting generally good production prospects amid timid global import demand. By contrast, following several months of decline, maize price quotations were firmer in June, supported by some recovery in demand and adverse growing conditions in the US.

» The FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index averaged 86.6 points in June, gaining 8.8 points (or 11.3 percent) after declining for four consecutive months. The rebound of the Index mainly reflects higher palm oil values, while quotations of soy, sunflower and rapeseed oils also appreciated. International palm oil prices rose sharply in June on account of both recovering global import demand, following the easing of COVID-19 related lockdowns in numerous countries, and concerns over possible production setbacks amid prolonged migrant labour shortages. While reviving global demand also lent support to other vegetable oils, soy and sunflower oil prices responded to limited export availabilities in leading exporting countries. In the case of rapeseed oil, recovering demand from the EU’s biodiesel industry also underpinned prices.» The FAO Dairy Price Index averaged 98.2 points in June, up 3.8 points (4.0 percent) from May. June marked the first increase in the value of the Index after four months of consecutive declines, even though the Index remained 4.6 percent below its level in the corresponding month of 2019. Price quotations for all the dairy products represented in the Index rose, but not to the pre-pandemic levels. Renewed import demand for spot supplies, especially from the Middle East and East Asia, coupled with seasonally declining supplies in Europe and limited availability of uncommitted supplies in Oceania, underpinned the recent price increases.

» The FAO Meat Price Index** averaged 95.2 points in June, down marginally (0.6 percent) from May and 6.1 points (6.0 percent) below its June 2019 level. International price quotations for poultry and bovine meats fell, largely due to increased export availabilities in major producing regions, despite high import orders from China and the Middle East. By contrast, pig meat prices made a small recovery, mostly driven by a timid recovery in Europe on expectation of the easing of COVID-19 market restrictions. Ovine meat prices made stronger gains as demand for herd building led to a tightening of supplies from Oceania amid consistently high import demand....

Capital Markets: "Dollar Thumped Ahead of US Jobs Report "

Dollar Index futures are off a third-of-a-percent.
From Marc to Market:
Overview: Market optimism over the possibility of a vaccine in early 2021 overshadowed the continued surge in US cases, where the 50k-a-day threshold of new cases has been breached. Following the NASDAQ close yesterday at record highs, global equities have advanced. Led by Hong Kong returning from yesterday's holiday, Asia Pacific equities rallied. Most local markets rose by more than 1%, though Tokyo and Taiwan lagged. Europe's Dow Jones Stoxx 600 is up over 1% to extend its rally for the fourth consecutive session. The S&P 500 is trading more than 0.5% higher in electronic trade, which is sufficient to take out a month-old downtrend line. The equity rally has not sapped demand for government bonds, and peripheral European yields are off 3-5 bp. The US 10-year is little changed around 67 bp. The dollar has been sold against nearly all the world's currencies. Among the majors, the Canadian dollar is struggling to join the party, while among emerging market currencies, Indonesia, Thailand, and Turkey are the notable exceptions. Gold is firm above $1770, while August WTI continues to straddle the $40 a barrel level. Note that some US markets close early today ahead of tomorrow's holiday and liquidity will suffer for it after the flurry of US data.

Asia Pacific
Australia's May trade figures were better than expected. Exports fell by 4% year-over-year. This compares with an 11% decline in April and expectations for a 7% drop in May. Imports were off 10% in April and were off only 6% in May. This, too, was better than economists expected. The result was the trade surplus came in at A$8 bln after a revised A$7.8 bln in April. Goods exports to China rose in May, but to most other countries, except New Zealand and Hong Kong.

South Korea emerged from deflation in May. The headline CPI rose 0.2% in May for a flat year-over-year performance. In April, consumer prices had fallen by 0.3% year-over-year. Core prices ticked up to 0.6% year-over-year from 0.5% in April.

The dollar posted a potential key downside reversal yesterday, but new selling has been limited. Yesterday the dollar rose above recent high but met a wall of sellers near JPY108.15 that drove it through the previous session's low (~JPY107.50) and closed below there. Today's low is near JPY107.30. There is an option for $950 mln at JPY107.50 and another for about $475 mln at JPY107.00. Both expire today. The Australian dollar is firm in the upper end of yesterday's range. It is trading through a downtrend line drawn off the June 10 high. The next target is near $0.6950, where an option for about A$505 mln is struck that rolls off today. The PBOC set the reference rate for the dollar a little softer than the models suggested at CNY7.0566. The yuan has risen its highest level in about a month against its basket.

