Thursday, August 5, 2021

"We’re after power and we mean it."

 Following up on July 30's "China court jails billionaire Sun Dawu for 18 years for 'provoking trouble'":

We are seeing a trend in the West of laws being less and less specific as to what constitutes a violation.
This is why.....
....Nebulous misdemeanor + wrongthink = terrorism against the state = 18 years.  
Have you ever wondered what is behind all those rules and regs and goofy-ass laws that seem to apply to everybody but the self-anointed elites and their cronies? A re-post from November 2020:
Adventures In Wokistan: Ayn Rand, and Governor Newsom 

 I've never read anything that Ayn Rand wrote.

At the age when many young people are either assigned or discover The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged I was trying to absorb a fire hose of other information and didn't have time. Then later, upon learning that former Fed head Alan Greenspan was an acolyte of Rand's, and applying that earlier fire hose of information, I didn't have an interest.

But I have studied power and was reminded of a Rand quote when Governor Newsom was photographed at a political strategist's birthday dinner, surrounded by donors and lobbyists with nary a mask or social distance to be seen:
"To Newsom's right was Dustin Corcoran, CEO of the California Medical Association (CMA). 
To the governor's left was CMA lobbyist Janus Norman." 

And that juxtaposed with this, from Deadline Hollywood:

Entertainment Industry as essential workers?

The facile explanation is that this is just hypocrisy. But the Rand quote from Atlas Shrugged could just as well apply. The characters are Floyd Ferris, PhD and Hank Rearden (businessguy/industrialist):

“Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed? said Dr. Ferris. We want them to be broken. You better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against then you’ll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We’re after power and we mean it. 

You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you’d better get wise to it. There is no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted and you create a nation of lawbreakers and then you cash in on the guilt. Now that’s the system, Mr. Rearden, That’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.” 

CliffNotes describes: "Dr. Floyd Ferris The day-to-day head of the State Science Institute, Dr. Floyd Ferris is a murderous bureaucrat with an unquenchable lust for political power...." 

Once everyone is a criminal and law enforcement is arbitrary then it is just a hop, skip and a jump to Kafkatrapping. From our introduction to "The Cult Dynamics of Wokeness":

...In Wokistan the rhetorical game is always about power. The woke are never happier than when they can assume the moral high ground. I say assume because possession of said moral high ground is belied by the attempt to use same as a weapon.
These are the crybullies.

Second, the tricks of cult rhetoric are some of the nastiest you are likely to come across. Manipulative is just the beginning of the descriptors.

I. There is lots of "Kafkatrapping", the term being based on Kafka's story The Trial, where any attempt by the accused to defend himself was taken as agreement with the premise and proof of guilt.

II. The rhetorical manipulation continues with a favorite of wife-abusers and other nasty critters: passive aggressive argumentum: "It's your fault, you misunderstood what I (said, meant, did, etc.)"
They will slide very easily into straight up gaslighting where the intent is to portray the victim of the attack as crazy/delusional/a bad person, whatevs.
I should probably do a post on all this but for now some seriously good analysis of the psychological manipulations to expect when engaging with the Woke....
I'm starting to think Governor Newsom doesn't really care all that much about Covid-19. 
On the other hand:

"Albemarle (ALB) Earnings Surpass Estimates in Q2, Sales Lag" (ALB)

Following up on "World's Largest Battery Maker To Introduce New Sodium Ion Battery To Help Ease Lithium Shortages"

ALB is changing hands at $222.92 up $16.08 (+7.77%). Today's top tick, $226.22, was another all-time high.

From Zacks via Yahoo Finance:

Albemarle Corporation recorded a profit of $424.6 million or $3.62 per share in the second quarter of 2021, up from $85.6 million or 80 cents per share it earned a year ago. The bottom line in the reported quarter includes a gain on the sale of the Fine Chemistry Services business.

Adjusted earnings for the reported quarter were 89 cents per share, up from 86 cents a year ago. It topped the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 83 cents.

Revenues rose roughly 1% year over year to $773.9 million in the quarter. It missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $787.1 million. The top line was aided by higher sales from the company's Lithium and Bromine business segments.


Segment Highlights
Sales from the Lithium unit rose around 13% year over year to $320.3 million in the reported quarter, aided by higher volumes (up 17%) that more than offset lower pricing. Prices fell 4% due to lower carbonate and technical grade product pricing. Adjusted EBITDA was up roughly 16% year over year to $109.4 million, aided by higher sales.

The Bromine Specialties segment recorded sales of $279.7 million, up around 20% year over year. Sales were supported by higher demand for products across the portfolio and improved volumes and pricing. Adjusted EBITDA was $92.6 million, up around 27% year over year. The company’s cost-savings initiatives and pricing offset higher raw materials costs.....


Drought Monitor, Crop Moisture, and Drought Severity Indices

 The usual University of Nebraska-Lincoln weekly drought map is at the bottom of this post but first a couple presentations we've found more helpful for understanding ag commodities.

First up, from NOAA, the Crop Moisture Index (orange is bad):

And the Palmer Drought Severity Index:


And from UNL:

Drought Monitor for conus

The drought that had been creeping into Texas has almost disappeared. Colorado and New Mexico also got some relief that week. Much more troublesome for food production is drought expanding and intensifying in Iowa and Minnesota. Here's the side by side comparison presentation.

And the discussion:

This Week's Drought Summary 
Abundant monsoonal precipitation again spread from the Southwest as far as eastern Nevada, southern Idaho, southern and western Wyoming, and western Colorado. Totals exceeding an inch were common, and 2 to 4 inches doused some of the higher elevations, especially across the central Rockies and Intermountain West. Most other areas of dryness and drought recorded at least light precipitation, but totals were not enough to significantly improve dryness and drought from the Plains eastward....

Coronavirus Coverup: The New York Times and The Lab Leak

 A heads up going in: the writer of this piece does not appear to hold the current iteration of the NYT in very high esteem. Here's his homepage.

From UnHerd, August 2:

Did the New York Times stifle lab leak debate?
Were commercial relationships with China a factor?

The world’s verdict on the lab leak seems to be shifting. The Biden Administration now thinks there is a credible possibility that Covid-19 leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. WHO chief Tedros Adhanome Ghebreyesus has admitted that attempts to dismiss the hypothesis were “premature”. These are, of course, positive developments — but they should also leave us astounded.

In the opening months of the pandemic, the lab leak hypothesis was actively discredited by the media and scientific establishment, with anyone associated with it smeared as “racist”. The question we have to ask now is how, and why, did this happen?

