Wednesday, April 8, 2020

"Dave Barry confronts coronavirus armed with bandanas and ready to stock up on spatulas"

From the Miami Herald:
On day 43,000 of sheltering in place, I decided to make a face mask.
For a while they were saying that we civilians didn’t need to wear face masks, but now they’re saying that we should. At least I think that’s what they’re now saying. The only way to know for sure would be to turn on the TV news, and I don’t want to do that because it sounds like this:

NEWSPERSON: Coronavirus! Coronavirus! Coronavirus! For more on this, here is a different newsperson located somewhere else for safety reasons.

DIFFERENT NEWSPERSON: Coronavirus! Coronavirus! Coronavirus! Now back to you.

NEWSPERSON: Thank you. Coronavirus! Coronavirus! Corona ...

And so on, 24 hours a day. Sometimes 30 hours a day. That’s how much coronavirus (Coronavirus!) news there is.

Anyway, I think now we’re supposed to wear masks. When I walk my dog, Lucy, around my neighborhood I’m seeing more and more people in masks. We all keep our distance, of course. We eye each other warily, like gunslingers in a Western, ready to react instantly if the other person draws a gun, or — much scarier — coughs.

But I think I’m getting eyed more warily lately because I’m not wearing a mask, and neither is Lucy.
If I could, I would buy a mask, but that is of course ridiculous. It’s like saying “If I could, I would fly like a bird” or “If I could, I would buy toilet paper.” So I thought maybe I could make a mask. It would be something to do, and I’m desperate for things to do. Several days ago, when our bank statement arrived in the mail, my reaction — seriously — was “All RIGHT! Now I can BALANCE THE CHECKING ACCOUNT!”

So I Googled “make face mask” and the first thing that popped up was an article on the CNN website titled “How to make your own face mask” with instructions “based on guidance from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin.”

Step one was to cut some fabric into two 9x6-inch rectangles. So far, so good. Then came step two: “On the top of the 9-inch side, pin or mark a 2-inch opening in the center of the top edge of the 9-inch side, between the 3.5- and 5.5-inch points, along the top edge. Then, sew the edges on either side of where you pinned or marked the opening.”

This is where the Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin lost me. I cannot sew. I am not proud of this: It’s just a fact. Over the years I have tried many times to sew things, and I always fail badly. My sewing incompetence is so extreme that it was once noticed by Oprah Winfrey....

Read more here:

Read more here:

Capital Markets: "Flavor of the Day: Consolidation"

From Marc to Market:
Overview: Global equities are struggling after the S&P 500 staged a dramatic reversal yesterday. The early 3.5% gain was completely unwound and closed slightly lower. With few exceptions (e.g., Japan and the Philippines), most equity markets in the Asia Pacific region and Europe are lower. Benchmark 10 year bond yields are consolidating yesterday's rise, but peripheral yields are a bit higher after the Eurogroup of EMU finance ministers were unable to reach an agreement. The US 10-year yield is flat around 72 bp. The dollar is firm as the risk appetites have waned. The greenback is firmer against all the major currencies, with the Scandis and dollar-bloc currencies the weakest. Among emerging market currencies, the Philippine peso and South African rand are exceptions. Gold is straddling $1650, and oil prices are hugging yesterday's lows.

Asia Pacific
S&P downgraded the outlook for Australia AAA rating to negative from stable.
The larger debt burden was the main factor cited. Separately, but related, parliament approved the A$130 bln (~$80 bln) package that included a wage subsidy of A$1500 every two weeks per employee of struggling businesses to help maintain employment (and income).

The lockdown of Wuhan, where Covid-19 emerged, was lifted after 76 days. On the other hand, China admitted to 62 new cases of the virus. Some are calling this a second wave, but it is not obvious that it is really separate from the initial contagion, and easing of restrictions simply allowed the virus to renew its growth. Hong Kong also approved an HKD309 bln package and extended the social distancing rules until April 23. Separately, the World Health Organization has become subject to the ire of US President Trump for being slow to respond and for becoming "very China-centric" and appears to withhold funding.