The eurozone wholesale deflation intensified in May. Producer prices fell 5.0% year-over-year in May after a 4.5% decline in April. In May alone, they fell by 0.6%, a bit more than expected. Energy and construction accounted for about half of the monthly decline. Non-durable consumer goods prices fell 0.6% in May and were up less than 1% for the year. Durable consumer goods prices were unchanged and up 1.3% year-over-year. Capital goods prices were also stable in May but were 0.9% higher from a year ago....

"The World Cried Out For Another Electric Pickup Truck Company" (WKHS)

I know manufacturers prefer to get their sales from the highest margin products, in this case light trucks as compared to sedans, but having all these new companies, plus the legacy brands when they get to feeling the competition, is starting to feel a bit counter-productive. To say the least.
From Business Insider:

 June 30th
Workhorse extends June rally to 706% after securing $70 million in new financing (WKHS)

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Phi Scamma Jamma: "A lost decade for shipping stocks"

When you have assets that can move around the world and domiciles that offer weak to nonexistant shareholder protections you are just looking for new and exciting ways to lose money.
You know how Dryships ended up,* right?

From FreightWaves, June 26:

Shipping shares plunge, day trading heats up
A decade after the Great Recession, shipping stocks once again wallow in a sea of red, with yet another plunge on Friday due to coronavirus fears. 
There’s a sense of deja vu, not just because there’s another global crisis, but because there has been so little evolution in the public shipping space over the past 10 years. Shipowners on Wall Street were supposed to mature into the kind of blue-chip, consolidated, corporate, creditworthy, non-conflicted investment vehicles that are coveted by the long-only funds of Boston and New York. 
It never happened. Market caps remain minuscule, more offerings are being done by penny stocks, reverse stock splits are increasingly common and equities are being driven by the “retail bros,” not the “suits.”

Rise of retail interest
Nordic American Tankers (NYSE: NAT) CEO Herbjorn Hansson appeared on Jim Cramer’s CNBC show Mad Money on April 24. On April 26, around $900 million in NAT shares traded hands (NAT’s market cap is around $600 million). NAT’s shares doubled in the month of April, and an analysis by investment bank Evercore ISI showed that NAT shares were, to a large extent, traded on the Robinhood retail platform.

The spotlight has now turned to Seanergy (NASDAQ: SHIP), a penny-stock owner of Capesize bulkers (dry bulk vessels with a capacity of around 180,000 deadweight tons).
On one hand, Capesize spot rates have jumped from lows of around $2,000 to nearly $30,000 per day and Seanergy is heavily spot-exposed. On the other, management confirmed on Friday’s quarterly call that a refinancing deal had yet to be finalized on $29 million in debt maturing this month, and CEO Stamatis Tsantanis would not provide guidance on the second quarter — even though it’s almost over.

Now-infamous day trader Dave Portnoy tweeted on Tuesday that he had bought Seanergy because he liked cruise stocks, wanted all ship stocks and Seanergy’s ticker was “SHIP,” even though he didn’t know anything about the company. Around $170 million worth of Seanergy shares traded hands that day, well above the company’s market cap. A total of 629 million shares were traded, the highest number of any NASDAQ stock that day.
Seanergy’s share price shot up from 19 cents to 37 cents during the recent trading flurry, an increase of 95%, and fell 39% Friday, closing at 17 cents, below where it started its run.

Penny-stock equity raises
Larger U.S.-listed owners have sold almost no equity capital this year, because shares are trading well below NAV (net asset value, the market-adjusted value of fleets, plus cash, minus debt and other liabilities). Selling equity at a steep discount to NAV dilutes existing shareholders.

Most of the 2020 deals have been done by Greek penny-stock shipowners selling to small institutional funds. Seanergy raised $30.1 million in a series of sales of shares and warrants between April 1 and May 7. Tsantanis confirmed that virtually all of the warrants have already been exercised to purchase common shares....
*See for example "Shipping: There Are Scams, Mega-Scams and DryShips (DRYS)":
These guys are doing stuff that would have gotten someone killed not that long ago.... 

Shipping: "DryShips Believes Class Action Lawsuit Is Without Merit" Says Neener-Neener, Declares 1:7 Reverse Split (DRYS)

How about:
Shipping: More On the Scam That Is Dryships AND a Tiny Treasure From The Past (DRYS)

Shipping: The SEC Would Like Some Information From DryShips (DRYS)

Who can forget:
More Troubles For DryShips Economou (DRYS)
Sure he's got securities attorneys chasing him on DryShips and sure he's got creditors trying to nail down the location of Ocean Rig's drillships but this could be a problem.
From the New York Post:
Billionaire’s ex-gal pal claims she was cheated out of $240M
A filmmaker who says she was “instrumental” in turning her ex into a billionaire shipping magnate claims he cheated her out of a $240 million settlement.