To a great extent, I believe the answer lies with the world’s most powerful news outlet, the New York Times. At the start of the pandemic, the Times set the news and policy agenda on the lab leak hypothesis, discrediting it and anyone who explored it. The Times did so while taking money from Chinese state-owned propaganda outlets, such as China Daily, and while pursuing long-term investments in China that may have made the paper susceptible to the CCP’s strong-arm propaganda tactics in the first months of the pandemic.

As someone who has spent years researching the history of the Times, I was struck by the paper’s markedly pro-China bent at the start of the pandemic. It opposed Trump’s travel ban to and from China as “isolationist”. It all but ignored the unparalleled success of China’s arch-enemy, Taiwan, in containing the virus. It downplayed China’s economic war against Australia, whose prime minister early on questioned the CCP story on the pandemic’s origins. And it celebrated China’s success in battling Covid-19, taking the CCP’s absurd mortality numbers at face value, reporting in August 2020 that 4,634 Chinese people died from the virus and, six months later, that there were 4,636 total deaths. That in a country of 1.4 billion people only two people died of Covid-19 in the half a year defies logic and common sense. Still, the Times legitimised the CCP numbers by printing them as hard fact.

Of course, over the past year newspapers across the world have fallen for the CCP’s distorted Covid-19 narrative. And there is no evidence to suggest that the CCP did put pressure on the Times. But when it came to the lab leak debate, the Times was relentless. Starting in early 2020, when little was known about the virus — and nothing about its origins — the Times adopted a stridently anti-lab leak stance. In its first report on the topic, a February 17, 2020 article covering comments made by Sen. Tom Cotton, the Times stigmatised lab leak as a “fringe theory”. Once the story was published, its reporter took to Twitter to describe it as “the kind of conspiracy once reserved for the tinfoil hatters”.

Only one week prior, another outlet made strikingly similar claims. In an editorial, the CCP-owned China Daily thundered that Cotton’s decision to spread “malicious rumors” shows “how irresponsible some are in their haste to attack China”. The Times, echoing China Daily, also cast the lab leak hypothesis as a “rumor”.

Over the months, the Times’s coverage grew even more strident — and more in line with Chinese propaganda. In February 2020, it gave a platform to zoologist Peter Daszak, publishing an opinion piece by him which claimed that the pandemic was caused by “road-building, deforestation, land clearing and agricultural development”. Daszak argued that “discovering and sequencing” viruses like Covid-19 in labs like the one in Wuhan should be a priority.

The Times, which used Daszak as a key source in over a dozen articles, has never mentioned that Daszak’s organisation funded the Wuhan lab, in particular research into bats and coronaviruses, a flagrant conflict of interest. Crucially, there was no mention of this when a reporter interviewed Daszak this February, following his return from a heavily criticised WHO investigation into the virus’s origins. (Danszak later recused himself from the investigation because of the conflict of interest.)

But the Times also never revealed that Daszak was a favoured source for another outlet: China Daily. The state-owned media organisation, along with Xinhua and sister outlet Global Times, repeatedly quoted Daszak to assure readers of China’s full cooperation in the search for the virus’s origins — and to discredit the possibility of a lab leak.

In fact, the Times appears to have been so enthusiastic in its attempts to discredit the lab leak hypothesis that Chinese propaganda outlets promoted its reporting on social media. In April 2020, for instance, the Times published an article claiming the Trump Administration’s investigation into a lab leak “has echoes of the Bush administration’s 2002 push for assessments saying that Iraq had weapons of mass of destruction.” Within minutes, a China Daily columnist retweeted the story and parroted its central claim.

But why would the Times stake its credibility on a position that had no evidence behind it, and one that, as we are now discovering, looks increasingly unlikely? Was it simply a knee-jerk response by a liberal outlet to President Trump’s endorsement of the lab leak hypothesis at the time? Perhaps — but I suspect the answer is more complicated than that. Researching and writing my new book, I discovered that the Times has a dark history of inadvertently helping authoritarian regimes with its reporting, including the Nazis, the Soviet Union and Fidel Castro.....


Okay, not just the current iteration but going back to the 1930's.
If interested in the Times' sleazy history we have on offer: 
And one of the earliest studies of fake news:

Capital Markets: "Yesterday's Dollar Recovery Stalls"

 From Marc to Market:

Overview: US interest rates and the dollar turned higher following comments by the Fed's Vice Chairman Clarida, who appeared to throw his lot with the more hawkish members. The dollar recovered from weakness that had seen it fall to almost JPY108.70, its lowest level since late May, and lifted the euro to $1.19. Still, there has been little follow-through dollar or Treasury buying today. The euro and yen are marginally softer, but most other major currencies post small gains. Emerging market currencies are mixed, and the JP Morgan Emerging Market Currency Index is slightly softer, declining for the third consecutive session and four of the past five. The US 10-year yield is hovering around 1.18%, while European yields are 1-3 bp lower at new multi-month lows. With travel restrictions imposed throughout China as the virus is detected in all the provinces, China's 10-year bond yield is at new 12-month lows at 2.80%. Equities in the Asia Pacific regions were mixed, with China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea falling and Japan, Australia, and India posting small gains. Europe's Dow Jones Stoxx 600 is up for the fourth consecutive session and is extending its push into record highs. US futures are slightly higher. Demand concerns and an unexpected build in the US (3.6 mln barrels instead of a 2.9 mln draw) keep oil on the defensive. September WTI recovered after initially extending its losses for the fourth consecutive session. It saw a marginal extension of yesterday's losses to almost $67.60 before bouncing to almost $69. Recall that it settled a little below $74 last week. Gold peaked yesterday a little shy of $1832 but is probing the lower end of this week's range that extends to $1805. Copper is extending its losing streak to a fifth consecutive session (for a cumulative loss of nearly 5%). Iron ore prices tumbled 2.4% (12th decline in 14 sessions) to approach four-month lows. The CRB Index fell yesterday to bring its four-day drop to about 3.5%.

Asia Pacific
Melbourne and the rest of Victoria are in a new lockdown, which now covers about 2/3 of Australia's population.
Sydney is reporting record cases still. Australia reported a record trade surplus in June of A$10.5 bln. Exports and import growth rose less than expected. Despite China's trade sanctions (for Canberra's foreign policy), exports to China rose 8.2%, led by iron ore. Australia exports a record amount of iron ore. The recent decline in iron ore prices will show up in the trade figures later this year. Coal exports rose by 15.5% month-over-month.