Japan's machine tools unexpectedly rose in February. The 2.3% gain contrasts with expectations for a 2.9% decline. However, the outlook for the economy remains poor, and one US bank forecasts a 25% contraction here in Q2. It would likely be the third consecutive quarterly decline. The same bank estimates that the JPY108 trillion ($990 bln) stimulus package is really only about JPY14 trillion of new stimulus this year....
....Ahead of the OPEC+ and G20 meetings, the EIA offered up the possibility that US oil output is 1.2 mln barrels per day less (-10%) than it previously projected this year and 1.6 mln bpd less next year. It expects production to bottom a little below 11 mln bpd in March 2021.The EIA forecasts a global surplus of 11.4 mln bpd in Q2 when economists expect the economies to bottom. Meanwhile, API estimated that oil inventories rose by 11.9 mln barrels last week, almost a third more than expected. Gasoline inventories swell by 9.5 mln barrels. API estimates don't always match the government's (EIA) estimate. The median forecast in the Bloomberg survey anticipates a nearly 9.7 mln barrel build....

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

More Old-School Logistics: "Long route to Asia may be the best bet for US LNG exporters in weak market"

Following up on the story* of CMA CGM avoiding the Suez Canal and sailing around Africa to sop up some capacity (and avoid the half-mil transit fee).
Now with added natural gas contango.

From S&P Global Platts:
  • Highlights
  • Average voyage length rises three days year over year
  • Panama Canal expects fewer transits in coming weeks
Houston — The most curious aspect of two tankers' current voyage from US Gulf Coast LNG terminals may not be whether their cargoes land in China or somewhere in between -- but, rather, the route they are taking to get there.

Heading East toward the Cape of Good Hope, the Total-chartered SK Resolute and Naturgy-chartered Hoegh Giant have avoided the much shorter but pricey passage through the Panama Canal and the currently discounted passage through the Suez Canal. If they eventually unload in East Asia, they will have taken more than a month to get there.

Ultra-low international spot prices are forcing offtakers from the US to scrape the barrel for premiums, and that means staying on the water longer in hopes of getting a higher netback in the future. Voyage length for tankers from the US Gulf Coast to East Asia is averaging three more days than during the same period a year ago, S&P Global Platts Analytics data showed.

"It essentially becomes floating storage," said Michael Webber, managing partner of investment research firm Webber Research & Advisory. "If the spot pricing is weak and there is contango in the curve, depending on how the pricing is structured, maybe you want to take the time getting there."
Taking the eastbound route rather than westbound route to Asia should take nine to 13 days longer, depending on whether the tankers go around Africa or through the Middle East. Tanker day rates have dropped by half from the beginning of the year to $48,000 as of this week, and charters can often lock in better rates.

If booked a month ago -- the lengthiest voyage would have cost an extra 22 cents/MMBtu, Platts Analytics data showed. Weak LNG prices due to lower than expected demand, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, means offtakers from the US are willing to absorb the extra cost and the boil-off from the longer voyage. Since January, the voyage length from the Gulf Coast to Asia has been getting consistently longer -- growing 11.4% year over year, or over three days, Platts Analytics data showed....

*Old School Logistics: CMA CGM Takes the Long Way Around

The U.S. Naval Institute Hus Ungated All Issues Of "Proceedings"

Also Naval History Magazine.
Here's an article from Proceedings Vol. 146/2/1,406, April 2020: 

U.S. Privateering Is Legal 
     (See also: Unleash the Privateers!)
Issuing letters of marque presents international legal risks—some real, others imagined—but these are manageable. Further, since a conflict with China might, to paraphrase Dean Acheson, threaten the power, position, and even the existence of the United States, the demands of the conflict would limit the salience of law.1 Such a conflict would result in thousands of U.S. service member deaths and the nearly certain loss of dozens of U.S. Navy ships. The proper frame of reference is spring 1942, when the United States was reeling from the harsh realities of war with Imperial Japan, and not the regional conflicts of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, in which the United States had overwhelming military superiority. A conflict with China would be World War III, not Gulf War III. Military and civilian leaders, as well as the public at large, should judge risks in those terms.