Or This:

Equity Conundrums: Who Buys DryShips? (DRYS)
I may have suffered a mini-stroke or a TIA or something.
Lets run through the F.A.S.T. checklist:
Face drooping: No, more of a laughter rictus.
Arm weakness: maybe-I have fallen on the floor and seem to be losing control of some bodily functions.
Speech difficulties: can't talk, actually, can't breathe.
Time: to call for help
I was not expecting the answer to the headline question to be this pithy. 

From FT Alphaville:

Who buys DRYS?


Oh, did I mention the reverse splits?
Mr. Murphy at FT Alphaville did the heavy lifting on the computations:

The peak there, end-October 2007, is at $1.483 billion per share. At pixel on Thursday the stock stood at $1.40....

Again, just to emphasize, that is not market cap, That is share price giving effect for a few bazillion-to-one in reverse splits.
Who buys DRYS?

See also Mr. Murphy's “Because Americans are the dumbest investors around, and there’s lots of liquidity in this market.” if interested.

The saga terminated with this from MarketWatch, August 19, 2019:
Shares of DryShips Inc. drys soared 35% in premarket trading Monday, after the cargo ship operator announced a deal in which SPII Holdings Inc. will buy the shares it doesn't already own for $5.25 a share in cash. The purchase price is 37% above Friday's closing price of $3.83 and implies a market capitalization of $456.2 million. SPII Holdings is controlled by DryShips' Chairman and Chief Executive George Economou....

Beijing's Talk Of Coronavirus Contamination Caused A 97% Drop In Norwegian Salmon Exports To China

From PoAndPo Agrifish, June 30:

Norwegian exports of fresh salmon to China fell 97 percent
Exports of fresh salmon to China fell by 97 percent last week to 15 tonnes compared with the same week last year.
"The sharp fall in weekly exports of salmon to China must be seen in light of recent outbreak of coronavirus in Beijing and the effects this has had on the trade and demand of salmon.

"Chinese authorities confirmed last week that salmon is not the source of infection for the outbreak and we can thus say that the situation is somewhat clearer.

"At the same time, it is too early to say what effects the new outbreak will have on demand for fresh salmon going forward," says Victoria Braathen, the Norwegian Seafood Council's Country Director in China.

"As the situation gradually normalizes, we have great faith in the Chinese seafood market and further potential for Norwegian salmon here," says Braathen....

How to Respond To China's Claim That The New Hong Kong Security Law Applies To Actions Everywhere In The World

As noted in the piece below and here by one of Axios' China reporters:
Here's a statement that may be appropriate for the current situation, last seen in a 2014 post on China's in-your-face aggression over other nations and their claims in the South China Sea:

Oil and China's Territorial Ambitions: "The World Is the World's World"
....The part of the headline in quotation marks is not to be found in the story, rather it is from a 1382 letter sent by Japan’s Prince Kanenaga to the Hongwu Emperor of China, founder of the Ming Dynasty, explicitly denying the legitimacy of Chinese dominance:
Heaven and earth are vast, they are not monopolized by one ruler.
The universe is great and wide, and the various countries are created each to have a share in its rule.
Now the world is the world's world; it does not belong to a single person.
For some reason I've never been able to get that quote out of my head but I promise that is as esoteric as I'll ever get.
Here's a ref. via Oxford Journals.

UPDATE: The Oxford Journals link to The Chinese Journal of International Politics is now gated with a stub entry.
If interested here is "Chinese Hegemony: Grand Strategy and International Institutions in East" with the quote and some background on what Prince Kanenaga was dealing with.
Quite an inspiring guy.

When we looked at a couple of China's other laws, what stands out is how Soviet they are.
So You Want To Do Business In China Do You? "China’s New Cybersecurity Program: NO Place to Hide"
We mentioned the National Security Law (and the cybersecurity law and the NGO law) back in July,* anyone doing business in China WILL comply, here's a deeper dive.
From China Law Blog:
The Chinese government has been working for several years on a comprehensive Internet security/surveillance program.  This program is based on the Cybersecurity Law adopted on 2016. The plan is vast and includes a number of subsidiary laws and regulations. On December 1, 2018, the Chinese Ministry of Public Security announced it will finally roll-out the full plan.