Japan is extending the quasi-emergency to eight more prefectures as it still wrestles to bring the virus under control. Separately, the MOF weekly portfolio flows showed that Japanese investors returned to the buy-side after selling nearly JPY1.1 trillion of foreign bonds in the week through July 23 (JPY225 bln). Foreign investors bought a record amount of Japanese bonds in early July (~JPY2.6 trillion) and in the subsequent three weeks added another JPY750 bln. Equity flows were minor.

The Biden Administration announced its first weapon sales to Taiwan. The $750 mln deal is relatively modest, but it will draw Beijing's ire. The highlights include new self-propelled howitzers and almost 1700 kits to enhance some missiles with more accurate GPS guidance. Reports suggest that since 2010, the US has sold more than $23 bln of weapons to Taiwan. Meanwhile, the US has begun its largest war game exercise 40 years, involving three dozen ships and 50 virtual units, covering 17 time zones....


Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Despite Iranian Hijinks in the Gulf of Oman, Oil Continues Its Stately Decline

Earlier today two more ships reported they had lost their ability to steer making six in all counting the one being described as a hijacking.

But oil just keeps going down:

As an homage to Duchamp I shall title that one Crude Descending a Staircase, No.1.

In some ways it is more beautiful than Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2

More serious stuff after the U.S. equity close. WTI down $2.51 (3.56%) at $68.05 but with a warning: It's been three days of down and as short positions expand the chances of a countertrend move to the upside increase.

Most recently: 

Oil: A Modest Victory Lap

Hurricane Watch: Model Runs of Storms Coming Off Africa Over the Next Six Weeks

Keeping in mind that September 10 is the statistical high point of the season:

Number of Tropical Cyclones per 100 Years 
The official hurricane season for the Atlantic Basin (the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico) is from 1 June to 30 November. As seen in the graph above, the peak of the season is from mid-August to late October. However, deadly hurricanes can occur anytime in the hurricane season.

And although the Gulf of Mexico-bred storms can pop up at any time, August is when we have to start thinking about the Cape Verde storms that make that long run from the Main Development Zone. 

As NASA says:

....The average Atlantic Hurricane season brings with it approximately two Cape Verde hurricanes. These hurricanes are usually the most intense and the biggest storms of the season because they develop so far to the east and can travel over a large area of warm, open ocean waters that help power them. There are also no land forms in the way to slow tropical cyclones if they form near the Cape Verde Islands....

And from PhD hurricane geek Ryan Maue:

Although worldwide cyclones are running almost exactly average: 

2021 Accumulated Cyclone Energy

That's a June 8 post but it updates daily.

And though  the ACE for the North Atlantic is actually a bit above average, this season seems quiet.
The current post is only our third of the season, counting the ACE post and June 7's "Artemis: 2021 Hurricane Season Forecasts & Predictions".

The Swiss Get All Philosophical On Resource Scarcity: "Scarce resources: The end of the world and what comes next"

Not the entire population of Switzerland but definitely the business editor of Zürich's Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Gerald Hosp, June 29:

Resource scarcity not a doomsday scenario

When commodity prices skyrocket, it's not just mine owners and oil producers celebrating. Doomsday prophets also have their day in the sun. But there’s a flaw in this kind of thinking: Natural resources aren’t finite in the conventional sense.

At the moment, there is an abundance of scarcity. Companies complain that there are shortages of semiconductors, lumber, steel, plastics, chemicals, and other inputs and raw materials. The pandemic disrupted many international supply chains. This is because companies cut back production, and were then surprised by the strong demand for televisions, home fitness equipment, bicycles, laptops and furniture – sometimes resulting in long delivery times and rising prices for end consumers.

Soaring commodity prices

Commodities are experiencing a full-fledged boom. Previously, the prices of copper, crude oil and wheat had long been stuck in the doldrums. As the global pandemic gained strength, they fell further into a tailspin. For a short period of time, producers were even themselves forced to pay in order to dispose of a barrel of American crude oil. But those days are gone. Indeed, the opposite is today the case. A debate is currently underway – with consequences for monetary policy – as to whether commodity-market developments are fueling inflation.

The soaring commodity prices also serve as a reminder that even in an age when an ordinary smartphone seems to contain the entire world, natural resources remain the foundation of our economies. Cautionary voices argue that increasingly expensive raw materials reflect an overload on the planet. When world market prices rose more than 10 years ago, especially for food products, this led in some cases to social unrest, and even helped trigger the Arab Spring.

Some also see exploding raw materials prices as a symptom of the planet’s supposed ecological exploitation by a capitalist economic system. The climate-change discussion has given still more urgency to all these issues. For a number of years, the Global Footprint Network organization has been calculating the date of what it terms Earth Overshoot Day. On this day, the Earth’s natural and renewable resources have been used up for the current year. This year, that day is said to fall on July 29 for the world as a whole.

Predefined finiteness

On this issue, we find doomsday prophets and mine owners in a curious embrace. With shining eyes, raw-materials companies are already talking about a supercycle. This can be defined as a period of prolonged, sharply rising prices across a broad range of commodities. The last supercycle began with China's economic rise some 20 years ago. Those in the industry are now asking a critical question: Is the current rise in prices a cyclical, short-term upswing, or the beginning of a supercycle?

There’s much to be said for the first thesis. First of all, prices fell sharply last year due to the pandemic. This means that the subsequent percentage increase has been large, because the initial base value was low. Moreover, when inflation is factored in, prices in dollars are even lower today than they were in the period between the 1980s and 2008. In many cases, commodity markets also feature a relatively rigid supply that is unable to respond quickly to unexpected changes in demand – as is currently the case due to the government programs stimulating the economy.

Nevertheless, steep price increases are always impressive, provoking a mood of doom and gloom. This is driven by the idea that nonrenewable raw materials are by definition scarce. In this view, the shortage of natural resources drives up prices over the long term, with potentially devastating consequences for the global economy. To a certain extent, this also applies to renewable raw materials such as food products, which depend on scarce goods such as soil, water and fertilizer.

A bet on the future....

Also at NZZ:
Saudi palace intrigue jeopardizes CIA secrets

A tweet cost him his doctorate: The extent of China’s influence on Swiss universities

"The United States’s Corn Belt is making its own weather"

What? You've never heard of nocturnal corn sweats?

From the journal Science, February 2018:

The Great Plains of the central United States—the Corn Belt—is one of the most fertile regions on Earth, producing more than 10 billion bushels of corn each year. It’s also home to some mysterious weather: Whereas the rest of the world has warmed, the region’s summer temperatures have dropped as much as a full degree Celsius, and rainfall has increased up to 35%, the largest spike anywhere in the world. The culprit, according to a new study, isn’t greenhouse gas emissions or sea surface temperature—it’s the corn itself.