The first risks affect privateers themselves. Under the laws of war and neutrality, warships have rights against arrest and proscription by neutrals. Neutrals might choose not to extend those rights to privateers that want to enter their national waters, for example, to refuel. The United States could mitigate this by using friendly ports, negotiating understandings with neutrals, or pacifying them with other elements of U.S. power.

Critics will call privateers mercenaries, but that would hold no water, legally speaking. The 1977 Additional Protocol I (AP I) of the Geneva Conventions deprived mercenaries of combatant and prisoner-of-war rights, but even under AP I (which the United States has not adopted), privateers cannot be labeled “mercenaries” so long as they are a national of a party to the conflict or a resident of territory controlled by a party to the conflict.

Under both the Second (sick and shipwrecked members of the armed forces at sea) and Third (prisoners of war) Geneva Conventions, privateers are entitled to significant protections. They would be regarded as “members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps” so long as they (1) are commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates, (2) bear fixed distinctive signs recognizable at a distance, (3) carry arms openly, and (4) conduct their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.2 These requirements can easily be accommodated....

Not to put too fine a point on it but here's the graphic that accompanies the article:
COSCO, China’s largest shipping company, is a state-owned enterprise. Though that makes no legal 
difference, public perception might be positively influenced by knowing the Chinese government and 
Communist Party would be the ones to pay the price for U.S. privateering

Another article from the same edition:  
The Future of Logistics is Information Dominance
All Issues

And Naval History Magazine

Ah, February 2019: 
The ‘Deepest Insult . . . since the Norman Invasion’ 
In 1665, cutthroat maritime competition between England and the Dutch Republic erupted into a naval war that climaxed with a devastating raid on the Royal Navy’s Chatham Dockyard....

Gotta keep an eye on the Dutch

As we noted a couple years ago:
"Psychopaths in the Netherlands are different from psychopaths in the US" 
They say verzekering and herverzekering rather than insurance and reinsurance.

The Scots Were Dropping F-Bombs 500 Years ago.

My first thought when I saw the headline below was "That's 'effin incorrect".
From Ars Technica:

500-year-old manuscript contains one of earliest known uses of the “F-word”
The Bannatyne Manuscript is an anthology of some 400 medieval Scottish poems.
Scotland has much to recommend it: impressive architecture, gorgeous Highlands, and a long, distinguished intellectual tradition that has spawned some of the Western world's greatest thinkers over several centuries. It's also, apparently, home to a medieval manuscript that contains the earliest known usage of the swearword "F#$%."

[UPDATE 4/7/2020: Kristin Uscinski, a medieval historian at the State University of New York, Purchase, wrote in to inform us of an even earlier appearance of the F-word in the English language, "Roger F$#%-by-the-Navel who appears in some court records from 1310-11.  I always make sure my students are aware of good ole Roger."]

The profanity appears in a poem recorded by a bored student in Edinburgh while under lockdown as the plague ravaged Europe—something we can all relate to these days. The poem is getting renewed attention thanks to its inclusion in a forthcoming BBC Scotland documentary exploring the country's long, proud tradition of swearing, Scotland—Contains Strong Language....

Although I was not aware of Roger I recalled a cite to some manuscript from the 1400's.
Here's Wikipedia on 'ol Rog:
Roger Fuckebythenavele was a 14th-century Englishman who was cited in court records of 1310–1311. His name has been proposed as incorporating the earliest recorded instance of the English swear word fuck.
Roger Fuckebythenavele is mentioned seven times (with minor variations in spelling) in the plea rolls of the Chester County Court for the years 1310–1311. The "serjeants of the peace" had been ordered to arrest Roger and produce him before the court, but they had failed to find him, in consequence of which he was outlawed.[1]

"Dow stages a nearly 1,000-point U-turn Tuesday to end barely lower in choppy, coronavirus-tinged trade"