The core of the plan is for China’s Ministry of Security to fully access the massive amounts of raw data transmitted across Chinese networks and housed on servers in China. Since raw data has little value, the key to the Ministry’s success will be in processing that data. Seeing that this is the key issue, the Ministry has appointed Wang Yingwei to be its new head of the Cybersecurity Bureau. Wang is a noted “big data” expert and he will be tasked with making sense of the raw data that will be gathered under the new system.

The plan for the new system is ambitious and comprehensive. As explained by Guo Qiquan, the chief cheerleader for the plan, the main goal of the new system is to provide “full coverage”.  As explained by Guo, “It will cover every district, every ministry, every business and other institution, basically covering the whole society. It will also cover all targets that need [cybersecurity] protection, including all networks, information systems, cloud platforms, the internet of things, control systems, big data and mobile internet.”

This system will apply to foreign owned companies in China on the same basis as to all Chinese persons, entities or individuals. No information contained on any server located within China will be exempted from this full coverage program. No communication from or to China will be exempted. There will be no secrets. No VPNs. No private or encrypted messages. No anonymous online accounts. No trade secrets. No confidential data. Any and all data will be available and open to the Chinese government. Since the Chinese government is the shareholder in all SOEs and is now exercising de facto control over China’s major private companies as well, all of this information will then be available to those SOEs and Chinese companies. See e.g. China to place government officials inside 100 private companies, including Alibaba. All this information will be available to the Chinese military and military research institutes. The Chinese are being very clear that this is their plan....
HT: The Register 

*"How the state runs business in China"
.... The author rather blithely skips over the National Security Law.
Here via China Law Translate:

There is not a lot of wiggle room in Article 7
Article 7: All organizations and citizens shall support, assist, and cooperate with national intelligence efforts in accordance with law, and shall protect national intelligence work secrets they are aware of.
The State protects individuals and organizations that support, assist, and cooperate with national intelligence efforts.
All means all, including foreign companies operating in China.
Ditto articles 14:
Article 14: National intelligence work institutions lawfully carrying out intelligence efforts may request that relevant organs, organizations, and citizens provide necessary support, assistance, and cooperation.
And 16:
Article 16: When national intelligence work institutions staff lawfully perform their tasks in accordance with relevant national provisions, with approvals and upon the presentation of relevant identification, they may enter relevant restricted areas and venues; may learn from and question relevant institutions, organizations, and individuals; and may read or collect relevant files, materials or items.
And then there's The Cybersecurity Law and the Foreign NGO Law (2016) and the Counter-espionage Law (2014) and all worded vaguely enough that the laws can mean whatever the Party and the authorities want them to mean.

Making a bit of a straw man argumentum ad absurdum, the top Canadian spinmeister for one of the companies subject to the National Security Law said:

‘At Huawei, we’re not attaching laser beams to the heads of sharks’
—Alykhan Velshi, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Huawei Technologies Canada, Markham, Ont.
Letter to the Editor, Maclean's Magazine, published July 23, 2019

Personally I think laser-enhanced sharks would be kind of cool, it's the required handing over of data should the Chinese government request it that gives one pause.

The quibble on the importance of the National Security Law aside, my Mandarin speaking friends say the Guardian article is a fair representation of Xi and how he is shaping China.

"Hong Kong’s National Security Law: a first look"

Hat Tip up front: ZeroHedge:

Submitted by Michael Every of Rabobank
The Sword of Damocles
“It’s not the substantive crimes and their definitions that count; it’s the institutions that will investigate, prosecute, and judge them that count. Language matters only if there are institutions that will make it matter. This whole law is about avoiding the involvement of such institutions.”
This is the summary of an analysis of Hong Kong’s new national security law by professor of Chinese law Donald Clarke. China openly states the new legislation is “a Sword of Damocles” hanging over the head of its critics. The law allows life in prison for the crimes of: “terrorism” - including “serious disruption” of transport networks; “collusion” with foreigners – including advocating for action by foreign governments; “secession” – including waving pro-independence flags or banners and or shouting or singing such songs or phrases; and “subversion” – including attacks on state offices and “creating hatred” of the government among the people. It allows Beijing to prosecute complex cases directly – which was what the proposed extradition treaty which sparked Hong Kong’s recent unrest was opposed to; closed trials; trials without jury; the operation of Chinese security agents in Hong Kong – who are immune to the law in the operation of their duties; and “stronger management” of media and foreign NGOs.