This is the first time anyone has examined regional climate change in the central United States by directly comparing the influence of greenhouse gas emissions to agriculture, says Nathan Mueller, an earth systems scientist at the University of California (UC), Irvine, who was not involved with this study. It’s important to understand how agricultural activity can have “surprisingly strong” impacts on climate change, he says.

The Corn Belt stretches from the panhandle of Texas up to North Dakota and east to Ohio. The amount of corn harvested in this region annually has increased by 400% since 1950, from 2 billion to 10 billion bushels. Iowa leads the country for the most corn produced per state.

To see whether this increase in crops has influenced the region’s unusual weather, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge used computers to model five different 30-year climate simulations, based on data from 1982 to 2011. First, they compared simulations with high levels of intense agriculture to control simulations with no agricultural influence. Unlike the real-life climate changes, the control simulations showed no change in temperature or rainfall. But 62% of the simulations with intense agriculture resulted in temperature and rainfall changes that mirror the observed changes, the team reports this week in Geophysical Research Letters....



July 2020
As Hot, Sticky Weather Descends on Much of the Country This Weekend, It's Time To Talk About Nocturnal Corn Sweats 



Real phenomenon? Of course it's a real phenomenon:
Friday, July 22, 2016
Nocturnal Corn Sweats And the U.S. Heat Wave
Years ago I was corresponding with a reader in Kansas:

On Jun 4, 2008, at 9:06 PM, Climateer wrote:
...pps- Have you ever heard of Nocturnal Corn Sweats?
It's supposed to be one of the reasons for higher humidity.
98% sucks.
That's a technical term that all the best weather geeks use
She responded
nocturnal corn sweats!! no! never heard of them. I just fell of my chair I laughed so hard. Really? Seriously? I'm googling it to make sure you aren't pulling my leg.
Compared to last year, almost no one (along my drive into town, anyway) planted corn this year. which is good because it has been horribly, horribly wet at all the wrong times. lots of wheat though...
Over the next couple years I got a bit obsessed:
Nocturnal Corn Sweat News!
6/11/10 Climateer wrote
If you Google "nocturnal corn sweat" (or sweats) it still comes back 'No Results Found'.
Damn it.

I shall make it my mission to bring the term into common usage,
From every village and hamlet to the great metropoli, when some says "NCS" it won't be the National Cartoonist Society they refer to.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression...

Good grief, I'm channeling MLK.
Here's the latest from Northern Illinois University via the Elgin Courier-News:... I even tried remembering high school biology. She asked:

8/4/10 Can soybeans get night sweats too? Was out two mornings around dawn and soybe... 
8/4/10 Climateer wrote
...It's all about the pores.
Corn is one of the weird C4's, I've forgotten which group/subgroup soybeans are in.
And the CAM's, ah the CAM plants.

Nocturnal Bean Sweats...hmmmm
Some people laughed back then but they aren't laughing now:
Washington Post, July 18
St. Louis Public Radio, July 20
DesMoines Register, July 21
Murray State University, July 19


What happens when people call the police … and cops don’t come? Washington State is about to find out.

From Law Enforcement Today, July 12:

MOSES LAKE, WA – What happens when you call for help and no one comes? People in Moses Lake and other Washington communities are about to find out.

Moses Lake Police Chief Kevin Fuhr has been sounding the alarm since May about a package of new “police reform” laws that have been passed and signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee. Now, the Chief said police will follow the law.

Following the law means that many times, police will not be coming.

Of the laws passed this year, the main one of interest is House Bill 1310, or state Rep. Jesse Johnson’s “use of force” bill. It was signed by Gov. Jay Inslee on May 18 and goes into effect July 25 of this year.

The bill requires police to have probable cause before using force, as opposed to reasonable suspicion.

The law also creates a new board to investigate officers accused of wrongdoing or excessive force, makes it easier to decertify or prosecute officers, and limits their ability to act.

During a June 22 meeting, Fuhr said:

“This is changing completely the way we’ve responded to some of these calls … and there will be some calls that we just absolutely don’t respond to from here on out.”

Fuhr described recent meetings he held with the Washington Association of Sheriffs & Police Chiefs (WASPC), as well as the Washington Cities Insurance Authority (WCIA). He said both organizations recommend police adjust the way they respond to calls.

Routine community care-taking functions such as welfare checks or mental health incidents should no longer be responded to by the police under the new law, according to Fuhr:

“The unfortunate thing is, I think of the person who’s in mental health crisis in a family member’s home, (and the) family member calls us, and our response is going to be, ‘I’m sorry, it’s not a crime. We can’t respond.’

“Frankly, my argument is (that) an ambulance should be doing that, not a law enforcement officer.”

The new package of laws has made it almost impossible for police to use any force in any situation that is not a crime. For example, if a child runs away from home and is located by an officer, the officer could ask the child to go with him but could not force the child to come.

Coupled with another provision in the law that virtually eliminates qualified immunity, which protects officers from lawsuits if they act within the law, the new use-of-force standard results in police only being able to respond to criminal acts.

WCIA also recommends police not respond to misdemeanor crimes, such as small theft or custody issues. Chief Fuhr explained that often, those cases require the use of force, but the law laws forbid it:

“Sometimes, those incidents require (the) use of force, and we don’t have a legal authority to be there.”

Under the new laws, police are limited on what they can do in traffic enforcement as well. Police can stop a vehicle, but they cannot require the occupants to exit the vehicle....


In Minneapolis Minnesota the City Council voted 11-1 to ban non-lethal force in riot situations giving cops a rather stark choice. Run away or shoot to kill.

I'm not sure the politicians have ght this stuff through.

World's Largest Battery Maker To Introduce New Sodium Ion Battery To Help Ease Lithium Shortages

Here we are breaking our general rule against posting every 'breakthrough' or change in chemistry or manufacturing process for the second time in a week* but when it's CATL or Tesla you almost have to pay attention or risk getting stuck as the market moves away from you.

On the other hand we have no interest in something like QuantumScape which recently reiterated their target dates for commercialization as 2024 -2025. Too much can happen in the meantime.And a small underfunded company may not be able to react.

From Reuters:

The development of a new sodium-ion battery by Chinese battery giant CATL is expected in the coming years to relieve pressure on lithium supplies, which are forecast to see shortages as early as 2022.

As the world seeks to cut carbon emissions, partly by ramping up electric vehicle (EV) output, demand is expected to soar for lithium, cobalt and nickel.

Fearful of shortages and high prices, automakers and battery producers have been working on alternate technologies to the dominant lithium-ion battery.