From MarketWatch:
U.S. stocks finished a volatile session in negative territory, as investors failed to nudge equity benchmarks to a second straight gain. Stocks had been rising throughout the session amid continued signs of the slowing spread of COVID-19 across the globe but upward momentum ultimately evaporated. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.11% closed down about 26 points, or 0.1%, at 22,654, but had been up by as many as 937 points at 23,617; the S&P 500 index SPX, -0.16% finished down 4 points, or 0.2%, at 2,659, but had been up 93.21 points the peak on Tuesday and the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, -0.328% ended the session down 26 points, or 0.3%, at 7,887, but had been 2.9% higher at Tuesday's apex....MORE 
Also at MarketWatch:
Goldman analyst who predicted the coronavirus would kill the bull market says ‘risk to the downside is greater’ despite Dow’s recent rally

A Quick Victory Celebration
Programming Note: We'll Be Doing A Quick Victory Lap Tomorrow, April 7, If You Want To Get Your Shorts On
It's Time To Buy Some Stocks

"All The Jobs Are Gone" - Africa Facing 'Complete Economic Collapse' As Virus Spreads

This is the last thing the continent needs.
From ZeroHedge:
The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns across the African continent could trigger an economic collapse, according to one United Nations (UN) official, who spoke with Associated Press (AP).
Ahunna Eziakonwa, the UN Development Program regional director for Africa, warned that the pandemic would likely result in job losses for millions of people, many of whom are already low-income, have no savings, and have no access to proper healthcare.
"We've been through a lot on the continent. Ebola, yes, African governments took a hit, but we have not seen anything like this before," Eziakonwa said. "The African labor market is driven by imports and exports and with the lockdown everywhere in the world, it means basically that the economy is frozen in place. And with that, of course, all the jobs are gone."
We've warned over the last month that a virus crisis looms in Africa. A little more than half of the continent's 54 countries have imposed lockdowns, curfews, and or travel bans to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Places like South Africa, where the military has enforced "unprecedented" Martial law-style lockdowns through mid-April, is an attempt to thwart social uprisings as 370,000 jobs have likely been lost. 

For the 1.3 billion that inhabit the continent, widespread lockdowns are triggering vicious economic downturns, couple that with a public health crisis, and it could be a perfect storm that results in social unrest.
Eziakonwa said unless the virus spread can be controlled – then up to 50% of all estimated growth for Africa's travel, services, mining, agriculture and the informal sectors could be lost. An extended period of subpar economic growth could be seen across the continent in the quarters ahead. 
"We will see a complete collapse of economies and livelihoods. Livelihoods will be wiped out in a way we have never seen before," she warned.
Top oil-exporting countries, such as Nigeria and Angola, could lose up to $65 billion in revenue with collapsed commodity prices – indicating that those governments will struggle to balance budgets, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) said.
Many countries in the Sub-Saharan region are heavily indebted and could come into severe financial distress with budget constraints in a downturn. That is why the calls for stimulus among some African leaders have already begun:
"Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has spoken of an "existential threat" to Africa's economies while seeking up to $150 billion from G20 nations. A meeting of African finance ministers agreed that the continent needs a stimulus package of up to $100 billion, including a waiver of up to $44 billion in interest payments.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa backed the calls for a stimulus package, saying in a recent speech that the pandemic "will reverse the gains that many countries have made in recent years." Several African nations have been among the fastest-growing in the world," Ap notes. 
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said last month that 20 African countries had requested financial assistance, with an expected ten more countries to need some form of aid. The IMF has already cleared credit facilities for Guinea and Senegal....MORE
Some prior posts on the challenge:

Needed: 800 Million Jobs For Africa
By now most of our readers have seen a version of the U.N. projections for world population in 2050 and 2100. If not, here's a post from April with the graphic:

IMF: Sub-Saharan Africa has Just Completed One of its Best Decades of Growth--It's Not Enough (UPDATED)

Update below.
Original post:
This may be one of the more important graphics you are likely to come across today.
Africa's population is projected by the United Nations to reach 2 billion people by 2045, 4 billion before the end of the century:

We followed up with "To Jumpstart Development, Should We Give Africa Bonds a Whirl?"
The problem, as always, is keeping the money from sticking to the hands of the kleptocrats,
And whether investment will actually do any good.