The law also applies to everyone everywhere in the world. This means if one were to be seen by Beijing as breaking this new legislation in another country and then enter Hong Kong, or transit through it, or even fly in a vehicle registered in Hong Kong, then one would be at risk. Possibly this could even apply to residing in a country with an extradition treaty with Hong Kong (or one day China?). In short, it is a very large, sharp Sword of Damocles.

As such, the same Sword now hangs over markets too. What will the global response be? There has been condemnation from Western governments and steps to allow the emigration of Hong Kongers to the US (where they will be given priority as refugees) and to the UK (where the government appears serious about its pledge to allow in up to 2.9 million people). Even Japan’s newspapers are leading with suggestions that Hong Kongers should be welcomed....

From The China Collection, June 30:
It’s not the substantive crimes and their definitions that count; it’s the institutions that will investigate, prosecute, and judge them that count. Language matters only if there are institutions that will make it matter. This whole law is about avoiding the involvement of such institutions.

Everyone is doing their hot take on the new Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (the “Nat Sec Law” or the “Law”) [Chinese | English], just revealed to the public and made effective today (consultation? schmonsultation!), so why not me?
Two things first:
  1. As these are just quick notes, I’m going to comment on the various parts of the law pretty much in the order they appear instead of in a more organized way.
  2. An important point: I’m not going to talk much about the substantive offenses and their definitions. There’s a reason for that. If mainland practice to date is any guide—and it is—then the definitions don’t matter that much. Anything can be stretched as necessary to cover something done by the person being targeted. As the old cliché goes, 欲加之罪何患无辞 (roughly, “if you are determined to convict, you needn’t worry about the lack of grounds”). The key is in the institutions and procedures the law establishes and empowers. Who has power to do what? What are the procedures under which they operate? Who appoints and pays for them? To whom are they responsible? Etc.
All right, let’s begin.
Article 2 begins with a weird provision stating that nobody may violate the rules of Article 1 and Article 12 of the Hong Kong Basic Law. But Article 1 and Article 12 of the Basic Law aren’t rules about anything. Article 1 states a proposition, not a rule: “The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is an inalienable part of the People’s Republic of China.” How could one “violate” that statement? Article 12 is grammatically the same: ” The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall be a local administrative region of the People’s Republic of China, which shall enjoy a high degree of autonomy and come directly under the Central People’s Government.” Again, how does one “violate” a proposition?

Article 4 says that Hong Kong should protect rights under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. Given the rest of the law, whether this will happen seems unlikely.

Article 5 states that all persons shall be considered innocent until declared guilty by a judicial organ. As we shall see, this is contradicted by the bail provisions in Article 42.

Article 6 says that protecting the country’s sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity is the common duty of all the people (renmin 人民) of China. This seems an odd formulation to me. Why not say all the citizens (gongmin 公民) of China? “People” in PRC officialese has a special meaning: it is a subset of the citizenry, and consists of those who are allies of the Communist Party at any given moment. It would be odd to say that reactionaries and counterrevolutionaries, who are not part of the people, get a pass on this duty.

Article 12 calls for the establishment of a Committee for Safeguarding National Security (the “National Security Committee” or the “Committee”), said to be under the supervision of and accountable to the Central People’s Government (the “CPG”), i.e., the State Council and the Premier.

It’s not quite clear how this accountability is to work in practice, since the membership is prescribed by law: the Chief Secretary for Administration, the Financial Secretary, the Secretary for Justice, the Secretary for Security, the Commissioner of Police, the head of the department for safeguarding national security of the Hong Kong Police Force established under Article 16 of this Law (the “Nat Sec Head”), the Director of Immigration, the Commissioner of Customs and Excise, and the Director of the Chief Executive’s Office. (To understand where all these fit within Hong Kong’s administrative structure, check out this handy chart. I’ll just note here that they are not all of equal rank. The Nat Sec Head, for example, is under the Commissioner of Police, who is under the Secretary for Security, who is under the Chief Secretary for Administration.) The Committee is to be chaired by the Chief Executive.....MUCH MORE

There's no propaganda like Chinese propaganda

From official Party organ Xinhua:
Law and order dawns in Hong Kong as new law takes effect

Hong Kong celebrates 23rd anniversary of return to motherland 

Google Won't Give Up On Google Glass

Although they seem to have given up on that name, for now.