CATL said last week it plans to build a supply chain by 2023 to produce sodium-ion batteries, which have lower energy density than lithium-ion models, but are fast charging and more resilient in cold temperatures.

William Adams, head of base metals and battery research at Fastmarkets, said CATL’s plans would alleviate the pressure.

“It means there’s a Plan B if there isn’t enough lithium around,” he said.

Fastmarkets sees the lithium market shifting to a deficit next year from a balanced level in 2021 with demand more than tripling to 1.12 million tonnes by 2025 compared to 2020....


July 28
"What Tesla’s bet on iron-based batteries means for manufacturers" (TSLA)

As a side note, last month Bloomberg reported that CATL's chairman had passed Jack Ma on the Asia Rich List and was now among the top five on the continent with a $50 billion pile.

Political Violence: We've Spotted Our First Usage Of The Term "Direct Action"

Something's up. As noted in June 2020:
The community organizers and students of political science among our readers will recognize the 'ol Action directe, perhaps accompanied by a bit of Thomas Carlyle’s whiff of grapeshot describing the end of the French Revolution, this time round.
And going back to 2007's " "International Day of Direct Action Against Climate Change and the G8" this language has a specific meaning:
...From the French version of Wikipedia: Action directe (AD) est un groupe clandestin (aux influences anarchistes et communistes...)

From Wikipedia: Action Directe was a French Maoist/Marxist-Leninist militant group which committed a series of assassinations and violent attacks in France between 1979 and 1987....
Well, on August 8 ""General Labor Strike Planned Across US".
in June 27's "Why Turkey is Important" I went on a bit of a ramble (ramble? Moi?) riffing off of the ZeroHedge headline "A US civil war is now on the table as new alliances form" and exited with this:
One thing to keep an eye on is the use of the word "ungovernable" in the U.S. Here's GoogleTrends (web searches) since 2004:

We are now at the highest level of searches since Trump's inauguration.

So keep your head on a swivel, you don't want to miss the 'action'. 


Tuesday, August 3, 2021

An Inside Look At The Terms In China's Loans To Sovereigns (YIKES!)

These are not terms of endearment.

Late last week we saw at the Sydney Morning Herald "Samoa’s new leader scraps Belt and Road port deal" This was the third or fourth project that has been cancelled, including one in Australia, another in Malaysia, a $14 billion project in Bangladesh, a plea for debt forgiveness in Pakistan and the rumored plan of Tanzania's President John Magufuli to cancel a $10 billion BRI project. He died suddenly of Covid-19 in March and China expressed condolences and noted the new President was said to be much more agreeable to the project.

Part of the reason this countries want out from under are the terms of the contracts that China presents.

Here is Claire Jones at FT Alphaville with some insight:

The terms of China’s massive loan spree

New research looks at how the world’s largest sovereign creditor lends.

China is the world’s biggest lender to governments. And that’s not just because of its gigantic stockpile of US Treasuries.

For much of the past decade Beijing has sought to plug massive infrastructure funding gaps across multiple continents through its Belt and Road Initiative. The overarching aim, other than to bolster global influence, is to upgrade transport links on the old silk road routes which enabled trade between the Far East and what lay to the west of it. While Beijing has recently reined in spending, between 2008 and 2019 the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China lent $462bn. For context, that’s just short of the $467bn loaned by the World Bank over the same timeframe, according to the Boston University data.

Yet the terms of these loans to sovereign borrowers have been shrouded in secrecy. Until now.

The Peterson Institute for International Finance, a DC-based think-tank, has a fascinating paper out this week which pulls together findings based on 100 contracts made to sovereign creditors mainly in Africa and South America. The lenders are the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China, along with a handful of commercial banks and the Chinese government itself. The research was carried out with other think tanks and the College of William & Mary’s AidData team, which has a data set here for those that want to delve deeper.

While the researchers point out that this sample size of 100 represents just 5 per cent of the contracts the Chinese lenders have extended to foreign governments since the early 2000s, there’s still enough in terms of standardisation to draw some findings about the nature of the lending practices and come to the conclusion that China “is a muscular and commercially-savvy lender”.

We’d recommend reading the paper in full. For those who haven’t got the time, here are a few highlights.

First, the contracts don’t appear vastly different from those offered by other sovereign creditors. Especially when those creditors — as is often the case here — are lending to lower income countries. However, the contracts are unique in that they reflect China does not participate in collective restructuring agreements, such as the Paris Club, for sovereign debt gone bad.

This creates divergence with what you might expect to see listed in a contract with an export-import, or development, bank located elsewhere. For instance, the contracts are judged by the researchers to be a somewhat odd hybrid of private and public-sector lending standards. This has the potential to hand much more power to the Chinese authorities in the event of things turning sour....

....MUCH MORE, including Peterson link.

If interested see also a link she put into a Further Reading post in late April:

Dear U.A.E. Could You Use Your Absolutely Stunning Space Program To Send Kuwait Out Near Pluto?

The Emirates have a seriously good space program. On July 23, 2014 we posted "United Arab Emirates Plans to Create Space Program, Land Mars Probe". On February 10, 2021 the story was "The U.A.E.'s Emirates Mars Mission Has Begun Orbiting The Red Planet" Less than seven years. Stunning.

And Kuwait?

First Saddam set the country on fire, I forget why, probably some sort of insurance scam:

And now this via Insider Paper, August 3:

VIDEO: World’s biggest tire graveyard in Kuwait on fire 

The world’s largest tire dump at the Al Sulaibiya tire site in Kuwait is on fire and is visible on satellite images. The tire graveyard is estimated to have 7 million tires, a social media post reads.

I am afraid Greta Thunberg is going to have a stroke before she can sail to Scotland for the big climate conference in October.

So UAE, if you could maybe do a joint venture with Space-X, I hear Elon just hung 29 (!) Raptor engines on the big, big rocket. 
From August 3:

SpaceX rolls 29-engine Super Heavy rocket to launch site (video)

And August 2:

SpaceX installs 29 engines on giant Super Heavy Mars rocket (photos)

So, if you could, help a brother out, and maybe save Greta to boot.

Oil: A Modest Victory Lap

Tim Knight, proprietor of Slope of Hope gets to take the lap, to the cheers of the adoring crowd.

All I did was understand what he was saying, guestimate a probability of it working out. and pass it along.

From Slope of Hope:
03, Aug 2021 6:02:13 AM
Rude Crude
Oh, my! Look what our friend crude oil did!

Remarkable chart, isn’t it? Yesterday’s big plunge perfectly tagged the supporting trendline, and crude bounced strongly. Overnight, prices took another swag at the trendline, and bang, the trendline is now broken.... 