Following on "IMF: Sub-Saharan Africa has Just Completed One of its Best Decades of Growth--It's Not Enough" here are a couple women who have thought about this stuff, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala a former two-time Finance Minister of Nigeria and World Bank Managing Director, currently a senior advisor at Lazard and Nancy Birdsall, former EVP at the Inter-American Development Bank where she ran a $30 billion loan portfolio....
And today it's the population analysts at Populyst, September 28:

Africa: 800 Million Jobs Needed
African economies are in a race to get ahead of the demographic boom.....MORE

A Quick Victory Celebration

Sometimes it works out.

Friday, March 20, 2020
Posted by climateer at 8:40 PM PDT
It's Time To Buy Some Stocks

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Programming Note: We'll Be Doing A Quick Victory Lap Tomorrow, April 7, If You Want To Get Your Shorts On
It's Time To Buy Some Stocks

While Macquarie Are Looking for a "W" Recovery We Lean More Toward Albert Edwards' Armenian "K"

Here at Esoteric Group we believe...
From today's Market's Now, Mr. Elder looks at analyst babble:
...Consumer habits are shifting quickly, and this report examines this once-in-a-lifetime accelerator of change – the COVID-19 catalyst.
Okay, that’s all bit much. What now for the up-and-down numbers tho? Let’s try Macquarie’s China desk:
We expect a W-shaped recovery for 2020. The Chinese economy was hit heavily by the Coronavirus this Jan and Feb. Given such a low base as well as the pent-up demand, both year-on-year and sequential growth rates started rebounding from March. In other words, the Chinese economy is now in the left part of the W.
After the 1st round of virus shock, the recovery could be fragile and short-lived. First, three economic risks loom ahead, including exports, property and deflation. Second, stimulus remains at Level-2, which is not enough to turn the economy around.
GDP target, unemployment, SOE profits and local government fiscal condition are the four consideration behind stimulus escalation. Policymakers are still waiting and that’s why they haven’t announced a new GDP target yet. We expect them to set one later as GDP growth and employment are closely correlated with each other.
Facing the 2nd round of economic shock, policymakers will likely escalate stimulus. This time around, the focus of Level-3 stimulus should be infrastructure spending, which will turn the economy around and finish the right part of the W. Meanwhile, we don’t expect Beijing to ease property measures as much as it did in 2015.
The equity market might not truly bottom out unless the economy enters a new up-cycle. The Chinese stock market plunged in 2008-09 and 2015-16. Each time, after the initial liquidity shock, the market rebounded but corrected again afterward. It only bottomed out when the economy entered a new up-cycle. This time around, two things have to happen before the stock market truly bottoms out. First, the Coronavirus is under control. Second, stimulus goes to Level-3. It might be still months away from that.
While Macquarie doesn’t say if the W’s in a font with a high middle peak like Helvetica or if it’s a low one like Andale Mono, the general gist is false dawn and sell the rally. Commerzbank’s saying the same of Germany...
All of which brings to mind a post by Paul Murphy who, when not being Mr. Elder's playmate in the mosh-pit that was Markets Live, did some solo scribing, including this post from June 4, 2009:

Albert Edwards, uber bull? (not quite yet)
....For the record, and following Gillian Tett’s declaration that the recovery might take the shape of the Pitman shorthand for “bank” (something like a sickle), Edwards has been delving into his ethnic past to find the possible shape of things to come – an Armenian K:

And he’s at pains to stress that his beloved Coppock Indicator may be giving a premature buy signal.
But it’s here in pixalated black and white:
This is one of the most reliable technical indicators, suggesting we are in a new long-term bull market.
So now you know two things.
The terrifying possibility of a market that appears to be recovering almost vertically, only to collapse straight down.
And that Albert was bullish coming out of the GFC, a fact many would never believe if not captured and memorialized at FT Alphaville.