Google Buys Smart-Glasses Maker North For A Reported $180M
Google’s parent, Alphabet Inc., confirmed on Tuesday (June 30) that it has purchased North, the Canadian startup best known for Focals, its $600 smart glasses. 

Terms were not disclosed, but The Globe and Mail reported the deal was worth about $180 million.
“North’s technical expertise will help as we continue to invest in our hardware efforts and ambient computing future,” Rick Osterloh, Google’s senior vice president of devices and services, wrote on the company’s blog. 

He said Google is building toward a future where all devices just work together and technology fades into the background. “We call this ambient computing,” Osterloh wrote. 
For North’s employees, it won’t be much of an inconvenience. They’ll join the Google team in Canada’s Twin Cities, Kitchener-Waterloo, North’s hometown, Osterloh wrote.
North Co-founders Stephen Lake, Matthew Bailey and Aaron Grant said the acquisition is a good fit and, importantly, they’re staying in Kitchener-Waterloo.

“Over the last while, it became clear that aligning with Google would significantly advance our shared vision,” they wrote on North’s blog. “We are looking forward to remaining in the region with Google.”

Despite dropping the price of its Focals to $600 last year from the original $1,000, North had reportedly sold very few pairs, The Globe and Mail reported. A source told them it was unlikely that the company sold more than 1,000 pairs since its launch in late 2018. 

Focals is an augmented reality (AR) device that supports notifications from Android devices. Compared to Google Glass, North’s smart glasses let Android users access any actions in their phone’s notification center, such as answering emails, retweeting and getting play-by-play sports updates....MORE

Alberta's Public Employee Pension Fund Takes A Big A Hit On Volatility Trades

In addition to the public employee pensions AIMCo invests for the provincial sovereign wealth fund and some provincial government funds.
From Pension Pulse, June 30:
Last week, Andrew Willis of the Globe and Mail reported that AIMCo parts with executives who oversaw $2.1-billion investing loss:
Alberta’s government-owned investment fund parted company this week with executives responsible for a $2.1-billion loss on trades linked to market volatility, as its board of directors completes an audit and brings in an outside leader.

Alberta Investment Management Corp., known as AIMCo, oversees $119-billion on behalf of 31 clients, including pension plans for health care workers and police officers and the Heritage Savings Trust Fund. In an e-mail to clients on Wednesday, chief executive officer Kevin Uebelein said executive vice-president of public equities Peter Pontikes “is no longer employed with AIMCo.” Separately, AIMCo said portfolio manager David Triska, who ran the volatility-based strategies, also left the Edmonton-based fund manager.

AIMCo did not tell its clients why Mr. Pontikes left after spending 19 years at the Edmonton-based fund manager and the Alberta government, and a spokesperson declined to comment on the two executives’ departures. Mr. Pontikes was AIMCo’s third-highest paid employee last year, earning $1.93-million. Sources who work with AIMCo and its clients said the two former executives were directly responsible for the fund manager’s recent losses on derivatives-based investments tied to market volatility. The Globe and Mail agreed to keep the sources’ identities confidential because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

As The Globe first reported, AIMCo’s public equities portfolio included a strategy that essentially bet against sharp swings in stock prices, an approach that made modest returns in recent years, but resulted in significant losses when the global pandemic sent markets on a roller-coaster ride in late March. In April, AIMCo decided to wind down the investments, a process that took until mid-June.

In early April, AIMCo executives told clients the fund manager did not fully understand the risks they were taking on volatility-linked investments. In a press release at the end of April, Mr. Uebelein said the performance “is not acceptable” and said: “Anytime you are counting in the billions, it is a big number worthy of attention, and I certainly would never want to experience such an outcome from a strategy.”

In mid-May, AIMCo’s board announced it hired senior partners in KPMG’s financial risk management team to provide an independent review of the fund manager’s investment and risk management processes. The board said KPMG would provide a report by mid-June. In addition, former Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan chief risk officer Barbara Zvan volunteered to review the fund manager’s operation, and her report was also scheduled to be delivered last week. On Wednesday, an AIMCo spokesperson said the board’s final report of its review is expected to be released to clients and the Alberta government by the end of the month.

Last week, AIMCo announced former Canada Pension Plan Investment Board CEO Mark Wiseman will become the fund manager’s chair on July 1, after former Enbridge chief financial officer Richard Bird finishes a three-year term. Mr. Wiseman was terminated in December from his previous job as global head of active equities at BlackRock Inc., which oversees US$7-trillion, for violating the New York-based fund manager’s code of conduct by failing to report a relationship with a co-worker.