He had a second oil post an hour-or-so ago:
Yesterday's links: 
Which was followed by: 

WTI $70.53 down 0.73 (1.02%) after getting down to $69.19, Brent 72.46 down 0.43.

Wood Mackenzie: "Next commodities supercycle will be driven by global energy transition"

 From WoodMac, July 15:

China’s dominance of renewables value chains will be key

Another commodities supercycle is on the horizon, but it will be different from any that have come before. Fossil fuels won’t be in the vanguard and the winners will be the industrial metals needed to electrify society - cobalt, lithium, copper, nickel, and aluminium. 

While post-pandemic government stimulus packages have provided a sugar rush for commodities and prices of base metals have surged, this in itself is not supercycle material. But the markets have also sensed that the energy transition is now gathering serious momentum and is likely to fuel a sustained increase in demand over the next two decades, supporting a new supercycle narrative. 

US$50 trillion of investment will be needed over the next two decades to achieve a 1.5˚C global warming trajectory. This will electrify societies’ infrastructure and engineer out the aspects of economic activity that most significantly contribute to carbon emissions. Metals supply will play a vital role in achieving this.

As noted in the Wood Mackenzie, a Verisk business (Nasdaq:VRSK), report Champagne supercycle: Taking the fizz out of the commodities price boom’, three potential developments could challenge how this commodities supercycle unfolds and who, ultimately, benefits from it:

  • The concentrating control of metals’ supply chains is likely to exclude many from the party.
  • Systemic supply uncertainty and ensuing price volatility, encouraging disruptive new technologies such as next generation electrofuels, polymeric energy storage, and cobalt free batteries - thereby forcing ‘traditional’ commodities into obsolescence.
  • The rise of ‘consumption consciousness’, undermining the long-term reliance on primary metal.

Simon Morris, Wood Mackenzie Head of Metals, said: "While China's move to secure battery raw materials is well documented, less well-known is its increasing self-sufficiency extending downstream. 75% of global lithium-ion batteries, 70% of all solar panels, and 60% of electric vehicles are made in China. But its aspirations have not yet been satisfied and we expect its control to continue to grow.

"With China dominant in its control of energy transition value chains, non-Chinese entities face an ever-diminishing share of any commodity windfall. With greater cash comes greater investment capability, enabling China to realise a strategy of supply security at any cost. Those who choose to participate too late in the cycle – be they nations seeking to secure supply for themselves, customers wanting to protect their production lines, or investors wanting to cash in on supernormal profits – are likely to find that they either can’t afford to participate or are precluded altogether.

"Price fluctuations could also throw a spanner in the works. With electric vehicles (EV) emerging as a critical source of demand, metals producers will have to consider how they supply a new type of consumer - one with an acute focus on price and supply predictability. If EV manufacturers cannot guarantee access to critical metals at an affordable and predictable price, they will look to innovate or thrift them out to the greatest extent possible. As the supply challenge materialises, the inexorable rise in prices will surely incentivise alternatives.

"As we saw with the increasing rejection of plastic usage, a greater focus on sustainability may see society react against the very considerable rise in the use of primary metals used in cars, mobile phones, telecoms, and infrastructure. Either buying less or demanding greater re-use presents a considerable downside risk for the producers of tomorrow."

According to the Wood Mackenzie report, the forces that are shaping up to drive this boom are unique. But even for those commodities stepping into the limelight, decarbonisation creates as many risks as it does opportunities....


Some of our links on the topic:
February 2018
"There’s a Global Race to Control Batteries—and China Is Winning"
June 2018
"Tesla leads electric vehicle race to cut cobalt dependency" (TSLA)
June 2019
China Controls the Lithium Ion Battery Supply Chain and Electric Vehicle Dominance Is In Sight
May 2020
"Exclusive: Tesla's secret batteries aim to rework the math for electric cars and the grid" (TSLA)
July 2020
"Tesla offers “giant contract” to responsible nickel miners" (TSLA; GLN)
January 2021
"Electric Cars’ Looming Recycling Problem"
March 2021
Batteries: Swedish Lithium Ion Specialist Northvolt Buys Silicon Valley Lithium Metal Startup Cuberg
April 2021
"Caught between rare earths and Chinese dominance — Part 1: The story behind everything no one is telling you"
Please don't say "no one"
May 2021
Electric Vehicles Will Drive A Lithium Supply Crunch
May 2021
"Lithium prices diverge and defy expectations as new EV trends unfold"
April 2021
"Western Europe claims 43% of global investments in battery manufacturing projects — report"
And China is the world's largest producer of batteries and has the lion's (Li ion?) share of the battery materials supply chain.
June 2021
"The Deep Sea Is Filled with Treasure, but It Comes at a Price"
June 2021
"Can Northvolt solve Europe’s impending electric car battery problem?"
July 2021
Wood Mackenzie: "Could China lead the global energy storage market by 2030?"
July 2021
Tesla Strikes Deal With Top Miner BHP Over Nickel Supplies (TSLA; BHP)
July 2021
"What Tesla’s bet on iron-based batteries means for manufacturers" (TSLA)

April 2021
ICYMI: "The king of nickel is betting big on a green future in batteries"
Have I mentioned the Chinese are not just the largest battery producers but have tied up the EV battery materials supply chain? Why yes, yes I have.

And then there's solar....

"China's copper appetite wanes just as US grows hungry"

 From Reuters, August 2, 9:00 pm EDT: 

COLUMN-China's copper appetite wanes just as US grows hungry: Andy Home

China's copper import surge has peaked.

The country sucked in a record 4.67 million tonnes of refined copper last year, making it the single most important physical driver of the pandemic recovery rally.

This year, the import pulse has slowed, with volumes sliding by 10% over the first half and the monthly total dipping below 300,000 tonnes in both May and June. (

High prices and Beijing's attempts to fade last year's stimulus have taken some of the heat out of the Chinese market.

Equally significant is the wave of scrap washing up on China's shores as imports rebound after policy-makers reversed a planned ban on what had been designated "waste".

Now classified as a "resource", scrap is flooding into the country, reducing the requirement for refined metal.

By Andy Home

LONDON, Aug 2 (Reuters) - China's copper import surge has peaked.

The country sucked in a record 4.67 million tonnes of refined copper last year, making it the single most important physical driver of the pandemic recovery rally.

This year, the import pulse has slowed, with volumes sliding by 10% over the first half and the monthly total dipping below 300,000 tonnes in both May and June. (

High prices and Beijing's attempts to fade last year's stimulus have taken some of the heat out of the Chinese market.

Equally significant is the wave of scrap washing up on China's shores as imports rebound after policy-makers reversed a planned ban on what had been designated "waste".