Capital Markets: "Hope (and the IMF) Stall Dollar Rally"

From Marc to Market:
Overview: In the war against the novel coronavirus, humans are striking back, and appear to be gradually getting the upper end, especially in place in Europe, and possibly the US, which has been particularly hard hit. Risk appetites are surging. Nearly all the equity markets are higher today, with India playing catch-up after yesterday's holiday to lead the way with gains in excess of 8%. Most of the major bourses in the Asia Pacific region gained around 2%. Europe's Dow Jones Stoxx 600 initially rose more than 3% in the European morning, led by consumer discretionary, industrials, and financials, before running out of steam. The S&P 500 gapped higher yesterday, leaving a bullish three-day island in its wake, and is set to gap higher again today. The 2800 area corresponds with about the halfway mark of the sharp decline since late February's record high. Safe-haven flows into fixed income are unwinding with benchmark 10-year yields up mostly 3-5 bp, thought the US 10-year yield is up 7 bp to almost 0.75%. The US dollar is falling against most of the world's currencies.

Among the majors, the Norwegian krone and Australian dollar that have been hit the hardest since the beginning of last month, are leading the way higher. Emerging market currencies are also mostly higher, led by the Hungarian forint and Czech koruna. Gold initially extended its gains to almost $1680 in Asia before retreating. It is slightly lower on the day near $1650. May WTI is consolidating in yesterday's range, which was in the previous session's range as the market awaits OPEC+ talks later this week.

Asia Pacific
More details of Japan's large fiscal stimulus have been announced.
Although the package seems to include some spending that had already been announced, the overall cost is estimated to be nearly 20% of GDP (~JPY108 trillion). Cash payments to households and tax deferrals seem to be the initial focus with aid to business coming later. Separately, Prime Minister Abe has declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and six other prefectures for the next months.

With the cash target rate at the zero-bound (25 bp), an asset purchase program already launched, and a yield curve control introduced to cap the three-year yield at 25 bp, expectations for the RBA meeting were low, and it did not disappoint.
Australia is being hit by a terms of trade shock. The price of its leading exports has plummeted--iron ore, coal, and liquified natural gas. Australia is the world's largest exporter of LNG, which tracks oil pricing. The price of LNG fell by roughly 2/3 in Q1.

For the first time since the pandemic crisis broke, China reported no new fatalities. Separately, China reported its foreign exchange reserves fell by $46 bln in March to $3.06 trillion. It is the largest decline since Q4 2016 when in a three-month period, the reserves fell about $155 bln. The other reserve currencies outside the dollar, like the euro and yen, were little changed in March, though sterling fell almost 4%. The reserves are thought to be held mostly in government bonds, and fixed income rallied strongly last month. Valuation does not appear to explain the decline in the value of China's reserves, which suggests intervention to support the yuan. The US dollar met strong resistance around CNY7.12....
It appears the US indifference curve to the oil cartel shifts around $20 a barrel.  Russia has accused Saudi Arabia of ramping up production to punish US shale producers, and Saudi Arabia accuses Russia of the same thing.  Ironically, they are both right.  The rise of China was a powerful disruptive force in the manufacture of goods.  The emergence of the US as not just an oil producer, but the largest oil producer is also extremely disruptive.  Of course, Russia and Saudi Arabia want the US to participate in any production cuts, but it difficult to envision. Nevertheless, drills are being abandoned.  
The Baker Hughes drill count is off 17% since mid-March to 664.  The decline is beginning from half the last cyclical peak, which bottomed in 2016 near 400 when the price of WTI was around $33.50.  Shifting the forum at which the US makes a concession from OPEC+ to the G20 does not make up for the practical difficulty.  Much of the US shale production is in private hands in a fragmented industry.  The industry seemed ripe for rationalization, with mergers and acquisitions, and larger producers moving in. The low prices and rising storage costs are exerting their own discipline production, and this, in turn, may help the industry mature.  But squeezing out the marginal producer with lower prices is not a sustainable strategy, even if it buys time.  Without participating in some sort of extra-market agreement, the marginal producer will return as quickly as prices allow....