Public filings from AIMCo clients show the fund manager was one of Canada’s worst-performing pension plans in the first three months of 2020, and has consistently missed performance benchmarks....

For what it's worth Pension Pulse was on top of the vol problems back in April:
AIMCo’s $3 Billion Volatility Blowup?

"Announcing the next Substack Fellowship for Independent Writers"

From the Substack blog, June 30:
Today we’re announcing the next generation of the Substack Fellowship for Independent Writers, which features a $100,000 grant for the top recipient and advances of $25,000 each for four other fellows.

The purpose of the fellowship is to help writers go independent and succeed with the subscription publishing model. We were so encouraged by the success of the first Substack fellowship late last year that we decided to increase our investment in the program. As well as increased financial support, the fellowship includes access to resources and a two-week schedule of coaching and advice. 

There are now millions of active readers across Substack, and more than 100,000 paying subscribers to Substack writers. Our top writers make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year by doing the work they care about most and serving their communities of readers. We’re excited about a future where writers of all backgrounds can pursue the work they find most meaningful, free of gatekeepers, and independent of what’s trending, and we’re eager to make it accessible to even more writers.
We’ve designed this fellowship to help accelerate a writer’s journey to independence. The $25,000 advances for the four fellows, plus a no-strings-attached stipend of $3,000, and the $100,000 grant for a senior fellow will be coupled with coaching from a team of star talent with a focus on community building, personal finance, publishing strategies, and editorial development. We’re also supporting the fellows with custom illustrations, access to Getty Images, legal advice, personal mentorship from Substack writers, and ongoing access to the team at Substack....MORE

I Have Dishobnored My Ancestors.... (Japan Dominates The World's Top Supercomputers) NVDA

....ZeroHedge beat me to the latest Top 500 Supercomputer list.
From ZH, June 28:
Japanese supercomputer Fugaku zipped past all competitors to claim the top spot in the twice-annual ranking of the world's most powerful computational machines released by research project Top500.
Infographic: The World's Top Supercomputers | Statista
You will find more infographics at Statista
Statista's Katharina Buchholz reports that Fugaku, which was developed by Fujitsu in cooperation with the federal Riken research lab, was able to perform almost three times as many computations per second as former leader of the list, U.S.-based supercomputer Summit.
Fugaku has not only topped the ranking in the number of computations per second - so-called TeraFLOPS - but in all four categories that supercomputers are judged on by the project. According to the Riken lab, no other computer had achieved this feat so far. Fugaku also had the most cores of all computers ranked, the highest theoretical peak performance for computations and the highest power capacity....MORE
Looking at the June 2019 list:
World's Fastest Supercomputers: "The 53rd TOP500 List Was Published in Frankfurt June 18" (NVDA) 
Five of the ten fastest computers in the world are using NVIDIA GPU's as accelerators, clocking in at 1st, 2nd, 6th, 8th and 10th fastest.

And this year's Top 500, June 2020, it looks like six of the top 10 fastest in the world 'puters are using NVDA GPU's as accelerators:
The 55th edition of the TOP500 saw some significant additions to the list, spearheaded by a new number one system from Japan. The latest rankings also reflect a steady growth in aggregate performance and power efficiency.
The new top system, Fugaku, turned in a High Performance Linpack (HPL) result of 415.5 petaflops, besting the now second-place Summit system by a factor of 2.8x.  Fugaku, is powered by Fujitsu’s 48-core A64FX SoC, becoming the first number one system on the list to be powered by ARM processors. In single or further reduced precision, which are often used in machine learning and AI applications, Fugaku’s peak performance is over 1,000 petaflops (1 exaflops). The new system is installed at RIKEN Center for Computational Science (R-CCS) in Kobe, Japan.

Number two on the list is Summit, an IBM-built supercomputer that delivers 148.8 petaflops on HPL. The system has 4,356 nodes, each equipped with two 22-core Power9 CPUs, and six NVIDIA Tesla V100 GPUs. The nodes are connected with a Mellanox dual-rail EDR InfiniBand network. Summit is running at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee and remains the fastest supercomputer in the US.

At number three is Sierra, a system at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California achieving 94.6 petaflops on HPL. Its architecture is very similar to Summit, equipped with two Power9 CPUs and four NVIDIA Tesla V100 GPUs in each of its 4,320 nodes. Sierra employs the same Mellanox EDR InfiniBand as the system interconnect.