Now classified as a "resource", scrap is flooding into the country, reducing the requirement for refined metal.

It could be a "hugely negative factor for world copper prices", analysts at Roskill said. ("China’s scrap rebalancing act threatens to de-rail the price recovery,", July 28, 2021.)

Alternatively, the displaced metal could find a new home in the United States, where the evidence of a tightening copper market is mounting.....


"Highlights From The BP Statistical Review Of World Energy 2021"

 From Robert Rapier's R-Squared Energy blog, July 27:

Earlier this month the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2o21 was released, covering energy data through 2020. The Review provides a comprehensive picture of supply and demand for major energy sources on a country-level basis. It is a primary data source for numerous companies, government agencies and non-government organizations.

Since its release, I have been busy analyzing the data and creating graphics. I strive to uncover nuggets of information and analyze the data in unique ways. In upcoming articles I will delve deeper into the various energy categories, but today I want to simply provide a high level overview of this year’s Review.

I will add a caveat regarding this year’s review. Typically, the Review gives us a comprehensive summary of energy trends. However, the Covid-19 pandemic really upended the energy markets in 2020, and we shouldn’t extrapolate some of these trends.

For example, as I will detail below, oil demand fell dramatically last year, but we already know that it has largely recovered in 2021. So it would be a serious mistake to think that last year’s plunge marks the beginning of long-term trends.

Energy Overview

Primary global energy consumption fell by 4.5% last year, which was the largest annual decline since 1945. About three-fourths of the decline came from oil, as the pandemic dramatically impacted the world’s transportation systems. Small declines were also reported in coal, natural gas, and nuclear consumption, while renewables and hydropower recorded gains.

However, despite the sharp decline in oil consumption, oil remained on top with a 31.2% share of all energy consumption. The remainder of global energy consumption came from coal (27.2%), natural gas (24.7%), hydropower (6.9%), renewables (5.7%), and nuclear power (4.3%).

Cumulatively, fossil fuels — shown below in shades of gray — still accounted for 83.1% of the world’s primary energy consumption in 2020.


The decline in energy consumption was prevalent throughout the entire world. Over 95% of the countries tracked by the review experienced a decline in energy consumption. By country, the U.S., India, and Russia contributed the largest annual declines in energy consumption....


Mr. Rapier is one of the long-lived commenters on things energy/environment, Here's a link from 2011: "How Much Are You Willing to Pay to be Nuke-Free?" and another from 2009: "Conoco Chief Says Replacing Oil May Take a Century. And: Oil Prices Ahead of Fundamentals (COP)" and yet a third where he questioned high-profile analyst, author, investment banker Matt Simmons on the cost of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Mr. Rapier was right, Mr. Simmons was wrong in his trillion dollar estimate.

And us? Among other things we were linking to stuff like: "'More BP Gulf Oil Spill Conspiracies Flourish -- From Algae Farms to Armed Dolphins' (APC; BP; HAL; RIG)"

Which reminds me, I should probably follow up on the Chinese Security Law posts which for some reason included this tidbit:

‘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.

Capital Markets: The Reserve Bank of Australia Surprises By Sticking To Its Plan

 From Marc to Market:

Overview: US Treasury yields were slipping, but the weaker than expected manufacturing ISM, which included the slowest rise in price paid since March, sent the 10-year yield below 1.15% and the 30-year below 1.83%. The yen appears to be the most sensitive of the major currencies to US yields, and the drop in yields saw the dollar trade down to JPY109.20 and post its lowest close since early June. US equities pared early gains, which had lifted the Dow to new record highs before reversing lower, and both the Dow and S&P 500 finished lower. Asia Pacific shares were mixed, with Taiwan, South Korea, and India (Nifty 50 closed at a record high), among the large markets advanced, while Japan, China, and Australia slipped. Europe's Dow Jones Stoxx 600 is extending its gains into record territory, led by energy and health care. US futures point to a higher opening, while US bonds are consolidating, and the 10-year yield is hovering below 1.20%. European bonds are snapping their rally with a 1-2 bp gain today. That said, Greek bonds are extending their advance today, with the 10-year benchmark yield off for the ninth consecutive session. The Norwegian krone and the Antipodean currencies are leading the move against the dollar, though near midday in Europe, the yen, euro, and Canadian dollar are less than 0.2% changed on the day. Most emerging market currencies are mostly firmer against the dollar. Gold is consolidating in a narrow band within yesterday's range, stuck between the 200-day moving average (~$1820) and the recent lows ($1805). Crude oil prices are stabilizing after yesterday's retreat. Near $71.80, WTI for September delivery is about 0.80% higher after dropping 3.6% yesterday, the most in two weeks. Copper is trading off for the third consecutive session and the fifth in the past six. The CRB Index fell by more than 1% yesterday for the second consecutive session.

Asia Pacific
The Reserve Bank of Australia surprised investors by sticking to its plan to reduce its bond purchases next month.
Starting next month, the RBA will buy A$4 bln a week of bonds, down from A$5 bln currently. Governor Lowe argued that once the virus is contained, the economy responds quickly. The slower pace of bond buying will continue through mid-November before another opportunity to taper opens. The RBA will update its economic forecasts at the end of the week. Still, Sydney, which accounts for a quarter of the country's GDP and a little more than a fifth of employment, has been in lockdown for the past five weeks and has reported a record number of cases. Lowe was adamant, though, that the conditions that would allow a rate hike are not anticipated until 2024. The market appears to be discounting a hike in 2023.

Tokyo's core CPI, which excludes fresh food, rose to 0.1% in July, its first positive reading since last July. However, the gain seems to reflect higher energy prices, and without fresh food or energy, Tokyo's CPI remained at zero year-over-year. The headline rate actually slipped to minus 0.1% from zero in June, which was the highest since last September. Japan has not escaped deflation, but officials seem to have stopped doing more to turn it around.

Chinese officials took another swipe today, calling gaming a "spiritual opium,"
and companies in that ecosystem, including Tencent, fell. Subsequently, the South China Morning Post reported that the reference has been deleted "because its attack against the industry does not represent Beijing's official stance." Ironically, investors using the "connect" links reportedly bought about $3 bln of Chinese shares in the four sessions through yesterday. On another front, Beijing announced an investigation into the possible price manipulation of makers of semiconductor chips for autos. The State Administration for Market Regulation is focused on prices but also on companies "hoarding" chips....


Taking on the gaming community may be a bridge too far for the government and set up the third Chinese revolution (counting 1911). If only the hard-core gamers got out more.

The "Spiritual Opium" line is nice though.  