Monday, April 6, 2020

Norwegian Seafood Exports Continue To Trend Up

I'd have expected larger growth in tonnage with the collapse of the krone but maybe that will happen this month.
The increse in NOK value is more a function of currency moves than anything else.
From PoAndPo Agrifish, April 4:

Norway exported 213,000 tonnes of seafood worth NOK 9.6 billion in March.
This is an increase of NOK 392 million, or 4 per cent, compared with March 2019.
Topics: Norwegian seafood export

In the first quarter, 664,000 tonnes of seafood were exported, worth NOK 28.6 billion.

The value of Norwegian seafood exports has increased by NOK 2.9 billion, or 11 per cent, against the same period last year.

85,800 tonnes of salmon were valued at NOK 6.1 billion in March.

This is an increase in volume of 4 per cent, while export value increased by NOK 103 million, or 2 per cent, compared with March last year.

In the first quarter, 252,000 tonnes of salmon were exported, worth NOK 18.5 billion.

This is an increase in volume of 2 per cent, while the value has increased by NOK 1.8 billion, or 11 per cent....
....MUCH MORE, a lot of information

Hydrogen: China's Hebei Province Approves 8.75 billion yuan ($1.23 billion) In Projects

From Reuters via India's Economic Times, April 3:
China's Hebei approves $1.2 bln hydrogen production and consumption projects
Hebei, China's industrial hub, approved 43 hydrogen projects for production, equipment manufacturing, filling station and fuel cells, totalling 8.75 billion yuan ($1.23 billion), according to a statement from its provincial planner.

Home to a quarter of China's steelmaking capacity, Hebei has been seeking to upgrade its industrial structure by turning to less-polluted and higher-value-added sectors including equipment manufacturing for metro and wind turbine.

"We will support Zhangjiakou to take the opportunity of hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics to lead the hydrogen development," the Hebei Development and Reform Commision said in its statement.

Zhangjiakou aims to become the hydrogen capital in China, reaching annual hydrogen production capacity of 21,000 tonnes by 2021 and 50,000 tonnes by 2035.

Twenty-one of the total 43 hydrogen-related projects that Hebei government has approved will be located in Zhangjiakou....MORE

Shipping: Cancelled Sailings Could Add Up To $23 Billion In Lost Revenue

Oh boy.
From The LoadStar:

Carriers could find the cost of blanked sailings adding up to $23 billion
The container shipping industry could lose as much as $23bn this year from reduced demand in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Demand for unitised shipping services is set to nosedive as a result of the economic devastation wrought by large swathes of the world forced into social lockdowns.

Research today from liner analyst SeaIntelligence Consulting reports that the best carriers can hope for this year would be a 10% decline in container volumes, compared with 2019.

SeaIntelligence Consulting chief executive Alan Murphy added: “In this case, their profits would decline by $6bn, compared with 2019, and cause the main carriers combined to lose $800m in 2020.

“In the worst case, carriers will see freight rates decline to the same degree experienced during the financial crisis in 2009. In this case, the main carriers will collectively lose a staggering $23bn.”....

Despite Governor Cuomo's Optimism Science Blogger Not Hopeful For Hydroxychloroquine

First up, the transcript from today's press conference via Rev Transcription Service:
....Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (21:10)

Speaker 1: (21:11)
How is the drug trial of a hydroxychlorine and chlorine going?

Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (21:21)
We’ve allowed usage of the hydroxychloroquine with the Azithromycin packs … pack in hospitals. At their discretion. The federal government is going to increase the supply to New York pharmacies. We had a 14 day limit on how much you could buy because so many people were trying to buy it. If the federal government increases the supply to New York, which they say they’re going to do, then we could lift the 14 day limit. There are a lot of people who are relying on this, who were relying on it, people with lupus, et cetera. The tests in the hospital, they won’t say that they are … there too shorter period of time to get a scientific report. Hospital administrators, doctors want to give, have a significant data set before they give a formal opinion. Anecdotally, you’ll get suggestions that it has been effective, but we don’t have any official data yet from a hospital or a quote unquote, “Study.” Which will take weeks if not months before you get an official study.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (22:44)
Is that a fair statement?