Sunway TaihuLight, a system developed by China’s National Research Center of Parallel Computer Engineering & Technology (NRCPC) drops to number four on the list. The system is powered entirely by Sunway 260-core SW26010 processors. Its HPL mark of 93 petaflops has remained unchanged since it was installed at the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi, China in June 2016.
At number five is Tianhe-2A (Milky Way-2A), a system developed by China’s National University of Defense Technology (NUDT).  Its HPL performance of 61.4 petaflops is the result of a hybrid architecture employing Intel Xeon CPUs and custom-built Matrix-2000 coprocessors. It is deployed at the National Supercomputer Center in Guangzhou, China.

A new system on the list, HPC5, captured the number six spot, turning in an HPL performance of 35.5 petaflops.  HPC5 is a PowerEdge system built by Dell and installed by the Italian energy firm Eni S.p.A, making it the fastest supercomputer in Europe. It is powered by Intel Xeon Gold processors and NVIDIA Tesla V100 GPUs and uses Mellanox HDR InfiniBand as the system network.

Another new system, Selene, is in the number seven spot with an HPL mark of 27.58 petaflops. It is a DGX SuperPOD, powered by NVIDIA’s new “Ampere” A100 GPUs and AMD’s EPYC “Rome” CPUs. Selene is installed at NVIDIA in the US. It too uses Mellanox HDR InfiniBand as the system network.

Frontera, a Dell C6420 system installed at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) in the US is ranked eighth on the list. Its 23.5 HPL petaflops is achieved with 448,448 Intel Xeon cores. 
The second Italian system in the top 10 is Marconi-100, which is installed at the CINECA research center. It is powered by IBM Power9 processors and NVIDIA V100 GPUs, employing dual-rail Mellanox EDR InfiniBand as the system network. Marconi-100’s 21.6 petaflops earned it the number nine spot on the list.

Rounding out the top 10 is Piz Daint at 19.6 petaflops, a Cray XC50 system installed at the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre (CSCS) in Lugano, Switzerland. It is equipped with Intel Xeon processors and NVIDIA P100 GPUs.

Piz Daint is the computer the Swiss let CERN use if they have a mind-bendingly complex operation they need to run
We mentioned their Nvidia upgrade in 2017's  "Supercomputers 'The 49th TOP500 List was published June 20, 2017 in Frankfurt, Germany.'" as well as Nvidia's own supercomputer which is now #23 in the world, moving up from #28.

Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Marx and Engels Got To Go!

In 1987 Jesse Jackson led a group of folks chanting "Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Western Civ has got to go" to protest Stanford's “Western Culture” program.
I don't know if protestors use that chant formulation anymore.

I do know the "Two, Four, Six, Eight..." chant is still used in some quarters. I attempted to help out when the Wall Street Journal's scribes went on strike and on the picket line last decade:
....Using the standard "Two. Four, Six Eight"....

2, 4. 6. 8, something, something fourth estate
2, 4, 6, 8 basal metabolic rate
And trying to verbify emolument into emolumate, that was just embarrassing.
And where, wary but possibly intrigued reader asks, is this ramble coming from (going to)?

Blame the FT's Dan McCrum:
Because that story reminded me that Friedrich Engels' fortune was built on the cheap cotton produced by American slaves via the family's business Ermen and Engels. In fact 'ol Freddie spent a lot of time in Manchester representing the fam at one of their cotton thread factories and seemed okey-dokey with the fruits of the slave biz even while decrying the condition of the Manchester laborers.

And Marx suckled on the teat of that cash flow to support himself..
When he wasn't speculating in British equities. See:
Karl Marx Dabbles in the Market (and rationalizes his success)
Friedrich Engels: Global Macro With an Emphasis on Commodities
Karl Marx on Market Manias
Marx and Engels Meet The Jetsons
On Marx and "The Law of the Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall"
Here's the amusingly numbered Ch. 13 of Volume III, Das Kapital via
I've never gotten much farther than Volume I, the first chapter of which is 'Commodities'.
The Karl Marx Credit Card – When You’re Short of Kapital 
There are Some Things Money Can’t Buy. Especially If You Abolish All Private Property.

As the Civil War raged in North America the working people of Manchester sided with the enslaved Black people* but the capitalists like Engels and by extension Marx, wanted that cheap cotton to keep flowing.

That's a bit of history for this 157th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Gettysburg.
More tomorrow.

*If interested see The Guardian, February 4, 2013:
Lincoln's great debt to Manchester
In 1863, The US President wrote to the 'working men of Manchester' thanking them for their anti-slavery stance