Monday, August 2, 2021

Senior Biden Advisor: "Turning Beijing’s playbook against it"

From Reuters Breakingviews via Nasdaq:

 In a 1973 meeting with an American delegation, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai caught his interlocutors off guard by asking: “Do you think China will ever become an aggressive or expansionist power?” When his U.S. counterpart politely replied in the negative, Zhou disagreed. “It is possible. But if China were to embark on such a path, you must oppose it. And you must tell those Chinese that Zhou Enlai told you to do so!”

Rush Doshi, China director on President Joe Biden’s National Security Council, quotes this advice in “The Long Game: China’s Grand Strategy to Displace American Order”. He then proposes that the White House take it. A former Fulbright scholar with fellowships at the Brookings Institution and Yale University’s Paul Tsai China Center, Doshi argues that China is not only attempting to sabotage global governance norms led by the United States but is trying to place itself at the top of a new system modelled in its autocratic image. It’s a very hawkish assessment of Chinese intentions. But 60 pages of painstaking footnotes, many of them quoting internal statements by Communist Party leaders and intellectuals, make it rather compelling.

During the Cold War China was a quasi-ally of America. But after the Soviet Union collapsed the Chinese Communist Party grew suspicious. The United States easily toppled Iraq’s Saddam Hussein on the flimsiest of pretexts. That terrified Chinese officials who were convinced the Americans aspired to repeat in Beijing what they had accomplished in Moscow.

The CCP’s strategy to prevent that outcome consisted of two phases which Doshi calls “blunting” and “building”. First, the People’s Republic joined and then hobbled international institutions like the World Trade Organization. This protected the country from tariffs that could have crippled its export sector and made it harder for America to project its influence. Next Beijing built alternatives it could control, such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. On the military front it first invested in sea mines and long-range missiles to fend off the U.S. Pacific Fleet, then built aircraft carriers to project sea power further afield....


If interested see also Sunday's "Influential Chinese Academic: CHINA will Have To Bail-Out The U.S. (For A Price)" which referenced Doshi's book. 

"No Crabs, No Scallops: Seafood Is Vanishing From Menus in U.S."

 From Bloomberg via Yahoo Finance, July 27:

At the Clam, there are no scallops.

Prices went “crazy,” says Mike Price, who co-owns the Greenwich Village restaurant, and so he yanked them off the menu. Over in Napa Valley, Phil Tessier, the executive chef at a popular spot called PRESS, did the same. And in Atlanta, at the tapas joint the Iberian Pig, chef Josue Pena didn’t stop at scallops. The Alaskan halibut and blue crab are gone, too.

That last one was a killer, Pena says. Crab croquettes had become a signature dish. “People were like ‘what’s up?’” But, he says, with wholesale costs soaring like they are, “the price we had to charge to be profitable was almost insulting.”

For restaurants across the U.S., the re-opening from Covid lockdown has been anything but easy. They’ve struggled to hire back enough waiters and chefs, often being forced to dangle double-digit pay hikes, and have been rocked by cost increases and shortages on all kinds of items -- from condiment packets to takeout packaging and chicken wings. So this jump in seafood prices, part of the broader inflationary surge working its way through the U.S. economy, is only further squeezing restaurateurs just when they were supposed to be raking in cash as they recover from all those months lost to the pandemic.

Seafood prices rose about 11% in the 12 months through early July from the previous period, according to NielsenIQ. Stretch out the time horizon a little, Pena says, and the increases on certain hard-to-find products are much starker yet. A pound of halibut, he says, goes for $28 from the local seafood distributor he buys from in Atlanta. Before the pandemic, it was $16 at most. And blue crab has gone from $18 a pound to $44. But at least he can find crab. In Orlando, Brennan Heretick, co-owner of High Tide Harry’s, had to stop selling crab fingers because wholesalers in the region stopped offering them....


Platts: "Commodity tracker: 5 charts to watch this week"

 From S&P Global Platts:

Iraq's oil production forecast tops this week's charts to watch as the country's standoff against international oil companies may put its capacity expansion plans at risk. Also worth following this week are falling iron ore prices, waning fuel-switching capacity in the US, rising gas prices in Europe and a firm North Sea crude demand. 

4. Battle for global LNG volumes pushes benchmark TTF to record high

TTF month-ahead clear of lower markers

What's happening? Dutch TTF gas prices broke through the Eur40/MWh mark for the first time July 29 as European markets continued to battle for global LNG supply into the region. The TTF month-ahead contract was seen trading as high as Eur40.40/MWh early in the session, the previous record prior to 2021's rally being Eur35.55/MWh in October 2008, Platts data showed. Europe and Asia are seeking to secure LNG volumes to replenish stock levels ahead of the next winter delivery period.

What's next? With EU gas storage sites currently only 55% full, concerns that stocks will not reach a suitable level ahead of the winter has played a big part in pushing gas prices up to the giddy heights of Eur40/MWh. A key question—and one likely to continue to drive market fundamentals—is how full European storage sites will be by the start of the withdrawal season and whether stocks will suffice to carry Europe through another cold winter. According to Platts Analytics' forecasts, northwest European storages are expected to reach 85% full by the end of October, below the five-year low of 86%. "This winter is going to be very tight," Platts Analytics managing analyst James Huckstepp said....


ICYMI: China's Caixin Purchasing Managers Index Came In With Its Lowest Reading Since May 2020

And approaching the 50 expansion/contraction line.

From the Chinese communist party's outward-facing propaganda organ, Global Times, August 2:

Caixin manufacturing PMI in July falls to 50.3, lowest since May 2020

The Caixin manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), which gauges China's most privately-run middle and small-size manufacturers, came in at 50.3 in July, nearly matching the official PMI, down from 51.3 in June and at the lowest point since May 2020.

The trend seen in the most recent Caixin manufacturing PMI was the same as the official PMI released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Saturday, which came in at 50.4, down from 50.9 in June and at the lowest point since March 2020. 

The output of the manufacturing sector continued to expand but at a lower speed, and demand decelerated for the first time in more than one year. 

The production sub-index fell to a 16-month low in July, while the new order sub-index hit the lowest point in 15 months, Chinese financial news site said in a report announcing the monthly survey results. 

Surveyed enterprises said that market demand was softening and elevated production prices had capped selling volumes. 

The purchasing sub-index and the producer price sub-index of the manufacturing sector both declined in July, which showed the easing pressure of inflation....


One reason we were comfortable relaying the oil posts. Still don't know what to think about reports of China's new Covid lockdowns, and further stories that the New York Times may have been a very conflicted newspaper of record in the early days of the pandemic.