Speaker 2: (22:46)
So, promising, but not conclusive, it sounds like.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (22:49)
On which?

Speaker 2: (22:50)
On that that type of treatment in hospitals.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo: (22:53)
Yeah. There has been anecdotal evidence that it is promising. That’s why we’re going ahead. Doctors have to prescribe, but there are some people who have preexisting conditions where it doesn’t work or they’re taking medication that’s not consistent with this treatment. But, anecdotally it’s been positive. We’ll have a full test once they have a large enough sample and data set, Jesse. But, anecdotally it’s been positive. And if we get an additional supply we can, which the federal government says they’re going to send, I’m going to mention it to the president actually when I call him this afternoon, with the comfort, I’m going to make a note right now, if they increase the supply, we can lift the 14 day limit ban....MORE
Also available at CNN:
Aired April 6, 2020 - 12:30   ET

And from the In The Pipeline blog at the journal Science:

Hydroxychloroquine Update For April 6
By Derek Lowe 6 April, 2020
There’s a lot of news to catch up on, and to keep things straight I’ll divide the hydroxychloroquine part out into this post, and cover others in the next one. My previous reviews of the clinical data in this area are here.
First up is this study from France. It’s another very small one, and all the usual warnings apply because of that. It’s from a team at the University of Paris and Saint-Louis Hospital there, and they evaluated 11 consecutive patients admitted there with the same course of treatment as the Marseilles group first reported (hydroxychloroquine 600mg/day and azithromycin, 500mg the first day and 250 mg/day thereafter). The mean age of their patients was 58.7 years, and (notably) 8 of the 11 had significant comorbidities (two obese, 5 with various forms of cancer, one with HIV). That’s a tough population, and unfortunately, the HCQ/AZ combination did nothing. One patient died (and two others went on to the ICU) and of the ten remaining, 8 were still positive for the virus by nasal swab on days 5/6 after treatment. One patient had to discontinue therapy on day 4 because of QT prolongation, a known side effect of hydroxychloroquine that can lead to fatal heart arrhythmia.
So while this is a small study and not a perfect match, it provides no evidence to show that the HCQ/AZ combination had any benefit at all. While we’re on the subject of QT prolongation, there’s this preprint from a medical team at NYU that was also treating patients with the same combination of drugs. In 84 patients, they found notable QT prolongation in about 30% of them, and another 11% were to a level (>500 milliseconds) that put them at a high risk for arrhythmia. This group’s mean age was 63, 74% male. No cancer patients in this group, but 65% did have hypertension and 20% were diabetic (which from many reports is actually a reasonable look at the patients most likely to progress to severe disease). The strongest predictor of dangerous QT numbers was the development of renal trouble while on the drug combination.

There are a couple of other things that need to be noted. One is that hydroxychloroquine itself actually lowers the activity of the innate immune system; that’s why people take it for lupus and for rheumatoid arthritis. Many people are saying that perhaps it will work best if taken early in the course of infection, but this effect (which is mediated through TLR receptors) should be kept in mind. Another potentially important point is raised in this preprint – which, it has to be said, is not human data but mouse toxicology. But with that in mind, the authors report what looks like a bad interaction in that species between HCQ and metformin. And by “bad”, I mean about 30% mortality. If this translates at all to humans, it could be bad news, because (as mentioned above) diabetics look like a high-risk group and many patients may well have been taking metformin when they present at the hospital. We need more information on this. An investigational drug combination that showed this effect in mice would not move forward in the normal course of things.

Finally, I would like to point out this preprint from a multi-country team (Denmark, Netherlands, UK) which goes back over the original Marseilles report and reanalyzes its statistics. The problems that many noted with that paper show up in detail here, and the lessons that you take from it can vary a great deal depending on the details that were not well reported or characterized:....
....MORE, and as usual the comments run the gamut from insightful to snarky.